So... basically I planned to write a "Preparing for Japan" post, and that's it. Next thing I knew, I was writing a massive post on DOL. I apologize for the extreme length but, basically, this is an Accidental Post.
I've been planning a visit to Japan for many months. I wanted to share a few tips I've learned, in case you make a similar journey. (Note, I will be updating these tips, to keep them in one place.)
Everyone asks me which tour I'm taking. I'm not taking a tour! I've planned my own trip. I will spend most of my time in Kyoto, taking day trips from there. I'm also spending some time in Tokyo. My itinerary fills me with joy—since I'm traveling alone, I need only to please myself! I should add that I'm flying in and out of Tokyo with friends, then we go our separate ways (though we may meet up for lunch at Google Tokyo). So at least I can lob spitballs at their heads during our 11-hour flight. I found a convenient hotel near the train station for that first night, so we all booked it. It will be easy to get outta town on the bullet train the next day.
I've been wanting to visit Japan since I was 11. I don't know why it took me so long, though I am not a fan of Japanese food, so maybe that's part of the reason. I am a huge fan of Japanese culture and aesthetic sensibility. If I had a bucket list, which I don't, seeing Kyoto in the fall would be at the top of the list.
- I purchased a Japan Rail Pass. This can save you money, but must be purchased before you leave for Japan—it is physically mailed to your non-Japanese address. Their website has a page to help you evaluate whether it makes sense for you. It's definitely saving me money. My rail pass cost $405 for 14 days.
- I pre-ordered a portable wifi device. Wifi can be spotty in Japan, based on the experiences of numerous friends. Some hotels/Airbnbs provide a free portable wifi, but I ordered one to be delivered to my hotel the first night. You can also pick it up from the airport, but the airport railway office closes for the night, and I'm landing late in the day. If my plane is delayed, the office might be closed. Use the https://www.japan-rail-pass.com/services/pocket-wifi link to pre-order wifi. The jrpass.com/mobile_wifi link cost $20 more for the same dates, and had to be picked up at the airport. The link I used (the first one) delivers to an address in Japan for free. It cost me $79 to rent a device for 2 weeks, instead of the $97 offered by the second link.
- Many businesses in Japan accept only cash, so you will burn through money. A good place to get cash is at a 7/11, which are plentiful, I'm told. I also purchased yen ahead of time here in San Francisco because I don't want to be scrambling for yen when I land late in the day, suffering from jetlag.
- Many people in Japan don't speak English and I certainly don't speak Japanese. My friend Kathy (who is flying with me!) found some great phrase books at Kinokuniya, but I found my copies online. These "point-and-speak" books will be very useful! Let me give you a sampling from each. First, the general language book:
From the food book:
- Several people warned me not to expect hand towels in bathrooms, and to bring a package of hand wipes.
Most of you have probably heard of the sad passing of Nancy Zieman. She was a pioneer in the field of home sewing. Many sewists of my age have seen (or been aware of) her TV show for years. She has been valiantly fighting bone cancer which was diagnosed a few years ago, and had metastasized from breast cancer.
Rest in peace, dear lady. Thanks for everything.
I recently returned from a very special Design Outside the Lines retreat in Ashland, Oregon. Diane Ericson's guest teacher was Kathryn Brenne. Kathryn specializes in couture sewing, which was a fun juxtaposition to Diane's free, artistic approach. Both women are creative, but in different ways. Here are some pics from our week in Ashland. While there, I shared photos to Instagram, but you'll find more below.
My project for the retreat was a coat made from a gorgeous brocade from Britex (which is currently on sale).
I used many couture techniques on this coat and, once I returned home, I wanted to finish it before heading off to Japan. My goal was to finish last weekend, and I worked for many hours over both days. I attached the last covered snap at 11:50pm on Sunday, so I just made it. I haven't been able to take pics yet, but I hope to soon. Meanwhile, I posted many in-progress pics to Instagram.
Only chopped up scraps remained from the coat, thanks to the pattern matching and relatively small yardage I had. I pieced some of them together to make myself a travel bag. This reversible fabric is truly stunning.
Stay tuned for an actual blog post of the coat!
Ashland DOL was so special, the more so because Margy came. She flew to San Francisco and we drove together to Ashland. (ROAD TRIP!) In fact, attending DOL was her idea. There were lots of friends I'd already met, and friends I only knew from the internet. It was so fabulous to see all of them in person!
Without further ado, here is a sampling from my hundreds of photos!
I've saved best for last! Lithia Park!
I have not retouched these photos in any way.
Edited to add: Check out Gayle's post that includes discussion about DOL!
We were busy sewing on Halloween! It was interesting to experience the day in Ashland. Those Ashland folk take Halloween seriously. They close Main street for a huge parade.
Meanwhile, at Britex...
The employees at Britex compete every year for best Halloween costume. Visitors to the store vote for their favorite. I'm happy to report that Lindsey, DD1's close friend who has been working there for several weeks, won with a tribute to Carol Burnett's parody of "Gone with the Wind", "Went with the Wind". The original costume was designed by Bob Mackie.
For those not familiar, here's a 2-minute video where Carol Burnett talks about making this skit in 1976 (when I was a junior in high school... ahem). It has become a TV classic: