It’s official: Japan is my favourite place on the planet. Gareth and I first visited Tokyo in 2008 for our honeymoon and we’ve always wanted to go back. We haven’t really had the time or money for a (non-working) holiday since then though, but at the beginning of this year we thought “Screw it, we’ve worked our arses off these past few years, let’s just do it!”
Today I wanted to tackle some of your frequently asked questions about our trip. I’ve received so many since I’ve been (over)sharing on Instagram! I’ll be sharing some recommendations of things to see and do in each of the cities we visited over the coming weeks too.
The first time we visited, we spent our entire 10 day-trip just in Tokyo. While you can certainly spend more time than that exploring and experiencing this magical city (we still haven’t made it to the Sanrio theme park – TRAVESTY!) Japan is so much more than just its capital.
As we’d been to Tokyo before, and done a lot of the main sites already, we decided to spend just two nights there this time. At first I was worried we wouldn’t get to see enough of it, but we really did manage to pack a lot in. They were long 10+ hour days, but I love being busy and soaking everything in when I travel. The idea of lying on a beach all day sounds so dull to me! Our itinerary went a little something like this:
Thursday 17th March – Arrived in Tokyo
Sunday 20th March – Shinkansen (bullet) train to Kyoto (approx. 2.5 hours)
Friday 26th March – Shinkansen train to Hiroshima (approx. 1.5 hours)
Monday 28th March – Shinkansen train back to Tokyo (approx. 4 hours)
Tuesday 29th March – Flew back to the UK
Osaka is also only a 15 minute journey from Kyoto, so although we hadn’t planned to visit, we did! A lot of my research beforehand told me that Osaka wasn’t that exciting, but I’m so glad we ignored that because we loved it! It was more like Tokyo than Kyoto (which is way more quiet and traditional) but less intense and busy.
Nicole and Jonathan wanted their wedding to represent them. They didn’t care if things didn’t necessary go together, they just wanted the day to feel like them. They included their favourite colours, their love of Lego, Jonathan’s Chinese heritage and their mutual appreciation for all things Japanese!
The wedding was held at Lower Grange Farm, an 18th Century barn owned by the Scouts that is hired out for weddings. “We wanted things to be personal to us”, began the bride. “Jonathan wanted red to be part of the colour scheme so we went for bright red, orange and yellow. The bright shades really suited the date of the wedding – mid-July – as the colours were summery.”
“The colour scheme also worked with our desire to include some Chinese touches to reflect Jonathan’s heritage, we also got engaged in Hong Kong so it was very appropriate! We incorporated Chinese lanterns, a wish tree decorated with Chinese wedding envelopes, and our invitations were genuine Chinese wedding invites that a friend of ours had bought back from a visit there!”
I’ve got a really adorable, totally joyful wedding for you this afternoon and I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re going to love it! Rhodri and Eimi decided to get officially married at the registry office the morning of the wedding, but then had a non-legal, blessing at their venue, The Hospice at Llawhaden Village Hall, officiated by a friend.
“Our venue was an 11th century ruin of a mediaeval hospice chapel”, Eimi told me. “We initially thought it would be too small for all our guests, but we decided the day before the wedding, just to go for it. We put out chairs for a few people, and asked our more able-bodied guests to stand. Our good friend Luke officiated. It was so special to have such a close friend lead our wedding ceremony. He made it so personal and meaningful, and we will never forget what he has done for us. The acoustic of the stone building was incredible and when our guests sang Guide me O thou great redeemer in harmony. The sound echoed around and sent the shivers down our spines.”
The bride wore a vintage gown from 1946 which she belonged to her Nan who passed away the year before. “It had been ruined by mice so I had to have it restored”, she said. “The dress fit me perfectly, but it was covered in huge holes and stained with mouse urine! More than a few tears were shed when so many seamstresses told me it was beyond hope. Thankfully, someone pointed me towards the textiles conservators register, which is where I found Janie Lightfoot Textiles. They did a fantastic job and gave me a real ‘Cinderella’ moment. In the morning ceremony at the registry office, we dressed quite casually. I wore a Free People folk style dress that I bought from TK Maxx, and Swedish Hasbeens I got for £3 in a charity shop!”
Luke and Emeline were married at Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe, Devon. Their unconventional wedding was quintessentially ‘them’, from the bride’s pink hair, the Japanese and video game theme and the groomsmen carrying weaponry!
“I’d describe our theme as a Japanese culture based experience”, explained the groom. “Video games, action adventure, samurai’s and of course a manga styled bride with pink hair.”
“We both wanted something very relaxed”, Emeline took over. “We wanted our guests to have fun and feel like if they were on holiday with friends and family. That’s why we decided to have a gourmet BBQ style dinner by the seaside. We didn’t have any seating plan, it was very chilled. We ate outside, with a wonderful sunset in the background. Perfect for the last summer day!”
“We had a lot of unusual elements including our groomsmen carrying hand-engraved samurai swords and crossbows to remind them of our day and to always fight for their dreams!” she continued. “It was quite funny to hear our photographer asking the wedding party to put their weapons down. Definitely not something you would expect at a wedding!”
Being a fashion designer in Brasil, Fernanda and made her own wedding dress/ She also hand stitched the one’s her bridesmaid’s wore too. Her work is inspired by Japanese culture so that, and her architect husband’s love of clean lines, influenced the theme of the wedding.
“Rodrigo came up with the whole architectural design of their venue, Fazenda Lageado“, wrote wedding photographer Marília. “He was responsible for creating specific places for the ceremony and the reception (they actually had a whole deck and set of stairs built for their ceremony), as well as designing and picking out materials and furniture used. They wanted everybody to appreciate the natural beauty of the place, so all of their décor was very minimalistic and their dance floor was under a big beautiful tree.”
Eric and Kat met in college. They now both work in the video games industry and have a mutual appreciation of all things Japanese – anime and robots in particular! “We share a love of Japanese culture”, explained Kat. “We even went to Japan for our honeymoon. We wanted to somehow incorporate our interests and playful personalities into our wedding, but not alienate our guests, as we had a lot of family members attending.”
“I’m sort of a brute force craftsman so I really wanted us to create a wedding that felt like us”, she continued. “Eric created and designed our wedding website which included a photo gallery of our puppy as well as an online RSVP (which was neat to watch update in real time). We collaborated, designed, and created our wedding invitations, too! Between the two of us, we folded a billion paper cranes, paper stars, constructed wooden block robots, created signs with hand-drawn images of Katamari characters and Sanrio folk, and ate a lot of our wedding favors in the process… Oh. And we had a Dreamcast for a groom’s cake!”