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The best of both worlds

Japanese-cookie-shapes The holiday season is approaching and of course I am baking Christmas cookies with my little daughter (pictured above “Mailänderli”). Thanks to The Daiso, we also have a number of non-traditional shapes in our set… You can’t make your cookies too cute, right?

The Garden of Nezu Museum

tokyo-nezu-museum-pond-reffert Just off of one of the fanciest shopping streets in Tokyo’s Omotesando, Nezu Museum is located. But it’s more than an art museum. Behind it, it hides one of the most amazing Japanese gardens of the metropolis, dark with leafy green and quiet ponds. The contrast to the modern and fashionable Omotesando could not be bigger. tokyo-nezu-museum-garden-reffert Continue Reading »

A Taste of Summer

Japanese-sweets-summer-theme-Reffert In Japan, many things are seasonally themed. One of the things we have taken home with us are these beautiful sweets from Kyoto – all with a summer design such as the morning glory, the gold fish and the sun flower. A feast for the eyes and a fleeting reminiscence of summer in Japan.

Kitty Japanese garden - Hello Kitty greeting the customers

Kitty Japanese garden – Hello Kitty greeting the customers

Kyoto is not all austere temples and shrines of historic importance. Japan’s pop-culture is part and parcel of it all. One of its outgrowths are character cafes. In Kyoto’s old town, there is a traditionally styled tea house, with a small Japanese garden to look at, and macha on the menu. The only difference to its many cousins is that it’s a Hello Kitty Cafe, where everything is Kitty-themed down to the smallest detail. And if you’re feeling lonely, you can sit next to a life-size Hello Kitty plushie.
Styled to the last detail

Styled to the last detail

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Visit to Uji

Torii leading to Ujikami Shrine

Torii leading to Ujikami Shrine

In the spirit of exploring the region beyond Kyoto, we dedicated half a day to visiting the nearby town of Uji, reachable in a little more than half an hour from Kyoto by local train. One could have easily spent an entire day there, but among work commitments, muggy weather and two little kids in tow, we opted to just go for the two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Ujikami Jinja and Byodoin.
Phoenix Hall of Byodoin

Phoenix Hall of Byodoin

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Hikone-Castle-Main-Keep-Reffert Staying for once for longer in the Kansai region, we were able to venture beyond Kyoto in our explorations. The town of Hikone, located on the shores of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake, is reachable from Kyoto in one hour by train, making it an easy day trip. Hikone Castle counts as one of the three best castles of Japan (after Himeji and Matsumoto).

View of Hikone Castle across Genkyu-en

View of Hikone Castle across Genkyu-en

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Revisiting Kinkakuji

Kyoto-Kinkakuji-Reffert While there are many places worth seeing that we have not yet visited in Kyoto, there are others we keep coming back to, like Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion. This time, arriving at opening time did not work in our favor, as about 10 school classes did the same. Kinkakuji presented itself sparkling in a ray of sunlight before a backdrop of moody clouds.