Shopping, Eating, and Sightseeing in Tokyo 2014!

After four days of adventuring in Kyoto and Hiroshima, the time came to say goodbye to our super comfy and swanky hotel room, pack up our suitcases, and board the Shinkansen back to Tokyo.

But with Osaka sitting right in between Tokyo and Kyoto, we just had to swing by for a speedy shopping pit-stop!

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Vegan Feasts at Matsuontoko and Kawaii Shopping in Kyoto!

Last week we set off to Japan for our summer holidays (our fifth trip to Japan!  Bwaha!)  Last year, our hagwon only allotted us 4 days of vacation at a time, but this year we got a whole week off for summer (and we may very well be getting ten days off for winter; amazing or what?!)  We divided our week in Japan into hotel stays in Kyoto and Tokyo, with day trips to Osaka, Hiroshima, and Miyajima.  I had grand delusions of squeezing in day trips to Nikko, Okunoshima (a.k.a. Rabbit Island), and Mt. Fuji as well, but there just wasn’t enough time (a great excuse to go back again, right?!)

We flew into Haneda Airport in Tokyo, and thanks to our 7-Day Japan Railways passes, hopped onto the Shinkansen straight down to Kyoto.  About the JR passes: holy shmoly, these things were quite possibly the smartest holiday purchases we’ve ever made!  You have to buy them before entering Japan (from this website), and at $281 per pass they will seem a tad overpriced, but TRUST ME: if you have any intention of traveling between at least two cities, you will certainly get your money’s worth and then some.  You can also use the pass to make seat reservations on Shinkansen trains at no extra charge, and you can use them on local JR trains.  I have no idea how much money we saved by using these things, but it was a buttload.

We stayed at the super swanky ANA Crowne Plaza hotel in Kyoto, which I got for a ridiculously cheap deal on Expedia.  We stopped in at an information office in Kyoto Station to find out how to get to the hotel, and an exceptionally polite and kind old man informed us that the hotel operated a free shuttle bus between Kyoto Station and the hotel every 15 minutes or so; this also saved us heaps of money!

This was our second visit to Kyoto; we fell head over heels in love with it the first time, and our feelings only intensified during this trip.

I am always amazed by how seamlessly Japan weaves its past and present together, and this is so evident in Kyoto, where its brightly-lit shopping arcades are punctuated by dim alleys leading to tiny shrines and ancient relics.

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Cute and Quirky Shopping at 1300k

UPDATED: November 2014.  I updated the directions, since TGIFriday’s is gone and Forever 21 has opened!  Also, 1300k seems to have stopped carrying Hello Kitty merchandise, so check out the Sanrio Gift Gate instead!

This post is dedicated to my all-time fave shop in Hongdae for everything cute and quirky: 1300k!  (Just don’t ask me how to pronounce it!  ‘Book’, ’13-ook’?  Your guess is as good as mine!)

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Hangin’ Out in Seoul’s Hello Kitty Cafes!

UPDATE: The Hongik Hello Kitty Cafe has moved!  Click here for a post about the new cafe!

I guess most people are meant to grow out of their childhood obsessions as they age into adulthood.  Before coming to Korea, I tried to make myself more ‘grown up’: got my dip-dye locks cut into a boring bob, bought professional black and white clothes: long, shapeless skirts and baggy cardigans, and gave away most of my brightly-colored clothes and make-up *sob*.  Thankfully, I quickly realized that it’s generally acceptable for fully grown women to wear bright and bold outfits and accessories plastered with cartoon characters here.  And even though Hello Kitty is Japanese, she’s just as popular here as she is in Japan.  Sooo, lucky for me, there are two cafes in Seoul completely dedicated to all things pretty, pink, and Kitty!

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Dog Days of Summer in Seoul: Bau House and World Cup Stadium Dog Park

Summer is in full swing in Seoul, and in the words of the merry men of metal, Reckless Love, it’s gettin’ hot, hot, hotter than hell!

We’re super lucky that Duggie is such a social pup, because I absolutely cannot stand being cooped up inside at the weekend!  I also couldn’t tolerate leaving him in by himself all weekend; thankfully, he loves riding the subway, and we try to take him just about everywhere with us.  So, here are two of Duggie’s fave spots to spend the weekend: Bau House puppy cafe and the World Cup Stadium dog park!

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♥ Cute Korea: Choo Choo Cats! ♥

UPDATE: 23/07/16.  The Jetoy Flagship Store in Apgujeong has apparently MOVED: its new location is 14 Noon Square, 3rd Floor, Myeongdong.  Click here for a map.

Lucky for me (maybe not so lucky for my wallet), Korea is overflowing with cute stuff!  I’ve been a sticker and stationery-hoarder since a young age, and the vast abundance of adorable stationery stores here is totally taking me back to my childhood.  (I don’t think Eoin realizes that the big Hello Kitty binder I bought for ‘studying’ is actually just stuffed full of packets and sheets of cutesy pootsy stickers…)

Anyhoo!  My absolute favorite cute Korean stationery brand here is Jetoy Choo Choo, which most notably features glorious googly eyed cats surrounded by pastel pink roses and sparkly butterflies…sigh!

jetoy1So, let’s take a Jetoy Choo Choo quest around Seoul!

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Children’s Day in Korea!

Last Monday was Children’s Day in Korea, which is a pretty self-explanatory holiday!  The holiday was founded in the 1920’s as a day to celebrate children; it’s basically an excuse for parents to spoil their kids for a day, and for over-schooled Korean kids to get a day off of studying!  Why don’t we have this in America, huh?!

Since we have our own furry child now, we decided to dress him up in a spiffy new outfit and take him out for a long walk and a trip to the puppy cafe!

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Duggie’s First Visit to a Puppy Cafe!

We’re still getting to know Duggie, but we came to realize pretty quickly that he LOVES people, especially children, and other dogs, so we felt pretty confident that he’d enjoy visiting a puppy cafe.  We decided to take him to Cafe Pawz in Gangnam, because it’s the closest puppy cafe to us, and because it also happens to be one of our favorites!

To get there, we had to hop on the subway for a 30 minute journey.  You’d think a crowded, noisy, smelly subway would be distracting and stressful to a tiny dog, but Duggie actually loves it!

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Tokyo 2014! Vintage Steals and Designer Deals on Harajuku Cat Street

Last time we were in Tokyo, we spent our time in Harajuku on Takeshita Dori, not even realizing some of the best shops were hidden on down the road, on a winding side street parallel to Omote-sando.

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Welcome to Cat Street – funky fresh Tokyo fashion at its best!

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