Wanderlust: Places of Inspiration

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) Japan

At some point in our lives, there are places and people that make an impression, enriching our lives forever.  In writing part four of the Wanderlust series, I am reminded of a time and place that struck me with the inspiration to discover our world. It was in the early 90s, as newlyweds, that Peter and I ventured off to teach in Japan and search for adventures. Travel, at this time, was done with a paper travel guide, rudimentary Japanese and a map in hand.  At times it was challenging, sometimes a bit nerve wracking but always exciting.

For many of us, time passes in the blink of an eye and yet the past is always so close to us. Japan was 26 years ago; however with memories being as powerful as they are, I feel like I was just there. Certain smells, sounds and sights transport me back. Seeing my old backpack, hanging in the basement, reminds me of our first trip around southern Japan.  

Traveling with two Aussies, we backpacked for two weeks.  With the Lonely Planet as our only guide, we ventured to historic places including Hiroshima.  To this day, August 6 still reminds me of the sights we saw: the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Children’s Peace Monument in Peace Park as well as the horrific photos in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  Visiting less than 50 years after the atomic bomb, it amazed me to see how a thriving city had emerged from the ashes of devastation.  

A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan

The opportunity to travel, whether on a weekend or a holiday, never passed us by.  Just the two of us or with friends, we would hop on the train and venture off to a new location.  Travel was filled with visiting temples, hiking mountains or relaxing in onsens, Japanese hot springs. One memory that pops to mind is the night we stayed in a Buddhist temple. Bathing in green tea and sitting on a tatami mat for a traditional meal are moments not easily forgotten.

Our two years of exploring and being immersed in Japanese culture made a permanent mark.  “Do you remember…” still crops into conversations.  Japan became a part of my life, my inspiration, and put me on the path of travel and discovery.  What is your inspiration?