Back in Time at Nikko Edo Wonderland

Nikko Edo Wonderland

We travelled back in time to the Edo period of pre-modern Japan. What’s the secret?

Easy. Take a two hour train from Tokyo up north to Nikko, get on a bus, and pay ¥4000 to get inside. Haha.

Nikko Edo Wonderland

I’d known this place for a while and always wanted to go because it’s a historical themed village where everything and everyone is straight out of feudal Japan over two centuries ago. Doesn’t that sound fun? The only thing is it’s pricey and far from Tokyo, so it does take some effort to get here. But I finally did and it was great! We were immediately greeted by a ninja.

Nikko Edo Wonderland

The staff are all appropriately dressed as Edo people living in the village, whether they’re swordsmen or townsfolk or the local police. But the best part is that everyone else become part of the village too! Exhibit A: Three female ninjas in pink visiting for the day.

Nikko Edo Wonderland Costumes

We wanted to join in the fun too, so we went to dress up. Renting the outfit cost us another fortune, but we got to wear it till the end of the day and it is pretty much the real deal, so it’s money well spent. I’ve worn kimono and yukata, but I’ve never gotten to be an Edo swordswoman.

Nikko Edo Wonderland

A samurai needs to eat too. The streets were lined up with traditional stalls and I got a stick of hot dango (which was not a good idea to eat while wearing a ¥3000 rented costume).

Nikko Edo Wonderland

Nikko Edo Wonderland was having an anniversary campaign when we were there, so all the activities were free that month! Which was frankly amazing, because we must’ve saved at least a thousand yen painting our own daruma dolls and making strawberry daifuku.

Nikko Edo Wonderland

More things you can enjoy for free—picking a fight with random villagers in the street and practising your sword skills on them.

Nikko Edo Wonderland

They even had the cutest black shiba inu! I think I took about a few hundred pictures of Hachi. And then one with him, because I liked him so much.

Nikko Edo Wonderland

Definitely another place I’d recommend people to go to for a day trip out of Tokyo. It was one of the more unique attractions I’d visited in Japan, and the people at the village are so committed and good at their role that you really don’t feel like you’re in the 21st century at all (except when you’re taking selfies in your kimono with your iPhone). Go back in time and explore old Japan!

Nikko Edo Wonderland

Snowy Night at the Oldest Ryokan in Japan

Hello! As soon as vacation started I went off on a trip across the Kanto region in Japan, so I’m going to get straight it and start a mini travel series with the night we spent at Sekizenkan, the oldest hot spring inn in Japan.

Sekizenkan

If you’ve watched Spirited Away then this bridge probably looks a little familiar to you. Sekizenkan’s supposedly one of the inspirations behind the film’s onsen setting, and whether it’s true or not the place looks pretty legit.

Sekizenkan

It’s 326 years old, which is actually really amazing once you add up the centuries. We also realised that’s probably why the ryokan is kind of worn out and creaky, but that was all part of its charm.

Sekizenkan

Another charm was definitely its cost. One night cost us ¥6,000 (US$53), which is already half the price of most ryokans. You could call it a no-frills deal—it doesn’t pamper you quite as much as other places and you have to set up your own futon, but all that were really minor comforts to sacrifice for such a great price.

Sekizenkan

I mean, we still got the usual gift of manju!

Sekizenkan

Another reason for the low price was because the meals are provided at an economy size instead of the usual kaiseki 1o-course shebang. But when we got this whole tray of food for dinner, there really wasn’t anything economy about it. Everything was beautifully laid out and still looked expensive, so I didn’t think we were missing out on anything.

Sekizenkan

Our dinner was served in the dining hall where our table was waiting for us. So homely.

Sekizenkan Breakfast

Breakfast was another grand affair! (Okay seriously, this is a steal at the price we paid) There was porridge in the morning so that was a nice change from the endless bowls of rice. They even let you get refills if you wanted them, which is always a plus point anywhere.

Sekizenkan

It wasn’t just the food, but the whole landscape of the place was worth every yen. It may be an old place, but they’ve kept it gorgeous. Every window we looked out of had a good view even it was a clump of trees in the dark.

Sekizenkan

Shady, but magical. Also I’m glad we came here when there was snow everywhere!

Sekizenkan

Even the interior was pretty, with old-fashioned corridors and furnishings all over the place. This one elevator in the ryokan opened up to a long dim hallway that looked very much like a creepy tunnel, so that was cool.

Sekizenkan Onsen

And of course the baths were amazing. They had an outdoor onsen! (I feel like all good ryokans need to have one anyway) It was snowing when we entered the hot spring, so needless to say that was the best bath I’ve ever had.

Sekizenkan

It’s not the fanciest or the most luxurious, but Sekizenkan has an old charm of its own that you can’t get anywhere else. And of course it’s nice to be able to say you’ve stayed at the night at the real life Spirited Away hot springneko

January Conbini Favorites

It’s been a while since I did a conbini post! Been a while since I posted at all, really. Technically I just skipped a week of posting, but during finals period everything feels like an eternity when you have to study instead.

If I can’t go out to cafes then at least I’ll make sure I eat good stuff from the convenience stores.

Conbini Chicken Steamed Bun

I’m going to start with this since today is actually the first day of Chinese New Year and it’s the year of the rooster! Lawson was selling this chicken steamed bun that looks like a rooster—I love chuukaman even when they don’t come in animal form.

Kanahei Pocky

Remember the last post about the illustrator Kanahei’s exhibition? To continue about her success, here’s a limited edition Kanahei collaboration Pocky that’s everywhere in the supermarkets and conbini. There’re strawberry and chocolate flavours, so of course I bought them bothKanahei

Family Mart Macarons

Ooh. Here’s the fun one. Sometime last year I was amazed when I saw Family Mart selling macarons, and now they’ve even gone on to make it DIY. The macaron shells come neatly packaged in a cup with jam, and then you assemble everything yourself.

Family Mart Macarons

I just wish they had buttercream instead of jam for filling, but I can’t really be picky when this is obviously more of an activity than a dessert anyway.

Conbini Steamed Bun Heart

And there’re some other cute stuff too, like this heart-shaped chocolate steamed bun from Seven ElevenheartThis thing just oozes with so much filling! It’s so comforting to be able to just drop by a convenience store round the corner and get a hot chocolatey heart to go.

Counting down to spring break…sakura

A Day at Kanahei’s Town

Hello! I went to the exhibition of one of my favourite Japanese illustrators Kanahei. But since exhibition is not cute enough a word, they called it Kanahei’s Laid-back Town (カナヘイのゆるっとタウン) instead.

Kanahei

This was the part I got the most excited over—cute foodkanaheiThey had a little cafe set up next to the main hall serving a menu inspired by Kanahei’s characters. Basically everything from the burgers to the drinks came as Usagi (the rabbit) and Pisuke (the bird) and it couldn’t have been more adorable.

Kanahei

Of course the exhibition itself was full of Kanahei goodness. I’d always collected her drawings and stickers in digital form, so it was funny suddenly seeing everything blown up.

Kanahei

And since it was after all a laid-back town, there were lots of benches and resting spots to sit down on and enjoy the scenery.

Kanahei

Even Usagi and Pisuke are relaxing in their room, and they’re the main stairs of the exhibition.

Kanahei

These illustrators never fail to impress me. The whole design of the place was so whimsical but well thought out for everyone to enjoy it. And by everyone, I really mean anyone of all ages. I didn’t see any kids! Ok, maybe a handful. But the majority of visitors that day were all people my age or older, and everyone wanted to take pictures with the mascots and buy Kanahei dolls on their way out. I suppose grown ups do have the advantage of spending power.

Kanahei Usagi Pisuke Burger

I didn’t really buy merchandise, but I spent more on food at the cafeKanaheiWe got this Pisuke and Usagi burger plate and I was tickled by how pink the buns were. It was such a huge serving of burgers and fries we shared it between two people.

Kanahei Pisuke

Pisuke red bean steamed bunPisukeI was worried the bun would get cold (because obviously I was taking years to take pictures of everything on the table) but the basket it came in kept it soft and steaming. No wonder Pisuke’s face is so red.

Kanahei

And we got smoothies at the end! With the two of them waving us off from their cups.

It’s too bad this was only opened for a limited time, but considering how popular Kanahei’s illustrations are I expect it won’t be long before her next big event!

Okinawa

Happy new year! I’ve just come back from a short getaway to Okinawa so get ready for a long wall of photos from my four days in the southernmost bit of Japan.

Okinawa in Winter

Most people have an image of Okinawa as a sunny resort island to go to for a summer vacation—so did I, which is why I didn’t know what to expect going there in the winter. But just like the rest of Japan it must be beautiful in all seasons because Okinawa in winter was amazing.

Okinawa in Winter

There definitely aren’t any cliffs like this in Tokyo.

Okinawa in Winter

It was my first time discovering Okinawa for myself; they have their own traditional Ryukyu culture and it gave the place a whole different vibe from Tokyo. Still bustling, still bright—but in a very Okinawan style. Plus I get what people mean now when they say it’s like the Hawaii of Japan (I wouldn’t say it’s that heavily influenced by American culture, but there were a lot of steakhouses).

Okinawa in Winter

In any case, the streets and shops were full of weird and bizarre things and I loved it. What’s Tweety Bird even doing in the jaws of a shark?

Okinawa in Winter

No doubt Okinawa is a fruit paradise. I felt oddly at home seeing all the tropical fruits that appear in Southeast Asia too, but I’ve never seen a mini pineapple. They were smaller than the palm of my hand! How do people grow those?

Okinawa in Winter

And of course we ate as much Okinawan food as we could (over multiple meals and snacks every day). I stayed in the capital city Naha, and it was easy to find a good breakfast anywhere. I had yushi doufu twice, which is basically soft fluffy tofu in hot broth with the essential bowl of rice on the side.

Okinawa in Winter

They also have their own special tofu which is made with peanuts. Peanuts! I’m not sure how it works but it tasted good (if a bit too chewy).

Okinawa Soba

Getting that Okinawa soba in our stomach early in the morning. It’s called soba, but it’s really made of wheat and more like flat udon.

Okinawa in Winter Acai Bowl

And if you’re looking for a more Hawaiian breakfast (it’s Okinawa, after all), C&C Breakfast is a highly popular cafe that serves a good acai bowlkirakira

Okinawa in Winter

On our first night we fell into a tourist trap at Kokusai-dori and had dinner at a restaurant that had traditional Okinawan performances. The place had a great set-up and it was nice getting to listen to old-fashioned music—except you have to pay an extra cover charge so watch out for that! (It was fine trying it once but it gets pretty expensive)

Okinawa in Winter Goya Chanpuru

We had delicious local cuisine anywaygirl tongueI really liked goya chanpuru—bitter melon, egg, meat and tofu all stir-fried together into one hot dish. I don’t even like bitter melon usually, but somehow they made it taste good.

Okinawa in Winter

And desserts. Of courselove girlThis was zenzai, sweet red bean soup with mochi, but surprisingly in Okinawa they used kidney beans instead of red beans. No wonder they looked bigger and redder than usual. I honestly still prefer the red beans, but I already love anything with mochi in it anyway.

Okinawa in Winter

Okinawa is also famous for their purple sweet potatoes! Beni imo is such a quintessential Okinawa food that I almost feel bad burying it in the middle of my post. There was so much sweet potato everywhere—in the streets, in the food, even in soaps.

Okinawa in Winter Ryukyumura

We did occasionally take a break to go sightseeinghurhurThe Ryukyu villages are heritage spots with lots to see if you’re interested in the old Okinawan culture, with all the preserved houses and artifacts right there in one place.

Okinawa in Winter

They have this lion-dog creature called Shisa, which appears in pretty much every corner of Okinawa as a traditional decoration. Except sometimes it also comes in slightly modern forms like this Doraemon one.

Okinawa in Winter

Okinawan snacks! Sata andagi (fried donuts) and chinbin (brown sugar pancakes).

Okinawa in Winter

And Okinawa soba again, just because.

Okinawa in Winter

We moved on from the villages to the natural wonders of OkinawakirakiraThe ocean was SO BLUE. Capitals can’t express my excitement enough over how blue it was.

Okinawa in Winter

We ate a seaside cafe called Cafe Curcuma in the south and sat there for a long time just looking out at the scenery over the cliff.

cape-manzamo

And then we drove up to Cape Manzamo, one of the most popular tourist spots with a view of the elephant trunk-shaped cliff hanging over the sea. How does the sea even have two tones of blues?! The wind was so strong it could’ve blown me right off but I would’ve stayed there as long as I could to look at this scenery straight out of a postcard. And since a still photo can’t do it justice I turned into a (very shaky) gif so you can see how strong the waves were.

Okinawa in Winter

Basically anywhere in Okinawa is a photo-worthy location.

Okinawa in Winter

There’re beaches everywhere (I mean, the whole island is like a giant beach) but my favourite was Azama Sun Sun Beach just because they had this cute heart-shaped bell stand for me to use as a huge prop.

Okinawa in Winter

Umikaji Terrace is also another exquisite landmark that looks a little like a seaside town in Greece, thanks to the pure white terrace overlooking the blue sea. How very photogenic.

Okinawa in Winter

We went below the surface for a bit too, to see the caves. This was Gyokusendo Cave at Okinawa World, and we basically walked underground for half an hour looking at stalactites and deer fossils. It’s also apparently the second biggest cave in Japan (I actually read those pamphlets).

Okinawa in Winter

Is there anywhere else in the world that has a postbox in the cave?

Okinawa Cape Manzamo

It was just four days, but I left Okinawa incredibly satisfied and impressed (and a few kilos heavier too, probably). It’s not the typical destination in winter since people usually go in the summer, but it looks like I just have to go again. Go to Okinawa, everybody! Eat some fried donuts at the beach!

Okinawa in Winter

Christmas Sweets in Tokyo

Christmas Taiyaki

Wishing everyone a happy Christmas wherever you are! Winter break has come and I’m feeling warm and cosy spending time with my favourite people in the world and forgetting about finals just for a while. So I hope the holiday season gives you some joy toochristmas

Every year Christmas gets more and more quiet, but there’s nothing I need more than going to church with my family and appreciating God’s blessingshappyPlus there’re so many Christmas snacks around. I’m so happy and well fed right now.

Christmas Santa Donut Japan

I had a Santa donut from the convenience store the other day, and it’s cute how festive they’re able to make a simple donut with packaging alone. Shoutout to 7-11 for having such an adorable (and cheap) line-up of Christmas sweets.

Snowman Mousse Japan

They also had a snowman mousse which I got yesterday—it’s not snowing in Tokyo but at least I can still enjoy the cold winter with appropriately seasonal sweets. 7-11 has been having the best Christmas sweets among all the convenience stores so far this year.

Reindeer Cake Japan

Christmas in the Forest cake from Crayon House! I went there again the day before and they were having a whole bunch of holiday-themed cakes. There was the typical log cake too, but I went with the cuter one. It’s a good time of the year for special dessertskirakira

Enjoy the last few days of the year!

Hakone in December

Hello! It’s already the end of December and I’ve only had one post this month?! It’s been a few of the busiest weeks I’ve had this year with school and part-time jobs and everything in between, and I hadn’t even had time to realise Christmas is this Sunday. But it’s almost time for a short winter break, so tonight I’m going to sit back and try to revive some of my holiday spirit. And blogging frequency.

Hakone

The other day I had to go to Hakone, and it’d been a long time since I last went there so I took lots of pictures. I think Hakone’s a staple on the itinerary of every traveller to Tokyo, so there were tons of people as usual. Everyone heads to the volcanic valley in Owakudani for some good black eggs bathed in sulfur.

Hakone

Those eggs are really popular, and they’ve even spawned a huge line of souvenir goods and snacks. Some of the shops have a keychain of Hello Kitty dressed up as a black egg, which is actually cute. There’s also a popular story that they add seven years to your life, which gets a bit suspicious if you eat several of them at once. I didn’t get to eat any this time, but I saw some cute egg-shaped chairs.

Hakone

And I saw Mt Fuji too! It was super clear that day (with the occasional big cloud sailing across) and so we got a good view of the mountain. Hakone’s still one of the best spots to see it up close—just go up Owakudani on a fine day and you’ll get your postcard shot.

Hakone

What better prop for your food photo than Mt Fuji?

Hakone

We went up and down by cable car. Did you know the black eggs get a ride by cable car too? They get stuffed into a little crate and then transported up and down the mountain by their own mini ropeway system. So they can enjoy the scenery high up there along with us.

Hakone

But the town landscape back on the ground is just as beautiful too. Everything’s authentic and traditional, with lots of rivers and old bridges. So old that this bridge we were on was shaking as we were walking across it (which was slightly alarming seeing it was made of stone).

Hakone

Another famous icon of Hakone—the huge ship that ferries you across Lake Ashi. Look at it all majestic and being blessed by that ray of sunlightkirakira

Hakone

After you’ve had a full day of exploring Hakone (all the tourist maps are literally designed to go one big round) you can return to the main station at Hakone-Yumoto for some good hot food when you’re hungry. I wasn’t touring around the place or anything but I was still hungry anyway. So we had soba! There are lots of soba and udon restaurants around, so any of them would have something delicious.

I had agemochi soba, which was completely delicious but also a bit of a mistake because I only had 15 minutes to eat and not enough time to finish the two big mounds of fried mochi that came with itcryBut still highly recommended if you have more time than that and are not a slow eater like me!

Hakone

Otherwise, just hit the souvenir stores for free tastings. I’ve never seen a street that gives out this many samples. Since I hadn’t had breakfast that morning I ate my way through at least ten stores and got full fast. There’s no better breakfast than pieces of mochi and hot steamed manju.

Hakone

Kamaboko’s also one of the specialties at Hakone, so there were lots of free samples like this cute panda one toopanda

Hakone

And even barbecue. Would you believe that? Right in the middle of the street. It was a store selling seafood, so they had grills set up outside where you could literally take their stock and fry them up yourself. And they even had free tea to drink with it.

Hakone

Free barbecue, beautiful nature and life-extending eggs—Hakone is a wonderful place to visitkirakira

Hakone


Welcome ♡

▷ . Cheryl

I'm a university student in Tokyo blogging every weekend about cute food and cute places in Japan٩( ᐛ )و

Read my About Me ☆ to know more.

はじめまして!
大学一年生のシェリルです
毎週日本の可愛い食べ物や場所についてブログ更新していますヽ(´_`) /♪

よろしくお願いします

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