I recently made a commitment to force myself out of my comfort zone and to find true life balance. What better way to do that than by travelling to Japan!
Now this commitment was not just based around finding balance within my diet and working out but by trying new things, going new places and discovering ways to optimize my health – both mentally and physically. (You can read more on that here) I also committed to learning more about creating unique ways to share this information with others so I invested in some new camera gear in hopes of capturing some of my adventures as I go. Check out my very first travel video at the end of this post!
Japan was a spot that had been on the top of mine and Joey’s travel list for quite some time. Getting out of my comfort zone in this country was a given – neither of us spoke the language apart from the basic greetings and trying to navigate the subway systems took some getting used to. FYI Hyperdia and Google Translates are apps that you definitely want to have on hand to help with getting around.
“Getting out of my comfort zone in this country was a given.”
We visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya and Okayama and it was the perfect time to visit as the weather was mild and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. The people of Japan are so polite and considerate and it seemed there was always a local around at the perfect time willing to help out a couple of, obviously lost, tourist find their way. We even had a husband and wife drive us to our destination after they witnessed us missing our train – I mean when would that ever happen in Vancouver? 😉
There was no shortage of cardio opportunities as we walked through the cities which ended up being a really great way to balance out the amount of food we were consuming! At first I was surprised at how challenging it was to find healthy options – In many of the big cities there was a lot of fried foods, baked goods and foods loaded with salt. My face was seriously swollen from all the ramen we were eating – thank goodness for the abundance of eye masks! We found that hitting up a local grocery store or even a 7-Eleven, believe it or not, was the easiest way to find clean and nutritious snacks for on the go. Some of the hotels offered an amazing breakfast buffet filled with fresh fruits, veggies, smoothies and salads so we always filled up before hitting the road. Obviously, you can’t go wrong with sushi – I actually had my first sushi breakfast experience at the famous Tsukiji Market. Even though it was a big change up from my usual protein waffles, and some of the sashimi was hard to swallow at 6am, it was hands down the freshest meal I’ve ever had.
“It was hands down the freshest meal I’ve ever had.”
One of the highlights of Tokyo was attending a private cooking class that I discovered through AirBnB Experiences. I gained insight on how a home cooked Japanese meal is traditionally made up of the freshest local ingredient and can provide all kinds of nutrient rich goodness. Our host Yuca was the sweetest thing ever and made handling ramen noodles with chopsticks look like an art form lol
“The best way to find yourself is to eliminate any kind of comparison to others.”
While the non-stop energy of the city was mesmerizing it was a bit overwhelming at times so we set out to the countryside for some fresh air and relaxation. We found an amazing Airbnb in a small city called Tsuyama which is in the Okayama Prefecture. It was owned by a family that we absolutely fell in love with. Yuka and her parents Taeka and Toshi taught us about many Japanese traditions and shared a home cooked meal with us in their back yard. They cooked a variety of meats, fish and vegetables over a small grill fueled with charcoal and served it all with a side of homemade sake. Ahhh perfection. Our conversation that evening could not have been more fitting as we discussed the need for balance between connecting with technology and nature. Both have a time and a place and both can provide inspiration and drive creativity. We also talked about how the best way to find “yourself” is to eliminate any kind of comparison to others – by trying to be like others we miss out on the opportunity to be truly unique and develop our own way of being.
Since all the hotel rooms in Japan were quite tiny I was excited to have a little extra space to get in some workouts. We started each morning with a meditation in a sun filled room followed by a little workout and then headed out on our bikes. We biked to a nearby waterfall which ended up being about 9km uphill the entire way but the scenery at the top was well worth it and the cruise back down was exhilarating.
This trip really was all about finding time to do the things that I love and to try new things. Japan helped me to find balance between the hustle of the city and the tranquility of the countryside. Hauling around camera gear and blogging in public made me suuuuuper uncomfortable but I did it anyway and I learned so much along the way. I found ways to stay active and burn calories but was also able to enjoy they delicious, and equally bizarre, foods that Japan has to offer. I met new people who taught me new ways of thinking and warmed my heart with their generosity.
Taking a trip to Japan is just an over the top example of how you can make choices each day to do the things that may scare you, or make you uncomfortable, knowing that on the other end of that choice there can be great reward. It’s so easy to get caught up in our day to day routine and the stresses of achieving “success” It’s really important to find happiness in the smaller things – trying a new fitness class, cooking a new recipe with new ingredients or meeting new people with new ideas. Is there something you really love doing that you just don’t make time for? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but it makes your crazy uncomfortable just thinking about it? Comment below and let me know if you can relate!