Andrea Johnson, Spiritual Counselor
When people discover that I lived half my life in Japan, I get the chance to hear about all the incredible experiences they enjoyed while traveling the country. I often hear, “Oh, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were so moving.” Or “The Sapporo Ice Festival was amazing!” Other people tell me how much they loved cities like Kyoto, Osaka and Okinawa. It is incredibly fulfilling to make these connections with people, being familiar with the names and areas that they visited, and having the ability to share their love and passion for this beautiful country.
My husband and I lived and worked together in the greater Tokyo area for 25 years. Due to our schedule and family commitments, we rarely had the opportunity to travel. We worked in a Japanese Christian church, raised four children and shared enriching cultural experiences with our family that have shaped them into the people they are today.
Before I die I hope to return to Japan, this time as a knowledgeable visitor and tourist. I would like to travel, preferably by train, to some of these places I never got to see or experience fully when I lived there. We developed many life-long friendships while living in our host country, so visiting with friends or staying in the local Japanese inns (called minshuku), will be part of the experience.
I want to wander around old streets and into temples, and hope to immerse myself in local history. Japanese cuisine varies tremendously based on the part of the country, so I anticipate the opportunity to enjoy delicious regional cooking each day. One of the highlights of our many years living there was indulging in the Japanese hot spring baths: if you’ve never been in a real Japanese bath, I think that should be on your bucket list!
A final facet of the trip I hope to complete will include traveling to the Tohoku region. This is the area affected by the 9.0 earthquake in March of 2011 that triggered multiple tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. My intention for visiting is to show support for the courageous survivors as they continue to rebuild their lives.