Se let me give a little background to this expedition. Upon leaving for the expedition I was granted, to my surprise, a two maximum leave period from my position at the English school which I was working in Shunan. Although it is very rare for English teachers to get any extra leave days besides national holidays, my boss really tried to work with me and because of that, I fully intended to make it back within two weeks. As the two week mark approached, at which time we’ve already made it to Sago and were the closest to Korea we will ever be, the Typhoon also was approaching which meant a potential one week delay in returning. At this point in the expedition, we have little faith that we will receive entry permission from the Korean Customs and Immigration authorities and to top it off my cash reserves were dwindling to only a few hundred dollars. It came to a point that I had to ask myself two questions: how long will we stay here and how much am I willing to sacrifice?
As our friend Wakimoto San was driving us to a famous Korea observation point on northern Tsushima, I was seriously considering these questions. What will happen when I lose my job, apartment, car, and potentially visa as well as my permission to stay in Japan? Was it really worth all of this with such a little chance of success? As I exit the car and begin walking to the observation point, Koji noticed my stupor and asked “what was the matter?” I looked at him with depression in my face and defeat in my voice, saying “I think there is a 95% chance we will go home.” He paused for a second to take it in and looked back saying, “I don’t think so.”
In the end, I really have to point to Koji as the most important part of this expedition. Not only was he the reason this expedition was possible (by volunteering his time, expertise, over a year of training, his family as our support crew, and giving up almost a month of work) but he was the unflappable positive beacon of light in this expedition. I often wondered how someone can be so positive when facing perceived impossibilities. I will be forever thankful to come into contact with a person like him who will absolutely have changed my life.