Next stop Shibuya

Shibuya Night (HDR), originally uploaded by Guwashi999

The funny thing about travel is that as soon as you do a little bit, the more you want to do and the more you want to see. Originally we fully intended to come home, buckle down and save for a new bathroom refit in the next few years but suddenly we are booking unaffordable trips to Japan (in OCTOBER! 2008!!) and, as I mentioned on the weekend, a Trans-Canadian holiday in the semi-foreseeable future. (Frequent Flyer points really do rock).

I haven’t seen a lot of the world. I know a lot of my peers managed it in their 20s but I was busy doing other things. In the last decade we have been to Canada a few times to visit Phil’s family, and once that included a 4 day stop over in San Francisco, but suddenly I am feeling an urgency to see a lot more. I know this is not terribly well timed with the rising fuel prices and small children in tow, but life is just way too short to not at least try.

Our bathroom, which was once (apparently) featured in a magazine, is now looking tired and dated. But as I said to Phil the other night – “I can close my eyes in the shower! A new bathroom is never going to be as exciting as a holiday to some amazing destination! Life is just way too short!”.

I quite often think of Jeff Bezos’s philosophy which guided him to start – what will I truly regret not having done when I am at the end of my life?

Will I regret not having a new bathroom in 2010? I don’t think so. Would I regret not traveling to see my friends get married in Japan? Undoubtedly. Really, it seems kind of obvious. I know I regret not traveling to the UK 10 years ago to see another friend get married because I felt too cash-strapped at the time.

So we have booked flights, some accommodation and are exchanging excited emails with our travel mates about our next great adventure. Fabric shops! Studio Ghibli! Shrines in Kyoto! Limitless sushi! I am off to catch up on my simple savings emails in preparation for a frugal few months in preparation.

34 Responses to “Next stop Shibuya”

  1. Ana

    I couldnt agree more with you! And your kids will thank you one day, as I thank my parents for having done that with the three of us. Yay!!!!

  2. sarah london

    Definitely a good decision I think. This passage found me the other day, I thought I’d share it with you, it definitely got me thinking on all levels.”Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

    Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky.

  3. Maureen

    Oh yes, travel trumps bathroom!And sometimes when you come back home, the things that looked old and tired can look endearing for a while.

  4. Abby

    Hey, travelling with smallish children is totally doable. My parents (saints they are) brought four of us all over western Europe and many more exotic places. The trick is to pack for contingencies and then just roll with the punches.

  5. Christie

    I would choose Japan over a new bathroom too!I hope we can go next year (not sure if will will take the kids), I don’t think my husband realises that I just want to go fabric shopping there!

  6. nerida

    You will so love Japan! We’ve been three times in five years (last year with a 10 month old – yes, totally doable) and can’t bring ourselves to go anywhere else. You will love it! Good for you for taking the plunge and seeing the world.

  7. admin

    *** Actually — I didn’t mean to make it sound as if the girls are coming with us on this Japan trip. I just meant that my wanderlust has come at a slightly awkward time. In October, my parents have kindly offered to look after them for the 10 days. When Lily is a little older we will have to make a return trip. Toddlers are quite challenging to take sight-seeing and fabric shopping. I am sure it can be done, but Lil is a very wriggly 2 year old who gets bored very quickly when she sees me picking up a bolt of fabric. ***

  8. Abby

    You will love Studio Ghibli!!! It’s nothing short of amazing, as is soooo much else in Japan. Kyoto is gorgeous – a little tough to navigate, as none of the streets seem to really be named in any discernible way – but absolutely beautiful. If you have time, Nikko is beautiful too. And Tokyo is phenomenal!!! I got some of the most beautiful yarn at the department stores there, and even the 100 yen stores have some amazing crafty finds like great notebooks, interesting wood, etc. The recycle shops are a treasure trove, too – while some are like normal thrift stores with clothes and household things, others are more like antique shops with shelf after shelf of ancient, dusty finds like wire fabric lanterns and boxes or carvings. Also, I so, so, so highly recommend going to a hot spring/onsen – it’s a little strange at first to be naked around a lot of strangers (separated by gender – so not as weird as it could be!!!!) but the hot spring is so relaxing that after about 5 minutes you truly do not care. What an awesome place to go!!! I second what Christie said above – Japan over a new bathroom any day!!!! And I secretly want to go back just for crafting supplies as well. Take an extra suitcase. A BIG extra suitcase. 😉

  9. lindsey clare

    ooh i’m so excited for you. i went with my husbandito to Japanfor three weeks in May and we had the best time! it is so beautiful/funny/exciting/delicious/crazy/interesting. i know you will love only regret was not bringing home more crafty things, but suitcases do have their limits i suppose!

  10. Linnea

    These experiences are priceless :o) Your children will treasure them. I travelled all over with my family when I was little and I loved every minute of it… except super long car rides through Brazil when I had to pee and there wasn’t a rest stop for another hour and my brothers were yelling at me about how small my bladder was. That was the only annoying part :o) I’m planning my next summer trip to Sweden. Looks like we both have exciting trips to look forward to! Take care.xox,Linnea

  11. Cassandra

    Hello Claire, wow Japan, how exciting! Just do it! And if your itchy feet steer you towards Europe, come and visit me in Switzerland if you want. You and your lovely family are always welcome here. The chocolate and cheese are like nothing else in this world! Oh, and the Alps are pretty nice too. (!)

  12. alice

    Oh wow!!!! That is so cool that you are going to Japan! I haven’t been in a few years and I am dying to go again. It is such a brilliant place. Admittedly I am biased being half-Japanese but still, it is wonderful, so much to see, do, and eat. It is definately good to seize-the-day with travel. We have just booked our trip of a lifetime to New York. We got so sick of talking about going for years and years that we just booked it and now we are going in November for the election! :)Ps. My friend has written a craft Tokyo shopping guide:

    PPS. And I recommend Tokyu Hands and Kiddy Land as two of the best shops in Tokyo for children’s things and cute things.

  13. Gin

    That sounds like a wonderful trip! So the wedding is in a few months? And the little ones are going too! Oh, I hope they’ll have some fond memories of it :)Our bathroom is in a dire need of an overhaul! The shower is a dinky one that barely fits one person – and the bathroom is HUGE! Our plan is to transform it one day soon (bought the house a year ago) so we can have enough elbow room for two!

    I wish closing my eyes was the ticker for us!

  14. heidi

    oh claire have a fantastic trip (I know you will) and I can understand your reasoning very well! 🙂 🙂

  15. ani

    bathroom, schmathroom…japan!thanks for sharing the Bezos’ quote. it is good to ponder this while i’m at work today. (shhh…i’m sneaking bloggy peeks!)

  16. Savannah

    JAPAN???!!!!You are so lucky!!I will miss your posts while you’re gone, though.Take lots of pictures, m’kay? ;D

  17. Di

    Wow – you are too right! Life is to short to worry about the bathroom! I do wish I had bought a house a few years back but staying put allowed me to have some great holidays – Guatemala, Colorado, Berlin, Italy….etc but then we are also spoiled living in the UK! I am excitedly planning my next trip in September – walking in the South of Spain – Seville, Granada but even more excited about taking 6 weeks off work next spring to go to Japan for a week en route to New Zealand! So any hints later in the year after your trip to Japan will be gobbled up! I know that you will love a wedding in another country, I have experienced many and it is always a delight and gives you such insight into the country!

  18. Abby

    KIDDYLAND!!!!Yes, I forgot that one!!! An absolute dream. I wanted everything – but that was before I had a daughter to use as my excuse for blowing my budget! 😉 Now, ah, the damage I could do “Honey, come on – it’s for Coco! Honest!”

  19. Jennifer

    So excited that you will be making the trip here! One VERY positive thing for you is that the time difference is small, so the jet lag for the kids will not be as brutal as going to North American. If you need any help, just let me know. (I live in Shibuya)

  20. justine

    YAY!!! how fantasticI love the simple savings read up line.Have a fabulous time, live life to the fullest YAY again…

  21. Gina

    Excellent life choice – how could you not choose Japan over a bathroom update! I’m very excited for you.I’ve given you an award over on my blog – yours was the first artist blog I started reading some time ago and it’s my little way of saying thank you for sharing your work and stories online!

  22. Iona

    Kyoto or bathroom. Well, that’s a lay down misere! Kyoto has so much old Japan goodness, I’m nearly sick with envy as I write. For a bit of pre-travel reading, try ‘Lost Japan’ by Alex Kerr (available from Lonely Planet).

  23. holly

    Exciting! I’m off for four weeks in september…just make sure you book your ghibli tickets in advance, as you are probably aware. The only place in australia is a japanese travel agent in Melbourne a great time!h

  24. bex

    I think Studio Ghibli would have to rate amongst my favorite places in the world. I just wish I’d been there when I was under 12. Not that it existed then…As well as ‘Lost Japan’ as someone mentioned, I also really enjoyed ‘Hokkaido Highway Blues’ by, for inspiring more pre-travel excitement.

    My favorite place is Osaka, but Tokyo is tremendous. ABC craft is a great shop, but the ‘craft’ part is written in Japanese, which adds an element of fun/danger/confusion.

    Some good guides kicking around are:

    have a grand time….

  25. bex

    Oh, I do so hate when I do that. Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson. Ahem.Also, the Moomins are in in Japan. Just sayin’.

  26. Maktaaq

    I love Japan – I lived there for a few years and visited plenty of times. In fact, I am going back for the first time in five years this September!As for priciness, I found London far more expensive than Japan. There used to be a book called Tokyo for Free, which is really good at finding you affordable things to do.

    If you do go to a hotspring (or onsen), which I really recommend you do, try this one. It’s beautiful. Just make sure you order the exquisite gourmet lunch – it’s one splurge I really recommend. It could be a day trip from Tokyo, but you can stay at a cheaper ryokan when there. Ryokan service is so good, I can’t imagine that even a cheaper will not give you the same experience as the onsen one.

    Near this onsen, there’s also a children’s book illustration gallery. I remember it was a small but very lovely little place.

    I am really excited for you! You’ll have such a great time!

  27. Maktaaq

    Yes, and lots of Moomin stuff wherever you go in Japan! I am going to stock up on Moomin stuff when I go. (And your other commenter going to Sweden has inspired me to go to Tampere next year!)

  28. shisomama

    Japan is one of my absolute favorite places in the world to visit – I love the culture, the food, the style, I could go on and on. Let us know when you’re ready for recommendations. There are so many beautiful art fabrics there as well as the fun prints.

  29. kat

    Dude I am so late to the Japan party – oh and that you are blogging again! Am sure you have lots of good hints on where to go, but I can totally take you ladies on a Kichijoji crafty tour if you like. We live about a five minute walk from Ghibli Museum and have been there three times I think. Oh and we are moving to Melbourne at the end of this year…’s all very exciting but scary at the same time!!


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