23 Apr En Route: Japan 2016
First thing’s first: I missed writing about my travels!
For a change, I’m sharing a few things I did differently this year during my 2-week trip to Japan – instead of writing about how this trip went (let’s leave that for another post). You all know I left for the reason that I needed a break – well, that, and I actually spent half of the trip researching for a project I’m currently working on.
I’ve been to Japan six times – possibly the most I’ve been to every country (Singapore loses this round, lol). Call it coincidence, call it extra funds – I think in general, Japan has always been a safe choice. Each prefecture has its own uniqueness (I’ve been to Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Tokyo already) that gets me every time I travel.
Here’s a roundup of Japan 2016: highlights, whatnots, adventures (+ misadventures), and memorable experiences.
I survived commuting alone
I know how to commute in general but I stayed in Saitama (Kita Urawa area) so it was a challenge to commute to Tokyo and other cities. Actually took the wrong train on my first day alone. Geez! I also got lost going back to Kaila’s place. I’m so grateful for Google Maps and Hyperdia (access this when you’re commuting in Japan!) because I found my way eventually. Also, do be aware of local / rapid trains as well as subways that aren’t part of the JR line (main line). Everything gets confusing but you really have to read all the signs. It helps. (Verdict: I survived!)
Painted by the park
Sakura? check. Sketch pad? check. I went to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden on an extra windy day (I got sick after, huu) to sit down and paint. A good scenery always makes painting a fun activity. I plugged in my earphones and painted for a few hours in the midst of tourists and the beautiful view of cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Went planner + craft shopping
This happens a lot but for this trip, it was really on my agenda. I’m researching on a project that requires me to scout craft materials (win-win!) so I went planner + craft shopping at LoFT, Tokyu Hands, and 100Yen stores (Seria is my favorite!). I’ve written this post previously on where to get your arts + crafts fix in Japan (to be updated soon!). 🙂
One of the highlights was getting myself a Hobonichi planner. Talk about commitment: this is a daily planner, so I have to chronicle my days 24/7. Gets things a bit organized, if you ask me! Kaila also got one – check out some of her work here. 🙂
For me…I’ll show you a roundup on my next post. Currently experimenting every 2 weeks to see how long I’ll last and how efficient I get to write on my journal.
Hanami during Sakura season
Spent a Saturday with Kaila at Omiya park – less commercial but still beautiful. Hanami / picnic during spring is a traditional thing here in Japan; and it was great to experience it for the first time. We spent the afternoon writing on our Hobonichi planners and trading washi tapes (such responsible adults, lolz).
Met up with artists
I braved my soul to contact some of the artists I look up to who are based in Tokyo – and I don’t regret it. I met both Adrian Hogan and Mariya Suzuki in Shibuya for lunch and coffee. It was surreal! The meet-ups left me inspired and I was able to gather a few insights from them (oh, and a few post-it doodles!).
Speaking of post-its, I attended a monthly event called PauseDraw. You should check it out if you’re in Tokyo during the first week of every month. They hold drawing meet-ups and basically you get to meet with other people and…draw. It was fun. I hope this can be implemented in Manila as well.
Became a wizard for a day
I’ve visited the Harry Potter film set in London a few years back BUT when I found out that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened here in Universal Studios Japan, I had to put it on my bucket list. Got to become a wizard for a day and sported my Gryffindor scarf with some Butterbeer on hand. I love Harry Potter and I always will (if you’re a big HP fan, you’d totes get my reference).
Stayed at an airbnb
Believe it or not, I haven’t stayed in an airbnb…not until I visited Osaka with Kaila. We loved our unit! The beds were extra comfy and the host was thoughtful enough to prepare toiletries and other amenities to make sure our stay was comfortable. Yay!
Wore a kimono
The biggest challenge was not getting my matcha soft serve on the kimono I rented out. LOL. That, and try to not look like an idiot and fall while wearing these slippers that came with the kimono.
We went to the Philosopher’s Walk in our kimonos (it was amazing!) and spent the afternoon visiting temples and eating in Kyoto. Such a fun and memorable day-trip with Kaila! Every location we went to was postcard-worthy.
PS: Check out more tips on where to go in Kyoto on Kaila’s blog here.
Visited a Railway Museum
ABC x Rainbowholic x Reeseypeasy day consisted of visiting the Omiya Railway Museum (must go! I loved it) and geeking out on trains, tickets and old labels, and…the museum shop (how can you not get yourself a train pin?), as well as life-planning, journaling, and taking Purikura photos after. Omiya Railway Museum is a must-visit if you’re in Omiya. Loved reading about the history of train lines in Japan and how modernized it has become over the years.
Aside from watching Reese’s gig in Omiya (congrats!) and spending some days together in Japan (we all lived under Kaila’s roof!), we had our own version of sleepovers by way of creative breakout sessions. It was fun! It’s always nice to share insights with fellow creatives…at way past midnight. That, and impromptu jam sessions definitely made it feel like home.
Sent out 52 postcards
There was a nearby mailbox along Kita Urawa and the post office was a few blocks away from the station, so I decided to send out 52 Letters from ABC postcards to some of my readers. Wew, that was a lot! I had fun decorating each postcard and writing, though. Nothing beats analog. 🙂
PS: Letters from ABC postcards are still available at major bookstores nationwide for P350 (also on my shop!)
Konbini runs for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight snacking
Thanks to the universe for FamilyMart and 7-Eleven for satisfying our cravings. I won’t forget running to FamilyMart at 1AM (in matching pajamas HAHA) with Reese because we wanted milk for our cereal. That, and our FamilyMart dinners in Osaka (which cured my sickness – thank you miso soup!) were definitely for the books.
Sketched every day
I started sketching every day when I was in Japan. Just a no frills, no pressure kind of exercise for me to draw every day. I’m enjoying so far! My fave subjects are signages and buildings (for obvious reasons). I’ve also started writing for some of my projects – which I will reveal very soon. Every opportunity that I got to sit down and have a makeshift workspace, I always wrote and/or drew. Call it weird, but I guess it’s always been part of what I loved doing ever since.
Also: My last afternoon was spent writing…at the food court. LOL.
Had no fixed plans
This was hard – but doable. Only fixed plans were visiting Daikanyama T-site (Tsutaya Books – photo above), Sekaido (art materials shopping) and Uniqlo Ginza (because 12 floors of shopping). The other days were based off a list of places I made. I was supposed to go to museums but time did not permit – no regrets though, I got to spend more time writing and doing other creative things – like shooting with the Saitama crew for JapanLoverMe Store, and visiting the Edo Open Air Museum.
Also, stumbled upon this gem of a store in the airport – Traveler’s Factory. Don’t miss it if you’re in Narita Terminal 1! And prepare your wallet for some serious notebook & stationery shopping.
Definitely the shortest two weeks I’ve had in the longest time – I still miss the Rainbowholic HQ and all the other routinal things back in Japan. Hopefully I get to revisit sometime again soon if my schedule permits!
Hope this helps if ever you’re planning a trip to Japan. Rounding up a few more photos soon for personal documentation and journaling. 🙂 Have you been to these parts of Japan? Let me know in the comments below!