From Miyazaki to manga, ramen to robot restaurants…Japan is a varied country indeed. I just returned from a trip there, and my head is still spinning with visions of cherry blossoms, moss-covered gardens, golden temples, doll-like lolita fashions, a mountain full of fox spirits, Tokyo's neon cacophony… the list goes on. And then there are the things I wish I could have experienced: misty cryptomeria forests, hot springs, cat islands, rabbit islands, fox villages… hmm, I think I may be going back!
So how best to prepare for such a trip? Check out loads of stuff from the library, that’s how, and not just travel guides - why not immerse yourself in everything from classics to cult films? As the date of our departure drew closer, my traveling companion (who’d been there before) and I did just that. I read The Kangaroo Notebook by Kobo Abe, about a man who discovers radish sprouts growing from his legs, and my friend said with a straight face, “You might see that in Japan.” On the plane we saw Parasyte, a manga-based movie about an alien who takes up residence in a student's hand, and he said "You've got to watch out for those in Japan." Of course he was joking, and I saw neither of these (if only!).