Geishas, Pumpkin Lattes, and Chicken Hearts.

I lied in my last post, unless “really soon” means two months later? I’m so sorry about that… Let’s get to it anyway.  Why do I keep naming my posts in threes? Well, it’s just so interesting right? I think so at least. When I last left my posts about Kyoto, I had went to the Golden Temple, ate some yummy ramen, and explored Kyoto Station. Well now I was ready to head off into Gion, arguably one of the most famous regions of Kyoto. fb_img_1451365497396.jpgGion is famous for being one of the main areas where geishas live and work. Though the geishas of today are not like those of the past, they are still women who are performance artists. It is not very likely that you will find a geisha or maiko (geisha in training) wandering around Gion. If you’re lucky enough to see one (like I was!) they’ll be rushing around, hoping not to be spotted and swarmed by tourists. It’s kind of scary to be followed around, like some sort of semi-celebrity, so I don’t blame them for running. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a beautifully dressed girl in a blue kimono. She nodded at me and I at her, and she scurried down an alley before anyone else saw her. Probably one of the coolest experiences of my trip, though it was fleeting.fb_img_1451365500702.jpg
Gion had a wonderfully old school charm to it. Old wooden buildings, small shops. I wandered through the streets happily, after downing a sweet caramel pumpkin latte from Tully’s.
Which was probably tastier than a pumpkin spice latte, I haven’t had one in years now so I’ll compare this fall… I looked through the shops in Gion, buying some konpetti and the traditional Kyoto cookies made from cinnamon called yatsuhashi/bridge cookies (that are amazing!). I just enjoyed being a tourist. I loved Kyoto and how it felt being there, I did everything I wanted to do and then just sat down and people watched for a bit. I was on the edge of the Kamo River, watching the sun go down under a willow tree. The buildings lit up and I felt like I was in a fantasy world. It seems to cheesy to write something like that but I really did feel content with my life.

fb_img_1451365517448.jpgI wasn’t just waiting for nothing though, a friend from highschool was working in Kyoto and she agreed to meet with me for dinner. She took me to Fushimi Inari and we saw all the cool torii gates, as well as some cute cats and a tiny lizard. It was an interesting experience because it was night-time and the area is not brightly lit but it was still cool. We saw many shrines and small foxes. I would’ve liked to eat some kitsune udon while I was there but I’ll save that for next time I’m in Kyoto…

fb_img_1451365554621.jpgWe finished up at Fushimi Inari and then headed to an Izakaya for dinner. Izakaya are Japanese bars, but are kind of like a snack and alcohol bar. It was all fairly inexpensive for several drinks, a delicious cabbage dish (that was refillable and free!) and many fried foods. I had stuffed peppers, chicken skewers, and even chicken hearts. Not my favourite thing but when in Japan… Haha. We settled up the bill and hurried back to Kyoto station so I could make my train back to Osaka on time. A short ride later i was back in Osaka and I hit the motherlode of kitkats in the station. I figured they’d be good gifts to bring home and also it was going to be my last time in Japan for a long time so I might as well spend the money I had.

I saw lots of people in Halloween costumes too which was nice, people in Japan love Halloween! It was refreshing to see a country love a holiday that much. After rushing to the subway, I made the last train back to Doubutsuen-mae, and then back to my hotel.fb_img_1451365535906.jpg

I was thankful for a lovely solo trip and I enjoyed spending my last bit of yen on things in Japan. I know I’ll be back in Japan one day but since I don’t know when that will be, I can reflect and know that I did enjoy exactly what I wanted to.
So ends my trip posts. I haven’t been on any trips since being home, and I’ve been home nearly six months. I’m itching to go somewhere new, and I hope you’ll stick around for it.

Coming next are some posts from home and I hope you’ll enjoy them too. Thanks for sticking with me!

Until next time,



Temples, Traditions, and Ramen

Early Sunday morning I hopped on the subway from Dobustsuen-mae to Osaka station. I tried grabbing some delicious ebi-mayo rolls but the closest conbini was sold out… I settled for some pastries from a bakery in Osaka station and then made my way to the train.

A ticket from Osaka to Kyoto was only $6. I didn’t expect it to be so cheap and I was pleasantly surprised. I was kind of lost waiting for the train but the signage was abundant and I had enough WiFi to give me some google maps directions to exactly what train to get on. We pulled in to Kyoto station just after 11am and I was speechless.

fb_img_1451365423762.jpgKyoto station is HUGE! I wandered around for a bit, not really knowing where to go. I wasfb_img_1451365427726.jpg by myself, with a few goals in mind of where to go, and that was it. I looked for the kitkat
store with no luck, grabbed a pumpkin milk tea and then went outside. It was a warm autumn day and I was so happy. The station was bustling with people, all eager to explore the city like I was. I purchased a $5 bus pass, which  was good all day for any bus in the
city. I had three places in mind to go to in Kyoto and all day to do it. The only set plans I had were not until the evening, where I’d meet a friend for dinner and Fushimi Inari.

I set off on my first bus, to a place I’d dreamed about going for almost a decade. The bus was long and full to the gills, but I was so excited. I had my kindle with me so the journey was easy enough, and before I knew it the bus was emptying at our stop. I walked quickly up the road to see a bunch of small shops and restaurants full of life. The temple was across the street in a wooded area. I paid my $5 entry fee, completely worth  it, and made my way inside. Kinkakuji temple, or the Golden temple, completely took my breath away. I was shaking, nervous and excited. It’s completely ridiculous to feel that way about a temple but this place was beautiful. This place solidified my love for Japanese architecture and allowed me to grow as a person. I went from a teenager who wanted to go to the land of anime to a young woman eager to see more of the world.fb_img_1451365445815.jpg

It was all thanks to my friend James. He had been to Kyoto during his exchange year in Japan. We sent emails all the time and the pictures he sent me were burned into my mind forever. I was kind of teary eyed looking at the temple, I took my time, took it all in and took many pictures. Kinkakuji has been on my small bucket list of places to go for years, it was possibly the first entry on that list and I finally made it. I wandered the temple grounds, basically floating from place to place. I bought some mementos but I knew this place would be a part of me forever.

After a thoroughly enlightening experience, I wandered slowly back down the street. I stopped in the shops along the roads and looked at all the souvenirs they had to offer. I wasn’t really in a shopping mood, and that’s an odd feeling for me. I was completely and utterly happy. I fb_img_1451365480169.jpghopped on a bus back to Kyoto Station (my centralized point) and decided it was time for lunch. As I ascended the many escalators in Kyoto Station I was treated to a wonderful performance by a high school orchestra. Not only were they really good, they were also playing Disney songs. I sang along and sat and enjoyed the show before heading to Ramen Street. Ramen Street is a name for a section of the department store in Kyoto Station. Famous enough to have its own name but I didn’t think it was the greatest. The restaurants all seemed to serve the same stuff and they all had varying lengthy lines out front. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with ramen in Japan so I just picked one that looked appealing and bought my ticket. Turns out I was not wrong, and I enjoyed the second best ramen I’ve had  in Japan. Nothing beats that creamy delicious ramen I had in Shinjuku though… After filling up, I headed back out to Gion, where I’d explore the historic area of Kyoto, maybe catching a glimpse of a Geisha…

Originally this was only going to be two posts but to save your eyes I’m going to make a 3rd post. It’s hard to believe I was only there for 2 days but my last trip to Japan was one to remember. Sorry for the delay in my posts, lots of stuff going on at home so I’ve been a little busy!


Next post really soon!
Until next time!


Day Three: Shibuya Scrambling.

Tokyo a go go day 3Day three started out not-so-great. We left the hotel later than expected, I didn’t get breakfast like I had planned, and we decided to adventure out of the Tokyo lines into an area just for Pork cutlet . We were on the hunt for a restaurant recommended by my friend’s friend, and we had made the trek out there in the summer heat, hoping for something great. Well, we did finally make it after getting a bit lost, and we found out the restaurant was closed for summer vacation. (Mushashikoyama will always be somewhere I’ll have to go eventually) There was no way we could have predicted this, and I was a bit more than disappointed because I was starving. All I wanted was a meal! Thankfully we decided on another place, this time in Shinjuku, and we set off.

wpid-img_20150731_133355.jpgI had stopped in a Lawson’s to get a snack (Ritz sandwiches and some chocolate almond milk) and I found some raspberry kitkats, so this seemed to be a good sign. The day was not going as I thought it would’ve, so I was feeling a bit
discouraged. We made our way to Shinjuku and again got wildly lost. I was starting to wonder why people even liked Shinjuku. We kept gettingwpid-img_20150731_134245.jpg stuck over on the other side of Shinjuku. It wasn’t until Saturday that we’d find the cool part of Shinjuku, so I still held a bit of a grudge towards it. We were looking for a port cutlet chain Tonkatsu Waco (I think), We finally did end up finding it, after nearly giving up, and it was inside the department store we were wandering
wpid-img_20150731_142237.jpgaround in front of (cursing Google Maps). We had our overpriced, disappointing tonkatsu, and some weird yam slurry that made me gag, and we were on our way. I decided we would try to make Shinjuku worth it, and we headed to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. Check out my post on that here.


After exploring part of Shinjuku, we hopped on the subway and went to Ikebukuro. I was really excited to see Sunshine wpid-img_20150731_172415.jpgcity, and also find the Milky Way Cafe. We made our first stop the Milky Way Cafe, which was an adorable star themed cafe. I had my sign’s dessert: a Taurus. It was some sort of ice cream yogurt parfait that was delicious. Megan’s came with dry ice and it was really cool. We enjoyed our desserts after a disappointing beginning of the day and then set off into Ikebukuro. I was so excited to see everything, we hit up a few stores and I took Megan into Tokyu Hands. It was a cool experience. It was after looking around that we went into Sunshine City.wpid-img_20150731_173038.jpg

Sunshine City is a big mall that is home to the Pokemon Center MEGATOKYO! It was an awesome Pokemon store, the third that I’ve been to, and it was probably my favourite. They had everything! I was a bit sad they sold out of the magikarp plushes, but what can you do? I picked up a thing or two from the capsules, and then we were off again. I stopped by the wpid-img_20150731_180930.jpgDisney store in Sunshine City, and we wandered through lots of shops. We decided to take a rest at the Starbucks close by, hoping to charge our phones. Unfortunately Japan is a lot more stingy with their outlets than Korea is. We were unable to charge anything, so we cut our losses and headed towards the subway.

It was then that I realized the KitKat Chocolatory was in Ikebukuro. I decided that I’d wpid-img_20150731_181638.jpgregret not going, so I dragged Megan with me to the store. I don’t know what I expected but from videos that I had seen, I thought this place was going to be huge. It turned out to be a tiny department store counter! I ended up picking up a few flavours of Kitkats that I’ll elaborate on in a later post, but I was kind of disappointed by the store. We got on the subway after stocking up on Kitkats and made our way to Shibuya.


I was really excited about Shibuya because I really wanted to see Hachiko. We got the obligatory pictures, and then wpid-img_20150731_200236.jpgwalked around a bit. Shibuya is a really cool area with lots of shops. We even went in the famous Shibuya 109 building. Unfortunately things in Japan tend to close pretty early, around 9pm. I wish that they’d stay open a bit later, especially on a Friday night! We decided to head back to Akihabara a little early as our feet were tired, and after a day of ups and downs we just wanted to rest.wpid-img_20150731_205113.jpg

We stopped at the convenience store on the way home and I had a delicious shrimp/mayo roll, and some other snacks. Convenience stores in Japan are awesome and you can get delicious cheap food for low prices. I also grabbed some snacks including a Black Thunder ice cream bar. If you’re ever in Japan make sure to try a black thunder bar. It’s cookie based and it’s delicious.


After showering, I called it a night and headed to bed. The capsule was extra comfy that night for some reason, and I was out for a solid 8 hours. I was going to get McBreakfast the next day, I was sure of it.

Until next time!

Here are some more shots from inside Sunshine City!


This is a post in my Tokyo a go go series.
Find the main post here!
Go back to Day One!
Look at what I did on Day Two!
See where I stayed in Tokyo.
Check out Day Four!


Day two: Sushi rolls, Giant Robots, and a Stunned Pigeon.

day twoDay two was probably my favourite day in Tokyo. We headed out to Asakusa just before 10am, we had booked a sushi making class with Yoshimi from Tokyo Kitchen . She met us just outside the subway station at the famous Kaminarimon gate in Asakusa. I applauded her for wearing a stunning white kimono, especially on the humid summer day. We walked along the river to her apartment. She pointed out the cool landmarks on the way: the golden “flame”, the Asahi beer headquarters, and the cool river bus. We made it to her apartment, which was a beautiful airy little place with an awesome view of the river. We sat down and she gave us a lesson on Japanese cuisine, and then thoroughly explained what we’d be doing.

We got right into cooking and it was so much fun! We prepared a few dishes: summer cold tofu with tomatoes/onions, wpid-img_20150730_104242.jpgspinach with sesame, potato miso soup, and of course some beautiful mosaic sushi rolls. There was a lot of work put in, but it made our morning hunger all the more worth it. By the time we finished everything, I was starving. It’s a good thing everything we made was so delicious and fresh, and was so satisfying. Yoshimi was super helpful and handy, she took us through the steps slowly but surely. We made a few dishes: we started off my waking the rice, then starting the omelet for the inside of our sushi rolls, then we prepared the topping for the cold tofu and the dressing for he spinach. The dishes we made were: chilled tofu with a summer tomato/onion topping, spinach with sesame, potato miso soup, and some mosaic sushi rolls. It was time-consuming but honestly the time flew by! We were eating lunch just after noon, which was perfect timing. After lunch we talked for a bit and then Megan and I left to explore Asakusa.

wpid-img_20150730_131036.jpgAsakusa is a pretty neat area, Our class was on the river, so we could see the river boat/bus driving on by. We could also see the really cool shaped Asahi beer headquarters! It’s shaped like a glass of beer, foam included. Next to Asahi beer is the golden flame, which resembles a golden poop really, and Tokyo skytree. We were going to take the river bus to the next stop, but like with most public transit in Japan, it was too expensive. Our cooking instructor had mentioned “Seria” to me, after I said I loved Daiso, and I had made a stop there before we explored more of Asakusa. There was a lot of cool stuff in the department store, and Seira had a lot of really adorable things. I grabbed some Minnie Mouse utensils for my niece, some Mt. Fuji washi tape and notes, and a really cute set of elephant sticky notes. Stationary in Asia KILLS me, it’s so adorable. Seria is a good wpid-img_20150730_142327.jpgplace to go for souvenirs too because everything was 100Y, 108Y with tax.

After walking around the temple and gate area of Asakusa, we decided to make our way to Daiba station. This was a bit of a journey from Asakusa, but we made it. It had started to rain when we were on the subway and thankfully the station we were at allowed for a completely indoor transfer. By the time we made our way to Daiba, the rain had let up. The walk to Diver City Tokyo Mall was a gloomy one, but at least there was no rain. There was actually a summer J-pop concert going on, and I stood to watch it for a little bit from the walkway between the subway station and the mall.

wpid-img_20150730_192730.jpgDiver City Tokyo Mall is a HUGE indoor shopping area. There are about 8 floors, and each floor is filled with great stores. I had put this place on my list for two reasons: Old Navy and a Giant Gundam. I love Old Navy, probably 60% of my wardrobe is from there, and I was really excited to find a store in Japan. As we were walking into the mall, we noticed that people were really hesitant to go in the doors. Thinking it was just another tourist bottleneck, I tried to pick up the pace. Imagine my surprise when I realized that everyone was just avoiding a small pigeon who was sitting in the doors looking a little ruffled and a lot confused. Poor bird. Thankfully a mall staff member helped the little guy out and we were on our merry shopping way.

The next few hours were spent shopping happily, going through store after store. If you don’t know me, I can shop for hours. I love looking at new things, sometimes buying new things. I really like shopping. I purchased quite a few things, some clothing included, and a lot of souvenirs. We ended our shopping adventure with a trip to the Daiso on the 6th floor, and then chilled out for a bit before checking out the Gundam outside. The Gundam is  A HUGE model gundam, lit up outside the mall. A few times a day there are performances in the way that it might move a little, and at night they do a 15 minute anime screening. Also, during the day wpid-img_20150730_193514.jpgyou can walk under the Gundam. It was a pretty cool little aspect, and I enjoyed it whole-heartedly. After we took some pictures, we headed over to another mall so I could check out the Disney store. The Disney store in Japan is always a stop for me, it’s full of cute little things. Basically ever time I go to Japan, I buy some tsum-tsums. These are small stackable plushies that are super cheap and adorable. When I was in Osaka I picked up 5, and this time in Tokyo I picked up 3.

Daiba is a pretty cool area of Tokyo because it’s on the bay. There’s also a part of it that looks strangely like New York city, it also has a Statue of Liberty and a very Brooklyn bridge-esque bridge.I took quite a few pictures here and it made a perfect backdrop for the night. Tokyo was still humid after the sun went down, but that didn’t stop my little photoshoot.wpid-img_20150730_200614.jpg

After journeying back to Akihabara, we stopped for dinner at Coco Ichibana. This is a popular Japanese curry chain. I had a cheese curry katsu, which is a pork cutlet in curry. It was really delicious and I’m glad there’s a Coco Ichibana in Busan haha.wpid-img_20150730_213505.jpg

We loaded up on snacks at the convenience store, and then made our way back to Grids so we could rest. Another somewhat successful day in Tokyo awaited us on Friday.

Until next time,

This is a post in my Tokyo a go go series.
Find the main post here!
Go back to Day One!
See where I stayed in Tokyo.
Go to Day Three!


Tokyo-a-go-go day one! Suki? Ya.

Day one GOODMy trip to Tokyo started off like any other: I woke up at 5:30am in order to make it to Gimhae airport for my 7:20am boarding time. I had naively thought that I could sleep a bit longer, but after seeing the boarding time I decided to play it safe. Thankfully two of my friends had got on the same flight to Tokyo. One would be traveling with me, Megan, and the other, Gillian, would be going to Ishigaki. Ishigaki is a remote island off of Okinawa, and it’s said to be one of the happiest places on earth. We got settled at the gate and waited to board with our Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwiches in hand. I was a little less nervous because I had been to Japan before (Osaka in March). We boarded right on time, and I settled into my window seat. Now to be honest, I prefer aisle seats. I like being able to get up when I need too, and being able to organize myself when we can deplane. I chose a window seat both times because I love flying over Japan. You fly over the entire country and you get to see everything! On the way there, I was totally surprised that Japan Airlines had in-flight entertainment and served a full meal. I watched a movie (The Longest Ride) halfway and I enjoyed our selection of sandwiches.

Getting through immigration was shockingly fast and easy! I remember waiting nearly an hour in Osaka, but at Narita I only waited for my companion to fill out her customs card. It was so fast, we got her baggage super quickly and before I knew it we were buying our tickets for the Skyliner!  Narita terminal 2 seemed to be a bit smaller than KIX, but we found the Softbank Counter, rented a wifi egg, and then bought a 3-day subway pass and Skyliner ticket for only $35. The Skyliner is a super quick train (Narita – Ueno in 42 minutes) and usually costs about $25 per ticket. We got the one-way ticket and a 3 day Tokyo Metro/Toei subway line pass for only $35. It was really a steal because the subway pass alone is $10 a day. We grabbed some snacks for the train and then hopped aboard.

We were in Ueno and facing the beast that is the Tokyo Subway system before I could even think. Thankfully Ueno is a straight shot down to Akihabara, where we would make our home for the next few days. I love capsule hotels and I had stayed in one in Osaka, and this capsule hotel was something else. I will dedicate a post just to it, that’s how great it was! We dropped our bags at the hotel, because we still had a few hours until check in at 4pm, and used the time to get out of the Tokyo humidity. Note to anyone: Tokyo/Asia in general is HOT AS HECK in the summer. Super humid and makes EVERYONE sweaty. A lot of the Japanese people I saw carried around sweat cloths with them to keep themselves dry, it was that bad. I created basically our entire itinerary for our trip. Megan is pretty passive and didn’t have any specific places she wanted to go. I appreciated the free rein but at times I felt a little worried that she may not enjoy the trip as much as I did. Either way, I hope she enjoyed the places I took us to.

The Tokyo Subway system is divided into a few lines, and some are privately owned. This made it pretty frustrating as we bought the pass, as I said before, and it wasn’t good at every stop. We made the mistake of walking to a JR Line subway stop, and were promptly rejected. We walked to the Hibiya line and got on the train there with no issues. Now, like Korea, they have an IC card that you can load with fares and I believe they are good for every subway line, but I’m not certain. We purchased Suica cards because our first spot was only accessible on the JR line. I figured it would benefit us in the end to have the ability to use both, but I preferred using the Tokyo Metro/Toei subways because they went everywhere and they were pretty cheap. I’ll be writing a post also on using the subway in Tokyo and Korea, it’ll be short and sweet but to the point.

wpid-img_20150729_141237.jpgOur first stop, after the hotel, was Tokyo Station. I was hunting for Character Street, a place filled with various famous Japanese based character stores. There is a Hello Kitty store, a Studio Ghibli store, Rilakuma, Gudetama, etc and the one I was looking for was the Pokemon Store! The Pokemon Store on character street near Tokyo Station is the ONLY store where you can get Pikachu in a Tokyo Train uniform. This was goal there, and I grabbed a smaller sized one for 900 yen. I also ended up grabbing an adorable Pikachu in a dress for myself, and some milk tea flavoured cookies. We walked around Character street for a bit, popping into the shops that peaked our interest. We also made a stop in a souvenir shop where I grabbed some spicy pepper flavoured Kitkats. It was after this that we found a resting spot, drank some water (or in my case, tea) and planned our next mode of action. One thing to say is that there is a severe shortage of benches/public seating in the underground area of Tokyo Station. We ended up sitting in a closed off area of stairs, and an elderly couple had to lean against some wpid-img_20150729_190024.jpgrailings. We had made a joke often of “What’s a girl gotta do for a bench?”. Pretty funny, but kind of annoying. Sometimes you just need a place to sort yourself out or get off your feet for a minute.

Our next destination was the Muji store in Yurakucho. Little did I know, it was the flagship store! This store was a short walk from Tokyo station, and it was my first time in a Muji store. Now Muji is known for their storage drawers and such, but it really is an incredibly cool store. Everything is really minimalist, and it reminded me of an IKEA/H&M hybrid store. If you’re ever in Tokyo, take a look around, it’s a pretty cool place. We had a snack in the Muji meal portion of the store, and even tried a sample of prawn curry (that was so delicious and we both bought some!) and I grabbed some facial cotton that I found on a recommended to buy list. After we finished at Muji, we headed next door to Loft. This store was pretty interesting. It seemed to have anything and everything. I purchased an eyeliner, and then we made our way back to Akihabara.

By the time we got back, we wanted to rest a bit before heading out again. We headed out for dinner at 6:30 and made wpid-img_20150729_191316.jpgour way to a fast-food type restaurant called Sukiya. Sukiya is a place that one of my favourite Youtubers, Alli Speed, goes to when she is in Japan. She always has the cheese gyudon bowl and I made sure to try it when I was there. How can you go wrong with meat, cheese, and rice? Needless to say it was delicious, cheap, and filling. It’s also open 24 hours so you can get your fix any time of the day. After we were full, we made our way through parts of Akihabara. I made sure we stopped in my favourite store, Don Quijote. I love Donki so much, and I bought quite a few things. After a slight detour to look for a camera battery, we made our way to our final destination: Tokyo Tower.


Now Tokyo tower was a little but of a journey away from Akihabara, and it was still pretty humid at 9pm, but we made it. I would totally recommend Tokyo Tower because it is beautiful and gives an amazing view of the city. We went at night on a slightly unclear day, but still had a great time. The lower viewing deck is only 900 yen to go up to, and I actually preferred going down one flight to the area with the lookout windows. It was really cool because they had it all lit up with lights, making it look sort of like outer space.  We spent some time there, grabbed a few souvenirs, and then were on our way back to Akihabara.

After a snack run to the Family Mart across the street from our hotel, we were in for the night and ready for or second day in Tokyo.

I hope you enjoyed this first day summary!!


Until my next post!
Here are some linked blog posts that I discussed in this post:
(links to come)
Main Post
Tokyo Metro Tips
GRIDS hostel Akihabara