Dominique Ansel Tokyo

When I heard there was a Dominique Ansel in Tokyo, I had to go. I wanted to go to the one in NYC when I was there earlier in the year, but ran out of time. Luckily this one was a short walk from our apartment. We turned up about 10 minutes after it opened at 8:10am and there was already a line out the door, although it wasn't too bad so we decided the wait would be worth it. I'm not really one for sweet things, so we decided to try some sweet things at the bakery downstairs, then head up to the second floor cafe for savoury things when it opened at 9.

We got coffees, the Cronut and Frozen S'more, as well as the mini madelines and a macaron for Griff. The cronut was coffee flavoured, and actually wasn't as amazing as I thought it would be. The frozen s'more though was pretty damn special. I even videotaped the preparation.

The frozen S'more and the Cronut
So many goodies

When we were looking at the menu online, the savoury items appealed to me immensely. After not finishing the cronut (sacrilege I know!), we went up to the cafe and got to the good stuff! We ordered the Soho, which was avocado with creme fraiche and avocado. This was really tasty. We also ordered their Perfect Little Egg Sandwich, which was nice, but needed more salt in my opinion. I also treated myself to a glass of Moet. Luxury!

The food from the second floor. Plus bubbles.

Tokyo Travel With a Child Part 2

After our big breakfast at Bills, we hopped on the Yamanote line train to Ueno. If you've never been to Tokyo, let me tell you, the Yamanote line is your friend. It's basically a circle loop train that stops at most of the major sightseeing areas. We basically wanted to make this day all for the little guy so headed straight to the National Museum of Nature and Science which is in Ueno Park. Mainly we wanted to see the dinosaur bones as the little guy has been into Dinosaurs recently, so we spent most of our time in those sections, however Griff found everything fascinating and i'm sure he could have spent a good few hours there without getting bored. 
After the museum, we walked through the park to Shinobazu pond, which was on the other side of the park, so we could hire a swan boat. It was a beautiful day and perfect for it! We paid 700 yen for 30 minutes, which I thought was great (I'm sure the cost for something like this in Australia would have been triple that amount). There was plenty of room for all 3 of us, with Helen and I on the pedals and Griff in control of the steering wheel. After our time was up we headed back to the train and stopped off at Tokyo station for vegan ramen at T's Tan Tan, which is actually inside the station. I really didn't do very well taking photos this trip, as I realise I didn't even get a photo of lunch! Or any from the museum!

Swan boats

We got a white one.

Boat selfie!

Griff loves the trains. 

The view from our apartment

This fountain was just near our apartment.

Tokyo Travel With a Child part 1

Japan has an abundance of national holidays. I love it! This past week was Silver Week, a bunch of national holidays that means 5 days off! We decided to use the time to get off the island and have a family holiday to Tokyo.

Since we were travelling with an almost 4 year old child, we opted to pay a bit more for flights and fly into Haneda airport, rather than Narita. I love Haneda and i'll find it hard to ever fly into Narita again. Unlike Narita which is really far from the centre of Tokyo, Haneda is just a 15 minute train to Shinagawa station or Hamamatsucho, then just another 15 minutes to the Shibuya-Harajuku-Shibuya area. 

I booked an Airbnb apartment in Harajuku because I wanted to be close to everything, and I also wanted more than just a hotel room so that we could put Griffin to bed in the bedroom, but still get to stay up and hang out in another room until we were ready to sleep. The layout of our apartment was great, but the beds were probably the worst beds i've ever been forced to sleep in, and the apartment was actually pretty dirty, so although the location was great, I wouldn't stay at this place again. Also, the apartment was just off Takeshita-dori, which is the busiest street in Harajuku, which meant that getting to to and from the apartment to the train station took a long time. It was like walking through festival crowds! Crazy!

Takeshita dori- the crowds!
Our first morning we set out for a real breakfast at Bills. I've already harped on and on on this blog about how much I miss my Melbourne coffee and breakfasts, so that's why we chose Bills. We got there just before it opened at 8:30, and there was already a line-up, then even when we ordered, we were told there would be a 30-40 minute wait on our food. It wasn't so bad though because they brought out a snack for Griff and we got our coffees. 

A flat white!!

Bills Omotesando
After Bills we wandered down to the outside area at the Starbucks downstairs from Bills. Even though it's a Starbucks, I would definitely suggest stopping in here for a rest and a drink/snack if you are in Harajuku. They have a large, lovely wooden outdoor area with sun lounges, swinging egg chairs and couches overlooking Harajuku. It's great for kids, and at 9:30am, there was still plenty of seating available. If you are in Tokyo with kids, it's worth stopping by. Part two of day 1 will be coming up in the next few days..... stay tuned.

Starbucks Omotesando

View from Starbucks - Meiji Jingu/Omotesando Harajuku

Sesoko Island, Paradise

Last weekend the weather was beautiful so we decided to pack up the car and venture to an island that we had never been to. Sesoko Island is off the Motobu peninsula, so about 1 hour north from where we live in Onna. You can reach the island by bridge, which I love because we didn't need to worry about ferry timetables.
When we first got to the Island, we drown down towards the beach under the bridge, which looked beautiful, but we decided to head over to Sesoko beach first. You have to pay 1000yen to park at Sesoko beach, which is a little pricey, but we did it anyway. When we got down to the beach there were some nice shaded areas next to the rocks to we set up in the shade then headed into the water. The swimming area is netted and you can't swim outside this area. They seem to strictly enforce it. Usually this really annoys me because although you are allowed to snorkel in the netted areas, there are never any fish. This beach, however was different! It was fantastic! There were heaps of fish, and the water was so clear you could just seem them from the surface, which is great for little kids that can't or wont put their heads under. Our little guy loved seeing all the fish from the surface, and even though he was happy to put his goggles on, he still doesn't want to put his head under.

Rocking those goggles

After Sesoko beach, we decided to head the the first beach we saw, just under the bridge. I'm so glad that we decided to stop there! It was literally what I imagine paradise to look like. The water was so so clear, like swimming in a pool! This beach isn't netted, but there were quite a few people snorkelling there, and they have a lot of water sport options (although I have no idea how much these cost). The visibility was amazing for snorkelling, and I highly recommend going to this beach on a calm day. We actually headed back here again a few days later, but the tide was higher (It was low when we went on the weekend) and it was a bit rough. Even though it was a bit rough, visibility for snorkelling was still amazing!

The clearest waters i've seen

Great visibility

So far, this is the clearest water i've found on mainland Okinawa. I can't wait to eventually get over to the Kerama Islands to see how it is there.

Sapporo Ramen Republic

I'm hardcore dieting at the moment, so looking over these delicious pictures below is a little torturous, however it's nice to remember I could once upon a time eat delicious oily foods.
So on my only night and only free time in Sapporo, I headed to Ramen Republic, a ramen wonderland near JR Sapporo station. There were heaps of different ramen restaurants, and I had no idea which one was the best, so I just lined up and the one with the longest line, figuring it must be better than some of the places with no line.

I sensibly decided on a half serve of the miso ramen and a frosty beer, and I was so so glad that I did. The half serve was huge and when I saw the full-sized bowls people were getting I knew there was no way i'd be able to get through one.

I was a little disappointed that they didn't have an option to add delicious ramen eggs to my ramen, but there was a container of boiled eggs on the tables so you could basically eat as many as you liked with your ramen.

The ramen didn't disappoint. It was super garlicky, which i LOVED. The place I went to was called Shirakaba Sansou Ramen just in case you ever find yourself in Sapporo and craving a garlicky good time. You can find more information here.

I chose my restaurant based on the line.

The menu. I had a half serve of the miso ramen.

So garlicky and delicious.

These eggs were just on all the tables so you could add them to your ramen.

Ramen republic is located in this building. There was also a summer beer garden below.

More snorkelling at Maeda Cape

A couple of days after I got back from my work trip, H and I decided to take a summer leave day to hang out together seeing as I pretty much missed the previous two weekends with her. We headed straight to Maeda Cape to snorkel as it's something we can't really do with the little guy in tow. The weather was beautiful and visibility was great! We may be ended up a little sunburned after it all though. Oops.

Snorkelling really took it out of us, so we decided to head to Hamazushi for 100 yen sushi goodness! It's cheap, but still one of my favourite places to go. On our way home we stopped in to Onna no Eki for obligatory date day kakigori. Mmmm.

Scroll to the bottom for some under the sea videos


Bubbles from the divers on the other side of the drop

Touch screen sushi ordering system. The best!

Best dessert ever!

Hokkaido Univerity

The last stop on my work trip was Sapporo, in the northern Japan island of Hokkaido. I had never been to Sapporo so was excited to get a glimpse of this city. Once again, most of my time there was work-related, but luckily this took place at the gorgeous campus of Hokkaido University. The campus really reminded me of something you would see in Australia. It was so green and lush with lovely streams and ponds to relax by. If I went back in time, I would definitely consider doing a study abroad term there.

The Pokemon plane spotted at Haneda airport before my departure to Sapporo

I loved this little stream flowing through the campus. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in snowy winter.

I love the bat in this stained glass window.

I was in Sapporo during summer, and it was about 15 degrees cooler than Okinawa, which was a really welcome change. I even spotted some red leaves, which seemed a bit too early. I would LOVE to go back during the winter to see it all covered in snow. If only it wasn't two flights and many hours away from Okinawa...

Unfortunately because my whole day was filled at the University, I didn't get to explore the city in the daytime at all, but I did manage to do a little exploring at night, which i'll talk about in my next post. Of course, it involved some Sapporo ramen and cold frosty beer!
A hint of the autumn colours in Hokkaido already!