7 Things I didn’t expect about Japan

Honeymoon, Personal Experience, Travel

We did a lot of research before we went to Japan. We learned about Japanese etiquette so we didn’t insult anyone. Japan is super forgiving if you apologise but somethings still surprised us about Japan. So here is 7 things we didn’t expect about Japan.

For the love of eggs

The Japanese love eggs, boiled, raw, baked you name it. They will even stuff it in a little octopus! We have eggs sandwiches that made us drool. We queued for 15 minutes to get an omelette on a stick ( that we are still drooling about). My favourite was the stained eggs that come In The ramen!

But my absolute favourite egg was the one we had with breakfast. It was basically like a lightly poached egg, with a perfect reddy orange yoke still in its shell. We had it with our rice and mixed in the rest of our ingredients. I can’t tell you how good that breakfast was.

Ramen Eggs



Hakone eggs!!!

Stone the crows

Okay don’t stone them! Every place we went there were huge crows everywhere. They are magnificent birds that caw loudly fight and play. They are pretty brave and fearless and will walk right up to you.

I love crows I think they are clever and I like the fact they are hardly alone. When me and Gav were first dating he was walking me to the pub and teasing me about something. Two crows were fighting and fell out of the sky landing on Gavs head. Quite rightly he freaked out and ran down the road. We laughed afterwards but I just looked at him and said karma. Since then I feel an affinity with crows! If there is a spirit animal then mine would be a crow.

When we were walking through the castle at Osaka we had to walk through a small wooded area. The trees were absolutely filled with crows cawing and chasing each other. Gav was a little freaked out so for the whole holiday I teased him that the crows were following him. When we got to to Kyoto the crows were super confident!

My spirit animal

Plastic is not so fantastic but it is hygienic!!

So plastic is an issue in Japan. Everything is wrapped or double wrapped. Packaging is far too much however. We were in Japan during Covid-19 so everything being in wrapped made sense. No germs were being transferred unless you touched the packaging.

I did get into the habit of showing a bag I was carrying with me but it was crazy how they would give you a bag for everything. Maybe because it just doesn’t happen in the Uk anymore we are cutting back on plastic. I am self isolating at the moment but if I was allowed to shop I would be reaching for those plastic wrapped fruit…. sorry.

Plastic may be bad for the environment but it is hygienic. I just think our government needs to invest in recycling plastics so we stop sending them to the dump. After all a lot of plastic can be recycled.

Bullet trains

Organisation can be achieved on public transport

We all know that Japan is highly efficient when it comes to public transport but seriously! Everything was on time, trains, tubes, buses. Japanese people hate being late! Hate it!

We had one incident where we were sat on the bus and was about to leave. Some tourists meandered over with their suitcases I think there were 6 of them. The bus driver told them they had to hurry because he had to leave. They slowly got on the bus. The bus driver wanted to yell at them. In stead he turned into superman and lifted all the cases up and stacked them on the bus blocking the back door so he could leave on time. He was furious and it rubbed off on the bus. This family made us all late!

So if you visit Japan don’t be late. If you live anywhere be courteous and arrive on time. Lateness is for fools!

Japanese standards in cooking

We never had a bad meal in Japan whether it was a cheap eats or a fancy meal. That doesn’t mean we had perfect meals every time. Because we didn’t. But the food standards where just good everywhere. When I was disappointed in food it wasn’t because it wasn’t good it’s just because we had already had better.

Gav even liked the Lawsons ( minisupermarket) chicken and hot food! Me not so much but we tried all the food at the stations, food stalls, restaurants and supermarkets. We tried lots and different food and I was so impressed with the standards of food!

Gyoza

Japan doesn’t do street food

So yes you can buy street food in Japan, and yes it is authentic Japanese food. Japan doesn’t like eating outside they take such pride in the food and everywhere is filled with tiny restaurants some don’t have seats just tables but street food nope. Street food is for tourists. It’s becoming more popular with the younger generation but in general it’s not a thing.

You probably already know that you should not walk and eat or drink! It is highly frowned upon and if you do buy food from a food stall or market they ask you to eat at the side. You will see signs up in the markets in english stating not to walk and eat. You get used to it except for the drinking! Although I do feel like you can get away with it more.

Service charge

You don’t tip in Japan they find it insulting however restaurants and bars sometimes have a cover charge. Now everywhere we went we were informed before we sat down. Now to make up for this you often get like a bowl of peanuts or snacks! We never had an issue with it except when an empty bar wanted to charge us 700yen but he had to make his money some how. And he turned out to be full of knowledge and really friendly.

Lots of restaurants have rules like you must order a drink each etc. All these rules are either as you enter or the first page in a menu, they don’t hide them. It can be frustrating when you have to pay an extra £6 just to sit down and have a drink but the cocktails were about £9-12 so that wasn’t to bad cheaper than many London bars so we just always orders two drinks each so we didn’t notice the costs!

Old fashioned at the Bees Knees Kyoto
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So we learned a lot about Japan, before we left and while we were out there. We are already planning our next trip out there. What we want to do and see!

Have you been to Japan? What surprised you about it?

Hakone, I wish I stayed a wee bit longer

Honeymoon, Personal Experience, Travel

So lots of Japanese people head to Hakone for the Onsens. Being tourists we wanted to see Mount Fuji, take a trip in the pirate ship, eat volcano cooked eggs and take the ropeways. Which is fine but we didn’t really get out to the restaurant and walk anywhere but the touristy areas. And there really isn’t anything wrong with that but if we had had more time we would have loved to explore more.

We left Tokyo at about 11 and got on the bullet train to Hakone. We packed a bento lunch and watched Japan whiz by. It was easy. We had booked our seats E and D so that we could see Mount Fuji the whole way. Japanese travel efficiently is something all countries should aim to achieve.

When we arrived we booked a Hakone 1-2 day pass and it was worth it. There had been a landslide so the little train was out of action so instead we hopped on the bus for 40 minutes. Dropped off our rucksacks and headed straight for the rope way.

Mount Fuji

This area of Japan is so serene with all the trees, rivers streams trickling down the mountain. Clouds often cover the peak of Mount Fuji so rather than relaxing in our hotel we wanted to get straight up and see it, in case it was Hidden The next day. With clear skies above us we checked into our hotel and went straight our again.

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that gondolas are my absolute favourite thing even though I am scared of heights I don’t mind being in one. And because tourist levels were super low we got a gondola to ourselves. We rode it to the top and entered what can only be described as the dragons den.



The Dragons Den

Now it says that if you have asthma then you shouldn’t go up here. Gavin said he was fine and wanted to go so we went up anyway and he didn’t suffer at all. I am not saying people should go up if they do have asthma but you guys know your levels. The conditions on the day we went up were lovely so I think that helped.

This place was magical they said that a few years ago an earthquake opened up small fissures adding to this dramatic sulphuric smoke. I took so many photos I was completely in love with nature’s drama. There was still a lot of trees plants and birds around which felt slightly out of place. I want to do a bit more research on this place.

We walked around for a bit then headed to the gift shop. The museum was closed but everything else was open. So in Hakone they have magical eggs that are cooked in the volcanic water boiled for 60minutes and they turn black. Now legend has it that for every egg you eat you live an extra 7 years.

They come in bags of 5 so I ate two and Gav ate 3. We also had a curry pan and a beer so we were pretty full. They are just normal boiled eggs they don’t smell or taste any different. But 7 extra years guys! I had to try.

So we went all the way over then back again, which felt right as this is definitely Hobbit country and Smaug is definitely hiding beneath this mountain.

Prince Eric’s boat

We wanted to catch the last pirate ship of the night. Accross the lake, I thought it would be amazing to watch the sunset whilst we were on the ship however I forgot that the mountains would block out the light so it was really pretty but no sky drama. It looked like the boat at the start of the Little Mermaid. This boat is purely for tourists and it’s all for show. The journey was cold and pretty and we stayed outside drinking instant coffee and had a good old laugh.

At the end of this we hopped on a bus back to our hotel where are rooms where ready and dinner was served in just 15minutes so we ran upstairs to change into our traditional robes yukata.

Even though we had only spent a few hours travelling we were both tired so even though the food was great I didn’t have much of an appetite. I will pop the hotel food in its own blog just because it was exceptional.

Dinner and Onsen

The restaurant was full and we were the only tourists there which makes a nice change. We ate our amazing meal and then jumped in the Onsen. ( we didn’t jump in we had to do all the bits first!) I had the whole place to myself so we could really enjoy it.

It was nice to have an early night. We had breakfast which was a epic feast that I am still dreaming about another Onsen at it was our last one for a while and then thought we would do a bit more sight seeing.

We visited the Hakone open air museum which was lovely but modern art isn’t really my favourite. We did enjoy all the Henry Moore’s as well as the actual grounds were impressive. The Picasso wasn’t my favourite but we were lucky because it was fairly empty and we got to wander around at our own pace.

Outrage favourite bit was actually the foot Onsen which was beautiful and we were the only ones in it so we took our time and just took in the park. There we a few your cherry trees blossoming but not incredible pictures yet!

We divided to visit Hakone town have a wonder round the shops eat amazing cheesecake and mocha from ancient store holders. We wish we could have stayed a bit longer but Hiroshima was calling us.

We then took two bullet trains to Hiroshima.

Even though we spent the night there we really didn’t get the chance to explore this wonderful place. So when we return we already know that we will book two nights minimum here and spend some actual time visiting bits of the Hakone deserves a bit more time and effort.

Japanese skincare: What I am hoping to pick up in Japan

Beauty, Honeymoon

So I think I have probably watched over a hundred videos on what to pick up in Japan! So this is my list, what’s great is that thanks to the the internet I can get most of these online now but I want to try them out whilst I am there.

I have gone on peoples reviews however Japan is awesome when it comes to skincare as they rate them on the packaging so if it has a label with the picture below you know this is a product actually bought by the Japanese people.

So my purchases may be biased and based on what every one else is buying. Also because I can’t read I will have to rely on my photos to make sure I am getting the right thing!

Okay so here is the list…

  • DHC cleansing oil
  • DHC lip balm
  • Hadda Labo lotion
  • Cure natural aqua gel
  • SANA Soy Milk 6 In 1 Moisture Gel Cream
  • Pair acne cream >
  • Melano cc vitamin serum
  • kanebo suisai beauty clear powder
  • Skincare conditioner >
  • Biore Aqua spf
  • Lulu Lun masks
  • Keana Rice Mask
  • Soborino masks
  • Baby foot

So that is quite a lot!!

But they all do different things!!

DHC cleansing oil

So this is supposed to be amazing, an oil based liquid cleansers.  This cleanser digs deep it is vitamin-rich. It’s going to leave my skin feeling clean and enriched and is this is my first step in skin care it. You are supposed to use this on dry hands on dry skin and massage into your face.

Hadda Labo lotion

I was watching Caroline Hirons another beauty goddess and she was saying they the red one contains retinal so is better for my skin. I know I can get this in the Britain but it is cheaper over here so I know if I like it I can get more.

Sana Soy Milk

Is a 6 in one so for lazy days you can just pop this on in the morning. This sounds ideal to me because I generally just moisture are my shower in the morning. Especially if I have had a face mask on the night before. Taking of face masks I can’t wait to try the Keena rice masks and the Lulu hun. They come in number packs so I can try them out when I am in Japan.

sunscreen

Apparently Japanese and Korean sun are is the best. They keep there skin out of the sun and guess what! They have less wrinkles and better skin quality. I am sure there diet of fish helps too.

I will be buying there skincare apparently this one is lighter, doesn’t leave white residue and also is great under makeup.

My list is longer than my descriptions but I can give you more information when I get back.

Don Quioti

I will be purcahsing most of these bits from Donqui as it’s called here. I also want to try some eyeliner from blowfish and the number one waterproof mascara!

We may have to buy another suitcase when I am out there but it’s our honeymoon and I can’t wait!

Beauty shopping here I come!

Honeymoon with coronavirus! Japan here we come

Advice, health, Honeymoon, Planning, Travel

So firstly, are we worried? Yes a little

Are we going? Yes unless the government tells us not to!

It’s a flu, a bad flu that mainly effects the old and vulnerable. So we are not in the danger bracket yet. We still may get sick but likely that we will be fine. It’s flu, nasty flu.

This isn’t the dream honeymoon we have been planning for two years I can tell you. Generally I am fine and level headed about the hole thing but I still get moments of panic. I went out and tried to buy hand sanitizer but Tesco had sold out. Went to another shop but it wasn’t good sanitizer so I went to Boots and bought 6 baby ones and a big one to restock it.

I went in Boots today and they had sold out !! Sainsburies had nothing. So I bought what they had. I know Gav will say it’s too much but I would rather be safe then sorry… or dead.

This isn’t all of it!!

A lady I know who works at the local GP said Dettol. It kills all bacteria so I bought a decanter to take with us on the plane. I bought the antiseptic dettol for humans and antiseptic dettol for objects. This means I can clean the plane and our trays and just make it a bit more hygienic where ever we are.

Okay I sound crazy! It takes up minimal room in my suitcase and I don’t care.

Gav is far more sure about the decision.

He mocks my fear a little but I just want to be practical. We have bought extra hand sanitizer andantibacterial wipes to clean things. We even have proper masks but apparently they don’t do anything.

We are going to be sensible.

Hopefully that will be enough.

Stay away from crowds but enjoy ourselves! Have fun eat drink and stay clean.

What else can we do.

We are also taking half a pharmacy with us as well. In case we get sick out there we are making sure that we have some medication with us. Does this sound like fun honeymoon planning to you? I have two first aid kits! A mini one and a bigger one for when we are travelling around.

Safety first for the crazy lady!

My parents are both worried. My dad is worried we will get stuck out there. He calls me every other day now. And we get it, we really do but what can we do it about it.

My mum is coming to look after the dog.. so I am thinking of moving her out before we get home. In case we are not sick but pass on the virus to her. I would hate to be responsible for getting my mum and aunt sick! This really does worry me.

So let’s have a chat in the comments! Are you going to Japan? Would you go? Are you there now?

Art Materials What I am taking to Japan

Honeymoon, Planning, Travel

I am so excited to be visiting Japan in March. When me and Gav thought about our honeymoon, we knew that we didn’t want a beach holiday because as a far as I am concerned Seychelles has the best beaches in the world. So I would rather just go and see my family and friends then visit the Maldives or Jamaica. You are a bit spoiled when every few years you get to visit paradise and call it your home. So we didn’t want beach and we didn’t want just snow. Luckily with Japan we get to have everything we want. Beaches, lakes, snow, sushi, cherry blossoms.

Note pads that I need to turn into one journal

Japan offers everything

It really does, great food, antient cultures, a land that is devoid of religion but filled with spiritualism. A history rich in tradition and folklore. It has beaches and snow-capped mountains. So even though we are only going for 3 weeks we plan to fit in a lot of sightseeing. I also want to take this opportunity to draw.

So not only will I be visiting some amazing art shops in Japan but I will also take advantage of the great views and characters. My art supplies will be coming with me. They will be scaled down to an art journal which I will try to prepared and filled with notes and maps to help us navigate Japan.

What I am taking

I can’t take too much especially as I can buy some bit there but so far I will be taking a small watercolour block as well as my travel journal with my itinerary already in it.

So far it looking like my this

• Art journal

• Watercolour block

• 2 HB pencils

• Maped sharpener which I have about 5 of

• My Winsor and newton watercolour half pans ( rearranged into what colours I think I will use)

• Gouache white

• Tombows

• Fine-liners

• Water-brush

• 2 brushes

• Atomiser

I think that’s it. I can always buy more Tombows and Fine-liners in Japan as this is where they are made but I am excited to see what other watercolour pens they have available that I can’t buy over here. I work in an art shop so I don’t need masses. I also want to pick up some beautiful washi tapes which again, I know are expensive but this is my honey moon and art supplies make me happy.

This is all going in a small case so I can easily access everything and put my new purchases in here as well. So looking at the pictures I may have to edit them again! Just over a month to go and I am so excited. Hopefully I will be able to share some of my pictures and illustrations on here, but only if I think they are good enough.

I can’t wait to visit all the art shops as well. If you have any recommendations please let me know!

Curating and Planning my Japanese wardrobe

Honeymoon, Organising, Planning, Travel, wardrobe

I am finding planning my Japanese wardrobe difficult. March means it may be cold and warm so I need to bear that in mind: we are also travelling a lot of the country so I needs to be minimum however it’s 3 weeks of clothes!!

Challenges

  • Weather changes
  • Snowboarding clothes
  • 3 weeks
  • Everything has to be comfortable
  • Limited space in the suitcases
  • We want room to bring things back!
  • Shoes need to be slip on or easy to remove

Most of this I already have but there are a few pieces I need to buy. I want my wardrobe to be mix and match

Weather Changes

We are going in March so the weather will cool and mild hopefully but as we are visiting the north and south we will be having all sorts of weather changes. Everything will need to be breathable and good for layering.

Snow boarding clothes

With the exception of my jacket which is pictured I didn’t put any of my kit in the picture. I am taking my goggles, knee pads and gloves as this is my basic amour. I will pack my new snowboarding snood as well because this doesn’t take up any room but it is tricky. I am still contemplating my trousers but I will have to see how small this all packs down. They will definitely deserve a packing cube of there own!

3 weeks

3 weeks is a good amount of time but at the moment I feel like I have a few too many pieces so I may have to edit this down even more. It’s about everything working together. We will be living out of our suitcases travelling the country. I have looked into laundry places and I think it will probably be a good idea to visit them at least once.

Comfort is king

I generally don’t wear uncomfortable clothes nothing is ever too tight but in Japan I need to make sure my clothes and especially shoes are super comfortable. We will be walking everywhere!

Gavin mentioned to me he will be buying new trainers ones that slip on so he can get out of them easier. This is smart thinking so I won’t be taking my knee high boots. My Chelsea boots and sandals will be fine although I will have to go bare foot when I wear them. I will have to have a pack of sockettes in my bag at all times.

I am also taking my gym gear. Incase I get up early and want to go for a run plus I can use them as a layer for snowboarding!

Chosen items

There is still a lot to consider but I have started washing and ironing my clothes and hanging them up on my rail to see if I need anything or better yet if I have anything I would rather take. I bought a pair of Marks and Spenser jeans and they fit so well I am going to buy another pair. My vests are a little bid grubby so I will be buying some basics and I think that’s me done!

I never wanted to spend a fortune on my wardrobe but a few nice pieces to spark it up. I will keep you informed if I buy anything else or add to it. Looking at this as a picture I know I can cut back and we have also looked at some of our hotels that have laundry service so we can invest in that and hand wash any items by taking some liquid detergent with us.

Honeymoon Planning

Advice, Honeymoon, Personal Experience, Planning, Travel, Wedding

Here is some advice for planning your honeymoon. Maybe the best part of the wedding is the fabulous little rest at the end of it, with all the stress you will have gone through you will need it.

You can go to the most exotic parts of the world: Maldives, Seychelles, Barbados or you can go to romantic city’s like Paris, Venice, Rome the Greek isles or you can explore a place or country you have never been to before and always wanted to.

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Climbing Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh

Recently my friends decided to honeymoon around the iconic UK. They drove to the quirkiest quintessentially British hotels all with a slight Art Deco theme from Land End to John O’Groats, yes that way around.

They ate in the best restaurants and basically had a 1930’s honey moon that was Instagram perfect.

They made me reevaluate everything I wanted to go along with them.

Honey moons don’t have to be exotic, but they should reflect what you want and what is within your budget.

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Saint Brelade, Jersey

Budget

Modern weddings aren’t what they used to be.

The whole point of the wedding list was that people bought you things for your new house to start your new life together. Nowadays many people live together before they get married so they already have the guest list filled.

Me and Gav have been together 9 years, 10 when we get married. We have bought our own house and filled it up with things we love. And although I would love some new appliances I can’t ask guests to buy me a £1000 Smeg fridge but we will be asking for money/ vouchers to put towards our honeymoon.

We can afford a honeymoon by ourselves but every penny helps.

For my best friend’s wedding she wanted Honeymoon money, so using her travel company we bought her a trip to the Cai Rang floating markets of Vietnam.

She loved it and we didn’t have an issue giving money as a gift and nor should you!

A wedding gift is optional, we always give money so they can buy what they want.

There doesn’t need to be an etiquette uproar about this. The older I get the more I understand that people would prefer you to be more upfront about gifts.

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Beau Vallon Seychelles

Honeymoon Planning

So, work out how much you would like to spend on your honeymoon.

Like with your wedding you need to sit down and discuss what you want to do, ten days on the beach/ by the pool. An active honeymoon where you backpack/hike across an undiscovered part of the world. Live the American dream and drive route 66, Vegas New York.

Do you have enough holiday allowance to go for longer?

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Drinking in the Beer Library Vilnius, Lithuania

If you book your honeymoon out of season then the flights will be so much cheaper. I mean ridiculously cheaper, I have never paid more than £700 for a flight to Seychelles and this year I am going in August and have been quotes £1700. I can’t avoid the times but I did have to shop around for a slightly cheaper flight.

We always go snowboarding before or after the school holidays. The only thing you have to be aware of is the weather in that country. Monsoons and Seasons differ everywhere you go.

My family are coming from all over the world for our wedding, so I want to spend a lot of time with them. I will be taking time off work to be with them, then we will have a mini moon somewhere in Europe for a few days after our wedding,  to rest relax and take in the time spent on our day.

I am slightly in love with Croatia and Montenegro at the moment so some time by the water would be great, plus the food is supposed to be amazing.

We plan on a two-week honeymoon the next year, this will give us approximately 5 months to save for the proper honeymoon.

I have always wanted to go to Japan- I love the food, the cultures of old world versus new, the etiquette and politeness contrasted with the chaos. Gavin is a big geek and loves the Japanese cultures as well.

Plus, we can snowboard for a few days with Mount Fuji in the back ground, oh and did I mention that Japan has amazing gins? Oh yes, we will be in heaven.

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Val D’Isere, France

Honeymoons can be expensive or not- just like your wedding you can make it as unique as you are.

We plan to rough it for the first week then have a bit of luxury to relax on the second week and stop off somewhere on the way home fore a few days. We don’t mind going economic if it means we can spend our pennies and eat in gorgeous restaurant like Tapas Molecular Bar in Tokyo.
Honestly, I cant wait. I am going to eat Sushi every day!!! Drink Gin and saki. Sleep in a Shoji (paper house) snow board down the mountains, visit the Cherry blossom trees ( if they are blooming) stand in a Japanese garden of perfection in Minami-Ku, Kyoto. Eat amazing food from vending machines and visit a cat or hedgehog café.

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Carana Beach, Seychelles

Go shopping in the stationary shops Tombow’s, Mitibushi and Pentel are all from here and I plan on filling a suitcase full of washi tape!

Can you tell that I am excited? I am starting to think that two weeks just won’t be enough but that is what wedding anniversaries are for.

This really should be the stress free bit as no one should interfere or have an opinion on your honeymoon ( not that they should on you your wedding but hey ho.)
Have fun with it!

Keep within your budget! And don’t forget that you can visit the most exotic places on a shoe string budget.

Trust me I have done it!

Have fun
Dana

All the pictures I have taken on my trips abroad

Chamonix, Mont Blanc, France