Can you believe that the first get-together in the dorm early last year was the Farewell Party? Lol. People usually leave the dorm starting in February until the end of March.
One of the highlights during summer is the ‘hanabi’ or the fireworks display. There were two sets of fireworks display but I wasn’t able to go to any of them. The fireworks could be seen from my room, though. The fireworks display was a long one. I got tired of watching from my room eventually. I guess I wasn’t really that excited about fireworks because in the Philippines there are always fireworks.
I somehow pitied myself for not going during the Fireworks festival so I decided to attend the Tejikara Fire Festival on the following weekend.
A friend invited me to attend a festival in Ogaki. Her sensei drove us from the university. Here are some of the street food usually being sold in Japan.
This is called kakigōri which is crushed ice with syrup. It’s usually sold during the summer.
I also had the chance to play the Taiko drum.
And dance in the street. It was really fun. I wish I had the chance to wear the yukata during that time.
I always make it a point to visit schools as much as I can. This is a ‘yochien’ or a kindergarten school in Japan. Japanese kids are just so cute.
I also attended a Kabuki workshop. EVen though the character is a woman, the person behind the mask is still a male.
Here’s to my first ever cooking class experience. I was a bit nervous because I hardly cook at all. We made chirashizushi.
Sometime in September, I was able to observe sado or way of the tea. It is a way of preparing and drinking tea.
On that same day, I also saw how a Japanese Chouchin Paper Lantern was made.
By October, it was again the start of the second semester. I attended the welcome party and this bread with our university logo was supposed to be given only to the new students. But I managed to get one.
On November, I harvested persimmons. I brought home a bag of persimmons. They were delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to eat all of them. Some of them got rotten because I was just too busy.
There was a mini halloween party. I dressed up as Minnie Mouse. These are eyeball-shaped candies.
And this is a takoyaki maker.
November was the time for the university festival.
I got to wear a kimono for the second time.
I forgot what this is called but it’s usually done during the mochi festival. There was a contest and my friend got a prize for her work.
I was happy during this event because I met a geisha and a maiko.
I attended my second cooking activity. This time we made Japanese sweets. It tasted delicious. I only made that pink flower-like mochi.
My face lighted up with glee when i saw this collection of vintage television in the Toyota Automobile Museum. What’s even more amazing is that they are all in pretty good condition. And they work! Yes, I was able to watch cartoon.
This is the first part of my 2012 year-end review which is about the major places that I’ve went to in Japan. I’ve experienced joining a tour, traveling with a friend and traveling solo. I really can’t say which is the best way to travel. Lately, I’ve been traveling alone and I’m thankful I did because I’m becoming better in navigating stations and subways. I’ve also learned how to read a map :)
On March 2012, I joined a tour in Gujo, Hachiman. The place is so clean. I like Gujo, Hachiman. There was another tour in the summer and although I wanted to join, I decided not to because it was so freaking hot in Japan.
In the summer of July just a few days before my birthday, my friend accompanied me to my dream place Tokyo! I told myself I would never leave Japan without ever going to Tokyo. It was also my first experience to ride the shinkansen. We went to all the places that I listed. Actually, I had to downsize the number of places that we had to go to because our time was limited. But we mostly covered all the parts of Tokyo that I know of —- Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, and Akihabara.
This is the famous Shibuya Crossing. One of my simple dreams was to cross this street.
There are a number of gundam toys in this store in Akihabara. I really forgot to go to Odaiba where one can see the giant Gundam.
This is the beautifully-designed facade of Harajuku Station. I like its cute design. Just outside Harajuku Station are a number of stores for shopping. When I saw Forever 21, I excitedly went inside.
This is the Tokyo Sky Tree. It opened in 2012 and became the tallest tower in Japan knocking down the spot previously held by Tokyo Tower. My friend and I lined up for more than an hour just to go to the observation deck of this tower.
I was happy I finally got to see Disneyland. I only have a few pictures of myself in Disneyland because I went alone inside. Yes, I was alone! Actually my friend was with me but we couldn’t find an empty coin locker. We were on our way home so we had to bring our luggage. My bag was so heavy that it wouldn’t be fun if I carried it while exploring the place. And I didn’t think I would last. It was just way too heavy. So my friend volunteered to stay outside with my bag while I went inside Disneyland. It felt a bit weird to go inside Disneyland by myself but I did enjoy. I was able to rest and eat whenever I wanted. One day seems to be not enough to explore it. While I was trying to take a picture of myself with the castle in the background, a young father volunteered to take my picture. Such a good-hearted man!
I was very excited to see Tokyo Tower because of Matsujun’s movie with the same title. Tokyo Tower is beautiful. The illumination looks really great at night.
Overall, Tokyo didn’t really exceed my expectation. I was a bit disappointed with some of the places like for example Harajuku. I didn’t really get to see the young fashionable people in gothic fashion. I was also eager to go to Takeshita Dori to see the different boutiques but it really didn’t impress me much. I think the reason for this is that I’ve already stayed for more than nine months in Japan during that time that what I saw in Tokyo was nothing new from what I’ve seen in several places in Japan. Most of the things I’ve seen in Tokyo, I’ve already seen in Nagoya. And when in terms of fashion, the fashion that I’ve seen in Tokyo, I’ve already seen them mostly in Nagoya especially when I watch concerts. In my university, I can also see the same kind of fashion. So maybe what I was looking for in Tokyo were things that I’ve never seen, yet. It was only Shibuya that matched my expectation. The kind of scene and vibe in Shibuya were something that I haven’t experienced yet in other parts of Japan. Say you are a tourist and you can only go to one place, I would say Shibuya is the best place that represents Japan. In Tokyo, one of the best things to do was shopping. There was a really big Forever 21 store in Tokyo (I’m not really sure if it was in Harajuku or Shinjuku). I was lusting with all the jewelries and clothes. I could stay forever in that place. I remember telling myself during that time “This is every girl’s dream.”
In the very hot hot summer of Japan, we had our summer trip in Wakayama. This area is Koyasan. There are a lot of tombs in this place. Some famous and rich people were also buried in this place. I saw one of Yakult. I’m not really sure if the tomb was from the founder of Yakult. There was also a spaceship-designed tomb!
I finally saw the beach. I’ve been surrounded by mountains in Gifu that when I saw the sea I felt so free. But to be honest, the beaches in the Philippines are way better. I didn’t swim in the beach because it was already late when we got there. Instead, I got to experience onsen for the first time. There was an onsen place in our hotel. Taking a bath in the onsen actually makes bathing alone boring.
Just before the start of the second semester, I went to Meiji Mura Museum in Inuyama. The weather during that time was perfect for traveling. I went to Inuyama alone and I was able to see the historic buildings during the Meiji Era. I really love the place. I didn’t expect so much from it but it turned out to be beautiful with a lot of impressive architectures.
In this picture is the famous Imperial Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
My trip to Inuyama marked the onset of my solo travel. This one in Kawaguchiko in Yamanashi Prefecture was the farthest travel I’ve ever had in Japan as a solo traveler. Kawaguchiko occupies a special place in my heart.
This is the Korankei Gorge in Asuke, Aichi where more than a thousand of Japanese maple trees are planted making it one of the best places to see during autumn. Since I was already able to witness the beauty of the autumn leaves in the daylight, I decided to go to Korankei in the evening. It was such a beautiful sight!
When it comes to illumination, Nabana No Sato in Kuwana, Mie is a must-see. The light tunnel and the sakura tunnel look very magical. I saw the wonderful pictures of the illuminations in the internet and I told myself that I just had to go there. It was also my first time to go to Mie Prefecture and I did it in just a day. Phew!
During this winter vacation, I decided to go back again to Inuyama to see Little World Museum of Man. If you want to explore the world in just a day, this is the perfect place. I did it for one hour and a half with showers of rain and snow flurries. It was one foggy day.
Going to new places is really fun especially in Japan. I just feel so safe in traveling here. There are so many places that I’ve yet to see and my time is running out! Indeed, it seems a little bit worrying to go to a place where locals can’t really speak English, but if you’ve passed that fear you’ll realize Japan is a convenient place to travel.
Little World: GERMANY
Little World: FRANCE
Little World: ITALY
Gentry House of Bali in Indonesia
Toba- Batak House in Indonesia
Lanna-Thai House in Thailand
This is the mode of transportation in the Philippines.
Part 3 includes Germany, France and Italy.
なばなの里 Nabana no Sato, December 26
You are one lucky reader because I am going to take you on a tour around the world. For this post, let’s head on to Taiwan and Korea.
Farmhouse in Taiwan
Farmhouse in Korea
Landlord House in Korea
For the part 2 of this world tour, I’m going to give you a glimpse of the southeast asian countries.
I was thankful that I had this trip booked. It was a needed vacation to destress myself. November was one of my favorite months because I like autumn and I was able to see a number of concerts from my favorite bands. However, November was also the month when I had this terrifying headache that I felt like my head was going to explode or that I was going to die anytime soon. I suppose it was because of too much stress and time mismanagement on my part. In addition, the shift from Japanese to English and from English to Japanese can be really difficult.
So I packed up my bag and went on a solo trip to Kawaguchiko in Yamanashi Prefecture. From Meitetsu station, the bus trip took four hours. We had two stops on the way and as always the restrooms were first class in my opinion.
The first day in Kawaguchiko was a rainy day. I ate my lunch in Gasuto because I was familiar with the food that they serve. From the restaurant, I wanted to go back to Kawaguchiko Station to ride the tour bus going to Lake Saiko. I wanted to go some place where I hadn’t been during my last year’s visit in Kawaguchiko.
I had to go back and forth for three times on the same road side because I just couldn’t find the station. Later on I gave up. I was so tired of walking and the rain was pouring hard. So I asked a random not-so-old man for directions going to the station. Eventually, he just decided to take me there using his car. Lucky me!
These pictures were taken during the second day of my trip. It was a nice weather. I’ve already been to these places during my last year’s visit but I still enjoyed it as much as I did before.
My tripod was my best friend.
I had to walk on this bridge to get to the other side. It was a long walk but the view of Mt. Fuji from the bridge looks great, too.
This is my favorite store in Kawaguchiko. I didn’t have enough time to go inside so I just took a quick shot of the place. It’s the Kawaguchiko herbs and perfume house.
To take a short cut going back to the hostel, I had to pass by this cute place.
How to go to Kawaguchiko: Reserve a ticket in Meitetsu Bus. My Japanese friend booked my ticket on-line. You can also reserve a ticket on the third floor of the Meitetsu Bus Center. The bus going to Fujikawaguchiko is on Bus Stop number 8 of the 3rd floor.
Where I Stayed: I stayed in K’s Hostel. The K’s hostel in Mt. Fuji is my favorite because it’s spacious. I’ve also stayed in K’s hostel during my trips in Tokyo and Kyoto. You can reserve a room on-line. You can also call the staff on the phone if you want to be fetched from Kawaguchiko Station.
It’s the second day of snow today. I don’t really mind the cold as long as everything in sight is pristine white. I decided to go out because I want to walk in the snow while it’s snowing with only a few people in view. I really like the feeling with just me walking alone in winter wonderland without being afraid. Of course, it’s Japan! I hardly feel unsafe even if it’s just me strolling.
So I stopped by in Ministop to grab something to eat when I saw Kame on the cover of Fine Boys. I just couldn’t resist him so I ended up buying this fashion magazine for men. I took some shots of the magazine pages as a treat to all KAME fans. Enjoy! <3
When I went to Kyoto last year, I failed to see a geisha. I guess my friends and I didn’t really go to Gion district. During that time, it was just my second month in Japan so I didn’t really take note of the specific names of places that we went to. But I was contented enough to walk through the orange gateways of the Fushimi Inari Shrine as seen in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha.
So today I was very thrilled to see a real-life geisha and a maiko! I guess I don’t have to scour the streets of Gion. It still took me a few minutes to really believe that the women in front of me are indeed a geisha and a maiko. The geisha can speak English very well. I guess learning English is one of the skills that geishas have to learn in order to entertain foreign guests. The geisha looked beautiful and so cute. She introduced herself and the maiko but I already forgot most of the things she said because I was too focused with the thought of seeing a geisha and a maiko.
Just look at the distinctive back make-up of the geisha and the maiko.
This man is only one of the very few male geishas in Japan. I didn’t even know that there’s such a thing as a male geisha.
They entertained us with traditional dances and games.
This is the maiko. A maiko is an apprentice geisha. She looks more flamboyant with her hair accessories and her colorful kimono. However, I still find the geisha mesmerizing :) Oh btw, this maiko is wearing her own silky black hair. The geisha was wearing a wig.
I wasn’t able to take a solo picture of the geisha :/