Fellow Traveler Interview

Tell us a little about yourself.

Im a late 20 something man from the UK. I started to travel early in 2009 after wanting to travel ever since being a teenager and meeting a lot of adults whose main regret in life was not traveling and main advice was to go traveling. I didn’t want to end up with a regret like that so took the first opportunity I had by volunteering for redundancy at my old workplace (clearly it wasn’t a stable choice long term if redundancies were offered this early in my career) and set off to Asia.

How did you get into travel blogging?

Ive always been keen on the internet and how it was evolving and knew my travels would be a unique point in my life so wanted to keep a diary. A blog seemed a good way of doing that as it was already formatted for making quick entries and keywording, and I could share my experiences and photos with my family and friends at the same time, so I wouldn’t have to spend ages uploading videos to email to a few people. There was also a added bonus of if people got fed up, then they can leave, which is more awkward when you’re sending personal emails.

It wasn’t until I started reading other travels blogs when I realized, I could make a bit of money out of the blog, for the pure reason of extending my travels beyond what my redundancy payment allowed. So I took a more professional attitude and redesigned it and marketed it a bit. I think it gave me a extra year of travel from the funds of it in total. But it did take a lot of time which shouldn’t be forgotten and that detracts from the travel experiences somewhat.

Have you considered doing more in the blogging space to supplement your income?

Considered yes, but I want to focus less on making money with blogging as I find the more I concentrate on that, the less of an impact they tend to have with their own words. I am going to be starting another website, although dont desire to make money from it directly, but indirectly. It will be more of a creative output for myself like how started but with non-travel related topics.

You currently live in Japan. How is that going for you?

Its not easy, I always try to go places without pre conceptions, as that has caught me out before, but one I had about Japan is it would be easy for me to get a job as a English teacher being a native speaker. Its not quite the case because the competition is very high, so you are competing with people who study English and/or teaching, people who are bilingual with Japanese, as well as people who migrated a long time ago and quite rightly put effort into keeping the better jobs.

Japan is one of the best places in the world to visit, but to make a reasonable life living requires big effort in doing things the Japanese way, and not many people last longer than 2 years for that reason. I have picked up a few jobs but English teaching is not for me (long term anyway). Wages are dropping, the economy is hitting hard and Japan is an ageing nation which is not dealing with the problems of the future that seem obvious to younger people such as myself. I don’t want to make it seem like a terrible place, it isn’t. But I don’t tend to sugar coat things either. My personal life is going very well here, I just wish I had a bit more money to travel around this beautiful country, and Im currently in the process of trying to plan that out.

Which parts of Japan interest you most?

Im actually going back to my roots of adventure a bit more, so I’m becoming interested in the typically hidden and inaccessible parts of Japan. Mixing travel with ruins (there is a surprising amount in Japan out of the cities), searching for historic culture, etc. As an example Ive just driven a bit along the coast where the tsunami hit in 2011, and feel that the sea salt swept landscape had more of a story to tell than a typical city tour. That’s the sort of thing that I am interested in now.

Tell us three things that we may not know about Japan.

Tokyo is 0.6% of the land area of Japan, although it has 13 million people living within it (10% of the population), it also has 60 million people living within a 1 hour commute of the central station. This is in part thanks to the Shinkansen (bullet train) which can bring people in from a large area within that time.

Most of Japans convenience stores offer bill payments (insurance, house, rent, mobile phone), hot and cold meals, hot and cold drinks, toilets, tickets (including booking for places like Studio Ghibli, airlines, and baseball games), socks, ties, gifts, faxing, photocopying, printing of digital photos, movie and manga rental, stamps and postage, umbrellas, body care products, can act as a delivery address for your large mail if you are out, as well as the expected snacks, newspapers and drinks! Ive probably missed out a few things too. There is estimated to be a bit over 45,000 convenience stores in Japan.

Christmas is typically celebrated with friends, KFC is one of the most popular restaurants to visit on Christmas day. New years is typically celebrated with family. The opposite to western ways on these events

What is your travel itinerary looking like for this year?

Not very exciting unfortunately. I will hopefully be going to the UK to have a wedding celebration, and if money allows, a honeymoon in Hawaii. I will also be discovering Japan as much as possible too as there is still so much Ive not seen here.

Where are your favorite places in the world to travel?

Anywhere that I haven’t been to yet! The joy of travel for me is discovering new places. That does include new places in countries I would consider myself familiar with. I’ve never failed to have a bad time in Thailand though as every corner is a destination in itself there.

Photography takes a main lead in your blogging How long have you been snapping?

Photography is something Im always trying to evolve. I took it up seriously after 3 months of travel when I realized that although I had a compact camera, I really wanted to maximize the quality of the photos I was taking so invested a fair bit of my travel funds in a dSLR system. It also keeps me going when Im not actively traveling too.

So what I look out for in photography often changes. Early on I always avoided photographing people as I felt like I was invading by doing it. But over the past 6 months Ive taken an interest in street photography and people going about their business has been my interest. In the future I am going to do more project based work. By this I will spend my focus on specific things until the project is over. An example would be picking out a certain colour or shape, or type of person. I hope to have a book out by the end of the year on one of these projects once Ive made enough high quality photos to fit the theme.