Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I’ve got a few actual fashion and travel related posts I really want to do, but for now enjoy some Christmas in Japan photos from the last two years, including magical times at Tokyo Disney Sea. Foods, lights, trees and random Santas.

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I’ve blogged about Sweets Forest in Jiyugaoka before but they stepped their game up in a redesign and Christmas fantasy. Talk about a great date spot.
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The walkway up to Sweets Forest is equally pretty.

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I only had one seasonal sweet and this was from a Popcorn pop-up place. Popcorn is still really popular in Japan. They filled popcorn, puffed rice and other light things and poured DRY ICE over the whole thing. The they topped with matcha ice cream and raspberries. It was smoking while I ate it with the toothpicks. Probably super unsafe to be eating dry ice items, but I followed the directions and saved my ice cream until last and made it through. My mouth smoked each time I ate some. I looked like I was vaping LOL

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Most houses in Japan are boring looking and don’t decorate for Christmas, but this one in my neighborhood did ad their garlands even lit up at night.

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Floresta‘s 2016 special donut for Christmas. Delicious as always.

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Line icon Brown is decorated in the Harajuku store for Christmas. Human hand prints for size.

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Cannibal mascot Peko-chan is ready to deliver presents in the Fujiya in Nakano.

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Odd eat-park NamjaTown in Ikebukuro fancied up for Christmas.

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Osaka Shinsaibashi OPA is using Santa to advertise their credit card.

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Shibuya Parco was lit up for Christmas. Cuteness factor by Frances (franceslovesyou)

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Shibuya 109 for 2015 Christmas did Exile and a nice red and green theme. This year it’s silver with Exo. I’m not a fan. They turned an old discount shop on B2 into an event space for EXO this year. Event space (along with theme cafes) is the answer all around Japan on how to deal failing clothing stores and weakening malls. Shibuya 0101 also now has event spaces, theme cafes and floor for otaku merchandise. Quite a step-down for the mall that used to house all Sweet magazine‘s main stores. There you go, trend commentary in a Christmas photo post. BOOM.

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If Roppongi could not get more boring they’ve put out the dullest tree in front of Roppongi Hills.

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Darth Santa is the only way I want presents from now on at Kiddyland Harajuku.

Tokyo Disney Christmas

Tokyo Disney Sea is my favorite Disney, but after going to Christmas event at Walt Disney World Florida I have to say America does Christmas better. But there a few things that are better in Japan.

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Every year Christmas Wishes is the theme of Christmas in Tokyo Disney.

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I buy the monorail passes because I save them. I’ve tried to get myself out of this because it’s cheaper to suica, but isn’t it so pretty?

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One of the Christmas positives about Japan Disney is how they light up the whole park. The Toy Story area is my favorite.

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In 2016 they were a bit too busy celebrating Tokyo Disney Sea’s 15th anniversary so Christmas didn’t get as fancy.

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Another Japan Disney positive is their seasonal drinks and foods. I can’t believe America Disney doesn’t jump on more seasonal foods. Mostly all America does is seasonal cupcakes. I’m not a sweet drink fan but this was cute and warm. I went the day after it snowed in Tokyo and it was still cold.

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The Italian themed Tokyo Disney Sea all wonderfully lit up near the waterside.

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So many adorable seasonal Disney merch. I only bought a cup this year.

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Tsumtsum Disney tree in Shibuya Hikarie Disney pop-up. How many distorted mes can you spot?

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My third post on Kyoto foods or Kyo-ryori and this one is all about Kyoto cafes with Kyoto sweets. Traditional sweets is one of the most famous things about Kyoto. Next to the mouth of most shrines are stalls or petite cafes for enjoying anything from an ice-cream to the rare one of a kind desserts. I’m going to talk about three that are definite highlights of Kyoto sweets. I’ve been to a other dessert places in Kyoto but they just didn’t hold up as well as these three Kyoto sweets cafes for originality and taste.

I also have a map at the bottom that I’ve compiled all my Kyoto food recommendations I’ve blogged about before and some new ones.

Seasonal Kyoto sweets right near the famous temples – Kyodai-ji and Kiyomizudera

Jumodo (十文堂)

address: 京都府京都府京都市东山区玉水町76

Jumodo is a modern Kyoto zakka-style approach to traditional sweets. They have a well designed website and beautiful graphics for their menus and signage. But, Jumodo is still a really cute 4 table sweets place located perfectly next to many Kyoto famous sights.

I decided to stop in and fortify for the temple walks ahead and I was very satisfied I did.
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Man ordered the Modan set (もだん) which includes red bean and mochi monaka, along with a mitarashi kinako (honey peanut) and sweet miso dangos.jumondo-monaka-mitarashi-dango

The monaka to make yourself were temple bells. So cute for Kyoto.

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I ordered the roasted chestnuts (栗きんとん kuri-kinton) and a matcha latte. I’m usually anti-chestnuts but wanted to order a seasonal item since it was Fall. These were incredibly delicious and although I sampled my man’s items the chestnuts were my favorite.

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The homey outside of Jumodo.


200 year old Amazake Kyoto Sweets

Osakaya Kouji Cafe (大阪屋こうじ)

address: 605-0037 京都市東山区三条通神宮道西入ル西町147-1

Amazake (甘酒) means sweet sake. It’s a very low (or no) alcohol sweet wine enjoyed during New Years. 200 year old Amazake makers Osakaya opened up a cafe called Kouji in Kyoto that serves mainly Amazake flavored items.

Kouji (website from the 90s here) is pretty much the only place I can find where you can eat amazake ice cream or try an amazake latte. So it’s definitely worth it for the one of a kind experience. And who else can you trust to make you the best amazake but a company that has been doing it for over 200 years?

It’s near several temples and shrines including Zuikoji and a small walk from the Inari station which is next to the famous Fushimi-Inari shrine.

The hostess was very kind and offered us an English menu so don’t feel afraid on stopping by!

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My man chose the traditional Amazake. Served with a spoon to eat some of the sweet rice, but mainly a drink.

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I went for the Amazake Latte complete with matcha sprinkled top. Was very sweet but good.

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The highlight for us both. Amazake ice cream with hazlenuts. Very light and delicious!

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If the one-of-a-kind items aren’t enough maybe the atmosphere will draw you in? A lovely garden and seating areas.


Enjoy a parfait in Gion

Gion Kinana (祇園 きなな)

address: 京都市東山区祇園町南側570-119

In the lovely old area of Gion away from the busy and tourist-packed Shijo-dori is Gion Kinana. The official name for the brand is Kyo Kinana (京きなな) but its store is named Gion Kinana. Kinana is both traditional and not. It’s founded by a Japanese chef who was making French food and finally after a few moves settled in Gion in 2004.

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And why wouldn’t you want to settle in Gion? Gion looks beautiful in any light, but I do like it at twilight especially.

Kinana loved by tourists and locals alike for their seasonal ice creams and parfaits and its small amount of seating on the second floor fills up quickly.

There is an ice cream counter on the first floor but you can only buy one flavor of ice cream on the first and none of the regular menu items. My wait time was about 15 minutes before getting a seat at 5pm. They will sometimes have to split up large parties.

Gion Kinana has a small seasonal menu that rotates, but mainly stays in the yomogi, warabi, matcha traditional Kyoto sweets style.

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They had two main parfaits for the season:

Left – Kinana Hapon (Nipon)

Warabi Mochi, Red Bean, White mochi with plain, seasame and yomogi ice cream.

Right – Berry Berry Kinana

Yogurt and raspberries make this a “healthy parfait” with plain, seasame and matcha ice cream.

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You can also order a half scoop of ice cream and create a menu set. You can choose between the mochi and rollcake set or the mochi and pound cake set.

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What did I choose? Of course the most wa one! Kinana Hapon! This also included a fresh chestnut (maron) and a shogoin yatsuhashi (聖護院八ツ橋総 | site). Yatsuhashi is a cinnamon flavored sweet made with rice flour. Shogoin yatsuhashi made these into curved cookies that are famous in Kyoto. Kit Kat even picked them as their Kyoto flavor in 2013.

I got the pound cake set which was delicious.

Although Gion Kinana is a sweets cafe do not expect to get a latte or any coffee. Only simple green tea is served here along with juice or sparkling water. The parfait was huge and although I finished I couldn’t stomach food for a long time afterwards. Definitely bring your appetite!


Google Map of all Kyoto food and sweets recommendations

Places I’ve tried and sometimes blogged about on this site. Click through and read why I think it’s a good choice.

So much good food to enjoy in Kyoto! I’ve got two upcoming sakura related posts about Kyoto and then I’ll be hoping to some other places in Japan for food and travel. But this blog is soon going to get very sakura so be prepared for the pinkness :dotbow:

 

I love blogging about Japanese local foods, read all the posts here.

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Cha Kaiseki at Minoko is one of the rare cuisines to sample in Kyoto. Kyoto for being the center of cultural Japan lacks in a lot of traditional cuisine. Mainly Kyoto is known for sweets (post up coming), kaiseki and obanzai. Compared to neighbor Osaka which is known as the kitchen of Japan, Kyoto’s sickly. But the refinement of Kyoto cuisine is just lovely.

Minoko (website | english blog about it | Japanese: 美濃幸 | address:
605-0821 京都府京都市東山区 祇園下河原通清井町480) is a 100 year old teahouse which serves cha-kaiseki for lunch and full kaiseki for dinner.

Kaiseki is a multi-course meal that has origins in the tea ceremony but has developed into mini dishes change according to seasons and location of the kaiseki being held. It is an expensive and luxurious affair. Kaiseki is also known as the onsen (hot spring resort) meal and many onsens pride themselves on their kaiseki as much as their hot healing waters. Cha-kaiseki is more of a smaller relaxed meal and is usually a lunchtime event. If you’d like to learn more Kaiseki wiki english page is actually quite good.

Reservations thankfully were not required for lunch and we came early enough to be seated quickly.

I was a bit nervous so I didn’t take as many pictures as I should, I mean I was at an 100 year old teahouse that served what is thought be as high cuisine. This was not a camera moment, but I had to sneak a few. Since Minoko did lovely sakura themed items I thought I’d post it now for the upcoming flood of sakura travel posts.

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We came early enough that inside their main tearoom we got the choice spot near the garden window. Birds and turtles played in the streams inside.

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Cha-kaiseki is usually served in a black laquer bento box. Ours had two levels. First level was first meal (upper right box): a plate of vegetables and cooked fish. Second level (center) was a light fish and broccoli mix (left) along with a chawan mushi or fish custard (unopened center).

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Looking at me you can se the first course laid out on the right.

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A close-up of the delicately sauced fish and spring vegetables.

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Of course right on the left in a wooden pot and right was this lovely sakura lacquerware that held miso soup.

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Since it was a cha-kaiseki or tea-kaiseki hot green tea was kept fresh in a pot. The green jar (far right) held sweetener.

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Absolute winner for me was this pot reveal. It’s actually a fish dish in a salted light sauce, but made to look like the traditional sakura mochi. Seasonal, clever and light on the palate.

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Dessert came in the form of fresh fruit. This is typical for a lot of nicer traditional restaurants.

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Finally bowl-like cups of freshly made matcha and sweet snacks.

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Sakura!! And a peanut jelly. So sugary but worth it!

Our meal was 3,500 yen for lunch a peice ($32). Prices for dinner start at 12,000yen ($110). I highly recommend lunch. It was a great experience and the food was elegant yet filling. After the hustle and stress of traveling it was such a relaxing moment.

Update! Google Map of all of my Kyoto Food and Sweets recommendations

Other Kyoto cuisine: shojin ryori / obanzai which I sampled in Arashiyama, kaiseki courses in the heart of Gion there is Gion Endo and I ate there back in 2008 it was delicious and I still remember the food (english) and an upcoming post all about Kyoto traditional sweets.

I’m on a trend right now of food and travel | fashion | make-up/skincare and I think I’m going to follow that trend for a while in posting cycles so up next… fashion!

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Atashida and Alyse were so kind to show me tasty Daruma Kushi Katsu in Shinseikai. It had been raining all day and my hairset failed instantly. I was looking a slug but they were both so kind to look past that and feed me. :roll:

Kushi katsu (串カツ) also known as Kushiage (串揚げ) are skewers of deep fried meat, veggies and other items. They’re native to Osaka and the working class Shinseikai neighborhood is famed for their popular kushiage restaurants. Daruma (site) is the most famous Kushi katsu restaurant probably because of their amusing icon or their billion locations.

This is definitely a screw the diet meal, but hey you’re traveling. #treatyoself

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A glimpse of the outside of their Shinseikai location. The hilarious mascot of Daruma. Master chef cheesin’

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Daruma Shinseikai chef preparing our kushiage right in front of us.

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In such a cramped Shinseikai location Daruma’s pre-skewers were all in front of us.

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Weiner, Asaparagus Bacon, Cheese, Mochi and Shrimp were some of the mix of bits I got.

That dark tin is the tonkatsu sauce where you’re encouraged to only dip once.

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Rainy Shinseikai is so wonderfully Osaka.

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Alyse looking forever fabulous with Osaka tower in the background.

Shinsaibashi Osaka Daruma Kushi Katsu

In April I took my man to experience his first Kushi Katsu experience. He was extremely hesitant. Deep fried meat? Why? But I pushed and now he says it was his favorite meal of the trip. We ate at some pretty ritzy and well reviewed places but the cheap Daruma kushi katsu won out.

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The Shinsaibashi location is super ritzy and huge compared to the 10 seat cramped location of Shinseikai. What it loses in authenticity, it makes up for in flashy gadgets. You order via a touchscreen (English menu available) and a train delivers your orders.

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You put the skewers from the tray on your paper. From the oil the mascot slowly appears. :)

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Here’s our set-up at Shinsaibashi Daruma. Beers, cabbage (free) as a palate cleanser, edamame, and interesting skewers.  Pictured are shrimp, mochi, weiner, and vegetable ones.

A typical Daruma meal will set you back only 1,000 yen (9.50$) without drinks. It’s cheap and a super fun food to enjoy in Osaka. Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima wins on this) get all the love in Osaka, but Kushi Katsu is my pick for favorite Osaka food.

Hi guys! Long time no blog! I was in Japan for a month and I thought I’d have time to blog there, but boy was I was I wrong. I was so busy! I got to see and do a lot of new things which I’ll blog about, but it was a whirlwind. Then I got back and Christmas and NYE was busy then I went to Disneyworld. I didn’t really want to get back to blogging without something fresh, but any post is better than no post! But soon lots more, promise  :wink: Post Goal is currently vintage brand series post (just needs photos), japanese and korean skincare and makeup short reviews (snapchat spam has been on that), travel posts to get ready for sakura season and spring trend preview post.