Day 7 in Japan: Bye Ryokan & Kyoto

Posted on 14-05-2016 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Short post because I didn’t take a heap of photos on this day :)  I swear I took some of Honganji Temple but I guess not.

Today we woke up early for our 8am Ryokan brekky!  It was a Japanese style breakfast with a few little bits and pieces – very yummy!  Then we checked out and received some free hankerchiefs from the Ryokan as souvenirs.

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Across from our Ryokan, like literally right outside our door — there was a huge temple called Honganji, which we found out was the largest wooden structure in the world!

We walked all the way to Shijo and to Nishiki market for sushi train and snacks.  As you guys probably know, I love Japanese Lucky Bags (fukubukuro) so we grabbed one of the sweet shop bags for $10.  It had so many random Japanese snacks – they were all decent tasting, most were very peculiar but none really stood out that much to me.  I should have taken a photo!  But I’m dumb and didn’t and now they’re all gone.

We should have walked to Gion after, but I was so dead I just wanted to go “home” (aka back to Shinsaibashi).  After dropping our stuff back at the apartment and reconvening with Isaac, it was time to have dinner in Shinsaibashi (the shopping street).

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We ate LOBSTER ROLLS!  They were delicious!  So much lobster, although they were quite pricey at 15 bucks per small roll.  And obviously, this wasn’t a Japanese meal LOL.  I don’t regret buying them at all though, they were delicious and who doesn’t love lobster?!

We had more dinner at some random yakitori place because Bryan was still hungry, but to my dismay it was a full smoking-allowed restaurant and I was dying the whole time because I don’t do well with smoke.

Afterwards we met up with Michael, Kathy & Nelson and went to the arcade!  No one won anything (LOL sadface).  Everyone wasted a lot of money, but it was pretty ~worth it~ anyway because arcades are all about having fun with friends.

We also had sushi for dinner at some fancy sushi place in Dotonburi.  It was really yummy, I finally tried otoro and fell in love with it.  FML why is it so expensive to get in Australia?!

Anyway, that’s all for now!  Thanks for reading c:


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Day 6 in Japan: Kyoto – Arashiyama

Today we went to Kyoto! We took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto, then another train to Arashiyama with Bryan’s family.

I had been looking forward to Arashiyama for pretty much the entirety of the trip since I had heard a lot of great things about it from Bryan’s cousin who had just recently been.  I was so excited to ride a bicycle around to see the sights but… well, I kinda messed up.

I thought I could ride a bicycle, but turns out I can’t remember how LOL.  Not sure whether it was because these bicycles were really different to what I was used to, but LMAO.  Can’t believe I forgot how to ride a bike.  I was so sure I could!  We even rented bicycles but I had to return mine (luckily they gave us a refund for it). Sooo embarrassing, but oh well.  It was still a fun day out — we visited some temples, the Togetsu river & the Bamboo Forest before returning the bicycles.

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The bamboo forest is really serene, the air feels weirdly fresh!  The only thing is that it was quite crowded – not so bad that you can’t move but it is difficult to bring bicycles through and I wouldn’t recommend bringing them in next time.  It’s definitely a great experience though.

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Next was the Monkey Park which was the highlight for me!  We were greeted by a pretty red entrance:

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It was a surprisingly long walk up to the top of the mountain where the monkeys were.  If you’re planning to visit the Monkey Park, make sure you wear walking shoes and be prepared for a little hike – it is very much worth it though!  I was worried the monkeys would be mischievous but they were cute little angels, hahaha.

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The path up the mountain eventually branches off into different sections, but we chose the one that was a longer walk because Bryan’s dad had a feeling it would be a lot better or something.  I definitely recommend the longer path though – the view was breathtaking!  Picture spam time:

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The monkeys were so cute and so close too. There were baby ones which were adorable! I took a lot of pictures, and even fed some in the special little feeding enclosure. Bryan even got pushed by a monkey a little as it ran away

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Afterwards, we had lunch  at a random udon place.  Idk, I feel bad for saying it, but I’m already sick of udon/the benito/dashi flavour!  I actually find myself craving fries/chips and pasta more and more.  It was still yummy, but I’m missing the variety of Aussie food.

We then went back to the station and returned to Kyoto again, for Inari Shrine. It was pretty cool there, the thousand gates were impressive and we ate some shrine food — preserved strawberries (they tasted yummy like jam) and mochi.

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At around 3pm we said our goodbyes to Bryan’s family, and Bryan and I headed off to our Ryokan in Kyoto: Ryokan Izuyasu!  It was sooo lovely there, such a Japanese experience — like what you see in anime and TV with a tatami filled room, the most awesome heated toilets & tea. We were given yukatas, and the place had three communal onsens that you could basically reserve for your room (no need to book the onsen ahead of time though).  Too bad my camera ran out of battery by the time we got there, so I couldn’t take any HQ pics – but I took on my iPhone.

I love how peaceful it is here! The walk here was only 10 mins from Kyoto station (a straight path from the exit near to Century Hotel Kyoto), and it was a little scary because the streets seem so colourless compared to Tokyo and even Osaka, but the Ryokan stands out with it’s traditional decor.

Entrance Ryokan Entrance

We were greeted with sugar snacks and tea, and our room has it’s own private garden. Ahh, it’s beautiful. Breakfast is included with the room price, so I am looking forward to that tomorrow.

Our Room

[Grabbed this pic of our room from their website, just so you can get a better idea of what it looks like:]

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After getting settled, we went to Kyoto Station for a bit of shopping and bought some white choco covered strawberries from Muji and a caramel bamkuhen (it’s a rolly layer cake). We had tea in our room with the little cakes, and relaxed for the afternoon.

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We didn’t book dinner at the Ryokan, so we went out to Kyoto station to grab a bite to eat. We had monjayaki, a specialty of Kyoto in terms of okonomiyaki.  I was craving beef, so we had some of that — although I wasn’t that big a fan of it because it tasted just like basic Aussie beef (I may even go so far as to say I prefer the beef we have at home!  Lesson learnt: don’t order regular beef in Japan again when there are so many other foods to try).  We also had an okonomiyaki of course – we ordered a pork one, and it was tasty.

My legs were dead by then, so soon after we went home and used the private onsen!

I find it pretty gross using the same water as everyone else tbh… I don’t know if I could deal with a public onsen. I loved the temperature and everything though, it’s very relaxing. We wore our yukatas (traditional clothing) and went to bed with what Bryan calls “cloud” blankets — very soft and puffy blankets.  Looking forward to tomorrow!


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Day 5 in Japan: Osaka Castle Park

Posted on 10-05-2016 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hey guys, long time no Japan post!  I finally got around to posting this, even though I didn’t have a lot to really blog about (and I totally forgot to do a detailed post at the time – my bad ) .  It’s mostly picture spam but, enjoy!

Osaka is so lovely!  I don’t know if it’s the awesome apartment, the perfect location of our apartment (so close to Shinsaibashi) or just the dessert talking but nothing beats a crisp winter morning in Osaka

Bryan, Isaac and I woke up and went for a short walk to a nearby cafe.  I can’t remember the name, it was a pretty standard cafe – the place we were going to try wasn’t open or something.  I had a yummy apple cinnamon pancake and a green tea latte (of course haha).

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We then went off to Osaka Castle / Osaka Castle Park with Bryan’s family – it was a gorgeous day and the views were beautiful!

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There was a short walk to the actual castle, on the way we stopped by some food stalls and passed this cool little building where there were people inside doing martial arts (no idea what it was tbh).  Picture spam time:

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Finally, the Castle:

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Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend doing the tour of the actual castle, it was $6 and boring LOL. The only good part was going to the top and enjoying the view – but if you haven’t seen a lot of historical stuff before then it’s worth having a look.

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[Okay so here is where I blogged really briefly and I can’t remember any other details LOL sorry]

Had lunch at a random place near the Castle – I had Chicken Katsu, which wasn’t bad:

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We then went to Namba, a shopping area – I didn’t think it was good as Shinsaibashi.  We then passed Dotombori which is pretty much joined to Shinsaibashi, where I bought a bunch more stuff from shops like GU (a cheaper Uniqlo) & Sanrio.

We finally ended the night with dinner at a yummy skewer place – omfg the silverside beef skewer was to die for. [I legit can’t even remember where this was now though Stupid me for being lazy about blogging.]


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Makeup Shopping in Korea vs Japan / What to Buy in Japan Series

Posted on 01-03-2016

Hi guys!  Long time no post, mainly because I am terrible at keeping up with them but I will get there eventually as the pictures are all edited for the next Japan post.  I just was thinking about my trip and about what I would change next time I go – and I realised that one of the things I sort of regretted was not doing more research on what to buy in Japan beforehand – I ended up forgetting to buy a few things as a result of thinking: I am not going to spend so much on makeup and skincare this trip.

There were a few reasons for my thinking this way.  One was that I wanted to save money.  Two was that I bought so much makeup from Korean in my last trip, that I didn’t think I needed any more.  And Three was that I thought I preferred Korean cosmetics because of the huge variety and great things I’ve heard about it (while I hadn’t heard that much about Japanese cosmetics).

So on to my comparison of shopping for makeup in Japan vs Korea.  Note that this is my opinion and I’m sure some people may find they had a different experience.

On one hand, makeup shopping in Korea is heaps of fun because there are so many brand stores in Myeongdong and it’s all very visually appealing and there is quite a lot of English on the packaging which makes it easy to identify what to buy.  For example, Etude House, Innisfree, Nature Republic, Banila Co and Laneige all have their own individual stores in Myeongdong.  These individual stores generally have a ‘top’ products display, so it’s very easy to see what each brand is known for and do a quick google search if you want to do your own research because there is pretty much always an English name for a product.

Meanwhile, Japan’s makeup shopping is not so clear because there is very little English, and only a few individual stores (if any) dedicated to a particular brand.  Instead, most Japanese makeup brands are found in pharmacies like Matsumoto Kiyoshi (the biggest drugstore/pharmacy chain in Japan), much like here in Australia.  It is quite difficult to tell which brands or products are popular if you don’t know Japanese.

So, in my opinion as a tourist, Korea is a lot more enjoyable when shopping for makeup – this isn’t to say that Japan doesn’t have great quality makeup brands because I really love a lot of their products as well, particularly from Dolly Wink.  But, even though I prefer Korean makeup shopping overall, my mistake was thinking that I wouldn’t buy anything of the sort in Japan because let me tell you…

I was wrong.

Makeup is not the main thing you want to buy in Japan.   What I really should have planned for in my Japan spending budget was skincare Japan has fantastic skincare products.  I have been satisfied with almost all the skincare products I bought in Japan and not to mention the awesome hair products.

But, as I have already said, there is very little English on Japanese product packaging and as a result, I found it really hard to know what to look for.  I found myself buying things that I accidentally thought were other things, because of the lack of English LOL.

So I’ll be doing a What to Buy in Japan series of posts about everything I bought from snacks to makeup to skincare/hair, and which products I recommend (but in-depth reviews will probably come way later).  Hopefully it helps anyone who is thinking of going to Japan to know what to bring home!


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Day 4: Traveling to Osaka

Posted on 19-01-2016 | Tags: , , ,

Note:  Hi guys!  Today’s post will be relatively uneventful because we spent most of the day traveling to Osaka on the Shinkansen (bullet train).  Hope you still enjoy this mostly text-based post!

Today we had to travel to Osaka!  We would be meeting up with Bryan’s family here.  We took the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and got to our awesome apartment.  It’s SO COOL LOL.

The floors are heated, the toilet has a sink on top and the seat is heated, and the entire bathroom is the shower/clothes dryer and there’s a TV inside wtf.  I’ve never been in such an awesome apartment before:

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We met our host/host’s employee, Hide, who wants to move to Spain soon.  He was really nice with great English skills and told us about how to do stuff in the house.  He looks really young but was actually 35!

Outside our apartment is a little takoyaki joint and it was SO GOOD.  No wonder people love takoyaki.  I was wary of it, because octopus balls sound meh and I’m not even a fan of octopus, but it isn’t actually very fishy tasting at all – it was just as good, if not better than the one I had in Tokyo

Here are some pictures of the sights around Shinsaibashi and our apartment.  It’s Christmas day, so the lights are gorgeous!

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We then went to Daimaru, which is a Japanese department store chain (like Myer or DJ’s), to try some food.  Since I wasn’t feeling great, I didn’t want to risk eating the delicious sushi train Bryan and his family were having.

I ended up eating at some pasta joint WHICH TURNED OUT AWESOME AND DELICIOUS.  I had a snow crab spaghetti and a yummy yuzu mousse which was super yum.  I know, I feel bad because I ate something that isn’t really Japanese but I regret nothing.  Soz my pics are crap, I only took phone ones.
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After that, we ended up in Shinsaibashi shopping area.  Oh my gosh the shops there are crazy!  There are so many, a whole street of just shops and I really enjoyed it.

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I got some Sanrio Tsum Tsums (stackable plush toys) of Hello Kitty and Gudetama.  They’re so cute idc that they were $5 each.

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We followed Isaac, Bryan’s brother, who was on a quest to get Nike Ultraboost in black or white, but to no avail.  Tomorrow I want to go back to look at the makeup/beauty stores and GU (the cheapo Uniqlo).

 


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