Written x Submitted by Jasmin Greene
I had a list. A rather lengthy list… of countries I wanted to visit. Cuba may or may not have been on it (cough cough). And since becoming an adult, I have worked hard to cross names off that list by planning to visit at least 1 new country a year.
And all was going according to plan… until an opportunity presented itself to visit a place that wasn't on the alleged illustrious who's who (my list). The year: 2009. The place: Japan. Now don't get me wrong— it's not that I didn't want to ever go to Japan. It just fell far, far (far) behind others on a list comprised of [destinations like] Brazil and Croatia and Switzerland, (and Cuba).
But when my best friend decided to study in Tokyo, the universe painted a large sign for me: get the f@#$ on a plane and visit your homie. Not to mention I randomly found a cheap ticket to fly to the other side of the earth. The stars were officially aligned.
It was the week of Thanksgiving when I left. And despite a flight that made me never want to board another plane again (2 sleeping pills washed back with a vodka/ginger ale couldn't get me to sleep… welp), the moment I left Narita airport I wondered, "Why the hell wasn't Tokyo, Japan on the list?"
What would follow was a whirlwind tour of Tokyo and its surrounding towns. Naturally we spent our days at sushi counters stuffing our faces 'till our pores oozed of raw salmon, washing it away with incredulous amounts of umeshu (which would become my new water). Mi amigo was an awesome host with new awesome friends who joined us for days of exploring, more eating and of course [overnight] karaoke. Let's just say I was the last man standing at 5am with a mic in my hand belching out my go to— No Doubt's Don't Speak.
The trip consisted of several epic days including ye old Turkey day, which saw the two of us venturing into a new neighborhood for some grub. We stumbled upon the most charming of places. And by charming, I mean a tiny spot with the menu written in Japanese characters all over the wall. I felt like Michael Jackson in Vegas when we ordered. "I want that, that and that…and that" were the words that left our mouths as we pointed to random [kanji] characters we did not understand and monetary symbols that meant nothing. What came back were several plates of raw, whole vegetables. Don't get me wrong— I like to be healthy when I'm not enjoying being a wino (which is like never), but it was Thanksgiving and we wanted some meat in our lives. So we tried again, and suffice it to say we had a great meal: cooked veggies, an assortment of grilled meats… and kimchi (random?). Afterwards we went to another charming/random spot… a hookah situation— Was it a bar? Was it a lounge? Was it someone's old hut? Who's to say?— but I believe it was in that moment of hazy smoke I had a come-to moment… this [country] is the shit.
I could go on about the kabillion incredible moments I had while over there, but this is not meant to be a post to convince you to go to Japan.
That trip ended up being one of my favorite experiences of all time. It taught me to loosen the hell up on "that list" and be more open to the unexpected. Moving forward, I didn't restrict myself to places just on this "list" and since, I've gone to places I had never even thought of before— and had a kick ass time!
The greatest lesson of all, taught by Japan, was not only to go wherever, whenever but to do whatever, whenever. If the moment is right, what ever is supposed to happen will some how reveal itself to you.
…With that said… I am def going to Cuba.
Jasmin Greene is a writer and filmmaker living in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @JasminSharon
Have you ever gone someplace that wasn't on your 'list'?? Tell us about your experience below.