Japan...what can I say?
I visited Japan in April and it was amazing!!
I loved every minute of my trip, it was everything that I hoped it would be and I can't wait to go back.
I started my trip in Osaka, then on to Kyoto, Takayama and finally Tokyo.
The cherry blossoms were in full bloom the entire trip and were simply stunning. It's so lovely wandering the streets with tiny pink petals swirling around you as they float to the ground.
I was surprised by the quietness in Osaka. For such a busy city their traffic is very peaceful. No beeping, just a lot of patient waiting as I kept on forgetting that you have to wait for the lights at pedestrian crossings before you cross...whoops!
The pushbikes are as plentiful as the cherry blossoms - no helmets required - no chains either! It seems Japan is a very honest and safe country.
I like the shopping hours in Japan - very civilised - late starts and late finishes. Plenty of time for a relaxed coffee in the morning.
Next time, I will remember to always wear slip on shoes and socks. I had complicated shoes and was always the last to get them off and then get them back on. Bare feet indoors are frowned upon so socks are handy if you don't want to wear slippers.
I'm a big train fan, it's my favourite way to travel and I was really looking forward to travelling on the bullet train. I bought my travel pass in Sydney so I could use the Shinkansen as often as I wanted. It's so exciting watching it arrive, it seems to go on forever. It has smoking rooms which were well used (not by me) and a coffee cart that is wheeled through the carriages. My only disappointment was that my trips weren't long enough. Next trip, I might just go back and forth on the shinkansen for a day :)
There are no licensing laws in Japan so alcohol is plentiful and quite cheap. I developed a tolerance for sake and had many happy nights with my travel companions.
There is a huge respect for the art of making something by hand in Japan. I was amazed at the abundance of stores that enabled the maker to create anything possible. The yarn stores, the fabric stores, the embroidery stores....I was in heaven... and the books! I bought so many books! I was a bit concerned about excess baggage but it was all good - phew.
Next time I'm hitting the fabric stores :)
The highlight of my trip was Takayama. This is a magical place - truly gorgeous. My accommodation was a traditional Japanese house which was located right on the bank of the river with a view of cherry blossoms and rippling river out of the kitchen window.
Takayama is a wonderful place to explore either on foot or on a bike, there are delightful, traditional food houses, ancient wooden merchants' houses and many small museums. I spent the mornings wandering the town and the afternoons knitting in the sun. A much needed rest in the middle of a fast paced trip.
All in all, a wonderful trip, an amazing country and beautiful people.