The year 2000 may have been the millenium but it was an eventful year for other reasons for me. First came the split from my fiance which was painful to say the least. Then came the decision to take a year out and try an adventure in a different part of the world. Finally there was a timely discussion with a client I was working with at the time. On hearing my decision to relocate for a while he immediately said,
"You've got to go to Tokyo."
"Tokyo? Why Tokyo," I said.
"It's just an incredible place to be. You'll find out when you get there," he said.
With those words ringing in my head I contacted one of the major language schools in Japan and set up an interview with them in Edinburgh. Long story short. I got the job and in March 2001 I caught my flight that would start my adventure in Japan.
March 5. So there I was driving to Manchester airport with my brother. Feeling sick, nervous, scared, excited and just plain terrified (as I don't like flying) all at the same time. Time to check in. My brother turned and said, "Well. Time for me to go. See you little sis." He gave me a hug and a kiss, then he turned his back and walked away. He never turned round - not once. I know because I was so close to bottling it. I've got to give him a big thank you for that. Nine years later, the hardest thing about leaving is definitely the family you leave behind.
It just seemed to happen. I loved my life here and knew I didn't want to go back to the UK just yet. So one year stretched to two, and then three, and then a decision had to be made! I realized that time was kind of passing me by. I was having a great time but I didn't just want to drift. I'm actually a primary school teacher by trade but I was offered the opportunity to move into corporate training which really opened up some doors for me. As well as the work though, I loved the culture in Japan, the food, the climate, and the lifestyle. It's the reason I ended up staying for nine more years beyond that initial one year contract.
And Tokyo ended up being a lot more than just a job.
In 2005 I had my first introduction to the world of website building. I put together a very simple website about Bali, one of my favorite holiday destinations. Although that site is no longer around today, a new direction was born for me and I've not looked back. TokyoTopia is one of the sites that came out of those beginnings with the Bali site. The goal? To help any of you who are visiting Japan to get as much out of being here as I have. It's a fantastic place!
In November 2010, after ten years of living here, my partner, Stuart and I, decided it was time to try a new adventure. We're traveloholics but had not yet made it to South America. It was time to fly and try a new place on for size.
And so a new website was born over at TryUruguay.com. We budgeted for 4 months of non-stop travel to gather as much information as we could to build our new venture. It was a challenge and we loved every minute. Now we're back to writing, writing, writing...
Does this mean we won't be continuing with TokyoTopia? Absolutely not! We may not be living here anymore but we're back for regular visits and we still have access to all the resources we've always used. One of the benefits of having spent those ten years living here is we know exactly where to go to get our hands on the information our readers need. And that's exactly how we'll continue to build and grow TokyoTopia.
We're back in the UK spending time with family as we continue to grow all our websites. We're just lucky we can give them the time they need : )
But now it's time to get back to you and your Tokyo travel planning. There's loads of information to help you on the site, but the best place to start if you're a first-time Tokyo traveler is with our free Trip Planning download. It takes you through the basics you're going to need and we'll be in touch every week with updates and news of events and other happenings in Tokyo. And remember, if you get stuck, you can always email us at email@example.com.
Honor Dargan, Chief Creative, TokyoTopia
P.S. A number of people have asked me how I got started in the whole website thing. If you're interested here's some more info on my build a travel website page.
Wouldn't you love to find a guidebook that is just for first-time visitors to Tokyo. Find those all important things that only a local would know like: what to expect at the airport, what Japanese is most useful for a traveler to know, what packing tips are specific for Tokyo, what should you do in an emergency, the basics of using the trains, and much more. Head over to Taming Tokyo today and judge for yourself.
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