Dear blog, happy 18th birthday.
You are an adult now. You are free to… do whatever you want. Like, for real.
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Still blogging after 16 years
I LOVE JAPAN
Why do I love Japan so much?
How much do you know Japan?
Dear blog, happy 18th birthday.
You are an adult now. You are free to… do whatever you want. Like, for real.
Last week, I have decided to make one last trip back to Kyoto before the international crowd returns. While I usually favor visiting low-key remote locales that are still under the radar of mainstream tourism, the pandemic has given me a fortunate once-in-a-lifetime chance to see one of the most popular prefectures in Japan in a new light.
The theme for my trip was to bask in all the energy of Kyoto’s “power spots” – a term used in Japan to refer to a particular area where one can feel in tuned with nature and take in all its spiritual energy, whether for healing, for blessing and good fortune, or simply to refresh your body and mind. I considered it a mini pilgrimage in line with my recent walk on the spiritual path.
While it is near impossible to come up with a “finest selection” given Kyoto’s impressive concentration of countless distinguished temples and shrines, I have compiled a total of 8 attractions which I logically think and intuitively feel are some of the most powerful spiritual sites in Kyoto. To be completely honest: I am never someone with very strong spiritual sensitivity like… stare at blank space WHOA *chakra activated*… But I had a pressing urge to share this with those of you who chose to read this. Hopefully the next time you come back, the list would be helpful for you to rejuvenate and bring home something precious with you.
This post is going to sound a bit strange.
Today I am dipping my toes into the realm of spirituality, but it is not about zen temples, sacred shrines or hidden power spots. It is something… beyond. Or actually, within.
I hope you found my previous autumn self-drive itinerary guide to Niigata Prefecture useful.
Today, I am happy to share with you yet another itinerary to a different part of Niigata Prefecture to enjoy its winter snow charm!
As most of you already know, Niigata is lovingly nicknamed “snow country” in Japan, highlighting just how it is the perfect winter travel destination especially for us tropical creatures who are fantasizing a magical white wonderland…
Yuzawa & Uonuma area in Niigata sees particularly heavy snow fall, so let’s explore all sort of different winter activities, both thrilling and relaxing in the region.
I have planned a 3N2N itinerary for you to enjoy the Yuzawa & Uonuma area based on my experience, so let’s go!
Hey guys! It’s been a while since my last update. While I am traversing Japan exploring more new deep locales, there’s one place I certainly miss revisiting, and that’s Okinawa.
Being geographically the nearest prefecture of Japan from Singapore and Malaysia and given its subtropical climate, I am always fascinated with some of the surprising nuances we have in common including food culture, textile, the iconic hibiscus and even language!
Hello guys! As you might have read a few months earlier, I have successfully obtained a driving lesson in Japan, so I have decided to embark on my first ever self-drive trip in Niigata Prefecture!
You can read more about my adventures in Niigata in my previously written articles, but today I am bringing you more amazing attractions of Niigata, just in time for the beautiful autumn season.
Niigata is pretty easy to access from Tokyo, with the shinkansen connecting Tokyo Station to Niigata Station in just a short 2 hours, but for those of you who want to go far and deep like I always do, a self-drive trip would be a perfect choice.
And fret not, I am here to share with you a full 3D2N itinerary traveling in Niigata on the wheels, through the region of Tsubamesanjo, Niigata City and Sado Island.
This blog post is long overdue.
Loving Japan has become the theme of my life. I started journaling this mysterious affection I have, exploring all the possible reasons behind it since over 10 years ago, and you may find all the curious musings here in this page.
Sometimes I do wonder if it is just a facade for me, a way I brand myself so I can set myself apart from a sea of same-looking IG photos on the explore page. Do I really love Japan as much as I claim I do, as seen in the way I express myself on social media?
Today I attempt to do some deep searching on that topic — my love for Japan — decades into it. It is fair that it’s time I re-examine this crazy emotion, and whether I still feel the same as I did 10 years ago.
Hello! *waves at empty stage*
*clears throat* *looks around nervously*
I guess it’s not a surprise that nobody attended this party, since I am assuming everyone of you are stuck between four walls somewhere around the world huh. I mean, even the biggest event of the year for the world – the Tokyo2020 opening ceremony had like, zero spectator, so… I guess it only feels normal that I am standing alone on stage right now, with my sterilised mic, and through my very secure, high functioning made-in-Japan mask (#ad), popping open the confetti and… whispering (because loud voice is prohibited, apparently):
HAPPY 17 ANNIVERSARY.
To this blog. 17 Years old.
Today I am going to dive into the topic of skin care – after a long time!
If you follow me in Instagram, you probably know that lately I have dipped my toes into the curious topics of nutrition, regenerative farming and how they impact one’s health and the overall environment. I started to eat more carefully and responsibly, to the extend of knowing the sources of my food.
And then I thought, if I do so for the food I put in my body, why not do the same for substance I apply on my skin? What exactly goes inside the bottle of the skin care I use? Who made it? How is it made?
That’s the reason I am writing a follow-up entry on DERMED, the skin care I have been using more than a year ago, to find out more stories behind the scene.
If you haven’t read my previous post, DERMED is a Japanese skin care brand headquartered in Fukuoka Prefecture, under the company of Sansho Pharmaceutical with the history over 130 years.
You can read my previous article here about DERMED’s premium skin-lightening product, and my visit to its HQ as well as the factory.
Sansho Pharmaceutical has been devoting to developing quality ingredients from raw materials while pursuing both safety and effectiveness for since its foundation. Their main business is to supply high quality ingredients to various other companies, but they also have their own line of exclusive products, and one of them is DERMED.
Today, I want to bring us to more behind-the-scene stories, all the way to the beginning: where the ingredients are grown.
For those of you living in Japan, you may be considering getting a driving license so that you can go on that long awaited dream road trip to Hokkaido cruising along gorgeous lilac lavender fields? I know I did!
I decided to write this article because in order to convert my Singapore driving license to a Japanese one, I had gone through days and days of worries and uncertainties, so I hope that this complete guide will ease some of your anxiety for this rather complex procedure. Note that for some of you lucky b***ards here from a list of certain countries (such as part of USA, UK, some European countries, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, etc), you are exempted from both the knowledge test and driving test and can have your license converted pretty easily. *jelly* :’) However many of us from ASEAN countries including Singapore and Malaysia are required to go through the entire process.
First of all, a little background story about my intention for the conversion.
I had been holding a Malaysian driving license all my life until I moved to Singapore, and converted it to a Singapore equivalent. In March 2020, I moved to Tokyo when the pandemic hit, and as you know, you are required to drive in Japan with an international license, which you could easily apply from your country before visiting Japan. However, mine has expired, so I haven’t been able to drive in Japan. What’s even more worrying was that in May 2021, I realized that my Singapore driving license itself was expiring this December! Seeing how highly unlikely for me to return to Singapore to renew my driving license, the only way for me to still retain the qualification to maneuver a road vehicle without being sent to the prison a is to convert it into a Japanese driving license. And I did! And boy was it an anxious months-long affair.
Note that once your existing foreign license has expired, you are required to enroll in a driving school from ground zero, which is a very, very tedious, time consuming and expensive process in Japan. So, I had about half a year to have my license converted before being disqualified into a complete noob all over again.
Well, the thing is that converting your foreign license is not so much a straightforward process, even though it is a much, much simplified version compared to acquiring a fresh one from the start.
The procedure of converting a foreign driving license into a Japanese one is called “Gaimen Kirikae” (外免切替), short for “Gaikokumenkyosho Kirikae” (外国免許証切り替え), namely, foreign license conversion.
It’s been a while since I last wrote. Looking at how the world is still constantly being flipped upside down by the mischief of Rona-chan, while most of us are itching to get on that next flight out of the country for some long-awaited vacay fun, it does look like international traveling is thrown off the window indefinitely for now.
I am sure even people who live in this heaven on earth called Japan (maybe except me aha) are looking forward to explore places outside of the island, as I have been hearing how some of my fellow friends in Japan miss visiting Hawaii, or New York, or Paris…
While it’s hard for me to share the exact sentiment as I think I have lucked out to be stuck on the bestest place on the planet, I do understand the longing for something unfamiliar and exotic once in a while, more so when you are not allowed the freedom to do so.
However, to be honest, after living in Japan for a while now, traveling outside of the country kind of intimidates me. Given how much of a scatterbrain I am, I will probably misplace all my phone, camera and wallet under 1 hour upon arriving a foreign land. And then I am also stressed out about all the bargaining, having to watch your belongings attentively, getting familiar with tipping system, and… unknown hygiene.
And so, I have found the perfect solution for those who are currently stuck in Japan but are looking for a piece of adventure abroad – to travel around the world, IN JAPAN.
That’s right. Japan itself is like a grand version of Disney’s It’s A Small World – having a plethora of exotic-themed parks and resorts tucked between traditional Japanese setting from all over different prefectures.
I have compiled a list of countries you can travel to, all within Japan in this article, so let’s embark on an epic odyssey to see the world in the comfort of my favorite country!