On my way to Japan!

Though my date of departure has been right here on the right side of my blog all along, I’m quite sure not too many people have noticed. Usually when I’m going to Japan, I can’t wait to tell everyone and announce it in capital letters on facebook and all that, this time I told myself: “Don’t tell anyone, only tell them if they ask,” and so I did. I think in total about 20 people inquired about my travel plans (when I returned last time I did write on facebook that I would go back in April), so I managed to keep quiet. Even my dad only asked a month before my departure! I did give some hints here and there, because it was pretty hard to keep it a secret. 😉

BUT here I am, on my way to Japan again!

If all is going well, I’m now on my way from BRU to HEL, probably flying above Denmark at the moment. I’ll arrive there around 3 pm (UTC+2), then go straight to the gate for my next flight, which should depart to KIX (Japan) around 17:25 (UTC+2). Somehow I’m always afraid I’ll get lost or somehow won’t end up at the gate in time, so even if I have a layover of 10 hours (ugh, Shanghai memories…), I get off the plane, check the gate number, and go straight to the gate.

Scheduled time of arrival at KIX (Japan) is 8:55 (UTC+9). There I’ll have to change to ITM, an airport about 70 minutes away by Airport Limousine Bus. I have two choices: I can take the 9:40 or the 10:20, which will get me to ITM by 10:55 or 11:35. There’s one more, which would arrive at 12:15, but my connecting flight is at 12:45, so that would be too tight a schedule. I think I’ll get some breakfast either at KIX or at ITM, depending on which bus I can take.

My last flight will bring me to my most favourite city in Japan: Fukuoka! It’s a 1 hour and 15 minutes flight, so I’ll be there in no time. My Flemish friend Karolien will be waiting at the airport, where I arrive at 14:00 (UTC+9). It’ll be the first time someone’s actually awaiting my arrival at the airport, yay! Thanks Karolien! I’ll probably first go to my dorm (or well, share house, as they like to call it ;)) and drop off my luggage, quickly reunite with friends that are still there and then have dinner with Karolien.

As far as I know, there’s the Japanese girl Ayaka, who was the very last person to see me off last time at Tenjin station; then there’s the Korean guy Im, with whom I spent a lot of time in my last week; another Korean, Minkyu, should still be there as well. Then there’s Karolien I mentioned before, a girl I met in 2013 when we attended GenkiJACS at the same time. She’s Flemish as well, so we got along and last year I decided to go to Japan again at the same time as her (we got 10 % off then… ;)). We both lived at Sharely Style, but in October she moved to another dorm because she’d be attending a different school nearby. So she’s still in Fukuoka, just not in the same accommodation. Of course, I’m also looking forward to seeing Mina again, a Japanese girl I met through the internet. She’s a great person, who’s always looking forward to my arrival.

After a month staying at my home away from home, I’ll travel south to Kyoto for another WorkAway. From Fukuoka I’ll travel to Kyoto with a few stops (Hagi, Matsue, the Detective Conan Museum in Yura, Tottori and Amanohashidate) in between, since I don’t want to spend my money on the shinkansen (local trains take ages, so I’m taking a few stops for sightseeing).

I’ll stay there for three weeks until the end of the month, with my friend Hanna whom I met studying Korean in Seoul. She’s moving to Japan and wanted to start her journey with a WorkAway experience. When I was in Himeji for WorkAway, she’d inquired about it and eventually we planned to volunteer together. We first applied for the same place, but they had only one spot left so I started to search for another host in Kyoto. After contacting a few WorkAway places that were unfortunately fully booked, I finally found one that was still available. But then a few days ago Hanna’s host contacted me to say someone cancelled for the last two weeks of May so I can still go there if I want! I still have to reply to them so I’ll update you on the Kyoto WorkAway soon.

I hope to do a few side trips from Kyoto to nearby prefectures (to get closer to my goal of visiting each prefecture in Japan) as well.

I’ll stay in Kyoto until the end of May and then travel more north, maybe stay in Nagoya and Shizuoka for a few days and then do another 3-week WorkAway near Mt. Fuji. I still have to get this into order so I’ll update you on this one soon too! (I was too busy to reply to their emails last week… :P)

Then off to Tokyo for two weeks. Tokyo doesn’t attract me at all but for one reason I go back every time: my ‘Japanese parents’. Especially my Japanese mother, she’s an amazingly sweet person who’s taught me so much throughout all the time I’ve spent at their house. She the sister of the man who was my WWOOF host in 2013. One day she visited the place I was volunteering at, and told me to let her know if I’d go to Tokyo because I could stay at her house then. A few weeks later, I did go to Tokyo and the initial 3-4 days I’d stay at her place became 2,5 weeks. She felt a big responsibility for me, so she calls herself my Japanese mother while calling me her Belgian daughter. She’s always there for me whenever I’m in trouble, and she’s always a bit disappointed that I don’t stay for a longer period. But hey, it feels awkward to impose on people’s privacy just like that, I think staying for over a week is already too much! She has also introduced me to her children and their wives/children, to the people at her workplace (her husband’s the branch manager, while she’s HR and two of their sons also work there). I really appreciate everything she does for me, and will always reward her with some (Belgian) sweets. Every single time, she asks me for that delicious brownie cake, which she then shares with everyone, boasting how good I am at making it… (while it’s super easy!)

That’s my plan so far! After this, I have some vague plans, or things I’d like to do, but everything can still change. I’m definitely going to visit Osaka as well, because my dear Canadian friend Danielle is staying there as an exchange student and it’s been 3 years since I last saw her! I’ll end up in Fukuoka again at the end of another superfantastic mega-amazing Japan adventure. 😉

I also hope to keep my blog more up-to-date this time, but we all know that’s a difficult goal to achieve… ;P To start, I’ll definitely post either tomorrow or Wednesday with an update on how the trip and the reunion was… I sense it’ll involve okonomiyaki or ramen. 😉

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