— Mark Jenkins
I don't know when the first idea for us to travel to Japan arose. Over nine years, we have traveled all over the place and it is incredible to think that we are fortunate enough to do so as often as we do. Most have been for conventions and Disney, but we have added a few "must gos" to the list. Japan is one of those.
We are both huge fans of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki (who we saw in Comic Con in 2009). When we discovered that they had a museum dedicated to their studio and films, there was no doubt in our minds that we would have to travel to Tokyo to check it out. There are many things that we love about Japan like the video games that we grew up with (I walked down the aisle to The Legend of Zelda theme song) and their innovation for electronics.
And did I mention that my husband is a samurai?
Then about two years ago I wanted to write something different. I was reading a lot of fiction based off of faerie tales and folklore, and though I really enjoyed what I read, I knew that I wanted to do something different. I wanted something that would take me out of my comfort zone. I choose Japanese culture, pulling up various tales off the internet, waiting for something to pop out at me and finally something did. And I have been working on it ever since, finishing the second version of it this past April. The next few months are going to be dedicated to editing this novel and the experience of actually visiting Japan will hopefully breathe in new life into story.
One of the places that is central to my story, and is one of the icons of Japan, is Mount Fuji. We decided to stop at Shin-Fuji Station on our trip back from Kyoto to Tokyo. It took us a bit to find the mountain out of the moving train, mistaking a large cloud formation for it. Then I focused a bit when we stepped and there was the peak almost right next to it!
Stepping into the station, we found the mural of Japan's most well-known folk tale, The Bamboo Cutter's Daughter, about another girl from the moon and I stood there taking it in before I realized we should go outside to see the main event. Seeing Mount Fuji took a bit for my mind wrap the height of it and what my character will have to do to reach (and climb) the mountain. We walked down the road and up on a bridge to take pictures, and I took note of the other mountains in the area. On the train ride, I was taking note of the terrain and the view as we zoomed by since this was the inspiration of the land of my character.
We went to the main road and kept walking towards the mountain. It was a warm day, yet it wasn't clear out. Wisps of cloud would sometimes pass by the mountain's peak and it took a bit for my eyes sometimes to adjust in finding the lower outline of it. We went up a bridge where we took some pictures (though some businesses found it necessary to have tall signs to cover up the view). Coming from the flat prairie of the Red River Valley in North Dakota, there is something about a 3,700+ mountain that really has to cause you to pause and stare.
There were moments of clarity and realization throughout the trip that helped bring me closer to my character. I would sometimes just pause and say to my husband, "How am I going to get her to do that?" or "I am going to make Kin do this." This was one of those. We didn't have time to climb the mountain ourselves, and with all the walking we did on the trip, I knew that reaching the mountain would probably be a lot easier than the journey there (maybe).
It was almost difficult to turn my back on Mount Fuji. I took one last look at it and didn't search for it again. I wanted that crystal clear image in my mind so I can somehow convey it on the page later on.
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