My first trip to Japan was nearly 30 years ago. I was the same age that our daughter Eden is now, 15. I went there on a six week exchange and stayed with a Japanese family. The experience was something that was so significant to me. I learnt so much about myself and fell in love with Japan and the Japanese.
My Mum always said to me that I left a little piece of my heart in Japan.
I went back a couple of more times in my 20’s as a dancer. They were fun times.
It has always been a place that I have really wanted to share with Ben and the kids.
In April, my Mum and Dad planned to come and visit us and offered to look after the farm and the kids and gently encouraged Ben and I to go away for a couple of weeks.
We had never been overseas without the kids, but decided to embrace the offer and spend some quality time together in Japan.
I have to admit, I do love being spontaneous. We booked a couple of nights in Tokyo, arranged to visit my Japanese family but for the rest of the trip we just decided to go with the flow..
Ben and I love design, art, food, and coffee. Tokyo excelled in all these elements. The attention to detail was extraordinary.
We only touched the surface of this incredible city, spending most of our time in Ginza and Shibuya.
We took the train down to Kyoto. It happened to be Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing). The busiest week of the year for Kyoto.
We shuffled our way through the narrow little laneways and drank in the history and beauty of this ancient city. We hired bikes and road up to the Botanical Gardens to watch the locals admire the sakura. We ate handmade ramen, okinomiyaki, and sushi washed down with warm sake. We snuck glances of Geishas rushing off to appointments.
As I mentioned, Kyoto was bursting at the seams with visitors. To fully appreciate this city we would really like to go back in the quieter months.
When I worked as a dancer, many moons ago, I was based in Onsen towns. I really wanted to share with Ben a traditional onsen town, somewhere off the beaten track. On the train to Kyoto I did some research and found a town called Kinosaki. It was exactly what I had hoped for. A small traditional town, nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains and sea. The entire town felt like one large ryokan. The train station being the entrance, the streets the hallways, and your ryokan the room. After changing into our yukatas we wandered up and down the small streets, slipping into the seven different onsens when we felt the need. We indulged in their local crab dishes and drank pour over coffees while still in a meditative state from baths. We discovered local makers creating beautiful pieces from local materials using traditional methods. We felt like we had stepped back into time. A slow, quiet, traditional, beautiful place.
The last few days of our travels were spent with my Japanese family. Oh, my heart!
To be back with them after nearly 30 years. Over a family dinner we laughed, we cried and we reminisced. My host father presented me with platters of my favourite sushi. (he had remembered after all that time!) I am so grateful to this family for all they have given me, even now 30 years later. I love and admire them deeply.
To be able to share my Japanese family with Ben was really significant to me.
Taking Ben to a country that has meant so much to me and to share the love for the people, the history, the culture, the food, the coffee, the design was amazing.
I missed our children on this adventure but I loved my time with my Ben.
Japan inspired us to be more conscious of the beauty in our daily rituals and to consider the detail. When we eat a meal, when we drink coffee, when we are sit with each other, when we do our activities.
To slow down and appreciate that moment.
Tokyo – http://www.apahotel.com.e.ju.hp.transer.com/language/shutoken/31_ginza-kyobashi.html
Kyoto – http://kyotosanjo.theb-hotels.com/en/
Kinosaki – http://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/detail/6318038/?ar=28&sar=280802
Travel – http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/