4

Rilakkuma: Rilakkuma x Milkfed x SPRiNG Magazine

With all the new releases new over the last 24 hours or so I could almost have missed this.

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A free cosmetics pouch and heart mirror with SPRiNG magazine and Milkfed.

It was released yesterday but I only saw the news on the blog yesterday evening. Before work I headed to my local bookstore to get it!

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Normally the free gifts with magazines and Mooks aren’t that great, but I was impressed with the quality of these items especially as the magazine was only ¥630!

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Decent size heart mirror.

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Decent size make up bag.

I’ll definitely be using these items! The magazine isn’t bad either, I usually just buy Kera or Larmine but this had some interesting casual items, plus 6 whole pages on winter shoes.

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Just noticed the page with the next Rilakkuma series – Pie and Cake!

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2

Senko Hanabi

Fireworks are definitely a summer event in a Japan, and what’s more is you can buy your own fireworks pretty much anywhere (convenience store, supermarket…) and hold your own show!

I really wanted to try Japanese sparklers, your meant to hold them upside down instead of straight out like we do in the UK.

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We bought this medium pack from Lawson for ¥999, about £6.60.

First I tried the sparkers…

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You can also stick them in the ground.

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The pack had many different types, most of which you hold in your hand and ignite.

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This was in my hand!!

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These were snakes, like mini Catherine wheels on the ground.

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James with a dragon firework and the castle in the background.

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Even Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma came to enjoy the show.

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For less than ¥1000 we had a lot of fun, if you haven’t tried them yet you really should!

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I can’t wait to try these next!

4

Osaka: Ikeda Fireworks

So far this summer I hadn’t seen any fireworks, I missed Osakas biggest fireworks Yodogawa Fireworks as I was working.

Instead I dragged James to Ikeda fireworks as my last chance to see a fireworks display this year.

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Also I thought it was my last chance to wear yukata too, so even though I risked looking like a wanna be gaijin I wore it.

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It was really busy, but we seemed to find a good spot on the left hand side of the river with almost a 360degree view of the sky.

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Woah so pretty, the fireworks were pretty gentle and subdued but all the better for it! There were a few experimental ones, the show started with a countdown in the sky but some numbers were back to front or upside down! We also spotted some hearts, stars, smiley faces and an attempt at Doreamon.

Afterwards we hid in Torikizoku to enjoy the air conditioning and a cold beer before fighting our way back to Umeda on the train.

James said he enjoyed it more than the Yodogawa Fireworks, the atmosphere was a lot more relaxed!

2

Daimonji Kyoto

We missed Daimonji last year as we were in Hiroshima.

So this year we were really looking forward to it, after googling the internets we decided to go to Funaokayama Park…..and so did everyone else.

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Daimonji is basically an event where kanji characters are lit on 5 mountains in Kyoto.

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Before being lit!

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Just before the first one was lit everyone stood up and rushed forward, it was a real crush and a total nightmare.

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We really didn’t have a good view or a nice romantic atmospheric time. Luckily we’d already had a good time at the Rilakkuma exhibit and Manga Museum so it didn’t spoilt our day. I’m glad we went just so I can tick it off my list of things to do in Kansai.

0

Osaka: Shitennoji Urabon-e Manto Kuyo

O-bon week is about remembering your ancestors, many people return to their hometowns and clean their family graves.

Shitennoji temple hosts Urabon-e Manto Kuyo, a prayer candle event, you write the name of your ancestor on the paper which is burnt and sent to the gods.

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It was really hot and the heat of the burning candles just made it even hotter! Monks were chanting prayers over the speaker systems and there was certainly two different vibes to the evening. One was a part celebratory matsuri vibe with the festival stalls with fish and cotton candy but also also another more somber vibe with an older crowd and people praying with prayer beads over the candles.

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According to the website there are about 10,000 candles burnt during the event. I’m really glad we went it was definitely a sight to behold.

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Hikone

This week I day tripped to Hikone!

On our walk from Hikone station to Hikone Castle we saw a shrine with lots of paper lanterns set up for O-bon. It was so pretty, there must have been more than a thousand lanterns!

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At the castle we bought a ¥1000 ticket to the castle, castle museum and Japanese garden. Before going to the museum I got my picture with Hikonyan!

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He’s so cute!

The castle museum had the usual display of old photos, swords, samurai outits, ceramics and kimono. But there were just a few of each thing as if they’d just selected the very best!

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They had some noh masks on display and the wonderful eyebrow makeup set above.

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There is a noh theatre stage in the middle and you can stop at one side of it for some wagashi and matcha tea. The wagashi was one of the cutest I’d ever seen – jelly with a koi fish in it!

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Around the corner from the tea room you can view the garden.

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Then it was an uphill walk from the castle museum to the castle itself.

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The castle is pretty small, you can go inside, and it’s another slog uphill up traditional steep steps inside. It was very hot and busy when we went so I didn’t get any pictures.

Before we knew it we’d spent 3 hours in the castle grounds so decided to leave and visit the Japanese garden.

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It was pretty but not overly spectacular. We walked to Castle Road next for some food, there wasn’t a lot of choice or many shops though.

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Afterwards we walked to the edge of Lake Biwa to watch the sun set.

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And on our way back to the station we revisited the shrine we saw earlier.

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We had a lovely day out, I think we saw pretty much all Hikone has to offer, we couldn’t take a boat trip on the lake though as they finished at 3pmish. The best part of the trip was seeing all the Hikonyan things and the lanterns at the shrine.

7

Rilakkuma: 10th anniversary exhibition in Kyoto

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The 10th Anniversary exhibit just moved to Kyoto! Yay! I couldn’t wait to go! It opened at 10am and we got there about 10.40am, the queue was huge it went around twice. Luckily it moved pretty quick and we entered the exhibit in less than 30mins.

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The exhibit started with framed pictures of all three, information about them and gold statues.

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A huge cabinet with some favorite items!

Then the exhibit was split into 6 sections with different past series.

Onsen series

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Woodland / Squirrel series

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Nighttime series

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Bonjour series

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Aloha series

Wonderland series

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I really enjoyed the exhibit, it was pretty crowded and I would have liked to have taken more time over the displays. The shop at the end wasn’t that great, although I did pick up a 10th ann hand towel with them all in the flashy red hats and jackets!

If you get the chance to go I highly recommend it! James enjoyed it and he’s not that big a fan of Rilakkuma.

0

Expo 70 Park

We wanted to go to Lake Biwa on Mon but woke up too late, we umhed and hawed about what to do for ages. Then we decided to picnic in Expo 70 Park. Even though it was 38 degrees (and feels like 42!). It took us two trains and a monorail to get there.

It only cost ¥250 to enter.

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The famous Tower of the Sun.

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The trees have disco balls!

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The other side of the tower.

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We had a lovely picnic of red wine and cheese, which we got for our birthdays from our UK friends!

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Guitar rilak came to relax.

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It was so hot I’m glad we found space in the shade. My mum skyped as we were picnicking it was great to chat and see my nephew hugging my dog – cuuute!

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We walked to the boating lake and the lights all came on, they are having an evening light up at the moment but they got turned on so early, about 4.20pm!

We got to the pedalos and the guy was closing up! They must finish at 5 as there were still some people on the lake but he would let us rent one ;_;

We walked to the lotus garden as lotus plants are in season right now and we missed them last summer, but a big gate blocked our way. We asked a worker and she said it was not open, so we asked about the Japanese garden it was closed too. Looking at one of the parks sign maps those areas were shown in grey, as if they are closed for good.

Instead we headed towards the Summer Garden…

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Not quite so impressive.

And then towards the sunflowers.

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About 5pm they started closing off areas for the evening light up, we sat near the entrance cafe and had a drink and watched the Tower of the Sun.

I had a nice time at Expo Park, we couldn’t use the pedalos which was our own fault but was pretty disappointed not to see the Japanese garden or any epic flowers. It’s sad to see half the park closed, I hope they reopen it again someday soon.