A Life-Changing Trip to Japan

P1000569 P1000617 P1000571 IMG_8045 P1000188 P1000408 japan-235 japan-265 IMG_9814 japan-67.jpg IMG_8198 japan-322 IMG_9805 IMG_9748 DSCF1162I’ve been meaning to include Japan in my wanderlust series for quite some time but I’ve travelled so much there and have so many photos, I’d have to split it up into several cities. Japan is the first place where the travel bug really hit me and was a trip of a lifetime for more reasons than you may think.

My first real job out of university was working as web manager for a high school. As well as developing and redesigning their website, they had grand ideas for creating some kind of online learning curriculum and wanted me to develop educational games and materials for that. Sounds great right? Well I thought so too and I was thrilled when i got the job, beating around another 10 people at interview.

The reality, unfortunately, was quite different. This was a troubled school, put in ‘special measures’ by the government and it didn’t take long to see why. The kids were out of control and the staff were not much better. As with any school, there were some great kids and some excellent teachers but the majority won out to create an atmosphere of depression and chaos.

I started with great enthusiasm but this soon dissipated when i realised nobody was interested in what i was doing. The atmosphere was toxic and I hated being there. I used to wake up feeling physically sick at the idea of turning up to work another day. One day I had a brick thrown through my office window.

Things improved slightly when I moved to share offices with the IT and science staff – there at least I had people to talk to and we could complain together about how bad things were and how much we wanted to escape. I tried applying for other jobs but had no luck – I think my confidence and state of mind were so affected, I had resigned myself to my fate.

One day I decided enough was enough – I had to get out before this place dragged me down with it. I marked a date on my calendar for leaving, with or without a new job, circled  it in bright red pen and booked plane tickets for a 3-week holiday in Japan with my boyfriend at the time.

Those of you who have only known me for a few years won’t know that I used to have quite an obsession with Japan. I loved everything about it – the language, the culture, art, food, cherry blossoms. I’d been studying Japanese language for a while and dreaming of the day I could walk around Tokyo, hearing it in reality.

Well dreams are just dreams until we do something about them and booking that ticket was an important lesson for me. I know now that we attract good things into our lives by putting positive thoughts out there and following our hearts.

Japan was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be. We arrived in the midst of cherry blossom season and the little pink flowers fluttered around us as we explored the streets of Tokyo and Kyoto. We walked up the steps of ancient mountainside temples, soaked in the lights and sound of Shibuya, took photos of the cosplayers in Harajuku, walked through bamboo forests and sped all over the country by bullet train.

We packed as much as we possibly could into those three weeks and every single day was like a dream come true. Of all the places I’ve been and all the things I’ve seen, that first trip to Japan is still one of my most memorable and best travel experiences.

Just to top things off, I came home to a new job, working with a group of amazing and creative people who became some of my best friends. I worked in this job for several years before I decided it was time for another change and set off on my travels again (this time on the trip that would culminate in me ending up in Bali). I am 100% convinced that if i hadn’t just set a date and bought those plane tickets, I would have never escaped from that awful job and been open to the other opportunities that are out there.

Travel really can change lives and I urge everyone to take that trip of a lifetime before the years slip away. Don’t waste any more of your precious life in a dead end job or with people that make you miserable. Buy that plane ticket. Plan that trip. Just go!

This article has been written to recognise the author´s contribution to travel and tourism by Avis Car Hire (http://www.avis.co.uk/) on the A-List Awards 2013

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10 Responses to “A Life-Changing Trip to Japan”

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  1. Victoria Liddle says:

    Imagine how different your life would be if you were still stuck here!! Xx

  2. Rachel says:

    I don’t even want to think about it!

  3. toi says:

    this is such an inspirational post. Japan is one of my dream holiday places. thanks for sharing]

  4. TJ Gilbert says:

    Such beautiful photos! You must have an amazing life!

  5. I just wanted to stop by and tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. Found you a few years ago on TBB and have been a regular on your page since. I love your blog so much that I nominated you for the Sunshine Award! Your posts always try to be happy and uplifting and your photos are always so pretty. I would be so honored if you would check out the post here @ http://mtfreerangefamily.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-sunshine-award.html

  6. The Bradleys says:

    Japan is my favorite country in the world. We’ve only been to Nagasaki but being huge otakus we live vicariously through our Japanese movies and games and memories of our honeymoon there. This is such a beautiful post and your photos are stunning!!

  7. Rachel says:

    aw thanks, it’s not all perfect but I guess it is a pretty nice life :)

  8. Rachel says:

    Thanks Jillian, that’s so sweet of you! I’ll see if i can come up with a post for it soon :)

  9. Rachel says:

    You should totally go!

  10. Rachel says:

    Yay, someone else like me! hehe. I’ve actually been to japan 3 times now and i’d still love to go back! Maybe when the kids are bigger as I think the flights are quite cheap from Bali. We were in Nagasaki only briefly, it’s a beautiful city and i found the influence from europe strange and interesting!

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