Around the time I began planning my first adventure of the year, I stumbled upon this video: A Mile with May: Backyard Adventuring With My Daughter by Beau Miles. In it, Beau (an Australian builder, writer, and all-around legend) plops his one-year-old daughter down in a wheelbarrow armed with snacks and a few tools, and proceeds to walk a lap of the block, a journey exactly one mile long. …

“The particulars of new places grabbed me and held me, the sweep of new coasts, cold, lovely, dawns. The world was incomprehensibly large, and there was still so much to see. Yes, I got sick sometimes of being an expatriate, always ignorant, on the outside of things, but I didn’t feel ready for domestic life, for seeing the same people, the same places, thinking more or less the same thoughts, each day. I liked surrendering to the onrush, the uncertainty, the serendipity of the road.”

William Finnegan, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

When I look back on my 24…

A glimpse into life in Tokyo through the smallest of moments.

Monday 7:47am

An elbow in your side, one resting on the side of your head, and your face pressed into the glass. The fans that line the ceiling do their best but are no match for the humid air that swirls through each carriage. Those lucky enough to get seats do their best impressions of bobble heads, using their privilege to find a few extra moments of rest. At each station the tide of people recedes and then builds again, sometimes eclipsing the boundaries of the river. Droplets of sweat sit atop lips, like unwanted passengers. Few words are spoken, bar the…

“Hey Chris, hope you’re doing well! How’s Japan?”.

This, or some variation of this, is a message I have received numerous times since my arrival in Japan, and always struggled to answer. How do you condense an entire country into one sentence, let alone the one word people are often looking for? Inevitably, I go with the “It’s great, thanks for asking!”, a copy-and-paste kind of answer that appeases the other person without actually really saying anything.

Last Friday, though, I figured out how to answer this question.

My friend sent me a message on Facebook. “I miss you too…

When you step off the plane into a country for the first time, your senses are assaulted with stimuli previously unbeknownst to you. Signs in a language you don’t understand fill your vision, indistinguishable scents waft past your nose, your skin prickles from the touch of a new climate. For many, myself included, the first week or two in a new country leave you in a state of perpetual overwhelm, where your senses are in such rapid motion that your brain doesn’t have time to catch up.

An under-stated shrine found in the middle of a small forest in outer Tokyo.

This has been my first three weeks in Japan. Now, as I attempt…

Chris Hagan

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