Friday, 30 May 2014

Extra: Day Eighteen - Osaka

For our final day in Japan we headed to Osaka.

The weather was lovely and we were greeted by heat and sunshine as we stepped off the train.

We took a short walk Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan) and spent the morning checking out the Seals, Dolphins, Rays, Otters and lots of fish! Their main attraction is a Whale Shark, however she was currently elsewhere undergoing a medical examination - which was probably a good thing, I can't picture how something so big would have manged to fit in the main tank.

Once again the place was overrun with small children being lead by their teachers. They seemed to be colour coded, with each age range wearing a white t-shirt and a different coloured hat.

Afterwards we checked out the indoor market and then took some time to laze in the sun on the waterfront.

Eventually we headed to Kansai Airport where we toasted the end of our holiday with white wine, then began packing for the long flight home.

It's been such a lovely holiday.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Extra: Day Seventeen - Shopping

This evening we decided to head to Kyoto's market district.

We had forwarded our bags to Osaka yesterday planning to travel light, however we both brought a lot of stuff due to knowing our holiday would soon be at an end.

I brought a cute glass with pink bunnies on, lots of sweets to bring in to work and a pokemon flannel.

Hayley really stocked up! My favourite purchase being a giant cuddly seal; that's going to make packing interesting!

We also accidentially wandered into the game arcade, a place called GamePanic, which was an appropriate name seeing as Hayley was concerned a lurking man would swoop in and snag tbe prize she'd been working on!

Eventually she won her Hello Kitty tissue box and I managed to win myself a couple of cute, plastic cat 'doughnuts'.

We also had a final venture into the photo booth to round off the trip!

Extra: Day Seventeen - Arashiyama

We took a trip to Arashiyama today.

We had this on our list because we had seen photos of the bamboo groves and decided it looked like a peaceful walk. However once we had finally navigated our wsy to the groves they weren't as dense of peaceful as we had been lead to believe!

There were plenty of people visiting and although the bamboo was very pretty, we kept havong to dodge out of the way of cars that were taking the same path.

We did a little shopping and we both purchased some pretty art pieces to take home.

In the end we headed back early and decided to spend our evening in Kyoto.

Extra: Day Sixteen - Nara

We arrived in Nara a bit later than planned due to the length of the Maiko dressing up experience.

Once we reached Nara we heading along tbe streets towards Nara Park, aiming for Todaiji Temple as our destination.

It was an extremely hot day and although most of the paths only had a few people, once we reached Todaiji it appeared that every school kid in Japan had come to see it!

We took the long walk through the park surrounded by (often over friendly) deer and by the time we reached the temple it had just gone 5pm. At the top of the street a man ushered us down telling us that the temple closed at 5:30!

We rushed down - doing a great job of dodging and weaving all the school trips who had also decided to leave it until the last minute.

Finally we arrived and spent the last twenty minutes admiring the enormous Buddha statue - truly a sight to behold!

We were exhausted after that, so we caught a taxi back to the station.

Extra: Day Sixteen - Maiko experience

Today we headed to YumeYakata studios for a Maiko photo session.

Firstly we had to undress and put on a type of gown. Then we were ushed to a bathroom to wash. Our hair was pulled up and out of the way. Next we sat in front of mirrors as the make up artists applied what felt like wax over our faces before adding thick white foundation over our face, neck and shoulders. They applied make up to our eyes and lips next.

Once the make up was done we were fitted for kimonos. This took a great deal of time as dressing involved many layers and they had to wrap us up tight to give the kimonos the best fit.

Eventually we were fitted with wigs and told to pick our hair accessories.

Next came the photo shoot. A talented grouo of young women prodded us into poses with instructions like 'move your head like this... Just a little!!'

We both came away with fond memories and three photos each.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Extra: Day Fifteen - The Arts

Today was a very relaxed day. Our first appointment was with the Roketsu Dying place at 10am.

Once we arrived we were shown all the equiptment and picked out simple designs to have a go.

To start you have to apply melted wax with a brush in the design of your choice, tracing it on to fabric with the aid of a light box.

One layer makes the lines come up faded, two layers keeps the background white.

Once this is done you have to suit up in aprons and gloves to stir and dunk the fabric into the dye for fifteen minutes. The more you stir the more cracks will appear in your design, this gives it an intresting look!

They are then left to change colour once oxygen reaches them, before the wax is boiled off and the material washed.

It's then dried and iron so you can take it home!

In the afternoon we took part in a tea ceremony with another couple of travelers (from Switzerland!) and learnt the art of tea preperation.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Extra: Day Thirteen - Shopping

We left Yokohama bright and early to head back to Tokyo.

Without our tour leader we were armed with only our booklet, a handful of Japanese words, pointing guestures and our street smarts to navigate.

It took us a little bit of time but we got there in the end! It's moments like these that allow you to truly appreciate having a guide to get you on the right path.

Today we had two locations to visit: Akihabara and Harajuku. The former is the electronics and manga capital of Tokyo which I was very excited about. Then Harajuku which is the youth and fashion capital, which Hayley was looking forward to.

Once I had dragged Hayley into several model anime character shops and truly tested her patience, it was time to head to Harajuku.

The closest comparison I have for Takeshita Dori is that it has the same sort of vibe as Camden Town. Lots of funky clothes shops as well as teenagers sporting intrestingly dyed hair.

We regressed back to our childhood a bit and brought ourselves Tamagotchis.