Friday, October 31, 2014

Passion unleashes creativity

I quote from Yo-Yo Ma:
Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate about something, then you're more willing to take risks.

Risks and creativity goes hand in hand because to be creative, it means you're doing something that has not been done before. If it has not been done before, there is definitely risks. Therefore, to be creative, you have to be willing to take and accept risks.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Food in Tokyo

Last but not least, I have dedicated my last post for my trip to Tokyo to ... ... food! Yes, lots and lots of food. For this trip, I decided not to scrimp on food and that we should eat some normal Japanese food when we're there instead of sandwiches and stuff. Other than the extravagant dinner and breakfast we had at Yama no Chaya, we ate a mixture of bento and set lunches in restaurants.

One thing I did notice is that the price of food has increased. For a reasonable meal, it will cost about 400 - 500 yen per meal (e.g. Beef bowl rice). Set lunch in restaurants ranges from 1,080 yen (yes, 8% GST) to about 1400 yen per person. Drinks are about 250 - 500 yen.

Anyway, enjoy the photos and that's all the posts I have for my trip to Tokyo. :)

Tengu Soba at Mount Takao. 1,300 yen

Beef rice with eggs and onions at Matsuya. This is the bigger bowl, costing about 680 yen. Smaller bowl costs 420 yen

Red bean Manju! Cannot remember the price. This is from Hakone though.

Seasonal Set Lunch from the Limited Express Romance Car. 1,080 yen if I remember correctly.

The romance car bento! 1,080 yen if I remember correctly.

Romance Car Bento unboxed. There are also noodles inside and some meat underneath.

Beef bento dinner. 500+ yen if I recall correctly.

Pancakes from Eggs n Things cafe. Part of the Omelet set for an additional 400 yen

Today's special omelet from Eggs n Things cafe, with vegetables, mushrooms and sausages. About 1,450 yen.

Eggs Benedict from Eggs n Things cafe. One of the poached eggs was slightly over-cooked but the other is perfectly done. About 1,200 yen.

Shoyu spaghetti from Hoshino's Coffee. This is delicious and its only 880 yen.

Hoshino's Coffee pancake with Maple syrup and it only costs 550 yen!

Close-up of the pancake and this is definitely better than the one in Singapore. It actually tastes more like a pancake than muffin!

Dorayaki from the shop opposite Mitake station.

Nana's Green Tea Salad cum rice lunch set, costing 1,080 yen.

Macaroon from FabCafe

Cafe Mocha from FabCafe. 500+ yen.

Bento Set Lunch from Tokyo Sky Tree. 1,000+ yen.

Bento vegetarian set lunch from Tokyo Sky Tree. 800+ yen.

Sushi offer from Seibu. Only 1,000 yen.

Karrage, dumplings and meatballs from Seibu. Only 400 yen thereabouts

Mushroom soup. I believe it is 200+ yen

Daifuku. Unsure about the pricing.

Close-up of the red bean daifuku.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Random photos in Tokyo

In my trip to Tokyo, I've been to many small shops located within Tokyo other than going to the bigger or well-known attractions. It did happen however that some of this shops bring me to interesting places, which resulted well, in this set of interesting pictures. This post will be dedicated to all the random places that I've been to in Tokyo, including a not so random place which is the Meiji Shrine. :)


Interesting tree canopy I saw on the way to Meiji Shrine

Gate to Meiji Shrine

A wedding that we happened to see within the Meiji Shrine. They are so happy!

The wishing tree within Meiji Shrine

The Eggs n Things cafe at Harajuku! They sell pretty nice pancakes and omelets!

Interior of Eggs n Things Cafe

Marimekko shop that is just 1 street away from Eggs n Things Cafe. Found this place by accident.

Nice graffiti around Harajuku

Interesting decorations at Sugartown

Very interesting insect outside the Uguisu Little Shoppe

Interesting cashier counter at National Arts Centre

Nakamichi Street at Kichijoji

Jiyugaoka Wagon Sale

Kichijoji shopping street at night

Ikebukoro shopping street at night

Tokyo tower taken near the Uguisu Little Shoppe

Tokyo Solamachi at Tokyo Sky Tree. This is where most of the shops are

Tokyo Sky Tree. Look at the tip of the sky tree.

The Macross exhibition by the Chiba Institute of Technology in Tokyo Sky Tree

The busy railway junction at Tokyo Sky Tree

Inflation is up 0.6%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2014:
January: 1.4%
February: 0.4%
March: 1.2%
April: 2.5%
May: 2.7%
June: 1.8% 
July: 1.2%
August: 0.9%
September: 0.6%

Both Food and Education & Stationery inflation rose by 3.0% respectively year on year. Transport inflation trend continued from last month, going down by a greater 1.8% in comparison to last month. Housing inflation has also dropped 0.5%, more than expected.

Food inflation remained high, with food excluding prepared food prices being stable and prepared meals rising instead compared to last month. Due to the housing and transport inflation downtrend, the inflation has continued the downward trend instead of reversing the trend.

Looking at the current trend, I'm not surprised if the average inflation for 2014 drops below 1% year on year, although to us, it will not be apparent because the food prices are rising quite a bit this year and this affects everyone of us.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Up and down Mount Mitake

In my trip to Tokyo, not only did I managed to visit Mount Takao, I've also managed to squeeze in Mount Mitake. Besides visiting the popular shrine, Mount Mitake also offers various walking and hiking opportunities. Located in the Okutama region, the westernmost part of Tokyo, it can be reached via the JR Chuo line to Ome station, after which you can transfer to the JR Ome Line to Mitake station. The journey is about 100 mins and costs about 920 yen.

Once at the Mitake station, cross the road and on the left side, you should see a bus stop. The bus will take about 10 mins to reach the lower cable car station, and cost about 290 yen one way, payable by the Suica card. As the bus does not come frequently and the queue is always pretty long, do not dilly dally upon alighting from the train. The cable car cost about 1,110 yen one-way, payable by Suica card too.

The cable car is also quite crowded and does not run very frequently, similar to the bus, so it's a good idea to only rest upon reaching the top station. The cable car goes up a pretty steep slope and is always nearly packed, as shown below.

Upon reaching the top, there is a map that shows you the entire area of Mount Mitake and it is pretty huge.

The scenery even at this stop looks like a painting by an artist.

There are souvenir shops at this stop but I didn't really go in and take a look at what is being sold. I am too concerned over the hike and the places that we'll go to than souvenirs at that point. :)

Apparently you could also take a lift up to the summit of Mount Mitake as shown below. I do not see many takers though. Most prefer to walk up.

Well, the walk up is not exactly smooth sailing as shown below. :)

However along the way, you'll see interesting houses, like the one below, with the roof built using the traditional method. What I like is the design of the house matches the background scenery very well, as if it is meant to be this way.

You will also see this 1,000 year old tree along the way.

Finally, you'll see another flight of steps leading up to the shrine.  Yes, there are many steps again. :)

Well, this photo makes it look less menacing. :) But then again, when you're tired, even 10 steps seem a long way.

Around that area, there are also interesting buildings, like this building here also has a washroom I believe. :) The scenery is beautiful.

When you walk up those flights of steps, you'll also see some other small shrines along the way, like those pictures you see below.

I also managed to catch a glimpse of a plant that signifies that autumn is coming. :)

Apparently, this Shrine is dedicated to the dogs so there were many dog owners that brought their dogs up to this shrine. This dog looks bored though. :)

Ok, after visiting the shrine, the fun part beings. On the way up, you'll see a trail branching off like the pictures below. That is the trail to the waterfalls and rock garden! :)

After climbing down some steel steps, you'll see a paved road leading downwards, and magnificent trees at the side. This is going to be fun...

You'll reach another rest point and over here, you'll see 2 paths branching out. Take the path going down (to the left) as the hike will be easier. 

After going down, you'll see a gigantic boulder and you may see some people climbing up the boulder using a rope. If you're not interested in that, you can start off with one of the waterfalls by going down the trail towards the left.

Over there, you'll see a natural rest point where many stop to have their lunch, and admire the waterfalls. :)

After resting, go back up the same way and you'll arrive back at the boulder. This time, take the trail to the right of the boulder towards the rock garden. This will also lead you to the second waterfall. Along the way, you'll see many mini-waterfalls as shown below. The scenery is breathtaking.

Along the way you'll see many steps such as this so be prepared that this is not a hike that is too easy.

There will be a rest stop before you will reach the second waterfall, as shown below. This is slightly bigger than the first.

After the second waterfall, the route becomes much easier in my opinion. You can even stop along the way to smell the flowers so as to speak. The trees, the flowers... Do not just concentrate on the hike. Look and appreciate everything that is around you.

Before reaching back to the initial trail that branches off 2 directions, you will reach a 350 year old tree.

You can stop and rest at this rest point, which many dog owners also happen to do when I was there. I also managed to "catch" some of the birds around that area. They move pretty fast though so the picture below was the best I got.

After the rest, we took the cable car down to the foot of Mount Mitake and decided not to take the bus down to the train station. The walk, according to the people there, just takes about 40 mins and it would be easy because we're just walking down. We get to admire more of the scenery too around Mount Mitake.

Along the way, you'll see this sign so follow this sign to proceed downwards towards the bridge.


The bridge overlooks a river where I saw some people canoeing in the rapids. The water is also pretty clear and bluish, as if it came from the sea. It's a nice place to admire, even though there were many spiders around the bridge. :)

After admiring the scenery, just follow the route upwards back to the main road. You will walk pass a Cafe Marco on the way.

After a short walk, you should see the Mitake station on the right side.

If you have time, stop by the shop opposite the station. Their dorayaki and the yuzu drink is out of this world! :) I guess we almost spent the entire day at Mount Mitake. It's a pretty nice place and I don't mind going back there again.

Stay tuned for more posts on the places I've been to, and of course, what I've eaten. :)

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