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In the summer of 2000, I had just finished my first year of university in Canada and was accepting a summer job in a country I knew nothing about… Japan. The job was a ten-week placement at a resort called British Hills, which was designed to give Japanese people a British cultural experience, and was a great opportunity for a young twenty-year-old Canadian kid without any major life experiences.

I arrived with nine other Canadians, and upon meeting our employers and taken to the resort, I started work as a waiter and eventually became a bartender. In that short time that I was there, my jaw dropped in amazement, as I witnessed some of the most startling, fascinating and bizarre glimpses of culture I had ever seen. Everything was Outstanding!!! Unfortunately, the resort was built high up on a mountain, which made it difficult to get out and see more. Although I was experiencing something incredible, I still felt limited in what I could do, as it took forty-five minutes using the resort's bus to get to the small quiet town below, and from there it was a five-hour slow-train ride to Tokyo. Therefore, spending most of the time high up on a Japanese mountain in a resort that looked and smelled like England, working with people from Canada, America, England, Australia, New Zealand, etc, meant experiencing a partial Japanese experience.

However, I did manage to leave the resort once for a few days to explore Tokyo, and it was there that my jaw dropped and my eyes opened even further. Constantly discovering so many more bizarre and crazy aspects of Japan, which I could not experience at the resort, made me realize I had barely scratched the surface with this remarkable country. On my third day in Tokyo, I went to Mount Fuji and climbed it during the night, catching the perfect sunrise from the top. After finishing my work contract, and just before leaving for Canada, I visited a beautiful place called Nikko, said to be second in beauty only to Kyoto… another place I had really wanted to visit, but could not due to lack of time, money, and distance. I left Japan that summer with many stories, and was itching to see more.

Four years later, I graduated from my university in Canada and did what I said I had always wanted to do… return to Japan. The following are the letters that I wrote to my friends and family describing my new crazy adventures from the period of August 2004 to August 2005. The first three letters take place within the first month and a half, and were written a little randomly. As the letters kept getting longer though, I then organized them into sections. There are nine letters from Japan, plus a tenth written from Canada describing the journey home and the shocks I had from re-experiencing my own culture. Be prepared that these will be the longest letters you'll ever read!!! I had a lot to say. I've also included photos, and in some places some small movies, hoping they'll add to your reading experience.

Nicholas Stephen Leeson
November 2006

On August 18th 2004, I left Canada for Japan.

I arrived at the Narita Airport on the 19th.

The following are the letters sent to my family and friends.

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Copyright © 2010, by Nicholas Stephen Leeson