Our trip is slowly creeping up on us and I can’t believe there’s little more than 2 months till we fly out for Osaka. It’s surreal really, and as much as we are excited we are also not really comprehending what’s ahead of us. And how could we really? We are going away for an undecided amount of time (when people ask us, how long we are going away for the answer is usually anywhere between 8months or a year – or until we don’t have more money. Or till we tire of it – which I doubt is going to happen, but who knows?…) And we have no real plans yet except for a conference in North Carolina at the end of April.
I recently emailed a friend of mine who’s in Greenland and we discussed the importance of preparation. She made the point that it is a very important part of a trip, and I of course agree with this completely. But, as I explained to her, I also feel like I have prepared for this trip for the last ten years. I have read every possible opinion on what to pack, what to see and what to do (and what absolutely not to pack, see and do) And I sometimes feel like all of these opinions can get in the way of my own gut feeling. I think that is also part of the reason why I didn’t enjoy Vietnam as much as I could have.
That being said, Japan is a completely new territory and even if I wanted to I couldn’t not do some prior research. (This of course includes eating as much sushi as possible to get used to the taste)
I have made this list of useful and interesting Japan reading/watching/listening and I plan to update it up until we leave.
- Unfortunately Will Ferguson’s lovely book Hitching rides with Buddha doesn’t come in a Kindle version, so we bought a used paperback version from Germany. That being said it is an amazing book, so funny it’s had me laughing out loud on the bus on more than one occasion. Will Ferguson gets deep under the skin of Japan (or at least as deep as a gaijin is ever allowed), and I feel I’ve learned more about the Japanese culture from this book than I ever could from a LP guide book.
- Jodi from Legal Nomads wrote an elaborate pre-japan reading list – I’ve included some of my favorites here as well.
- Migrationology wrote the ultimate guide for food lovers in Tokyo
- Sushi Bytes‘ guides are thorough and – most importantly – have a strong emphasis on great food and where to find it. Their first timers guide to Osaka and the guide to Kuromon Ichiba Market was just what we needed!
- Twenty Years Hence is first an foremost an amazing travel blog that I’ve followed for a while with great interest. Stephanie is the main writer and writes interesting and relevant pieces accompanied by Tony’s beautiful photos. To my great surprise and delight I found out that they too started their Big Trip in Japan and have written no less than 36 posts on the subject! (oh, and did I mention they a *serious* foodies? – are you starting to sense the pattern?)
- A guide to regional ramen in Japan
I’m more of a reader than a listener, but Jonas is really into podcasts and have found a few about Japan:
- GaijinPot with expat Anthony Joh is a podcast about traveling, working and living in Japan.
- Audible have a Japanese language guide by Innovative Language Learning with tons of printable extra material. They come in many different levels – we have the Ultimate Getting Started
- Memoirs of a Geisha very deservedly won three Oscars for best cinematography, art direction and costume design. It is a visually striking movie, and worth a watch weather going to Japan or not.
- Same goes for anything with Hayao Miyazaki’s name on it really. My all time favorite is My Neighbor Totoro, but Spritied Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Porco Rosso and Princess Mononoke are all great too. I actually dressed up as the latter once at a costume party
- Lost in Translation – “A faded movie star and a neglected young woman form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo” A quite movie about a loud place.
- You Only Live Twice. Okay, okay maybe not your average educational movie, but it does take place in Japan, and hey, it’s a classic! Oh and this – magnificent!