The number one excuse foreign nationals use when asked about why they came to/moved to Japan is all the same. One popular reason "I came here to be with my 'Japanese' girlfriend/wife/fiancé. Another good reason is because of the green tea, and onsen. I came here for the kabuki and Mt. Fujii. I came here because I wanted to go shopping in Tokyo, and the list goes on and on." I'm no different. I came for all the same reasons listed above too. You remember why you came here?
The first few weeks in Japan was epic, like it still is to this day. The first Japanese Budo I got into was Aikido where I trained at the Akikai Foundation, the founding school of Aikido in Tokyo. I clearly remember having to wake up at 4:30 am every morning just to get up to Wakamatsu-cho from Yokohama in order to make it up for the first of many training sessions. I had trained until I threw up from exhaustion, literally. There were some amazing teachers up there, and an amazing experience for me. Met so many people, too.
On weekends, we used to head up to Gunma to hunt for hidden springs. Way back in the day, onsen(s) like Takaragawa and Ikaho were considered hidden, now are advertised on tourism websites and travel guides. In the picture below was me at Ikaho in Gunma Prefecture enjoying some konnyaku with a drinking buddy. This guy turned me on to my first taste of Japanese sake. I've been a sake guppy ever since.
There was another sake group I used to hang out with up in Tokyo, two others actually, but they rarely traveled outside of Tokyo and were for the most part transient guest on short stay visas. Sake is not material. It is in a sense an ethereal drink. It's a drink best enjoyed in Japanese nature and with like minded people who share the same passion of the countryside, not necessarily within the confines of four walls. Bars and taverns offer convenience, but not necessarily the experience that works best with Japanese sake I feel. Like me wearing the Yukata and freshly out of a hot spa; skin and hair still damp. And then working up an appetite.
In a nutshell, my early beginnings were sake, onsen, and friendship based along with jaunts all around Japan, and the Jukujo. Warming seats in bars and taverns just don't cut it for me if time and money is not the problem. What does the soul of this country represent for you? All of us have our own angle at how we look at things. I wish to convey this meaning.