The Kobe Journey

[Photos are all taken by me and edited by me]

I didn’t think I would like Kobe that much. I didn’t even put it as a priority on my itinerary. All I know was, “Ok, Let’s put Kyoto on the itinerary so Mom will be happy” and everyone kept on saying “You’ve lived in in Japan for more than a year now and you haven’t checked out Kyoto?”. I’m sorry.

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So I did go to Kyoto. And it was everything that everyone had said. It was beautiful, mesmerizing. It was crowded. My vision was 40% people walking in their rented kimonos and 60% the exhilarating temples, the colors, a feast for the eyes. 10000000 Torii Gates out of 10 I would go there again.

Ok, so Kobe.

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The contour of the roads were up and down, very hilly. My mom took a photo of a medium-sized street art (ok, there’s me in it too). These all reminded me of San Francisco.

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I prayed at the Kobe Mosque and walked around the area, found two American kids in their halloween costumes, then another foreigner bringing a dog inside a cafe.

(very. rare. in. Japan. at. least. in. Tokyo.)

“Where Am I?”

The feeling or the “kanji” as Japanese would say, is very… foreign. It didn’t feel like Japan!

I walked along Kitano-cho, Kobe’s European District. The houses were all designed in European styles. Each house having its own history. And one turned into a… Starbucks.

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This is slowly turning into a list of how Kobe didn’t feel like Japan… but I guess we’re doing that.

The number of outdoor seating in cafes were a surprising amount too. I saw a French woman smoking at a terrace of a cafe, with her Japanese friend.

I don’t see a lot of that in Tokyo. Both the terrace and the smoking. Outdoor seating in Tokyo are tiny chairs that don’t fit my buttocks and smoking? You have small smoking areas, alleyways, and Shin-Okubo and… Shibuya at night for that.

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I ended my Kobe journey near the Kobe Port Tower. The parking building near the Mosaic Shopping Mall had “PARKING” in English Alphabet instead of a Katakana text. And wow, a parking building? You don’t see that a lot here in Tokyo.

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I don’t know what to take from this writing. I didn’t spend enough time in Kobe to know everything about it. The history of the city itself, the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. I do want to learn more. The notes above were somewhat like footnotes in my head during the day I went to Kobe. I didn’t even write about going to Kobe’s Chinatown and eating the ever glorious Kobe Beef. But yes, I also did all that.

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I went back to Tokyo a few days afterwards. For a second I had a thought of “With the joy I felt in Kobe, would I like to go back to Tokyo?”. But I was welcomed by a beautiful sunset in Shinjuku, the sun setting near the Yodobashi Camera building. I took a photo of it too. Is it asking me to stay? I really don’t know.

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Tokyo in Fragments II

Ok here are some more pictures.

I’m actually writing this on a bus, I’m heading to the Shibazakura Festival at the Mt. Fuji area. The bus is so full, they made me seat on an extra seat, also, the ride was supposed to take around 30 minutes, but it’s been almost an hour now. 9 minutes till we’re there I guess (this dude across me kept on checking the maps on his phone, that’s why I know). So in short, I figured I should just be writing.

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This was taken from the Chureito Pagoda in Yamanashi Prefecture. I queued around 20 minutes just to get this shot, each person was only given 5 minutes to take photos there. I was happy with the result though, seems like this is straight from a travel brochure.

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This shot was probably one of my fave shots so far. This was still at Yamanashi Prefecture. Probably the only cafe there. The cafe’s name is Zakka Cherry Cafe, the cafe is owned by a group of very nice and cute moms. Per usual, when customers came in they greet us “いらっしゃいませ“ which is like, “welcome”, you don’t need to answer it. I had a brain fart and answered “いらっしゃいませ” as well. The moms were laughing, then I realized my mistake. Then I apologized, then we laughed again. Ha. It was very cute. The cafe also played Monkey Majik, a band I haven’t listened to since 6th grade I guess. They also played an entire Carly Rae Jepsen’s album…?

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Ok this trip to Chureito Pagoda was such a great day trip. Weather wise, mood wise etc. Photo wise it was one of the best days too. This is at the Shimoyoshida Station, my friend and me were waiting for our train to Fuji-Q Highland, which only ran every 30 minutes. This train was out of order, but it was so blue, so pretty, the sky was great, and the sakura tree was such a plus.

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I took this on the foot of the Chureito Pagoda area. I really do recommend going there, probably one of the best views of Mount Fuji. To be honest, I was quite shocked cause the Pagoda looks somewhat fake?? Cause it was built pretty new, around the 1960s. I was so used to seeing aged Pagodas, it felt unnatural because the paintwork of the Pagoda was still so nice and smooth! But thanks to that, it glows in photos, make the photos prettier.

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I randomly came across the Nakagin Capsule Tower and I got so excited. I had breakfast at Tsukiji and decided to walk to Shimbashi, and there it was. The iconic Nakagin Capsule Tower. It is a residential-slash-office building designed by Kisho Kurokawa. It’s pretty much almost dead now. It was famed because it was the symbol of the 新陳代謝 (Shinchintaisha) architecture movement. Pod hotels are probably inspired by this.

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This was at a store in Omotesando called a Sense of Place. My brother was visiting me last March. It’s a cute photo standee and it’s still up until now, I just love how colorful it is.

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Ok my mom took this. But it looks nice. We were walking from Naka-Meguro to Hiroo and came across this playground, not far from Ebisu Station. This is called the Tako (Octopus) Park, because the giant slide is shaped like an octopus! I got so happy cause I just read about it on a TimeOut article a few days before this photo was taken.

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This was taken at National Art Center Tokyo. Probably one of the most beautiful art museums here in Tokyo. I’m obsessed with the architecture, it’s also designed by Kisho Kurokawa. I took this photo on a random day actually. I visited the Tadao Ando (another amazing Japanese architect) there before class, on a weekday. It was sunny, and I felt good.

More pictures coming soon most likely.

Thanks for reading,

Alika

Tokyo in Fragments

So it’s been a year. I’ve been mostly slacking off in this blog thing.

I got into drawing illustrated journals for a while. All of them are on my instagram.

I am right now very into taking photos I guess, they are mostly posted on my instagram stories page and also my photo page.

I still visit museums, I still visit art exhibitions. I still love Tokyo and every nook and cranny of it, I haven’t even finished exploring it yet, I’m still very, very, very in love, pretty much infatuated, with this city (I hope this feeling never ends). I just… don’t write about it.

And I don’t have any other excuses beside… me slacking off, haha.

Studying Japanese language isn’t easy. You see, I’m not a very bright student (I’m more of a doodler in class…I also laugh a lot, I stare at my phone a lot, I hang out a lot), so the process has been really tough (completely my fault! Ha!). But things are getting pretty serious the past few months, I will be taking the JLPT N3 exam this upcoming July (JLPT is Japanese Language Profiency Test, something like TOEFL).

My daily routine the past 6 months had only been, school and studying. It’s quite predictable that you can see me at Saizeriya (a very budget friendly restaurant, my fave is their tarako pasta which costs 399YEN) at the Koenji area. Probably around 2PM – 8PM. What do I there? Studying… and when I get bored, instagram. What else though? Haha. This is probably mainly the reason why I also kinda stopped drawing illustrated journals. I would like to do it again, but at night I’m always too tired, and watch animes (Saiki Kusuo please, anyone?) instead.

I still make time to walk around Tokyo though, mostly on weekends. And since now the weather is getting way less colder, I walk around a lot again. I love walking, I feel that you can get to know the city you live in by walking.

Here are some photos of some places I’ve been (plus some stories, and tiny descriptions about them), they are not in particular order. I just feel like writing right now, that’s why I’m doing this haha.

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Ok, this is Shibamata. An area in Eastern Tokyo, I found out about this area from Only in Japan. It’s a nice little town, 30 minutes from Ueno Station. I wrote/draw all about it here. I took this photo in the middle of the train track, while I was allowed to do so of course! It was actually around 5PM when my friend and I decided to head back. The area isn’t that big, so a day would do.

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I actually took this photo earlier today. I walked around the Shibuya ward today (Harajuku, Omotesando, Shibuya, Daikanyama, and so on). And, I came across this store in Ebisu. It sells toys and other goods directly from the US. Mostly are from Hot Topic. It’s actually pretty new to me seeing all these things in Japan. I mean, I go to a lot of used toy stores here (in Nakano, Koenji, and the back streets of Harajuku), but most of their stuffs are dead stock items or fancy collectible ones (I bought a 1997 Venom toy for 2000 YEN). But, at this store called Monster Japan, all the items are new! Like, really new to the point that they have the Incredibles 2 (!) toys. That’s amazing, haha.

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This was taken at a sandwich store called Buy Me Stand. My friend Sabila recommended it to me. It’s in between of Daikanyama and Shibuya. The place was cute (could be cleaner though? Haha). Also, the sandwich was actually good (We had the one called Hella Green). There was also a queue, which indicated that this restaurant has great food (this happens in Japan long queues = something good, doesn’t even have to be food).

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I played around with double exposure here. This is a mix of a bar in Roppongi, and Koinobori (鯉のぼり) under the Tokyo Tower (Tokyo Tower is located in the Roppongi area too). Koinobori, according to Wikipedia (cause I don’t know how to describe it other than “mirip layang-layang gitulah”) are windsocks that are shaped like Koi fishes. They are put up to celebrate Children’s Day here on May 5th, ok this, I actually know.

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This was actually taken inside Tokyo Tower. It was the release day of my favorite Korean group, SHINee’s brand new best of album. As a dedication, the Tokyo Tower (and other 4 towers across Japan!) was lit up in SHINee’s official color, and some people brought light sticks to the Tower, it was quite a pretty sight.

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I found this while walking from Aoyama to Harajuku, this is actually in front of a hair salon. It looks cute and I really don’t know what’s the purpose of it. But again, it’s cute anyway.

I think that’s it for today. I actually uploaded around like 13 photos on my media page here on WordPress, but it’s getting late, it’s 2AM, and I have to study tomorrow. I’ll continue again soon.

Thanks for reading,

Alika