Sunday, 21 September 2014

Japan Travel Diary IV

The fifth day of the trip was not as productive as I thought it would be. After checking out from our ryokan, we were ready for a long, 3 to 4 hours kind of road trip back to Osaka. We stopped by Komeri, a Japanese home center chainstore located somewhere along our way back, I am not even sure where. Our parents were planning to purchase some seeds to be planted in our own respective homes; my dad got us vegetable seeds of komatsuna and cucumber. As of now, the seeds were already sowed in my backyard and are actually starting to grow small buds. I know it's rather uncool, or old-fashioned to be saying this, but I have always wanted to do my own gardening. I think of gardening being rather therapeutic and rewarding at the same time. Imagine eating your own homegrown crops right off the stems. Imagine raising your own little dedicated floral garden. It all is a serene endeavour to an oasis of calm, a grounding experience to relief stress from the mundane, fast-paced city life.

Being the greedy, food monsters our parents (especially dads) are, we decided that we could stuff our faces with more seafood one final time before we head back to Osaka. Upon reaching Kuroshio Fish Market, the area was rather crowded. I didn't expect the place could be as crowded as it was back then, even if it was on the weekends. Our parents couldn't care less and went straight inside to grab on lunch; we were all starved after a long ride to the place. I gave the area a quick scanit was packed with what I suspected cheering squads. After lunch, I had more time to stroll around the area to have a better look at what was actually happening. The people were divided into groups, all decked in matching ostentatious costumes that resembled the image of their respective troops. It was a cheering competition (there is a specific term for it, but for the life of me I cannot remember)the groups were enthusiastically chanting their own versions of a solid and striking cheer, trying to win over the judges' hearts. I was amazed at how unified they all were, so charismatic and strong, instantly filling the place with positive vibes that were contagious to all the supporters and visitors alike. When I turned my head onto the other side, I realized there was a really obvious line separating the area. On the opposite side, it was rather deserted and lonely. I detected a couple of friends, having their own peaceful conversation while overlooking the tranquil sight of landscape, completely oblivious to the hubbub of laughter and cheering. If you were there, which side would you rather be in?

We arrived at Osaka on the evening, just few hours before dinner. I think I will leave it at that and will talk more about my days in Osaka on the next post. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Someday Lovin

sifr t-shirt, Topshop tanktop & hat, Zara culottes & sandals, Aesthetic Pleasure drawstring bag

I have been trying to repress my inner shopaholic, limiting my shopping purchases to save up for those coveted pieces that are way out of my budget. In order to be successful in my money-saving plans, I am finding other different ways to wear the ultimate essential in my wardrobe, which is a t-shirt. I believe that a t-shirt is the most versatile piece, an all-in-one fundamental piece that you could wear every single day. Turning over magazines for inspirations, I found enlightenment from the famed Hypebeast, a mens' magazine revolving around streetwear and contemporary fashion. I re-interpreted how they wore a basketball jersey, which I then replaced with an oversized tank that has striped band on the hemline. The plainness of the achromatic color scheme, free of any optical print, leaves no room for any style mistakes and is far more wearable. To compensate for the overly minimalistic t-shirt combination, incorporating different kinds of textures and dressing it up with accessories (read: hat) claims the credit altogether!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Japan Travel Diary III

On the third and forth nights of our trip, we stayed in Nakanoshima Ryokan, a seaside ryokan located in a private island in Katsuura Bay, which can be accessed via 5-minutes short ferry ride from Katsuura harbour. If I could spend all my day here, I would want to. I feel totally blessed to be overlooking at such a sublime sight when I woke upthe pristine, azure sea shimmered like a jewel under the morning sun as the rolling waves move tenderly at its own pace, dissolving any sound that barely comes ahead.

Adding in to the list of good qualities of Nakanoshima Ryokan, there is a rotenburo with a pleasant scenery of Katsuura Bay. In spite of the rotenburo being constantly crowded, a good soak in onsen is always so relaxing for the body and mind after touring the whole day, healing all your feet aches and back pains. I have always preferred open air baths compared to indoor baths. I feel like I could suffocate inside that room of intense humidity and damp air that hung with torpid density. Well, that's that, but the honorable mention of my highlight in the ryokan has to be my dining experience. Everything was well-thought right down to the minute details, from the fresh ingredients, modest tableware to the minuscule adornmentseach of these play their own roles in bringing together the harmony of kaiseki-ryori. After each course, I was always full to the brim, but I was never guilty because each dish is always prepared with great health-concerns. 

On day four of our trip, we paid a visit to the famed Kumano Nachi Taisha, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Japan. We hiked. It's actually not that long of a distance, but the supposedly healthy hike was quickly reduced to a somnolent trudge due to my unexpectedly painful Zara sandals. Every step was a struggle, but after I saw what was before me, the seemingly long hike was worth every drop of sweat and pricking sensation of pain I experienced. I was welcomed by the gentle, faint zephyr that felt good on my skin, while swaying the leaves just the slightest bit. The cobblestone staircase that took me to the Nachi Falls is surrounded by nothing but old cedar trees that stood firm and still despite its long years. With a drop of 133 meters, the waterfall is always roaring with pride, uninterrupted, as it vigorously collides with the rocks that created an infinite loop of endless rhythm. As I stood there intently listening to its beat, it blocked out all sounds of the world behind me, roaring even louder and louder. I was listening to the heartbeat of the world, the sound forever etched in my mind.

The hike led to a smaller shrine and eventually to Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Sanzan and Seigantoji Temple. As soon as I reached the sacred area, I thought I would be having a jaw-dropping moment of awe, but instead, I was neutral. It's rich pilgrimage history didn't drive me as much. Indeed, Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Sanzan was majestic looking in its brilliant scarlet red exterior with hints of contrasting designs, it was a photogenic site, and I was bewildered by its verdant precincts, but it didn't move me the way the waterfalls did. There is something alive, something real about Nachi Falls that was enough to make a slight squeeze in my chest. It's probably just me, since I am no where near religious at all. Although it didn't leave a lasting impression, I was curious about drawing an omikuji. Every shrine in Japan without fail, sells omikuji, a fortune-telling paper strip. Satisfying my curiosity, I rattled the box intensely with a futile, yet hopeful thought that the harder I shook, the better my luck will be. I got average luck.

Moving on, we headed to Izakata Street for a late lunch. We went into a small, comforting restaurant that specialized in fish dishes, maintained by a friendly family. The lady owner and her daughters single-handedly cooked and served our meals, and us being a massively huge crowd with a monstrous appetite, we drove them into a frenzy. Nonetheless, the lady owner was so adorable (I have no other words for her). Despite of her old age, she was still brimming with great energy and we had a pleasant chat as we waited for our food. We learnt that the restaurant has been standing for 3 generations and she planned to hand it down to her daughter. Talking about the food, it was simply delicious. As expected of authentically home-cooked food! (No photos since I couldn't wait any longer to fill my stomach.) Afterwards, we headed back to our ryokan and jumped straight into the rotenburo. Ending this post, I leave you with a photo of a beautifully marbled wagyu dish from my kaiseki dinner. Still salivating!