Perseverance

As impossible as the world may be to navigate, as arbitrary any goal may seem, and as lacking in meaning it all may appear to have; the realm of possibility presented before you each day begs for a cause.

In less than 9 months, I will be hiking through Japan in an attempt to prove something to myself. Each day before that, during that, and after that, should be recognized as a journey in itself.

Over the past few months, I’ve been going to a gym roughly four days a week, studying Japanese, and saving money. I come home every night and wonder exactly why am I going through all of this. It’s taken so much time away from everything else I want to do. I guess the answer is just perseverance.

You see, my goal is to help. I want to help the world, the individuals in it, and provide a manuscript for others to do the same. So far it’s been really difficult. As many of you know, I’ve spent months dropped out of blogging from being too busy. I’ve questioned many things in my life, and I find myself changing every day.

I think we all go through this process on the track towards any goals. For me, It’s hard not to over think, it’s hard to choose a more difficult option. And sometimes, it’s even difficult to get out of my warm bed.

So, I have a new promise to myself; A promise I will keep with me from this day. I think we’re happiest on our way towards something meaningful. So, with rejuvenated and renewed effort – I’m making that promise public. I hope, by doing so, it will encourage others to do the same.

My promise:

Avoid entropy like the plague.

Who’s with me?

Where Have I Been?

Life is full of a multitude of gifts, surprises, plans, and settings. Sometimes a blessing, and sometimes a curse, it can be quite difficult to decide which is which at first glance. This describes the latent issue I hadn’t foreseen in my plan for this site. You see, I began with a simple goal. That goal was to explain the preparation, and eventually continue with a follow-through once it had occurred. I, then, brainstormed my plans for the site. And so began the problem.

By complicating each piece of the journey, the adventurer inside of you subsides and gives in to the bystander inherent to all of us.

Therein lies the problem, complexity. After I started this blog, I slowly began my plans to work with video which needs countless hours of processing on my old Powerbook G4. I grasped at the Japanese version of this blog in an attempt to jump start it. I began collecting all of the data I could while setting up habits and lifehacks to help… Anyway, it became too complicated while I was in the midst of my English conversation classes, studying of the Japanese language. And then there was LOST, countless blogs, and other things (i.e. sleep). Altogether I’ve been so busy preparing for things, and because of that, I have been neglecting the blog itself. And for that, I’ve decided to rekindle that flame, regroup, and change a few dates. I’m simplifying everything so I can continue providing as best I can.

Does this mean you’re quitting the walk?

Absolutely not! I have been planning continually this month, like every other month up to now. I even made my first purchase. I bought socks from a hiking store near Hiroshima. The socks are my first official purchase of my ever-growing budget. I’m also in the midst of reading a few books to help guide my journey (through the paths of those who came before me.

Does this mean there won’t be video?

Nope! It simply means the video will take a little longer to get up and running. I’m quite excited for it! and I hope you are too!

So what does this mean?

It means I’m getting back to writing. I will be posting slower than I had in the past. However, I hope to keep posts as content rich as possible. I plan to do that through my system of simplification. Get things done, and do them well. As lacking in poetic language as this post may be, I hope it gives an explanation for the wait between posts. If you have any questions, let me know. Until then, Stay tuned!

Five Mantras for a Healthy Budget

Like everyone else, I have many bad habits. My hike will require mastering these bad habits in order to make sure they don’t get in the way of my goals. So I’ve created a goal of smashing one bad habit a month. The first one being my spending habits. I plan to instill the following five mantras in myself by the end of the may.

1 – When it comes to money, I come first

Exactly. Many financial books explain this in detail. Basically it goes like this: Every paycheck I receive, I pay myself; Every payment I receive, I pay myself; Every investment that matures, I pay myself. Putting yourself before your bills will ultimately help you save money, control spending, and become generally happy. Now, this doesn’t mean going out to dinner after each paycheck. It simply means taking that first chunk of money and investing it in yourself (Read: Chocolate, Stocks, and CDs).

2 – If it’s convenient, it probably isn’t a good idea

Vending machines, convenience stores, fast food, and low end restaurants in general have it in for me. Not just me, you’re on their list too. We all are. For this reason (and for my wallet) I’m going to avoid convenience food like the plague. Sadly, this means I must spend more money when I go out to eat. That’s true, but my more expensive outings are rare in comparison to the daily stops at convenience stores.

This doesn’t include food-that-happens-to-be-convenient. For instance, I have very healthy noodles and natural cheese that I tend to eat every morning.  It’s very convenient. I simply boil the noodles, shred the cheese and I have breakfast! I’ve avoided all of the preservatives, pesticides, and gag-inducing artificial ingredients. More importantly, I save a lot of money at the same time.

3 – Watch out for costly addictions

Happily, I don’t smoke and I rarely drink. This doesn’t mean I have avoided having a laundry list of addictions. I love chocolate, coffee, and gadgets as well as  the next Wes Andersen film. Thankfully the latter are few and far between. Anyway, because of these addictions, I tend to spend a lot of money. I buy chocolate, I go out to cafes, And I quote Bill Murray. It’s high time I stop spending money out of an emotional craving.

4 – Mottainai! (もったいないなぁ)

Wikipedia defines mottainai as “a sense of regret concerning waste when the intrinsic value of an object or resource is not properly utilized.” That’s a mouthful. Basically, if something isn’t used to it’s full extent, it’s a waste. Like throwing away blank paper, coffee grounds, or grandma. As lazy as you may be, grandma is still useful. With this in mind, I hope to cut down on my wasting of materials I could be using and reusing.

5 – I costly investment trumps any deteriorating shortcuts

It sounds counter-intuitive when you first read it, but I promise it’s not. Anything I purchase, I see as an investment. Whether it be stocks, food, or Japanese learning textbooks. Seeing things as an investment will change your perspective on everyday objects. If I have a few dollars to spend, I could use it on a new small textbook, McDonald fries, or a few songs on iTunes. It’s all relative to whatever my goals are.

Krijali's Personal Score Badge

The Key

Why am I telling you all of this? And what’s with that graph? Well, a month into planning, I just realized I still spend an obscene amount of cash at local convenience stores. Each purchase has been small. Maybe a 200 yen drink one day, and a 500 yen package of beef jerkey the following morning. This quickly destroys any budget I had. It’s true that sometimes it can’t be helped. (Read: I like to sleep in). However, my spending could easily be curtailed if I were to place accountability on myself.

By making my goals, mistakes, dreams, misfortunes, and winnings public, I plan to become the master of my shortcomings.

For that reason, I’ve decided to display a  graph of daily goals publicly. Each day, I will enter in the positives and negatives within the field of each month’s goal. And instead of boring you with a detailed description of my daily habits, I’ve provided a cute graph (from Joe’s Goals) that’ll show my progress in any given month.

The first month: Spending.

Seperating One from Another

Brainstorming for this post, a variety of notes flooded my mind, and paper. Here is a handful of those:

Then, I received my video camera in the mail. You know what this means. Soon there will be video. This post is merely an taste of what is to come. Stay tuned!

Advice From My Mentors

Just Do It! (Click for Results)To consolidate the laundry list of advice I’ve received lately, I thought it would be ideal to let everyone in on my progress. After reading through e-mail, comments, and links to other blogs; I’ve narrowed down the list to key ingredients which hadn’t entered my mind without the help of those who’ve gone before me. Without further ado:

PACK and BOOTS

Anyone familiar with the Puss in Boots would see the importance of boots. Along with this, I’ve been reminded about the importance of trying on everything. Happily I have a year to look around locally before buying anything!

Psh! Who needs maps?

Yeah – my thought exactly. Seriously, why would you need maps while hiking for five months??? (Read: Sarcasm)

Freezing Sleeping Bags!

The rating system of sleeping bags are not necessarily a comfortable temperature. They’re more of a minimum (who knew!)

A Blade (not that one)

Although I would prefer bringing a sword (Wouldn’t that just be awesome?), a small utility knife could come in handy. So for now it’s made the list.

Water Bladders F(or)T(he)W(in)!

I do think it will be a much better idea to use a bladder system as opposed to water bottles.

Calculate, Calculate, Calculate

I received overwhelming amounts of advice when it comes to calculating different things. Whether that be calories, distances, or the best time to see cherry blossoms on Shikoku.

Knowing Where One’s Towel Is

This was brought to my attention. Very, very, very important.

Who Exactly Am I?

As much of an existential question as that sounds, it comes more from the inverse relationship between how many readers I have on this blog and the amount of people I know in real life. So, to answer the questions upfront and candidly. Here’s the inevitable bio!

For Starters, My Name is Kristopher Littlefield

Having been born in Loveland, Colorado, USA, I have a firm love for nature, altitude, and art. If I could bring anything from my hometown to the rest of the world, it would be the beautiful sculptures littered throughout the city. Throughout my childhood I wrote, directed, and acted in various plays and short films while indulging my love for alternative culture via the awesome sport of Ultimate Frisbee. I went to school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, where I majored in Film while studying English and Politics on the side. I, then, traveled to New York City where I spent the most thinning four months of unemployment. After deciding a steady stream of income was indeed important, I luckily found a job teaching English in Japan. In August 2010, it will  have been two years since I crossed the largest pond in the world.

A Hike to Change the World

AND I lost that competitionMy reasoning for planning such an audacious trip stems from so many places, of which I’ll be writing about in more detail in the coming weeks. I believe in Socrates’ cave analogy, and with that I think the power of example is one of the most powerful positive influences we can have on the lives of others.

Love of the Far East

I have a subliminal love for Japan. Throughout my life, I’ve had moments of hyper-obsession with Japan. I played a few video games, watched some anime, and indulged in a Japanese Film History class at College. I came to find its differences with the US are both astoundingly large and astonishingly small. And for that, I loved it. Ever since coming here I’ve fallen for it’s language and martial arts (namely Iaido which I would describe as a mix between Yoga and playing with swords).

Language Study as a Metaphor

You know, it’s hard to see where preferences come from. Until relatively recently I hadn’t realized I loved learning languages. In the last ten years, I’ve had introductory courses in German, Spanish, French, Arabic, and American Sign Language. Once I arrived in Japan, I started studying the language and I’ve been enjoying it for over 18 months. I can manage daily conversation, yet I am still a beginner. This language is so difficult, I have had many people (including my first Japanese teacher) tell me it was impossible for foreigners to learn. For someone who runs on challenges, this is the best way to begin a pursuit into understanding a different culture.You should never take yourself too seriously

The Bottom Line

I could go on for hours about myself. Those who know me would say I do it too much as it is. So I’ll end with a seemingly random listing of my various quirks.  I’m left-handed, like 3 of the last 4 presidents of the United States. I have Type 0(+) blood, which in Japan translates to agreeable, sociable, optimistic, vain, and rude. I’m a Virgo (sun), Capricorn (moon), Scorpio (rising) which for the uninformed means I’m perfect, methodical, and wear Movado watches. And most importantly, my kindergartners call me 栗くん(kuri-kun), in English, ‘Chestnut’.

Supplies, Supplies, and More Supplies!

Spending the afternoon crawling through the web of backpacking supply chains, I’ve come up with the possible candidates for my supplies for the trip! This is a brainstorming post, so please bear with me. I will keep an esimated running total as we go. Please critique my selections!

Backpacks!

I never knew there was such a vast array of backpacks. I did some preliminary searches and came upon the Deuter 65 liter bag. The Deuter 65 liter seems like it would fit me the best. (My torso height is roughly 18 inches, the journey will probably require between 60 and 70 liters). I’ve been searching around stores in the town I currently live in (Shunan, Yamaguchi, Japan), and sadly they had nothing hardcore enough to work. So I will be buying this through Amazon, here. (Unless one of my awesome commenters have a better idea). Running Total: ¥22,500 ($225)

Clothing

This will be a little murky. My plan is to simply buy local, breathable clothes. I would love to buy some fisherman pants, but I don’t know how well that will go down. As I listed in my first costs post, I plan to buy sunglasses as well. I am setting aside around ¥30,000, bringing my running total to ¥52,500 ($525)

Boots

Completely based on personal preference, I’ll set a budget at ¥10,000. I would love to hear any opinions, and I’ll be e-mailing around to see what people have to say about this. Running Total: ¥62,500 ($625)

Sleeping Stuff

Whooo! This is difficult to decide on. I will be hiking for 5 months. I assume I will need something that will be rated at 0 degrees celsius. From there, I’ve found possibilities locally between ¥7,000 and ¥9,000. With that, I also plan on ordering a bivy sack. I found this one, but I have a feeling it’s too expensive. Running Total: ¥94,500 ($945)

Henro Gear

As seen everywhere you search for Henro(ness) (The pilgrimage around Shikoku), it’d be best to wear clothes like this. I assume it will cost me under ¥10,000, bringing my running total to ¥104,500 ($1045)

Other Hiking Gear

At last I will be setting aside another ¥15,000 for other hiking essentials. This will include a first aid kit, a shovel, a compass, maps, and water bladders. Running Total: ¥119,500 ($1195)

Camera

Okay, this is one of the most fun to research for me, being a geek. I will be bringing a handheld camera, similar to the Flip HD. I decided to go with the Kodak Zi8. The reasoning for this was the ability to swap out CF cards. This will make it possible to shoot an unlimited amount (well, almost). I will do a few tests whether I need to buy extra batteries. With this I will be purchasing as many CF cards as I can before I go (because of that I won’t be figuring them into this total for right now). Running Total:¥139,500 ($1395)

Solar Charging

Why solar charging? The goal here was to keep off the electrical grid as much as I possibly can. I will be bringing my phone (mostly for emergency purposes) as well as the camera. So, I started looking for solar charging that could work in a backpacking environment. So, I spent a long time looking for the most rugged panels I could as well as the largest panels that would work. It turns out, I think I will be better off buying a Solio Mag and a Solio Rocsta. I decided on this mix though it may change. Running Total: ¥155,500($1555)

Food!

As far as food is concerned, I am planning about ¥1,000 a day. So a high estimate puts me at a running total of ¥300,000 ($3000)

Everything Else!

I’ll be attempting to save another ¥400,000 for loans, taxes, shipping, and living costs after the trip is over. That brings my running total to ¥700,000 ($7,000).

In Conclusion…

Looking at my list, it looks a little daunting to find this money within 11 months. I hope it’s possible! Wish me luck, and if you know anywhere I could find things for cheaper, let me know! I would love to hear any and all opinions.

Research, Episode 2 (Video Edition)

Wandering around Youtube and Google Video, I decided to delve into my most recent research assignment. I’ve been focusing so much on text, I wanted, desperately, to look into the footsteps of those who’ve come before me. I had received a few e-mails from my new mentors with links to videos. This inspired the following expedition!

Project Go – Those Who Came Before


This playlist contains an ever-growing listing of the videos I’ve stumbled upon or been recommended to me during my preparations. I included some trailers as well as a few multipart pieces. I did, however leave out most of the Shikoku pilgrimage documentaries. There are so many of them it can be overwhelming.

Walking Across the Atlantic


I just happened upon this video. I think it’s a wonderful poem and the animation goes very well with it.

Kintaro Walk Japan


At 1 hour and 6 minutes, this video far surpasses the others I’ve watched in length (so far). A good visual journey through Japan, the film tells the story of a man looking for his father’s birthplace. The storyline is good and the humor conjured many chuckles out of me.

In conclusion…

There are many wonderful videos out there about hikes through Japan and hikes around the world. Most of the other videos I’ve been watching have been from the TED conferences. These are also inspiring and I recommend going to their website and watching a few. I would place a bet that you would be inspired by the end of the first presentation.

Logistics and Explanations – My Own Little Whitepaper

I’ve received many requests to explain the logistics of the trip as it’s planned thus far. So, I wrote this post for all of you who want to know more about me and my reasoning for this trip. I’ll try to make this quick and short for easy reading!

A statue in Hagi, Yamaguchi, JapanWhat is it?

Location: Japan. Specifically around Shikoku, then to Kyoto, and then from there to Tokyo and back to Kyoto.
Distance: Around 2,500 km (1,500 miles)
Budget: Roughly 550,000円 ($5,500)
Departure Date: March 1st, 2011
Arrival Date: Between July 1st and July 20th
Distance per day: Between 15km/day and 20km/day (7 miles/day and 14 miles/day)

Why do it?

I touched on this with the mission statements. There are really a few goals.

  • To help other people – This entails finding every possible way I could help people from helping people I know to random acts of kindness. I’m not trying to save the world with this trip, simply trying to be more spontaneous with compassion.
  • To prove I can do it – I want to prove to myself that it is possible, and along with this I want to prove to others the same goal. It isn’t the longest hike ever, or even the longest hike in Japan. However I believe it is unique in it’s goals and configuration. That uniqueness is key. Instead of doing exactly as someone else has done before, I’m tweaking things I’ve seen from the past to fit my dream.
  • To provide a path for others - I want this trip to be  in writing, on video, and on Twitter. From there, I want to give others the chance to create their own unique journey and enable those dreams as much as I can.
  • To work on my Japanese - One of my goals in life is to become fluent in Japanese and French. My Japanese has steadily worked up to conversation level, and I want to take it much further than that!

Any other questions?

I hope that makes a few things clear. If anyone has anymore questions, I would love to answer them! My next few posts will be more about my research and a more thorough essay on enabling the dreams of others. I will keep this one open to editing if anyone has any ideas of what I should add! I look forward to hearing from you!

So, I made a desk

This is my stand-up desk!!!!!1!Trek across japan, what a romantic journey. I mean, I think about it every night. 5 months, over two thousand kilometers, wow. To me, it’s a dream. Every day, I plan the dream, and every day it gets closer. But I have to ask myself…. How do you train for such a thing?

We all start somewhere…

In physics, acceleration is the change in velocity over time. Currently, I sit all day. I wake up, check my e-mail (sitting), go to work and teach (sitting), come home and surf the internet (sitting). If I’m going to walk such a distance, I should be doing a lot more than sitting!

So I made a desk….

Not just any desk. I made a stand-up desk out of shelving. (Three guess on what Leonardo Di Vinci, Winston Churchill, and Donald Rumsfeld had in common) I’ve read in many places the pros of owning a stand-up desk. There are many sites that guide you through the process. If you’re like me, with limited patience and the bank account of a magpie, an adjustable shelving unit should do fine.  Why is this key to my voyage across Japan? Well, we all have to start somewhere. Maybe if I stand up more, I will become more active. Maybe if I become more active, I will walk more. Maybe if I walk more, I will trek through Japan. Maybe if I trek through Japan, I will find some awesome sushi. Isn’t that what life is about?

Well, that and pizza.