Archive for April, 2015

Nara: Deer, mochi and even more deer

Shortly after visiting the Fujiko F. Fujio museum, I headed west on a mini two-day trip to the Kansai region! There I spent a day in Nara, and then spent the night and next day in Osaka. I’d never been to those cities before, so it was a fun first time.

It was also my first time taking the shinkansen (bullet train) by myself! The route I took was Tokyo-Kyoto-Nara, and the whole journey took about three hours.

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Before I got on the train early in the morning, I bought a bento for breakfast. Bento boxes sold at train stations are called ekiben, and they usually come with special ingredients that are unique to each regionkirakiraThis ekiben is the 30-ingredient Balance Bento from Tokyo station, and it comes with all sorts of yummy things from vegetables to fish to meat. It even had my favourite kinchaku (tiny tofu pouch)Love

Once I arrived, I met Oba-san (not really my aunt but a family friend whose hometown is Nara) and she brought me around the city!

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You know you’re in Nara once you see the deer.

In parts of the city, deer are just as much citizens of Nara as the humans are. They roam around open spaces and parks and even walk around the streets. The locals are accustomed to them and the tourists love it, so everyone’s happyhana

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There are small pushcarts at the park that sell shika senbei (crackers for the deer) for ¥150, so you can feed them (and bribe them to like you)!

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I also visited Nakatani-dou, a famous mochi shop that was the place I most wanted to go to in Nara. They specialise in traditional yomogi mochi and make it fresh onsite everyday. Yomogi is a type of plant called Japanese mugwort, which is where the nice green colour comes from.

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The signature attraction of this shop is their high-speed mochi-pounding performance! Well it is the actual process they go through to make the mochi, but there’s so much action and thrill in watching them do it that it’s a performance in itself. Nakatani-dou even won a championship on TV for being the fastest mochi pounders in Japanwow

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It’s a dramatically fast process that involves giant mallets that they use to batter the mochi into a smooth dough, while the head mochi master (on the right) flips the giant mass of mochi around in between blows. You should watch a video here to see what it’s really like! They’re such professionals that you know they won’t ever get their fingers smashed, but it’s still riveting to watch them pummel away at such high speed.

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The result of all that action is soft, chewy yomogi mochi dusted with kinako powderkirakiraKinako is roasted soybean flour and it has a slightly nutty taste that goes well with the natural flavour of yomogi. Since the mochi is made fresh, it was still warm in my handlove girl

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Bite into it and out oozes sweet red bean paste! A single mochi is just ¥130, so it’s a simple and affordable snack that I think you should try at least oncehappy girl

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Since the shop is barely 10 minutes walk from Kintetsu-Nara station (which is where the express train from Kyoto comes to), it’s easy to find! I’ll leave the address here:

Hashimoto-cho 29, Nara City
Nara Prefecture 〒630-8217

They’re open daily from 10am to 7pm, and everyday you can watch them pound away at the mochi. They do it about once every half hour or so, but it mostly depends on the size of the crowd or whether they still have stock from the previous batch.

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After eating delicious mochi and a hot bowl of udon for lunch, Oba-san brought me to Mount Wakakusa-yama for a small hike up the mountain. There we saw even more deer who were happily chowing away at the mountain veggies. There was an elderly man who came with a big bag of bread crusts too, so the bunch around him enjoyed a carb-fest.

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There’s a gorgeous view from the topgirl loveA few other people were there too, either taking a stroll or sitting down to soak in the scenery. There aren’t any mountains in Singapore, so being able to climb one in Nara was great.

We later came down the mountain and visited Todaiji, a historical landmark of the city and one of the most famous temples in Japan.

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And so we meet again, deersmile

This was one of those places where you could really see what a popular spot it is for sightseeing. There were dozens of Japanese and foreign tourists milling about, but even though it was touristy it was still a genuinely beautiful place to see. With all the deer walking around it felt even more specialsmile

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Especially when they get up to antics like eating cherry blossoms right off the tree. Oba-san says that in Nara the trees only flower over a certain height because everything below gets eaten by the deer.

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The big majority of visitors were Japanese high school students. It was the season for school trips, which means you get a lot of teenagers and their teachers going around the sightseeing attractions along with you.

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The deer are well used to it by now.

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As a souvenir I also bought this pack of deer boogershurhurJust kidding. That’s what they call it, but it’s really cocoa-coated peanut balls. I found it so funny I got it as a present for my brother.

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For dinner Nara Oba-san and her husband brought me to a small casual restaurant, and we had sashimi and sansai (local mountain vegetables)happyThere was also a dish of grilled squid rings stuffed with squid roe, but by that point I was too busy eating the good food in front of me. In Nara restaurants aren’t as expensive as they are in Tokyo, so you can have more fun ordering different dishes to try and sharegood

After dinner we drove over to Osaka where their house is; it’s in the rural countryside so I experienced a very traditional stay in the mountainside village. Please look forward to my next post about itgirl tongue

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Meeting Doraemon at the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum

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I went to the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum! Fujiko F. Fujio is the manga artist who created the famous character Doraemon. So It may be known as the Doraemon museum to some, but the place actually also pays homage to all the characters and manga belonging to the maestro.

The journey into his world starts even before getting near the museum, thanks to the special bus that takes you there.

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The only recommended way to get to there is by bus, because there’s no parking! But you wouldn’t want to go there by any other means because the shuttle buses that come to pick you up are adorable. My bus had Doraemon characters on itkira

The bus service can be used from Noborito Station, which is about 40 minutes by train from Tokyo Station.

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Inside the bus, there’re tiny details to look out for like the Doraemon buzzer!

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Or some trusty straps for you to hold on to when the road gets bumpy. The ride gets you more and more excited for the actual placesmile

When you enter the museum you start with the exhibitions dedicated to Fujiko F. Fuji’s life and work, and there all sorts of displays from original illustrations to a reproduction of his work desk. This is the section where no sort of photography is allowed at all, so you should just wander around and appreciate his creationsgirl

Anyway that’s why I have no pictures for that first part at all. But right after that I went on a photo-taking spree of every inch of the museum groundshurhur

If you’re hungry there’s a cafe that serves themed food and drinks! If you’re not hungry, you should still go there because it’d be a waste to miss it.

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Doraemon sleeping on a pillowy chiffon cake with matcha ice cream, dusted with a sprinkling of kinako and drizzled with syrup.

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I thought this was really funny haha. You have a smiling Suneo on the plate in front of you, with hair made of chocolate cake.

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The drinks are just as good! I asked for hot cocoa because it was cold and rainy outside, and it came with the cutest latte art. It was a pity to ruin it so I spent the longest time being careful while sipping away at the straw.

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Once you’ve finished a good amount, you’re rewarded with a hidden picture on the inside of the mug! Which was…handsome Gian haha.

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There are lots of original dishes and desserts that can’t be found elsewhere, so even though I could only have a bit of it I still liked looking through the menuhappy

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The cafe also gave every customer a sample portion of their original character dorayaki! Here’s a slice of Doraemon winking up at me.

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After all that yummy goodness at the cafe, we went for a walk outside to explore Fujio F. Fujiko’s world in realitykira kiraIt was pouring, but they provide umbrellas for the visitors to use freely when they want to go out and explore the grounds. It’s so thoughtful of themcryThanks to this I could still properly enjoy the museum in the outdoors.

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The iconic Dokodemo Door (one of Doraemon’s many convenient gadgets) was right there! Though I walked through it but still came out onto the same place.

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Perman relaxing on the grass (even in the rain)! I didn’t actually know the character Perman by name until after coming to the museum; he was created much earlier and is a lot more low-profile compared to the Doraemon and friends that everyone knows.

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Heading back inside for some warmthargh bearThis part of the museum is a reading room where you can just sit down and relax with any of the comic books on the shelves. Doraemon keeps you company and reads along with everyone too!

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Even the bathroom signs were cute—the characters get more and more urgent the nearer you get to the bathroom. It’s a good indicator of distancegoodThey used Shizuka for the females and Nobita for the guys.

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The last bit before leaving is the souvenir shop! There was so much Fujiko F. Fujio character merchandise, especially Doraemon, so I spent a long time choosing what to buy. There was something for everyone, whether it was figurines or comic books or kitchen tools or sweets (definitely an all-purpose winner).

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These Dorami-chan cookies were so sweetlove girl

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In the Doraemon series Gian is notorious for his terrible singing, so I found it really funny when I saw this row of CD records. But instead of real songs it turned out to be chocolates insidegirl oh noHow thoughtful of them.

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Every corner of the museum was special. It was impressive by how diligent they were in putting in all sorts of special details even if they’re not easily noticeable, like this tiny carved brick in the wall. Seeing all the care and love that was put into this place made me appreciate Fujiko F. Fujio’s works even morehappy girl

Since I was a kid I read lots of Doraemon manga and watched the series on TV. For a while the bookshop at my primary school even sold mini comic books for a dollar each, so that term I ended up buying one every week. It’s a part of my childhoodkirakira

But whether you grew up knowing Doraemon or not, it’s fun enough to get to know the artist’s characters and step into a storybook world for a little bit. And of course, foooood. Going to the cafe is absolutely necessary.

Tips when visiting the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum

kiraGo only at the specific time slot you reserved with your ticket. You can’t enter before that, and everything (from the cafe to the exhibition to the shops) is inside the museum itself so if you end up going early you wouldn’t have anything to do.

kiraEat at the cafe with more friends, so that you can try different items on the menu!

kiraOn weekdays, it’s a lot less crowded so you can walk around in peace and quiet.

kiraDon’t worry about going through the museum in sequence. It starts with the exhibition of Fujiko F. Fuji’s works from the entrance, but since it’s a self-guided tour you’re free to explore at your own pace. So if you want to take pictures with the sculptures or eat at the cafe first, or go back to an exhibit again, that’s fine! But once you leave the shop at the exit you can’t re-enter so make sure you’ve done everything you wanted to.

Gudetama Pudding

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Hello! It’s Week Two in Japan. I’m taking a blogging break today because I have an early morning train to catch in seven hours and the time before that is for me to sleep.

Meanwhile, have a picture of this Gudetama pudding I bought the other day at the convenient mart Lawsonkira kiraDo you know Gudetama? He’s a lazy egg who doesn’t want to do anything, so he gets eaten by me.

Watch out for my post next week about the Doraemon museumkirakira

goodnight

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo

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I’ve arrived in Tokyo! The weather was nice and cool when I arrived on Monday, but the day after that it started raining and it’s been freezing since then. Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to get higher though, so I’m going to put my trust in the weather forecast for nowhurhur

This is going to be a bit of a photo-centric post because it’s past midnight and I should really sleep soon.

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My first meal in Tokyo was made of lots of rice. Since the plane didn’t serve lunch my mom and I really wanted to eat something, but we had to get to the city soon so we picked some onigiri and sushi and juice packets off the shelf and hopped onto the train.

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While my mom was resting in our apartment, I headed out to explore on my own for a bitkirakiraMy first priority was to see the sakura trees because the full bloom season was already ending (and the rain had washed them clean away), so I went to Shinjuku Gyouen. Some of the trees were still in full bloom! They were like the celebrities of the park because all the tourists were crowded around the remaining trees still covered in pink fluff.

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Udon set for dinnergirlA hot bowl of soup and thick, springy noodles is perfect for warming you up on a cold and rainy day. The rice on the side was just as good too, because it was soaked in tororo (grated yam) and raw egg. Which is a lot more delicious than it actually sounds, really.

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And the set came with dessert! This was a brown sugar creme brûlée with kinako ice cream. The slight roasted flavour of kinako balanced out the sweetness, so it was a good and light dessertkira kira

It’s only my first post of this trip and all the pictures are already of food…but then again it’s Japan after all.

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Where else do you get a Mount Fuji of soba?

Weekly Slice: Yogurts and Books

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve done a Weekly Slice post about everyday life, which by now is saturated in the holiday mood. But because I need some excitement during the day, recently I got into eating yogurt. Over the many grocery trips I follow my mom on I’ve gradually accumulated a good variety—there’re ten or so tubs sitting in the fridge now. So I thought I’d share some of the ones I really liked!

(Also I have good news at the end of my post hehe)

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kiraDreaming Cow Honey Pear Yogurt

It was the packaging that got to me firstnekoShow me anything with cute illustrations like that and it’ll go straight into the basket. Plus I have a weakness for flavours that are a combination of sweet things—honey and fruit together are glorious.

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kiraDreaming Cow Dark Cherry Chai Yogurt

Same brand, but this time the flavour is a little bolder with the spice of chai. With that and the sweet cherry, the taste was nice and richsmileAlso that purple cow on the tub is really funky.

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kiraAlmond Dream Yogurt with Coconut

The packaging isn’t nearly as cute, but this turned out to be my favourite one because I am an almond fiend. With the coconut, it was super creamy and filling for such a small tub and I couldn’t get enough of itgirlAlmond is one of my most loved flavours, so I like to get my hands on anything that has it.

Also, I know there’re books in every picture but they’re not just props haha. I always read when I’m eating by myself! Recently I’ve been having book-borrowing sprees at the neighbourhood library.

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This was a bunch that I got a while ago. It makes me really happy when I spot a potentially good book. The only problem is that when I get lots of hardcovers it becomes a pain (albeit worth it) to lug them back home because I have to walk while carrying them all.

There’re two books that I enjoyed the most, so I’ll recommend these!

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kiraLove and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

I thought this was a pretty slice of life story; the charm was in the protagonist and her eccentric perspective of the people around her. There is nothing I appreciate in a book more than a witty voice. If you like good dry humour, give this one a try!

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kiraParallel by Lauren Miller

In this book it was the storyline that sold it to me. After a collision in parallel worlds, a girl’s life gets drastically altered as it becomes affected by the decisions made in her alternate life. Whenever I read books about parallel worlds it always gets a little trippy, but it was a fun ride of suspense to the end of the plot! I love easy science fiction that’s diluted down in a contemporary, more relatable setting. Check this book out for some thrilling plot developmenthappy girl

So these are some of the things I’ve been enjoying.

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As for my news, well…

I’m going to Tokyo next weekheartIt’s been a long while. Since my dad is working there now, I’m going to visit and stay with him so I’m really happy I get to do that. I’ll be there for around a month—I’m planning lots of things to do and meetings with friends! Next week I’ll be blogging from Japan so please look forward to itgirl tongue


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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