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Goodbye Australia, Hello Japan!

30 Jan

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Leaving Australia is  definitely a weird feeling.  I packed my bag and organised everything.  It took me a lot of effort to pack lightly but I’m glad I managed it.  If I packed as much as I originally planned then I probably wouldn’t have been able to carry my bag. 

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The hardest thing for me will definitely be missing my family, boyfriend and friends back home.

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I’m very glad my brother will be coming with me! being all alone in a new country for the first time since I was 4 alone would definitely be more scary. 

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Look out Japan,  here we come!!!!

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Top 10 Spots to Make Hours Disappear in Tokyo

27 Jan

Check out this article on Tokyo. It has definitely given me some more ideas on where to go 🙂

Origional copy found here – http://www.pedestrian.tv/travel/home-feature/top-ten-spots-to-make-hours-disappear-in-tokyo/5f5f6566-c511-4965-afef-2bb36a1a9f68.htm

Hannah x

Top 10 Spots to Make Hours Disappear in Tokyo, January 24th 2013Japan is like that person you know, you know the one, the person who is so intense that you have no choice but to respond in kind and either intensely love or intensely hate their dumb head. No middle ground. Japan has a personality that is so distinct, so uniquely Japanese, that if you have ever thought Japan miiggghht be a place you would like, you Mos Def need to go there IMMEDIATELY! But in an orderly fashion. Arigato. 

For this Smirnoff Start Pure City Guide, we have enlisted the help of Japanophile Eloise Rapp and included the Tokyo inspired ‘Tokyo Sidecar’ cocktail for your enjoyment. But remember, not everything needs to be big in Japan, so enjoy responsibly.

Tokyo is a hypnotic and exciting place to live; it is very easy to let all of your spare time get sucked into a vortex of incredible art, design, music, food and cultural events that occur constantly and year-round. Hence the title of this top ten list.

During my stint in Tokyo I lived in Shimokitazawa, one of the city’s liveliest and loveliest neighbourhoods full of tiny bars and cafes, thrift stores, nan and pop bike shops on every corner and a warm village atmosphere. I worked on a bunch of freelance projects including writing trend reports for WGSN, styling for fashion and underground club events, textile prints and odd graphic design jobs. I tried to go to Japanese lessons and just ended up learning from my friends instead (recommended).

The creative community is vibrant and welcoming, full of talent and great craftsmanship; which is why my labelRAPP was conceived over there. I love my low-brow, rowdy izakayas, local design and thrifting, and as you will find, Tokyo caters to these needs in abundance.

A-Z Café 
Address: 5F 5-8-3 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku
Phone: +81 3 5464 0281
Website: atozcafe.exblog.jp
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 12noon–11pm

Although most high-rise bars will forever play second fiddle to the Bill Murray endorsed New York Bar, the A-Z café is my pick for best drink with a view. The joint creator of the space is the ubiquitous artist Yoshitomo Nara, whose devil children lurk on the walls and tables.

Karaoke 747 
Address: 6F Sanwa Bldg, 3-6-7 Shinjuku San-Chome, Shinjuku-ku
Phone: +81 3 3352 3410
Website: www.karaoke747.jp
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 6pm–5am, Sunday and Saturday (and public holidays) 3pm–5am

Until a friend politely provided me with the name of this karaoke establishment I knew it only as “the one with the glowing space decals and staff who dress up as pilots”. Karaoke 747 is the only K bar you need to know about in Tokyo, and hot selling points include a costume rack, tambourines, high school dance lighting and an encyclopaedic catalogue.


Picture by Eloise.

Vacant 
Address: 3-20-13 Jingumae, Shibuya
Phone: +81 3 3352 3410
Website: vacant.n0idea.com
Opening Hours: Shop & café Monday to Sunday 12noon–8pm

A serene pit stop just a step from the mayhem that is Harajuku’s Takeshita Dori (that’s tacky shit street to you). An ambient, inviting space encouraging creative interaction, Vacant is part zine shop, part cafe and part exhibition/performance space. A great place to discover Tokyo’s emerging artists. Also, David Byrne loves it.

Toritonkun 
Address: B1F Nakamura Bldg, 2-15-3 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku
Phone: +81 3 5430 5156
Website: tabelog.com/tokyo
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 5p –5am

The logo of this busy smokehouse/izakaya is a chicken riding a pig. Any questions? Toritonkun, in my old locale of Shimokitazawa, provides the most fun you’ll have eating in a while. A Japanese-only menu with a bit of food photography means you’ll be doing some experimental ordering, but it’s all pretty amazing. Get the karaage and sweet potato dessert chips.


Picture by Eloise.

Harajuku Chicago 
Address: B1F Olympia Annex Bldg. 6-31-21 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Phone: +81 3 3409 5017
Website: www.chicago.co.jp
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 11am–8pm

The thrift store to end all thrift stores. This place is a cavernous, stuffed-rack wonderland with walls of suspenders, yukata, hippie skirts, old tees and fur jackets. Everything is sourced from Japan and the US, and the prices are superb.


Picture by Eloise. 

Claudia 
Address: 3-8-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Phone: +81 3 3353 8636
Website: claudia-italy.jp
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 6pm–2am

Shinjuku is full of glaring tourist landmarks, but not a whole lot of relaxed places to stop at for an unfussy dinner or afternoon wine. Claudia is ideal, tucked away in a great little pocket of bars and restaurants just out of the chaos. Delicious Italian fare with a great wine list and great vibe.

Boro-ichi Markets 
Address: 3-8-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Phone: +81 3 3353 8636
Website: www.city.setagaya.lg.jp
Opening Hours: Second weekend of December and January 9am–8pm

If you travel to Tokyo in December or January, lucky you – the Boroichi markets are on. A world-class antique & flea market in one of Tokyo’s prettiest neighbourhoods boasting a huge spread of second-hand dealers in everything from pickled plums and moss cultivations to kimono silks and hand weapons. Delicious winter street food is the cherry on the cake.


Picture by Eloise.

Gallery & Shop “DO” by Claska 
Address: 1-3-18 Chuo-cho, Meguro-ku
Phone: +81 3 3719 8124
Website: www.claska.com
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 11am–7pm every day

Domestic chic unleashed, DO in the covetable Claska hotel is where I head for my Japanese interior and object fix. There are so many beautiful things to buy here it’s almost ridiculous; food, clothing, kitchenware, stationery, accessories, you name it. Superb for presents.

SCAI the Bathhouse 
Address: Kawashiwayu-Ato 6-1-23 Yanaka, Taito-ku
Phone: +81 3 3821 1144
Website: www.scaithebathhouse.com
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 12noon–7pm

Doubling as an excuse to spend time in the beautiful, historical neighbourhood of Yanaka, a visit to SCAI ensures you’ll catch some of the most exciting and sophisticated contemporary art coming out of Japan. It actually is a converted 200-year-old bathhouse.

Hanbey 
Address: B1F Kusumoto Bldg, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku
Phone: +81 3 3464 0775
Website: www.hanbey.com
Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 5pm–1am, Friday and Saturday 5pm–3am

A cheery, battered-and-fried friendly izakaya plastered with Showa era film and propaganda posters. Great yakitori, fried noodles, and the complementary fresh cabbage with miso dipping sauce is a game-changer. Ancient television sets play original Astro Boy episodes, naturally. J-menu only.

BONUS. Seasonal must-do’s: 

SUMMER Koenji Awa Odori and Enoshima
SPRING Yoyogi Park and Nakameguro Canal
AUTUMN Mt Takao and Shinjuku Gyoen
WINTER Kusatsu Onsen and Sanriku Kotatsu Train

Words by Eloise Rapp.

What to Pack?!

22 Jan

Image8 more days!!! I’m starting to get beyond excited, also a little freaked out. This will be my first time travelling overseas since I was 4-years-old! It will really be a big adventure!

Now is the hard part for me, packing light. I only have a backpack, and while it may be a big backpack, I don’t want to take too many things as I’m pretty sure I’ll want to buy a lot in Japan. Since I can’t take as many bags as in the photograph I’ll have to plan this as well.  So here is a list of things that I think I will need:

Money:

  • Cash
  • Cash Passport
  • Credit Card
  • ATM Card

Documents:

  • Passport
  • Copies of all documents – stored separately
  • Driver’s licence
  • Travel Sim
  • Address of Australian Embassy – 2-1-14 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8361
  • Guidebook
  • Maps
  • Phrasebook
  • Extra passport photos
  • Diary
  • Bushiness cards – I have heard that they are used a lot in Japan – does anyone know if this is true?

Food:

  • Bottle of water
  • Snacks for long waits – nuts

Clothes: – probably fairly important

  • Tops
  • Jeans/Tights
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Thermal wear
  • Jacket
  • Scarf, Gloves, Beanie
  • Swimmers
  • Money belt

Medical Supplies:

  • Any prescription medicine
  • Sunglasses
  • Chap-stick
  • Pumice stone
  • Creams

Toiletries:

  • Quick dry towel
  • Tooth brush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Soap & Shampoo – might just get in Japan
  • Face towel
  • Moisturizer
  • Brush
  • Make-up
  • Perfume
  • Ear buds

Electrical Equipment:

  • Wall socket adapter
  • Camera, Charger, Batteries, SD Cards
  • i-Pod
  • 3DS

Random:

  • Bag Locks
  • Duct tape – in case the bag breaks or for any quick repairs
  • Plastic bags
  • Sleeping mask, Ear plugs

That is all I can think of. Because a lot of this is small things I think I should be right. Hopefully!

Hannah x

Planning Part Four – Osaka

21 Jan

The Fourth town in the trip is Osaka! I’ll be staying here for 5 whole days.

I’ll have to find many things to do. Here are a few that I have found so far:

  • National Museum of Art – because I love art!
  • Osaka Contemporary Art Center
  • Shitennoji Temple
  • National Bunraku Theater – traditional Japanese pupper theater! – who wouldn’t love this!
  • Tempozan Ferris Wheel – I hear it’s a great view. I will take some photos while I’m on it and share! it was the World’s tallest ferris wheel from 1997-1999… and I’m scared of hights… this will be interesting!
  • Festival Gate Theme Park
  • Tennōji Zoo
  • Tamatsukuri Inari Shrine – built in 12 BCE… so old!
  • Osaka Castle Park 
  • Universal Studios Japan – I’m not so sure about this one…
  • Nanba Grand Kagetsu – another theater
  • Shitennoji Temple – The oldest temple in Japan, built over 1,400 years ago!
  • Nobeha no Yu Tsuruhashi or Spa World – Public Baths – why not!?
  • Umeda Joypolis Sega – games! this building even has a ferris wheel on the roof.
  • Osaka Tenmangu Shrine
  • America Mura (American village) – apparently this is simmilar to Harajuku and if it is I’m sure I’ll love it
  • Isshinji Temple – this one is a bit creepy – Its mausoleum houses an unusual thing — 12 Buddha statues made of human bones. The practice started in 1887 when the first statue was made from the bones of 50,000 corpses. Bones are donated by families and collected. A new statue is made every 10 years or so.

Anyway I think I covered everything. As always, if you know of somewhere you think I should visit that I haven’t mentioned let me know, or if you have visited any of these places share your experience with me in the comments.

Hannah x

 Osaka

Planning Part Three – Kyoto

18 Jan

Ohayou Gozaimasu!

″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi

The third place I have planned to check out is Kyoto!
I’m really looking forward to this city. It looks amazing!

Here are a few things that I hope to do:

  • Go to the Kyoto International Manga Museum
  • Take part in a Japanese tea ceremony
  • Go to the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)
  • Visit the Nijo Castle – particularly the Nightingale Floor
  • Go to Gion – the Geisha district
  • Visit the Fushimi Inan Shrine
  • Be inspired by the Kyoto Imperial Palace

Has anyone been to these places? comment below and let me know what you thought 🙂
Or if you have been to Kyoto and know of other places that would be great to visit, let me know as well

I think my month away will go far too quickly and I’ll want to stay forever…

Hannah x

Golden Pavilion - kyoto

Planning Part Two – Sapporo

17 Jan

Sapporo will be the second stop on my exploration of Japan. I am very much looking forward to the Sapporo Snow Festival. Honestly, I haven’t heard much about the top end of Japan, so I’m don’t have many ideas on where to go and what to do. I did however find out that it is a 19 hour train trip from Tokyo to here so I’m going to need to find a few places in the middle that will be good to check out as well.

Here is my list of things to do in Sapporo (it’s not quite as long as my Tokyo one):

  • Sapporo Snow Festival, Hokkaido. to check out the amazing snow sculptures
  • Akan Nation Park
  • Historical Village of Hokkaido

If anyone has any more ideas of what else would be great to see around here please let me know 🙂

Hannah xsapporo

Planning Part One – Tokyo

20 Nov

Trying to put together an itinerary for a month is quite overwhelming!

I think that I will just have to split up Japan and focus on one city at a time.

So here it is… Planning Part One: Tokyo!

There are SO MANY things I want to do in Tokyo! Here is the list I have so far:

  • Ghibli Museum
  • Disney Land
  • Shop in Takeshita-Dori
  • Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Go to Sugame for a taste of traditional Japan
  • Pokemon Centre
  •  Akihabara
  • Tokyo Animation Center
  • Sword Museum
  • Go and see the Cosplayers on Chuo Dori (and maybe do a bit of cosplaying myself)
  • Go up the Tokyo Tower

If anyone reading this has been to Tokyo and wants to suggest places to go, I’m all ears ^_^

I still have to figure out where I will be staying. I’m sure it would probably be smarter to pre-book as my flight gets in pretty late at night. The capsule hotels look like a bit of fun and also good for me as I’m on a bit of a budget (again anyone who knows any hotels at a good price please let me know).

Hannah x

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