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Obligatory Travel Post (pt 1?)

As annoying as it is to look through other people's vacation photos, I do feel obliged to post some pictures from my recent trip to Japan -- if not for a current audience then at least for posterity. I'll also include all the locations I went to in case anyone is planning a trip! I might do a haul in the future (at least of the zines that I bought). Although haul posts always feel a bit gluttonous. Maybe a shopping guide too. We'll see.

I should mention that it's been a dream of mine to visit Japan for nearly a decade, so the experience of finally being there really transcends words and certainly transcends a shallow blog post, but whaddyagonnado  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I spent a week in Tokyo, a few days in Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto. Before I left I also went to Seoul for  few days, totaling 2 weeks abroad. Here's the highlight reel:




Nara Deer Park was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life and I say that free of irony. There's something about the abundance of deer combined with the incredibly beautiful scenery that creates a sense of community among park visitors the likes of which I think would be unable to recreate in any other environment. There is something so surreal about making the long trek to the Todaiji temple with a group of deer herding you towards it. Plus the deer literally BOW to you.


As a Unesco World Heritage site, the Bamboo Forest in Kyoto is definitely among the more tourist-y places I explored-- but it's for good reason that its earned so much acclaim. Photos really don't do it justice. It's truly unlike anything I've ever seen.




The Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku!! Where do I begin... to say it is impossible to describe would somehow still be inaccurate. Tacky, gaudy, excessive, awe-inspiring, star-studded, unforgettable, exhausting, thoroughly enjoyable...ah, it's no use. It's really one of those see-it-to-believe-it kind of things. Japan's embrace of American capitalism to the point it almost becomes parody is perhaps nowhere more evident than it is in the Robot Restaurant.

 

The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen museum was an unexpected joy. I definitely recommend going here if you're looking for some unique photo ops and a tad of culture while you snap those selfies. Although emphasis is definitely placed on the visual aspects of the museum, visitors do glean a bit of history on Instant Ramen. And it's a very hands on experience, culminating in an opportunity to create your own instant ramen (you even get to decorate the cup!)


While I was in Tokyo, I went to this little zine shop called Mount Zine (I plan to go into more detail in a separate post). It was seriously a wonderland... I bought so many beautiful zines there. One in particular, entitled "Coffee Paintings" piqued my interest. I messaged the creator, Rena Tsutsui, on Instagram to tell her how much I was enjoying her work. Long story short, we met up and she painted this beautiful portrait of me. I was so honored and touched by her kindness. Definitely my favorite part of the entire trip.


Pirate ships in Hakone... although perhaps not the most glamorous stop on the trip, spending the night in a bed-and-breakfast style place in Hakone gave me the opportunity to explore Japanese culture with a deeper perspective. They even had a private onsen. The traditional architecture, artful wilderness, and the perfect view of Mount Fuji were well worth the journey. The smell of sulfur was not quite as pleasant. I found the clash of different time periods all throughout Japan to be very intriguing. It's both a conflict between globalization and national identity and technology vs. tradition.



I came across this funny T-shirt shop in a train station in Osaka I believe. As tempting as it was to buy all my friends funny shirts with slogans they'll never understand, I resisted the urge to drop all my money there. And deeply regretted it.


Yes, this is a shrimp prawn sundae. Yes that is tartar sauce and whipped cream. Yes I did eat it... no I'm not ashamed. When in Rome, you know? Karafuneya Coffee had literally every kind of parfait you could imagine... that included a french fry parfait, a corn dog parfait, even a takoyaki (octopus) parfait! They also have a less adventurous selection for the weak stomached.


Artwork at the DMZ in Korea. The area was much more tourist-y than I expected which made the escapade much stranger to say the least. Not a must-see in my opinion. Depressing but not in an unexpected or poignant way.


The Meerkat Cafe however is definitely a must-see. I think the photos speak for themselves.




Stylenanda's flagship store, The Pink Pool Cafe, had a really amazing artistry to it. The Korean brand fashioned their store to look like a hotel. From the entryway to the rooftop, they commit to the theme wholly. Although the clothes and makeup are cute, I'd argue that the real attraction here is the decor. One floor is hotel "rooms," another is the "laundry room," They even have a "cafe." Unfortunately, there is no actual pool... but the view from the rooftop is almost as good. 


Nearby the Seoul tower, there was an area where, a la the Paris art bridge, people could purchase a lock and lock it to the fencing to cement their love. You know I'm a sucker for the intimacy of strangers, so I had to document some of the locks.



The last place I visited in South Korea was a bookstore called Veronica Effect. Although not quite as magical of an experience as Mount Zine, it's definitely worth the trip if you're in the area. The books here were seriously so unique, and it's a great place to go if you're looking for unusual souvenirs because they showcase local artist and have the coolest zines for sale.

There you have it, my trip in a nut shell. This could be the end of it. Or I might drag this out into a few more posts and make everyone groan.


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