Collected translations of Maaya Sakamoto news, essays, interviews, and articles


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Solo Travel (Continued)

Part 21 of 68 in a series:

Continuing from last time, more stories from my first ever trip alone.

I think I’m by nature bad at traveling.

To start, I have a lot of luggage —the hallmark of a poor traveler. I don’t know why, but I can’t stay anywhere for even one night without bringing a huge bag. People used to traveling can seemingly go anywhere with hardly any preparation. This spring, when I went to Okinawa after graduating from college, I had the most luggage of anyone. My friends all traveled light, wore the same outfits as much as possible, and made maximum use of the hotel’s complimentary items. I, on the other hand, despite knowing the hotel would have towels, shampoo, and rinse, took some “just in case”, brought a coat for cold weather “just in case”, and packed a lot of clothes “just in case” I spilled something on them. And taking so many clothes naturally meant I had to take several pairs of shoes to go with them. As a result I ended up forgetting things I really needed and caused trouble for myself during the trip. Packing is simply not my forte. But when I went on this trip by myself I tried to keep my luggage down to a minimum! My efforts were for naught, since I did a lot of shopping in Sendai and ended up with several bags on the return trip. I know, it’s silly to shop for clothes while traveling, since I could do that at home…

That and I have no eye for details. Put me in a place I’m unfamiliar with and I’ll miss the bus that comes only once every 30 minutes, get on a train headed away from where I’m going, or find that the store I was so very much looking forward to visiting is closed on the one day I’m there… Maybe I just can’t plan? But sometimes those things happily turn into unexpected blessings.

All this goes to show how terrible I am at traveling, but I have my heart set on taking Solo Trip #2 someday. Besides, repetition is the only way to get better. The next place I want to visit in Japan is Shikoku. I have yet to set foot in Shikoku. Outside Japan, I think I’d like to see Thailand. I hope someday I can actually travel to these places.

I tend to obsess over attempting new things or accomplishing things on my own. For a long time, taking a trip alone has been one of those things. I’m actually a very conservative person. But I sense that these experiences likely serve to hone me. I admit I sometimes wonder if I need the sharpening, but when I try my hand at something new I feel my cells doubling in double-time, and testing myself with a tricky task adds wrinkles to my gray matter. Moreover, I’m surrounded by nothing but smart, talented, and helpful people, so if I slack off I imagine I wouldn’t finish a single thing on my own, as I’d rely on their kindness. Being around such great people makes me aware of how remarkably irresponsible, ignorant, immature, and inexperienced I am. Those are the times when I feel like honing myself.

Now, as for whether I accomplished that honing on this trip.

Well, I did, in a way. Hahaha. I was at least able to enjoy a beer alone while gazing at the northeast sea.


Part 21 of 68 in a series: