After tromping around the Tottori Sand Dunes (Sankyuu) I headed back to the main Tottori train station, but realized I had more time to spend before last train. Since it was sakura season (Japan Cherry Blossoms) I checked via mobile wifi that the Tottori Fukuro River (Fukurogawa /袋川) sakura were in full bloom. I’m so glad I did. It was the best sakura I’d gotten to see all season! For previous sakura talks check out the “sakura” tag on Universal-Doll.

Japan Cherry Blossoms in full bloom in Tottori

astroboy water gauge

nameko saibai water guage Local children had drawn these cute rain gauges made out of PET bottles. Of course a lot are comic related like the Astroman and Nameko Saibai one.

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Litter signs in Japan can get really cute looking.  :bow:

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 So amazing right? I don’t think I edited any of these pictures other than cropping and resizing. No need to with all the lovely pinks  :loveword:

Corporate Salaryman Hanami

Business Hanami (Japan Cherry Blossom viewing) go full-out! I was happy to walk along when the lowly grunts on the corporate ladder were forced to wake up very early that day to secure a prime spot and secure all the goods. If you’ll notice there’s bottles of sake and mixers set up, along with giant trays of sushi and presents for the gifts.

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All the drinks and mixers getting set up.

Such a big feast! I can’t wait to enjoy Japan Cherry Blossom again this year. Just looking at these photos gets me excited. Have you ever seen them?

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Q-Pot Cafe Tokyo near Harajuku is one of the cutest cafes to pop in a long time (http://www.q-pot.jp/shop/cafe/). Done by wildly popular sweets deco aka sweets jewelry maker Q-Pot it’s the perfect niche cafe. It’s usually packed on weekends with a wait so weekdays is the best time to visit.

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These are just their regular desserts. Look how special and well done that their standards are. But you’re missing out on their seasonal (gentei) spectaculars, more on that below.  :sage:

qpot cafe tokyo outside

Q-Pot Cafe’s outside is like a small little cottage. With all the flashiness of Harajuku and the gilded brand stores that line Omotesando it’s such a refreshing simple, homespun change.

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The sweets wallpaper down to the biscuit shaped tables and wall motif. Everything is expertly chosen and uniquely crafted for this one-of-a-kind cafe. You definitely feel like you’re transported somewhere else than the backstreets of Omotesando.

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Like any special place in Japan there are goods to buy like take home Q-Pot Cafe biscuits and plates.

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The coffee sprinkled with their logo and each piece of silverware has their little Q-Pot teapot logo on it.

But of course what about my own choice? Their sakura-themed dessert.

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Or should I say desserts? A sakura cake tower, a sakura and white chocolate with Q-Pot logo and then a sakura macaron with edible jewelry.

qpot cafe tokyo desserts

Check out that amazing macaron! It was heavenly, too. I couldn’t handle how I was eating jewelry, such a joy.

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Such a tiny piece of chocolate but a delicate little print. If you didn’t notice, it matches their wallpaper.

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Inside the sakura cake tower! The Japanese-themed dessert heaven of cake, matcha cream, red bean and sakura icing. It was soooo good!!

 

Unlike many places in Japan cameras are 100% okay and encouraged. The staff are happy to take pictures of you or let you roam around and take pictures. For 1,000 yen for a dessert and coffee and an unforgettable experience, it’s definitely a well-priced moment. It’s also such a wonderful moment to sit when you’ve been walking around Harajuku.

If you enjoy sweets and adorable settings please visit! Q-Pot Cafe Tokyo is located near the Omotesando and Harajuku train stations at 3-10-21 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo. I’m not done with posting about Q-Pot. 3 months ago I went to Q-Pot Cafe’s super secret room and enjoyed their special menu. I’ll share with that next month.  :cheery:

 

 

 

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I’m going to get straight into showing the gorgeous Okayama cherry blossoms of Okayama Handayama Park and then I’ll tell you how I ended up there after.

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Gorgeous, right!? And completely unplanned!

How I ended up in Okayama…

I had taken a plane using Peach Airlines from Okinawa to Osaka and my flight was supposed to leave at 8 but my flight ends up leaving at 9. Which made me arrive in Osaka at 11:30. The buses had stopped or were booked and they were holding one last train for passengers of my flight. So I ran with luggage to get on it.  :sweatbubble:

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I ended up being the only one on the entire train. Crazyyyy

But the train only took me to Hineno, which is still outside the Osaka city center. I had to take a cab and was freaking out about the possible $100 to $150 price. The cabbie ended up being super nice and said Peach Airlines is always late and does this. I was worried the whole cab ride, but my cabbie cut my bill in half and consoled me. I ended up arriving in Osaka proper at 1:00am, but cabbies win my heart.  :stepup:

I finally got to bed at 2:30 so waking up early for a long train trip was out of the question (which is what I had planned). Since I had a Japan Rail Pass and could go anywhere for a day trip, I looked up sakura watch on Yahoo Japan Weather and then used Hanami Walker to find that Okayama had lots of spots in full bloom that day and Okayama Handayama Park was its most recommended. (Protip: During Sakura season use both sites!).

Okayama is only an hour shinkanesen away from Osaka so it was an easy transit. :stepup:

sakura-shinkansen

I rode the Sakura Shinkansen to Okayama to see Sakura. Very meta  :bow:

Lessons learned:
Sakura are gorgeous
Japan Rail Pass always is a great idea
Never book a late flight from Okinawa

I was thankful enough to be in Japan for cherry blossom (sakura) season this year and of course that means I tried to eat all the sakura food (previous sakura food post from 2011)! Sadly I think I saw less this year than past years. I was talking to a Japanese friend who came to visit me in Houston and she agreed. I wasn’t at many festivals so maybe there’s more there?

Although Starbucks Sakura Latte was as popular as ever. Going on sale and selling out before sakura even started to bloom! That’s the only one I can’t stand the taste of (yuck).

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As soon as I arrived in Japan I met my bestie Alice in Shinjuku and with my luggage in tow we had sakura foods. I got the Sakura Tiramisu tart. Was super delicious!

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The next day Alice brought home Sakura and Matcha-old fashioned donuts from Krispy Kreme to share. Alice is the best. :cheery:

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The inside of a sakura flavored traditional Japanese-style donut I bought from a bakery in Tottori. They’re called An-Donuts (あんドーナッツ) because there’s usually red bean paste inside, but this one was sakura instead.

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Sakura and Red Bean Mushipan (蒸しパン) with actual blossoms! From a bakery in Osaka. Mushipan is like steamed cake puffiness. You can find them inside convenience stores and bakeries. They are my crack. Also matcha bread with peanut powder. I was full of “wa” that day :smiley:

Here’s an easy Mushipan recipe. I really want to try it, but… diet  :regret:

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The most gorgeous traditional sakura dango from a stall in Hiroshima. Wrapped in a shiso leaf it was so good. I really regret not getting two. Sakura food is the best.

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Sakura roll cake, sakura eclair and sakura tea all from Sweets Paradise in Shibuya. The tea was really delicious!

That’s not all the sakura foods I have to show, but that’ll be left when I talk about Sweets Forest.  :dotbow: I really wish sakura was available year ’round.

I also came back with Sakura Matcha Kit Kat for my man, he loves Japanese flavors of Kit Kat. I bought my man two boxes and one box of Matcha kit kat as well. Since coming back in June he’s slowly saved them and will now finish this month. He’s been savoring them so slowly. It’s really funny!