Tokyo DisneySea!

You thought I was done with the Japan posts, didn’t you?

 

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I could not go to Tokyo without visiting DisneySea!

Before I start, let me say that I’m not a huge fan of scary rides. I would NEVER do the Tower of Terror or Indiana Jones. That being said, I was able to do a lot of DisneySea attractions and remember freaking out a little during the volcano ride only. So if you’re a wuss like me you might get a lot out of this park.

I’m from Paris, so the only Disneyland I am familiar with is Disneyland Paris. I don’t hate it, but I just feel like both the staff and the european visitors are not as invested in the « Disney magic » as Americans or Japanese people. It was really fun to see EVERYONE running around with Mickey ears and costumes. Many girls were wearing the « Mini hairstyle » which was really sweet too.

We went during the Golden Week in May and Disney was still celebrating Easter.

To get there we took the little disney train (I insisted, I needed to take those pictures).

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan train DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan train

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan

 

Duffy the Disney Bear

I don’t really understand why, because Disney parks are already full of mascots, but the DisneySea park has its own mascot: a cute little bear called Duffy. And weirdly Duffy seems to be more popular than Mickey. You can buy huge backpacks shaped like fluffy bear heads and every child is running around with a plush bear. The Duffy bears come with accessories and you can dress them up… They are really amazing!

DisneySea disney sea tokyo JapanDisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan

 

In the center of the park you can see a huge volcano instead of the usual princess castle. From time to time it erupts! It’s the centrepiece of the Mysterious Island, influenced by the stories of Jules Verne with attractions like Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan

 

The Tower of Terror, looking good!

DisneySea disney sea tokyo JapanDisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan

 

Mini ears!

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan

 

ARABIAN COAST

Obviously themed after Aladdin, this place is gorgeous! You can eat indian food there and it’s not even half bad!

DisneySea disney sea tokyo JapanDisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan

 

MERMAID LAGOON

This was my favorite place in the whole park. The designers got really creative here, I was completely in awe!

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan

When you enter the castle you are first greeted by Triton, then you follow a path down to the lagoon…under the sea!

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan little mermaid lagoon DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan little mermaid lagoon DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan little mermaid lagoon DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan little mermaid lagoon

 

After nightfall, while we were waiting for the final show, we ran around the park hunting for various popcorn flavors: Jalapeno cheddar, white chocolate, black pepper, milk tea… Who needs healthy food?

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan toy story

 

The final show was INSANE! It was in the middle of the water with boats, dancers, lights… and Mickey fighting a real dragon!

DisneySea disney sea ending show tokyo Japan

 

A perfect ending to a perfect day.

DisneySea disney sea tokyo Japan


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Oh Canada…

In 2 months, my life will be turned upside down.

My husband, our cats and I are moving to MONTREAL! I have to find a new job, a new apartment, make new friends, survive a Canadian winter… scary but exciting!

 

canada bear maple leaf leaves syrup pancakes poutine montreal whale hockey ice skates

 

See you soon Canada!

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3 Weeks in Japan – Part 5: Hiroshima & Tokyo

On our way back to Tokyo, we made a short stop in Hiroshima. We stayed one night only but were able to see a lot of places in the city. Sadly we had no time to visit Miyajima.

Everything is at walking distance, which makes visiting the city really easy. Almost everywhere you turn you see monuments dedicated to remembering the atomic bomb and its consequences. I found it to be quite a heavy atmosphere.

Hiroshima

Hiroshima japan statue sky Children's Peace Monument japan

hiroshima Peace Memorial japan

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Hiroshima’s most famous food is Okonomyiaki (with noodles this time). Yummy!

Okonomyiaki hiroshima style japan food foodporn

 

TOKYO

Tokyo is so huge and there’s so much to do, I don’t even know where to begin! We stayed in Shibuya which was a great starting point to visit the city.

We were there during the golden week which means TONS OF PEOPLE EVERYWHERE!
starbucks japan

 

Harajuku and Yoyogi Park

Harajuku is usually the place where you can find the fashion addicts! On weekends people get dressed up and hang out at the entrance of Yoyogi Park. I’m talking funky clothing, Visual Key, Gothic Lolita, you name it! We got there on a sunday morning armed with our cameras but there were no cosplayers to be found. Damn you, golden week!

There was one guy  with a stroller full of cats to save the day though.
harajuku tokyo cats japan

 

When you come to Harajuku you have to get some crepes, they are insane!

harajuku crepes japan tokyo

After a good meal (so healthy too), we decided to walk through Yoyogi Park and toward Meiji-jingu shrine, where you can see a traditional Japanese wedding if you’re lucky.

Yoyogi Park sake japan tokyoYoyogi Park tokyo Japan girl balloon

Yoyogi Park Meiji-jingu japanYoyogi Park Meiji-jingu wedding japan bride groom Yoyogi Park Meiji-jingu wedding japan bride groom

 

Amazing views

What do you do in a city full of skyscrapers? You try to find the best views!

After sunset, we went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, where you stand in line for an hour to get a free view of Tokyo. The view in and on it itself would be amazing if there wasn’t so much reflection on the windows! It drove me insane! They have a souvenir shop up there and everything is so bright, all you can look at is your own stupid face. You have to press it against the windows if you want to see anything. It’s really sad, because the view would be magical if they just turned the lights down.

We tried our luck at the Bunkyo Civic Center (25th floor) before sunset the next day and it was a better experience by far. There weren’t many people and the windows were huge.

Bunkyo Civic Center japan tokyo Bunkyo Civic Center view

 

The last view wasn’t free, but we wanted to see the Tokyo Tower up close. We went to the Sky Lounge Stellar Garden and had some cocktails… totally worth it!

Sky Lounge Stellar Garden tokyo japan tokyo Tower
tokyo tower japan

 

Ueno Park

Ueno Park is a big park in the middle of the city. There’s a lake with paddle boats and a view of the Tokyo skyline. It felt a little like Central Park to me.

ueno park japan tokyo ueno park japan tokyo

There was a place where you could play with birds like a disney princess!

ueno park japan tokyo bird ueno park japan tokyo birds ueno park japan tokyo birds

 

Moomin Café

We wanted to do a themed restaurant and the Moomin Café was perfect! It is a mix of cutesy Moomin shaped dishes and swedish food.

moomin café tokyo

 

moomin café tokyo

moomin café tokyo moomin café tokyo moomin café tokyo

We even got to meet a real life Moomin!

moomin café tokyo

 

The food was delicious…

moomin café tokyo

moomin café tokyo

 

… and you get to share you meal with a Moomin!

moomin café tokyo

 

Nikko

Nikko is a city in the mountains outside of Tokyo, great for hiking and visiting shrines! You can buy a Pass for 1 day which contains a 2 way train ticket and an all day bus ticket.

Beware! The one Day bus ticket is only valid between the train station and the Shinkyo Bridge. If you pass the bridge you will have to pay… and boy, did we pay! But we were rewarded with a monkey!

Nikko japan

nikko japan monkey nikko japan monkey

 

There are several shrines in Nikko, Toshogu Shrine being the biggest. When we went to see it  we were discouraged by the number of people inside and decided to go see Taiyuinbyo instead. It was amazing and nearly empty… I don’t get it!

Taiyuinbyo Iemitsu Mausoleum nikko japan Taiyuinbyo Iemitsu Mausoleum nikko japan Taiyuinbyo Iemitsu Mausoleum nikko japan

Taiyuinbyo Iemitsu Mausoleum nikko japan

 

I think it is definitely worth spending the night in Nikko, there’s so much nature we didn’t get to see. Hiking there must be amazing.

nikko japan stacked rocks

Shinkyo Bridge nikko japan

This is the end of our trip. Japan is an amazing country and I would definitely like to return one day. The food, the nature, the people… Everything was great! You should not hesitate to buy a ticket!

 

Previously on the blog…

Part 1: Kyoto
Part 2: Kyoto (2) 
Part 3: Koyasan & Nara
Part 4: Kagoshima & Yakushima

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3 Weeks in Japan – Part 4: Kagoshima & Yakushima

After a 5 hour train ride we arrived in Kagoshima for the night. Last stop before Yakushima!

It’s not the prettiest of all cities, but there are some nice parks and a view of the Sakurajima volcano.

 

kagoshima japan Sakurajima volcano

 

In the evening we went to Kagomma Furusato Yataimura, a food street close to the train station, where we ate some delicious Shabu Shabu while listening to a local band.

 

kagoshima japan KAGOSHIMA FURUSATO YATAIMURA food street

kagoshima japan KAGOSHIMA FURUSATO YATAIMURA food street japan kagoshima stud

 

Shabu Shabu is a hot pot dish where you dip thin slices of pork (Kagoshima’s speciality)  in a broth to cook it! It’s the best!

shabu shabu japan kagoshima food

 

YAKUSHIMA

We took the ferry to Yakushima in the morning. It takes 3 hours to get there by speedboat. If you’re lucky, you will see some flying fish!

The weather in Yakushima is unpredictable. When we arrived it was pouring and we got really worried for our hike trough the forest the next day, but luckily it cleared up (sort of). The island is tiny and we could not find any big convenience stores close to our guesthouse, but luckily there were some awesome restaurants with amazing fish dishes and the local speciality: Flying fish! Raw or fried… it’s really good!

 

In our guesthouse we could order a bento for the day of the hike. It was delivered at 5 AM, for those who left really early. Most people rent cars because it is the easiest way to travel around the island and there are only very few buses. But we took the bus anyway so we left at 8 AM with the first bus and got back at 4PM with the last bus.

We are not experienced hikers but we were able to do A LOT of walking in 6 hours (we really took our time and took tons of pictures) and didn’t get lost once. Just follow the pink ribbon. We took the red, the yellow and the green trail on this map.

 

yakushima japan trail map

 

I had a minor shoe incident and lost my soles after 30 minutes but was still able to get to Taikoiwa rock, where we were supposed to have a great view… except we didn’t because we were in a cloud.

The forest is majestic. The trees are huge and I felt like a wood fairy jumping from stone to stone to cross a river. The higher we climbed the more misty the woods got. The atmosphere was really magical!

Here’s some green overload.

 

yakushima forest japan hike

yakushima forest japan hike yakushima forest japan hike

yakushima forest japan hike

yakushima forest japan hike yakushima forest japan hike

yakushima forest japan hike yakushima forest japan hike

 

Next we will visit Hiroshima and finally, TOKYO! See ya!

Part 1: Kyoto
Part 2: Kyoto (2) 
Part 3: Koyasan and Nara

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3 Weeks in Japan – Part 3: Koyasan & Nara

After some adventures we arrived at Koyasan, the sacred mountain. Koyasan is celebrating the 1200-year anniversary of its founding. Temples, monks and pilgrims everywhere! Also, it’s cold… so there were still Sakura!

Sakura Japan

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We had booked a night in a temple (Shukubo) which meant that we would eat a vegetarian meal made by monks at 6 PM and get up at 5.30 AM for the morning prayer. It was a great experience!

 

OKUNOIN’S GRAVEYARD

One of the most visited places in Koyasan is the graveyard. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place with giant trees and old, mossy stones.

There are hundreds of Jizo statues scattered all over the graveyard, often covered in moss and plants. People like to put clothes on the statues to protect them from bad weather and keep them warm. It is believed that Jizo statues protect the souls of children that die before their parents. It is heartbreaking to see children’s clothing, bibs or toys put near the statues by grieving parents.

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NARA

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Nara was once Japan’s capital. You can find many temples there, as well as a giant Buddha statue made of bronze (inside Todai-Ji)… but the most awesome thing about this place are the deer! They roam the streets and the parcs and you can buy crackers to feed them. I don’t know who taught them to be so polite, but they bow in order to get more food. It’s adorable!

nara deer bow feed cute crackersThe one in the top right corner wants some too!

 

Nara 17

nara japan parc flowers butterfly

nara japan parc

 

TODAI-JI

todai-ji japan nara deer

nara japan deer

nara japan temple

 

We walked past this small shrine decorated with pink hearts. You could pray for love and read your fortune on a paper you dipped in water. Looked fun!

nara japan temple heart

 

Previously on the blog…
Part 1: Kyoto
Part 2: Kyoto (2) 

Next up…
Part 4: Kagoshima and Yakushima

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3 Weeks in Japan – Part 2: Kyoto

Yes, we’re still in Kyoto. As I said it was my favourite destination and I took a TON of pictures.

After a long day outside Kyoto, visiting Arashiyama and its surroundings, we were late to visiting Fushimi Inari-taisha. The guides says that it takes 4 hours to visit this shrine, known for its long torii path up a mountain.

We arrived there for the golden hour and decided to push forward and see what it looks like in the dark. We went up quite far and admired an amazing view, but didn’t go to the top because it started to get late and we were hungry! So we went to look for some okonomiyaki… delicious!

 

Fushimi Inari-taisha japan night kyotoFushimi Inari-taisha japan night

Fushimi Inari-taisha lamps kyoto japanFushimi Inari-taisha view night kyoto

 

GOLDEN PAVILLON – KINKAKU-JI

Golden pavillon Kinkaku-ji kyoto japan

 

ENKO-JI TEMPLE

Enkō-ji Temple jizo statue kyoto

Enkō-ji Temple kyoto japan

Enkō-ji Temple gardens kyoto japan

 

PHILOSOPHER’S WALK

Philosopher's Walk kyoto Japan

 

The philosopher’s walk must be amazing during the sakura season! we were lucky enough to get there before it ended, but there were only a few flowers left.Philosopher's Walk kyoto Japan

Philosopher's walk kyoto japan sakura
Food of the day: delicious tonkatsu and green tea cream puffs!

 

TO-JI TEMPLE

To-ji temple kyoto japan

temple door

 

Behold! The heron vs. cat stand-off!


When you are entering a temple or a shrine you can wash your hand, sometimes face, sometimes you can even drink the water. Just purify yourself, fool!

 

For our last night, we went to see a « traditional arts » performance. We saw a tea ceremony, flower arrangements, a maiko dance and a puppet performance. It’s really touristy but I loved it!

gion kyoto japan

That’s it time to say goodbye to Kyoto…

temple mont kyoto japan

 

… See you soon for the next destination: Koyasan and Nara!

 

Previously on the blog…

Part 1: Kyoto

Next…
Part 3: Koyasan and Nara

Part 4: Kagoshima and Yakushima

 

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3 Weeks in Japan – Part 1: Kyoto

It was my life goal to visit Japan and I finally did it! I wanted to visit this country so bad but had quite a hard time deciding which places to see besides the obvious destinations like Kyoto and Tokyo.

I am an organisation freak when it comes to travel. I need to know that I am not missing something important: an awesome view, an amazing restaurant… I want to see and taste it all! Since I spent so much time and found so much interesting information on blogs and websites (I love to see bloggers post their travel photos), I thought that I could share my experience with the world and maybe help someone to plan his trip.

The fact that I wanted to see Yakushima (inspiration for princess Mononoke’s forest) made the route planning more complicated since it’s so far south. Here’s our travel itinerary:

 

japan map 3 weeks route itinerary tokyo osaka kyoto hiroshima yakushima kagoshima nara koyasan

 

Thank Glob for the Japan Rail Pass! Without it this vacation would have been very pricey.

 

We arrived in Tokyo and took the train to Kyoto right away. Kyoto was by far my favourite place in Japan! You can find very traditional neighbourhoods with temples and beautiful gardens, but you can also find « little Tokyo-style » areas. The best of both worlds. It’s the only place where we found tea houses everywhere. You could stop wherever you wanted to take a cup of matcha with some sweets or MOCHI ().

The first day was quite rainy, but that didn’t stop us.

Ryozen Kannon japan sakura cherry blossoms japan rain Japan-016

 

IT’S TEA TIME!

 

WE SPENT THE NIGHT IN AN AMAZING RYOKAN IN GION DISTRICT, EATING KAISEKI

 

You can find Jizo statues hidden in gardens or next to the road. They are Japanese divinities that are supposed to protect children (there is more to them, but I’ll talk about that later). I was obsessed with finding those little guys, they are so sweet and delicate.

Jizo Statue Kyoto japanJapan-037Japan-041

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moss garden japan

tanuki japan moss fro

 

Next up…
Part 2: Kyoto (2)
Part 3: Koyasan and Nara
Part 4: Kagoshima and Yakushima

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Japan

In one month I’m heading to Japan! It’s a lifelong dream of mine and I cannot wait to discover this intriguing country.

When I was younger I loved manga and anime, I learned to draw with Dragon Ball, Naruto, GTO and One Piece. Later I got more interested in Japanese movies, Ghibli and of course… THE FOOD!

Everything about Japan is so different from what I’m used to, I guess that’s what I love about it. Needless to say I’ve got quite the trip planned!

 

tea ceremony japan sakura cherry blossoms

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Aurélie in Wonderland

Welcome to a post in which I will brag about my awesome summer with some photos, but that will eventually also contain a drawing, so stick with me!

A month ago, I spent a few days in french paradise.

I was invited to a really small town near Bordeaux for my friend Aurélie’s birthday. We spent the week-end in the most adorable farm house with the most luxurious garden.

jardin porte garden doorgardenBommes 2014-004Roses garden

 

The vineyards, the castles, the fresh air… sometimes I really miss the country! Paris is amazing in some ways, but I guess I will always be a small town girl at heart.

horse vineyardcastle chateau vineyard grapesvineyard cat

To celebrate Aurélie’s birthday, I decided to draw a birthday card. My very first watercolour painting!

The birthday theme was Flamingos and she had a friend make a flamingo croquet like in disney’s  » Alice In Wonderland ». I thought the flamingo scene from the movie would make a nice card.

Alice in Wonderland flamingo aquarelle watercolor

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