Two must-have things for your Japan collection are definitely
TEA & POSTCARDS
I went to a tea-shop¹ browsing all the different containers* [yes, there are 2kg ones too] when the owner (half promoting – half being nice) told me I’m lucky to have come in May, as they just got hands on the ‘first flush‘ of the year ⇒Sencha being harvested 3 times a year, with May being the first and thus most delicious flush – [but also most expensive *whisper*]
I love Genmaicha. In case you don’t know much about the horrendously wide variation – simply ask them to let you smell [and mostly also have a taste] of certain categories. You’ll be surprised for sure, as the range goes from → ‘did I just swallow dirt?‘ to → ‘now that’s how grass might taste‘ followed by a → ‘oh, we come closer to tea’ and → ‘wow, tastes like green tea with popcorn‘ …
If you’re at it, stop at one of the stationary stores and browse the amazing postcard-collection. They change designs by season, so you’re good to go all around the year.
[Wish Hallmark would have such cute designs for cheap (110yen) in Europe, too.]
¹ 楽山 神楽坂店 (Rakuzan), between Kagurazaka and Iidabashi station
*Containers have various designs, Japanese paper glued onto, with a lid inside to seal the flavor. Be sure to keep it dry and cool [fridge] after opening a pack. Taste and quality are lost every second exposed to air.
This year is crazy right from the start. A freezing cold winter with snow as much as we had 60 years ago. Plus sudden spring, which made sakura bloom before ! April. And April itself seems to believe it is summer (currently 27C° in Tokyo) → I wont complain, because I love heat and summer and sunshine.
Last year Sakura were destroyed by 3 days rain/wind; this year we finally made it and took a walk amidst the -white- (yes most sakura in our area are white) boulevards of cherry trees.
[Tokyo, Asakusa – Sakurabashi]
Usually I don’t care about seasonal stuff, but this design was too cute…
[Pokemon Easter limited Item 2018, Japan only]
This post is a follow up on my Nagoya/Osaka trip. Introducing some 2 great spots we went to while visiting Nagoya. Rain and low temperature made us escape to a great secret spot in Nagoya [which we otherwise would have skipped 100% for sure] ⇒ Toyota Museum.
Maybe you are like me, expecting cars and robots (which you of course will find) BUT 60% is past history and thus new information (at least to me) – they started with textile machinery ! It’s a very active museum and honestly I did enjoy it way more than the Ghibli one. Definitely worth its money and time you spend there!!
Another to-do-list spot was ✔ Illumination. Around this time of the year Japan doesn’t give a damn about electricity issues/bills and lights up nearly anything.
Nabana no Sato Winter Illumination, which is said to be one of the largest in the whole country, is located a 30min drive from Nagoya near Nagashima Spa. What appears as a nice flower field within a Resort during summer, is lit up with millions of tiny bulbs in winter.
[negative: they charge you 2500 yen entrance which includes 2×500 yen voucher for the souvenir area — it’s not the world, but I hate to be forced to buy something.]
[Nabana no Sato – Resort/Amusement Park, Mie- Prefecture]
Finally I can put a ✔ beside one of the points of my japanese bucket-list. Finally I was able to ride with a Shinkansen (those long-nose high-speed trains) Being in Japan for many years, why not riding one earlier, you might ask. The thing is.. tickets are pretty expensive.
Our trip was typical japanese as well – 3 days/2 nights – Riding Shinkansen in the morning to Nagoya→ visit people→ stay overnight at his uncles house→ visit other friends the next day and then ride another Shinkansen to Osaka→ arriving at midnight→ staying at a hotel near the station→ go visit the city and some friends and then instead of wasting money for another hotel→ ride the night-bus back home for Tokyo.
[Shinkansen ride gives you a nice view on Mt. Fuji as well.]
There’s the saying ‘learning by doing‘ and I did learn a lot.
- Having lived in Argentina for some years, where land is huge, airplane tickets expensive, train-network scarce and thus buses quite comfy (you easily can ride 12h without sore back or leg pain.) Well, I thought Japan – the land of service – might provide the same service, but we ended up in a regular bus where seats were designed for small tiny Asian people. My husband and I being 180+ couldn’t even put our legs under the seat in front of us for a stretch, as those were way to low and narrow. HORROR BUS RIDE 9 HOURS arriving DEAD in Tokyo. [positive: cheaper than train or car]
- Osaka (and also Nagoya) is way more my style than I ever could have imagined. The people seem ‘real‘ – less FAKE than they behave in Tokyo. Talking to them actually made me feel a real person is standing in front of me and not one sort of ‘silent souzu‘¹. Sad thing, I can’t eat wheat stuff so the food Osaka is famous for [Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki and Udon] was out of range for me, but according to my husband – delicious.
Some tips for those who have not been on the road.
• Riding Shinkansen will be made easier for you in future; because of Olympics (and many foreign visitors) coming up in 2020, they try to implement the IC-card system also for this type of transportation [up to now you have to buy separate tickets for those trains at designated machines – not really difficult but always able to improve]
• There are really nice spots to visit in Nagoya and Osaka. Your Tokyo IC card will work for their train/bus system as well. Prices are slightly lower. Having not as much time as expected plus weather messing with us, we went to do speed-sightseeing….
Nagoya castle, some nice town buildings & gardens, shopping area in Osaka plus two more exciting things which I will write about in a separate post ⇒ [Illumination in Nagashima]
¹ Souzu. An endless bowing/nodding thingy ^
With this post we are following my real-time life again. Last week we went for a spontaneous drive to a park called Wakasu Seaside-park. An unknown jewel located only 20min drive away from home and my new fav. spot to go.
There’s a huge park for BBQ and tents, cycling/jogging area and a fishing spot that leads right onto the sea. From there you are able to see Fuji on clear weather, as well as watch airplanes starting their journey.
You are also able to walk alongside the newly opened (2012) Tokyo Gate Bridge – literally walking on the sea, but it might be a long way to go (bike is recommended)
We were lucky enough to catch sunset alongside clear blue sky, Mt. Fuji in its best light.
The park itself is free, only the parking lot is about 500 yen – quite affordable regarding the fact you can stay all day (closing time around 9pm)
[funny sidenote – the artifical Island everything is located on is called -yume no shima– (island of dreams) but it is basically 100% built on GARBAGE —- Japanese people know how to sell stuff, or where would you rent your apartment? on the island of garbage or dreams?]
In case you have read my quite long post about Odaiba, you are aware this name goes hand in hand with Gundam fans [me and my husband included]
2017 has been a promotional year for Unicorn Gundam RX-0 (→ based on a novel from 2006 and thus not to confuse with that weird unicorn-hype most of you might associate the word with)
If you are a little into Gundam you know unicorn is bigger, better and more flashy than its standard model most of us know as RX 78-2. So the life-sized previous 18m are now a whooping 20m in height, with attack-mode transformation.
No matter if you are a fan or not, you definitely should come and visit. Odaiba itself remains one of the upcoming places to date and spend a whole day with friends, your lover or family. No matter if it’s rainy or not, you definitely wont regret coming here.