Japan Memories: Zakka Shopping

I spent a lot of my free time in 100 Yen shops but from time to time A. and I went for some quality shopping. It’s a pity we only discovered shop ilex (follow the street behind Feel News south [right for all the girls out there ;) ] and you’ll find it on the left side after approx. 10 minutes by bike) in April when it was almost time to go back. Shop ilex was stuffed with zakka. The sortiment ranged from bento boxes to natural style clothes. Simply looking at the pictures gives me a funny sensation in my stomach that is a wild mixture of happiness and „I wanna go back“.

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bento boxes

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more bento boxes

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and even more bento boxes ;)

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bunny umbrella ♥

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calendar with clever German saying xD

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„Ich schnitt Rasen“

Shop ilex does have a website: :arr_right: shop
Unfortunately it’s only in Japanese and you can only find a small selection outside their clothes range. It’s a pity because in my eyes the shop’s strongest point was the stationary department. Japan loves masking tapes with all kinds of colors and patterns. Here are some examples:

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I especially adore the one with the weekdays on it. Would be a great addition to any diary, calendar or schedule.

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If you are in love as much as I am you wanna buy them…now xD So here’s another online shop called UGUiSU (found via decor8). The entire website is in English and they offer shipping worldwide. Have fun shopping! :3

Alles Liebe,



Day 238 in Japan: A trip to Ise

Saturday another big dream for me came true – a trip to the Grand Shrine of Ise, Japan’s most sacred place. According to Japanese mythology the sun goddess Amaterasu gave the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan – sword, mirror and jewel – to Ninigi-no-Mikoto and while the sword and jewel are located at the Atsuta shrine in Nagoya and the Imperial Palace in Tokyo the mirror is kept at Ise.

What is simply called a shrine is in reality a complex of several bigger and smaller shrines located at two sites – the outer (geku 外宮) and inner (naiku 内宮) shrine. We took the train from Nagoya and when you arrive at Ise you just have to walk for about 500m to arrive at the outer shrine. The weather was perfect and I was lucky to go there with a person like A. who shares my enthusiasm for Japan’s sacred places and understands if I spend minutes staring at the buildings or talking to the enormous trees.

Although it said in the travel guide that if one’s in a hurry it’s better to skip the outer and go straight to the inner shrine I can’t agree. The atmosphere there with all the green and huge, old trees was amazing.

Actually it’s forbidden to enter the area directly around the shrine buildings themselves but at least the tourists/pilgrims are allowed to peek over a fence to get a glimpse of the thatched roofs with the golden embellishments.

Yes, the trees were HUGE, and yes, I do talk to them. Only this time I wasn’t the only one xD We saw Japanese everywhere hugging trees, touching trees, pressing their ears to the ancient stems (okay, I did that too but couldn’t hear anything…so we have the theory that one day somebody started, other saw and imitated that person and so on…like when you stare up at the sky and suddenly others stop to do the same thing xP)

The bridge above, made out of one gigantic stone, is supposed to look like a turtle ^^

I bought the most beautiful protective charms I had seen so far – shaped like the legendary magatama – for my parents and one for myself. And of course I prayed bowing twice, clapping twice, bowing one more time and thanked for the wonderful time I have at the moment ^^

From the outer we headed to the inner shrine with a bus in which a lovely recorded voice told me to „press the butter“ if I wanted to get off xD  The naiku is surrounded by hills and thousands of trees…oh, and tourists.

At the inner shrine I bought some more protective charms, talked to even more trees and was able to recharge my batteries.

Mah, I’m running out of things to tell inbetween the pictures xD

After all the spiritual input we came back down to earth to enjoy a little strolling around the nearby quarter that is designed to look like back from the Edo period. It was packed with tourists but the atmosphere was good nonetheless.

Fresh green tea anyone?

One shop was entirely for manaki neko – fortune cats.

As if spiritual fulfillment wasn’t enough for one day we headed to a small town called Futami to see the meoto iwa – the wedded rocks. To our suprise there was a big aquarium at the bus stop with sea lions outside.

We arrived before twilight and spent some time at the beach picking seashells and enjoying a salty breeze.

Hm, who’s that? xP

I wonder if I had ever seen so many shrines on one day. Each and every one of them is beautiful in its own way and I never seem to get tired of them. ^^

I especially like the different temizuya where you wash your hands and normally mouth for purification.

Finally, here they are – the wedded rocks that symbolize the deities Izanami and Izanagi. To be honest they were a lot smaller than expected…but who cares? They look great on pictures.

I love the next picture ♥

Another temizuya with a lot of frogs. ^^

At every shrine it’s possible to buy ema – small wooden plaques on which you can write your prayers and wishes. The one on the left without the tiger is A.’s ^^

Ah, the suspicious person again!

All in all I had a fantastic day and can only recommend a trip to Ise if you’re at least in some way interested in shinto, Japanese culture or sprituality.

I guess with this picture everything is said ^^ „May Peace Prevail On Earth“ irrespective of origin or believe!

Alles Liebe,



Day 237 in Japan: How to start a day

Sometimes you wake up and feel good. Not that I had this experience too often over the last couple of years being exhausted by university and everything, but recently those kind of days have increased ^^ And Friday was one of those days.

I managed to get out of bed earlier than usual which left me enought ime to take a refreshing shower and enjoy the morning sunshine in front of the open window. For a change all three of us girls were online and hat a little chat before school and I even squeezed in short chit-chats with D. and my Dad *shiny* That in combination with some nice tea and a yummy breakfast PLUS the simple fact I’m in Japan…the perfect life.

Alles Liebe,



Day 235 in Japan: Rice fields in the middle of the city

Around two months ago I waited desperately for a little bit of green…now take a look at those pictures and see what you can find in the middle of Okazaki now: Green, green rice fields! And when I say in the middle of the city I literally mean it. That’s not countryside (okay, Okazaki itself is inaka but still…370.000 residents, hello!?) but in a residential area.

I love the way the blue sky and the houses are reflected by the water. Can you see why Japan makes me happy and gives me this peace of mind?

Alles Liebe,



Day 234 in Japan: Are you in love with somebody, or what?

Today it’s Tuesday, maybe my least favourite day of the week this semester. This morning I decided to be grumpy which is amusing because I know it was only a decision and feels much better than being in a bad mood for a real reason. The original plan was to wear shabby clothes and laze around at school. But somehow I ended up wearing a blazer and experimenting with make-up, in other words added eyeshadow and eyeliner to my daily mascara and found myself in the center of attention at lunch break…it’s amazing, whenever I do something that is totally normal if other people do it (like the use of make-up) I get an overwhelming amount of feedback, in this case compliments which made me feel good (そんなことないよ) but also uneasy. My entire life people gave me the feeling I’m different >< Nevertheless thanks for the nice words everyone ♥

Also my sudden attack of happiness didn’t remain unrecognized. So two people asked me today (regardless of each other) if I’ve got a boyfriend or like W.-chan preferred to phrase it ‚Are you in love with somebody, or what?‘ XD
Isn’t it startling that everyone assumes happiness has to be connected with a partner? Nobody seems to have the idea it is because I’m over my heartbreak, because I’ve started to open my eyes for other things than only one person. That I lead a life worth living with the support of my family, friends and classmates (not to forget book-off and chocolate).

Wait, there’s this little voice inside me screaming ‚But you do have a little crush!‚…ah, come on, shut up. Who hasn’t?

Alles Liebe,



weekly retrospect 03

The whole week was something I might not get too often in my life – happiness from the moment on I woke up in the morning! Nobody would believe how many thoughts and emotions I carry around with me every day. As long as I’m occupied with activities involving other people I’m distracted. But whenever I’m alone, which means basically in the evenings and on Sundays, I tend to fall into a hole that gives me sleepless nights and restless afternoons that I spend pacing up and down my room.

I didn’t have this problem before I came to Japan, but here my thoughts never seem to stop and there are many thoughts I’d rather not have. Thoughts many other yamasa students might share with me…about the future. Or better said this big unknown thing that awaits me in less than five weeks. In my case I’m supposed to finish university. That means go back into a life I didn’t like before (though I have to admit it’s the way I chose). But will my life ever be the same again? I suppose not. I’ve changed, so have my circumstances.

Being here has altered my views on love, friendship and values in life. I learned to avoid mistakes I would have made in the past and made many new mistakes. I got aware of things I don’t want in my life, rediscovered old dreams that were burried under a thick crust of doubt and despair but didn’t gain any deeper insights into what I want to do with my future concerning work or the place where I want to live. It’s not Japan, I guess. But is it Germany anymore?
How will it be without the constant ‚meeting new people‘ and getting to know all the cultural differences, that are so interesting to study. How will it be to be back in a country where everybody speaks my language, where I’m not the foreigner anymore?

I know all I can do is live my life and don’t be afraid of the future. There’s no sense in agonizing while my happiest time takes place right now! And happy I am!!! But if only those thoughts could stop for a while ><

Alles Liebe,