travel; japan: day 09

*The following blogpost consists of 50% car photos and 50% food photos. For food photos, scroll to the top and bottom of the post. 

Not documented below, but we started our day at Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara (practically behind our hotel!) with the intention of starting to tick off things from our shopping list. That is when I discovered there is a Beauty section there too! What sounds like a mega camera store is actually a department store… no complaints there because while doing my girly shopping, Alfred could keep himself busy in the Audio department. We also returned to our hotel room with a mountain of Nano Block sets. SO. CHEAP. We get ripped off crazily in Sydney AND online! Almost 50% cheaper in Japan!

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Next stop, back to Shibuya.. during the day this time. We wanted to experience the Standing Sushi Bar / Uogashi Nihonichi. You must be thinking, wouldn’t that be quite tiring?? It wasn’t, it was a pretty quick session since the place is somewhat small and the the sushi chefs serve you quite quickly too. They do have english menu, so when you want to order you simply shout it out to the sushi chef and within minutes you’ll find fresh pieces of sushi sitting right in front of you. For me, I found it odd having to shout out each time, perhaps its because I’m rather soft spoken.. It would’ve been much easier ordering those sushi sets they had on the board, but then it wouldn’t have been the same experience! japan-day09-006japan-day09-001japan-day09-003japan-day09-002
Slightly horrifying being watched while you eat their flesh. Otherwise, really fresh! japan-day09-007japan-day09-010japan-day09-009
This was when I finally got to try some Japanese otoro (tuna belly!), which just MELTED IN MY MOUTH. That made the crave list for sure. $6 for 2 pieces, ehmmm not badly priced?! japan-day09-008japan-day09-005japan-day09-004
We could really keep eating but then we didn’t want to fill ourselves up too much so we can eat more… and how did we use the left over tummy space?

At MOS Burger.
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Alfred has been craving for some the whole time we were in Japan, and finally got it near the end of the trip. japan-day09-017

We spent the remainder of our day at Odaiba, before I got to check out the fashion outlets… I had to let Alfred have his fun too. Hello Megaweb! (yawn…..z) The Toyota Mega Web is really just a 2 level show room of cars, some old, some new, some concept. japan-day09-018japan-day09-019japan-day09-020japan-day09-021japan-day09-022japan-day09-023japan-day09-024japan-day09-025japan-day09-026japan-day09-027japan-day09-028japan-day09-029japan-day09-030japan-day09-031japan-day09-032japan-day09-033japan-day09-034japan-day09-035japan-day09-036japan-day09-037japan-day09-038japan-day09-039japan-day09-040

It wasn’t just all cars there that day, as we were making our way to the exit, a mini concert had started there featuring some Japanese girl band. Not weird at all realising that the whole crowd was made up of guys, who danced along to the girls’ moves… soo much energy!japan-day09-041japan-day09-042

Alfred checked out the History Garage in Venus Fort while I went for a quick browse through the fashion outlets (not much there sadly)japan-day09-045japan-day09-043japan-day09-044japan-day09-046japan-day09-047japan-day09-048japan-day09-049

We headed to Aqua City, in search for a dinner spot that had a decent view of the Rainbow Bridge (it was getting late, and really cold so we didn’t get any closer to viewing the bridge)

We ended up going to Hibiki, a modern Japanese Izakaya because their menu was different to what we were used to.

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Always good to familiarise the dishes they serve by looking at the plastic displays outside.

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Beef rice cooked in a stone pot using spring water. japan-day09-051japan-day09-050

The dishes looked and sounded so simple on the menu but it was awesome on the tastebuds. Japanese cuisine definitely makes for an interesting dining experience.

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We didn’t book in advance but still got a pretty good view from where we sat, just behind the couples on their date nights with an even better view…

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In Aqua City, there is a souvenir store that sold Kit Kats! It was the first time we saw so many flavours under one roof, so of course we had to buy some.. especially since it was also nearing the end of our trip. Kit Kats are kind of like the default souvenir from Japan right?

Next post will be a little wet, dreary but then the best part is we went to Disney Sea!

x C

 

painted my Raskog yellow!

I had planned to paint the IKEA Raskog cart yellow even before purchasing the cart! Its been sitting unassembled, in the box for the past month… just waiting for me to get around to giving it a new look. Why yellow? I do like the popular turquoise colour but does not fit into my bedroom’s colour theme (white + coral/pink) and cream (the original colour of my cart) would look too washed out in my room. I wanted to make this cute and practical cart pop in my room, so Yellow it is! It was scary not know how it will turn out as I’ve trawled the internet trying to see if anyone else has made their yellow and have not come across any.. so thankfully the imagination came to reality pretty well.

Before I continue, a hugeeeee credit to Alfred the boyfriend for doing the tricky part of spray painting it and getting a pretty good finish as well as assembling it. To think I wanted to do it myself all this time! Would’ve turned out terribly blotchy with my (lack-of) spray painting skills.

Apparently Bunnings didn’t have a great selection of colours to choose from, so I ended up getting the spray paints from Repco, on sale for about $2~ from memory, even though the rrp isn’t that much more. It made for a cheap D.I.Y project. 2 cans of spray enamel, did not get a clear coat because I wasn’t after a glossy finish.

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As my cart was originally cream, it was easy to work with, not having to worry about the base colour too visible if there were any mistakes. First off, give it a light sand on all parts, Alfred had to build a spraying booth with cardboard in the shed just to get a controlled environment for spraying. We didn’t have anything to hang the parts off, so that would’ve made it much easier to get an even coverage and be able to do it in one go. Still turned out pretty well the way we sprayed it after 2 coats.

Yellow Ikea Raskog, More Photos: http://clarissalum.com/2014/07/painted-my-raskog-yellow/

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Yellow Ikea Raskog, More Photos: http://clarissalum.com/2014/07/painted-my-raskog-yellow/

Partially a not-bothered-to-paint-the-inside of the trays became a feature of the cart I love… the contrast between the original cream colour and the pop of yellow! Wouldn’t have looked as interesting if it was all yellow ;)

Yellow Ikea Raskog, More Photos: http://clarissalum.com/2014/07/painted-my-raskog-yellow/

(I also helped with the assembling!)

 

Now for the finished product…

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Yellow Ikea Raskog, More Photos: http://clarissalum.com/2014/07/painted-my-raskog-yellow/Yellow Ikea Raskog, More Photos: http://clarissalum.com/2014/07/painted-my-raskog-yellow/Yellow Ikea Raskog, More Photos: http://clarissalum.com/2014/07/painted-my-raskog-yellow/Yellow Ikea Raskog, More Photos: http://clarissalum.com/2014/07/painted-my-raskog-yellow/Yellow Ikea Raskog, More Photos: http://clarissalum.com/2014/07/painted-my-raskog-yellow/
Yellow Ikea Raskog, More Photos: http://clarissalum.com/2014/07/painted-my-raskog-yellow/That’s it! Really loving the extra colour I’ve added to my room. Clearly I have yet to load it with all my Project Life and crafting/packaging supplies, need to go shopping for storage stuff now. So will update on the loaded Raskog later on. If you have any must have accessories for the Raskog, please leave a comment below!

Hope this has inspired a potential DIY project over the coming weekends? ;)

Happy Friday!

x Clarissa

travel; japan: day 08

The day’s itinerary included visiting several touristy spots, but first .. to pick up some breakfast to go.

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You probably figured out by now that I/We have a slight obsession with these “Pocket Lunch” sandwiches which we usually pick up from convenience stores in/near the train station. While on our way, our jaws literally dropped the moment we saw some familiar branding.. and looked a little closer into the kiosk to find shelves full of the sandwiches! Couldn’t count how many different flavours there were but the difficult part was trying to chose from such a big selection with my very limited Japanese reading skills (and identifying the pictures on the packaging) for the flavour. Why did we only just discover it near the end of our trip?!
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We ended up picking what seems like (canned) tomato spaghetti (apparently a popular one) and honeydew + cream. yum! Here I am stuffing my face with a sandwich on the streets, so classy.japan-day08-005

We arrived in Asakusa! It wasn’t too tricky finding our way to Sensoji temple, once on the right track, just follow the crowd (pretty much straight ahead). We were there pretty early in the morning just to avoid the Sunday crowd so some stalls were just setting up.

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Obligatory shot with the giant red lantern when visiting Japan for the first time. japan-day08-023japan-day08-025japan-day08-024japan-day08-026japan-day08-027japan-day08-028japan-day08-033Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

We made wishes by shaking out sticks and got the respective readings. Alfred only got a so-so result, I on the other hand got a pretty good reading, so lets fingers crossed that my wish will come true soon!

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Ice cream burger sounds pretty cool, but once you find that its presented in between thin pastry (well it was pretty much like an ice cream cone except in a different shape) it feels like you’re just eating normal ice cream. Ice cream sandwiches are still much, much better. japan-day08-030japan-day08-039japan-day08-040

So from Sensoji temple is apparently a ‘short walk’ to Tokyo Skytree (as pictured above), it ended up being 20-30mins I guess that’s alright. If we didn’t walk, we would’ve totally missed the golden raddish like thing at the top of that building. I have yet to find out what it really is. A quick google search tells me that it is the “Golden Flame” of the Asahi building.. or as people would call it the “Golden Turd”. I think the latter best describes it.

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Finally here! We didn’t actually go up to the observation deck because the queues were freakin’ long and decided we’re not really big fans of getting a birds eye view of the city, so we admired it from the bottom and outside. Okay we were really there just to check out the shops and all the cute stuff they sold..

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Alfred got to see a life size Domokun! Even though he really is just the frame of a TV screen..

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The area around the Skytree is actually quite lovely, I think there are more shops or even small shopping centre attached to it but we didn’t get to explore it so in depth.

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Craving for Hot Star Fried Chicken back in Sydney led me to sampling these chicken nuggets out (they have franchises everywhere). Sadly nothing mind blowing, because totally missing that crazy awesome seasoning of Hot Star..

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Finally got to try Tokyo Banana! Long story short, I attempted to bring some home from my last trip to Japan but it got taken away by Customs upon arrival because it contained Bananas. I regretted not trying it before leaving Japan! This time I made sure I did while in Japan incase I get caught up by Customs again (but this time lucky!). Sadly I don’t get why people rave over it, sure it doesn’t have much of an artificial banana taste (which is good) but yeah nothing for me to drool over.

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Off to Harajuku! (Training from Skytree station is pretty expensive.. so we walked to the normal station)

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Shopping in Harajuku wasn’t a priority on my list, since the kind of clothes there weren’t my style… so the next best thing would be a trip to Kiddy Land! (followed by crepes of course). Never been to Kiddy Land in my previous trip and 4 levels of kiddy stuff just appeals to my kiddy side. They had a section for just about every cartoon character, some that I grew up with but have forgotten about. Rilakkuma and Hello Kitty was obviously a Japanese favourite since the 2 characters shared a whole level.

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We started from the top floor and made our way downstairs… if my sister ever set foot in Rilakkuma level, she probably will be there for hoursss. I hope she’s not upset that I didn’t come home with goodies for her… I simply couldn’t chose from all the cute stuff!

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The above toys (middle) would give me a nightmare as a kid..actually their looks scare me now too..

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A car lift – incase you’re wondering. Alfred took this shot obviously. I wouldn’t have a clue if I walked past.

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“I’M FAT” – hehehe. I only just noticed the Tokyo Story shirt, that would’ve been pretty cool to have!

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We finally reached the crepes intersection in Harajuku, and faced with a difficult situation, crepe stall left and right… Angel’s Heart or Marion Crepes, which to go with? We ended up with Marion Crepe but their queues tell us that their equally good.

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Sticky fingers from eating crepes lead us to trying to find a bathroom, but before that we sat down with a burger each (fatty much?). What was more interesting than our burgers was spotting this guy in Maccas slowly creating a crowd around him. He was a balloon artist and made some pretty cool characters, such as what he’s holding, Mike from Monsters Inc. What a way to attract girls’ attention too?

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Spotted a Kombi van in Japan!

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We checked out the Onitsuka flagship store in hopes that it would be cheaper since its a Japanese Brand but nope… Hong Kong is still waaay cheaper. They had some pretty cool designs though.japan-day08-122japan-day08-123japan-day08-124

We spent the remainder of the day (finally) exploring our neighbourhood (Akihabara) and looking shopping for souvenirs for m anime/manga obsessed sister. Truly felt foreign to all the stuff there!

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We were finally hungry and had a late 11PM dinner at Ichiran (Ueno branch), can’t get enough of it! We were surprised that even at such a late hour on a Sunday night, there were queues! Good way to end the day though, on a happily full tummy :P

Heading to Odaiba in our next post!

x Clarissa

travel; japan: day 07

Alfred probably looked forward to this day the most! He finally gets to visit Super Autobacs, what I call a department store for boys who are into cars. We had a pretty early start just so we can fit a few things in the day, so this is a pretty photo heavy post!

This post; Super Autobacs, LOFT, Disney Store, Tokyuhands, RAMEN, A different kind of sushi train etc

First, a few shots of our neighbourhood, Akihabara which we didn’t get to explore till the last day of our trip. It is pretty dead in the morning…

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Becareful when searching up places on Google maps, we accidentally went to a different Autobacs… not the “Super Autobacs” so we were set back by an hour. We made it there in the end anyway, from the outside… massive building. To be honest I was a little scared how long I might be stuck in there for…

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So I kept myself occupied by documenting the boy as he wanders around his toy store… and took photos of random thingsjapan-day07-008  japan-day07-010  japan-day07-012 japan-day07-013 japan-day07-018japan-day07-014

Obviously these girly car accessories caught my eye.

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Because “Little Mermaid” obsessed. japan-day07-027

Finally! We’re in Shibuya!…

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The one thing I miss most from my first trip to Japan was… ramen from Ichiran! The craving can finally be satisfied 4years later. I was pretty excited for Alfred to try it out too and hopefully understand why I was craving all these years!…

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Waiting for seats to be vacated.

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They’ve also started selling their ramen in instant packs, without the meat and all. Not cheap for ‘instant ramen’ going at $7ish a serving. I guess its cheaper than buying a ticket to Japan when you’re really craving. I bought some home but only allocated 1 per family member. Have not eaten it yet so can’t review on the flavour etc, because its SO PRECIOUS..

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Drooling for this view right now

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Alfred loved it just as much! (We went for a supper at a nearby branch the next night)

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We went on our way to the Disney Store in Shibuya, apparently you can prepurchase tickets for the theme park there just so you can save yourself from queuing on the day. I can tell you the things at the Disney store is somewhat different to the ones at the theme park, they didn’t sell any of those nice tins of cookies, or any Shelly May bears. I held off the urge to buy anything until our Disney Sea trip!

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Why can’t I be 5?

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While on the search for Tokyu Hands, I spotted a familiar name and logo in the distance. Loft! I’d say its a more modern, slightly more pricier version of Tokyu Hands although they do sell pretty similar stuff. You can tell the difference between the both in the photos below. I quite liked the stuff they sold at Loft but not so much the price tag. I did walk away with a new iPhone case though :P

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P.S. Free Wifi on the ground level!

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Their phone case section is !!! I tried to not walk away with about 3 cases… luckily I succeeded. japan-day07-061japan-day07-062japan-day07-064japan-day07-065japan-day07-066

Although we did visit a branch of Tokyu Hands in Osaka… I’ve been excited to check out the main store, the one thats like 7 levels high. Imagine all the goodies in the store? First level we walked into was the hardware level, we already knew at that point that we can’t be together for the rest of the building… so we split up. We eventually caught up to each other at some point :P

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I could be at the Craft level for quite some time! Just look at all the Washi they had available and the prices are so enticing! $1-2/roll! Looking back I wish I bought a few more :P

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Onto the Beauty department, you find some pretty ordinary stuff and pretty odd stuff…. Look at all these “face masks” with different purposes…

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Just so you know how much calories you’ve lost by taking the stairs. japan-day07-089IMG_6345 copyIMG_6346 copyIMG_6348 copyIMG_6349 copyIMG_6350 copyIMG_6356 copyIMG_6353 copy

We spent about $100 there, but bought ourselves heaps!

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We popped into FrancFranc (another of my favourite Japanese stores!) and couldn’t take my eyes off these super cute macaron cushions. If only I had the luggage space, I would’ve came home with at least 2 of them! For about $20… its pretty affordable.

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Macaron sponges too!

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We went up to the Starbucks that had the best view of the Shibuya Crossing, shouldn’t be surprised to find there were so many tourists pressed against the window or hanging around waiting to get ‘that shot’. The cleaning lady comes along and shoos everyone away. Even if you were clearly a custom with a cup of Starbucks in hand, you weren’t allowed to take photos. Of course we still did, while pretending to really just be enjoying the view and drinking our hot green tea latte… our DSLR was sitting on the table just ‘snapping away’ by itself. Alfred put together a timelapse with those shots!

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We went for sushi train that night, it wasn’t just your ordinary sushi train, it was up another level, or a few levels.

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You make your order through the touch screens (minimum of 3 plates at a time) and your food will make its way to you on the conveyor belt.

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Pretty impressive and fun to watch! They zip around pretty fast, and theres no chance you could grab someone elses plate off the belt.

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Alfred tried to capture it in motion

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What we ate between us

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You check out individually, for approx $10/pp its not bad! We were pretty full.

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Since we were in Shibuya, we went to one of the department stores to find myself a belated birthday cake. I let Alfred choose, he knew my tastebuds pretty well… ;)

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Had my little birthday party back at the hotel, just the two of us and my little cake, turning 25 didn’t seem so bad especially when you start it off in Japan! Now to hope my Birthday wish will come true ;)

x Clarissa

 

 

the last of autumn

These cold nights remind me of our annual trips to Blue Mountains during Autumn, with freezing cold temperatures which we don’t even experience in Winter back in Sydney. Always trying to stay in the sun when outdoors and dashing back into the car to warm up our frozen fingers in front of the heater… its always worth it just to see such natural beauty, Autumn in Australia.

This year, we decided on the trip the day before, knowing that there’s a chance we might not get the best sight of Autumn (since we were a week late) and there really wasn’t much to see. We got to hang out at our favourite spot, The Common Ground cafe in Katoomba (now renamed to The Yellow Deli) so we still gained from this spontaneous trip ;)

Oh.. and some silly photos around the gardens to wrap up :P

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2 more months till Spring. For now,

brrrrrr.

 

project life; weeks 9 & 10

The two weeks below, I started to explore a different colour palette, trying to avoid using too much pink and yellows for a change. I used most of the cards from the Blush edition hence I manage to stay to the teal/grey/blue colour theme. It worked out perfectly with the photos I included.

Week 9 full layout:

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Left side:

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Rights side:

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My friend is expecting! a baby boy! She’s also the first one in our group so exciting times ahead! She spilled the news by giving us these ‘special’ cards with her baby’s first photo ;) I had to slot the card into the layout as well! (above)

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Week 10, I got a little bit more colourful purely because that whole week was spent planning my little sisters Super Mario themed birthday party. So I tried to incorporate a few colours and elements from the party theme (don’t have much red in my kits though).

Week 10 full layout:

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Left side:

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Rights side:

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I found a few decorative pieces in my craft kit that reminded me of Super Mario.

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I have almost caught up with blogging what I’m up to of my Project Life album, hopefully that’ll help me catch up with it all quicker!

Come back soon!

x Clarissa

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travel; japan: day 06

My 25th Birthday

What better way to wake up on your birthday than being surrounded by the natural beauty of Japan? There was no sleeping in (for me anyways) that day. I stepped out onto the balcony to find this gorgeous view of the sun slowly rising. Air was fresh, it was peaceful and all you could hear were the birds singing.

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Very first thing I do the moment I stepped out of our room? Not breakfast, but to head straight for the private baths. This was like 6ish-7am in the morning and I was probably the first one awake since they were all available. I took a peek into each one and this bath seemed the most relaxing (sneaky photos of the other ones below)

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I was only here, by myself for about 10-15minutes (you really can’t stay too long in these baths, well me anyways.. I start to get dizzy after a while because its so hot), sitting in there and feel like all the stress and tension just escaped my body. Its been a tiring few months of work, so at that moment I was so glad that I took time off to just relax, on my birthday.

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They had a souvenir store at the lobby of this ryokan.

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Alfred finally woke up, so we headed for breakfast at one of the two restaurants there. Japanese breakfast banquet. japan-day06-006

As usual we are presented with an assortment of food, some recognisable, some… we had to leave to our imagination of what they might be.japan-day06-007

I think this was sardine, which we had to put over the grill. So simple but I loved it.

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I can’t tell you what each thing is in this plate, some where yum.. some were not..

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Bowl on the right was Japanese take on yoghurt, it was..interesting.japan-day06-010

I love freshly made miso soup in Japan.

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I loved experience a Japanese breakfast although some of the dishes tasted weird, poor Alfred I think he really was put out of his comfort zone eating these strange dishes! (I hope he will still go with me to have Japanese style banquets when we go back again in the future!)

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Some sneaky shots of the other baths, did not get to try all of them. japan-day06-020japan-day06-021japan-day06-023japan-day06-028japan-day06-026japan-day06-027japan-day06-029a

How you can tell if the baths are available. If the light is off (I think) that means its available). You can borrow towels as well if you forget to bring the ones from your room.

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Free apple juice! (in a yakult like bottles) after you get out of the baths just to help you cool down and rehydrate.

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Time to leave :( So sad.

We were only there for probably less than 18hours, but enjoyed every second of it! Highly recommend this ryokan to those who are considering to experience the hot springs. Although it may not seem as ‘traditional’, I loved all the extra facilities they provide that you don’t normally find, from the free yakult (apparently sometimes ice blocks) to free ramen at night. Next time we go back to Hakone, I’d like to stay at a ryokan for at least 2 nights! 1 is simply a teaser :(

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We made our long journey to Tokyo, the last leg of our Japan trip.

We stayed at Remm hotel in Akihabara, right above the station so it was super convenient. We were a little too early for check in time so we left our bags there and went to get some rather late lunch. Our friend had recommended us try this ramen place in Ikebukuro, which I didn’t plan on visiting since the there wasn’t much  to see there… but for Ramen we will go.

Stepping out of Ikebukuro station, we set out to find Mutekiya ,which was about a 4min walk from the station exit, just after Seibu Gallery.

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Its located on the corner of the street, and definitely hard to miss with this long queue. We probably waited around 30mins?? japan-day06-050japan-day06-048

I didn’t do my research on this place so when handed the menu, I wasn’t so sure which was the famous one so I had to ask the waiter. I even forgot which one it was now that I’m trying to remember -.- but no worries! Their top 3 ramens are displayed at the front of the shop. japan-day06-053japan-day06-059japan-day06-054japan-day06-055japan-day06-056

If you take a peek into the shop, you’ll understand why the queues are so long… not because its amazing but because it really is a small place. Thank goodness for wide angle lens.

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It was around 3:30PM when we finally sat down with our bowls of ramen.japan-day06-060japan-day06-061

What I love about having ramen in Japan – there are so many different types, also depending which part of Japan they originate from. I especially loved the soup of this one..

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I guess what makes the soup so yums.. all the bits of fat you see floating around… which makes it so smooth and tastyy.. Definitely one of the dishes I’m craving from Japan!

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Love that floral skirt…

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We checked out BIC camera in Ikebukuro, and we could literally be in there for hours if we weren’t in a rush to get back to hotel. We probably went into more BIC cameras, and Tokyu Hands stores the most during our time in Tokyo.

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Checked into the hotel before the sun sets. We’ve been pretty lucky getting some nice views at all our accommodations in Japan. Our hotel in Akihabara overlooks the station and during the day you can pretty much see most of the main buildings in the area, e.g. SEGA building.

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Outfit of the Night: My $20something maxi dress from H&M Japan, favourite necklace from Doury Accessories, denim jacket from Dotti.

Birthday night, first day in Tokyo and had no idea where we could eat in the area without going too far. So we decided to just check out some of the restaurants around the hotel. Didn’t note down which one we ended up going to (traveler-fail). The descriptions of dishes on their menu didn’t sound so enticing (too used to the fancy pants words they use back home) and there wasn’t many dishes we were familiar with besides sashimi and tempura. When they served up the dishes we were taken back by how pretty they were presented… definitely looked better than the photos in the menu for a change! It looked pretty healthy too and not too oily.

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Assorted sashimi (1190¥)

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Deep fried white-meat fish with sweet chilli kudzu sauce (780¥)japan-day06-072

Seared thick cut beef tongue (1280¥)

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Pan-fried rice cake and eggplant with shrimp kudzu sauce (680¥)

The dishes were different to what we’re used to getting in Japanese restaurant but it was nice getting to sample Japanese cuisine. Price was ended up to be about the same as in Australia, some things were more expensive e.g. the ox tongue but some things weren’t too bad e.g. assorted sashimi. It may not have been the most festive birthday, and we didn’t fine dine at a popular restaurant to end my birthDay (because celebrations continued…) I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with my other half that day :)

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No cake on my birthday because it was surprisingly hard to find a decent cake in the area! which we weren’t familiar with on our first day…. don’t worry Alfred made up for it later on.. :P

Check back soon for day 7!

x Clarissa

travel; japan: day 05

Its been a while since my last Japan post but I am still keen on getting all 10-11 days of our time away in Japan..Now, I’m getting pretty close to the best part of the whole trip… that time when we made a trip to the beautiful Hakone area and stayed overnight for my birthday eve + birthday morning. We had to leave Osaka pretty early just to avoid peak hour human traffic, and to get to Hakone nice and early just so we’ll have some time exploring the area before we can check into our accommodation. I miss awesome food-on-the-go thats NOT junk food. Here, these visually and tummy-pleasing bentos for our 3hr trip to Hakone. japan-day05-001 japan-day05-002 We got off JR Odawara station to get onto the Hakone Tozan Line (not owned by JR) japan-day05-003 japan-day05-004 japan-day05-005 We were heading to Gora, and as you can see its not cheap traveling on this line but not much choice if you want convenience. japan-day05-006 japan-day05-007 japan-day05-008 japan-day05-009 japan-day05-010 japan-day05-011 This is the lovely little town of Gora, there wasn’t much in the central parts just a few shops along this short strip and a few Japanese Guest houses/hot springs. Tourists mainly do a pit stop here just to get onto the cable car which takes you to the main attractions of Hakone. japan-day05-012 Hilly road right next to the ryokan we stayed at. japan-day05-013 japan-day05-014 japan-day05-015 I lied in my previous post. Here’s evidence of Mr’s 2nd bottle of Coke in Japan – I wonder if I’ll come across more? japan-day05-016 japan-day05-017 japan-day05-018 japan-day05-019 We dropped our bags off at the ryokan and headed off to do a bit of sightseeing!japan-day05-020japan-day05-022 Sulphur mines! japan-day05-023 We took the cable car to the very last stop – Lake Ashi, what a breath taking place! japan-day05-025 japan-day05-026 We mainly did an express day trip to these tourist attractions (as we were hoping to get back in time for check-in and relax at the ryokan), so did not board the tall ship for the cruise as most tourists would. japan-day05-028 japan-day05-029japan-day05-032 japan-day05-031 Instead, this caught our eyes from a distance. Tall, bare trees with a bit of foliage growing along the trunks. I was crazy about the muted tones, and afternoon light was nice and soft. Can’t explain how badly I wish I had a couple to photograph then and there… japan-day05-033 So my silly boyfriend had to do :P japan-day05-034 japan-day05-035 japan-day05-038 japan-day05-043 japan-day05-048japan-day05-049   We didn’t get to venture very far on this map, maybe next time! japan-day05-044  japan-day05-046   japan-day05-050 japan-day05-051 japan-day05-052 japan-day05-053 I’m sure he struggled, especially after feasting for the last few days in Osaka. japan-day05-054 japan-day05-055 japan-day05-056 We love adding to our collection of tourist coins! japan-day05-057 Finally at Owakudani, the rotten egg smelling I mean the sulphur mines. This stuff is bad for you, I was scared to inhale too much to be honest, especially with all the warning signs around the area. japan-day05-058 japan-day05-059 japan-day05-060 japan-day05-061 japan-day05-062 “Who farted?!” japan-day05-068japan-day05-069 We walked to the peak, there stands a little shop that sells black eggs – well pretty much just eggs boiled in the sulphur and some chemical reaction that causes the eggs to go black. japan-day05-070japan-day05-071japan-day05-064 japan-day05-065 japan-day05-066 If I had a blindfold on and tasted these eggs, I wouldn’t be able to taste the difference between these and a normal egg… because it really is just a normal egg with a different appearance. BUT apparently these eggs have magical properties… that each egg somehow extend your life by 7yrs. What better way to spend my birthday week than (attempting) to increase my lifespan by at least 7yrs? They only sold eggs in packs of 5 which Alfred and I shared it equally, so we should’ve increased our years on earth by approx. 17.5 yrs EACH.japan-day05-072 Next tourist-must-eat is… the black ice cream. I have no idea what the flavour is, I just know for a fact that its NOT black sesame (sad face), regardless it still tastes pretty good whatever it is. Some say its charcoal, some say its egg.. japan-day05-073 japan-day05-075 japan-day05-078japan-day05-077  japan-day05-080japan-day05-084 Back to Gora to check into our accommodation! This is pretty much what you’ll see when you step out of the station. Our accommodation, at Setsugetsuka is conveniently foot steps away – where the cherry blossoms are. japan-day05-086japan-day05-081 japan-day05-087 japan-day05-089 There aren’t many reviews of Setsugetsuka, so I pretty much relied on photos that people post up on instagram and tripadvisor. I initially wanted to splurge on my birthday weekend by spending it at Hakone Ginyu, but they were booked out months ahead :( This may not be the next best thing, but I felt it was good value for money. We paid around $200 per person, per night. We were only there for a night. People think that staying at these Japanese guest houses are expensive… yes it does sound expensive as a figure but once you break it down, you are pretty much paying for a (fine) dining experience, a big breakfast, accommodation plus all the other facilities offered (hot springs). I think its pretty fair. I picked Setsugetsuka because of its private hot springs baths which you can use at no extra cost and does not require booking. This is pretty important to us since we were only there for less than a day and want to guarantee getting a chance to enjoy the hot springs. japan-day05-091 japan-day05-092 japan-day05-093 There is a souvenir shop in the lobby. After you check in, you can make your way to the shelf just outside the souvenir shop and pick out a yukata which you can wear during your stay. Yukatas are more like robes for men and women, however if you feel uncomfortable wearing these, you will find Japanese style PJs in your room. japan-day05-108japan-day05-112japan-day05-096 japan-day05-094 Definitely the biggest room during our whole stay in Japan. japan-day05-095  japan-day05-098 Complimentary green tea japan-day05-099 You get a wooden bath, pretty private once you pull the shades down. Did not get to use this, because this is just normal tap water not hot springs. japan-day05-100 View from the balconyjapan-day05-101 japan-day05-102 japan-day05-103 japan-day05-104 japan-day05-105  japan-day05-110 My pretty pink yukata – I wish I grabbed another to change into for the next day! Its not weird at all wearing this around because you’re not the only, even the guys wear it ;) It would be more weird NOT to wear it because you would definitely stand out.japan-day05-107japan-day05-118 Can’t read Japanese, but this was our menu for the night. They didn’t have the kaiseki (traditional Japanese style fine dining) menu available that night so we had to go with the nabe set (Japanese hot pot) which was still pretty good, to me anyways. Alfred found some dishes weird. japan-day05-113 japan-day05-115 japan-day05-116 japan-day05-117 Complimentary alcohol of some sort japan-day05-119 japan-day05-121japan-day05-120 Can’t not have sashimi on the menujapan-day05-122 japan-day05-123 Slightly different types of miso pastes on Tofu. japan-day05-124 japan-day05-125 japan-day05-126 japan-day05-127 japan-day05-128 japan-day05-129 By the time dessert appeared in front of us, it felt like a challenge with our tummy capacity, it was hard to resist just looking at it! We cleaned the plate in the end. japan-day05-130 We discovered the ryokan’s pet rabbits, Hana (meaning flower) and Yuki (meaning snow)! At this point, we missed our furry one back home (Miss Lola bun)

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Yes we were pretty stuffed after dinner that night, but it didn’t stop us from going back after 10PM for a complimentary serving of ramen! I’m not usually a fan of eating before bed but that bowl of ramen just felt right, in my tummy ;).

Next up! My Birthday!

Come back soon :)

x Clarissa

project life; weeks 7 & 8

Lets say I’ve been pretty behind on the interwebz of late, mainly because I was caught up with some pretty big {good} changes in life which ultimately has slowed down a lot of things! I hope I’ll be back on track soon!

I am more and more behind with Project Life now with the unexpectedly busy past few weeks! Hate to admit I’m only up to blogging week 7 + 8 (though I’m up to like 14!… don’t know what everyone else is ‘meant’ to be up to). Its always exciting looking back anyways, so lets begin with the Valentines day week!

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*woops, forgot to glue that ‘bunting’ into the place*

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As you can see in the recent and following layouts I’m trying to experiment more with handwritten titles! I can’t imagine myself to get good at it any time soon though :(

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I have a slight obsession with chipboard elements… I’m glad I picked up a ‘Valentines Day’ themed one, which I’ll hope to keep using for the next few V’days!

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I love using patterned backgrounds and just sticking quotes or other decorating elements on to it, also a pretty way to fill up the blank pockets!

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Week 8 – I just wanted to focus on that one special girls only day we had with mum. We took her out for her first high tea experience! (also a first for my sisters).

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Thickers have fast become my favourite for weekly titles!

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I love thinking about how we’ll just grow old together and do more of these lady-like things together in the near future ;)

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Sailormoon and Beemo! (or BMO from Adventure Time).

Core kits used: Blush and Dear Lizzy edition.

 

travel; japan: day 04

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This is Alfred, he is a coke-aholic. Nah…. actually I’m proud of him that this was the only can/bottle of coke he had the whole trip.

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There’s a different feel to every city in Japan that we visit, even the train stations are different. Luckily, there’s plenty of signs… which is the important thing.

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In Hiroshima, you can get around by tram, which is pretty convenient as it goes to the main tourist destinations. These trams aren’t covered by the JR Pass though instead they offer a Day pass option which you’d easily make the most of. For the convenience during a day trip, it wasn’t too bad.

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I’ve visited the atomic bomb site during my last trip so this is my second time visiting since it is Alfred’s first time in Japan. Till this day it still feels eerie to look at. Though it amazes me how everything else around it was pretty much rebuilt from scratch after the incident.

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Sadako & a thousand paper cranes has to be one of my favourite stories from my Primary school. I even attempted to make 1000 paper cranes myself… almost emptying out my classroom’s supply of coloured square papers. But was probably off by 100 or so. Its amazing seeing all these handmade creations by children from around the world displayed around this space.

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Next stop…. was meant to be the Mazda Museum. We got as far as the Mazda HQ in Mukainada (few stops from Hiroshima station) to find that we were meant to make a reservation online in advance AND be there by 10AM to board the company coach bus that takes you to the actual Mazda factory far far away. The tour would be between 10AM and return by 2PM including travel time. The boy was looking forward to this part of the trip quite a bit, being able to see cars get manufactured.. :(

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People must be obsessed about Mazda here, here’s a clinic/hospital called Zoom Zoom.

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Onwards to the rest of today’s plans…. to Miyajima Island! I also been here previously but felt it was a place I wouldn’t mind returning to because its simply a beautiful place.

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There were deers every where! They nibble on just about everything… including paper.

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I got the mentaiko one while Alfred got octopus, I love this stuff! Great snack to have as you wander around especially when its still hot :)

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Don’t know why but wooden rice scoops are everywhere in the island, must have some significance here. Largest wooden scoop I’ve seen.

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I bought a red dharma during my last trip, I added another 2 to my collection… there are 7 to collect!

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Grilled oysters are another popular snack to have in Miyajima

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Finally lunch time! We picked this little restaurant because it seemed to have a good variety of udon… (felt like udon). I love how their menu has illustrations of the dishes!

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The reason why people visit Miyajima Island.. to see this amazing “floating” torii gate. When the tides are low enough you can walk up to it, which is when you’d realise how massive it is!

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This is called momiji manju, which basically is a maple leaf shaped cake usually filled with red bean paste or other flavours like green tea. They are the local specialty of Miyajima? or Hiroshima… traveling around Japan you come to realise each city has their own specialties, how Osaka is famous for their takoyaki.

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I got the custard one to try. I wish I could come home with a box of each local specialty we come across but luggage limit was always a worry :(

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Snacked on a giant rice cracker, still warm!

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Oh deer…

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We didn’t stay in Hiroshima/Miyajima too long and managed to get back to Osaka by around 6PM. We didn’t reserve tickets for the shinkansen ride back so had to allow alot of time for traveling, especially we had a pretty exciting appointment that night.

A date with marbly Kobe beef….

We had NO plans of trying Kobe beef before we left for Japan, until we googled around to see what food we should try, the thought of sample kobe beef sounded like a great idea although have to make sure that we find an eatery that actually serves kobe beef. From our searches, Misono came up quite a bit being one of the best places to try Kobe beef. I don’t doubt that. They cook on specially made stove tops which is meant to cook the steak perfectly while keeping it nice and tender on the inside. Also theyare the original founders of teppanyaki beef. Their original branch is in Kobe but we weren’t going to visit Kobe since there weren’t many exciting reviews about things to see there. Luckily Misono has a few branches in Japan including one in Osaka, just a few minutes walk from Osaka station.

Our reservation was at 8:30 but we arrived over an hour earlier, luckily they had earlier spots available so that cut off a bit of time from out countdown..

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They had a few courses which you can choose from, we mainly wanted to just try the Kobe beef so went for the “Mi” course. The difference between Mi and the rest of the course was mainly getting seafood and/or abalone. The Mi course costed ¥15,120… which converts to about au$170~ per person

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Got our appetite started with this cured ham dish, complimentary I believe.

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Each table gets their own chef to cook in front of them, teppanyaki style.

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Just realised we only got one piece of steak to share between two. Look at the marbling!! japan-day04-077japan-day04-078

So much art involved in cooking everything that night, perfectly cut blocks of kobe beef was served up before us. Each block is worth atleast $10 I reckon.

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Onion, fatty bits, and beef!

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This is the other highlight of the night, their garlic fried rice was so good! So simple… but I doubt we could recreate this at home. I initially thought they would’ve used the flavours from the kobe beef to cook this but nope, they just use another serve of garlic and stir fried it with rice. Garlic is meant to be the perfect accompaniment to beef, hence the garlic rice.

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One of the two melt-in-your-mouth experiences that we had from the trip. It really feels like you’re eating blocks of fat… but without feeling guilty afterwards :P

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It was interesting to watch their process of cleaning the hot plates! They get it back to a shiny condition in minutes, ready for the next customers.

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For $170… it really sounds like a crazy overpriced meal just for a piece of steak and small side dishes. I am sure you can sample kobe beef for less but I wouldn’t be too sure of the quality of the meat that they serve. Since it wouldn’t be something we eat all the time AND because I couldn’t get a booking at one of the michellin star restaurants, this was meant to make up for my disappointment. It did make my list of foodie highlights from the trip, so I guess it was well worth it!

If you’re interested to check this place out, take the train to Osaka station, the closest exit to here would be E-34 (quite a long walk under ground). Just keep an eye out for this (hideous) spotty lights building, the restaurant is on level 3.

Next post…. we’re off to Hakone!

Come back in a bit ;)

ITINERARY
Day 01 – Arriving in Tokyo, straight to Osaka. Night out at Namba & Dotonbori.
Day 02Kyoto daytrip (Fushimi Inari shrine, Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto Gogyo ramen, Nishiki Market, Ginza, Maruyama Park, Philosophers Walk, Ninenzaka & Zanenzaka, Katsukura
Day 03Exploring Osaka (Osaka Castle Park, Osaka Aquarium)
Day 04Hiroshima daytrip (Atomic Bomb site, Mazda HQ, Miyajima island) Osaka – Kobe Misono