"Sometimes I can hear the jets, laced into holding patterns over Narita."
- William Gibson, New Rose Hotel
So I'm off to Japan, where I'll be attending Hal-Con. I'll be in Japan for six days - five nights in Yokohama, where the convention is located, followed by one in Tokyo, which will place me near the airport for an early departure. Sitting here today, it's rather difficult to believe that, almost exactly a week from now, I'll be back in London, and then shortly after that on my way home to Wales. It all seems a little dreamlike. Other than an extremely short visit to Australia for a telescope run, I don't think I've ever flown more than 10 hours in a plane and not stayed for at least two or three weeks. It's a short trip, however, because I've a lot of work on at the moment, with two novels to finish and a busy period of commitments, literary and otherwise, running right through to June. I don't expect to have fully recovered from my jetlag before returning from Japan.
I'm tremendously excited, but also (I don't admitting) a little apprehensive. I consider myself reasonably well-travelled, including a fair few parts of Asia. I've spent time in Malaysia, Thailand, the Phillipines, Singapore, Hong Kong, and I can even legitimately claim to have visited China, albeit as part of a brief tourist excursion over the border from what was then British-governed HK. But Japan promises to be something else again. Every website or guidebook I've looked at leads to me to expect that I can expect a kind of sensory and cultural overload as soon as I get out of the airport. On one level, of course, that's massively exciting - like a chance to step into the future for a few days. But I don't doubt that I'll also find it dizzying and disorientating. I'll also be grappling with total immersion in a foreign culture, which is not something that can really be said of Hong Kong or Singapore. But, again, there would be no point going if I wasn't ready to experience that. As it happens, I've been fascinated by Japan for years - it's somewhere I've always wanted to visit - and I'll be a little disappointed if my perceptions aren't knocked askew just a bit. I fully expect they will be.
I'll aim to blog and tweet during my trip, in so far as it's practical, so watch out for updates.
ps - and - in passing - thanks again to my extremely generous sponsors for the Sport Relief run, many of whom put in money after I'd completed the run. Thank you all for your donations.