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And the days grow shorter

Japan is getting closer!

View Lebanon 1st Trip - 1999 & Japan 1st Trip - June 2019 & Lebanon 3rd Trip - 2000 on tmulcahey's travel map.

Broke 50 days remaining the other day, so the countdown, while slow, is nevertheless continuing. I can feel the excitement in my bones! As I write on this blog about the search for deals, tickets, places to visit, and all the interesting things to see and do; I can't help but feel a measure of … an odd mixture of happiness and sadness at the same time.

It has been no secret of mine that I have literally dreamed of going to Japan since the late 1980s. Around that time I had fallen in love with Anime (Do you Remember Love, Captain Harlock, Bubblegum Crisis, etc...), but I had also fallen in love with the culture itself as well as the language. In particular, I had a special enjoyment about learning about the Feudal Society that Japan had during the late 1500s, and reading historical books about the man who would become the first of the Tokugawa Shoguns; Tokugawa Iesau. (Partly one of the reasons I am going to Nikko, I want to see this man's resting place and shrine).

The main reason for my sadness is that there was a man who shared this love of Japan and Japanese culture that I knew. He was my best friend. We'd met when we were kids back around 1980-1981. His name was Jon. Those who used to play card games like Magic knew him as the Man-in-the-Black-Hat. He wore a black leather hat all the time. While we were in High School together (late 1980s), we'd started watching Anime. I was picky about my Anime (I prefer well-drawn, excellent storylines), and he just became absorbed with all of it. The man had an Anime collection that would shame just about all others. I can remember well his alphabetized collection stacked in neat rows from floor to ceiling in VHS tapes, and later on DVDs. I think there was enough that had he sold them all at their market value, he could have either bought a nice new car, or put a sizable down payment on a house.

Jon loved Japan, and many aspects of it, but not in the way I did. While I embraced the historical aspects of the culture, he did the same with the modern. He loved that country, and he and I spend many an hour discussing going there one day. I can so easily picture him walking around in Harajuku, or Shinjuku. I suspect that had he gone, he would simply have wandered into one of these areas and we would not have seen him for weeks.

This is why I feel a sadness about it. Jon suffered from migraines. Bad ones. And back in 2002, just before my oldest daughter's first birthday, he died. I don't need to go into details, but it was quick, abrupt, and very unexpected. His loss, even 17 years later is still felt. There is rarely a week that has gone by that I haven't thought about him, my best friend, and his completely unique outlook. He was a Carl Sagan fan, an 80s music diehard, and a computer programming god among men (one of his hobbies was writing programs just to see what he could do). He was MENSA, and of course; a lover of HItchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. My friend.

In many ways, I feel that this trip is more than just taking my son to a country he admires and wants to see. For myself, I feel like I am fulfilling a dream that had been shared by a pair of friends 30 years in the making. Originally, I was going to go to Colorado and climb a particular mountain (June 22nd, 2:45pm). I've always found a sense of accomplishment and spiritual healing when I would do things in a particular manner. If I had climbed that mountain in Colorado on that day and reached the summit at that time, it would be 30 years to the minute in the same place that we had arrived at the top of that mountain. I'm not sure how he would have felt about that (probably would have just smiled and shook his head), but I DO know that far more importantly to him would have been something that truly mattered to him. A Japan visit.

I know that I will be thinking about him quite often while I am there; reliving the memories of his life, and thinking about what he might have said or done. Sometimes, I can feel his presence around; much my mother and father when they decide to 'check up' on me. I believe that in the old culture of Japan, such a spirit was referred to as a Kami. If I'm wrong on that, don't ding me for it; its just a bit of ignorance on my part and I'll figure it out.

Personally, I hope his spirit does decide to tag along. My best friend should go, and I can deposit his spirit over in Harajuku where he can wander around happily, seeing all the things that he and I dreamt of so many years ago over mountains of Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Jolt, Anime, and of course, some Dungeons & Dragons. I plan to get in touch with his widow (she has long since moved away), and see if there is some small token of his that she wouldn't mind donating. I want to take it to Japan. I want to do him an honor for being my friend when so many others would not. I want to leave it in this land that he loved from afar, and I want him to know that even all these years later, he is still my best friend and I love him deeply.

I don't need to 'wish' he will see me there. I know he will, and I hope he enjoys his time in Japan as much as I do. Happy Birthday Jon. (1975 - 2002)

Posted by tmulcahey 05:30 Archived in USA Tagged tokyo japan travel vacation trip shinjuku anime harajuku

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