Adventures in Japan – Part 3

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 6

It had been nearly a week of rainy, overcast weather. But when I looked outside this morning, I saw the bright sunshine and decided to visit the Meiji Shrine. I explored the area for an hour or so, drew my fortune, then headed back to Takeshita Street and Tokyu Plaza in Omotesando for lunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon in Yoyogi Park enjoying the warmth and sun. It was a laid back day and I definitely needed the slower pace.

Day 7

Today was an early day. I woke up before everyone else, checked out of the hostel, and headed to Tokyo Station. I reserved a seat on the Shinkansen with my rail pass, bought an ekiben (train bento) for lunch, then headed to the platform. The journey took less than three hours and I arrived in Kyoto in the early afternoon. I found the hostel with ease (with a map) and checked into my room. After settling in, I walked around Kyoto with a fellow traveler from Germany. We got back around 8 pm, I had supper, then headed to bed.

Day 8

As I was only in Kyoto for two full days, I wanted to make the most of my time there. I got up early and walked to Kyoto station, grabbing a coffee and onigiri on the way. After a short train ride, we arrived at Fushimi Inari. Beautiful orange temples and torii gates decorated the landscape. It’s located on a small mountain and you can walk all the way to the top beneath an unending line of orange gates. It’s quite the experience and quite the challenging climb. But it was the perfect start to the day and the quiet coolness of the forest is calming. Introvert tip: go super early or at night to avoid the massive crowds. I explored Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle after that. I made it just in time for the last tour of Ninomaru Palace, complete with gorgeous artwork and nightingale floors! Then a quick supper and time for bed.

Day 9

To avoid the crowds, I took the train at 7 am to the Arashiyama bamboo grove. Very few were there that early. It was an incredible experience to walk among the towering bamboo in solitude and reflection. I also quietly explored the neighborhoods, and many shrines and temples. I also recommend checking out Ōkōchi Sansō. It’s a villa that was owned by a well-known Japanese actor. But for a small entrance fee, you can enjoy a steaming cup of matcha in a cute tea house in the midst of a beautiful garden. I then walked to Monkey Park Iwatayama nearby. It’s a steep climb, but well worth it to see the Japanese macaque monkeys and the view at the top! In the evening I headed to the Gion district for delicious sushi. Then I spent a few hours exploring the quaint side streets to catch a glimpse of a geisha or maiko. Walking the narrow streets really feels like you’ve stepped back in time.

Hope you have a great weekend!

A fresh start

calm-2218409_1920It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. We think we’re being productive because we’re doing so much. But in reality, we’re run off our feet without much to show for it.

Today is the beginning of a new month and I’m going to remind myself to stop, breathe, and slow down. I’m not so busy that I need to skip meals or lose sleep in order to get things done.

I’m going to live more intentionally, putting more thought into how I spend my time, who I connect with, and the things I fill my mind with. I’m planning on decluttering and organizing my place and selling or donating things I no longer use. I will mark time in my planner for quiet time, to sit and meditate and unwind, especially after a busy day. I will schedule in self-care so I’m not running myself ragged.

Things are likely going to amp up as I plan my next trip. So I need to keep things under control so I don’t get overwhelmed. I just found out my dream trip to the Philippines and Japan will be happening later this year. It feels like a dream. So if any of you have been there before and have tips or ideas, please let me know. I’ll be traveling with friends but am open to suggestions!

What does your June look like?

7 spring & summer goals

pier-569314_1920When it’s cold and snowy out, I like to think of the warmer days to come. I have a number of spring and summer goals and wanted to share them with you. I find that setting regular goals and reviewing them, helps keep me on track and motivated to make changes in my life. Let me know what you want to achieve in yours!

1. Write more.
Specifically blog posts. I really enjoy the creative and cathartic aspect of writing. My goal is to share two written posts per week. In order to accomplish this, I need to carve out time in my day specifically to write, so I’m not scrambling to come up with content for my blog at the last minute.

2. Utilize my planner.
My planner currently sits on my desk collecting dust. As a result, I find that I’m not prioritizing the important tasks and end up rushing to finish things. I will pull out my planner, dedicate time on Sunday to set up my priorities and goals for the week, then follow through.

3. Dedicate myself.
I have a number of work and personal projects that I’ve been putting off. As things (hopefully) slow down a bit, I can dedicate more time and effort to working on the things I’m passionate about. I will schedule in time to work on my photo and video projects at home. I will put more time into my design projects at work.

4. Connect more.
I need people (in manageable doses). I’m working to connect more with those who live nearby, we go for coffee dates or just hang out and it’s been lovely. With technology, I can also connect with my friends in distant places via email and skype. I need to nurture the connections I have with people, even if I can’t see them in person.

5. Go outside.
I love being outdoors. Once the weather has warmed up, I’m going to go for regular walks and runs in the park near my place.  I’ll also plan social activities that centre around being outside: wandering along the river, taking in nature, etc.

6. Feed my creativity.
I love being creative but just haven’t had the chance, or motivation, to work on any fun projects recently. I’m going to do more painting and photography. I also have a video project in mind that I need to storyboard and film.

7. Active recovery.
I’ve really been enjoying my time at the gym. But with hard work comes tight and sore muscles and I need to do more active recovery than I do now. I will incorporate more yoga, stretching, and foam rolling into my daily schedule, even if it’s just a few minutes at a time.

What are some of your goals?

My winter bucket list

winter wonderlandThere’s no mistaking that we’re in the midst of winter. I woke up this morning to a new layer of snow blanketing the houses, streets, and cars. Although I love staying in and relaxing when its cold out, I still have things I’d like to do. Here are a few of my plans:

-Finish packing for my upcoming move
-Sip hot chocolate while gazing out the window
-Finish reading the three books I’m currently working on
-Watch the new Star Wars movie
-Start on the sewing project I’ve been putting off for two years
-Write and send letters to my far-away friends
-Walk outside at night and look at the stars
-Make a snow angel and play in the snow
-Bake cookies or brownies and share them with friends
-Go through my stuff and donate the things I don’t use
-Light my candles in the evening – such a cozy feeling!
-Drive up to visit my family

What are some of your plans for winter?

Image credit: “Winter Wonderland” by Agata is licensed under CC by 2.0