DREAM Since childhood, it has always been a dream of mine to visit Japan.  My fascination grew from watching Japanese cooking shows (Iron ChefJiro Dreams of Sushi…), anime (Laputa, Nausicaa, Rurouni Kenshin…), drama series (Great Teacher Onizuka, OshinYamato Nadeshiko…) and of course the ridiculous game shows!  Even though there’s a Japantown in nearby San Francisco, it was never enough to satisfy my curiosity for all things Japanese.  So finally, after all these years of dreaming, it was time to give Japan a well deserved visit!  =)  As I thought of all all the places I would visit…Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka….God reminded me of the  2011 tsunami that hit Japan.  I remembered I wanted to do something then, but didn’t know how.  Thankfully, God opened the doors of volunteering in a very surprising way: all I did was to be curious and asked around with friends…

Network Yep, the more you network, the more untapped connections you’ll uncover.  Along the way, I met those that have been to Japan — their stories encouraging and exciting!  With their help, I was eventually connected to two churches who graciously took me in as a volunteer — one in the Tokyo suburbs and the other up in Ishinomaki (tsunami disaster area).  I’ll have a separate blog post on that soon.

WILLING One of the best decisions made this vacation was to be willing to make it about volunteering.   Yes, I said volunteering!  Rather than the usual selfish pampering vacation mentality, it was rather refreshing (and with joy!) to give myself to others.  It is important for me as a Christian to always be aware of opportunities to care for others, even during a vacation — I’m so glad I did that.  It is ironic however, that volunteering alongside the locals turned out exposing me to more Japanese culture than I would have had otherwise…not to mention meeting lots of wonderful new friends! =)  I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.

MAGICAL

Over the next few weeks I will be posting individual blog posts on the places I visited, things I learned, customs I found weird, challenges I faced, friends I made, and of course the food I ate~!  I hope to share this wonderful adventure into Japan with you through a series of photo filled blog posts…an adventure I can only describe as…magical! =)

Categories: travel