Monday, July 27, 2015

Last Dinner at Ichiran

For my last dinner in Tokyo in 2013, Kyle brought me to the famous ramen shop, Ichiran.

Single counters at Ichiran. You can set aside the dividers if you're dining with friends.

Spicy food is quite uncommon in Japan so being a spicy food-lover, I really love how Ichiran has spicy sauce in their ramen and allows you to customize the amount.

There's already a water dispenser on your counter.

Darn it, I miss Ichiran. I'm craving ramen right now.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fandom-Driven Tokyo Adventures

This post recounts the last whole day of my 2013 trip to Japan in which Kyle and I went to Ebisu, Akihabara, and Tokyo Tower.

In the morning, we took the train to Shibuya and walked to Ebisu Garden Place. The only reason I wanted to go there is because it's one of the sets of Hana Yori Dango, one of my favorite Japanese drama series.

Domyouji and Tsukushi's meeting place for their first date.

This is where Domyouji and Tsukushi got married.

Actually, while walking to Ebisu, Kyle noticed this Baby The Stars Shine Bright store. It's one of the settings for the Japanese movie, Kamikaze Girls.

Afterwards, we went to Akihabara where we had lunch at the Gundam Cafe. I have been to Akihabara in 2012 but I didn't have the chance to dine at the Gundam Cafe.

After lunch, we went around the shops to buy some Gundam models for my brother and to buy a Kindle for myself.

Later on, we went to Tokyo Tower. 

I first learned about the existence of Tokyo Tower when I was in elementary school and watching Card Captor Sakura. It was used as a setting in that anime series a number of times. I guess visiting Tokyo Tower brought back childhood memories when I'd go home early and watch Card Captor Sakura in the afternoon. 

This is Zojoji Temple as seen from Tokyo Tower. It's one of the settings of the Wolverine movie!
I wish I had realized it was just nearby and I would have visited!

Odaiba as seen from Tokyo Tower.

At this point, I realized how fandom-driven my travels in Tokyo were. Two days prior, I went to Odaiba because of Gundam. One day prior, I went to Roppongi for Harry Potter. That day, I went around Tokyo for Hana Yori Dango, Gundam, and Card Captor Sakura and encountered Kamikaze Girls and Wolverine along the way.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Harry Potter: The Exhibition in Tokyo

A few days before my 2013 trip to Tokyo, I learned that the Harry Potter: The Exhibition was there. It's an international traveling exhibition featuring props, costumes, and sets from the Harry Potter movies. I actually first heard about that exhibition when it was about to move out of Singapore in September 2012. To be honest, I was so tempted to book last-minute tickets to Singapore that time. However, I didn't push through that impulsive plan because even if I had money, it was around the end of the semester and I was really busy with academics and [teaching] work that time so I had to prioritize.

Needless to say, I was really happy that my trip to Tokyo coincided with the Harry Potter exhibition. I mean, what are the chances, right?

The day after I landed in Tokyo, I went to Lawson with my friend Kyle (who is also a fan of Harry Potter) to buy tickets. 

On the day itself, Kyle and I were so excited lol.

Pictures were not allowed inside the exhibit but I was able to snap some photos at the shop (nothing said it wasn't allowed). However, it was really crowded (again, because of the holiday) so I gave up trying to take photos lol. Plus, I was really distracted by all the merchandise.

I seriously wanted a LOT of stuff there like the Marauder's Map, a wand, some Ravenclaw merchandise, and Hermione's necklace during Bill and Fleur's wedding but I had to control myself because I had spent too much on the trip already. However, I still ended up with these:

A postcard set for JPY1100 (around PhP495.00 at that time)

JPY9000 (around PhP4050.00 at that time)

So much for control, I guess. That Time Turner was friggin expensive for something I'm just putting on display but... come on, it's a Time Turner! Kyle, on the other hand, got a wand for JPY5000.

The view from Mori Arts Center in Roppongi where the exhibit was located.

Afterwards, we went back to the Kichijoji area to eat omurice. I had omurice with curry katsu.

After lunch, went around Kichijoji as it's one of Kyle's favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo and I also did some shopping hehe. I guess I enjoyed a lot that I didn't bother taking any photos. Afterwards, Kyle had to go to his part-time job and I went around Inokashira Park but didn't stick around much because it was really hot and humid.

All those trees by the river are sakura trees so they turn pink during spring.
I only know this because I have a few Filipino friends living near Inokashira Park who post photos of this place during spring.

I walked back to Kyle's house and then went out again to visit a local supermarket. For dinner, instead of going out, I made this Japanese-style chicken adobo rice bowl. I paired it with a slightly alcoholic peach drink I found at the supermarket.

Amazing day, I say!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Visiting the Gundam Model in Odaiba

Two years ago, I went to Japan for a summer program at The University of Tokyo. When the program ended (in Tohoku), I stayed a few more days to go sightseeing in Tokyo with my friend, Kyle, who's studying there.

The day the program ended, we took an overnight bus from Tohoku back to Tokyo. I saw the famous 'akamon' or the red gate of The University of Tokyo.

It's not as red as it seems in photos and my friend who studies there said it's really old. It's very fascinating, nonetheless.

Afterwards, I took the train to my friend's house and then we went to Odaiba.

I saw this in Inokashira Park, on our way from my friend's house to the nearest train station.
My friend lived very near the Ghibli Museum but I wasn't able to go because I couldn't buy tickets two weeks earlier.

It was a weekday but it was a holiday so Odaiba was very crowded! It was really hot and humid too (as Tokyo summers apparently are, which aren't so different from Manila summers). However, the moment I saw the famous 60-foot tall Gundam model, I was practically ecstatic! It is actually the only reason I wanted to visit Odaiba haha. When I was in Tokyo in 2012 for a conference, I had wanted to see the Gundam model but I was wrongly informed that it was already taken down. That's why I'm glad that I was able to visit Tokyo again a year later and see this 1:1 Gundam model.

Rainbow Bridge

We left quite early because my friend had part-time work that night and I was also very tired and lacking sleep that day because I wasn't able to sleep at the overnight bus ride from Tohoku.

Tokyo Teleport Station (what a cute name for a train station, lol)
Writing this post really makes me miss Japan a lot! A lot of my classmates from the summer program are actually telling me to visit Japan again so I really hope I can visit again soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kendo Watercolor Silhouette Series

With all the stress and anxiety I've been feeling recently, kendo has been one of my effective stress-relievers. With all the shouting during kendo training, I cannot imagine how it won't relieve anyone from stress.

One day, I just felt like channeling my feelings towards kendo into art. Thing is, I can't draw realistic illustrations. Instead, I had an idea of painting colored silhouettes. At least, I know I can draw outlines.

First painting: Hitting 'men' (面). I was pretty bummed after training the night before I painted this because I couldn't hit properly. My shinai kept going to the right (because I use my right arm too much when I should only be using my left) and my fumikomi (the act of lunging or jumping in to reach the opponent) wasn't good either. I made this painting whilst telling myself that I will train hard and that I will not let myself down.

Second painting: Sonkyo. After the first painting, I decided to turn the thing into a series. The second ended up to be sonkyo (the squatting position taken before and after a match to show respect to one's opponent). I made this right before I left the house to go to the 2nd Metro Manila Kendo Friendship Cup. It was cool seeing my seniors compete in a tournament!

Third painting: Hidari jodan no kamae. Now this one looks a bit different from the first two because I used a different watercolor paper (Apparently, Canson is better than Mizuchi for wet-on-wet paintings.) and I also added some texture using salt. Yup, salt!

Now that's the first three. I'm looking at making between four to six for this series. First I'll have to think about the poses I want to paint haha.

Monday, July 20, 2015


For some reason, July has been quite... melancholic so I tried to compensate by doing things I love.

I made mangoes and cream cheese muffins.

My Kindle Fire gave up on me after just nearly two years (yeah, too short a lifetime) and though Amazon Japan offered to give me a replacement at a discounted price, the discount was too small so I decided not to buy anymore. Suddenly, Fully Booked went on sale so I bought myself two new books. And though I love paper books a lot, I do miss Kindle's dictionary function and being able to read in the dark. I'll probably buy a Kinde Paperwhite once I have the budget.

I made a new bag for my shinai (the bamboo sword we use in kendo).

I bought a couple milk cotton yarn skeins and they're in progress of being turned into beanies. My hat-loving friend who lives in Japan recently came home for vacation so I'm making one for him as a gift.

The color reminded me of House Gryffindor hence the Time Turner and the Snitch

After not having held a paintbrush for more than a month, I made a new 8" x 10" poster.

I also made an attempt at painting a self-portrait. It's not good but I hope it's not bad for a first time lol.

Oh, and I colored some parts of my hair with blue dye! Don't be fooled by the photo-- they're just highlights. As much as I'd love to have a full head of blue hair, I don't have enough patience to maintain that.

I can't wait for July to be over and I hope August will be kinder.