Japan is many things, a country of dichotomies, the location of my first big trip, and where I started on a path of changes years after that first visit. 2 years ago, to the day, I arrived in Kurokawa Japan to attend Beth Kirby’s (i.e. Local Milk) Japan Workshop. I had previously visited Tokyo on two prior occasions but this was the first time I was to explore the deep countryside. I was excited about the workshop and I was excited to be back in Japan.
At least a decade before I first visited, at 20, Japan had my heart through Pokemon and Sailor Moon and my love only deepened from there the more I learned. I was lucky enough that my High School offered Japanese so I took two years of courses where I learned just as much about the cultural traditions as the language. I took an Asian Art History class in College (because why would this ever be part of regular art history classes 🙄 ) to learn even more about the culture I had become so enamored with. My entry point into the culture soon faded in interest and my focus turned to into cultural customs. The Kimonos & Happi Coats, the Sumi-e paintings, the delicate foods, the obsessive love of all things ‘kawaii’, and the contrast of chaos & calm. To this day with 21 countries under my belt nowhere has captivated me in the exact way Japan has.
So come fall of 2014 I saw there was an opportunity, with Local Milk’s Retreat, to live my dream of staying in a traditional Inn (Ryokan), bath in the Onsen, experience the countryside, learn about Ikebana and Tea Ceremony, while also learning more about photography and styling. I was in on receiving the email newsletter. I booked my spot and went straight to planning the rest of the details for the trip. From flights to requesting time off march was suddenly upon me and I was off from New York City to Fukuoka Japan via a long layover in Hong Kong. (Quick note so you are smarter than me, check your luggage if you are doing city wandering on an extended layover… 🙄)
My adventure to Japan was a long one. I was probably up for the better part of 48 hours by the time I arrived at my hostel in Fukuoka, I took a red eye to Hong Kong and had worked the day before so after my 10+ hour layover in Hong Kong and flight to Japan I was basically dead on arrival, but still exhilarated to be back in one of my favorite places. I tucked away for a night of sleep before waking up early to meet a few of the other attendees of the workshop since we all got in a day early.
Over the three days of workshops, bathing in the hot waters of the Onsen, and bonding with other like minded creatives my future goals were coming into more and more light. For the first time in a long while I truly felt inspired to create and in some way pursue a career on the creative/ photography path rather than my path of the time in high end fashion development (not designing, didn’t do it and still have no desire too! haha). The wheels in my head were set in motion. Soon after returning from the trip I started a new job which in retrospect never had a chance. Everything about it was great, the people, the product, the company, the job but I had other goals that were soon popping back to the surface. After a year in that job I had a moment one day where I knew I had to end it, I had to get out. If I could not be happy in that job there was no hope for me in the industry I spent the prior 6+ years in. It was time to make a change.