Friday, July 21, 2017

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone In Concert!

It's no secret that I am a huge Harry Potter fan, having read all the books for at least 20 times?
Each time before a new book is released, I'd always read the series all over again, from the first book.

I've re-watched the entire volume of movies too. Heheheh.

So, I was super excited when I saw that there was gonna be a Harry Potter in Concert playing in Singapore!

The concept is a live orchestra, playing in accompaniment with the movie.
They'll replace the studio soundtrack - which already sounds magical~

When I asked Taupok if he'd go with me, he was flabbergasted..
Because he actually wanted to sneaky surprise me with the tickets LOLOL. 

Sorry pok I'm too fast ;p

And I think I got influenced by Japan's culture?

I initially thought, hey, I can probably wear the merchandise I got from USJ!

Taupok also gamely agreed to cosplay with me heheheheh best bf ever.

Can't believe I wore this out actually, because the knit vest is no joke :x

Oh yes I'm a self-professed Ravenclaw student hahahah 
Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure~

Pok picked Slytherin cause he says it's his zodiac hahahahaha.
Actually cause he's nua like a snake la LOL.

Jx was really nice to lend Pok her wand. :D

Bwahaha with the robe!
Had such a hard time sourcing for a good quality one, but it was worth it!
Didn't buy the one at USJ because it's freaking 170 bucks x.X


Received so many compliments for our outfits hehehe.

I think its a fun way of expressing my love and enthusiasm for the fandom.
Going to a concert doesn't necessarily means you have to dress to the nines.
But of course, I already checked if there were any dress code specified la.

Orchestra getting ready!

The conductor was so cute!
He encouraged the audience to cheer, laugh, jeer at our fav scenes, and simply enjoy the concert freely.
Totally different from a movie, where you're usually expected to behave and not disturb others.

During intermission heheheh.

Other than activating tricks at Wizarding Worlds, the wands are pretty functional too :p

Finished the concert feeling super elated. I miss USJ la!
Can't wait to re-read the entire series again HAHAH.

One last selfie with my favorite pok. Thank you for being so steady!  

And this marks our first ever classical concert together hahah.
We're just not that artsy fartsy. ;p

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Japan Travelogue: #buddingyeastinJP Day Four - #buddinginKyoto

On our way to Kyoto!
We're taking the Rapid/Special Rapid Service via JR Kyoto Line, which is covered by the JR Pass.
Take the train from Platform 7 to 11 at Osaka Station 2nd Floor.

Look at the gorgeous sky~
This was around 8 am?


28 minutes' journey and we're here!
The train station makes it seem like such a ulu and old place hahah.

Don't be fooled, cause Kyoto Station is actually v modern looking!

Our hotel for 1 night is only across Kyoto Station! 
2 junctions away so it's super convenient.

Ehem. The name of the hotel is called Sakura Terrace The Gallery.
Its concept is integrating art and living spaces - they have some rooms for art displays, etc.

But helloooooooo their signage is totally a bad design can!
The word 'Sakura Terrace' couldn't be seen clearly with the background at all. 
Sent this to jh for evaluation after a good laugh, LOL.

Otherwise, I actually love the clean and new feel of the hotel.
A bit like chalet ah, but vacation vibes strong is the point i guess?
Out of all the rooms we've had, it is also the smallest hahah.

Hello there #buddingyeast !

Took Bus 202 (Eastbound) to Kiyomizudera Temple!

Love this photo cause our hair looks super chio bwahahah.

Drop off at Gojozaka Bus Stop. 
Buses in Japan have an LED display/announcement system to tell you which stop is approaching.

Beginning our long walk up to Kiyomizudera!
Actually it's around 10 min but the slope made it feel longer hahaha.

Reminiscing about the days when i really used to climb slope up school every fricking day LOL

Kiyomizudera seems to be a popular pick for the kimono experience.
Seriously? Climb all those stairs and slopes in that?

Kill me. Just kill me.

Whooo we're reaching!

Kiyomizu-dera Temple 清水寺 is a UNESCO world heritage site, with more than 1200 years of history.
It is famed for its main hall and stage, which were built entirely without the use of nails - sugoi~

The scenery from the stage is also gorgeous especially in the spring and fall seasons, 
with cherry and maple trees blooming and transforming the sea of green.

Entering through the Nio-mon 任王門 , the main gate of Kiyomizudera Temple.

Such intricacy.

Kiyomizudera Temple 清水寺
294 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higayashima-cho, 
Kyoto 605-0862

Opening hours: 
6 am to 6 pm

Entrance fee: 400 yen

I'm not a particularly religious person, 
but this was one of the temples where I felt seriously at ease and relaxed.
The sky was extraordinarily blue and clear as well.


Walkway towards Zuigu-do Hall 随求堂 - i love the unique lantern/lights here!

This hall enshrines some Shinto and Buddhist deities. 
A sacred area named Tainai-meguri 胎内めぐり: Womb of Daizuigu Bosatsu
who is a female Bodhisattva with ability to grant wishes, is also located here.

You can visit the Tainai-meguri - which is described as a walk in the dark, with a roped handrail to lead the way.
So mysterious~

Uh due to my bff not eating carrots and having night blindness (so walking in the dark is like normal to her),
we skipped this.
Would love to try it out someday!

The view from the Hondo (Main Hall) 本堂 , which houses the deity of mercy and compassion Kannon
I think it is probably the Japanese embodiment of Guan Yin - sounds similar, no?

WEHHHH it's all still green! 
Okay la it was more of a gamble to come here during the last week of October, 
because the Koyo (Autumn Foilage) season was delayed compared to the previous years.

Viewpoint of the stage and main hall from Okuno-in Hall - which was under renovation so no pictures.
Also known as the view that is most commonly found on Google hahah. 
Eh this one is I ownself capture one hor.

Proceed down the slopes to enjoy more of the light breeze and cool weather.
You can skip it to go straight down to the Otowa no taki (Otowa Waterfall), but why not enjoy nature while you're here?

This gate marks the entrance to the Koyasu Pagoda, which is said to bless pregnant women with a smooth and easy childbirth.

Wonder how many pregnant ladies actually come all the way to pray, and do they give birth here immediately after? :B
Legit question ma. Climb all those stairs and slopes, then go into labour from all the strenuous walking. 
Is that why they say easy birth? #kiampa 

If you're hungry after all that walking, there's a restaurant at the foot of the slopes.

The name Kiyomizu means clear water, and Otowa no taki (Otowa Waterfall) 音羽の淹 is its origin.
The clear water is divided into three streams, one of each representing a different blessing: longevity, success, and love life.
You can drink from only two streams - drinking from all is considered greedy and impolite.

These two Singaporeans dont like to queue and share saliva, so no thanks :x

Looking up to the Hondo's stage.
Really amazing that they managed such a feat of building with no nails.. How?!

Time to rejoin the hustle and bustle !
The left lane of the slope down Kiyomizudera leads to the Higashiyama District
You can shop for loads of souvenirs here - with traditional old school charm.

Japanese embroidery items, patterned fans and handmade gifts abound.
Needless to say, most of the souvenirs I got was from Kyoto because it's distinctly Japan.

In Kyoto, you'll definitely be able to find your favorite characters wearing the traditional costumes!
I love how cute some of the items were omg.

Found the cream puff shop that xx recommended!
He was raving about the place but didn't have any specific address or even a clear photo of the shop, kns.

Yatsuhashi Chou 清水坂八ツ桥屋泡芙店
262-2 Kiyomizu 1-chome, Higashiyama-ku, 
Kyoto 605-0862

Opening hours:
10 am to 6 pm

Other than cream puffs, they sell ice cream, cookies and drinks too.
Perfect pit stop hehehe.  

These are the cookies that xx was so in love with. 
It really is super awesome - the cookies melt in your mouth, but in a fine powdery sort of way like icing sugar.

Bimb finds it too sweet but I loved it hehehe. 
There are four flavors - Matcha, Soybean, Chocolate and Earl Grey 
Earl Grey is the best!

Managed to grab the last two bottles of Earl Grey and snapped the empty rack for xx to see HAHAHAH.
He really thought we came back empty-handed LOLOL.

We picked these to eat at the shop!
Custard/Matcha Cream Puff - 300 yen each, and Matcha - 350 yen

Look at that fluffy matcha custard ooooooozing out!

Look at the types of soft serve flavors available! #onlyinjapan

Walked on down the slope till we saw this sign.
If you're headed to Yasaka/Gion Shrine, this is the path to turn into!

Ooooooooo spotted this couple in traditional costume!
Not sure if they're on a wedding photo shoot? Cause there was a photog and MUA following them around.

Got a photo of the elaborately dressed up lady.. woah cant imagine how heavy her head feels.

Then we decided we wanted our own #ootds here too hahahah!


It's a lot less crowded and touristy, so take your time to enjoy.
I love long walks, and being here brings me and my imagination back through time and space.

This is what recharging is like - taking a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and remembering to breathe.

Forgot to take a picture of the place, but I bought home a box of Matcha Warabimochi - 350 yen 
Warabimochi looks like a transparent jelly, but has a springy mochi texture and kinda melts in your mouth.
It is traditionally flavored with kinako soybean flour, which I tried in Kyoto.. and omg it was magical.  
Naturally I had to let my sisters try it!

It is rarely found outside Japan because the warabi bracken starch is expensive and hard to find overseas.T.T
There are substitutes la, but i doubt it will taste the same so i'm reluctant to try leh.

Very sure this obasan isn't playing dress up :B

We also passed by the famous To-ji Temple - its pagoda is 5 storeys and is the tallest wooden building in Kyoto.
In contrast with the brightly colored vermilion pagoda back in Kiyomizudera,
Toji is darker and in earthy tones, which perfectly complements its role as a temple protecting the nation.

You got see bodyguard wear until bright bright one meh.

As we walked down towards Yasaka Shrine, taking in the sights and sounds, 
we went past this house.. and took a deep breath at the same time.


Neither of us realised that we haven't had a proper meal yet till we inhaled that aroma of delicious udon LOL!
It is quite funny how we did the same shit at the same time #buddingyeast #bff4lyfe hahahah

This is actually a ryokan/restaurant, called Yoshitake (:

Yoshitake 美竹
499 Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama-ku 
Kyoto 605-0825

Opening hours:
11.30 am to 3 pm

We waited for approximately 15 min to get a table, and another 10 min to be served.
Didn't mind at all, because the interior was so cosy, quiet and comfortable.

In case you're wondering, they use table seatings instead of tatami seats.

I got the Kitsune Udon - 880 yen, while Bimb selected Pork and Leek - 980 yen.
What is up with the size of the leeks here sia! So huge.
Threw some of mine to Bimb hahahah so rare because usually she's the one dumping the deco on me.

We were lucky and managed to get a window seat overlooking the gardens!
Damn therapeutic and relaxing please.

Verdict? While the dish looked plain and unassuming, it was by far the most delicious bowl of udon I have ever had.
I'm not really a fan of udon because it tends to be too starchy, but these were so bouncy and chewy, I loved it.
Of course, we had fun trying to slurp the udon up without breaking it hahahah.

And of course, I love the aburaage taupok HAHAHAHA. 

Here we are, at Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社 !
Also known as Gion Shrine, it was founded over 1350 years ago.
It is the main Shinto Shrine in Kyoto, and famous for Gion Matsuri, the largest festival in Japan.

Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社  
625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, 
Kyōto 605-0073

Opening hours: 
Always open

Entrance fee: Free

Here's the dance hall, adorned by lanterns which are lit in the evenings.
I'd love to come back to see it!

The shrine's main hall combines the inner sanctuary and offering hall.
I love the color combi of this - the bright red, white and yellow contrasting with the dark brown roofs.

Somehow the bell pull is reminding me of fish and co HAHAH.

Other than the main halls, I noticed that there are many little shrines scattered around.
They look so adorable, with the small torii gate and purification well!
Must be for different deities - the locals come here to pray for love, success, childbirth etc.

Encountered a bunch of students dressed up in their Halloween costumes, so cute!
Wonder if it was a protest or?

Caught a bus back to Kyoto Station, and from there we were supposed to head to Kyoto Imperial Palace.
Unfortunately, the journey took longer than we expected due to heavy traffic.
By the time we reached Kyoto station, we'd missed the last admission timing liao.

Decided to go back to the hotel and nua a bit before heading out again!

Want to make a guess where we're headed?

68 Yabunouchi-cho, Fukakusa Fushimi-ku, Kyoto

Nearest JR station:
JR Inari on JR Nara Line
5 min walk

Nearest Subway Station:
Fushimi Inari on Keihan Line
10 min walk

Opening hours: 
Always open

Entrance fee: Free

No way would we miss out on Fushimi Inari Shrine!
Famous for the thousands of iconic vermilion torii gates (senbon torii),
the shrine is also one of the oldest in Japan, founded in 711.

Each torii gate has the name of the sponsor and date of donation inscribed on it,
and prices start at 400k yen for a small gate.

Considering the number of gates in this place..

All I can say is, Japanese do place a lot of faith in donations and Shinto shrines.

Hey look, mini torii gates! 800 yen only leh!
It's soooooo cute, I'd actually rather buy liao and bring home LOL.

Having been to so many temples, this wooden wish tablet is nothing new liao..
But what are those colorful bunches of strings?

TAADAAA omg these are origami cranes!
Rmb in primary school, we used to fold them and said that folding a thousand cranes would grant wishes?
We used to fold it and dump it into plastic bottles - well. no wonder nothing came true HAHA.
Because this is so gorgeous compared to what we did lor pls!

Eh actually if all yellow ah it'll look like a bunch of bananas leh hahahaha.

Vermilion lattice work on the inside of the roofs.

Ever wondered why most temples/shrines have this color?
The Japanese word for “vermilion”, ake, can be written in various different characters, each with a different meaning. In addition to its meaning as a shade of red, the word can also refer to red in general, dawn and light. These meanings convey a sense of brightness and hope, and the color is associated with a strong belief in the soul of Inari Okami and blessings for life, the earth and production.
Ribbons swaying gently in the breeze.

We were there in the evening and it was sooooo crowded - nearly impossible to take a photo without any humans inside.

Spot the older stone torii gate in the midst of all the brightly colored ones. Wonder why?

One of the many shrines dedicated to Inari - the Shinto god of harvest and abundance.

It makes me think of the Chinese phrase 丰衣足食 , which means well clothed and well fed.
No matter your status, a person should be grateful for the basic things like food, clothing, and a roof over your head.
So I guess I sort of understand why people would choose to spend so much on worshiping Inari?

EH HEHEHE #ootd number two!

Using our big heads to block out the people behind us. :D
Bimb's head is still biggest bwahahaha.

Kitsune wish tablets ! 
Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox, and it is believed that they are the messengers of Inari.

The Kitsune Udon I had just now is named after it because aburaage tofu is one of their favorite foods.
I used to think the japanese taupok was called kitsune HAHAHA. #foxtofu

We didn't intend to complete the 2 hour hike up Inariyama, but I don't mind doing so the next time!
T.T I have a lot of places I want to visit.

Managed to catch a view of the sunset ! So gorgeous.
Bimb: "What's with you and sunrise/sunset ah!"

Heheheh I don't really know. It just mesmerizes me leh.

Hungry so we bought stuff to nom!

NIKUMAKI - 500 yen omg I love you sooooooooooooooooooooo.
In fact, even now I wonder why I agreed to share this with Bimb hahahahaha.
Thin, flavorful slices of pork belly is wrapped around fluffy japanese rice.. omg I love it.

Yeah I said it twice I know bahahah.

Also bought Takoyaki - 500 yen
Piping hot and fluffy and chewy with the tako. Shiok.

You know, we both realised at the end that we didn't get to try Gindaco?!!
WTF. That's almost blasphemy.

That is why we must go back HAHAHAH.

Almost impossible to find such a gorgeously detailed doll outside of Japan liao.
The sleeves look like they're really in motion.. 

Headed back to Kyoto Station yet again!
Expected ourselves to do a bit of shopping,
but we were sorely disappointed because the retail stores were just.. meh.

We even contemplated taking a train back to Osaka just to finish Shinsaibashi-suji HAHAH.

Oh, one thing special about Kyoto Station is the layout.
For some strange reason, the escalators are located outside of the building.
So we had to brave the cold winds to go up to the 10th floor for dinner!

Coming down is the shit because I kept thinking what if I slip and roll down the entire thing wtf. #morbid.

Kyoto Ramen Koji ますたに

Kyoto Ramen Koji ますたに
Kyoto Station 10F 

Opening hours:
11 am to 10 pm

The entire 10th floor is a Ramen street, showcasing different types of ramen from the 9 different regions in Japan.
It can get quite crowded here, with queues at every shop during meal times.

Of course we're gonna try the Kyoto version!
Their representative is Kyoto Masutani, which has their main shop near Ginkaku-ji.

Kyoto's ramen style is thin, straight noodles with a pork and soy sauce based broth.
Topped with loads of spring onions and bamboo shoots + the must have ajitsuke tamago.

Chashu Ramen - 800 yen + ajitsuke tamago 100 yen.
Look at how rich and thick this looks!
Initially I thought the floating bits are garlic bits but omg they are pork fats.
Damn good to slurp with the soup cause it is slightly chewy?
SINFUL but you know what. sometimes it's worth it #fatdieme

Okay no la we didn't finish the soup entirely okay. 
There's only how far my saltiness limit goes hahah.

Verdict? Definitely worth trying.
I really love my noodles thin, and somehow this still doesn't turn soggy/breaks easily after some time.
The 3 slices of chashu were also thinly sliced and if you get the right cut, it almost melts in your mouth.

Walao I craving for ramen liao.

Dessert - Nakamura Tokichi !
They actually have a main store which offers a tea ceremony experience classes, 
but damn suay they temporarily stopped during the time we were there ._.

Nakamura Tokichi 
Kyoto Isetan 3F
 Near west ticket gate of JR Kyoto station

Opening hours: 
11 am to 10 pm

Matcha and Hojicha Soft Serve - 240 yen!
This is served with bouncy and chewy shiratama and omg, the smoothest azuki bean paste (anko) I have EVER eaten.
Btw, chunky anko is Tsubuan, while smooth ones are called Koshian.

Seriously, I hate red bean paste because I don't like the texture.
It is usually like, 60% bumpy and sometimes even feels sandy.
Hahahah okay maybe it's my tongue which is oversensitive.
But this..

This is magic. So smooth and silky like lotus paste I kennot.

And I haven't even talked about the soft serve yet!!

Each flavor is very distinct; totally packed with the richness of matcha or hojicha.
I am pretty damn sure that they definitely use real tea leaves to get the burst of flavors lor.
Because you can just tell. And its Japan.

Mixing up the two flavors? A mixture of sweetness and tea fragrance and slight bitterness that is out of this world ~

omg I want to go back ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wanted to buy some senbei (toasted rice crackers) back for Jh
Came across these.. wtf senbei also make until so pretty ! #OnlyInJapan

Ehehehe so cute ! 
Didn't have enough time to visit Nara Park but I definitely wanna go next time.

They should just change name sia walao! where did the Sakura Terrace pls.

Okay actually what if they are.. Sakura Terrace by day and The Gallery by night ?
Bwahahahah cool concept right! 
BUT if only we could have seen the words better in the day, too. ;p

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