29th July 2017: Shinjuku, Shibuya & Blended Fam {Japan, summer 2017}

D****e and I were going to have a relaxing weekend, not leaving Tokyo [東京] and stuff, but she wanted to do some shopping. We started off in Shinjuku [新宿], at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Tōkyō Tochō [東京都庁], which was as always great and on her subway line anyway.

Collage showing Tokyo from above - thousands of buildings that disappear in the background, and some forlone green parks

Afterwards, I wanted to check something in one of the Shinjuku fandom shops (it said to ask the shop assistant, and I can ask, but I was not sure I would have understood the answer, thus she offered to tag along with me). Unfortunately the item I wanted was already gone, life is tough.

Then we went to Shibuya [渋谷] for lunch, Tokyu Hands and Mandarake. Afterwards we walked in the rain towards Royal Flash to check Arly’s Jewellery Line – Blended Fam. Arimatsu, or Arly, is the drummer for Oblivion Dust, and used to play for VAMPS too. He also designs jewellery, and he makes very pretty stuff – unfortunately quite expensive. We chose to drop by this day because he was going to be in the shop greeting fans, and engraving his most affordable piece of jewellery, a pendant made from his used cymbals. Furthermore, if you got one while he was there, he would engrave your initials on it! Fun. I decided to get one, and he was mortified when “SD” was engraved upside-down, yielding to “DS”. He was mortified. Then I joked about it and I gave it a naughty meaning… making him choke with laughter. So… it was a win, I guess?

The artist engraving the pendant, and the material - old cymbals cut out in a heart-shape.

After the event, we headed off to the Tokyo SkyTree [東京スカイツリー]. We were going to see the nearby fireworks with a friend from there, and have dinner later, or have dinner with her if the rain did not stop. In the end only we had dinner – as it was raining very hard and we thought the fireworks would be cancelled, so we headed off to a nice Chinese restaurant at the SkyTree which had extra long gyoza.

Chinese food - dumplings, rice, sweet and sour pork, soup

When we were coming out we saw one last firework, as the show was not cancelled in the end. Live and learn.

Firework sparks behind the structure of the Tokyo Skytree

31st December 2016 (and on): Seeing the year off with a dragon (gate) {Japan, winter 16/17}

The first thing that I did in the morning was heading off to Shinagawa [品川] with D****e in order to see the third Dragon Gate (to complete the visit started on the 28th. This third dragon gate is the entrance to Shinagawa Jinja [品川神社], which was the biggest complex of all the three if you don’t count the Koen-ji gardens.

From one of the hills belonging to the shrine we could see a few of the nearby little shrines, so we went to check them out. And there was warm coffee on the way. Because I have not mentioned yet, but the same vending machines that expend my cold coffee in summer expend the same coffee in winter, but warm. Which makes you feel the sugar rush even harder warms your cold fingers.

After Shinagawa we went to Shinjuku [新宿] for a little bit of food and shopping, then Shibuya [渋谷] and Ikebukuro [池袋] just for shopping. Afterwards, we picked K***n up and headed off to Odaiba [お台場] to watch New Year’s Eve fireworks.

After the fireworks we had a snack in the DiverCity’s Calbee shop – crisps with chocolate, yes. It is a thing.

Then we set down to have a drink and kill a few hours in the food court until it was time to head back into Town as we were going to wait for the New Year at Hie Jinja [日枝神社]. And thus we waited…

20th July 2016: Hababi in Kamakura! {Japan, summer 2016}

Hanabi [花火] are fireworks, in case I had never explained that, which I might just as well not have done. I was just beat in the morning and I had not studied, so I got a late start, which did not work out too well as I did not find what I was looking for. Twice. Then I headed off to class and barely had time to buy food in the Conbini, which was running a sale in onigiri. Unfortunately, that meant that the only thing left were the not-so-yummy spicy tuna. And then the trains were delayed.

Yes, I was already in class, but I had plans for the evening. I was meeting a new Japanese friend M-san in Kamakura [鎌倉] to watch the fireworks! Fortunately the delay was over by the time I got out of class. I managed to make it to one train earlier at some point so I had the spare time for a toilet break, which was well needed. My three transfers were smooth albeit packed, and I even sat down at some point!

When I arrived in Kamakura I was surprised by the sheer amount of people I saw there. After M-san arrived we headed off for the beach to watch the fireworks which were amaaaazing. They made faces with the fireworks!! Cats and frogs! I could not believe it!

27th December 2015 – 1st January 2016: Scotland (Great Britain)

A friend and I decided to organise a New Year’s Eve getaway to Scotland, and I used the opportunity to get some stuff and redtape out of the way, so you might notice some chunks of time missing. Furthermore relationship with Scotland is complex and bittersweet, so I’m not sure how this post is going to turn up

The first part of our trip was based in Edinburgh. We arrived rather late in the evening so we just got to Waverly Station and walked to the hotel to get some rest before we started off the adventure.


Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and it is a dark city, but not in a bad way. The dark, moss-covered rock seems designed to absorb any little beam of sunlight and warm the houses. In our first morning we had a walk around Princes Street Garden, where the Scott Monument, a memorial in honour of the writer Sir Walter Scott, stands. There was also a Christmas market standing.

We climbed up Castlehill to visit Edinburgh’s castle, in the Old Town. The castle stands on an extinct volcano and some of the archaeological remains can be traced back to Prehistory! The first castle is thought to have been built around the year 1000 BC, which means the foundations are 3000 years old! The site of the castle includes, among other dependencies, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Regimental Museum, National War Museum, the Royal Palace, St. Margaret’s chapel, and a couple of distilleries. Due to its vantage point, also features a great view of all the Edinburgh area.

We walked back down Castlehill and made a stop at The Tron in the City, a former church turned artisan flea market.

My friend is a Hard Rock Café collector, so we went to the George Street area, which was decorated.

After lunch, we walked to Calton Hill, a hill / park area located near the centre and that hosts the Dugald Steward Monument, the National Monument and the Nelson Monument.

Then we met with a local friend to have dinner (bangers and mash!) to The Elephant House, the so-called birthplace of Harry Potter, where JK Rowling went to write the novels.

On our way back we saw some of the illuminated views, most prominently the Christmas market and the Balmoral hotel.


Aside from all the emotional baggage associated with Scotland, I can say that Glasgow is one of my favourite cities in the world. Most of what we did was walking around even if the weather was nasty at points. As we came out from Queen Street Station, our first visiting spot was George Square and the Glasgow City Chambers, and we had lunch in a Greek restaurant that I love over there.

But we quickly moved over towards Saint Mungo’s Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Glasgow. It is a 12th century building built in North Europe Gothic style.

Afterwards we walked up the Necropolis, a Victorian graveyard on a hill behind the cathedral. Today it is a great place for a stroll, aside from a place with way too much history for a humble blog post.

We strolled up and down Buchanan Street and the Central Glasgow area a few times – Queen Street, Central Station, the museum of modern art, the Japanese restaurants… We stopped at the HRC again, the Mandela Monument and dropped by St. Enoch’s shopping centre to see the light reindeer and warm up.

We walked to the Glasgow Cross area then, with the Tolbooth Steeple, the clocktower that marks the entrance to the Merchant City.

We came across quite an amount of interesting buildings in the Merchant City, among them St Andrew’s in the Square.

Another of the places we visited was Glasgow Green, which was half flooded due to the storm.

And when the weather became so bad that the sleet was making impossible to stay out on the streets, we visited the Riverside Museum, the Museum of Transport of Glasgow, where we had some delicious scones too.

We tried to see Dumbarton Castle, but it was closed down due to wind and the storm, so in the end we just took a ride there and walked around.

On the 31st we had dinner at a very nice Japanese – with awesome staff. Then we bought some provisions and headed to the B&B.

At night we were surprised by the fireworks so we ran out of the B&B room to find them.

And on the first we were treated to a rather… unimpressive… first sunrise of the year.

When we flew back I had one of the most surreal experiences ever – we had bought a pack of scones for breakfasts and snacks, and somehow it became tangled in my phone wires. Well, turns out that wired-tangled scones look one hell of a lot like bombs on X Ray machines! The poor Scots security guard was first deadly pale, then so relieved that I was not carrying a bomb!

23rd August 2014: Tea Ceremony, Imperial Gardens and Sushi! {Japan, summer 2014}

For my last day I had thought about trying to go to see Gackt as Uesugi Kenshin in Joetsu, but (un)fortunately I realised late Friday evening that he would not be there. Good that at least I noticed before I was there and had spent four hours on the train XD

Thus I talked my friend into coming to a tea ceremony with me near Tokyo Station in Chiyoda [千代田]. This was very fun because the tea-lady (Tea master? Tea mistress??) allowed us to participate and actually bat the matcha to make it bubble up. There are no photographs of that, but I have one of the delicious takoyaki we snacked on as we were waiting for our timeslot, along the guy making them.

Then we headed off for the Imperial Palace East Gardens, Kōkyo Higashi Gyoen [皇居東御苑], which I had not been able to visit last year. The gardens run alongisde the Imperial Palace and hold the ruins of what used to be the Edo Castle, Edo-jo [江戸城].

Then she indulged me in a very stupid desire I had, and that was having something sitting down in the Shibuya Starbucks, and taking a few pics from there. It was silly but it made me intensely happy.

As we headed back we rode by surprise fireworks.

The day ended with sushi, and the trip too. It was over for this year, and I don’t know when I’ll come back, but I know I will. Somehow.

It has to happen.

14th July 2012: Kamakura & Yokosuka {Japan, summer 2012}

On Saturday the 14th we headed off to Kamakura [鎌倉], home of the second largest Buddha in the country and birthplace of the samurai. There was some “glassed” coffee for breakfast, then we set off on the train.

A can of coffee reading caffè latte 240 ml

Once in Kamajura, we first off we headed to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu [鶴岡八幡宮], where we were lucky enough to see a couple about to get married.

A Shinto gate, in dark red with golden decoration

A traditional wedding, with the bride and groom dressed in kimono and hakama

Second, we headed off to Kamakuragu [鎌倉宮], a shrine which has an awesome bamboo forest which we did not burn down. This is important because we had a small accident with an incense burner while we had some matcha (green tea) in said bamboo forest.

Religious stone markings in a bamboo forest

A bowl of foamy green tea, with sweets on the side

A few hills up and down we finally made it to Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Jinja [銭洗弁財天宇賀福神社] where you can legally launder money. In the literal sense – if you wash your money there it is supposed to multiply. Knowing fairly well that as long as I am here my money will only diminish, I did not really try, but the temple itself was awesome. And there was ice-cream.

Stone markings and torii gate that mark the entrance to a shrine. Right behind the torii, a dark cave mouth opens

A torii gate leading to a small sanctuary. There's a tree standing right in front of the torii, and it has been marked with sacred paper to protect it

Soft vanilla ice cream in a cone

Our last spiritual stop was the Kamakura Daibutsu [鎌倉大仏] in Kotoku-in [高徳院], which is another of those things that everybody tells you that you should visit and you do because you think you should and still manage to amaze you. For the outrageous amount of 20 yen, you can even go inside.

The great Buddha, sitting cross-legged with a peaceful expression

The inside of the Buddha, with reinforced steel around a black hole that is probably the neck

We made a stop for food by the beach, too:

The beach, with foamy waves coming in

We had a snack, in particular a koroke:

A big croquette, breaded with big panko flakes

Finally we wrapped up the night heading over to Yokosuka [横須賀] to watch the summer’s fireworks by the powerplant!! =D sea.

Fireworks in the dark

Fireworks in the dark, reflected on the water

I was super-thirsty on the way back and I discovered that cocoa-in-a-can makes more giddy than coffee… Sheesh that’s some sugar rush!

Can of cocoa or chocolate milkshake

Flashback to 28th December 2010 – 2nd January 2011: New Year’s in London

  • Hyde Park
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Sherlock Holmes Museum
  • London Eye
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Big Ben
  • River Thames
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • St Paul’s Cathedral
  • Globe Theatre
  • London Aquarium
  • British Museum
  • London Natural History Museum
  • Buckingham Palace

Note: This is a flashback post, which means it is just a collage regarding a trip I took before I started the blog in 2012. Tags may be incomplete or slightly off.