Sunday, January 1, 2012


New Year's Eve last year was a mess and kind of put me off really doing anything for it this year. But I do have a really good temple in my neighborhood (Jourenji, home of the Tokyo Daibutsu, the third largest sitting Buddha in Japan), so I decided to head over there at midnight. There were a lot of people there, so I had to wait in line for a while, but nothing like Meiji Jingu last year. Prayed, took a few pics and the video below, drank some amazake, then headed home before I got too cold. Could still hear the bells ringing from home though which was pretty lovely. Nice New Year's sound!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is one of my favourite places to go in Tokyo. There are two observatories where you can get a gorgeous view of the city. Best of all, they're free! I've visited many times, but today was the first time I went when I was able to see the view of Mt. Fuji. I was so happy! Usually when I go there it is night or it's too rainy or hazy or something. But today was perfect! It was also just around sunset, so the sky was beautiful too. What a view!

I'll miss this.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Today is Christmas Eve but, as usual, C-chan and I already celebrated early Christmas yesterday.

10 Ways We Celebrated Early Christmas

1. Went to the Imperial palace and wished the Emperor a happy birthday
2. Got a Christmas groping from the security guards at the Imperial Palace
3. Made Christmas art from McDonald's french fries
4. Had a Christmas wander around the Kagurazaka neighborhood
5. Did Christmas karaoke
6. Saw Santas wandering about
7. Went to Christmas work/had a Christmas nap (the former for me, the latter for Clare)
8. Had Christmas dinner at Meguro Tavern
9. Had Christmas drinks (white wine at karaoke and sparkling wine with dinner)
10. Wore Christmas hats/hair accessories

Anyway, enjoy the unnecessarily long Christmas video and have a Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lovely Seoul Extravaganza!

September? I haven't updated since September? OOPS.

Don't worry, nothing much happened since then.

Let's talk about Korea!

So, this one time, Andrew and I went to Seoul for a couple days. Most random holiday ever. We were pretty unprepared beyond, like, getting to the airport. The vaguest of plans as to what to do. Almost no knowledge of Korean (I could say hello, and by the time we left we managed to add thank you to our vocabulary, although I've since forgotten it again). It was fantastic!

We'd had a holiday together before, but never one involving airports, something we both love, so we got to Narita really early for an airport photoshoot. Then off to Seoul in our Airbus 380. The flight is only a couple hours which is so close that there's really no excuse for not visiting Korea if you're living in Japan. A bit of a photoshoot when we arrived at Incheon, then a bit of trouble using the ticket machines for the train from the airport. This did not seem to bode well for the rest of our trip - like, half an hour in the country and we were already stupid tourists! - but that was the only time anything like that happened. Well, we had trouble finding our hotel, but that was because the directions on their website really weren't as helpful as they could have been. Hotel found, it was time for dinner! Korea! Land of delicious foods! Yeah, we went to California Pizza Kitchen because we were hungry and tired and I was thrilled to see CPK and Andrew had never eaten there. It was delicious. No regrets! Then Starbucks. While wandering around looking for our hotel, we'd seen an interesting looking Starbucks, so we went back there. The outside looked like a traditional Korean building, and the inside was different too. Love stumbling across a concept store! It was near to closing, so we weren't there for long, but it might be my favourite Starbucks ever.

The next day (our only full day), we headed to Gyeongbokgung Palace after breakfast in our hotel. It's a huge complex, so there were a lot of pictures to take! Also visited the National Folk Museum of Korea because it was free and right there. Wandered away from the complex and ended up in the Samcheongdong neighborhood and, since it seemed cool, we had a wander there. Ended up enjoying drinks at the Rainforest Cafe of coffeeshops, Zoo Coffee. Coffee is hugely popular in Seoul, and it's unbelievable how many coffee shops, chain or independent, there are. After that relaxing interlude, it was off to Namdaemun Market, the oldest and largest market in Korea. Also, the one most filled with people selling the most unbelievable crap and preparing food on the dirty ground. It was an experience. The next experience was N Seoul Tower which was a lot more trouble to get to than we expected. A long walk (uphill!) to a cable car, and then a walk up a bunch of stairs to actually get to the tower. But once we were finally there we were able to get a good view of Seoul and stayed there long enough to see the night view as well. Then back down for dinner at a juk (porridge) restaurant by our hotel. Unnecessary (but delicious) amounts of pumpkin porridge were consumed. Finally, a trip to Seoul's gay district (delightfully called Homo Hill) where we went to a Nordic bar that was lovely, by far the least terrifying place in the vicinity.

Breakfast at our hotel again in the morning where I was thrilled to find hashbrowns and ate so much as to feel like I was dying for a couple hours. We had figured out some plans for the day, but they were ruined by rain. Boo! So, we ended up going to Insadong (very traditional neighborhood) and hanging out at Ssamziegil, an art and shopping place. A bit of shopping, some coffee and waffles (another popular thing in Seoul), then it was time to head back to the airport. Some last minute shopping to get rid of the last of our money, some lunch, and then it was back to Tokyo!

So, we weren't there for long, but we managed to see a lot (while also spending a lot of time sitting around in coffee shops and watching k-dramas in our hotel). It was an interesting place to visit! But, of course, the company was the best part. It was lovely to have an epic (if short) vacation so soon before Andrew left Japan.

And speaking of leaving Japan, I'll be doing that soon too. I'll be heading back to Americaland in February. SO SAD. But I'll talk about that another time. For now, enjoy a bunch of pictures of Korea!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Impromptu Kamakura Holiday

On Wednesday I randomly went to Kamakura. I had to get up early to take the rubbish out and couldn't get back to sleep after. I had nothing I had to do that day, and I really couldn't bear the thought of just staying home. But there was nowhere in Tokyo I wanted to go. I realized I hadn't been out of town since I went to Hong Kong - all summer! - and although I will be getting out to go to Korea in a couple weeks, I decided I really needed a little vacation. Life has been pretty stressful lately, and I just needed to relax or else I'd go crazy. So, Kamakura!

As I was transferring in Ikebukuro, I realized it was rush hour and that I was going to end up squished on the train for ages. So I decided to do something I'd never done before and upgrade to the Green Car (like, first class car). It was lovely! Comfy seat and lots of leg room and not being squished in the commuter crush!

When I got to Kamakura, I went to Hase Station to go to Kotoku-in, the temple where the Daibutsu lives. Always nice to visit! There were a bunch of kids on a school trip when I first arrived, but they soon left and then it was pretty empty. I found some places to sit in the shade and enjoyed the peacefulness. I'm not sure how many times I've been there now, but it's always worthwhile. Seeing the Daibutsu always makes me happy.

After Kotoku-in, I decided to go to Hase-dera, a temple right down the street that I had never been to before. It was so fantastic! Beautiful gardens, a lovely view of the city and the sea, super duper kawaii little statues, lovely bamboo, and shady places to sit with a mister to cool off (it was a really hot day, so this was much appreciated). The main event is a statue of Hase Kannon that was so beautiful and peaceful (no pictures allowed and none I can find online do it justice at all). There was also a cave. I do not like caves at all, but it had to do with Benzaiten, my favorite goddess, so I was interested. And the first chamber, with figures chiseled out of the walls, was lovely. It got less lovely when I had to fold in half to get through the passage that went to the next chamber. And even less lovely when the other chambers were really dark and all the people who had been around had vanished and I got creeped out. Anyway, I can't believe I'd never been there before! It was one of the best temples I've visited.

I then set off down the street towards the beach, stopping for Hawaiian lunch on the way. The beach was so nice! The water was the perfect temperature, although I didn't spend much time in it as there were a bunch of little fish right at the edge that kept freaking me out. But it was still lovely to be there, even if I wasn't in the water. The sea is so relaxing!

After getting as much sand off my feet as I could, I left that area and went to Kamakura Station. I walked for aaaaaaaages (or maybe half an hour, but it was ridiculously hot at that point so it felt longer) to Jomyo-ji, another temple I'd never visited. It was a nice temple, very quiet and peaceful since it was so far from a station. There was a lovely tea room and rock garden, but I didn't go there. I walked up the hill behind the temple and found Ishigama Garden Terrace, which was a restaurant and bakery. Enjoy! I needed to go to the ATM, so I wasn't able to enjoy as much as I would have liked (I could only try the free samples of bread instead of actually getting any), but I got an iced cafe au lait and sat on the terrace for ages and enjoyed the garden and cool breeze and cicadas.

I had plans to go walk to a shrine on the other side of the station (would have been another debut), but on the way I heard festival sounds, so I headed towards them instead and found myself at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu, the most important shrine in Kamakura (maybe you remember I visited there after New Year's a couple years ago). There was lots of drumming going on, but when I wandered closer to the shrine I found a high school girls' choir and ended up listening to their whole performance. So lovely!

It was too late to visit the other shrine, so I headed back towards the station, enjoying some matcha ice cream and window shopping on the way.

When it was time to head home, the platform was crowded, so I went for Green Car luxury again. No point in ending a lovely and relaxing day by getting annoyed by the train! I bought a sandwich and a beer at a conbini in the station and had a nice journey back to Tokyo.

It was such a nice day and just what I needed. Everything worked out so well all day that it really felt like it was meant to be. 鎌倉が大好き! I ♥ Kamakura!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

summer days, driftin' away

Wow, I'm super non-updatey this summer. I haven't really done much though! It's been hot and humid and miserable for months. Do not enjoy. Hopefully things will start to get better now that it's September.

Anyway. Enjoy the delicious tropical drink picture. I don't remember what it was. Pineapple, strawberry, rum, other stuff? Delicious though! It's from this Hawaiian restaurant I've been to a couple times this summer. Love their decor, their random dancing ladies, their drinks, and their food!

Last month I did the most Japanese thing ever when I participated in an awa odori thing (not the big festival mentioned in the article). It was hot and exhausting, but so much fun! We walked around the parade route (but a special kind of walking) for probably two hours and then had a ten-minute group dance at the end. There was a costume, people paid loads of attention to us, and I got to shout a lot in Japanese. Super fun times!

Last weekend my friend's band had a gig, so I went to that. Also super fun times! There were a bunch of groups playing (and some dance groups). We participated in a bit of moshing, Japanese style (much more polite than moshing elsewhere).

And tonight going to another friend's gig, this one most likely not involving moshing as it's jazz. Might involve dancing though, and will definitely involve pub food and cider.

At the end of the month I'm going to Seoul for a couple days, so I'll actually have something to talk about soon!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

food porn

Following up my super long entry with one just of FOOD. I ate a lot of it in Hong Kong!