travelling in style - with hand luggage only

(Re-edited and update December 2019)

For years, I was keen to fit all my stuff into a carry-on when going on shorter trips around Europe. First, only my cheapie-cheap flights did not include checking in luggage. But lately, more and more regular airlines charge extra for checking your bags.

Does this picture look familiar to you?
Wearing my favorite travel dress at the Singapore Art Museum, becoming one with the art.
(Photo: Mimi Green)

However, money is not the only valid reason for minimizing your baggage: It's so much easier to travel light. Having only a small carry-on with you is so much more comfortable and manageable on buses'n'trains.

My motto: Travelling light - yet in style.
In this post, I let you take a peek on my packing list.

What (not) to pack for JAPAN

Yes, of course, you can just grab some suitcase, throw a hodgepodge of clothes, shoes, and cosmetics in and you're good to go - provided you stay within your airline's weight limit.

bye:myself at the Hida Folk Village in Takayama in Japan
I'd found this umbrella at the Hida Folk Village in Takayama - but it was just a prop that could be used for pictures.

However, if you do a little planning when putting together your itinerary for Japan and while packing, your trip will be much more enjoyable - take it from me as I just came back from a road trip around Honshu island.

How (not) to behave in JAPAN

I really don't know why everyone emphasizes on how different Japan is. Because - different from what? Like everything else in life, different is very relative.

Group of students in Tokyo Japan
Follow the leader. And follow the rules. And....oh, when in Japan, just follow.

When I got to Sri Lanka beginning of this year, on my first train ride I was sitting in front of a lovely old gentleman who was wearing a sarong - yes, that's basically a wrap skirt - and eating rice with curry sauce with his fingers from a sheet of newspaper.
Let me tell you, that was pretty different from what you see on trains in many other parts of this world.
So why didn't anybody whisper full of intimidation Oh, you're going to Sri Lanka. Well, that must be so different.?

Japan is being pretty hyped in this sense. I think it's because foreigners are expected to adapt to the customs and rules right away.
Nobody would expect a European traveller to put on a wrap skirt and eat curry sauce with his fingers from a newspaper sheet.

Yes, good behavior varies from region to region, manners differ, rules and regulations are divers.
In any case, in Japan, you are expected to do it the Japanese way.

That's why I wrote down how to behave in Japan - or not.

JAPAN for First Timers: An Adjustable Guide

Are you planning on going to Japan for the first time?
Being all excited?
Wondering what to expect?
Having a million questions?
Well, I recently came back from my first big Japan-adventure and let me tell you: It was just overwhelming; in a good way!

Geisha with phone in Kyoto

As I had the chance to travel for three weeks, I know that not everybody has the opportunity to leave for so long. Therefore, based on my itinerary, I put together a travel guide that can be individually adjusted to your personal trip - for one, two, or three weeks in the Land of the Rising Sun.

日本へようこそ - Nihon e yōkoso - Welcome to Japan!

A night at the KAGURA

When travelling, I love to attend folkloristic spectacles - due to the language barrier preferably dance shows: In Kandy on the island of Sri Lanka, I saw a dance show, in Chang Mai in Thailand it even came with a traditional dinner and on Bali I witnessed Kecak in Uluwatu and went to see a performance every single night during my stay in Ubud.

English Kagura Performance at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum, Japan
Good against evil - a classic in performing arts.

You can imagine my excitement when I found out that on Saturdays, there is a Kagura performance at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. Saturday - perfect, I'll be in Hiroshima on Saturday; and nothing will hold me back from spending a night at the Kagura.

HIROSHIMA - risen up from the ashes; and a side trip to MIYAJIMA

Hiroshima - one of the names inextricably connected to the first atomic attack in human history.

A Dove of Peace spreading its wings in front of the Atom Bomb Dome.

Visiting Hiroshima, I wasn't able to imagine an average Japanese city with a little over a million inhabitants plying their trades as if their city never had been practically erased and went down in history as one of the biggest humanitarian disasters.

What I found was a charming city - risen up from the atomic ashes of 1945.

OSAKA - the commercial metropole; and a side trip to HIMEJI

Osaka has always been Japan's economic hub - and keeps its status as the country's major commercial center to this date: Major players like Sharp, Sanyo, and Panasonic have their headquarters in Osaka.

View from the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka
One of the many options to see Osaka from above: At the gift shop of the Umeda Sky Building.

This busy metropole was not only briefly the imperial capital in the 7th and 8th centuries, it even outnumbered Tokyo in being Japan's largest city in the 1930s.

Therefore, a visit to Osaka is rather about the cool'n'contemporary than the ancient'n'inherited and pulls its visitors into a whirlwind of skyscrapers, shopping malls, art exhibitions, and food....lots of food.