- Apr 03
There we have it, another Dose adventure in the books. 2.5 years ago when we started our company, we promised each other that once a year we’d take a trip together and go be buds; go and get inspired and jazzed up again before putting our heads back into our MacBooks. We essentially spun an atlas around and landed on Japan. It wasn’t quite the warm beaches and pina coladas I had in mind but was a place that was way up on both of our bucket lists and a place that has endless inspiration for those who seek to find it.
Being a creative isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life. Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder, is it only “us” that sees the world the way we do? To see the beauty and incredible nuances in the simplest things. You might get an idea for the next logo you make by sitting next to a river and watching the patterns the water forms as it rolls around the rocks. It’s a gift and a curse as we have a tendency never to shut off. Japan was a place that appeared to have it all, so we were stoked to hop on the plane and begin our journey.
We had a total of eight days booked, 2 of which were mostly spent on airplanes. We spent our time watching movies and chuckling to ourselves about how incredible of an idea it was to have paid the extra $100 for the seat upgrade. It put us in the front row with all tons of leg room and the washroom a USB cord length away from us. Of all of the ideas Tim has had in his life, I chalk that up to at least being top 5.
So we landed in Tokyo, and it was immediately evident that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park to navigate like most of our previous ventures. Thirty-eight million people moving around that don’t speak much of our language and a subway system that from a bird’s eye view looked like a bowl of spaghetti was confusing to a couple of chaps from little ol’ Nova Scotia. We managed to hustle our way across the city to our hotel and immediately loaded up our camera gear and hit the streets. Yes, it was midnight but the time change and adrenaline were enough to power us through the night.
The streets of Shibuya were littered with incredible things to see. Every square inch appeared to have a purpose; in a city this large there can’t be any wasted space. Even the most remote back alleys were littered with the most majestic little restaurants that would only seat 4-5 people.
Tim; a self-proclaimed foodie had his first bowl of authentic Japanese Raman. One bite in “This is the best I’ve ever had” 🤣. The hype was real.
We walked 20km zig zagging in and out of every street we passed, there was so much to see. From an arcade the size of a small city to an ancient temple wedged between two high rises, this city had it all.
Next, we were off to Nagano. Yup, the one from the 98 Olympics – Yup still want to jump kick Dominik Hasek for that godly display in overtime. We didn’t have much on the agenda other than we knew we wanted to get into the mountains. We left our hotel and journeyed through this tiny little mountainside village weaving our way up the hill. This wasn’t a hike the average tourist would do, but that was part of the intrigue; to see the city from different perspectives and not the blueprint google would map out for us. Of all the sites in Japan, this turned out to be our favourite. There are some places in life you know you’ll see again – if it’s a rainy day you shrug it off and know you’ll take-it-in next time. But this was different; I stood atop that mountain with tears in my eyes reminiscing to myself about how beautiful this world is. It was a reminder to slow down and not get too caught up in the rat race. To embrace the simple things. This view is one that no words or photos could explain. It was complete and utterly breathtaking.
That night we indulged in some incredible steaks, wine and craft beer. Perched up on barstools we held the menu out and pointed to just about everything on the drink menu – twice 🍻.
The next morning we were off to Kanazawa. Again without much in the itinerary, we took a cab down to the ocean. Our cabbie pulled into a police station to try and get help deciphering where we wanted to go. The officers were all laughing as they acted out the motions of swimming and being cold. We’re holding our cameras like “No, no, we just want to take some pictures! No Swim! No Swim.”. After much deliberation, we got to the beach. It was a pretty eye-opening experience. The beach was entirely covered in garbage. It was something we had heard tell of but never saw first hand. Piles upon piles of debris covering this beautiful beach. It wasn’t even 100 meters away we saw three kids huddled around a bonfire made from plastic. We come from a place labelled “Canada’s Ocean Playground”, we’re spoiled with how clean our water is. It’s worth noting this didn’t appear to be from negligence as up to this point we were commending how clean the entire country was. You’d be hard pressed even to find a piece of gum on the sidewalks. We threw the drone in the air and managed to get some pretty cool photos. Knowing this would be the last time we would see the ocean this trip we took it in – ahhh, the sweet smell of salt mixed with burning plastic, beautiful nevertheless.
That night we sat at a tiny bar that seated about 8 people and met this awesome couple Tsakatsu and Rie; we only understood each other because we pointed to photos and locations on a map. After the beers and saki, the waitress who spoke a bit of English said “He wants to pick up your tab” as we shrugged our shoulders in disbelief she continued “He’s very rich!” This display of kindness was prevalent everywhere we went in the country; they’re extremely kind and caring people.
Our last full day in Japan was spent in Kyoto. A city that looked like an Asian version of Montreal. There were lots of tight corridors with cool street art and shops. We spent the day roaming through the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine and hanging out in the mountains with the monkeys. They’re trained to behave around the visitors, but every so often one of the rebels would end up chasing after somebody. They were extraordinarily photogenic and almost appeared to pose for the camera.
That night we bumped into a few young guys in the line up at the ramen spot. They sat with us at the restaurant and shared stories about their favourite musicians and places to travel to. I must confess; the music they added to my playlist is not for me, I guess I can’t get down with the JPop scene. At least I tried 🤣.
The next day we made it back to the airport for our flight home. It was a whirlwind of a trip. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp it all in the moment no matter how hard you try. Sitting back and reminiscing you tend to unearth more special memories that were overshadowed by the big highlights along the way. I think if asked what I would remember the most, it probably wouldn’t be the bright lights that touched the stars or the mountains that rippled the skyline. It would be the beautiful people that so graciously helped us navigate our journey. That bought our drinks at the restaurant. That put our photos in their tourist album. That painted Dose in Japanese lettering on a poster. That did magic tricks for us in the bamboo forest. We’re constantly inundated with so much negative media; it’s easy to get caught in the bubble we all live in. It’s refreshing now and then to pop it and step outside and remind ourselves that this rock we live on is beautiful and it is covered in beautiful people who share one thing in common – Love ❤️
It’s back to reality now, at our desks jamming with clients on the next wave of projects. But we’re doing it with a different set of eyes. Slightly more cultured. Extremely more inspired. Thanks Japan. On to the next one 🤘