Tea. Sleeping Kittens. The Smell of Old Books. Expensive Cheese. Painted Toenails. Lounging Around. Coffee Beans. Weddings. Poached Eggs. Napping. Candles. Secrets. Photographs. Harry Potter. Sex. Hand Holding. Fabulous Hair. Ribbons. Dinosaurs. Rage comics. Air Guitar. Montages. Swooning. Red Grapes. Sleeping. Paper Bags. Stockings. Canvas. Daydreaming. Piles of Book's. Cheap Dvd's. Cheeky Emails. Hand-made anythings. Whispering. Red Hair. Roller Derby. Jam. Laughing. Raspberry Lollies. Hugs. Letter's. Family. Batman. Flowers. Avocado. Art. Text's. Love.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I'm wasting time, next blog on Kyoto. I promise!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Japan. Part 2. Kyoto, you are beautiful.

Kyoto. Easily the most beautiful place in the world. I adore thee.
Three glorious days were spent bathing in it's deliciousness.

We caught the awesome Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto, it took about three hours but the scenery was just gorgeous. It also goes about 300 km an hour, so we zoomed to our destination in style. I now look down on any other form of transportation because the Bullet Train was just so damn cool.

Blurry, but pretty scenery.

My delicious Bento Box. Crumbed pork, ginger and fluffy rice. Le nom.

Our sweet little Ryokan, with its tatami floors and fold out, squishy futon. We were spoilt rotten with an entire floor to ourselves. We even had a tiny common area with a balcony and couch and lovely light yukata (robes) to wear while we chilled out.

and a guard cat. Who couldn't care less.

Our first stop was Iwatayama Monkey Park that is nestled in the middle of a mountain in Arashiyama. The town is a sleepy little thing with lane ways filled with tiny shops full of trinkets and a ridiculous amount of ice cream. You cross over the Oi River to get to the park, but first have to marvel at the beautiful scenery that surrounds the river.

Le Sigh.

We then climbed 160 metres up a mountain to meet our monkeys. I'm believe i was a sloth in a previous life, i'm also the laziest person on this earth so climbing that sucker damn near killed me. BUT I DID IT. A monkey heaven awaited me.

There are 170 Macaque Monkeys running around like crazy. You are not allowed to touch or make eye contact with them or they either bite you or charge at you, so we stood there nervously while they circled us in an adrenaline-pumping, screeching mad dance of monkey. It was hard not admire the incredible view from the mountain top, the sandy coloured landscape nestled in the mountains combined with the perfect blue sky was awe inspiring.

There was also a little hut that you can go into and buy a bag of peanuts or apple for 100 yen to feed to the monkeys through a special wired fence. They will sit patiently with their arms outstretched for as long as you have a bag of food, and take them gently from your fingers. Naturally, Spomes and i went through about five bags each.

The next day we took the train to Nara, a little city about 40 minutes out of Kyoto. We had been told by Amy and her Nick to visit there because of the deer. We actually had no idea what they meant by that, we assumed that we would see some wild deer in a park and be done with it.
Boy, we were wrong.

Nara itself is the cleanest place in all the land. We walked through the streets marvelling at the lack of dirt, litter or anything that was not neat as a pin. As we approached the signs for Nara Park we could already see a few deer tucked away in the shade of the trees and started to get excited.

Then suddenly they were everywhere, it was awesome. There were little street vendors selling Deer Biscuits to feed to them and just like the monkeys, we went a little overboard feeding them.

It's an exhilarating experience because as soon as the deer see those biscuits, they appear out of nowhere in their masses. Nudging and headbutting you, nibbling at your clothes and bags to get to the food. It's insane.

Nara is also home to the Todai-ji temple, that houses the worlds largest bronze statue of a Buddha. The deer are supposed to be sacred, guarding the temple, so they are allowed to roam wherever they please, including inside the stalls that line the temple walk.

The giant bronze Buddha is a Diabutsu, he sits in this temple, looking serene. It's size is breath taking and we learnt when we returned home that he is actually only about a third of his original size. Mind = blown.

You can light candles for someone so the Buddha can watch over them and protect them.
I chose my Mum.

Back through the deer and a few funny photos later, we were on the train home.

The sun was shining and glorious the following day so we hired a bunch of bikes and decided to do a temple tour of Kyoto.

Peta and I on our bikes.

I haven't ridden since i was in Primary school so it took me a while to stop wobbling nervously through the streets, but i soon got the hang of it. Bikes are pretty much given right of way, a few rings of the bell and people will step out of your way so you can follow the masses of people whizzing through the streets on them. Mine also had a nifty basket.

The most notable temple was of course Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion. It's shining, golden walls can be seen from all over the beautiful zen gardens. The whole place is shrouded in mystery and there was this peaceful air of silence that filled you as you walked through in admiration.

It was a peaceful few hours, bathing in it's beauty and wandering through the greenery.

There were also little statues and shrines dotted all over the place that you throw money into for luck.
By the end of the day and a solid six hours of riding, my bottom was officially numb and i walked my bike home.

The last day was spend in my favourite place. Gion.
Gion has held a fascination for me since i read 'Memoirs of Geisha' when i was in High School. I became obsessed with Geisha, studying them for hours and then boring people to death with all the facts i'd learnt and pictures i's tatami floors and fold out,es me, the beauty, the tradition and the mystery surround these women is addictive. I had the same excitement getting to Gion than i have on Christmas Day, or when a new Harry Potter movie comes out. There was a lot of fidgeting, some jumping up and down in glee and a whole heap of squealing.

We had organised a walking tour of the Geisha distract and although it poured down the entire time, it was one of my favourite moments.

Me and our beautiful guide, whose name i carefully wrote down then promptly lost. She was so witty and informative. I could of listened to her talk for hours longer. (That look on my face stayed like that the entire time, even soaked to the bone with all my possessions wet through, i was in GION baby, Yeah!!!!)

One of the alleyways in Gion, there were a few exclusive tea houses that Geisha entertain nestled among the buildings. It's all very hidden away, very hush-hush, there are little wooden signs nailed to the top of each door to tell you that there are Geisha in attendance.

Me with some of the signs.

The blackboard out the front of the training house where girls become Meiko, then eventually Geisha. These are lesson times and teachers names.
Unfortunately we did not see a Geisha on the tour, which we were warned about beforehand. Being so rare these days, Geisha are not likely to wander around during the day, their clients prefer to keep them away from prying eyes. I don't blame them, if i had the means, I'd be stealing one away for myself. You are also not allowed to photograph a Geisha when they are with a client, it is a huge no-no. Most of the people on the tour were quite disappointed by not seeing anything, i on the other hand didn't care one bit.

Isn't she stunning?! She was so gracious and allowed us to take one photo of her before she was whisked away. I almost cried when i saw her, it was a dream come true. That day, I was the happiest girl in all the land.

That's my Kyoto experience.
Next stop, Hiroshima!!

Here's a little picture of Minette and I, doing what we do best.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Japan. Part 1. Tokyo, We love you.

Oh Japan.
Sweet Land of the Rising Sun.
I love you so very much.
Back safe and sound from a wonderful and life-changing holiday with Spomes.
(Okay, I was technically back two weeks ago, but I've had the dreaded task of un-packing and work and kitten to attend to so i have been so very slack. So very, very slack)

I've experienced so very much and it would take me weeks to adequately describe all the things I discovered and all the awesome stuff we did. So, I'll be breaking our trip down into a few parts with mostly pretty pictures and wit-filled comments. Then i can get on to filling your eyes with deliciously cute pictures of Minette in all her rumbly glory.

Our Hostel in Asakusa, Tokyo, with it's tiny room and ridiculously powerful air conditioning.

My first meal in Japan. Ginger Pork and Cabbage, fluffy rice and Miso. SO delicious and about $7.

Kokugikan Sumo Stadium.

SUMO!!! We were lucky enough to grab a quick photo with these two, they were so lovely! It was really great to see them first with all their strict traditions, then watching them after they had competed on their ipods and catching the train home.

The terrifying 'Big O' Roller coaster at the Tokyo Dome. 27 stories high, it goes through a Ferris Wheel and a Building. No, i did not go on it but Spomes and the rest of the gang did. Yup, i am a giant chicken, but i did get to watch them scream their lungs out while eating a GIANT Baskins and Robbins Rocky road ice cream. Win.

Cake and Crab hat.

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, so beautiful. You can walk through and discover shrines, waterfalls, weeping willow trees and statues. Also fishies! So many streams of fish! I want to say they are either Koi or Carp? They are everywhere.

There were heaps of these cut-outs around the place. Naturally, we took advantage of them.

The greatest restaurant host, ever. Udo.

Udo fed us Okonomiyaki (a Japanese savoury pancake filled with all kinds of delicious), which we were supposed to cook ourselves, but failed miserably.
Udo saved the day!

Wonderful Harajuku. Where we sat and watched the uber-hipsters being cool. Way to cool for us. The streets were filled with little, winding boutiques and behind those boutiques, market stands and music booths, there were places to lounge, the walls were covered in quirky street art and on every corner there were crepe stands. CREPE STANDS PEOPLE. Filled with every kind of sweet thing you can imagine. Le sigh.

We pottered around the Disney Store for a ridiculous amount of time. I considered buying...EVERYTHING, but ended up with a few postcards and a serious case of the giggles and a child-like glow. Spomes on the other hand, bought this.

It's Baby Face from Toy Story. It also moves creepily around the room while its head swivels. Arg!

These pillows are terrifying, as soon as we saw them we knew we had to have one (We named it rape-face of death, it now sits on our couch scaring everyone that enters the room). We believe it is Astro Boy with his face morphed into this scary cube face that seems to be everywhere in Japan. We even saw one with a Mickey Mouse cube face.

Baseball was incredible.
I'm not a huge sports person, but the atmosphere kept me absorbed the entire time. The crowds are crazy enthusiastic, they have synchronised dances and chants that they keep going for over three hours. We chose to go for the Tokyo Giants, who have a bright orange team colours which looked great against the bright green field. (I can't actually remember the name of the other team, but they lost. Suckers.) Every time they scored a home run, orange would explode throughout the entire arena and trumpets would sound. By the end of it, we were screaming and cheering along with it, even though we couldn't understand anything that was going on, it was awesome.

There were also these adorable Beer Girls who ran up and down the stairs of the arena selling cups of beer. For three hours they sprinted around with big smiles on their faces and giant kegs of beer on their backs, amazing and SO cute.

Of course we had to try Karaoke. Hugely popular in Japan, there a booths of it everywhere. Karaoke in bars is rare, instead they have these amazing multi-level buildings with giant sound-proof booths that are filled with couches and a big screen. With plenty of songs to choose from and a little man that you could call up on the phone to bring you drinks, we stayed well into the night.

That was my four days in Tokyo.
We boarded the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) and headed off to Kyoto.
More photos and stories to come!

Oh, here are a few photos of our perfect Minette.
She has settled in completely and makes our lives brighter every day.

She likes to NOM faces.

She protects my LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts when we are not home.

and stops me from doing any work at all.
(i'm okay with this)

Hope you all are well!