Category Archives: Travel

Trip Report: Osaka->Tokushima->Takamatsu->Okayama->Kobe->Osaka (Day 4: Shodoshima/小豆島)

みなさん、

こんばんは。

Day 4: Takamatsu/Kagawa prefecture (高松), so here goes.

Our day was early. We left hotel at about 720am (bus was 730am)

Cost us about 1400+ yen…

Takamatsu station…

Saw this post at the bread shop..

After unloading the luggage and facing a bad-tempered hotel staff, we headed for Shodoshima (小豆島)

Boat ride to and fro costs us about 2300 yen and about 35 mins.

The boat

The mascot character

Upon reaching, we realized that we could only travel around the town using an electric bicycle(2000 yen), the lady was really nice. Initially she said only got 1 electric bicycle, then later on told us got 2… so off we went around half of the island via the bicycle…

1st stop: Angel Road

Angel Road. Those who are in love should come here…

 

A closer look…

The road to Angel Road

Our bicycles…

Lunch was at a Italian? restaurant…

Salad…

Mango smoothie

 

Main course

The outside view

We rode up and down the mountain, but didnt manage to reach our 2nd spot and time was running out, so we had to head back to the port…

Near the port…

 

Dinner was Udon (famous food of Kagawa prefecture) at somewhere near the station.

Felt that there isn’t anything to see in Kagawa prefecture, so we shorten the trip to 1 day and headed to Kurashiki on Day 5.

 

 

Trip Report: Osaka->Tokushima->Takamatsu->Okayama->Kobe->Osaka (Day 3: Naruto/Bizan)

みなさん、

こんばんは。

Here is what happened on Day 3 of our trip.

Headed to Naruto. On the way there, we saw this sign (しあわせ一番町/The most Happy town)

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We decided to take a train there since we were a bit early…

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Saw this at the souvenir shop…

 

After about a 30 mins journey, we finally reached Naruto town…

Whole sightseeing map of Naruto town

Naruto town mascot characters

 

We then took a bus wanting to go to the German museum. But opps, we missed our stop…

In the end, we took a taxi over..

Lunch was sushi.

Can you read the signage?

Had tempura as well, as i am allergic to some seafood.

 

 

Off to see Naruto!

Tokushima Koibito

 

 

The sea…

 

 

The waves were very big, but we didnt manage to see much.. even via the boat..

Bye Naruto… Didnt enjoy too much here except for the waves..

 

 

Gave a treat to my student…

Preparation for Awa Odori.

 

 

 

Do you guys know that Lime (すだち) is the famous food for Tokushima?

 

 

 

Up 眉山 (Bizan)

Night View of Tokushima

Then it was dinner time at my favorite Matsuya (680 yen)

We had melon for fruits for supper.

Day 3 gone just like that… Time flies so fast when you are travelling to another country…

 

Trip Report: Osaka->Tokushima->Takamatsu->Okayama->Kobe->Osaka (Day 2)

みなさん、

こんにちは。

I am back with our Day 2 trip report.

On Day 2, we took a bus bound for Tokushima (徳島/とくしま), which is one of the prefectures of the Shikoku (四国/しこく) region.

Honestly speaking, our Shikoku part wasn’t well planned out, but we managed to have some fun riding an electronic scooter, which i will explain later in Day 4.

↓ was our breakfast for Day 2. St Marc’s croissant, one of the best croissants out here in Japan, i feel.

 

 

 

We also hanged out at one of the cafes while waiting for our bus.

Just look at the delicious looking cakes…

And the counter…

This was our bus to Tokushima, which costs 2300 yen if you book early enough. Your Japanese level should be about minimum N4 to book the tickets online.

Site: http://www.kaifu-kanko.co.jp

The whole journey took about 2.5 hrs. ↓ was the parking area that we stopped halfway..

Here we are. Tokushima. We stayed in Toyoko Inn, which was about 5 mins away from Tokushima station.

Surroundings of Tokushima station.

For Day 2 lunch, we decided to settle for Tokushima Ramen.

You can read more about Tokushima Ramen here.

Tokushima Ramen (about 700-800 yen)

After lunch, we decided that we will roam around the city. For Tokushima, one of the best festivals that they have is Awa Odori. But too bad, we missed it by 1 week.

One of the spots: The Awa Odori Post box.

Another sightseeing spot: The place where they house the trains. Cant remember the name…

After walking around the town, we took a 3 hour train ride to another sightseeing place: Ooboke/大歩危 (おおぼけ)

On the way back, we passed by a weird museum…

How the road looked like…

While waiting for the train, i needed dinner. Past by one of the shops and bought a bento. What happened after that really shocked me. After the lady took out the bento from the microwave, the tomato sauce got onto my clothes, she actually brought me to the basin outside her shop, took some soap, washed the stain off for me. Not only that, afraid that i would be cold, she gave me 2 face towels and told me to put below my shirt, gave us 1 packet of tomato, which my student ate and sent us off to the train station (about 7 mins walk away). It made me realized that the countryside people are really much better than those in the city…

After another 2.5 hours journey back to Tokushima, we headed to another izakaya for supper.

The izakaya…. Tsukune (minced chicken meat ball)

Grilled chicken

Gyoza

Egg roll

Radish salad

Oden

Damage: about 3000 yen per person…

Really enjoyable day…

End of Day 2…

 

 

Trip Report: Osaka->Tokushima->Takamatsu->Okayama->Kobe->Osaka (Day 1)

みなさん、

こんばんは。

While my student is off to somewhere to watch fireworks, i would be sharing with you guys where we went.

So here goes.

We took AK722 to KL, then waited for the morning to come before we set off to Osaka via the 8am flight.

Upon reaching Japan, i needed to get the exchange voucher for our Nankai train ride to Shin-Imamiya (新今宮) which i bought from Klook.

Then i found out that the counter is on the North Arrival Gate of the airport…. almost missed my train to Shin-Imamiya.

This is the Nankai station as shown below.

Inside the train (originally costs 1400+ yen)…

Ordered a bunch of pens for my students to do flash cards of particles and question words.

It was my birthday, so the stationery came in the below package…

One of the drinks that i like to drink when i am in Japan…

We headed off to Den-den Town (about 15 mins walk from our hotel) and went into animate..

And my favourite: Kotobukiya…

My student and i decided that we will have a good meal on the 1st night… so we went to an Izakaya (いざかや) to have our meal.

And of course, who would forget the famous Dotonbori (道頓堀)

This eye mask was used by my elder sister and i when we were taking turns to look after my aunt in the ICU…

You guys should give it a try.

Headed to Pablo to try some food.

My green tea tart was a bit crushed, but still tasted very nice.

Will be back for more report on day 2. =)

/Can

Best Student Award 2014: Vanora’s Trip Report: Day 1

Japan. Just that word is enough to send shivers down my spine. A country I long to visit since I was merely 12 years old or so. My reasons to visit Japan changed over the years. Starting off with my interest in anime and fashion subculture like many others. Although my interests changes over the years as I matured, my love for Japan didn’t waver. Instead, it pushed me to take up Japanese classes in order to be able to understand the Japanese dramas I love and landed me to where I’m today.

On 30th October 2015, my journey to Japan started via a flight to Kansai International Airport accompanied by my Japanese class classmate, Ling. I will be joined with my Japanese teacher and his friend Leonard, there. It was a long flight and as my flight was delayed by an hour, it was already dark outside by the time I arrived in Kansai International Airport.

Hungry and worn out by the long journey, all I wanted was to get to the hotel and find something to eat. However, I have to figure out how to get to the hotel first. Thankfully, the staff in the airport train station was really helpful. He advised me on the nearest train departure time and also the fastest and cheapest option to take to get to our destination. The staff even taught me how to use the ticket machine to buy my train ticket. A lifesaver indeed.

Even though the train operated above ground, I didn’t have a chance to take a good look at Osaka as it was already hours after sunset by the time I took the train ride to the hotel.

Day 1: We got up way earlier than planned on the first day of my stay in Osaka. It was only 8am or so when we left our hotel and headed for Namba and Dotonbori.

It felt like a dream to me, to be walking down the streets in Japan, taking in the sights and sounds, where all conversations, sign boards and announcements are made in Japanese. Feeling the cold wind blowing at me, as I pulled my jacket tighter around me, having dressed in thin summer wear, which was not really suitable for autumn weather in Japan. The crisp cool air was a welcome change from weeks of haze back in Singapore.

We reached Namba at around 9AM. Most shops were still closed and there were very few people around as many choose to sleep in on such a fine Saturday morning.

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That gave me a chance to take a good look around Namba without needing avoid the crowd.

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We had breakfast at Matsuya and second round of breakfast in St. Marc Café.

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I had tried St. Marc Café’s Matcha Latte before back in Singapore. I was expecting the same milky taste but to my surprise, Matcha Latte from St. Marc Café in Japan is less milky, well steamed with a stronger matcha taste which I love! How I wish St. Marc Café in Singapore offers the same great taste as those in Japan too!

St. Marc Café is also well known for its croissants and this was my first time trying out a sesame croissant. Warm and crispy exterior with a soft bite coupled with hot Matcha Latte from St. Marc Café. A heavenly treat from my Japanese teacher. Thank you so much! 誠にありがとうございました!

After a bout of karaoke, we burnt off even more calories by walking to Den Den Town. Den Den Town is like a laidback version of Akihabara. Lots of anime, manga merchandises along with brand new and second-hand electronic products can be found there minus the crowd. The weather was very cooling that day. Slight breeze with sun occasionally shining through the clouds. Perfect day for exploring Den Den Town.

After several hours of exploring the place, we had lunch in the famous curry house CoCo ICHIBANYA.

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I wasn’t unfamiliar with CoCo ICHIBANYA since they’ve outlets in Singapore too. However, unlike the outlets in Singapore, I was extremely pleased to find that restaurants in Japan don’t believe in service charge. They believe good service is part and parcel of service itself and people shouldn’t have to pay for that. If only Singapore is like this too…

Both Ling and I went our separate ways after lunch and stumbled upon a tax free drugstore which also sells various accessories like watches and electronical beauty appliances such as hair dryer.

I’ve longed to purchase a Made in Japan watch after discovering their existence. I was fascinated by how these watches from familiar brands like Citizen, Seiko, Casio etc. easily found in Singapore are very different from their counterparts in Japan. Their domestic models includes watches that are able to charge via natural/artificial light and are able to adjust the time according to the time zone you’re in when you’re overseas via radio wave.

Ling and I made our way back to the hotel after that. After a short rest, we had okonomiyaki, yakisoba and kushikatsu for dinner in a bustling restaurant where lots of celebrities frequent. Being first timers to such place, we left the cooking to our Japanese teacher who cooked it swiftly and skilfully.

A simple but delicious meal. No wonder these are the must try street food in Japan!

The sun has already set hours ago by the time we reached the top of Umeda Sky Building. Strong winds were blowing at us but that didn’t stop us from feasting our eyes on the sight of Osaka city below us. Gorgeous city lights all around with an exceptionally bright moon shining in the night sky.

My 1st day in Osaka, Japan was ended off with a surprise from my Japanese teacher. A delicious fruit cake which he ordered all the way from Hokkaido to celebrate Leonard and mine 1st trip to Japan.

1st Japan Trip report by Bryson-san (Beginner class)

みなさん、

こんばんは。Today, i have a trip report written by my student, whom i brought along to Japan last week. Following is his interesting trip report.

If you desire to be part of this good family, don’t hesitate anymore. Contact us

/Can
__________________________________________________________
It was my very first trip to Japan, the country which I’ve yearn to go when I started getting into anime, gundam and cars. It was planned months ahead that after I’ve ORD, Sensei would bring me to Japan for a break there. It was a trip fulfilled, all thanks to Sensei.

I was accompanied by both Sensei and one of the seniors for the trip. He brought me to places, met different people whom he has contacts there, the food and the experience was never forgettable. The moment we touched down in Japan, a sight which I’ve noticed is, vending machines are everywhere selling a variety of canned teas to coffee and their local beverage, CALPIS. Unlike Singapore, you can drink on the platform and even in the cabin and never get fine.

The first visit was to Matsumoto-san’s salon, Earth, located in Himeji. Given that my hair was unkept and messy, I went ahead for a haircut which includes head spa for an affordable price. I was very happy with his service and the attention to details, even a slightest bit of strand of hair must be well cut and kept properly before closing the job. Soon after we arrived back in our hotel,  Senpai went through a Japanese lesson with me, his teaching and approach was better compared previously, a big step for him as I’m able to understand even better with his new approach.

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Our hotel in Osaka

On the 2nd day, from our hotel in Osaka, we walked to Denden Town for anime, games and computer electronics related stuffs. Dropping by half way to Matsuya (松屋), a mass food chain in Japan, I had my very first Japanese breakfast, pork slice bowl with lots of chopped green onions. Damn it was good! Further down after, arriving in Denden Town, big banners of anime related stuffs were seen. It was like Akihabara, but located in Osaka. I was brought to watch Sensei play the UFO catcher and got to see lots of model cars there too. Model cars and Gunplas are very cheap down there with tons of varieties that I’ve never seen before. If I have the option to buy down the whole entire shop, I would!

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Boss coffee for the morning

We visited the Naruto Exhibition in Osaka, a 30 mins trip from our hotel, it was a exhibition unlike I’ve seen before. Screening through the exhibition, the creator of Naruto explained his back story and how he got the idea to create every character that you’ve watched in Naruto, it was very inspirational. Sensei even bought me a Naruto Exhibition exclusive shirt for me as a souvenir, 「ありがとうございます、先生!」 As evening came, Sensei  brought us to IPPUDO (一風堂) to have a taste of Japanese ramen. After dinner, we watched Boruto the Movie, my very first anime movie to be watched in the cinema. Even with no English subtitles, I was surprised that I was able to understand some of their narratives after going through Sensei’s lessons for 6 months. A very touching movie indeed, I believed we cried a few times during the movie.

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Naruto Exhibition at Osaka-ko (大阪港)

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Dessert

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Dinner at IPPUDO (一風堂)

3rd day arrived and we head down to take pictures of the iconic Glico Man in Osaka. We had a karaoke session, I tried singing a Japanese song and I sounded so bad. Straight after, since we’re in Osaka, we couldn’t miss their Takoyaki! Hands down to the best Takoyaki I’ve ever eaten, soft cooked fried batter with chewy octopus in the middle. Then it was time for Senpai to head back home first. As the sun sets, Sensei brought me to have some okonomiyaki and even personalized it for me! Truth to be told, I was touched by his actions.

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On the 4th day, we both headed to Kyoto to meet Sensei’s Japanese friend and visited 2 shrines, Kiyomizu-dera and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Sensei introduced both shrines to me in detail. It was a mesmerizing trip there, I’ve never been to temples that huge before that could house thousand humans there. Never had I seen so many men and ladies wearing yukatas walking around. Sensei  was so generous to keep feeding me with food while we’re walking around. We meet Sensei’s Japanese friend after, had dinner at Gion, a geisha district, sadly I don’t get a chance to come across one this round. We chat and I’ve tried talking in Japanese too. It was awkward to speak to a Japanese in their native language but fortunately, Sensei’s friend knows how to speak English too.

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Matcha at Kiyomizudera (清水寺)

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Lunch set (1400 yen)

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Fushimi Inari

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Dinner at Gion 花見小路 (Hanami-Kouji)

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Sensei’s score for karaoke

Woke up early with only 2 hours of sleep, we took Peach airlines to Tokyo and arrived at our next accommodation, a nostalgic hotel catered for Japanese people. I get to sleep in futon for the next 4 nights, with 24/7 convenience stores(コンビニ) located in the district. How awesome can that be?! Heading down to the Chinatown, there were lots of Chinese stores selling various kind of Chinese cuisines and the most popular are the Shanghai’s fried dumplings, which were juicy and oily. Shortly after, another of Sensei’s student, Phyllis-san who was working there came by to meet us and have some Chinese lunch. Hearing her story about her life in Japan was interesting, people there were very kind to help one and another in times of need. After visiting Chinatown, we headed to the Nissin Cup Noodle Museum but unfortunately, it was a Sunday when lots of families gather, so I passed the opportunity and head down back straight to the Hotel to rest instead. Evening came and we met with another of Sensei’s friend, a quiet but friendly guy whom has his computer switched on the everyday and he could even access his computer via mobile phone on the go!

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Lunch at Chinatown (1100 yen)

The next day, we headed to Akihabara in the morning and were greeted with a banner to indicate the start of Akihabara. Tons and tons of anime, figurines, games, videos, whichever that interest you, they lack of none. We met up with Sensei’s student who was studying there and headed to a maid cafe. I’ve always wanted to go to the maid cafe at Funan Mall but never got a chance. Now, finally in Tokyo, I get to experience it with Japanese Maids! It was a nice experience watching the maids conversing with their patrons. We ended the maid cafe experience with a instant photo together with the maid, after which we headed to play UFO catchers again. It seems that Japan lacks none of these UFO catches as their at every corner too.

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The next morning, we visited Sensoji in Asakusa, 15 mins walk away from our hotel, to pray and visit. An easy accessible shrine located at the end of the train map. After pleading with Sensei to let me walk alone and explore more of Akihabara, I spent hours, walking and asking for navigation from Japanese people, using what I’ve learnt in class to speak to them. Even though my Japanese isn’t that well solid yet, they could understand. A very exciting and engaging day for me.

The 2nd last day, we met Ernest-senpai and his friend and walked around the vicinity at Asakusa, Akihabara, Harajuku and Shibuya. All in a day we covered these 4 places which were tiring but fun! We even took a photo with the statue of Hachiko, icon of Shibuya Station.

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The last day came and we had to bid goodbye to Japan. It was a memorable trip, I’ve learnt many new things such as how much the people differs from each region, as for the trip, Kanto and Kansai region, appreciating the language and the culture that they cultivate over there despite the recent modern times. Thanks to the trip, I’ve gained back my motivation to even study harder, never giving up when the language gets more profound for the day when I could communicate with native Japanese people more fluently. I got to know both Sensei and Senpai more and understand about their passion for the language.

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Treats from Sensei

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Bento set (284 yen/ ~$3 SGD)

Thank you Sensei and Senpai for your guidance in my studies throughout my stay, the new friends whom I’ve met in Japan and all the great food Sensei had stuffed me!

By: Bryson Wong
Student from Beginner class

How to plan for your trip to Japan

japan

Hi all,

To help fellow travellers, below guide on how to plan for your Japan trip/important information on where u can seek help (with pictures).

Step 1: Planning

1.1: Check available airline timings via airline websites.

1.1.2 Identify needs to take domestic flights: See here
Places that need to take domestic flights to: Hokkaido/Naha, Okinawa

1.2 Plan your itinerary. See here for some samples
-When you plan your itinerary, put places that are near together (e.g Kyoto/Osaka)

Places to visit: japan-guide.com – Japan Travel and Living Guide

1.3 Planning your Routes to places

-Identify needs to buy any kind of pass when you are there
Tokyo Metro Pass
Kansai Area Pass
Kansai Sanyo Area Pass
JR East Pass
JR Hokkaido Pass
Hokkaido Free Pass
Seishun 18 Kippu
—JR Nation Wide Pass (Note: Can only buy outside Japan, take the exchange order received to change for the actual pass. See below on Section: Buy Japan Rail Pass if needed)
Willer Express Bus Pass
Kanto Area Pass
—More pass info over here

Suica/NEX package

Hyperdia
Yahoo! 路線
Tokyo Transfer Guide
Japan Overnight Trains

1.4 Post your itinerary in Hardwarezone Japan forum to get feedback.

1.5 Amend your itinerary

1.6. Identify needs to get a IIJMio/b-mobile/So-net data card for data usage/use data roaming bundle by M1/Singtel/Starhub (Remember to call your subscriber activate roaming (^_^) )

1.7. Identify hotels/hostels to stay. Check here for info.

Good sites to use for booking of hotels

Rakuten
Hotels.com
japanican.com

Good/Reliable Hotel/Hostel chains (not in order)
Superhotel
Washington Hotels
Sunroute 
Dormy Inn 
Hotel Active
Richmond Hotels

Toyoko Inn
Khaosan Tokyo

1.8 Identify needs to get rental phones

Generally, rental phones are not really required, and for the data sim cards, you just need to register at the site to get it activated. If there’s a need, u can visit the below sites for more info.

JNTO Website on Rental phones

1.9 Check radiation level
If you wanna check radiation level in Japan, see here
_______________________________________________________________________________________________
Step 2: Week before departure

2.1. Changing money (Check here for rates too/also check here on how much to bring)

1. Mustafa: :: Mustafa Online ::
2. Marine Square (Fountain Money Changer)
3. Chinatown (i don’t really like the rate here)
4. Bugis (rates comparable with Mustafa)
5. The Arcade (Raffles Place)
6. Airport (last option)

2.2. Buy Japan Rail Pass if needed
Where to buy Japan Rail Pass: Japan Rail Pass of Singapore – JNTO Singapore Office

Form to change to Japan Rail Pass (IMPORTANT/Print before going): They
no longer give the form on the website anymore. The form is available at the JR Pass exchange counter.

2.3. Learn some basic Japanese and here

Borrow a book from me

Step 3: Packing for Departure

3.1. Use a checklist: Try using mine as a reference

3.2. Identify if there’s a need to bring a small bag along.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________
Step 4: In Japan

4.1 Exchange for Japan Rail Pass with your Exchange Order
Form to change to Japan Rail Pass (IMPORTANT/Print before going):
NOTE: There’s no more form available online already. Have to go there to fill up.

4.2 Japan ez-link cards
Now the below ez-link cards are cross-usable. Suggest to get Suica/ICOCA/Pasmo.

PASMO/Suica
Sapika (Sapporo)
TOICA (Central Japan/Nagoya)
ICOCA (West Japan/Osaka)
SUGOKA (Fukuoka)

4.3 Where to seek help
1. The station staff
2. Shop staff
3. The people
4. Koban (Police Station)

4.4 Saving money in Japan
-Buy bento in shops near closing time
______________________________________________________________________________________________

Step 5: Preparing for return back home

-Be at the airport 2-3 hours before departure time
-SHOP! (Check out the souvenirs page)

/Can