Japan Memories: Videos!

Last October was the 1 year anniversary of our 2017 trip to Japan, and I revisited all of the memories in a series of daily blog posts featuring my photographs and journal writings (check them out if you’d like, starting with day 1 here!)

I miss Japan very much- it’s like a reverse homesickness where I have a special place in my heart that aches to visit this far away place again. I am still thinking about Japan every day, and I convinced Dustin that we need to go back sooner rather than later- so we are going to spend Christmas in Tokyo this year!

When we went in 2017 we traveled around from Tokyo using a JR pass to get to Gunma, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kinosaki. We saw so many gorgeous places and ate so much amazing food. It was a fantastic trip.

20171014_030226

This Christmas we are planning to spend the whole time in Tokyo so that we aren’t moving from place to place so much (resettling into new inns and hotels, moving our luggage around) and we can just explore at leisure from our home base in Ikebukuro. There are so many spots in Tokyo that we have only barely explored, or not at all. I can’t wait. I even have 2 tattoo appointments penciled in with a studio in Shibuya!

Wish us luck! I’m saving all of my pennies… (well, figuratively- they don’t make pennies anymore in Canada…)


 

I finally made some videos with clips from our 2017 trips around Japan 🙂

These are just mashups of videos taken from my cell phone, my camera, and probably a little bit of Dustin’s cell and camera too. Some parts are a bit shaky but I kept them in because they were still cool memories. A few of these seem to be things that I didn’t even realize I was filming at the time… each video has a whole bunch of quick clips featuring some of the cool and beautiful things we saw in Japan.

Video 1: Tokyo- Ikebukuro, Ikebukuro street festival, Shinjuku, Shinjuku park, Shibuya, Shin Okubo, Harajuku, Ueno, Nagano Broadway, etc.

Video 2: Gunma- Takaragawa Osenkaku onsen ryokan (family run hot spring inn)

Video 3: Kyoto, Osaka- Higashiyama, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Universal Studios Japan, Harry Potter World, Kyoto Station, etc.

Video 4: Kinosaki- Mikunia onsen ryokan and ryokan town (hot springs town), autumn street festival, kaiseki meals, etc.

 

 

Japan Memories Day 17: Sayonara Kinosaki, and We Meet Again Tokyo!

This is day 17 of revisiting my journal from our trip to Japan last year! If you’d like to start at the beginning, here is day 1.

So, day 17, here we go!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 17, October 17th, 2017

I got up before 7 so I could go to an onsen before breakfast and checkout. I was tired, but an onsen is a great way to wake yourself up… after another excellent breakfast and a little chat with the owners, we were off. They gave us this lovely thank-you note!

20180928_00037_001

While leaving Kinosaki behind is hard, it also felt good to go back to Ikebukuro in a weird way. Our home-base. We are staying in the Tokyu Stay again for a couple of days before we will move again to the Sawanoya Ryokan in Ueno- the last home of our trip.

Dustin and I did a little shopping together, and later in the afternoon I stopped by the BL cafe- my new friend Tequila Queen (Yuri) was there and we shared our twitter accounts 😀 I tried a tequila sunrise (super yummy) and then another… and I ate a yummy bbq chahara dish. I met some new staff tonight as well, Kakeru and Mitako. Mitako and I sang This Is Halloween 🙂

 

Tomorrow is Day 18: Shibuya Scrambled Fashion, Revisiting Akiba, VAMPIRE CAFE and My Bloody Surprise!?!?!

Japan Memories Day 16: Kinosaki Onsen Soak, Zen Temple, Crab Hotpot, and the World’s Best Risotto!

This is day 16 of revisiting my journal from our trip to Japan last year! If you’d like to start at the beginning, here is day 1.

So, day 16, here we go!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 16, October 16th, 2017

This morning’s breakfast included rice, egg, soup, sausage. all kinds of tasty stuff. After breakfast I checked out the TV- lots of funny and cute shows and commercials (animal mating rituals! People and their pets! Infomercials! XD). 

Next, I went down to one of the other onsen in town- it was the most relaxing onsen yet. Goshono-Yu. Indoor and outdoor onsen with a waterfall, sauna, and a stone bench with flowing water and a footbath. I stayed and soaked for over an hour. The cascading bench and footbath provided the perfect spot to sit when the overwhelming heat of full immersion in the onsen became too much for me. 

Dustin and I had lunch at a local spot- my rice with crab was SCRUMPTIOUS.

Then we got delicious ice cream that I didn’t drop on the floor this time! Mine was a scoop of “burnt condensed milk” and a scoop of regular milk flavors. 

We went for a stroll around and found a gorgeous zen temple. In the back was a peaceful cemetery with waters flowing down the rockwork and many weathered stones. 

20171015_232501

Tonight’s dinner was crab hotpot- amazing. I think this area is known for their crab. Then the maid took all of the veggies and bits remaining in the broth out (she found the “Japanese pickle” I had added and thought it was funny- I guess you eat those separately and don’t flavour your soup with them!) She added rice and whipped egg to the remaining crab meat, making “Japanese risotto”. It was so good that I was sad that I was already so full and couldn’t enjoy more of it!

When another woman came to give us dessert (apple-pear matcha mochi) I told her that the risotto is the best, highest risotto, best in the world! She complimented my Japanese (so many compliments, but I know they are being kind- my Japanese is very basic. I want to learn more).

So, we had another soak in the private onsen, and I used their vibrating foot massager thing, and now we are just relaxing and getting ready to journey back to Tokyo tomorrow!

Tomorrow is day 17: Sayonara Kinosaki, and We Meet Again Tokyo!

Japan Memories Day 15: Kinosaki Straw Handicrafts and Impressive Autumn Festival!

This is day 15 of revisiting my journal from our trip to Japan last year! If you’d like to start at the beginning, here is day 1.

So, day 15, here we go!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 15, October 15th, 2017

Breakfast is served in the banquet room between 8 and 8:30. Dustin had said to let him sleep as we’d assumed it would be buffet style like at Takaragawa, but when I saw how a table was set for 2 with an elaborate breakfast set, I went back downstairs and woke him up for it. It was delicious- grilled fish, rice, tamagoyaki, salad, soup, tofu… so much food!

After breakfast I reserved our onsen time and the woman at the desk brightened when I spoke in Japanese. It was a rainy, windy day, but we did some exploring around and found there was a festival for autumn happening. I asked a maid and she said it is called Danjiri (a cart pulling festival). Lots of men and boys were pushing these huge floats around in a display of a battle. There were 6 floats in all I think, carried by hand and heaved around. There were drummers inside!

We had coffee at a charming little local cafe (well, cafe au lait for me and a banana berry smoothie for Dustin) as well as some crab sandwiches. We also got some trinkets from some interesting shops, and visited a small museum about straw handicrafts that the area is known for- muguwara zaishi- it was very interesting. A skillful craft.

We watched a video showing all the work that goes into it, and it made us appreciate it a lot. I bought a few souvenirs from the museum: these are comparatively simple to the designs shown in the video and the ones we saw in the museum, but no less beautiful!

20180928_00033_001-e1539576610270.jpg

We got ice cream at one of the shops, and while I was paying I dropped all of my ice cream (matcha soft-serve) on the floor T-T the lady was very nice about it and gave me another, though. 

At another shop a kind old man who laughed a lot and reminded me of my Grampy chatted with me about Halloween, the local festival, and straw handicrafts. He showed me some straw art hanging on the wall with a stork on it, and said “this bird… brings a baby!” with a knowing smile. We joked about my family wanting a baby, and when I said “aw heck, I’ll take it!” (the stork art) and told him “i’ll tease my husband with it!” he shook my shoulders playfully and thought it was great. I also picked out a teensy dog stuffie to buy and when he read the description tag he said “this cat called… Pagu” (it’s a pug). I told him that I have a pug-beagle dog at home that I miss very much! He also recommended this silk (?) postcard of Kinosaki, and I can’t say no to a cute old man!

20180928_00035_001

A local told me that the festival finale would be happening in the centre of town between the bridges, so I headed there before dinner. He told me I was very lucky to be in Kinosaki at the time of the autumn festival, as it was quite the sight to see. Very impressive displays with the man-lifted floats and drumming that continued into the night.

Dinner tonight was impressive again- crab, shrimp, beef, lots of little sides. Immaculately carved oranges for dessert. We tried the smaller onsen tonight. So relaxing. 

20180928_00034_001

 

Tomorrow is Day 16: Kinosaki Onsen Soak, Zen Temple, Crab Hotpot, and the World’s Best Risotto!

Japan Memories Day 14: Goodbye Kyoto, Hello Beautiful Kinosaki Onsen Town!

This is day 14 of revisiting my journal from our trip to Japan last year! If you’d like to start at the beginning, here is day 1.

So, day 14, here we go!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 14, October 14th, 2017

Goodbye Kyoto. Today we head to Kinosaki. We hailed a taxi to Kyoto station where we ate some yummy ramen and saw some school bands playing (they were very good!)

 

 

The shinkansen to Kinosaki was nearly 2 hours long, with gorgeous views the entire way. Mountains, fields, cute little towns with gardens everywhere, paths leading up steep hills of intense greenery.

20171014_000711_HDR

When we arrived in the town station, a woman asked if we had a reservation at one of the ryokan. She pointed us in the direction of our ryokan, the Mikunia.

 

We checked in and were shown our room by a kind young man. We had a mixup over yukata (summer kimono to wear around the inn and town). I later found out he was telling me I could choose a coloured Yukata downstairs if I wanted an alternate colour to the standard grey yukata provided, but at the time I thought he was simply asking what colour I preferred, so I said “blue or pink would be great, thank you” in my best Japanese.

He brought me two lovely and elaborate yukata and said “one for today, one for tomorrow?” with a grin. Soon after though, the maids came in and were fretting over my yukata selections (not sure why, maybe the colours or patterns didn’t match the season?) and they took the blue one away, to which he began apologizing to me and I was like “oh, it’s ok! It’s ok!”

The maids were also concerned about Dustin’s yukata size (he’s a big guy) and we were trying to explain that he had bought a personal yukata in Kyoto and brought it with him. Then later, when I tried on my pretty pink yukata, a maid appeared and I showed her that my yukata was much too long for me. I didn’t realize that it was a different kind of yukata than the ones we wore in Takaragawa- this one was a fancier type, using two obi (sashes) to hold it up and customize the length.

20171014_190105

Once we figured out all of the yukata confusion, we had a stroll around the gorgeous town of Kinosaki- river with koi fish, bridges and trees, little shops, and footbaths.

 

We were given a kaiseki shabu shabu meal in our room (SO DELICIOUS), after which the table was cleared and moved aside, and our futon set up on the tatami.

 

20171014_050526

We arrived a bit late so our onsen reservation for private soak was the last slot of the day (11pm) and I had to nap first as I was exhausted- but the wait was worth it. Dustin and I had the little onsen to ourselves and enjoyed soaking in the hot water together. The steam and heat prepares you for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow is day 15: Kinosaki Straw Handicrafts and Impressive Autumn Festival!