I grew up in California and moved to Tokyo in 2002, just after finishing college. I planned to stay for “just one year,” save up some money teaching English, and then travel around southeast Asia (you know, while figuring out “what I was really going to do”). I did this, and fell so in love with traveling, that I did the same thing on repeat for about five years. It was during this time that I first began to write about travel, with my feet in the sand at a beachside internet cafe in Goa (go ahead, roll your eyes). I’m grateful it worked out, because I never did figure out what else I would do.
I wasn’t predisposed to like Tokyo before I got here; I didn’t know anything about it (the internet was a baby then and any bit of information, the name of a bar, say, was something precious). I just wanted to experience something completely different — the reason most travelers come here, really. The surprising thing was that it somehow fit. That doesn’t mean I’m enamored with everything Japanese; I’m critical by nature (my husband, a Tokyo native, can attest to this). I try to pick the best of both worlds (plus anything else I’ve picked up on my travels). It took me awhile to get to the point where I can say I am fairly fluent in Japanese, but I can now say with confidence that I do all my own interviews/translations for stories.
Travel writing has changed a lot since I started a decade ago. I signed on when it was still a loner sport, before it became a social media spectacle. But if there is one thing a decade-plus of traveling teaches you, it’s to roll with it. So I’m trying to roll with it, getting more comfortable with putting myself out there. I’m increasingly active on twitter and instagram, but my favorite ways to get to know a place remain the same: chatting with people in bars, going through the dusty photo archives in local libraries, and just walking around.