Asakusa (Pt.1)

Asakusa, the place that many tourist would go to if they ever visit Tokyo. Asakusa has been the center of Tokyo’s entertainment district for a long long time although now the center of Tokyo’s entertainment has been switch to places such as Shibuya & Shinjuku but still Asakusa hasn’t past glory. Everyday thousands & millions of people flocked Asakusa street taking pictures Kaminarimon, searching for souvenirs, hunting for food, there’s even theaters whereby shows such as Rakugo & so on is being perform.

The morning view of Kaminarimon

The most famous landmark in Asakusa is non other than the Kaminarimon, the big lantern hanging in the middle of the tori. Behind the lantern is a stretch of shaopping street called the ‘Nakamise-dori’. The street is about 250m long and has around 90 shops selling souvenirs and street food.

The shopping street that leads to Sensoji
This butter bun is very famous in Asakusa and they called it “Melon Bun”. It is very soft and has a light buttery taste.
This is called the Asakusa Menchi, it is a deep fried meat cake with onions. It is super crunchy and juicy and has little bit of sweetness to it. It’s also one of the famous street food in Asakusa.

Other than foods there are also plenty of shopping malls and shopping street to explore, kimono rental shops are also available in Asakusa..rent a kimono and walk around the area and if time allows, there’s even rickshaw where tourist are able to ride on. There is also a amusement park which is claimed to be the oldest one.

Entrance to the amusement park
Out of curiosity I went and ride on the rickshaw. It was scary at first but later on I kind of enjoy it. ๐Ÿ˜„
Mokuba Hall, sometimes performances were being held here.

I like to just walk around Asakusa doing nothing and other than taking pictures here and there. The morning Asakusa are lively and filled with people, sometimes there’s so many people that I literally hate to walk passed by but during night the area becomes quiet, a total opposite of how it’s like during day time.

Here’s another shopping street called the ‘New Nakamise’
On the right is Ekimise consists of Asakusa Station, department store, shops & restaurant.

There was this one day I remembered I was on my way to buy my dinner and it was around 8pm. I was thinking that maybe I should just use the shortcut route instead of using the main road. The short cut route is so dark and so quite. Half way thru the street 4-5 drunk uncle came from the opposite way, one of them was saying “hey..that girl’s cute” to his other friends and trying to block to my way. I was really afraid I didn’t know if I should run or what so I just walk quietly as if I don’t know what they were talking about. Lucky enough the others uncle looked at me and said “nah..she’s not cute at all” and I run straight to the main road.

Ever since that day onwards I never use the short cut anymore during night time and I would always return home before 8pm and not coming out after that unless I’m with my friend.

Another thing that surprises me was that there’s homeless people in the street during night time. There was one uncle whom I saw was sitting at the side of the street eating leftover food from the bin (my heart kind of hurts when I saw the uncle & I was on my way to buy my meal..I ended up not eating anything at all that night) and there’s another uncle who only comes back to sleep in front my share house building every night but nowhere to be seen during day time.

Asakusa can be a very crowded, happening and safety place during day time but it’s not always the same during night time and I think that girls should never walk alone in the small street during night time if it is not needed.

My Home

After going to Kansai for 2 years I decided to move to Tokyo for one month and the place that I choose to live in is non other than the famous Asakusa. Reason for me to choose to live there is not only because it is filled with culture but also the foods as well as the Sumida River.

Remember the first day when I reached Asakusa, my heart is filled with excitement & I kept telling to myself “so this is how Asakusa looks like wow….and I can see even see Tokyo Skytree from here” ๐Ÿ˜…

I chose to stay at a share house instead of an inn or hotel because I’m afraid of staying alone in a hotel ๐Ÿ˜‚…hahaha…and I was thinking that share house has more people and I might get to make some new friends from there.

There’s the Tokyo Skytree at the back ๐Ÿ˜

It was around 9am when I arrived, I have to wait for the sharehouse worker for the room key and I was asked to wait at the station but after more than half an hour of waiting the person still hasn’t showed up, I was very scared and started wandering around searching for wifi (I rented a pocket wifi but I needed to pick it up at the airport..so I need to go back to the airport after getting my room key as the pick up station at the post office opens at around 10am and my plane arrives at 7am ๐Ÿ˜“)

While I was wondering I didn’t know where to go as the all the shops are still closed and I was too afraid to asked for help so I ended up stand and wait in front of a shop. The uncle saw me standing outside his shop looking like I am waiting for someone comes and offers me help. I ended up borrowed his phone and called the share house worker.

My room

When arrived at the share house, my first impression was that it’s a bit old and doesn’t look like what has been shown in the picture but when I saw my room & the bed I was like OMG…this place is so cozy & I just wanna rolled in here all day long plus the tatami bedsheet that I rented from them it’s so soft and really makes me just wanna keep staying in my room and not going anywhere. (I love this place so much that the next time I went to Tokyo I stayed at the same place again..lol)

The share house has 2 floors only. the 2nd floor is mostly occupied by Japanese whereas the 3rd floor are mostly foreigners. Getting all excited as I thought that living in a share house means I get to make lots of friends and most people are friendly but I was wrong ๐Ÿ˜. There are also people who aren’t that friendly at all.

I remembered during the first night I decided to have my dinner at the living room instead of having it bring into my room. I was eating my bento quietly at a corner of the table and these 2 girls (Girl A & Girl B) started talking to me and asked me where I am from in English and I told them. After that I continue with my meal and they started speaking to each other in Mandarin expecting that I don’t understand what they are talking about.

Girl A (I didn’t like her even when I went back there to stay for the 2nd time the year after) was asking Girl B “Is that girl mute? she can’t talk?” and Girl B answered” I don’t know. She rarely talks”. I was like ๐Ÿ˜ฒ what have I done? I’m just sitting here having my meals and I got called a mute? After hearing this I decided to turn to them and told them that I can actually speak…in Mandarin ๐Ÿ˜‰.

The reason why I didn’t like girl A was not because of what she have said about me but because of her character. For the one month that I lived in that share house, I realized that every morning when she wakes up she would turn on the tv loud and having the kitchen, dining table & tv all to herself and night time when she came back from work she would do the same thing as well and started laughing out loud to the tv shows as if there’s no other people living there. I got so annoyed once that I went down to 1st Floor sitting at the staircase and still manage to hear her laugh. ๐Ÿ˜”

The staircase that I missed so much now..hahaha. The notice was being put there because of construction going on at the basement floor… ๐Ÿ˜„

That was my first experience living in a share house and of course there are also good & friendly people while some may be a little too selfish but overall it was a good experience and I really love that share house.

Ikedaya

The Ikedaya is situated at the site where the original Ikedaya Inn was in Sanjo, Kyoto. Ikedaya back in the olden days was an inn & is famous for its Ikedaya Incident. (The Ikedaya Incident was a raid launched by the Shinsengumi against the anti-shogunate that gathers in Ikedaya Inn.)

However, many years after that the original Ikedaya was taken down, it has now become a Shinsengumi theme izakaya.

A memorial stone of Ikedaya
Short history about the past of Ikedaya
The outside of the izakaya

When entering the izakaya drawings of Shinsengumi filled the place. It is a really cozy place and has this traditional Japanese houses feel.

Drawings of Shinsengumi
Here are the picture of Hijikata Toshizo, Vice Commander of Shinsengumi & below is a picture of Kondo Isami, Commander of Shinsengumi

After whole day of non-stop walking, we quickly sat down and take a look at the menu.

Even menu are filled with Shinsengumi drawings..lol
The drinks are based on the anime character from ่–„ๆกœ้ฌผ (Hakuoki)

I’ve ordered myself a drink from the anime menu and it comes with a very cute coaster which I didn’t want to use it on the spot instead I have it bring home and keep as a souvenir.

The coaster

And here comes the food we ordered self boil tofu, yakisoba, sashimi & grilled squid.

Basically they bring us soy milk and we literally needs to slowly boil it to make it tofu. It was a great experience as I’ve never tried boil tofu by myself
The tofu…it’s a bit ugly I know as I didn’t scoop it properly and it ended up becoming mashed tofu
Just a normal yakisoba yet it’s delicious but the portion is too small even for one person..lol
The sashimi just melts in my mouth everytime I put a piece of it into my mouth
This was ordered by my friend. I’m not a big fan of squid so I ended up not tasting it.

Overall the food isn’t that bad at all plus the ambiance of the izakaya really makes me wanna just sit there and chill out for hours & hours.

Shinsengumi fans & non-Shinsengumi fans out there, if you are in Kyoto or planning to visit Kyoto, do pay a visit to this izakaya.

For more information please check the website below: https://hananomai-official.com/shop/ikedaya (Japanese Only)

Travel Back Time (Pt.2)

In my previous post where I wrote about the inside of the Toei Kyoto Studio Park main building, so to continue my previous post, today I will write about the outside of the main building which is also the highlight of the studio park.

Welcome to Edo ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Inside the park there are restaurants & shops selling souvenirs as well as activities to for visitors to participate in. It was already noon when I arrived so I decided to stop by a restaurant for my lunch. I ordered the Mito Komon ramen which was basically soya sauce base ramen. There’s a little history about this ramen, it was said that Mito Komon aka Tokugawa Mitsukuni was the first person to taste ramen in Japan.

I think this is the kind of ramen that Mito Komon tasted during that time… ๐Ÿค”
I ordered orange juice and it comes with this cute lantern cup that can be used as piggy bank after as well as an alcohol free beer..lol
The restaurant
Edo feel is everywhere around the park
A small pond whereby it acts as a canal surrounded by warehouse during filming
Sometimes dino pops out from the pond as well… ๐Ÿ˜ฃ
Soba shop back in Edo period.
Replica of Nakamuraza..one of the 3 greatest kabuki theaters back in the Edo period. Every now & then performances are being held in here such as ninja show and so on.
Bank of Edo..hahaha
Yoshiwara, the famous red light district during the Edo period
There are lots of actors & actress dressing up as different character walking around the park. This actor dressed up as Sakamoto Ryoma.
Replica of Ikedaya famous for its Ikedaya incident
Looking down from Ikedaya..It really does make me feels like living in the Edo period
The school

There are more to explore in the park, sometimes actors & actresses in the park does short performances around the park as well. Walking around the park really feels like travelling back to Edo period in fact I love it so much that I actually went there twice ๐Ÿ˜†.

Anyone who is in Kyoto now or is planning to go Kyoto. Why not spend some time walking around and explore the park ๐Ÿ˜.

  • Ticket to the studio park is 2,200 yen (Adults – individual) & 1,980 yen (Groups of 25 or more)
  • Studio park is open every day including holidays from 9am – 5pm (March – November) & 9:30am – 5pm (December – February)

Travel Back Time (Pt.1)

Edo..the olden days of Tokyo from 1603 to 1868 under the rule of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period when everyone in Japan were living in peacefulness, businesses were getting better, more & more people from the Kansai area starts entering Edo for trading & businesses (Before Edo, Kansai was the only trading & business area in Japan). It was when entertainment such as kabuki, bunraku & so on makes its first appearance. Sushi, tempura, soba & unagi were also delicacies from the Edo period.

There were also lots of Japanese movies, dramas as well as anime base on the Edo period. My all time favorite will have to be ๅน•ๆœซใ‚ฐใƒซใƒก ใƒ–ใ‚ทใƒกใ‚ท๏ผ(Bakumatsu Gurume Bushimeshi – The Samurai Cook)

I can’t manage to find a trailer so anyone who is interested to watch can try find it on Youtube & Dailymotion. ๐Ÿ˜„

I love watching Japanese historical drama and could sit hours in front of the tv watching and it is mainly because of the colorful beautiful costumes, the life of the people in the olden days can also be seen thru these movies & dramas. It’s also due to these movies & dramas that I got into Japan so much. While watching those movies & dramas, I always wonder to myself how would it be if I am living in those days. What is the feeling of living in those days…๐Ÿค”

Of course, I don’t have super power to turn back time or a time machine to travel back to those period, so the closest way I am able to get the feeling of being in Edo is going to the Toei Kyoto Studio Park or Toei Eigamura Kyoto ๐Ÿ˜. This is a park where everything Edo is being recreated and most historical movies & dramas were also being film in here as well. If one is lucky they might get to see actors and actresses on the set filming. There is also a costume rental shop where people are able to turn themselves into samurai, Edo girls & boys etc etc and walk around the park.

The entrance to the studio park

Once entering the studio park building there’s The Travel of Mito Komon Hall selling souvenirs & stuffs from Mito Komon, the longest running historical drama in Japanese tv history that runs from 1969 to 2011 with a total of 1,227 episodes.

The Travels of Mito Komon Hall

There’s also a restaurant named ‘Chanbara’ inside the main building. On the 2nd Floor there are various of stuffs to play with such as the 3D Maze, Trick Art Museum, Hero Land & so on.

The funny looking kabuki samurai in front of Chanbara
There’s a handsome samurai over there at the mountain.. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Don’t kill me..noooooo~~~

The Hero Land brings back lots of memories from when I was a kid. The Rangers that I used to watch on tv…the monsters that got beaten up by the super heros, they are all in front of my eyes..OMG ๐Ÿ˜…

These creatures are epic..and they are so well build in every details
The Rangers
Different generations of Red Ranger
My most favorite creature..it’s a little creepy but it’s cool..hahaha

Alright..after looking thru what’s inside the main building tomorrow I will write about what’s outside the building which is also the main purpose of me going to park..to find my Edo..hahahaha ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Ticket to the studio park is 2,200 yen (Adults – individual) & 1,980 yen (Groups of 25 or more)
  • Studio park is open every day including holidays from 9am – 5pm (March – November) & 9:30am – 5pm (December – February)

The Train

I’ve always love listening to the sound of railway come & go, love listening to the music that plays in the station when the railway is approaching, the announcements in the railway stations that goes like..”mamonaku xxx, odeguchi wa hidari/migi gawa desu” (am I weird or what?๐Ÿค”) as well as looking out at the sceneries from inside the railway then starting to get all emotional ๐Ÿ˜‚.

My very first time when I got to ride the railway was when I’m on my way to Kyoto riding on the Haruka Express Train..I was like…WOW!!! This is how riding a train feels like..(I’ve never been on a railway or subway before as I live in a country where everyone uses car and the only public transport that is available in where I live are only buses & taxis.. ๐Ÿ˜ฐ) I remember an incident that happened to me in the railway, it was when I wanted to go to the WC, it took me literally 2-3 minutes just to figure out how to open the door lock & closes the door & the guy standing in front of the WC was looking at me with the weird eyes…hahahaha..it was so embarrassing ๐Ÿ˜ฃ another one is that I tripped everytime when the railway/subway moves or stops, this happens when I needed to stand and I’m too short to grab the handle above me so…

Front view of the Haruka Express Train. The very first train that I ride..lol (Photo taken from japanvisitor.com)
Here are the side view. Didn’t get my camera prepared when the train comes so I’ve only managed to take the side view of the train..haha

My first impression of Japan’s railway/subway is that they are super punctual (unless accidents happen) and it’s super clean…(I don’t remember seeing anyone drink or eat inside the train) and also quiet.. everyone in the train is either looking at their phone, reading book, news…etc etc or sleeps. I feel weird at first but after some time I got used to it and started to sleep as soon as I get in the train early in the morning. Sometimes I like to just stare outside looking at the views and started thinking to myself “I’m gonna just stay here forever..this country is just so beautiful..I wanna be here forever” ๐Ÿ˜†

The railway/subway can be super crowded too especially in the morning where everyone is rushing to work and also evening when everyone is off work. That’s the time when I hated to be in the railway/subway. It is so crowded that getting on and off becomes a problem to me ๐Ÿ˜…. There was once I needed to go to school in the morning and when the train approaches everyone starts running & rushing themselves into the subway and eventually I got pushed all the way to the back and missed the train..lol..the station master saw me and asked if I wanted to take the subway and I said yes then he told me I should just stand behind the yellow line and wait so I am able to get in.

I need to stand behind that line so I won’t missed my train

Going home in the evening when everyone wants to go home is also a problem. I got squeeze all the way to the corner of the cabin all the time, when the door opens at the side that I am standing at then I’m lucky but when it’s at the opposite side I needed to push my way out and I’m inside the cabin with all sorts of people – after work people, after school people, after sports people..tons of smells and —-> ๐Ÿ˜ต that’s my face everytime this kind of situation happens, I ended up getting down at the nearest station and walk my way home. (It’s ok..I needed to exercise too..)

It was really annoying when times like that happens and I needed to ride the train so I tried to get home early before the train starts getting crowed everyday but after coming back to my home country I started to miss those times when I needed to rush for the train and being in the crowded train.

๐Ÿ˜ž ohhh well..Things are valued only when they’re gone…I guess…!!!

First Time

It was in the summer of 2012 that me and my friend finally made our way to Japan. We reached Kansai International Airport at around noon and soon as we arrived I got all nervous and excited and started taking pictures of almost everything. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Here’s some of what I took picture of:-

The Welcome To Kansai signboard at the airport..lol (the one with the smiley is my friend)
The Tourist Information Center…and~~there’s my friend again in the picture ๐Ÿ˜‚
Even the brochure stand
& the vending machines (I was a bit fascinated by the vending machines in Japan and they sell almost everything..hahaha)

We decided to head to Kyoto first so my friend suggested that we bought the free pass ticket as well as an ICOCA card. I have to tally no idea of anything as it was my first trip so I bought whatever my friend said, at the end of the day I come to realize that I have wasted lots of money on buying those.

These are what we bought. 3-days Kansai Thru Pass for Kyoto, 2 2-days Osaka Pass for Osaka & also ICOCA w/ Round trip Haruka ticket package

The ICOCA card comes with a package of either a One-Way Haruka ticket or Round-trip Haruka ticket which can be used for travelling from Kansai Airport to Kobe or Kyoto and vice versa. For more info please check the link: https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/icoca-haruka/

As for the free pass. It comes with lots of special privileges ie: discounts & so on. For more info please check the link: https://www.surutto.com/tickets/kansai_thru_english.html https://www.osp.osaka-info.jp/en/

The above tickets are all really great deals for tourist travelling to Kansai but why do I mentioned that I have wasted lots of money buying those was because for the 7 days of our trip we ended up using only 1 of the Haruka ticket which is the one from Kansai Airport to Kyoto & most of the special privileges that the free pass has we never used & most of the times we are only using our ICOCA card for subway and buses.

The ICOCA can be used throughout the Kansai area on subway, buses as well as convenient stores, Kansai Thru Pass can also be used around the Kansai region on subway & buses whereas Osaka Pass is only for subway and buses in Osaka. Basically, I can use just the ICOCA prepaid card to get around rather than buying all of it and ended up not using it as I, myself is not the type of person who would look thru what’s inside the privileges booklet and go to wherever there is discount or special privileges and even if I do go I would end up forget that I have a discount/special privileges booklet with me, let alone my friend who loves nothing but sleep throughout the whole trip ๐Ÿ˜”

Ever since this trip I took it as a lesson learned to never fully trust anybody even my own good friend when it comes to travelling. I did my own research, study etc etc and to make sure that I will never make the same mistake again and having to waste money on stuffs that I did not use. I ended up throwing away the rest of the pass (yes…I get a little heartache when I threw them away cuz it’s my MONEY that I am throwing away yet I can’t do anything about it and I can’t give it away as well due to expiry date) and keep only the ICOCA card that until now I am still using.

Dream Comes True

Being able to travel to Japan has always been a dream since I was young. I’ve always been very curious about the life in Japan, the culture and so on..but being able to actually travel there is just a dream that i never thought would come true as tickets and accommodations were a little pricey back then.

My very first travel to Japan was back in 2012 (yes…that was like..7 years ago.. ๐Ÿ˜†). I managed to save up and along with a friend of mine we made our very first trip to Japan (Wasn’t a very pleasant trip tho.. ๐Ÿ˜ก). We went for about 2 weeks and since then I have been travelling to Japan every year.

7 years after that I have decided to start a blog myself to recap all of the happenings that I have encounter. The ups & downs that I went thru & share it all here in my blog.