Tokyo, Harajuku & Hakuba

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These girls helped us figure out how to pay for our train tickets.Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.48.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.48.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.48.06 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.47.56 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.47.49 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.47.40 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.47.34 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.47.09 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.47.03 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.46.48 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.46.39 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.51.56 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.52.25 PM

Tokyo has opened our eyes to the conveniences of Japanese life…  It is very easy to eat, play, sleep, and travel.  We were situated in an urban region just near the city centre (close to the snowboard/ski strip as we needed to buy some gear – if you bring your passport when buying equipment you can get 10% off).

Everything is built up in this city.  The skyline isn’t overly dramatic (architecturally) however it is consistently tall at least 100 km from the city’s heated centre.  We were expecting insane crowds and confusion… but this was not the case at all.

Conveniences:

  • Heated toilet seat with bidet (hilarious and had both Mike and I laughing as we tested it out)
  • The mirrors heat in a square where you might stand and apply makeup after a shower (leaving you with a fog free space to study your face from).
  • You can adjust your shower height (this is brilliant).
  •  Some fast food noodle bars have a machine which you kind of use like a pop machine to order your meal.  It gives you a ticket and then you give it to the matron to shout the order to the chef.  They don’t have to wait for payment… it was brilliant.
  • There literally are pop machines on the street every other block.  They dispense cold and hot beverages…which is a little weird but so convenient!
  • Meals order come out within minutes.  We found the Japanese eat very quickly (which was fine with me, I eat like a vacuum).
  • The trains are colour coded, and numbered so you can easily figure out where you are.
  • Entertainment, there was a massive baseball and roller coaster park only 1km walk from our hotel…we rode an insanely tall ferris wheel which towered over every building for miles.  I also had a mild panic attack! hahaha I’m terrified of heights.

Day 2 Mike guided us very easily from the centre of Toyko to the popular shopping destination: Harajuku.  We spotted a few men and women who were dressed in more colourful outfits, however many of the people that headed to this region were actually wearing designer clothing.  The place is literally crammed with european designer labels.  It was in Harajuku that we visited our first temple.  At the entrance there were hundreds of barrels of sake, and inside we were able to get a glimpse of a traditional wedding.

We spent a lot of our time walking around shopping and eating for 3 days.  Our meals (sorry I’ve not yet taken any photos – I’ll get some over the next few days) were portioned in huge bowls which could easily feed 2 people.  Needless to say I’ve been only able to get halfway through my food.

Yesterday we boarded an express bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano.  The train I think travels around 300km per hour.  It’s been raining, but the temperature is very pleasant and the journey was very fast!  The city sprawls and sprawls, then suddenly you see mountains.

We took an hour bus ride from Nagano to Hakuba and were then dropped off at our hotel.  We’ve got a lovely view of the mountains from our room.  The hotel features a public onsen (Hot spring pools) which we both experienced separately yesterday, as they are specifically for men on one end and women the other.  You have to get fully washed and naked before you are able to enjoy the hot thermal water…  I chose to sit outside in the snow with the hot water keeping me warm… It was so relaxing to see the snow drifting down.  If you get the chance you must try an onsen.

There is more to write but I’ll save it for later.

Thinking of you all,

Holly & Mike

Hello from…Tokyo!

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Mike and I have now been in Tokyo for nearly one day…  We’ll be in Japan for 3 weeks to snowboard, rest, eat plenty of amazing food and enjoy the mountain terrain in Hakuba.

We’ll be travelling from Tokyo to the mountains in three days, and will update you when we arrive.  I’m sure I’ll have taken a million images by then!

We’re keen to find out why it is, that some of the populations wears these face masks, and a large percentage do not.

Have you been to Japan before?  What were some of the highlights of your trip?  

Does anyone have an idea why some people choose to wear these masks?

Speak soon,

Holly & Mike

ps: We (disgracefully) do not know the language (only a few words).  Despite this the Japanese are so patient and kind to us.

Mini Dachshund & Brussels Griffon Puppies

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This morning I went to a friends house to have brunch and meet her mini dachshund & brussels griffon puppies…

All 7 of them.

I’ve never been near this many small babies before and so naturally I turned into a pile of mush as soon as I saw them sleeping in a little puppy pile.

Vegetarian Won Ton Soup

Tonight I’ve made vegetarian won ton soup.  Crazy right?

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I found these hornets flocking to a native tree in the park this afternoon.  The weather was amazing today!

Firstly, I wanted to thank Branching Owl for the inspiration for tonights meal!

To make a vegetarian won ton soup you’ll need these ingredients (or play with the vegetables and get creative!) I literally just grabbed a random bunch of veggies that I enjoy…

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 medium sized leek
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large bunch of coriander
  • 1 large bunch of parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 3 table spoons of olive oil
  • 1 litre of fish stock
  • 1 table spoon of salt
  • 1 small chill pepper (from our own plant!)
  • 1 package of pre assembled won ton sheets (thawed)

Alright, so I did this pretty quickly in a large saucepan, on a medium heat.  First I added the finely diced carrot, along with the onion and olive oil, a little salt and then I chopped the zucchini finely and threw that in too.  The garlic was chopped and added next, lastly I chopped one small sized green chill and added some kick to the vegetables.  I left this to simmer until I knew the carrot was no longer firm.

As you’re cooking these vegetables, it’s best to get the fish stock ready and warmed to make the soup.  In a medium sized pot add the fish stock with about 4 more cups of water and turn on the heat to a medium setting.

When the veggies are ready you can turn off the heat and drizzle a light amount of sesame oil and stir through.  You can now add the fresh herbs.  Roughly chop these and stir through one large handful (there will be plenty left over!).  This can now be stuffed into the won ton skins (I just folded them like a small money purse) and set them aside.

To make this soup a little more interesting I diced and rinsed the leek and threw that into the pot just prior to adding the assembled wonton noodles.

When the broth was bubbling, I dropped in the won ton pouches.  When they were soft I turned the heat off and threw in another small handful of the herb mixture (coriander and parsley).  I added another dash of salt to the broth and then dished up myself a hearty helping of dinner!

You’ll have loads of left overs, and I’m sure you could easily make 100 noodles with the mixture.  I might use them for a pasta tomorrow night…just to change up the flavours a little.

Pretty crraaaaazy delicious addition to my dinner repertoire.

A young child comprehends the space between Canada and Australia.

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This morning I spoke on the telephone with my nephew in chilly Canada.  It was just approaching his dinner time, while my morning was only just beginning.  He is just approaching 7 years of age, and ever since we’ve been able to speak to one another he has developed a fascination with my voice and this far away place that I live.

It would be difficult to comprehend at such a young age, that the voice speaking to him on the telephone is very far away.

He asked me today, if I was alone and how far away I was.  He said he wanted to visit me.  He always say’s he’d like to come and see me.  Which is adorable.  I don’t know if his mind imploded when I told him it would take him until tomorrow night to reach me by plane, and that I’m already waking up to his tomorrow.

It’s funny how putting myself in his shoes for our conversation, reminded me of just how far away I really am.

In his mind I’m this strange voice on the phone that talks of parrots, and strange animals….When he’s a little bit older Mike and I have offered to host him for a summer to show him this funny place he keeps hearing about.

Wilson’s Prom, Victoria

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These images are from late December, in Fish Creek, Victoria.

My friend Emily and her fiancé Lenny are due to have their little girl very soon.  Mike and I are thinking of them as they begin the exciting journey toward parenthood.  We’re across the country here in Western Australia but are sending them loads of love and support. We are so looking forward to meeting her one day soon. xo Holly & Mike

ps:  Em if you’re reading, I’ve mailed your dvd!

Perth Giants.

Today Perth met giants.  The crowds were ecstatic and the joy was buzzing through the air.
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This was a massive magical adventure…for both young and old.

Operation Get Cool?

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I don’t even know why I’m posting about them, apart from the fact that I’m glad they are mine.

Salt Water Aquarium, and Blogging Milestones.

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The blog has literally just hit a pretty big milestone, and I wanted to say thank you for your loyalty and dialogue over these past few years.  Hopefully you’ve seen some form of improvement in my writing and photography?  Maybe not!  haha… It’s been a real pleasure sharing the beauty here in Western Australia…and I hope I’ll see you around as we continue on our journey.

The blog touched 30,000 views today.  

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge into blogging I highly urge you to give it a try.  I love the creative outlet and the dialogue that can be shared with people around the planet.  From Canada to the UK, Malaysia, and beyond.  The connections made here have given me a positive and encouraging space to share my work and thoughts.

ps:  These fish were in a pet store in Adelaide.  I’ve spoken about my turmoil in posting captive animal portraits…but here I am… posting captive fish because they are so lovely to look at.

What personal item do you cherish most?

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Before I met this ring, I never really wore jewellery.  It caught my eye on a cold winter day while I was strolling through the Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park (where I worked) with a good friend (Carly!).  I can’t remember what we were doing there at the time, but neither of us had the intention of buying anything.  There was something calming and pleasing to me in the design.  It was modestly priced for silver and fit my nimble (child like) fingers perfectly.  I think I paid about $32.00 for it.

Do you have a personal item that you love?  Where did you find it?  

I’ve been wearing this ring on my hand now for nearly 8 years.  (Carly if you’re reading correct me if I’m wrong).  It’s the only thing apart from my tattoo, that has stayed with me this long unchanged.  I feel safe with it on.

Mike and I were sitting in a natural hot spring on the side of a mountain road once and we saw the chemical change of silver and sulphur mixing.  The ring changed into a dramatic beautiful blue/red/copper temporarily.  It recently changed colour when I cleaned it in some boiling water, with aluminium, sodium bi carb and vinegar… to this soft pale creamy silver.

I’ve fiddled and spun it on my finger in a sort of trance while I’ve been in a waiting line…and it’s given me great grief if It’s ever slipped off or I’ve misplaced it.

Like losing my mind grief.

Never in the history of loving an inanimate object has someone loved a thing as much as me and this ring.

“My precious”.