So I went on exchange to Akita in my second year of university. From the get go I already thought it to be amazing that I met people all over the world; that we were all in this place together at the same time, and may never have met otherwise. This is Jess, or Hatochan which is her nickname that I gave her when we first met. The story behind the nickname is long enough and I'm sure the people that know Japanese are very confused since she doesn't even look like a pigeon. That's not our main narrative though! The important point is that Hato is a very kind person who doesn't expect anything but simple friendship in return AND our birthdays are only a week apart + align with my university holidays. This year I'd already returned to my home country of Australia whilst many of my other international friends remained in Akita. Jess and I skyped quite frequently and I'm forever grateful that she can always notice if I'm upset. Sometimes you can't just thank people with words because the words can't fully convey your sentiment. Sooo, did I travel half way across the world to visit her as a birthday present? Hell yeah I did, and it was a completely unknown to her until the moment I snuck up on her playing maimai in the mall arcade! My American friend Joe and Japanese friend Yamato were the only two in Akita that I told about my visit when I was organising it months beforehand. Mirachan from Canada found out through cleaver deduction skills but nobody else knew until I got there. I can tell you it was very hard to maintain a snapchat streak with Hatochan during this time because it took several days before I even got to Akita. From my little town in woopwoop to Melbourne 2 hours drive, 3 hours at Tullamarine airport, 7 hour flight to Changi, about 6-ish hours in Changi, 6 hours to Kansai Aiport, 2 hour train journey to my hotel, stayed overnight in Osaka, 1 hour train to main station, Shinkansen to Yokohama, train to Shinjuku, 11 hour overnight bus ride to Akita city, THEN I got lost and Yamato had to rescue me so it took twice as long to actually get to Aeon Mall. Anyway, WORTH IT. Every yen and every second was worth it just to meet again. And what a great 21st that I had as a result; drunk karaoke with 4 dear friends that I love. This particular photo was taken when Jess and I hung out before I had to catch the nightbus back to Tokyo. The developer I used was expired Rodinal so it left these interesting markings on some of the photos. I don't mind it, I've learnt to embrace unexpected results <3 I hope Hatochan has a safe journey back to England~

More photos by evansabahnurd