On a surprisingly quiet Shinkansen back to Tokyo.
On a surprisingly quiet Shinkansen back to Tokyo.
Funnily enough, having Vietnamese for lunch.
Gorgeous little place in the centre of Sendai.
A deliciousus matcha latte here in Sendai.
Just what I needed after wandering around town this morning.
Went to the Miyagi Zao fox village and saw some foxes! 🦊
Beautiful to look at but you can imagine how the place smelled! Up in the mountains, covered in snow. A lovely experience but now it’s time to warm up in an onsen. ♨️
Thanks to my friend’s status with the local Westin hotel, we have a room on the 34th floor here in Sendai. And the views are absolutely spectacular.
After a quick rest and a shower to freshen up, we’re taking advantage of the hospitality of the executive lounge. I’m a sucker for a self-pour beer machine, and the one they have from Asahi is great! Throw in some nuts and decent wifi and I’m a happy guest.
I’m looking forward to exploring the city tomorrow, but for this evenings, it’s going to be a quiet one.
Time to brave the elements and go cause some mischief in Ni-Chome!
I have to admit that today’s weather put a bit of a dampener on things, so I didn’t get to do as much as I’d planned. We enjoyed a coffee and a wander around Meguro this morning. We visited the Traveler’s Factory shop,home of my favourite notebooks, but I didn’t buy any. I have a significant backlog to work through back home. It was still lovely to see what was on offer, and I bought The Frank Flyer a new penknife.
Then it was off to Ginza and after a couple of hours, I felt like I’d been hit with a new wave of jet lag. So we headed back to our hotel and I enjoyed a much-needed nap. We’ve visited the executive lounge for the free cocktails and buffet session (no calories in free food, right?!) and I caught up with journaling this trip’s adventures in my paper journal.
This kind of weather really makes me want to curl up in bed, but I feel like that would be such of a waste of my time here. So I’m going to brave the elements later and head to Ni-Chome for a drink in my favourite bar: Eagle Tokyo.
Tomorrow morning I’m off to Sendai with my friend Truong. It’ll be a first for both of us and while I’m excited to visit a whole new city, I’m also intrigued by the hotel he’s booked for us. Apparently, it’s the tallest in northern Japan. So I’m hoping for some good views! But of course, that will all depend on the weather.
I’ve no idea what we’re going to get up to in Tokyo today.
The weather is a bit rubbish, so that might limit our outdoor wandering. But if there’s one thing Tokyo isn’t short of, it’s umbrellas! I’m sure we’ll survive.
I have quite a few things left on my list fort his trip - and this and Monday are my last full days in Tokyo - as I’m spending the weekend up in Sendai. But first, some more coffee and a nice hotel breakfast to get my brain in gear.
Nobody needs to see another photo of me in the bath!
Unless it’s in a beautiful onsen in Hakone, Japan. This has to have been the most relaxed I’ve felt since… the last time I was in an onsen. An incredible experience, one I’ll miss terribly once I return to London.
I spent my birthday today split between Hakone and Tokyo. And it was fabulous.
I started in Hakone with a soak in the hotel’s amazing onsen. It was everything I could have hoped for. Nice and quiet, boiling hot, and with a wonderful view of the hills overlooking the hotel. Afterwards, a delicious breakfast and a train back into Tokyo.
A couple of hours later, I was sitting down to an incredible afternoon tea at The Tokyo Edition where everything was delicious and presented with panache. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re in Toyo and want to celebrate something special.
Fast forward a few hours and I’m reunited with my partner, who just arrived in Tokyo, and nicely checked in to the Hilton Tokyo for a bit of pampering. A glass of celebratory bubbly later, I’m now in bed, grateful for a wonderful day and the opportunity to spend it in such exciting places.
Yesterday I spent a good chunk of the afternoon, soaking in a local onsen here in Shinjuku Tokyo.
It was just what my tired and jetlagged body needed. I could switch off completely - free of my mobile phone, and any other devices - and just focus on relaxing in a series of different baths, a sauna, a steam room and then some more baths.
Half-way through the experience, I put on my fancy onsen “pyjamas” and headed down to the restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious pork Katsu curry and a bottle of Asahi alcohol-free beer. My focus was most definitely on rehydrating!
After the most leisurely of meals, I headed back upstairs to the onsen, where I completed another round of the baths. My favourite was most definitely the outdoor bath, where I could sit in the water, watch the steam rise from its surface, and feel the misty rain fall on my head.
I then went for a very relaxing stroll around Shinjuku. It’s an incredibly lively and busy area, but you can still find moments of peace and quiet. I picked up some gifts for family back home and then wandered back to my hotel. Sadly jetlag is still with me and I’ve been awake since 4 am this morning.
Later this morning. I’m meeting up with a Tokyo based friend and we’re taking the train down to Hakone Onsen for an overnight stay. And yes, there will be more soaking, sauna and generally staying wet!
No photos from inside the onsen, obviously - but here’s the delicious, ice-cold beer I enjoyed half-way through.
Jet lag means I’m way ahead of schedule for today so I have time to enjoy a very leisurely bath in my hotel.
Another thing I’d like to bring home with me: Japanese baths. Best in the world. And onsens, of course. But can’t see it working in the UK.
My epic journey to Tokyo begins at last!
Wide awake at 5am!
Sitting up in bed with a coffee and my packing list for Japan, double-checking I haven’t forgotten anything. I don’t fly until 6:30pm, so it’s going to be a long day… But I don’t care because…Japan!!! ✈️
Just spent a while writing a blog post about ‘How to navigate your first onsen visit in Japan’.
Actually, I’ve titled it ‘Baring it all in the onsen’ as lots of people seem to get hung up on the nudity aspect. Scheduled to go live over on This Guy Flies on Tuesday.
✈️ The first of my Japan trip posts is live on my travel blog:
I’m so excited that this day next week, I’ll be walking the streets of Shinjuku!
I have so much to do on the work front before I can leave with a clear conscience, but I know I’ll get there. There’s nothing as motivating as the deadline associated with an exciting holiday.
I’ll be taking a gazillion photos, and using my DJI Osmo camera to make some videos. So feel free to mute me or unfollow if this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea.
Now it’s time for my second coffee of the morning and then a run by the river.
Well now. Something wonderful just happened. My other half (the travel-obsessed aviation expert The Frank Flyer) just spotted that some First Class seats had opened up on the route I’m taking to Tokyo in a couple of weeks.
And that I could extend my upcoming trip to Tokyo by flying there two days earlier - and only paying a small fee to JAL for the privilege. While remaining in First Class. With no additional air miles required.
That’s a schedule change that’s worth every single penny.
So now I’m flying out on a Friday night and arriving in Tokyo on the following afternoon. Adding a weekend in Tokyo to my trip, which is priceless.
I am beyond grateful and now even more excited (is that possible?!) to be leaving in less than two weeks!!
I’ve continued a real focus on my wellbeing, with several visits to the gym, my first 5km run of the year (and my second!), some long walks and - shocking to me - managing to stick to my healthier diet. Dry January continues to be a breeze, and the easiest way to decrease my weekly calories. So I’ve decided to continue it into February. How I’ll handle the free champagne on my flight to Tokyo is a problem for future me to deal with!
But in all seriousness, I’ve not slept this well or felt this positive for ages. So exercise and AF beers seem to be the combo that’s making all the difference.
I bought a new weighing scales, as my old one completely gave up the ghost. I got this one from Withings, to use up the last of my Christmas Amazon vouchers. So far I’m super impressed. It measures body composition as well as weight, to give you an idea of the fat to muscle ratio. The accompanying app is really excellent and syncs perfectly with Apple Health on my iPhone. A daily check-in on the scales keeps me honest! But also realistic.
The fact that a friend noticed I’ve lost weight in my face was the boost I needed to keep going.
I had a stellar week at work, winning a new client and getting an approach from an old one to do some really interesting work. I also managed to record two episodes of the podcast, publish two YouTube videos (to be fair, one was just the recording of a webinar I did earlier in the week) and made a big decision about a self-directed business project I’m going to work on this quarter.
More to come on that front…
A friend in Tokyo has arranged an overnight trip to Hakone for when I’m in Japan. So I’ll spend my birthday soaking in a hot springs resort and eating delicious food! I’ve also been refining my list of places to visit, so that it’s more manageable and realistic. And yes, I’ve been organising it all in Noteplan which is all kinds of wonderful. I don’t have shares, I promise - but if you use iOS and want fast access to your notes on the go, this is an excellent option.
And yes, I know I’ve promised a blog post on Noteplan. I’ll get to it. Soon.
And even though it’s at the other end of the year, my partner and I are planing our November trip to Japan. In stark contrast with last year’s trip to sunny Okinawa, we’re planning to head to Hokkaido, to explore Sapporo. Lots of snow and ice, but my first visit that north in Japan, so lots of new experiences lie ahead. Exciting!
I finally finished Apple TV’s ‘Invasion’ this week, on my iPad, while exercising on the elliptical trainer in the gym. It was overall a B+ for me, as I think it could have all be done and dusted in six punchy episodes. I really can’t see it coming back for a second season, but of course, I’m always wrong with these things…
Now it’s finished, I’ve moved on to re-watching the re-make of Battlestar Galactica while exercising. I’d honestly forgotten how tense and well-scripted it is. I’m pretty sure the angst of the first episode translated into a higher heart rate on my part and quite a bit more exercise! And with seasons to go, it’ll keep me from getting bored as I pump away.
And that was the week that was!
Yes, this is a day late, but it’s been quite the week so I hope you’ll understand.
And that….was the week that was.
Welcome to the first in a (hopefully) ongoing series of posts reviewing the week that was.
Two big themes spring to mind as I write this:
One week into the new year and I’m attempting to undo some of the damage of a very lazy and overindulgent last few months of 2023. I’m really happy with the amount of exercise I was able to do this week, whether it was running, walking or using our much-neglected gym downstairs.
I made it to the gym three times, went for a cople of 4km runs, and this afternoon walked a loop of the Isle of Dogs - which is about 6km. Combined with a complete absence of alcohol, snacks or junk food, I’m hoping this is setting me up for some wins in the coming weeks.
I may be in the minority, but I’ve always found ‘Dry January’ to be incredibly easy. So why do it? A significant drop in empty / unneeded calories. Yep, beer is full of calories this little body doesn’t need. But it’s not a magic wand. So I also need to get this body moving more.
One week in, I’m already sleeping better and my skin is looking much clearer. No weight loss so speak of (a tiny drop on the scales) but I’m setting up some helpful habits that’ll
The highlight of this first working week was my office move. I’m now in a nicer building, in a nicer neighbourhood, with a better commute. It’s win/win. And while the day itself was stressful - about as stressful as any other move I’ve experienced - there were no disasters.
I’ve spent most of the working week setting up shop, making plans for this calendar year, and catching up on some simple admin I’d simple set aside in the run up to Christmas. The week ahead sees my first client-facing work for the year, and I’m really looking forward to it.
So that was week one. If the other fifty-one of 2024 are equally positive, fun and productive, I’ll have one hell of a year.
Just 43 days until my next trip to Japan.
And it’ll be my first solo trip. I’m so excited. And in a move that’s rather unlike me, I’ve put together quite a detailed list of experiences and locations I want to visit.
While I have several friends in Tokyo, I know I’ll be doing a lot of this alone, while they’re at work. So a plan is the kind of thing that will get me out of my hotel bed in the morning - in the absence of the accountability to a friend to turn up.
I want to document it properly, with a combination of photos and video. I’ll be bringing my favourite toy (the DJI Osmo Pocket 3) for the latter. I’ve been practicing with it quite a lot, so I can get better footage and take fewer accidental selfies while I’m trying to capture a moment!
I’m also considering running in Tokyo. I’ve done it before, albeit for short morning jogs, and some longer runs in Osaka. But it’s a great way to see a city - as long as I avoid the crowds during rush hour. And as long as the weather cooperates!
Ironically, the thing I’m most excited about is the journey there. For the first time, I’ll be flying to Tokyo non-stop with Japan Airlines. In my personal view, they’re the best airline in the world, and every previous flight I’ve had with them - even short domestic hops - has been superb.
I’m hoping my experience of the First Class experience from London to Tokyo lives up to expectations.
My Top Nine for 2023.
Just the best memories of family, friends and travel. Here’s to more adventures in 2024. Wishing you all a very happy and healthy New Year and all the very best for 2024.
Husband is looking cute this evening. We’re in the Netherlands, visiting his family. And it is so cold…
I wrote about ‘dark side’ of holidays - dropping all my healthy habits!