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Hello Hiroshima

Our next stop after Nagoya was Hirosh.

Sadly what Hiroshima is most known for is the atomic bombing of 6th August 1945.

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The a-bomb dome (a lone surviving building near the epicentre, kept to remind us of the devastation of that day).

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A petitioner by the dome.

The surrounding peace park is full of memorials dedicated to those who died that day and later from the after effects.

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The story of Sadako has led to many people leaving strings of paper cranes at the memorials, and instead of glasses of sake left at the shrines, water is left as many people died of thirst.

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The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the many memorials give an account of what happened that day, why it happened and what we can do to prevent it ever happening again. Being a non-Japanese I felt a little like I was being looked at and blamed – I wanted to say ‘I’m not American!’. But really the idea behind the museum is to give understanding and work together to stop a reoccurrence.

Hiroshima is haunted by the past everywhere you look, and it is right that we should not forget. But Hiroshima is a wonderful city and more than just a place where a terrible thing happened.

There is no subway, instead people use city cars (trams) to get around, as they did back in 1945 and before.

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Like many Castles in Japan Hiroshima Castle is a reproduction on the original foundations. It is an attractive castle and inside is full of memorabilia from the castles hey day.

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For 2000yen you can get a pass that allows you to ride the tram, catch the ferry and go on the ropeway for two days, using this we went to Miyajima Island.

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The island is known for its floating tori gate, momiji manju and the wild deer that have grown tame and roam the island, terrorising tourists!

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View of the ropeway which takes you high among the trees almost to the top of Mt.Misen.

Where you can enjoy spectacular views!

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During the day you can walk along the soggy beach to the large tori gate but in the evening the tide comes back in and surrounds it.

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Another day trip we made was to Iwakuni, to see this spectacular bridge.

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It costs go across but its worth it as on the other side you can get one hundred different types of ice cream!

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The more interesting include curry, garlic and red pepper! J tried lotus root and I went for salted caramel.

A trip to Hiroshima wouldn’t have been complete without sampling local style okonomiyaki!

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J gave it 8/10 but he needs to compare it to Osaka style before deciding a winner!

I hope you get to visit Hiroshima too, and enjoy it as much as we did!

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Asahi Extra Cold Bar

I am definitely my fathers daughter when it comes to beer and am a bit partial to a cold glass of refreshing amber nectar.

In this heat (33 degrees!) you can’t beat it, and for the summer only Asahi have opened four extra cold bars around Japan where the beer is served around -2 degrees.

We first stumbled across one in the Ginza, Tokyo in June.

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The next we found was in Nagoya.

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This time we opted to pour our own!

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Special cooling beer holder in the table!

Then Fukuoka!

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And finally Osaka!

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It’s free to have a lesson in pulling the perfect beer including getting that infamous Japanese beer head! Prices vary from ¥500 to ¥550 and you get a complimentary local snack with your first glass.

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The menu also has a local twist and varies slightly at each place, however the spicy potato wedges were available at all and I highly recommend them!

Even though we have been to all 4 bars now I am missing my members card from Tokyo as I didn’t do the master class there.

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I think I will have to venture back before they close in mid September! Rumour is if you have all 4 they will deliver you beer direct from the factory within 3 days of brewing so it is fresh and delicious!

But even if not it was a lot of fun visiting them in each city and learning how to pour a Japanese beer, maybe I can get a bar job now?!

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Shopping in Nagoya

Lolita shopping in Tokyo and Osaka is quite well documented but I found Nagoya to be a good shopping area for lolita.

The usual brand shops Angelic Pretty, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates, Innocent World and a Kera Shop are all on the 5th floor in Nova. The shopping centre is very tired looking and the clothes in other departments are not very fashionable at all!

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I was able to pick up from AP some short navy Chocolate Rosette socks for my friend that were sold out in Osaka and Tokyo. Then in Innocent World I treated myself to the lotta jsk from the half price sale which I had seen in Tokyo about 5 weeks ago and got sold whilst I was still deciding if I wanted it.

There are two second hand lolita shops, Violet Blue and Bloody Mary Rose. The latter seemed more gothic so didn’t bother going, but Violet Blue had a few goodies!

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AP cutsew, Meta skirt and IW bolero all for ¥4410! The skirt is a v old print and the cutsew is also a few years old but both are in excellent condition. The IW bolero is gorgeous but has a stain on the elbow, however instead of the ¥10,000 price tag it was only ¥540.

They have a blog here and is where we got directions from. It’s in the covered shopping area in Osu. Their prices were very reasonable as you can see above, but they also had a fantastic dolly pink op for ¥13500 and a very old classic BTSSB dress for ¥2500!

The same shotengai shopping area has a lot of vintage stores with retro dresses and accessories and some cute street fashion items.

I would definitely come shopping here again!

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The beach

We spent a few days at the beach last week in Usami.

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Beach culture was a lot like that in the UK – umbrella hire, ice cream and inflatables. I didn’t see many people playing in the sand making sandcastles but it is more dirty volcanic sand rather than golden sand.

The sea was super salty and the waves could knock you over – infact I got flipped upside down by strong waves a number of times!

The next town along was having a summer celebration, we saw some fireworks from our bedroom window the first two nights and decided to walk around the bay and investigate the third night.

So glad we did! There was a real festival atmosphere, yukata, food stalls and lanterns.

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These lanterns were put in the water and floated down towards the sea.

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It was so pretty and serene just sitting on the banks with the locals eating kakigori and watching them float by.

A round of spectacular fireworks went off again just at the mouth of the river.

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The following day we were passing through again on a trip back from Mt.O-muro and heard drumming in the distance.

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A taiko drum show! We sat and watched for a few hours, and it was finished by another fireworks show!

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And the grand finale!

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I really enjoyed myself in Usami and the celebrations in Ito were really special. Our hosts were very sweet and doubled our room size for us and presented me with a yukata for relaxing in when we said goodbye.

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Tenjin Matsuri

The week after Gion Matsuri we went to Osaka for Tenjin Matsuri!

The parade was on the 25th July from the Tenmangu Shrine.

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The parade was quite lively with much more going on than the Gion Matsui parade.

There were floats, mikoshi, cows, priests on horseback, dancing young girls (and some boys) with small parasols, dragons…

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Everywhere we go there seems to be tv cameras and paparazzi! But I guess we are going to the big events.

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After the parade we went down to the river where the parade participants were on large boats in the river. You could hear them chanting in time with the drums even though they were quite far away.

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We met up with some of Js friends and then strolled towards the festival stands. We had some yakisoba and a beer!

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Whilst walking over the bridge about 8.30pm the end of the day fireworks went off!

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きれいですね

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My birthday

Last year I spent my birthday at the Palace of Versailles in Paris so it was always going to be difficult to top it this year, but I think we did it!

We started with a boat ride from Asakusa to the Hama-rinkyu Gardens.

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When we arrived we went straight to a scenic spot for a picnic.

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I’d asked for wine and cheese for my birthday as they are pricy and hard to get here, and the husb delivered! We also had mini croissants, baguettes and Japanese rice crackers.

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Our picnic view over Tokyo Bay.

After we were full we walked around the gardens and took many more photos!

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Then J led me back on the train to Asakusa. Passing Senso-ji we decided to go in and pray.

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Then he led me around the corner to this place –

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A dog cafe!!

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These guys are just too cute! The Yorkshire terrier is the cafe manager and the Poodle his deputy! The Yorkie seemed like security as he barked at anyone passing!

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We got some drinks and a bag of doggie treats for them!

It was a really lovely cafe/bar where instead of loads of puppies running around these were the owners dogs hanging out. The wall had pictures of all it’s doggie customers – they were all adorable, and it would be a great place to socialise with your pooch.

Cafe A +

Have you been to a pet cafe?!

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Angelic Pretty release

I saw on the AP Osaka blog last night that the reworking of APs Royal Chocolate was going to be released today.

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I’ve never been in Japan for a new series release so really wanted to go to experience it and try to get the jsk in brown!

I knew Laforet AP was closed and that it might be busier than usual, but there is a AP tea party on later today so hoped some people would be too busy!

I had to check out my hostel and head from Asakusa to Shinjuku which took a while, so didn’t arrive at Marui until 10.45am. The queue was quite sizeable already!!

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I got in line whilst still trying to decide if it was worth it and got the AP staff girls attention for a ticket.

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Lucky number 78?!

Marui opened at 11, and we were all let in fairly efficiently. I travelled up the escalators with everyone else to the 7th floor (the lolita floor). We passed by Angelic Pretty and got to see the new series lined up! There weren’t many out tbh, not sure if that was it or if there were some more elsewhere!

I followed everyone else around the back to the stairs to queue again, some people went up and some down, I just followed the people infront of me.
Wrong! It wasn’t much later the usher came by saw my ticket and moved me up to the top que.

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One of the AP shop girls was making her way around the queue taking your line ticket and letting you pull a raffle ticket out a bag for the shopping order. I was anxious to get my ticket and see if it was lucky!
After an age the girl was nearly to me just 5 people ahead and she ran out of tickets! o_O

I waited a bit longer and tickets 1 to 10 were called, by 11.45 they had just called numbers 11 to 20 and I still hadn’t changed my ticket.

I could see all the people still waiting ahead of me on their mobile phones on the Angelic Pretty website buying the series! My iPhone doesn’t have Internet here so I couldn’t do the same :(

By 12pm I decided to cut my losses as some of the other people had done. If I was number 78 I doubt there would have been anything left and would have been waiting another 2 hours at least!
As I had left J waiting with our suitcases stationed in Asakusa I felt I couldn’t wait any longer for a slim chance of getting something.

Oh well. It was a fun experience but I think next time I’ll stay at home and order online.

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Indies lolita fair and Kira Imai x AP exhibit

On 29th July a friend and I went to a Indies lolita fair, Princess Dream 4. Sadly photos were strictly forbidden so I don’t have any snaps :(

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You can see the event guide for it in the middle there.

It was really cool to go to, there were quite a lot of lolitas and 49 stalls. My favourites were –
Chaotica http://s.ameblo.jp/lyricoro/entry-11311211507.html
The cakie battenburg hats were amazing!
Marchen Merry http://www.marchenmerry.com/
Reminisce Berylhttp://reminisceberyl.yu-nagi.com

We wandered around for a while and then went to have a coffee around the corner, returning for the raffle at 3pm. You had one raffle entry with your ticket and one every time you spent over 500yen. There were plenty of prizes to go around but it seemed the same people kept on winning, a man in shirt and trousers had a handful of tickets and won 3-4 items!

Two Japanese lolitas really stood out, one wore a very rococo style lolita dress with large hat (maybe from Triple Fortune). The other were actually two girls twinning Angelic Prettys new Chocolate Rosette print. They looked flawless like they’d just come from an AP photoshoot.

We had another look around before we left but I didn’t buy anything, there was plenty I liked but nothing I parted money for. My friend got a very quirky cameo brooch with a bunch of grapes dangling from it, it’s so cute I can’t wait to see her coordinate with it.

It was still early(ish) so we decided to go by the Angelic Pretty x Kira Imai exhibit in Asakusabashi.

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On the way we saw a cheap stall selling hats – ¥300 each! He said he’d do two for ¥500 so we ended up with two each! I do love a bargain!

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In front of the gallery.

The lobby was really cute, full of vintage and bric a brac. Hidden between broken bits of dolls and clocks and in cabinets were items to buy.

At the back of the entrance was another room with Angelic Pretty prints on the walls, blythe dolls, a table laid with Kira Imai prints and postcards, three mannequins with AP dresses and a table with special Angelic Pretty event items.

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The exhibition was ¥500 each and consisted of two rooms. The first was a display of Kira Imai prints and at the far end of the room a desk and shelving unit with cute eclectic items.

I really enjoyed looking at the art up close, you could really see the detailing. One or two of the pictures were a bit strange – a lolita with another lolita wearing a rabbits head straddling her with flowers and scissors floating around. Unusual.

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Signing the guest book.

The second part of the display was downstairs, when I opened the door I though ooh goodie a shop! But it was the worst kind of shop-one with everything you wanted but couldn’t buy! It was a display set up like a typical AP shop with some of the most popular prints tagged with name and release date. It was fun spotting the ones I have and ones I lust for! There were also some special dresses on display like a red Milky-chan dress with added pompoms and diamantes that may have been used for a catwalk show or shop display.

We went back upstairs to look at the special event items, I bought some Kira Imai postcards. The special event AP items were tote bags, tshirts, pin bages and a postcard set.

The new AP cat tea party dress was on display as this weekend AP will be holding a tea party at the gallery where you can reserve the dress before anyone else.

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I don’t really like cats (I’m a dog person) but this like cat man is so cute! I was sorely tempted by the tote with his face on but didn’t buy it.

However I couldn’t stop thinking about it and went back the next day for it!

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Meow!

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Hanabi

I’m going to jump ahead in time a little to post about the fireworks over the Sumida River on 28th July.

I had been really looking forward to the fireworks and had read online that it would be busy and some people sat in their spot from the early hours of the morning.

Seeing as Gion matsuri and Tenjin werent too bad we decided to wing it and met some friends at Asakusa Station at 6pm (fireworks started at 7.05pm!).

Oh my days it was busy!!! We had to change trains at Ueno and the staff were pushing people on the trains. We had to wait for 3 trains to pass through before we got to the front and witnessed a lady get her shoulder stuck in the doors, instead of pulling her off two guards put their weight behind her and shoved her in. I just stood there jaw slack not quite believing it!

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When we arrived (late) it wasn’t any better, we stood in line with what must have been thousands of people waiting to cross the bridge.

There were quite a few people having rooftop hanabi parties, including two men on the top of some scaffolding!

Just after 7pm as we were slowly edging over the bridge the first fireworks started to go off. First to our right, then our left, right, left…then both!! It was hard to know where to look!

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We tried to take our time crossing the bridge as it had the best views but the police were ushering people on. They had a neat system of letting people through in batches then coming up in a line behind them with rope to move them on!

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After we’d crossed the bridge we saw people sat in a line in an alleyway with one spot left-so we grabbed it! Opened some wine got out our picnic snacks and had a small hanabi party! The group next to us looked like they’d brought their dining table and chairs out!

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The fireworks went on until about 8.30pm then we walked around the festival stands at Senso-ji and had some peach kakigori (shaved ice).

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As you can see I got in the festival spirit and wore my yukata. I’ve seen quite a lot of girls (esp gyaru) wearing ‘sexy yukata’ I’m not sure I like it!

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What do you think?!