I came home from Japan almost a month ago now. It took that long to process it all. I'm still not done, but getting there. The trip itself was a cruise from Kyoto, down to Ulsan, South Korea, then back around the other side, finishing in Otaru, which is about an hour away from Sapporo. If you want to see the itinerary, you can find it here.
There really aren't words to describe Japan. It's so very different and distinct from the US, or anywhere else that I've been, that it really does give the feeling of being a different world. Even so, there are elements of Japan that would not have been out of place in my home city of Chicago. Parts of the country were very familiar, even if I couldn't read the signs or speak the language. Despite my outsider status, I did feel very comfortable there. I don't know that I'd want to live there for any extended period of time, but I'd go back in a heartbeat.
I often find that the further away from home I get, the more I turn inward, evaluating elements of life, plans I've made, and habits I've developed. Though I recognize some things need change and some fine tuning, I do feel good about my direction, which, considering that up until about seven months ago I felt like I didn't have one, is a good thing.
Though I did a little writing there, I found it's a lot easier to disappear into fantasy worlds when the one you're in at that moment in time isn't quite so amazing. The one big thing that did happen, or at least I felt it was big, was a "lightning bolt moment" on a story idea that I'd loosely conceived of a few months ago, but didn't really know how to action. Sometimes you need that "ah ha!" moment to set you on the right path. I'm pleased to say that I feel like I'm on the right track with this one. It's a big story and it's going to take a lot of careful planning to make it work. It's going well so far though, and I'm excited.
Look for story updates soon. Look for new photos in the gallery by the end of the week.