Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tokyo ’12, Day 6 – Mount Fuji and Hakone

On Saturday morning we woke up early and got dressed. The night before we had decided to have breakfast again at the restaurant on the 25th floor, so as soon as we got our things ready we took the elevator up. But when the doors opened we got an unpleasant surprise: the line in front of the restaurant was huge! As we had to be on time for our tour, we didn’t really know what to do. My mom suggested to stand in line for a while to see if it would take long. After a few minutes we realized it went pretty fast and not long after we were allowed to enter the restaurant. We got seats at a bar at the window and we could see so far away! The weather was really clear.
Our breakfast was delicious and we got downstairs right on time (my dad prefers to stay close to his schedule). We waited with a group of people next to a poster of the tour. The group consisted of some elderly people and a tall man who I immediately called John Cleese, because he sounded just like him and talked to anyone who would listen. He wasn’t unfriendly, just a bit annoying. Not long after, two ladies came up to us and started to check if everyone was present. We all received a fabric sticker with a mountain on it. It felt like a field trip! ^^
We went downstairs, left the hotel and entered a bus. My parents sat next to each other, I took a seat left of them. Slowly the buss got filled completely and after a while we started driving.

Field trip
I swear, it was like going on a field trip again!

We drove through the streets of Tokyo, passing the bridge, Lumine, MyLord, MaruiOne... We also passed the big square in front of the Imperial Palace my dad and I had been last year. In the meantime, John Cleese was talking and talking to his poor neighbor. XD
Not long after the bus stopped again. One of the ladies said some of us had to get out to get to the right bus for their tour. There were two tours: one of Tokyo itself and one Mount Fuji and Hakone. There was some confusion about whether we had to stay in our bus or not, but my father went to check it and we were good. :)
Then a new lady got in and introduced herself as our guide. Her name was Miyuki, or Mikki, but we could also call her Gaido-san (as in ‘Guide-san’), which we did because we loved the word. XD The driver was Abe-san, but to us he was Driver-san! XD
Gaido-san was really nice and she was superfunny, especially the way she laughed at everything she said herself. She had a very Japanese accent, and she pronounced ‘are’ as ‘er’. So cute!
While we drove she told us about the tour (constantly emphasizing how she was hoping traffic wouldn’t be too heavy so we could catch everything on the right time) and she told us all kinds of interesting things about Tokyo and its inhabitants. About the heat of summer, about the expensive part Ginza, about the backpushers (men that push people into crowded metros), about fruit, all kinds of things! Although I had to get used to her accent, I loved hearing all those interesting facts!
Unfortunately not long after we had to slow down: traffic was heavy after all. Luckily we made everything on time, I can tell you that in advance.
Slowly we left Tokyo and the surroundings got more green. After a while, the bus drove up to a big parking lot, where we could buy things and go to the toilet. Incredible how many toilets there were and all so clean! It’s really unbelievable!
While my dad went to get something to drink, my mom and I browsed the little super market and I finally found them: separately packed eggs! I had been dying to show them to my mom and now I finally could!

Packed Eggs
Finally: proof they really exist!

We bought two kinds of Pocky for me (chocolate and strawberry), a pack of gummy bears (hehe) and some kind of small pancakes.
We went back to the bus and not long after we departed again. We ate some of the gummy bears and the pancakes (which had a really nice filling). I also ate some Pocky, my parents didn’t really like it.
We drove for a long time and I was pretty tired. I even might have slept a little. Behind us were some people who slept the entire time on the bus. When we were allowed to get out, they joined us, but when we went back again they slept.
Gaido-san came by to collect the money for the trip and to ask whether we wanted to have lunch at the restaurant. We decided not to do that.
After quite some time driving past forests and mountains, we could see it! We could see Mount Fuji! Some clouds were floating around it, but we could still see the enormous mountain with the white snow on top. It was like I was looking at a picture, but I knew it was real! That was such a surreal moment.

Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji! I swear, it just rose up from the land as if it came out of nothing!

Taking pictures of ‘Fuji-san’ was quite hard from a driving bus, but it was also funny. We especially laughed for some time when my dad took a picture just as a big fence blocked the view.
We drove through a small town in the direction of Mount Fuji. It was so strange to see the mountain rise up from the ground!
The bus drove and drove and we entered a forest. The road went up and it was clear we hit the foot of the mountain. The bus drove past cliffs, trees and a lot of curves, but clearly Driver-san had driven a bus here before: we went very fast (after we finally passed a slow car)! The trees flashed by us.
Slowly we drove into mist, which were of course the clouds at the top of the mountain. After what seemed to be ages, the bus stopped at the fifth station, the highest possible point for non-climbers.
We got out of the bus and oh my God! It was freezing! They had told us to bring warm clothes, but we didn’t expect it would be 0 degrees Celsius! XD
We looked around, but there was nothing to see. From where we stood, you have a beautiful view over the valley. At least, when there are no clouds. XD All we saw was mist and white. Still, we were quite lucky, because we saw the mountain from the bus. Mount Fuji is completely covered in clouds most of the time.

Feet on Fuji-san
Our feet on the famous mountain! XD

We walked up a set of stairs, where we entered a gift shop. They sold tons of Mount-Fuji related stuff, from keychains to food. My mom bought my dad a keychain in the shape of a coin, with a picture of the mountain on it and its total height. I bought a similar one and an adorable keychain in the shape of either a squeezable cat’s paw or a dog’s paw. It had nothing to do with the mountain, although it has a cutified picture of Fuji-san (with anime-eyes) on the back.
We walked around a bit and took some pictures around the sign that said how high we were up the mountain.

Fifth Station
Mount Fuji sign! ^^

Despite the fact there was not much to see because of the clouds, it was fun taking pictures nonetheless.

The Mist
The view from the mountain! The first picture is quite depressing, don’t you think? XD

Then it was time to return to the bus. While we were walking back to the parking lot, my dad picked up a little rock. He collects little rocks and stones from different places and a piece of rock from Mount Fuji is awesome of course!

Piece of Fuji
My dad with his piece of rock with the wonderful view in the background!

When everyone was back and seated, the bus started driving all the way back down. It was strange to return to beautiful sunlight when you had just been freezing in cold and thick mist.
Gaido-san told us some interesting things about the similarities between Japanese kanji and Chinese writing on the way. Some of the kanji she held up I recognized. I felt quite proud! She also showed us a beautiful wooden secrets box: a box that can only be opened if you know how to move the hidden parts. She told us that this kind of woodwork is typical for Hakone, where we headed now.
We drove through the village again, but in a different direction. My dad quickly fell asleep and missed out on the several white buildings that we passed, including a windmill and a Buddistic-like temple. This part of the trip was quite frustrating: while driving up and down across from Mount Fuji, we passed several places with a beautiful view on the mountain, but we didn’t stop anywhere. I really wish we had. :( Oh well…
After driving for a very long time again we arrived at a very deserted place: an old hotel where I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to stay. It was located in the middle of the mountains and there didn’t seem to be anything in the vicinity. The hotel turned out to be the place where everyone who had ordered lunch could eat in the restaurant. There really wasn’t anything other than a tiny gift shop.
This really was our ‘down-moment’ of the day. We had expected to be able to eat something too, but we ended up buying some crisps and drinks from a vending machine. We were quite annoyed and tired already and we waited for a long time until we could finally leave again. My mom did buy two tiny wooden dogs and I bought a delightfully useless but cute key chain. XD

Down Moment
We look sooo happy here! XD Can you tell we were a bit down at this point?

Finally we left again. After being counted, the bus started driving. For about 200 meters. Then we stopped again. It turns out there was something close by after all, we just didn’t see it. XD
We arrived at a beautiful lake and we walked into a building to stand in line to board a fancy-looking ship to cross it. While standing in line, our energy started to return and my dad took some silly pictures of my mom and me making weird faces (especially me). Then we walked up the dock, where two ships were located.

Hakone Ships
The two big ships!

We boarded our yellow and black ship and walked up the stairs to the deck. There were some adorable swan-shaped boats floating in the water a little further.
After a while, the ship started moving and it went pretty fast! My mom took a lot of pictures. The lake lay in the middle of the mountains, which created a wonderful view. I also saw a red torii (gate) near the waterside.

Leaving Shore
The lake had such a beautiful colour blue.

Suddenly I heard my dad talking in English and it turned out he had started a conversation with John Cleese (or JC-man started it, very possible too). He turned out to be very friendly and we talked a little about Japanese manners and culture, he was actually quite funny. I should have known: someone who sounds and talks like John Cleese has to be funny! XD
We passed many little boats and our boat’s colleague. The shore came closer and closer.

Ship Girl
Creative picture taken by my dad. ^^

Finally it was time to get off the boat again. Driver-san had driven the bus all around the lake so he could pick us up again. We followed Gaido-san to the right bus and departed again. We were quite tired and just stared out of the window.
We stopped not long after, but we didn’t really know where we were. My dad thought we would return to Tokyo, but I had heard Gaido-san right after all: we were going to take a cableway! I love cableways, so I was very excited! I quickly snapped some pictures of the beautiful mountains and then we followed our group to board our cabin.
The doors closed and we took off. The cabin went up and up over green trees. Two tiny windows in the sides were opened and the wind blew through the cabin. We noticed the cabins in front of us disappeared behind a slope. Just when we were wondering what was behind it, our cabin flew over it and I couldn’t help but let out a soft scream. We were floating above an incredibly deep valley filled with stones and smoke! The wind wooshed through our cabin and we shook from left to right.

High Heights
Just look how deep the valley seems in this picture. It was even worse in real life!

I am so glad Gaido-san had told us the cableway was designed by Swiss engineers! Somehow it reassured me a bit. The air strongly smelled like sulfur and it turned out we were passing a sulfur mine. It’s hard to describe what this experience was like, but let’s just say it was scary and cool at the same time!

Capturing the Moment
Capturing everything! I look quite worried. XD

We arrived at the station and left our cabin. The station was cold and windy, but luckily we could follow Gaido-san quickly.
She told us we had some ‘time off’ to do things, but to be honest there wasn’t that much: we could walk up to this old house that was special for a reason I can’t remember, or browse around the gift shop. We decided to do the latter after walking around a bit in the cold air and taking a picture with a big Hello Kitty and a mascot dressed up as a black egg, a Hakone specialty.
At first the gift shop gave me chills. I can’t really explain why, but the pre-packed food they sold looked too strange, even to me. Luckily they also had a beautiful little department of the wooden secrets boxes and my dad bought my mom and me one. I also bought another key chain (naturally) and I also got a wooden turtle one. I called it Henkio. XD (If you have no idea what that means and you are curious, read my previous post).

The woodwork corner. They even had woodwork mugs!

Outside it had become dark and it was time to go back to the bus. We drove for a long time and I slept until we arrived at a train station where the people who had signed up to return by Shinkansen (the bullet train) could go and find their train with Gaido-san. I noticed there was a big bookshop and since I still hadn’t bought a Gothic & Lolita Bible, I joined my dad who went to get some food.
We entered the station, where I went to the toilet first (not taking the Japanese style one, I just don’t like it) and then my dad and I walked up to a little bakery. While ordering, we suddenly heard a strange sound that sounded like wind coming towards us really fast and then there was a loud blast and a lot of woosh-like noise for a long time! It turned out a Shinkansen train passed the station. Whoa, it was so loud! The shop girls didn’t even seem to mention it anymore though. XD
After ordering I walked into the bookshop and to the counter, where I tried to pronounce ‘Gothic & Lolita Bible’ as Japanese as I could, but I had to write it down for the shopgirl after all. Luckily they had some and I could finally buy one.
My dad and I went back to the bus. Clearly a lot of people had taken the Shinkansen (which was quite a waste in my opinion since it was dark outside and you wouldn’t be able to see how fast it was), since the bus was quite empty. However, some people from another tour joined, including a couple with two little girls that literally got stuffed with food the whole way back to Tokyo. You wouldn’t believe how much the parents shoved down their throats. o_o
Finally, after a long drive we arrived back at our hotel. We were quite hungry, so we dumped our coats in our room and went to MyLord to have some food. It clearly was a Saturday, because there were quite some lines in front of the restaurants. We had decided to go to the restaurant my mom loved the most, the one from the first evening, but there was a line too! We decided to wait until it was our turn and sat down on some chairs next to the entrance after my dad wrote our surname on the waiting list.
We waited for a while until a waiter called out our name (in a very interesting new way. I have never heard someone pronounce my surname that uniquely XD). We were seated next to the wall in front of the bar. It was fun to see all the food being made.
My mom ordered the dish she had chosen the first time too, I chose my dad’s previous dish and my dad chose the same as my mom. We were very hungry (it was 9 pm already) and the food was so delicious~! *_* ♥

Yummy Food
My parents and our delicious food! ♥

After dinner my mom and I decided we wanted to try one of the ice cream sundaes on the back of the dessert menu card. It looked really interesting, with its green ice cream, green sponge cake and white shiny balls. XD When we ordered, it seemed the waitresses tried to warn us for something. They pointed at it and told us it was ‘matcha’ (green tea), but I said it was okay. Maybe they thought us Westerners wouldn’t like it?
We received the big sundae and it looked amazing. Japanese food really always looks just like what’s on the menu or in the window! My mom and I started our ice cream adventure!

Ice Cream
Our amazing ice cream! *_*

I must say I can understand a bit why the waitresses tried to warn us: the flavours were very different from what we are used to. The green ice cream was bitter and sweet at the same time, the red beans were sweet and bean-like (huhu) and the shiny white balls were soft and gummy. Although the flavours were very strange and new to me, I really liked it!
After finishing our dessert, we left the restaurant and went back to our hotel. It was past 10 pm by now and we were very tired. When we returned to our room, we went to bed immediately. We needed our sleep, because for the next day my dad wanted to go to the Sky Tree!

Purchases of the day

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tokyo ’12, Day 5 – Rikugien and Asakusa

On Friday morning we woke up after a much better night. The soft pillows really were a lot better. ^^
We decided to have breakfast at the breakfast buffet restaurant on the 25th(!) floor. We got dressed, got our things together and left our room. My dad had suggested to go to a garden he had seen in my Japan folder: Rikugien, a garden along the Yamanote line. We decided to do that after breakfast. We took the elevator up to the Manhattan Restaurant, where we had to wait for a short while. Then we were allowed in and after we had walked through a small hall with windows with wine bottles behind them, we found ourselves at a wonderful buffet! There was a Western-style part and a Japanese part. The Western part had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, fries (:P), tomatoes, etc, while the Japanese part had rice, vegetables and also amazingly delicious steamed dumplings (those were sooo good). I am really not the type of person to eat rice for breakfast, so I mainly took things from the Western part (and the dumplings). They also had delicious cups of vanilla flavoured yoghurt and fruit you could combine with it. There was also tomato- and orange juice en milk.

My mom’s breakfast. She was the only one of us who ate rice in the morning. ^^

The breakfast was really good and the view from the 25th floor was breathtaking! In particular on this day, because the weather was very clear. We could see mountains in the distance!
When we were finished, we took the elevator down to the lobby. Some days before we had decided to take a tour to Mount Fuji. Especially my dad really wanted to go there, so we booked a tour at the tourist desk to Mount Fuji and Hakone for the next day!
While my dad had to do something for a second, my mom and I spent some time taking pictures of the beautiful balloon decorations around the escalators.

Hotel Balloons
The balloons all had such pretty pastel colours!

It was then that I realized my eyes felt really weird and watery. It turned out I had caught my mom’s cold! I absolutely hate colds, but thank God for aspirins!
My dad joined us and we went on our way to Rikugien.
We left the hotel and walked calmly towards Shinjuku station. It was a warm, sunny day, completely different from the previous day!

Mom and Dad
My parents. ^^ ♥

I just love sunny weather so much. It makes everything so much more beautiful! Shinjuku looked just as amazing and colourful as it does at night!

Shinjuku Photographer
Me taking pictures of the orange clock. Don’t you just love Shinjuku’s colours?

When we arrived at Lumine, we realized this weather was perfect to take some pictures on and from the bridge in front of MyLord, so we first walked up the stairs. The sunny weather was indeed ideal to take some pictures! But it was also a little inconvenient, because due to the bright light I had trouble keeping back my tears from the cold. Luckily my mom’s sunglasses helped a lot. I felt like a celebrity, incognito. XD

Shinjuku in the Sun
One of my favourite views in Tokyo. When I see it on other people’s pictures I can’t help
but smile.

After taking pictures for a while, we left the bridge again and walked into the station. We walked to the platform of the Yamanote line. It’s unbelievable: Shinjuku station is the most crowded station in the world and yet barely anyone walks into you!
We took the Yamanote line in the direction of Ikebukuro.

Tokyo Metro View
Leaving Shinjuku!

We sat down for a while and got out at station Komagome, a bit of a quiet station in the middle a quiet neighborhood. The station did have an adorable bakery and bookshop though.
We left the station and my mom and me just followed my dad. This part of Tokyo was so different from the places we had been before: quiet, almost peaceful, yet with buildings everywhere. We walked past several small clothing shops. One shop only sold blue clothes, so cool!

Close to the Yamanote Line
Unbelievable that this is a part of Tokyo too! It was so quiet and different!

We walked around the corner of a building and suddenly we arrived at a wooden gate, leading to the garden.
My dad paid the small admission and we entered the park through another gate. Suddenly we heard birds and natural sounds, in the middle of the city!

Rikugien Maps
Maps and guides from the surroundings, mirroring my parents.

The garden was very beautiful: it was entirely green with a big pond in the middle. The many greens of the trees clashed beautifully with the blue sky.
We followed the path and took many pictures. In the middle of the pond was a little pile of rocks. My dad said it used to be a statue of a dragon (I believe), but it had collapsed because of an earthquake. We arrived at a little niche in the path, where we could almost walk up to the water. My mom and I wanted to do some jump pictures together, but I’m afraid we’re not very good at jumping simultaneously. ^^’
We kept following the path. I often heard a strange sound of voice, probably through a microphone. I was wondering if there was a swimming pool nearby. It wouldn’t have surprised me: the park was surrounded by buildings.

Pink Girl, Green Trees
Wandering through the park. It was quite relaxing.

We arrived at a lovely wooden bridge, where we took some pictures. You could also walk around the bridge and take pictures from the other side. There was a little wooden hut and you could walk over rocks in the water! :)
We walked all around the pond, following the path. There was an older woman sweeping leaves away, she was very nice. ^^ Apparently the trees in the garden were very special. Some of the long, old branches got supported by wooden structures looking like hammers. We saw one man sitting on one of the branches to fix another one. Interesting job: ‘Branch fixer’. ;)
We passed a little tea house and a water fountain and walked into a forest-like part of the garden, where the trees grew closer to each other. We discovered some beautiful flowers growing on one of the bushes.
We followed the path and looked around us. The trees were very pretty and the sunbeams that made their way through the leaves created a wonderful atmosphere. The path led us over a wooden bridge and to a stone set of stairs. We climbed it (it was quite high and steep) and then found ourselves on a hill with a beautiful view over the park. Three old ladies were sitting on a bench, enjoying their lunch.

Rikugien Park
Don’t you just love the view? It was so wonderful!

After enjoying the view for a while, we walked down the stairs on the other side of the hill, where we arrived at a little pebbled square at the waterside. Many benches were occupied by old people eating their lunch. ^^
We walked up to the water, where a lot of koi fish were swimming and ‘gasping’. Suddenly, I saw something in the water that didn’t look like a fish: it was a turtle! Initially we decided to call him ‘Henk’ (like ‘Hank’), but to make it sound more Japanese it became ‘Henkio’. I told you we’re weird. XD
I was afraid the fish wouldn’t be nice to Henkio, but when they bumped into him he didn’t seem to care at all. ^^’
My dad wanted to take a picture of us on the Togetsukyo Bridge, an old stone bridge over the water.

Stone Bridge
Mom and me on the stone bridge. ^^

My dad also wanted to take a picture of us on the island in the middle of the pond, but when we wanted to walk to the bridge that led to the island it turned out it wasn’t allowed. Oh well.
We decided to sit down on a bench for a while, to rest a little. In the distance I saw multiple turtles (Henkios, XD) on a stone. They were so cute!
We discussed a little about what to do next. My dad suggested to visit another garden in Ueno, but my mom said she really wanted to go to Asakusa, the ‘old’ part of Tokyo with the red temples. Ever since she had seen our pictures of Asakusa she wanted to go there and since it was great weather, we decided to go (instead of our initial plan to go on Sunday). We remained seated for a while and before we left, we wanted to see the famous ‘weeping cherry tree’, a big tree that is full of sakura flowers in spring. Although it wasn’t spring, we still wanted to see it. We found a big tree and took some pictures of it. When we walked towards the exit, it turned out to be another tree! XD We had already passed the famous tree on our way in, ahem.
We left the park and walked back to Komagome station, where we bought some sandwiches in the cute bakery.
We took the Yamanote line to Kanda station. It was a bit crowded in the metro (I saw a schoolgirl with the shortest skirt I had ever seen), so we all sat separated. When a spot next to my parents got free I sat down, when suddenly a woman tried to draw my attention and pointed at my umbrella that I had left at the place where I had sat a minute ago. I was so grateful she saw it, I would have been so sad if I had lost my beautiful frilly umbrella! :(
At Kanda station we transferred to the Ginza line to get to Asakusa. The metro to Asakusa is a bit older than he Yamanote line and you can really see it: the benches seem to be… more old fashioned. ^^
We arrived at Asakusa and left the station. When we got out, I could really feel a change in atmosphere. It seemed like Asakusa was more old but also colourful. I can’t really explain it. On our left we could see the Asahi tower with the golden flame/bean (whatever it is) on top of it and the Skytree. We went right in the direction of the Kaminari Gate, the big red gate with the big lantern hanging under it. While we were taking pictures of the gate, a woman holding her little daughter’s hand walked up to my mom and asked if she spoke English. When my mom said yes, the woman asked her if she could talk a bit with her daughter because she wanted her to learn English. Yeah, it was a bit of a strange story. ^^’
In the meantime, a woman walked up to me too and asked if I wanted to do something for a Japanese tv show! I was very surprised, so I said yes. My parents politely refused. XD
The woman led me to the other side of the street, where a camera and a cameraman were waiting. The woman gave me a microphone and put a headphone on my head and asked me to sing along with the song she would let me hear. She told me it was for a quiz where the contestants had to guess which song I was singing (I didn’t know who or what it was). I must have looked like an idiot and I probably sang horribly, but it was a lot of fun! I felt also a bit embarrassed, but hey: how often do you get the chance to do something like this?

Singing in Asakusa
Oh, the strange and interesting things that happen to me… XD

I ‘sang’ two songs (I had to redo the first one twice, haha) and they thanked me heartily. I had to sign a little contract saying I agreed with me being on tv (huhu) and then I received a little present (which contained a little phone strap in the shape of the big lantern with a little picture of some deity in it). ^^
I haven’t seen myself on the show yet, I’m not sure I want to… XD
After this… unique experience we walked back to the Kaminari Gate and walked underneath it. My mom was so happy to finally be in Asakusa! It was like a dream come true for her!
We walked into the Nakamise shopping street, paradise for souvenirs! Seriously, in this street you can find any kind of key chain you want (except for that one specific little lantern I was looking for). They sell so many wonderful things in the countless stuffed shops!

Asakusa Souvenirs
Asakusa: for all your touristic needs.

After a little while I discovered a little shop that sold those wellknown double ice cream: a swirled ice cream with 50% white ice, and 50% in another colour. You often see them on Tumblr. I noticed they had black sesame flavour and I really wanted to try it! I’ve had black sesame ice cream last year in Shinjuku, but this year the shop was closed! :( We had discovered that on the previous day, so now I wanted one even more! I wanted to buy one for my dad too, but there was only one black sesame left, so my dad told me to take it.
I paid for my ice cream and without thinking I left the shop, but immediately a man walked after me and tried to tell me something. It turned out that I was supposed to eat the ice cream at the shop and not walk around with it. I had totally forgotten about this custom, oops!
I ate my delicious ice cream (my mom tried it too and hated it, haha XD) while my parents looked around in the shops around the ice cream shop. When I had finished we walked on. I noticed there were a lot of children walking around in little groups. Some wore casual clothes and caps or hats, others were wearing their uniforms. Suddenly, a little group of sweet girls walked up to me, one of them was holding a folder in her hands. She asked me, in English: ‘Excuse, can I ask you some questions?’ I could see what was written on the paper she was looking at: there were a couple of English sentences written down with their pronunciation in Japanese. The way the little girl read what was written was nothing less than adorable and I said: ‘Sure!’ She asked me what my name was (of course I wrote it down for her, I wouldn’t dare let the poor girl ask how to spell ‘Rosalynn’ ^^). She also asked me what my favourite Japanese word was (my answer was ‘kawaii’, they really liked that) and if they could take a picture with me (with the cutest little camera).

Posing with the sweet girls! A tourist just jumped into the left corner, so I had to crop the picture a little.

Then after a lot of ‘Byyyeee’s we parted again. Gosh they were so sweet! ♥ While we were walking through Nakamise street, I was interviewed by two more groups of girls (I was so happy, they were all adorable)! I think they could choose from multiple questions, because one asked me what my favourite food was (okonomiyaki!) and another one asked where I came from.
After walking for a while we finally arrived at the dog shop my dad had loved so much last year. My mom really liked the shop as well, especially the big window on the side of the shop with all the dog plushies (they were so realistic)! We also took a look at the many dog statues. They still had the big pug from last year. My dad looked at some of the weird costumes for dogs. We all agreed our pug Catootje would look awesome in a Geisha costume, wig included.
My mom and dad took a look at some beautiful collars and decided to buy four different ones for our dogs: a red one for our Maltese Twinkle, a green one for our stray dog Canela, a yellow one for grandma Saartje and a blue one for Catootje (yes, I have four dogs ♥) and I can tell you they look very nice on them!

Asakusa Dog Shop
When you can’t choose one picture, you make a collage! Pictures of the dog shop!

After some more walking and browsing we arrived at the opposite gate, the Hozo Gate. Instead of walking underneath it, we went right to a square covered underneath pergolas with green leaves. We sat down on a bench after getting some drinks and ate our bakery goods. Apparently this was a popular eating spot: many groups of kids on school trips were sitting on the ground in big groups. Some Japanese people were eating their boxed lunches too.
We finished our lunch and walked underneath the Hozo Gate.

Red Lantern
My mom was so happy to be in Asakusa!

We arrived at the big square with the red pagoda and the Sensoji temple. We took some pretty pictures there. ^^

Pagoda Girl
I really, really like this picture! ♥

We heard rattling noise, which came from people shaking wooden tubes with sticks in them. Eventually one of the sticks would come out through a small hole. Every stick had a number and you had to open the drawer with the corresponding number, which contained a future prediction. Then you had to tie the piece of paper to one of the screens next to the little drawer cabinets. This is called ‘omikuji’ (‘written fortune’). Both my mom and I tried it and my future is really bright according to the paper! The best of the best! ^^

The process of omikuji. ^^

We walked up to the Sensoji temple, passing the well that had dozens of incense sticks and smoke in it. We took some pictures around the entrance of the temple (the old man directing people to the left and right wasn’t there anymore) and we entered at the front. There was a ceremony going on, people threw coins in the well and we lit some candles. We left the temple at the side and walked into the beautiful garden, passing a Buddha statue, via the bridge over the pond with koi fish. Lots of pictures were taken here. ^^

Matching Umbrellas
Mom and me with our matching umbrellas!

We also briefly walked into another shrine and then walked in the direction of the amusement park. I still think it’s interesting to have an amusement park next to some old shrines. By the way, the temple, shrines and gates in Asakusa are not that old. Tokyo doesn’t have many really old things because of the bombardments of WWII.
We followed the route back to the pagoda, passing the statue of Uryu Iwako, a sweet old lady who did lots of good things in her life. We passed some food stalls and I decided to buy a chocolate banana on a stick. I chose a blue and pink one. Surprisingly, my parents didn’t want one. XD
We walked back to the Kaminari Gate through the Nakamise shopping street. My mom and I bought some more key chains (yeah, we really have a weakness for key chains) and we walked back to the station. We either had to buy tickets or reload or Suicas, I don’t know what we had to do again exactly, but either way we managed to do it. XD We took the Ginza line back to Shibuya, where we took the metro to Shinjuku. We arrived back at our hotel at 5:00pm, where we rested for a while and I put some pictures on Facebook.
After about two hours, we decided to go eat something at MyLord and then go to Closet Child Shinjuku! After walking around for a bit and checking the restaurants, we decided to go eat in Café Est! Est! When my dad and I had eaten there last year, we had both chosen a huge plate with food (it was 13 inches long I believe)! This time we kept things more civilized. XD I chose a hamburger with salad, egg and two ‘smiles’ as we call it and my parents had nice things too, but I really can’t remember what. We also had a little side salad, all very nice. ♥

Food, food, food!
Food, food, food~!

We left Café Est! Est! and went on our way to Closet Child! We walked around multiple shopping centers, crossed the big crossing and arrived at the building with the big red sign on it. Climbing the really small stairs became an extra adventure when on one floor the stairs were covered in boxes! But we managed to make our way through. Then, we finally arrived at the 5th floor, the Lolita floor.

Closet Child Shinjuku
I’m afraid this is the only picture I have taken of Closet Child Shinjuku. ^^’

I walked around the corner, absorbing the sweet Lolita atmosphere. There were two shop girls and maybe one customer, but no more. It was very quiet, but I didn’t mind at all. ^^ I walked up to the Angelic Pretty dresses around the corner and started browsing. I was a little disappointed by what they had to offer: last year they had so many wonderful dresses and now that I knew I could fit more I had been really excited, but they didn’t have many nice things. Is what I thought. Which is quite an unreasonable thought, because I tried on three dresses including one of my Dream Dresses: the Powder Rose jumperskirt in black! ^^ I didn’t like the other two dresses enough to buy, but I loved Powder Rose! I remember when I was in Angelic Pretty Paris for the first time my mom loved Powder Rose so much, but she couldn’t remember that at all. XD
I browsed all the other racks and found two adorable pink Angelic Pretty cardigans and I believe two other cardigans. The other things I tried on I didn’t like too much, but one of the AP cardigans was really cute, so I decided to take it with me. I also chose a pair of pink Baby, the Stars Shine Bright wrist cuffs, one pair of over-the-knee socks with pink bows to match Powder Rose, one pair of knee socks with fruit on them, two bracelets, an adorable glittery bow ring and a fuzzy star clip. I also found the matching head bow for my Fantasic Dolly dress! Speaking of a lucky coincidence!
With all the items I had put together I could make an entire outfit, haha!
My dad told me to hurry up since it was about closing time (oops!), so I walked up to the counter to pay. They really take their time at Closet Child to wrap things up: they cut all the tags off, folded everything neatly and the shop girl even showed me the socks were of different lengths, just to be sure I had noticed (whoa)! Then a very nerve-racking moment happened: my credit card didn’t work! The little machine gave an error, so I tried again. Again an error. Then my dad tried his: error. Finally it worked, but then I wondered if we hadn’t paid four times! I know it said error, but still! The fact the shop girls didn’t speak English didn’t make it any better. -_- We decided to thank the girls, leave the shop and check it later (if you could just look into the future… It turned out everything was fine in the end. Oh well… At least I can smile about it now).
We went downstairs again (taking the elevator this time). Despite the nerve-racking and worrying moment I was still very happy with my purchases of course (although I had to re-find my joy for a moment). We walked back through the streets of Shinjuku to our hotel. We bought some Häagen-Dazs ice cream at the Family Mart: one of the strawberry and chocolate ones we had tried before and a vanilla one. I chose ice cream from a different brand: a delicious chocolate wafer with vanilla ice cream. We also bought some chocolates with strawberry filling, very good!
Back at the hotel we skyped with my brother, ate our ice cream and candy and I took pictures of my purchases (although I forgot half of it, so I had to take pictures at home). Then we went to sleep. We had to wake up early the next morning!

Purchases of the day
Purchases of the day

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lolitas Switching Styles

On December 30th, the last Sunday of 2012, my Lolita friends Cat and Dieuwke came to my house to do something we had planned since the Fly Away Fashion Tea Party: a style switching afternoon!
When my parents drove us home from the Tea Party the three of us were talking about all kinds of things and we somehow started talking about how we would look in other Lolita styles than what we’re used to. This led to the idea of putting on each other’s clothes and take pictures!
So on the 30th, both girls arrived at my house with big bags filled with petticoats, accessories and some dresses. My room immediately looked like someone’s closet had exploded in it!

The plan was to turn Dieuwke, who always dresses beautifully in Classic Lolita, into a lovely Sweet Lolita, me, the sparkly Sweet Lolita into a Classic one and Cat, who is kind of an Everything-looks-awesome-on-her Lolita, just chose the dresses she loved.
After examining all of each other’s dresses, Cat decided to try on Dieuwke’s beautiful ivory Heidi dress from Innocent World. She decided to combine it with her own matching tights and black shoes, Dieuwke’s fake fur collar (although she took it off quite soon after) and my flower head band. I tried to take as many pretty pictures as possible.

Cat as a Classic Flower Girl

Then it was Dieuwke’s turn. Since we wanted to totally switch things up with her and she never wears pink, she had to wear pink. My Star(ry) Night Theater jumperskirt seemed perfect for it! To go all the way, Cat lent her typical Lolita wig with high curly pig tails to her and my sweet accessories and pony bag finished the coord perfectly!

Dieuwke as a Circus Princess

Then it was my turn. I was looking forward to becoming a Classic girl a lot! Dieuwke lent me her beautiful flower dress from Mille Fleurs. Do you know the style switch videos from Princess Peachie and Princess Porcelain? This was that exact dress! I had always wanted to try on a wig, so Cat let me wear her curly black one and I wore my Baby, the Stars Shine Bright blouse with the classic collar attached to it to give everything a more classic feel. I finished it all with ankle socks, black shoes and the matching head bow (I also wore my flower head band briefly). I felt so different yet so wonderful!

Me as a Classic Maiden

Initially I had put my own petticoat under the dress, but according to our expert it really gave way too much poof for Classic! I had to de-poof! I have never had that before! But it did really do the dress more justice I think.
Posing was quite a challenge. I am used to posing Sweet Lolita style, now I wanted to look more classy and elegant. I hope I pulled that off a little. ^^
I loved wearing Classic. I think my mom secretly prefers that style over Sweet (even though she didn’t recognize me from the pictures at first).
In the meantime Cat had redressed into my pink Fantasic Dolly jumperskirt from Angelic Pretty with matching head bow and socks.

Cat as a Fantasic Dolly

Dieuwke wanted to try the same wig I had worn and combined it with Cat’s Candy House from Metmorphose.

Dieuwke as a Sweet Candy Girl

Unfortunately the girls had to go, so there was no time for me to get dressed up a second time. Somehow both girls managed to take everything with them again (except for one cardigan that Dieuwke forgot, which was on my keyboard XD).
It was a superfun afternoon! I had always wanted to try classic and now I finally had the chance! Who knows? Maybe one day I will evolve too..?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Year, New Layout

Now that I have fully settled into the new year, I thought it was time to start off fresh with a new layout! My dear friend Emilie created a wonderful new banner for my birthday, which inspired me to change to whole appearance of my blog. She then made me a couple of different versions of the banner and I finally settled with this one! Emilie is not only a wonderful artist, she is also an amazing Lolita! You can find her Tumblr here.
As you can see, I also added some pages to my blog! I had wanted to do that for quite some time and now I finally got to it. From now on you can easily find my Lolita outfits posts and travel posts, as they make up a majority of my posts.

I hope you like my new layout! ♥