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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Day 3 in Japan: Asakusa & Skytree

Posted on 18-01-2016 | Tags: ,

Bryan and I headed to Shinjuku for a bit of camera shopping, but didn’t really find any good deals on lenses I wanted.  There wasn’t much to do there (well, we weren’t very well researched on Shinjuku so we didn’t know what else to do), so we went home and had had Smoky Texas curry with beef brisket and pork belly for lunch as “take out”.  YUM.

We then went to Asakusa, where we viewed the giant golden radish… at least I think it’s a radish LOL.

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After looking at the sights, we stopped for Turkish Ice Cream at a small little place on the way to Sensoji Temple!  I saw people make it on TV, it is very different to normal ice cream in that it is quite stringy because of some special ingredient they put inside and the way they stretch the cream.  I think if you enjoy like mochi or similar, you will enjoy it.  I liked it a lot!day3-05

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We then walked go Sensoji temple:

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Inside the entrance of the temple, there’s a “Shopping street” called Nakamise Dori.  It’s basically a whole street dedicated to shops and souvenirs.  You walk down the street to reach the temple at the end.

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We ate some street food on the way to the temple, including ‘dango’ which was probably my favourite street food because I really love peanuts and glutinous rice/mochi and this had both!

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We also had delicious melon bread (melon pan)!  It’s so hard to show how delicious it was in the picture, but it was super soft inside and I thought it would be really melon-flavoured, but it wasn’t really.  It was SO good, fresh is so much better especially compared to the store-bought ones from various cafes.day3-10

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At the end of the street, we reached the temple and did all the typical stuff, like get our fortunes for the year told, lit incense and I also stupidly stuffed up doing the the water cleansing thingy at the fountain LOL embarassing.

To get our “fortunes” we had to shake around this container with lots of sticks inside that are numbered, then open a draw with the corresponding number.  I got 14, my favourite number!  I was pretty surprised – maybe I am a little superstitious about things like lucky numbers (like Bryan and my anniversary is on the 22nd of Feb, and we legit always get placed on table 22 in restaurants etc).  Anyway, Bryan got bad luck on his fortune :(   I got “good fortune in the future”.

Apparently if you get bad luck (it has a special symbol on it), you are supposed to hang it up so that you don’t take the bad luck with you.

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From Asakusa, we took a quick train to Tokyo Skytree on the Tobu line:

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At the Skytree shopping area, it was pretty similar to Tokyo Station — so I suppose the initial “wow” of Tokyo Station wore off a bit and perhaps we saw it with rose coloured glasses after all.

 

Oh well, shopping at the Skytree was okay – I got an awesome deal on this Uniqlo Heat-tech coat for only ~$20AUD (incl. tax).  I’m super happy with it!  You guys will see it in my next few blog posts.

Also, did I mention that today was Christmas eve?  I really love Japan’s lighting and decorations:

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We were lucky to catch the Christmas light show!  It was really pretty, although we didn’t visit the top of the tower or anything because the line was sooo long.  I think the light show was very similar to Melbourne’s one on the town hall – just a projection really:

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Afterwards, we went back into the shops to grab dinner and saw these beautiful sugar sculptures:day3-53

Finally, the search for dinner!  I really like the model food most shops have at the front.  Australia should get on it!

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We finally decided on Udon noodles for dinner, I got a tempura set while Bryan just got the normal set. :)  It wasn’t bad but I was feeling a bit unwell this day, perhaps I ate something bad the day before?

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Anyway, see you in the next post!


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Day 2 in Japan: Tokyo, Imperial East Garden, Ginza & Akihabara

Posted on 12-01-2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Today we woke up early and headed to Tokyo Station.  We had Shinkasen’s to book and I stumbled upon a really interesting thing online.  You don’t often hear or see about Tokyo station, but it is awesome if you love food and kawaii Japan.  It’s my highlight so far!

I think we just randomly passed a makeup store in the station and I was SO pleased that they had some early Fukubukuro’s (Lucky Bags ie. my raison d’etre) — I got the K-palette bag. Although the bag contents was revealed in the advertising, which took away some of the fun, it also guaranteed value.

It was 1800 JPY for the bag with 3/4 makeup pieces inside – incl. one eyeliner which you guys know I LOVE.  The eyeliner is normally 1050 JPY which made the bag really good value bc it had a mascara, a mascara cleanser and a face pact.  I also picked up an awesome Sailor Moon eyeliner which I have wanted ever since I saw that it existed. ❤️❤️

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Anyway the real gems of Tokyo Station are at the Yaesu exit of Tokyo station. Any Yaesu exit will do, as they all pretty much join up.  This part of the station, known as Tokyo’s 1st Avenue, is full of awesome things.

There is a “street” inside called “Kitchen Street” and another called Ramen Street, where (you guessed it), it is basically an indoor street full of ramen and other food!  We visited the street a little too early and everything was closed, so I would suggest coming a bit before 11am so that you can beat the crowds to the restaurant that catches your eye.  We managed to find one place open, an okonomiyaki place with to-die-for octopus balls (Takoyaki).

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Takoyaki!  I didn’t think I was a fan of octopus, but these are so yummy and soft on the inside.  It doesn’t even have that much of a fishy taste :D  These were special as you are supposed to have them in the soup provided!

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Above is a slice of the yummy okonomiyaki!  There are different types, some with noodles inside (Kansai/Osaka Okonomiyaki) and other ones like this.  I think this one was my favourite.

If you keep wandering around, towards the central Yaesu exit, there is another “street” in Tokyo Station called Character St!  Omg, it is my heaven LOL.  Rilakumma and Hello Kitty stores, and most importantly, a popup GUDETAMA store!  So Gudetama is an egg character that looks really funny hahah. It is Bryan and my new favourite character!

In the store, they were playing the Gudetama song:

I’m kinda regretting not getting the 3000JPY hoodie now, I got a t-shirt that matches Bryan for 1600JPY.  Here’s a pic of the shirt at the cafe we went to later in the day:

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He got a squeezy toy, which is pretty gross ’cause you squeeze this egg and a gooey looking Gudetama character comes out LOL.  I think he gave it away though, so I don’t have a picture, but here’s someone else’s photo of it (which I stitched together):

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When we got a little hungrier, we decided to try some “premium” cream puffs from Beard Papa!  The premium ones are a lot nicer than the normal ones actually, but I think they are only limited edition or something because I didn’t find these again in Shinjuku (the next day).  They’re really yummy and I definitely recommend trying them!

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We got lost looking for Imperial East Garden!  It was a bit confusing which exit to take to get there… (hover the pics for details)

Bryan posing on the way to the Garden.

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day2-10  We look scary with our face masks on! We were very cautious of getting sick on the crowded trains in the first few days, but ended up giving up later LOL

When we finally got to the Garden, we weren’t allowed in because it was the Emperor’s birthday, so they were having some official event instead! :(  At least we were able to take photos outside:

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There was some festival thing going on, which we briefly checked out:

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Huge line of cars for the East Garden event!

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Even though we couldn’t get in, the walk ended up okay because we managed to find a cute little garden, Hibiya Park.

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Then we walked to Ginza and dropped into Freshness Burger, which is a chain burger joint.  I was super surprised with the quality, it was really yummy.  Bryan and I both had Wagyu beef burgers

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Although it was yummy, we should have explored Ginza more because the street had awesome food!  Such a waste, since neither of us was hungry

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We later went to Akihabara to enjoy the anime goodness, but we got a bit lost because we didn’t take the JR line like Bryan did the last time he went to Japan.  It’s pretty crazy there!  One moment it looks like a normal station, the next it is anime paradise.  It is SO shocking because the change is so sudden.  Akiba was a bit overwhelming for me because the anime section was so busy and pushy and crowded.  As much as I love anime, I can’t say I enjoyed it that much but I think it would be very fun with a group of friends.

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We found the Animate store, a huge anime store where Bryan bought another anime fukubukuro!  I may post a video about it later :D  We ate at the themed cafe at the top, too bad we didn’t know what the anime was.  I was so sad I missed the Umaru cafe :(  I also got a blood nose in this cafe, which was very awkward as I had to rush out to the toilets to get tissues.  So annoying!

We ended up getting a parfait thing, and Bryan got a coffee.  The parfait had little bits of mochi in it, which I love hehehe.

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They did a little performance thing where we have to play paper, scissors, rock and Bryan almost won.  Anyway, that’s all for now!  I am exhausted editing all the photos LOL.  See you tomorrow


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