Japan Trip – Difficulties

It is 9:45 AM on Sunday July 7th, 2024. I’m on the porch swing on a beautiful Pacifica morning. While the the rest of the West roasts under scorching heat, we enjoy slightly warmer than usual temperatures of 65 to 70. If it is relatively warm in the morning in Pacifica you know you’re in for a beautiful day and a crowded beach. Unfortunately, I’m still suffering from jet lag so feel groggy and tired but not being able to sleep.

As always the trip to Japan seems like a busy dream. I waited so long for the trip, it is now over and here I am on my porch. I’m also now a bachelor for most of the month until my family returns. I’ve been through this cycle so many times I’ve forgotten previous trips and am very grateful for this journal so I can remember them. Reading my previous entries I see I was always excited to be a bachelor for a while but that when it actually occurred the excitement evaporated. This time I feel neither excitement, nor sadness, it is just another instance of our summer ritual.

The second part of the trip – when my family from Ohio joined – was surreal, and busy! Therefore, I was always exhausted at the end of the day and combined with a few nights out never had time to write. I hope to get those experiences and my thoughts on them down soon but for now I’d like to address something I never write about which are the difficulties.

Looking back on trips I always remember them fondly and forget the difficulties. The difficulties are quite real when experiencing them but on the overall they are overshadowed by all the fun and excitement. Therefore, I’d like to get them down while they are still fresh on my brain and so I remember what they are.

Japan is overtouristed

This is all over the news and in forums on the internet. Due to COVID travel restrictions, an extremely favorable exchange rate and surging popularity of Japan due to social media there are tons of tourists everywhere and thus all the tourist sites are extremely crowded.

This was apparent on the first excursion with my family to Sensō-ji temple. I’ve been there many times but this was the first I can recall when I hoped the group would skip all the souvenir shops and get to the temple directly. There were throngs of people and it was HOT. Souvenirs can be bought more cheaply at Don Quixote so the attraction here was to see the actual temple, say a prayer, do the omikuji, get a shuin (temple inscription), and take a few pictures.

In Hakone we couldn’t even get to Owakudani as the traffic backup would have taken an hour and a half. We also discovered that the shortcut of taking the cable car in didn’t work as it was shut down due to high winds. The amount of tourists was very surprising as I had visited twenty years ago and don’t remember many other tourists at all. So instead we went to another place I had marked on my map – Choanji – which is a beautiful temple grounds and there wasn’t a single other tourist. This is definitely more my speed, finding obscure, peaceful temples and shrines rather than overly touristed areas.


The planet is warming and instead of mid eighties in temperature, we’re now dealing with high eighties to almost 100 degrees which is downright unbearable. Looking at temperatures across the globe this is the case in Madrid, India, Vietnam, Japan and the American west (places I follow). It baffles me that much of the world still prefers to stick its head in the sand about global warming. It is like we’re on a slow train to disaster and I’m saddened that the volume isn’t turned up on this and dismayed that it is outright denied by politicians on the right. It will only get worse and yet newspapers will still post pictures of kids at the pool with headlines that should be more dire in nature.

I had to be more cognizant of the heat due to the welfare of my parents and we cut short our visit to Koedo in Kawagoe because it was just too darn hot. I for one was kind of glad because I needed a nap and my wife, kids and sisters family still could get their shopping in.


I don’t drink much here in the USA but when in Japan I like to dive right into the nightlife as that is part of the excitement for me. However, as I get older I don’t recover as quickly. My usual cure is the sento/onsen where I’ll sweat out all the alcohol in the sauna and follow it up with a cold plunge three or four times. But at 47, that doesn’t work as effectively as it used to. I still intend to go out as much as possible when in Tokyo but I just have to pay the price a little more the next morning.


I walked over 70,000 steps over three days. This is wonderful exercise and I wish I could do the same here in the USA. Given that I do not walk as much here I’m always bound to get blisters that I have to suffer through since I’m not about to just sit around when in Japan. I get the blisters, they eventually pop due to even more walking and then harden due to even more walking. It is just a nuisance really, but one where I have to just ignore any inconvenient pain.

Jet Lag

Going to Japan, the jet lag is relatively easy to deal with. I’m so excited to wake up everyday and so busy all day that the adjustment is easy. Coming back however is another story entirely. For the past couple of days my body wants to sleep between 2:00 and 5:00 PM. I try to stay awake going to bed at 9:00 PM. However, I’ll wake up at 12:30 AM and cannot go back to sleep until 5:00 AM. I’d then like to sleep probably until 10:00 AM but must get up to take care of our new puppy who is used to waking up at 5:00 AM. So I let her out at 7 so as not to keep her waiting too long and that puts me in my current state. It is 10:21 AM and I’m like a zombie, extremely tired, groggy but even if I lay down I cannot sleep. I’ve already done most of the chores that needed done upon return from a long trip so I think I’ll just watch some documentaries and try to sleep a little.

*Note: As I was writing that last line I noticed the puppy about to throw up. She was on the swing with me and perhaps it is not a good idea to swing with her just after she’s eaten.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/