Tag Archives: food

Tokyo Times Part Three: Japanese Street-Style!

Sorry for the gap between this post and the last… I’ve been unexpectedly crazy busy at uni. Most of the other exchange students seem to be doing ok with the work load (aside from a couple of poor souls), but I somehow ended up with seven assignments (most of which I’ve still yet to start), and had a couple of weeks of panic after returning from Tokyo.
I’m still not quiiiiite on top of things, but I’ve set aside some time to myself tonight, after slaving away for the past two days on a movie report. I finally finished it this evening, so in celebration I baked a cake and will spend the next couple of hours going through photos and planning for my trip to the beach at Omimaiko tomorrow! The perfect chance to relax after a long and busy week!

Anyways, back to the real topic of this post!
I’m up to the third and final edition of my Tokyo-trilogy from my trip there last month. So far I’ve covered the Tokyo Sky Tree and Moomin Cafe, as well as the Mori Art Museum and Hatsune Miku pop-up cafe. Now we’re up to the reeeaally fun bit…

Shopping.

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No trip to Tokyo is complete without it. Filled with massive department stores, side streets and crazy fashion, this place is a must-see for any retail-enthusiast.

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The famous Shibuya Crossing

Being massively into Japanese fashion myself, I naturally spent most of the trip in Shibuya, Shinjuku and Harajuku with my new English friends (who all conveniently had similar interests). We busted our wallets with piles of clothes from Closet Child and accessories from Paris Kids and Swimmer. We roamed around the basement floors of Laforet in search of frills, got some amazing tattoo stockings from Avant Garde, tried on and bought shoes in Tokyo Bopper (except for me and my slightly-above-average-but-giant-here feet), then got photographed for the blog, and again later in Shibuya 109 for the Glavil blog, among countless other exciting things.

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Emma and Rebecca as they posed for the Tokyo Bopper blog

Probably the most fantastic thing about the whole experience was meeting and running into a bunch of famous and semi-famous Tokyo personalities! Here are some photos of the trip.

_DSC011740 _DSC011639Met the lovely Yuka from 6% Doki Doki! This brand is a long-time favourite of mine, so it was super-nice to see one of the lovely faces behind the brand in person. I love how the shop assistants here often double as models for the brands they work for.

_DSC021268Went to starbucks where the lovely young lady working there complimented my outfit and secretly wrote this on my cup. Best start to a day in Shibuya. ❤

AND SO MUCH GRIMOIRE!!_DSC021770_DSC021971 _DSC022273 _DSC022575 _DSC022976 _DSC023477 _DSC024482 _DSC024080 _DSC023979 _DSC024181 _DSC024683 _DSC024784 _DSC024986 _DSC025087 _DSC025188_DSC022474Once again, I couldn’t resist the selfie…

Next up we went over to the Parco buildings in Shibuya, and guess who we ran into!

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JUNNYAN!!!
This guy is one of the founders of the Harajuku fashion walks, and started up the Pop-N-Cute events in Harajuku. He also gets street-snapped a lot, often appearing in Fruits Magazine and on the Tokyo Fashion website. His style is always so colourful! (So proud of myself for mustering the courage to ask for a photo. Eeee! Thank you Junnyan!)

Outside Parco they were actually holding some kind of fashion competition, (which might explain why there were so many fashion-personalities around) where you could go and be photographed, then have image uploaded to google plus for all to see. The image with the most likes by the end of the competition wins something (can’t remember what). Anyways, we were just keen to get a free photo, so Emma and I gave it a go!

935657_10151439320243321_1815662078_n 970675_10151439320098321_2073418169_nIt was a great day!

As we walked away from the area, we also saw designer Kumamiki wearing this adorable yukata she made! We didn’t realise it was her at the time as we were at a distance, but after seeing her uploaded on the Tokyo Fashion website I recognised her! An adorable documentary was made about her that I remember watching and adoring early last year or the year before. Look it up on youtube. She’s just the sweetest darn thing!

We finished the trip off with a visit to the Omotesando Q-pot flagship store and cafe. Holy moly was the shop amazing! And I’m pretty sure I was nearly in tears at the cafe (massive Q-pot fan here). Will definitely be going back there with my sister next month.

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Although I must admit that the shop felt a bit more like a pop-up than a proper cafe, it still had a lot of charm, and so many adorable decorations! The food was pretty darn good too (at least as far as Japanese cakes though). The macarons were just about perfect, both visually and in flavour, and it was my first taste of real chocolate since coming here. The icecream, although having a delicious burnt-caramel flavour, was not at all as creamy or as rich as icecream should be. But unfortunately this is the reality of dairy products here, as their milk is kinda like water… But it was still lovely! Next time I’ll definitely be going for one of those cheese-shaped cheesecakes. GENIUS!!!

Anyways it’s very late so I must be off! Hope you enjoyed this update! I hope to do more soon.

 

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Tokyo Times Part Two: Love at The Mori Art Gallery

Next up on my Tokyo Adventure was The Mori Art Museum in Roppongi!

The museum is having their 10th anniversary this year, and are currently holding a special show as part of the celebration.

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We were all pretty darn excited about it! And honestly I think it was one of the best art exhibits I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. There were works by Yayoi Kusama, Jeff Koons, Giorgio de Chirico, Araki Nobuyoshi, and countless other well-known names, as well as some lesser known ones (who had equally as compelling works). The theme of ‘love’ may seem simple at first, but really it’s incredibly complex, as there are so many stages and sides to love, and everyone experiences it differently. There’s the love of a spouse, of a friend, of family, of an object or an activity. Really you could put just about anything in this show and it could somehow be justified! But the way they curated it was incredible! It was like each time you entered a new room you would walk into someone else’s love story, and were encouraged to join in with their experience. Some parts were beautiful, others sad, and some utterly hilarious. By the end my emotions were so conflicted I didn’t know how to feel, and I walked out in a kind of bewildered daze.
Now that to me is the sign of a good art show! (I even bought the catalogue as a memento)

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One of the most memorable works for me (among many!) was a work by Sophie Calle from 2007, titled Take Care of Yourself. (Sorry, no images as it really has to be witnessed in person) In this instance the work had a whole room dedicated to it, in which text, photographs, and videos were scattered across the walls at different sizes and heights, encouraging the viewer to take in the entire space. When you first walk into this room, you’re supposed to pick up a sheet from a stack of paper to the right of the entrance, and read it. It is a breakup letter. You soon learn that each image, video and piece of writing displayed in the room is culmination of the reactions of different women to this same letter. Sophie Calle, upon receiving this letter from a previous lover, did not know how to interpret or process it, and so sent it to hundreds of women around the world, asking them to do it for her.
It is such a simple idea, but so incredibly interesting to view. Some people responded with anger and others with humour – some with sadness and others with laughter. Then hearing the reactions of people around you while they read the letter themselves adds further to the atmosphere and complexity of the work. Brilliant stuff! If you’re in Tokyo between now and September 1st you should definitely check it out!

Lucky for us, there were even areas where you could take photographs!

YAYOI KUSAMA TIME!!!

_DSC012643_DSC013947_DSC013045_DSC013646I’m sorry guys, I just had to do a selfie and a group shot! I couldn’t resist the mirrors! SO MANY MIRRORS!! From left to right is Casey (me), Rebecca, Emma, Wing, and Reina.

Actually Emma (who has a pretty sweet little blog here) managed to get two free tickets to this exhibit because her sculpture sensei had a work in the show! None of us could believe it! Her name is Nishiyama Minako, and her installation work is in the second room of the exhibit.
Here’s a picture of it:

 

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(Image from here)

Titled The PINKU House, the work is a kind of life-size fold-out doll-house, made of plastic material (similar to that of a children’s jumping castle). Although the work is very kawaii (cute), innocent and childlike at first glance, there is a slight sense of suggested eroticism in work. The bed is positioned in the centre of the scene, protruding out towards the viewer, almost as an invitation. The red hearts and roses are also common symbols of romance and sex, and of course the artificial nature of the plastic fabric gives the sense of a cheap hotel room, or more specifically a Japanese love hotel, where people rent a room for a few hours to fulfil their sexual desires until their time is up, at which point the room is cleaned and prepared for the next couple.
When I saw this work it was installed in a black room with lights that made the house appear as if it was glowing slightly. This gave it an eerie quality, and amplified the slightly disturbing nature of the work. It was very successful I think!
Hopefully Emma will introduce me to her sometime soon. I very much enjoyed this work! The image above simply doesn’t do it justice.

Anyways, I’d best move on.
Here are some more photographs of the show (from the rooms we were allowed to photograph in)

Tsumura Kosuke: Final Home and Final Home: See Through

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One of the really interesting things about this show is that it not only included beautiful artworks, but also included photographs, films, and characters seen in Japanese pop-culture, raising them to the status of the other artworks in the show. I absolutely loved this! So often people turn their noses up at manga drawings, fashion photographs, or clothing designs and co-ordinates, dismissing them as worthless repetitive commercial items, but this so often is not the case. So much creativity, imagination and skill goes in to making a good manga or an amazing outfit, and I for one believe it should be given the greater respect it deserves. And this show did it for me. Right next to Yayoi Kusama’s work was a wall of Japanese street-snap photos from Fruits Magazine, and at the end was a room playing a video of a Hatsune Miku concert, with dozens of small screens scattered in front of you with different Hatsune illustrations. This was the point where I nearly cried. It was unlike any show I’d ever seen before, and I am so happy I get to go again with my sister in July.

After the show, we went to the observatory to check out the view of Tokyo!

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_DSC017557Emma and Reina lookin’ lovely on the 52nd floor!

By this time we were all STARVING as none of us had had breakfast! So lucky for us there was a Hatsune Miku themed cafe/restaurant set up just for the exhibition! AWESOME!!!

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_DSC019563 _DSC019964_DSC020566_DSC020065_DSC018860 _DSC019362There was also this wall in the cafe covered in stickers! Most people wrote love messages or drew their own little Hatsune’s. We were given some stickers too! But by the time we finished eating we’d forgotten all about it. Oops.
Anyways, for those of you wanting a review, in short the food here wasn’t special. It was kinda like the usual packet curry you get at a cheap restaurant, only decorated cutely. But like the moomin cafe the drinks were delicious! I got some-kind of lemon-lime cocktail with the zest cut out in the shape of stars. Very cute.

After this we went on to Shinjuku for some shoooopping!! Next up with be my final Tokyo post, and boy is it gonna be a big one! For those interested in Japanese street fashion, definitely stay tuned!

Tokyo Times Part One: Tokyo Sky Tree and The Moomin Cafe

I know I’m skipping ahead with this post, but I just spent the most amazing 5 days and 4 nights in Tokyo over the weekend and I simply must post about it before my memory fades! It was like living in the dreams of my 14-year-old-self – shopping in Harajuku, meeting famous faces, getting street snapped, going to themed cafes, and seeing one of the most incredible art exhibitions I’ve ever had the privileged of witnessing.
In fact, it was such an intense few days I think I may have to split it into three posts… (sorry!)

So here’s the first one!

First of all I guess I should talk about how we got there.

Now most foreigner traveling to Japan with the intent of moving around the country normally get a JR pass for a set amount of time (usually sold in increments of 1 or 2 weeks). Depending on how often and how far you want to travel, the JR pass can save you a lot of money! But unfortunately for Emma and I, a JR pass was not an option, as they are only offered to short-stay tourists, not exchange students like us. So we had to pay the full amount for the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo. Luckily we got a small discount from our university, but it still came to over $100 AUD. A little steep for me… Emma’s friend Wing, who had been staying in our dorms for a week, was the lucky one with a JR pass. Jealous!

_DSC000517 _DSC000316Here’s Emma and Wing on the Shinkansen! We took the Hikari, which took about 2 hours and 40 minutes to get to Tokyo from Kyoto. The Nozomi line is faster, taking only about 2 hours, but because the JR pass isn’t valid on the Nozomi trains, we decided to take the longer trip to save Wing some money. (More for shopping with! Yay!)

The train was very pleasant. Clean, bright and very spacious! I sat next to a lovely Japanese man who spoke to me through most of the trip, telling me about his family, his trips abroad, his work, and a few interesting facts about Japanese culture. I had some nicely wrapped homemade brownies in my bag at the time, so I gave him one when I got off the train, and he gave me his business card (which I can’t read. Little bit of a fail, but sweet none-the-less).

581859_10151434309648321_1650448593_nMe with ma ticket!!

After the train we met up with two of Emma’s friends, Reina and Rebecca, and the five of us went for lunch. Rebecca had to leave at 1pm, but the rest of us ventured on to our hostels for the evening! Both were located in Asakusa. Emma, Reina and Wing stayed in Khaosan Annex, and I stayed in Asakusa Smile (as there were no rooms left at their place). I don’t know about their place, but the building I stayed in was quite nice and clean, with a nice little kitchen and very bright, clean rooms. I was staying in a 4-bed female-only room, and the young ladies who stayed with me were lovely! One was from Germany, one from Japan, and the other I believe was from China (but I’m not sure). There was wifi included,  toilets on every floor, and they gave you a free drink ticket to use at their bar! Also the staff actually lived there as well, so if you needed help they were always there. And it was only 25 AUD a night!! The only downside was that there appeared to be only one shower for the whole hostel (which holds about 20 people I think), and they forgot to leave fresh sheets for two of the beds in my room. Also they had no locker facilities, so I had to leave my small suitcase in the room and carry all my valuables with me in case of theft. Luckily the girls in my room were lovely and I trusted them enough not to worry too much.

Here are the websites for the hostels we stayed at if anyone is interested.

http://asakusasmile.com/index.php

http://www.khaosan-tokyo.com/en/annex/

If you ask me, they were both a little far away for my liking, as all the things we wanted to see were in Shibuya, Shinjuku and Harajuku, which are on the other side of Tokyo and took about an hour to get to. The cost of the trains as well made it not really worth it, so I would recommend figuring out where you want to spend most of your time, and find a hostel near there, even if it means paying a little extra per night. It will save you a bunch of time! Tokyo is huge!

Anyways, enough about the hostel!
Once we settled in, we went to the Tokyo Sky Tree. There seemed to be an anniversary of some-kind so there were a bunch of special promotional items being advertised and sold.

We also found a poster of this crazy guy, who Emma felt the need to imitate in a rather… disturbing manner.

_DSC002018Oh Emma…

But our real reason for going to the Sky Tree was to check out the Moomin Cafe!!

_DSC002819Wing manages the Moomin shop in London, so she was having the time of her life in there! Photographing everything and looking at all the goodies in the gift shop. It was super-adorable so we all decided to sit down for coffee and sweets.

Look who came to join us!

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From left to right is Emma, Reina, Me (Casey), Wing, and MOOMIN!_DSC004021Little My decided to join us too!

_DSC004122Our waitress was super-lovely and kept bringing over more toys for us to play with.

_DSC004824 _DSC005025 _DSC005927 _DSC005426The foooooood!!

Now everything in this place looked absolutely amazing and adorable! But in all honesty the food wasn’t the best… It looked great but the pancakes were cold and dry, like they’d been sitting there all day, and there was barely enough syrup to cover one pancake! The fruit was sweet and delicious though (like all Japanese fruit), and the berry-flavoured coffee I had was probably one of the best coffees I’ve had in Japan so far. It was actually creamy! And not filled with that sickly sugar syrup stuff they put in everything here! I was very pleased. Also, the little baked-custards came with a complimentary mug! Just like the ones above. Each design varied slightly, with differences in the shape of the handles and the images printed on them. So lovely!

After eating we mucked around a bit with the toys and hats.

_DSC004323 _DSC006128 _DSC006229 _DSC006530On our way out, Wing mentioned to the staff that she was the manager of the London Moomin Shop, and they all got really excited and decided they wanted a photo with her! Then they gave us all a limited edition 1st-year anniversary badge each! It was so lovely!

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After that little bit of excitement we roamed around the mall attached to Sky Tree for a while. We found a Q-pot stall, the Jump store, Rilakuma shop, and many other nice little places.

_DSC007734  _DSC007031Q-pot even had gacha pon machines!! You put in 500 yen and got a special pin. You could choose to try for a special ‘Sky Tree themed’ one above, or go for the normal one below. I went for the normal one, and got a yellow heart badge with Q-pot written inside. I love it!!

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Then the Rilakkuma store and Jump shop!_DSC0088113_DSC008035By the time we finished at the mall we were absolutely exhausted… so we went got some food from the local seven eleven and went back to our hostels for the night.
But I did get a nice night-time shot of the Sky Tree before heading back to my temporary home!

_DSC009636So there you have it folks! Day one in tokyo!
It only gets more exciting from here. Next up, the Mori art Museum and observatory, the and Hatsune Miku popup cafe!

Toji Market Day

Almost a month ago now a couple of friends and I went to the Toji Temple Markets. This flee market is held only once a month, on the Toji Temple grounds in Kyoto, on the 21st of each month. Lucky for us, this time it fell on a Sunday, so we didn’t have any university commitments to attend to! やった!

So I bundled up my trusty film camera, dropped a couple of colour rolls into my bag, and off we went!

toji009editUnfortunately it was a bit of an overcast day, and at times it did rain a little, so some of the images are a little grim-looking. But this may have been a good thing, as it kept some of the crowds away! (Also, please ignore the dust on the photos. They were just quick scans)

If you are ever in Kyoto at this time of the month, and would like to visit the markets, I would definitely suggest coming early in the morning! Especially if the market is on a weekend. We got there around 9 or 10am, and by the time we left around 1pm, the crowds were so dense we could barely move, and the atmosphere in general became far less pleasant. (Geez some of these Japanese grandmothers are fierce!)

Anyways, here are some of the lovely foods and goodies we found there.

toji006editDried Strawberries (I got some crystallised ginger from one of these shops. So good!)

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Hand-printed bags (I really wish I’d bought one!)

toji010editClay Animal flower-stands

toji016edit Fat Cat Hangerstoji019edit An array of Japanese antiques, statues and ceramics! Beautiful!toji023edit Traditional Maskstoji030editBeautiful fabrics toji013editAnd of course delicious-looking food! toji035edit toji037editThis place was my favourite. The line was quite long, but they looked so darn good I just had to have one! And they were only 100 yen each!!
Sandwiched between the two pancakes was sweet red bean paste with a small piece of chestnut. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I absolutely love Japanese sweets! So this was a definite highlight for me. A Japanese man even walked past us and tried to explain that these are “very rare” (said in Japanese). I’m assuming this little shop must be quite famous among the locals, as it was the only place with a line!

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There was also a small area at one of the wooden temples where we could pray. People were throwing coins into a wooden box before praying, then before they descended the steps, many people would try to rub the smoke from these incense sticks into their hair, clothes and skin. It was very peculiar to watch. When I asked my Japanese friend why they were doing this, she said “it is good for your head”. She then proceeded to waft the smoke over her, telling me it would be good for her studies. It seemed a little strange, but wanting to experience as much of the culture as possible, I gave it a go too! (Actually it smelt quite nice)

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After battling the crowds for a few hours we finally came to the end of the market. A lot of it was just food and Japanese candies, but if you look hard enough you can find some real gems at these markets! There are heaps of second-hand yukatas and kimonos for only 1000 yen (about $10 AUD), which would be great for anyone looking for gifts, or even for crafters looking for cheap good-quality fabric. I definitely recommend it!

Oh Osaka…

A little over a week ago my friend Emma and I decided to take a day trip to the big city of Osaka.
Lucky for us, Kyoto is actually very close to Osaka. It’s only 15 minutes away by shinkansen (bullet train), and about an hour away by standard train.

Being the poor university students we are… the standard train was the way to go. It only costs 390 yen to catch the Hankyu line train from Karasuma Shijo station to Osaka Umeda, and if you manage to get on one of the express trains it only takes 40-50 minutes! However, if you get one of the ‘local’ trains or even the ‘semi-express’ it can take from 1 and a half – 2 hours…
I made this mistake once.
Never again.

Here are some shots of Emma and I on the train:
(We bought snacks!)

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Once we made it to Umeda things got a little more tricky… The station is SO much larger than Kyoto station, so we ended up having to ask a lovely young lady for directions. The people are so helpful here. She even drew a little map to our destination!
So off we went again…

Here are some quick shots from inside the station building:

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(I don’t understand what these posters are advertising… All I know is I needed a photo)

And now a classic one of the station:Osakapt.1_20130426_002731

After exploring around Umeda station area for a bit, we caught the subway to Shinsaibashi with the intention of emptying our wallets and filling or bags with frilly goods from the various Japanese fashion shops in the area.

The first store we went into ended up costing me over 20,000 yen…

Mission accomplished.

The name of the store was Atelier Pierrot. I didn’t get any shots of the place, as most of these stores have a strictly no photography policy. But I did take a photo of the skirt I bought! It’s a Juliette et Justine item, one of my all time favourite Japanese brands! This is the first thing I’ve ever bought from them, so it’s quite special to me. (And the fabric is amazing)

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Next up was Innocent World. Once again, no photos allowed. But they had a special blouse sale on, so I bought one to match the skirt.
(I apologize for these terrible photographs by the way)

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Before we embarked on our journey to these magical and whimsical shops, we needed to refuel. Walking down a random side-street we found what we thought was a hole-in-the-wall kind of sushi place. It looked cheap and inviting enough, so we went in.
Much to our surprise the restaurant was actually 4 or 5 floors high, with a different kind of dining area on each level. And it was incredibly cheap for the amount of food you get! We both got sushi sets that came with a side of udon soup and some dumplings, and there was free unlimited iced tea! The fatty tuna was sooooo goood! Now I’m not allowed to eat anymore engangered animals while I’m here or else I am definitely going to hell. I’m sorry fishies!

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We also drank some beer in a seedy little bar where you had to purchase food and drink tickets from a vending machine. The only reason we went there was so Emma could use the bathroom, but they said customers only… so we were like “hey why not?” Beer in frilly dresses. The best way to drink!

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Then it was back to more and more shopping! We came across a couple of funny store names, some dogs in tutus, and followed some fashionable looking girls to Bodyline (of all places!), then made our way up some seriously shady looking elevators to even dodgier looking corridors. At one point we found a second-hand lolita shop in a really seedy looking building, and it was positioned right next to a creepy-looking tarot reading place and a shop that seemed to specialize in all things marijuana-oriented…

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After a very eventful day we finished off in true lolita-style – with tea and cakes.
Delicious!!

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Well it was definitely one of my best days in Japan so far. Ate a lot, spent a lot, met a lot of people and just in general had a great time.
Will definitely be going back sometime soon.

Goodnight Osaka… until next time.

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Food Adventures!

Since arriving in Japan I’ve been eating out a lot! Every new friend I make seems to result in another lunch date or dinner date. Some of the girls in my printmaking class have even been making food for me, which has been absolutely lovely!

Most of these foods, however, I’ve already experienced to some degree in Australia, such as sushi, katsu curry, udon, etc… The basics of everyday Japanese cooking. But there are also the slightly stranger foods…

Here’s the beginning of my Japanese food Adventures:

1. Deep fried Chicken Gristle

Yep. You heard right. Gristle.
I had this out one night with a bunch of the other exchange students and 3 Japanese people from our school. They took us to this really cool bar just off Shijo-dori where the walls were covered in posters and drawings, and you had to take your shoes off to sit down (a fairly common occurrence in Japan). As the menu was entirely in Japanese, we let the 2 Japanese guys order for us. The first thing that comes out is some simple tofu with spring onion on top. Fresh and delicious – a nice start to the meal. Next came out this delicious looking plate of battered deep-fried morsels – looking somewhat like KFC’s popcorn chicken. I was correct in assuming it was chicken… but not a part I would’ve expected… When we asked the guys what it was they didn’t know the correct word, so they just kept saying “joints”, which made us first assume it was bone marrow of some kind. Then we ate it… It was very crunchy, but still with a slightly gummy texture (which made it very difficult to break down), and we very soon realized it was not marrow, but the actual joints at the end of the chicken bones – the slightly transparent white bit everyone throws away. In all honesty it wasn’t that bad. The flavor of the batter was great, but the gristle didn’t taste like much, and the texture was not exactly pleasant.
My rating: 4/10

Here’s the bar.
(I apologize for this terrible photograph. Didn’t have my good camera on me)

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2. Uni (Sea Urchin Roe) sushi

Everyone I’ve talked to who has tried sea urchin has only ever had negative things to say about it, so when this was ordered for us at a sushi place and I finally realized what it was, I’ll admit even the iron-stomached Casey was a little apprehensive… And I began to suspect our two new Japanese friends were playing a bit of a practical joke on us. But having never been the kind of person to turn down a meal, Nea and I looked at each other… counted down from 3… and took a bite.
At first it seemed a little slimy – kind of like melted butter – and as I chewed I kept waiting for a hit of some strong flavor to invade my taste buds. But it never happened. Sea Urchin really does have a very subtle flavor, and is not fishy at all like I was expecting. Really I think it’s more of the texture that people here enjoy, the buttery creaminess of it, and of course the rarity of it. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you are going to eat it I suggest making sure it’s as fresh as possible. From what I hear this is supposed to be incredibly important. The sushi place we went to was particularly good in my experience as well, so I’m assuming the uni I had was above average in quality.
My Rating: 7/10

Here’s a photo of our new friends at the sushi place. I wonder what they’re gonna make us eat next…
(Once again I apologize for the dodgy photo)

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3. Yuzu Marmalade

This one has been on my bucket list for sometime now, and I’m very happy to say I can officially cross it off. For those of you who don’t know, Yuzu is a citrus fruit grown mainly in Eastern Asia, that tastes somewhat like a mixture of lemon, grapefruit and mandarin. It is practically impossible to find in Australia, as it doesn’t keep very well during travel, and as of yet there are only a couple of small growers in Australia that I can find. Pretty much if you want it in Aus you have to grow it yourself, or buy the tiny bottles of juice for exorbitant amounts of money.
How I came across this was last week we had a welcome party in my class for new students (me and two other students), so our classmates brought heaps of treats for us! My good friend Ririko made an amazing sweet-potato cheesecake (which I wish I got a photo of), and another girl made what they call “Dry Curry” – like a fried rice but with little bits of meat and curry absorbed into it. It was all very delicious! But sitting there quietly in a little jar was homemade yuzu marmalade, made by the mother of Atsuko, another friend from my class.
Now yuzu is quite bitter and sour, so instead of just eating it on its own, Atsuko suggested putting some chocolate spread (also made by her mum) on a biscuit, then placing a small amount of yuzu on top.
All I can say is it was a fantastic combination, and I was not the only one who thought so.
Atsuko was so happy to see how excited I was she gave me the rest of the jar! And the chocolate spread along with it! I wanted to cry I was so happy. Been snacking on it ever since. It is definitely my favourite food discovery so far. (Atsuko also told me how to make it into a drink. Will be trying that one next time)
My rating: 10/10

And now for a decent photo! FINALLY

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A very strange cafe and an even stranger restaurant…

Japan is known for it’s weird and whacky themed cafes and restaurants, so it was only natural that I go to at least a few during my stay here! I’ve only been here two weeks and already I’ve been to a Neko (cat) Cafe and the Ninja Kyoto restaurant. As these places tend to be tourist hot-spots, I assumed they would be severely overpriced and likely of bad quality… But I thought I’d give them a shot anyway…

And oh boy am I’m glad I did! The neko cafe was warm, clean and inviting – 800 yen to sit with the cats for one hour, and 200 yen per beverage (and apparently you can find even cheaper places than the one I went to!) The only real downside was that the cats weren’t particularly playful… and instead of stroking them or scratching them we were advised to hit them on the backside, and not softly… which was possibly a little too strange for some of us neko-cafe-newbies to handle. But on the plus side, I got some pretty adorable photos!

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Oh, and at the end of our stay they handed out little business cards to us that were PERSONALISED TO EACH OF THE CATS. That way if you had a favourite you could remember it for next time. Genious!

Here are a few pointers for visiting a neko cafe such as this:
1. Take off your shoes before entering. Normally they supply you with a locker to put your other possessions in so don’t worry – your goods are safe! Just don’t let one of the cats swallow the key…
2. Wash your hands at the supplied basin before entering, and then again after exiting.
3. Do not wake sleeping cats or pick up the cats! If they don’t want to be patted don’t force them too much. You just need to relax and enjoy their company.
4. Do not speak too loudly in the cafe! It will depend on where you go, but if it is a quiet room please try to maintain the peace. Many people come to these places to relax, so it’s nice to be as respectful as possible.
5. Feel free to take photos if the place allows it, but do not use flash. And be aware that chunky cameras can look rather intimidating to the cats, so don’t overdo it or they may avoid you.

Ok, that’s all for the neko cafe! Now onto the Ninja Restaurant!

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I had been to this place once before on a school trip to Kyoto a couple of years back, and I always had fond memories of it. Some friends and I at the time simply stumbled upon it one night, and we were lucky enough to get a table!
First thing to know is that there’s three dining options here. There’s the buffet to the left, the a la carte restaurant in the middle, and from what I could gather a shabu shabu dining area to the right (with black ninja crepes!!). The main attraction here I believe is the a la carte option, which we went with. The names were just too crazy to resist! And the staff were just too adorable in their ninja outfits!

Out the front of the restaurant:

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The food: (Seriously you’ve got to read the menu!)

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Us and the staff:

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Something that must be said about this place is how amazing the staff are. Sometimes their English isn’t the best, but they always apologize and try their hardest to give you an enjoyable experience. The lady in the image above even ran half way down the street after we left the store just to show us this scroll. I just wanted to give her a hug it was so adorable! And actually the food was very affordable considering how much service you get, and it was darn tasty too! I’m not sure how I feel about mayonnaise on pizza though… but it was certainly an interesting experience and definitely one you should try for yourself! I think all up we got an alcoholic beverage each, shared an entree, had a main each and then a dessert each and it only cost 3500 yen each. (In Australia you pay that kind of price for a main and a drink!) Although we didn’t do it this time, I would recommend doing a course menu, in which you get a sample of many of the dishes on offer (minimum 2 ppl). It seems to be very good value for money, especially if you’re catering for a group. (This place would be amazing for birthday parties! Lots of privacy with you own booths too.)
I will definitely be going back before my exchange is over.