In February 1935, Kazantzakis embarked on a cargo ship bound for Japan, as a correspondent for the Acropolis newspaper. One month later he arrived in that far-distant land, where the sea reminded him of the Aegean.
His travels lasted until April, when he left to spend about a fortnight in China. There he visited Shanghai and Peking and spent a few days in a small village. The trip provided part of the inspiration for his novel The Rock Garden.