kamakura day trip

After just a day in Kamakura, I totally regretted not extending my stay there. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to take my parents to see the famous daibutsu, or Big Buddha that resides in the area. However, I didn't expect to be blown away by the gorgeous surroundings! Kamakura may only be around two hours from Tokyo, but it's right next to the seaside and has some amazing views all around. There's nature everywhere you look, and you can definitely feel that distinct freshness of the ocean in the air.



     

We almost didn't go inside Hasedera (長谷寺), but figured that since we'd already come this far it might be worth a look. Thank goodness we did, too! This had to be one of the most interesting temples I've visited so far in Japan. It had so many things to explore, from koi ponds to a zen garden and a secret cave. I was baffled to discover that they even had free wi-fi available onsite.



     

I was immediately drawn to this striking wall of Jizo statues, but the meaning behind them is much more solemn. The figures actually represent the souls of stillborn, aborted or miscarried babies, and are placed here by their grieving families. While the statues are regularly removed to make way for new ones, it's estimated that 50,000 of them have been offered at Hasedera since World War II.





Keep climbing the seemingly endless flights of stairs, and you'll be rewarded with a stunning view at the top. It was cold and I was totally out of breath, but it was worth the exercise! I never thought I'd see such gorgeous seaside views in Japan, but was gladly proven wrong.

     



As much as I would've loved to explore all day, the sun was going down fast so we had to cut our visit short. I definitely hope I'll be able to visit Kamakura again one day though! It has so many other shrines and temples to offer that I feel like I barely even scratched the surface.
Posted by : Mani

meiji shrine

In all its concrete and steel grandeur, it's hard to believe there's a single pocket of green to be found in the heart of Tokyo. Yet, you don't have to look any further than Meiji Shrine (明治神宮) for a slice of nature right next to the bustling streets of Harajuku. No matter how many times I visit, there's something so calming about that long stroll to the shrine's main entrance. If you ask me, taking in the lush green canopy and sounds of rustling leaves really is an experience comparable to no other.





You can't visit Meiji Shrine without stopping to admire the ever famous wall of sake barrels there. The sake itself is actually donated by breweries all over Japan, and has the purpose of being used in ceremonies and festivals. While the barrels may be empty, you can't deny that they're pretty darn photogenic! I always take a snap when I happen to be passing by.





When we visited, preparations were already underway for the inevitable crush of people that would arrive on New Year's Eve. In Japanese culture, most people will forgo partying to ring in the new year at their local shrine. Meiji Shrine in particular will often attract over three million visitors during this time, packing its grounds to the brim!





No matter what time of year you visit, there's no doubt there'll be a steady stream of visitors at Meiji Shrine. Surprisingly there was quite a lot of greenery when I visited, despite it being the dead of winter.







It's hard to believe that just a few minutes away you'll find Takeshita Dori, the epitome of Japanese teenage culture. As one of the country's busiest shopping strips I find it a tad overwhelming, if I'm being completely honest! It's a huge contrast from the more traditional side of things, but I guess that summarises Japanese culture in a nutshell. Until next time!
Posted by : Mani

new spectacles

Unbeknownst to most people, I actually have terrible eyesight and used to wear glasses on a regular basis. Even though I tend to reach for contacts these days I've been meaning to replace my old specs, but in all honestly? Glasses shopping is usually an experience I try to avoid at all costs. Being born with Asian features and a lack of a tall nose bridge, the fact remains – glasses that fit me are really hard to find in Australia! Most of the trendier styles have lenses that are way too big, and tend to hit my cheeks when they shouldn't at all. And after all that narrowing down, there's the problem of finding a pair that actually suits your style. It's frustrating, to say the least!

     

I always knew that I wanted to buy glasses in Japan, and after much dawdling I finally went for it. I settled for this half-rimmed pair from Jins, which I had been eyeing ever since I tried them on a few months ago. I absolutely love the retro vibe they give off and they kinda remind me of Ray-Bans, except a lot more subtle. Obviously everyone here has similar features to my own, so it was awesome being able to choose from a range of glasses that actually fit me 99% of the time!

Interested in getting glasses here? Above all, I would definitely recommend bringing your optical prescription with you. It saves you the hassle of getting an eye test, even if I did have to get my pupils measured with a fancy machine. Also if you're worried about the language barrier, don't be! Tourist-friendly cities like Tokyo will often have shop assistants that speak English.



After a grand total of thirty minutes, my glasses were done and ready to be worn! Super easy. These were about $110AUD with thin lenses included, a far cry from the eye watering amount I would've paid back home. I actually don’t feel uncomfortable wearing my glasses out and about, now that these ones aren’t all scratched up in the lenses. In fact, now I'm super tempted to reorder this exact pair but in black!
Posted by : Mani