Japan or Bust

I know I’ve been home for a couple of weeks, and I’ve been getting kind notes wondering when I’m going to talk about my amazing trip, and it was amazing, I can assure you.

I hit the ground running as soon as I landed, and struggled for a couple of weeks with serious jet lag. I had just started to adjust to the 13 hour time difference when it was time to head back to the states, so it took almost another 2 weeks to try to explain to my poor body that I needed it to wake up at 7 and go to bed at 11pm. I had just a few days to buy my vegetable plants, get them in the ground, thoroughly clean the house, and prep for a private student coming from Montana for 5 days. That included meal planning, and food purchase, and making sure all was ready.

My student was a delight. When I think that housing and feeding a student for five days and spending essentially 24/7 with them, teaching them all they want to learn, is way too much, I have a student like this who reminds me why I continue to do this. Just before she arrived, I spent hours one evening in the doggie ER with a dog who apparently got tangled with the other dog, fell down the stairs, and scared us half to death with what appeared to be either a broken hip or spine. Turns out nothing was broken, and he is mostly healed. But life has a way of completely getting in the way of best laid plans.

Like this trip to Japan. My daughter and I had originally planned the trip for May of 2020. We all know how that went. By the time we were able to go, the stress of going away for two weeks, and boarding the animals, and thinking of all the things that could go wrong, made me almost not want to go.

But we went. And it was wonderful. Everything I hoped it could be. Our tour sponsors were Tom Knisely and his daughter Sara Bixler of Red Stone Glen. Sara was the hostess with the mostess, she was super prepared, had kits made for all of us that wanted them, to keep us busy on the long bus rides, in kumihimo braiding, flat origami shapes, and sashiko stitching. Our guide and translator Juka, was just a joy, really experienced, she has been leading tours for 30 years. This was her first time with weavers, and she got to try all the looms we tried, and experience all the techniques too. The tour company was Opulent Quilt Journeys, and I highly recommend them. They know textile tours.

Anyway, I have about 900 photos to process. So much of what we saw and did went by in a blur, but I grabbed images and English text translations on the signs as best I could, so I could sit down later and create a digital album of the incredible journey. I am just into Day 4 (of 13), and have hit 48 slides already. Here are just a couple of the highlights so far, hopefully you will be able to read some of the text.

In the meantime, I had started a sweater somewhere in 2019, because I traveled so much, knitting was a great airport pastime. Typically in any give year, I’d make a winter sweater and a summer top. This poor sweater sat languishing in my knitting bag since March of 2020, the last time I got on a plane. I finished it, and got to knit a pair of socks as well.

Harrisville Silk and Wool/Matlock design.

Noro Sock Yarn

A few blog posts ago, I talked about all the writing assignments that had come across my desk. The final one has been published, in the Summer ’23 issue of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot, from the Handweavers Guild of America. You can read all about weaving mohair, now that it is summer!

My days are ridiculously busy, which I know is my fault, though it really isn’t a complaint. But I have this cool studio with 64 named looms all of which I worked really hard to get warped up, and I haven’t been able to get out there to weave on anything. A couple days ago, in a determined mindset, I went out, randomly picked a loom, probably as a response to the SSD article, which I submitted months ago, and finally finished the warp yesterday. I decided that until I need the loom for something else, the fabric will just stay on the loom finished. Because I don’t like naked looms, and I don’t have a place to put 3.5 yards of mohair yardage that the cat won’t adopt. So it will safely stay there…

There will be more of the Japan trip, I’m sure, and I’ve already had guild requests for presentations. They may regret that inquiry, as I time a guild presentation – 40 slides = approx 1 hour… I’m at 48 for day 4… This digital album is for me though, so I can remember all we did in a visual way. I don’t care if anyone sees it. I recently looked back on the one I did for my trip to Morocco in 2019. I’m so glad I had it because I had forgotten so much. Lots of people asked me about it on this trip, but I couldn’t remember the names of some of the things we did and saw. Even this trip to Japan, I find I’m running down the hall asking my daughter if she remembers the name of the robe each hotel provided. It was a Jukata… Should have taken better notes…

On the days I’m not full of places to be and things taking up my time, I’m hoping to weave, and work on the Japan album. That’s in between garden tending and keeping things watered. We had a ridiculously wet spring, my yard was a swamp, and I started planting things that loved to “keep their feet wet”, like elderberry. Now everything is bone dry, ground splitting in spots, and I’m looking at plants thinking, what’s drought tolerant? Right now we are downwind of the Canadian wildfires and you can’t go outside without an N95 mask. Good thing I have a supply. My heart bleeds for my Canadian friends.

I will leave you with a couple of overall thoughts about Japan. I will miss the kindness, respect and courtesy of the Japanese people. I know every culture has its issues, but it is not lost on me how hospitable the Japanese people are. And the toilets. I loved that even in the train station, there were Toto toilets, with heated seats, and built in bidets… And I miss the convenience of the breakfast buffet…

Stay tuned…

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Peggy Bowman
Peggy Bowman
June 8, 2023 6:31 am

Welcome home Daryl and Brianna! You’re wise to make the time to do your album while everything is fresh in your memory. Thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate the time it takes to digest and synthesize all the information and photos to tell the story; I’ll look forward to more chapters!!

June 8, 2023 8:45 am

Great article, thanks for sharing. Japan is on my bucket list so is spending time with you at your home. I love how you put things in digital albums you need to do a blog on that! I have so many pictures and videos from my travel and they continue to be unorganized as my computer skills there are lacking.

Anja kressel
Anja kressel
June 8, 2023 10:16 am

Welcome back, Daryl! I was so excited to read about your Japan trip, because I just got back from a 2-week trip to Japan sponsored by Peters valley craft school. It was fabulous as well. The craftsmanship, the friendliness of the people we met, the food ( and yes, the toilets!), so many wonderful experiences packed into one trip. Would definitely do it again!

Caroline Morris
Caroline Morris
June 8, 2023 11:01 am

I am currently slogging through Duolingo with a view to starting in person Japanese classes in the autumn. This is in preparation for my grand trip which to be honest, I haven’t thought much about yet although I’d like to do it while I still have the knees for it. You’ve given me some new things to think about, I’d happily spend hours looking at your holiday slideshow.

Joan Ahern
Joan Ahern
June 9, 2023 2:21 pm

So much fun to read your post. It reminded me of our wonderful trip. I looked at my photos the other day and wondered how to make an album. I’m finally feeling like my self after getting sick and jet lag, so…. Off to my studio! Say hi to Bree

June 10, 2023 12:25 am

So looking to hear more about your trip! Many years (1983) ago my husband and I landed in Tokyo for an hour and a half layover. We decided to walk down to the shopping area because the airport was packed there was no sitting room anywhere. There was a sumo tournament going on the TVs. On our way back we had to go through security. At that time in our life we dressed to the nines flying first class. I was wearing a silk knee length dress that I had made, Ralph was ahead of me at the conveyor belt… Read more »

Meg Wilson
June 12, 2023 5:42 pm

Such a lovely sweater! Are the socks scratchy? I know they are too hot for Texas but I would never put most Harrisville wool yarns directly next to my skin but the silk in them sounds great.

Alice Sharick
Alice Sharick
June 14, 2023 9:10 am

All I can say is WOW! I’m so happy you got to have this wonderful experience!

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