Sunday, August 10, 2014

Living the Japanese Dream

Back in 2010 when I started this blog, I didn't know very much about cars. To be honest, it does make me cringe a little bit when I go back and look at some of my earliest posts on iheartstance, but I've never hidden them on here as that time of my life was a really important one, and they remind me of how far I've come. I've never been one of those people that gets embarrassed when they don't know something, I just get on with it and focus on learning it instead. We have Google now so there's no excuse, right? When I was 17 and chose to drop out of high school, my dad told me that he was cool with it, as long as I kept learning. "As long as you keep learning, I know you'll find your way in life", he said. That has always stuck with me, and I think it has really helped me get to where I am now, with cars now playing such a big role in my life.
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One of the biggest turning points for me was when I spontaneously booked flights to Japan on Grabaseat (an NZ website that occasionally has ridiculously cheap flights) back in 2011, and got my first small taste of Japanese car culture. I was hooked, and I know I always say this but it really did become an obsession. That obsession accelerated my journey of learning about cars considerably, and after my first Japan adventure in 2011, I returned again in 2013 for another not-long-enough trip, which was actually my honeymoon!

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What could be more romantic than cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji and Japanese car culture? :P

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Anyway, if you've been following my journey and this blog from the beginning, you probably already know all that stuff and I'm probably sounding repetitive. But I guess my point is, I feel like I really owe Japanese car culture for inspiring me and pushing me to learn more about cars in general over the past few years. If it wasn't for Japan, my interest in wheels and fitment might have never evolved into something bigger, and perhaps I never would've moved on past that phase. But I did, and now the full blown automotive hobby I have today is also my full-time job, which is my absolute dream come true!

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Earlier this year when my role at Speedhunters changed to Community Manager, this meant that I would be working full-time from home, but the only problem was that I was in a bit of a lull. Although so many of my friends are based in Auckland, the city just does nothing to inspire me - especially with the warm weather fading and winter just around the corner. I'd been living in Auckland for five years, and the photos and posters of cars on the walls in my dark, cold and newly-designated home office were doing nothing to help stimulate productivity; if anything they were doing the opposite.

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My husband Pedey and I don't have any possessions of real value apart from our cars and camera equipment, we don't own a house or any pets or have any children, and we saw an opportunity for adventure. We were both in desperate need of inspiration; we wanted to see new things and I guess you could say we wanted to tick things off our bucket lists before it was 'too late'. So we took some boxes of stuff up to my parents house, sold his beloved Impala and put our Datsun into storage, and headed off on a world tour, starting with a six week stint in Tokyo. We booked a cool little Airbnb apartment, and I set up my new office with amazing views of the city from up on the 10th floor! We both worked throughout the day, and during the weeknights and weekends we went on some cool adventures.

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I've already partially documented some of our trip in this recent story on Speedhunters, but as you can imagine over the course of six weeks I took thousands of photos that remain unused on my phone and my computer, so I'll write a few more posts on here with those over the next month or so.

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Ever since I bought my Canon 5D MkIII last year, I've started taking my camera out and about with me less and less. Even though it's insured, I'm a super paranoid person and I always have so much stuff on me, (I'm one of those girls that has a handbag that feels like it has at least five bricks in it), so I just find it really difficult to carry around. I retired early from my professional photography career five years ago - that sounds stupid but it's kind of true, I worked full-time as a wedding/portrait photographer starting when I was 17, and since I left that job I've never actually worked solely as a photographer. So I guess photography is more of a hobby now, and I enjoy taking photos on my iPhone just as much as I do with my SLR, so it's just so much easier to use my phone. These collage pics are all from my iPhone 4S.

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Throughout those six weeks some of my craziest dreams came true, and I got to experience many sides of Japan that I had previously not seen before. I've been living in Scandinavia for a month now, (that's another whole new story!) and some of the things I saw in Japan now feel like they actually just happened in my head or in my dreams. It was a truly surreal experience, and the whole trip seemed to pass so quickly. I don't think I could ever spend longer than six weeks there, because the lack of 'a personal bubble' and wide open spaces kinda freaks me out a bit, but it really is a magical place; it's like a weird alternate universe that doesn't even feel like planet Earth sometimes.

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I'll leave you guys with this photo I took from the Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku. The viewing floor there is free, so you can go up there anytime and take in some incredible 360° views of the city, which is pretty cool.

Until next time!
- T x

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