Cherry Blossom Shower

Cherry blossoms at Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan.

What is it about cherry blossoms that attract such an ardent following each year? Is it the delicate white and pink flowers that seem to smile at you? Or is it the glorious petal shower that descends like snowflakes when the wind blows? Or maybe it’s simply the scarcity of it, a hide-and-seek appearance that happens only once a year and lasts around two weeks.

These days you don’t have to fly all the way to Japan to see cherry blossoms. Many cities have their own cherry blossom trees, like in New York City and Washington DC. If you miss the season in March, you can head to Australia to try your luck in September as well. You could even plant one in your backyard if you have the right climate and soil conditions.

That said, where else would you get to see the trees against a backdrop of Meiji-era houses or the magnificent Osaka Castle? Only in Japan, of course. The trees may look the same, but the backdrop sure isn’t. To get the most authentic cherry blossom viewing experience, Japan is the only choice. So much for reducing the carbon footprint…

Read more about my trip to Osaka in:
Osaka Part 1: A City With Character


Kyoto: Old Never Looked So Pretty

MARCH 2008… Kyoto is the ancient cultural city of Japan and its main draw is the many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tourists come here for a piece of old Japan – admiring the religious architecture, walking down historic Gion and appreciating traditional Japanese crafts. Convenient day… Continue reading Kyoto: Old Never Looked So Pretty

Osaka Part 2: A Dive Into The Kaiyukan

MARCH 2008… I thought the Osaka Aquarium, also known as the Kaiyukan, deserved a piece on its own with all the fantastic pictures I took. I’m not an expert on ocean life, so honestly, all aquariums look more or less the same to me – aka a place to see fish. But I still like… Continue reading Osaka Part 2: A Dive Into The Kaiyukan

Osaka Part 1: A City With Character

MARCH 2008… Osaka is somewhat similar to Tokyo, yet different. It is also a major city (the third largest in Japan), but it has less of the modern skyscrapers and less of the sometimes-oppressing crowds. Instead, its pace is more moderate, its buildings more traditional and you actually feel like you have some space to… Continue reading Osaka Part 1: A City With Character

A Mosaically Perfect Fit

The Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea.

When I first saw this mosaic creation, I thought to myself: Hey, I can do that! All I have to do is buy some colourful (cheap) ceramic plates, smash them into pieces and then piece them back together. Who knows, it could be my first breakthrough as a mosaic artist!

But then things got complicated once I started to think about how I was actually going to do it. Like, how do I smash the plates into the correct shapes and sizes? Do I use a hammer? Throw them against the wall? And then, how do I make sure they would fit back together nicely? That would take some intense maths calculation right… or is it physics? As if right on cue, my head started to hurt. Guess it’s harder than it looks.

Well, so much for being a mosaic artist. I shall just be content with admiring this mosaic art from the Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea. Although maybe I could still smash some plates for fun. It does look like a good way to destress…

Read more about my trip to Tokyo DisneySea in:
Tokyo Part 3: Adventure at DisneySea

Tokyo Part 3: Adventure at DisneySea

MARCH 2008 After some healing time at Hakone, it was time for some adventure. My friend wasn’t interested in theme parks, so I made my way to DisneySea myself. DisneySea is one of the two theme parks at the Tokyo Disney Resort, the other being Disneyland. I have never been to Disneyland either, but since… Continue reading Tokyo Part 3: Adventure at DisneySea

Tokyo Part 2: Healing At Hakone

MARCH 2008… For our first excursion out of Tokyo, we headed to Hakone, a town on the outskirts of Tokyo. It was easy to get there with the direct train from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, which took about 90 minutes. Alternatively, there is a shorter 55-minute route by Shinkansen and local train for those pressed… Continue reading Tokyo Part 2: Healing At Hakone

Tokyo Part 1: Warm At Heart

MARCH 2008… Mention Japan and the first thing that comes to my mind is food – Sushi, sashimi, ramen, teppanyaki and the list goes on. Japanese cuisine is varied and always delicious, its popularity evident in the fact that it can be found in many parts of the world. There’s really nothing bad to say… Continue reading Tokyo Part 1: Warm At Heart