Holidays in the Sun

Howdy folks!  Long time no blog, huh?!  Well, autumn went by way too quickly, and winter seems to be zipping past as well (not that I’m complaining: I’m super sick of dreary grey skies, dry skin, sinus infections, and bundling up under layers and layers, anyway.)  We didn’t do much in the way of Christmas celebrations this year, we couldn’t even clear any space in our minuscule apartment to put up our mini-Christmas tree.  Boo.  Anyhow, moaning aside, we did take a most excellent adventure across the Pacific to visit a city I’ve been dreaming of venturing to ever since I was a hair metal-obsessed teen…

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Tokyo 2015: Cute and Kooky Character Shopping

We didn’t just stuff our faces with food during our summer holiday (though, from my past few posts, it probably seems that way!)  We also did a whole lotta shopping in the cutest and kookiest places we could find, from Tokyo Station to Nakano Broadway and, of course, Harajuku, here are some of my favorite kawaii finds! 💖

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❤ Cute Korea: Sanrio Gift Gate Seoul ❤

Thank glob for Sanrio Gift Gates, those heavenly pink portals into an alternate universe, where money seems to float from your pockets as your arms grow heavier and heavier with the weight of totally unnecessary, unbearably adorable things.  Rejoice, people of Seoul, for deep inside the shopping haven that is COEX lays a Sanrio Gift Gate of our own!  (It is, as far as I know, the only one in Seoul…possibly the only one in Korea?!)

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♥ Wit Wa Comma: Rilakkuma Heaven in Hongdae! ♥

Y’know when you’re having one of those days when you just need to be completely smothered by wall-to-wall cute stuff?  No?  Well, I get that kinda sensation all the time (hence why my apartment is a bubblegum pink Hello Kitty explosion…)  When I get that sorta feeling, and a holiday to Tokyo is nowhere to be seen, I like to skip on over to Hongdae for the next best thing…

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Studio Ghibli Exhibit at I’Park Mall, Seoul!

This is pretty old news now, but I’Park Mall is currently hosting a Studio Ghibli exhibit featuring life-size displays of some of their best known films, and it’s preeeetty darn awesome!  We went a couple weekends ago, and despite the long waits and queues of people, it was totally magical and one hundred percent worth it! ❤

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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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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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