By David Martin

Explore beyond county borders


January 2, 2019

I had the chance to visit Japan last month.

The only thought I’ve had on my mind since returning is how much I’d like to venture away and see world.

I’ve always been fascinated with Japan. Its culture, its history, its myths and traditions. I can’t even remember when this fascination first took hold of me. Maybe it was watching old Godzilla movies late at night with my mother. Perhaps it was having played video games for so long, that the more Japanese-influenced titles took hold on me. All I know is for as long as I can remember, I’ve been aware of this other country where everything, from the language to the food and even the landscape, was completely alien to what I knew in Southwestern Wyoming.

It was always on my list of things to do. But, life tends to get in the way if you let it. Work, personal commitments and the like can always provide a reason to say “I’ll go some other time,” or “I’ll do it when I’ve got the time.” I’d say the most important think I’ve learned is to stop listening to those inside voices and just square away some time to do it. For a majority of the Star’s readers, I realize it isn’t Japan they’re interested in. It might be a trip to Scotland, a visit to Peru or even just a long drive to Banff in Alberta, Canada. It might even be more domestic, like a visit to New York City or the Grand Canyon.

Obviously, I’d like to go to Japan again. I spent my first visit in Tokyo, so maybe a trip to Osaka or Kyoto would be next. But, I also find myself wanting to see the artwork in the Louvre, enjoy a pint or two at an Irish pub, maybe see the Great Wall of China or visit the Outback. Despite some rather long flights, visiting another country isn’t as daunting a prospect as I first thought it would be.

I’ve been told that traveling is a life-changing experience and I find that statement to be absolutely true.

On one hand, a person can experience how life is vastly different to what they’re used to. On the other, a person can gain an appreciation for how similar our lives are to someone else’s. I spent much of my time in Japan traveling around Tokyo using the JR Yamanote train line, a circular route that travels through Tokyo’s major train stations and districts. Watching people while traveling at the evening rush hour, I quickly realized how much we’re all the same at the end of the day.

Spending time between stations talking, reading books, fiddling on their phones or even getting a few moments of shuteye before their stop, they’re like anyone else in that situation. They’re just wanting to get home and enjoy a relaxing evening before going to bed, waking up and doing it all over again. The food and the language might be different, but the heart of the matter is we’re all living our lives the best we can.

Go out and see what exists beyond our home in Sweetwater County.


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