When are you at your best? I’d argue that many of us are at our “most alive” when we’re on the road, traveling. Some travel qualities that come to mind are: curious, adventurous, spontaneous, joyous, present, resilient and open to wonder. That’s why I started this blog – to explore how we show up when we travel and how we can perhaps bring back some of those fabulous personal qualities, from the mountain top to the valley, from the road to our daily life and workplaces.

When was the last time you were filled with wonder? If someone was watching you at that moment, what expression would they see on your face?

One of the things that fills me with awe and wonder is age and endurance. Like the amazing Ichimonjiya Wasuke in Kyoto, Japan — the oldest sweet shop still in business (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). Just outside of the Imamiya-jinja shrine in northern Kyoto, Ichiwa (as it’s called by the locals) looks like a movie storefront from a Japanese samurai film. Black tile shingles, wooden walls, sliding shoji doors. The teahouse was established in 1000. A.D. and here’s the kicker; their rival, Kazariya, operates just across the street. Alas, Kazariya has only been operating for a mere 400 years.

As my wife and I approach Ichiwa, we find ourselves a little confused. Where’s the glass counter stuffed with chocolates and truffles? We were expecting some Japanese version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Instead, we discover a clutch of middle-aged women gathered around a small hibachi stove, grilling little-white dough balls. Apparently, the house specialty is “aburi-mochi,” grilled mochi (pounded rice balls), seasoned with kinako (ground soybeans), then roasted on skewers and served with a sweet sauce made from white miso. After waiting for half an hour, we’re finally seated in a traditional teahouse. This is NOT Willy Wonky, but it sure is wonderful, dipping mochi skewers in sweet sauce, drinking green tea in delicate cups, looking out at a traditional garden – and knowing that this same scene has been playing out, from generation to generation, since the Middle Ages. All I can say is “Oishii!” (delicious), and Wow.