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Category Archives: Japan

JAPAN: THE CLOTHING

Bought a bunch of clothes whilst in Japan, but I haven’t photographed it all, ‘cos too lazy and it’s not that interesting anyway :P But here’s some, because it’s quite typical of Japanese fashion (which, really, is just super-short skirts to show off your legs).. I bought the stuff below ‘cos it was all just so cute, and very reasonably priced!

And… well, I also bought ’em because I felt so horrendously daggy and ginormous amongst the hot little Japanese girls everywhere. So I felt compelled to buy their cute clothes – to try and tap their awesome fashion energy :P

A shimmery soft dress in mint-green and white. Baggy, so very comfortable!

Closer-up pic

LOVE this military-style winter jacket. It’s super thick and warm.

A super-thin and soft dress

Floaty Alannah-Hill-style patchwork dress

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Posted by on 3 March 2010 (Wed) in Fashion, Holidays, Japan, Uncategorized

 

JAPAN: GOODBYE, FAREWELL

Just a few of my running stream of consciousness thoughts on Japan..

  1. The women are slimmer, more fashionable, and better looking than almost any other country I’ve been to. On the downside, I constantly felt fat and dowdy the whole time. It’s hard not to – the girls are just so slim and petite, with pretty faces and GORGEOUS hair (are they wearing great wigs or is it natural? We couldn’t figure it out!). Their fashion sense is amazing, especially compared to my thick-shapeless-jacket-and-jeans ‘fashion sense’ ;) They wear adorable little dresses and mini mini mini skirts/shorts.. despite the weather being sub-zero and freezing. How do they even survive?! Both Dad and Chris declared the women “very good looking” and I think Chris’ eyes were out on stalks half the time :P Total eye candy.
  2. The toilets. I don’t ~fear~ going into a public toilet, not even the ones at train stations. They are always spick and span, clean, and smell nice. NO pee smell, NO pee splattered all over the seat, and NO period blood on the seat and/or soaked on toilet paper and dumped into bins with no lids. It made me want to leave China for good, when I realised how awesome Japanese public toilets are :P
  3. The queueing. The Japanese are so civilised and organised, they queue for everything. NO queue jumpers!! Everyone stands orderly on the left-side of escalators (so people in a rush can walk on the right-side) – unheard of in Shanghai. In the train stations, the people boarding the train stand to the side, and in a queue.. letting people off first. Take note of this China and Singapore!!!
  4. No shoving. At one of the busiest intersections in the world, NO ONE pushed me or elbowed me. People make the effort to not touch each other, and a bump results in a flurry of apologies from the offending party (instead of ignoring, or giving you a dirty stare). It was bliss… I’m so used to being pushed and shoved here, I almost felt weird with the lack of physical violence in Japan :P
  5. Foreigners are treated normally. You don’t feel out of place as a tourist. Most of all, you’re NOT hassled until you want to punch someone. No one selling you random crap, no one hassling you for money, and no one trying to rip you off. It was bona fide bliss.

So what’s bad about Japan? I thought long and hard about this… and only came up with ONE thing. Prices. The fancy stuff is expensive. You can live fairly cheaply in Japan, but no where near China. In China, we get cheap massages any time we want, we have a housekeeper, we have a driver, and we can jump into a taxi without blinking. In Japan, that’s not possible on a normal day because it’s far too expensive. I think that alone makes China pretty awesome to live in :P

United First International Lounge, at the Japan airport on the way back.
It was GORGEOUS and so plush inside!

A beer pourer (!) in the ANA Lounge, alongside an assortment of wines
and spirits. We were fascinated!

A SAKE BAR!!! All free in the Lounge *whee*

Nice hot bowl of ramen. UMMM TO CLARIFY:
That says “ANA”+logo, and not “ANAL”…. *ahem*

Fachon Paris ice cream and luscious clam chowder, all free in the Lounge as well.

Japanese snacks = heavenly. Royce chocolate-covered chips, strawberry mochi,
Pocky dessert sticks, Japanese cheesecakes, green tea.

 
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Posted by on 1 March 2010 (Mon) in Holidays, Japan, Uncategorized

 

JAPAN: FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!

Food in Japan is utterly incredible, if you haven’t already noticed!

It goes back to the simple fact that Japanese do everything better. Their food, regardless of cuisine, is always delightful.. and their desserts are jaw-dropping. The come up with some amazing stuff, and even simple chocolates and candies are lovingly individually wrapped and decorated. I suspect 80% of the delight in food for a Japanese is in the presentation/wrapping :P

Here’s just a small snapshot of the goodies we ploughed our way through. So much food, so little time! I don’t think we ate a single bad-tasting thing whilst there. It’s surprising and strange how everywhere we went, the food always tasted good. If you’ve been to Japan, I bet you know exactly what I mean :) It’s no wonder it’s a foodie’s paradise!

Giant crispy sweet buns, hot out of the oven

Same shop, serving hot melted caramel on ice cream. It was GOOOOD!

Wonderful, ultra-creamy, smooth chocolates, that came so beautifully wrapped

Checking out the strawberries encased in mochi. Soooo good…

Pretty Japanese candy. They all looked fake!

It’s LADUREE French luxury cakes and pastries!!!

Macaroons *head explodes*

My little stash that I bought :P

Layers and layers of crepes and cream….. wow

Chilling out with our desserts, cakes and coffees

Beautiful cakes – they’re all real!

More picture-perfect delectables

The Japanese love their strawberries..

 
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Posted by on 1 March 2010 (Mon) in Holidays, Japan, Uncategorized

 

JAPAN: OHHHH THE SHOPPING!!

It’s a shopping paradise in Japan.

Did quite a bit of shopping whilst I was there…. oops! Not my fault, I couldn’t help it, the stuff’s all too awesome ;) I ADORE Japanese designed/made/sold stuff. The fashion is right up my alley, the skincare/cosmetics are top-notch and fascinating, and everything is just higher quality imho. It’s heavenly shopping there! Bought quite a bit but I didn’t take photos of everything because I’m too lazy and no one really cares what I buy anyway :P

But here’s a couple of things that I DID end up photographing:

Was shocked (and delighted) to see Lush there! Unfortunately, everything was
in Japanese so couldn’t understand :P Ended up buying ‘Sympathy For the Skin’
moisturiser and the Strawberry massage bar… smells awesome :)

My Italian calfskin gloves, lined with cashmere. It cost a friggin’ FORTUNE and the
bright orange dirties so easily. Arghhh..

Bought Covermark cosmetics… yes, the same brand I was raving like a nutter
about, in my previous Favourite Cosmetics blog entry. This powder foundation
is perfection! I also bought Mum the liquid foundation and loose powder, cos
they’re soooo good.

KITSON!!!!! One of my fave brands in the USA, they had a store in Japan, yay

The back of the mad cute lil pouch

Kitson tee, that is very very very me :P

Hello Kitty mineral water.. cos I like regressing into a 5 year old, okay?!

FASCINATING face wash/scrub I bought from the Onsen. As you rub the gel on
your skin, your dead skin cells ‘pills’ and balls up. When you wash it off, you’re
left with super smooth, silky, clear skin. I’m LOVING it!!!

A present for our furkids – jellies!

Incredible snacks Mum bought – in plain, and covered in white chocolate. Mmm..

 
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Posted by on 28 February 2010 (Sun) in Food, Japan, Uncategorized

 

JAPAN: SOBA DINNER AT TAKASHIMAYA

We felt like a nice, classy dinner whilst in Japan.

I’d spent the whole day around Shinjuku shopping up a storm *ahem*, and I’d noticed that the massive Takashimaya department store had 2-3 full levels dedicated to restaurants, dubbed Restaurant Park. They range from mid-range to fine-dining, so I thought it’d be a great option to kick back and have a civilised dinner together.

After looking through every restaurant (we’re very particular about where we eat!), we finally settled on Komatsu Soba (そば処) on the 13th floor, because they specialise in – surprise surprise – soba. The restaurant boasts buckwheat soba, which has a slightly sweeter taste than regular soba. It takes three months for buckwheat to be ready for harvest, and so is $$$, especially since this restaurant serves 100% buckwheat soba.

So was the 100% buckwheat soba different, and worth the large price tag?

I sound like such a tourist, but I can’t really tell the difference! It was a little different in terms of taste to regular soba, but if I wasn’t told, I wouldn’t have been able to discern that this was 100% buckwheat, nor realise that it was much more expensive. I’m such a useless Japanese, I know ;)

The food was great, don’t get me wrong. Just that I couldn’t justify the prices (which were exorbitantly high). Personally, I think I’ll just go for the cheaper ‘regular’ soba and pay a lot less :P

Inside the ramen restaurant in Takashimaya

Gorgeous views of Tokyo

Some sort of salmon roll. It was good but a bit on the salty side.

Ramen with duck and leeks

Me and my curry soba (loved it)

Tempura set with soba

Steak set with soba

Sake and ice cold beer

Tucking in :)

Afterwards, we were still hungry for dessert and so started wandering around the streets of Shinjuku, looking for a dessert cafe. Finally, Chris spotted one. It was actually a small glass door, with a steep flight of stairs behind it. Totally non-descript and not much marketing at street-level. We decided to check it out and were so surprised and what lay at the top of the stairs – the whole 2nd level was the cafe, and it was lovely inside! Plush, warm and with lots of rich colours, it was lovely to chill out and have a drink and dessert.

After going up a narrow flight of stairs, the area opens up into this lovely cafe

Tiramisu

Baked cheesecake

Thoroughly zonked after a mad day

 
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Posted by on 28 February 2010 (Sun) in Holidays, Japan, Uncategorized

 

JAPAN: EXPLORING UENO

Japan’s an awesome place for pottering around.

In particular I like Ueno, filled with small streets and alleys selling knick knacks, food, and random stuff. Unlike China, the shopkeepers don’t yell out or hassle you as you walk past, so it’s all rather peaceful and chill, despite being a bustling marketplace. It’s easy to get lost, in the seemingly random zigzag of paths, but that all adds to the fun of poking around.

I was especially fascinated with their street food, which is EVERYWHERE. From metal trolleys cooking up a storm, to little shop fronts dedicated to serving just 1 dish (eg. takoyaki), it’s not possible to leave Ueno with a full belly ;)

The streets of Ueno

Lots of goodies for sale

Street food

At the Takoyaki stall

Cooking Takoyaki

Fresh Takoyaki!

Freezing my ass off :P

Poking around the streets

Dinner was, again, randomly decided on. It was a little hole in the wall Yakitori restaurant right in the middle of the lane! People were bustling past but little (and I do mean little!) chairs and tables were placed along the lane where customers could sit and eat. Yakitori is basically skewered meat or vegetables, cooked over a hot grill. Very simple, but oh so satisfying.

We huddled on these little wooden chairs around a squat little wooden table, all set out on the uneven cobblestone footpath. The menu was, thankfully, in English.. but the waitress was totally strange! A sweet lil old Japanese lady, she seemed to NOT want to let us order a lot. So we’d point to perhaps 2 dishes, then she’d nod and smile and hurridely scurry off before we could order any more. We were starving and wanting to order 10 dishes for the table, but she kept dashing off after we’d ordered 1 or 2. Tres weird :P We figured that perhaps Yakitori is meant to be eaten whilst chilling out with a drink.. and so people just order a little bit at a time so they can stay there for ages. It was nice that she wasn’t hassling us to eat quickly and leave (considering the place was packed out), but the first time we experienced the strange ordering system of “just order a little bit each time”.

The food was all very impressive. Freshly cooked on the grill, and it’s not hard to see why they are THE most popular yakitori place in the Ueno area. The sticks had an impressive amount of meat jammed on it, and we especially loved the chicken yakitori, which boasted fleshy tender chunks of chicken and basted in delicious sauces before grilling.

Only downside? It’s expensive! The little sticks really add up. And let’s face it, you need a LOT to fill you. So it turns out to be a lot more expensive than expected, especially considering it’s not a fancy restaurant. Still, it’s a great experience huddling out on the street and chowing down on yakitori and Japanese sake, so it was worth it for us :)

A squashy, cramped Yakitori stall.. right in the lane

Dad and Mum perusing the menu

Huddled at our table in the middle of the lane

Sake, and green tea

Homemade tofu in… liquid fat broth. Whoa!

Edamame and potato salad (so good)

Miso garlic chicken – that sauce was divine!

Grilled mushrooms – a bit too salty/flavourful

Soy chicken – delicious. Loved how meaty each stick was

Warming ourselves up

Dinner part 2!

Cooking it up in front of us

Aiiieeee I was freezing!

Egg omelette rolls – plain, and stuffed with ingredients

Digging in :)~

 
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Posted by on 27 February 2010 (Sat) in Holidays, Japan, Uncategorized

 

JAPAN: HUNTING DOWN TONKATSU

So apparently there is this “awesome Tonkatsu place” around the backstreets of Asakusa temple.

At least, that’s what Mum and Dad were declaring :P They’d been there a few months ago when they were in Japan, and swore up and down it was amazing. And so, we traipsed all around looking for it.. until I got bored and tired ;) We asked some random people and they pointed at a little shop tucked away in a back street. It wasn’t the place that my parents had been to, but they served Tonkatsu and so that’s where we decided to eat.

The place is TINY.. with 2 tables where you sit on tatami mats (Japanese style) on the floor, 2 tables regular style, and a counter with maybe 4-6 seats. We ordered quickly because 1) we were starving and 2) their menu only has about 10 items to choose from.

It was all immediately cooked up by the chef at the open kitchen next to our table, and arrived steaming hot to our table. Let me just say: THE OYSTERS WERE UNBELIEVABLY GOOD!! They were huge, the length of them almost the size of my palm (!). Plump and juicy and oh-so-fresh they didn’t have that fishy smell, they were briskly deepfried in Japanese breadcrumbs. The batter was crispy but not too thick, and it was heavenly biting into the crisp exterior with a *crunch* and sinking your teeth into the moist, fleshy oyster. Cripes it was good. I’m salivating just remembering it now…

The Tonkatsu curry and Tonkatsu set meal both featured deep-fried breaded pork. It was OK. Not nearly as good as the fast-food Curry House place we went to, surprisingly. The batter was great and the pork was thick, but it had a lot of fatty bits in it that we spat out. I much prefer perfectly lean, tender pork.

I thoroughly enjoyed the totally simple spaghetti, which was a tumble of beautifully cooked al dente spaghetti, and some simple shreds of onion and bacon/ham. It was topped with a small sprinkle of Parmesan and herbs and tossed in a tomato-based sauce. Exceedingly basic, but it was delicious. The sauce was slightly tangy with a hint of spice, and it was a welcome break from all the Japanese food we’d been having. Funnily (and not so surprisingly), the Japanese even do Italian food better than many other countries ;)

Sadly, they don’t have desserts. Most traditional Japanese places don’t serve dessert. In fact, I don’t often see Japanese eat dessert. Odd! But perhaps that’s the secret as to why they’re all so thin….

At the little tucked-away tonkatsu place

The counter and open-kitchen

Orgasmic breaded oysters…. OMG….

Tonkatsu curry

Tonkatsu set

Spaghetti

Sake = awesome

Me being a good little food blogger

Our grocery store-bought desserts! That ChocoPie ice cream = amazing

 
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Posted by on 27 February 2010 (Sat) in Holidays, Japan, Uncategorized