Travel Destinations

Why Go Back to Japan

Why Go Back to Japan
Written by Carl Hedinger

Why Go Back to Japan

Take a minute and imagine this. Bullet trains zip through beautiful stretches of countryside and connect thousands of travelers on time or all is lost. Passengers will find their destination and then search for a restaurant to serve beautifully presented food on tiny yet functional plates. During holidays and special occasions, they’ll visit temples that go back over 1000 years and likely surrounded by green spaces filled with flowers and Zen gardens that look as if no soul has ever touched them and their existence was forged by some higher, more intelligent beings than us.

Kyoto Ginkakuji Zen Garden

Surrounding these peaceful creations are cities with complex and diverse histories, filled with architectural wonders built for both style and purpose. My heart trembles at the thought of Japan and I’ll struggle to capture its greatness in words. I feel a duty to do so because it’s where my journey began. The 25 years before that moment when I first set foot on Japanese soil, is more a footnote in comparison.

Kyoto Fushimi Inari

But why am I so overwhelmed? Why does Japan hold so many special pieces of my heart? Does everyone view their first out of country experience with such fondness and high esteem? I’ve struggled to conjure enough courage to write about this place. I’ve written about this magical place before but that was different. In Hiroshima, the emotions spoke for themselves. Now, it’s time to look inside and figure out why. Why go back? Why do I keep coming back?

Osaka Souvenir Shop Sign

I’m trying to “do it right” but is that even possible? Japan was the first time I realized just how wrong I was about the world. Speculation and hearsay gave way to first hand account, and I have that experience in Japan to thank for that. Some great people went in and out of my life during this time. That year I spent with them is full so many emotions – a mixture of remorse and overwhelming joy I can’t begin to describe. It’s not just the true wonder and excitement that makes Japan so exceptional in my mind. I can always tell soon after arriving – whether it’s in Osaka or elsewhere – that no trip to Japan should ever be the final one. Knowing that each time I leave, I worry that one will be the last. That above all makes Japan special for me.

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Japan - Why I Go Back

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About the author

Carl Hedinger

I'm a writer and recovering American expat who shares my family's travels through life. Follow our adventures here and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • Something new always crops up in Japan, especially Tokyo for me, which just has a magnet to me. It’s good to see another fan of the country who simply can’t get enough!

  • I honestly don’t think it matters if Japan is your first or fiftieth overseas destination (as it was for us…metaphorically speaking). Such a stunning, diverse country and our favourite of all the places we’ve visited to date.