Looking out into Another World

If I were to design a character building programme, it would involve solo hikes starting with a wild abandonment ... leaving the unsuspecting participant at a foggy trailhead with the company of a huge sign that warns of bear sightings. I would also intentionally forget to provide a bear bell.

Some film captures from my solo travels in Japan last October. I am not one to shoot film, but I picked a disposable cam up anyway just so that if I were to get lost in the forest or fall off a mountain there might be some form of documentation of my folly.

Looking through these photos brought me right back to the moments when I faced an adventure far bigger than myself. 

Traveling solo is not a new thing to me. I embrace the idea and I do oddly, crave for it. This short trip to the countryside in Japan redefined what it really means to be alone. From boarding an hour-long bus ride where I was the only passenger, to alighting the bus in total darkness. I found myself in a remote part of the countryside where roads were not exactly pedestrian-friendly. With one hand dragging my bag, and the other frantically waving my phone (which doubled as a safety light) at passing cars, I made my way to the hostel in hopes that Google maps would not fail me. Arriving at the hostel was another story, where I was put through a crash course on Entomology. I spent the next few days negotiating my comfort zone with these winged and multi-legged life forms.

I'm still waiting for my certificate till this day.

Koya Backpackers

2147-500 Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun 389-0111, Nagano Prefecture
 

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The day starts early at 6 a.m. at the hostel. This is my favourite view that refreshes me as I brush my teeth

Saying goodbye to the hostel while it closes for Autumn break, and the owner goes on a 3-day hike in the mountains

Saying goodbye to the hostel while it closes for Autumn break, and the owner goes on a 3-day hike in the mountains

Yusuke-san, owner of Koya Backpackers, striking a pose for my camera before he packed me off and sent me on my way to the train station   It made me laugh when I saw this photo, partly because I forgot that I took it. Also because I could almost hear Yusuke-san's jugdmental remarks about my huge four wheeled luggage bag.

Yusuke-san, owner of Koya Backpackers, striking a pose for my camera before he packed me off and sent me on my way to the train station

It made me laugh when I saw this photo, partly because I forgot that I took it. Also because I could almost hear Yusuke-san's jugdmental remarks about my huge four wheeled luggage bag.

Taking a local train to Matsumoto, embarking on another part of my adventure to the Japanese Alps

Taking a local train to Matsumoto, embarking on another part of my adventure to the Japanese Alps

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I found a make-shift studio near the entrance of the camp sites.

I found a make-shift studio near the entrance of the camp sites.

At Kappa Bridge with the magnificent Japanese alps towering over me

At Kappa Bridge with the magnificent Japanese alps towering over me

Taisho Pond

Taisho Pond

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These amazing colours captured on film

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I discovered that acrophobia and strong winds don't quite go together

I discovered that acrophobia and strong winds don't quite go together

Scaling Mt Fujimidake

Scaling Mt Fujimidake

Atop Mount Fujimidake, I walked on clouds

Atop Mount Fujimidake, I walked on clouds

It would be exaggerating to say that I have been completely transformed due to a single experience. But I definitely departed a braver soul than when I first embarked on the trip. Perhaps one day, I will be able to put this into a good use to pack three sets of clothes for a month-long travel.

(vignettes of my adventure on Instagram  one, two, three, four, five)

A Very Small Exhibition

As we ventured up to the second floor of Shaw Towers and navigated through the labyrinth of shops, we found ourselves in the woods in the middle of the mall. Pushing past the glass door with a beautifully hand-scripted welcome sign, we were first greeted by a scent of the leafy greens and Joanne's smile which brightened up the space.

Very Small Exhibition is a monthly curation project where Joanne and her friends take turns to fill the space with fresh concepts and experimental installations, to provide a place where people can enjoy as a form of respite. For the month of February, it has been transformed into a retail space where Joanne provides a customized hand-scripting service for Saint Valentine's Day.

It also has everything that I love – plants, flowers, glass bottles and colorful confetti! Needless to say, I got myself a message-in-a-bottle and had Joanne hand-script a line from one of my favourite poems You are Oceanic by Tapiwa Mugabe. I loved the idea of having part of the ocean in my bottle. Maybe someday the time will come when I can let this message return to the ocean and let the waves carry it to someone else who needs it more then me. ☺

I first met Joanne at The 3rd Space Christmas Pop-Up store last year and I'm glad to have found a friend in this lovely kindred soul. What I really love about her works is in the beauty of transforming words into pieces of artworks. Her passion for her art really rubs off in our conversations when Joanne shared how she took the leap to start The Letter J Supply in pursue of creating for a greater purpose. It is something that resonated strongly with me and it really made me think hard about my craft. 

For a Very Small Exhibition, there were actually Lots To Marvel At. So much so that I spent close to two hours every time I visit. The greatest success of this exhibition is that you leave with more than the bottle of flowers in your hand, or the scent of fresh greenery in your hair. You step out with a smile on your face and a new experience that cannot be found elsewhere. Here are some amazing pictures from the exhibition, captured mostly by Evie, my tiny friend with amazing photography skills. ☺

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Have a lovely weekend everyone! ☺