Well Spent Golden Week

The past few days were long holidays in Japan – the Golden Week (GW). It’s the week that everywhere you go, there will always be filled with people.

This year, we didn’t plan to go back Y-chan’s hometown so we just decided to relax and go for short day trips around Kanto region. 🙂

To celebrate the long holidays, we had yakiniku buffet dinner at Gyukaku. Our last yakiniku was in January after our snowboard session. :O

On another day, we went to Yanesen area as Y-chan haven’t been there before. The places we went to are similar to the ones I went last year with my friend A. (If you’re interested, you can read it here 🙂 ) As it was GW, we went early to queue for the shaved ice (at 10am) but instead of queuing up, we were given a ticket by the staff that ask us to come back at 2.30pm for it.

The crowd at Yanaka Ginza Shopping street during GW.

We were strolling along Yanesen area and I thought the sky & building were a nice match. Took a photo of it but to realise that the property was actually a cemetery. :O 

Back to the shaved ice. Y-chan ordered Strawberry Milk shaved ice (900 yen) that has a whole ichigo on it. 😀 I took a spoonful of it and stopped because it’s still toooooo milky for me. *sighs*

This was mine. A citrusy-pomelo called Amanatsu shaved ice. Just the fruits puree and shaved ice. Love it! 😀 Following that, we went to walk around Yanaka Ginza shopping street and bought some food back for dinner because it was just too wallet-friendly. 🙂

And on another day, we went to visit the zoo within Saitama perfecture. 😀 My first time to visit the zoo in Japan and I totally enjoyed it. Got to see alpacas and baby white tigers for the first time in my life. ♥♥♥ 

This sums up our GW for 2015 and we’re now looking forward to our summer holidays.

BTW.

Can you believe that this pack of Hakata Amaou strawberries cost only 400 yen? (That’s around SGD 5) 😀 😀

What a steal right! 😉 There’s actually a way in getting cheap, fresh and yummy fruits in Japan.

Avoid buying fruits from departmental stores.

The fruits lined up in these places are usually the best-looking (i.e. no dents, 100% scar-free) ones out of the crop. So prices are extremely steep compared to those selling at supermarkets.

It then comes to the next point,

Chained Supermarkets VS Stand-alone (local) Supermarkets.

Fruits’ prices are controlled in chained supermarkets whereas local supermarkets sourced for their own suppliers and get it straight from them (i.e. minus the agent cost and etc..) so their prices are cheap although it varies from time to time. For the same Amaou strawberries I got at a local supermarket in Yanaka Ginza, it will have a price-tag of at least 600 yen at the chained supermarket I frequents.

Usually these stand-alone supermarkets can be found in those old shopping street. Some examples would be Yanaka Ginza shopping street, Higashi Jujo shopping street (東十条商店街) and Sugamo shopping street (巣鴨地蔵通り商店街).

Or you can visit the more well-known Ameyoko Street in Ueno at around 6 – 7pm. The stall owners will reduce the price as they want to clear their stocks before they closing their stalls at 8pm. 🙂

I hope this tip is helpful to you if you’re planning to try the fruits in Japan. 😀

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Start of our wedding preparation

On our trip back to Yamaguchi during the Golden week, we’ve went to visit the hotel where we will be holding our wedding ceremony & reception lunch. A few months before deciding on this location, my mum-in-law helped us to gather a number of wedding pamphlets for our reference.

In Japan, the couple decides on what type of ceremony they wishes to hold. Church / Chapel ceremony (教会式 / チャペル式), exchanging vows in-front of families & friends (人前式) and Shinto ceremony (神前式). After looking through the pamphlets, we came to a decision of doing a Shinto ceremony. Partly is because I wanted to wear the uchi-kake (打ち掛け), another reason would be the cost. The ceremony looks something like this ↓ (image from Google)

Then! We need to decide on the wedding date. Likewise in Singapore, Chinese usually looks at the lunar calendar and compare it with their ‘eight characters’. However, the calendar in Japan is fairly simple. They have certain ‘recommended’ days that are meant for ‘wedding’, ‘moving’, ‘travelling’ and etc… So, 1st December in the calendar reads tomo-biki (友引) and it’s good for celebration event (i.e. wedding).

After visiting the hotel and a talk with the bridal consultant, they handed us a few information such as timeline, schedule of the flow, and a file which acts as a wedding note/checklist. The way the hotel handles certain items are quite different from Singapore’s hotel. For example, inside the suggested wedding package, they calculate the cost by no. of attendees instead of per table. The seating arrangements are usually in 5 ~ 8 guests per table. Unlike our Chinese style where you squeeze 10 guests into a table. 🙂

As we have limited time in Yamaguchi, my mum-in-law has helped us to book a slot with the wedding dress rental shop straight after the consultant. As I already have in mind how many dresses I want to wear during my big day, we went straight to the selection room. I was surprised to see so many colorful dresses and of course, white wedding dresses too. 😀 So I went round the racks and racks of dresses, picking up some that I may want to try on. I have to tell you……. I was soooooo nervous that I was sweating like the room is a sauna itself. After trying on the dresses, we went to another room to try out the colored uchi-kake. I prefer colored uchi-kake than the shiromuku (白無垢) because I think my skin tone doesn’t fit shiromuku that well.

We will need to go back to Yamaguchi again for our 2nd discussion with the hotel consultant and 2nd fitting of the wedding dresses in Summer. Which means we need to fly back and in other to save cost, we need to get the tickets early. Which also means that Y-chan has to take annual leaves for it. This is so troublesome because in Japan, taking annual leaves (for around 3 to 5 days) is considered a nuisance to other colleagues. So I can imagine Y-chan getting reprimanded for this if he takes a number of annual leaves. (This is one of the reason why I sometimes disagree on the Japanese way of thinking, especially on annual leaves. It’s entitled in the contract, so definitely the individuals are entitled to use it right? Of course, the individual has to be considerate and choose the dates that’s not a busy period in the company.)

We’re just hoping for a smooth process of our wedding preparation with the help of our friends. 😀

Ending off with a back-shot of me in Jill Stuart‘s colored dress collection & colored uchi-kake ♥

Dining inside the mountain!

Hello! In my previous post, Y-chan and I went to Dassai sake brewery in Iwakuni (岩国) and on our way back to Yamaguchi city, Y-chan’s aunt (Kazu-chan) brought us to this very famous place for dining in Iwakuni – Irori Sanzoku (いろり山賊).

This ‘restaurant’ is very different from normal Japanese restaurant because it’s located inside the mountain and you dine outdoor. The main characteristic of this restaurant is to enjoy the green scenery while dining. As it was quite crowded (Golden week in Japan), it took around 30~45 minutes for the food to arrive after placing the order.

For first timer, the expression will be this → (O_O) when the food is served. The portion is unbelievably huge. As it was my second time to this restaurant (first time was with Y-chan & his group of friends), I wasn’t shocked about the size and the presentation of the food.

All of us ordered sanzoku-yaki (山賊焼) and sanzoku-musubi (山賊むすび). The sanzoku-yaki is something like skewered BBQ-ed half chicken with teriyaki-like sauce while the sanzoku-musubi is a very big onigiri with 3 different fillings – ume (sour plum), konbu (kelp) and salmon.

They have many other dishes on their menu but we just wanted to have the simple ones to fill our stomach. Maybe I will want to try their sanzoku-udon and yakiniku-styled dishes next time because we saw many families ordered that. 😀

Irori Sanzoku’s official website here!

Dassai Sake Brewery

ImageGreetings! We’ve come back from Yamaguchi on Tuesday. It was a very fruitful trip back because we’ve managed to do a few activities. Activities that we have done/started:

  • Y-chan to attend his friend’s wedding
  • Appointment with the hotel w.r.t our wedding ceremony
  • Selection of my wedding dress
  • Visit to Dassai Sake Brewery
  • Eat Sanzoku-yaki (a kind of local gourmet in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi)

That’s me and Y-chan at the entrance of Dassai sake brewery (獺祭酒蔵). It’s located in one of the mountains in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi. Y-chan’s aunt (and her family) drove us there because just nice it’s a public holiday.

The aroma from the fermentation was awesome! Very sweet-smelling and not pungent at all. The rice which Dassai used to produce their sake was from Nishiki. A lower rank than Koshi-hikari which is the Special A rank. Everything there just reminds me of my poly days. Enjoyed it a lot because I somehow can relate to what was introduced. We received a bottle of the sake from Y-chan’s aunt and also bought a smaller bottle of it for a friend back in Tokyo.

I’ve heard from my friend that you can drink this in Singapore too! Just that I don’t know which shop is selling it. Do try it when you see this very complicated name in the restaurant! Support my husband’s hometown product! 😀

You can visit their official website here.

Go back Hometown!

Hello! I’ll be going back to Y-chan’s hometown for 5 days because Y-chan has to attend his friend’s wedding on this coming Saturday. Also, we need to go back because we have to start preparing for our wedding ceremony.

His hometown is located in the western part of Japan, Yamaguchi Pref. (山口県), where it’s famous for fugu (ふぐ・河豚 – pufferfish). So when he’s out to attend his friend’s wedding, I’ll be at his grandparents’ place keeping them accompanied. My mum-in-law suggested that I go and learn how to make the legendary karaage (唐揚げ – fried chicken) and takana-ni (a kind of simmered vegetable) from grandma. I thought “why not?”. 😀

Hopefully I don’t mess up the kitchen! Super love his grandma’s karaage! ♥ I can’t wait to meet Y-chan’s sister’s chihuahua!

legendary karaage

legendary karaage ♥