Capsule Hotels

I bet most of you have already read or heard about capsule hotels in Japan. Those hotels, where you don’t sleep in your own room, but instead sleep in a plastic box in a room with many of those, called capsules. They usually feature a few technical amenities such as a television and the stereotypical customer is the Japanese salaryman on a business trip.

But as some of them are really cheap and can even compete with hostels, I gave it a try and stayed in a capsule hotel in Asakusa on my trip to Tokyo last week. It was located directly next to Asakusa station and from the public bath in the 8th floor, you had a really beautiful view over the Sumida River and towards the famous Asahi Building, as well as the soon to be completed Tokyo Sky Tree. So obviously I went up there every evening, went to the sauna, took a hot bath  and enjoyed the sight from there.

But back to the capsules. I was actually a bit surprised how spacious those seemed to me, as I hadn’t expected to be able to sit upright in one, which was perfectly possible. Space to the sides was also no problem at, only the length would have been more comfortable had it been 5-10cm more. The way it was, my feet were constantly scratching at the curtain, which closed my capsule once I was inside. The television presented me with 10 Japanese TV channels for free every evening, so no need for complaints there as well.

And now please have a look at a few pictures :)

Matcha Parfait

Again it’s time for a small break from the sightseeing articles and instead a good moment for a food-related post. After all, who doesn’t like tasty food, especially if it’s sweet and nice-looking :D

Therefor behold the mighty fine dessert that is Matcha Parfait (see below). Now first of all, matcha is powdered green tea and is also the tea that’s used in tea ceremonies. It’s definitely not cheap, but the taste is really unique and i can only recommend to try it, if you have the chance. I guess, you might even find it in asia shops in Europe, although i don’t know about the quality in that case.

But back to the parfait. When you have something as nice as matcha, it would be a waste to only make tea with it, so there are various products featuring the matcha taste, for example icecream, desserts or sauces. The picture below shows a parfait of matcha cream, cookie, matcha icecream, yoghurt icecream, mochi and fresh fruits – a very delicious combination! It might have cost me around 1200 Yen, but it was definitely worth it :D

A small measure of fame

During one of my language sessions with Masako I was interviewed by the local television about my thoughts on a change of the start of the academic year in Japan from Spring to Autumn. Weirdly enough, they indeed broadcasted it and Masako recorded it later (that’s the girl’s voice in the background ;) ).

YouTube Preview Image

And just for the content, I basically said that it would be easier for foreign students to study in Japan if they changed it to autumn. I actually said more in the interview, but that stuff has seemingly been cut out ^^

Kyoto: Kiyomizudera

The Buddhist temple Kiyomizudera on the eastern side of Kyoto is a designated world heritage site and one of the main tourist attractions of the city. It was founded in 798 and is dedicated to the Eleven-headed Kannon, as well as serving as a symbol of the unification of Buddhism and Shintoism. The view from the temple’s balcony is said to be breathtaking at the time of the cherry blossom, as well as in the colourful autumn season and back in the Edo-period it was said that he who survives a jump from the balcony will be granted a wish. The practice is outlawed today, but the saying “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” is still used from time to time to describe a foolhardy action.

Other note-worthy sites at the temple are the small springs next to it and the two lovers stones a bit further up the hill. The first one is also the reason for the naming of the temple, as ‘kiyomizu’ stands for pure water. There are a few versions of the effect of the spring going around, from granting wishes to healing powers, but in the end it can probably be summarised as granting good fortune. The lovers stones are two stones standing 20m apart from each other. If one can walk blindly in a straight line from one to the other the wish for a partner will be granted.

So with this small introduction I wish you much fun with the pictures I took on our trip there :)

Kyoto: Fushimi Inari

Fushimi Inari Taisha is the main shrine of Inari, the Japanese god of fertility, rice, agriculture, industry and worldly success and located in Kyoto on the foot of Mt. Inari. The shrine is very famous for its trails across the mountain, which are mostly covered with countless Torii gates (each donated by a Japanese business) and dotted with many small shrines on the sides. While most people go there in the daytime, Yannik and I decided to visit the shrine in the late evening, to get a special experience that not many people see in person.

Getting there was no problem, as there was a train station nearby and we only needed to walk for 10 minutes from there to reach the main shrine building. But walking the sparsely lit ways up the hill with only few maps in between was a really interesting experience. To me, the area was so full of underlying spirituality that I couldn’t help but marvel at all the things to see.

I hope you can catch a glimpse of that feeling by watching the pictures below – enjoy! :)