Yes, I kept it a secret, I've been wanting to blog for ages about all my preparations and excitement about going. But since our house was going to be empty while we were away and having been burgled once already, I'm a bit paranoid. So I had to keep quiet and not post about it.
But now I can tell you about my amazing 18 days in Japan, I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity and DH and I had a wonderful trip. DS didn't come as he is at uni and also he wouldn't have enjoyed the itinerary I had planned out which was heavily biased towards heritage sites, beautiful gardens, and crafts.
I'm the kind of person that likes to plan the details of a big trip in advance, so over the last several months I've put in a lot of time reading guidebooks, researching on the internet, watching YouTube videos and perusing Google Maps. I wanted to make sure that my time in Japan was spent enjoying ourselves and seeing wonderful things, not wondering what time the museum closed or what bus to catch to get there. So that's the main reason I haven't had as much time for crafts for quite a while. Plus I was shopping for things like new suitcases, a capsule wardrobe as we were travelling light, new camera, new tablet etc., apps for the tablet to translate Japanese kanji and tell us which subways to catch in Tokyo and so on. And we were trying to learn some basic Japanese phrases. It all paid off and everything went really well, much to my relief. My itinerary worked quite smoothly so I might blog that later in case it is useful to others planning a visit.
As it was our first trip to Japan, we stuck to the usual tourist highlights on the central island, but we still saw a good spectrum of sights and hit most of the cliches: from wearing kimono through to eating amazing seafood meals and indulging in hot baths. We started amongst the modern skyscrapers of Tokyo, had a weekend in the mountain resort of Hakone, visited ancient Kyoto with a side trip to Nara, then did a loop through Kanazawa, Shirawaka-go and Takayama before returning to Tokyo for the flight home.
I could go on and on and bore you all to death about what we saw - I took 1,149 photos! But I think other bloggers and vloggers have done a great job of covering almost every aspect of Japan. So instead I think I will concentrate more on the craft aspects of what I saw because that's what you would be looking out for if you went. I'm going to do one post a day this week on individual topics. That way people who aren't interested in, say, knitting, can just skip the knitting post. Or if you don't care about Japan at all, come back in a week!
Thanks to Japan's incredibly efficient system for sending on luggage from one hotel to another, I was able to accumulate quite a few gifts and stash acquisitions without having to haul them all around for 18 days. Here is a preliminary picture of what I managed to bring back, but I'll break it down into better individual photos for subsequent posts.