The Japan Journal

In March of this year, my husband and I went on vacation in Japan. I brought a special journal just for the trip, made special from CafePress with art from the first issue of BS/OD on the front. I’m not a huge fan of CP, but this was the only place I could find with decently-priced, customizable, unlined, spiral journals. (But it could be that I’m just too picky.)

Note: I have since discovered the joys of Vistaprint, which often runs free+shipping deals on their custom journals.

Partly it was because I’d never taken a trip like this before and I thought it might be nice to try out travel journaling. Partly it was because I’d heard that many JR and Tokyo Metro stations have unique rubber stamps (like these). Since my regular diary is lined (by necessity – my handwriting is out of control), I decided to get something special just to drag around Japan to record the many experiences we were bound to have.

Train stamps from Osaka

It turns out it came in handy when putting together both my own recap but also my husband’s own blog posts. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you forget unless you write it down that moment.

One of the Sanrio Puroland spreads

But of course a week’s worth of vacation isn’t enough to fill an entire journal, so I glued in a print-out of my recap, then used the rest as a gluebook for the various flyers, brochures, ticket stubs, and other paper matter I collected during the trip. It took a long time. I started by separating everything into categories: Akihabara, Parasite Museum, Sanrio Puroland, capsule machines, Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, capsule hotel, Ghibli Museum, transportation, food, and miscellaneous. I went through and cut out all the pictures/words I wanted to include in my pages, then arranged them on the page, then glued them down. I did it one page at a time, keeping the categories together and generally working in chronological order. Whenever I finished a category I would take any leftover clippings and put them in their own container. (Clear plastic sheet protectors work remarkably well for this.) At the end, I did a few miscellaneous pages using the leftovers. I still have quite a few pages left, but I think I’ll leave it alone for now. I’m just so pleased to have finished this somewhat major project – and it only took three months! :)

For more on our trip to Japan, check out my husband’s series of videos: people, Sanrio Puroland, animals, and trains.


  1. Oh, so cool! What a great idea and wonderful memento of the trip.

    I’m glad you mentioned the stamps – if I ever go to Japan, I’ll know I need to look for them! Was the language barrier difficult?

    Aimee (darzy30 – swapbot)

    • The stamps are gorgeous, but not always easy to find. I also found a bunch at the Tokyo Narita Airport.

      The language barrier was kind of a pain at times, mostly because our pronunciation was a lot worse than we realized. However, we each carried a small phrasebook. It’s amazing how well you can get your point across with a single word or short phrase. That, and the Japanese are extremely gracious when foreigners make the effort to speak their language (as opposed to insisting everybody speak English). The most useful word I used was “hai” (a general catch-all affirmative, meaning yes, I understand, sure, okay, etc.), followed by “arigato” (thank you).

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