Out and about in Washington

Love from Lisa Out and About In Washington Washington Monument

After New York Nick, Ryan and I headed to Washington.

Apart from the Washington Monument and The White House I didn’t know what else there was to do there. However, it turns out that there’s heaps to do, and a lot of it centres around the National Mall.

Where to stay
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Capitol Hill, which is within walking distance to the National Mall at 550 C Street S.W.

It’s also walking distance to a small shopping centre, train station and the city centre, so it’s location was perfect.

Things to see
I was super impressed with the scale of the National Mall, and didn’t know that it contained so many monuments, museums and art galleries.

Ryan and I walked the 3.5kms from Capitol Hill to Lincoln Memorial, which is the entire length of the Mall. It was so hot that I actually got sunburnt!

Love from Lisa Out and About In Washington Capitol Hill

Love from Lisa Out and About In Washington Lincoln Memorial

I had no idea what to expect when I visited the National Mall, but it was a fantastic way to spend the day. There’s so much to see and do that you definitely need more than one day to do it all. I will definitely go back if I ever have the chance.

Love from Lisa Out and About In Washington Washington Monument from afar

Georgetown is another fantastic area with shop lined streets, food outlets, and a small waterfront. I had the most delicious cupcake at Baked and Wired. I went for the vanilla cupcake with chocolate satin frosting it was so delicious!

Love from Lisa Out and About In Washington Baked and Wired Cupcake

Places to eat
We struggled with dinner whilst in Washington as the Holiday Inn wasn’t near anything decent, and trying to find restaurants that delivered wasn’t easy. This means that we ate a lot of Asian, which is never a bad thing.

I would definitely go back to Washington and visit some of the museums, which looked amazing from the outside.

For more travel posts please click here.

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Out and about in New York

Love from Lisa Out and About in New York Skyscrapers

I love New York, I’ve been there a few times and it’s always different.

The reason for this visit was to reunite with Nick. Prior to this visit he’s been away from Ryan for 5 weeks, which is way too long in baby development world.

New York with an infant means less shopping, but better opportunities to explore places by foot that I normally wouldn’t. So seeing New York in a quieter more peaceful way was really nice.

Where to stay
We stayed at the Andaz Hotel at 5th Avenue at 41st Street. It’s a gorgeous boutique hotel. Our room had a massive shower with three different head types! It was centrally located near Bryant Park, New York Public Library, Times Square, and Grand Central Station.

Things to see
Unlike previous visits, this time I got to really explore Central Park, which I’ve always admired but haven’t actually ever walked around for a decent amount of time.

It’s very easy to get lost in the quietness and serenity of this park, which is surrounded by busy streets and skyscrapers.

There’s plenty of parks within the park, a baseball field, old buildings, gorgeous squirrels, bridges, and plenty of food stops.

Love from Lisa Out and About in New York Central Park Squirrel

Love from Lisa Out and About in New York Central Park Story Bridge

Times Square at Broadway and Seventh Avenue is what I am pretty sure is synonymous with New York. It’s packed with tourists, cars, lights, and is a shopper’s paradise. This time around we just walked the entire strip to get to Central Park. Doing it this way was really nice as there was no pressure to push our way through lines of people to reach a particular destination.

Love from Lisa Out and About in New York Times Square

Places to eat
The Shop at Andaz Hotel is fantastic! I’ve yet to find a place in Windsor that has a breakfast anywhere as good as Melbourne. I finally found one at The Shop. I had the eggs, meat, hash browns and roasted tomato – so good!

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Japan fun facts

The Creative Canvass Japan fun facts

Traveling is one of my greatest loves, and last year I finally went to Japan, which has been on my travel bucket list FOREVER!

Here’s some cool things I discovered whilst I was there:

Hotels and bullet trains

  • Check in times are strictly adhered to. If check in’s at 2pm and you arrive even just 10 minutes before, you still must wait
  • The Mizoni Shinkansen from Fukuoka to Hiroshima went at a speed of 300km/hr!

Language barriers

  • If you place a food order in English, it will get repeated back to you in Japanese
  • The best way to order is to point at what you want on the menu, then hold up the number of fingers that you’d like to order the meal in. I called this my point and pray system
  • My point and pray system didn’t always work. I was eating what I thought was a plum bun, only to discover that it was actually a red bean bun! It was still delicious though
  • Even though their English isn’t strong, the Japanese try really hard to understand you. I had people trying to help me at train stations when I was lost

It’s clean everywhere, all the time!

  • Everything is so clean – it’s great
  • I even saw train station employees vacuuming concrete station stairs

Everything’s hidden

  • If you’re looking for something in particular you’ll never find it. The best thing to do is put your map away and just explore
  • Many shops were hidden in what appeared to be commercial buildings. So if you see an escalator jump on and see where it leads. I found many shops, great restaurants, and department store food basements this way

Bowing

  • Bus station employees bow to the bus on its approach, and when it leaves
  • The number and how high or low you bow depends on relationships. For example, you bow at a higher height with friends, compared to colleagues or managers

Food

  • Everything’s so small
  • Kit Kats are packaged to look big, but once opened contain four fun size packs
  • Soft drink cans and cigarettes are also very small
  • If ordering soy milk some places give you a soy card, which you hand over when you pick your coffee up

Shopping

  • If there’s curtains in front of a store and they’re closed, it means the store’s closed
  • I never saw any seats or bins. I was told all bins were removed post 9/11

Shrine cleansing ritual

  • All shrines have a purification tori gate, which once passed through signifies that you have stepped into the domain of the deity, and that you have purified your emotional state
  • Bow before entering the tori gate and walk to the side when passing through, as the centre is where the deity passes through
  • Just before the shrine you’ll see a water pavilion station, which is for body and mind purification. Here is where you wash away heart and physical impurities
  • Here’s what to do when you reach these:
    • Scoop water into the ladle with your right hand, pour some water over your left hand
    • Place the ladle in your left hand, pour some water over your right hand
    • Pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth, don’t touch the ladle to your mouth
    • Rinse your mouth and spit the water to the outside of the station
    • Use the remaining water to rinse the ladle off
  • You only scoop water into the ladle once, at the first step of the process

I absolutely loved Japan and highly recommend you go. I wish I was there right now!

If you’d like to see my other Japan posts, here’s the links:

A tour of Fukuoka Japan

A tour of Hiroshima Japan

A tour of Kobe Japan

A tour of Osaka Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Tokyo Japan

Please also feel free to visit my Japan Pinterest board.

(This blog’s previous name was The Creative Canvass, hence why the image in this post is labelled www.thecreativecanvass.com)

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A tour of Tokyo Japan

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Japan has been on my travel bucket list for a long time, and in October 2014 I finally went.

I’ve wanted to go to Japan for ages because of all the crazy stories I’ve heard. Like vending machines that stock everything from drinks to underpants, crazy products like fans on hats, and even something I’d heard about rats on sticks for street food… Let’s just say I didn’t see that – thankfully.

On our two and a half week trip Nick and I visited Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo.

After our tour of Kyoto we visited Tokyo.

Tokyo is Japan’s capital, has a population of 13.3 million, and is filled to the brim with shops, food, parks, and different areas to explore.

Here’s the low down on our Tokyo visit:

Food

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

There’s a massive variety of food in Tokyo. Here’s just a few of the restaurants we tried.

Baru and Gohan – Italian

Located in Akihabara, this restaurant has some really moorish dried spaghetti crisps that you eat whilst waiting for your meal.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

I had salad and lamb chops. The salad was served on ice, and the lamb chops were forgotten about so I had to order them twice. However, it was worth the wait as everything was delicious. They also had an automatic beer pouring machine here, which was really cool.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

El Caliente – Mexican

Located in Shinagawa Station, this Mexican restaurant has tasty food, and the staff yell Hola as you enter. If you’re looking for Mexican that tastes exactly as it does when you cook it at home, and you also want an entertaining experience, then definitely come here.

There are plenty of other restaurants surrounding this one, so if you discover that you’re not in the mood for Mexican after all then you can easily go somewhere else.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Tiger Dumpling Hall – Asian

Located near Sensoji Temple, this restaurant was Nick’s and my favourite.

The service was quick, the food was delicious, and the options were huge.

There were dumplings, gyoza, ramen, chicken, pork, beef, rice and heaps more. I highly, highly recommend this restaurant.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Shopping

Akihabara

Akihabara is an electronic fanatic’s dream location. Filled with electronic stores, electric billboards, Sega stores, and hobby stores, it’s an interesting place to check out.

It’s really cool, and even if you’re not into electronics at all like me, it’s still fun to take a look around and soak up the atmosphere.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Ginza

Ginza is Japan’s most famous upmarket shopping area. It’s saturated with department stores, high end retailers, and art galleries. On the weekends many of the roads are closed off to cater for the large crowds. If you’re serious about your shopping, then this is the place to be.

This is the only place in Japan where I saw seats for people to sit in

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Harajuku

Harajuku is where Japan’s teenagers dress all crazy. However, I was disappointed as the main street of Harajuku – Takeshita Dori and the surrounding Omotesando were not as crazy as I expected.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

In fact, I only saw one guy dressed up as a bandaged warrior, and a few girls dressed in weird dresses and colourful wigs (I was told this is the normal way for the girls to dress on the weekends).

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Despite not seeing many dressed up teenagers, it’s still worth checking out as there’s heaps of shops with all sorts of crazy items from hair accessories, fancy dresses, yummy crepes, one of a kind souvenirs, and tiny dog clothes.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Shibuya

Shibuya is home to the scramble crossing – the crossing you see on TV, and the attraction that I identified Tokyo with. This crossing, whilst impressive, was not as large, or as busy as I thought it would be.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Apart from the scramble crossing, Shibuya is a mecca of shopping, entertainment, and food options, and is frequented mostly by Japan’s teenagers. It has a lot of mainstream brands including Uniqlo, H&M, and Zara.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

I recommend you do some research before coming here to make sure it has what you’re looking for. There were so many times I thought I was in a shopping centre, but it just turned out that I was in a section of the train station.

Shinjuku

Shinjuku is another massive shopping, entertainment, and business district easily accessible from Shinjuku Station, which is the world’s busiest train station handling over two million passengers a day.

Here you’ll find anything that you need from knick knacks, clothing, shoes, and everything in between. Allow yourself at least half a day to attack this area.

Attractions

Meiji Jingu Shrine

Although this is one of Japan’s most popular shrines, I found it to be the quickest to get around. It has one main building and is surrounding by a large forest. If you’re looking for some quiet time definitely visit. However, if you’re short for time and still want to see a temple then I suggest you visit Sensoji Temple instead, which is covered below.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Mt Fuji

I feel like going to Japan and not seeing Mt Fuji is like having sushi without soy sauce. It just shouldn’t happen.

Mt Fuji is Japan’s national monument, it’s their sacred mountain, and when translated loosely means wealthy warrior.

When driving towards Mt Fuji there’s a portion of road called Melody Road. There are grooves in the road which when driven over at a speed of 50km+ produce the melody of Mt Fuji’s theme song, which everyone learns in school.

Nick and I were extremely fortunate that the weather was perfect the day we visited. We had clear views as far as the eye could see.

When visiting make sure you stop at the Fuji Visitor Centre, as here you’ll get some incredible views looking up the mountain.

After the Visitor Centre go to the 5th station where you can visit some fantastic souvenir shops, get some food, and of course enjoy the views of Mt Fuji 2,300 meters above sea level.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Robot Evening Cabaret Show

Located in Shinjuku is this over the top, glitzy, you have to see it to believe it, robot show. Here robots and dancing girls come together in a series of scenes covering horses, cows vs. dragons, wrestling robots, and dance acts.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

It’s hilarious, and one of the reasons I visited Japan was to see these crazy things. I don’t recommend that you eat here though as the food is very average.

Sensoji Temple (Asakusa Kannon Temple)

This Buddhist temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple and was one of my favourites.

It has a main gate, main hall, five story pagoda, shrine, and 200 metre shopping street called Nakamise, which has over 88 licensed traders selling bags, souvenirs, traditional clothing, and food.

If you only see one temple in Tokyo I recommend this one.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is situated amongst Shinjuku’s shopping district. It costs $2 to enter and you can view its English, French and Japanese gardens.

The English garden has gorgeous picnic areas. The French garden has sycamore trees and roses, whilst the Japanese garden has bridges, streams, a tea house, and pavilion.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

Make sure you also check out the green house.

Yokohama

If you’re looking to escape the crowds of Shinjuku and Shibuya then Yokohama is the perfect place to visit. It has a very spacious, river side feel to it.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

There are also a lot of high rise apartments, wide roads, and eateries in the area as well as Cosmo Park which has games, rides, and what was stated as the world’s largest Ferris wheel. There is also one of the world’s largest Chinatowns here.

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

The Creative Canvass A tour of Tokyo Japan

There is so much to do in Tokyo, but I hope this post provides you with a good starting point.

If you’d like to see my other Japan posts, here’s the links:

A tour of Fukuoka Japan

A tour of Hiroshima Japan

A tour of Kobe Japan

A tour of Osaka Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Japan Fun Facts

Please also feel free to visit my Japan Pinterest board.

(This blog’s previous name was The Creative Canvass, hence why the images in this post are labelled www.thecreativecanvass.com)

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A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Japan has been on my travel bucket list for a long time, and in October 2014 I finally went.

I’ve wanted to go to Japan for ages because of all the crazy stories I’ve heard. Like vending machines that stock everything from drinks to underpants, crazy products like fans on hats, and even something I’d heard about rats on sticks for street food… Let’s just say I didn’t see that – thankfully.

On our two and a half week Japan trip Nick and I visited Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo.

After our tour of Osaka we visited Kyoto.

Kyoto has a population of 1.4 million and is Japan’s seventh largest city. It’s also full to the brim with temples and shrines, of which there are approximately 2,000.

My first impressions of Kyoto compared to Osaka was that everyone operated at a much slower pace, and there were more tourists.

Kyoto also had a very traditional feel to it. Many women and teenage girls were dressed in Kimonos, which I was told is a very social thing to do.

Here’s a rundown of our Kyoto trip:

Accommodation

ANA Crowne Plaza

This hotel is located across the road from Nijo Castle, and is near a train station.

There were a few restaurants inside this hotel which came in handy the first night we were there, as it was pouring outside and we didn’t want to venture out.

Food

Daimaru Depachicka Food Hall

OH MY GOD!! I should just leave this as the description, but I will go into some detail as this food hall deserves it.

I have never ever encountered anything like this place, and it wasn’t even a planned part of our trip.

Our first day in Kyoto was a washout, so to escape the wet we decided to check out some undercover shops and really just stumbled in here. And stumbled throughout as well.

In fact, the best way to find a lot of cool things in Japan is to just go up escalators!

This food hall was huge! I didn’t know where to look. It was super overwhelming and really, really cool.

There was everything from raw food, groceries, baked goodies, wine, cheese, snacks, meat, sushi, fried food, salads – everything!

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Something I noticed about Japan wherever we went was a lack of chairs, and this place was no different. This meant that Nick and I very sneakily had to eat our lunch outside, which I never saw anyone else doing. We ended up getting some salad and gyoza (which was cold but we thought was hot) and grabbed a drink from the nearby vending machine.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

When we were done we crossed the road and came across Nishiki Market.

Nishiki Market

Another world of food and wonder awaited us here. This market is located on a narrow five block long undercover street and has everything from seafood, fruit, vegetables, cookware, desserts, pickled food, sushi, and much more. Definitely worth the visit.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Pontocho District

Situated near Gion is a long alley with everything from finger food to traditional Japanese and foreign cuisine.

We ended up at Platero, a Spanish inspired restaurant where we had a delicious Chorizo Paella.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Shopping

Teramachi and Shin Kyogoku Shopping Arcades

Once you reach the end of Nishiki Market you come to these undercover shopping arcades, which run parallel to each other, and sell everything from clothes, souvenirs, food, and knick knacks.

There is even a temple within it all.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Shijo Street

Parallel to Teramachi is Shijo Street. Here you’ll find departments stores including Tokyu Hands and Daimaru, international brands including Louis Vuitton, Zara, H&M, Uniqlo and smaller independent retailers.

This is a great street if you really want to get some shopping done.

JR Kyoto Station

Like all major train stations in Japan this station has a fantastic range of shops

Surrounding this station is Kyoto’s second largest shopping area, which includes Porta underground shopping centre, Aeon shopping mall, and large electrical retailers.

Attractions

Tofukuji Temple

Tofukuji Temple is famous for its Zen Garden, which was designed by a French man. Every morning the Monks from the working Monastery create the swirls in the garden as they get damaged by the wind each day.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Each section of the garden has a meaning, like the boxed garden shown below, which represents the grid construction of Kyoto.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

If you are looking for some serenity then definitely make sure you visit here.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

This Shinto Shrine is best known for the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. It’s a large Shrine with thousands of Torii Gates, more than I saw anywhere else in Japan.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

The Torii Gates are donated by individuals and businesses whose details and date of donation are written on each gate. A small gate is approximately 400,000 Yen, with larger gates costing over 1,000,000 Yen.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Gion District

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Famous for Geisha spotting, you have to be at the right place at the right time to see a Geisha, and sadly we didn’t.

What we did see, which was just as amusing, were tourists peering into every taxi that went past trying to see a Geisha, that was an attraction in its own.

Whether you see a Geisha or not this area is not to miss. It’s home to many traditional restaurants and tea houses that haven’t changed much over the years.

The streets are adorable and packed with small wooden buildings and paved walkways.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Although we didn’t see a real life Geisha, we did see a model dressed up as one holding an umbrella and Asahi Beer in front of a bridge, which was an advertisement being shot right in front of us.

This is a really gorgeous area and makes you feel like you’re in old style Japan.

Nijo Castle

A tour of Kyoto Japan

I found this castle very underwhelming. After entering the front gate you go into Ninomaru Palace. Here you learn about the history of the six rooms, which are covered in over 800 tatami mats and some are elaborately decorated in gold leaf.

You can also view Ninomaru Garden, which is a great example of a traditional Japanese garden.

Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)

This was beautiful. You should definitely add this to your Kyoto attraction list.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

To cater for the many tourists that visit this attraction, there are many food and souvenir vendors, and vending machines with ice cream in cones and bags and even Fuji Film.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Imperial Palace

This was my least favourite Kyoto attraction.

You can only visit here with a tour group and the staff are very strict. One lady on our tour went to the toilet and the Police demanded our tour guide go get her straight back.

You cannot go into the Palace so all you can see is the outside and the surrounding gardens.

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

Overall, Kyoto was a terrific mix of modern vs. traditional and there was a lot to see and eat. I’d love to go back and check it out a bit more sometime soon.

If you’d like to see my other Japan posts, here’s the links:

A tour of Fukuoka Japan

A tour of Hiroshima Japan

A tour of Kobe Japan

A tour of Osaka Japan

A tour of Tokyo Japan

Japan Fun Facts

Please also feel free to visit my Japan Pinterest board.

(This blog’s previous name was The Creative Canvass, hence why the images in this post are labelled www.thecreativecanvass.com)

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A tour of Osaka Japan

The Creative Canvass A tour of Osaka Japan

Japan has been on my travel bucket list for a long time, and in October 2014 I finally went.

I’ve wanted to go to Japan for ages because of all the crazy stories I’ve heard. Like vending machines that stock everything from drinks to underpants, crazy products like fans on hats, and even something I’d heard about rats on sticks for street food… Let’s just say I didn’t see that, thankfully.

On our two and a half week Japan trip we visited Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo.

After our tour of Kobe we visited Osaka.

Osaka has a population of 2.5 million people, and is Japan’s third largest city. I found Osaka to be very fashion forward, which makes sense are there are large shopping centres everywhere in close proximity to each other.

Here’s a rundown of my Osaka trip:

Accommodation

Crowne Plaza Ana Osaka

This hotel was my favourite. It’s located inside a shopping centre BONUS, and each morning and night the staff delivered some delicacies to your room. I highly recommend this hotel.

Food

Dotonbori

Situated along a canal is this gorgeous area full of neon lights, billboards, restaurants, and shopping areas.

I highly recommend you come here for dinner, but be open minded. There are few English translations on the menus, and when there were I saw food options including third stomach, tongue with salt, heart sashimi, and even high quality diaphragm – because I definitely wouldn’t dare order a low quality one.

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Namba neon lights

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Namba canal

Bay Area

Apart from Universal Studios, this area has a wide variety of restaurants consisting of traditional to chain, including TGI Fridays.

Try to get here before 7pm; otherwise you’ll have to push your way through all the people who have spent the day at Universal Studios.

Shopping

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan shopping

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan shopping

Apart from Tokyo, Osaka was the only city I visited that had multiple shopping centres located closely together.

Osaka Station

There are heaps of shopping options here from large shopping centres, to smaller shops along the surrounding roads.

Two shopping centres to check out here are the North Gate Building and the South Gate Building, which both host a number of department stores, cinemas, sports clubs, and gardens.

Nanba

As well as the variety of food choices Nanba is a terrific place to shop, but allow yourself the better part of a day to do this.

A great place to start is Namba Parks, which houses 120 retailers from local to international brands, a cinema, amphitheatre, and a roof top garden.

Shinbashi

Keep walking around the centre of Nanba and you will find yourself in another huge shopping area called Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade. This arcade is an undercover area with food, stalls, clothes, and accessories.

Attractions

Umeda Sky Building

I came here to see the Floating Garden. However, there isn’t actually a garden here. There is an open air observation deck, which is 173 metres above ground level. The highlight here was my Halloween ice cream.

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observation Deck

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observation Deck

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observation Deck

Nara afternoon tour

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Nara day tour

The following attractions were covered in this tour:

Todaiji Temple and Deer Park

Todaiji Temple is one of Japan’s most famous Temples. It sits on expansive grounds housing historic structures, many, many deer that roam around freely, and for me the best part – a giant bronze Buddha.

I’ve mentioned before that I love giant Buddha and this one was terrific.

The Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall) is one of the largest wooden buildings in the world, housing Japan’s largest Buddha. Make sure you visit this attraction, you will not regret it.

Also, don’t be scared of the deer that come from the surrounding 1,250 acre park.

There are actually over 1,000 tame deer that roam this attraction looking for those who purchased deer food at the gate.

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Todaiji Temple and Deer Park

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Todaiji Temple and Deer Park

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Todaiji Temple and Deer Park

Kasuga Shrine

This Shrine has approximately 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns. It’s a beautiful Shrine where you can leisurely stroll around and take in the garden views.

To learn about shrine rituals, click here.

The Creative Canvass Osaka Japan Kasuga Shrine

That’s all I had time to do in Osaka, but if given the chance again I’d love to revisit.

If you’d like to see my other Japan posts, here’s the links:

A tour of Fukuoka

A tour of Hiroshima

A tour of Kobe

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Tokyo Japan

Japan Fun Facts

Please also feel free to visit my Japan Pinterest page.

(This blog’s previous name was The Creative Canvass, hence why some of the images in this post are labelled www.thecreativecanvass.com)

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A tour of Kobe Japan

A-tour-of-Kobe

Japan has been on my travel bucket list for a long time, and in October 2014 I finally went.

On the two and a half week trip Nick and I visited Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo.

After Hiroshima we visited Kobe, which turned out to be my favourite city.

Kobe (pronounced Ko-bay) is the sixth largest city in Japan, it was warm, attractions were aplenty, and the people were, of course, friendly.

Kobe is located on the harbour, and in 1995 was hit by an earthquake which killed 5,000+ people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. However, looking at the city today you’d never know as it’s been entirely rebuilt.

Here are some recommendations that I have for Kobe if you’re ever fortunate enough to visit:

Accommodation

We stayed at Hotel La Suite Harborland, which was walking distance to everything covered below. This hotel is absolutely gorgeous. The suites are huge, they have large bathrooms with a spa facing a TV, and the view from the balcony is of the Harborland.

A tour of Kobe La Suite Harborland Hotel

A tour of Kobe Harborland

A tour of Kobe La Suite Harborland Hotel spa

Food

Kobe has something to suit everyone’s tastes with a wide variety of local and international cuisines.

Mosaic – Harborland

As well as shopping, Mosaic has a lot of food options from simple to more elaborate. There’s Indian, Italian, French and much more.

A tour of Kobe Harborland ferris wheel

Sandaya Steakhouse – Mosaic

Kobe is known for Kobe beef, there was no way I was going to go to Kobe and not try some.

We decided to try Kobe beef at Sandaya Steakhouse in Mosaic as they offered a five course meal, which cost $175 for two people including drinks.

This place was amazing, our five courses, all in typical small sizes. but so delicious were:

Meat antipasto

The Creative Canvass a tour of Kobe

Salad

A tour of Kobe Sandaya Steakhouse second couse salad

Tomato and vegetable soup

A tour of Kobe Sandaya Steakhouse third couse tomato and vegetable soup

Kobe beef with rice, potatoes, onion and cabbage, which you cooked on a hot plate to your liking

A tour of Kobe Sandaya Steakhouse fourth couse Kobe Beef

Chocolate brownie, with ice cream and a mandarin segment

A tour of Kobe Sandaya Steakhouse fifth couse dessert

If you are after good quality Kobe beef then definitely come here, you will not regret it. The service was amazing, there was a lady playing the piano to create a relaxed vibe, and each course was given to you in the right amount of time.

Shopping

The Harborland is the reason why this city was my favourite. It’s tranquil, beautiful, has heaps of restaurants, great shopping, interesting attractions, and is walking distance to practically everything.

Umie

A newbie to the Kobe shopping scene opening in 2013, it has approximately 225 shops that are a mix of fashion, lifestyle goods, services and restaurants. International stores include H&M, Old Navy, Gap, The Body Shop, Zara, Uniqlo, Sega, Godiva, Subway, Baskin and Robbins, Starbucks, and Tony Roma’s. This is a great place to shop and eat.

Sannomiya Town Centre

Sannomiya Town Centre consists of streets with covered and non-covered shops, cafés, and restaurants. You could spend an entire day just walking around and taking it all in.

This is the area where I noticed cakes and parfaits! There were cakes, parfaits, waffles and pancakes everywhere – perfect for a sweet tooth like me.

A tour of Kobe Motomachi

A tour of Kobe Motomachi undercover

A tour of Kobe Sannomiyacho

There is also a Chinatown in this area – Nankinmachi packed with shops, restaurants and food stands selling everything from steam buns, ramen, rice, fried goodness, drinks, and other Chinese meals.

A tour of Kobe Chinatown

A tour of Kobe Motomachi surrounding streets

A tour of Kobe Chinatown food stalls

A tour of Kobe Chinatown dumpling

Attractions

Kobe has a wide variety of things to do, some of which are:

Meriken Park

Situated in Harborland this park has relaxation areas, art installations, and fountains. Attractions here include Kawasaki Good Times World, Kobe Maritime Museum, and Kobe Port Tower.

A tour of Kobe Meriken Park sculpture

A tour of Kobe Meriken Park

Kawasaki Good Times World

I wasn’t interested in visiting here, but I’m glad I did. I didn’t realise that Kawasaki developed so many different types of products.

There were trains, aircraft, tunnel borers, jet skis, ships, and motorbikes on display, some of which you could enter.

Kobe Maritime Museum

Located in the same building as Kawasaki Good Times World, here you learn about Kobe’s shipping history, and the role the Port plays.

If you’re short on time you can miss this attraction and head for the Port Tower.

Kobe Port Tower

You can’t miss this red kaleidoscope structure that lights up Harborland at night.

When you buy your Kawasaki Good Times Museum ticket you have the option of paying a little more to include this attraction as well, or you can buy a ticket at the Tower.

We visited the 360° observation deck during the day; however I think night would have been better.

Again, if you’re short on time skip this and visit the Nunobiki Herb Gardens and Ropeway instead, as the view from there is just as good.

Nunobiki Herb Gardens and Ropeway

Located away from Harborland is Japan’s largest herb garden with approximately 75,000 herbs and 200 types of flowers. There’s 14 different areas you can explore and learn about the herbs and flowers. There’s also a glasshouse with gorgeous sculptures, sitting areas, and plants.

It costs $14 for a return ropeway cable ticket, which includes entry into the gardens. On the ropeway you have great views of the sea, land, city, and Nunobiki No Taki Waterfall.

This is a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon.

A tour of Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway gondola

A tour of Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway glasshouse

A tour of Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway glasshouse view

A tour of Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway glasshouse exit

A tour of Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway inside glasshouse

A tour of Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway glasshouse garden

A tour of Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway glasshouse garden frame

A tour of Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway glasshouse sculpture

A tour of Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway view

Kitano

Located close to Nunobiki Herb Gardens and Ropeway is the quaint area of Kitano, an old foreign residential area with small boutiques, food stalls, and the Kitano Tenman Shrine.

It doesn’t take long to have a look around. It’s quite a nice area to sit in and take some time out.

A tour of Kobe Kitano tram

A tour of Kobe Kitano

A tour of Kobe Kitano Tenman Shrine entry

A tour of Kobe Kitano Tenman Shrine

A tour of Kobe Kitano Tenman Shrine lanterns

A tour of Kobe Kitano Tenman Shrine (d) edited

I hope this encourages you to add Kobe onto your list of cities to visit if you’re ever in Japan.

It’s a city you won’t regret spending some time in.

If you’d like to see my other Japan posts, here’s the links:

A tour of Fukuoka Japan

A tour of Hiroshima Japan

A tour of Osaka Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Tokyo Japan

Japan Fun Facts

Please also feel free to visit my Japan Pinterest board.

(This blog’s previous name was The Creative Canvass, hence why some of the images in this post are labelled www.thecreativecanvass.com)

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A tour of Hiroshima Japan

A tour of Hiroshima

Japan has been on my travel bucket list for a long time, and in October 2014 I finally went.

I’ve wanted to go to Japan for so long because of all the crazy stories I’ve heard. Like vending machines that stock everything from drinks to underpants, crazy products like fans on hats, and even something I’d heard about rats on sticks for street food… Let’s just say I didn’t see that, thankfully.

On our two and a half week trip we visited Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo.

After our tour of Fukuoka we visited Hiroshima.

Hiroshima is sadly known for the atomic bomb that was dropped on the 6th of August 1945, which devastated nearly everything within a two kilometre radius.

Today a Peace Memorial Park houses many monuments and a museum giving respect to the devastation that occurred on that August day.

I must confess, Hiroshima was a city that I had no interest in visiting, but now I’m really grateful that I did. It’s beautiful, and its tributes to its history were very confronting and eye opening.

We ended up only having only one full day to explore Hiroshima, here’s the highlights:

Ground Zero

Hiroshima Ground Zero

If I didn’t research what to do in Hiroshima I would never have known about this. Situated a small distance away from the Peace Memorial Park sits a plaque where the atomic bomb was dropped. Visiting this before anything else is a great way to put the whole history and area into perspective.

Peace Memorial Museum

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

After visiting Ground Zero I recommend that you make this your first visit. It costs only 50 cents to enter. The contents of this museum are heartbreaking, and really open your eyes to the horrific events of that August day.

There are a lot of garments, building structures, and historical facts showing the amount of damage that the bomb caused. The museum covers what happened prior to the bomb being dropped, as well as the effects afterwards.

Once you exit the museum you gain a view of the other monuments the Peace Memorial Park holds.

Peace Memorial Park

Spanning 120,000+ square meters the Peace Memorial Park is one of the most identifiable parts of Hiroshima. The monuments I visited in this park are detailed below.

Cenotaph

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Cenotaph

In front of the Peace Memorial Museum stands the Cenotaph, an arched structure standing above the names of those who died as a result of the bomb.

A-Bomb Dome

Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome

This building was the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall before the bomb was dropped, and is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. It’s one of the few buildings to remain standing after the bomb was dropped.

Hiroshima Peace Bell

Hiroshima Peace Bell

This bell is quite large and you are encouraged to ring it for world peace. It is surrounded by water and trees, so as well as symbolising world peace, it’s also a peaceful part of the park to explore and take it all in.

Children’s Peace Monument

Hiroshima Children's Peace Monument

In the Peace Memorial Museum you learn about the story of Sadako Sasaki, a little girl who folded 1,000 paper cranes to cure her from the radiation effects of the bomb. Sadly she didn’t make it, and it is Sadako who stands on top of this monument.

Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle

A short walk from the Peace Memorial Park is Hiroshima Castle. This five story Castle was constructed in the 1590s, but was destroyed by the atomic bomb. It was rebuilt in 1958 and is opened to visitors. Upon walking through each story you will learn about Hiroshima’s history before World War II. It’s a great way to spend your afternoon after visiting the Peace Memorial Park.

Shopping and food

Like the other cities I visited in Japan, Hiroshima has a great undercover shopping centre, as well as street shopping housing all sorts of brands including the usual suspects of Uniqlo, H&M and Zara.

But why couldn’t I find any seats or bins?

If you find yourself looking for some good Peruvian, Spanish, Mexican or Italian food then I highly recommend Cusco Café. PS. the Pina Coladas are fantastic!

Cusco Café
5 – 23 Hachobori Naka-ku | 1F Ogawa Building
Hiroshima 730-0013
Hiroshima Prefecture
http://www.gethiroshima.com/dining/cusco-cafe/

If you’d like to see my other Japan posts, here’s the links:

A tour of Fukuoka Japan

A tour of Kobe Japan

A tour of Osaka Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Tokyo Japan

Japan Fun Facts

Please also feel free to visit my Japan Pinterest board.

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A tour of Fukuoka Japan

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan a bike laden city

Japan has been on my travel bucket list for a long time, and in October I finally went.

The reason why I’ve been wanting to go to Japan for so long was because of all the crazy stories I’ve heard. Like the vending machines that stock everything from drinks to underpants, or the crazy products like fans on hats for the summer heat, and even something I’d heard about rats on sticks for street food… Let’s just say I didn’t see this, thankfully.

Nick wanted to visit as many places as we could on our two and a half week trip, so we went to Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo.

Our first stop Fukuoka (pronounced Foo-coke-a) is one of Japan’s 10 most populated cities, and is located 1,100km from Tokyo.

Due to a Typhoon we lost our first full day in Fukuoka being stuck in the the airport, so ended up having only one full day to explore this fantastic city. Here’s what we did:

Shopping and food

Hakata Station

This station has an amazing array of shops, and a great choice of food including a lot of Westernised options. I definitely recommend a visit here.

Canal City

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Canal City 1

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Canal City 2

We stayed at Candeo Hotels – The Hakata Terrace which was located on the opposite side of the river from this massive shopping centre, so lucky me yay!

Canal City combines a mall, cinema, amusement areas, two hotels, and businesses, oh and it has a canal running through it.

The shops are divided into north, east and south and are spread out amongst five floors, including a basement. I recommend getting a map and ensuring you have at least a few hours to check it all out.

In terms of food, there’s a floor dedicated to ramen called Ramen Stadium. You order your meal at a machine then give the server the ticket that the machine provides with your choice of food on it.

As we later found out, Fukuoka wasn’t the only place that English menus were sparse. I developed a system called point and pray, where you point to the picture on the menu, hold up your fingers showing how many of the meal you want, then pray that it tastes good and isn’t a part of the animal that you didn’t know existed.

Attractions

Tochoji Temple

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Tochoji Temple 1

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Tochoji Temple 3

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Tochoji Temple 4

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Tochoji Temple 2

The main reason I wanted to come here was to see the giant wooden Buddha, as we all know I love a good giant Buddha.

This Temple is walking distance from Canal City. It’s located on a busy road but upon entering you can’t hear any road noise at all. The grounds were peaceful and had some lovely pagodas, gardens, and sculptures throughout. There weren’t many tourists, nor were there many English translations of site descriptions, so a lot of it was up to our own interpretation.

We were about to leave and give up our giant Buddha search when walking past the staircase at the end of the entrance I saw an A4 sign stating the giant Buddha was located upstairs.

The giant Buddha was impressive. If I didn’t do my research I wouldn’t have known that you could walk under the Buddha as the instructions to do so were in Japanese and the red character written on it looked like a don’t enter sign.

The walk underneath the Buddha contains pictures of historic meaning with audio in Japanese. The final walk to the exit is so dark you need your phone torch to get out.

Overall, this Temple was a little underwhelming. The giant Buddha was the highlight for me, but if I didn’t know about it I don’t think I would have wasted my time coming here.

Kushida Shrine

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Kushida-Jinja Shrine 1

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Kushida-Jinja Shrine 2

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Kushida-Jinja Shrine 3

To find out what this lady is doing with the ladle, click here

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Kushida-Jinja Shrine 4

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Kushida-Jinja Shrine 5

Located just 500m from Tochoji Temple was the gorgeous Kushida Shrine, which was packed with tourists as there was so much to see.

First up I have to say that I love that Japan lives up to its reputation of being overloaded with vending machines. On the Shrine’s grounds were multiple vending machines, so no matter where you are in Japan, no place is too sacred for a vending machine.

Kumamoto Castle

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Kumamoto Castle 1

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Kumamoto Castle 2

A Tour of Fukuoka Japan Kumamoto Castle 3

It’s a 30 minute ride on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to reach this attraction, but it’s worth it as the Castle is absolutely gorgeous.

Kumamoto Castle has an impressive 400 year history, and is counted amongst the three most exquisite castles in Japan.

The underground passageway (Kuragari Tsuro) is the official entrance to the Castle, which very few Japanese castles have. Once you reach the Castle you can go into each of its six stories to learn historical facts, and view bricks, spears, spikes, helmets, clothing and other interesting artefacts.

You need a couple of hours to explore the Castle and its grounds, and if you’re feeling adventurous there are many other attractions you can explore nearby.

Overall Fukuoka was a fantastic place to visit. It was spacious, quiet, easy to get around, wasn’t overrun by tourists, and had some great shopping centres.

If you’d like to see my other Japan posts, here’s the links:

A tour of Hiroshima Japan

A tour of Kobe Japan

A tour of Osaka Japan

A tour of Kyoto Japan

A tour of Tokyo Japan

Japan Fun Facts

Please also feel free to visit my Japan Pinterest board.

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Hong Kong tourist attractions

Hong Kong Giant Buddha 1

This is my fourth and final instalment on highlighting all the goodies that Hong Kong has to offer. So far I’ve posted a summary, highlighted some great shopping centres, and covered some delicious food. Now it’s time for some tourist attractions.

Hong Kong has something for everyone, from sports fanatics, relaxation seekers, shopaholics, and children.

Here are just three of the attractions that my sister and I visited on our recent Hong Kong adventure.

Giant Buddha, Ngong Ping 360, and Po Lin Monastery

Situated on Lantau Island is the Giant Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha). I love this attraction so much that I’ve been to it on all three trips I’ve taken to Hong Kong. It’s something about the sheer scale of it that impresses me. It’s made of bronze, is 34 metres high, took 12 years to complete, and has 268 steps you need to climb to reach the top. It’s an experience you have to have, and one you will not regret.

Hong Kong Giant Buddha 2

Hong Kong Giant Buddha 3

Hong Kong Giant Buddha 4

The best way to get here is on the Ngong Ping Cable Car located at Tung Chung MTR station exit B. My sister and I took a Crystal Cabin, which has a glass bottom for the 5.7km (25 minute) journey to the Giant Buddha. Along the way you get some fantastic views of the bay, mountains, the airport, and the Giant Buddha itself.

Hong Kong Ngong Ping Cable Car Crystal Cabin 1

Hong Kong Ngong Ping Cable Car Crystal Cabin 2

Hong Kong Ngong Ping Cable Car Crystal Cabin 3

Upon exiting the cable car, and before reaching the Giant Buddha, take the opportunity to walk through Ngong Ping Village, which has some great restaurants and shops with everything from dog face bags, clothes, shoes, jewellery, chopsticks, homewares, and souvenirs.

Hong Kong Ngong Ping Village 1

Hong Kong Ngong Ping Village 2

Disneyland

For kids of all ages, Disneyland offers a chance to escape the practicalities of life and enter a world of fantasy, colour, and playfulness.

Hong Kong Disneyland food 1

Hong Kong Disneyland food 2

Hong Kong Disneyland Main Street Parade 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Main Street Parade 2

The fun starts the moment you board the train to the park, it’s decked out with Mickey ears, curved seats, and gold statues of Disney characters. The Disney experience starts right from the beginning.

Disneyland train

Some of my favourite rides are:

  • Runaway Mine Ears (Grizzly Gulch)
  • Toy Soldier Parachute Drop (Toy Story Land)
  • It’s a Small World, Mad Hatter Tea Cups, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Fantasyland)
  • Space Mountain (my absolute favourite), and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (Tomorrowland)

Hong Kong Disneyland Toy Story Land

Hong Kong Disneyland It's a Small World 1

Hong Kong Disneyland It's a Small World 2

Hong Kong Disneyland It's a Small World 3

Hong Kong Disneyland Mad Hatters Teacup

Hong Kong Disneyland The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Hong Kong Disneyland Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters 1

Hong Kong Disneyland Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters 2

What I love about Hong Kong’s Disneyland is hardly any wait time! Maybe it was the time of year but we only ever waited for a maximum of 20 minutes to get onto any ride.

This is a super fun way to spend a day with your children, or with your inner child.

Sky 100 Observation Deck

The real reason my sister and I went here was for the afternoon tea as we can never resist the chance for cakes. There are also some fantastic views of the city and Victoria Harbour to take in whilst you cake and coffee your afternoon away. And in true Hong Kong style you access this attraction by walking through the Elements Shopping Centre, which has a fantastic mix of high end and mid-market brands.

Sky 100 Observation Deck 1

Sky 100 Observation Deck 2

Sky 100 Observation Deck 3

There are so many other great things to do in Hong Kong, but hopefully this provides you with a fantastic start.

If you’d like to see my other Hong Kong posts, here’s the links:

Hong Kong one of my absolute favourite cities

Hong Kong a shopper’s paradise

Hong Kong food guide

Please also feel free to visit my Hong Kong Pinterest board.

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