{travel} November ’16: Shoren-In Fall Illumination

One of the reasons why every travel website out there will tell you that November is one of the best months to be in Kyoto is that, throughout that month, a lot of temples in Kyoto organize beautiful, otherworldly (lol, that word choice) fall night illuminations, where they extend their opening hours until after sunset and light up part of the temple and temple garden. Today I want to talk about one of those illuminations I visited with some of my friends in early November: the Shoren-In Fall Night Illumination.

Remember my blog post about Chion-In? Shoren-In is essentially right next to it. I took another google maps screenshot to illustrate. I’m loving these screenshots, as you can see.

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The temple is only a twenty-minute-walk away from Sanjo Keihan Station at Sanjo Bridge, and also pretty easily and quickly accessible from Maruyama Park, Yasaka Shrine and Gion. To enter the temple, we had to pay 800 yen, which at first might seem quite expensive – but trust me, it was totally worth every single yen. Continue reading

{food} Vegan In Japan [1]: Morpho Café, Kyoto

Konnichi Wa! Today is the day that I want to introduce you to another “series” *pretentiouuuuus, me sorryyyyy*  (or whatever this is). Vegan In Japan, as the name already indicates, will be all about my vegan restaurant finds, my struggles with finding food and some (hopefully helpful) tips for leading a plant-based life style in Japan.

Being vegan in Japan is pretty challenging, even if you are able to read product labels. That’s because the Japanese seem to love putting animal products into everything, even when it’s probably completely unnecessary. Like, why is there milk and egg in virtually all the bread you can find in regular super markets? If it’s sweet bread, sure, I get it … but do you really need to put milk and eggs in regular toast bread? Also, why is there milk in most pasta sauces, even if it’s just a simple one? Why is there gelatin or fish stock in almost all salad dressings? WHY JAPAN?

So yeah, you can imagine that veganism – even just vegetarianism – is a concept that is still very unknown to the general Japanese public. However, thanks to globalization and the increased flow and moving around of people across the globe and blabla *international studies student right here* concepts and ideas such as plant-based, cruelty-free and animal rights have become known to more and more people. As a result, more and more vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafés have started to emerge, especially in big cities, and convenience stores and super markets are offering more and more vegan- and vegetarian-friendly products, such as soy meat for example.

Kyoto in particular is known as the vegan capital of Japan. Famous foods of Kyoto include a variety of different types of tofu and vegetables. Since there are also many, many, many temples in Kyoto, there are many Buddhist monks living a strict vegetarian lifestyle, which is why it is also easy to find traditional shojin ryouri, (vegetarian) Buddhist temple cuisine.

In- and outside of the city centre, there are also a lot of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, most of which are easily accessible and quite affordable. Today I want to talk about one of them: Morpho Café, probably one of my favourite restaurants in Kyoto.

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{travel} November ’16: Kurama Mountain and Kibune

Hello world! I haven’t posted anything in over two weeks, so sorry about that. Life got pretty busy with finals and essays – all I did for the past two-three weeks was pretty much just drink coffee, eat food, study. Lots of coffee. Lots of food. Not so much study. Buuuuut heeeey, I just finished my last final on Thursday, so now I’m a free woman. Yay.

…well, okay, I’m only free for, like, a week, because I’m going back to Germany on Sunday and start classes at my university in the Netherlands on Tuesday. But still, one week of a break is better than no break at all. Although I’m not sure whether this can be called a break at all since I already have to start preparing for my classes next week, pack all of my things (packed a sixth of my clothing and my suitcase is already half-full, oops, how did this happen), and clean my room. And do all of these annoying, administrative things like cancelling insurance tralalilalala. But I also have some fun, touristy stuff planned with my friends here, to balance all that responsible-serious-adulting(?) out. So yeah, it’s going to be a nice and productive last week in Japan.

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But enough babbling, today I actually wanted to continue catching up on all those blog posts and write about a little hiking adventure I embarked on with two friends in November: Mount Kurama, a beautiful mountain located in the north of Kyoto, between the two villages/towns of Kurama and Kibune. Continue reading

{travel} Things I Did In October: Halloween In Osaka

Contrary to my expectations, Halloween turned out to be an actual thing in Japan. Kind of. When I arrived in Kyoto at the beginning of September, supermarkets and department stores were already selling halloween-themed candy, halloween costumes, and even halloween-themed toilet paper. My new friends were also already pretty excited about the upcoming halloween celebrations from the very start of our exchange. Therefore when October arrived, everybody excitedly started to make somewhat concrete plans. It was clear from the start that we were going to go to Osaka, but what exactly should we do there? Karaoke? Izakaya? CLUBS? PARTAYAY? UNIVERSAL STUDIOS?

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