Patience is a Virtue

Patience is a virtue.

Or, so they say. Me and my husband were pretty hopeful that the release of vaccines would mean the world going back to a modicum of normalcy, and while that has slowly been the case, it has not been the case regarding international travel. Two days ago, the United States issued a level four travel advisory for Japan. Not that it mattered. Japan’s borders have been closed and I suspect they won’t open anytime soon.

This makes me sad, but I fully understand. It will probably be another 1-2 years before our trip happens.

I can still dream about my visit, though. We already changed up our original itinerary. Originally, we were going to stay a few days in Tokyo, then travel to Hakone, then onward to Kyoto. It was an itinerary that I solely put together without any substantive input from my husband. At first, he told me he only wanted to do two things: visit a maid café and go to Akihabara. With those two things in consideration, I quickly filled the itinerary with things I wanted to do.

Well, the thing with making plans so early is that they quickly change, and there is nothing wrong with that! Suddenly, he wanted to go to Super Nintendo World. At first, I was hesitant because why would you go to another country to spend a day at a theme park? But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be an opportunity wasted if we didn’t. I quickly re-planned our itinerary. We are now spending two days in Tokyo, then spending a day in Kyoto, and then two days in Osaka before traveling back to Tokyo for a night before returning to the States. Truth be told, I wanted to go to Osaka to visit the Cup O Noodles Museum, so I get to do one more thing.

Our plan will probably morph and change many times. I think my major hurdle is to not be discouraged by negativity. As I research, there are so many people that judge how other’s travel.

“Don’t go to X. Why spend money to go to X? You might as well have just stayed at home!”

“Don’t travel to another country just to do what you could have here!”

I know many of you have read comments or opinions like that. People feel like it is their job to judge how you want to spend your time and money in another country you’ve never been to.

I know there is a lot of truth to their opinions. Why would you spend thousands of dollars to stay in your comfort zone? Are you truly “experiencing” the country if you’re “comfortable”. I’ve pondered that quite a bit.

When planning the first iteration of our trip, I was heavily affected by the “you must do things out of your comfort zone to fully experience Japan” and you “must avoid all tourist traps” mentality. For some reason, I really cared about how someone else thought I should spend my trip. I was really hung up on the thought that I wasn’t experiencing Japan if I didn’t go to some super local izakaya and communed with the locals. I wasn’t experiencing Japan if I didn’t find some off-the-beaten path place to stay.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

The pandemic has brought me to the two strongest warriors, Time and Patience. While waiting and contemplating my trip over the last few months, I realized that time has changed my view. Where I was once plagued by the burden of someone else’s ideals, I am now free of that burden.

The simple fact that I will be getting on a 15-hour flight to a country and culture I adore is enough.

I was originally against going to Universal Studios/Super Nintendo World because of this notion that someone else planted in my head. The only reason I didn’t want to go was because someone convinced me that you don’t go to another country to do something you can do in your own country. Reflecting on that statement, I realize how stupid it is. True, we can visit Universal Studios here in the States, but the experience won’t be the same. The merch won’t be the same. Trying to navigate and communicate won’t be the same. It will be its own, unique experience and that doesn’t make it lesser.

There is a lot of pressure to plan “the perfect trip”. After all, you invest so much time and money to making it happen that it is only natural. The pandemic has taught me that life has a way of throwing you curve balls. This trip is not going to be any different. I have to expect that things aren’t going to go smoothly. I’m going to have to practice patience and be able to roll with the punches.

Throwing away other people’s ideals, I asked myself what I really want from this trip.

Memories.

I want memories. I want to remember being happy. Will I get that trying so hard to be different? I don’t think so. Will I be happy doing touristy things and running into other gaijin? Absolutely.

Every experience will be new to us from entering a konbini to riding a bullet train (shinkansen).

Our trip will be packed with new experiences regardless of how hard we try to make it conform to someone else’s standard of what a trip should be. I, for one, am looking forward to the maid café. I’m totally looking forward to making my very own custom Cup O Noodles. I’m looking forward to buying a ridiculously expensive watch at Super Nintendo World to track my progress as we hit blocks. Yes, I want to see Sky Tree. Yes, I want to see Tokyo Tower. Yes, I want to cross Shibuya Crossing. I don’t care that they’re cliché or touristy. Simply being there is enough.

Now, I have to sit with Time and Patience for a little longer. I am sure our plans will change with time as we find new things we want to do and I am perfectly fine with that.

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