Welcome to what will be, without doubt, or assurance, my last blog about my upcoming trip to Tokyo. That sentence feels a bit final. But for those that have not been following me on my past journeys, I have only just begun. In this series of blogs, I have talked about every detail of my travel plans for my Tokyo 2019 trip. Again, for those new to my blogs, I have travelled to Japan in 2015, 2016, 2017 and after too long a break, I will be making my way there in 2019. In less than 30 days to be precise. That fresh and close! I love the artistic and soul-cleansing break these frequent trips allow me. I take countless images. I document my experiences. I gather stories and resources and flavours and tastes that feed my heart and soul for the duration of time it takes until I am there once again. Mostly.


In discussion with a trusted source, I realised that this was one of those rare dreams that I had shared with my beloved, but passed, Isobel. We had hardly travelled at all as a couple – only within Australia. And even less so internationally with only a single family trip to New Zealand to visit close family friends in 2010. But I had expressed to her early on my wish to travel to Japan one day. Together. To explore the land of all my intrigue as a young adult. The land of manga, anime, design, food and so, so much culture that sang to my soul.  She agreed that one day we would make that journey together. So we added it to our bucket list. She was so incredibly supportive like that. She just wasn’t able to stick around long enough to make it so. I carry her with me in all that I experience in her absence. But it still makes me deeply sad.


Many regrets. Life is that way when you lose something. But in my relatively regular trips to Japan over recent years, I have felt in part that I have fulfilled part of that promise. Granted without her. But still…. I am pushing myself beyond what I was previously comfortable with. And doing it solo. Surely that is worth recognising and feeling proud of.


In this blog series, I have explored every aspect of my preparations for this upcoming trip. As I have with past ventures, I have covered everything from where I stay, how I organise transport, things to see, what apps I use, how much money I will need. The list goes on. And for many, the travel seasoned among you, this is all probably obvious information. But, I also write these blogs with a version of myself from five years ago. At that time, I had never travelled out of the country other than New Zealand. I had never been to a foreign country. A place where everything is new and unusual. So I write my blogs as a form of travel service to those wanting to know more about the destination that I love. Any many of you have acknowledged that contrubtion that I have made to their journey. That is soul food for me. Thank you.


My trusted source also told me how essential it was that I plan and enjoy these trips. I feel a lot of guilt at the cost (despite my critical budget planning) and enjoyment I feel at taking these almost annual breaks. I do. I have a lot of guilt at spending that money on me and not on the children. And leaving my two older kids to look after themselves while dropping the little guy on my folks. My trusted source tells me that, given the focus and effort I put into carrying my children through their loss, grief and just daily life, that costs me. And that without taking a break, that cost would build and end up making me ineffective as a parent. And they have no one else. Just me. So I bite back the guilt and make these plans and board those planes.


If you have been reading along at home, you will know that I am planned and ready. In a practical sense anyway. Less than 30 days away now. What? Only 30 days?!!!!! What will the older two eat? Will they really take care of the animals? What if the little guy gets sick? They better clean the litter tray! I am sure it is all normal. This kind of spiralling parental thought process. I am sure those reading in some form or another has faced such questions or at worst anxiety.  And so, just as I do with my travel plans, I plan for the most important people in my life. Lists of contacts, a full fridge, a full stock of pet food, frozen meals and a couple of vouchers for Uber Eats will see the older two through. The little guy will be with my folks and my sister. Sure to be spoiled. But they too have a list. So I prepare for life, for them, for the week or so that I am away. It helps settle not so much the guilt I feel at leaving them, but more the fear that something will go wrong. Pointless of course when I am thousands of miles away strapped into a metal tube flying at impossible speeds above the earth while someone offers me a lite beer! Lite?! Under these cricumstances?


While the mirth momentarily lingers there is much truth in the above. I am so looking forward to this trip. And it is close enough now that the anxiety is passing and is being replaced by genuine excitement. Excitement at the experiences I have planned and those that are unplanned. It is, after all, only a week with a travel day at each end. I plan to make the most of the opportunity to gather inspiration and images and stories and a food journal that will blow your mind! Just have to remember to take the photos before I start eating.


I want to thank all of my trusted sources for encouraging this reckless behaviour in me. For my children who genuinely get it in some dark corner of their brooding minds. For my family in making this all possible with the support they provide. And of course to you, dear reader. For your recent attention, or for your fellowship over the last couple of years, this blog has given me an immeasurable creative outlet. Happy reading. Happy shooting. Tokyo 2019!