Welcome to part 3 of my first-hand experience of solo travel! This is the third part of my series giving my full and honest opinion on the idea of solo travel, hoping that it can help you to decide whether or not it’s right for you. You can read the previous parts here:
Note that I’ve slightly altered the title and introduction of this post as it now focuses more on Japan and goes into detail on how I overcame loneliness in Kanazawa.
Part 3 – Overcoming Loneliness
[The featured image is of the path covered in sakura (cherry blossoms) heading towards the castle and gardens in Kanazawa, Japan.]
In the last part, I wrote about my positive experience of meeting new people when solo travelling in Japan. On the other side of the spectrum, this part is all about overcoming loneliness.
There have been times that I felt a little lonely – after all, that certainly will happen when you decide to jet off into a foreign country all on your own.
From my personal experience, the times I felt the loneliest was when I parted ways with a companion I met on the road. This usually happens when I leave to go to my next destination or when they go to theirs. It’s sad thinking that I may never meet a companion again after being inspired by their stories and future ambitions and that is what makes me feel quite lonely when I’m moving on with my journey.
Back in Nagano, I met Clais, a young woman around my age, and since we were both heading to Kanazawa, we spent the evening exploring the castle and garden whilst talking about our lives back home, our reasoning for going on this trip, and what we wanted to get out of it.
We had a lot in common which was why we connected so well. For both of us, it was our first time travelling alone and we felt comfortable sharing our personal stories which we wouldn’t have shared to our friends and family back home. It gave me a bit of anonymity to speak out about my reasons for travelling to Japan – a chance to escape, the willingness to learn and change and to rely solely on myself.
It was hard to accept the fact that Clais was leaving for Kyoto the next day and I may never get the chance to see her again. This made me feel even lonelier, having to leave a friend when I had only just made one.
The next day, I aimlessly wandered through the streets of Kanazawa with no set plan in mind. I felt out of place, not being so sure of what to do. It was more difficult passing through the same streets that I passed the night before. This was only one of the very few times I experienced true loneliness.
I went to the same garden as last night to compare what it would be like during the day. It was busier and immediately I noticed most people were in groups and pairs. I tried not let it bother me but it didn’t feel the same as it did when I was with Clais.
After finding a bench to eat a packed lunch I bought at a konbini (Japanese convenience store), I was joined by two Japanese elderly women and a younger woman.
The younger woman asked in Japanese if the bench was free, from the way she was gesturing with her hands, to which I replied with “daijoubu” which means “it’s okay”.
They were surprised to hear me speak in the very limited Japanese that I know. By being alone, I felt that I was more approachable to others, giving me more of a chance to spark a conversation with the locals.
We had a bit of a laugh after asking in Japanese “where is the train station?” (eki wa doko des ka) instead of “do you speak English?” (eigo ga hanasemasu ka). Then I proceeded to ask for their names and they introduced themselves as Yorushi-ko, Yuki-ko and Roku-ko.
They were very kind ladies, so kind in fact that they even shared their bento (Japanese-style packed lunch) containing onigiri, sushi, tamagoyaki, and gave me some hanami dango (sweet dumplings) as a treat afterwards. I really enjoyed getting to know them and this moment alone is one of my key highlights in Japan.
I still had half of the day left and meeting the ladies has boosted my positivity to get out and explore more of what Kanazawa has to offer with the time I have left. I ended up exploring the geisha and samurai districts and even spontaneously attended a free origami session nearby the train station.
To overcome loneliness, I had to accept that I was alone and I had to make the most out of this opportunity. I had to keep positive, strike a conversation with new people, and do whatever that gets me out of my comfort zone. I’m really glad that I met those ladies at a time when I was feeling down – it has really given me a positive view on solo travel and I hope I was able to make a good story out of this for you all.
Shall I do a part 4? If so, what should I do it about? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading and until next time,