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Nishiki Tenmangu by arigato39




This is Taiwanese for "Welcome" and it is read, 'hoan-gêng kong-lîm'. You will probably hear and see this often as a visitor to Taiwan.



Feel free to ask any questions you may have on living or travelling in Japan, queries about learning Japanese, or just start a conversation on anything, I love to chat!

26 August 13


Naye Chocolat (나예 쇼콜라)

Samcheongdong (삼청동), an upper class area of Seoul just north of bustling Insadong, is a rich tapestry of modern galleries, smart boutiques, and refurbished Hanok (한옥 - traditional Korean buildings) that sit effortlessly along the rich green hills dominating the area. I had been meaning to take a trip there for ages, so when my friend came to visit we decided to go there for a post-lunch wander.

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6 July 13


(I wrote this about one of my days in Shanghai and didn’t want to let it go to waste. After a reread I’ve realised that it might come off as critical and ‘othering’ of Chinese people; if anyone feels that way then I apologise. I decided to leave it at is because it was an honest account of a bewildering day in a crowded city, prejudiced somewhat by my own less than idyllic circumstances outside the trip. Still, looking back, I still feel the same way now as I did back then: namely, that taking pictures of tourist traps was no way near as enjoyable as just walking down nameless streets and enjoying the atmosphere. This may have a lot to do with my particular personality of course, so it will not apply to everybody, but I really recommend spending some time just meandering down side streets, not getting in anyone’s way but just simply admiring the beautiful places that Shanghai has to offer. Again, if anyone has any criticisms of what I have written please let me know. Thank you for reading.)


Today I decided to hit Shanghai, big style. My bed was incredibly comfortable, but, as some people were still letting off fireworks at eight in the morning, I thought I ought to get up earlier rather than later. I got on the subway to East Nanjing Road station (luckily there were no beggars this time, what a surprise) then headed to the old part of town. On the way I had to buy a support bandage for my gammy knee, in an attempt to ease the twinges of pain I keep getting every so often. My destination was Yu Yuan, a walled garden nestled among a garish labyrinth of shops and restaurants made to look like ‘traditional China’ – except I don’t think they had Starbucks or Pepsi back then. It was absolutely heaving with people, to the extent that I’ve never before experienced in my twenty three or so years on this earth. This is what happens when you visit a Chinese tourist trap on a Sunday which also happens to be Chinese New Year. Wherever I turned, dreaded street vendors were selling their bacteria-covered snacks, so I had to prepare myself for the gag-inducing, absolutely putrid smell of rancid tofu at every street corner. I’ve realised that I’m quite sensitive when it comes to bad odours…maybe China’s not the best place for a prissy white girl like me.


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14 March 13

Hong Kong 7/2/13

Some pictures from my recent trip to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a city like no other, and I would recommend a visit there to anyone! 

I will upload more pictures from my second day there later.

25 January 13



Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Recently I’ve tried to lower my consumption of meat products because of ethical/health reasons. One day I hope to eradicate meat from my diet completely (as well as fish and other seafood) but for now, I’m taking it one day at a time. Unfortunately, at home, my parents see meat as compulsory and their idea of a balanced meal is meat, veg, potatoes…every single day. When I’m home I feel like I’m in Groundhog Day, as all I’ve been getting is mashed potatoes and boiled veg for the last week. One or two pieces of veg is no way sufficient for a good diet! (Don’t worry, I’m finally getting to the point of this long preamble).

So although it’s a bit wasteful to cook when there is plenty of mashed potato to go around, I decided enough was enough, and went to the shop to buy some wonderful, colourful vegetables. I had the idea of cooking Bibimbap, so I decided to tailor Maangachi’s excellent recipe to create my own, slightly 和風 (Japanese-style) version. 

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19 January 13


South Korea (14/1/13)

(I’ll write about this trip in detail soon!)

Posted: 4:02 PM


Noriko Goes To Seoul (노리코, 서울에 가다)


Country of origin: South Korea

Year: 2011

Director: Lee Gyo Wook

Noriko Goes To Seoul is a made-for-television, feature length drama that aired on KBS in 2011. In short, it is the story of a Japanese housewife who travels to Seoul in order to finally make something of herself, becoming part of one family, and healing her own. Of course, this being a ‘drama’-type production, there are many issues that our leads have to contend with; including the obligatory illness, a fight resulting from a love triangle, family issues and deceased relatives. 

Our protagonist, Noriko, leaves her husband and troubled daughter for a few weeks to embark on a trip to Korea to meet her beloved ‘Hyun-chan’, a famous idol singer who will appear as a judge on the final of a televised talent show. At the audition she meets Min Ha, an obnoxious and talented young man intent on stardom, who makes money from ‘teaching’ others how to sing. The two become entangled with each other when Noriko begs Min Ha to take her on as a student, and despite the many dramas that befall our unlucky duo, somehow they manage to get Noriko into the final of the contest, and help each other with their demons along the way.

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16 January 13


Etude House Baking Powder B.B. Deep Cleansing Foam

Baking Powder Pore & BB Deep Cleansing Foam

This weekend, because of my job, I found myself in South Korea for a couple of days. I had the best intentions in the world to cram loads of sightseeing into that small gap of time and practise my (extremely limited) Korean, but I ended up seeing the inside of a grand total of one temple but about fifty skincare shops. Sigh. Korean beauty products are just so elegantly packaged, sometimes you want to line them up on your bathroom shelves regardless if they work or not.

That being said, with there being so much stuff available, it is kind of nice to know what you should be spending your money on. I spent my money on a lot of things in those two days, one of them being the above named product, Etude House’s Baking Powder Cleansing Foam. 

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29 December 12

reonsales said: Hi there! :D Thank you for the picture of Seungri pointing down!!! Actually, that's a reaction to me speaking to him, so I wanted to ask if it's just that one picture or if you have any other pictures of that moment??? In any case, thank you so much already and I hope you had a great time in London!! - Btw, can I repost the picture maybe? :D Thanks and love ♥

Sorry for the late reply, hope you had a great Xmas!

Wasn’t it a wonderful concert! Sadly these were the only decent(ish) photos I took, but feel free to use the photo if you want - it would be nice to get credit though (^_^;)

Nice story by the way! What did you say to him? :)

15 December 12


Big Bang (London 14/12/12)

So, Big Bang came to London! And what an absolutely amazing show it was. I’m writing this from a comparative perspective because I already saw them in Osaka earlier this year (so please forgive me!), but for many personal reasons, this concert was so much better. For one, I was literally a couple of metres from the stage this time, and so I could see the boys in all their glory. Also, I have to say that as a British person, I just enjoyed the atmosphere of the UK concert more. The Japanese fans knew every single lyric, they screamed at all the right places, and they even made up their own gestures to the songs, but at the end of the day, they know that deep down, Big Bang will always go back to Japan, whereas UK fans are eating up YG’s tiny breadcrumbs as if they were a starving child. (Finally, I didn’t almost get chucked out this time for taking photos…)

That being said, I’m going to write about a few things that happened, because that’s what people really want to know, right? I won’t give a blow-by-blow account because there are bloggers with a much better memory than mine who could write a thousand times more eloquently and detailed than I ever could, but I’ll offer up some small snippets so you know what went down last night.

  • Tae Yang got a nosebleed. I didn’t see how it happened, but he ended up shoving a tissue up his nose after only a short time on stage. He carried on like a trooper though, while Seungri tried and failed at a Cockney accent and used the phrase, ‘bloody hell’ (incorrectly) - I nearly died, it was so funny and adorable.
  • Near the end, Taeyang mentioned the nose bleeding incident by saying something like, ‘…apart from the fucking bled nose.’ I loved all their accents…
  • …but mostly T.O.Ps! He got the largest scream for his English, but as in Osaka, he spoke the least. 
  • If I remember correctly, Taeyang got the biggest cheer for his solo efforts, and at one point covered a Chris Brown song, to which Seungri replied, ‘I will be your Rihanna’.
  • Also, Taeyang ripped off two shirts, while Seungri threw a perfectly good coat into the audience. What must they spend on clothing? (笑)
  • T.O.P walked around at the end with a Chupa Chups lolly and wore reindeer antlers, and while he half-assed all the dancing as usual and acted low key throughout, he had the cutest expressions. 
  • Weirdly enough, I always thought Daesung was not that attractive, but after seeing him up close up in the flesh, my brain was like, ‘Daesung is SO hot!’ He had cute silver hair and just seemed really enigmatic somehow. I thought he was gonna bring up the incident that must not be named at one point, but it didn’t come up.
  • GD was cute but also kind of low key. He lay on the floor for a bit which made me wonder where he’d disappeared to for a few seconds. I was like, ‘I can hear you but I can’t see you!’  
  • There were a huge amount of Asian fans there, which seems to indicate that Big Bang won’t be hitting the mainstream charts any time soon, but they did say they’d be back to the UK if we all bought Daesung’s Japanese album…

It was just a really cool experience, and it made me want to go and see more concerts in 2013.

P.S. I know my pictures are shitty, but if you do end up using them for some purpose please give me credit! Thanks! :)

10 December 12


Chunwei Liao 峻偉

Chunwei Liao is a Taiwanese-born, London-based designer who employs the traditional art of Chinese paper-cutting to create intricate and beautiful false eyelashes.

The lashes not only reflect traditional design techniques but also feature important symbols of Chinese culture, such as horses, peonies and peach blossoms.

To see more of his designs, including origami-style furniture, visit the Paperself website.

24 October 12



I have to start this entry with apologies, as usual. Although I know nobody reads this blog I’m still sorry for not updating more often. Recently my work has just exhausted me in every way - though I’m getting over it now. 

Anyway, enough excuses. What I really want to talk about is my recent afternoon in Shin-Okubo. Shin-Okubo is the ‘Korea Town’ of Tokyo; a veritable haven selling idol goods, cosmetics, multimedia, and cheap, delicious food. While it may be strange for me to encourage any visitors of Japan to head to a place that celebrates a completely different country and culture, Shin-Okubo is well worth a look, even if just for a unique shopping trip.

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3 July 12


Yayoi Kusama

Kusama is one of those artists whose own life seems inseparable to her artistic endeavours; a Japanese tour-de-force whose hallucinations and visions intertwine seamlessly with her polka-dot covered creations. Her work literally invites the viewer into her own mind.

Spending her early years learning traditional styles of Japanese art, Kusama became sick of learning from her masters and left for New York, being both inspired and an inspiration to the avant-garde movement. After several years, however, she returned to Japan and became a permanent resident in a mental institution, setting up an art studio nearby and becoming a stranger to the evolving art world.

Kusama is known mainly for her patterned installations that trick the eye, but she has taken on many different mediums, from visceral novels to oil paintings. Her work is fascinating and unapologetic, and completely honest. Despite hating her experience at one of the traditional schools of Japanese art, the way she describes the ubiquitous polka-dot is very telling;

…a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. 

Perhaps the polka-dot is in some way representative of the red dot on the Japanese flag, or even an Umeboshi nestling on a bed of steaming rice - a comforting reminder of traditional Japan in an ever changing world.  

13 June 12



Steak Chapjae

First, a disclaimer: this recipe isn’t really like any other Chapjae out there; it’s a kind of made-up-as-you-go-along kind of dish, using whatever was in the fridge. (I couldn’t brave leaving the house for extra ingredients, it was pouring with rain!) I wasn’t going to write about it but since I already kinda promised, plus it tasted more awesome than I expected…here’s my Steak MUAYGA Chapjae recipe!

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11 June 12

jellybeansandhoney said: Hey, I'm good thanks, casually putting off revision haha. How are you? And I'm studying at Sheffield Uni - and yes, we have a year abroad in out 3rdyear. So excited but oh-so scared too - particularly in regards to money. And no, I've not really though of where to go to be honest... Do you have any recommendations perhaps? And have you studied Japanese at Uni too? Where did you go? And what year are you in now? But yes! Thank you for your help; I really appreciate it. I'll look into them asap :)

I studied Japanese at SOAS and spent my year abroad at Nagoya University, which is amazing, but not for everyone. Actually, I’ve already finished - but I’m hoping to go back to Nagoya for my Masters. I heard a lot of Sheffield students go to Kyoto, is that right? It might be worth going somewhere else to meet new people, although Kyoto is lovely too.

Are exams still on? My reply’s a little late, I’m sorry!

If you like, I travel to Japan a lot for my job, so I could pick you up any books you need for your studies and you could pay me through my ebay shop. I’m going to Japan this weekend, and again the next week -__- (Thanks, BA!) I understand completely if you prefer to make your own enquiries but the offer is there if you like!

Also, BIG BANG are awesome! <3

2 June 12

jellybeansandhoney said: Hi. I'm sorry to bother you but I was wondering which Korean-Japanese textbook you're using exactly? I've just finished the first year of my degree in Japanese (one exam to go!) so I feel I should be fine in learning Korean but I really want to do it from Japanese. However, have no idea where to start. Would you recommend your books? And did you buy them offline or from London? Thank you so much in advance. I did read your post so I'm sorry if you already covered what I'm asking. Melissa x

Hey! How are you? Don’t worry about asking questions, I like when people get in touch with me! Where are you studying btw?

The book I use is KO 韓国語「文法」トレーニング(高橋書店), and alongside that I also have a  vocab book called 韓国語の基本単語集(ナツメ社), which groups loads of words into various categories. I would recommend them both, although there are so many books on the market which are probably just as good.

Unfortunately I got my books in Japan, so I’m not sure about where you can buy them in the UK. You could try Amazon Japan by using a shopping service, or you can request that JP Books (part of Mitsukoshi in London) order them for you. They do actually have some other Korean study books in JP Books, though they were quite expensive… They also have みんなの日本語 in Korean which I also contemplated buying, because I found it was such an excellent textbook when I was an 一年生.

Sorry I can’t be much more help. I really hope I could at least help a little. If you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Oh and good luck with the exams, I’m sure you’ll do great! Do you get a year abroad in Japan? Have you thought about where you want to go?

- Alice :) 

Tags: ask

Themed by Hunson. Originally by Josh