The word seems easy enough to define.
Yet how people travel and what they experience varies enormously.
You can say that ultimately, there as many ways of travelling as there are travellers.
In our case for example, Anya and I always travel alone together, booking our own accommodation and travelling from one destination to the next by local bus or train (in Japan we avoided the popular bullet trains or Shenzhen)
We never move quickly and stay in places for at least a few days going on to the next destination.
We use guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, but in a different way to most other travellers.
Firstly, we use them to work out which places we aren’t interested in because they either too busy or over commercialised. We are always on the look-out for smaller, less popular destinations. Another reason we consult the LP guides (borrowed from a library) is to find places which aren’t in the LP guide – and hence where very few travellers will visit. In other words the LP guide is useful to find places which are worth a visit – and others, which are right off the beaten trail.
When we began thinking about travelling in Japan, the first thing we bought was a good map of the country.
Our main focus was to get a bit closer to how the everyday Japanese live; their way of life and culture. Often we ended up in places that had no sights, no attractions. Wherever we were, we went on long walks, often to the outskirts of the cities/towns. We often also walked around at nights. Japan in this sense is a good country to indulge in this kind of sightseeing because it is a uniquely safe country with low crime rates; an orderly society with a strong civic culture.
Japan is a unique society in every way. On the one hand it is so obviously modern – a high tech superpower and the third largest economy in the world – and yet on the other hand, it is also very traditional. It is a liberal democracy, with elected politicians and a free press and yet one could hardly think of a bigger contrast between Japan and the world’s other liberal democracies.
In what follows are some of my thoughts and reactions during the month we spent in Japan…..