Monday, April 27, 2009

First Weekend Back

Being back home has been absolutely phenomenal, thus far. I've been spending day and night catching up with friends, going to music-shows, attending art-gallery events, and I even squeezed a BBQ into the weekend. I've been telling the same stories, about my great adventure, over and over; it never gets old, I love telling them. I reflect when I tell these stories and I find myself feeling overwhelmingly lucky. I am truly looking forward to each and every day of the coming summer; it's not just a season it's this special time of year where everything is different. People are more social, you find any excuse to stay outside all day, and the warmth of night inspires epically long nights. I feel like I have so much to experience, I feel like there's so much ahead of me, and I can't wait!
I'm definitely missing Japan already, but the joy I take from the things I've been doing as of late have helped to subside the longing for distant places.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Back On The Home-Turf

So I've been back in the US for less than 24 hours and it feels vastly different from the past two months. It's been fantastic seeing my family and friends; catching up on what I've been doing and hearing what they've been into. It's been difficult sleeping; my sleep-cycles are all whacked out so I haven't been able to sleep, uninterrupted for very long. I went for a walk this morning and noticed how big and expansive everything felt. There are so many stretches of pavement with nothing on it. There are cars everywhere and I can read every sign! It's been funny striking up conversations with strangers or making quick remarks or comments; sometimes it starts off with a Japanese greeting and then I soon realize that it doesn't work like that anymore! I think having the luxury of being able to clearly communicate with most everyone I've seen this morning has led me to strike up a conversation with anyone who will make eye-contact with me.
I gather that, through my travels, I really found a higher value on human interaction and communication, as a whole. I look forward to each time I will meet with a friend, I look forward to each phone call, and I treasure each unexpected conversation. It's unarguable that communication and interaction, at this point, is what I missed most and what I now hold in a higher regard.

All-in-all, I can safely say that I miss being abroad but that I'm happy to be home and I'm looking forward to settling back in, for now. I don't have a strong itch to leave yet, but I truly am looking forward to the next adventure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Final Countdown

Today is my final day in Japan; I'm leaving for the airport in about four hours which just blows my mind. The past two months have really flown by quite quickly and I feel fortunate to be able to look back at everything with nothing but good feelings and good memories. I've had some amazing opportunities and I am truly looking forward to getting out on my next adventure and seeing more of the world. This will be my final installation, to this blog, from overseas for the time being. As my father put it best... My adventure is coming to a temporary halt! Also that the adventure always continues, no matter where you are, it just depends on how you interpret it all. That last bit really resonates with where I'm at in my life right now; I will return home, enjoy a California summer and graduate college before the summer's end. There's so much potential for what I can and will do and through seeing the things I've seen and meeting the people I've met, I've come to the realization that I can do anything or go anywhere that I want; anything is possible.

Though I have no idea exactly how many people read this and who they are I want to extend a sincere thank-you to any and everybody who had a hand in the past two months; be it family who helped make this possible, friends who helped put me up, friends who maintained contact, people who extended well-wishes, or anyone really. I feel lucky to have the caliber of people in my life, which I do, and I want you and them to know this.

Matta Ne!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cloud No. 9

I had quite the memorable experience, this past Sunday. Through my newly formed relation ship with the Kinfolk Bicycle Company, and through one of its co-owner's Akira in particular, I was able to visit the workshop of the famous NJS Keirin bicycle builder, Kusaka-San. He is the founder and builder of Vivalo bikes and he also, through a new partnership, builds the track frames for the Kinfolk Bicycle Company. Even before coming to Japan I wanted dearly to get close to the birthplace of Keirin Bicycles. It's no secret, to those who know me, that bicycles are a pretty big passion of mine; they're probably the coolest things to hit the street since snow. Anyway, luke and I took a train out to Kobe to meet with Akira, on sunday afternoon. From there we took a local-train into a suburb and we walked into an incredible workspace where Kusaka-San builds beautiful track bikes with his bare hands. He's a master of his craft and I was honored to meet him! I'm incredibly honored to be a soon-to-be owner of something that he built with his hands and the knowledge gained from a lifetime of devotion to what he does. I'm starting to realize how incredibly fortunate I've been to have been able to spend the last two months as I did. I'm not even sure if I've fully realized how monumental this entire experience has been, in my life, and I'm not even sure if I will until I'm sitting back and reflecting, once I've returned home.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Looking Forward

Everyday keeps getting better and yet four days from now and I'll be in the sky, flying back home to Los Angeles. I've had such an amazing time over the past two months. I've got to see so many new things, meet so many amazing people, and do a great deal of things which I'd never done before. This experience has been nothing but good. My struggles with homesickness were short, few and far between. I felt well acclimated to everywhere I was; this whole experience just "felt right." I have been looking forward, with excitement, to coming back home which has been a bit conflicting at first. I struggled with justifying why I was happy to leave this all and return home; how could this be so if I were truly enjoying myself? Well I've come to the conclusion that I'm nowhere near being over this experience or wanting to end it, I'm just looking forward to what awaits me. California summers, college graduations, the beginning of my adult life. All of these things are wildly monumental and just within reach. In no time flat, I'll be beyond those milestones and on to something else. Perhaps I'll be back in Australia or Japan or somewhere entirely different. It's fully possible to do whatever one wants, wherever one wants; One just needs the will and desire. Hard work, determination and openness just might take care of the rest.

It's all happening!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friends In Far Places

The last couple of days were spent in Tokyo. I made the trip to go meet friends of friends, who run a track bike company/lounge, as well as catch up with another Luke that I met out here (who, after several years, is moving back to Australia tomorrow). I started off jumping on the Shinkansen and meeting luke out in Yokohama, we had plans to visit a tattoo museum, at the suggestion of my good friend Julian Zeff. The museum ended up being more like a basement with a good personal collection which was quite good. The owner of the museum is Horiyoshi III, who happens to be one of Japans most widely known tattoo artists; in fact, the museum is right bellow his studio. Luke and I spent some time searching through all the different sections before leaving, we cruised through the local neighborhood for bit, before parting ways. My next move was getting out to the area where I was to meet my recommended friend of friends. They run a lounge which is the public front of their bicycle company; and interesting business front that is really unique and quite impressive. The name of their company is Kinfolk bicycles, so naturally my destination was the Kinfolk Lounge! I got into the area where it was early, before dark, so that I could get they lay of the land before I had to be there. I spent some time riding my bike around the surrounding areas and I really enjoyed the neighborhood; it had some beautiful walkways that ran along a really pretty waterway and there was this amazing park at the top of the hill, where I watched the sunset.

After fetching some dinner I rode back out to the lounge, where I had an arranged meeting with John, one of the Kinfolk owners. I didn't have any expectations about how long I was going to be there, so it was a pleasant surprise to hang out there all night. John and the other guys I met there, later in the evening, were really hospitable and all-around good people. I got the full insight on their business model and the story behind it and I ended up riding bikes with all of them later in the evening. The next day was spent riding around from local bike shop to local bike shop, with Rael who I met at Kinfolk, looking at amazing bikes and meeting the locals; it was perfect and I only wish I had more days like that while in Japan.

My JR Rail Pass is now expired, so I'm pretty much permanently back in the Kansai region throughout the remainder of my stay here, which is one more week. It's really an interesting feeling knowing that I'll be back home, this time next week. This whole adventure was my first real jump into traveling and I've really had an amazing time. I have no gripes with having to go home, however, there's a lot about LA that I miss. I have no doubt in my mind that I'll get the wander-lust's itch shortly after returning home though; this lifestyle is good and I know the times would only get better!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Photos From the Most Recent Leg

Since I last wrote, I spent a day in one of the most southern cities in the Kyushu Region, Kagoshima; I visted an Aquarium and bombed on hill (via skateboard) on a volcanic island! I spent the later part of that day traveling back up to Takatski, which ended up being 5 hours by Shinkansen; I was oh so relieved to put down my bags, shower, and crawl into bed. Today was spent, day-tripping to Nara, with Luke. We went and visited a few shrines and temples and finished our day watching an American film at the local cinema. Today was pretty solid, Luke and I shared tons of laughs, we took photos, and ended the night with a photo-editing powwow! This blog will be short, as I have to go to sleep and wake up in less than 5 hours to travel to Tokyo. Bellow are photos from the past week (give or take a couple of days).