#JapanWeek

Nagasaki and Kyoto – Japan Week Day Four

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Stunning view of Nagasaki from our room in the Richmond Hotel – I thoroughly recommend the Richmond and Nagasaki.

 

Nagasaki and Kyoto are our third and fourth stops for #JapanWeek, and they were as different as two places could possibly be.

 

I didn’t really know much about Nagasaki before we decided to go there besides what I had read on Trip Advisor, and this might exxplain why I loved it so much and why we had such an amazing time. We stayed at the Goregous Richmond Hotel which was insanely cheap, and we were thrilled with the location as well. While in Nagasaki we visited the impact site of the Nuclear bomb, the Peace Park and the Museum. However, we also visited completely off beat attractions, and just enjoyed the salty rip-tide undercurrent of the city itself. I fell in love with Nagasaki, and I cannot wait to visit again.

Kyoto, on the other hand, I knew lots about. I had a full itinerary planned out when we arrived at our goregous AirBNB property, driven by our friendly and helpful host Koji. However, for the next three days it rained CONSTANTLY! I won’t lie, my spirits were pretty damp as well. Local attractions that I was dying to visit like the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the Nishki Markets became choked with pushy, wet tourists; and I was over having damp feet in about three-seconds. Three days of wet feet? Not something I relished. It was lucky then that we chanced upon a gem of a craft beer pub, Bungalow, in the centre of Kyoto. We enjoyed delicious beers, fries and a cheese plate while we watched the soggy foot traffic and dancing lights of the wet afternoon.

I will return to Kyoto in May, and I am hopeful for a dryer visit this time around. I have no doubt that I will come to love the amazing city of Kyoto as much as I do Nagasaki  when I return in May, and I am looking forward to sharing my adventures with you.

You can view the Osaka Vlogs here: https://youtu.be/CoGMKoMmp8Q (more…)

Style Stalking Japan – Japan Week Day Three

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Lost in Translation vibes on a rainy day in Kyoto – loved this guy’s sense of style (and that Louis Vuitton Keepall too 😛 )

 

When I left for Japan this time around, I promised myself and my readers that I would make a bigger effort on this trip to capture the style that I encountered on the streets of Japan, the style that the country is known and celebrated for.

And I did.

Sorting through the (literal) thousand-plus photos that I returned home with, I unearthed over a hundred that I have come to class as style-stalking.

Why style stalking, you ask nervously, looking for an immediate exit.

The truth of the matter is that my Japanese is beyond poor, and limited greatly by my lack of confidence in my own ability to speak Japanese. As such, I am still not at a place where I am comfortable approaching people and asking if I can take their photo, like I do in Canberra.

So, I creepily captured photos of the amazing style that I saw, like a perverted salary man on the train; with my mobile phone, or while pretending to be photographing the scenery.

The shame…

I am determined to turn my Style Stalking into Style Scouting by May this year, and I am working on my Japanese daily. In the interim, however, please enjoy these photos which represent the best of a badly-sourced lot. (more…)

Osaka – Japan Week Day Two

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Exploring the Namba Yasaka Shrine

Osaka is our second stop for #JapanWeek, and it was our first time visiting a major city outside of Tokyo. It proved to be an unforgettable experience.

Chief on my list of things that I wanted to do in Osaka was to visit the Kaiyukan Aquarium, in order to see the Whale sharks. The Aquarium was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life, and we were completely blown away by the sheer size and scale of the place. Highlights included finally seeing a capybara in real life, seeing whale sharks and hammerhead sharks, and getting to pat sharks and sting rays in the Aquarium’s rock pool.

Osaka isn’t just about the Aquarium though!

Completely by chance I booked us into an AIRBNB property in the lively Dotonbori red-light district, and so our night was a neon adventure of street food and window shopping. There were stunning boutiques everywhere in Osaka, and I am so looking forward to heading back in May with friends who are as fond of shopping as I am. We visited the gorgeous Osaka Castle and got to see some stunning architecture, and I was also able (thanks to the boyfriend’s superior Google-fu) to visit the amazing Namba Yasaka shrine and to see the stunning lion stage in this quite little temple that’s off the beaten track.

Food and booze again played a huge role in our adventure. We discovered an amazing Craft Beer pub named Kamikaze which served delicious food and beers amongst a punky sort of vibe, and I tried Mellon Bread for the first time. Osaka is also known for takoyaki, and after a few poor quality examples we found some truly delicious octopus dumplings.

I have no doubt that I will discover much more about this amazing city when I return in May, and I am looking forward to sharing my adventures with you.

You can view the Osaka Vlogs here: https://youtu.be/q7o7dvkB6kI (more…)

Hakone – Japan Week Day Five

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Magical, magical Hakone. You didn’t just steal my heart, you consumed it!

 

Hakone is our fifth stop for #JapanWeek, and this was the place the was such an eye-opener for me in Japan.

I first discovered the existence of Hakone through the amazing Vlogs of a fellow YouTuber, and I knew that I wanted to stay there as soon as I had finished watching. Nestled in a mountainous region of Japan, Hakone is a town built up around the hot springs tourist industry. The town is geared towards tourists, but it doesn’t have that built-up touristy feel, and retains its own charm and beauty. We stayed at the fantastic Hotel Suimeisou Ryokan, which again I learned about through YouTube. The service and the hotel itself were impeccable, and we spent our two days at the Suimeisou wearing Yukata, soaking in the private open-air baths, and eating 14-course meals.

A note on hot springs and tattoos: It is still largely a social taboo to have tattoos in Japan, and while this attitude is changing, a lot of hot springs (Onsen) and public baths (Sento) refuse service to those with tattoos, including foreign tourists. Knowing this, I looked for a place which had private baths, so I could book one out for the boyfriend and myself, and not have to worry about upsetting or offending anyone with my ink. I am firmly of the opinion that as a tourist, it is your responsibility to conform to the customs and norms of the places you visit. So, my inked brethren, in Japanese baths or hot springs – cover up!

It wasn’t all open air baths and stuffing our faces however. There’s a rich culture to the town, and lots of things to see and do, most of which we didn’t even get around to. Something special that we did manage to see however was the Hakone Shrine on beautiful Lake Ashi. This place is magical, like something out of a Hayo Miyazaki film. Towering ceders, bright orange tori gates and hundreds of stone steps – this was a definite highlight of the trip, and a place that I will always treasure visiting.

I was so impressed with our stay, and so sad we only scratched the surface, that I will be returning to Hakone in May this year with my best friend Mags and our good friend Amy, and I am determined to cross a few more of the local attractions off my list..

You can view the Hakone Vlogs here: https://youtu.be/mlNhyH22R_o (more…)