Japan 2019 (Part 4: Hiroshima + Osaka)

We’re finally at the last part of my Japan 2019 adventure! (Click here to read part 1, part 2, and part 3.) It was so much fun writing and editing all the photos (all 140+ photos)—it’s as if I’m traveling back there again through my writing. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it!

Day 9: Hiroshima + Miyajima Island

Out of all the places we’ve visited so far, I admit that I was most excited about Hiroshima. It was an entirely new place for me, and I’ve been wanting to visit the area for a long time. So after nine hours on the night bus, we finally arrived at Hiroshima Station:

The bus conveniently announcing our arrival.

It was another cold morning when we got down the bus; it was like an instant wake-up call for us! We walked to Hiroshima Station’s streetcar platform and headed for our hostel, J-Hoppers Hiroshima. We freshened up quickly and had a light kombini breakfast before heading for the Motoyasu Pier to board the ferry going to Miyajima Island. (While it wasn’t the cheapest way to get there, it was the most convenient way for us as our hostel was within walking distance to the Hiroshima Peace Park.)

We got seats on the ferry that face the windows!

What a peaceful sight.

What’s cool about this ferry is that it cruises slowly on the river, letting us enjoy the calm views, before speeding into the sea!

The Atomic Bomb Dome.

Forty-five minutes later, we reached the gorgeous Miyajima Island. We didn’t have any specific plans except to eat, take lots of nice photos, and walk around enjoying the sights. We were welcomed by a few deer friends:

Oh, deer!

Trying hard to blend in?

After saying hello to the deer, we spotted our first eat of the afternoon: curry oyster buns! Man, I love oysters and curry, and to see the two of them combined into one heavenly pouch made me really excited. I immediately bought one with no hesitation.

The verdict? I would gladly go all the way back to Miyajima just to eat another one of these. Delicious!

Continue reading “Japan 2019 (Part 4: Hiroshima + Osaka)”

Japan 2019 (Part 3: Kyoto)

Part three of my Japan exploration trip is here! (Click here to read part 1 and part 2!)

Last I left from the previous blog post, my friends and I were in Osaka getting ready to go to Kyoto.

Day 6: Kyoto Exploration + Kichi Kichi

We woke up to a slow morning and eventually made our way to Kyoto from Osaka via the express train. Luckily, our hostel, Kyoto Hana Hostel, was within walking distance from Kyoto Station, so (after a quick stop at the Kyoto main post office) we dropped off our luggage right away and headed to Nishiki Market for a late lunch/street-food-food-trip.

Immediately, as soon as we arrived at Nishiki Market, I found my first bite:

I got this large unagi sushi for ¥300! Yum.

After practically inhaling the unagi, we walked for about twenty steps when I found the next thing to eat: tofu doughnuts!

Six tofu doughnuts for ¥300!

After barely even entering the market and eating unagi sushi AND mini tofu doughnuts, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t last until we reach the end of the market, haha! Also, we had dinner reservations around 5PM and I didn’t want to feel too full for that later, so I exercised a little bit of self-control after the doughnuts. My friends and I decided to split the next thing we all wanted to try:

I can’t recall what this is exactly, but it’s like a pork pancake?

Moving on in the market, we unexpectedly found a Snoopy Chaya branch! I’m not a big fan of matcha (oops) but I AM a big Peanuts/Snoopy fan, so I went in and looked around.

Happy kid! I also bought a few souvenirs here, hehe.

Look at that Snoopy mochi! So cute!

We went on shopping and eating once every so often (at this point, I forgot to take photos of the fresh sashimi I’ve eaten and others–oops) before heading for Kichi Kichi for our reservations! A little backstory—I literally checked the website every Sunday at 3PM (that was the date and time when the restaurant will open reservations for a specific time when I was reserving) until reservations opened; so I’ve been waiting for this for quite some time, you could say! (I actually got the reservations for this on my birthday, Feb. 10! It was a nice birthday gift hehe.)

Anyways, back to Kyoto! We waited outside the restaurant early and was able to get the counter seats (we were the second group to be seated), which is a big deal for me as the restaurant alone could only seat eight people at a time.

So honored and happy to sit right across from Chef Motokichi Yukimura!

Continue reading “Japan 2019 (Part 3: Kyoto)”

Japan 2019 (Part 2: Osaka)

Part two of my Japan trip is here! (Click here to read part one!)

One night bus later, we arrived at Osaka! This marked my third time to visit Osaka, and every time I go back, it brings me warm memories. It’s the place where I visited Japan for the first time, after all! Every time I go back, I feel bubbly and excited—there’s just so much to do and see!

Day 4: Osaka Exploration

After a comfortable and smooth 7-hour ride on the night bus, we were welcomed by the cool Osaka morning as we got down the bus. We made our way to our hostel, Osaka Hana Hostel, where we dropped off our luggage and went to a nearby Mo’s Burgers for some breakfast:

The hot milk tea and warm cheeseburger definitely hit the spot!

After breakfast, we walked back to the hostel and freshened up for the day. This day was a free day dedicated to shopping and exploring; we didn’t have a fixed schedule, so it was nice to just take the city in. We walked to Dotonburi and enjoyed exploring the shops in the area. Eventually, with all the walking we did, our stomachs went empty once more and we decided that lunch would be a little “treat yo’ self” meal and headed to Daimaru.

So. Good. Everything was cooked to perfection—almost like a melt-in-your-mouth experience!

After lunch, we went to Tokyu Hands and Kawachi for some shopping (yes, my wallet felt particularly light after visiting these two places—HAHA!) Just outside the building, we were lucky to find such delicious ichigo daifuku for sale. Naturally, we bought one each:

Armed with bags of Tokyu Hands goods, Kawachi goods, and strawberry daifuku, we headed back to the hostel and checked in our room:

Futon beds are the best! Continue reading “Japan 2019 (Part 2: Osaka)”

Japan 2019 (Part 1: Nagoya)

After months of planning, researching, and booking, my friends and I finally went to Japan for our graduation trip!
I’m splitting up this 11-day trip into four posts, each focusing on one specific area of Japan—so come along on our trip as I look back and retell the story from my memories!

Six months ago (or even more), I told Nicole—one of my best friends—that I was itching to go back to Japan and explore different areas. Originally, my whole group of friends and I were supposed to go to Japan together. Unfortunately, not everyone was free to go, so we decided to push on with the trip with promises of future travel with everyone else instead. In the end, only Nicole, Alecca, and I were free to go.

After deciding on who could go, we talked about what areas of Japan we’d like to explore. Nicole, seeing that it would be her first time to visit Japan, voted for Osaka since she’s been dreaming of going to Universal Studios for the Wizarding World. Alecca, who’s visited Japan once in the past, was willing to go wherever we’ll go, and I wanted to explore Nagoya and Hiroshima. Searching up nearby places to visit, I came up with this route: Nagoya-Osaka-Kyoto-Hiroshima-Osaka.

Now that we had a clear route, we decided on a budget and the activities we’d want to do in each area. Since most of the funds (if not all) for the trip would be coming out of our own savings, we were on a budget for sure. I made an Excel sheet and worked on the budget for flights, accommodation, night buses, entrance fees, and more. Once the budget seemed reasonable, we bought our plane tickets. We booked our hostels and night buses. We bought tickets for USJ and airport express tickets. We exchanged our money and packed—the point is, we booked and bought whatever we could before leaving to ease on us spending yen once we arrived.

Fast forward to March 1 after months of careful planning and research, we were on the plane for Nagoya!

Day 1: Arrival (Nagoya)

(L-R): Nicole, Alecca, and I on the plane to Nagoya!

Chicken Sisig: one last Filipino meal before having eleven days of Japanese food!

Our flight landed earlier than expected, so took our time and rode the airport express to Nagoya Station. We embraced the cool air (which is such a luxury since I live in a tropical country) as we made our way to our first hostel of the trip.

Hostel Wasabi!

It was all our first time to try out a capsule hostel, so we were pretty excited! It was interesting to see all the different people checking in and hanging out in the lounge. My friends and I booked a female-only floor and we enjoyed how clean and quiet the floor was!

My little space for the next two nights.

We settled down, freshened up for bed, and rested for the day, excited for what tomorrow would bring.

Continue reading “Japan 2019 (Part 1: Nagoya)”

Osaka Haul 2018!

As promised, here is my Japan/Osaka haul (please read my previous blog post about the trip to offer some insight on my purchases!) Whenever I travel, a handful of people ask me what to buy/what I bought/what to expect in Japan—to have an idea of what type of person I am (or what things I usually buy), here is my haul:

Music:

I dropped by Tower Records and knew immediately what I’m looking for—to my delight, I was able to find them! I grabbed a copy of Panic! at the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor (I’ve been looking for a physical copy for a looong time; I love this album so much) and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton (I am a total theatre nerd and I am proud Hamitrash—I think I’ve memorized at least more than half the songs so far? Hehehe.) Great finds + great buys!

Stationery/Art Supplies:

Next up, I bought these sticker organizers. I really had this one my ‘to-buy’ list and luckily didn’t have too much of a hard time finding them.

The lavender one is for sticker flakes—

…while the red one is for vertical sticker sheets!

I also bought a pack of 8 Posca paint markers (because I’ve been wanting to try them out for the longest time) and a roll of masking tape (I’m not sure if this is specialized for watercolor paper, but I’m excited to test it out!)

Next would be the washi tapes (oh, boy!)

Continue reading “Osaka Haul 2018!”

Osaka 2018!

A few days ago, my family and I went to Osaka, Japan. We stayed there from June 7 to 11, 2018—too short of a stay, if you’d ask me! Hehe. For this trip, I booked EVA Air (a 4AM-12nn flight, with a layover at Taipei for two hours.) I booked this trip months ahead and excitedly counted the days ’till the big trip; I was especially excited for this trip because it would be my little sister’s first time in Japan!

Day 1

Airplane food.

Sunrise up in the sky!

Fast forward to noon, we finally arrived in Osaka! I quickly claimed our Nankai Line Airport Express tickets and our Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan E-tickets as well from the HIS counter at the airport. (I booked both of these, amongst others, through Klook.com!)

We rode to Namba in comfortable peace and enjoyed the sights. Forty-five minutes later, we got to our destination.

The train looks so cool + futuristic, hehe.

Would recommend riding the rapi:t train (you can purchase roundtrip tickets!) If you book it online or buy the tickets there, you can get reserved seating. We made our way to our hotel, Ibis Styles Osaka, dropped our things off, and headed for Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan!

If you squint, you could see my dad, my mom, and my sister photobombing my photo. Huhu.

The aquarium was just gorgeous. I would totally go back just to spend a lazy afternoon staring at the majestic creatures behind the glass. Just look at these photos (although, the photos don’t do enough justice for the actual thing!):

Why, hello there!

Continue reading “Osaka 2018!”

Hokkaido 2017 (Part 2)!

 Without further adieu, here is part two! (You could read part one here.)

Day 3: September 2

I booked a private van via SkyExpress for today’s trip since we’d be traveling quite a distance. I got the Furano and Biei Day Tour package and it was amazing! The package included visits to Furano Cheese Factory, Jam Factory, Anpan Man Shop, Tomita Farm, and Patchwork Road. You could also request up to two stops without additional cost. This particular tour is only available from June to September.

Our driver for the day picked us up from the hotel early in the morning and off we headed for Furano! Our driver gave us about an hour or two per stop, as we only have limited time; which is understandable seeing that we still have a LOT of places to go! 🙂 Our first stop was Shikisai no Oka, which we requested as an additional stop. My cousin and I were the most excited because we saw photos of the flower fields online! And, boy, did it not disappoint.

Literally took my breath away.

Additionally, you could rent a cart to drive around (I think for 15 minutes)? Just make sure to bring your driver’s license.

(L-R) My cousin, my mom, and I

 

We had a mini-photoshoot with all the flowers!

Behind-the-scenes HAHA

Aside from a blooming flower field, they also had a small alpaca farm where you can pay ¥500 to feed them.

Aren’t they cute? Huhu they’re really fluffy too.

Continue reading “Hokkaido 2017 (Part 2)!”

Hokkaido 2017 (Part 1)!

This post is long-delayed, I admit, but it’s finally here! Yey!
The reason it took so long was the photos! I have a LOT of photos to share, so I’ll be splitting this blog post into two! 🙂

A few months ago, I went to Hokkaido with my family for a few days (August 31 – September 5, 2017). While I’ve been to Hokkaido in the past (Kushiro, to be specific), this would be my first time in Sapporo. I was in charge of the itinerary again and this is what we did:

Day 1: August 31, 2017

Our flight to Sapporo took a grand total of nine travel hours (including the layover)! We departed from Manila at 9 in the morning –

landing at Narita Airport by 3:00PM –

then flew off for Sapporo by 6PM and finally arriving at 8PM!

Phew! We rode the train to Sapporo Station and walked to our hotel, Hotel MyStays Sapporo Aspen, from there. We had takeaway dinner from the nearby Coco Ichibanya and headed to bed for another early start the next day.

Day 2: September 1

Waking up bright and early, we headed for Otaru.Otaru Station! It was such a beautiful day.

Otaru is so gorgeous and we were lucky to go on such a good day!

Just look at these flowers!

We arrived a little too early (I guess I was just too excited, woops) and most of the shops were still closed, so we walked around and took our time enjoying all the sights!

I love all the architecture and history of all the buildings here.

Coming to Otaru, I had a few things I knew I wanted to see and do (not to mention, eat hehe) – which I’ll get to in a bit.  Walking around, we encountered a small market that sold souvenirs, fresh Hokkaido sweet corn and melon, and dried seafood.

Sweet Hokkaido melons selling at ¥500 per slice! Expensive, but worth a taste. It’s so good.

Since all the stores were still closed, we headed for the Otaru Canal next.

There was an elderly man painting the canal and there were various artists selling postcards and their paintings of the canal on the side. I couldn’t resist and bought a postcard for myself.

Continue reading “Hokkaido 2017 (Part 1)!”

Japan 2k17!

A bit of a delayed post since I’ve been having trouble uploading all the pictures, but here it finally is! 🙂

After 8 months, I’m extremely lucky enough to go back to Tokyo, Japan! I was in charge of creating the itinerary and planning other details alongside my aunt – which was a really exciting and awesome responsibility!I was looking forward to this trip for several months – it’s what kept me going in school (“suffer now, enjoy later”) as I spent fewer hours sleeping and more hours into school work. Like my previous travel/ Japan posts (click here to read one), I’ll break down my trip per day. For this trip, I went with my grandmother and my two aunts!

Day 1: April 11

Our flight to Tokyo, Japan leaves at 9AM, so my family and I were at the airport by 5:30AM. After dropping our bags off, we headed for the airport lounge for a light breakfast (since they’ll also be serving brunch on the plane later on) as we waited for our boarding time.

Breakfast with a view!

I was itching to leave since at this time of the year, it’s really hot here in the Philippines and I’m missing the cool air of Spring. Fast forward to four hours, we finally landed!

(It was a rainy Tuesday afternoon. ANA’s windows are really cool – they can turn into different shades of blue depending on the time and the user.)

I was immediately hit with nostalgia when I saw all the Japanese characters all around and when I heard “arigatou gozaimasu” from the usual “thank you” and “salamat” I hear at home. I was grinning from ear to ear as we made our way to the Narita Express to catch a train to Shibuya.

Continue reading “Japan 2k17!”

Japan 2k16 Photobook

I know, I know.

I haven’t updated my Japan 2016 blog in a LONG time – but bear with me. I’m writing it slowly, and you should expect a post probably next week (if school work doesn’t drown me). In the meantime – I’m very excited to announce that for the past few months, I’ve been working on a secret project. I was looking through the past photos of my Japan trip when I was suddenly struck with inspiration – why don’t I make a photo album? 

So that’s what I did – I combined my photography, my brush lettering, and my photo editing skills together in one huge project.

It was a difficult process to choose only a hundred photos for the entire album – I distributed it to 20 photos a month (excluding the collages, it counts as “1 photo”) – but after much deliberation, I finally completed it. I arranged the photos in the order that it happened. If some photos don’t make much sense, it’s because it’s probably an inside joke or story. Maybe if I have the time, I’ll write about it in my future blog posts!

Without further adieu, here it is! The product of several sleepless nights, blood, sweat, and tears:

Update: I actually had this printed in hard copy via fotogra.ph! I highly recommend this company because the prices are really good, the service is speedy, and the outcome is perfect. Would definitely order again in the future!

[2018 Update: I don’t think I’d be able to ever complete the 2016 weekly Japan blog posts at this point 😭 It’s been too far gone, and I’m  trying to move forward and focus on things that are coming instead. I hope that you’ll understand! I kept the majority of my day-to-day life during my exchange program in a journal and I think that’s enough for me.]