Money Diary (Japan travel edition): #4 What we spent during 9 days in Japan (Tokyo and Tohoku region)

We spent about 9 full days in Japan (plus the morning of our flight out). This trip was significantly more in peak season that I am used to, as it coincided with the Tohoku region’s cherry blossom forecast. As always, we buy too many souvenirs from Japan.

We exchanged some cash beforehand at AU$1 : ¥78.5139. We withdrew cash in Japan to top up, from 7 Eleven ATMs, which were the second ATM I tried with our Citibank debit card (one of the two most popular debit cards in Australia for overseas ATMs). Mizuho Bank ATM quoted me ~8% worse value than 7 Eleven, which came out ~1% within the global market rate so I just relied on 7 Eleven ATMs from thereon, since they’re everywhere anyway.

All costs in ¥ or the exact AU$ charged (or both), for TWO PEOPLE.

Pre-trip

Airfares – Royal Brunei Airlines: 2 x $739.31 = $1478.62
JR Tohoku pass (choose 5 days): (¥19,000 when purchased outside Japan, but realistically the travel agents will set the price themselves). 2 x $244 = $488
Data SIM for 30 days: 2 x $39 = $78
Hotel – The Knot Tokyo Shinjuku (3 nights): $545.41
Hotel – Hotel Vista Sendai (2 nights): $208.49
Hotel – Montein Hotel Kitakami (2 nights): ¥16,600 = $214.78
Hotel – Art Hotel Hirosaki City (1 night): ¥38,880
Hotel – Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo (1 night): ¥23,000 = $294.23
(Total cashback for four hotels except Hirosaki = $46.36)
Tickets for Teamlab Borderless: 2 x ¥3,200 = ¥6,400 = $80.73

The hotel and price in Sendai is more typical of what I am used to in terms of excellent location, compact yet clean rooms and price. The Shinjuku hotel was excellent but a bit far from the station. I would trade the size of the room for better location in an instant, but April is peak season so I had to make do and pay a bit more than I am used to for Tokyo and slightly worse location. It wasn’t bad though, and I’d prefer this location in Shinjuku than to not be near Shinjuku. The Hirosaki hotel was right next to the station but absurdly expensive. Welcome to the sakura festival in one of the top sakura locations in Japan! It was the most stressful finding a hotel in Hirosaki. The city is not that big and populous. The hotels there are on the old side and not too tourist-friendly (difficult to find smoke-free hotels). I would not have considered this hotel given its ratings if it wasn’t the only non-smoking option left in the city. The price was still ouch though.

Some transport prices may not be exact as I noticed sometimes IC cards gave ¥1-5 discounts on actual actual fares. All fares were retrospectively calculated. I’ve tried to categorise souvenirs clearly as things we bought to bring back for ourselves or other people (although this gets muddy because we did bring lots of snacks from convenience stores back home for ourselves/others). We are used to doubling or tripling our luggage with shopping because we buy so much in Japan! I think our luggage weight at least doubled.

Day 1 (Tokyo and Takao-san) *JR Tohoku pass*
Narita Express to Shinjuku: covered with JR pass
Lunch (tempura soba and tendon at Tenya Tendon): ¥1,440
Vending machine (drink): ¥150
Train to Takao-san: covered with JR pass except one stop, 2 x ¥130 = ¥260
Cablecar roundtrip: 2 x ¥930 = ¥1860
Tickets for Monkey Park: 2 x ¥420 = ¥840
Goshuin: ¥300
Vending machine (drink): ¥170
Train to Shinjuku: covered with JR pass except one stop, 2 x ¥130 = ¥260
Dinner (skewers izakaya at Kushiyaki Bistro Fukumimi): ¥6,778
Drugstore (lip balm): ¥306
Convenience store (salad, fruit, snacks): ¥678
Total: ¥13,042

We started our time in Japan around midday by the time we’d got into the city from the airport and dropped off our luggage at the hotel. We had a quick lunch at a chain restaurant before heading off to Takaosan. I got my first goshuin of the trip and had to pick up a lip balm from the drugstore back in Shinjuku because I lost mine on the flight. Every night we go on a conbini crawl as I try to stock up on vegetables/fruit and T tries to eat as much ice cream and junk food as possible (not that I don’t also join the junk food party). Typically a non-snacker, he turns into a different person in Japan! The other category that I spend a lot in is goshuin (also here), which I will categorise separately.

Day 2 (Tokyo and Kamakura)
Vending machine (drink): ¥140
Train to Kamakura: 2 x ¥920 = ¥1840
Convenience store (onigiri): ¥120
Bakery (2 breads): ¥480 (?)
Taxi: ¥1000
Tickets for Hokokuji: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
New goshuin-chou + goshuin = ¥2200
Tickets for Hokai-ji: 2 x ¥200 = ¥400
Goshuin (3): 3 x ¥300 = ¥900
Sakura mochi: ¥200
Lunch (soba at Fukuyu Soba Bar): ¥1836
Tickets for Hase-dera: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
Tickets for Kotoku-in: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
Souvenirs (2 small face towels): ¥1200
Goshuin: ¥300
Vending machine (drink): ¥130
Train to Shinjuku: 2 x ¥920 = ¥1840
Reserving Narita Express for airport: 2 x ¥3210: ¥6440
Dinner (skewers izakaya at Yakitori Nanbantei): ¥7123
Souvenir (2 alcohols from Bic Camera): ¥2364
Drink (alcohol from Bic Camera): 2 x ¥110 = ¥220
Souvenir (T-shirt from Uniqlo): ¥1065
Souvenir (insulated Tiger drink mug from Bic Camera): ¥1998
Convenience store (snacks): ¥588
Convenience store (ice cream): ¥500 (?)
Total: ¥35,584

We started our day an hour later than I had hoped, so I decided we would take a taxi to the first site in Kamakura instead of walking to help make up some time. It is such a temple and shrine town that we had to not visit many temples and shrines (and not get goshuin) so we could actually complete the itinerary. We like walking everywhere and visiting ALL THE TEMPLES AND SHRINES so this one day ended up not being enough time for us, since shrines and temples can start closing around 4pm. We will need to revisit. For lunch we had Yamagata soba, which T loved but I didn’t. I got my second goshuin-chou (book) at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu because the book was so pretty and I only had a few pages left in my old book, so I bit the bullet. I later realised the book is slightly bigger and in retrospect I would have preferred all my books to be the same size. Goshuin at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu also cost a premium – ¥500. Back in Tokyo, we picked up some alcohol to bring back. I also picked up the Tiger mug that was on my shopping list (half the price of what it would cost me in Australia/online). I think we both discovered the Haagen Dazs crispy ice cream sandwiches that night – they’re amazing.

Day 3 (Tokyo)
Vending machine (drink): ¥140
Goshuin: ¥300
Lunch (okonomiyaki at Kotegaeshi Okonomiyaki): ¥2764
Goshuin: ¥300
Metro: 2 x ¥200 = ¥400
Souvenirs (2 plush toys and 1 toilet cover (LOL) from Pokemon Centre DX): ¥6900 (tax-free)
Metro and train: 2 x ¥500 = ¥1000
Dinner (tonkatsu at Tonkatsu Wako): ¥3150
Tickets for teamlab Borderless: pre-purchased
Train and metro: 2 x ¥580 = ¥1160
Convenience store (cake, ice cream, chips, drink): ¥667
Convenience store (Kit Kat, purin): ¥313
Convenience store (sweets): ¥103
Total: ¥17,197

We just wondered around for most of the day. I checked out like ten consignment stores and then we spontaneously decided to go to the Pokemon Centre DX in Nihonbashi before heading to Odaiba for an early dinner. I heard Borderless is least busy around dinnertime so I was aiming for 6pm. When we returned to our hotel, we went on a conbini crawl for snacks for that night and to eat on the shinkansen the next day.

Day 4 (Sendai) *JR Tohoku pass*
Convenience store (breads and onigiri): ¥386
Shinkansen to Sendai: covered with JR pass
Lunch (gyutan at Rikyu): ¥3564
Goshuin (2): 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Souvenirs (mug and tumbler from Starbucks): ¥4104
Dinner (izakaya at Aburiyajubey): ¥6166
Snack (?): ¥432
Snack (Hyotan-age): ¥250
Snack (shu-pie at Papa Beard): ¥170
Snack (mochi): ¥200
Snack (Hokkaido milk cake): ¥290
Coin laundry (wash then dry): ¥300 + ¥300 = ¥600
Convenience store (2 ice creams and bananas): ¥1002
Total: ¥17,764

We had the afternoon to wander around Sendai after checking in and trying gyutan (ox tongue) at the famous Sendai chain, Rikyu. I didn’t really like thick cut gyutan the way it’s done in Sendai, so we didn’t eat any more during our stay. I picked up the Sendai Starbucks mug in the new design (I absolutely prefer the old design for regional tumblers – the new series is kind of awful, but I’ve never been to Sendai so I can’t get the old ones anymore…) and the new Starbucks “Japan” mug because it’s so pretty. After dinner (our only bad meal for the whole trip), we ate a bunch of cool food in the train station and went back to do laundry at the hotel (with ice cream, of course).

Day 5 (Sendai and Matsushima)
Train to Matsushima: 2 x ¥410 = ¥820
Snack (curry bread at Pensee): ¥300
Matushima Bay ferry (with upgrade to green car): 2 x (1500 + 600) = ¥4200
Lunch (Seafood at Nanbuya): ¥5700
Tickets to Zuigan-ji: 2 x ¥700 = ¥1400
Goshuin: ¥300
Tickets to Entsu-in: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
Snack (fishpaste skewer): ¥200
Souvenir (grilled garlic): ¥540
Snack (regional sakuranbo Hi-CHEW): ¥150
Toll for crossing to Fukuua Island: 2 x ¥200 = ¥400
Train to Sendai: 2 x ¥410 = ¥820
Dinner (ramen at Misoichi): ¥2100
Souvenir (regional gyutan Pretz): ¥600
Souvenirs (amazake dango, 2 umeshu): ¥1016
Snack (sakura doughnut at Mister Donut): ¥129
Souvenir (lightning cable from Tokyu Hands): ¥1836
Souvenirs (stainless steel Tiger drink mug and soup/food mug from Yodobashi Camera): ¥4670
Convenience store (ice creams and fruit liqueur): ¥1030
Vending machine (drink): ¥110
Total: ¥27,221

I was informed by the Internet that upgrading to green/first class on the ferry of Matsushima Bay would be worth it as you are able to go outside on the deck. I found a Hi-CHEW I’d never seen before and T managed to sneak in a packet of grilled garlic because he is a garlic monster (the verdict is he wishes he brought back ten more packs…). Back in Sendai, we started getting serious about souvenir shopping. T says he got the lightning cable despite it being expensive because he has for years been particular about a certain cable length and will try any that he stumbles on in a quest to find a good quality one. I picked up a second Tiger mug and also a soup/food thermos even though I don’t need one (I prefer this one and have been using it though).

Day 6 (Sendai, Yamadera, Kitakami) *JR Tohoku pass*
Convenient store (2 breads and 2 onigiri): ¥493
Train to Yamadera: covered with JR pass
Goshuin (3): 3 x ¥300 = ¥900
Tickets for Yamadera: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin (8): 8 x ¥300 = ¥2400
Lunch (soba at Enzou): ¥2780
Souvenir (wooden plate): ¥700
Train to Sendai: covered with JR pass
Souvenirs (2 boxes of seafood senbei): ¥2376
Souvenir (lotion toner from Matsumoto Kiyoshi): ¥799
Souvenir (tamagoyaki pan from Tokyu Hands): ¥4622
Souvenir (T-shirt from Comme des Garcons): ¥7344
Dinner (tonkatsu at Saboten): ¥3881
Convenience store (drink): ¥129
Shinkansen to Kitakami: covered with JR pass
Shuttle bus to hotel: complementary
Convenience store (ice cream, purin, bananas, Starbucks coffee, onigiri, bananas): ¥1023
Total: ¥28,047

We got an absolute tonne of goshuin at Yamadera!!! I picked up a cute leaf-shaped wooden tray/plate made in Takaoka to hold trinkets in. We returned to Sendai for a few hours of speed shopping because we still hadn’t really made a dent in our souvenir shopping. We picked up these impressive seafood senbei for family and I finally decided on a tamagoyaki pan, which was on my shopping list. After arriving at our hotel in Kitakami, we immediately set out to find the nearest conbini!

Day 7 (Kitakami)
Laundry (wash then dry): ¥500
Goshuin (2): 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Lunch (takoyaki and yakisoba): ¥1070
Dinner (shabu shabu at Porco Blu): ¥6480
Convenience store (bread and drink): ¥491
Convenience store (onigiri, ice cream, drink, warabimochi): ¥558
Total: ¥9,699

We had a late start and also did laundry since it was raining heavily. The town was smaller and quieter than I expected and there was almost no option for lunch so we had a quick lunch in a tiny cafe that seated four people and the store-lady literally made one serve of food ready for customers. She actually couldn’t give me what I ordered because she didn’t have enough takoyaki, haha. We were able to enjoy one of the top cherry blossom spots in Tohoku all afternoon. After some difficulty finding somewhere for dinner, we ended up at a shabu shabu restaurant. It was super fancy and we had a huge private booth to ourselves. The food was great and we were stuffed! THat doesn’t mean we didn’t do a conbini crawl for more snacks and stuff to eat during transport the next morning.

Day 8 (Hirosaki) *JR Tohoku pass*
Shinkansen and train to Hirosaki: covered with JR pass
Bus: 2 x ¥100 = ¥200
Chicken skewers: ¥500
Squid skewer and pork skewer: ¥1100
Sanshoku dango: ¥200
Goshuin: ¥300
Tickets for Hirosaki castle: 2 x ¥310 = ¥620
Souvenir (Hirosaki castle postcards): ¥424
Bus: 2 x ¥100 = ¥200
Dinner (izakaya at Izakaya Tsugaru’s Liquor Worm Watami): ¥5108
Souvenirs (face cleansers, oil cleansers, face masks, mascara, lotion toner from a supermarket/drugstore): ¥19965
Convenience store (pickles, drink, ice cream, Hi-CHEW): ¥571
Total: ¥29,188

Hirosaki was crazy busy! We headed straight for the park and ate some overpriced (and not very good) skewers from the food stalls, and a not-quite-defrosted dango (I was terribly sad by this). We went into the Hirosaki Castle keep, which was priced unusually. I don’t think I’ve ever paid for a temple, shrine, castle, garden etc that wasn’t a denominator of 100 in Japan. We had a fantastic dinner at an izakaya, trying a bunch of local (Aomori) specialty cuisines. We definitely over-ordered and it was still so cheap! Since it was still early, I convinced T to go to Mega, which I saw was a huge drugstore/supermarket. I went to town on face masks (for myself and my Mum) and stocked up on longtime favourites that I usually pay two or three times more for. I only bought three or four of each item but I bought out the stock for each product! To end the night, I wanted pickles and T wanted ice cream, and while I was at it I also found a Hi-CHEW I’ve never seen before.

Day 9 (Hirosaki, Tokyo) *JR Tohoku pass*
Tickets for Saisho-in: 2 x ¥300 = ¥600
Goshuin: ¥300
Souvenir (2 alcohols): ¥1080
Bus: 2 x ¥100 = ¥200
Convenience store (2 breads): ¥273
Snack (hanami dango): ¥140
Convenience store (onigiri): ¥140
Lunch (2 ekiben): ¥1810
Vending machine (2 drinks): ¥320
Train and shinkansen to Tokyo: covered with JR pass
Souvenir (stovetop grill toaster from Tokyu Hands): ¥2462
Souvenirs (3 different packs of Tokyo Bananas): ¥2541
Souvenirs (6 different packs from Kit Kat Chocolatory): ¥4266
Dinner (Beer Hall): ¥3596
Convenience store (sweets): ¥103
Convenience store (lollies, chocolates, ice cream): ¥625
Total: ¥18,456

We walked around the city and visited over 20 or 30 temples. Sadly I was only able to get a goshuin at one major one. By the time it was midday, we were near Hirosaki Park again. We went to the visitor centre to use the bathroom but also left with two bottles of ringo-shu/apple liqueur (Aomori is famous for its apples). Back at the station, I found hanami dango that I was really craving after the terrible one from the previous day (it was divine!). We’d decided to have a late lunch on the shinkansen so we picked up two ekiben to share. Back in Tokyo at 6pm, we checked into our hotel and started a night of frantic shopping by 6:30pm. We had a lot of stores we needed to visit before they closed in a few hours. I found a stovetop grill toaster (on my shopping list) and T decided to pick up a box of Tokyo Banana to share at work and we got two small packs in different flavours for ourselves. We also visited the Kit Kat Chocolatory since T is serious about collecting his Japanese Kit Kats. The Chocolatory is incredibly premium these days. You can pay some $20 for small box of containing three small sticks of single origin volcanic something-or-another chocolates. That’s so different to a few years ago when the Chocolatory first started! He got some Kit Kats to share at work, and picked up three things that he didn’t already have. After a late dinner, we tried to run down our IC cards on snacks and ice cream so the balance would be closer to 0. I’ve kept my IC cards for many years (for subsequent trip) but I prefer to keep a minimal balance on them in case I lose them or they become nonfunctional.

Day 10 (airport day)
Convenience store (drink, bread, banana): ¥378
Convenience store (2 onigiri, Kit Kats): ¥400 (?)
Narita Express to airport: reserved and purchased on day 2
Souvenirs (2 tumblers from Starbucks): ¥3596
Souvenirs (2 eyeliners and 2 stockings from Matsumoto Kiyoshi): ¥3500 (tax-free)
Souvenirs (3 different packs of Kit kats): ¥3680 (tax-free)
Total: ¥11,556

We had a late morning flight and got up super early. On arriving at the airport, I popped into the Starbucks and found an airport exclusive tumbler, and the new series Hiroshima tumbler, which is incredibly beautiful and I couldn’t not have it! Once through customs, I finally found one of my favourite eyeliners at Matsukiyo. I saw the brand of stockings I’ve been buying on every Japan trip but they had different lines. I grabbed two to try as I figured they must not make my exact one anymore. Unfortunately we found more Kit Kats T didn’t have at another souvenir store and had to buy them (including the premium Tokyo Banana with Feuilletine Kit Kats!).


*JPY estimates are based on 1 AUD : 78.5 JPY for simplicity

Sightseeing is relatively cheap in Japan for exploring nature and temples/shrines. The majority of the sightseeing costs we had were the Matsushima ferry and Teamlab tickets. Once again, food was the real winner. Despite eating all the food and drinking every night, eating out and snacking only cost ~¥4500 or ~AU$58 per person per day. The real cost would probably be lower as we really didn’t need to eat that much convenience store junk food, and some of it might technically be “souvenirs” as I brought them home. Unsurprisingly, we spent a lot on goshuin and shopping/souvenirs – 18%! Here’s everything we hauled back… *hides*

What I bought & Wardrobe diaries: April 2019

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 (black and white, US 7.5) – I wrote previously about shopping for leather sneakers after a terrible pair of Nikes. I actually had kept this exact pair of runners in size 7 around that time because they have a lot more support and a thicker sole, and I did still need a pair of runners in my life. After wearing it a couple of times, it became evident that these ran narrower than my previous pair of Nikes, and they made the sides of my foot numb. It didn’t bother me too much unless I wore them for many hours. However coming into my Japan holiday of April, I decided to repurchase these runners and size up to avoid the discomfort during long days of walking in Japan. While I regret not realising the problem with my previous pair, I don’t regret this second purchase. I had no issues in Japan and it was totally worth the comfort. $179.99 minus $45.00 discount = $134.99 minus $1.84 cashback = $133.15

Uniqlo HEATTECH crew neck long-sleeve T-shirt (navy, M) and Uniqlo HEATTECH turtle neck long-sleeve T-shirt (black, M; navy, M and S) – These were predominantly purchases for the Japan trip as there was one fairly northern city we were visiting that could potentially be very cold. I originally purchased two turtlenecks (S and M) to try on for size. I slightly preferred the larger size because my (short) neck felt claustrophobic in the smaller size. So then I purchased another one in medium and another crew neck in medium but a darker colour than previously. The sizing difference it not really noticeable so it doesn’t particularly matter either way though the arms may be a bit longer (and I have longer arms). I did end up bringing one turtleneck and one crew neck to Japan (despite the weather report suggesting it would be warm) and did need both in the final city as a cold spell arrived and I was a bit under-dressed. (Didn’t have time to order online for cashback) $74.60

Uniqlo OKASHI T-shirt (black Morinaga Hi-CHEW, M) – I walked passed the purple Hi-CHEW T-shirt in Japan and almost passed out because it was so cute and so me (I’m a huge fan of Hi-CHEW). The design with the pocket is just so adorable, but I chose the black T-shirt (not as cute) because I didn’t really like the purple colour. I didn’t bother to try it on because I love these kind of T-shirts oversized and tend to just buy M (or L if sold out) in Uniqlo for these T-shirts. They’re super comfortable for wearing around at home. ¥1,065 = (based on the rate I exchanged cash) ~$13.56

Comme des Garcons PLAY double heart T-shirt (black, M) – This was also purchased in Japan (T affectionately refers to it as my “Komee T-shirt” since it became a joke after various attempts at spelling the store to him while having him to plot the shop on Google Maps). The range and sizes were pretty depleted in store and you’re not even allowed to try on long/short-sleeve T-shirts! I was deciding between two long-sleeve tees (because I didn’t see any short-sleeved ones) until the store assistant pulled out this T-shirt and I fell in love. I know they run small but gosh they run really small! I might have even preferred an L! The fit is really lovely though. ¥7,334 = $93.95

April 2019 total: AU$315.26

No other purchases and returns, or wardrobe updates.

Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 (Day 10 & 11 – Kyoto [Fushimi Inari Taisha], Osaka, Hiroshima, Miyajima)

See: Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 itinerary and intro

Day 10: January 27

In the morning, we checked out and took an early (for us) shinkansen, leaving the island of Kyushu and heading to the main island of Honshu. We would be making out first pit stop in Kyoto. The shinkansen from Hakata station to Kyoto station was just over three hours via Shin-Kobe.

In Kyoto, we stayed at ibis Styles Kyoto Station, which is right across the road from Kyoto station (one of its entrances), so it was so convenient for all our day trips out of Kyoto. The hotel was actually really cheap and pretty good. After dropping off our bags, we headed back to Kyoto station and had kaiten-zushi/sushi train at Musashi Sushi.

Then we took a train to Inari station to visit Fushimi Inari-taisha/Fushimi Inari Shrine (my second time). We ate some takoyaki before starting the hike. At the start of the hike, there were huge crowds and a lot of congestion, but the number of people dropped drastically after just 15-20 minutes of walking and soon there are very few people. Most people do not seem to walk to the summit.

As I hadn’t planned much else for the rest of the day (planned free time!), we decided to go to Osaka for the evening since Kyoto is honestly a bit boring in terms of shopping and eating (especially at night) and Osaka is just as bustling as Tokyo. We took the train back to Kyoto station and then to Osaka station. We spent some time shopping and browsing souvenirs. T picked up some Japanese Kit Kat Chocolatory chocolates he hadn’t gotten on eBay yet. He was super happy. (We collect Japanese Kit Kats…)

We decided to eat at Kiji Okonomiyaki, an okonomiyaki restaurant that was (might still be) highly rate online. We ended up in some office building and a security man told me that I, like many others before me, was definitely in the wrong place. For some reason Google Maps had the wrong address or pinned it wrong? We had to head back in the opposite direction to the station and doubled our walk (it was really far). It was in the restaurant level of a building, and there was quite a line. We waited around 45 minutes. Unfortunately I cannot recommend this place at all! It’s over-hyped by tourists (there wasn’t a single Japanese person) who were probably all visiting the online top hit okonomiyaki restaurant and everyone just keeps reviewing and recommending it, even though it was a thoroughly below average. Not to say a restaurant can’t be good if it’s visited by lots of tourists, but this was more of a tourist trap and had probably lost its charm. Such a shame that we wasted the time and effort to eat there. Oh well, after that we learned our lesson and no longer read restaurant recommendations from Tripadvisor anymore since they’re mostly tourists’ reviews.

After dinner, we walked to the Umeda Sky Building‘s Floating Garden Observatory (second visit!). This is my favourite night-time observatory in Japan (unlikely to be beaten, I think), because it is open-air and just stunning with the glow-in-the-dark “starry sky” ground. It was a lot more packed than the previous time I visited, but it was still amazing!

We returned to Osaka station and headed back to Kyoto station and our hotel.

Day 11: January 28

Today we would be making a day trip (just like my previous Japan trip) to Miyajima via Hiroshima. We took the shinkansen from Kyoto station around 9am and arrived two hours later around 11am. We then took a train to Shin-Hakushima station to walk by Hiroshima castle and the Peace Memorial Park. We got some hot snacks and also picked up an umbrella from the a conbini since it was raining. Then we took the tram (50 minutes) to Miyajima-guchi station, where the ferries to Miyajima depart frequently on the 10-minute journey. There are two ferry companies and the JR pass covers the JR ferry.

Miyajima is an island near Hiroshima and is one of the Nihon senkei (three most scenic places in Japan) and is still one of my favourite places in Japan. It is important to check the tide forecast for the day, which can be looked up many months in advance (maybe even a year?), which I always do before planning the itinerary in order to try and find the best possible day(s) so the visit can coincide as best as possible with the high and low tide. The high and low tides allow you to enjoy the island’s iconic attractions in different ways. On this day, the low tide was at 5:45am and 6:20pm while the high tide was at 12:15pm. When the tide is below 100m, it is possible to walk up to the famous torii gate.

When we arrived on the island, it was already after midday. We quickly had some lunch and then visited Itsukushima-jinja/Itsukushima Shrine around 2:30pm when the tide was already receding drastically. Well, I knew the tide times so this wasn’t surprising. (On another note, I really REALLY wish I had remembered to start my goshuin collection here since getting my first book from Itsukushima-jinja would have been so special, BUT I FORGOT UNTIL THE NEXT DAY!)

Since it was drizzling all day, we didn’t visit Misen/Mt Misen because there wouldn’t be much to see. I had visited before though, and it is worth going! We wandered around the town, and I noticed that there were significantly less deer than three years ago. Compared to before, there also weren’t many visitors and a lot of stores were quiet or closed in the late afternoon, probably because of the weather and the time of year. We rested in a cafe and had some cake before walking out to the torii gate around 5pm when the tide was just low enough that it could be reached.

It was also dark now. We took the ferry back to the main island and a direct train back to Hiroshima station. We had some delicious Hiroshima okonomiyaki in the station, picked up some local snack souvenirs and took the shinkansen back to Kyoto station.

What I bought & Wardrobe diaries: March 2019

New in

Equipment Slim Signature silk shirt (cactus print; XS): I mentioned in the previous month’s post that I found this shirt and print on eBay, which led me to finding it on Order of Style (last one remaining!). I only bid up to around $80 (including shipping) on eBay and lost so I immediately went online to purchase this. It’s so adorable that I can’t bear to wear it. I’m honestly not sure if I will or if I’m going to keep it like a collectable, haha! Please don’t judge my cactus obsession. $162

Celine Soft Cube bag (burgundy with navy handles; pre-owned via eBay): Oops. I saw this bag for the first time on Temporary-House Wifey’s blog in February/March and instantly fell in love with it. I think Phoebe Philo released it in mid-2017 so it was only made for a few seasons. I found the shape of the bag gorgeous and it looked so practical, but I didn’t really see any colour combinations that I liked. I would have gone for navy since that’s one of the colours I’m looking to add to my collection, but I only saw pictures of it in silver hardware, and I wouldn’t compromise on my gold hardware preference for such expensive bags. So I quietly admired it but actually I was hunting other (not as rare) Celine bags. By chance I saw this pre-owned bag in burgundy pop up on Vestiaire during my morning check (ack, I check four sites every morning and night) in new near condition. With import taxes, it came to AU~2000+ which was more or less what it would have cost when brand new. I was so conflicted all day and very nearly purchased it that night but decided to just sleep on it… it wasn’t meant to be if someone else got it. In photos, the bag also comes up a bit brown and I really dislike brown. T insisted it looked brown. I looked up as many pictures as I could of this bag in this leather and it did seem to look more brown- or more red-burgundy in different lights. Overall I still really liked the colour, but it was so hard to find information about this bag except for that one blog post and a Youtube video in a language I can’t understand! Then I decided to make a last ditch effort and checked eBay. Lo and behold I found the same Austrian seller had listed the bag for much cheaper, but it was in German so it was just some luck that I found it! I asked for more pictures and even inquired about the receipt and she did actually have one! After getting an authenticator’s opinion from The Purse Forum, I committed and made my maximum bid (850 euro) on Saturday night and went to sleep. The auction ended around 6am and someone had been bidding against me in the last ten minutes but I still won it for 805 euro + 42 euro shipping. I found a 10% eBay coupon and it came down to 766.50 euro! I had been educating myself on filling out the import forms, expecting to pay taxes (never had to before but I factored it in) but it just arrived at my parcel locker without any issues! My initial impression of the bag was it was smaller than expected since I’d never seen it in person. It fits a lot and is the lightest bag I own, which is no small fete considering it beats many smaller bags. The leather is divine and the colour is a rich, deep burgundy. T still calls it brown but I actually absolutely love the colour and I just ignore him. It might be my favourite bag in terms of looks and practicality. I told myself that my collection was getting out of hand and I would sell up to three of my least used three bags, and then my work bag which would be replaced by this Celine. However, then T started going on about how his favourite bag was one I was going to sell, and then I realised I wouldn’t want to carry the Celine in the pouring rain… so I still haven’t decided to sell any yet! I will have to reassess after returning from holiday…!! I have zero regrets about this bag and have worn it every day for the last three weeks. While I haven’t exactly completed my Celine wishlist yet, I’d be pretty happy if this was my last old Celine bag. One small unfortunate thing was I had cancelled my 28 Degrees Mastercard that week so I didn’t get a good exchange rate on the purchase as I had to use a normal credit card (probably wasted about $50-60); $1282.12

March 2019 total: AU$1444.12

Other updates

Those Frame denim jeans from last month have now been hemmed so they’re an ankle jean on me. They are super comfortable but stretch out so, so, so badly! Within a few minutes they ride down and I have a baggy crotch. It’s a terrible look so I’ve only been wearing it (because so comfy!) with longer tops. This cannot compare at all to AG Jeans, which are stretchy but hold their shape without fail from morning to night. Perhaps I could size down to my usual size if I were to give their jeans another go, but I’m not skeptical whether that would explain most of the waist and crotch bagginess. I can take the jeans on and off without undoing the zip or button, for goodness sake!

I sold an old Sportsgirl plaid shirt and a Honey & Beau silk maxi dress (new with tags) on eBay. There was this occasion-wear dress store, Swish Clothing, that used to do three for $99 sale dresses during sale periods. I don’t know if they still do or if the stores still exist as I no longer live near one. I remember the one and only time I went in, I picked up three amazing full length dresses for $99 – two of them were silk. I’ve worn two to weddings but the last one looks like a bridesmaid dress (my Mum insisted up and down it didn’t when we were in store). I’ve been trying to sell it for one or two years now and someone finally made a bid and I accepted. I didn’t lose that much and still consider the other two dresses bargains. Minus shipping and fees for both: +$27.88

Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 (Day 8 & 9 – Beppu, Fukuoka, Nagasaki)

See: Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 itinerary and intro

Day 8: January 25

In the morning, we checked out of the ryokan. We would be spending the day visiting the Beppu Jigoku/Hells and then returning the car. A brief introduction about the Beppu Hells taken from here:

Thermal mud and hot springs have been gushing tremendously from the ground for over 1,000 years. There are 8 jigokus in total at Beppu consisting of the cobalt blue ocean hell, ‘Umijigoku’, deep-red blood pond hell ‘Chi-no Ike Jigoku’ as well as ‘Oniishi Bozu Jigoku’ (Onishi Shaven Head Hell), ‘Yama Jigoku’ (Mountain Hell), ‘Kamado Jigoku’(Boiling Hell), ‘Oniyama Jigoku’ (Demon Mountain Hell), ‘Shiraike Hell’ (White Pond Hell) and ‘Tatsumaki Jigoku’ (Geyser Hell) . Its onsen eggs (eggs boiled in the hot spring) and ‘Jigoku Mushiyaki Pudding’ (Pudding steamed in the Hell) are popular for visitors.

We drove and did our own Jigoku Meguri/Tour of the Hells. We first drove to the Kannawa district, where the first six hells are all within walking distance of each other.


I think I need a cactus font!

For lunch, we did the novelty steam cooking. The experience was disappointing. The food goes in, you get a timer, and you return to collect. It’s also quite overpriced – you pay for the ingredients and also the time you want to steam. At some point we also tried the iconic steam-cooked purin (Japanese pudding), which tasted just like every other purin, so I can’t say I’m sold on all the steam cooking in Beppu. It’s mostly just a novelty.

After lunch, we visited the last two hells in the Shibaseki district.

At this point it was only early afternoon. The Beppu Hells are definitely easy to fit in to half a day or less. We filled up the car’s petrol and returned it (conveniently to Beppu station, and I did complain about the windscreen wiper). From Beppu station, we took the shinkansen two hours to Hakata station (Fukuoka), our last pit stop in Kyushu. Current-day Fukuoka is a fusion of Hakata and Fukuoka, hence a lot of things in Fukuoka have retained the Hakata name. We checked in to our hotel, Hakata Green Hotel No. 1, which was perfectly fine and nothing special.

We left in search of the yatai (food stalls) along the river on Nakasu Island in the city centre. Yatai are considered the symbol of Fukuoka, and of course we love Japanese street food. Sadly we were unable to find any yatai in the area though I had expected to see a scene of over twenty! It may have due to construction works or perhaps they don’t operate during cold and bad weather. We quickly had to come up with a new plan. Fukuoka is also really famous for their ramen – Hakata ramen. So of course it was important (T is a ramen aficionado) to try Hakata ramen in Hakata/Fukuoka. We decided to eat at Uma Uma. Then on the way home, T couldn’t resist trying some oden from the conbini. They were perfectly good, convenient and cheap oden.

Day 9: January 26

Where possible, I try to visit as many castles as possible (though it’s not a bucket list thing for me), so in the morning, we took a subway to Ohorikoen-mae station and walked to the Fukuoka-jou ato/Fukuoka Castle ruins. Unfortunately I hadn’t expected it to literally be just the remaining gate. There was no castle ruins besides that. It was a bit disappointing. We walked a little bit around Oohori-kouen/Ohori Park and then took the subway back to Hakata station. Since that had taken a lot less time than anticipated, I wanted to changed my reserved ticket to Nagasaki for earlier. I was told the reserved section was full though. I figured we’d just try and get a unreserved seat on an early express train.

For lunch, we ate at an Ippudo Ramen branch in the station. Since Ippudo or Hakata Ippudo originated in this city, it made sense to eat it in Fukuoka.

We managed to easily get ourselves a seat in the unreserved section of the train to Nagasaki, which took around two hours. From Nagasaki station, we took a tram to visit the Peace Memorial and Hypocenter Park. The city is set against mountainous scenery, which is really beautiful.

We walked back to Nagasaki station (we quite enjoy walking everywhere when we have time) and tried to find the bus to take us to Inasayama (Mt Inasa) to see the night view of the city. I wasn’t having much luck locating the bus so I went to ask at the tourist centre, but was told the mountain was closed that day! What terrible luck!!! So we took the train back to Hakata station, and a subway to Tenjin, the downtown area of Fukuoka. On the city streets, we stumbled across a couple of yatai, – yay! We chose one and enjoyed delicious oden and tempura. It was pretty fun with great atmosphere in such a tiny space.