Friday, 18 January 2013

Trip to Japan 2013

Now I know I haven't been very active over the last few weeks, the excuse being that it was Christmas holidays and all the children were at home, and I won't be very active over the next 2 weeks either unless I can work out how to use my new iPad Mini when I am on my travels, but please bear with me, because I am going to Japan on Saturday for 2 weeks !
First we are travelling around and seeing 'the best of Japan', starting in Tokyo, then off to Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima and Mount Fuji before returning to Tokyo for the final few days, where we are to visit the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival, and I intend to take loads of photos and will post some of them here!
Some of the excursions on the itinerary include a visit to the Nishijin Textile centre where we will be trying a hand at hand-weaving of traditional "Nishijin-ori' textiles, a visit to the Kyoto Shibori Kogeigan, for a lesson in Shibori (the traditional art of dying cloth with a pattern by binding, stitching, folding, twisting or compressing it) and a visit to the famous Nippori Fabric Town, where we are amongst others going to Tomato (a six storey department store full of nothing but fabric and fabric related - yippee!) and also to Yuzawaya (Kamata) for some very necessary retail therapy in the fabric department.
We will be at the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival for 2 full days (will this be long enough?) with the option to visit for a third day or alternatively join in with some other optional sightseeing trips around Tokyo.
Off course, all this assumes that we actually manage to take off from Heathrow tomorrow, as the current weather forecast is for blizzards for most of today, tonight and tomorrow .... and we know how that affects Heathrow (;-( )

Snow at lunch time today at home

Now, as far as packing is concerned... I am planning to pack all my stuff inside a small (medium really) case, which I will then pack inside a large case (so only taking 1 piece of checked baggage) and then pay at the airport to bring a second case back with me (cheaper than posting it all home and off course, then I won't have to wait for it to be delivered either). As all my stuff that I am taking will have fitted into the smaller case, I will have the large case available for all my fabric purchases.... the trick will be to keep it within my baggage allowance, but I have learned a few tricks over the years ;-)

For my hand baggage, I am taking the largest handbag that I am allowed (the size of a small weekender bag) and I will have my usual wheel-on bag as well. That should do for if I am in danger of going over 23kg, but just to be on the safe side, I am planning on taking only 4 sets of clothes and then have it laundered as I go along.  Toiletries will be in the smallest containers I can fit them and if need be, I can always leave them behind. Shoes ... I am only taking the pair I am wearing and 1 spare pair. My coat is a down jacket, that is super light but super warm and this can off course be carried on as hand luggage. And I will be taking my super light digital luggage scales with me too. In fact, I think I might be able to fit all my stuff into the smallest case (BG)

Total allowance 69kg

What am I planning on buying you might ask? Well, the truth is, I don't know yet, but best be prepared. I am planning on buying fabric to make the Yoko Saito Mystery quilt, so I will be taking the pattern with me and then any other fabrics I might see that I like that I will not be able to get in the UK. When I am buying fabric abroad, I only buy fabrics that I know are not readily available at home, and anyone who knows me will know that I will support my local patchwork shops as much if not more than the fabric shops I support abroad, as without our support our local patchwork shops will not be able to remain in business.

 I am also looking out for some silk fabric and might buy a kimono, which I can wear to my next bookclub meeting.  Our last book that we read was 'Memoirs of a geisha' by Arthur Golden and we are going to watch the DVD at the start of our next meeting and plan on making it a Japan themed evening, so I will be able to wear my kimono then (LOL). I have also read the Tales of the Otori trilogy by Lian Hearn again and discovered another 'must read for travellers to Japan' called 'Japan through the looking glass' by Alan MacFarlane, so I am as well prepared now as I can be for this trip.

Decision time about what to take with 'to do' on this trip.  I have all my Dutch treat blocks prepared and ready to sew, they don't take up much space, but I will need good light to sew by if I do them in the evenings.  Knitting might be more sociable to do on train journeys as I would not need to concentrate so much on that, I have started a new patchwork knitted blanket, that consists of lots of blocks, I will only need a few balls of wool, maybe I will take both. The pattern for the blanket is by Debbie Abrahams and this is the second blanket I will have knitted from her designs.  My children all have an order in for one of her blankets and as I only knit in the winter, I had better get on with it ....

Dutch treat blocks all ready to go
Pattern by Debbie Abrahams

My blocks so far
Very portable kit

Off now to do my packing, so exciting!

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