Saturday, June 3, 2017

Life, Lately: Touristy Things, Creative Outlets, and Reasons

Heyaaaa! Long time no Life, Lately! Been a little worn out with work and whatnot these past six weeks that I can barely blog! I admit, I've been really sucking at time management and project juggling lately but I'd like to think I'm busy due to worthwhile reasons, ha. *wink*

Reasons, reasons, reasons.
Oh, reasons, let me begin~

Reason Number 1: I've been playing tourist whenever I go out with my beau or with friends. Japan has so sooooo much to offer when it comes to this area that even if I've been living here for four years now *yay*, I still find bits and pieces of the country interesting. It's as if it won't run out of spark, maybe not now, maybe never. Geez, even manhole covers are pretty in my opinion!!! That's how charmed I am of Japan 笑笑

1.1. Interesting cafes and restaurants are everywhere, from main roads to little nooks, ah just everywhere~


1.2. And oh, did I mention that karaoke places lend costumes for costumers for free? In my whole Japan stay I haven't been in one of those funky costumes until my beau and I impulsively went to a karaoke place one Sunday feeling fancy, touristy, and all, that we had the guts to try those out! Tried it again with friends and it sure made our karaoke experience so lit!!! Would totally do it again! And speaking of costumes, I  even went on a kimono tour in Asakusa with friends (it's also my first time to visit the famed Senso-ji, can you believe it haha)! Touristy level 10000! 

  


Reason Number 2: Work
Full-time and part-time teaching. Need I say more? Honestly, I'm getting a little bored with my proper job lately. Been working at the same old company for some years already so I might need a new environment? A new challenge, maybe? But then I guess my part-time job suffices for the "challenge" I want so I'm still sticking to the routine. I'm thankful that through my part-time job, I get to meet different people, which consequently means I get to know life views other than mine. Fortunately, most of my conversation students are older and more experienced at life than me so they give me lots of views about things, which I find really valuable and useful. They learn from me, I learn from them. And I get some moolah to fund my travels, too. So much win 笑.


Reason Number 3: Getaways
Oh my goodness. I really thought I can stick to the plan of 2017 being my creative year, unlike 2016 which was my travel year. But lo and behold, whenever and wherever a chance presents itself, I grab it. I think it's because of my seemingly desperate need to "escape" everything that stresses me out. Yeah, I get stressed, too. All the time, in fact. And my hair has been playing the very willing victim, oh my. Sorry hair. But yeah, I wish I can make proper blog posts on these getaways soon.











Osaka-Kyoto-Nara New Year Trip | EchigoYuzawa, NiigataTokamachi Snow Festival
Atami, Shizuoka | Ashikaga, TochigiNikko, Tochigi

You can read about my Echigo Yuzawa and Ashikaga trip here and here, respectively. But still, sooo many backlogs!!!☹

Reason Number 4: Creative Outlets
This is the reason of all the reasons I think I like the most. I've mentioned from past tweets(Twitter:@alyssashimode) that I kinda decided 2017 as my creative year, you know, finally acknowledging and supporting my love for lists and planning and stickers and paper products and journaling, with open arms. Now I have a daily planner and a goal notebook that I update once in a while and spruce up with washi tapes and stickers I've hoarded since my first year of living in Tokyo until nowww. Also this year, I decided to join in with the bandwagon and document my travels through the Traveler's Notebook. I've been nearing to finish one notebook of travels!!! Yay! Also I started the Eki Sutampu project of mine, the aim of which is to collect train stamps all over Japan, if available. 



I also made two more Instagram accounts besides my main account which is @alyssashimode, namely Nippon Streets @nipponstreets and 6750MILES @6750miles for more digital creative outlets because the previous ones (planner and journals) are a little too personal for me to share online (but sometimes I do for okay things hehe). Nippon Streets is where I post interesting tidbits of the streets I get to walk on every day, while 6750MILES is a collaboration between my friend Greggy and I, wherein we merge snaps of our daily lives in the respective cities we now call home, New York and Tokyo. 


   

// Please pleaseeee follow these accounts and let me know what you, think? //
Your suggestions and recommendations are greatly appreciated!❤︎

Yayyyy that was looong!!! So many ganaps in my life but I'm thankful that I get to do things I enjoy (well, along with things I don't enjoy doing that much haha)! Thanks for reading this life update! Hope you are doing well today!



Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ashikaga Travelog 2017

The cherry blossoms have already uttered their last goodbyes but fret not, cos spring in Japan is still on! If you're a flower person, this is the season to be in the country for lots of pretty blooms line up the streets and parks! And oh, did I say lots of flower festivals, too?

Two weeks ago, my friends and I decided to travel the faraway land of Tochigi haha (well, it took us more than two hours by car from Nippori Station) to visit the famed Ashikaga Flower Park, which is very well-known for its stunning wisteria tresses and tunnels~

Here's a one-day Ashikaga guide that you might find useful information at if ever you decide to pay those sweet-scented wisterias a visit (and other places, too)!

ASHIKAGA FLOWER PARK
Reached the town of Ashikaga around noon and felt a little hungry. Good thing there were stores along the road leading to the flower park. You can buy corn cobs on sticks, fresh fruits, cheesy potatoes, grilled squid and whatnot! Helped myself with a slice of pineapple and off I went to the park's entrance.

The park's entrance ticket is 1,700 JPY, a bit pricey for me but yeah, since I'm already there, might as well make the most out of the bucks I shelled out for it haha~

TIP: You can ask the park staff for a park map and brochure in English.

Wisteria para para paradise~

Japanese Wisteria or Fuji (in Japanese) are pea-like flowers that are mostly purple in colour and is a climber, if you know what I mean. I researched on it a little more and found out that these "royal purple" Japanese Wisteria was granted the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.*



Walking in Wisteria wonderland~


 This wisteria tunnel is a nice photo op area but as expected, lotsa people are lining up for their turns, too. Practicing your pose before your turn might be beneficial for you and for everyone else. *wink*

Besides the wisteria blooms, a variety of azaleas can also be seen at the park. In fact, there's an area called Azalea Hills. Watch out for it~


Thanks to my beau for always being shot-ready whenever there's an open chance a.k.a. whenever no other people are in the frame~



More flowersssss!!! Ah my flower-lover heart is happy!♥



Also, near one of the restaurants at the park is a photo service booth wherein an in-house photographer takes a photo of you or whoever you're with and you can have it printed and nicely tucked in an Ashikaga photo frame/folder for 1000 JPY~ 

The photographer that day was also kind enough to take a photo of us using our own camera yay! Thank you! ♥


With my childhood friends Aira and the two lovebirds at the back, Cris and his beau ♥






More photos with them flowerssssssssssssssss~


Tochiome and vanilla ice cream yummmmm~

Wisteria ice cream (which tasted like milk tea, in my opinion)




After spending a few hours at the park, we decided to explore the streets of Ashikaga, and thanks to Google, we found...

BANNA-JI TEMPLE
Free entrance to this sightseeing site so yeah~


Whenever I go to shrines and temples, I look at the roofs (or if you want, rooves, both are correct haha), kinda fascinating~

Omikuji/御御籤, random fortunes on a strip of paper.
For some reason, I am afraid of trying this cos I'm afraid what I'll get is just a strip of paper with bad fortune in it. However, if you tried and got a bad one, they say you can "reverse" it if you tie it up just like the ones on the photo above.  



Can you spot me?

Loved the lush greens! Such a breather!

This colourful pagoda on the side of the main temple caught my eye cos of its unusually-coloured flags (idk what they are called, though).

Our temple exploration was a bit brief; our friends got o-mikuji/, my beau and I got work omamori/Japanese lucky charms. After that we walked for a few minutes and reached the oldest Confucian university in the whole of Japan...

ASHIKAGA GAKKO

Entrance fee is 420 JPY for adults and you'll get this really cool ticket above hihi

 I'm such a sucker for unique manhole covers haha

Hey, Confucius~


An old library which houses lots of Confucian books from long long ago, all are in Japanese language, though.

And oh, notice the red momiji tree; autumn in spring~

Ashikaga Gakko has lots of "gardens"




Ahhhh komorebi/木漏れ日,which means sunlight filtering through the trees' leaves~
Probably it's one of my favorite Japanese words along with kintsukuroi/きんつくろい, shiawase/, and hanafubuki/花吹雪. Go search for these words and you'll be delighted with their meanings, like me. ♥


Another garden in the confines of Ashikaga Gakko. How lovely would it be to study here during those days? I might love school more, ha~


A little indoor zen garden

Left after an hour or so cos Ashikaga is a bit far from Tokyo even by car.
Took photos on our way to the parking lot cos the streets are just interesting-- felt like I was in a different era~









So that's it! A one-day Ashikaga trip guide for ya~
When you get tired of  the hustle and bustle in Tokyo during spring, don't forget, Ashikaga is just a few rolls away! *wink*



More details:
Ashikaga Flower Park 
607 Hasama-cho, Ashikaga City, Tochigi 329-4216
Tel.0284-91-4939
Nearest Station/s: JR Tomita Station, Tobu Ashikaga-shi Station
Hours: From 9:00am - 4:30pm(April-September)
         From 9:00am - 4:00pm(October-March)

Banna-ji Temple
2220 Iteomi-cho, Ashikaga City
Tel. 0284-41-2627
Nearest Station: JR Ashikaga Station, Tobu Ashikaga-shi Station
Hours: From 10:00am - 6:00pm (enter by 5:30pm)

Ashikaga Gakko
2338 Shohei-cho Ashikaga City
Tel.0284-41-2655
Hours: From 9:00am -18:00pm, closing time changes by season


* SOURCE*
"Wisteria floribunda `Royal Purple` Japanese Wisteria". (2017). Retrieved at https://www.gardenia.net/plant/Wisteria-Floribunda-Royal-Purple-Japanese-Wisteria.