shinagawa aquarium

As a kid, one of my most vivid memories was visiting the aquarium on a school excursion. There's just something so mesmerising about watching the fish move, no matter how old you are! For the first stop of our Tokyo trip my friends and I decided to visit Shinagawa Aquarium (しながわ水族館), somewhere a bit off the beaten path. Would I say it's really special in comparison to other aquariums around the world? Probably not. It was still pretty fun though, despite there being a lot of kids and families because of the public holiday.



      







The aquarium itself is pretty small, and tucked away in a park next to the ocean. Although it's a bit of a walk from Omori-kaigan station, the pretty views definitely make up for it. By the way, how adorable is this little axolotl?! His face makes me laugh every time.







Can you tell that the tiny Nemos were my favourite? I couldn't quite capture the fish well in photos so here are some video snippets from my visit. Anyway, at the rate of these posts I think I'll be blogging about Golden Week forever. In the meantime, you can look forward to touristy photos from the second-tallest structure in Japan! ;)
Posted by : Mani

hitachi seaside park

If there's one thing I'm stoked about this year, it's the fact that I get to skip Australia's winter and jump right into spring. What's not to love? It's warm but not too hot out, the flowers are blooming, and I got to take full advantage of Golden Week. In case you didn't already know, Golden Week refers to a bunch of public holidays that are clustered together here in Japan. During this period literally everyone's on the move, so you should really avoid travelling if you can! However, I couldn't stay still and decided to make the most of my week off.





To kick off my break I visited Hitachi Seaside Park (国営ひたち海浜公園), which has apparently gotten quite famous recently. It's not hard to see why though! The endless carpet of flowers looks like something straight out of a fairytale. In particular, the blue nemophila were the highlight this season, and they didn't disappoint. It's not all about the flowers, though. The park is so big it could probably form a suburb on it's own. In addition to the rolling hills, it even has it's own train and amusement park. One day definitely wasn't enough to see it all!

      





The hills look relatively empty in this shot, but don't be fooled. My friend and I waited ages before we got a decent photo with no people in the background! Or at least, as close to 'no people' as you could get with the sheer size of the crowds that day.







If you thought I was wearing a skirt, then think again! They're actually culottes, which are pretty popular in Japan at the moment. While it's a bit different to my usual style, the functionality of pants combined with the swishiness of a skirt has me sold.







Naturally we couldn't leave without getting soft serves from one of the countless vendors in the park. There was even a nemophila flavoured option, but given my previous experience with floral ice cream I decided to give it a miss! Anyway, chances are this won't be the last time I visit. The park's main attraction changes with the seasons, so I have that to look forward to in the coming months.

Now that my break's well and truly over, homework's been taking over my life again. However, I can promise that the next few posts will be about my Golden Week adventures in Tokyo. I know that my family loves checking up on my blog from time to time (hi mum!) so I'll definitely try to get that up as soon as possible. Until next time!
Posted by : Mani

little surprises

Since coming here, Japan has surprised me in a lot of ways. While I like to think that I know quite a bit about the culture, it goes without saying that actually living in a foreign country is totally different to studying it! In just over a month I've gotten to know the little quirks of daily life here, which has been fun to say the least. Anyway, here are some surprising things about Japan I've discovered so far:



1. Cash is used for pretty much everything. I knew Japan was a cash-based society, but had no idea that it was to this extent (even more so since I live in a rural area). The bus requires cash. The restaurants are usually little holes in the wall only payable by cash. You can even pay your bills via cash here! Usually I'd be wary about carrying tons of it on my person, but it's actually pretty safe. Although, kind of inconvenient when I have tons of coins and nowhere to put them...

2. People rarely eat in public. I discovered this on my first trip to Japan, and it still holds true. To be fair, it's pretty common to eat a bento box outside if you're at school or uni. But forget about it on the street, let alone public transport. According to my teacher it's because eating outside gives off the impression that you're homeless, which makes sense. But seriously, if not on the street where is everyone eating those delicious convenience store snacks?

3. Everyone rides a bike. Before coming to Japan, I never thought biking in a skirt was possible. But not only have I ticked that off the bucket list, I ride my bike pretty much everyday to class. It's just a lot more convenient in the countryside, and I love it! I seriously wish Australia had a better bike culture.

4. Public toilets hardly ever have hand driers or paper towels. In some of the newer buildings you might find exceptions to the rule, but apart from that? You better hope you have your own tissues with you!

5. People here become independent from a young age. In Australia it's quite normal to live with your parents into your twenties, or at least in my family it is. But out of the Japanese students I've talked to, most have lived alone straight out of high school! In fact, it's quite common to move out closer to your university, especially if you're from another prefecture. On weekends I also see ten year olds independently catch the train, which is something I rarely see back home.

I could go on forever about all the things I've noticed since coming here, but I'll stop there for time's sake. Anyway, it's hard to believe it's been just over a month since I landed in Japan! I thought time would pass more slowly in the countryside, but it turns out I've had no shortage of things to do over the past few weeks. I've also just had a pretty exciting Golden Week, so look forward to posts about that soon!
Posted by : Mani