A Bucketful of Wishes: Wanderlust, Sakura Dreams, and Everything Japan

I have read a number of interesting bucket lists lately. I figured it is high time to write some of mine too. Putting goals in writing is after all the beginning of achieving unbelievable feats. I imagine bucket lists as containers of seeds about to take root, bloom, and bear fruit.

(source: pixabay.com)
Shirakawa-go (source: pixabay.com)

A wanderlust for Shirakawa-go had me thinking it is high time to rekindle my dreams of traveling especially to my most favorite place in the world. Japan. Here are some of the things I will move mountains for on my next visit there:

  • Run at least one hour every day ~ Waking up early for a run is great. Waking up early for a run in unfamiliar streets in Japan is a dream. I have had the pleasure of running with my team in the quiet streets of Aioi, with a triathlete friend in the pathways of Shinagawa and in amazing routes between a hotel to a castle in Aizuwakamatsu as well as the quaint town of Minamiaizu in Fukushima. Running has always been a deep experience for me after I get past the pain of pushing myself to the limits. But there is always more to the exercise than that. It is a time to commune with nature and the energy that surrounds every runner. I think it is during those moments while running that we truly are in touch with ourselves and the world around us. Among my best memories are the beautiful images I have passed through while running in quiet pathways and busy streets of Japan.
  • Sit under cherry blossom trees ~ I call it my sakura dreams. It is my personal version of hanami. I blame a book I read when I was ten years old. It was about a tiger and a cherry blossom tree. I forgot the title of the book and the story, but the image of the cherry blossom tree has forever been etched in my memory. Since then, I have always dreamed of walking and sitting under sakura trees in bloom.
  • Visit Shirakawa-go ~ I saw a picture of Shirakawa-go years ago that made me want to see the place for real. It is the image I see every time I think about Japan, before I got the chance to visit some parts of the country. There is just something about the place that draws me. A fairytale-like appeal that promise things magical and wonderful. I want to be amazed as I walk around enjoying the scenery, to savor every bite of food, and to sleep peacefully at night in one of the farmhouses that serve as inns in that place.
  • Walk the path in the bamboo forest outside Kyoto ~ All the photos I have seen convinced me that it is one place I definitely have to see for myself.
  • Ride the shinkansen ~ I am fascinated with the idea of a bullet train. I wonder about the speed and what the experience would be like to sit inside the train as I try to look at the view outside. But it is an expensive way to travel so I am really looking forward to a time that I would be able to splurge on this one. Traveling in Japan is not exactly a walk in the park on a shoestring budget.
  • Muster enough courage for onsen ~ I am a very private person so the idea of sharing a bath with many other girls the traditional Japanese onsen way petrifies me. But it is high on my list of things I want to do in Japan. I look forward to my first open-air onsen bath.
  • Master the subway ~ I find Tokyo’s highly efficient subway system daunting. Everything seems to be in precision, even the people who travel on those trains. I want the confidence of traveling alone and successfully pulling off every step without getting lost in translation.
  • Eat like a local and drink sake ~ My sense of adventure when it comes to food is sadly lacking. But enjoying a variety of food is an essential part of traveling. You have not truly experienced the place without tasting its sumptuous fare. I am happy to say that I discovered my liking for (salmon) sashimi in Japan where I first tasted it a few years ago. I learned since then that adventure and curiosity when it comes to food make traveling more fun.
  • Go to more shrines, temples, and castles ~ There is a timeless appeal to shrines, temples, and castles that gets me. I like to spend some time visiting as many as I can either by chance or design.
  • Cuddle with the cats in cat cafes ~ It can be a bit expensive but I would willingly save up for some neko appreciation time in a relaxing ambiance while sipping a cup of tea.
  • Taste as many Kit Kat flavors as I can ~ Kit Kat’s many flavors in Japan is like the muggle version of the Harry Potter famed Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. They are among my favorite things to see in every 7-11 store I got to visit when I was there. I have tried the Green Tea flavored ones and a few interesting yet less exotic other varieties. But there are still much to try, especially the wasabi (dark chocolate) Kit Kat.
  • Climb Mt. Fuji ~ A mountain, the climb, scenic views, fresh air, and more. What’s not to love? Given the chance, I would scale the heights and enjoy the view from the top.
  • Live, laugh, love ~ Among the happiest memories I have are of my Japan trips. I know that whatever experience comes when I am there will unfold as they should be. And I believe that traveling is all about how we live, laugh, and love at every moment given to us.
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