Well hello there! Fancy meeting you here. Welcome to the first entry in a new blog series by yours truly. No surprises that my new blog series is all about my future travel plans and my return to Japan. Of course, at this stage in our history Covid-19 restrictions are just starting to ease here in Australia. People are allowed to congregate in small groups, families are allowed to have gatherings in their homes and restaurants are finally opening back up. I even caught up with a couple of friends over the weekend for an amazing Japanese dinner in an Albert Park restaurant. Sushi, sashimi, wagyu sukiyaki, Hokkaido ramen – yes it was resplendent.

If you have been following my somewhat haphazzard blogs, you will know that recently I spoke of my desire to return to Japan. Further to that, I talked about making some plans for the 20?? trip. That is what this new blog series is all about. It will be a mix of researching destinations, travel considerations and all the amazing sites, food and photo opportunities that exist. But of course, as I said, restrictions are only just easing and at this point in time we have no idea when international travel will be allowed again. Rumours are that 2022 is more likely than anything sooner. Such a long way away. But then it got me thinking, what about the Tokyo 2020 olympics? When do they plan to hold that already postponed event? Is it going to be a virtual spectator experience only or are they going to delay the event until 2024? Who knows right!

Regardless, at some point in time the Australian government and the Japanese government will give the green light for tourist-based travel. At some point. I imagine that will not be until they either have a vaccine, or the virus is pretty much beat and you don’t need to spend weeks in isolation at either end of your trip. Once again, who knows. But you can’t blame a boy for getting his bucket list ready and full of destinations, ideas, hopes and dreams. So here we are.

As a side note, at that very same delicious Japanese dinner in Albert Park, my friends encouraged me to organise photography tours to Japan. They promised me that there are many members in our Fuji X Aus online community that want me to lead a tour. I was honoured, a little scared and very excited by the idea. We instantly started tossing around ideas of how it would unfold. While that will take a lot of work and research, I love the idea. I will be including that side quest in this blog series also. Now I have two streams of thought and ideas around Japan travels – one for me as a solo adventurer and one for a group of my peers. The end result is that I have a glowing ember of anticipation burning in me now. Let’s explore that more together here.

The biggest question that needs to be answered first is where to go. I have been to Tokyo three times since 2015 and also made a trip to Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima in 2016. This time around I don’t see Tokyo as being at the top of the my list. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tokyo and could spends months and months exploring it. I could see myself returning to Osaka and branching out from there. But there are also so many more place to see and explore in Japan. I could put a map of Japan up on the wall and throw a dart at it and I would be completely happy with the destination that fate provided. But of course I want to be a little bit more strategic than that.

So the question remains…where do I go? Do I head north of Tokyo and explore Northern Honshu with places like Niigata, Fukushima, Yamagata, Aomori and Sendai? Or do I head even further north to Sapporo and Hokkaido? Alternatively, I could head south and explore more of the Kansai region including Osaka (I was only there for two nights in 2016), Kobe, Nara and Himeji. Or I could even head as far down as Kyushu and visit Fukuoka, Beppu and Nagasaki. I know a little about each of those locations and would love to learn more in readiness for travel.

And, since I have ample time with no set travel date, I might as well explore all of them here with you. What’s more, I would appreciate your thoughts and comments on each blog and destination as I write about them. If you have visited or know something about a destination I write about, then by all means share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. All too often the best bits of travel information come from word of mouth. I have the usual Lonely Planet travel books but they are getting on in years and we don’t really know what has changed since lockdown. Plus, I will be resarching a lot of YouTube travel videos for visual reference.

My next blog is in this series is going to be all about Osaka. If I were to return to the Kansai region, then Osaka would make a sensible base camp. Lots of transport options from Osaka including Shinkansen to various cities and prefectures. So please stay tuned for that one as I intend to explore the location, transports options, local cuisines, street scenes, must-see-sites and of course photography opportunities. I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well and that you are able to stretch those legs a little now that the pandemic is easing ever-so-slightly. Continue to be safe as the danger is not yet over. G