Category: japan (page 1 of 2)

Tokyo take two

I’ve just got back from a second trip to Japan. We last went in 2009 (which I blogged about on its own little microsite, here) and have been itching to go back ever since. This time we just stayed in Tokyo, but the wonderful transport network means you can explore the sprawl of the city and further afield very easily, so still see quite a diversity of what Japan has to offer.

Having been before, we had a good idea of neighbourhoods to revisit and new places to check out. We stayed in Yoyogi, between Shinkjuku and Harajuku, and spent a fair bit of time in these areas. They are great areas for shopping, bars, eating and generally walking around, getting lost and finding fun stuff. Pictured above is taco rice, which I got a bit obsessed with hunting down and eating at any opportunity, and the Craftheads bar in Shibuya where Josh died and went to beer heaven.

Some more personal favourite areas from last time that we revisited: Kichijoji in the north-west, which has a lovely park (containing the Studio Ghibli museum, which we didn’t go back to and slightly regretted), lots of Buddhist vegetarian lunch spots, and a ladder of charming side streets where you’ll find boutiques selling clothing and ceramics and cute coffee shops. Yanaka, Tokyo’s old town to the north, is similarly charming with little shrines, more flowers, and plenty of coffee and soba shops to dip in and out of. We also revisited Akihabara, the electronics hub and home of the choicest range of videogame arcades, and of course the textile district, Nippori, for some fabric shopping.

A new area to us that we fell in love with was Shimokitazawa, a short metro journey west of Shinjuku. It’s a dream suburban neighbourhood filled with record and flower shops, izakayas, bars and coffee shops. A wonderful place to spend a day rambling round, and the evening in a little standing-only natural wine bar or ramen joint.

Further afield we spent a day in Ome, a couple of hours north-west of the city. We spent an enjoyable morning in its mountainous forestland, learning about wasabi cultivation on an Airbnb Experience, then afterwards took a stroll alongside the Tama River to Sawai, where the traditional Sawanoi sake brewery is located. We took a free tour of the brewery (in Japanese!) which included sampling their delicious sake and buying a couple of bottles to bring home. The on-site garden restaurant, specialising in tofu dishes, looked excellent too though we didn’t stop there to eat. It’s amazing that areas like this are included in the sprawling Tokyo metropolitan zone but feel like you’re a million miles away from the city. Tokyoites are very fortunate to have access to such stunning natural landscapes on their doorsteps: our Saturday train was full of hikers.

Finally, we spent our last full day in Kamakura, a coastal town on the south of Honshu (Japan’s main island). Again a quick train ride from Tokyo past Kawasaki and Yokohama, it’s an amazing base for exploring some of the oldest temples in Japan, including ones with beautiful Zen gardens, attached bamboo groves, tea houses and giant bronze buddhas. The town itself is gorgeous too with lots of cafes and craft shops. You can chug on a little further down to the beach, but we didn’t make it this time.

Just a few of the bits and bobs I brought home and cards/beermats I picked up in cool places. I also bought a bunch of T-shirts, ceramics and loads of cat-related stuff.

Quick links:
– Our Airbnb and hotel: we saved cash by staying in the little Airbnb most nights, then splashed out on a super-luxe hotel for the last two nights.
Google Map with specific places to check out in all these areas.
Instagram for more photos! (I carry my phone more than my camera now, hence the gaps in what these pics cover…)

If you have any questions about visiting Japan, feel free to ask. I think it’s such a great holiday destination as despite the language barrier it’s so easy to get around, the people are excellent, amazing food and drink, it’s just as clean and well-ordered as you’d expect and you can have such a diversity of experiences in a relatively short time.

Twelve reasons to visit Japan

Kofukuji Temple, Nara

I have major wanderlust at the moment, specifically Japan-lust. Here are twelve reasons why…

Shinjuku crossing

1. The way that Tokyo is so hectic, yet so organised, friendly and polite that you feel peaceful in the middle of the chaos.
Read more

Japan video

Japan 2009 - Tokyo

I can’t believe that it’s been almost 2 years since our amazing trip to Japan. Luckily we’ve just booked another big holiday to San Francisco so I’m not wallowing too much – we’re even staying in Japantown in SF, and I think another trip to Japan will be on the cards next year. My memory was jogged because Josh has just finished putting together this awesome video for one of his music tracks, using loads of the footage we shot over there.

[vimeo clip_id=”28635424″ width=”640″ height=”400″]

And I went back through my iPhoto and uploaded some more photos that I didn’t share first time round. Lots more on Flickr here, here and here.

Japan 2009 - Tokyo
Japan 2009 - Tokyo
Japan 2009 - Tokyo
Japan 2009 - Tokyo
Japan 2009 - Tokyo
Japan 2009 - Tokyo
Japan 2009 - Tokyo

Japanese stationery

One of my favourite things about running my little Etsy shop is packaging up my orders to send. Mostly because I get to crack out the Japanese sticky tape that I collect and hoard obsessively… I scanned some in for your viewing pleasure.

And how sweet is this little post-it-note cat – the package even contained little cardboard feet to stand up the notes on the backing board. Clever Japanese innovation! ♥

Check out Artbox and Yozo Craft for similar goodies. Oh, and here’s a few new items from my Etsy shop in case you fancy receiving a fancily-wrapped package yourself!

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Japan videos

I forgot until quite recently that I took a load of video footage on my E-P1 when we were in Japan last year. Josh is editing it all into a music video at the moment as he’s much more au fait with this kind of thing than me – my ‘skillz’ extend to a tiny bit of levels/colour tweaking in iMovie. I’ll post the finished video when he’s done, but here are a few clips. Watching them again makes me miss Japan a whole lot :(

Playing with a sweet kitty in one of the many cat cafes we visited – Cha Ma Mo in Harajuku

Sunrise from the shinkansen bullet train as we sped back to the airport from Kyoto (nearly missing our flight in the process)

Metro train in Tokyo – I miss the robot-voice lady.

Beautiful city even blurry in the rain.

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OM10 and Diana+ in Japan

Here are yet more Japan photos, from my old Olympus OM10 camera. It’s so exciting getting old-skool films back in the post, and it brought back all the good memories of the trip looking through them.

Deer in Nara
Temples in Nara
I was a bit distraught to find 2 of my 7 films had somehow got jammed and not advanced properly between shots, so I have 24 images all multi-exposed in one frame. I’m trying to pick out all the would-be images from the jumble…

24 photos in one frame
24 photos in one frame

And here are a few from the Diana+. After all the precise metering and focussing of the OM10 I found Diana a bit frustratingly unpredictable and uncontrollable, but I still like these shots. I’ve put the prints into a little album I bought in Tokyo as a nice alternative memorial of the trip.

Diana+ JPN Diana+ JPN
Diana+ JPN Diana+ JPN
Diana+ JPN Diana+ JPN

Lots more on Flickr.

Kawaii Japan goodies

Shopping in Japan – especially Tokyo – was so immense. I’m going to be paying off my credit card until next year, but how could I fail to stock up on all this cute stuff?

Japanese notebook
Sweet notebook

Japanese stickers
Mini toy camera stickers, what could be cuter?

Japanese stickers
More stickers. Can YOU understand this variation?

Japanese paper
Notepaper that folds into a papercraft cat head. This little San-x character, Kutusita nyanko, is so cute and I haven’t seen any other stuff with her on in the UK.

Russian doll stacking teapot
Stacking Russian dolls teapot, isn’t it precious?

Kitty socks
Kitty cat socks from Might Soxer, a Japan spin-off chain of Tabio.

Japan travelog

Roppongi night

I’m back from Japan! It was – as expected – totally amazing. I’m still on comedown. It’s a bit overwhelming thinking of all the things we saw and did, but luckily I wrote a daily travelog out there to remind myself. I’ve just cobbled it all together into a website, so click onto if you want to have a look.

Japan travelog

I’m also slowly adding all my photos to Flickr – there are a LOT of them and I still have ten rolls of film to develop, too. I’m so happy with my E-P1, I love how all my digital photos turned out.

Tokyo blogging

A reminder if you’re interested in what I’m getting up to in Tokyo, to check out my photolog of the trip at I’m having SUCH an amazing time, tokyo is as incredible as I thought it would be. Taking tons of photos and writing up a massive diary which I’ll share when I get back.

Go east…

Photo: Rache555

It’s finally here, we’re off to Japan tomorrow! I have my geektastic Google map ready and stuffed full of amazing-sounding things to see and do (probably much too much to fit in), I’ve loaded my cameras with film and charged up the E-P1, and got my guidebooks and rail-passes packed.

I’m going to try and upload some bits and pieces while we’re there (at least in Tokyo where we get free internet, not sure about Kyoto). I’ve set up a Tumblr at should you wish to follow.

See you in 2 and a half weeks..!