I got the call to join the East China Sea expedition in the hours before I was to head out for a fourteen-day-long backpacking trip through the Rockies in Alberta. I had an internet connection that lasted just long enough for me to respond, “Absolutely, count me in.”

While carrying 55-pound packs up mountainous terrain, I thought of Japan. I had never been, and the last time I was in Asia, I was pickpocketed by a monkey, a Balinese macaque that was half my size. But like our guests, I’m always game for an adventure. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since this was Lindblad’s first year of voyages in Japan. However, based on previous expeditions, I had faith that this experience would be one of a kind and very memorable. Now that we are in our final moments of the journey, I can confidently say that this trip was better than any I could have imagined and not only because the toilet seats were heated.

For the nature souls, a hike to Yasukuni cedar trees, many of which date back more than a thousand years, was a favorite. There were chances to see deer, monkeys, birds, and waterfalls. Culture and history buffs enjoyed countless castles, museums, gardens, and artisans (soya sauce, silk cotton, and 60 proof saki, to name only a few). For the ocean lovers, there were days on the beach, explorations in mangroves, Zodiacs in the water, snorkel adventures, and gorgeous video footage from the underwater specialist. The trip was full of delightful moments. I’m sad this journey is coming to an end. But like the Japanese attitude towards the cherry blossoms, we enjoyed it while we could.

Until the next one.