Sendai sakura are definitely worth it if you’d like to prolong your sakura needs. After Tokyo and Kyoto’s sakura season is finished Sendai’s sakura season is still going on. After Tokyo’s blossoms fall off I’m usually left with a pink flower shaped hole. Or like last year the sakura forecast was off and I missed most of Tokyo’s blossoms and instead went to Matsumoto (previous post) and also went to Fukushima and Sendai.

There are three parks in Sendai proper that have sakura: Mikamine Park, Tsutsujigaoka Park, and Nishi Park. I chose visiting Tsutsujigaoka Park (榴ヶ岡) because it’s so close to Sendai station. You can actually just walk it in 20 minutes from Sendai station, or take the train to Tsutsujigaoka station(榴ヶ岡駅) on the Senseki JR line (仙石線).

sendai sakura tsutsujigaoka park full bloom

The classic vision of cherry blossoms: pink and frilly

sendai sakura tsutsujigaoka park full bloom

sendai sakura tsutsujigaoka park full bloom

Ohanami indeed. A perfect setting for flower viewing.

sendai sakura tsutsujigaoka park full bloom

This kid knows what’s up. Best part of weeping sakura, you can touch them easily.

sendai sakura tsutsujigaoka park full bloom

Since sakura viewing is a drinking pastime alcohol companies provide free lanterns to parks as advertisements.

sendai sakura tsutsujigaoka park full bloom

This is now my twitter background. Perfect sakura.

sendai sakura tsutsujigaoka park full bloom sendai sakura tsutsujigaoka park full bloom

People go crazy over the traditional Somei Yoshino sakura trees. But I’m gaga for the weeping sakura known Shidarezakura. To me it looks like they’re hugging all the revelers.

sendai sakura tsutsujigaoka park full bloom

The weeping sakura curtain.

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Lots of cute festival food stalls up at the edge of Tsutsujigaoka Park.

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Cost of seeing these blossoms once you hit Sendai station? 0 yen!

Sendai is a really nice place to visit and closer to Tokyo than you may think, it’s only a 95 minute shinkansen ride from Tokyo station. Kyoto gets horribly packed for sakura season and if you’d like a calmer vibe Fukushima, Matsumoto and Sendai are all very good alternatives and have later seasons.

If you’re trying to see more sakura post the Tokyo bloom I really recommend the Fukushima and Sendai experience. You can actually do both in a one-night hotel overnight stay in Sendai (whose hotel rooms are much cheaper than Osaka or Kyoto). From Tokyo head to Fukushima spend your day there (I have a sakura post coming up about them and it’s worth it!) and then train to Sendai. The next day see Sendai sakura and other amusements and then shinkansen out.

Although the tragic earthquake and tsunami of 2011 was originally known as the Sendai quake, there is no damage to witness or radiation danger in Sendai or Fukushima when going to the main tourist spots or just out and about in both cities. But they could absolutely use your tourist dollars, so why not see them? They have a lot to offer, especially in sakura season.

I’m planning to go back this year, but actually to see the burgeoning tourist boom of Sendai’s fox village. Then I hope to check even more sakura.

 

If you missed any previous sakura posts on the Doll check them out here I’ve got a fourth in a series of sakura foods posts coming up too.  :hearts3:

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Visiting Japan in the Fall and Winter is amazing. November with Koyo is one of the most beautiful times to be in Japan and its not as tourist rich as sakura season. December is filled with Japan’s madness for Christmas and that Exile cover of George Michael’s “Last Christmas” on repeat. You don’t need to learn the song, it will soak into your bones. January is Hatsumode, snow and onsens.

However it gets really chilly in Japan and here are some travel, packing, purchasing tips to keep you just cozy and stylish during the cold months.

 

Layer

Japan is really good at heating places and not heating them (sarcasm meter to 10). I have no idea how their air conditioning is pathetic, but the heating is always stellar, even when you don’t want it to be. Often the trains in Japan are over heated, but everyone smartly dressed for the temperature outside. It’s like being in a toaster oven, a crowded deodorant poor toaster oven. So you’ll want to take off your coat and maybe another layer.

Wearing a chunky knit sweater only will be your heat downfall. You may find yourself sweating in Winter if not. Stores and restaurants can do the same thing, either over or under heat you.

fint-winter-options

Here are some pieces from Fint’s recent Winter collection. All work super cute together, but you can layer and unlayer if you wish. Stash the coat or the cardigan or both in an eco bag if you get warm or layer all for chilly nights.

 

Pay attention to Japanese clothing brand catalogs and magazines they’ll show you how to coordinate for Winter Japan.

Shop Staff and Model snaps from Japanese brands

shop-staff-japan-winter

All four different styles are ready to deal with the upcoming cold, but all can be easily tweaked for cold weather. But all these girls look trendy and able to add or cool down for temperature changes.

Some examples these shop staff can do to layer for full winter

Fint can add both a cardigan and a coat, and possibly change to thicker socks.

Moussy can either layer over the cardigan or exchange for a short one and coat.

Sly can either go for a nude tights/socks combo or wear warm shorts underneath, she can also top with a coat.

Snidel can go with a tights/socks combo and put a turtleneck underneath the dress. Turtlenecks are really trending right now!

Choose a thin knit over a thick jumper: 

Winter clothes are super cute and cozy but thin sweaters will serve you best in Japan. You can fit a coat over them but not feel overheated if you have to take a coat off.


 

 

Don’t look like a tourist while being one, carry a tote bag with warm essentials:

Many Japanese women carry two bags, one is the normal purse and the second is a reused shopping bag or eco tote. This can keep a variety of things such as a bento, change of shoes, or chunky make-up case. The best reason to carry one in winter is to stash an extra scarf, gloves, cardigan, shirt or hat inside. There’s a reason many magazines (like Sweet magazine) give away tote bags so often.

sweet-magazine-eco-tote

Sweet Magazine for this month along with their reversible Cher ECO tote.

As a tourist you can use it as your emergency bag. Copy of your passport, bandaids, change of shoes, extra socks all the random needs you may have.

Being a tourist is different:

You may think you’re used to winter temps in your own country and most of Japan doesn’t get to full snow often, but the act of being a tourist is probably different than your day-to-day life. A lot of times being a tourist you leave your hotel or guesthouse in the morning and don’t plan to go back until late at night. Also you’ll be spending a lot of time outside, more than you probably do in your own country. Japanese temperatures can change +/- 10 degrees F during that time. Once the sun sets the temperature you dressed for in the late morning won’t be the same at night.

Also jet lag can really mess with your body temperature. I find my body runs very warm the first few days of any significant time change.

 


 

Use the Gyaru-style rule of warmth:

What’s that rule? If you’d like to show a lot of leg or cleavage or other bare body part, double and triple layer the other parts.

duras-layering-adjust

Great ways of layering and styling for winter I found in the Duras AW 2014 catalog.


 

Roomwear

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Liz Lisa roomwear. RIP. My favorite set-up.

From overseas you may ask, why I’m inside, the weather is outside. Sadly you’d be wrong. Japan apartments in my experience (I’ve lived in 5), the older the place is the worse off it is for heating insulation.

“Traditional Japanese buildings do not use insulation, and insulation may even be omitted in modern construction, especially in the low-end apartments; nor is insulated glazing traditionally used in windows, with these being generally single-pane” – wiki

What does this mean to you? Typically in hotels you will be fine, but if you’re staying in your own apartment or guesthouse you will be an icicle. Because of this Japan’s roomwear is stellar for keeping you cozy. They know they need to provide you with insulation because your house doesn’t.

I’m really obsessed with Japanese roomwear and it’s practical!

Cute roomwear stores for every price range:

Cheap:

Donki: Megastore of course sells a variety of room wear. It also sells kigurumi which can keep you warm (not recommended if you get up to pee a lot at night). Their sleep sock selection is quite good but quality not as good as tutuanna in my experience.

Shimamura: (site) It’s partner Avail as well offer cheap items and maybe some kawaii roomwear of a slightly high quality than Donki.

GU: Uniqlo’s stab at fast fashion Forever 21 offers roomwear options. I bought a pair of cute pink lace sleep boxer-style shorts for under 800 yen for summer. Not a good quality, but good enough.

Mid-range:

tutuanna-roomwear

Tutuanna was awesome last winter. Fluffy moko-moko Mr. and Mrs. Alpaca leggings and cat rocks with ears just for the home.

Tutuanna: (site) The sock store I blogged previously about, also does some of the cuter roomwear. I was obsessed with their fluffy warm alpaca leggings last winter. They’re my main recommendation since Liz Lisa Chambre a Coucher is over.

Spency:

Gelato Pique (site) sister brand of Snidel and Lily Brown it only does roomwear. Often not as kawaii, but good quality albeit at a higher price tag.

Rady: (previous post) Rady has both home and roomwear choices. Home usually means you can walk your dog in it, room is full sleepy time wear. They’re my next choice on roomwear investment because I’m a slug, but a fancy slug. :eyelashes:

 


 

 

Thick tights

Often skirts and dresses in Japan stay short year around, but tights places in Japan are excellent at providing a high denier tight to keep you cozy. Denier is a fancy tights word for thickness. Be sure to keep in the 70 to 100 denier range for tights during wintertime, hosiery.uk has a good graphic about denier. Tutuanna clearly marks their tights in the winter for this reason.

 


 

Heat Tech by Uniqlo

Heat Tech is the best thing ever.

If I had to make a more concise blog entry about staying warm in Japan it would just read Uniqlo Heat Tech in 40pt font. Times New Roman.

Uniqlo Heattech GOAT

uniqlo-heattech

Some of the tops line of Uniqlo Heattech (light colors also available)

Heat Tech line by Uniqlo that makes innerwear basics such as camisoles, tank tops, leggings, t-shirts and long sleeve shirts. The actual material feels like a smooth thin shirt. None of that silly thermal waffling pattern. It’s extremely durable and cheap. I have Heat Tech camisoles ($12) I’ve bought five years ago that even after tons of usage and American machine washing there is no pilling and the threads are all intact.

The tight weave stops a chilly wind but is thin enough to layer. It feels about the thickness or less of a regular cotton t-shirt. Nicola (she has a new style blog, she’s gorgeous and stylish go read it!), Lucie and I were having a nomikai (drinking party get-together) and we ended up waxing poetic on Heat Tech for a good 10 mins.

My ultimate winter rec: Heat Tech. Uniqlo overseas stores stock it as well if you want to buy beforehand. I really recommend the camisoles. They hide under any close-to-the-body clothing item and provide so much warmth for such a tiny garment.

They have a summer version called Airism, it’s not as good.


 

kairo

Kairo

If you’re planning on being outside for a long time like Koyo light-ups, Shrine touring, or Tokyo Disney consider picking up a kairo. Kairo (カイロ) are sticky heat packs and are found at any drug store or conbini, just look for the cute animals and sticky pack image if you don’t read Japanese. They’re quite cheap at 600 yen ($6) for a pack of 30. The most common you stick on your low back, but you can really put them anywhere. They recommend you don’t put on your actual body but on your first layer (like a Heat Tech tank top).

If you get cold easily or you’ll be outside a ton, they’re a great idea.

 

Since I know Fall is a big travel time for Japan I’ll be working mostly on travel items and tips for a little bit, but I’ll sneak back into the Larme series, shop staff snaps and trends interspersed.

In other winter related posts: Check out the Winter Japan coat buying and tips. and back in 2009 a very gyaru post about getting ready for Winter

Fall leaves are coming to Japan, learn and see Koyo here

 

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I traveled to Shizuoka 109 this spring (previous posts) and stumbled upon Gyda’s producer Yuria Kushido doing an in store meet-and-greet known in japan as a “raiten ibento”(来店イベント). I’ve chronicled stumbling into Momoko Ogihara at these types of events, went to a Sakurina event, and the Liz Lisa My Melody event. I thought I’d show how an instore event looks and how to find one near you if you’re traveling or staying in Japan.

What’s an in store event?

Anything or anyone famous holds an event in connection with a store. It’s usually one of three types: producers, models or characters.

Producers usually hold in store events to greet their fans and up sales in that particular store.

For Liz Lisa they have their character that visits select stores. Characters are such a big boom that they often have events in big stores.

Brands that do collaboration work with models often have in store events, for example Amo and Candy Stripper or Yui Kanno and Liz Lisa.  TWNRoom had three models appear for their opening event. Models also appear for magazines, new magazine Larme has a few events a year. Since most stores are based in Tokyo, Tokyo events are more common, but they happen all over Japan. Events can also coincide with store openings or other big store moves like design renewals.

How to find out about in store events?

Follow blogs of stores and models you like. This is the number one best way to do it. Blogs are likely where people post about it. Most of the time the in store events notices are only that week so you have to be quick to catch them. Twitter and instagram in store notice posts aren’t as common, so definitely check blogs.

One I’m aware of: Larme and its popular models have an upcoming model event for Halloween at La Foret 10/25

What’s required from you?

In store events are usually to increase store sales numbers, so in order to participate you have to buy something. The dollar amount varies.

At the Yuria Kushido for Gyda it was 5,000 yen ($49). The My Melody event was 20,000 yen ($198). The amount you buy is usually only for purchases made the same day of the event, meaning for the My Melody event it buy 20,000 yen that day. Okarie the director of Ank Rouge recently had an in store event (raiten ibento) at Tokyu Lala Port, you had to purchase 10,000 yen that day for a photo and autograph. The Nameko event was free but I had to ask for a ticket.

You are given a ticket and when stand in line and it becomes your turn you give the ticket away.

For Popular events QUEUE EARLY!

As early as you can and accept to be waiting a long time. La Foret mega meets always attract a ton of fans and they are dedicated.

laforet-meet-event

I arrived on time for this popular La Foret event.

la-foret-zipper-meet

However everyone else came earlier. The line for it stretched up all 7 floors of La Foret and outside the building curving around the street.

If you really want to see a big event show up early as you can and be prepared to stick it out waiting in line for a long time.

This is only for big events, small in store events aren’t as crazy. The only pressure for in-store events is when they are opening events. Then of course more fan fare and people are expected to show.

What’s allowed and how many photos can you take?

You can take as many photos as you want of the surrounding area usually, but of yourself and the person or character it depends. Usually it’s just two devices and one photo on each such as a regular camera and an iPhone or if friends are posing together then their two smartphones. They will usually just shoot one photo on each device.


 

 

Japan In-Store meets with models and characters

GYDA Yuria Kushido at Shizuoka 109’s GYDA

I stumbled onto a GYDA event for their producer Yuria Kushido when I was taking a day trip to Shizuoka. I keep stumbling onto events, which is a fun suprise.

gyda-yuria-kushido-sign

In the GYDA store they were using this sign next to the cash register to let customers know of a raiten ibento (来店イベント). Signs were also around the 1st floor of Shizuoka 109.

gyda-shizuoka-store

But even if you didn’t go into the store you’d notice by the crowd of stylish women queueing up to meet Yuria Kushido.

gyda-yuria-kushido-event

Yuria Kushido is both lovely, confident and extremely friendly. Her fans were also well dressed in their GYDA best. Yuria made everyone’s day who stood in line that day and spent a nice amount of time talking with each.

As you can see the guy handler is the photographer/bag holder. There he is walking and offering to hold the girl’s bag. A male assitant/photographer/bag holder is very common at producer in store events.

gyda-yuria-kushido-sign2

She signed everyone’s bag with a little note.

yuria-kushido-shizuoka-109-gyda

Bag on arm the male assistant takes photos with a GYDA staff camera and the fan’s phone camera.

Yuria was doing the same pose in every one because she knows her angles.

gyda-yuria-kushido-schoolgirls

 She’s so petite! Look at her in HEELS next to schoolgirls! Making the schoolgirl’s day.

and now for a completely different event…

Nameko photo event at Tokyu Hands in Shibuya

Nameko is a derpy mushroom character that has had a series of popular smartphone games and character lines as well as gamesen catch-game plushies.

Tokyu Hands is a popular chain that stocks home goods, stationary items (Like the Liz Lisa x Sliccies collaboration) and character goods. I got a message from Lucie that Nameko was doing a character event one Saturday and Alice and I are both nutty for Nameko so we quick trained ourselves from Harajuku to Shibuya and rushed to Tokyu Hands.

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Inside Loft there’s a character section in the bigger stores. The character rotates but it’s usually filled with merchandise.

There was a small sign notifying that Nameko would make an apperance.

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Here’s a close-up of the sign. It says Nameko will be doing three sessions starting at 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00. Each session is limited to 30 people and you can only take one photo a piece.

There was nothing needed to buy so we just asked a shop staff and were given a ticket.

 

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Sure enough Nameko arrived. In the big mushroom felt-flesh.  :bow:

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Before I went to Takamatsu I had no real idea what I had planned to do other than Riritsuin Park. But I had googled Takamatsu the night before and read about Shikokumura an Outdoor Museum in Takamatsu (http://www.shikokumura.or.jp/) and decided it was worth a check. It’s really kind of a pickle to get to and up on top a giant hill itself and far away from a train station, so cab is really recommended. You’ll be doing enough hiking around a hill, so it’s best to find a cab or call one up.

I didn’t know really what to expect, but I have to say it was really amazing. I had just come from Riritsuin Park earlier, but Takamatsu kept showing it was worth visiting. Shikokumura is set-up as a living history museum with 20 historical buildings relocated from around Shikokumura to show how life was like throughout the history of Shiko. They also have a museum space designed by world-renowed architect Tadao Ando. Dallas peeps may know the new gorgeous Fort Worth Modern Art Museum done by him.

It’s a hike around and you’ll definitely spend 2+ hours there, but it’s really cool and it gives you more of a sense of history than something encased in a museum. There’s also a garden and waterfall so it’s quite pretty and natural.

takamatsu-kagawa-shikokumura-museum-entrance

Entrance to Shikokumura, you can see it’s a pretty steep climb.

takamatsu-kagawa-shikokumura-museum-ropebridge-walk

The way to enter and popular attraction is an classic rope bridge mimicking the ones across Iya valley, further inside Shikoku island. This thing was traditional craftmanship and I was holding on for dear life. Every step made it swing around and I could see the local news headlines: “Foreigner makes an ass of herself and falls into shallow lake at Shikokumura.” Foreigner of course would be in nice bold red.  :^_^;;: There’s another way to enter, but that’s the most authentic and popular.

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