Memories on Film: Japan X Hong Kong

Film photography is a field that I always want to try but find it too hard technically. Losing focus is one of my biggest issues when shooting with film camera. Inspired by a friend occasionally, I tried to use disposable camera to do my film photography: yes, I am talking about those cameras with plastic shell and you can get them from convenient store. As the shutter speed, aperture and lens focus are normally fixed, all you need to do when playing with disposable camera is: 1. decide to turn on the flash or not 2. remember to roll the film until it is fixed before you press the shutter button.

Surprisingly, the photos present very sharp colors and film-like texture (well, they ARE film actually) after they are developed. I noticed that the camera heavily depends on the daylight when you turn the flash off, if there is sufficient daylight, the outcome can be really amazing. (@Fashionmimo)

 

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Idyllic summer: Kyushu

When I told my friends that I’m about to visit Japan again, none of them looks surprised, “Where is your destination this time, uh? Tokyo? Osaka or Hokkaido?” To be honest, I didn’t have any idea where I should go to this time even though I have planned this trip for a long time. I only knew that I have to go to japan and seems like it has become something ritual and routine for me hahah. At first my friends and I were planning to visit Hokkaido for the summer festival, but then after checking our schedule and the flight, we decided to visit Kyushu, the southern part of Japan which is famous for the mountains and the spectacular landscape. Due to the active volcanos, Kyushu is also renowned for the hot spring villages such as Beppu, Kurokawa and Yufuin. This time we were basically travelling around the mountains of northern Kyushu: from Fukuoka to Kumamoto, then from Aso to Yufuin.

 

Aso & The Kurokawa Hot Spring 阿蘇&黑川溫泉

The first time I noticed Kurokawa was in 2016 when I was planning my winter Japan trip. There was a local Japanese website recommending all those “secret/hidden” hot springs around the country, and Kurokawa, a small village with over 20 hot spring ryokans hidden in the mountain was highly recommended by the website. However, to those who cannot drive in Japan, those hidden hot springs are definitely not easy to get to. There are only 2 buses travelling from Kumamoto to Kurokawa a day and the journey takes 2 hours. On the way to the hot spring village, the spectacular landscape emerged with the summer green, during the whole trip we were surrounded by the endless greenery of the mountains.

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The spectacular mountain view of Aso. (@Fashionmimo)

 

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In the Kurokawa Onsen area, there are ryokans, restaurants and souvenir shops alongside. (@Fashionmimo)

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Taking half-board stay in Ryokan Sanga with multiple hot spring options (outdoor, indoor, private & public), a hidden wonderland in the mountain. (@Fashionmimo)

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Yufuin湯布院

A small town located at the Oita, here has the most fascinated & peaceful country view I have seen . Also, Yufuin takes a good balance between the flourishing tourism and local community, so it’s a common scenario here that lots of tourists walking along the street during the day time, but when it turns to the evening, the town shifts back to a local area where people chatting and drinking in the Izakaya (japanese bar).

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Peaceful and idyllic, just like any Japanese village in Haruki Murakami’s book. (@Fashionmimo)

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Family-style Izakaya, everything is designed to be tiny in order to fit in the space, tiny but tidy 🙂 (@Fashionmimo)

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We met a lovely local lady who took us to her friend’s 60s retro-style Whisky bar, a very-tiny space where everyone sit by the counter and sing Karaoke together. (@Fashionmimo)

Hidden gems in Osaka/Kyoto

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My last trip to Osaka and Kyoto was a perfect vacation after half year of work, and it was my third time there. Unlike previous trips, this time I didn’t rush at all and I gave up most of the famous sights so I just visited one or two places a day. I tried to explore these cities’ hidden gems, which you won’t find them on guidebooks. And normally I would prefer to walk instead of taking public transport if possible, because then I can have deeper understanding of how the city actually looks like by strolling around 🙂 And the following article is going to introduce some of the “hidden gems” in these two amazing cities. You could consider them if you also want to make your Japan trip different from other tourists!

Nanten-en 

Nanten-en is an authentic  Japanese onsen ryokan located at the suburb area of Osaka, well, a really suburb area of Osaka called Amami. I took 1-hour train to get there from the city, and literally the ryokan is just next to the station. Amami is a small village which doesn’t even have a vending machine or convenient store, the ryokan itself is already the landmark of the village. So for local people, here is definitely an ideal place for weekend getaway; and for foreign tourists, it is a good place to experience the authentic half-board culture in Japanese ryokan with hot spring.

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Source: Internet

Since there’s no other restaurants/convenient stores nearby, you can only choose to have the dinner and breakfast at the hotel, but trust me, this authentic ryokan with over 100-year history knows how to make good Japanese food. I strongly recommend you to choose the Kaiseki Cuisine(懷石料理) for dinner. You can enjoy quality food here with much lower price than in Tokyo or Kyoto.

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The selection of material in Kaiseki Cuisine is based on season and different themes, like this one is called “flower”. (@Fashionmimo)

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Dinner is served in a private guest room and breakfast is in a big dinning room with pleasant garden view, but first, let me take a snapchat 😉 (@Fashionmimo)

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The village and the Amami Station, if you are looking for entertainment, this                         place might be a bit boring but for me, the tranquility here is priceless. (@Fashionmimo)

Chion-in 

Well, Chion-in(知恩院) is well-known. The temple is located at Gion, the heart of Kyoto while also the busiest part of the city. However, even though thousands of people visit the temple at day time, only few of them know that actually you can actually spend a night here.

Nothing is special if you choose to stay here, only if you choose to attend their morning buddhist ceremony, this would be one the the most memorable things you’ve done in Kyoto!

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Source: Internet

Since photo shooting is not allowed during the whole ceremony, so I found the picture on Google. In a nutshell, only hotel guests would be invited to attend the ceremony and it starts at 6:30 every day, which means you need to wake up very early and the staff will lead you to the temple. The whole ritual includes monk chanting and worship. Overall it is a very interesting experience.

AWOMB

Now it’s time to talk about food! AWOMB is an experimental restaurant in Kyoto providing artistic DIY sushi set, which means you can make your own sushi with the material provided like this:

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Super cute isn’t it? I believe that every girl would scream out like I did when they first see this! Despite of the food, the interior decoration of the restaurant should not be ignored as well, it is influenced by Japanese minimalist aesthetic: the gate is too small to be noticed, everything inside is made by wood…

Normally the restaurant is very popular and requires reservation, if you want to walk in, hope you have the same luck as we have! (Yes we made it!)

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Yeah my excited face lol (@Fashionmimo)

AWOMB has two restaurants and a studio, both of the restaurants are in the central area of Kyoto but with different policies, for more detail you can refer to their website http://www.awomb.com/ (@Fashionmimo)

Kyoto

Before I get started today, I wanna say THANK YOU for over 50 followers in a week!  I considered a lot before starting up at a new platform with no connections at all, but thanks for all those kind supports and comments 😀

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Here I’m gonna talk about Kyoto. I have been there twice this year, one in February, one in April (perfectly missed the sakura season though). Rather than Tokyo, people say this is the real heart of Japan. I can’t tell if this is correct, the only thing I can tell is every time I visit Kyoto, my desire to stay becomes stronger.

The Sights

Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, also known as the city of ten thousand shrines. It’s nearly impossible to visit all these sights, but somehow we may want to avoid the most busiest sights. There are some following advices:

1. The Gion(祇園) Area – You are not gonna miss this popular area. A famous district near Kamo River, filled with shops, restaurants, teahouse and Geisha entertainment. I believe it’s the busiest area of Kyoto at night, with different  restaurants and Izakaya(Japanese mini bar) along the Kamo River. With 10 minutes walk, you’ll see another famous sight Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺). However it’s way too famous that I found it hard to enjoy the view with tons of visitors.

The Kamo River.(@Fashionmimo)

The Kamo River.(@Fashionmimo)

A Geisha House in Gion, it looks like a normal restaurant at daytime but at night, it only welcome people with membership.(@Fahionmimo)

A Geisha House in Gion, it looks like a normal restaurant at daytime but at night, it only welcome people with membership.(@Fahionmimo)

Just outside Gion, there is the busiest area along the Kamo River. (@Fashionmimo)

Just outside Gion, there is the busiest area along the Kamo River. (@Fashionmimo)

Tea house near Kiyomizu-dera. (@Fashionmimo)

Tea house near Kiyomizu-dera. (@Fashionmimo)

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2. Kinkaku-Ji-The golden temple has already become a symbol of Japan. Located in a fancy Japanese garden. It’s nice to chill at the garden and enjoy a cup of Matcha 🙂

The tickets of Kinkaku-Ji, also amulets. (@Fashionmimo)

The tickets of Kinkaku-Ji, also known as Japanese amulets. (@Fashionmimo)

The map of the garden. (@Fashionmimo)

The map of the garden. (@Fashionmimo)

3.Fushimi Inari-taisha (伏見稲荷大社)-It’s located at the outskirt of Kyoto, so we took railway to get there. It’s really a good place to shoot some pics with the representative Torii Path across the mountain.

The Torii Path. (@Fashionmimo)

The Torii Path. (@Fashionmimo)

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4. Arashiyama(嵐山)-on the western outskirt of Kyoto, famous for it’s bamboo forest and picturesque views with cherry blossoms or autumn leaves. It’s also a great place to enjoy natural hot spring.

(Sources)

(Sources)

The Ryokan 

Since you are in Kyoto, trying the Japanese ryokan is a must. I suggest to book earlier in case there would be a shortage of rooms in peak season. This time I tried two ryokans, and I strongly recommend the Kyomachia Ryokan Sakura, traditional ryokan with advanced facility, also English-friendly. And if you are asking me which district would be better to stay at, I would suggest Higashiyama-ku (東山区) or Shimogyō-ku (下京区).

Lobby of the hotel.(@Fashionmimo)

Lobby.(@Fashionmimo)

Our Tatami Room. (@Fashionmimo)

Our Tatami Room. (@Fashionmimo)

Transport

Taking the Shinkansen or JR can reach any other big cities in Japan. In town, rather than the metro, I suggest to take a bus. It’s cheaper (500 yen for one-day trip with unlimited rides) and more convenient, cuz it covers most tourist sights.

Hope this article would help you if you are also interested! ;D (@Fahionmimo)

Kimono

Japanese Kimono has more than a thousand years history. Nowadays if you travel to Japan, you will still easily seeing people wearing this traditional outfit passing by. Especially in some historical cities like Kyoto and Nara, it’s really popular for tourists to rent a Kimono when strolling around the slow-paced old city.

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Since I’m not a guru in Kimono, I’m not going to tell you how complicated it would be to put on this outfit. But generally it will take you more than 30 minutes with professional assistance. If you wanna do it by yourself, come on, you won’t make it. Actually in Kyoto, there are lots of Kimono rental places, they provide professional assistance on your outfit and hairstyle. Which means, you don’t need to prepare anything before, just remember to reserve online.

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This time, my friend and I chose Yumeyakata for our Kimono experience. The shop is near Kyoto station so it’s kinda more convenient to tourists. Besides, it provides both Chinese and English guides. If any interests, check their website:http://www.yumeyakata.com/english/index.html

There are different types of Kimonos provided in shop, and you can also choose the types of sleeves and ribbons. A whole look costs 5000~8000Yen. If you wanna try the highly formal/glamorous Furisode (Kimono with swinging sleeves), the rent may up to 1,5000Yen. (@Fashionmimo)

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