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Tokyo - Part 1


Hello Lovelies! How are things going?
I'm back after my trip to Tokyo....what a trip it was!!!
Of course I couldn't arrive back and not share with you a little about my amazing vacation.

As I scroll through the pictures, it's proving somewhat difficult to pick exactly what to share...looks like I'm going to have to do this over the course of a few post. So if you're not one for other peoples holiday snaps....then maybe best to pop back here next week once I'm done! πŸ˜‚
(as I say that....I'm already thinking that it's probably just going to be my mum that enjoys reading the next few posts!)

For me this holiday started about 6 months ago when my best friend Mimi asked me if I wanted to join her on her summer trip to Tokyo. I was very hesitant at first, I always seem to be when people suggest big commitments and plans, not really sure why, but I've always been like that.
I gave it some serious thought though and finally after mum and dad said I'd be stupid not to go with her, I took the plunge!
The thing about Mimi (she's totally fabulous, fun, crazy, insanely organised and all round amazing) is that she's half Japanese, half Swiss. She grew up in Tokyo until she was about 8, before moving with her family to Switzerland. So she can speak Japanese and she returns each year to Tokyo to visit her family that still live in the city. So she's really knows her stuff when it comes to the city and has insights into things that your average first timer in Japan would have no idea about.
How could I not go to Japan with Mimi?

I made the commitment and booked the flight, I would be flying from Dusseldorf and would meet Mimi in Tokyo, followed later that day by our other close friends, Andrew and Pertev.

The build up to going to Tokyo could only be described as ELECTRIC!! It was that feeling you'd have as a kid when you would be so excited about your Birthday or Christmas day that you just couldn't sleep.
The weeks leading up to Tokyo had been tough, some personal things that I've been working through as well as a busy work schedule had gotten the better of me, so the break could not have come at a better point for me.

The day before the trip I packed up my case, making sure I had a crochet project to work with on the plane and patiently counted down the minutes until it was time to leave.


DAY 1

14 hours later I arrived in Tokyo and was welcomed by the humid heat, much different from the Summer we had been having in Germany.
I jumped into a Taxi and met Mimi at the airbnb apartment that we would be renting for the next 10 days. It was an interesting taxi ride, trying to communicate with the driver who didn't speak English but insisted on having a fully animated conversation with me in Japanese.

Once our bags were dropped off at our apartment in Shinjuku, we waisted no time in exploring the city.
Our first stop was a big department store where we were going to grab a bite to eat in its food court. This was the first moment that my mind was blown!!! I have never experienced so much fresh, vibrant, delicious looking food on offer. Everything was made to order in front of your eyes. The fruit was insane. The most pristine gorgeous fruit you could ever imagine. It came with a hefty price tag, but fruit like this was comparable to gemstones. Mangos so perfectly ripe they shone bright pink and  orange. Square melons , like I had seen on TV and cherries and grapes so perfect that the were packaged as if exquisite truffles!


We grabbed some food, preferring to buy small little nibbles of things, so that we could experience as much as possible. We nibbled as we took a wander around some other stores.
We stopped off at Tokyo Hands, which was a MAHHHHUUUUSSSSIIIIIVE shop full of everything!!! So much stationary and gadgets and things that we don't have in Europe that my mind was blown for the second time that day. Mimi got to work shopping and I browsed, but ended up buying nothing. Not because I couldn't find anything to buy, but because I felt so overwhelmed, I didn't really know where to start!

After that we took a slow walk home, stopping of for groceries and waited the arrival of Andrew and Pertev, who arrived shortly before midnight. We ate some food together and had a drink, toasting our holiday together.

DAY 2

Ok....So the next day it all began! Our first full day in Tokyo all together.
Mimi had planned that we go to Harajuku where we would browse the area, eat some food and lap up the atmosphere.
This was so much fun, one of my favourite days! The area was so vibrant, full off crazy fashion, bright bubblegum colours and little boutique vintage stores. We spent time going in and out of the shops, each buying a little piece of clothing that was unlike anything we could get back in Germany, (I bought a rather bright denim jacket that was covered in embroidery).
We had such a great time just wandering around, buying food to sample, like this monster candy floss. We took so many photos of one another against the vibrant backdrops and enjoying the quirky energy, that in return bought out the quirky side in us!


Was time for some food....my first experience of Ramen noodles!!
I have to be honest, I was pretty sure on this trip that I was going to shed a few pounds. I'm not fussy with foods, but I'm fussy with textures. If I don't like how food feels to eat, I literally can't stomach it. I was worried that I wouldn't like the food on this trip, but made a promise to myself that I would try everything that was on offer to me.
Mimi, Andrew and Pertev took me to a Ramen noodle bar, one that they had visited last year when they were in Tokyo. I didn't really know what ramen was, but ordered a bowl like the others. It came like a big noodle soup with an egg and a lump of pork floating in it.
I can be weird with eggs and I don't really eat pork (other than bacon), as I don't enjoy how it feels. I stuck to my promise and dug in.


I can't even tell you how unbelievable good this was. The warmth, the flavours, the egg had been spiced and was delicious! The pork!!! Oh the pork....it melted in my mouth, I have never  tasted somethings sooooooo good.  I can't even describe how good it was. The other guys struggled to finish their meals, I kept going until my bowl was clean.
Slurping the noodles (like Mimi had instructed) resulted in a lot of coughing a spluttering on my part and so I ate it in my own special way, getting my head nice and close to the bowl, as my chopstick skills were not very advanced.

After noodles it was on to a cafe for a coffee.
A Hedgehog cafe!!!!!! I can't even make this stuff up! A cafe where you sit down around a table, drink your drinks and play/feed the hedges that live in the centre of the table! It was mind blowing to me!! Such a cool experience!


Can you believe I'm only part through one day!!!! I'll try and go a little bit quicker, but have so many experiences that I want to share with you all.....so just sit tight and nod your head in recognition when you feel its appropriate!

To end the day we were meeting Mimi's family for dinner.
We were going to a fish restaurant, I was already getting the impression this was no ordinary restaurant that served fish. RIGHT ABOUT THAT!!

We met Mimi's Mum, Dad and Gran and headed into the restaurant.
There was a full size boat in the middle of the restaurant with tables on, surrounded by water! I quickly spotted fishing rods....looks like we were catching our dinner. So crazy!!
Such a  surreal experience! We caught our diner to which a gong was banged and the whole restaurant would stop what they were doing to applaud you and cheer for your catch, then waited for our fish to be prepared. We chose to have half of our fish baked and the other as sashimi (raw), I lived up once again to my promise and tried the food.
I tried it, then discreetly spat the raw fish into a napkin and spent the rest of the meal eating edamame beans! lol


As we said goodbye to Mimi's family, mimi instructed me to bow backwards to her gran, as that was the polite thing to do. Bow backwards? Being the dancer that I am I said goodbye and did a backbend!!! Mimi actually meant, say goodbye and bow as you walk backwards and leave!!! OOOOPS!!! I'll know for next time! At least Mimi's gran thought it was funny πŸ˜‚

End of our first full day!!! A pretty successful one, overwhelmed and utterly shattered.

DAY 3

We were up bright and early after about 5 hours sleep, today we were heading to Disneyland!!
I was so excited about Disney, as I had been to the one in Florida when I was about 14 and had the absolute time of my life. 

We all had our tickets to enter the park, even they were oozing Disney magic!!!


Out of all of the Disney Parks here in Tokyo, we had chosen to come visit Disneysea, as it only exists in Japan. The second that we entered the park I was transported back to being 14 years old again! 
I guess it's a nostalgia that most of us have, growing up watching Disney movies, it's a pretty amazing feeling walking around a place that is geared up with the sole intention of happiness. Everyone is jolly, everything is jolly, the people the characters the buildings, the statues! 


Of course one of the first things that we did once we had entered the park, was by disney hats. Pertev wasn't so keen, so I ended up buying two hats and letting him wear my spare one. πŸ˜€


I realised that the park, is not like an ordinary theme park. Infact it's pretty tame on the rides, so if your looking for rides that are going to make you feel queezy, this is probably not your place. 
What it is though, is a day of atmosphere. You can not help but walk around feeling some what elated. 
Bumping into characters, that you know are just people wearing a suit, but the excitement of seeing these characters is real and so you just have to give in and get pictures with them all!! 


The park was divided into areas, like an underwater area that focussed heavily on The Little Mermaid, Journey to the centre of the earth, Toystory mania.
I loved the little mermaid area, it was so bright and colourful. You could walk around and explore the underwater caverns, stumbling upon Aerial's cavern with all of her "gadgets and gizmos of plenty"


My absolute favourite area was Agraba, the Aladdin area. It was designed as if you were really in the town of Agraba, Market places and extravagant temples. I enjoyed walking around this area and visiting the gift shop that was designed like a market place, with stalls. My favourite being the stall with the magic tricks, and of course had to buy myself a set of magic linking hoops.


Andrew also loved the Alladin area! He's the dance captain on Alladin the musical in Hamburg. When he saw all of the Aladdin merchandise, there was no way he was leaving without buying a four foot tall genie toy for his office at the theatre! 


YES.....I was doing the sleepy bobble head on the train the was home. I was sooooo tired! In fact at the end of the day whilst were were watching the main performance on the lake (which was amazing),  I had to sit on the floor as I kept falling asleep standing up. I was worried that I was going to fall to the ground and figured watching from the floor would mean not so far to fall if I did fall asleep.

It really was special day!  The whole day was spent as if we were all kids, I can only imagine how magical the Disney parks must be if you actually go with children. It must be a dream come true for them!

DAY 4

This was our first cultural day, We made a short trip to Kamakura, to visit the Tsurugaoke Hachiman-gΓΌ shrine. 
It was such a beautiful day, sun was shining, but not blisteringly hot!
We got off the train and made a walk up a market street. As per usual we had to stop off at every shop and sample the delicious food. On the way up one street we must have eaten a dozen different things! 


Once at the end of the market street we were only a short distance away from the shrine, which was situated in a beautiful park. 
I loved all of the hanging decorations, so bright against the sunny blue sky!



We took a few pictures against  the beautiful scenery. I particularly like this one of mimi next to a pond bursting with water lilies.


Before entering the shrine we had to wash our hands and mouth, using the ladles provided outside of the shrine


The shrine was beautiful, lots of reds and golds.
Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures inside, as people were praying. Take my word for it though, it was really a feast for the eyes and a special place to reflect.


Outside of the shrine there was a whole fence filled with peoples prayers and wishes. They were written on bits of paper and wooden plaques.


After the shrine we grabbed a bite to eat and jumped into a taxi for a short ride to The Great Buddha of Kamakura, a 14 metre tall bronze statue.






I really enjoyed being in this area around the statue. It made for some great photos, but more than that was a peaceful place to be. Even with all of the tourists, there was an element of tranquility.

After our time in Kamakura, the afternoon was quickly turning into evening. We made our way back into the city, as Mimi had heard there was a street festival taking place.

The Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival (also known as star festival) was an absolute explosion of colour.
Of course like any festival, street stalls serving food was a huge aspect and one that were were quickly taking advantage of!


I loved how vibrant the festival was. Lights and decorations everywhere!


One of the features of the festival were massive bamboo poles that had been decorated with lanterns, paper and ribbons. People were able to rent the poles in the build up to the festival, so that they could decorate the poles. Throughout the festival a winner would be picked for best decorated pole.



Along with the decorations and food there were also lots of stalls selling things and stalls where you could play games. 
One of the games we tried, was trying to catch a goldfish using a rice paper paddle. Not easy! 
We gave it a go as it was something that Mimi was very excited about. She explained to us that she would do this at festivals when she was a child. 
If you caught a goldfish you were able to take it home as a pet. We just popped ours back in the water.


It was a really nice evening! bursting with people enjoying themselves. We had a few drinks and got swept up in the celebratory atmosphere. A great evening!


SOOOOOO.....That was a rather long post, but I do hope you will enjoy having a little glimpse into my time away. A time where I experienced so much and got to share it with the best friends possible.
I'll be back with in the next couple of days with the other half of my trip!
Until then.....have a smashing weekend!

HAPPY HANGER

Hello there!
I'm sat writing this at the hair salon, of all places. I'm multitasking .....getting my hair did and writing a little post.
I got a few little blond highlights added to my hair a couple of weeks ago. It didn't quite end up how I had envisioned ( a little stripey to say the least) So I'm getting it redone. The hairdresser said I should  go a little lighter, eeeeeeek so lets see where this ends up!!!  I've never dyed my hair before this little stint...could be a lesson learned...whatever.....as the saying goes...Blonds have more fun :-)

I have something really special to share with you all today. Something that makes my heart dance.
It's a little decorative piece that I bought for the craft room and since hanging it up, it fills the room with HAPPY.


It's a simple little wire hanging made by NOI which I believe is a shop based in Hamburg (here's a link to the shops website).
I checked out their website and they really have some stunning gift ideas.

It's hand made (which I love) and just consists of lots of shiny pretty little beads, sequins and buttons. All so bright and bold that they cant help but add a little cheer to the surrounding space.


The main part of the hanging is a nice large circle, kind of reminds me of a halo, for a very gay angel or a rather funky Christmas wreath. Underneath the circle hangs a rather pretty little heart. nice and dainty and a little more willowy looking.

I placed a hook in the ceiling close to the desk and hung the hanging from there. I wanted it to be free from any walls so that it would spin around whenever there was a little breeze running through the room
It's things like this that I love!!Handmade, fun, bright, no purpose other than HAPPY HAPPY!!!


I hope you are all having a splendid week?
I'm gearing up for a trip to Tokyo, Japan! Leaving on Monday and am crazy excited!!! If anybody has ever been and has some suggestions of things to do, maybe craft related? Yarn shops ect.... I'd love to hear your suggestions!
I've never been on a vacation like this before....and can not waaaaaaaaait!!!!!
Have a great rest of the week!

Focus

Last post was my big back to it post...and then I never really got back to it!
I feel like I've been waiting on something, but not quite sure what it is?

A couple of months ago I had an accident at work... I flew into the steel edged wall during the show and managed to tear the ligaments in my leg and foot. All is good now, but I've been out of action for some months. I had a lot of time on the sofa, which has resulted in gaining a few pounds and getting out of shape with my dancing (and apparently my mind).

It's been a real struggle for me to get motivated and get back to it, as my body is feeling all sorts of weirdness. I guess this feeling had spread to my head as I just haven't been able to focus and achieve anything at all, I'm really not exaggerating!
My apartment has been half tidy for weeks, my laundry has been half put away, the washing up is always half done...I just can't seem to finish anything! I feel like it's all part of the "quarter life crisis" I apparently have been experiencing over the past six months!!! I'm just waiting for some epiphany and my goals and ambitions to become clear.

Last night I went to bed late at around 02.00am, not so odd for me as I don't get in from work until 11.30 each evening. I tried to sleep but just couldn't calm my thoughts, I ended up drifting to sleep probably an hour later.
05.00am I was awake. As in WIDE awake!
I led in bed thinking of all the things I needed to do, I considered staying in bed until my alarm went off at 09.00, but instead told myself "now is the moment, GET IT TOGETHER"

I got out of bed and started frantically cleaning my apartment, I took the laundry off the close horse that had been dry for the best part of a week and finally put it away. I put another fresh load in the machine, took the rubbish out, swept and mopped the floor. Made some breakfast and prepared some healths snacks (carrot and celery sticks) for the day ahead.

I then went to the shops, did some grocery shopping and made sure to buy nothing bad. No sweets, no crisps, no icecream. Just fresh fruit, veg and some meat. I've learnt that I can't be rational with "bad" food. If it's there in my cupboards,  I 'll eat it all. That's been a bad eating habit of mine since my dance school days. I'm an all or nothing sort of guy and so today I decided on nothing, No "bad" food in the house!

Along with the food I treated myself to some bunches of flowers that were on offer.

I got home and gathered the flowers vases that I have around the apartment..


The flowers that I bought were all kinds of gorgeous! Bright and vibrant the perfect finishing touch to a nicely cleaned apartment.  
 

I took my time unwrapping the flowers, snipping off the ends and preparing them to place in the jugs. It felt some what meditative as I went stem by stem preparing them for their new homes.


I was almost robotic as I repeated the process on each flower. I noticed that this calm ritual was giving my mind a moment of stillness. It was giving me a chance to bring my thoughts together and focus, on what I wanted/ or needed to do. I took my time and enjoyed the ritual.


The satisfaction that I felt as I organised the flowers was bliss.
Somewhat symbolic to the organisation of my thoughts.


I placed these beauties around the apartment. Adding splurges of colour to the fresh and newly organised rooms.


I know that I sound hugely dramatic, but for the first time in weeks I felt like "I can do this", whatever "this" is?
I feel optimistic and somewhat ready, not sure what for, but I'm ready.


Never before have I been through a period of my life that I've felt so scatty and unfocussed. Have any of you guys experienced that?
I'm hoping the feeling that I have will last, the feeling of focus is a really positive one.
I'm hoping I can really get beck into blogging and work on my crafting. Crafting for myself and sharing the experience with you all.

Here's to finding FOCUS and hoping that it sticks!
Happy Sunday...speak soon,