New Blog!

Hey there! I've decided to continue blogging at a different blog. The MEXT archives and some of my travel posts will remain here, but I'll be moving some stuff over. Hope to see you there!

Friday, 30 September 2016

花塩プリンとメロンパン (Salt Pudding and Melonpan)

Yesterday's post was so short I thought that I should post today too. And of course, it's about food (it's amazing how I'm not 100kg by now).

Anyway, last week, I met up with two friends and we went to go try the flower salt (花塩) pudding at Itoshima! I've actually heard about it early this year, but because you need a car to get there, I've never really had the chance to go.

Until last week, that is.

Obviously, I was super excited.

The place. I don't know if you can see this, but the door is smaller than usual.
Itaru (there are two cafes/restaurants) was open and the place is simply gorgeous! I really, really love the house.

And of course, there's an old-fashioned stove, and for someone like me who lives in a tropical country, it never gets boring to see one.

I couldn't really take a picture of the ceiling, but I love how bright and airy it was.

The inside is equally gorgeous! We didn't sit on the tatami area, but we did get some amazing comfortable cushions.

Plus, look at the pumpkin!

We came for the pudding, but this place basically specialises in salt. So there are dishes like fish baked in salt, which sounds amazing, but I wasn't that hungry. Perhaps next time. And the normal pudding was already sold out, so we got the sesame version.

For some reason, everyone imagined black sesame, but turns out it was the normal kind.

The pudding and coffee set. 
 I don't drink coffee, so I swapped my drink for my friend's matcha, but that's not the point. The point is that the pudding was AMAZING!

If you go to Itoshima, you HAVE to eat this. 
The salt (which was only at the top) stops the pudding from being too sweet and complements its creamy sweetness extremely well. I totally recommend it.

While we were eating, one of my friends realised that the place was near this really famous melonpan shop which only opens on weekends. And has a limited stock. After checking that they were still open, we hopped into the car and drove five minutes there

Unfortunately, we ate the melonpan on the spot, so I don't have any photos. The shop is incredible sweet, though, and I took photos of that!

If you like melonpan and you're in Itoshima on Saturday or Sunday, it's worth checking this place out. Warning: the melon pan is substantial, so small eaters might want to share.

eat-in corner
I definitely need to learn how to drive, if only to be able to explore the Itoshima area properly.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Funassyi Happy Meal

I'm not sure if it's still going on, but on September 17th (or thereabouts), MacDonalds released a Funassyi-themed Happy Meal! Obviously I'm going to try a Happy Meal, right? (my age is not a factor here. not at all).

Anyway, look at the box!! 

It's inspiring my hoarding tendencies.

There's also a sticker sheet, which is quite possibly the most awesome part of the set.

And the toy was a Ronald X Funassyi thing, where Funassyi cosplays as everyone's favourite clown.

It's more or less impossible to write a detailed review of this. It's just a happy meal, and no, I am not going to collect them all. No regrets buying this though, the toy is cute :D

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Singapore Recap III: Dad's Birthday

I actually have one more Singapore event (a fascinating exhibition called Christianity in Asia) that I want to share, but I do have other Japan stuff that I want to write about (and that I think you all will be more interested in), so this shall be the last Singapore recap for now.

A few days before I went back, we celebrated my dad's birthday! It was a milestone birthday, so we decided to make it a little bit special - after some searching, we found a company named M-Barq and decided to rent one of their yachts for the evening! We decided on the Ping Lady, which could hold up to 37 people.

This is where we set off for our journey!

And the Ping Lady! (Everyone misheard it as Pink lady, which meant that the white colour was a bit bit of a surprise :p)

The inside:

And outside (and while you can lie on the "trampolines", you can't jump on them):

There were two bedrooms and three bathrooms, but while we were are traipsing in and out of the bathrooms (which had showers attached), no one actually slept. I guess when you only have five hours on a boat, there's no point in lying on a bed.

(On a trampoline though, yes)

Started the ride with a worship and testimony session <3

Before docking near Lazarus island

If the M-Barq people ever see this (or if you're thinking of renting from them), then this is where I praise the crew! We had a really pleasant ride, and the food (half-buffet and half-BBQ) was pretty good too. The crew explained things well, and the amenities on board were more than enough. If you're looking for a yacht for rental, then I'd recommend them.

 When we docked at Lazarus island, the younger kids (who actually bothered bringing a change of clothes) jumped in. The water was fantastic - not too cold and not warm, and they were kayaks and fishing rods too (though my sister used a different fishing method)

Oh, and the life jackets and life buoys were from the boat too.

We spent about an hour or two just relaxing and having fun. All the adults seemed to have a good time soaking in the sun and chatting.

And then, it was time to eat!

 After we had eaten, the sun had set and we went for a cruise around Singapore!


And look, MBS and the Flyer!!

And I have no idea if you can see this, but this is a port

We ended by cruising to Sentosa and saw this really short fireworks display. It wasn't National Day levels of impressive, but the boat ride there was fun. Nearly everyone was outside, just sitting down and enjoying the ocean breeze.

All in all, we spent 5 hours on the boat (which was the minimum rental time) and really enjoyed ourselves.

Then I headed back to Japan for my zemi gasshuku and you know how that went.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Singapore Recap II: Singapore Zoo

If you're an animal person, you definitely need to go to the Singapore Zoo. It's probably my favourite zoo so far, and like the SEA aquarium, more or less spoils the market for other zoos (I hear that the Sapporo zoo is really good though). Which is probably why I wasn't so enthusiastic about the Fukuoka Zoo.


Anyway, I'm talking about the Singapore Zoo

For some reason, the zoo wasn't very crowded, which may be because it was raining a little. Still, it meant that we got more interaction with the animals that I normally get, such as feeding the elephants:

It costs $5 for one basket (which was enough for the two of us)


We got pretty good seats to see the incredibly handsome sea lion at the Splash Safari show (although still too far for my camera, since we avoided the splash zone)

And we got to see an elephant paint:

By the way, it seemed to be baby season at the zoo, because we saw quite a few baby monkeys.

 Also, we managed to feed an ancient tortoise (turtle?). I can never tell the difference between the two.

This guy is 85 years old, and for some reason I was extremely entranced with the whole feeding a turtle thing.

And we watched The Rainforest Fights Back too (basically, we watched every single show that day)

And more feeding sessions - this time of goats that were headbutting each other.


(Just joking. Only two of the goats were fighting)

(you do not cross fighting goats though)

Even found a pokemon at a show!

The last show, which features cats and dogs that were rescued by the zoo, was aimed as kids but I thought it was pretty interesting.

If you do go to the zoo, do check the show timings once you get in, and plan your day around that. You can explore the areas near the shows before/after/on the way.

Oh, and if the fragile forest is open (it wasn't when we were there), you definitely have to go and take a look. I love the fragile forest, becuase you can get up and close with butterflies, sloths and other animals.

And if you have exceptional planning skills, you should definitely take the feeding times and animal photo shoots into account. We didn't really do that (most of the feedings we happened to stumble upon), but if you don't mind paying more to get up and close with the animals, you should definitely do it.

Oh, and the cafe outside the zoo has a pretty rainbow cake:

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Singapore Recap: Gardens by the Bay (Mid Autumn Festival)

Close to the end of my trip, one of my friends came to visit me! She came for four days and three nights (well, including flight time it was more like two half days and two full days). It's not enough to see Singapore, but if you're not from Singapore and taking a quick trip, this is was the itinerary I planned:

4D3N Stay in Singapore

Day 1: Arrival (evening)
- Dinner by Satay by the Bay (can be swapped with Satay at Lau Pa Sat, if you're "hardworking")
- Gardens by the Bay Super Tree show + Mid-Autumn Festival (obviously the latter is a seasonal thing)
- Drive through Chinatown to see the shows

Day 2:
- Singapore Museum
- Lunch at Bugis area, Bugis street.
- Gardens by the Bay (yes, again) - This time we entered the two domes

Day 3:
- Singapore Zoo (full day)

Day 4:
- Toast Box breakfast
- Merlion/MBS
- Drive around town on the way to the airport.

Now, my friend wanted a more historical/nature focused thing, and we didn't really want to tire ourselves out, so our itinerary was rather leisurely (though we still felt exhausted at the end of each day!). If you don't mind rushing/staying out later, I'd add in Little India and/or Chinatown on Day 2 (to be explored by foot). And perhaps the Botanical Garden on the last day, although you'd have to rush through.

Anyway, recapping the trip.

Gardens by the Bay

We actually went twice: The first was at night, for the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations.

We actually came here straight from the airport, and well, was a bit too early. So we decided to go eat satay first.

We did manage to see the Singapore otters though! So that was good. And at night, the lanterns were really cool!

I remember seeing a Chang Er one, and a Houyi one, though I can't remember if I took photos.

We also managed to catch the Supertree light show, which was a trip through Asia, and ended up including a Japanese song (plus many local favourites)!

Since it was Mid-Autumn, there were tons of things, like lanterns:

It might actually be a good idea to check the website to see what they have, because we got this cool lanterns for free, but we needed a selfish stick that we didn't have. Basically, if you download the app (they provide free wifi for that, and it was pretty fast) and stick your phone into the lantern, the light will change colours depending on your location.

Since we didn't have a selfie stick, I ended up looking as though my hand was a lantern.

Lots of activities too, from riddles (which I never will be able to guess because my Chinese isn't that good)

To Chinese tea (with homemade cookies!):

My friend loved the tie guanyin. 
 Ok, found the Houyi Lantern! It's Houyi shooting down nine suns!

The next day, we went back to enter the domes. Beware: the walk from the station can be pretty far. It is interesting (with all the different gardens), but if it's hot... it just feels far. You can get the tram, but we didn't really want to spend the money. 

On the plus side, there are some pretty awesome views:

We even thought we saw a rafflesia, then we realised there was no smell.

When we got closer, we realised the entire exhibit was made of legos!

The two domes were a nice, cool relief compared to the outside.

Complete with a petrified Smaug.

We actually considered going to the supertree grove to walk on the OCBC skyway, but it got nixed because we were too tired. Perhaps we did stay up too late talking the night before :p

Next post: Singapore Zoo