Never Want To Go Away

Why does it feels like always the first time whenever I come to Japan? And when i depart why does it seemed like I’m leaving a part of me behind? I was excited surely. Thinking I get to reunite with my relatives and friends again. Though it was only for three months that I was gone, I still feel the need to catch up. Regardless when we actually connect in all of our social media accounts. Nothing beats being with them in person right? And now that I’m home I can’t decide what to eat first amongst all my cravings from all the local dishes that I mostly missed.

Setting the days back in Japan, I made friends with my co-trainees. We do work for the same company but only then that I am able to know them very well. I also found an acquaintance from a trainee in another country. We didn’t talk much but we knew we like each other and we could have been closer given with enough time.

Also I had my very first festival to witness and experience which was the “Hinamatsuri” or the girls’ festival a.k.a. doll festival. It is meant and celebrated for women particulary young girls to wish them luck and good fortune.

As for the training itself, I had the privilege to be a support for “kaihatsu-ka”. A small group that mainly handles software development that we use in steel production. I get to work with a bunch of good and accommodating people. I am able to run tests and try the latest software version before its release. Work has never been thrilling before this.

And then there came the comfort of living. People were very intelligent, disciplined and calm. I don’t see any of them angry, probably because they were too busy and focused at work to be. Thus, the peaceful working environment and life in general. Household chores was made easy too. Machines and appliances for the most part do the job. Way so convenient are their road networks also. It wasn’t difficult to adapt their commute system may it be via train or bus. Not to mention the amazing beautiful spots I had the opportunity to tour in. Oh and the food, maybe real pricy yet worth every penny. Serving for one person is quite big and many just like in a bowl of ramen.

All these and more were plausibly the grounds on me having the separation anxiety everytime I left Nippon. I somewhat missed home at the same time don’t ever want to go away from Japan.

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Millennial’s Springtime

Me: let’s find somewhere shady.

Millennial self: no let’s take some more photos.

In aobanomori park at 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
The wind is too strong that I had to clip my hair with my hand to prevent it from covering my face. Coz I don’t want myself end up looking like sadako from a horror movie. Hehe.

This is how social media ironically influenced myself. At the beginning I would take numerous pictures of myself then select the best ones and upload it in my facebook, instagram or sometimes on my twitter account. But now it seemed like I have mastered the art of timer and the angles I thought I look good. I’d like to make myself believe, it is only because sakura is just a phenomenal season in Japan justifying myself for frequently snapping. Yet it wasn’t just that. The narcisism in me has been developed pretty much ever since I owned a mobile phone with front camera and when “selfie” is forged. So why am I saying all these again? Hmmm.. probably so I can get more exposure here on my blog! Nevertheless I loved everything about spring here in Japan, not only the cherry blossoms but the weather, the tulips and any other radiant flowers, and the feeling of goodness it bestows.

Making springtime an excuse for more selfie photos.
I’ll just be here and be happy and carefree and beautiful like a flower that blossoms in spring.

Note: All photos were taken by myself. It is very convenient though setting cam on timer. Like my friends say, it is important to get the hang of it when you don’t have a partner to do it for you. Somehow they were right. Urghhh.

ODAIBA

I must say Odaiba has been a favorite get away for me whenever I came by around Tokyo. First was back in 2014 with people from work, we were eight, three of us were Filipinos and the rest were all Japanese. It was a bit of haste so I didn’t have that much time to explore but still enjoyed it because it was only from then that I experienced a short river cruise. Being born with just enough where lavishness is an impossible thing, the cruise was already luxurious for me. The route we took was from Odaiba down to Asakusa via Sumida River.

Friends at work back in 2014
While on cruise

The next was just last year with two of my co-trainees. It was a purposeful travel because we yearned-for a final peek before Gundam be taken down and replaced with a new iconic touristy figure which wasn’t revealed until late September of the preceding year. We were also quite in a hurry as we are looking into other places to drop by as well. Even so we have taken copious souvenir photos of the well-known anime robot.

2017 with co-trainees
The Former Gundam

While both visits were surprisingly short but sweet I wanted more from the place. It is as if a pain that hankers for cure and an empty hole that needs to be filled in.

I knew if I get the opportunity to call in once more I’d be happy to compel. So when my co-trainees at present planned a trip for cherry blossoms viewing last weekend I took advantage of it and suggested that we shall go see Odaiba too. With all of my convincing prowess complete with search results from the internet, it appeared at least to me like winning over a well-fought battle. Then we were off to set foot on the notable manmade island.

We first went to Chidorigafuchi moat for a boat ride (I have written about this from a previous entry), ate late lunch on a picnic ground not far from the pier, window shopped at the busy crowded Asakusa Nakamise Shopping St. and paid respect at the Temple.

Boat ride in chidorigafuchi moat
Asakusa Sensõji

Exhausted after all those, we leisurely moved to Odaiba. Because it’s a first time for most of my companions, astounded by the rainbow bridge and the replica of the statue of liberty they took off immediately for some photo ops. Walking here and there, completely unaware of the hour, it was almost dusk when hunger struck us. We responsively grabbed a meal and went on probing the rest of the area. Hurling ourselves towards opposite direction of the bridge, we bear witness to the new self-aggrandizing life-size Unicorn Gundam. Unveiling it with our own eyes is undoubtedly seventh heaven as majority of the anime enthusiasts may agree on. It is still the renowned robot but an upgraded and modernized version. On the spur of the moment we were back to being youngsters!

The new and improved unicorn gundam

We learned that the gigantic figure will have a show later that night at 7:30pm. Yet we decided to start rambling again and just go back closely when it starts. That’s when our pedes brought us to palette town. Part of it is a shopping mall patterned in an 18th century European town, the Venus Fort. Inside is an exhibit free-of-charge showcasing vintage cars and a small library compiling their chronicles accessible for public reading. There are besides a series of posh restaurants and boutiques. Its best feature for me would be the domed ceiling in an artificial deceptive real looking sky. With our eyes replete, we head to Megaweb Toyota City Showcase. It is home to latest models of the popular brand where you can test drive any of the cars displayed for a certain amount provided that you have driver’s license accredited in Japan. Unfortunately we got there a minute later than their closing time. Probably another reason to hark back again huh?

One amongst many featured vintage cars in megaweb history garage
Fountain Plaza in Venus Fort
Church Plaza under the artificial sky

Afterwards we were sitting in Diver City Tokyo Plaza all good and ready for the Unicorn Gundam presentation. Basically it is a 3-5minutes entertainment showing transformation from Unicorn mode to destroy mode of gundam vice versa with Japanese animation demo in a huge projector alongside. I’m not sure if they do but it would be nice though if they have a certain schedule where it can be watch dubbed in English or maybe with subtitles in it. Nonetheless this kind of amusement for me is outstanding, interesting and unique.

Rainbow bridge at night

I reckon the day had been awesome enough to conclude. While we were directing towards the train station going home I laid my eyes ahead to the rainbow bridge. As a debut viewing it during night time I was instantly hooked. I got really infatuated and that’s when I recognized that was it. The pain has been cured and the empty hole has been filled up. I sat down and stayed awhile cherishing and capturing the mesmerizing structure in front of me. Moment passed and we went along. And so whilst my spirit was on high I left with a grateful heart. So long Odaiba!

Boat Ride In Blossomy Tokyo

It was an almost unplanned sudden trip. Saturday when we invited our work friends for dinner at our house. We do it often as we are all on a tight budget and it would be practical to share meal expenses. While we were eating we talked over so many things until we came up to the idea of hanami which is Japan’s far-famed “sakura”~ cherry blossoms viewing. And then before we knew it we were all consumed at the thought.

The irresistible charm of sakura.

Sunday next morning, it was a bright sunny lovely day as if apropos for such an event. We left the house at exactly 7am as we are catching the 7:21 train via keiyo line going to Tokyo. Nearest station by the way is 13-15minutes walk from our accommodation. Upon us all arriving at the station we boarded the train using our suica card and alight to shin kiba station. We then proceed to changing trains via yurakucho line going to kojimachi station. We got there at 8:15 and carried on for a 20minute walk as we reached the pier for the boat ride.

Flushed with fervour just like me people can’t help but photographed the scene.
The kind of vista that makes you forget about the long queue.

The long queue is no joke. Good thing there were six of us that we never ran out of topics to hash out. And of course internet had been a big help in killing our boredom which I supposed all of us can relate to. Also we had an ample time appreciating the scenery and taking photos of the river and the cherry blossoms around the area.

Viewing deck at the boat house.
Almost getting there. Managed to snap this photo while on the line right down to the dock.

When it was our turn purchasing tickets for rental fee, we settled for the 30minutes option which costs ¥800 per boat. The other option costing ¥1600 was one hour. Each boat can accommodate strictly only up to maximum of three persons. Wearing life jackets are not compulsory but are available upon request.

Surreal as a dream.
Oblivious.

The weather had been perfect and the sailing went smooth and suave. The combination of the picturesque panorama naturally painted in pink by cherry blossom trees, the still clean waters and the clear blue skies soothing the inner senses is definitely not for one to miss out.

It was a fine blissful day.

Indeed the pleasure sakura brings for this certain season is incomparable. Lasting only for a week or so, making it more too precious, no one can just skip this once-a-year phenomenon if you are around the area. And I couldn’t think of any other better way of celebrating it than riding a boat in Chidorigafuchi moat. It is my third time here in Tokyo during springtime so I know at least some sorts. I was only skeptical back then due to waiting time. I now have proven its worth and that the only regret was not doing it for an hour instead of half.

Boathouse exit area.

Starving after cruising, we were off to find a good place to eat our packed lunch. Like I said we are all on a mission to save up so we brought food with us. And hey it has also been a tradition to have a picnic and drink under a sakura tree during this very same period so it is just well-timed to do so. Luckily we stumbled on the picnic grounds not far enough from the pier. It was crowded and full but still a delight to witness families eating together and hearing kids’ laughter. I smiled at the thought until we finally discovered a vacant space for us to dig in. We fed ourselves and finished with not just our stomachs full but our hearts, minds and whole of our beings as well.

Splendid.

Considered myself lucky as I am heading off to my next hanami this coming weekend in my favorite park because Tokyo and Chiba has a one week full bloom interval. I’m so worked up now!

Adobo Pan Inspired by Japan’s Curry Pan (カレーパン)

This blog will give a little twist on us Filipinos’ best-loved dish~ our very own chicken adobo. A slight information about this dish is it’s basically chicken boiled in vinegar and soy sauce with garlic and black pepper. Others put laurel leaves, potato and many others to enrich its flavor.

As for this gimmick, you can use leftovers. Or merely cook the usual adobo first, like I did. After seeing on Japan television how they make カレーパン (curry pan), the idea of doing it myself automatically bugged out of me. I recognized it strange using curry though, so I thought of doing it with adobo instead. If you too would like to try this adobo pan, follow these easy steps.
To start off, shred chicken or simply debone.

Add some sauce. Do not overly do it since we do not want it dripping. Just the right amount to maintain natural taste.

Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon. This is to bring more relish. If you notice most of dough products has it.

Prepare loaves of bread. Peel off its edges taking away its brown part.

Crush the pieces removed from the loaf and set aside.

Put a good amount of shred chicken adobo with cinnamon over one loaf of bread.

Cover with another loaf. Moist each sides with water before pressing with your fingers to close it.

Dip into beaten eggs and dunk over crushed loaves after.

Fry each side for a minute and a half.

Serve hot. Enjoy your crunchy adobo pan.

If you’re feeling more adventurous and wish to do this on other dishes you may do so, as long as it doesn’t have too much sauce in it.

Chocolates

I have been holding myself back

Not to gave in to tempations

As if they don’t exist

Whenever I came across

Those sections full of sweets

Beautifully packaged and wrapped

In different catchy vibrant colors

To pick up vendees’ attention

Today I have crossed the line

And couldn’t resist anymore

So I did “buy” to try some

But looks rather hoarding

There is no point to restrain

If you’ll probably still end up

With purchasing so much more

Than you could ever had long before

A Walk Through Chiba

Yesterday my migraine was triggered by me doing all the chores in the house ensued to skipping my lunch meal. Therefore, I thought I’d just stay and rest today since it’s holiday in observance of Japan’s National Foundation day. Yet again, I got too bored doing nothing so I took a midday stroll. I never had an idea where but I knew I had to get going. I imagined a long trip wouldn’t be practical as I only have half of the day left so I settled to somewhere near. Not be long after googling, I learned that there are many interesting things to do and explore in Chiba.

I have been wanting to visit Chiba castle a.k.a. Chiba City Folk Museum as I’m always fascinated by exhibits showcasing history and rich culture. Though it’s Monday (mostly museums are close), with no hesitation I went forward to see it. From Soga station, I rode the train and get right off to next stop which is Hon-Chiba. From there, I walked and took turns for about 13-15mins to reached my destination. I’m aware that I might not be able to come inside but I believe I have more chances of taking better photos if there’s not much of people around.

True enough I was the one and only person when I got there apart from those who were passers by.

After a decent number of snaps, satisfied with each of them, not far from the castle I found an eyeshot of a restaurant. Delighted with the scenery, I stopped there for awhile not to eat but to appreciate the vista.

The trellis covering the walkway caught my attention that I had to take photo of it.

“It isn’t too bad to have the whole place by yourself was it?”, I dared say and then walked off with a grin.

Few minutes later jaunting by foot, I arrived at Chiba Shrine.

Unlike any other shrines and temples I travelled to (Meiji Jingu, Asakusa and Narita) this one is slightly less spacious. Thus, every corner has this strong sense of peace and solemnity. The spot is very quiet and people go there to truly worship.

Not what I expected but there are only few tourists like me who were there to check it.
Torii~ normally a gateway to shinto shrine. This one is just a replica and situated before a bridge.
I managed to perambulate the whole place in less than half an hour including taking of photos.

It may not be as vast as any other tourist attractions, Chiba Shrine is worth the call especially when you want to contemplate or just to observe how Japanese worship (traditionally). The whole unplanned trip only took less than three hours, still it has made my day. I was ecstatic taking advantage of the holiday and exploring the neighborhood.