This page used to be a 3,500 word description of the holiday. I am splitting it up and adding pictures, so try starting here. for the Japan 2010 index.
We had flown from Heathrow to Dubai, before changing planes to travel on to Kansei Airport, on an island in Osaka Bay. The flights were uneventful, although we were delayed on the ground at Heathrow for two hours, while ground crews tried to separate the ramp from the plane! The upside of this delay was that our three-hour wait in Dubai became a frantic dash for the connecting flight. A 90-minute limousine bus journey took us from the airport to Nara station, a short walk to our hotel, passing, oh, at least two pagodas and a lake full of snapping turtles the size of tea plates. We spent the next four days meandering around Nara Park, usually followed by several of the cuteest deer this side of a Bambi cartoon.
Late on Thursday afternoon it was time to leave the tranquillity of Nara and head about an hour west to the centre of Osaka, in time for the 30th international puzzle party. Japan isn't known for its beer, but I had done some research before travelling, and I had discovered a small bar about a dozen blocks from our hotel, which seemed to promise real ale. Real ale in Japan? Well we found it, we both drank it, and it was excellent, even if it was seven or eight pounds a pint, from a local brewery, Minoh! However, our lasting memory of that bar, Q-Brick, will be of the friendliness of one of the bar staff. On our arrival, he had asked us from whence we came. On hearing that we were from London, he immediately assumed that we would be Gooners, which is the nickname for fans of Arsenal Football Club. We had to disappoint him on this score, and told him that we came from south-west London. He then asked us if we came from Wimbledon. We said that we lived close to Wimbledon. He then asked us if we were from Richmond. Again we explained that we lived close by. He then asked us if we knew a small shop selling real-ale in Richmond, which we did. He then told us that it was his life's ambition to work there.
Before and after our visit to this strange bar, we had met a few old puzzle friends around the hotel.