Japan – initial experiences

I am in transit from London to Auckland, with an 8-hour layover in Tokyo, so I thought that I might as well explore the city a bit. (As of the last 10 years or so, as US citizens we no longer need a special visa to enter Japan.)

Japan is unlike any of my recent (within the last 5 – 6 years) travel experiences. For one, I cannot speak or read even a little of the language. This has led to some unexpected things. For one, I withdrew about 10 times what I wanted from the ATM (about $600 instead of $60). No worries, I can change it back at the end of the day.

Also, after waiting about 10 minutes to use the Citibank ATM, I walk just around the corner (as in, like a 10 seconds walk around the corner) and spot an HSBC ATM (which is the card I use). Could have saved another couple of bucks had I known about it.

Note that I will get screwed on the exchange rate when I change back my remaining 50000 or so Yen at the end of the day… still, you live & learn. And since I am learning from these experiences, I don’t consider it as money lost. It’s an investment in my education.

But mostly it’s a strange experience for me being in a foreign country and not knowing anything about the language or really how to communicate with people other than in English. I just have to hope that the Japanese with whom I speak have some knowledge of English. I guess this is how it feels to be a foreigner in a completely foreign land. Not a bad feeling, just different. On the plus side, it kind of forces me to rely on other people and to communicate with them (asking questions, etc), which is good because I love interacting with people.

And for me, that’s what travel is really about, anyway. Not the sights, museums, architecture or even the landscapes in a certain place. It’s about the people.

I still need to get out & explore Tokyo a bit. And learn the Japanese characters for “milk”, “egg”, etc so I know what foods to avoid. I’m right now sitting in a Starbucks at the Tokyo Narita airport.

Take Action. Now.

The Karma Machine
The Karma Machine

Note: This workshop in Wellington has been canceled by the school due to the low number of participants enrolled.

I just enrolled in a one-day Krav Maga workshop which will take place a month from now when I’m in Wellington, New Zealand.

Krav Maga has been on my life list for several months now, but it’s only been in the “some day” category. And after reading a bit about true-life stories of guys getting mugged (and after traveling in foreign counties quite a bit lately), I’ve come to realize that I might also get mugged, jumped, whatever. And when that happens, I’m not going to be able to say “Oh, wait… can we postpone this, I haven’t had my self-defense training yet. So… let’s take a rain-check and then you can mug me once I’m more prepared”. This is something I’ve needed to do for a while, but kept making excuses and putting it off.

But, the truth is… if you really want to do something, you will find a way to get it done.

No matter what it is, if you really, passionately want to do a thing, your every thought will be focused on attaining that goal.

I’ve put off the self-defense aspect of my life for too long.

Thus, I decided to look for a Krav Maga course in Wellington, New Zealand, which will be my home for the next year.

Instead of thinking I’ll do it “some day” when I get settled in, I added it to my short-term life list (it’s not public, I’m referring to my private mind map for my personal development).

But even that is just “some day”-type thinking. So within 10 minutes of adding it to the above list, I found a workshop in Wellington on a Saturday in March (today is February 20th, the workshop will take place in exactly one month). And then I went ahead and booked the class online. It’s already paid for now! Not gonna be as easy to put this off now that it’s already been paid for.

What are you putting off that you know you need to do? It might be sending an email. It could be registering for a course.

I don’t know what that specific action is for you, because I don’t know you. But I think you do know what it is you need to do. Stop making excuses and do something, no matter how small, to get you closer to where you need to be. What can you do today to get closer to that goal?

Take action.

All the good things you want to do in your life have to be started in the next few hours, days or weeks. — Tom DeMarco

photo credit