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Young German woman who made several trips to Japan, did one year Working Holiday and started living in Japan again since Oct' 2016. Love music, cats, traveling and food.

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Chuo-ku, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa
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Yoko Lost in Japan ♥
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Impressions from the Kamakura Firework Festival

Last week on Wednesday, 19th July 2017, the Kamakura Firework Festival was held at the beaches of Kamakura. Because a friend from Germany was visiting Japan right now and we wanted to meet that day we decided to go to the fireworks. We bought some drinks at the Kombini and went to the Yuigahama Beach, which I just visited two weeks before for the hostel review. For sure, we also passed by the WeBase Hostel where they were also selling snacks and gave us some free uchiwa. Arrived there we searched for a nice place and reserved it with a blue sheet. Then we looked for some food and enjoyed the time until the firework started. I really like to watch all the women in Yukata, because I am totally into it. And for sure, I was wearing one by myself, too.  The firewor started in time and lasted around 50 minutes. It was super beautiful, especially because it was over the water and the lights were reflecting on the sea. So amazing! I really loved it and I am thinking about going there again next year. I even made a video about out visit to the firework festival. I would be happy, if you take a look. It is with English subtitles!Have you visited any firework festivals so far this year?

  • Living
  • Kanagawa

Japan by the Water: A trip to Enoshima

There are many places you can visit as a one day trip from Tokyo. One of the best, at least in my opinion, is the small island of Enoshima, located in Kanagawa prefecture. You can reach it easily within around 90 minutes from Shinjuku station and spend a wonderful day there. Let’s take a closer look at the island and the area around!  Sightseeing Spots on Enoshima Island Enoshima island has many spots to explore. Mainly, this island is home of the Enoshima shrine which is separated into three smaller shrines. All these shrines are dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten, which is officially known as the goddess of “everything that flows”, meaning words, eloquence and music. However, the more popular image of her is the goddess of love. This is one reason why this shrine is especially well visited by couples. The Samuel Cocking Garden is a small botanical garden built on the former residence of the British trader Samuel Cocking. In the late 19th century, he purchased a big part of the island. To the garden belongs the Sea Candle, a phone tower constructed like a lighthouse and including an observatory. If you want to relax for a while, you can spend some time at the Enoshima Island Spa, an onsen resort with indoor and outdoor pools. Next to the all naked gender-separated bathing, they also offer a mixed area which requires bathing suits. Last but not least, there are the Iwaya Caves. These are famous for the myth existing about it. The goddess Benzaiten should have created Enoshima to imprison a sea dragon, which you can find inside the caves. On a clear day, you even can see Mount Fuji from Enoshima. But for this you really need luck. What to do around Enoshima Enoshima is not only the island itself, also the small city on the mainland belongs to it. There you can find the Enoshima Aquarium, which is a large and modern aquarium right along the beach. A little bit expensive, but especially the jelly fish area is worth a visit. The coastal area around Enoshima and Kamakura is famous for their beaches. The sandy beaches in front of Enoshima are very popular and often crowded in summer. Restaurants are lining up and you can even rent deck chairs and parasols if you want to spend some time there. You should also take a walk inside the small city. On the shopping streets some stores are lining up, you can get souvenirs and even find some nice restaurants. Want to save money? If you want to save a few yen on your travels, the train companies offer different passes for the Enoshima area. The best might be the Enoshima One Day Pass from Odakyu. This pass includes the round trip from Shinjuku, Shinyurigaoka or Machida to Enoshima on the Odakyu line, and you can use some facilities for free, too, including the escalator, the light house, the Samuel Cocking Garden and the cave. The price ranges from 1550 to 1970 yen, depending on your departure station → Website. Another opportunity from Odakyu is the Enoshima Kamakura Free Pass. This one includes only the train fees, meaning the round trip from Shinjuku, Machida or Fujisawa to Enoshima and unlimited rides on the Enoden Line. Here the prices are between 610 and 1470 yen. With the pass you can get discount at some facilities  → Website. JR is offering the Kamakura Enoshima Pass. This one gives you unlimited train rides on the JR lines in the Kamakura/Enoshima area, starting from Ofuna or Fujisawa, and also includes the Enoden line and the Shonan Monorail. The price here is 700 yen  → Website. Have you ever been to Enoshima? What did you like best?

  • Living
  • Money
  • Transportation
  • Kanagawa

Three summer festivals in Japan you can enjoy for free!

Summer in Japan is hot and humid – one reason why many travel guides does not advise to make a trip to Japan during this time. But there is a great reason to spend this time in Japan anyway: Summer Festivals! And do you know what the best bit is? You can enjoy them for free!! Here are three things you shouldn’t miss during your summer in Japan! Firework Festivals Firework Festivals, in Japanese called Hanabi Taikai (花火大会) are mainly held all over Japan from July to August. You can find at least one every weekend and some are even held in the middle of the week, still luring thousands of people at once. The firework display mostly takes around one hour or even longer with different parts and stories. You can see many different shapes, like normal light balls in every color, but also a golden rain and even smileys, stars and so on. If you haven’t seen Japanese fireworks before, you will definitely be impressed. A part of Firework Festivals sell tickets for a reserved seat area from where you can have a perfect view but you don’t really need this. If you are at the event area early enough, you can still find enough space to sit down and enjoy the beauty of the fireworks. Some of the most famous fireworks displays in Japan are the Sumida Fireworks and the Adachi Fireworks in Tokyo, the Yokohama Fireworks around the Minato Mirai area, the Kamakura Fireworksat the beach, the Osaka Tenjin Fireworks, the Uji Fireworks in Kyoto, the Miyajima Fireworks and so on. There are really so many to see and you definitely shouldn’t miss this free opportunity! Tanabata Festivals Tanabata Matsuri (七夕祭り), the Japanese Star Festival tells the story of the loving couple Orihime and Hikoboshi, which represent the stars Vega and Altair, which are normally separated by the Milky Way. Only once a year they can meet and this is a reason to celebrate. Traditionally you write down your wish on a piece of paper and hang it on a bamboo tree, hoping that this wish will become true. Many places offer this for free. But next to writing down your name, also colorful festivals are held at some places across the country in July and August. And for sure, you can join them for free. The most famous one is taking place in Sendai in August, but also in the Tokyo area you can find a big festival in the beginning of July at Hiratsuka. Smaller festivals are held in other cities, too. Bon Odori Festivals Bon Odori (盆踊り), meaning Bon Dance, is a dance festival often held around Japan during the Obon time. At night everyone comes together and dances. The dance is simple and slow and easy to learn, so you can join the crowd quickly. Normally there is a stage in the middle for taiko drums and other musicians, and everyone is dancing around in a circle. There are some big festivals like the Marunouchi Ondo Dai Bon Odori Taikai in Hibiya Park and the Oedo Matsuri Bon Odori Taikai in Tokyo, but to be sure small Bon Odori Festivals are taking place in nearly every neighborhood. Bon Odori Festivals are a good chance to get in touch with the Japanese culture and people. So why not join it for a free dance through the night? For sure, there are thousands of festivals held all across Japan that you can join for free. This is only a small selection of what you shouldn’t miss this summer. Have you ever visited one of these festivals?

  • Living
  • Money

A pleasant time in Kamakura and the WeBase Hostel

Thanks to City Cost I had the opportunity to stay one night at the WeBase hostel in Kamakura and for sure, I also used this time to do some sightseeing around the Kamakura area. I spend a great time there and want to thank everyone involved. And now, let us take a detailed look on the hostel itself!  Community Hostel WeBase Kamakura The WeBase Kamakura is a pretty modern looking hostel in the Kamakura area. It is located close to Yuigahama Beach, which makes it a perfect stop over for everyone who wants to enjoy some time at the beach in Japan’s summer. But not only this, it is also a nice starting point for your sightseeing trip around Kamaura (I will come to this later). You can reach it within a two minutes walk from the Enoden station Yuigahama, but also a 15-20 minutes’ walk from Kamakura station is possible.   When you enter the hostel, you come inside a bright corridor with big windows and a view to the courtyard where hydrangeas were blooming. There are unique drawings on the wall which makes the modern styling perfect. Also the reception looked welcoming and a really liked the wooden pattern there.   The Rooms  WeBase Kamakura is a hostel with different dorms. You can decide between mixed and female only dorms, which have 4 or 6 beds in one room. All rooms include comfortable bunk beds which you can close with a curtain. You have your own socket, usb outlet, reading light, personal slippers and for sure, also a locker. However, if you are travelling with big luggage, only your valuables might fit inside. Toilet and sink are shared with others. It is also possible to book a whole bunk bed room as private for your group of 4 to 10 people. But not only this. They even have family rooms with sofa beds for family and groups which include an en suite bath, TV, refrigerator and other things. Or you can stay a Japanese styled futon room and sleep on tatami flooring. Also couples have the opportunity to book a private room with a double bed. If you want something special, plans including a rental Kimono or a yoga class at the Another World studio are available, too. As you can see, there are many ways to stay at WeBase Kamakura. Check out all room types and night rates on their website.   The Facilities The WeBase area is pretty big and has to offer many facilities for their guests. First starting with the big lounge, which is located in the basement of the building. With a view on the courtyard you can relax, watch TV and enjoy your time with other guests. At the reception you can rent games for free. Furthermore, at the lounge you find some PCs, a small kitchen area with refrigerator, water cookers and microwaves and even a vending machine with instant food and alcoholic drinks. At the lounge I especially liked the wall decorations. One big corner is filled with a map and pictures of Kamakura, so you can get ideas for your sightseeing tours and other places you would like to visit. The other corner is free for the guests to write messages.  Also at the basement you find the shower rooms, which are clean and include soap, shampoo and conditioner free for use. A lot of mirrors, sinks and hairdryers are there, too. The shower rooms are open for 24 hours. Just at the other corner the Japanese bathtubs are located. These you can use from 7:00 am to 10:00 am and from 4:00 pm to midnight. Belonging to the building, WeBase Kamakura is connected to Brasserie Gent. This is a French inspired restaurant where you can find interesting dishes for your lunch or dinner. They even serve good wines and beer. For WeBase guests every morning a light breakfast is served for free at the restaurant ground. This includes toast, cornflakes and potato salad.   The Activities Inside the WeBase building the Another World Studio is located, which offers daily classes on yoga, meditation and more. To find out about the schedule, you can check their website. As a WeBase guest you get a discount and only need to pay 1,000 yen for a class. Other cultural experiences are also possible, as for example wagashi workshops and Japanese tea ceremonies are taking place regularly. Check out the event list on WeBase’s facebook page to be up to date with this. If you want to explore Kamakura, the staff members will give you all the information you need. They even have rental bicycles which you can get for 1,000 yen a day. If you pay a little bit more you even can use an ebike.   My Impression I stayed at the female dorm in a room with four bunk beds. It looked nice and was very clean. What I especially liked about the dorm room is that it is separated from the main corridor by an extra small hall way. So if you open the first door, you come in a smaller corridor which leads to two dorms. Inside this small area you find a sink and two toilets which only the people of these two dorm rooms are sharing. This is a great idea! In the evening I relaxed for some time in the lounge. There are several books, magazines and manga you can take a look at, however a lot is in Japanese. The hostel has free Wifi everywhere, so I also could surf in the internet while sitting on the comfortable chairs and looking outside. The bed was good as well, not too soft and not too hard, so I could sleep well. In the night it was really quite, because the hostel is situated in a calm area. The staff members all could speak English and were very friendly. When I rented my bicycle I even got some sightseeing information and they could quickly tell me how long it would take me to cycle to certain places.If I ever spend a night in Kamakura again or some of my friends will ask me for a place to stay in this area, I really can recommend WeBase. I would go there again! Places to visit around WeBase If you are staying at WeBase, the first place you should visit is the Yuigahama Beach. You can easily reach it with just walking down the street for a few minutes. The beach is really nice and you might find many surfers catching waves in the sea. I was told by a staff member about special huts opening at this area in summer, serving special food and drinks. So the beach might also be a good place to visit in the evening. The famous Great Buddha, Daibutsu (鎌倉大仏), is just around 15 minutes away by foot and if you haven’t visited there before, you should definitely go and see the around 13 meter high bronze Buddha statue. It is already situated there since 1252 and one of Kamakura’s highlights! Just close by is the Hasedera temple (長谷寺). Next to a beautiful temple garden an eleven-headed Kannon statue is there. When climbing up the hill, you also have a great view over Kamakura to the ocean. Especially when the hydrangea is blooming in June and the beginning of July, it is really beautiful there. But that is not all you can see in Kamakura. There are great hiking trails around the mountains or you can walk around – or if you want it easier take the bus and trains – to see all the historical shrines and temples. Also strolling around the shopping street at Kamakura station is nice. Through renting a bicycle at WeBase I also can say, that Kamakura is a great city to explore by bicycle, because you can go quickly to all the destinations. For example, cycling from WeBase to Hokokuji temple (報国寺) in the further Eastern part of Kamakura took me less than 30 minutes. The hostel opened on 15th September 2016, so the first anniversary is coming soon! So if you are planning a trip to Kamakura, why not stay over for a night or more at WeBase Kamakura? :D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - This post is a special report for which City-Cost gives bloggers in Japan the chance to engage in new experiences in Japan to create posts about.

  • Living
  • Kanagawa

Kakigori fun at home with Rilakkuma

Summer started in Japan and it super hot every day. It is definately the time to have some shaved ice for cooling your body down. Many shops are selling kakigori (かき氷) right now and you can find it at nearly every festival. But how about making it at home?Two weeks ago we bought a kakigori machine. Because we are big fans of Rilakkuma and our apartment is already full with it, we also decided that our kakigori machine should have a Rilakkuma design. We got ours on Amazon (link here). It is really cute and electronical. So you just need to press the button on top and the ice will automatically be shaven. With the machine, you also get four boxes to make the ice. So far, I bought three different tastes of sirup: strawberry, melon and ramune. All are super delicious and it is a lot of fun to make kakigori this way at home. Let's fight against the hot Japanese summer!

  • Living
  • Food

Having a free view over Tokyo

Making holidays in Tokyo can be a very expensive business. But not everything around the Japan’s capital has to cost you a lot of money. One highlight of every city is seeing the area from above. Everyone knows Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree. You can have an amazing view from above, but these towers costs a lot of money. But don’t worry about your expenses; it is also possible to see Tokyo from above for free!  Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building One free possibility – and probably the most known - is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁, Tōkyō Tochō). It is located in Shinjuku and, as the name says, it's normal use is as the office building of Tokyo’s government. This is also the reason why visitors have to go through a bag check if they want to get inside.   The building is 243 meters high and has two towers, each one with an observation deck located at a height of 202 meters. Construction was completed in 1991. On a clear day you have the chance to see Mount Fuji, Tokyo Tower and Skytree. Also, the night view is really amazing. For sure, you also can buy souvenirs there or have a break at the café. A tourist information center is located on the ground level, too. The observatories open at 9:30 in the morning. The Southern Tower closes earlier at 17:30, while the Northern one stays open until 23:00. Take care of closing days around New Year’s Holidays. The closest station is Tocho-mae on the Oedo Subway Line, however, you also can walk there in around ten minutes from JR Shinjuku station. Official Website :  Bunkyo Civic Center Another building you can visit for free is the Bunkyo Civic Center (文京シビックセンター). As in Shinjuku, this is a government building, this time for the Bunkyo ward. It was completed in 1994. The observatory is located on the 25th floor, 105 meters above the ground. You have a 330 degree panorama view from there, including Tokyo Skytree and some other skyscrapers around the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro areas. If you are lucky you even can view Mount Fuji from there.   The observatory is opened from 9:00 to 20:30, especially for the evening view the observatory has special windows avoiding indoor lighting reflections. It is closed on the 3rd Sunday in May and from December 29th to January 3rd for New Year’s Holidays. The Bunkyo Civic Center is located next to Tokyo Dome, so you even can enjoy your time at Tokyo Dome City when you are in this area. These are only two possibilities to see Tokyo from above for free. But there are even more. Just for example you can take a look to following places: Shinjuku NS Building in Shinjuku Hokutopia in Shinjuku Shibuya Hikarie Caretta Shiodome in Minato Ebisu Garden Place Tower in Ebisu Tower Hall Funabori in Edogawa Carrot Tower in Setagaya Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center … and so on. Also, if you are living in Japan and friends are visiting you from abroad, these places might be a good possibility to save money and do some great things together without spending too much. For example, I already visited Skytree twice now, and I personally would rather let my visitors go up there alone and save the 3,000 yen for a nice dinner together. If we want to see Tokyo from above together, we can choose a free observatory for this (^_~)v  Have you ever visited one of these free observatories in Tokyo? Or do you have some more recommendations?  

  • Living
  • Money
  • Tokyo

Japan Food Adventure: Crunky Biscuit

I’m a big fan of the Crunky Chrunch Chocolate bar from Lotte. I love the chocolate itself and especially the malt puff inside. Luckily, they are releasing more and more chocolate of this style. Lately I found some chocolate cookies I couldn’t resist buying.  Lotte Crunky Biscuit mainly is a biscuit sandwich consisting of two cookies and and crunky chocolate in the middle. The cookies are very crunchy and delicious and they build a wonderful combination with the chocolate. I am really in love them and often need to eat a second one right after I had one. The box comes with eight individually wrapped cookies, so it is very useful for to go and a nice snack if you are a little hungry. I will definitely buy it again, when I see it in the supermarket.

  • Food

Finding the Right in Japan’s Drug Store Jungle

Especially as a woman you know you are using a lot of beauty products and other such things every day. In your home country you grow up with them and are used to your favorite shampoo, toothpaste and foundation. Moving to Japan now means you need to find all these things from new. Something which makes you struggle especially when you don’t speak much Japanese. Drug stores in Japan have such a big selection which makes it hard to choose and find the right items for you.  Here I will tell you some of my experiences with this problem… Toothpaste To tell the truth, I don’t have such good teeth. So I should take care of my teeth a bit more and I found a fitting toothpaste for me in my home country Germany. However, now I’m living in Japan and need a new one. My first try became a small failure, because I read the Katakana wrong. I really like mint taste and decided on one which had “soft mint” (ソフトミント) written on it. At least, I thought this. At home I tried it – and was surprised. I read again what was written on the tooth paste and found out it is “salty mint” (ソルティミント) … I got used to the salt taste after a while, but I would never buy it again. Lately I learned that the German Sensodyne is called シュミテクト in Japan. Good to know!  Shampoo and Conditioner Already in Germany it took me a long time to find the right shampoo for my hair. They quickly get fatty and I needed to wash them at least every two days in Germany. In Japan, I had to go on the search for a new one. By now, I still haven’t found the best for my hair… The variety is so big and since I’m not good at reading what is inside, it is hard to choose. So, if you can recommend something to me – please!   I also have a funny story about conditioner, which already lies some years back, when I was living in Japan for the first time. At this time, I had never heard of conditioner. In my family we called the shower gel and soap “shampoo”, too. So, I thought conditioner would be the regular hair shampoo and bought this. I found out the mistake under the shower and researched it on the Internet. I learned something new and now I am using both of them. Toilet Paper Coming to toilet paper, German people are spoiled. We can buy toilet paper with up to four or six layers which is super soft and has a wonderful smell. Coming to Japan, you are lucky if you can find toilet paper with two layers… It also took some time for me to find the right one for our home – with some shopping failures, too – but now we are ok with the one we have. Only take care of the words single (シングル) and double (ダブル) when you buy toilet paper in Japan!  Women’s Sanitary Products A special topic for every woman. In Japan napkins are still the normal things to use and there is also a big variety here. Especially take care of the size which is written on the pack. Some are really big! I saw some videos on YouTube making fun of these sizes, too. However, some of the napkins are really good and I found the one product for me. However, talking about Japanese tampons, I always heard some horror stories. They might be really bad here and so I never tried. I still get these from Germany.   The list goes on with many things. Just thinking of hairspay, sun screen, medicine and make up… Sometimes you are even lucky and find products and brands you know from your home country, here in Japan. For me, for example, it is Nivea, which I can find in Japan often, but it is really expensive. All in all, it is normal to spend a lot of money in the beginning with trying out products before you can finally find the RIGHT inside the drug store jungle.

  • Living

Japan Food Adventure: Melonpan Ice

I already heard about Melonpan Ice in the internet a while ago, but when I went to work last week I suddenly walked by one of the recommended shops. It is called Sekai de Nibanme ni Oishii Yakitate Melonpan Ice (世界で2番めにおいしい焼きたてメロンパンアイス), meaning The second best Melonpan Ice in the World. The name is honoring respect to the backer the shop owner learned backing melonpan from.  So, as the name says, the shop is offering melonpan filled with icecream. A great combination in my opinion. At the shop in Akishima, which I visited, they had eight different icecream sorts, some even including fruits. They cost around 390 yen to 450 yen. You also can buy normal melonpan for 190 yen, or get melonpan sets in a souvenir box. There are shops in Kanto region in Shibuya, Akishima and Yokohama, but you also can find it at some places around Japan. Take a look on the official website with all addresses, opening times and pictures. The melonpan ice I ate was crunchy and warm. The ice is melting quickly, so you shouldn’t spend too much time with it. I had a choco-vanilla ice and it was really delicious. I want to try out more sorts in the future. I’m thinking to introduce some food I found in Japan here from time to time. I hope you will like it!

  • Food
  • Tokyo

Two amazing shrines on the coast of Miyazaki

Miyazaki Prefecture is located at the south eastern coast of Kyushu. Other than Kanto and Kansai region, not so many foreign tourists are travelling there. That is why Miyazaki still has some amazing spots you can enjoy without having too many people around you. Next to several beaches and resorts, especially the following two shrines along the Nichinan Coast of Miyazaki are worth a visit.    UDO SHRINE Udo Shrine, in Japanese called Udo Jingu (鵜戸神宮), is a shrine set inside a cave surrounded by the cliffs. It is quite a unique location for a shrine and it's what makes this one so amazing. Inside the cave you find the shrine building, but you also can buy the typical shrine goods, such as wishing plaques and fortune papers. It is interesting to explore inside the cave, furthermore the lights coming in from outside can make a certain atmosphere. It is said that if you drink the water which drips down the rocks, it is good for pregnancy, childbirth, nursing and women who are hoping to have a child. However, Udo Shrine is also known as a shrine to the god of marriage.   There is also a lot to explore around the shrine area outside of the cave. First you need to walk a while around the coast line to reach the cave anyway and can get some amazing views with the surrounding cliff. In front of the cave you are able to try undama throwing. Undama are small balls which people try to throw. If they land in the target ring they will bring you luck. The target is marked by a rope on a stone between the cliffs. There is only one rule you need to take care about: women should throw with their right hand and men should use their left hand for it. Good luck! AOSHIMA ISLAND Aoshima Island (青島) is a small island with a circumference of around 1.5 kilometers, located at the northern part of the Nichinan coast. The island is connected to the mainland by a stone bridge and covered by a tropical forest. In the middle you can find Aoshima shrine. A little bit deeper inside the jungle you even can find a smaller shrine. But already the red torii between the coast and the green forest is worth the view.  Next to the green nature, most interesting here are the stones around Aoshima Island. Known as Oni no Sentakuita (Devil’s Washboard) they are a natural phenomenon. Even though they look like they were made by humans, they are actually formed by the water and the wind. Take a stroll around and enjoy your time on this small, peaceful island.   HOW TO GET THERE A train runs along the coast line; however it is easier to get to Udo Shrine by bus from Miyazaki city. The trip takes around 90 minutes by local bus and costs you 1,480 yen one way. This bus line also stops at Aoshima, so you can perfectly combine both.  There is the Visit Miyazaki Bus Pass for foreign tourists, which costs just 1,000 yen and allows you to use the local buses for one full day. You can save a lot of money if you use this. The pass is only for foreign tourist and excludes residents of Miyazaki prefecture. If you just want to visit Aoshima from Miyazaki city, you can easily use the train, JR Nichinan Line. The train ride takes around 30 minutes and costs 370 yen one way.

  • Living
  • Transportation
  • Miyazaki
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  • Kumazawa Book Store Sagamihara

    Spending my time in a book store in Japan

    Books in Japan is still a special topic form me. Since my Japanese level is still something around upper N4, there is not much to find there. At least I thought so until I had some free time when waiting for the bus or for a friend and came up to strolling around some book stores.  Actually, I don’t really care about what book store it is. Mainly I go into the ones inside department stores, just like Kinokuniya and Maruzen. At my home station we have Kumazawa book store. They are big, you can find a lot and they have a structure. Only problem is, that I often can’t read the structure because everything is written in Kanji… But after some time walking around, I often find what I am searching for. I have four sections I enjoy hanging around. 1st: Japanese Studying Books For sure I want to go on studying Japanese, however, I am kind of lazy and should do more. I always start looking around the Japanese language studying section if there are some good books which might be useful – now or maybe in the future. There are normally a lot of shelves filled with the studying books, not only for Japanese, but also for English, Korean and more. I often even take a look to books teaching my mother language German. Most of the time I end up with taking photos of the covers of the books I am interested in and then set them on my “to buy later” list. But there are actually already some nice books I could find this way only by looking around some pages inside the book store and thinking this might be the right for me. 2nd: Travel books I really enjoy traveling – and the Japanese people, too. So there are always so many travel guide books you can choose from. Most are very colorful and I enjoy looking around the photos inside. Taking a look through travel books while you having some spare time is also nice to get some ideas for the next trip. However, most travel books are filled with food and you often end up hungry. 3rd: Animal books I am a total cat lover and so I really love to look at cat photos. And since Japan is a cat loving country, too, there are plenty of books filled with cats. Some only include a big amount of pictures with short texts, some others are telling real stories. There are even regular magazines about cats. This is really a place in every book store I can spend hours at. But not only cats, I also like to watch all the other cute animal photos. 4th: Children’s Books Let’s go to a section I often use for practicing reading. Children’s books are good for it, because they only use simple Kanji I already can use. Sometimes I don’t understand the meaning of the things written down because I don’t know the vocab, but it is a nice feeling that you at least can read inside a book. They also have an area with books about movies and animes, where all Kanji have their reading written in Hiragana, too, what is also a nice option for Japanese learners. I sometimes just look around these novels and try to read a view sentences. A book store is a nice place to spend some time, especially if you can read at least a bit Japanese. Some stores in bigger cities even have an English books section, what is also very useful. So if you have time left and don’t know what to do: take a look inside the Japanese world of books.

  • Okonomiyaki Dohtonbori

    Okonomiyaki Dohtonbori in Nagatsuta

    At our shopping center in Hashimoto we have a Dohtonbori restaurant at the food floor which I already visited for several times, however, I lately visited the restaurant in Nagatsuta and was surprised how different it was, at least from the design. At the Nagatsuta restaurant you have Japanese style seating what I really love because it gives the whole thing a great atmosphere. The menu is very big. Because it is an Okonomiyaki restaurant, you can order different versions of Okonomiyaki and even can select some special toppings. They also have Monjayaki, Yakisoba, Gyoza and other dishes. You even can make pancakes! We chose the 2 hours all you can eat set including soft drinks, which costs around 2000 yen for each person. You get a list of dishes you can choose, so we ordered not only Okonomiyaki but also Gyoza, Yakiniku and some vegetables. I really enjoy grilling everything by yourself and it was so delicious! Can’t wait to go to one of the Dohtonbori restaurants again ♥ Website:

  • BAQET Bakery Restaurant

    BAQET Bakery Restaurant

    We visted BAQET at the mewe department in Hashimoto, where it is located at the restaurant floor. BAQET is a chain restaurant combining bakery and restaurant with several shops around Japan. At the menu you can find meat dishes, fish dishes and oven dishes, but also salads, soups and desserts. However, the main highlight is the bread (焼きパン) you can eat there. For lunch time we had a set menu with a main dish, a salad and three pieces of bread (instead of bread you also can choose rice). Furthermore, you also can take the All-You-Can-Eat for bread and eat as many pieces as you want. They have a huge variety displayed in buffet-style and all are very delicious. Also the main dishes (I had cheese macaroni, my husband hamburger steak) were pretty nice. The only disappointing point was the dessert. I decided for a crème brûlée with fruits and ice. First it took very long to serve it. The taste was good, but it was so flat I couldn’t believe. I would expect more of a crème brûlée especially when it’s nearly 500 yen… So, I can recommend the bread at BAQET, but wouldn’t order a dessert there again. Probably prefer the All-You-Can-Eat bread and eat some sweet stuff there.

  • Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

    Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

    The Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is still very unknown to foreign tourists and so it is a spot which is not too crowded. At the seven hectares area you can find a lot of historical houses, mostly coming from Edo period, Meiji period and the Tokyo after the Second World War. The museum has different zones which all has its highlights. Especially the East Zone with the Shitamachi-naka street is very interesting having a lot of unique buildings presenting old kind of shops. Also the public bath is impressive. Many houses have furniture inside or you at least can enjoy the architecture inside. Note you should wear shoes you can easily take off and get in again, because you have to take them off to enter the houses. Information papers are available in Japanese and English at all houses and staff will help you, too. I think the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is really worth a visit, especially while spring time, because at Koganei Park you can find a lot of plum and cherry trees. The museum is located inside the Koganei Park and is easy reachable with a five minutes bus ride from Musashi-Koganei station. It is opened from 9:30 to 17:30 (April – September) or from 9:30 to 16:30 (October – March), however Monday is closing day. The entry fee is ¥ 400 for adults. More information on the website:

  • Strawberry Fujita 16

    Strawberry Picking in Kofu

    If you take a look to Japanese supermarkets fruits are mainly very expensive. And because Japanese apartments are too small for growing your own vegetables and fruits, fruit picking became kind of popular.I visited Fujita 16 in Kofu city in the begining of March. At this farm they offer an all you can eat menu (食べ放題) for 30 minutes. Differing to the seasons it costs between ¥ 2000 and ¥ 1000 for an adult person, cheaper for children. You can find information about it on their website.The strawberries were very delicious - they had a great flavour and were super sweet. There were not many people, so we could use one row for our group of four people. We even got some condensed milk to dip in the strawberries. A really great experience!Note, that you are not allowed to take the strawberries home - you only should pick as many strawberries as you can eat right away.  Website:

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