Tuesday Tidbits: Travel Prep And More

rainy weather tokyo

I’m riding my packing list down to the wire; lots of rain in the forecast for at least our first week in Japan has made me revisit some of my initial footwear picks. I’ll have to decide today though, and will have my final travel wardrobe posted tomorrow.

I spent an hour over the weekend re-organizing my travel toiletries. I usually keep my EMME bag loaded up and ready to grab and go, but over the last few trips I’d accumulated some superfluous bits. I mean, how many hotel-issue emergency sewing kits does one really need to keep on hand? So I culled the almost-empties and the extras, and re-organized the rest. (BTW, EMME has released a smaller version, the Petite, which I’ll be trying soon on a shorter getaway.) And you can now get 20% off your EMME purchase with code UNEFEMME.

On Sunday afternoon, Sandra Sallin and I met for lunch and then scurried over an Advanced Style book signing at Louise Green Millinery. It was a well-attended and jovial event, and so many folks turned up in some truly splendid hats. (And if they hadn’t, there were plenty available to try on.) The Good News was that I finally got to meet Judith of Style Crone in person! We’ve been following each other’s blogs for years, and she was just as I’d imagined: beautiful, warm, gracious and intelligent. The Bad News was that, like a dolt, I’d left my phone at home plugged into the charger, so did not get any pictures of my own. But Sandra sent me this one of her and Judith, and gave me the OK to share. And you can see many of the attendees on Ari’s Instagram here.

fabulous bloggers Sandra and Judith

Two lovely and vibrant women!

Any last-minute travel tips for Japan?

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  1. The weather has in Tokyo has been the worst in all of the many years I have lived here. Constant rain, with no end in sight. Be prepared for sudden, nasty downpours. And remember that while waterproof rainwear works outside, as soon as you get in a train or building, things will get very steamy. This is such a great city, and it is too bad that you have to experience it at its very worst (at least weather-wise). But despite the weather, you will have a great visit here!

  2. I love my EMME bag and I wish I had bought the petite instead. My luggage (eBags weekender junior) is small and the EMME takes up a bit too much space. I’ve learned to pack other essentials in the bag, such as iPhone chargers and jewelry, to maximize its usefulness and minimize the “space hog-ness.”

    1. I was wondering about that very issue – I just returned from two weeks (Madrid/Ireland), did a month in Ireland in July, and I’m always trying to find the “best” solution. Love my eBags, and I’ve used the eBag toiletry bag before – I like it because it packs so flat, but lately I’ve been using three smallish Travelon bags that have some form to them, but also have mesh panels so you can see what you have in them. I still don’t feel that I have the best solution, but man that Emme bag is HUGE. I’m trying to image how all the carry-on folks get that in their bag and still have room for clothes and shoes 🙂

      1. I just solved the EMME/Petite EMME dilemma by purchasing the “complete set” option (both). With the UNEFEMME discount on top of the discount for two, it worked out to just $60 for the set, once shipping was added. I’m very much looking forward to using them! I see the petite for short biz trips, and the original for longer trips. Thanks to all for the ideas and inspiration!

  3. Dear Susan- Thanks for all your good wardrobe and shopping tips for Paris! I look quite respectable.
    Bon voyage,

  4. Thank you for all of your wonderful posts! I started reading your blog daily a few months ago, and am now a convert to the EF crepe pants – amazing! I was hesitant to purchase full price, but they are a tremendous value considering price per wear (and how many near miss pants I have purchased before finding them). I love your sense of style – you have been a true inspiration to me as my sense of style emerges.

    I had the same shoe dilemma on recent trips to Ireland and I am eagerly awaiting your shoe decisions :-). All the best – Ann

  5. Hi there
    I’m a new follower and really enjoying your posts. I’m very interested to hear about your upcoming visit to Japan! We are in the process of putting some ideas together regarding a visit, so I’d love to see/hear what you get up to! It will probably be the same time of year too.
    Have a great trip!

  6. Best wishes for your trip to Japan. If you’re visiting gardens in Kyoto and Tokyo in the rain – comfortable well soled boots or flat shoes with waterproof soles (not ballerina flats) along with a waterproof coat and umbrella will be essential. Some of those paths can be quite muddy or made with pebbles and quite hard on the feet – or slippery. We travelled there in September some years ago and there was rain (often quite heavy) for a few days in Kyoto. It was still beautiful – the gardens and temples are spectacular and so worth a visit. Luckily it fined up after a typhoon which was bearing down on us changed direction at the last minute and headed out to sea. My husband’s favourite city was Tokyo – which I also liked. A real buzz. Architecture is amazing, gardens beautiful, shops are fascinating (check out the department store fruit for gifting – every piece is perfect and dizzyingly expensive) and there are wonderful museums and galleries. The bullet train is amazing and the subway is so easy to find your way round on – there are electronic screens in each carriage that list stations in both Japanese and English as you approach. Just don’t travel by train at rush hour. Best wishes, Pamela

  7. I hope you have one of the packable rain jackets from Burberry or MPac. Very lightweight and folds into a small square.
    Maybe spray waterproofing on your shoes.
    The rest should be standard lightweight wearables.

  8. It is, afterall, the rainy season, and that often means torrential rain. I have not been to HongKong but have been to China in September, and rain flooded the streets. Be sure your rainwear is really solid by testing it in the shower. I would take solid walking shoes with rubber soles, like the ones made by Privo or Jambu and leave home the ballet flats. Have two pairs so they have time to dry out. Be sure that the clothes that might get wet below your jacket…pants,skirt…are not the sort that crinkles up when wet. And remember, it will still be muggy beyond belief. I have heard, however, that HK is airconditioned beyond reason, so take a wide scarf that can be used as a shawl over the shoulders, but leave the other scarves at home…they will add to the hot, muggy discomfort, and make you look hotter as well.

  9. I am glad to see that I’m not the only one who loves tiny sewing kits from hotels!

    Can’t wait to hear about your traveler’s solution for rainy weather.

  10. Hi Susan,

    It is true that it’s been pouring down rain in Tokyo the past couple of days, a result of a passing typhoon. And it may continue to rain, but I’m hoping not for your sake—and mine, I have to walk dogs in it!

    I’ve lived here exactly one year, and last September when I arrived (from the U.S.) the weather was picture-perfect, sunny, crisp and still warm but not hot. Fingers crossed for your trip!

    Today was the first day since last spring that I put a sweater on over a summer-weight top. And that was mainly because of the wind and rain. Your long cardigan(s) will be perfect, I think.

    My #1 piece of advice is comfortable, supportive walking shoes. A couple of back up pairs, too (rain). You will walk your legs off! At least, we do every time we go out, and walking is by far the very best way to see Tokyo.

    Also, forget about your hair looking the way you want it to. Even when it’s not raining, the humidity means all attempts at a hairstyle fall by the wayside.

    It’s an amazing city and I love living here. Kyoto is also wonderful, and very different from Tokyo.

    I love your blog—and your style!—and am a faithful daily reader, but don’t comment. Shame on me. Wish I knew you well enough to suggest lunch!!

    I predict you will love Japan. Best wishes for a great trip!


  11. My EMME bag has gone all over the world. I do not find it too big at all and am always amazed at how it fits so perfectly in my standard tote. One of the keys is to pack the EMME in one layer in each compartment, open the expansion feature, close the and zip the EMME and the close the expansion. I used to do the multiple small bags and found it cluttered, difficult to lay out in the hotel, and disorganized. I have the petite EMME and it is brilliant for shorter trips although when I go to Africa where my weight is limited, I may pare down and take my Petite EMME. Have fun in Japan!

  12. Walking in Japan can be hard–do what most Japanese women do: have shoes with block heels, flats with thick soles. For rainy season I have found that bringing summer sandals in dark colors works best (with good straps for getting on and off transport and stairs). Be prepared to do a lot of stair and hill climbing. “Rollable” raincoat, umbrellas that compress, pashmina type scarves and fabric or non-porous other material totes work best in the changeable weather season. Japan is marvelous, most women on the street look well-put together but in very simple ways. Have a great trip to one of my favorite places.

  13. Susan – Sam Edelman Tinsley Rain Boots from Nordstrom. I had a pair with me this summer in Ireland and Scotland and wore them all the time. Very comfortable and 100% waterproof. Great price too. Looks like a few stores in LA and surrounding area have sizes in stock. Can’t wait to see your travel wardrobe picks! Denise

  14. Susan, You might want to take a look at a waterproof patent leather rain shoe by Cole Haan; the style is called “Callie.” It is almost a bootie and has a wedge heel. The pair I bought last spring is extremely comfortable for walking and looks quite sleek. I even wore them on the plane because the zipper made for easy on-and-off through security. They do fit a bit narrow.

  15. Dear Susan, It was wonderful to finally meet you! It was one of the high points of the book signing for me. Thank you for coming, even though you’re packing for Tokyo. Have a wonderful trip! xo

  16. Have a wonderful time in Japan. I lived there for two years eons ago. The weather can be steamy and the streets crowded, but when Japan is beautiful it is amazing. Enjoy!

  17. Make sure whatever shoes you bring slip on and off easily! Last September was also rainy but warm so i wore Birkinstock Arizona sandals almost all the time.

  18. I love your blog. I am quite a bit older – 75 – and still traveling the world. I just bought the ELLO Petite on your recommendation. I have found that purchasing much of what I need after I land works best for me. My hands down favorite face cream right now is made by Korres, a Greek company. I also buy hair products, toothpaste, etc., locally. Also many OTC pharmaceuticals, especially in Europe. Look forward to more tips from you as you travel the world.

  19. I buy Japanese shampoo and conditioner when I go back to visit my family in Japan.
    I found that the brand I love in dry Colorado doesn’t work very well in humid Japan. Shiseido has a nice one, but inexpensive ones at the super market is just fine, too. ( Japanese women take their hair care really seriously ;-))
    I like to have a mini shoehorn (小さい靴ベラ) in my handbag – taking your shoes on and off so often is hard on your shoes structures. You should be able to find it at 百均 (hiyak-kin), the 100yen store!
    Have a wonderful trip Susan!

  20. Japan> I have been twice and think it is worth the trip to kyoto if you are at all planning to go. Hiking the fushimi inari shrine with the orange tori gates is beautiful and was Christos’ inspiration for the NYC gates in Central Park. The trains are easy and I hope you have a japan rail pass. Hiroshima was surprisingly moving and beautiful too. In Kyoto, the Nishiki market is indoors and is a better market than the Tsukjii market in Tokyo (IMO) which is also closing and moving in Tokyo.

    In tokyo: A great day is taking the subway to the Asakusa shrine, walking around the Kappabashi area with kitchen supplies/plastic food, and taking the boat back on the sumida river (we stay near the ginza). Lawsons for crazy kitkat bars and to get cash (they are like a 7-11), and checking out the tokyu hands department store: crazy stuff – hard to explain- not really clothes but unusual household items.

    Finally there is great sushi in the United Terminal at Narita at gate 34 at Koyatatsu….small place…have a great trip!

  21. One of the best things about blogging is making friends. And that means you. I have so enjoyed our times together. One of those times was last weekend at the Advanced Style book signing. You are a delight and our times together are the same. Thank you for including my photo and link. Wasn’t Judith an absolute delight. She’s even better in person.

    Now my big question about your trip is HAIR!!!!! What does one do if moistness makes ones hair all frizz up???? I would look like a wreck!

    Maybe wear the Emme bag over my head! Over I go to check out the petite.

  22. Rear taxi doors are usually opened and closed remotely by the driver. A red indicator means a taxi is available, green means occupied. But a rail pass is a great way to get around. Public transit other than taxis often stop around midnight so if you have late night events, it’s good to keep this in mind.

    These are minor, minor details in the context of things. You are going to have an absolutely amazing time. This is a magical country – rural and urban.

    And how marvelous that you got to meet so many cool people at the book signing! I have seen a few of the photos, but not this particular one.