Double Tall Cafe, Harajuku

Although I'm not a hardcore coffee drinker, I always love to visit and to try lattes in local coffee shops!

This Double Tall Cafe is located in the heart of Harajuku, Tokyo. It's right next to the Meiji-jinguame 'Harajuku' Station.

I really loved my latte! Delicious! Got a chance to know Kenta, one of the baristas of the Double Tall Cafe, too! Sadly I only took a few pictures during this visit. Well, there's a reason to make another visit, eh?

If you love coffee and happen to be in the Harajuku area, it's really worth it to make a stop to this coffee shop. Go check their website HERE

Keep calm and drink latte :)

Nizar

The Whimsical Wisteria Tunnel

Kawachi Fuji Garden might be one of my favorite places in Japan. It's magical, whimsical.. just beautiful.

Two years ago, I did my first trip to this wisteria tunnel with my three friends. We left the Base at 4 a.m (yes, 4 a.m!). We arrived at the garden a little bit after 7 a.m. It was only four of us (plus an old man who worked there) at that time. I thought we needed to wait until 8 a.m, but the guard was letting us in. We got some amazing empty wisteria tunnel pictures that time.
Below are few photos of my friends and I from the 2014's visit.


Yesterday, I went there again with my other three friends... Plus their toddlers! Haha. My other three friends weren't sure about leaving the Base at 4 a.m, but I assured them it'll be worth it. We, of course, arrived there a little bit after 7 a.m - we took about 15 minutes break at the rest area, though. Unlike two years ago that they were letting us in earlier, this year we needed to wait until it's open. But, we still got the empty wisteria tunnel, too! It was raining too yesterday, yet it obviously didn't stop us for taking pictures and having fun :) The good thing about raining was no gigantic bees around us! Yay! :)

Below are some pictures I took yesterday. I hope you like them!

The combination of raining, a toddler, and a camera :)

 I call this dedication :)

I call this dedication :)

Full team :)
There was an interesting story behind our group (without the kids) picture, btw! :D

If you are on Facebook, check also Shelley's facebook page, she got plenty awesome wisteria pictures from our trip yesterday!

Snow at Mominoki

My friend's sister is currently visiting Iwakuni, and like MOST of people from tropical countries, one of her must-to-do list is seeing and touching the snow.

So a couple days ago we checked the snow at Mominoki, it's by Megahira. It took about 1,5 hours (maybe even less!) from Iwakuni to get Mominoki. The snow wasn't good enough for skiing or sledding, yet it's pretty good enough for pictures :)

We stayed there for less than an hour. Once my friend's sister had enough playing the snow, we drove back to Iwakuni. LOL

Sorry no landscape images, I didn't feel taking pictures of the landscape at that day! But here are some images of us :)

And.. I also had a chance to be in my camera's frame. Thanks to my friend who took my images perfectly!

Anyway, happy holidays and be safe, people!!

Cheers,
Nizar

Pechka and Lights

Last weekend, my husband surprised me with a dinner at a Russian restaurant at Hiroshima. It was indeed a surprise for me as if you know my husband, he isn't really good in making any surprise. LOL

I've never had any Russian food (well except the Russian bakery as I'm a fan of  Piroshky Piroshky at Pike Market, Seattle), hence I can't say if Pechka serves authentic Russian food or not.

Anyway, Pechka isn't a fancy fine dining restaurant. It's a small and laid-back restaurant. They have pretty good choices of food, though. I was just excited to try new food there! 

I enjoyed the night with this dude.

These are the food we ordered: Pancake with cheese and mushroom, dumpling, pizza, mushroom soup, and tomato soup. My favorite was the pancake! It's sooo delicious! Sadly we needed to skip the pizza (eventhough we've ordered it, as turns out it had salami in it, which we can't eat.) But overall I liked the food! 

We paid about ¥5,500 for all these food plus our drinks (non-alcohol).

It's so easy to go to this place. From Hiroshima Station take the street car, and you want to stop at Kanayomacho station. It takes about five minutes walk from the Kanayomacho to this place.

And yes, I have the pin 34.3922108,132.4660471 :)

After had some delicious food, we decided to hit the Hiroshima Dreamination. We took the street car, and got off at the Fukuromachi station. It's about six stops from Kanayomacho station.

These are some pictures I took at the Dreamination. Make sure you wear warm clothes so you can enjoy walk around these lights :)

Cheers,
Nizar

HAPINEKO, Cat Cafe at Shibuya (Tokyo)

I've heard about this cat cafe in Japan since forever, and always wanted to go there. 

There are numerous cat cafes in Japan, which mostly in big cities. Tokyo itself has few cat cafes, and I know for sure that Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima also have them. Yet, even though we've been to Kyoto and Osaka (of course Hiroshima) more than three times, we always forgot to check any cat cafe in any of those cities.

This particular cat cafe, Hapineko, is in Shibuya area. It's located only five minutes by walk from the Shibuya St. (Hachi exit). We didn't have a plan at all to go to Hapineko as we were just looking a place to have lunch. Brian pointed the sign of the cafe to me, and I was like, "Please, can we go there?", and of course as the best husband's in the world, Brian said yes :)

Yep, I know the admission fee is sort of expensive :( We paid the 30 minutes one. Ah at least we got a new experience that we can share to others :) Our admission fee included soft drink and two small chocolate bars per person.

The place was clean, quite, and full of cuteness :) If not because its expensive admission fee, I might stay longer, like hours :)

Anyway, here are some pictures I took at Hapineko.

These cats didn't like us that much, as we simply had nothing to share. If you want to keep them around you, you definitely need to bribe them with their snack which you can buy in here. Oh, hung out with those cats definitely made me (especially Brian) miss our cats, Koko-chan & Kiko-chan! Looking forward to meet our fur babies tomorrow! 

~Nizar

PS: Brian might hates this idea, but I'm thinking to go to the bigger cat cafe in Shinjuku for our next trip to Tokyo :)

Zao Fox Village

When Brian told me that he wanted to go to Koriyama for Japan Juggling Festival 2015 (and participate, but later he found out that he was too late to register for the competition), I was excited. Yet when I checked the map and found out that Koriyama is not far from the Fox Village at Shiroishi, I was waaaaaaaaay more excited! Another dream came true :)

After spent two solid days at the juggling festival, we decided to go to the Zao Fox Village (and later Tokyo) on Monday.

We departed from Koriyama station around 9 a.m on Monday. It was a really nice day. I was glad we went there on Monday instead of Sunday like our first plan. We took the Shin to Fukushima station, continued with the JR from Fukushima station to Shiroishi station. It took about 1.5 hours to arrive at Shiroishi station. Sadly there's no bus to go to the Fox Village, hence we took a taxi, which is kind of expensive (¥3,820). You actually can rent a bike for ¥300, but despite the view near the Zao Fox Village which is amazing and the bike rental is very cheap, I myself won't ride a single gear bike up the mountain :)

IMG_1586.jpg

It took about 20 minutes from the Shiroishi station to the Zao Fox Village, and the view was beautiful!!! The entrance fee is ¥1,000. Beside foxes, there are bunnies, guinea pigs, goats, and ponies too. 

Here are some pictures I took there. Ready for some fox cuteness? :)

Oooooh.. By the way... :)

 Smiley fox :)

Smiley fox :)

You can feed the foxes (and other animals). It's ¥100 for the fox food, I forgot how much the food for the bunnies and the goats was though, and you can also hold the fox for ¥400! I've been eyeing this white fox since I arrived. But when I asked the workers that I want to hold him, they told me that my favorite little fella is kind of violent. He won't bite, he just doesn't like to sit still. The workers convinced me to choose another fox. Yet, I told them it's ok as I have two violent cats at home :) So here are the pictures of me and this beautiful fox - which I forgot his name! :( 

 You will need to wear that bright green jacket if you want to hold the fox.

You will need to wear that bright green jacket if you want to hold the fox.

As you see, he wasn't impressed to take pictures with me as I disturbed his lunch time. LOL

We were there for two hours or so. We took the taxi again on the way back from the Zao Fox Village to the Shiroishi station. We got the same taxi driver as he gave us the company's phone number and his taxi's number when we arrived at the Zao Fox Village.

Overall, it was a nice experience. Yes it was expensive (well, basically travel in Japan is expensive), but Zao Fox Village has been in my bucket list forever, which I thought I won't be able to check it as it's way too far from Iwakuni :) But, I made it! Hooray! :)
 

Cheers,
~Nizar

PS: I believe it takes about 3 hours from Tokyo Station to the Zao Fox Village (Shinkansen + JR). You can always check it at Hyperdia :)

Japan Juggling Festival 2015

Hi there! After four days in Koriyama (Fukushima) for Japan Juggling Festival 2015 that my husband always wanted to go, we are in Tokyo now until this Friday. Anyway, since I have very little knowledge about juggling and Japan Juggling Festival 2015, yet I want to put this experience in my blog, the post below is written by my husband, Brian. The pictures were taken by me of course ;) I wish I took more pictures, though! :( Well, I hope you will enjoy this somewhat different post :)

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What a great time!

For anyone in Japan during the weekend of Columbus Day/Sports Day, I can't recommend this enough. You can buy one day or three day passes (three being the much better deal), and tickets to the Championship (1st night) or Guest Stage (2nd night) at the door. With your tickets and name card it's time to enter the huge practice floor which will fill shortly with jugglers of all types (balls, clubs, rings, yo-yo's, diabolos, hats, boxes, umbrellas, etc.). Each day offers various workshops, and includes a free performance where the brave demonstrate their ability to applause regardless of whether they made the routine or not. 

If you are an experienced juggler, you'll fit right in. If you are just getting started (like me), you will be just as welcome. With so many talented jugglers, it's all but impossible to not learn something new. Everyone I met was extremely helpful and patient (you'd have to be while trying to teach me a new trick, and watching me attempt to perfect my ability to drop the balls). Language barrier you ask....not an issue as it is a visual art. Thanks to the advent of YouTube tutorials, I can learn tricks at home, and spend some time at the festival practicing them. But to me, the real joy of being there is to meet the other jugglers, and interact. The jugglers are mostly from Japan, but some are from Europe, North America, and Australia as well so there's a mix from all over.    

The guests this year were Cru Cru Cirque DX, Anni Kupper, and Tony Pezzo. For anyone not familiar with Tony Pezzo, his video Pearls on YouTube is amazing! This being my first juggling festival, I don't have anything to compare it to, but it amazed me seeing the guest performers out juggling with people the first day. Here was Tony Pezzo working on rings with a circle of jugglers, and Anni Kupper working on clubs with another group. Getting to meet Tony Pezzo was a priviledge because it was his video that allowed me to see how beautiful juggling can be, and got me started.

At the end of the 2nd day, we got on the bus to the auditorium to watch the guest performances. For anyone that hasn't seen Cru Cru Cirque DX, if they are ever in your area I highly recommend them. They were great! A little bit of everything, and surprisingly were my favorite part of the night. Anni Kupper's performance was a nice change of pace, and let's face it, any woman that's into juggling and bondage can't be all that bad. The finale was Tony Pezzo doing an eight box routine with each box containing a juggling prop (rings, clubs, 3-balls, 3-balls and two fish nets (don't ask me, you had to be there, but it was probably my favorite part of his show), 5-balls, devil sticks, etc). Each act was a nice change of pace from the other, and all were absolutely amazing to watch!

We had to leave Koriyama for Fox Village and Tokyo on the 3rd day, and didn't get to participate in the final day. Over the two days participating in the juggling festival, it was an amazing experience, and if you ever find yourself in Japan at the time it is going on, do yourself the favor and go. You won't regret it! 

P.S. Tsubasa Watanabe's airplane diabolo performance is amazing! It was great meeting you, and we hope to see you again over Halloween. Hopefully, a new festival story for a different day.

~Brian

The Kintai Bridge Fireworks

In Japan, summers = festivals = fireworks! I meant, amazing fireworks! The main event during summer is Obon (or Bon) Festival. For those who want travel to Japan, avoid any days during Obon Festival, as every place is insanely crowded, unless you like to be in crowd :)

The firework festival was actually a 'taikai' competition between companies and organizations that sponsored the event. In Japanese, they would announce how much was spent on each display and the name of the company as well as a little advertising before and after each bout of fireworks. (full article here) 

These pictures were taken during the Kintaikyo (Kintai Bridge) firework festival last night. It was nice seeing so many familiar faces at the Kintain yesterday, moreover it was nice taking pictures with my friend Carolyn, and another MCAS Iwakuni photographer, Oscar, from O2K Photography.

Hope you enjoy these pictures as I do!

~Nizar