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Catching Sakura – Spring 2015

In our previous trips to Japan, we never really have chance to get real fully-bloom Sakura. Our last trip was 2 years ago on April 16th and the sakura season was already ended. So we plan our trip at the end of March, hoping to get Sakura at its best.

Well,ย we were notย so lucky. When we arrived on March 20th, the temperature was still cold, so we would not see many blooming soon. We prayed that in a week time when we are still in Japan, many of them will bloom. Turns out, we were a week too early. This year’s Sakura around Tokyo blooms at its peak at the end of March-early April (which is now!).

But we did catchย some early Sakura and think positively that this is a sign to visit Japan again in the future ๐Ÿ™‚

Any of you wish to catch Sakura in Japan, these websites are very useful to see Sakura forecast

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011.html

http://hanami.walkerplus.com/

 

Sakura by the Kamo River, Kyoto

Sakura by the Kamo River, Kyoto

 

Sakura at Park near Tsukuba Daigaku Oikoshi

Sakura at Park near Tsukuba Daigaku Oikoshi

 

Early Sakura at the entrance of Ueno Park

Early Sakura at the entrance of Ueno Park

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2

Fujiko F Fujio Museum

Ever since I knew that this museum exist from my friend’s pics in FB, I was determined that I HAVE to visit the museum on my next visit to Japan ๐Ÿ˜€
As a loyal viewer of Doraemon, I would love to ‘meet’ his creator, also to meet the ‘real’ Doraemon. So there it was, listed on our must-visit in our trip to Japan last April.
The thing was, the ticket museum must be purchased in advance via loppi machine in Lawson convenient store in JAPAN. To visit the museum, we need to purchase the ticket a month – 2 weeks prior the visit. And we only started to arrange itinerary around 3 weeks before the visit. We’re doomed! ๐Ÿ˜€
My sister in Tsukuba helped us to purchase the ticket, so we are saved for April 25 2013, 10 am.

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Fujiko F Fujio Museum tickets

The ticket is 1000 yen for adult, and you must determine the visiting date and time when purchasing the ticket. There are 4 options of visiting time: 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, and 16:00. The website states that we need to enter the museum no later than half an hour within the reservation time.
The museum is located in Kawasaki, nearest stations are passed by JR Nanbu Line (Noborito and Shukugawara sta.) and Odakyu-Odawara Line (Mukougaoka yuen and Noborito sta.) from Tokyo.
It’s a long journey for us since we departed from Tsukuba, so we have to leave early in the morning after the exhaustion in Tokyo DisneySea the day (night) before. Aaandd..we missed the train so we need to wait for the next one and it screwed our plan. We were anxious whether we can get to the museum on time (or 10:30 am the latest).
We took the Tsukuba Express train to Akihabara then JR Chuo Line to Shinjuku, then JR Odakyu Odawara Line to Mukogaoka yuen station. It was a looong ride and we made plenty of unwise decisions here ๐Ÿ˜€ First, taking Chuo Line in work rush hour is very bad decision – it is packed!
Second, we should’ve gotten off in Noborito station and take the shuttle bus to the museum instead of got off in Mukogaoka yuen and walked to the station. We thought that we can still make it, but the stated 16mins walking distance from Mukagaoka yuen to the museum in the website turned out to be JAPANESE WALKING distance and the distance is actually about 1km. Hahaha
So anyone who’s visiting Fujiko Fujio Museum, please take shuttle bus from Noborito station. It’s moreee convenient and the bus is cute too ๐Ÿ˜€

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Noborito Station, shuttle bus to the museum is just in front of it

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Shuttle bus to the museum. Kawaiii ๐Ÿ˜€

By some miracle we made it to the museum at 10:30 and greeted warmly by the museum staff. In the front office, we were briefed what to do and must not do in Museum. The museum has 2 exhibition rooms, a theater, playing room for kids, a cafe, backyard and rooftop for taking pictures and have a walk.
The two exhibition rooms tell story about Fujiko Fujio life and masterpieces. We were lent a guiding device to hear information of each item exhibited. Taking picture is not allowed on the exhibition rooms. My favorite section in room 1 is hologramic screens showing the process of making manga ๐Ÿ™‚ The exhibition section also has the replica of Fujiko’s office which is packed with science fiction books, dinosaur books and figurines. Giving the thought, Doraemon is also a science fiction movie rather that ordinary “imaginary” manga. There I know where Fujiko got his inspiration and that his work resembles very much of his interest.
At the end of exhibition sections, we were asked to return the guiding device to the staff there. The drawer to store the devices is in the form of Doraemon magic pocket ๐Ÿ˜€

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Would love to have similar in my house :p

The next room is play room for kids (no adult allowed to enter) and a long bench to read Doraemon manga (unfortunately in Japanese hiks).

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Meet Doraemon and Dorayaki ๐Ÿ˜€

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Manga

On the 3rd floor is Doraemon cafe, the menu seems delicious and cute buuutt very expensive so we skipped this area (we bought some dorayaki for take away though). And finally the backyard and rooftop with some of Fujiko’s movie character to take picture with.

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Pintu kemana saja - it's on top of my magical wishlist

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characters

It’s been a lovely day in the museum. Downside: it’s a small small building and I expect more Doraemon to meet hehe..

6

Kokeshi Hunting

This is the story of how we (finally) get these two lovely Kokeshi.

I always fascinated by cute stuff, figurine, and I started collecting them a few years back. Mostly kokeshi, the irresistibly-cute Japanese wooden doll. So when we got the chance to actually visit Japan last May (owe this blog the trip story), I HAVE TO go home with (at least) one.

Our first visit was to Kyoto and there are A LOT of Kokeshi in Kyoto. Kyoto is a tourist town with lots of temples and good sightseeing places (sort like Bandung in Indonesia) so there are a lot of gift shop along the streets and near tourist spot. Well, when stuff looks near and scatters around you, there’s always tendency to postpone. That’s what happened. There are a lot of great Kokeshi around the Kiyomizu-dera Temple but I decided to wait in case we found better one in other stores ๐Ÿ˜€

Our next destination was Osaka. In my mind, Osaka will be much bigger city than Kyoto and there will be more souvenir shop over there. We moved on to Osaka and I was totally wrong, there are not a single Kokeshi shop we found around the city! Near our departure date, I started panicking. How can I go home without my-most wanted souvenir when I have the chance to visit its origin place??! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ We started googling for Kokeshi stores in Osaka. There are several recommendation but they’re not convincing. Most of the results pointing out that you should by Kokeshi in Kyoto. DANG! I fainted.

Anyway, we tried and written down all the shops address. So on our last day in Osaka, we literary went store to store but found nothing. There are no Kokeshi in Osaka! *panic*. To be honest, it’s crossed my mind to go back to Kyoto to find Kokeshi ๐Ÿ˜€ We have an early flight the next day and I have to give up. The only hope we have is to find Kokeshi on the airport store but our flight is 8.30 in the morning, not sure if the airport store is open.

Arriving at the airport the next day, there’s no store open yet. Well, make sense since it’s only 6 in the morning. We looked around the stores and found that there are actually some stores selling Kokeshi in Kansai International Airport. We just walked around the stores (as if it will turned them open :p) waited for our boarding time. Unexpectedly, at 7 o’clock (sharp – i have to say this), all the stores are open at the same time! I looove that they open early and I love it more that the Japanese are so punctual :’)

You can guess that I finally had a chance for last minute Kokeshi shopping. Really thank God for that, almost like miracle considering we tried so bad to find Kokeshi a day before ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s a shop called ‘Kyoto Souvenirs’ (or so) that selling cute Kokeshi in Kansai Airport, we bought these two Kokeshi there.

Lesson learned are..ย  >> If you are Kokeshi lover, Osaka is not the place to get one, Kyoto is ๐Ÿ˜€ย  >> Know what you want and never delayย  >> Love Japan with its punctual habitย  ๐Ÿ˜€

Hope I will get another chance to visit Japan again and add some Kokeshi to my collection ๐Ÿ™‚