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An old couple walking in Nakajima Park.
Travelling solo can yield great benefit. I’m a believer that the more you understand the world around you – with your own lived experience rather than through the consumption of a media piece – the more powerful you can become.
The kind of power you grow is not defined by dominance or assertion. It’s calmer and more permeating. The best victories won are in the battles not fought. How do you not fight battles? Nurture within yourself a depth of ability to perceive, comprehend, and understand.
How do we deepen our capacity to understand? When we travel to a city, we’re often prescribed the “Top 10 Places” to explore. An opinion is already formed on whether a city is exciting or not based on the number of listings it has on a Google search, or its ability to cater stimuli to a camera.
Sights, or sites, need to have social value. Often, people visit a place for the amount of subsequent recognition their experience can reel in on social media. The feedback loop is almost instant: did you really go somewhere if you haven’t told your friends that you’re there?
To build understanding, we need to observe. Observation and patience go hand-in-hand. Reserve the need to react and opinionate. Lengthen the feedback loop between experiencing something and the need to have your feelings about it heard.
We deepen our capacity to understand when we learn to be ok with being alone. This does not mean alone but with a smartphone and a habit of Instagram page-refreshing. It means being able to define your own agenda and enact it with a satisfaction that comes not from consequently telling your friends about it, but from knowing within that you did it.
Travelling solo isn’t easy for people who are used to constant reinforcement or attention. Instead of external stimuli (a friend saying c’mon, we’ve got to make it to the last bus home! or hey, let’s be mindful of what we wear to the temple), we rely on ourselves. Instead of looking for cues from other people as to whether we’re on the right path, we are defining our own path.
You’re spoken to harshly at a restaurant in a foreign city – nobody is there to comfort you or hear you complain. You’ve just hiked to the summit of a mountain – you have yourself (and perhaps the stranger next to you) to commemorate the moment. You’ve just engaged in an entire conversation on Google translate with a friendly passenger on the bus – that’s a great story to archive into personal memory and share it at a later date.
Travelling alone grows our ability to appreciate and self-sustain. You rely on yourself to accumulate the right observations, build the right understandings, and make the right judgements. Without interference or support from others, you guide your own journey in a foreign city. Your opinions about its culture are formed from your own conversations with locals.
The pictures in this article sketch out your potential 1-day itinerary in Sapporo, Hokkaido. It’s perfect if you’re planning to spend it alone and would like to:
- Visit Nakajima Park in the early morning for a walk
- Read a book and sip a coffee at Starbucks Asahigaoka (near the delightful Champon Ikkaku Honten for lunch)
- Watch an early afternoon movie at United Cinemas in Sapporo Factory
- Grab a 3pm beer at Moon Sun Brewing in Odori (Google Map link)
- Peruse shops at Tanuki Koji
- Slurp a hearty bowl of ramen at らーめん 醤家, next to Swiss Inn
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