Ok, so work on my novel was full on, but I had the dilemma of having to use up annual leave in my day job – what to do? Plan my dream trip to Japan of course!
My sister and I have wanted to go for years and it was now or never. We had the funds, the time and the energy (just about). The timing was bad as I was trying to finish my book – specifically the 125 illustrations that needed to go alongside the 60,0000 words! I decided that spending 2 weeks slogging away would have been counterproductive as I was already feeling burned out. A change of scene was needed, so Japan it was.
And what a trip! The flight with ANA set the pace for the rest of the holiday. We boarded what turned out to be the Star Wars R2-D2 jet and took our seats with the theme tune playing and an announcement of “May the force be with you”- brilliant!
As soon as we landed everything was super exciting: getting on the train, walking down the street, buying stuff from the supermarket, and even going to the loo! We spent the first week based in Tokyo and got to experience the scramble crossings, arcades, bullet trains, food items we had on our list (Sushi, ramen, udon, takoyaki, yakitori etc…), food items we didn’t have on our list and 2 days in Kyoto to experience the ‘old Japan’ of pagodas, zen gardens and geishas. Culturally, everything was so incredibly different to what we’re used to.
But it’s the creativity of the Japanese that I was in awe of the most. Everywhere you turn something strikes you: cute anime characters on billboards, TV, metro ads, vehicles. Massive digital screens on the sides of buildings alongside coloured neons lighting up the main strips. And food is clearly a ‘feast for the eyes’, presented with consideration and thoughtful composition with colour, texture and form – Oishi! (Delicious!)
The second week was a welcome breather from the mad hustle and bustle of Tokyo (not for the faint hearted BTW!). We flew 3 hrs south to Ishigaki to sample laid back tropical island life and stayed in a traditional Japanese house by the beach. We did scuba diving with manta ray and turtles and basically chilled the hell out.
I think that holiday hit the spot. I managed to remove myself from the project that I’d been dedicating all my spare time to for the last 3 years. It gave me something else to focus on and head space to prepare for finishing the novel when I got back home.
So if you’re ever in doubt, choose a break – life’s too short for burn out!