Thursday, 28 March 2013

I miss books

books in Japan are expensive, even in Japanese. English books are extortionate, as are magazines. The Cosmo Josh buys, 12 dollars. But sometimes, I really miss books. I depend on ebooks and free books, but being away from England means not needing to stay up to date with the trends in magazines. We went to a bookstore, where they had English books...not just a few, but tons and tons. Wedding magazines and fiction books, and the best part of all, Physics books. I loved the university bookshop when I was there, and it brought so many memories back!

Two of my favourite things

w Walking around a city can be a little bit tiring at time. It's not hat you're doing too much, or walking too much, but in Japan, I'm often overwhelmed. Be it thinking in Japanese, a noisy store, or all the advertising, it's a little stressful. Right now, the weather is getting marker, so it's strange to have a hot drink, and the summer drinks aren't out yet. I've discovered a Mango Passionfruit tea thing that I like, so Mummy and I went in to get one, sit down and have a nice, relaxing rest.

Sunday in Shinjuku

We got up Sunday a little late, and then headed into Shinjuku to do some shopping. I never really shop in Shinjuku. We went a few places, and got all sorts of food and a nice time just wandering round the streets. We went in some nice department stores, and even to the Sanrio store. It was great buying presents for my cousins and such too! I even found some great Rillakuma things. I realised how much I will miss all the cute things I see when I am out and about in Japan!

A random coincidence

While I was in Tokyo, I had been posting to my Facebook. Mikaly had seen that, and sent me a message, asking if I was in Tokyo. He turned out to also be in Tokyo at the same time, visiting sights with his mother. We were lucky enough to meet him in Roppongi and went to a fun Mexican bar for tortilla chips and margheritas!

When I fell in love with Sakura

Right before we went to dinner, I had read a blog post about the best places to see sakura at night in Japan. I hadn't planned or anything, it was just coincidence that we were in Tokyo at the perfect time to do hanami. We headed over to Roppongi Hills after dinner, and, after seeing a whole load of people with adorable little lanterns, I knew I wanted one too. There was a line for them, and we got two. They were super cute! In the centre of the Mohri Hills complex, there is a garden in the centre, and it was full of cherry blossoms, all lit up. They were lit up so that they looked pink, and they were just magical looking!

Dinner at Hard Rock

We met up with the Cunningham's, who were visiting their son in Tokyo. They used to live near us in England, and then we visited them when we were small. It was so nice to get to meet them all as grown ups and get to share their experiences of Japan. Their eldest son studies in Tokyo, and our lives are so completely different. We got to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi, and I even got a yummy double chocolate ice cream sundae, the best desert ever!

Finally made it to Gotokuji

I finally made it out to Gotokuji. The cat shrine. The lucky cat shrine to be exact. I had found someone's blog post long ago about it, and I knew I had to go, I just had never had the opportunity to get there. Gotokuji is a great place in Tokyo. Cute little streets, and shops and it's a really easy walk to the shrine. People were really helpful too, when we got lost. the shrine itself is large, but the section dedicated to cats is quite small. However, it is filled with lots of cat statues. You can buy one and pray for your cats health and prosperity. And the Japanese love cats. The statues were super cute, all lined up on shelves. A lot of things were cat themed too, to the bell you could ring, to the little wooden plaques where people wrote wishes for the health of their cat. I have been to lots of shrines and temples in Japan, and while it wasn't breathtaking in its size, it was certainly the cutest shrine I'd ever been too! They were just so so adorable!

The best breakfast in town

we had breakfast on Saturday at Le Pain Quotidient. Its a Belgian (maybe) breakfast chain that's popular in London. Dave and I often used to meet there, and it is a great and one of the only places to get really decent bread in Japan. Tokyo has the only branch I know of too. Alain and I discovered it last year and it's my favourite place ever. You can have so many different types of jam, but the white chocolate is one of my favourites. It's definitely a "I miss home" moment every time I go.

Photographing the Sakura

I have a love hate relationship with photographing Sakura. They are s white, that sometimes its hard to take photos of them. Or at least me, with my limited photo taking abilities, has problems with them. It was pretty grey that morning, but I managed to get some photos. Tokyo tower is one of my favourite places in Japan, and I actually took these photos from a car park nearby. I love the Sakura and the orange of the tower together. I think, had it been a bit bluer that day, it really would have popped. But trust me, it was just beautiful to look at!

Jojoji Temple

the actual main temple is very beautiful and really large, and amazing in cherry blossom season. Took so many photos it was unbelievable. I had thankfully brought along my tripod and set it up so Mummy and I could get some photos of us two together n front of the cherry blossoms. I think it's really nice with the railing, the old fashioned temple and the skyscraper in the background. Very Japanese in just one photo. I really enjoyed taking photos here, and it started to get very busy fast. I read afterwards that it is one of the busiest places for Hanami in all of Japan!

Statues in Jojoji

on Friday, after a super human effort to try and send four huge, heavy suitcases to Tkyo (which was an adventure in itself), we set out on the train for Tokyo. It took a really long time, and we got to out hotel thankfully it was really close to the station in Roppongi thankfully. After some well deserved rest, we set out the next morning for Shiba Koen, where my favourite restaurant in Japan is. On the way there, we stopped at this shrine nearby. I had been in the park, but never the shrine so it was really interesting to see. After reading some more, it's a shrine for children, ones that have either died, or been miscarried, or whatever. And people dress up the little baby statues. It's cute and sad at the same time. I recently saw the trailer for the new The Wolverine movie, and it was actually filmed here. You can see why. It's very picturesque.


The longer I live here, the more I love it and the more I find out new places and cute things. Is always good to show of your town to others, because you can really enjoy it more. Mum and I went down near the river, to the castle and spent lots of time cycling in the older Castle part of Hagi. It's not that I don't know is there, I jus don't go there very often! We got to see some lovely orange trees, just one Sakura tree blooming, and the sun was really beautiful against the old fashioned walls which line the streets by my school. It was probably the last time I will have a foreign visitor to my town to be able to show them around, and Im gong to miss that!

The start of Sakura season

Mummy and I headed back to Hagi on Wednesday night and spent most of Thursday and Friday tidying my house and getting me all packed p so that I could send stuff to England with Mummy. I wanted to get Mummy out of the house, so I took her on a small bike ride around Hagi. We borrowed Calvins bike and set out to see all the Mikan trees, and hopefully some cherry blossoms. It seemed that we were a bit too early for all the Sakura, because we only found one lone blooming tree by the castle! It looked quite lonely, blooming all alone! But it meant that in a week or so, all the rest would be beautiful!

One of my favourite foods

when Sarah and Emily first took Jessica and I to Miyajima, way back in September 2011, they made us try all the types of momiji Manu available. They are little maple shaped cakes filled with different fillings. So ar, I've had chocolate filled ones, chocolate covered ones, and deep fried cheese ones. The deep fried cheese ones come from a shop which always has a huge line, but they are one of my favourite foods in all of Japan. I have eaten them so many times now! And this is the cute charachter for the shop, a cute little deer who dresses up in clothing....

Itsukushima shrine

I have never actually paid to get into the large famous shrine, of which the gate is part of. It's often busy, and full of people, and costs 500yen to go in. I've gotten plenty of pretty photos from the outside, but because of the rain, we decided to go inside. When we first arrived, there was some music and dance event going on in the centre. I wasn't quite sure what it was, and it was a tad boring so we moved on. This meant that further on in the shrine, it wasn't very busy, so we spent a long time taking photos of each other walking through the shrine and around corners and from being pillars and so on. Some other people saw us, and might have thought we were really funny, but it was nice to get some photos since I had finally paid to go into this famous shrine!

At the big red gate

The next morning, we got up pretty early, and headed for Starbucks. It was so early, that they were barely open! Then we headed over to Miyajima. The weather was horrible, but since we only had the one day, we had to go there. Immediately, we walked to the giant red torii gate in the water and snapped a photo before all the other tourists came! We look a little blurry, but it's a nice photo!

A cute little cafe

quite near the Atomic Bomb dome, and not too far from the rest of the Peace Park, a new little cafe has popped up. It's very small inside, but has outdoor seating outside, where they also sell freshl squeezed orange juice and ice cream. Is pretty, being decorated with little twinkly fairy lights and random bottles of wine, so we decided to stop. We had a great tomato and monzerella snack, and we had wine. My wine however, was apple and cinnamon hot wine. And it was amazingly yummy. It had a nice European flair, and seemed a lot like a cafe I would find at home!

Off to Hiroshima

On Tuesday night, we headed over to Hiroshima. I was lucky, and got out of work early, so Mum and I got there when it was still light outside. The weather was really bad, but I took her to the peace park and all the shrines around there. We mainly looked at the Atomic Bomb dome, as well as the giant tortoise at the Korean shrine. She really liked all the cranes, so we took lots of photos with those too.The museum was sadly already closed, so we would have to save that til Wednesday, but it was nice to get something done before the next day. After walking around for a while, we stopped in a little cafe along the river which had popped up since I was last there.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Kasuga Taisha

the last place we visited in Nara was Kasuga Taisha. It's the temple with tns and tons of pretty stone lanterns, and generally, a few nice deer. So we walked there and snapped some photos before going to get sme lunch at our favourite Indian restaurant! It was a great end to the day. I miss Indian food so much and this place is definitely the best I've had in a while! We left Nara after that, and headed back into Osaka, to grab sandwiches at Paul, and then grab a train back to Yamaguchi, so Mummy could help me with my house.

A visit to Todaiji

A visit to Nara isn't complete without a visit to Todaiji temple, the most famous be in Nara. And since Josh and I were playing tour guide, it was definitely on our list. I don't think Josh and I have ever paid to go into the temple, we just visit on days when it is free to go in (like the summer). The weather was beautiful though, so we took lots of pictures in the forecourt! It was nice having some other people to take photos of Mummy and I, so we could document our time together!

Deer in the Park

The next day, we headed over to Nara. Not super early, but early enough. We had a good breakfast at the hotel, with real bacon and everything first though. We met Josh's family in the park too, which was lovely to get to see them two days in a row. We bought deer biscuits and Mummy really enjoyed feeding them. There were lots of really cute baby deer in the park too!

The Castle

We finally made it up to the castle. We took quite a few photos in front of it, and then Mummy and David climbed all the way to the top. Though, I did hear a rumour that there was a lift, which would have been much easier! After the castle, we went to this cool restaurant where we got to deep fry our own food!

The man I love

Josh and I take a lot of photos. Well, I guess I take the photos. But often, we aren't able to take any of the two of us together. So, often, when we go somewhere, I get a bunch of photos of him, and a lot of photos of me. I love the ones we have together, and they're just that much more special to me. Sometimes, when we travel with others, they take great photos of us together as a couple! David took these great photos of us. The one of the left is one of my favourites of all time. Josh pulled this pose, and I jumped in the photo to be with him. I love how adorable, and crazy it shows us to be. I am truly marrying a man just as silly and funny as me!

To Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is huge! Unbelivably huge! I couldnt beleive it! The park was so big surrounding it too, so we walked around, and made it to the main entrance bridge. The bridge is lovely and traditional, and as far as I could see, the only way to get into the castle. I'm sure the moat and the walls were pretty impenetrable! The huge rocks which made up the wall were each signed by the stone mason who made them. It was interesting that the marks have stood the stand of time! Before we walked over the bridge, we stopped and took some photos. Mummy brought over a tripod for my camera which Daddy had found. It took me quite a long time to get it all set up, but eventually I did! I took this nice photo of Josh, David, their parents, and me and Mummy. I really liked the photos. They were perfect to remember the day with us all together! And, we got the perfect view of the bridge, and the castle together!

Plum blossoms at Osaka-jo koen

On Friday, Mummy arrived in Osaka. I was so excited to see her, and I left work a few days earlier, so that I could meet her in Osaka. It was nice that I was able to get to her earlier, so we could have dinner. The next day, we met Josh and his brother and their parents in Osaka castle park. It was so nice to see them again! We wandered around the park, looking at the plum blossoms. Lots of them were very white, and it was so white everywhere! Then, we headed over up the long path to the giant castle! It was really huge!

More of feeding the deer

Josh always indulges me in feeding the deer, so on our way to get breakfast near the station, he bought me some more deer biscuits for the deer. I maybe chose the wrong area, quite near the entrance of the park, where all the deer are quite aggressive. I really enjoyed feeding them, but they were all over the cookies, and there was quickly a herd of adorable deer surrounding me!

A morning of Deer Herding

On the Sunday morning, Josh and I got up super early to head into Nara Park and watch the deer being herded. I had seen a friends photo - and I needed to go! Basically, a man with a French horn blows it, and all the deer come running. It was amazing! There were lots of deer....and a huge crowd of people to feed them!

Eiga Mura

Before Josh and my respective parental units arrived in Japan to visit, we decided to have a weekend together in Kansai. We had tried once before, but that weekend we finally made it to Eiga Mura, the traditional movie studios in Kyoto. All of our students have been on school trips and it always looks fun.Its where they film Japanese dramas set in the Edo period, and they allow you to dress up and walk around the town. We had a good time, and it was 22 degrees, so we were really hot and in the sun all day! It was a great date, and I was so happy to spend time with Josh taking silly pictures with Ninjas!

Sunsets are back!

It's great living by the beach...I live close enough that it sometimes smells like hte ocean but isnt close enough to be cold. And when Spring and Summer comes around, I go to the beach a lot more often, and watch the sunset if I just need to feel good about stuff. After our Coke floats, Calvin and went and walked along the rocks. I took a "I wish you were here" photo for Josh, just like I did when we first met! I was so happy to get to do one of those again!

The time we went looking for Ume trees

The Ume trees, which are pulm trees in English, are really great. I love them, and in my opinion, they can sometimes be more beautiful than cherry blossoms (SHOCK!) I knew they should be out, so Calvin and I headed out on our bikes to try and find some nice pink trees. We went to Hagi Castle park. We only found a few trees in bloom, so we headed to a new cafe (not new in town), which had Coke floats and a whole English menu! That's certainly a rare find in Hagi! Because the weather was nice, we decided to bike around Hagi old town before heading over to the beach. After all, Spring is coming!

At Mount Casayama

One weekend, Sarah and I went around Hagi looking for the pink ume blossoms, which were everywhere last year. We were a bit early for the ones which are planted at Shoin Shrine, but instead we headed to the top of Casayama in search of some Camelias! We didn't see any of those either, but we did have a good time looking at the view!

When all else fails, head to Shibuya

Sophie and I didn't stay for all of the conference, so after the morning lectures, we wandered around and got lunch in Yokohama. We thought about going to Chinatown, but instead decided to go to Shibuya, to see Hachiko, the dog statue where everyone meets. I hadn't been since I was a little kid, so I was excited! Then Sophie and I took turns running into Shibuya crossing, so that we were ahead of everyone! Super fun!