I Fell in Your Opinion

 

“I fell in your opinion when I fell love with you.” – Florence + The Machine

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At long last, my extremely long overdue Japan in April (sakura season!) post. Very very late and it feels like ages ago. But right on time for you to plan your next Japan trip to be in late March/early April to catch the next cherry blossom season!

It was my first time in Kyoto. So the posting will be more about things you can do in Kyoto, especially if it’s your first trip.

2015-04-05 13.56.50It was a rainy, rainy spring. I stayed in an inn that was built 150 years ago, complete with creaky floors and a kind old lady at the front desk.

1. Sakura Season

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This view greeted me every day. The inn was along the river, flanked by overhanging sakura trees, petals falling like snow with each passing day of the fleeting spring. Imagine cycling along this path, watching the seasons change along with the time.

The beauty of spring makes me really poetic.

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It was my first time seeing cherry blossoms. I’ve always seen pictures and heard about it, but seeing them in real life.. There are no words.

Ueno Park, Tokyo
Ueno Park, Tokyo

The flower does not think about competing with the flower next to it – it just blooms.

And for me, that was the hana of Noh theatre.

The confidence in your own elusive beauty. You don’t care if people are watching. Zero or one thousand. You are a flower, you are there, at the right moment.

I told you it made me poetic.

2. Cycling

My first time cycling in over 10 years.

I’ve always associated Japan with cycling, and I feel that there’s nowhere else better to pick up casual cycling again that the kind streets of Kyoto. Filled with endless slopes and small back streets, hardly anyone will see you if you stumble and fall. And crash into walls. Cycle right into walls. Drains. Cars. -whistles-

The pedestrians and cars are super sweet as well! They saw me cycling painfully slowly (T_T) and a car was just driving patiently behind me without honking. When I saw it, I got off the bike to let it pass and the lady inside made a little honk and BOWED to me. T_T I think if it was anywhere else I’d have been hit by a car already.

3. Gion / Temples / Shrines

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Kyoto houses the most number of shrines and temples. Best part was that it was walking distance (40 mins to an hour) to everywhere. It’s not bad because spring temperature it about 10 degrees C and walking keeps you warm. AND you get to see pretty streets! AND the bus system is confusing so just walk.

4. % Arabica

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5. Fushimi-Inari Taisha

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And if you’re in Kyoto, this is iconic, and you gotta do it for the gram. You know what they say, if you didn’t take a photo of it, did you even go there?

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It may seem really crowded at the bottom, but as you get higher (and more breathless), the crowd really thins out.

And you are left with questioning your life decisions.

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6. Arashiyama – Bamboo Forest

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Bamboo forest, another thing you must take a photo of because DID YOU EVEN GO TO KYOTO??? It will be insanely crowded, you gotta angle it upwards to avoid all the humans. I mean. /shrug

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Now that you can cycle, you can Google maps your way from central Kyoto up to the mountains. You can also take the train, but if you want to YOLO and have a sore butt and freeze your face off, rent a bike for 500 yen and take a 10 KM ride up.

The sights are beautiful. The view is breathtaking. Cycling along cars was terrifying but once again, kind Kyoto people don’t kill you.

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You can also stop by a random river and almost get blown away. Questioning your life decisions once again. But you keep going on and on, admiring the beauty and serenity along the way.

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At the beginning of the Arashiyama district, the rain causes the cherry blossoms to fall and embrace the ground in a soft, pink blanket. Lock your bike at a random bike area and hunt for the bamboo forest on foot.

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The tall bamboo stretches into the heavens, blocking the light of the afternoon sun.

The bamboo is so tall, and you feel so small next to it. For a moment, the 10km ride was worth it. But at the end of the path, you realise you have to cycle back.

You question your life decisions once again.

7. SAKURAAAAAAA

The spring is so beautiful, everywhere is a photo opportunity.

You can’t take a bad picture. You just can’t.

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EVERYTHING IS PINK.

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8. Osaka + Other

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The Osaka Aquarium!!! With otters!!! It’s a bit of a walk from the train station, BUT OTTERS?

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Matsusaka Project in Osaka because beef. Chateaubriand is the best cut. Fight me.

So that’s it.

I fell for Japan again, this time in spring. Advice for those who are about to rock? SPRING IS COLDER THAN EXPECTED BRING YOUR WARM CLOTHES. T_T Especially if you’re from a tropical island YOU WILL DIE.

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I’ll see you again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Places

Wow, more Japan posts! (HAHA BAD WITH DATES WHY DID I WRITE 2015. PROPHETIC!)

I’m back from my 2014 Japan trip, and instead of procrastinating and waiting a whole year to post ten days worth of pictures, I decided to consolidate everything I did on this trip to introduce a place that I have fallen in love with, and so hope to share this love as well.

Also people keep asking me where to go in Tokyo. So.

1. Asakusa

Asakusa, a walk from the Asakusa subway station. Last year, I visited Asakusa in the day with Chikage, on a Sunday, no less. It was crowded and lively, lots of people and touristy trap shops that had pretty good mochi lol. But this year, Gima-sensei took us to Asakusa at night.

It was the first time seeing the beauty and majesty of the temple being lit up at night. Perks – it was practically empty because all the shops were closed. It was also drizzling and horrifically cold but.. Look pretty lights!

Near Asakusa you can also find the Kabuki Theatre, and it’s a short train ride to the Tokyo Skytree at Oshiage station (view it in the day if you have bad night vision like me), so if you haven’t been it’s one of the iconic places to go!

2. Ginza

Also, shopping district full of fancy-ass food and brands.

It is home to the amazing yakitori place which Chikage recommended and took me to last year, and it’s apparently one of the best yakitori places around!

Which brings me to my next point:

3. Visit Your Teacher (s) when she performs in Shibuya which is near the shopping district Omotesando and Harajuku

You can’t tell this super sweet lady has a super deep and slightly terrifying Noh singing voice right? I watched Chikage perform Noh for the first time this trip, and behind the mask and her costume, I was, “WHO IS THIS PERSON?!” I knew it was her, she told me her character. Even so, I couldn’t link the character to her. It wasn’t her. I only saw the character, the mask, not the actor.

The Kanze Noh Theatre is in Shibuya, home to Shibuya 109 and LaForet (I LOVE LAFORET OK) and the Shibuya scramble, an iconic crossing… So it’s all there! You can also take the train to Harajuku, follow the fashionable people to the hipster streets, and spend a whole day shopping and cafe-hopping.

4. Akihabara

Home of electronics and otakus. It’s like Sim Lim Square (Singapore) meets Sunshine Plaza meets… cosplay convention. It was my first time at Akihabara and I was overwhelmed with loud advertisements (welcome to Japan), bright lights, music everywhere, and maid-loli’s giving out flyers.

Otaku Mecca, if you must.

5. Roppongi

Christmas illuminations in Japan are SUPER awesome!!

Actually the Christmas illuminations in Roppongi were my favourite part.

I forgot what else we did there.

6. Kichijoji

If you have 10,000 yen to spare, go to Kichijoji, look for Satou’s Steak House, and have beef so amazing you cry. With the most amazing rice that seemed to be picked from the meadows of heaven.

7. Disney / Universal Studios

Because DISNEY. And THE WIZARDING WORLD.

UNLESS YOU HATE BEING HAPPY.

WHY WON’T YOU GO.

8. Others

If you ballin’, and you wanna travel out of Tokyo, get a JR Pass – only if you plan on taking the shinkansen more than twice. If not, it’s not worth it. Lots of itineraries on the JR website, lowkey tiring travelling with so much luggage but with the pass all the expensive bullet train rides are free so hit all them prefectures.

November Special: Festival Tokyo

If you’re there in November, Tokyo’s theatre festival is happening, and there are TONS of amazing theatre pieces to watch! I caught Ninagawa’s “Ravens, we shall load bullets!” in Nishi-Sugamo Arts Factory this year. It was performed by Saitama’s Gold Theatre, which consisted of senior citizens and it began with old people sitting in fishtanks – you can see how amazing it was from the beginning. T_T I love theatre.

Everywhere: CONVENIENCE STORES

Because if you’re on a budget. And also I can live on 7-11 onigiri (rice balls) and oden daikon (radish) everyday. And they have everything. I went to a convenience store every day. IT’S AN EXPERIENCE OKAY.

Lodging / Getting Around / Wi-fi?

AirBnb and if you don’t mind little and shared spaces, hostels. If you’re near the Yamanote Line (it’s a circular line in the middle), it’s easy to get around everywhere. You can take a limousine bus from the airport to Tokyo station, or take a train. It’s Tokyo, it’s in English. You be fineee.

Google is pretty advanced. Honestly, if you don’t know where to go, hit the Explore button in Maps.

Well, I hope this short post helps you on your first Japan trip!

Comment below and let me know how your trip goes!

Japan (Final)

So I just realised that I’m leaving for Japan in 3 days, and I ‘m not done blogging about the previous Japan trip (over a year ago). PROCRASTINATION! -smack self- Well, we know what’s going to be on my New Year’s Resolution list this year… Pffft.

So here it goes. My love affair with Japan, and the heart that I am returning to soon.

Anyway, more about my adventures.

Artsy Bit

Yuki and Shoichi are partners in a company that reads books (with music) in various places. They took me to their job today – a children’s hospital. Or more specifically, a children’s hospital and a care centre for those with physical deformities and special needs.

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We spent the entire day, from morning to evening there, stopping for lunch at a lovely udon place. It was becoming autumn, and the momiji were starting to appear above the koi pond.

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As usual, the food was AMAZING. I had mochi udon for the first time! All chewy and stretchy ahahhaa.

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Anyway… why I love Japan so dearly. Watching them work. Watching them read a book from their hearts, with all the commitment and love, even if it was to just ONE person who may or may not be listening at all.

The work ethic poured out from them. I met the director of the hospital and he showed me around the building as well. All their facilities and staff and protocols were committed to making their patients feel as good as possible, even though they were unable to fully express themselves. This is why I love. Everything, born and done out of service.

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The next day, I was supposed to meet Shoichi for a Festival Tokyo (F/T’13) performance called “the long field trip”, but it was only in the evening, so I decided to head to Omotesando to do my nails. That was my virgin gelish experience. So cute right! Ehehe.

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The sun sets over Itabashi. This is where I lost my Suica (train pass) and panicked, because the station masters asked me ??? Shinjuku ?? my Japanese very bad didn’t understand. So I called Shoichi, who just told me to stay put at wait for him to save me.

Which he did.

I just had to pay the fare from Shinjuku to Itabashi. Heh heh. Don’t lose belongings people.

It was an amazing show by the theatre company called “SAMPLE”. The space itself, the Nishi-sugamo Arts Factory was an old school gym, and the performance started with a freaking pick-up truck driving on the stage. Yep. It also had subtitles. Woohoo! I’m going back this year to the arts factory to watch Ninagawa’s “Ravens, we shall load bullets”. Such excite!

Touristy Bit

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The next day was a Chikage bringing me to do touristy things day!

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Because what’s going to Tokyo without going to Meijijingu?

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Looking at the trees becoming flame red in the fantastic weather.

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Eating yakitori in Ginza!

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Going to the Kabukiza!

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Going to the Asakusa Temple! (I obviously crammed being a tourist all in one day, poor Chikage… Ahahah..)

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Chikage, and our dessert. Which was the exact same dessert Yagnya ordered when she went to Asakusa with Chikage. This is why she’s my perfect friend. I miss you woman.

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We went to the Tokyo Skytree at night, looking over Sumida River, and I was awestruck.

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Food in the Solomachi, the shopping mall within/next to the Tokyo Skytree. CALBEE. CHIPS. Fresh and hot with ICE CREAM. I’m going back there, if not for the Skytree, for the beautiful potato chips. Unggggghhh get in my belly!

Also, had sushi and sake with Chikage. My first uni (sea urchin) experience!

.______. creamy.

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The next day was my final day before I flew home! Bought a matcha soft serve (this was the smallest size) in Nakano, and ate it ALL. ^_^

Shoichi had helped me book a Butoh performance at night, so I had the day to kill.

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So relax, I did. I went back to the Skytree Solomachi and had a katsu-omurice. I love omurice. YUM YUM IN TUM TUM. Obviously hungry while writing this.

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This was the dance studio where we waited for the Butoh to start… I was falling asleep because it began with 15 minutes of music and multimedia. But when they danced. WHEN THEY DANCED! Goosebumps! I wanted to stand up in the theatre and gasp and… it was electrifying. Their bodies were so fit, moving with such fluidity and simplicity. No extra movement wasted.

Leaving

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My flight was in the late morning, so I left the hostel early to take the train to the airport.

I took the train to Shinjuku, and changed to the Narita Express to NRT International.

As I was leaving, I knew I left my heart there. I had come to Tokyo, alone, to see if I still loved it. To see why I loved it.

I found myself falling more.

An unexplainable pull. A place that always finds me.

And this is why I’m going back.