Inktober: Day 1

This year, I decided to participate in Inktober!

During the whole month of October, I will post a drawing in ink per day. I’m super motivated to participate this year and decided to make some movie and TV-show fan art. I hope that I’ll learn a lot!

So here you go, the first illustration for day 1: X-Files (I’m binge watching it for the first time, obviously it’s amazing).

inktober X-files Xfiles mulder scully ink illustration fan art

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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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You know what grinds my gears?

german flag
Today, I want to rant about something. Usually I am not a huge complainer, but yesterday I watched Pitch Perfect 2. And I am annoyed.

 

For those of you who do not know this about me: I am German. I have to admit that I am not the most German girl in the world, because I grew up in France and have only lived in Germany for the 4 first years of my life. I don’t have German friends and the only German people I know are the members of my family and my parent’s friends.

 

I went to a French school, had French classmates and French history lessons. During those innumerable lessons about WWII (seriously, did nothing else happen in the past 2000 years?) I could always feel all eyes on me, making me feel uncomfortable about my country of origin and my culture. I grew up ashamed to admit that I am German. I would love to know if I would have felt that way if I had grown up in Germany surrounded by German children having to live with the same heritage.

 

When I was 18, I started studying languages and I met people who liked German culture, who did not think that my language sounds ugly, who loved the food, the drinks, the people… I didn’t feel ashamed anymore.

 

I feel quite comfortable with my German identity today, but one thing grinds my gears… Hollywood movies depicting Germans. Mostly how they put a huge distance between the average English speaking viewer and the « German » character on screen.

 

Everyone has watched tons and tons of movies about WW2 and I won’t even get into those and the way they depict every German as « the bad guy ». To be honest, I stopped watching those because I am not a fan of war movies in general and even less so if I have to watch Nazis again.

 

What I have noticed is that when you hear a German accent in movies it is almost always associated with a despicable character.

 

Take for example Chindler’s List. An intelligent and beautiful movie. Every character in this movie is German. The « good guys » AND the « bad guys ». Who’s got the strongest German accent though? Those crazy Nazis!
Same thing with The Reader where everybody is talking with this weird German accent (the actual German actors are the ones with the most subtle accents in this movie).

 

Why do these characters need to have an accent at all if it has been established that the movie takes place in Germany and that everyone is German? I don’t get it!  Are they scared that some viewers might get mixed up and forget that they are looking at non-americans? Is the accent a wall shielding the viewer from seeing that Germans are just regular people with whom you can identify? Would people freak out if they saw a Nazi depicted with an American accent?

 

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My rant is not about Nazis but I think that the « German accent = Nazi = bad person » equation is at the heart of most German characters you can find in mainstream media.

 

Watching Pitch Perfect 2 was the last straw for me. It had some really stupid accents (I mean, 80% of German musicians are singing in English and have almost NO ACCENT! « Zis iss how we do it », my ass!) and the name « Das Sound Machine » isn’t even grammatically correct.

 

I get that they had to give them some form of accent to make them identifiable as Germans since this movie is not set in Germany. I know it’s a stupid comedy and that I should not take it seriously, but sometimes I just get tired of this sort of laziness.

 

When I watch movies set in France I have yet to notice this phenomenon: Marie Antoinette, Les Misérables, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Moulin Rouge, Dangerous Liaisons… No weird French accents to be found.
I feel like these fake German accents are used to dehumanize the characters and I hate it.

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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

hiroshima castle japan

 

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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