I shared my experience of packing with just hand luggage at the beginning of the year but since then I have travelled with just hand luggage to Japan (2 weeks), Crete (10 days), Switzerland (5 days) and a few one or two night trips. I feel like one of my magical skills is now packing a cabin bag for a trip. I even do it in a very short period of time now rather than spending a week putting things aside! I did do one trip to London with a bigger bag so I could bring stuff back and regretted it the whole time I was there!
So, I still do the Konmari packing method (doesn’t it look beautiful!). If I am taking some shirts I would normally hang, I fold and lay them flat on top. On top there is then also space for toiletries, plugs etc.
Having minimised my wardrobe has made packing easier too. I have a limited colour palette (although my summer wardrobe has some extra colour and pattern pieces) which means that mostly everything goes together. I would say you never need more than two pairs of shoes (okay three at a push) and once you have decided what you are taking, get rid of 2-3 pieces. I promise you won’t end up wearing it all! After Japan I realised that I still didn’t wear everything I packed and reduced even more for our next trip (although sitting on a beach for 10 days doesn’t require that much clothing anyway). I suppose the lesson is that you just need to be aware what you are doing. If you are staying with family for five days you don’t need to take an evening dress but probably packing some good pjs which you are happy to walk around the house in is a good idea.
My breakthrough toiletry piece that I discovered (particularly for flying) is shampoo bars. I picked up a honey shampoo bar from lush which has lasted really well. Along with that is using a normal soap bar for washing too. I don’t know about you but I am so used to using a shower gel that the idea of taking soap on holiday didn’t occur to me for a while!
Also, I did cave and bought a small camera (the FujiFilm x100t) before heading to Japan. I absolutely love it and all the photos since the summer that I have shared on here are I have used that. Carrying a lighter camera around makes such a difference! I used to get so grumpy lugging my big camera around by the end of day and would leave my camera at home some days because of the weight. There are limitations on capturing things (some bits are just too far away with a 35 mm lens) but it is great for city travels especially. If you aren’t big on photography just take your phone. They are so good these days and unless you planning on blowing up a massive picture for your wall they will do just fine for sharing on Instagram and Facebook.
Let me know if you have any other tips, there is always room for improvement!
Firstly, I would go back to Kyoto anytime. It is just one of those towns that have some personality. The kind of place which would be your instant best friend, know all the great spots to go in town and will keep all your secrets.
We stayed in the eastern bit of Kyoto right near the Gion area. On our first full day there we woke up early-ish and headed to what was local, which happened to be one of the biggest temples Chion-In Temple which is next to Maruyama Park.
When we arrived there weren’t many people around and I really enjoyed the experience of wandering around and seeing these holy places in calm being used as they were meant to. We seemed to follow these ladies on their own path through the complex (it takes up a lot of space) and I enjoyed seeing how people interacted with the space.
We then wandered into the park, tried some bamboo ash ice-cream and waited for these children sitting near us to be eaten by the crows. Luckily it didn’t happen. At least while we were there.
After the calm of the park and Buddhist temple we walked into the Shinto temple next door. The contrast is beautiful. From calm, natural colours, lots of raw wood we moved into this riot of colour, bells been rung, hands been clapped, bright orange paint, shops selling dreams and wishes at the front and tourists dressed in traditional Japanese attire. I love how these two polarities live together in Japan. This yin and yang of colour and nature, quiet and music, austerity and shopping. It is amazing to think that these two different practises live side by side within the Japanese culture. It is a nice metaphor that suggests we don’t have to fit into a tightly defined box, don’t you think?
I was nervous about Tokyo. We were going from our 200,000 population town to a city with 28 MILLION PEOPLE! My mind just couldn’t get around that. I was eventually able to manage it mostly without getting lost too often in the crazy massive metro stations (I’m sure there were 200,000 people in our nearest metro station at one time). I did find that I enjoyed the quieter sides of the city more than what seemed like a shopping crazy obsessed city. So if you are not too concerned with spending all your money and you are also interested in the quieter side of Tokyo here are my suggestions.
Admittedly this neighbourhood was mentioned in our Rough Guide guidebook and from the internet it seems like on a weekend it can get crazy busy. This neighbourhood is about the only part in Tokyo that was saved from an earthquake in the 30s and WWII damage and so is ‘old style’ Japan. I probably would have visited at another time as when we went on a Wednesday morning most of the shops and restaurants were closed and it was more just a pleasant wander through a nice neighbourhood. Also it was about as hot as the surface of the sun and not much shade so I now totally get why the Japanese ladies all carry an umbrella with them all the time.
One place that was open was a little bakery/cafe which made delicious ice-tea and delicious ‘fusion’ type bake goods with a Frenchy feel but definitely with Japanese flavours.
This one street in Shibuya: Kamiyamacho
Shibuya is the ‘shop yourself crazy’ area of Tokyo with several malls which are just H.U.G.E. Like seven stories of mall! However, if you start walking towards Yoyogi Park you find Kamiyamacho street. Along the road you will find some beautiful little shops,an independent publishing bookshop and a Monocle shop which I was hoping would have coffee but didn’t.
However, we did find the one decent coffee that we had in Japan at a Norwegian coffee shop that makes Italian coffee called Fuglen.
Just a nice quiet place to walk around and gather your thoughts while watching the Japanese be Japanese. Playing basketball, reading the newspaper, cycling by.
I really enjoyed seeing contemporary art curated in a Japanese gallery. The Japanese aesthetic really came through in particular in this exhibition on Form and Shape which I really enjoyed. If you like art I would suggest heading to this gallery as you can also get a view of Japan from the 52nd floor.
Sky High Juice bar did some great smoothies. It is a little bit out of the way but we really needed a vegetable and fruit hit.
I would fully recommend our airbnb.
Itoya stationery store in Ginza is amazing. Seven floors!