So what did I buy in Japan? Aside from four tops/shirts for a number of multinational companies (Zara, Uni Qlo, H&M), I also bought a belt from Old Navy. That’s all par for the course – I have the time and the funds when on holidays to buy clothing.
However, I also bought
Two packets of the same size of oragami paper – all in blue tones. I plan to frame some.
A fabric hand towel
An offcut of fabric, and 1m of a fabric I loved – I’m considering using them between the glass and the ‘wood’ of the coffee table.
Sheets of stickers of Japanese temples, and paper shapes, to add to my travel journal (upcoming post)
I also spent countless money on snacks! My my my, did I try everything and then some. I feel very unhealthy now! I enjoyed cream/custard filled puffs (three times), small pancakes packages with maple jelly and butter, caramel pop corn, pizza flavoured chips (crisps for Laura ;), strawberry yoghurt drink, little brownie bites, pineapple ring icecream, mango ice block (twice!), alcoholic lemon flavoured icey drink… There was plenty more, I assure you… these are what I remember! That’s right – rice balls (really triangular shaped), though the last one I had, well I was pretty sure it was my LAST one, I got a little over them.
I also brought home a sake bottle, as the glass was blue! It’s now sharing the trolley with a Bombay Sapphire mini bottle. Classy huh?
What’s your favourite of my souvenirs? Is there something you ‘always’ collect as a souvenir when travelling?
So, laziness, or insanely smart, I’m going to try and ‘recycle’ some of my emails to blog posts. It has been noted that my email style is a little ‘punchier’ than my blog content… so I suppose we’ll see if it’s loved or hated!!
At Sydney Airport
So… other than bruising my hand on one of the lesbian’s hand luggage falling over (matches her wife’s), seeing my boss and his wife, I’m all good.Had my maccas hot cakes, seen an awesome red/ruby coloured longchamp – checked, it’s made in China, but my blue one I’m carrying is thankfully French made.
Tour might KILL (or teach me) patience… We’ll see.
New Osaka Hotel
I have wifi. I’m tired and it’s past bedtime and I’ve missed one meal. Room is tiny but private so this (semi) nudist is happy.
Plane was old but from Tokyo to Osaka was shiny and new and as big with first class! Who needs first class for a 45 min journey!?
Sat next I 21 year old on way here, annoyed me. Rookie traveller he is!!
Food! I need food! No money in yen though.
Day 2 about to begin, we head to the sister city Suita and stay with home stays for two nights! The lesbians are staying together cause otherwise they refused to home stay.
Little J is the inexperienced 21 yo got left behind in the busy streets of Osaka after seeing the dragon boats . He’s a pretty entitled mummy’s boy so more or less blamed us for losing him not himself for his inability to follow the green fish wind sock that Hiro our guide whips out (definitely gay me thinks!)
G the leader is a bit dottery, so the lesbians and I whipped him into shape so we eat prior to midnight. You should see the gifts he’s got for our homestay families – yikes!!
There’s an older couple, four kids and grand kids called L&G. Apart from the lesbians they seem the most relatable for me. They’ve travelled heaps. She’s a bit disagreeable with big issues, or just contrary (after I mentioned the diversity of fashions the Japanese wear). Greg is far more fun and appreciates my engineer mind!
There’s a whinge-a-belle who’s a vego cause she can’t chew. She takes 10 minutes of fretting to buy a vending machine drink, worried she won’t like it, and of course in the end didn’t. She should have got water but she doesn’t like mineral water, chose green tea. Anyone would think the $2 decision was mission critical! The lesbians and I split to ensure we wouldn’t enjoy her company at dinner after seeing her lengthy discussion at lunch!
There’s sisters her, in strata check business, constantly laughing. E’s 27 and definitely the more unhinged one but K keeps her sorted. Thy have locked themselves out If their room more than once already!
Then they Z, a Russian born in Iran who got refugee status in Australia after ww2. She’s a red wine drinker and whilst a little spacey, switched on generally! J is 32 never travelled but it doesn’t show. He has mannerisms and intonation like Teo but far more generous. The twins and I had cash flow problems the first night and Jordan readily volunteered to cover us. That being said despite reports to the contrary, international credit cards works but cash is king!
The tv is all in Japanese but in watching it nonetheless. Puts me in the mood for the day ahead. Sorta sad I couldn’t find a music station at least 🙁
Yesterday we went to a castle/fort in the rain, then to Osaka history museum which was ok but very little English.
Lastly we went to the aquarium which I want enthusiastic about but ended up loving! For a girl scared of swimming with fish, a 30cm Perspex barrier between us is ideal! There were penguins and dolphins but the killer whale was sick and AWOL. There were SO many toddlers there but also young dating couples. Despite this business I saw heaps! There was also the worlds biggest gift store!! (If you care for fish, I have about 10 posts worth of photos!
This country is incredibly kid friendly. Most toliet stalls have a wall mounted baby holder to sit there while mum pees. Then most ladies bathrooms have a small low mounted urinal for little boys! Even sinks are at lower levels. Staks of men’s rooms also show they have baby change facilities too. They are also uber blind aware – Braille on stair hand rails in addition to tactiles everywhere. Even pay phones mounted lower. Every public toliet also has old person rails in the stalls and around at least one sink. I think I recall reading about the aging population: they’ve certainly embraced the changes needed!
Ok time to zip up and head to the foyer. Smallest bag in the group for the trip – most will leave the bulk of their stuff here during our homestay but I can take most of mine 😀
If I pack three pairs of ‘pants’ (one skirt, two pairs of shorts) – then I need the same proportion of tonal knickers (cause I’m like that!). I didn’t have enough light toned knickers, but Uni Qlo to the rescue…
Synthetic pockets in my white shorts – need replacing stat!
I had the least luggage, but could have wedged in a few more light/thin t shirts of similar – not that I owned something I ‘should’ have packed
I’m incredibly well travelled, and actively seeking to learn and work things out. I did NOT like my discovery being short cut by a friendly helper I’m travelling with, but I love to teach when people are interested (like teaching Japanese characters to the girls)
I love to write – I wrote daily emails, AND a handwritten journal, which I bought some great scrap booking stickers for in Kyoto – mighty proud!
I’m not the most obsessed about wifi or internet! At least in this group of 12!
Handbags really are the best way for me to day trip – easy to get tickets out repeatedly, small and therefore light, and had a light bag in there for ‘shopping’. Someone pointed out it was getting rain in it, but seriously, it didn’t, and no zip didn’t worry me in Japan!
Runners are way more supportive than $4 canvas slip on runners.
The smell of cigarette smoke is pervasive, and smoking is still quite acceptable in Japan (with smoking rooms quite common). Three nights in a formerly smoking room was a little unpleasant :s
You are automatically charged for plastic bags at grocery stores, but at convenience and all other stores, it’s the default way to show you paid for something. If you mime you don’t want a bag, plastic branded tape is placed over all items’ barcodes!
As soon as I hit publish, I’ll think of more things! But that’s ok, blogs are living, I can update it 😉
I’ve often travelled alone. I’ve often not taken any photos of myself. With the BF back home, and this echo of friends in the past, I implemented a policy of ‘a selfie a day’. In reality, some days there are a few selfies, and other days there are none. But you get the picture:
There’ll be many a post on my two weeks in Japan, but I thought I would start with the big difference I noticed and didn’t expect (like, obviously the language and alphabet is different!)
They are SO tidy – even though there aren’t many bins, you just don’t see rubbish lying around. I saw someone *clean* the pavers of an ice cream drop or two
There’s no paper hand towel in bathrooms, almost across the board. My eco conscious REALLY like this! Instead, men and women carry handkerchiefs or what we’d call ‘face washers’ (terry toweling) and use it to dry their hands, or wipe their brow…
Japan is HOT! Wow, there was 95% humidity some days
They are such obedient people – they line up either sides of the train carriages in pairs. Just such restraint.
Everywhere seems very visually cluttered – some many words in your face! Negative space in print isn’t something that’s used as much as it could be
They certainly love a cute uniform with a hat!
Just a short post for now, but I thought I should break my two week posting drought!
There’s nothing I enjoy more than some photos collages, and doing outfits ensures I pack enough. And I can easily get up and get dressed.
If you’re bored (already) can play ‘spot the repeat picture’ :p
These don’t include the ‘plane’ outfit.
The plane will introduce jeans, a cotton sweater, a scarf, my trench… and some level of short and/or long sleeved shirt/s. And canvas slip on runners (often called Rabens here, which is a brand, though mine aren’t).
Oh and I threw in my white linen pants, cause it might be too hot for jeans, but in need of trousers?
Doing this helped me cut a long skirt I was planning to pack (nothing went with it, and I didn’t want to add what did). I also culled a pale blue blouse, as it was too similar to the linen one I’ve pictured. I photographed it!? I also had a baggy navy and white striped jumper, but it was likely to class with other stripes, and in reality, isn’t warm when I might need it to be. I also had a blue and white kaftan top, that I stole from mum years ago. It’d be great for a beachy holiday, but this, not as much.
What’s not pictured, but packed in my yellow carry on suitcase:
countless pairs of knickers
two bras (will wear the third)
leather slip on sandals
one book (the inside of the cover used to hide our modem!)
a duffle bag for ‘more’
What else, you asked? (you didn’t… my mistake!)
A lot of this I already carry around daily in my handbag! What’s missing, and will need to be packed on the morning:
untinted lip balm (my handbag one has gone AWOL, so will use the bedside one on the trip)
phone & charger
snacks?! I did buy museli bars a week ago. They are eaten hmmm I don’t want a third grocery store visit in three days, maybe I’ll make snack buying a cultural experience.
current reading book
Things I’m up in the air about
Should I go buy white canvas runners (mine are black), they are $4 from Kmart, and undoubtedly slave labour?
Should I take my running shoes (and socks, and perhaps an outfit for running) – even if I just wear the running shoes for day to day? I won’t wear them with jeans on the plane, so I’ll have to pack them, and they are bulky?
Do I need more reading material? This might be an intense ‘tour’ with lots of talking, and little idle reading time.
Is taking a library book wise (I love liberating book space for other stuff!)?
Should I pack an umbrella – I often put it in the front pocket of my suitcase, and a few times, it’s saved me on arrival.
Now, I leave first thing Saturday morning, so tomorrow (Friday) night I need to
take out recycling (I’ve always been the rubbish person in this household, so best to leave with everything empty)
take the last of the compost to the community bin
empty bedroom rubbish bin (and weigh!)
That’s it – for now! You may answer some or none of my questions, or ask your own!
My apologies, devoted and committed readers (hahaha), it’s been more than a week since my last confession post. But to break the silence, I have some VERY exciting news (which I alluded to in comment on declutter)!
All the wonderful photographs are directly from Louise Hawson, and brilliantly talented photographer from Sydney who took her daughter Coco around the world last year, visiting two cities that I will. I was a diligently follower of her weekly posts, and have enjoyed her books thoroughly (52 Suburbs and 52 Suburbs Around the World). Seeing you probably don’t know her, please take the time to enjoy her site: 52 Suburb Around the World
An opportunity came up through the State Emergency Service (SES) which I volunteer for to join another area’s group heading to Japan for two weeks in July. The other unit has a sister city in Japan. Plus, there are some pretty interesting and unique challenges that Japan faces regarding emergency management. The tour will only touch on ’emergency’ stuff on three occasions, and the rest of the time, we will enjoy being tourists complete with a tour guide.
I know I’ve said previously and repeatedly, that I’m not a fan of tours. However, in livetolist format, here’s why I am joining a tour
My high school Japanese is limited to ‘hi, my name is Sarah, I eat cake’
I don’t have a burning list of things I *must* see and do in Japan
However, I’m generally intrigued by Japan and it’s unique culture
I have a passion for disaster recovery, and hope to move my career in that direction
Opportunities like this don’t come up every day (and when you’re without children/ill parents/huge debt)
So here’s a brief summary of locations and activities planned
5 nights in Osaka and/or host city
Kyoto Gion Festival
4 nights in Kyoto
Bullet train to Hiroshima
See a Sumo match
Stay in a Ryokan (the traditional Japanese matted room with a futon)
Meet a Geisha and chat after watching her dance
Visit tsunami region
Bullet train to Tokyo
3 nights in Tokyo
Visit Disaster Prevention Park
There’s naturally more than this, but these stand out as the ‘cool’ notable items!
I’m so pleased I continue to regularly save money, so that I can say ‘yes’ to things like this without great concern.
Do you want to visit Japan? Even if you don’t really want to, what’s one things you’d like to see or do whilst you’re there?