Category Archives: Travel Japan

Critters’ Cafe: Hakodate Travel – see, do, eat

What to do when you have 3 days in Hakodate ;).

Travel Hakodate – what to see, do and eat in Hakodate

Source: Critters’ Cafe: Hakodate Travel – see, do, eat

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Onigiri Love!

In 2013 in the JR Nara supermarket, we discovered ONIGIRI. Life has never been the same since.

Onigiri (おにぎり) is a Japanese rice ball, a common staple convenience food for the locals. So common that they are found in almost every convenience store or ‘konbini’ there is in the country (and there are more than 40,000). So ingeniously wrapped (follow the 1,2,3 steps on how to tear the wrapper), we savour every mouthful of the crispy, crackle of seaweed, the refreshingly cold rice and the burst of flavour from the stuff inside. The stuff inside also ranges from the common such as cooked red salmon, tuna / chicken mayo, mentaiko, to the gourmet like wagyu beef, grilled chicken and stewed pork. Gourmet ones are usually peddled from specialised counters in basement food halls of department stores.

Back home in Singapore, we have since been on a quest to satisfy our onigiri longing. Alas, the search has proven to be futile. The ones in supermarket sushi corners here are just sad and they do not even wrap the rice ball up properly in accordance to the 1,2,3 to unwrap the rice ball. Those offered by Japanese restaurants are expensive and come without wrappers so you miss half the fun of eating onigiri. Yes, unwrapping them 1,2,3 rocks!

So if you are ever in Japan, just drop by any old Lawsons, Seven-Eleven or Family Mart and grab yourself a variety of onigiri. You won’t leave the country without them ;P

Onigiri Love

Onigiri from konbini in Haneda Airport – best way to spend your remaining Yen!

 

 

Yoga in Japan!

Being accustomed to a daily yoga practice, I sometimes find it a challenge trying to keep it (as well as a clean diet) up while travelling. Throw in hauling a backpack with DSLR camera and stuff, hours of walking, temperatures of 20-25°C below Singapore, and the body is all set to mutiny. So, as much for maintenance as for plain fun, I managed to get my yoga on during my autumn trip.

Morning stretches

These simple side stretches and wall-assisted backbends are great to reverse the effects of carrying a backpack around. Taken in our tiny Airbnb room in Kyoto just before heading out:

 

And every night without fail, I would add lying on the bed with my legs up the wall to rest and reset my legs from the day’s walking!

Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto

These foundational standing poses are great to stretch out the tired legs and hips and give a gentle traction to the shoulders and back:

Being a warrior (or samurai?) all over Kiyomizu-dera! Anti-clockwise from top left: Warrior I, Warrior II, Warrior III, Humble Warrior, Reverse Warrior

Arm balances are mainly for showing off 😛 Here, I found a pretty spot:

Bakasana or Crow Pose, one of the first arm balances we learn and one I am so glad to be able to pop into without a warmup. Energises the body!

Yoga in the forests of Kyoto

Two different “forests”: On the left is Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose), an intense hamstring stretch, taken in the Kimono Forest at Arashiyama. On the right is Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose), taken not in Arashiyama’s main bamboo grove – which I find too crowded and overrated – but at the much quieter and more verdant Adashino Nenbutsuji bamboo forest. I found this a really charming temple complex. and definitely recommend making the walk there from Arashiyama. We practically had the place all to ourselves!

Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto

One of Kyoto’s most recognisable attractions, so I just had to drop my yoga here. My trip took place while I was participating in an Instagram challenge on backbends, so I jumped at the chance to make my shots more memorable 🙂 Of course, the real challenges were whether my spine was ready to move in that way in the cold weather and with no warmup, and how to not have other tourists in the shot…

Yoga in the parks

I love to visit parks or places of nature when I travel. Here are two we checked out: Left, Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) taken in Shukkeien Garden (“Shrunken Scenery Garden”), Hiroshima. Right, Vrksasana (Tree Pose) taken in Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo.

And you know what I loved about all of this? In Japan, nobody really bats an eyelid if you take photos everywhere and of everything. I am still really self-conscious about yoga in public and acting like a tourist with the camera in general, but being in Japan somehow lets me forget about those insecurities and just focus on enjoying myself.

IG: @yogaberd