I had the best 70th birthday ever.
I was lucky to be able to travel to Japan 10 days before I turned 70.
What a great trip it was. So many beautiful things to see and do.
The autumn leaves were displaying their brilliant colours and the weather was close to perfect.
Never in my wildest dreams did that I think I would ever be able to travel overseas again, let alone to Japan
However, the opportunity arose and it was with great excitement that I packed my gear, organised my trip and off I went.
The lesser known islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu are places not to be missed. The people, the food and the culture are amazing.
The pristine natural springs, the towering mountains, the shinto shrines ,buddhist temples and the super friendly , helpful people of Japan make a visit to this country a wonderful experience.
To wander slowly about the many little towns and villages is indeed a pleasure. One feels quite safe, even a woman alone. There does not seem to be any sign of muggers or pickpockets.
There were no homeless people seen , at least not where I went. Maybe in the big cities there are, but it just does not seem to be a place where people are homeless.
The streets and countryside are free from any litter. Drivers have manners and adults and children all wait patiently in line in shops and at attractions.
Hotel staff are at the visitors beck and call. Bowing with respect to every guest who enters their hotel. Beds are laid out for sleeping, bags carried to the rooms , smiling faces with no expectations of anything more than a thank you.
The food. Wow, the food is amazing. Every chef in every little cafe or bar will go out of their way to please the diner.
Foods such as Ramen, fish prepared every way imaginable, pork, chicken, beef veges in all shapes and form. A gastromical delight.
I cannot believe how much food I consumed, but did not feel over full or bloated. It is all very natural, no preservatives at all and freshly prepared.
Sure, there are MacDonalds and KFC but why would anyone want to go there when all this other food is available.
My favourite meal was Ramen. This soup like meal has an amazing depth of flavour. I really need to learn how to make it. Full of soupy goodness, with nododles and some kind of meat, whether it be seafood, chicken or pork, does not matter. All were delicious. All left me wanting more.
Another favourite were the Yakatori dishes. Deep fried chicken other meat or just vegetables in a light crispy batter .. Truly amazing.
I had a misguided idea that all I would be eating was sushi and sashimi. How wrong I was.
Ice cream, in many different flavours, lingonberry, roasted green tea, matcha, mango or just plain milky were equally is good as any I have ever tasted.
Yes, Japan is an amazing place.
I actually turned 70 halfway between Haneda and Sydney. The airline staff knew it was my birthday and I was given a nice roomy seat in an exit aisle as a business class upgrade was not available due to a fully booked flight.
The cabin crew, two rather nice young men brought me champagne in a proper glass and also a set of Qantas pyjamas.
What a birthday to remember.!