Fujifilm XT20 Review

August 17, 2017 in Shoutouts 5 Cheesed

So today I want to talk about my new camera that I have been using for the past couple of months – Fujifilm XT20.

To be very honest, I am not so much a photography enthusiast. I owned many many different cameras before, most of them were compact cameras or selfie cameras. And actually, 90% of the the photos I took were with my iPhone or my selfie camera (which everything turns out overly-smooth and pale. Fair-skinned burgers, anyone?). Photo quality was not really a big deal to me because I thought my iPhone was doing a great job. And, honestly, as long as *I* look good (after many filter apps), who cares? Shocking, coming from a (sort of) full-time blogger/social media person!

This was what I thought, until my Casio TR selfie pro died on me. It has been dropped countless times before and this time it was broken for real, after Junya accidentally flung it on the floor.

And then I thought, it’s time for a real camera. Like a real one.

I don’t know. Maybe I started taking less and less selfies and more of everything else. Maybe I wanted to look more professional especially when it comes to work. Maybe I just needed an upgrade. Or maybe, I just wanted a new challenge. Selfie cameras and iPhones are too easy, shamefully so. Am I going to not put in more effort to create better content for my followers?

So I decided that the game changer this time, is Fujifilm XT20. Our first encounter was in Setouchi where Chanwon brought hers on the trip and I played with it a little. I was instantly smitten. What have I been missing out???? I was in shock.

So yes, instead of a very techy reviews over all the specs, this review comes from me, a social media person who is too busy to sit down with a tripod for that one magical picture, a complete noob who is still trying to figure out why the number of focus points matter, and  who prefers the electronic shutter because she always take sneaky pictures and don’t want to alert anyone lol.

Sorry for the long intro. So here are some of the photos I have taken with Fujifilm over the past few weeks.

I’d say that I can never look back again. Given that I shot most things on auto or semi-auto, I am beyond impressed.

 

Stylish outlook

First of all, the Fujifilm XT20 is a very compact camera, given all the amazing stunts it could do. And more importantly, it looks extremely stylish for a blogger like me. I really love the retro look of it and it feels good to be holding it and have it featured in a mirror shot too.

 

Excellent quality

To illustrate how it would be very difficult to go back to using phone cameras again, here’s a comparison of the same scene taken with my iPhone7 and Fujifilm XT20 without any editing:

Night time, at our ryokan in Nagasaki. Taken with my iPhone7. I am actually quite surprised with how bright it turns out because the lights are off in the room!!

Same photo taken with Fujifilm XT20. It could be better if I used a tripod and play with more settings (but honestly who has time to fiddle with settings when all they need is a quick, instant shot of a very precious moment?)

 

Selfies

I was actually mentally prepared to ditch selfies (or wefies) forever the moment I decided to get this camera. There are more important things to capture in this world than just my own face. (Although with my face in it it will still be better lolol).

But I was surprised to find out that, with an app and a stool (or tripod, better still), I could still get that classic self portrait every social media lady is ever so pro with.

Combined with a couple of filters, you are your own professional photographer in a studio.

The app is called Fujifilm Cam Remote, you can download it on your smartphone can just remote control the camera. It’s sooooo awesome! Don’t even need to press timer then rush back to pose within 10 seconds lolol.

This photo is me showing Junya how I took this photo with a button on my phone.

First wefie I took with the camera haha. With the kit lens, it is actually possible to snap a wefie of two person, although I’d suggest a wider angle lens.

 

Other functions

There are some other features I have yet to mastered like multiple exposure, where you take a photo that combines two exposures from two different shots:

My favorite views – sleeping baby and Tokyo tower in one shot, a scene that’s not usually possible with phone cameras, which would turn out like this:

Night shots:

Fireworks:

 

 

Telling A Story

The best thing I love about it is, how it is able to tell a story with every shot.

In all its vividness.

Capturing a precious moment.

The details of every pixel is just remarkable. I feel like life is a movie… with this camera. Hahahha.

 

Finally, I’d like to summarize my love for Japan with this camera in this video, shot with Fujifilm XT20 on 4K recording.

 

I’m using a combination of the kit lens and also a Fujinon XF35mm F1.4 that I have been drooling over for a long time.

So for those who are looking to get a stylish, high quality camera that won’t break your bank, I hope this blog post can help you make a decision! ^^

Stored in Shoutouts | 5 Cheesed

Soft Snug Upgraded Hot Slimming Pants

August 15, 2017 in Commercial Break 2 Cheesed

Soft Snug Hot Slimming Pants has got an upgrade!

The newly improved hot slimming pants is called Mint Air, which fabric quality is much softer, has greater elasticity, and is more durable compared to the previous version called Mint Plus.

If you haven’t heard of hot slimming pants, Soft Snug is designed to help increase your core temperature when you’re moving about, causing a thermogenic sauna effect on your body to promote more effective targeted fat burning.

I am wearing Soft Snug Mint Air, and it fits a lot better with less creases around the thigh area and also easier to pull up due to its flexibility.

A special fabric called “air fabric” is attached within the inner side of the pants to help dissipate heat within the pants, for better air ventilation as one sweats.

The new version also comes with a waist band where you can adjust the size of the waist as you slim down so you don’t have to buy a new size. That’s a pretty thoughtful add-on!

Doing yoga together with Sakura haha. She is so so so flexible!

Other than the classic hot slimming pants Mint Air 9, Soft Snug also offers other ranges of fitness wear, including Back and Shoulder Corrector, and waist slimmer belt.

Visit Softsnug.com for more information!

38 Months VS 15 Months

August 11, 2017 in Baby 7 Cheesed

Junya turns 38 months today and Sakura is 15 months old!

We spent 3 weeks in Japan together this month, which means both Cheesiepetits had to be in each other’s company 24 hours every day.

I think they have grown a lot closer together.

When mama is too busy to entertain, they had no choice but to play with each other. Haha ❤︎

Peekaboo❤︎

Grow well, grow tall, reach higher and higher.

Reach for the sky and beyond.

 

For Junya

1st month , 2nd month , 3rd month , 4th month , 5th month , 6th month , 7th month 8th month, 9th month , 10th month , 11th month , 12th month , 13th month , 14th month 15th month , 16th month , 17th month , 18th months , 19th month , 20th month ,21st month , 22nd month , 23rd month 24th month , 25th month , 26th month , 27th month , 28th month , 29th month , 30th month , 31st month , 32nd month , 33rd month , 34th month , 35th month , 36th month and 37th month here.

 

New Adventure

It was a month of adventure for Junya. Lots of luggage-pushing, lots of different keys for different hotel doors, lots of train rides and flights, and lots of new faces to meet.

I have noticed that especially now that he goes to school, he is speaking more and more English and less and less Japanese/Mandarin. He does understand both, but he just won’t speak them, perhaps he is shy to make mistake, or simply just got too used to speaking English. The only Japanese he speaks is when he mimics Shimajiro, his favorite tiger on TV. I tried to train him up again by chatting up to him in Japanese sometimes, but most of the time he replies my Japanese questions with English answers lol.

Our conversation goes like this:

“Junya, onaka suita?”
“Yes.”
“Nani tabetai?”
“I want yakisoba.”
“Kyo wa gohan to gyoza dakedo ii?”
“No I want to eat yakisoba.”

Only yakisoba is Japanese lolol.

So then I thought this trip will be slightly awkward because everyone will be talking in Japanese but he’ll be like all Singlish..😯 but boy I was so wrong.

If this trip has taught me anything, it is young kids’ astonishing ability to pick up a language at a foreign land, and that traveling is the most enriching lesson a child can ever get.

By the second day, Junya was speaking ALL Japanese, including phrases that I have never spoken to him before, and also keigo (honorifics). He would be like “hai dozo, kochira de gozaimasu” while signalling me to my seat, and be like “hai omatechimachita (omatase shimashita)” and gave me a piece of imaginary cake… LOLOL it’s just very funny if you understand the language.

And then I realized that he has picked up all these phrases from restaurant waitstaff, taxi drivers, customer service… etc. It’s amazing.

 

Self-Entertainment 2

His amusing self-entertainment continues from last month.

Working on a science project.

Being a mermaid…

 

Terrible Three?

How long does Terrible Two last??? According to some of my senpai mama, it never ends😶

Junya is 3 now, but he still has his fair share of tantrums and wilfulness. My patience is running short and sometimes, I’ll guiltily admit, I will lose it and yell at him and it would be a cry fest explosion in the house (or in public, which is worse) which I regret every single time. It is time consuming, and ever so energy-draining. For the both of us.

Until Junya slammed his face into the wall and knocked some sense into me. Weird.

He was riding his scooter downhill, lost control and full-frontal crashed into concretes, tore his lips, his mouth full of blood and his lips were all swollen. Worse, it happened right before our midnight flight to Japan. I thought, die liao. We are gonna have a tough, tough night.

But no.

My brave boy, he did not just not shed a tear, he obligingly followed us to the bathroom and gargled with salt water, and then carried on life as usual.

I was the one who cried wth.

My heart ached so much because it was my fault I did not watch him closely. I hugged him so tightly and all sort of guilt ran over me like a bulldozer. How could I have the heart to scold him at other times when he could be such a good boy? How dared me. And then I promised myself not to get angry so easily anymore… because I saw my son in a new light. He is brave, so much braver than me. I have to do better than this.

 

Big Brother

After one whole year, I finally see him as a brother, and not the jealous, selfish elder sibling who wants nothing but everything for himself.

He learns to take care of his sister when she needs attention.

He learns to share his precious ice cream.

And half of his bed. (Stroller was his bed most of the time during our trip hahaha.)

He learns to be a big brother.

 

JunJun says

1. Mama teaching Sakura new vocab.
Junya: Sakuwa cannot say anything because she got no teeth. Only I can say.

2. Mama changing Sakura’s diaper.
Junya: Sakuwa cannot poo poo in toilet because she got no teeth. She only poo poo in diaper.

3. Randomly.
Junya: Mama I want to clean my ear.
Mama: Why?
Junya: Because all the pokemon is fighting inside my ear.

4. By the parking of the beach in Nagasaki. Mama wakes Junya up from sleep.
Junya: Mama I am so tired. Wait for me to wake up first.

5. Road Trip in Ibaraki. Junya starts singing “Three Bears” song while chomping on his biscuits.
Junya: “Look there are three bears all in the same haos papa bear mama bear little bear. Papa bear is driving car. Mama bear is resting in the car. Sakuwa bear is drinking oppai. Junya bear is eating so dirty. What a happy family.”

 

ONIGAYRAY

So lately, I don’t know where he picks this up from, but he started speaking some Japanese words in a weird angmoh accent on purpose. 😑

He now will only call “onigiri” as, guess what, “ONIGAYRAY“.

 

SARAN RAPPU DAYO

This was the first time I thought my son is damn humorous.

On the way visiting jiji in the hospital, he was being “naughty” and climbed onto a bench, then fell off very awkwardly (like tumbling over the bench and tripping on his own feet lol). I was worried at first but he gave me a big, embarrassed smile and said, “I try to do Saran Rappu“.

And then I LOLed so, so hard.

I know you have no idea what is Saran Rappu. It is a Japanese cling wrap with very cute commercials. Another famous competitor brand is called Kure Rappu.

(Trivia: Did you know? Saran Wrap was invented in USA and was named after the names Sarah and Ann.)

Here’s the CM:

Yeap, that was what my son claimed he was trying to do to cover his embarrassing accident lolol.

 

For Sakura

Read Sakura’s 1st month, 2nd month , 3rd month , 4th month , 5th month 6th month , 7th month , 8th month 9th month , 10th month , 11th month , 12th month , 13th month and 14th month here.

 

Walk Walk

Last month she could walk a short distance from one part of the house to another part of the house (to hold on to something), but whenever we are out, she will always need to hold my hand. But on 20th July, the night of our stay in Nagasaki, she suddenly started walking everywhere around the ryokan on her own!!

Now she is a certified free-range baby. Haha.

 

Appetite

It was my worst nightmare. Seriously, 小孩子真的不可以赞的。Just as I boasted how well she was eating, she was suddenly on a food strike.

Shortly before our trip to Japan, she started developing tastebuds of a gourmet critic. Things she finds unpalatable, she spits out immediately without giving a second chance.

During our trip in Japan, she spits out 90% of the food she put in her mouth. EXCUSE ME 小姐 DID YOU KNOW THAT IS A PIECE OF WAGYU YOU JUST SPAT OUT?!??

I’m not sure if it’s the taste?? Texture?? Or just…玩嘢???

I was going crazy. Cleaning up the floor is one part, but buying/cooking 5 different food just to have her reject every. single. thing, and guess how it ended up? Yeap, I had to eat em all up, of course. And to worry about her dropping weight…

She pretty much survived on just air, oppai, edamame and chawan mushi.

 

New words

Here are the things she can say now:

Itai: Painful
Ju Ju: Shoe Shoe
Mah mah: More more (of a food)
Wowo: Walk Walk
Wah wah: Wipe Wipe
Joe: Stroller
JOE: THROW!!
Jejeje deta: Gochisousama deshita
Pur, pur, pur, pur!!!: OPEN OPEN OPEN
AHHHHH!: JUST OPEN IT FOR ME DAMMIT.

 

Mimicking 2

Mimicking continues. And she has discovered the usage of many things and tools.

She will ask for a tissue when she sees bread crumbs on the table and “wah wah“. She will take my lipstick to put make up on herself. She will grab the nail clipper and put it on her toe…

 

Love Niichan

She is happy as long as she is next to her niichan.

And can play by herself next to niichan so mama can sneak away to do other things.

 

JOE!!!!

I remember Junya only started to be “naughty” at around 18 months. But Sakura is barely 15 months and have started to show her strong personality @.@

She now knows how to demand for things – open this! Give it to me! I want another one. OPEN!!!

And whenever I cannot comply with her request or fulfil her demand, she will say, “joe.” – “throw“. and then proceed to fling the object in her hand on the floor as a sign of protest.

“OKAY YOU DON’T DO WHAT I ASK? I THROW.”

She will be trying to annihilate an object in her hand (my make up, the remote, water bottles) and demands:

“Pur. Pur. Pur. PUR!!”
“No baby, I can’t open the sunblock. It will spill all over.”
“!”
“Sorry.”
“Joe. Joe. JOE.”

And proceeds to hurl the bottle of skin care at the wall.
T____T

Yes. Now she always use “JOE” to threaten me…😫😫😫😫😫

 

Chicken Pox

She had her chicken pox at 14 months. It was unexpected. I had no idea where she caught it.

Come to think about it now, that might also explain her loss of appetite.

She is recovering now and her appetite seems to have bounced back a little.

 

Sleeps like a hyphen

Junya was exactly like this since 6 months old with his human-clock ability. His sister is no exception. Until now she still sleeps like the hyphen in the letter H.

On the bed we would start off sleeping like “III”. And before we know it we are sleeping like “H”. Why. Just why???

 

Truffle Breath

It happens since she was a baby, but I only remember to write about it now. Sakura unfortunately, did not have the hypnotizing newborn scent that gets every mommy hopelessly addicted. I was very disappointed because I thought I could relive the human perfume intoxication again.

But then I found out that I am addicted to sniffing her breath. Whenever she yawns I’ll be sticking my nose into her mouth LOLOL. Because she smells like truffle.

When she sleeps sometimes I also get super close to smell her breath. She really does smell like truffle. Sweet baby truffle.

 

 

For Mama

Now that both Cheesiepetits can walk…

It’s really… 分身乏术. Literally. I feel like I’m being 五馬分屍… or at least 二馬分屍.

Third child? No. Unless I grow more arms.

It has been a challenging week. Shortly after Sakura broke out in chicken pox, Junya had a fever. And I thought, great, let’s deal with it ALL AT ONCE.

True enough, he also broke out in very mild blisters (he was vaccinated once), but we still had to skip school for a whole week. I was swamped with work once we returned to Singapore, yet had to take good care of the both of them… while having a million things to clean up in the house after 3 weeks of absence.

I felt like… giving up.

I’m not sure what or which to give up, but I felt like I am just going to burn out like a candle.

On the night Junya had his fever, he was very clingy. He hadn’t eaten anything for the whole day and he couldn’t sleep well.

He kept demanding, “Mama, please sleep with me?
Gomenne.” (sorry), I said to him.
Why you say that mama?” he asked.
Because I want to help you feel better but I don’t know how…” I was honestly defeated.

And then, he put his hand on my face and said, “daijobu yo.” (it’s okay.)

My brave boy. He was smiling for this picture on the train while having a fever.

I must be braver.

Stored in Baby | 7 Cheesed

#ViewFromOurRoom

This is a series from our recent Familymoon trip to Japan.

Yes, Familymoon. ^^ The danna and I went on our honeymoon in 2013. Since I gave birth to Junya in 2014, traveling has changed forever. Going on a trip with a baby/a toddler/two kids is completely different in every single way. Sometimes I do wish that we could travel like we were still childless. But leaving the kids behind is also an impossible option.

So… we had a Familymoon. We decided that comfort and unique experience was the focus of this trip. We stayed in more unique and spacious accommodations, and challenged new things that we have not tried before. I spent a big part of my savings on this trip, happily so. Just take all my money, Japan!!!!

Here’s the first installment – photos taken from the window of our accommodations.

 

1.Roppongi, Tokyo

Absolutely my favorite view.

Actually, a combination of two of my favorite views – my sleeping baby, and Tokyo Tower.

Night view. I have this inexplicable infatuation for Tokyo Tower. Perhaps it is all the drama I have watched during my teenage years. Tokyo Tower is just incredibly romantic.

 

2.Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture

Super spacious ryokan with tatami.

Overlooking the red Kaiomon Bridge that crosses Nakagawa river.

 

3.Nagasaki city, Nagasaki Prefecture

It would be a waste not to stay in a room that offers a “million-dollar-night-view”.

This. Is Nagasaki.

 

4. Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture

A rare experience in a modern western-style hotel room with pool & sea view. The danna checking the waves for the next day’s surf.

Are you a pool or sea person?

 

5. Misawa, Aomori Prefecture

On top of the mountain with a therapeutic view of lush green.

It fits the name of Aomori, 青森, perfectly.

 

 

6. Hakodate, Hokkaido

Hakodate, of course, is also all about the sea. And seafood.

A private onsen with a sea view, in the comfort of your own room is the ultimate experience.

 

7. Asamushi, Aomori Prefecture

Back at Aomori in a newly renovated modern Washitsu – Japanese tatami room.

The most surreal view from the window – a mini island in the middle of the sea.

 

That’s all for this post! Hopefully I get to elaborate on each of the destinations when I have more time.

Setouchi: Ozu & Seiyo

This is the final day in Setouchi!

Read my previous post on Uwajima,  Uchiko,  Matsuyama and introduction on Setouchi.

On this day, we had an afternoon to visit Ozu City (大洲) and Seiyo City (西予) before heading to Matsuyama airport and end our Setouchi trip.

 

OZU

Ozu is another small city located in Ehime prefecture which is prominent for its nostalgic alleys and old-fashioned houses. The most popular place of interest in Ozu is its Ozu Castle which made the town prosper.

Ohanahan Street

There are many old merchant houses and samurai residences remain in the district, making it a great historical street reminiscent of the Edo and Meiji periods. You can experience the elegance of a little version of Kyoto here.

A longkang (drain) by the street. It is supposed to be part of Hijikawa River in Ozu, but no matter how I look at it it is just a longkang to me… except that…

That the water is so clear that…

… wait a minute…. is that…

😱😱😱

Yes… Koi fish swimming in the longkang…

When we posted this on IG stories a lot of our followers got a shock. I mean where we grew up, Koi is usually not the kind of things we would see inside a roadside longkang…😅

 

Garyu Sanso 臥龍山荘

The name sounds like it’s from a 武侠小说 (Chinese Kungfu novels), but I really recommend paying this traditional Japanese Villa a visit for it will be worth your time.

It is also introduced in the Michelin Green Guide Japan as a one-star tourist attraction.

Do you have any idea how a Japanese villa look like?

When we talk about villa, we think of Bali, Phuket and island holidays… but this Garyu Villa reflects the wonders of ancient Japanese architecture with sublime aesthetics.

The villa was built around 1907 and it was said that it took 9000 artisans and 10 years of conceptualization to built this amazing villa.

Not all parts of the villa are photography-allowed, so if you are interested you may google for more.

If you have a passion for architecture, I assure you that you will be very impressed with its unrivalled craftsmanship with all the brilliant designs and and interesting features in this building.

Behind the main building is a nice garden, whose strolling path is formed by stone slabs of different shapes and sizes. The refreshing sight of lush green, and the amazing rockwork that is so delicate and each appears to represent something…

The garden is also full of trees with Japanese hackberry and conifer that are centuries-old and rare species of moss can also be found. Speaking of moss, I will talk more about that later in this post!

I was just admiring all the rocks and finding small surprises in them along the way.

This is a mini cave somewhere in the garden, only when you take a peek inside that you see a little floral raft floating about.

Each stepping stone on the paveway also exudes a gravity of style, and when I asked about this little yellow flower, they say that the gardener place it there as part of the design of this villa.

I just looooove all these attention to details in every little way. It’s a little like finding the hidden Mickey in Disneyland, but done with more elegance and style.

At the innermost of the garden stands another thatched-roof house named Furo-an, and do you know what is special about this picture?

If you look carefully at this wooden pillar (Sutebashira), it is actually a living tree. They have built and manipulated the tree in such a way that it will support the house securely yet continue to live.

Leaving the villa, on the way back to town.

 

Pokopen Yokocho

Pokopen Yokocho is a square designed to replicate the nostalgic atmosphere of Japan’s post-war boom years in the Showa period.

It wasn’t open on that day so it’s super quiet, but it’s nice to take a peek into the nostalgic past reminiscent of the famous movie I’ve watched -“Always, Sanchome No Yuhi”.

Retro alley featuring all the nostalgic signboards typical of Japan in the 1950s. Love the mama and baby enamel poster!

 

SEIYO

Uwa Rice Museum (宇和米博物館)

We came here not to taste any rice, but to mop the floor of this museum, which was originally an elementary school. Yeap, that was the whole purpose of the visit.

Real classroom from decades ago!!! It’s so nostalgic because I grew up with Hayao Miyazaki and also all the teenage J drama. Being inside a Japanese classroom was my dream.

This is the corridor of the school which stretches for 109 meters, and which we are going to clean… at one shot haha.

And it’s actually a competition!

The Dust Cloth competition, also called the Zoking Grand Prix, is something you could try when you visit this museum, to experience how the Showa elementary students clean their school compound.

You will be given a piece of dust cloth, and you will go to the very end of the corridor and start swabbing the long floor board at one go, as fast as you can.

Trust me, it is tiring T__T. I slipped many times due to the momentum and could hardly pick my self up. T__T

The highest record for female participants is 24 seconds.

SECONDS!!! How is it even possible!! T_T

Chanwon and I both completed the task at over a minute. My result was 1 minute 36 seconds. Beat me!!!

A picture for their hall of fame haha.

 

SEIYO

Kaimei Elementary School

Although we didn’t manage to visit that day, you may also make a trip to the Kaimei Elementary School, which is now served as a museum that stores precious documents and displays including school textbooks since the Edo period.

Japanese kids even get to join a one-day class to experience the life of a student during the Meiji period over 100 years ago, where they wear their olden Kasuri kimono with straw sandals to go to school. Even the teacher is wearing a kimono!! I want…..

 

Lunch at Ikedaya

We then went for lunch at a vegetarian place. Upon hearing “vegetarian” I think Chanwon turned pale lol.

Everything was surprisingly very flavorful! The sansai tempura was so so good!! Love the yuba and goma tofu too.

Super sweet and juicy tomato. I just wish the portion was a little bigger haha it was too yummy.

 

Kokemushiro (苔筵)

Before our trip, we were shown our itinerary and the last place of interest that we would visit before heading back is called “Moss Place”. And I was like… moss place? We travel to see… moss? (and not the Kate one.)

I guess I have set my expectation very low because… I was completely blown away by what I saw upon setting foot on hill foothill of Kokemushiro.

Kokemushiro was one of the most beautiful places I have seen in Ehime prefecture. Koke means “moss”, and this place is literally full of moss. Very precious moss.

Like this.

There’s is a small wooden teahouse amidst the lush green setting, giving a very mysterious and dreamy Ghibli feel to it.

Look at the velvety lush carpet!! It feels like pixies are going to peek out coyly from behind the trees…

The place used to be a terraced rice field, which gives the whole environment layered shades of green… which I think has this very strong healing power for a fatigued traveler.

Take the rustic pathway that leads you into the deep mossy woods.

You are free to wander around but be careful not to step on the moss, as some moss are extremely rare and takes a long time to grow.

On the stone…

 

One by one…

^^

Kokemushiro Tea House.

You would want to definitely take a seat and have some real tea here and just sipping the time away…

Drinks are for 400 yen each and their Wagashi dessert is priced unbelievably cheap at 100 yen each.

We prefered to sit in the open area so we took our drinks here.

Authentic Macha, Kokeshi Manju and Rice Flour Chiffon Cake.

 

And… this marks the end of our Setouchi trip with HomeAway. It was also my first trip to Shikoku. It was such an honor. I hope you guys enjoyed this series.

If you are planning your vacation soon (to Japan, I hope!), do give HomeAway a try, and don’t forget to use the code “HOMEAWAYCHEESIE” for 8% off!!

www.homeaway.asia

I am typing this in Tokyo right now after spending 3 weeks here. So you know that more will come, very soon. ^^

Summer in Japan

If given a choice, I think most people (especially Malaysians and Singaporeans) will avoid traveling to Japan in summer as they often have the image of Japan in this unbearable heat during the season. I was one of them.

I had been to Japan in summer several times, late June/early July. It was as hot as KL/SG, but as a traveler you often feel that the heat is worse than the tropical cities because, well, back home we are mostly staying indoor all the time or hide inside a mall.

So yes, I had to agree that, summer was probably not the ideal season to visit Japan if you are not a fan of sweaty activities and hot climate. I avoided visiting Japan in July-September as much as I could.

But…

The danna questioned my love for Japan. That I don’t love all of Japan because I did not love summer in Japan.

I was quite shocked to find out that it was true. As much as I claim to give all my heart to her, my love for Japan was conditional. I was selfish. I only wanted to love the parts that was convenient for me to love.

It was not true love.

I got disappointed in myself, so this time I decided to embrace the full blast mid summer heat and we came to Japan right in the peak of sunny seasons, mid July to early August. Before we traveled here, I saw the weather forecast on TV saying that this year’s heat will be more excruciating than the previous. (Just as every year. Basically summer is getting hotter and winter colder every year. This earth is wrecked big time).

I was prepared to spend every day feeling irritated and physically weak from the climate. I did not even plan many activities because I didn’t think I was ready to collapse in the heat on a scorching hot tarmac.

But…

I fell in love with summer in Japan.

I never thought I would say this, honest. But I did. For several reasons.

 

1. Japan loves me back

As always. I intensely believe that as long as you give your true heart to Japan (surrender yourself or whatever, in religious terms), it will love you back, twice as much.

Today is the third week of our travel in Japan, and so far, the weather had been amazing every single day. Heat? What heat!! Mid afternoons are breezy warm (feels like 28C) and night time is just the right amount of cool! When I had to head out, it was always party cloudy. When I had to spend the whole day outdoors, it was always cool due to the rain on the previous day (which I stayed home).

Our summer days are perfect.

 

2. Value added hours

I am considered quite an early bird (what to do, I am a mother.), and I usually wake up without qualms at 7am. But here in Japan, I wake up every day happily, feeling recharged, at 5am plus. Sun rise is 4:30am here at mid summer and by 5am, our room is all brightly lit with natural sun light.

This was today. That’s the view I woke up to. What not to love?

I am now typing this in the Shinkansen en-route to Aomori prefecture (the 30th prefecture for me!!! YAY!).

We boarded the ride at 8:40am. Waking up extra early gave us these added hours in the day to have a head start.

Sunset in summer is also stretched all the way up to 7-7:30pm. We have a full day of sunlight for all the fun!!

 

3. Summer Tokyo Tower light-up

Did you know? You can only see a special Tokyo Tower light-up in summer season for a short 3 months!

The romantic orange lighting that everyone knows is the so-called “winter version. Tokyo Tower’s Landmark Light “changes its clothes” for the season, and the summer Landmark Light uses silver lights called “metal halide lamps,” and their trait is a white tone with a refreshing and cool image. Every year on July 7th, from the night of Tanabata, the lighting changes to the summer-type.

On a special day it was lit-up all blue!

 

4. Seaside days

One of the main reasons why we came back in summer was for the danna’s surfing. He had been so busy that he had not had any time to ride the waves.

We usually go to Bali or Gold Coast because when we are back to Japan, it was always winter season. It was nice to finally to back to Japanese waters!! 😀

As crazy as it sounds, it was my (and also Cheesiepetit’s) first time in the Japanese ocean. (I stepped in sea water before but not fully in swimsuit!) The water was crystal clear, it was also very warm!

 

5. Summer sceneries

Had I not been back in summer, I would never have caught the breathtaking sight of sunflower fields in cheery bright yellow and lush green contrast.

Japan is known for Sakura in spring, but this was my first time to a sunflower garden in summer time!

As it gets warmer towards the seasons, the grass and trees also look extra fresh and lush. And of course, if you travel up north to Furano, Hokkaido, there’s also the famed lavender field to lust over!

 

6. Summer festivals

Among all the Omatsuri (festival) in Japan, Hanabi Taikai (fireworks show) is probably the most celebrated across the whole nation. The biggest and the best shows are always happening in mid summer.

We had the honor to witness two shows, one in Isahaya, Nagasaki prefecture and the second one right by the beach in Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture.

A lot of young girls get dressed in summer Yukata during the festivals, so it’s exactly like all the summer scenes you see in manga and anime!

You may do this with your darling if you like lol.

 

7. Seasonal Fruits & Seasonal edition

One of the best things about seasons in Japan, is of course the seasonal produce and limited edition everything!!

Ichigo is off season now, but summer is all about peaches, melons and grapes!! 😀 There are also pineapple, mango and lychee flavored everything, which might not be such a novelty for those from the tropical lands.

Everywhere you go you see summer edition, which means new varieties in Starbucks, seasonal edition drinks, special flavor everything, which could be savored specially in summer time only.

 

So yes. In conclusion, I want to learn to love ALL of Japan. Just like loving a person, sometimes you have to come to accept the flaws and see the beauty in them. 🙂

Now I have arrived in Aomori and the weather is so perfect! 23C at 2pm. If you plan to go somewhere for summer holidays, head north in Japan! ^^