It’s springtime in Japan. Well, nearly. The snow and the frost pretty much a memory now, at least in my part of the country. Spring rains, cool and fresh-smelling, have begun. I can have my windows open and enjoy the feeling of the breeze and the scent of new life.
This sort of weather always awakens something in me. Wanderlust, I guess is what we call it. I just want to pick up and go.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that I’ve been recontracted, and I’m relieved to be able to spend another year here in Tochigi. It’s nice to have a place to come home to, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go on a voyage.
It’s become a bit of a tradition for me. Come March, I start to plan (either in my head, or more concretely on paper and through travel booking sites) an epic weeklong road trip for Golden Week. In 2006, I went to Shikoku, and it was excellent. In 2007, I went to Kyoto, Nara and Ise. In 2008, I circumnavigated Kyushu, and completely fell in love with the place. In 2009, I reinforced my feelings by returning to Miyazaki and Oita.
This year, because in my new job I don’t have the luxury of taking one of my 20-32 discretionary holidays whenever I want (because I’m the main English teacher instead of an assistant, despite my job title, and because I only have 5 discretionary holidays), I won’t be able to swing an epic road trip in Golden Week, and that makes me… a little sad.
These days, when the warm breeze blows and I get a noseful of spring, I close my eyes and suddenly I’m driving the streets of Kitakyushu, or the Phoenix Route in Miyazaki, or the road through the Oboke Valley in Shikoku. I remember the places I’ve been, and I long to return, and to find new places. But it’s not even the destinations, a lot of the time. I’ll close my eyes and suddenly I’ll be driving the San’yo Highway through southern Yamaguchi, turning a bend and realizing I’m in Shimonoseki and about to cross the bridge to Kyushu; for me, the destinations are important, but what really sticks with me is the driving. If I could afford it, or if I could somehow get paid to do it, I’d drive all over this country, to cities, to small towns, on highways, on backroads, on dodgy mountain paths.
These are what I see when I close my eyes in the spring, when the wanderlust comes for me. Though I can’t, I long to give myself over to it, drop everything, and go. The world at large isn’t conducive to the fulfilment of such dreams, though. Too bad.