January 3rd, 2014, 8pm

It was 9°C with few clouds. The wind was light.

I am home.

I lightly vacuumed a week’s worth of dust. There is a load of laundry going. I’m looking through Facebook, Twitter and blog posts from the past week I may have missed. There are a lot of year end topics: ‘8 Ways of Becoming a Better You”, “25 New Year Resolutions I Will Keep… This Year”, “50 Goals to Set”, etc., etc.

Given the timing of my - solo - trip that landed during the end of year, there is a part of me that feels obligated to have some sort of “Eat Pray Love” break-through moment, write a profound motivational bit, and kick the new year off Empowered! Refreshed! Invincible!

But… that’s just not me.

I don’t have jolting moments of light lifting darkness. I wish I knew what that was like. I sometimes think about epiphanic moments in history, and imagine thought and emotional processes. Like what Helen Keller must’ve thought and felt when she finally understood Annie Sullivan’s ‘water’ signing. Or Galileo’s first thoughts when he discovered Jupiter. Did he down a bottle of wine after? Curie and radium, wright Brothers and flight, etc., etc., I’m not going to lie, it is a bit weird to think about those things but those thoughts, remind me how insignificant I am in this world.

I know I don’t have a genius, craft, or skill that will land me in history books alongside Helen Keller, Galileo, Marie Curie or Oliver and Wilbur Wright. What I am capable of, is being human. The purest form of humanity is honesty.

Since I reached that realization early on in life, I vowed not only to be honest with others, but have the courage to be honest to myself… which is hard. Taking good, hard looks at myself is one of the hardest things to do. But when I am honest with myself, that truth, has never failed to guide me towards being better.

There is a quote by Aristotle: ”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

There isn’t a day that goes by in which I do not reflect. I reflect on my day’s actions, the day’s thoughts, the day’s choices. This process is my daily nudge to strive1 for excellence, and be the best person I can possibly be to myself, my loved ones and to the world. Sometimes I am honest. Other times I am not. But I try. And will continue trying. Constant work in progress.

I closed out 2013 — and this trip — the same way as I did 2012 and my everyday: re-affirming the most constant thing in my life, is change.

Happy 2014 everyone and thank you for keeping me company through this memorable (and busy) trip!

Method of transportation: JR Rail Way Pass and local subways, trains. One flight from Fukuoka to Sendai.

Camera: iPhone 5s only

Updates: 98% done via phone. (The iPhone loss and yakuza story was written on my Air. I also add images in the ‘Extended Moments’ via computer — which is why most of my entries are immensely edited after I publish. I know, I know. I should pay more mind, as subscribers get email updates of my rough, rough, rough drafts… Oops.)

Itinerary: Shinagawa → Nagoya → Shirakawago → Hida Takayama → Takayama → Nagoya → Kyoto → Okayama → Kurashige → Okayama → Hiroshima → Kumamoto → Hakata → Sendai → Koriyama → Aizuwakamatsu → Koriyama → Tokyo

Eight nights, nine days in 15 or so different cities around Japan.

There were several minor stops along the way; if interested I’ll be happy to share, just leave a comment.

  1. Note: strive. I mean. I was totally boo-boo faced in Kumamoto. And shitted on innocent Aizuwakamatsu because I was there during the wrong time… so I strive. But hey, at least I try. And that’s what makes life so fun, isn’t it? 

Josef, Paul, Adrian, Soon Hau and 13 others said thanks.

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Mona Nomura

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