“What is your favourite country???”
Now that’s a question I hear pretty much every day. I personally find it very difficult to answer such question, because favourite of what? To scuba dive? To explore the city life? In terms of food? Culturally? Or in terms of people?
But I am not gonna deny that I find myself answer “Japan” pretty much in first place most times.
Well, I do have a list of reasons why Japan was so special to me, but today I am going to concentrate and tell you about only ONE of them, the “Mochan” reason!!!
And you ask me, “what’s that”??
Exactly! That was my question as well.
I have always been curious about Japan however I’ve always been worried about how expensive it is. And I knew that there was so much to do and explore in the Land of the Rising Sun.
As budget was a concern when you want to spend a few months in one of the most expensive countries in the World, one of the first things I’ve done was asking people on my social media for suggestions, advice and tips in order to make the most out of my Japanese experience.
Funnily and strangely enough, three different people (that don’t even know each other) mentioned the word “Mochan” to me.
At first I was a bit lost and I thought it was a place but then I realize it was in fact a person.
So what was that special about this “Mochan”?
After some research and inquiring those friends that mention him to me, I quickly realized he was a sort of Japanese John Lennon – without the music.
Mochan loves culture and he is so proud of his country, so one of his dreams was to organize social gatherings in Japan with people from all over the World and be able to show them the real Japanese culture.
And that is how the idea of “Wish Club” (The International Friendship Club) was born!!!
Wish Club backs to 1992, but Mochan admits that was Internet that gave him the possibility to take his dream to another level. Through websites such Hospitality Club and Couch Surfing, Wish Club got the platform it needed to thrive and fast forwarding it 24 years, I can honestly say that it is one of the coolest Clubs I ever made part of.
I spent 2 weeks traveling with Mochan and the WishClub back in 2014, and can easily say they were some of the funniest and culturally rich weeks of all my 2,5 year trip.
After being picked up in Tokyo, by a tailored Wish Club bus and by the man himself, me and a bunch of other people, including other foreigner travellers and local Japanese people- the journey of a life time began.
I could spend hours trying to express how much I have learned and how blessed I was to be able to experience the real Japan, with the most wonderful people, but instead, I will invite you to look at my Japanese pictures, because as they say, a picture is worth more than 1000 words =)
However, there are a few things I have to mention about this experience:
- The kindness of this man is just absolutely unreal. I have never met anyone in my life that do so much for completely strangers all in name of love and culture.
- Mochan, not only showed us the highlights of Japan, such visit the Golden Temple, to hike Mt. Fuji, or cross Shibuya, but he also took us to random and unique places such visiting a sake brewery in Amanohashidate, having a Kimono experience in Shizuoka, wear anime costumes to sing Karaoke or dress up and fight as Samurais in a location that was not only special but deserted from tourists.
- He arranged us accommodation, fed us several times and drove us over 1200km during 2 weeks (and we were over 20 people), showing us the best Japan has to offer, and for all that, he only accepted very little and insignificant money to help pay the petrol.
- Not only he opened his house doors for us to stay, sleep, cook, eat, shower, etc, but he also arranged with friends all over the country for us to do the same, yes, all the 25 of us,… and also, not only during the Wish Club trip but even after, as he introduce me to a bunch of local japanese people that very kindly open their doors to me after the tour was over and end up staying with 3 different families and friends all because Mochan and his friends kindness.
- One of the most mind blowing experiences with Mochan was just when we arrive to his house in Shizuoka, that by the way, is entirely for us, the Wish Club guests, he proceeds to take a polaroid of each one of us, where we add our name, date and country, and he then put them on the walls through the house, which I promised that is covered with hundreds and hundreds of them. So you should see my face when I mention to Mochan that had friends that told me about him and that they have done the Wish Club tour with him previously, and you might not believe, but, Mochan, not only recognized my friends straight away, just with me mentioning their names and nationalities, but he then took me to a wall and asked me, is this your friend? And both times he got it right, while he pointed at polaroids on the walls… and one was there in 2009, so very impressive that he remembers his guests even tho he receives hundreds of them per year…!
I could stay here all day mentioning how Mochan made my stay in Japan so special, but basically he gave me the opportunity to see and experience the real Japan while living so many adventures and see so many wonderful things that I would never be able to do if I was by myself. It was the type of experiences that doesn’t even come in the Tour Guide books. On top of that we were a bunch of travelers from all over the world that got together and became friends, not to mention all the Japanese people that I also befriend because of Mochan.
So before I left Wish Club Tour, I told Mochan I really wanted to somehow pay back his kindness and told him he and his wonderful family was invited to come and stay in my house with my family in Portugal. He said that he would visit me after I would finish my trip.
And now, exactly 2 years later, I have finally stopped traveling, and guess what happened???
YEP, Mochan and his ever growing family came to visit me in Portugal!!!!!!
It was such an honour to receive someone that I truly admire, that inspired me so much, to spread love, spread kindness and to connect people, someone that is indeed an Hero, Mochan, in my house.
He came with his lovely wife, Erica, his gorgeous and lovely daughter Hana, which I met and play with in Japan when she was just a little baby, his new born, Mirai and his super lovely auntie Midori, which I also met in Japan.
We had such a great time in Portugal, even tho it was very hot for the children, but we had a lot of fun eating BBQ, loads of Portuguese pastries, playing with the dogs and cats, sightseeing around town, and on top of that, Mochan brought Japan with him as he got us all Kimonos so we could do a fun photoshoot ahahhahaha.
How kind is that?
My dear Mochan, you know I am your fan and that I truly admire you, so to receive you here in my house honestly was an honour, and wish you can return someday and spend more time with us. You know my house is your house.
We all send you and your beautiful family loads of LOVE from Portugal and please please never change. Keep inspiring everyone that you touch, because you Sir, you have a gift, the gift of L.O.V.E. and if only more people were like you, the world would be an incredible place.
Thank you Thank you.
Emma and Miranda family.