97 days until I’m off. I’m excited, apprehensive, impatient and a little bit gassy whenever I think about my upcoming year long stay in Japan. Which is pretty much allll of the time. I chose to set my leaving date during May just because that’s when the lease on my flat ends, however it also gives me plenty of time to prepare. Which is what I’ve been doing of course!

As I’ve said about 100 times already to many different people, I’m initially going to backpack up and down the country for around five months. I’ve already seen some of Tokyo, Kansai and central Honshu so I will focus my time on the other parts of the country that are less commonly visited by gaikokujin (foreigners). This includes the national parks of Hokkaido, the coastal cities of Shikoku and the volcanic scenery in Kyushu amongst other things.

“But then what?” people like to exclaim, raking their hair and wringing their hands in trepidation.

I have a few ideas for what I’ll do next but I haven’t decided. I may head back to Tokyo, find some accommodation in a share house (a room with a shared kitchen/living space for foreigners), some casual work and just experience what it’s like to live in the world’s largest city for a few months. Or I may get on Workaway.com, find some volunteer positions in different places around the country and stay with some actual Japanese people (not travellers) to learn about what it’s like to live in this country. I’m not ruling anything out, however my focus will be on improving my Japanese and just enjoying myself. Not on making money or being stressed. No way.

So far, I have put together a budget, an itinerary and a packing list. I’ve already booked one internal flight and scoped out the prices of some others. I have some hostel beds reserved for places that are likely to be popular and will probably lock in a few more dates as well. I’ve identified the new bag I want to buy and am looking for some sturdy walking boots. Slowly but surely everything is coming together.

I’ve also been attending Japanese lessons again. I’m still a beginner and have only learnt the basics, but I can stay stuff like “How much for a beer?” and “Does this train go to Matsuyama!?” so I think I’m covered for most scenarios.

Some of my learning materials

All sounds pretty sensible eh? It’s almost as if I’ve done something like this before. I turn 27 this month, which I have to admit I’m a little dismayed about. I can’t quite believe that the last time I packed up and travelled the world like this I was only 21. That was a really bold thing for someone so young to do. I may not have physically aged much since then (cursed with a babyface) but I’ve definitely come a long way in terms of maturity, confidence and fortitude. Are the motivations that drive me to live abroad again the same as last time? Not quite. I looked over some of my oldest ever blog posts to remind myself why I did it first time. My world view has definitely shifted. But I won’t get into that now, here.

As you can see, part of my plan is to not be too planned. But you can rest assured I’m doing my research and am thinking over my options on the daily. Not long now!

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