“Hey! You know what would be fun?”
I can hear you. Really. I can hear the groans from everyone I have ever travelled with. Lived with. Been friends with.
I love planning adventures. In fact, my favourite way to pass the time is to plan trips I will never take. I just love to plan adventures. One of the reasons I know I will never take those adventures is because my unequivocal capability for finding waves where there should be smooth sailing.
Misadventures, often in bad weather. Incomprehensible situations, usually due to foreign languages.
Not to mention we will most likely be lost.
Once I led a friend to a church in Prague (late at night, tired, and just wishing for a bed), thinking I was using the address for our hotel. I enticed others on a city tour, only to discover the promised English was nearly nonsensical. Oh, and it was raining.
Sometimes I convince people that the best way to explore a new city is to get on a bus and see where it goes. A proper city bus, the kind that tourists don't use. The kind that takes you away from the facade that a city puts on for guests. The kind that leads you into real life, where suddenly you begin seeing bars over windows and police tape in front of convenience stores.
Yet, still I plan. And still people say yes. Take the Christmas Market in Naruto, for example. I saw the advertisement for it and I just had to go. Somehow I even managed to bring a friend along. I knew it would not be Nuremburg. I knew it would be small. Even so, I was surprised by just how small. We saw the ten covered stalls and just laughed.
We just spent 45 minutes on a bus for this?
In the end, we managed to stay almost a half an hour, taking a very, very slow walk around the stalls. We made about four laps of the market and stopped to watch Santa distribute presents. I spent an unusually long time photographing the same tree from different angles and an LED display by various schools.
After that, though, what else is there to do in downtown Naruto on a Sunday afternoon? Nothing. Truly nothing. Nearly everything is closed. We wandered into a souvenir shop, but since Naruto is in Tokushima Prefecture, there was nothing new from the souvenir shops back home.
Ah, the adventure. What is adventure, but being unaware of the outcome?
I love to visit the non-tourist places. Sure, I want climb Mt. Fuji, but I also want to visit Yatsuo, a place so small and unremarkable that no one outside Japan would ever know it, but for one small detail. As the birthplace of the only Japanese person honored as Righteous Among the Nations (חסידי אומות העולם), it offers a memorial to Chiune Sugihara, a hero of WWII.
There are adventures everywhere. Tokushima merits a tiny paragraph in my guidebook, but I have found so much to do here: climb Bizan, make Japanese paper, attend an ume shu festival, attend a firefly festival, go indigo dyeing, take a boat tour ... the list can continue.
No, it isn’t Tokyo, but even so. Who can trust a guidebook? Guidebooks are full of misinformation. “Charming village” means There is a house with a cat in front of it, no restaurants, and don’t even think of needing to use the loo. “Popular and trendy” means, You will not be able to move through the crowd, will not find a table at any restaurant, and don’t even think of needing to use the loo.
In this time of transition, I find myself reflecting on my past adventures. Not just the ones in Tokushima, although they are at the forefront. This is a time when I look back and look ahead, when I try to cram “just one more” adventure into an already overloaded schedule.
Adventures wait around every corner. But, hey – do you know what would really be fun?