Giving Thanks For My First Trip To Japan #FriFotos

This week’s FriFotos theme is ‘thanks,’ meant to coincide with Thanksgiving. Unfortunately since I am in southeast Asia and have no family, either here or anywhere else in the world, I do not celebrate this holiday anymore.

I am however still thankful for lots in my life. The awesome job that I left behind to travel the world — without which I never would have had the funds for these last 4-1/2 years. The amazing friends I have met along my journeys. All the eye-opening and sometimes stomach-churning foods I’ve endured in remote areas. And of course the fact that I have learned lots about not only this great world but also myself.

Tokyo, Japan 01
My absolute favorite shot of Tokyo, obviously (it was the Shibuya Daze background before I changed the name to HoliDaze)

But if there is one thing I am most thankful for, more than anything else out there, it is my first trip to Japan

That trip is not only what kick-started my global travels but it also further cemented my love of Japanese food and culture. To this day Japan is still one of my hands-down favorite countries in the world.

Shige & Rapper
I attended a VIP birthday party for a Japanese rapper with my Yakuza friends. Just another day in the life of Derek4Real, what can I say.

Part of what made that country and my three months there so impressive — beyond the food, culture, and sights — were some of the friends I’d made. One of them, pictured above, was actually Yakuza. Let me tell you, traveling around Tokyo with him was AMAZING! Everywhere we went people were coming up to him, bowing and giving their respects. When we went out to the clubs at we also got in the back door, no cover charge, no security check. Places with strict rules on no photography seemingly forgot this rule when the camera was in his hand. In fact I found that most places I went with ████████ the rules didn’t matter; we did what we wanted.

I’ve written about these experiences briefly before, when I first decided to start blogging. As the years have passed these epic memories have grown no less vivid in my head. Of course few ever read those writings because back then I didn’t have much of a readership / following.

So as a Thanksgiving present to you and a way to give thanks to those places and people that inspired me to become a globetrotting adventurer, I present to you a few of my favorite articles on the magnificent Japan:

Japanese Toilets: Impressive, Futuristic, And Daunting To First-Timers
14 Amazing & Impressive Japanese Innovations
Nonbeiyokocho (“Drunkards’ Alley”)
Japanese Lodging: Try Something Different
The Absolut Ice Bar Tokyo
VIP Partying In Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan
Click on image to view full size

Tokyo With Mayu
This place was absolutely awesome!

The Kiss
Mayu & I caught in the moment by a cameraman.

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

8 thoughts on “Giving Thanks For My First Trip To Japan #FriFotos”

    • Thanks Erika! Funny you should mention that last photo…my former travelin’ buddy Jared has always been envious of that shot and has tried several times to duplicate it with his girlfriend — all of which have failed. Sometimes you just have to be caught in the act 😉

    • Same here Mike. Ever since I left I have been dying to return. It was only three months I spent there but it changed me so much! You want to know the craziest part though? After leaving Japan I continued to dream in Japanese for the next 4-6 weeks! Keep in mind my Japanese was never that great. I learned the basics I needed for daily life and that was about it. But I was dreaming completely in Japanese! I didn’t even understand 3/4 of what was being said in my dreams but I definitely recognized the language 😉

  1. I couldn’t agree more! Japan has always been my favorite – the people, food, culture, and cherry blossoms! I was expecting discrimination when I went there. Shame on me for thinking like that because the people were just so nice.. So many firsts happened. Because it’s so daym expensive, we were forced to stay in a hostel, stay in a dorm full of backpackers. But it served as an eye opener. Those people were amazing! Sharing their travel experiences with me, I learned a lot from them. It opened my eyes to the world waiting for me to explore it. Well maybe I was more of a tourist before, isolating myself to others when in new places. But I’m convinced to go to the less traveled path now! But since I don’t have the free visa privilege, I’ll do it one at a time… 🙂

    Oops, there are two blogs of yours that I read already. Keep it coming. At the time of writing this comment, I’m exploring the eastern side of Tennessee. Fantastic indeed! Thank you… 😉

    • Expensive is right. Amazing country but also really expensive, especially Tokyo. I paid $5,000/month for my fully furnished flat. It was nice but certainly not crazy fancy or anything like that. Glad to hear the experience opened your eyes though. Ahhhh, the beauty of travel 😉


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