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Perfume city Tokyo January 2, 2014

Posted by ayasawada in Japan, Music.
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Perfume でした。#prfm

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The last year or so has been, without a doubt, the best 13 months of my life. Capping off what can only be described as ‘Perfume year‘ was the holy grail: a pilgrimage to see the group in the motherland of Japan. 

The date: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The location: Tokyo Dome – the capital’s legendary baseball stadium and one of the biggest venues in the country. Perfume played here once before in 2010, but this time returned for 2 days, part of a 4-date ‘4th Tour in Dome’ that including a couple of nights previous in Osaka’s Kyocera Dome. 

:) #prfm

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Yet it was Tokyo that was the ‘homecoming’ of sorts, and the one that most international fans decided was the one to gather for (probably in no small part due to the coinciding Christmas holidays). Thanks to the World PTA fan club, for the first time we had a relatively easy way to purchase tickets to a Japanese concert. It was a lottery, but though many of us worried, practically all got tickets (and for those that didn’t, most of us had spares). I was lucky enough to draw a pair for both nights and booked my flight right away. (more…)

A week in Tokyo August 28, 2013

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Harajuku signage

Back in June, I had a “short, relaxing break” in Tokyo. This was my fifth time in Japan, my fourth in Tokyo, having stuck entirely to Kansai and Kyushu on my last trip. Seeing the Japanese capital again after 4 years, it’s interesting how much has changed – and not changed – both in the city and myself.

On the one hand, nothing much has changed. This is still the same Tokyo I’ve found my way around several times before. Convenience stores and vending machines still sell my favourite bottled green tea. I still know the Yamanote line like the back of my hand. Suica is still the way to travel, Ueno station in rush hour is still a nightmare. My favourite haunts of Ikebukuro, Shibuya and Akihabara remain largely the same. And unlike much of the western world, there are still physical record stores you can browse CDs and DVDs in. On the other hand, it’s amazing how much can change in 4 years, like the entire Radio Kaikan building being demolished or the Japanese population finally embracing the smartphone revolution.

I spent the days walking around my favourite parts of the city, doing the things I love and, unlike previous travel-rushed trips, just experiencing life as a Tokyo-ite. (more…)

Kirishima National Park August 14, 2011

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Kirishima is a pretty area of parkland about 40 mins drive north of Kagoshima in Kyushu. It’s part of the ‘Kirishima-Yaku’ National park that includes the island of Yakushima and forms one of the biggest national parks in Japan. It’s also considered “one of the finest volcanic hikes in Japan”, at least according to my Lonely Planet guide, and was used as a location for the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice (thank you Wikipedia). (more…)

Japan trip 2011 July 3, 2011

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Kirishima-jingu torii

A few weeks ago I returned from my fourth trip to Japan. As usual, the time passed quickly and joyfully with just over two weeks passing by in a flash. In some ways, it was the usual whirlwind of a trip, but in many other ways, it was a different change of pace.

(I’ll drop in a few pics throughout the post, but as always there’s a rather extensive set on my Flickr. And just to warn you, this is a long post).

What do I remember from this trip to Japan? As usual it’s a hazy, jet-lagged mix of convenience stores, vending machines, shop assistants shouting “Irashaimaseeeeeee!!”, new friends, old friends, good food, PET-bottled drinks, 100 yen coins and being tired and excited all day every day. It’s the greatest experience of my life (again) and only reinforces how this is, without a doubt, my favourite place on earth.  (more…)

も一度日本にくる May 3, 2011

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Where I'm going, sort of, only without the forest princess, and the wolves, and the weird spirits. Ahem.

Its been almost two years since I last had a proper holiday. So having finally got some time and money, where else would I go but to the motherland. The fact that it’s also the last place I went on holiday is besides the point….

This time the itinerary is a little different. My original intention was to go north to Hokkaido, but recent events upended that plan. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know the recovery effort for the earthquake and tsunami is ongoing, with aftershocks still being felt.

(I’d like to point out, I’m not in the least bit worried about the Fukushima nuclear situation. Yes, the plant is still in danger, but there really is no danger from radiation unless you’re planning to go right to the area directly around the plant (and even then I believe they still have a 30km exclusion zone in place). It’s a conversation for another time, but the danger really has been exaggerated, or at least misunderstood. It’s largely the result of our human tendency to be alarmist and the difficulty in communicating jargon terms to the public. As someone who works with scientists and science reporters, I’m not in the least worried about visiting Japan.)  (more…)

Japan trip 2009 August 9, 2009

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As mentioned a few weeks ago I was soon to take my third trip to Japan. Well those two weeks came and went in a flash, and boy what a time I had.

It was fantastic and probably the best holiday I’ve ever had. Not only did I do almost every single thing I would ever have wanted to do on a trip to Japan (which is as exhausting as it sounds), but I got to share it with my friends who share my Japanophilia.

For me that’s what really made this trip special. I went with friends with whom I had began Japanese lessons all those years ago, as well as  friends met through various London conversation clubs. On top of that there was the happy coincidence of several others having either just moved out to Japan or travelling at the same time. And we had many old friends and sensei to visit, with plenty of new friends made too.

You can see all the photos from the trip over on Flickr.

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Japan! July 6, 2009

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Kyoto Gion Matsuri

Kyoto Gion Matsuri

I’ve fallen rather behind on my posts the last few weeks (got a stack of Japanese films I’ve seen to write about, not to mention the end of the Spring anime season, several volumes of manga and a few new albums and singles CDs). This is largely because of — what else — real life getting in the way, particularly conferences and events for work. However, I’ve also been planning and preparing for my upcoming trip to the mother country. That’s right, ayasawada’s going to Japan 三回! (more…)

Paris April 1, 2009

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Yes, this is in Paris. I can spot a Totoro anywhere in a 5 mile radius.

Yes, this is in Paris. I can spot a Totoro anywhere in a 5 mile radius.

I just had a long weekend in Paris. Free Eurostar tickets courtesy of a day spent last year testing St Pancras station and the links to Ebbsfleet. Woo hoo!

Paris photoset on Flickr

This was actually my third time to Paris, though my first ‘as an adult’. Last time I went was when I was 15 on our then traditional family camping holiday to France. As such, spent a lot of time wandering into places and realising I’d been there before. Kind of wish I’d been less ignorant as a kid and soaked up more detail and history. Funny the things you notice when older though. Hadn’t realised the New York and Paris metros were so alike. Also disturbed by the sheer number of Dragonball Evolution advertising posters.

Anyway, it was a fairly easy going holiday since neither myself or my best friend had too much cash to spend. Walked to the Eiffel Tower on Friday (supposedly “near” to our hotel). Spent Saturday in Amelie-land of Montmatre walking past Moulin Rouge, Montmatre cemetery and the Sacre Couer. Really enjoyed it, although I realised I’d been to a couple of the places before ^^; Walked along the Seine from Notre Dame to the Louvre on Sunday before heading back. Overall, a pleasantly relaxing weekend with considerably more walking than expected.

Ate a ton of crepe’s and not enough cake from the patisserie. Best mate also refused to partake in bread wars, somewhat disappointingly. And I bought a whole baguette too….

My French remains crap, but was pleasantly surprised at how much I retained, despite having not spoken it for 15 years. Especially pleased with “Ou est le chat?”

Prague memories October 19, 2008

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The Tyn Church, Stade Mesto, Prague

The Tyn Church, Stade Mesto, Prague

I had an enjoyable four day stint in Prague during the week. It’s as far east as I’ve gone in Europe, very reasonable to fly to and stay in and generally a lovely place to visit. I’d highly recommend it. Full set of photos on Flickr.

For once, I wanted just a totally random, unplanned, relaxing holiday, with no pressure to see sights etc. I picked Prague on a whim and did practically no prep bar purchasing a Rough Guide and booking a random hostel. Much of my time was spent wandering around the various quarters, and thankfully, Prague is a wonderful city to lose yourself in.

My favourite memories: (more…)

Egypt! April 26, 2008

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Sphinx

I was in Egypt last week for work — the first time I’d been offered a chance to travel somewhere for business purposes. The cynical side of me says it’s a buy-off to keep me from jumping ship anytime soon, and if so who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?

Photos can be found on my Flickr page.

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