Occasional gaps in the trees gave prospect onto white vaporous clouds below us, reclining lazily on neighbouring verdant peaks.
Unfortunately, in years of studying Japanese, I had never learned the suite of vocabulary required for this situation. Not one lesson had covered “Your tyre is stuck in a drain, do you have a jack in your car so we can leverage it out?”
We set off along smooth concrete roads in the summer heat, and I puffed along behind this troop of tanned enthusiasts and their bulbous calf muscles, acutely aware of myself as the pasty, unfit, mal-equipped, ethnic and gender minority.
As we navigated the swarming crowds, John was accidentally knocked by a large and bright pink dolphin balloon. Even as an adult, sexually-active, homosexual man, he said that it was the gayest thing that had ever happened to him.
As the car rounded hairpin turns and glided past unguarded drops, we contemplated our mortality and considered the eventuality that the last sound we might hear in our short lives could be the jubilant melody of Germanic Ducktales.
In a murky pond a stone sculpture of a grand ship with a proud, emblazoned sail appeared to float upon the water, with its portly dwarfish crew captained by a stout samurai.
I had entertained the thought that being cloaked in the appropriate apparel would make me feel more involved, when in fact I felt far more self conscious and fraudful.
Being alone, I stood to the side and took some photographs, but my alabaster skin betrayed my clandestinity and a couple of merry folk gave me high-fives.
On one of these many colourful cartographies I had found something called the ‘Totoro Forest.’
What is there to fight for? Everything! Life itself, isn’t that enough? To be lived, suffered, enjoyed!
Received wisdom about bear encounters conflictingly suggests running, standing one’s ground, or playing dead; a selection that seems fatally incompatible.
Mountains are quite often used to connote that which is fixed and enduring, but in reality there are few things more changeable than the mountains.
Once in the wake of a contact lens delivery I came back to find a thin cardboard parcel sticking out of my door like someone trying to eat a pizza box from the corner.
Thanks to simplified biological diagrams, a lack of experience of in situ viscera, and a general naivety, I had previously thought of the oesophagus as a clear drop to the stomach, like a stone well to some distant cavern below. It wasn’t until an unwelcome object needed to make the journey through my digestion that I came to realise how ludicrous this image was.
One day Nakano-sensei asked which of the elementary schools is my favourite, and it’s possible that I answered a little too quickly with “Matsuyama.”
‘Language barrier’ is a phrase well-worn to the point of being threadbare, but it is not until one has experienced the communicative rampart that the barrier in question seems less like a linguistic picket fence and more of a socially impenetrable stone barrack.
As an occupation, teaching can take you to soaring heights of euphoria and hell-belly lows of stress and frustration.
Coming to the realisation that my plan was considerably flawed, I eventually decided to walk to the station, hoping that should anyone be attempting to find me, a bedraggled Caucasian by the roadside would be noticeable enough.
The bastard thing about insomnia is that one begins upon the pretentious descent into philosophy, as the silence offers only a resounding echo on the nature of existence.
They informed me I was forbidden from marrying a Japanese man and settling permanently in Japan, which was sweet, although they added that given my ‘luck’ in the UK, their concerns were minor.
"When you were little, the first day after the holidays was really rainy and you claimed the sky was crying because you had to go back to school. Today the sky is crying because you're going to Japan."
It is 8:30am on Tuesday and I am in my local general practitioners, waiting for my 8:10am appointment.