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.

Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 (Day 6 & 7 – Yakushima, Kumamoto, Takachiho, Beppu)

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

Day 6: January 23

For our last (half) day in Yakushima, we checked out of our hotel in the morning and drove to Kigen-sugi, which is also one of the major cedar trees on Yakushima, in terms of its age (over 3000 years old) and size. You can drive straight to this destination and a very short walk from the car park.

Those snow people were made by someone else!

After rain on the first day, and dry and warm weather on the second day, we had snow! As touched upon earlier, Japan was experiencing very strange weather and cold storms around the first week of our trip. It had snowed very heavily overnight and snow was piled quite thick on the mountains. Though Yakushima is quite south and tropical, it does snow during winter on the mountains, and some of the more difficult hikes are not recommended in snow. Yakusugi Land is pretty accessible and not much of an issue though. We had light drizzle for most of the morning.

After Kigen-sugi, we drove to Yakusugi Land, another major nature park featuring Buddha-sugi, Futago-sugi and Sennen-sugi. For short visits, most of the main cedar trees are located quite close to the car park, and there are much better hiking trails compared to Shiratani Unsuikyou from yesterday. Since we only had until early afternoon, we did the 80-minute trail. We were incredibly lucky that it stopped drizzling when we got to Yakusugi Land!

I was aiming for the 1:30pm ferry back to Kagoshima, so after our morning activities, we drove down to Anbo port, filled up the car’s petrol and dropped it off in the car park specified to us (at pick-up). We checked in for our ferry and had some time to walk a few hundred metres to the nearest supermarket to pick up some packaged food for lunch (and snacks including mochi, of course. Dango and mochi are my jam!). As before, the ferry trip was two hours.

On arriving back at Kagoshima, we took a taxi to Kagoshima-chuo station, where we were catching a shinkansen back to Kumamoto (~45 minutes)! I know my travel route is seeming ridiculous, but because Kumamoto is a pretty central and major city, I decided it served as a good base to get to our next two destinations.

We stayed at Hotel Route-Inn Kumamoto Ekimae since it was located right outside the station. We were really just in Kumamoto for an overnight stay and needed to be close to the station to pick up a rental car to drive the next day. I thought it was one of the poorer business hotels I’ve stayed at in Japan. I wouldn’t particularly recommend it.

Also, it was snowing in Kumamoto again. It was still a big deal and people were exclaiming how rare it was to see snow. For dinner, we went to Hanatsuzumi, which was the quintessential family-run homely Japanese restaurant. We sat at a cosy low table (kotatsu-style but minus the heating) and had mixed nabe (seafood, meat and vegetables). I had some language barriers as the family members were trying to explain the contents to me but I didn’t understand one particular thing they were concerned about. I eventually figured out one of the items was fish guts so I tried to subtly make sure T ate all of those, haha. The nabe was actually a huge amount of food and we struggled to finish but we did the very best we could since it’s rude to leave food unfinished. The family were incredibly nice and friendly. They even gave us mandarins to take away as a souvenir!!

Back at the hotel, it was time for us to do laundry. This hotel did have a female and male onsen (bath houses) and it turned out the coin laundry was actually located in the respective gender-segregated areas. To enter the onsen area you actually need to get a key from reception. As you can imagine, this was quite bothersome. We chose the washing machine in the female section, so only I could go in there to access our stuff and I had to obtain a key each time. This was definitely inconvenient as I had to return to put the washing into the dryer then again to bring everything upstairs. (Also it’s just easier with two people and four arms.) We hung everything up overnight in the hotel as they hadn’t completely dried. After all that, we ended up sleeping quite late.

Day 7: January 24

We woke early and checked out of the hotel. We picked up another rental car. It was snowing heavily today and poor T had to drive us in a pretty serious snow storm. Even better, the rubber on our wipers kind of broke so they didn’t wipe half the windscreen and we had to make frequent stops to manually wipe all the solidified snow/ice off the windscreen! We took the drive very slow, and despite being another tiny car, it drove very well in the snow to Takachiho-kyou/Takachiho Gorge (east of Kumamoto). What was meant to be a 80km, 2-hour drive took at least twice as long because we were driving on mountain roads through heavy snow. Luckily there were practically no cars. For a while thought we were driving behind a taxi which kept worryingly slipping and sliding side to side…!

Takachiho Gorge is best visited in warmer months so that you can also rent a boat and paddle along the river and look at the waterfall from below. Apart from the gorge, Takachiho is also famous for inventing nagashi soumen, a summer cold noodle dish where noodles flow out with water on a slide and you have to catch them with your chopsticks! Unfortunately we also couldn’t enjoy this because it definitely isn’t available in winter. But we both love Kyushu so much that we are considering revisiting Kyushu in the future, and possibly visiting Takachiho again! We also didn’t get time to visit the shrine.

When we got to the gorge, everything was covered in snow and it was already like 2pm. There was one souvenir store and a soba restaurant (where we had a quick and late lunch). Staff in both places advised that it might be too dangerous to walk down to the gorge in these conditions. This was super disappointing especially as it was already so much later than we had wanted to arrive. Nonetheless we decided to just start walking and see how it was. It was manageable and they had probably exaggerated a bit. Certainly we had to be careful but it wasn’t so bad because it was fresh snow. It was freezing but so worth it! I think we saw other visitors once, and otherwise we had the whole place to ourselves! I enjoyed how pristine the snow had fallen on everything.

My not-pristine snow person

After our short but sweet visit in Takachiho, we continued on north to Beppu. This leg was just over 100km and meant to take just over 2 hours (but it took us around 3 hours). We gradually left the mountains and the roads became easier though the whole journey was very isolated and we rarely saw any cars. It also stopped snowing eventually.

After arriving in Beppu, we drove to our hotel, Umikaoru Yado Hotel New Matsumi. They had a car park that we had to pay for (since we were keeping the car for half of the next day). Because Beppu is a very famous onsen town, we were staying in a ryokan (traditional inn). It was really lovely and a nice change to have a spacious room. The hotel also used water from the onsen for the baths so we planned to try that after dinner (since I have never wanted to actually go into a communal onsen).

We walked out to a nearby restaurant, Toyotsune, for dinner. They specialise in tempura but have lots of other izakaya dishes too. The food was delicious!

While walking to and from the hotel, we noticed the streams and drains had steam coming from them from all the hot spring activity. I thought that was pretty cool! On the walk back, I also had a terrible slip and fall on a patch of slippery ice. I landed smack bang on my butt, but thankfully I was fine except for some bruising and pain.

Back in our room, we started to draw the bath. Unfortunately it took about half an hour of running the water before it was warm enough! We had been warned by the staff that the water would take a while to be hot since they were using water from the hot springs, but I thought half an hour was pretty extreme. Anyway, the bath was lovely but mostly a novelty (to say I had experienced the onsen waters of Beppu) since I never actually take baths.