Sunday, 31 January 2016

Nijo Castle, Kyoto


Nijojo, Nijo Castle, KyotoI had a free Sunday in December, so I decided to go to Kyoto on my own.
Sometimes, it's just nice to go to places by yourself so you can wander around, not worry about time, and get lost a little. 
I love Kyoto's streets, even the side-streets. Ordinary residential streets in Japan are still so interesting, ahaha. I love that even in super 'touristy' places like Kyoto, you can walk to the next street and be in a really residential area. 

Anyway, the first place I went to was Nijo Castle. Nijo is pretty easy to walk to from Karasuma Station, but you can also get one of the many tourist buses that run around Kyoto. You can go anywhere in the city for 230 yen, but the buses are usually full of people. 
Nijo castle's architecture was awesome and the garden was so pretty and peaceful. I went around lunchtime and it wasn't as crazy full of tourists as some of the other places in Kyoto.  The inside was lovely too, with really gorgeous paintings on the wall. Photography wasn't allowed though. Inside the castle also smelt really great, kind of like a library. You'll just have to trust me ok? 









Some of the trees were wrapped up against the cold, and apparently this was one of the 'beautiful views of Nijo'. I've never seen trees being wrapped up before, so I thought that was pretty interesting.

It was prime Momiji (maple leaves) season, so the trees were looking great. The Gingko trees (the yellow ones) were really pretty too. 







I'd definitely recommend Nijo, guys.
After Nijo. I went on to Kinkakuji and then Ryoanji, so I'll be blogging about them soon.
Thanks for reading! 
-Amy xoxo
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Monday, 25 January 2016

Kobe Illuminarie and Kobe trip

Went to Kobe to see the illuminations with my friends, and checked out Kobe too. It's a nice city, although it will never kick Osaka off the top spot (I might be a little biased though). 
Getting to Kobe from Osaka isn't too bad, and actually my friends in Kobe Gakuin University can get to Osaka quicker than I can, because my campus is in the suburbs. 
Anyway, I had a great day, and I definitely want to go back.

One of the things that Kobe is famous for is its Chinatown, "Nankin Machi". It was really lively and really big, definitely check it out if you're in Kobe.

I bought this Nikuman from one of the many food stands lining the road, it was cheap and really tasty. Also the lady I bought it from was really sweet.

Kobe tower and the harbour area was really pretty, especially as it was such nice weather that day.




After we checked out the harbour area, we went shopping. There was a shopping centre (I forgot the name, sorry) with a huge Kiddyland and also a huge anpanman area with anpanman themed shops.
This was back in December, and I was digging the adorable English decorations.
I wanted to go on the ferris wheel, but we didn't have much time left because we wanted to get to the illumination at the start time.



We walked back to where the illumination queue was. And we waited for around one to one and a half hours. I'm so glad my friends were there to keep me company. The Illuminarie was so cool, but bear in mind that it was only on for two weekends or so, so it was crazy busy. The Japanese crowd control was really impressive though! There was seriously so many people there, and there was an elaborate rope system that had us queuing round the city. Anyway, here's what it looked like, it was pretty impressive!


That's it for Kobe for now, but I definitely want to go back. It's pretty close, so I just need to have an excuse to go. Maybe post-exam celebrations? (My Osaka University examinations start soon, wish me luck!) Do you guys have exams? Maybe you've finished them already?
Thanks for reading!
-Amy xoxo
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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Umeda Hep Five and Super SPINNS

Back in November, SPINNS (one of my favourite Japanese clothes stores) opened a new "super SPINNS" in the Hep 5 building in Umeda. Fun fact, there was actually already a spinns there. so now there are two. 
Anyway, my friends and I decided to go check out what was so "super" about it.
The Umeda sky building was looking attractive that day, so I took a picture:

For those of you that don't know, Hep Five is the building in Umeda which literally has a ferris wheel built into the top of it. I think it's quite possibly the coolest thing ever. 


To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure what makes it "super. It's big, sure, but the store in Amemura is probably around the same size. Still, it's a big SPINNS and SPINNS is great, so I'd recommend going.



The changing rooms were all different patterns, and mine was "Where's Wally" themed. I tried on this cute purple skirt, but it felt like pastel overload with the hair to be honest.


Even if you're not gonna go for SPINNS, you should go check out the inside of the building, I feel like they've tried really hard to make it "fun" and weird. I mean, it's already pretty awesome with that ferris wheel. I wanted to go on it with Marcus, but my friend told me that there's a urban legend that all couples who ride on it break up, and I don't want to risk it. (I'm joking, we actually just couldn't be bothered to wait the busy new year period queue).




There are also giant whale sculptures hanging in the centre of the building. 

 My friends and I had parfait/ coffee and studied there for a bit.

And it's hard to go into SPINNS and leave empty handed, so I bought:

A cute 101 Dalmatians sweater! I loved 101 dalmatians when I was a kid, and still do now, so I couldn't resist. I guess you'll see it worn in an outfit post sometime.

 That's it for now, thanks for reading.
-Amy xoxo



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Saturday, 23 January 2016

4 months in Japan: updated bucket list

Time flies like an arrow...  actually, more like a shinkansen. (High five for the super obvious Japan related metaphor).
So I've been here 4 months. and since I'm super behind with blogging, I can't do a link round up of last month because none of those posts have been written yet... whoops. 
So I thought I'd look to the future instead with an updated bucket list:
Basically, the more I am here, the more places I want to go to and I know I'll never have time for it all. Got to try and fit as much in as possible though!

Tokyo area
  • Harajuku and Shibuya
  • Yoyogi Koen
  • Akihabara
  • Ikebukuro 
  • Shinjuku and Golden Gai
  • Meiji jingu
  • Asakusa and Sensouji
  • Edo museum
  • Odaiba
  • Disney land
  • Shibuya 109/ Harajuku laforet
  • At least one indie live
  • Imperial palace and Ueno Koen
  • any Maid Cafe
  • Nikko 
  • Kamakura
  • Yokohama
  • Fuji lakes and FujiQ highlands
  • Hakone
  • Kawaii Monster Cafe
  • Ginza 
  • Omotesando
  • Tokyo Tower

Nara
  • Todaiji and Horyuji
  • Uda-shi
  • Asuka 
  • See a Kofun
  • Kasuga Taisha

Kyoto
  • Fushimi Inari jinja
  • Kinkakuji
  • Ginkakuji 
  • Ryoanji
  • Pontocho and Gion again
  • Kiyomizudera again 
  • Old Imperial palace
  • Arashiyama
  • Enryakuji
  • rent a kimono for the day
  • Amanehashidate
  • Toujiin
  • Kitano Tenmangu
  • Tofukuji
  • Kifune Jinja

Osaka area
  • go to some gigs!
  • Top of abeno harukas
  • Osaka castle and the park near it
  • Hep 5 Ferris wheel
  • Nippombashi/Den den town again
  • I also want to get off on random stops on the Subway and just explore
  • Minoh Waterfall during Kouyou (when the autumn leaves change colou




    Everywhere else~
    • Nagoya 
    • Mount yasugatake 
    • Kobe
    • Himeji castle
    • Hikone
    • Ise
    • Shikoku temples and countryside
    • Shimanami Kaidō cycling route
    • Seto Ohashi
    • Matsushima bay, Sendai and Tohoku
    • Kurobe gorge
    • Lake Biwa
    • Hokkaido- Kamui Misaki
    • Kyushu
    • Hiroshima and Itsukushima
    • Wakayama castle
    • Koya San
    • Uji
    • Takarazuka revue
    • see kabuki
    Phew, what a list. that's the only problem with being an exchange student... there are so many better things to do than study! 
    Jokes aside, my exams are coming up next month. and I need to buckle down, study and start being efficient again. Wish me luck! I hope y'all are doing well in any studies/ endeavours at the moment :)
    -Amy xoxo
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