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I arrived in Tokyo after a 13 hour flight that was not even three-quarter full. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I would later realize that the level of tourist in Japan is still very very low. My flight landed at 15H45, Japan time. The first thing that struck me was the efficiency at the airport: it legit took me 10 min to be out of the custom and ready to jump into my next challenge- getting to my Hotel. But even this turned out pretty easy as everything was so clearly announced. 30 min later, my white ass was experiencing the first Japanese delicacy: a warm toilet that treats your bum better then your dad ever treated you. After settling in the small yet cozy room, I proceeded to not sleep at all due to the fucking jet lag. I swear I most have woken up every hour until at 5, when I finally decided it was enough.My first ‘real’ day in Tokyo was just a pure blast. I went out of the hotel around 6AM and started to explore my new neighborhood: Shinjuku.  There was absolutely no one around (which I suspected was coming from the fact it was too early for anyone thinking straight). After a while wandering the streets, I went into a bus station to get my bus tickets to Fuji (that was next on my plan -two days later). Although a lot of Japanese I interacted with so far were not very fluent in English, I manage to get understood every time using gestures or google translate. I had a little stress that my bus ticket would not land me to the right place, but that’s part of the fun isn’t it? XD

After I secured my ticket, I continued exploring some Parks and other neighbourhoods (Shibuya, Minato and Harajuku) before heading back to my Hotel to pickup my backpack and transfer to an hostel. At this point my day was already so freaking awesome. I had seen so many beautiful landscapes and noticed how safe I felt in every situations. The Japanese people I encountered were definitively kind, respectful and welcoming.Another point to take note is that the jet lag made my stomach upside down. I could have been terrified of this, but Japan has toilet literally everywhere (in train stations, in 7eleven, in parks, etc.) it’s like their whole population has IBS and I love it. lolWith my backpack retrieved from the hotel, I started walking in direction of Book and Beds. Only 15min by walk, I noticed way more people then in the morning but still almost no tourists in sight. The hostel was a very instagrammable coffee shop mixte with a library where there are small pods for each individual to sleep in (in between books). I liked the concept a lot and was dreaming of just call it a day due to the jet lag, but I have learned over the years that to beat that monster you need to adjust asap: meaning you need to not sleep before the time you would have sleep at home.

I remembered two interesting bars I passed by in the morning and decided that this was going to be my plan for the night, in order to not fall asleep. 

I was about to leave when I met Andre. Cute, tall guy with a british accent (turns out it was a South African accent) (I don’t care I just have a thing for accents), Andre was just checking in in the pod next to mine for his last night in Japan. We talked a bit about who we were and why we were in Japan and decided to meet up again the next morning, once both of us would be free.My night was a battle to stay awake and also to not piss on myself because the only toilets I found were the standing up one (who the hell uses that, especially after walking so much during the day -wth Johanne I don’t want to squat.) ANYWAY, so the first bar I went to was managed by a Russian girl who came to Japan in 2019. She use to be a doctor in her country but Japan wouldn’t recognize her education, so she decided to just work in a bar while she redo some school here. We talked for a while about our countries and Japan and about what was coming for us in our lives. She managed to make me forget how tired I was: success. 

I said goodbye after my drink because the second bar I wanted to try out was about to open. When I arrived I was in shock. The bar was so small, I never saw anything like this before. You could sit only 6 people, all around the bar (no tables). There was already 4 other people when I entered. They all stared at me and I felt unsure if I was allowed to be there, as a foreigner. After a split second, I was greeted warmly by everyone  and felt instantly welcomed. The theme of the bar was “hell”. It was covered from ceiling to walls with horror movies VHS and posters. The barman had a Wayne’s world cap and I used this as an invitation to talk. We chatted for a while (every 6 of us) about where I was from mainly and about the fact they were happy to see tourists slowly coming back. The barman talked about the struggle they had during Covid and that since October they are only starting to get back on their feet. We talked a bit more and then the jet lag came back like a ton of bricks. I checked my watched: 9 PM.I guess that’s good enough. I said my goodbyes and walked back to the hostel (a girl alone, at night, feeling safer than in Montreal).Took a shower and went straight to bed, expecting to pass out instantly because I was so damned exhausted. But the nice thing about jet lag is that no matter how tired you feel, you are not gonna be able to sleep well until a few nights in. 

So I once again woke up every other hours until 6, the next morning. 
I woke up to a text from Andre who was wondering what was my plan for the day. I invited him to join me in walking to one of the biggest Starbucks in the world, I had to go there to take some pictures for Gerard.We decided to walk instead of taking the public transport, just so we could explore a bit more. It took us about one hour to reach our destination but it felt more like only 10 minutes because I was having so much fun. We chilled for a few hours at the Starbucks, chatting about all and nothings and laughing every other sentences. I discovered Andre is a Data Consultant for a company in Cape Town and Japan is his first solo travel.  He decided to go on this adventure after a long-term relationship breakup -to finally do something only for himself. He talked about all the cool places he saw in Japan and it just gave me the best overview of what was about to come for me. After a few hours we decided to split (He had to go shopping and although I loved his company I wanted to explore more for my last day in Tokyo). We said our goodbyes but as his flight was leaving only at 9PM, we decided to meet back at the hotel around 5 to go for a drink before his trip ended.I took the train to get to Sumida, so I could go up the SkyTree - the highest tower in the world (*third highest structure). Arrived on top and  couldn’t see the Mt.Fuji because of clouds, but it gave me a sense of how impressive Tokyo is. I went down and found a restaurant where I ate one of the best burger I ever had (teriyaki chicken wrapped in lettuce with a mystery sauce that will haunt my dreams for ever) and then decided to walk to Senso-Ji temple. I stayed a while there, even though it was crowded with people from all over the world. It was the first time I had a sense of what it might have been to come to Japan prior to the pandemic. I then decided to walk to a Lotus Pond Terrace, about 3km away. The walk was through some less crowded (empty) neighborhoods and I remember feeling like it was crazy how safe I felt in Japan -regardless of where I was and at what time. I arrived to the pond to find that the Lotus were in fact several feet tall (I always thought these things were only resting on water). Contemplated the view for a while before heading back to my hostel. I had the time to take a shower and eat before meeting Andre in the lobby.Because he was loaded with his luggages, we decided to walk close to the hostel and grab a beer in one of the Izakaya. I guess that’s when I had my first realization that goodbyes would become part of my journey. I found myself focussing on every single details, from the light shimmering in his eyes -sad that his trip was over- to the smile on his lips and the way we both felt happy we had the chance to meet. We laughed and flirted and I felt just contented to be here in Japan, living the moment to it’s fullest. During our discussion I ended up learning that Andre was only 24 and it shocked me as he was so mature, educated and well-travelled. We shared our last laughs as he had to leave for the airport. I guess this was the first time I felt a pinch to my heart during this trip - and surely not the last. Meeting incredible people is probably normal when you travel the world, but Andre was my first encounter and it was definitively something that I will remember.XOXO -Gossip Girl


I arrived by bus to the Fujiyoshida area. It was still morning and we could clearly see the volcano from the windows. I remember feeling impressed by it’s scale. I had to walk about 15min to get to my hostel, once i was dropped at the station. The town was very calm, i only cross path with an old lady that was trying to sweep leaves from her porch -even though the wind kept putting it straight back. I arrived at the hostel and was greeted by the owner and his lovely wife. They showed me my room and suggested me a good place to go for lunch.

When i arrived to the restaurant, it was already pretty packed with locals. I was showed a tiny place in the corner, at a common table. The restaurant had no menu. It was popular for only one thing: it’s soba. I received my bowl with two hands (a custom of politeness in Japan) and proceeded to slurp all my noodles. At my right were sitting three Japanese teenagers and at my left was an old man who was very intrigued by my appearance. He started asking question I couldn’t comprehend and the teenagers started laughing. I felt a bit alone in that moment. We’re they laughing at the way I used chopstick? The way I sit, maybe? They all sit so straight regardless of not having support for their backs (imma old lol). Or maybe it was just my face? I grabbed my phone and translated: are you laughing at me? to Japanese and the old guy laughed even more. In another circumstance it would have bothered me, but go figured I thought it was funny and part of the experience of being a foreigner. The man then used my phone to start a conversation. Asked me where i was from, if tattoos were very common in Canada (i had a glimpse of my chest tattoo poking out of my shirt, without me noticing) and even invited me to lodge at his place if ever I didn’t like my hostel. After a bit, he had to go and I wasnt that far from finishing my bowl either. The rest of my day was walking around the town and up in the mountains to Arakura Shrine. The volcano was still visible from below when I started my ascend -but once i reached the top it was covered in clouds. I sat there for a while, contemplating the (still) beautiful landscape. Decided to go down after about two hours, just to find out once at street level that all the clouds had disappeared. I continued walking to explore more my neighborhood and decided that there was still time to walk a bit further: to the kawaguchiko lake. The view along the way was breathtaking. The sun was starting to set and there was still no one in sight. I arrived to Kawaguchiko about an hour and a half later -maybe more because i kept stopping to take pictures. It was now dark and a bit more cold out- so i found a restaurant where I had the best meal so far. It was meat and veggies in a salty/flavourful sauce. I then waited for the bus and made my way back to the hostel.

The next morning i woke-up to a storm warning but as it wasn’t suppose to start before early PM, i decided to go out and walk anyway. I walked about 40min to a park in the mountains and got my best view of the volcano so far. I was alone when a lady dressed up in kimono arrived. I took my courage and asked her if i could take her picture and she was very pleased. Then, i walked back down and made a stop in a local restaurant where i had a veggie/meat plate and some delicious soya sauce/chicken broth soup. The owners kept coming to my table to ask me about the food and they kept smiling as they saw how much i liked it. Now very full (i don’t know how Japanese people are so thin they clearly eat for two), i decided to walk to the base of the volcano to see some shrines and drink the magical fuji water. The shrines were hidden in the eerie woods and the wind was so strong it almost felt like the trees were breathing. I found the fountain from which the healing fuji water was coming and i drank a good sip. My phone buzzed. The storm is approaching. I walked back to the hostel and arrived as the rain was starting. A guy was sitting in the stairs and asked me if I knew if the hostel was full. He then explained to me that the hostel he was supposed to check-in just never answered their door. I let him in and stayed with him in the lounge area while we wait for the owners to come back. While we discussed our lives and travels to come- two other travellers joined us and we all shared some drinks. Luis was from the Philippines. Kevin was from Australia and Joel from the UK. Luis had my age and was in Japan for work. He was diagnosed with a nasty disease in 2018 and made it alive by some great miracle. Now, he was gonna teach english to children in a school nearby. Kevin was on holidays- he was still at the university -to become a teacher too. Joel was the youngest (only 18) and was a rugby player already. We sat there for a few hours, exchanging and playing drinking games as the wind storm was raging outside. At 11, i had to say my goodbyes as my bus for Magome was leaving at 5 the next morning. I walked back to my room -more than tipsy- and crashed on my bed with a smile on my face.


I woke up still a tad tipsy from the night, but nothing enough to tell me I shouldn’t take my bus. It was 5 in the morning when I started to walk toward the station: a cold night with a clear sky which was giving me the view on the volcano - one last time. The bus arrived on time and after mumbling the name of the station I was heading for to the driver who shake his head positively, I hopped on and relaxed for the next two hours. I was then drop at my first station, for a transfer. When I tried to buy the second bus ticket, the lady at the counter made me repeat about three times - not that she didn’t understood the name of the city, but more asking why in the hell I wanted to go there. Armed with a confidence provided by my research on Google, I reaffirmed that it was my intended destination. She let me buy the ticket and pointed me the stop I needed to go. I arrived about 10min before the bus - just enough to realize I wasn’t hangover. Great. When the bus arrived, I had to show my ticket to the driver who also questioned my intention - did I really had the right city? Yes. I mean, yes? I started to doubt myself for a second, but my ass being already in the seat it was a bit too late to back down. I was following closely the route with my phone and everything pointed in the right direction. 1 hour later, I was dropped literally in the middle of no fucking where. There was just a little station saying: Magome. My google was indicating that I had to take a path -which was under construction. What now. After a few min I found out a new one which was indicated by some Japanese my phone couldn’t translate. I gave it a go and after a few min it seemed I was now back on track. I had my big backpack on and it was all small roads going up. I put one feet in a gigantic hole of mud and decided to change shoes before I break a foot. My vans weren’t the choice for this adventure. After about 25 min of ups, downs and turns - I finally arrived in the city of Magome. There was some lockers at the entrance and as I was early for check-in, I decided to put my heavy backpack there and ascend the rest of the street without. Once I arrived at my hotel, I was greeted by a man who told me that my room was already ready. I proceeded to look at it and felt in love instantly. A big room of tatamis with an incredible view on the old city. I left my smaller backpack there, just leaving with the room key, so I can go light to grab my bigger backpack down the street. When I arrived to the locker I realized what a stupid thing I had just done: the locker key was in the small backpack, in the hotel. I had to go back up and down again to finally retrieve my giant possession. On the way back up, I felt loaded as a mule, but remembered that it was almost over. I dropped my bag in the room and went on a stroll to get more familiar with my new neighborhood. Magome-Juku was one of several postal towns that were preserved from the Edo era, along the Nakasendo Trail (an highway that was connecting Edo (now Tokyo) to Kyoto). This road is now a trek for any traveller who wants to be thrown back in ancient times. Magome-Juku means ‘horse’ and ‘basket’ and derives from the fact that back in the Edo era, traveller were forced to leave their horses at the inns because the road was too steep for horses to climb.The night was slowly setting, so I decided to jump in the shower before the dinner that was going to be served at 6. The shower was communal and because this wasn’t a proper onsen, I was allowed to go in even with my tattoos. Tattoos are very frown apon in Japan as they are often linked to the Yakuzas (the mafia over here). Obviously we can clearly see when they are on a foreigner like me that this isn’t part of the Yakuzas, but it is still in the custom for people with tattoos to be refused in onsens (spa) and temples, unless they cover it.  I jumped in the shower, a tiny bit febrile about if someone was going to come too. But no. My communal shower ended up a very normal shower. I wrapped myself in the kimono the hotel provided (turns out I wrapped the wrong way - apparently the way I did it is only for dead people.) I was about to go change in my room when I crossed path with two traveller having sake in the living room. They invited me to cheers and I had my first unfiltered sake with them. The substance was white and milky but was tasting delicious. We exchange a bit about who we were and why we were in Japan and then it was time for me to go change before dinner. The dinner was served in the restaurant facing the hotel. When we arrived, we all had a table labelled with our name, and a huge plate of food per person. When I say huge, I emphasis. It was huge. There is a custom in Japan that you must finish your plate in order to show respect to your host (and to the food), and there was no way I would be able to honour it. Why in the hell do people eat so much, a mystery I’m still trying to find an answer for. My plate had fish (which I am not very familiar to eat, due to my allergy to seafood), horse meat, tempura veggies, pickled veggies, rice and a desert of some kind. Oh, and a soup. I’m probably forgetting something, that’s how much food there was in front of me. I ate the most that I could and then tried to sneak out at the same time as a couple WHO MANAGE TO ATE EVERYTHING I still can’t figure out. Pretty sure they had a secret place to hide the food. I went back to the hotel and had my first night without any jet lag. I was finally done with that. 

The next morning I woke up at 5h30 AM in preparation for my trek. I was about to hike the Nakasendo trail -well one part at least. I had a weird feeling in my belly telling me this was going to be dangerous: but I shrugged it away thinking I was just being dramatic. The day before I was advise to buy a bell so that I could be hear from the distance by the bears and I think I just had a vibe that I would encounter one today. I decided to still go, thinking that this was probably normal to be a bit anxious as there was literally bear warnings everywhere. I remembered Banff being the same and we ended up seeing a bear only from very far (and within a car). When I stepped outside, it was cold and gloomy. The clouds were very low, almost touching the roofs of all the houses on the hill. I started my hike with my music turned on to the max: if the bear was use to bell noises by now -he would certainly not be used to post hardcore. Every km there was a huge bell on the side of the road, that I had to rang very strongly to chase the bears away. Everything to make you feel like there’s no danger what so ever..  
I didn’t cross path with anyone, so I was also a bit stressed about that. What if I got attacked by a bear? How long would I have to wait for someone to come for help? I was spiralling down when I arrived to a sign saying I was almost done. Tsumago in 1km. Only a very small stretch of the path was in the woods. But sometimes in life, only one minute can change everything to come. 

I arrived at the last giant bell. I rang it very loudly. Then, there was a path in ‘s’ curve that was going down  few meters. I started my descent and when I turned the last curve I saw a fucking bear just nonchalant crossing the path. It was about a house away in distance, but def close enough that I could see it was a fucking bear. It had brown fur and was somewhere between a huge-ass dog and a small cow in size. I screamed and rang my bell faster, and I saw it just walk a bit faster to cross the path. Ok. What do I do now. I go back up? Yeah, I def don’t go forward.. what if he comes back on the path. Ok fuck it. I go back up. I started my ascend, looking behind me and yelling to make sure I was scaring him. First curve done. I look back. That motherfucking bear is back on the path, following me up. I am not sure if he saw me or if he is just curious about what is making that noise. I’m at the bell now. I ring it. So fucking loudly. Maybe for 3 minutes. Then I look down on the path and he is gone. I am still not going back there. I don’t know where he is now.  And then a guy just walk up from the path. I’m in disbelief. “Haven’t you see the fucking bear?” “What bear?” He didn’t saw. He barely speaks English and looks at me like I’m nuts. Okay.. I guess there is no bear anymore. That’s the moment to go. I can’t walk back now, I’m so close to the finish line. Ok. Ok, I’m going. I start walking back down. First curve, second, third. No bears. I walk pass where he was. He is gone. I’m now outside of the forest. The hike is done. I cross path with another traveller. He asks me if I’m ok. Clearly my face tells everything. I feel tired, like all the adrenaline just went out. I explained to him what just happened. He is just starting the trek and my announce makes him a bit nervous. I tried to convince him that it’s gone and to just be careful. He agrees and leaves. Mate, I hope you are okay right now. 

I arrived in Tsumago only to find out that my post town is actually cooler. It’s still nice, don’t get me wrong. But maybe not nice-you-could-have-died-eaten-by-a-bear-but-for-that-view-ok nice. Anyway, I wonder around a bit and decide to take the bus to Narai, another postal town that is several kilometres away -too many for me to walk. And even so, I had enough of one bear encounter today. After a few hours of commute, I arrive in the small town of Narai. It is relatively the same look, except everything is dye black. There’s almost an Harry Potter vibe to the whole thing. It’s fucking cold right now, so I decided to grab a bite in one of the restaurants. The bites being what they are in Japan, I end up with a complete 5 service meal who looks like if IKEA was launching a restaurant. The meal taste like nothing but it’s good enough -I mainly wanted to escape the cold- not have a Michelin experience. I then proceed back to the commute until I arrive to Magome a few hours later. I stop by a small coffee shop and that’s when I meet a previous 3D animator (now working as a 2D artist), Dan. Dan is about to walk to a secret location to see the sunset and I’m thinking that after my bear encounter and all the steps I’ve done today - I deserve a break and a bit of wonder. I ask if I can join and he agrees. We have just enough time to go grab some dinner to go and some sake to share. We walk about 15 min to arrive to the mysterious place -where two other travellers are already sharing a drink. We join them and start discussing under the sun that was setting and making us look fantastic cause it was golden hour. Still a bit frightened by my bear experience, I try to hold my pee as long as humanly possible. But when I see the other girl go in the woods for the same thing, I decide it’s the moment to go as well. Everything is fine. No bears. It’s now night and the other travellers need to go back to their hotel because they all have dinner plans.I walk back Dan to his hotel and continue my way (still on the edge) until I arrive to mine. I fall asleep instantly as my body touches the bed. Tomorrow, I am leaving for Kyoto - far away from the bears.


I hopped off the train in Kyoto. I walked about 3 metres before feeling a tap on my shoulder. “Lost shoe”, tells me a woman in her best english. She was holding one of my cheetah printed vans. I look at my bag, where i had hooked up a thingy to hold my extra pair of shoes: both were gone. I take the shoe off her hand and thank her, but there is still a fucking shoe missing. Rip. I drop this one in the next trash i pass by. They both had a great life.

I was about 3 hours earlier than the check-in. I asked my host if it would be ok to drop my bag at the house and he gave me the address of the studio he was working at instead: it was closer to the train station. I still had about 30 walk to do with my huge-ass bag pressing on my shoulders. Once i finally arrived, i was exhausted. My host greeted me with a smile and we discussed a bit about his work and mine. He was about to have a meeting with an investor to talk about getting money to produce a movie for cannes. We laughed at the fact we were both in a similar field. He was very funny and his english was flawless. After a while talking, he asked if he could take some pictures of me -as i was already here in his studio. I approved even though I felt like shit from all the commute. He did a few shots that in the end looked pretty cool so we were both really happy. It was then time for him to have his meeting and for me to go grab something to eat. I had passed a restaurant that was smelling so damn good, i decided to go back there. I had some Tonkatsu (pork cutlet in a savoury sauce) and it once again came with multiple small dishes. I swear to god it felt like Japan was trying to fatten me so they can ate me in a later dinner. Once i finished half of my plates, i went for a stroll around the neighbourhood while waiting for my host to be done with his meeting. He was gonna give me a lift to the airbnb, instead of me having to try to find my way by bus. I found a small ice cream shop and tried the most colorful one i saw. It was turquoise but tasted like Nutella. I walked back to the studio as my host was about to be done. When he told me to get in the car, we had a laugh cause i tried to enter on the right -which is the conductor place in Japan. We drove for about 15min before making it to the airbnb. It was the most pretty place i had slept at so far. The house was well decorated and featured rooms with tatamis and a private onsen. I was getting pretty excited about the idea to just relax in for one night. But first, my host told me that tonight would be beautiful for sunset and so i tried to find a place to go admire the event. I decided to walk to the old town, which was more than jammed packed to say the least. I do not know how the people in Kyoto don’t go postal, I was myself getting impatient to be stuck behind tourists. I managed my way up to the temple on the mountain, and although the view was breathing there was way too many people for my taste. I then decided to go back to the airbnb so i could relax and maximize my time in that magnificent place. It took me another two hours of walk to get back there. It was now about 7 at night and i was drained. I started the bath and took some pictures in the meantime that it filled up. That’s when Andre and I decided to flirt a bit more. I don’t know if it was the fact i had been alone for the past month (i was in isolation prior to the trip) but it felt good to just feel a connection. I finally got into my onsen and started day-dreaming about all the possibilities that could happen in this trip. I was alone, yes, but it was still the best feeling i ever experienced. Every day was filled with unknown and wonder, discoveries and introspection. Ding. My phone again. That boy was getting horny and to be fair he wasn’t the only one. As fun as it was, i decided to go to bed because this trip wasn’t about boys -it was about celebrating myself- and also the onsen was starting to get a toll on me. I felt asleep instantly but woke-up a bit later to some knocks at the door. I checked my watch and it wasn’t very late, so i assumed my host wanted to tell me something before the night. When i opened the door i was in shock to see that the person standing in front of me was Andre. With a simple smile, a thousand shivers went down my spine. I should’ve asked how he made it there, but he stepped in and closed the door as he kissed me with a level of passion to die for. We were getting in the house, pushing everything on our passage, his hands sliding up my shirt, until my foot touched the bath. Beep. Beeep. Beep. No fucking way. You gotta be kidding me. I was in my bed, the alarm ringing me out of sleep. Andre wasn’t here. Stupid horny brain, what did we say yesterday: stop. I went out of bed, laughing at myself. You can’t always control what’s happening in that box of yours.

A bit ashamed of my sex dream, i decided to shake it off with a cold shower. The day was starting and I wanted to go to the bamboo forest. Once the freezing water washed away all my non sense, i was ready to go out. I decided to take the bus instead of walking this time- because one of my feet was actually hurting a bit. I arrived there in about 40 minutes and there was a good amount of tourists already. A young japanese working at the park saw me and asked me if i wanted to try the little tuktuk thingy. My foot still hurting like hell, i didn’t even think twice before saying yes. We did a 30min tour of the area and then i had to eat quickly before going back downtown for a tea ceremony. I was alone for the experience and it was so resourceful. The hostess explained the process of making matcha tea but also what it meant for all the guests attending. She said there were four words at the center or every tea ceremony and if you could really focus on them then that’s when the ceremony would take all it’s meaning. Wa kei sei jaku (harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility). Felt a bit like meditating, i think i needed that. Also, I thought i wouldn’t like matcha tea but in the end it was delicious. Once this was done, I decided to walk around downtown (to buy some thank you present to my host) and ate in a small izakaya before walking back to the airbnb. I felt asleep after another bath and woke-up the next day pretty well rested. My host came to say bye and as I gave him the presents I silently prayed that I didn’t bought anything offensive. Japanese culture has so many superstition and their etiquette is very specific. To my great relief he accepted the gifts with a big smile and thanked me again for the time at his place. He wanted to do one last photoshoot with me- outside and with a glass painted with acrylic that would cover part of me and give a very artsy vibe to the pictures. Then, the taxi arrived and it was time for me to switch hotels. 

I arrived at The Millenials - a capsule hotel that was a bit futuristic - at about 11 am. I could put my backpack there and go explore until 4. I decided to walk to Fushimi Inari Shrine, the temple everyone knows for the several orange gates lining the path. I arrived there and it was once against bustling with tourists. I walked a bit and then decided to try wagyu beef on a stick. I thought i would die from an heart attack because it was so damn fat. My phone rang and it was a friend of mine, JP, recommending me to go to the monkey forest. As i had no plan for the afternoon, i decided to take the bus and go. Once i arrived at the gate, it was completely empty. I paid for my ticket and had to walk up for about 30min to get to the top- where all the monkeys were roaming freely. I had never liked zoos and places where animals are in cage, so i was very pleased to see all the monkeys were free. I stayed about 2 hours with them and had to finally go down as it was about time for me to check-in in the hostel. The room was a very futuristic pod with a projector screen as the door and a ipod as the key. You could also control the pod (the position of the bed, the lights and the a/c) with the ipod. The bed was also very comfy -i was looking forward for this night of sleep. I first decided to go check the 8th floor, where the hostel was hosting a 5a7 with free beer. The hostel was shared with a workspace so it was very quiet and everyone was drinking their beer with their noses stuck behind their laptop. Then, i met Izzy. She was a bubbly ginger girl from the UK and she made me laugh instantly. She also worked in films, but her part was more marketting and finances. We decided to drink until the end of the 5a7 and then go explore a speakeasy that someone recommended me before. We were about to leave when two guys introduced themselves. One was from the USA and the other from Australia. They agreed to come with us and we all walked down trying to find the “yellow door” of the speakeasy. We finally managed to get there and it threw me back like if i was in Montreal for an hour. The drinks were pricey yet delicious and the atmosphere reminded me of the cold room, downtown mtl. After a drink we decided to go search for a restaurant. Izzy was called by her work so she had to leave, but the two guys were too hungry to make a fuss about it. We finally chose an izakaya where we could eat meat on the grill - it was fucking tasty. I said my goodbyes after dinner and went to bed directly. Overall, i think Kyoto was my least favourite place so far. It was amazingly beautiful but definitely too crowded for me. I am still glad i experienced it, though.


I cannot pinpoint why, but as soon as i arrived in Osaka i felt like i was somewhere i already knew. My hostel was located in a very ugly area, just under an overpass, and i wondered for a moment why i had chosen this one. Probably the cheapest - when you travel for 6 months there are some moments where you need to make concessions. I couldnt check-in cause it was too early, so i dropped off my bag and started walking to explore the town. I headed to Dotonbori, first. It was a neighborhood composed of a few streets but felt like if Vegas and New York had a baby. Fast forward, he was now 22 and doing cocaine with daddys money. It was day right now and I wondered how more intense it could get at night. Once again, god knows why, I felt a sense of familiarity with the whole area. It was a bit less clean, less polished. A bit more soulful. The people looked more trendy here than they did in Kyoto. They looked more loosen up too. I passed a gang of young japanese men that were clearly already drunk -a bachelor party -i thought. I continued walking up to the old town, which vaguely felt like the old Vegas but with an asian vibe. I looked at my watch. I didn’t knew why, but i was so exhausted. Probably because i was walking about 30 thousand steps a day since the past two weeks (a meager development from the 100 steps i use to do since working from home). It was only 2 pm. The check-in wasn’t before 4. As i was about an hour away, i decided to walk back and find a place to chill not to far from the hostel. The Osaka palace. After a few thousand more steps, i finally crashed down in the grass in front of the palace. The view was great but it was starting to get colder and i think i felt it even more because my body was shutting down of tiredness. I decided to head back to the hostel and just wait in the lobby. When I arrived, there was only one other person there -he was working on his laptop. I sat down and started to write an article for my blog. After a few minutes, the guy introduced himself. His name was Anand. He was originally from India but lived in the usa since more than two decades. He was funny and sounded very educated and well-travelled. We discussed a bit about everything, including the fact it was hard to make contact with locals here. Japanese were very warm and welcoming -but they were also very introverted and focussed on work. Both Anand and I agreed that we loved to be alone for periods of times, but after a few days, we sometimes got lonely. We decided to meet back after the checkin to go eat somewhere. Anand wanted to broaden my horizon and wouldn’t let me leave Japan without trying sushis at least one time. I agreed to try if he would made sure that nothing had seafood or shellfish in -so i can live another day and experience the rest of the world. We decided to take the commute to Dontonbori, which at my surprise was less trashy than expected by night. We found a small sushi place and we started the lesson with laughs and a bit of insecurity on my part. We had about 10 different piece of sushi each - only one of these i ended up not liking. Put that on the sake or on the freshness of fishes here- i was kind of mind blown by the whole experience. I was still very tired though, so once we finished, we walked back to the hostel. There was Christmas lights outside. Damn, we are almost in December. We arrived at the hostel and played a monopoly game (but with cards) before calling it a night. The next morning i was taking the train early to go to Universal Studios -something i never wanted to do before because of the amount of wait and mainly - of people. I was well asleep when a girl entered the room (we were 6 pods in a room and they were all empty when i went to sleep). She proceeded to play with ziplock bags for like 2 hours. I swear to god i was wondering how many fucking bags she could close and open and for what fucking reason. I was about to yell at her (it was now 2am) when she finally decided to stop. I felt back to sleep promising myself that in the morning i would do as much noises as possible.

I was woken up by an alarm -not mine- about 15min earlier than the one i set. The alarm kept ringing and the fucking girl wasn’t waking up. I swear to god in those moments i hate people. She finally woke up and knocked on the side of the pod. It wasn’t her alarm. Someone (probably the previous client) had forgotten his phone somewhere in the room. I laughed internally. Anyway i was about to wakeup. The girl had to go out of bed too, cause she realized it wasn’t my phone and i wasn’t gonna stop it. What a great start of a morning. After about 10min of me watching her whole world burning, thanks to the karma, i was ready to take the train to Universal. It took me about 30 min before stepping into something I was absolutely not prepared for.

It’s like a whole universe opened before me when i stepped out of the train. The Harry potter theme song was playing very loudly outside and the grandiose Universal sign was throwing me back to childhood. The park was separated in several sections - the few i wanted to really experienced being Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Jaws and the Minions. I decided to start with the Harry Potter section because it was still morning and although there was a lot of people, I assumed it would only get worse as the day went by. When i arrived at the gate of the Harry Potter world my heart literally stopped. They had built the whole town and the castle and hagrid’s house. You could enter every shops and drink butterbeer. I was amazed by the realism of everything. I was in the movie, transported like if this was a real world, a real city. I walked to the first ride only to realize that there was a fast-track line for solo attendees. I would be able to do all the rides during the day because of this genius idea. The waited was about 40 minutes but it didn’t felt like it at all because we were basically walking and exploring the whole castle until the entrance of the ride. There was the greenhouse and the dungeon, the moving stairs with animated portraits - even the bathroom looked like the one in the movies. I was jaw-dropped. The ride was also pretty awesome, i left my heart in a few drops. I stayed in the Harry Potter area for a while after. I did another ride and then went to eat in the big kitchen. Even the food was thematic and the butterbeer was exquisite. I then decided to walk to Jurassic Park -which i was more a fan of- if you could imagine. I passed the Jaws ride on the way and decided to hop on it. It was cute and i even made a jump due to some pyrotechnics. Then it was time for Jurassic. The music gave me shivers and i almost cried when the first ride started and the gates opened to the dinosaur’s world. It was amazing. I think I felt the same feeling of wonder that Grant and Ellie felt when they saw Brachiosaurus for the first time, in the first movie. I stayed in the Jurassic Park for a while and then decided to explore more. My next destination was the Minions park- which to my big surprise was also pretty damn nice. I felt transported in a world where I was a cartoon. Every shops looked like plastic and were overly cute. The ride was also fun. I finished my day exploring the rest of the park, eating snacks and enjoying a few more rides. Then, it was time for me to call it a night. I went back to the hotel, took a shower, saw that i had a new roommate (that seemed silent but was stinking like hell), and i thought to myself “almost done with the fucking hostels”. Tomorrow i am leaving for Hiroshima- my last hostel in Japan.


I was barely alive when my alarm sound woke me up in the morning. I couldn’t fathom that someone could prevent you from sleep -not from noises but from odour. The ringtone hadn’t even played the last note that I was already out of the room. Fresh air, thank the fucking lord. There was still one more night to do in an hostel and i had to force myself to think about something else to prevent myself from crying. I ate a huge piece of chocolate for breakfast, a reward for having contained my hatred through the night. It was time to leave Osaka behind and with it I was going to start the day with a positive thinking.

The train to Hiroshima was a very smooth ride -i even had the chance to sit by the window to admire the landscape. It took about 2 hours and I was arriving at my new (and last) hostel of Japan. Once again, the check-in wasn’t open so I dropped my bag and walked around the neighbourhood to explore the city. I was about 15 minutes from the atomic dome, which shocked me to the core when I first saw it. Some of the reinforced concrete buildings in Hiroshima had been very strongly constructed because of the earthquake danger in Japan, and their framework did not collapse even though they were fairly close to the blast center. Since the bomb detonated in the air, the blast was directed more downward than sideways, which was largely responsible for the survival of the dome.

It is hard to imagine that the city was minding it’s own business -people working, kids playing outside- when the tragic event happened. 80 000* people died instantly from the blast of the bomb and even more would die later due to the aftermath. I sat in front of the dome for about two hours, speechless of it’s history. I then decided to walk to the museum, but when I arrived there was about 13 buses full of kids waiting in line to enter. A part of me was sad to miss out on this but another part wasn’t sure I could emotionally handle it anyway. With an heavy heart, i walked to a restaurant close-by. It was Italian. I wanted to try this since I first arrived in Tokyo and noticed the amount of Italian food everywhere. I ordered a pizza that in the end tasted better than most of the pizzas i had in Italy. I then walked to the Hiroshima Palace, about 20 min further. The palace I was standing in front of was a reconstruction, because the old palace had also been destroyed by the atomic bomb. I guess it gave me a sense of scale that made me feel even sadder. My watch buzzed the time -the checkin was about to open. I walked back to the hostel and sat in the couch until then. Two other guys were there. I couldn’t retain their names but one was from Toronto and the other one from the UK. We chatted a bit but got disturbed quickly by two guys yelling in Arabic to someone via their phone. Regardless where you are in the world, there will always be people who do not give a shit about others. At least, this was something to laugh and bound about with my two new acquaintances. The check-in opened and to my deepest joy, I got put in a private room due to god knows what. I took a shower and made some laundry and then decided to go try more sushis in a fancy restaurant next door. I had a memorable experience-each piece of fish tasting better than the last one. I went back to the hostel with my belly full and passed out in the bed instantly. I woke-up the next morning, finally refreshed from a good night of sleep. Tonight, i am back in Tokyo for my last moments in Japan. It feels hard to believe that my time in this country is almost over.

*I said 40k in my video, but this was for the second bomb dropped in Nagasaki)


I arrived in Tokyo after a 1h-ish flight. I went straight to my hotel, which was another hour commute from the airport. When i gave my name at the reception, the guy told me to not panic that he was going to fix it. Fix what? He asked me gently to look at my reservation number and that’s when I realized i made a mistake. The reservation was for yesterday. To my defence, my flight to Hanoi got pushed twice which forced me to do a lay-over in Tokyo instead of just go straight from Hiroshima. I didn’t mind at the time because Tokyo had been one of the places i most enjoyed during this trip -but clearly I got confused and ended up booking the wrong night. Done. The amazing staff at The Gate hotel had already fixed my mistake, free of extra charges. Even when Japanese have bad news to tell you, there’s not a single stresser put on you. I thank him several time, my saviour, before going to my room to drop all my bags. I would have gladly just rest, but I was starving to death. I only had chocolate (again) for breakfast -i was planning to eat at the Hiroshima airport only to find out there wasn’t any restaurant once you passed security. It was now 4pm and I was about to passed out. I went down and found a standing sushi restaurant, in a street nearby. I ordered so many tuna sushis that towards the end I even asked myself if this was healthy. But it was delicious (I can’t believe i love sushis now) and it gave me back some energy to finish the night. I went back to my hotel, up to the rooftop - ordered a glass of wine and contemplated the view. The temperature was just perfect. I would have felt in a painting if it wasn’t from the very gentle wind that was reminding me I was outside. I stayed there for a few hour before getting back to my room for a relaxing night pre-flight. I took a bath, did a face mask, lived my best relaxed life. I had the best night of sleep, which surprised me because usually I cannot sleep before travelling to a new country. I guess my brain had been in discovery mode for the past 2 weeks -so it wasn’t making a real difference to it. I woke-up thrilled about my new destination. I was able to do so many things during this trip to Japan -and it was only two weeks- i was excited to think about all i could do and see in one month in Vietnam. But first, coffee. I passed a Starbucks at the corner of the street while hunting for sushis yesterday, a white girl’s dream for a morning breakfast.

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