広島県: More from Hiroshima pref.

2605-bloomOh darn! It’s been a whole year since I packed my bags and went on my best trip ever for three months. Where has the time gone!?

I told you in the last blog that I went to my Japanese family in Hiroshima. My Japanese mom and dad went road trippin’ with me for a few days — just casually sightseeing and having a relaxing weekend as both of them work hard during the week.

This day we went to their farmhouse (see the pictures from last time here) and to pick up grandma from the airport — later we would watch a women’s team volleyball qualification rounds for the Olympics on the telly. It was all just very chilled out. Near Hiroshima airport is a beautiful Japanese garden which had a sort of little-fishies-expo (?!) that was unbelievable satisfying. So this blog will be a bit of a jumble of pictures from that relaxing day.

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Iwakuni: another day, another daytrip

Iwakuni view
After leaving Kochi, I was back on the road to the main island. Shikoku was done and dusted (sort-of, I still want to explore more) — and I went to my Japanese family in Hiroshima. It was so lovely to be welcomed back into their home and feel a bit homey. I’d missed that a bit.

Last time I was in Hiroshima, I was there for a week and I explored the whole city. This time I had only 3 days in Hiroshima, and it was the weekend, so me and my Japanese mom and dad went road trippin’ for a few days! Today I’m looking back to the scorching hot day in Iwakuni!

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高知市 : Kochi

kochi - botanical garden
Kochi is a place very, very close to my heart without me really realising this until I got around to type up this post. Kochi was the place where I realised I was at peace with myself and my own reality. I realised that however hard life would feel like — like it had, or like it would be — I could find solace in the fact that I have myself to get through it.

Of course, I became increasingly aware of the importance of my relationship with God, my
family and my friends in my life. Because I wouldn’t want to be able to do it all without them. But it was great to feel that, in that moment, I was my own best friend.

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The Best Day Trip: Shōdoshima [ 小豆島 ]

lush 2

Okay, okay… let’s get something straight here. My time in Japan was somewhat like a series of ‘best-day-trips’ one day after another. But Shōdoshima will always be a special place. It was a beautiful day and I was in great company, that’s always going to make things instantly better. Let me show you why I want to go back and explore more!

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The Rain in Takamatsu

takamatsu ritsurin

I went to Takamatsu during the start of Golden Week. It was so good, because my friends’ family was going to an island near Takamatsu and invited me for a day. But just before that, I really got to enjoy exploring Takamatsu on a rainy afternoon/night. The highlight? Ritsurin Garden was total bliss.

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A Morning in Nara

Nara Deer Souvenir

Oh goodness, it seems like a lifetime ago when I had this morning in Nara. I think Nara is a heavily photographed place, you don’t really have to have gone there to know what it looks like. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to go and it certainly does not mean that I didn’t enjoy every minute of my little excursion.

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Exploring Kyoto

kyoto dream petals

Arriving in Kyoto was a very happy time for me. Until then I only had happy memories of Kyoto – and I still do. Somehow Kyoto feels a bit homey to me. It was actually fun to see foreigners again in Japan (Getting used to Japanese culture and customs – as opposed to western-style – I sometimes really don’t like seeing many (foreign) tourists as I feel they spoil the atmosphere a bit). But this time it made me feel better. And of course, meeting up with my best friend in Japan was a good prospect.

In Kyoto I really took my time to see everything that I wanted to see, for as long as I wanted to do it. In Kyoto I got aware of really how much in my own company I was. Your messages on this post really, really cheered me up. They helped me to realise a lot of things – and feel better about them too. I think one of the things that I really took from my stay in Kyoto: don’t beat yourself up so much – and do what you love. I don’t know if I really needed this time in Kyoto for me to realise this, but I’m really glad I did and got to live through that while being there.

This post is just a big mash up from my favourite things I encountered during my 9 days in Kyoto. I’ve decided to make real-life big photo albums. And now I feel like I’ve got a little more freedom with these blogs as I’m not really putting things in that much chronological order. Though, still my plan is to be done with sharing pictures of this trip before the end of the year. (!!!)

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On Aichi Prefecture and the volunteering experience (pt. 2)

tokoname festival

Okay! I arrived in Tokyo today, to have my final week of my trip. So what better to get back to the events of early April to Mid-April: enjoying the countryside of Aichi Pref.! This time more about the fun stuff I got around to do when I wasn’t doing any volunteer-work.

I was pretty happy to hear that the family at which I stayed offered me their bicycle for my own use. So whenever I felt like exploring or going to the post office I could just go. Riding a bicycle in Japanese countryside though, it feels right out of any anime I used to watch when I was a kid. Then I was also lucky enough to be right around festival season. Every spring there is this sort of festival with huuuuge, high carts made of wood and loads of pretty fabric. And although I still don’t quite know what this festival is called – or what exactly it is for (my hosts were just about as good at English as I was at Japanese…it didn’t work so much haha). But it was so nice, as my host family took me to Tokoname on the weekend, and later in the week we went on foot to the festival in our own town.

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Day 54: a little tune and a good start

day something

The past weekend was one well spend in Hiroshima. I have currently arrived in Fukuoka and I’m back to solo-traveling and all its fun anxieties. I’m feeling up to it though…I’ve had a great start this morning in Miyajima. Tomorrow is going to be a fun day! The coming two weeks are spend in multiple places in Kyushu, Hagi and the wonderful Islands of Teshima and Naoshima. Super-duper looking forward to everything. I know it’ll be over before I know it – so I’m enjoying this grand adventure to the fullest! It already feels like summer in Japan, but I won’t let any heat tear down my spirits – I’ll have some kakigori instead. ;)

My back-in-time posts will resume shortly – I promise! x

On Aichi Prefecture and the volunteering experience (pt. 1)

123 aichi

I figured these posts are more or less solely a visual diary of my trip. So I am sort of compiling monster posts, with the main purpose of getting my sentiments and memories on the internet so that when later I can look back and ‘ooh’ en ‘ahh’ over everything I’ve been doing way back when. It’s not really the style of blogging I am happy with right now… but still, I really want to get this out there. I admit it, I’m struggling a bit with blogging again. But then again, I’m struggling with life and responsibilities now too so what do I really expect from myself right now?

Annnnnyway, let’s get crackin’! After my weekend in Tokyo (March 31st until April 4th) I went for my first Workaway experience in a really small town in Aichi Pref. And this was, in fact, quite the experience. One might say I suffer a bit of social anxiety at times, so staying at home with a family and basically living of off them while in return I voluntarily do some gardening or cleaning for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week was a valuable experience. But thinking about it now, I was very lucky to have been having that family as my first ‘host-family’ ever.

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A Weekend in Tokyo

sakura midtown roppongi

I decided to just start from the beginning. I mean, there’s already so much going on… but before I am forgetting my sentiments and feelings. Here’s the start of my trip, well you know… the weekend after my arrival in Japan at the beginning of April. In on of my previous posts I talk about arriving in Japan, and about seeing sakura. But I actually had a whole weekend in Tokyo before heading of to Aichi Pref. and the rest of my travels. So let’s get on with it already!! I could have probably fit this weekend in a few separate posts, but hey… let’s just make it a photo-heavy one.

Whatever you say, Tokyo will stay one of my favourite places in the world. Sure, I am really at home in the Kichijoji and Mitaka area. But I really love the crazy bits of districts like Shibuya, Shinjuku and Akihabara too! This weekend I’ve been mostly exploring Omotesando and Roppongi with my friend Fumi or just chilling out with my Tokyo-family in various places…

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Day 29: being 1/3 into the trip

 

Hello! I’m in Osaka! Yesterday I left Kyoto, where I’ve stayed for almost 2 weeks and really got to explore the area and get used to travel alone. I’m on one-third of my trip now. There are 2 more months before I leave this place and get to go to my home country and start living a life there again. Kyoto was so nice – as was Nara (a little day trip a few days ago). And now that I’m in Osaka having my own airbnb apartment I finally get to realise how unbelievably tired I am. And man, I feel knackered!

I am allowing myself a little break here in Osaka. Last time I visited I think I saw the highlights of the city. This time I will just enjoy the food, visit Mt. Koyasan for a little day trip and relax a lot at my airbnb during all the ‘spare-time’ I get. Next week (starting Sunday) is going to be a week full of travel. And I am slowly getting an aversion for my backpack. I know that I really can’t complain, I will be visiting lots of nice places… but being such a homebody and being so far away from home for such a long time has left me a little homesick. Sometimes I am really wondering why I am doing this again. So I am really allowing myself a little break here in Osaka. I’ll be fully restored and pumped to visit Himeji, Takamatsu, Shodoshima and Matsuyama next week!!

Have a good day and until soon~!

 

Day 19: On Selfcompassion (when travelling alone)

be kind to yourself

Travelling alone teaches you a great deal. I think I thought a little too lightly of travelling alone when I was scheming this trip. Because, fair enough, I would be volunteering quite some bit of my time. I would help out with work and stay at peoples homes or hostels – surrounded by people. But there are all those days and weeks – and hours really – in between where I’m totally and utterly with myself. And the only one who really has to deal with that, is me.

 

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Day 16: Regarding Sakura

cb1

Oh my dear reader, one of the reasons I am in Japan now is actually solely because of the cherry blossom. I figured that if I were to go to Japan for 3 months, I might as well see the sakura phenomenon the country is so famous about. I say phenomenon as yes, it’s not just a bunch of trees. Sakura, or the viewing of it (hanami), is a big deal here. The fleeting moment that sakura covers Japan is usually around the start of April. The start of April also is when the new schoolyear/workyear/whatever-you-call-it-start-of-the-year begins. Nearly every school has cherry-blossom/sakura on its grounds. It seems that the Japanese have many, many memories with sakura.

The ‘mere’ life of the cherry blossom stands for new beginnings. For the fleeting moments of life. For hope.

I figured this out through a couple of my Japanese friends. I love that somehow the sakura is in the collective memory of all these individuals. And that it will always signify something to them, and probably not even the same to any one of them, but similar feelings or sentiments will arise within all those people. And then there’s the big hanami phenomenon where people storm the parks and go for a picnic and have a little party beneath the trees. I think it’s truly wonderful.

I absolutely love this. For me, the sakura will also signify a new start. Hopeful as I may be, I would like to think this trip to be the start of something wonderful.

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Day 13: An Update

1

Oh golly, I said I would update you more regularly – didn’t I? The first 4 days of my trip I spend in Tokyo, which were dreamlike and awesome. Jetlag was killing me, but my daytime-adventures were fantastic. This is by no means quality blogging – here’s a quickie of the first two days. Let’s go- let’s go~!

 

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What Is Stopping You?

Japan sunset

Yeah… I did say I was going to follow up the last post, wasn’t I. I should’ve be more prepared, here I am though. Finally typing away, trying to explain what on earth I’m planning to do for 3 months in Japan this spring. So, let’s go!

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A View To Kill | Japan Series Part XIII

ld hiroshima

Hurrah!! It’s the last instalment of my previous trip to Japan during autumn 2014, it’s been too long. I really don’t know how the time in between got by so fast. Am I really that much of a ‘lazy blogger’!? I think I should get my priorities straight next time. YES, NEXT TIME! (dun dun dunnnnn!)

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The Atomic Bomb | Japan Series Part XII

hpmm 01

During my last trip to Japan I actually only had 2 main goals, visit the Yasukuni Shrine + Yushukan and to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Site + Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Both made deep impressions on me, but I think the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum definitely did make the deepest impression.

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More Hiroshima | Japan Series Part XI

hiroshima shukkeien leaf

Yes! The final bunch of my pictures from Japan is coming up! I put in a few days of my week in Hiroshima together here. As my sister got to travel to Fukuoka and then returned home, I stayed on in Hiroshima for a week. This was because, well… half of the research for my thesis took place in Hiroshima. I kind of had to be there for that. Which, in all fairness had to be done, because I had been having some wonderful days off. So these are all short trips within Hiroshima – on days that I was also working on my research.

For those interested, I will be doing a separate post on the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (and the Museum in particular). As this was where my research took place.

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Kure | Japan Series Part X

udon

I promise, I’m almost through with these posts, haha. – On this day we went for a road-trip to Kure and just a lovely ride through the countryside. My Japanese family has a little family home in the countryside where they raise crops and have a little bamboo grove. Things you can only dream of when you walk around in the big cities in Japan. It was so nice to have a change of scenery – even though Hiroshima is quite green and nature-y with all it’s rivers and mountains. It was time for a breather in between all my thesis research. A well deserved break, because even though I thought it was wonderful; the days I spend in the archives of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park were quite exhausting (and maybe even traumatizing to see, hear and read all the bad things that people had to go through at the time of the atomic bomb). But that’s for another post, here’s to the happy!! Let’s go!

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Miyajima pt. 2 | Japan Series Part IX

gojunoto

Oh yes, it’s been awhile since last I shared my Japan pictures. It’s been almost whole year now since my trip and I’m still not ready. So maybe I’ll (finally) hurry a bit more??

Last time I shared some of the stories of my trip, I took you along to Miyajima. And because of the many many pictures that day, we’re still there. The wonderful island full of momiji manju, deer, the start fall foliage and loads of wabi-sabi feels. Let’s go!

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Miyajima pt. 1 | Japan Series Part VIII

1 miyajima

Yes, yes – it has come to that point where you start parts within parts of the trip documentation. On my day trip to Miyajima I’ve made a couple of hundreds of pictures. And oh goody, am I excited for this! The trip to Miyajima was a great, great outing. Not only for the Momiji manju – the stunning beauty of the island is really something I’d recommend anyone to see when you’re ever near Hiroshima.

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A Day Off | Japan Series Part VII

hiroshima 1

Now, after I’ve taken some time off from blogging again and regained my senses after the whole shabang of graduating and finishing years of academic studies I decided to get a move on with the documentation of my trip to Japan from last year dammit. That sentence was too long, I’m sorry. Ok, let’s go!

After my short break in Kyoto, I headed to Hiroshima. Here’s where the second part of my research took place and where I met Fumi’s family (some the sweetest people ever!!!). Lots happening in Hiroshima, while my Japanese is rather poor and their English isn’t so good either, I think we got along really well. But more on that later! Now is just a tiny update of this rather uneventful, but very lovely day.

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An afternoon in Kyoto | Japan Series part VI

kyoto sign

After taking my first solo ride on the Shinkansen in Tokyo, I arrived in Kyoto around midday. It was hot and even though I’d thoroughly studied the map and the place my hotel should be – I was a bit lost. Rolling my slightly too large and maybe already too heavy suitcase over the pavement after asking a lovely lady at the information desk of the station, I found the hotel within minutes. Since I was staying for only one night I opted for cheap and near the station. I’ve been discovering Kyoto 10 years ago with my family, so now I decided I’d only come here to see my long time friend who’ve I met through the internet. This little break in Kyoto also meant the first half of my trip was almost done (yeah that’s right, months later I’m still not processing even half of my pictures!)

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Last Days in Tokyo | Japan Series Part V

Fumi and Charlotte posing in front of the cutest shop!

Hiya guys! How are you all? I’ve decided to put last days in Tokyo into one post. Apart from my research I did do quite a bit of shopping and catching up and not so much of sightseeing so I decided to make this just a bit of a short and sweet photo blog of the few things I took pictures of before jumping on the Shinkansen to Kyoto and Hiroshima.

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An Introduction to the Yasukuni Issue | Japan Series Part IV

Yasukuni
I’ve been meaning to post this one for forever, but, you know, time can be such a weird thing right? It goes by too fast, and before you know it you’re milking you’re Japan trip on your blog like it’s an Olympic Sport. I’m sorry for that, if it bothers you. I just don’t quite know where to get my time from to keep all this interesting and document it correctly for my own future reference. Because that’s basically what this is… And I really didn’t enjoy making this one post actually. So uh, this might not be what you like to see here, but here it is, part one of my in depth thesis subject summary: the Yasukuni Issue.

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Ueno, Ameyoko & Ginza | Japan series part III

3 - street people

It’s this day in Tokyo with Charlotte, Ruben and Fumi that I miss. Looking through these pictures I remembered how absolutely brilliant the day was – and how exhausted I was when I got back ‘home’ onto the Chuo Line after we dropped Ruben off at the shinkansen back to Osaka. I can hardly say that I had one favourite day in Japan (because simply I think the days in Japan were kind of the best days of the year, if not life so far), but if I could…this one would rank very, very high.

It’s probably the fact that I was with three people that I really (like really) like to hang out with. It’s also probably the fact that we were in Tokyo all day, exploring neighbourhoods and… well it’s also probably the fact that we ate so much good stuff that day. However sad partings can be, it is amazing to be able to look back at such a brilliant day. Nothing can compare to that.

I can by no means do this day justice by just pictures and a bit of chit-chat. But for now, I guess this will do to keep the memory alive. There are far too many pictures of this day to share, and I’ve tried to limit but still I’ve got so many for you after the jump.

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Enoshima & Sukiyaki | Japan series part II

2 - enoshima 8

I’m sorry I’m taking such a long time in between posts. Thesis-times seem like mad-times – happy times though (I won’t complain!). Let’s get cracking. This is the first weekend of the trip, and with me and my siblings reunited we got up to do a lot of sight-seeing and other Tokyo shenanigans. – This post is about Saturday (and me getting back into writing and editing, sigh).

 

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Jetlag & Ghibli | Japan series part I

1 - kichijoji walk

 

As one of you said in a comment to my most recent post, good things come to those who wait. And heck, I’ve waited a long time to go back to this wonderful country and visit my friends and family. That’s the thing with travelling, you’ll ‘miss’ home – but when your travel destination feels like home, your head and heart get a bit confused.

I’ve been putting off posting pictures from Japan for as long as possible since editing them made me feel a bit sad. But slowly and steadily I’m beginning to get back into the swing of things. Or well, my head/heart is. As I obviously still have my life and obligations here, so it’s not like I can lie in bed all day, drowning in misery. So, onto better things! Onto happy times! I’m here with my first batch of pictures from Japan and I’m here to enjoy looking back at the sweet memories – and I hope you will enjoy seeing these too. Thank you for your continuing support guys! x

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ただいま!

gingko

I’ve been thinking quite a bit, on how I should start again after returning home from my absolutely phenomenal trip to Japan. That may even be an understatement. To be totally honest with you. I cried a little when I left Hiroshima on Friday. And I cried quite a bit more when I got home. Quite frankly, I miss Japan.

 

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MIA (announcement)

jpn

Hi friends! Yes, I’m still alive. But yeah, now I’m kind of leaving you hanging for a few weeks. I’ll be in Tokyo and Hiroshima for the larger part of my trip. Mind you, it’s all for research purposes, but you betcha I’m catching up with friends and family (and going crazy with the kaitenzushi). – Of course I used my little anti-stress travel list, and after a bit of a freak-out on the passport validity front: all is well now. Or at least, for now… I think I’ll be able to think properly again once I’ve set foot on Japanese ground. ;)

Be good, keep safe, and until soon!

Whatever you are, be a good one

Back in the days, they said Birthdays and Christmas were the best days of the year. And I still can’t really say they were wrong. On my (early) birthday I served my guests all home-made meringue-raspberry pie and a healthy meal of Japanese food. Although the pie looks a bit puffy, it was magic. – Just fyi, this is a post containing pretty much only food.





In less than a week it’s my 21st birthday, but my family and I decided to celebrate early since this weekend was the only moment every one of us had some time off to come together. I was yearning for some healthy, light summer food, so I decided to go for at least some soba and edamame. It was my first time making gyoza, the recipe I got from ‘Cooking with Dog‘. The recipe for the tempura batter was from the ever brilliant ‘Just one Cookbook‘.

I’m still not too sure what to do on my birthday, but the suggestions I got from you guys sound pretty darn good. The weather is bipolar these days, but I will definitely celebrate accordingly. Have a great Sunday / week!

Japan, back in the days

As with my previous post I’m getting old pictures from back in the days on the blog. A few years ago, in the years 2009/2010 I took a gap year and got my ass of to Japan for the second time in my life. It was amazing, of course, but I won’t be going there anymore in the summer because, well… the scorching heat. (Or maybe I will, because well… Japan is pretty sweeeet).

Like I said before, my photography skills weren’t terribly good back in the days. And most of these pictures were taken with a Sony Cybershot (I can’t believe how I thought carrying a DSLR around in Japan would be ‘a hassle’, I mean really, how stupid can one be?!)

The view from tall buildings always amazes me, but in Japan everything I see there seems to be a reference popping into my head from my childhood or other crazy things. Like the small buildings next to the train station, they make me think of a katamari, hehe. The department stores in Japan seem like a brilliant concept to me. Everything can be bought there, even melons for 4200 yen (that is around 42 euros, or it was back in 2010) but even though… I find that quite outrageous. As the cake is around 8946 yen, yes… try to find out how much USD that is!

I went to Tokyo visiting family, and later on I got to visit Kobe and Osaka. I loved it, travelling the Shinkansen seeing the Japanese landscape going past. Osaka was a food-heaven, home of deliriously good takoyaki. Funny how food always seems to stick, and everything else sort of slips my mind. — I do remember Osaka castle though, and the heat when I got on top of it.


No but come on, can you blame me for remembering that food?

Feast, Fest, Fast


Yoooo, dear readers. For those who are slightly hungry and like Japanese food, you might want to skip this. Last weekend I visited my sister again, but now with my brother and his girlfriend. Visiting my sister these days means: eating (sorry dear sister if you read this, but it’s sort of true).


The day mainly consisted of us making food, eating food, taking walks and watching cat video’s on Youtube. My sister has lived in Osaka for some time and is, like me, a sucker for Japanese food. I’m so happy she took the time to prepare strawberry daifuku (first picture) for us! We also had nikuman, okonomiyaki, takoyaki and dorayaki. I don’t quite know were we all put it, but it sure was tasty.

Also, a bit sad to admit, but I’ll tell you a useless anecdote. That afternoon we were walking through the forest near my sister’s new place. She lives in an area were a lot of Dutch painters lived in the 19th century, I had a lot of discussions and research about it for uni last semeter. So when my brother’s girlfriend stated, out of the blue, while walking that she felt like we had entered a painting… I felt like that douchebag from ‘Midnight in Paris’ after just one sentence explaining. Ugh. Please Lord, don’t let me be such a person! (My brother kindly dissed me too, maybe there’s still hope for me)


I promise, no more Japan-ish related posts for the coming time. Last week of interning is around the corner, and then, after submitting my 9,000 word paper it’s Berlin, baby!

The Best of the Internet #1: I love Men! & Cat

So, every once in a while you stumble on something great on the internet you just can’t keep to yourself. I think I might post more of these in the future, after all… my blogging is about sharing life’s fun things, no? My brother told me about this one, and it’s so brilliantly good. So please, do watch.


The word men is used for noodles (or ramen? not sure about the specifics) in Japan. So… go figure.
And, for those of you who missed the Youtube Top 5 Viral Pictures of 1911, here’s #1.

My Weekend Break to The Hague

The Hague is probably my favourite city in my country. Amsterdam is all nice and awesome, but there’s nothing like the homely city at sea (or at least to me, it’s homely). This weekend there was the opening of the Japanese garden in Clingendael, they had planned some sort of festival with little shops so my friend and I decided to go.

I must say, I didn’t expect a lot. The Dutch can sometimes be a bit frugal when it comes to ‘festivals’. But there were more shops and stands than I expected, lots of Bonsai, Ikebana and dinnerware stands. But I thought it was lacking in food stalls. Anyhow, we had fun. There were (cherry) blossoms and the garden was quite pretty too. – Also, I haven’t posted in a while, so I decided to give you a bit of an overload in pictures.


The stalls were pretty though, I shouldn’t be too harsh. And there were some women dressed in wonderful yukata’s. Although I didn’t make pictures of them because I thought that would be slighlty awkward and I’m avoiding being to awkward these days. Anyhow, look at those teru teru bozu’s being cute and all!


There were these little statues and a Buddha inside the garden which gave me a bit of a Spirited Away feel. It was great to just wander through the garden, even though it was quite busy.


When we were done walking around we decided to get some real food. So we got ourselves a bento box, a glass of calpis and some sushi on the side in the city centre at ‘Set Genki Tei’. Really nice restaurant if you’re ever in the neighbourhood! (The ladies toilet is completely Hello-Kitty-fied. It’s amazing!)


And this is how we finished the day: homemade takoyaki. My sister has moved to another place, so my friend and I decided to pay her a visit in her new home. We were happily welcomed with takoyaki, there’s nothing else to say but ‘omnomnom‘.

カタチ


One of my favorite indie musicians came up with a awesome new song. Shugo Tokumaru is known for his upbeat and happy songs. This video clip however, is kind of bloody brilliant (!!!) too. Pleeeeeease go see for yourself. I love how Japanese it looks, so utterly neat and clean and simply awesome.

I am currently at one-third of my interning period, hurrah! It’s nice, I must admit, but I will be happy when it’s over: another year at uni will come to an end so quickly. Also, tonight I went to a brilliant gig by Lucy Rose, I recommend you to find her on Youtube because she’s a bit like Laura Marling but less depressing (I love Laura Marling, don’t get me wrong!!).

Have a good week !

Art after Fukushima


I just had to share this video by The Economist with you guys. I find it so inspiring how people can use last year’s disaster as an inspiration of new art. How the artists are reminding the people of the threat of atomic destruction that still looms, in such a creative way.

I like how the video puts it, turning artists into activists. Which I think is a good thing, for any forms of art. I’ve recently realized a lot of art since 1900 is made with such motives, which is one of the main reasons why I love modern art. It’s not only ‘pretty’.

Also, on a side note. I’m heading to the UK soon for a very short trip. Visting my friend in Birmingham and spending a day in London, hurrah!

Thirty Year Anniversary


Alrighty, my parents big 30 year anniversary was celebrated this weekend. This was mainly done on March 3, a.k.a. Girls Day in Japan. Which is why we had a special, super delicious, cocktail when we had this super nice lunch in the hotel my parents met so many years ago. We try returning to Hotel Okura in Amsterdam every year. I love (! ! !) the Yamazato restaurant, it’s traditional Japanese and sitting there makes you feel like you’re back in Japan again. — Anyhow, warning: foodporn ahead!








I guess there’s no need for me to tell you how amazing it tasted and how beautiful everything was. And best of all, how much fun it was for the whole family to be together! My ill grandfather was there too, so it was a great afternoon of celebration.

A lunch like this made me yearn to go back to Japan. But even home at my parent’s place sounded amazing when I got home at the flat, to find one of my flatmates had already moved out and made the place look like we were robbed. — No but seriously, a disappearance of a big tv, couch, two tables, and there were some stinky bananas lying around and a lot of dirty dishes was not quite the warm welcome I was aiming for.

But oh well, that’s student life like right… or so they say. Let’s focus on the good stuff: one week left until Paris!

Fancy Meal Time (Soba!)

I don’t have posted any recipes for a long, long while. I don’t think I have blogged about any non-cake-related or non-fattening recipes ever. So brace yourself, this one is featuring soba-noodles.





Soba are buckwheat noodles from Japan. This is very healthy, as it contains all eight essential amino acids… I’ll refer you to Wikipedia for more about soba.. Oh, and next to it’s healthiness, the most important: I find it so damn tasty(!!!). Since I got the recipe from 101 Cookbooks: ‘Black Otsu‘. (I highly recommend you guys visiting that website, it is full of nice food-y stuff) This time we used normal sesame instead of black sesame seeds, which is just as good. And then there is a less spicy and more ‘original’ sauce called Kaeshi you can try that once too. It’s nice, I got the recipe from JustHungry: Kaeshi. So you can check that one out there.

Anyhow, it’s really easy and quickly done! Make sure you get the soba-noodles right (easy-peasy!), and you can add or remove other ingredients to your own taste. So below is the recipe to my own taste/preferences.

The whole recipe serves 4. And it’s not that time consuming, you’re done within half an hour.

Ingredients:
340 g soba noodles
340 g extra-firm tofu
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon pine nuts
60 g black sesame seeds

For 101 Cookbooks’ dressing (the spicier one) use:
1 1/2 tablespoons natural cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Fine-grain sea salt

Big quotation marks: “Toast the pine nuts in a large skillet over medium heat until golden, shaking the pan regularly. Add the sesame seeds to the pan and toast for a minute or so. It’s hard to tell when they are toasted; look closely and use your nose. Remove from the heat as soon as you smell a hint of toasted sesame; if you let them go much beyond that, you’ll start smelling burned sesame – not good. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush the mixture; the texture should be like black sand. Alternatively, you can use a food processor. Stir in the sugar, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, brown rice vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust if needed.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously, add the soba, and cook according to the package instructions until tender. Drain, reserving some of the noodle cooking water, and rinse under cold running water.

While the noodles are cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut into matchstick shapes. Season the tofu with a pinch of salt, toss with a small amount of oil, and cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, tossing every couple minutes, until the pieces are browned on all sides.

Reserve a heaping tablespoon of the sesame paste, then thin the rest with 1/3 cup / 80 ml of the hot noodle water. In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, half of the green onions, and the black sesame paste. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and toss again gently. Serve topped with a tiny dollop of the reserved sesame paste and the remaining green onions.” (Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks)

Happy cooking!

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom


The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom is about the survivors of last years disaster in Japan. The survivors in the areas hardest hit by Japan’s recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins.

It is directed by Lucy Walker, featuring photography by Aaron Phillips and music by Moby. Even though this is a 2012 Academy Award nominee, I think it is a good thing that people’s minds are on the catastrophe, and I would definitely want to watch it. But I also find it really daring of her to decide this is the right time to make a film about it.

What do you guys think, and would you watch it?

コアラのマーチ = ♥



Today I visited Meidi-Ya in Amsterdam. One of the coolest shops I’ve been in Amsterdam. And that’s actually just because they sell almost everything I want, only concerning a limited amount of Japanese food and drinks that can’t be bought in regular supermarkets or shops. And a nice touch: the staff behind the counter was clearly Dutch, but out of the blue the cashier just spoke fluently Japanese to the owner, like wuuuut?

I just recently discovered this shop by accident on the internet. Seeing that they only have stores in Japan, and just one abroad (and of all places in Amsterdam!). Because I was a newbie at the shop, and because I needed to go to class afterwards, I just got a few things. Pocky, pickled daikon, bottled green tea, and as shown above: edamame (♥♥♥) and those heavenly koala-cookies with chocolat-y filling (the コアラのマーチ). Omnomnom. I might get back there this week just to buy the Calpis lemonade.

Just less than a week until Christmas. Are you guys getting incredibly festive yet??

ハローキティ









“The ambassador of friendship and love”, a.k.a. Hello Kitty. It was such a cute exhibition in the Sieboldhuis in Leiden. But I have to confess, since seeing so many awesome Hello Kitty-related things in Japan, this exhibition was just a very small part of the complete, fabulous and awesome world of Hello Kitty. Don’t get me wrong, it was marvelous, but it was much more enjoyable for my friend because she never really got ‘into’ Hello Kitty. Oh well, it was fun… and I really liked some of the pieces! The yukata was so nice, there also was a brilliant black tie with an almost invisible Hello Kitty pattern. But those arty-kitties were the best, I loved the Mondrian and the Mona Lisa.

The coming days I’m off from college, hurrah for autumn break! I hope all of you are doing fine, have a lovely weekend!

Survive Style 5+


I’ve just, only just, seen this ridiculous film. It’s so astonishingly weird! I was doubting to put anything of in on here, but I cannot hold back. I suppose I need to share this… even tough you might not want to follow me anymore after actually seeing this film – the actual film I mean, not just the trailer. Anyway, the reason I’m showing this to you, is because it’s so delightfully strange and surprisingly funny. It’s a piece of cinematographic art where imagination has pretty much no limits.

The synopsis by IMDb: “A man continually trying and failing to get his wife to stay dead; a self-absorbed ad agency creative director who comes up with one unworkably inane idea after another; a Brittish hitman who only wants to know everyone’s function in life; and an unfortunate office worker and father whose brain is left scrambled after a stage hypnotist is murdered in mid-performance. Starting off as unrelated plot lines, they intertwine with each other as they continue on their respective ways.