JAPAN 2017

A few weeks ago, I got back from the best place in the world; Japan. I had visited a few years before and just couldn't wait to return this year and honestly, I would go back again in a heartbeat. 

In my quest to actually become Lauren Hooper, I made a one second everyday video whilst we were out there. It's such a fun format, I can easily see myself making these for more holidays! 

We started our stay in Tokyo then went to Kyoto for a few days before heading back to Tokyo again. We also squeezed in a trip to Hiroshima and Mt Fuji.. although it was so foggy on the Mt Fuji day that we couldn't see any of it!

Below are some of my favourite pictures from the trip...

Maiko, Kyoto 

In Kyoto, I thought at first that I was seeing loads of Geisha but quickly realised that you could rent kimono's and dress up as one for the day. This made seeing "real" geisha more challenging but these young Maiko at a small shrine in Kyoto were accompanied by a geisha in full get up - hair wax and all so I deemed them for real (!!) I didn't want to be pushing a camera in their face so took a shot from behind. I kinda love how you can't see their faces though, it keeps some of the anonymity and mystery associated with Geisha and your eye focuses more on the patterned kimono then the Maiko themselves 

Japanese venders, Tokyo

If you have been to Japan, you will know about their amazing array of venders. On every street corner, full of cold (and hot!!) drinks. I loved these uber touristic ones that I spotted in a Harajuku side street 

Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

Our first air bnb in Tokyo was just around the corner from this shrine. On our first day, we walked around it in a jet lagged state, taking in the history and nature. A perfect way to ease us into the absolute mania that is Tokyo!

Gotokuji Shrine, Tokyo  

I think this was a bucket list moment for me! Gotokuji shrine is where the lucky waving cat of Japan originated from. It is located in a small, quiet town and backs onto a cemetery. People bring lucky cats to it for their own good fortune so obviously, we brought one for home as well as one to leave. I also got a shrine stamp! All of the shrines in Japan have stamps that you can either stamp yourself, or purchase for a small fee. My collection is tiny but beautiful and I will share them on the blog soon!

Yanaka Cemetery, Tokyo

I love to visit cemeteries when I travel. I think that seeing how different cultures celebrate and remember lost ones is fascinating. Japanese graveyards are very serene and feature these sticks along with a more traditional gravestone. They are prayers from people who can't attend the funeral or gravesides themselves 

Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

Sake barrels adorn the walls on your way into Meiji Shine

Shibuya, Tokyo

The crazy neon hustle and bustle of Shibuya at night is one of pure culture clash and amazement. Wondering these streets in the dark was one of our most "we're in Japan!!!" moments 

Lanterns, Tokyo

I love the mix of tradition and modern that you find in Tokyo especially. This shrine, beautifully lit up and with incense burning was round the corner from a street full of bars and love hotels

Ceramics - Kappabashi, Kitchen Town

Visiting Kappabashi was such a cool experience! It is known as kitchen town and where restaurant owners go for crockery, plastic food, menu's, kitchen appliances... everything. The patterns and colours on the ceramics were traditional and stunning. I felt so restrained only buying the one teapot! We were also pretty excited by all of the references to Kappa in the town. Kappa is an urban legend in Japan; a river gremlin of sorts that eats children...  

Arcade, Tokyo

One of the top things to do in Tokyo, for us anyway, is visit Akihabara! It's known as electric town and is completely filled with arcades, figurine stores and huge neon signs. We went on a mini spree of winning toys plushies (we now have 4!) but sadly none of these Kirby's came back with us

Manhole Cover, Kyoto

Japan is known for it's intricate detail in everything. From buying things at a convenience store wrapped with care and precision to these beautiful manhole covers. It pleases my designer eye to see everything so considered and aesthetically pleasing

Air Bnb, Kyoto

We spent a lot more time in Kyoto this trip - roughly 5 days. It was beautiful sunshine the whole time making the bikes that came with our apartment perfect to run around on and explore! Kyoto is the historic capital of Japan and full of ancient shrines, beautiful green space and more shrines! Less intense than Tokyo, it was the perfect mini break within the trip

 Fushimi Inari, Kyoto

 This famous orange shrine is dedicated to the kitsune (fox) so has statues of the animal everywhere. Foxes are my spirit animal so I was super happy to see references to them everywhere! 

 Fushimi Inari, Kyoto

 The famous vermillion torii at  Fushimi Inari

Bamboo Forest, Kyoto

Last time we visited Kyoto, this was one of our highlights and I would say the same for this trip. We rented bikes, rode through the bamboo (and other tourists!), along the lake and found a small spot to have lunch by the water. the leaves were just changing to orange so the backdrop was beautiful and serene

Miyajima, Hiroshima

Deer are a sacred animal in Japan and this island is full of them! They are pretty docile, will eat any food you have and occasionally enjoy a pet. We also visited the Hiroshima dome which was incredibly humbling and just unbelievable when you read what happened there. Over the road from the dome is the children's peace monument, something close to my heart. I had a project based around the monuments centre figure, Sadako Sasaki when I was in University so visiting it (with or own paper cranes from a friends wedding) was a really special moment for me 

Cat friend, Kyoto

We saw so many cats on this trip to Japan! Mark and I are both big animal lovers and missed our own floof a lot, so any time we saw a cat it was a pretty big deal for us!

 Prayer boards, Kyoto

These are boards hung up in almost every shrine. You can buy them and write your own message or prayer on, hang them and they should come true


I uploaded a load more pictures to Instagram too, so if you are interested, check out my tag for the holiday; #julesjapan

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