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Ninja Resturant Kyoto

Last weekend we had some friends from the UK visiting, on Sunday we went to Arashiyama and Kyoto, and after seeing the main tourist sights – Gion, Kiyomizudera, the bamboo grove, we stopped by another tourist spot…the Ninja Restaurant.

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We only had to wait a few minutes to get a table, and a ninja appeared to take us to our table via a mini maze. I have to admit I was a little disorientated by the time I got to my table!

There is a service charge to pay (around ¥340) and so we got a tiny appetizer, some ninja stars on a tree.

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To summon a waiter/ninja you press a hidden button, except ours wouldn’t work…eventually we flagged down a ninja and placed our orders. I thought the menu was ok, although some if not most of the starters were more expensive than the mains. I decided to try ninja style carbonara. The ninja part is that it is black underneath!

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Near the end when it was really like grey sludge it was a case of mind over matter to get it eaten, it looked so wrong, but tasted of normal average carbonara.

The saving grace of the meal was the ninja magician! I’d been expecting more ninja hijinks whilst eating but we didn’t experience any. I’d heard from friends about the ninja magician and had been looking forward to it, but we’d eaten up and were contemplating paying our bill before he made an appearance.

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This guy was awesome, he made coins appear and disappear, and one reappear in my hands! He did a card tick and I was the lucky one to chose the card, so it was so much more impressive to me as I know he didn’t lead me to pick a particular one. We were all like ‘how did he do that?!’ for hours afterwards.

I would rate my trip to the restaurant at 6/10, the food was interesting but average, the service a little slow, they forgot one of my husbands orders and with a service charge and 10% tip required a little overpriced. I definitely expected more ninja tomfoolery and surprises. Although the ninja magician was excellent.

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Asahi Extra Cold – it’s back for summer 2013!

Last summer I enjoyed visiting the Asahi Extra Cold Bars around Japan, we made it to all 4 before they closed and received some free beer as a thank you. (Previous posts here).

It was uncertain wether they would return again this year, but off the success of last years campaign they are back! This time with 8 bars!

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The menu has changed and now they serve extra cold black Asahi as well!

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-2.4 degree beer, perfect when it’s 29 degrees outside.

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Kanpai!

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This year beer cocktails seem very popular (Kirin have some also), so I decided to try the Lime Black.

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It was pretty nice, I don’t usually go for dark beer but the flavors went together nicely. Quite a few other patrons were drinking it too.

I hope I can visit the Kyoto and Tokyo bars before they close!

1

An onsen in your house

I do enjoy visiting an onsen, but it’s hard from me as I’m not comfortable getting naked with random people, and the onsen are segregated boys and girls so I have to say goodbye to my husband at the door as we go our separate ways.

How happy was I to find you can buy onsen bath salts to recreate famous onsen from Japan in your own tub?!

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I picked these Tabi No Yado bath salts up at Don Quixote for ¥389 but I’ve seen them in kusuriya (chemists) and on Amazon.

This morning I couldn’t wait to try the first one!

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Woah it’s so pink!
After a minute the salts dissolved and turned the water a light milky pink, the fragrance is very pleasant, flowery and slightly medicinal, but not overly strong.

AHHH….

1

Kimono Beauty exhibit Nara

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I had a long (2hr!) lunch break the other day so took the time to visit the Kimono Beauty exhibit at the Nara Prefectural Museum of Art.

The exhibit cost ¥1000 for one adult and took me about 40 minutes to look around. Unfortunately photos weren’t allowed inside the museum. There were many kimonos displayed in sections such as Edo Aristocracy, and Samurai wives. The information relating to the kimonos was only given in Japanese, even though the exhibit is on loan from Boston. Which is a shame as I’m sure I’d have been more impressed knowing more about the techniques used and the age of the kimono.

My favorite item in the exhibit was a display of old kimono sample and design books. I loved the drawings and imagining the rich ladies of the time fawning over the designs and choosing their favorite.

If you get chance to visit you definitely should!

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Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park

My local subway line is the Nagohori Tsurumi-Ryokuchi line, or the yellow one as I call it! It was built in 1990 to transport people to the international exposition at Tsurumi Ryokuchi park.

The park is pretty large and features mini gardens from around the world, it also has a big lake in the middle.

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Cute windmill.

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Some of the gardens from Japan, Korea, Italy and Amsterdam.

We were excited to visit the UK garden!

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What a disappointment, most of the gardens have been forgotten about and although the groundsmen keep it clean and tidy the UK garden was pretty tired looking. There were no flowers and the fountain was broken.

There were a lot of cosplayers around the day we went having photo sessions in the small gardens! You can see some making use of the UK garden.

The park was not the most picturesque and it didn’t have many facilities (just the odd ice cream stand) but it was still nice to visit. If I went again I’d take a big picnic basket and a frisbee to play in the big open area.

2

New old dress

I forgot to post that I bought a new dress a few weeks ago. I was looking for a nice summer dress that was comfortable and ok for casual lolita as well as normal lolita!

In one of Osakas second hand lolita shops I found this IW jsk for ¥12000!

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I wore it when I went for a picnic with J in Hommachi, the roses had just come into bloom.

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(My hat kept getting blown off so I took it off!).

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Happy 22nd of the month!

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Happy 22nd! :D

I am eating this lovely Lawson strawberry roll cake, it’s only available on the 22nd of each month.

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Apparently most people here get paid on the 25th of the month, so this is a cute cheap treat to cheer you up when you’ve already spent the majority of your wage. I get paid on the 15th though! More information can be found on the rocket news 24 website.

It’s pretty tasty! 8/10!

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How to survive summer in Japan!

Things are definitely heating up around here! It was 28 degrees yesterday!

I am getting prepared for the summer season which is almost on top of us, last summer I really suffered so I’m not going to let the heat and humidity beat me this time.

In my battle armory I have…

Sweat towels.
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For daintily dabbing your declotage if your a lady or knotting around your neck or head if your a man. You can pick up cute ones from Sanrio to designer ones from Vivienne Westwood.
¥105 (from Daiso) – ¥1500

A wet towel.
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To cool off with. It stays wet and cold all day.
¥800

A fan or three.
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To frantically wave infront of you anytime any place to try to create a cooling breeze. Luckily in the summer months these types of fans are given out freely so even if you forget yours you can easily get another.
¥0

Sunscreen.
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Apply liberally and often. I don’t feel sunscreen in Japan is as effective as that in the UK, I still get sunburnt. So I have to avoid the sun as much as I can too.
¥750

Parasol.
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Using a parasol might draw a few odd looks from people in the UK but in Japan it’s common to see ladies with parasols in the sun. You also see ladies with big hats, visors and arm protectors but I’m not at that level of sun avoidance yet. (That is mostly reserved for old ladies).
¥525 – 3000

Sea breeze, biore wipes.
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No matter what you do, you will sweat. You will need these to freshen up and cool off.
¥200 for wipes, ¥700 for sea breeze

Insect repellant spray and patches.
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I try and use a spray with as many chemicals as possible, I hate the mossies that much. On top of that I also use repellant patches which are more natural with citronella oil.
¥400 each

Insect repellant incense burner.
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To stop the little buggers from getting into my apartment.
¥1050

Insecticide
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For any that make it past the fly screens and incense burner total annihilation awaits.

Insect bite roll on.
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Unfortunately you will still get bitten. Although this roll on looks cute it actually helps take a little of the itch out of those bites. I tried some steroid based ones last year but they didn’t work as well as this!
¥500

Vending machines
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Of course you need to drink plenty of fluids in hot weather. Not to worry though, in Japan there are vending machines around every corner and in the summer they are stocked full of Pocari Sweat and Aquarius – electrolyte containing waters to help you rehydrate.
¥150

Osaka has a lot of underground walk ways, so you can get around without even going outside in some areas. For example from Osaka JR station you can visit Yodoyobashi Camera, Hankyu San Bangai and HEP 5 without ever leaving air conditioned comfort.

Good luck in the heat!

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Rilakkuma: Meeting Aloha Rilakkuma

Today there was an event at Kiddyland to meet Aloha Rilakkuma!

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Was a little sad you couldn’t actually get up close, but the person inside did such a good job of channeling rilakkuma they were so cute. I wanted to take them home and have them stay at my place and for ever and ever! Haha.

Afterwards I went to the Rilakkuma store and had a go at the new raffle! I got the windchime for outside on my balcony! :)

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I finally gave in and bought the aloha rilakkuma as the real life one was just so adorable <3

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Bonus pic!

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Ise and Toba

This week is Golden Week and I have 9 days vacation! So I went to Ise and Toba. I arrived around 12pm on Tues and went to drop my bag at my hostel. Luckily I was able to check in early and headed out towards Ise-jingu Geku. It was only a short walk away and really peaceful. You really felt close to nature. Every 20 years the priests remake the entire shrine. This is currently a 20th year so many shrines were under tarpaulin being reconstructed. It was still a good time to visit to see how they do it! As soon as I arrived my camera battery went flat! I had to use my iPad mini to take pictures the first day T_T

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Lots of people were putting their hands over these roped off rocks, I did it too but couldn’t feel anything.

I said many prayers and felt cleansed! Then I hopped on the bus to another part of Ise-jingu Naiku.

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Close to the shrine is an old fashioned shopping street called Oharai-machi. It was so lovely to walk down, take in the atmosphere and browse the shops. In a small town square area in Okage-yokocho there was an Ise Beer stand and a taiko drum performance was being held.

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Beer, drums, atmosphere and sunshine.

I bought a few small holiday gifts and then had some Akafuku mochi. The back opened out onto the river where many people were queuing. My tea arrived just in time for music to start and the people on the bridge start moving forward. Never did find out what that was…

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The shops closed pretty early and by 5.30pm everything was winding down. I made my way back to the hostel.

I had lots of drinks and random conversation with the staff and guests at my hostel. I joined a group for dinner, but didn’t realize there was a chance I’d have to wash up! If you lose the after dinner game you have to wash! Waa. Of course I lost!

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Luckily I did it fast and two of the guys felt bad for me and helped dry and clear up. Thank you!

The next day I headed for Futamiura and Toba. Futamiura is famous for Futami Okitama Shrine its shrine to marriage and the Meotoiwa rocks which are a symbol of marriage. I really loved it here! It was lots of fun and everyone was in good spirits being splashed by the sea water whilst trying to take photos!

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I prayed for a long and happy marriage with my husband and then ventured on. According to the map it was only a short walk to the next station via a shrine with an Iris garden. Hmm. Something went terribly wrong and Id walked a long way. I kept thinking well this isn’t right. But then came to a sign with the stations name and another saying I was on highway 42 as the map said. Hmm. I walked a little more until I met some road workers who laughed and told me the shrine I was looking for was back the other way! Gah. In the end I gave up and waited at a bus stop to go to Toba. There was only one bus an hour! I’m used to Osaka JR loop line where there’s a train every 6 mins!

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I eventually made it to Toba and went to the Tourist Information not wanting to make any more mistakes on my way to Mikimoto Island. I’ve wanted to visit for a long time as I wore Mikimoto pearl earrings on my wedding day!

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I saw a Ama demonstration while I was there, learnt about pearl production and of course visited the gift shop! I saw some pearls for crazy money, ¥500,000 and more.

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I just got a small necklace as I already have Mikimoto earrings, a vintage pearl necklace and Pia pearl bracelet.

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Afterwards I went to the only shopping centre in Toba, browsed the omiyage, picked up a few gifts and went to eat some local seafood. I was a little scared to eat alone, my Japanese is still so bad and I always feel awkward. It went well until some middle aged Japanese men started shouting random English to me across the half empty restaurant *slides down seat* and sent me a beer over.

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By 5.30pm I was completely done and ready to come home!

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Ise and Toba, if I did it again I’d want to spend more time in Ise and maybe get up early enough to see the sun rise between the rocks in Futamiura, oh and I didn’t eat any Ise Udon!