In mid-October, fresh off the repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Tokyo, I spent several weeks in Japan. It was my first time in the country, and I was excited to experience a culture that so many of my friends had grown to love. I was worried about travelling as a celiac due to soy sauce having wheat flour, and much of Japanese food using soy sauce as an ingredient. It turns out those worries were not unfounded; even their mayonnaise often has wheat as a thickener, let alone the soups and noodles.
I got sick many times, and after the trip I decided to hire a translator to help me with a gluten-free card that is actually tailored to the names of the foods in the country.
My life generally revolves around food, and mealtime with friends usually touches upon what we will eat during our next dining extravaganza. I’m the kind of person who goes to sleep thinking of what I want to eat first the next day; I’ll be chewing my lunch and dreaming of soup for dinner. Japan was an interesting ride, since much of the beautiful, meticulously prepared food was off limits.
I gazed longingly at the ramen shops and the gyoza.
I pined for the curries and the miso soups.
So instead of eating everything all day long, I focused on the elegance of presentation, the obsession with order and thoughtfulness, and the truly picturesque train rides through the country. I was there in the fall, just before the trees began to change. Perfect for walking, watching, and taking photos.
As is the norm here at Legal Nomads, we go big or we go home.
So instead of a series of short photoessays reviewing my time in Japan, or a “what to see in Japan” guide, may I present you with 77 photos from my weeks in the country that represent my views of what is best to experience when you visit this beautiful country.
I recently wrote a longer post about Kanazawa for the G Adventures blog, one that talks about the city’s history and some of the great museums in town. I truly wanted to linger, with Kanazawa remaining one of my favourite places from the short Japan experience. Here are some of the photos that did not make it to the stand-alone piece. Unsurprisingly they focus on food.
Fuji was my birthday mountain for 2014. I have been climbing mountains on my birthday for many years running, documenting a few of them here (the mishap of Mount Rinjani for my 30th, for example). I was unable to climb on my actual birthday this year because I was presenting at a conference, so Fuji was my “delayed birthday mountain.”
Sitting at 3776 meters, it is Japan’s highest (and arguably most famous) mountain. Since we were there after the summer hiking season, the top of the mountain was off limits. Instead, we climbed from the bottom to Hill Station 5, which took about 5 hours. From the top, a beautiful view of white thick clouds and distant peaks, the foliage already in full swing for the impending autumn season.
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If you’re still alive, thus concludes what should be considered an epically long photoessay even by Legal Nomads standards. The closest I came was 41 photos from the Mekong markets, and even then people were like “ARE YOU SERIOUS YOUR EYES MUST BE BLURRY.”
This is the last post I’ll put up from Vietnam, as I am about to head to New Zealand on 1 January for the next few months.
Wishing everyone a happy new year and may your 2015 be great. Thank you for reading, commenting, and participating in Legal Nomads. I’m grateful for each and every one of you.
p.s. several people have asked about the photos. Yes. they are taken with a camera, no iPhone. No, I don’t edit in Lightroom or Photoshop, but I do crop and straighten using the free Picasa tool. Camera is an Olympus E-P3 camera, with an excellent 20mm “pancake” Panasonic f/1.7 lens.
A reminder that the time I spent in Japan after my trans-Pacific cruise was as a Wanderer in Residence for G Adventures, and part and parcel of my long-term brand ambassadorship with the company. Costs and expenses were covered by them on this Discover Japan trip.
Jodi is a former lawyer turned award-winning travel writer and photographer who shares resources and stories from a decade of eating and living abroad. Jodi's expertise has led to features in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC Travel, CNN, The Guardian, and more. Jodi also has celiac disease, and her longform gluten free guides and translation cards (over 6000 cards sold!) have helped fellow celiacs eat safely as they travel.
Following a lumbar puncture that left her disabled in 2017, Jodi's work has shifted to focus on curiosity, chronic pain, and the challenges we all face when life changes drastically. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Spinal CSF Leak Association. Please see the About page for more.