christmas in tokyo

For some reason, I've always been fascinated by how other cultures celebrate Christmas. Although it isn't a public holiday here in Japan the excitement can be felt everywhere, but with its own twist on things. For one, it's a tradition here to eat KFC on Christmas, which seems to exist nowhere else in the world! Rather than spending it with family, Christmas is also more of an excuse for couples to spend time together. While there's no romance happening on this end, it's been fun seeing what Christmas in Tokyo's like while I'm here for the break!





If there's one thing Japan does well, it's winter illumination displays. I managed to catch the ones that were happening at Ebisu Garden Place (恵比寿ガーデンプレイス) and could definitely feel the festive cheer in the air! Sadly I had to leave when it was still light out, but at that point I was more worried about being frozen to death.

      



Look at this guy stealing the spotlight away from the Christmas tree! Afterwards I also stopped by Shinjuku Station, which was packed to the brim with people. Just like me, they had one purpose only – to see the illuminations.





There seemed to be a pink and purple theme going on, which I absolutely loved! The lights bathed everything around them with colour.

      



Anyway, although it's a bit delayed I wanted to wish everyone a merry Christmas! Even if you don't celebrate, I hope you a safe and happy holiday season in general. Now all that's left is the lead up to the new year, which kind of terrifies me. So many big changes are due to happen in 2017, but for now I just need to focus on the work ahead of me. Until next time!
Posted by : Mani

on kochia hill

Right after visiting Hitachi Seaside Park (国営ひたち海浜公園) earlier this year, I was already looking forward to my next visit. There's always something new to see depending on the season, with autumn being no exception. For one, the carpet of blue flowers is replaced by hundreds of kochia bushes, which turn a gorgeous shade of red when October rolls around. Despite being surrounded by hordes of fellow park goers and their dogs, the views were totally surreal. I definitely don't think my photos do them any justice!







Doesn't the landscape look like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book? It really is one of those places you have to see to believe!





     

At the top of Miharashi Hill (みはらしの丘) you'll find a bell, which is supposed to grant wishes or something along those lines. Naturally there was a huge line of people waiting to ring it, my friends and I included! Being the superstitious culture it is, I've noticed that there are lots of attractions just like this one all over Japan.







Lately, it just isn't a blog post of mine unless I'm doing some cringey pose or another! Those flowers behind me are actually cosmos, also known as autumn cherry blossoms. While everything may be long gone now, I don't doubt that I'll visit this place again one day. For me there'll always be fond memories attached to it, not just of the flowers but of all the friends I've spent time with here. Until next time!
Posted by : Mani

nikko day trip

And now, begins the arduous task of playing catch up with my blog posts! Some weeks ago I headed to Nikko (日光) for the first time, and it was definitely the change of scenery I needed. Even though it's just two hours from where I live, I could definitely feel the difference in the crisp mountain air. In any case I can see why so many people visit from Tokyo, since it's the perfect get away from the bustle of the city.

      



Our first stop of the day was Tobu World Square (東武ワールドスクウェア) which is basically a theme park full of miniaturised famous landmarks. It actually reminded me of a similar garden that exists in Canberra, but much more impressive! I mean, who needs to hop on a plane when you can come here and go from Big Ben to the Great Wall in less than an hour?





The attention to detail was pretty phenomenal, if I do say so myself! Sadly there were no Australian landmarks to be found though...



      

Next up was Toshogu Shrine (東照宮) which is probably the main attraction that Nikko has to offer. It's most famous for bearing carvings of Sanzaru, or the Three Wise Monkeys. On that particular day the shrine was packed to the brim because of some festival that was happening, but I still loved it. It's hard not to with all that beautiful forest surrounding the area.





      

There were sooo many beautiful buildings to be found at Toshogu. They all had such gorgeous detailing that really glistened in the sunlight that day. I probably could've spent hours wandering the place alone, if we weren't on such a tight schedule!





How's that for a lucky shot! I didn't even notice the cross in the foreground before scrolling through my pictures afterwards. Anyway, I loved my time in Nikko but it was definitely too short to explore the place properly. I'll definitely be back one day!
Posted by : Mani

life in a nutshell

Well, this is awkward to say the least! I obviously didn’t plan on taking a hiatus from the blog, but like most things in life it just kind of happened. Anyway, all I can really say about the past few weeks is that it’s been a total blur. On top of juggling friends, study and a part time job, finding the motivation to do anything in Japan's winter has been a challenge in itself. Now that I've finally finished my major report I have some time to breathe, so here's an update of what I've been up to lately through my phone!



One thing I love about Japan is that there's always something new to discover around the corner. Case in point – the humble manhole cover! Rather than being overlooked like they usually are, manholes in Japan are seriously works of art. They're usually designed to reflect the city in question, so I always make a point of looking out for them when I travel. This little guy is actually Mito-chan, my town's mascot.



Some weeks ago my university held its annual festival, and to be perfectly honest? I thought it'd be just like O'Day back at home, but boy was I wrong. For one, gakuensai are a huge deal and come with performances, fireworks, the whole lot. Not to mention, there's amazingly cheap food everywhere! Every club runs their own stall selling things from takoyaki to tofu donuts, so I was pretty much on cloud nine.



Eating my way through life, because what else is new? That burger was probably the first one I'd had in almost seven months, unless you count good old McDonalds. And as always, I've been taking full advantage of the 100 yen sushi plates while I'm here.



In case you missed it, Tokyo and its surrounding regions had November snow for the first time in more than fifty years. It's probably not a big deal to most people, but for this Australian waking up to snow is totally a life-changing event! My international buddies were equally freaking out, so at least I didn't feel like such a weirdo for enjoying it as much as I did haha. Anyway, here's hoping I get the chance to see snow again before I fly home next year!
Posted by : Mani