From Osaka to Oxford: Okonomiyaki

Last summer Taro and I were travelling with another friend around Japan with a JR Rail Pass. We were staying in Hiroshima and were heading East to Tokyo, moving North up Honshu. On the way, however, we decided that we needed to visit Osaka. Unfortunately this was two hours in the opposite direction to the one which we were heading. With limited time on our hands (but an unlimited travel pass which we wanted to make the most of), we caught a ride on the shinkansen down to Osaka for lunch. Specifically, for okonomiyaki. Absurd? Yes. Worth it? Oh boy, yes and yes again.

Osaka 2

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Taro’s Nostalgic Walk – The Walk to the Station

In truth my relationship with Japan, above all else, is defined by nostalgia. However stimulated I may be by ponderings on the psychological and philosophical connotations of our British-Japanese biculturalism – as Naomi and I like to explore on Thinking Japlish – my emotional interaction with Japan is nostalgic; it is why I love it, it is why it’s the only place I ever really want to go.

Nostalgia, though it is perhaps the most enigmatic emotion of all, is also one of the most distinctive and compelling. Whilst it can never be consciously summoned and only an external trigger can bring it out from your subconscious, no one could mistake that cocktail of joy, yearning and regret it evokes. It is a particularly apt emotion to explore in the context of Japan when so much of Japanese art is pre-occupied with it – just think of any Hayao Miyazaki film; and consider how much more common a word ‘natsukashii’ is than ‘nostalgic’.

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Free Apps for Learning Nihongo

Welcome to my friend Rosa who is helping me to review these fun and useful iPhone apps which are great for learning Japanese. Rosa is also from Oxford, but she’s currently on her year abroad studying Japanese and Literature at Kobe University. She has plenty of experience of studying Japanese, so it’s super to have her to help! Continue reading “Free Apps for Learning Nihongo”

Shopping Haul: Kiddy Land and Daiso

Kiddy Land is one of my favourite places in Tokyo so I thought that I would share it with you today – but do not let the name fool you – it is not just for kids! Kiddy Land in Omotesando is filled to the brim with toys, stationery and everything from tissues to cooking equipment. They are all related to your favourite Disney, Snoopy Town or Studio Ghibli characters, and more! I was showing my friend Rosa around Tokyo (who is on a year abroad, studying in Japan) and here is what we got up to. Continue reading “Shopping Haul: Kiddy Land and Daiso”

What to See at Skytree

Hello! As you may have read last week, I had a great time at the Star Wars exhibition at the top of Tokyo Skytree. You can read more about that on last week’s post, but today I must tell you about Skytree itself because there is plenty more to say! I would thoroughly recommend it as a day out or place to meet friends because there is plenty to see and do. The complex is huge – it has a large food court, hundreds of food stalls (like in department stores such as Matsuzakaya), an ice-skating rink, many yummy restaurants, aaaaand shops after shops after shops. I was with lots of family members of three generations and there is certainly something for everyone. Continue reading “What to See at Skytree”

Star Wars: Tokyo Sky Walk

Calling all Star Wars fans! Tokyo Sky Walk is an exhibition in the top galleria of Tokyo Skytree, and it is well worth a visit. In fact, this is my top pick for a day out in Tokyo at the moment! It’s there till 11th February, 2016.

Skytree pulls out all the stops here: surrounded by the spectacular view of Tokyo, 450m in the air, you can see interesting Star Wars collectables, including a set of “Japan Originals”. You can also pose with Stormtroopers or queue up for professional photos of you with a lightsaber!

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Tadaima, Tokyo

Narita airport greeted me exactly how a best friend would after a long-haul flight: with cameras poking in my face, keen to capture the red-eye and frazzled expressions. As soon as I came out of security, there was a Japanese TV crew waiting to capture the faces of backpackers who had come to Japan to find some adventure. Not so keen to have my dazed, exhausted, and pallid face on TV, I tried my best to melt away into the background.

Another fellow passenger (who had also come from the UK) did not share this wish of avoiding them. Dressed in the style of a Harajuku girl, with three or four grey roses in her hair, blonde locks, white tights and a cream dress, she soon attracted the attention of the film crew. I watched with amusement whilst sipping my CC lemon from a vending machine in the waiting area as one of the members of crew spotted her and rallied his colleagues. The whole crew sprinted over to her in what I can only describe as a very Japanese-like fashion. In the UK people try so hard to make it onto the silver-screen of daytime TV; in Japan it really is no hard task. I made a mental note to dress in a more eye-catching costume the next time I touched down.

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‘Painapurru Old Fashioned’ and Ramen

LONDON: Naomi gives 4/5 stars to Bone Daddies Kensington.

Amidst the picturesque London scene of red buses and red brick along Kensington High Street lies a new hotspot for ramen fans, hidden in the depths of Whole Foods Market. But rather than for ramen, I personally think it should be famous for their drink names which feature excellent Japlish!

Bone Daddies Kensington opened last November, the third restaurant to add to the London-based company’s portfolio. They bring their signature hirata buns and dishes such as Curry Ramen and Tonkotsu to West London.

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How to Win Against Jet Lag

Since many of my friends will be flying to University at about this time (and because I have endless amounts of cool photos of clouds to use), I thought that it would be appropriate to scribble down some tips which I’ve discovered over the years on how to conquer that mighty monster, the fear of seasoned jet-setters and newbie first-flighters alike: jet lag. When I was younger and flew more frequently I used to be totally fine and barely suffered from this at all, popping off to school the next morning at 7.30am after my arrival. However, now that I’m older, I find it a bit harder – perhaps there is a link to age? Or it might be that I am more self-conscious about falling asleep; I find it difficult to catch some shut-eye on a plane with hundreds of other people all squished together. In any case, here are some ideas on how to make long-haul travelling easier.

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