The Cost of Dreams: My Top 5

The time I fly out to Japan (FINALLYYY) fast approaches. Just 12 DAYS to go!
12 days till I fly to Germany, to Tokyo, to Osaka, to do volunteer work in a Kyoto nursery and Kindergarten for 3 weeks, through ‘Workaway’.

Since every dream requires at least some sacrifice to achieve, I thought it appropriate to give some thought to what this dream of mine has cost me, and came up with my top 5.

  1. TIMETime

    8 years of obsession. \(〇_o)/  Enough said.

  2. MONEY

    The cost of Japanese learning materials. The cost of all those expensive Japanese meals at Mt. Fuji Bento restaurant that I just crave! Tempura…(っ˘ڡ˘ς)….  And now the cost of flight tickets, which are pretty expensive, despite travelling during Japan’s rainy season, the cheapest time of year…. Oh, and whatever I spend over there. I could be coming home with a Godzilla-sized donut that speaks to you and does your dishes… This is Japan so you never know. But seriously, if I spend to much I might just be sacrificing my life for my dream, because my wife will KILL me.



    Study. Study. Study. Research. Research. Study. Research. Plan. Plan. Plan. Plan.

    So many hours I spent studying…labouring trying to learn the language and about the country. So many hours I spent trying to think of a realistic way to get to and experience Japan. So many hours I’ve spent this past year planning this trip so it all hopefully works out, and so I don’t get totally lost during my first 10 minutes of arriving at Kyoto! (If I actually manage to get on the plane.)



    I’ve not sold my soul and sacrificed my friends for a flight ticket, but the amount of time I’ve given over the past years to my dream has probably impacted on my social life. I often preferred to stay in and study than go out with friends or try to make new ones. And now, the things I think about and know about are quite different from a lot of other people, making normal conversation sometimes difficult for me…

    I can tell you the Japanese equivalent to the phrase “everyone makes mistakes” (猿も木から落ちる)or the names of several different temples in Kyoto, or the names of the main Japanese islands, but I CAN’T tell you about what famous celebrity just got married, or what stupid stuff happened on big brother, or who undeservedly won x-factor, or even who the most popular singers currently are. So yeah, normal social conversation – difficult. The friends I do have I probably drive mad.

  5. COURAGEjump

    This surprised me more than anything else. It’s taken me a lot of courage to keep pushing myself with this, which I didn’t expect. With every week my scheduled flight came closer, more of my excitement was turned to fear and doubt. Now having 12 days left, being flooded with ‘what if’s and having apparently eaten a swarm of undying butterflies, it’s taking me some courage to still go… which sounds crazy ‘cos it’s what I’ve been desperate to do for years. Yet now, in the face of it, I’m terrified.

    It’s a place I’ve never been. A language I barely know, despite all my studying. A language in which I can hardly read the words I DO know. I’ll be travelling all by myself, working with people I’ve never met before. Maybe I will get stung by Suzumebachi and die. Maybe I will be bitten by mosquitoes and catch encephalitis. Maybe I’ll miss my connecting flight and never make it there in the first place. (/ω\)
    So yeah, be brave, Andy, be brave.


In all, I’m looking forward to finally experiencing the country I’ve obsessed over so much. I’m betting that the reward of dreams far outweighs the cost, but that a post for another time! However it compares with my expectations, I hope it will be an enlightening experience, and worth the price I’ve paid… But I guess that’s down to me.

13 thoughts on “The Cost of Dreams: My Top 5

  1. Good luck sir! I can’t even conceive of living anywhere else now.

    If you get a chance to escape the city at any time, you definitely should, I just love wandering around the hills and small towns of southern Osaka Prefecture

    Liked by 3 people

      • If you are going to be based mainly in Kyoto then Shiga Prefecture has some good places for a day trip, Lake Biwa and Hikone Castle in particular.

        I tend to avoid central Osaka just because it is so busy but Osaka Castle and the aquarium are both good for a visit, plus if you buy a day pass for the trains you normally get free entry vouchers for them.

        Nara is lovely but again it can be very very busy, Todai-ji is a must see there but it can be a bit of a fight to get through the crowds sometimes.

        I don’t know Kyoto too well but I do love Arashiyama which is a quick bus or train from Kyoto station. Has a lovely (but busy) bamboo forest but I can also totally recommend the Sagawa scenic train, awesome views and often overlooked by tourists.

        Koyasan and Wakayama Castle are both relatively easy reach from Kyoto and worth checking out.

        Sorry for the long reply!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Arashiyama and Higashiyama seem pretty popular. Have you been on the Sagawa train? I’m hoping it won’t too busy as it will be rainy season… I’ll have to make do with the rain and humidity! What is it you do in Japan?


      • I’ve been on it a couple of times now, the station is not far from the bamboo forest and its best to book tickets at the station an hour or two in advance. The train runs along the side of a river gorge with some amazing views. You can also take a white water raft type boat down the river but I haven’t done it yet.

        These days Japan seems constantly busy regardless of season but Spring is usually the busiest time. Its normally not a problem with the exception of drug stores. You can be queuing for well over an hour at times so avoid the ones in busy areas or go to a supermarket instead for things like deodorant.

        Despite it being rainy season, you will probably still have more dry days than wet. Really its the humidity that is the worst thing over summer. I would strongly advise carrying one or two small towels or face cloths everywhere!

        As for me, I guess I would conside myself a struggling writer. On top of my blog (which I don’t update enough), I freelance for which is a cool site about all aspects of Japan. My stuff is mostly history related as that’s my passion. I’m also working on a couple of other history related projects of my own.

        Liked by 1 person

      • All your advice is appreciated! How did you get into freelancing? I’m interested in writing too but not really sure how to get anywhere with it. I’ll have to check out some of your articles, sounds like my kind of thing 🙂


      • I subscribe to the Gaijinpot jobs email and the company that manage the Izanau blog were advertising for writers as they had not long started out. I had been working on my own blog for a few months by then so I sent them a few exanples and did a simple writing test and that was it.

        Gaijinpot themselves are frequently looking for new writers too in order to boost the travel section of their blog. I thought about applying there too, but writing for two is hard enough, let alone three!

        Both Gaijinpot and Izanau are worth checking out though as they have lots of good info about places to see as well as tips for living here and bettering ones language skills.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ahh! Thank you, I subscribed right away. I will definitely be considering working in Japan after I finish University if this trip goes well, though I imagine there is a lot of competition. So far I’ve managed to get an article writing job for the university so who knows what the future will bring.
        What is your favourite thing about living in Japan?
        I wish you all the best with your writing!


      • English teaching jobs are everywhere and companies like Gaba Corporation, Berlitz and Nova are regularly hiring. I know Gaba at least do visa sponsorship for applicants outside of Japan, but often you already need a working visa. Joining the JET scheme through uni can work but you don’t always get the placements you want.

        As for favourite things about living here, that is an incredibly difficult question to answer. I could give cliches about history and culture and that wouldn’t be far off the mark. I think really it would have to be having Japanese family whom I get on with very well. Even though my Japanese is still terrible after 2 years living here and several trips before that, we have a good laugh and I get to see a lot of things that foreigners might not. Proper new year and obon traditions, omiyamairi (equivalent to a christening) and houji (buddhist ancestor ceremony) are a few examples. I am quite lucky in that they are pretty traditional and always like to get me involved.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I always found the best thing to do was try my damnedest to stay awake until 10 or 11pm before sleeping. It seems the best way to adjust the body clock. Then take it easy for the first couple of days and avoid napping. You might be lucky though and not get affected so much!


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