Saying goodbye might be the hardest part of travel. Despite all the miles I clock and all the countries I visit, I have yet to perfect the process of bidding farewell to a country that I have fallen so deeply in love with.
I left Japan a few hours before a big typhoon — it seemed to be a running theme of my trip. That morning, Narita airport was practically empty and when I landed on another continent ten hours later, I was greeted by television images of the watery destruction back in Tokyo. I didn’t worry, though. Japan is very adept at getting back on their feet.
Japanese culture is also deeply attached to ritual. Boarding a plane and simply flying away from the country seemed a banal farewell — almost sacrilege. I felt so sad inside and that something was lacking in this quick and uneventful exit. As I watched at the foggy rice fields disappear below, I realized that this was one of my problems in Japan — I could never really say thank you. I mean, I learned to verbalize “thank you” over and over again, but somehow it was just never enough.
I’ve long maintained that “Thank You” are the most important words for a traveler to carry, and yet I have so many more words and feelings for Japan. My very full heart is thwarted by a limited tongue and so, like all good digital nomads, I have leaned slightly on technology to express how I feel. This little digital tribute was shot and recorded using just my phone–the words and vocals are all mine, while the music is courtesy of one of my free iPhone apps, Songify. (It’s amazing how well you can sing with a little help from auto-tune!) Now, I’m well aware that my digital persona might sound like a three-year-old in Japanese, but I’m OK with that. As you recall, that is precisely how I entered Japan — as a three-year-old.
So here’s my music video to all the Japanese people I met in Japan and beyond–and to all those who made my journey so wonderful. ありがとうございます.
Here’s an English translation of the lyrics:
My name is Andrew and this month, I’m traveling in Japan.
I want to say to you that I like your country very much: the mountains, lakes and sea are all so beautiful.
The temples are so peaceful.
The cities are so exciting and Japanese food is delicious.
I am so happy to be in Japan.
Your country inspires me and I will never forget it.
Thank you for sharing your culture with me.
Thank you so much.
* a special thanks to Naoko Hase for her help with the Japanese translation