Saturday, 22 August 2015

Shop Review: Kyoto BAL (京都 BAL)

Today I went to the new  Kyoto BAL building, situated along Kawaramachi street, the shop had it's grand opening yesterday.  I say shop, but it's so much more than that, it's more of a lifestyle store housing various different brands. Each brand has it's own area and yet they all merge together smoothly so you don't feel like you are walking in and out of different shops.

I went expecting it to be mostly fashion but there is a strong emphasis on lifestyle and selling the whole experience to the customer. You could easily just move into Kyoto BAL; from Rachel Ashwell there was a fully kit out bathroom  (complete with a roll top bath!) then The Conran Shop and Ron Herman were basically perfect living rooms and bedrooms, for clothes there were brands like Jil Sander, Marni and Theory and as for food there were various cafes including Cafe Muji which I really want to go and try out!

Then the two basement floors are taken up by Maruzen, one of the most popular book stores with a variety of books and magazines covering all topics including a section with a wide variety of English books.

Ron Herman 
(just look at the computer!)

Ron Herman
(because why wouldn't you want a mug that says 'eat avocados'?!)

Ron Herman


The Conran Shop 
(you can't really tell in this photo but there were flowers in test tubes suspended from the ceiling which looked so pretty)

The Conran Shop

The Conran Shop

Rachel Ashwell


Have you ever been in a shop and just wanted to move in?!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Day trip from Kyoto to Uji

A couple of weeks ago my dad and I had a day trip from Kyoto to Uji. I was interested in going to Uji last time I was in Japan to see Uji Byodoin but they were renovating it and I had heard from friends that you couldn't see much. Well I am glad I waited till the restoration was finished, it now looks stunning! It has been restored to it's former glory and I would really recommend visiting.

How to get there
It's really easy to get the train to Uji. We took the Keihan to Chushojima Station and then changed to the Keihan Uji line to get to Uji Station. Or you can get the JR Nara line straight from Kyoto Station to Uji.

Where to go
Uji Byodoin
The main tourist attraction at Uji is Uji Byodoin. Now a temple, it was originally built as a countryside villa (i.e fancy holiday home) for Fujiwara no Michinanga, one of the most powerful politicians at that time. When it was turned into a temple it was given it's most famous feature, the Phoenix Hall which you can see on the back of a 10yen coin.
Open: 8:30 to 17:30 
Admission: 600 yen for gardens and museum additional 300 yen for tour of the Phoenix Hall
Ujigami Shrine
Although we didn't go here I have included it as it is considered to be the oldest shrine in Japan. In 1994 it was named as a World Heritage and it is thought of as Byodoin's guardian shrine.
Open: 9 to 16:30
Admission: free
Uji River
The Ujigawa runs through the centre of the town and is a lovely place to just go for a wander or have a picnic. 

The Tale of Genji Museum
The Tale of Genji, written in the 11th Century, is considered by some to be the world's first novel. Many places in Uji feature in the book and although I didn't go to the museum it is probably a must for anyone interested in Japanese literature and history.
Open: 9 to 17:00
Admission: 500 yen

Mimurotoji Temple
This place was so beautiful! Known as the flower temple,the gardens are planted with various seasonal plants so it looks beautiful all year round. In April there are the cherry blossoms, in May the azalea, hydrangea in June, lotuses in July and momiji in November. When we went the gardens were filled with hydrangea. It was also filled with loads of Japanese tourists but hardly any foreign tourists which is a shame as it may not be as famous as the Byodoin but it really is worth a visit!
Open: 8:30 to 16:30 (16:00 from November to March)
Admission: 500 yen
Uji Jinja Shrine
There is a legend that a rabbit guided a lost deity on his way to Uji so there is a rabbit greeting you as you wash your hands at the entrance to the shrine.
Open: 6 to 18:00
Admission: Free

What to eat and drink
Green tea! Uji is famous for the best quality green tea in the whole of Japan. There are loads of cafes where you can eat green tea flavoured everything. I even saw a vending machine which sold only green tea!

Uji Byodoin

We stopped for some kakigori (shaved ice) to cool down!

Uji river

Me looking a bit tired!

Uji jinja shrine

Mimurotoji Temple

Had to take a picture of these two women matching their clothes to the surroundings!

Green tea or.... green tea?!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Kotobatofuku コトバトフク

At the weekend I went to a small boutique in Kyoto which supports young designers who have recently graduated. It`s in the same place as this Versace exhibition which I went to a couple of years ago.

The concept of the store is 'seasonless' as they sell previous collections from young designers and the selection of clothing changes every 1-2 months. It was set up in August 2013 by Hiroshi Ashida and Masato Inoue. Hiroshi is a lecturer at Seika University and the editor of Vanitas, a fashion review magazine. Masato is a lecturer at Mukogawa Women's College.

Although only a small shop they have a great selection of clothing and accesories. Also if you go up to the top floor of the building there is a good view of Kyoto! 

Some of the designers they have stocked include: 
coci la elle
Shun Okubo
shunsuke hatakeyama
Hirabayashi Ryoko

Instagram: @kotobatofuku
Twitter: @kotobatofuku

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Exciting News!

I'm back in Japan! If you follow me on Instagram then you will know that I arrived last week. However the first few days I didn't feel too good, probably due to jet lag and the heat. But I'm better now and excited about all the things I'm going to do for the three months I'm here.

These are some things I want to do while I'm here:
  • Visit Byodoin Temple in Uji which i didn't get to go to last time I was in Japan as they were renovating it.
  • Eat at this Hello Kitty cafe- seriously take a look at their website, how cute does it look?!
  • Walk through the thousand toris at Fushimi Inari, one of the most photogenic places in Japan but I never got round to going last time.
  • Go to as many festivals as possible as they are my favourite thing about Japan! 
  • Travel around Japan to places I've never been to before
  • Improve my Japanese because, after all, that is the main reason I've come here!
The photo at the top is from a day out with Sophie and Abbie, you can see more pics from our fun photoshoot on Sophie's blog here: The Beauty Bouquet

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Instamonth: May

South Shields Beach - Quay Ingredient - Lola Jeans Bar

May was a great month for me; it was my birthday, my best friends came to visit, I went to Edinburgh and I finished my first year of uni! I started off the month by going to the beach at South Shields with my two flatmates. Then Abbie and Sophie came up to Newcastle and we went to lots of cafes, restaurants and bars including Quay Ingredient and Lola Jeans. 

 Some birthday presents - The Great British Cupcakery - Red velvet birthday cake

Then on the 12th of May it was birthday and I got some really great presents. All my friends know me so well and the presents they got for me were so perfect! Some things I got where: a boots voucher, Audrey Hepburn perfume and toiletries, a Mary Berry recipe book, paper decorations, green tea, a Japanese teacup and a hula hoop which provided lots of entertainment! On my birthday I went with my flatmates to the Great British Cupcakery which was lovely, they also bought me a delicious red velvet cake.

Nancy's Bordello - The Star Inn The City - Another birthday Cake!

On my last night in Newcastle we went to Nancy's Bordello for tea and then went back to our flat for a few drinks. Then I came back home to York and my mum took me to The Star Inn The City for a belated birthday brunch. I got some pancakes with maple syrup and bacon which were delicious! I then got another birthday when we went round to my Grandma and Grandad's for tea.

Carrot cake at Scottish National Museum - Hard Rock Cafe - Bagpipe player in Edinburgh

Me and my mum then went up to Edinburgh for a couple of days which I really enjoyed as it was my first time to go there. We went to an exhibition of clothes by Pringle of Scotland at the Scottish National Museum where I had some yummy carrot cake. In the evening we went for some cocktails and food at the Hard Rock Cafe. We walked along the Royal Mile to the castle and saw various people playing bagpipes!

1950's fashion exhibition at Lotherton Hall - Lucia's wine bar and grill

I also went to the newly opened fashion galleries at Lotherton Hall to see the1950's Age of Glamour exhibition. Then I met up with Abbie and Sophie again and we went to Lucia's which is one of my favourite restaurants in York. I got a really nice seafood salad.

Doing this post has made me realise that most of my instagram posts are food and drink, especially hot chocolate and cake! Anyway I had a great month, hope you did too.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Best Ever Birthday Weekend!

The weekend before my birthday my two best friends, Sophie and Abbie, came up to Newcastle. On the Saturday we went out for lunch at Quay Ingredient, a place which I had heard about but never been to. It's a tiny cafe with only a few tables so we had to wait a while but it was worth it! 

During the weekend you can only order from their breakfast menu but there was still plenty to choose from. I treated myself to a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows and then chocolate and cinnamon pancakes which were delicious!  I definitely want to go back during the week to sample some things from their lunch menu.

During the day we went around the shops and then in the evening I had booked a table at The Botanist for us and my two flatmates. The presentation of all our meals was really interesting, I got the fish and chips which were so good and came in a little wooden tray thing. Our first round of drinks was served to us after our food arrived which was a bit annoying. I got the same two cocktails as the last time I went, the Strawberry Bellini and The Botanist, mmmm! 

For pudding we all got the strawberry and marshmallow hanging kebabs which, although they were extremely delicious, were also extremely over-priced. From The Botanist we then moved onto Lola Jeans and Jalou for some more cocktails and then Bijoux.

On Sunday I took Abbie and Sophie across to The Baltic where we saw some very strange 'art' and then went to the top to see the views across Newcastle. We then had lunch in the Baltic Kitchen. I had a chickeny Asiany salady thingy! Another very delicious meal! 

I had such a wonderful weekend with all of my best friends and it was a great way to celebrate my 20th birthday!

 Quay Ingredient

 The Botanist

The Botanist

Lola Jeans, The Botanist and Bijoux

View from The Baltic

On the Millennium Bridge

The Baltic Kitchen

 A bit windswept but ahh well!