Okay. It was more of a holiday than a research trip, but as a writer everything I experience informs my work.
This concept is voiced by a character in a draft I’m working on. My character (a nerdy and embarrassing dad) has a creative career which allows him to accompany his globe-trotting academic wife on her overseas trips: as long as he has access to an internet connection to upload work to his editor by the due date, he can work from anywhere in the world. (Sound familiar?)
One of the family’s adventures takes place in Japan. Now, a month ago I had never been to Japan, but I have a BA double majoring in Japanese and Italian, so a reasonable understanding of the country and culture. Plus Google Street View allowed me to go there virtually and concoct most of my story.
However, when I got to Japan I realised I have to rewrite some of my current manuscript because:
1. Credit cards are not widely accepted (so my junior protagonist can’t rely on a debit mastercard for buying sushi)
2. There are heaps of English announcements on trains (so it’s possible to navigate the public transport system without a thorough understanding of spoken and written Japanese )
3. Unlike the Italian Frecciarossa, the Shinkansen (bullet train) doesn’t have a little light-up panel inside the carriage displaying its speed.
Despite trips to Tokyo Disneyland, the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour and the incredibly amazing Snow Monkey Park where you get to amble amongst wild snow monkeys, the highlight for me was visiting the scene where the climax of my book takes place: the Kishimojin Temple, where families worship the goddess of safe childbirth and child rearing. It’s certainly not one of the main temples on the tourist route, but I was very excited to see it for real, and even more excited to see a woman in a gorgeous kimono arrive with her husband and newborn for a ceremony!
The moral of this story is that while all my experiences inform my work, in this case my work informed my experience.