Friday, March 28, 2014

Why I Love Shopping in Japan


Japan is my most favorite country to shop at. Yeah, Hong Kong only comes next, and Bangkok comes third. While many think that shopping in Japan is ridiculously expensive, I'm here to be a myth buster. Shopping in Japan could be more expensive than shopping in other Asian countries. However, the technique here is to know where and when to shop in Japan just so you could get a good deal, most especially for signature items.

All of my previous trips in Japan were during Spring; and as far as I can remember, I was able to catch a lot of bargain items due to the changing of the season from Winter to Spring. I remembered shopping a lot from H&M and in Harajuku. Well Shibuya 109 is their fashion center but everything there is just expensive no matter what season it is. The brands there are all local designer brands and those shops really set the trend.

The best time to shop in Japan is from mid-December to mid-January. This is when you see the SALE sign everywhere! One weekend in December, we went to Yatsugatame Resort Outlet (outlet shops of local and foreign brands) and we've gone crazy shopping at Coach Factory where we shopped for an hour. We got 2 wallets, 3 bags, 2 bangles for just 100,000 yen or less (around Php 40,000). The Japanese people are too shopaholic that there are a lot of outlet malls/parks all over Japan. The biggest of which is the Mitsui Outlet Park Shiga Ryuo in Kyoto with 237 stores. The one we went to was the nearest to our place (less than an hour drive), located at 4000 Kobuchizawa-machi (town) Hokuto-shi (city), Yamanashi-ken (province).

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The craziest shopping day is the New Year's Day! Yeah, what a way to spend so much on the first day of the year haha! Every New Year, most of the shops, most especially the local brands are preparing HAPPY BAGS. Each happy bag is filled with an entire set of outfit or multiple random items from a store and it's available on promo price. The usual price of a "happy bag" is 10,000 yen or Php 4,300. But its content is actual worth more than that. However, the catch here is that, you don't know what exact items are inside -- the style, design, color. What you only know is the size and the actual worth of all the items inside. Well, I've seen some that displayed the actual content of the bag but they're more expensive than the surprise ones. I watched in the news that there's this shop wherein a lot of people have already lined up at dawn to get HAPPY BAGS worth 10,000 yen each but are filled with items worth 100,000 yen or Php 43,000. Can you just imagine how awesome of a bargain that is?!? (I actually took photos of the happy bags but I lost them 'cause I failed to sync them to my laptop before deleting them)

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So on New Year's Day, I went shopping in Tokyo with my cousin and aunts and I spent 2 hours in H&M because there were a lot of ridiculously discounted items and a lot of customers as well. I bought 10 items for only 5,000 yen of Php 2,200. That's a mix of dresses, shorts, tops, and skirts. I could've bought more but I limited my spending and my family has been waiting for me for so long at a resto across H&M. haha!

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H&M Harajuku
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at the roof deck of Tokyu Plaza (Harajuku)
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will never get tired of shopping for bargain finds


In Japan, we live in the province but we're just a minute or two away from boutiques and department stores. I think we go shopping like at least twice a week. On weekends we go to the malls in nearby cities such as the Aeon Mall in Kofu (Yamanashi), Don Quijote (Matsumoto, Nagano), etc. Imagine how much this trip damaged my pocket. But still, I was thankful 'cause I got a lot of free shopping from my aunt, uncle, and cousin.

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my cousin is my forever shopping buddy

Friday, March 7, 2014

Hardware Zone Magazine Philippines Holiday Gift Guide 2013/2014

This is a super late post. Sorry, it almost slipped my mind. But hey, better late than never.

Last October, I got invited by Hardware Zone Magazine (HWM) Philippines to be a part of the style team of their Holiday Gift Guide 2013/2014. It's like a catalogue of products (not only gadgets but even apparel) that serves as a source of gift ideas. It was actually out in the market from December 2013 to February 2014.

Our models were Angelia Ong, Ladylyn Riva, and Farah Ramos. And I co-styled the wardrobe and the hair of the models together with Shiela Del Rosario. The shoot coordinator was Darlene Sasan of HWM, and hey, they're all my friends. It seemed like a "barkada" project for us.

The themes were: couch potato, adventurous/explorer, and party animal.

Here are the final output:

 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-2014_zpsb94a7d59.jpg
Lady on the cover wearing Solari Clothing's "Lush" dress
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-20146_zps41a38ed8.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201458_zps0108c9d2.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201470_zpsdea44b4e.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201452_zps9bf40507.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201464_zpse6b0da5b.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201426_zpsc696152f.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201430_zps5ac10d5a.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201420_zps96fa2f91.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201416_zps959e2b40.jpg
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Here's our team:

 photo 1379331_10151984183751369_1103586964_n_zps9ed5b3ec.jpg


And we're about to work on the HWM Summer Gift Guide 2014. Stay tuned!:)


xoxo,

city girl

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Japanese New Year: Oshogatsu Festival 2014

The New Year celebration in Japan is called the Oshogatsu Festival. It's more solemn and traditional as compared to that of the Philippines, and other Western countries.

For the New Year's eve, we travelled to Tokyo to celebrate it with my Japanese uncle and his mother. But before heading to their house in Tokyo, we stopped by Hachioji to shop for food at Costco. There were so many shoppers getting ready for the NYE.


When we arrived at my uncle's house, we cleaned it up a bit then we headed to the onsen (public bath). There were actually a lot of customers that night. After that, we picked up my cousin and aunt's bestfriend at the bus station and we went to Don Quijote to go shopping. Imagine, it's around 10pm and we're still shopping on NYE.


We all went back to the house and got ready for the NYE dinner (Media Noche in Pinoy culture). We had a very simple NYE dinner. The staple food for NYE dinner in Japan is the soba. After dinner, we headed to the Jindaiji Temple. It's a tradition in Japan to visit shrines/temples on NYE. There were a lot of people lining up to throw coins and pray or make a wish. Surprisingly, I saw a lot of groups of young people at the temple. While some were at the New Year countdown at Shibuya crossing and in some clubs/bars, there were still a long of youngsters who still celebrate the NYE traditionally. 



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year of the horse
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wine
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food!
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small temple
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main temple (while we were in line)
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that's a small fountain
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while waiting for our turn
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where people get their omikuji
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The next day, we had brunch. We shared the "osechi", a set of traditional Japanese New Year food in a special box called, "jubako". Each food symbolizes something, such as health, wealth, and good fortune. After brunch, we hit Harajuku area for shopping. New Year's Day shopping is probably the craziest shopping day of the year in Japan. I'll be making a different post about it, as this post focuses on Japanese New Year.


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Anyway, the next day, my aunt's friend gave me an "otoshidama" or New Year money, along with an "omikuji", a piece of paper that talks about my fortune. Unfortunately, I got bad fortune, or "kyo". I must get at least a "kichi" or blessing. To reverse the bad fortune, we went to Suwataisha Temple and tied the piece of paper containing bad fortune at the temple. Then I picked a new number. When I got the piece of paper, it read "kichi", or blessing. Finally! Well, you can check Wikipedia on their meanings.


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really bad fortune (1st omikuji)
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Suwataisha Temple
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me and my aunt
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Onbashira
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big Japanese drum
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people waiting for their turns to pray
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must let go of the bad luck by my first omikuji
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getting a number (it's written on a stick)
then there's a corresponding omikuji for the number that I got
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it's their version of holy water
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the main entrance
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tried it for the first time
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traditional Japanese house

So that's the traditional Japanese New Year. Far from how I usually celebrate it in the Philippines, but this experience has been really worth it.



xoxo,


city girl


Thursday, February 6, 2014

December 2013: A Weekend in Tokyo

Tokyo is probably my second favorite Asian city (next to Seoul). It's a place I'll keep coming back to because of my love for fashion and the city life. I've been to Tokyo for a couple of times in the past years with my family, but I haven't experienced it with a friend yet. So when I heard that my friend who's based in Singapore would be on a business trip in Tokyo, I felt the need to travel almost 3 hours by bus from Suwa to Tokyo just so I could spend time in the city with my friend.

At around 8am of December 8, I took the highway bus from Suwa City, Nagano to Shinjuku, Tokyo. From the bus station in Shinjuku, I took the train to Royal Park Hotel Shiodome Tower where my friend was staying. Good thing my cousin lent me beforehand her preloaded Passmo card (the subway card in Tokyo). Anyway, the hotel is pretty nice but quite pricey.
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inside the bus

My friend, Pam and I started our Sunday with ramen for lunch. It's just a small ramen place at the subway connected to the hotel. We shared in one miso ramen and a plate of gyoza. I think our bill was around 1,500 yen.
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lunch


Then we proceeded to the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Entrance was free but apparently, almost nothing's left in that area. When we went out of the gates and walked towards the nearest subway station, we got a view of the Edo Castle from afar.
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garden at the Imperial Palace
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autumn leaves
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old Japanese house inside the Imperial Palace
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Edo Castle

We headed to Asakusa where we had a view of Tokyo Sky Tree from afar. It's the tallest tower in the world. We followed some groups of tourists following a tour guide and it led us to the Senso-ji Temple. There were a lot of both tourists and locals there.

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Asakusa (Tokyo Sky Tree right there!)
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Senso-ji Temple

We're too tired so we headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit. At the subway, we found a kiosk of Almond Cafe and we bought and eclair and a croughnut. So far, those were the best I have tasted. We also got some hot chocolate and coffee from the nearby vendo, which were so perfect for the freezing weather.

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Christmas illumination at Shiodome
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super yummy!:)
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Pam enjoying the bed

Sunset was kind of early, like around 4:30 to 5pm. When the sun set, we headed to Harajuku, supposedly to go shopping but when we got there, we're too budget conscious so we were only able to shop at Daiso. haha! From Harajuku, we walked towards Omotesando Hills where we found Heiroku, a "kaiten" (conveyor belt sushi) sushi place. We paid around 3,000 yen for dinner.

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sushi dinner

We walked from Omotesando Hills to Shibuya crossing. That popular crossing is one of my favorite spots in Tokyo. I like seeing how organized it is for a bunch of people to cross the street. We went window shopping at Shibuya 109. It's the center of Japanese fashion. However, those local brands were kind of expensive.

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Shibuya crossing
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Day 1 OOTD without the coat

We're supposed to go out and have some drinks somewhere in Roponggi but we're too tired for it so we headed back to the hotel instead. It's so relaxing in our room at 37th floor, overlooking the city lights.

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no filter!

That night I found out that another Singapore-based friend was in Tokyo as well. We got to communicate via Facebook and Viber and we agreed to spend the next day at Roponggi. The next day, I woke up early and met with my friend, Kidjie at the Roponggi Station. We went to the Suntory Museum of Art at Tokyo Midtown, which is connected to the station. We paid a discounted admission fee since we presented our student IDs. After a quick look at the museum, we walked towards Roponggi Hills. We reached Mori Tower but we didn't go up. From there, we got to see the Tokyo Tower, but I still prefer seeing it at night. We headed back to the station and passed by Almond Cafe so I bought eclairs and croughnuts again so I would have something to take home to Suwa.

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Day 2 OOTD without the coat :)
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not all stations here have gates like these
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Tokyo Midtown
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BMW i8!!!
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Kidjie buying postcards at the museum
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the view outside the museum
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some random zen garden in Roponggi


From Roponggi Hills, we took a train to Harajuku where we had lunch at my favorite western  restaurant, Wolfgang Puck Express. We paid around 2,000 yen for our meals.

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Then we headed to Meiji Shrine, which was just next to Harajuku Station. After a fun half day tour, we headed to the Shinjuku station where we parted ways. Kidjie went back to his hotel while I walked to the bus terminal where I took the highway bus back to Suwa.
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entrance going to the Meiji Shrine
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Meiji Shrine
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drinking fountain
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It's been a fun overnight trip. I got to explore Tokyo with my friends and it made me realize that Tokyo could be a fun city to live in. However, the lifestyle would really cost a lot. but who cares, I love Tokyo!:)




xoxo,


city girl

Friday, March 28, 2014

Why I Love Shopping in Japan


Japan is my most favorite country to shop at. Yeah, Hong Kong only comes next, and Bangkok comes third. While many think that shopping in Japan is ridiculously expensive, I'm here to be a myth buster. Shopping in Japan could be more expensive than shopping in other Asian countries. However, the technique here is to know where and when to shop in Japan just so you could get a good deal, most especially for signature items.

All of my previous trips in Japan were during Spring; and as far as I can remember, I was able to catch a lot of bargain items due to the changing of the season from Winter to Spring. I remembered shopping a lot from H&M and in Harajuku. Well Shibuya 109 is their fashion center but everything there is just expensive no matter what season it is. The brands there are all local designer brands and those shops really set the trend.

The best time to shop in Japan is from mid-December to mid-January. This is when you see the SALE sign everywhere! One weekend in December, we went to Yatsugatame Resort Outlet (outlet shops of local and foreign brands) and we've gone crazy shopping at Coach Factory where we shopped for an hour. We got 2 wallets, 3 bags, 2 bangles for just 100,000 yen or less (around Php 40,000). The Japanese people are too shopaholic that there are a lot of outlet malls/parks all over Japan. The biggest of which is the Mitsui Outlet Park Shiga Ryuo in Kyoto with 237 stores. The one we went to was the nearest to our place (less than an hour drive), located at 4000 Kobuchizawa-machi (town) Hokuto-shi (city), Yamanashi-ken (province).

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The craziest shopping day is the New Year's Day! Yeah, what a way to spend so much on the first day of the year haha! Every New Year, most of the shops, most especially the local brands are preparing HAPPY BAGS. Each happy bag is filled with an entire set of outfit or multiple random items from a store and it's available on promo price. The usual price of a "happy bag" is 10,000 yen or Php 4,300. But its content is actual worth more than that. However, the catch here is that, you don't know what exact items are inside -- the style, design, color. What you only know is the size and the actual worth of all the items inside. Well, I've seen some that displayed the actual content of the bag but they're more expensive than the surprise ones. I watched in the news that there's this shop wherein a lot of people have already lined up at dawn to get HAPPY BAGS worth 10,000 yen each but are filled with items worth 100,000 yen or Php 43,000. Can you just imagine how awesome of a bargain that is?!? (I actually took photos of the happy bags but I lost them 'cause I failed to sync them to my laptop before deleting them)

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So on New Year's Day, I went shopping in Tokyo with my cousin and aunts and I spent 2 hours in H&M because there were a lot of ridiculously discounted items and a lot of customers as well. I bought 10 items for only 5,000 yen of Php 2,200. That's a mix of dresses, shorts, tops, and skirts. I could've bought more but I limited my spending and my family has been waiting for me for so long at a resto across H&M. haha!

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H&M Harajuku
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at the roof deck of Tokyu Plaza (Harajuku)
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will never get tired of shopping for bargain finds


In Japan, we live in the province but we're just a minute or two away from boutiques and department stores. I think we go shopping like at least twice a week. On weekends we go to the malls in nearby cities such as the Aeon Mall in Kofu (Yamanashi), Don Quijote (Matsumoto, Nagano), etc. Imagine how much this trip damaged my pocket. But still, I was thankful 'cause I got a lot of free shopping from my aunt, uncle, and cousin.

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my cousin is my forever shopping buddy

Friday, March 7, 2014

Hardware Zone Magazine Philippines Holiday Gift Guide 2013/2014

This is a super late post. Sorry, it almost slipped my mind. But hey, better late than never.

Last October, I got invited by Hardware Zone Magazine (HWM) Philippines to be a part of the style team of their Holiday Gift Guide 2013/2014. It's like a catalogue of products (not only gadgets but even apparel) that serves as a source of gift ideas. It was actually out in the market from December 2013 to February 2014.

Our models were Angelia Ong, Ladylyn Riva, and Farah Ramos. And I co-styled the wardrobe and the hair of the models together with Shiela Del Rosario. The shoot coordinator was Darlene Sasan of HWM, and hey, they're all my friends. It seemed like a "barkada" project for us.

The themes were: couch potato, adventurous/explorer, and party animal.

Here are the final output:

 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-2014_zpsb94a7d59.jpg
Lady on the cover wearing Solari Clothing's "Lush" dress
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-20146_zps41a38ed8.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201458_zps0108c9d2.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201470_zpsdea44b4e.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201452_zps9bf40507.jpg
 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201464_zpse6b0da5b.jpg
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 photo HWM-Holiday-Gift-Guide-201416_zps959e2b40.jpg
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 photo IMG_3664copy_zps7d3d2554.png
 photo IMG_7849copy_zps5edc38a3.png

Here's our team:

 photo 1379331_10151984183751369_1103586964_n_zps9ed5b3ec.jpg


And we're about to work on the HWM Summer Gift Guide 2014. Stay tuned!:)


xoxo,

city girl

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Japanese New Year: Oshogatsu Festival 2014

The New Year celebration in Japan is called the Oshogatsu Festival. It's more solemn and traditional as compared to that of the Philippines, and other Western countries.

For the New Year's eve, we travelled to Tokyo to celebrate it with my Japanese uncle and his mother. But before heading to their house in Tokyo, we stopped by Hachioji to shop for food at Costco. There were so many shoppers getting ready for the NYE.


When we arrived at my uncle's house, we cleaned it up a bit then we headed to the onsen (public bath). There were actually a lot of customers that night. After that, we picked up my cousin and aunt's bestfriend at the bus station and we went to Don Quijote to go shopping. Imagine, it's around 10pm and we're still shopping on NYE.


We all went back to the house and got ready for the NYE dinner (Media Noche in Pinoy culture). We had a very simple NYE dinner. The staple food for NYE dinner in Japan is the soba. After dinner, we headed to the Jindaiji Temple. It's a tradition in Japan to visit shrines/temples on NYE. There were a lot of people lining up to throw coins and pray or make a wish. Surprisingly, I saw a lot of groups of young people at the temple. While some were at the New Year countdown at Shibuya crossing and in some clubs/bars, there were still a long of youngsters who still celebrate the NYE traditionally. 



 photo IMG_1402_zpse2777c8e.jpg
year of the horse
 photo IMG_1401_zpsea2ba788.jpg
wine
 photo IMG_1399_zpsc2395501.jpg
food!
 photo IMG_1404_zpsf273b397.jpg
small temple
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main temple (while we were in line)
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that's a small fountain
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while waiting for our turn
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where people get their omikuji
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The next day, we had brunch. We shared the "osechi", a set of traditional Japanese New Year food in a special box called, "jubako". Each food symbolizes something, such as health, wealth, and good fortune. After brunch, we hit Harajuku area for shopping. New Year's Day shopping is probably the craziest shopping day of the year in Japan. I'll be making a different post about it, as this post focuses on Japanese New Year.


 photo IMG_1409_zpsd95d3cda.jpg

Anyway, the next day, my aunt's friend gave me an "otoshidama" or New Year money, along with an "omikuji", a piece of paper that talks about my fortune. Unfortunately, I got bad fortune, or "kyo". I must get at least a "kichi" or blessing. To reverse the bad fortune, we went to Suwataisha Temple and tied the piece of paper containing bad fortune at the temple. Then I picked a new number. When I got the piece of paper, it read "kichi", or blessing. Finally! Well, you can check Wikipedia on their meanings.


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really bad fortune (1st omikuji)
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Suwataisha Temple
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me and my aunt
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Onbashira
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big Japanese drum
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people waiting for their turns to pray
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must let go of the bad luck by my first omikuji
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getting a number (it's written on a stick)
then there's a corresponding omikuji for the number that I got
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it's their version of holy water
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the main entrance
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tried it for the first time
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traditional Japanese house

So that's the traditional Japanese New Year. Far from how I usually celebrate it in the Philippines, but this experience has been really worth it.



xoxo,


city girl


Thursday, February 6, 2014

December 2013: A Weekend in Tokyo

Tokyo is probably my second favorite Asian city (next to Seoul). It's a place I'll keep coming back to because of my love for fashion and the city life. I've been to Tokyo for a couple of times in the past years with my family, but I haven't experienced it with a friend yet. So when I heard that my friend who's based in Singapore would be on a business trip in Tokyo, I felt the need to travel almost 3 hours by bus from Suwa to Tokyo just so I could spend time in the city with my friend.

At around 8am of December 8, I took the highway bus from Suwa City, Nagano to Shinjuku, Tokyo. From the bus station in Shinjuku, I took the train to Royal Park Hotel Shiodome Tower where my friend was staying. Good thing my cousin lent me beforehand her preloaded Passmo card (the subway card in Tokyo). Anyway, the hotel is pretty nice but quite pricey.
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inside the bus

My friend, Pam and I started our Sunday with ramen for lunch. It's just a small ramen place at the subway connected to the hotel. We shared in one miso ramen and a plate of gyoza. I think our bill was around 1,500 yen.
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lunch


Then we proceeded to the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Entrance was free but apparently, almost nothing's left in that area. When we went out of the gates and walked towards the nearest subway station, we got a view of the Edo Castle from afar.
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garden at the Imperial Palace
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autumn leaves
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old Japanese house inside the Imperial Palace
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Edo Castle

We headed to Asakusa where we had a view of Tokyo Sky Tree from afar. It's the tallest tower in the world. We followed some groups of tourists following a tour guide and it led us to the Senso-ji Temple. There were a lot of both tourists and locals there.

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Asakusa (Tokyo Sky Tree right there!)
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Senso-ji Temple

We're too tired so we headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit. At the subway, we found a kiosk of Almond Cafe and we bought and eclair and a croughnut. So far, those were the best I have tasted. We also got some hot chocolate and coffee from the nearby vendo, which were so perfect for the freezing weather.

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Christmas illumination at Shiodome
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super yummy!:)
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Pam enjoying the bed

Sunset was kind of early, like around 4:30 to 5pm. When the sun set, we headed to Harajuku, supposedly to go shopping but when we got there, we're too budget conscious so we were only able to shop at Daiso. haha! From Harajuku, we walked towards Omotesando Hills where we found Heiroku, a "kaiten" (conveyor belt sushi) sushi place. We paid around 3,000 yen for dinner.

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sushi dinner

We walked from Omotesando Hills to Shibuya crossing. That popular crossing is one of my favorite spots in Tokyo. I like seeing how organized it is for a bunch of people to cross the street. We went window shopping at Shibuya 109. It's the center of Japanese fashion. However, those local brands were kind of expensive.

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Shibuya crossing
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Day 1 OOTD without the coat

We're supposed to go out and have some drinks somewhere in Roponggi but we're too tired for it so we headed back to the hotel instead. It's so relaxing in our room at 37th floor, overlooking the city lights.

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no filter!

That night I found out that another Singapore-based friend was in Tokyo as well. We got to communicate via Facebook and Viber and we agreed to spend the next day at Roponggi. The next day, I woke up early and met with my friend, Kidjie at the Roponggi Station. We went to the Suntory Museum of Art at Tokyo Midtown, which is connected to the station. We paid a discounted admission fee since we presented our student IDs. After a quick look at the museum, we walked towards Roponggi Hills. We reached Mori Tower but we didn't go up. From there, we got to see the Tokyo Tower, but I still prefer seeing it at night. We headed back to the station and passed by Almond Cafe so I bought eclairs and croughnuts again so I would have something to take home to Suwa.

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Day 2 OOTD without the coat :)
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not all stations here have gates like these
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Tokyo Midtown
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BMW i8!!!
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Kidjie buying postcards at the museum
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the view outside the museum
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some random zen garden in Roponggi


From Roponggi Hills, we took a train to Harajuku where we had lunch at my favorite western  restaurant, Wolfgang Puck Express. We paid around 2,000 yen for our meals.

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Then we headed to Meiji Shrine, which was just next to Harajuku Station. After a fun half day tour, we headed to the Shinjuku station where we parted ways. Kidjie went back to his hotel while I walked to the bus terminal where I took the highway bus back to Suwa.
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entrance going to the Meiji Shrine
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Meiji Shrine
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drinking fountain
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It's been a fun overnight trip. I got to explore Tokyo with my friends and it made me realize that Tokyo could be a fun city to live in. However, the lifestyle would really cost a lot. but who cares, I love Tokyo!:)




xoxo,


city girl