One of my best friends was studying abroad in Kyoto, Japan. Months had gone by where I had only seen him through an iPhone screen or Snapchat filter.

Out of the clear blue, an assignment came up at work requiring me to travel to Tokyo, Japan for a conference. While I was there, my best friend hopped on Japan's bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo and we explored one of the world's most treasured cities.

— Japan's equivalent of YOLO

As I’m walking down the ramp...

to board a plane back home, my heart feels a heavy ache. A land I have never known introduced me to unconditional kindness, flavors of food I didn’t even know existed, and stunning beauty–both in its nature and in its traditions. Lush green trees cradle the historic shrines; bustling colorful markets stage the grand temples. The endless maze of lights in Shinjuku make Times Square look like a glimmering star among a large galaxy.

I sit in my airplane seat among other tired travelers. My mind races with memories of the past week; the people, the food, the sights. The whole experience was overwhelming–in the best possible way. 

With my job, I’ve had the privilege to travel to some beautiful cities. I’ve collected great memories and photos from each one. But once in a blue moon, a city will awaken a part of the soul I didn’t even know existed. Tokyo did that for me.

And even though I’m quickly wiping tears away from my face so others won’t notice, I’m excited I got a little sample of the world you love so much–just an ocean away.

Link to Grant's blog post here.