Sushi Dai vs. Sushi Daiwa

January 25th, 2015

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo.

if you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, Tsukiji Fish Market shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you. especially half of this world renowned market is going to be relocated in 2016 so this year is the only last chance you have to enjoy Tsukiji as it is. and if you’re planning on a trip there already.. you might probably have heard of the most famous sushi restaurant bar in Tsukiji, Sushi Dai. BUT, you might’ve also heard of the sushi bar a few shops away, called Sushi Daiwa. and as a sushi enthusiast as myself, I went to both.

okay, actually because of my budget, I could barely afford such luxury but I skimped throughout my whole Tokyo trip for it. so it better be worth it. so at first, I was dying to look for someone to be kind enough to go with me to Tsukiji as NOBODY wanted to wake up early and queue for hours just for good sushi.

sushi dai queue

I started queuing for Sushi Dai from 6:15AM as soon as I’ve reached (my friends told me how it was complicating to find bla bla but I found it ridiculously easy to find. just google for the directions from Tsukijishijo Station to Sushi Dai and screen cap it. then use it as your guide there. =). that’s what I did for EVERYTHINGGG hahaha.)

I queued all the way till 7:30AM and I barely moved. I literally have about 30 people lining up in front of me after waiting for a little more than an hour. the line only decreased by around 10. since the person I DRAGGED to come with me had to go to work at 8:30, we headed for Sushi Daiwa instead.

sushi daiwa chef

and man, I wasn’t disappointed.

at all.

Daiwa has two restaurants all together and a queue of around 20 to 30 people at 7:30AM whereas Sushi Dai has a MUCH longer queue but with only ONE restaurant. and one restaurant can fit up to around 12 people.

whatever it is, let’s start with Daiwa’s 7 nigiri + 1 roll. and it costs… 3,500yen.

sushi daiwa otoro

firstly, Daiwa wow-ed me with their succulent Otoro (Fatty Tuna. most expensive sushi!) and it tasted SOOOOOOOOOOOOO goooooooooood. it was literally like heaven on earth when I had it. you’ll get what I mean when you read on.

sushi daiwa otoro

they totally did not ask if I was ok with wasabi but I am not exactly sure since I had a Japanese sitting next to me doing all the job for me =D. but I was shocked how that amount of wasabi tasted JUST RIGHT and not over powering its taste.

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top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right. the sequence of my expression. IT WAS JUST SO GOOOOOOOOD. I could barely write it in words, the fatty tuna was just bursting in my mouth like confetti and fireworks and I was so tempted to get another one. (BUT MY BUDGETTTT T_T).

sushi daiwa

the Ebi was good. as good as the one I had in Hokkaido but again, the Japanese said he had better in Hokkaido.

the maguro (tuna) and ikura (salmon roe) maki was pretty normal, I have to say =S.

sushi daiwa

they served a very seafood-y miso soup with mini clams inside and hot tea all together.

sushi daiwa uni

as for the Uni, it was bloody goood. I don’t eat Uni if it isn’t very fresh. I would give it a 9/10. it could be even better but it was good enough for me U_U. the most expensive uni I had in Malaysia made me want to puke it all out. so I am greatly satisfied.

sushi daiwa ebi head

what I liked about Daiwa was this. HAHAHAH. and the Otoro of course. after serving you the Ebi, they serve you its head. cooked. and boy was it good.

sushi daiwa hamachi

Hamachi! probably the 2nd best sushi I had in Daiwa. it was so fresh and thick I want moreeeee T_T. I hope I could have two portions of everything I had here. and that’ll be 7,000yen. HAHHA.

sushi daiwa ika squid

Ika. Squid. I hated this sushi. until the Mr.chef at Daiwa showed me how fresh Ika could taste so wonderful T____T. I now actually like Ika. and I would love to have more. it doesn’t look exactly beautiful but it was good trust me. the one beside it is Chutoro. medium fatty tuna. just as good. MMMMM.

sushi daiwa anago

Anago. I don’t know what you call it in English but my guess will be.. baby eel? it tastes and looks like eel but it’s somewhat sweeter. you don’t eat this with shoyu (soy sauce) and it’s really good just like it is. but my favourite sushi with Anago will still be the Kyoto-styled sushi called Hako sushi. I always order the Deluxe Hako sushi set there so I can have a variety but their Anago is the best!

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Mr. Chef liked me very much as he kept talking to me while his other customers get jealous teehee and at the end of the meal, he asked if I would like more. and I was having a hard time selecting (BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET!!!) and he took out the tray with FRESH HOTATE (scallop) which were so huge and so beautiful I just had to have it. I didn’t know how much it costs but.. a piece of Otoro costs 800yen here while it costs 700yen in Sushi Dai. I would say, go queue up for Daiwa (it isn’t that long) JUST FOR THE OTORO. it’s PHENOMENAL.

sushi dai line

so after two days. I found myself at Tsukiji again because god knows when will I ever get to visit Tokyo again and have the chance to eat Sushi Dai. I wasn’t contented with only Sushi Daiwa despite their Otoro being so good I couldn’t imagine anything better.

this time, I queued outside the restaurant at 5:20. and I found myself at almost the SAME BLOODY PLACE I was at when I arrived at 6:15. (I took the first train the first time. and a cab the 2nd). I had 39 people ahead of me (yes, I counted) and I waited for 3 LONG hours.

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at around two hours of wait, the lady who works for Sushi Dai came out with a tray of hot tea and my heart melted. that was exactly what I needed. it was dark, cold, and freezing in the morning T_T.

sushi dai

at this point, my feet was literally frozen despite wearing snow boots. it was sooooo cold. and since I was barely moving.. I was shivering.

I was third in line and what a bummer because if I had only arrived a little earlier, I would’ve skipped an hour of wait because most people order the Omakase (a set of 10+1 nigiri and maki costing 4,000yen. the nigiri of 7 sushi’s costs 2,500yen. 1,000yen cheaper than Daiwa but I am not sure about the variety of expensive sushi in it.) and it takes around 45minutes to an hour for them to complete their meal. so for each 12 people, expect to wait for an hour. except for some foreigners who went ala-carte instead and left early. what a waste though, after all that waiting and only have a few sushi >_>. but better for those in line behind!

also, don’t spend loads and loads of time taking pictures. there was a group of.. three foreign girls whom kept taking pictures and selfies who left after an hour and a half. they totally got that Hong Kong couple behind me angry.

sushi dai miso soup

I thought I’d not take a picture of the soup but this is no ordinary Miso soup.. it’s fish soup! the fish was so deliciousssss <3. sorry for the disgusting picture hahaha. for the soup, I’d give it to Sushi Dai.

sushi dai

itadakimasu!

sushi dai

here’s my chef! I am not sure but I am told that the two chefs who had served me are the “famous” chefs in both restaurants. and I guess I was really lucky to have both of them serve me! they asked me where I was from and I said Malaysia and they started speaking to me in Malay and English hahaha. but I didn’t get their explanations well so I asked him to talk to me in Korean. weird huh. but I understood better >_<“. I guess because I am more used to listening to Foreigners speaking Korean since I am one too.

unlike Sushi Daiwa, the chefs here seems to serve a lot of foreigners and will ask stuff like.. if wasabi is fine.. let you know what you’re eating and how it should be eaten. with or without Shoyu. even though Daiwa explained what sushi it was. Dai explained it with detail (like if it has salt so you don’t need shoyu) and up till how you should eat it. and they’d warn you on stuff that are too hot. perfect foreigner service I’d say.

sushi dai

I came to Sushi Dai alone and the two Japanese couples on my right and left BOTH HAD BEER. I wanted it too but.. it was so early in the morning and I’d look dumb having beer alone. and also since I had very little left to spend..

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when you order beer/sake, they’d ask you if you want these side dishes for 300yen. hell yeah I’d love some!!! I’ll definitely come again.. NOT ALONE AND WITH MORE CASH!!!

sushi dai otoro

so first up! OTORO! I was very happy to see the piece of Otoro in front of me but when I ate it.. I realised that it wasn’t as good as the one at Sushi Daiwa and I was quite disappointed (the queue was 6 times more!!!). it was good of course but I don’t know why was my piece of Otoro so slim T______T. I googled for other reviews and other people seemed to have a thicker cut. I guess I was just unlucky or something sigh. but even with the bigger cuts, the Otoro here looked like Chutoro to me somehow. it was sleek and shiny. it wasn’t like how the FAT SLAB of Otoro looked like in Daiwa. but then again, I am no Sushi expert. but according to my palate, I preferred the Otoro at Daiwa.

sushi dai tamago

Tamago. oh did I mention how Sushi Daiwa had so-so egg? I didn’t know Daiwa had so-so egg (I thought it was just standard) until I had the one here. it was slightly too sweet to my liking but it was really good! like REALLLLLY good. and my friend living in Japan told me that she noticed that Japanese people like sweet things a lot and how they’d drink sweetened stuff over plain water anytime. I guess it’s true.

sushi dai suzuki

Suzuki. Sea Bass. since I live in Korea, I am very very very familiar with this fish. but I had never had one as good as this. I had it in Busan, Jeju, quite expensive places but this one beat them all. of course, I have yet to try the VERY EXPENSIVE PLACES. haha. it was so sweet and it was less chewy like how it is in Korea. it was really my first time tasting the true flavour of it (in Korea, we dip it in a lot of sauce hahahahah).

but one complain. I just wished that they gave a bigger cut.

sushi dai dai snapper

Dai. Snapper. no this Dai and the Sushi Dai’s Dai isn’t the same. it was good but again, the cut was a little disappointing but I still loved its taste and texture since I am not usually a fan of it.

sushi dai uni

Uni.

sushi dai uni

the overflowing uni. should I explain more? the sea urchin was sooooooooooooo fresh and it looked so pretty. but it was a tiny piece. just right for my tiny mouth but still, it was really small compared to other places. hands down for it’s freshness though. the moment I had this Uni, I was just lost in my own sushi wonderland. it melts like butter but its taste’s soooo good. if you hate uni, try this and tell me again.

sushi dai aji spanish mackerel

Aji. Horse Mackerel. it’s visually stunning. and it surprised my taste buds. I was never a fan of Aji. it’s always THE boring sushi for me and I wonder why people eat it. but the way they prepare it here.. I loved it.

sushi dai akagai red clam

Akagai. or Red Clam. this was MOVING. I wanted to take a shot of it but I didn’t know that.. IT MOVES!!!! the chef was so cute when he presented this to me. he said “Sal-a-isso-yo~~~” (it’s alive in Korean) and for a second his facial expressions was more attractive than the moving clam in front of me.

I don’t think I need to explain how fresh it was if it’s literally moving in front of me right? and it was.. SWEET!!!

sushi dai maguro tuna

Maguro. Tuna. okay. I had a pair of very expensive Maguro at Hyundai Dept Store and this was similar. except a little better and thicker. you don’t need a lot of shoyu with this. just taste its original taste. =3.

sushi dai saba mackerel

I had a little allergy from eating the prawn (stupid allergy. I loved prawns so much I had 30+ of it and then I got prawn allergy. hah.) two days ago at Daiwa so I opted out for it. and I bet there wasn’t a same priced sushi anyway so he replaced it with.. Kohada. it tasted like Saba to me. but I guess since I got a less expensive sushi, I got a MUCH BETTER looking sushi. it was pleated and it tasted so very good.

but ugh. the girl beside me who had the less better looking Shiroi Ebi (white baby shrimp) shouted softly “AMAIIIII~~~ <3″ and I was so jealous T_T. amai means sweet in Japanese =). but the white baby shrimps on top of white rice didn’t look very good to be honest. it just looked like.. only rice. until you look again. closer. but I BET IT WAS GOOD!!!! it was just weird how every baby prawn didn’t have their shell on. hence it was fully white. that must be some crazy prawn peeling skill.

here’s a picture I found on google.

shiro ebi sushi dai

allllll white.

sushi dai sawara

SAWARA!!!!!! I remembered this sushi the most. it’s the King Mackerel! and the King of Sushi Dai. to me. I absolutely LOVE this sushi. my favourite of Sushi Dai. I had never had ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE. it was such a huge slab of sashimi I had to use my fingers to push the remaining fish into my mouth since eating sushi like a pro means eating it in one bite. =3. I was so happy with its cut. I think it was marinated with ponju or something sour. lemon perhaps? or.. vinegar.. hmm. but the slight sourness of the sauce went PERFECTLY with the fish. so so so so so good. mmm.

sushi dai negitoro tarako

Negitoro and Tarako. minced tuna and cod roe. decent.

sushi dai anago

Sushi Dai’s Anago. I don’t know why the more disgusting sushi always taste better. (like how the otoro at Daiwa doesn’t look so nice but tasted like heaven) this sushi might look awful compared to Sushi Daiwa’s Anago but it was SO GOOOOOOOOOD. I saw the trainee chef picking the bones of the Anago carefully beside and it was super sweet! I loved it!

sushidai menu

at this point, I have had 10 pieces of Nigiri and the Sushi Master asked me “what would you like finally? I will give you one as a service!”

man. this was a tough choice. if this was Sushi Daiwa I’d definitely go for one more piece of Otoro. but since the first piece was a let-down, I was contemplating to get another Sawara. but I thought to myself.. why get the same thing? I seriously couldn’t pick. so I decided to observe the two Japanese couples sitting on both sides of me. and the first 3 orders was.. SHIRAKO. if you don’t know yet. Shirako is the Sperm Sacs of cod fish. I had it before but I wasn’t too fond of it. it tasted like Mayonnaise. and the thought of it being sperm sacs was just.. >_>. and finally, one girl ordered Amberjack. since I was told Amberjack was in season just a few months ago when I was in Jeju, I gave it a try!

sushi dai amberjack

I still remembered how I purchased my first sashimi plate of Amberjack from the market and liked it. but.. now I think I love it. Sawara’s still the best of course!

but I guess I’m kind of silly to have ordered a cheaper fish since most foreigners would opt for the more expensive sushi. but what I think is that they skimp on the Otoro while they give huger cuts for the cheaper ones. still, the next time, I’ll give Otoro another go at the end and order kampachi, oysters, hamachi and saba!

VERDICT : I’d say I prefer Sushi Dai overall but I am still salivating over Sushi Daiwa’s Otoro Fatty Tuna which was absolutely amazing. if you have the time, visit both! but if you’re lacking of time, go for Sushi Daiwa as the wait is much shorter and their sushi ain’t bad. if you have a lot of time like me (it’s my 2nd time in Tokyo so I had a lot of time to spare lol) get your butt up early in the morning and wait for 3 hours. I heard I was lucky as some people stood there since 5AM and waited for 5 hours for Sushi Dai. I guess it really depends on the season/day. plus since Sushi Dai is voted as the best Sushi restaurant in Tsukiji online, it’s voted as the foreigners favourite.

here’s a summary of the two restaurants.

SUSHI DAIWA (3,500yen for 7 nigiri + maki) – friendly (and funny) chefs. the line moves very quick hence short wait. 30-45min wait. superb Otoro. wonderful Ika. amazing Hamachi.

SUSHI DAI (2,500yen for 7 nigiri+maki, 4,000yen for omakase 10+1 nigiri+maki) – 3-5 hour wait but it lives up to its name. might not be worth your precious time if you have limited time. SAWARA was phenomenal. loved their Anago. friendly (funny too), detailed and attentive chef. better presentation.

but honestly, my friends (living in Tokyo) whom had been to Sushi Daiwa and not Sushi Dai were very satisfied with Sushi Daiwa and of course, they had to order extra Otoro pieces. so if you really hate the wait or waking up super early in the morning, Daiwa isn’t such a bad choice although I stated that I personally preferred Sushi Dai.

OPERATING HOURS : 5AM – 2PM.

PS: Tsukiji is walking distance to Ginza. so you can head there after your orgasmic sushi meal!

=).

I went to Hell for a day. and I loved it.

January 16th, 2015

Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan.

I have no idea why people call Noboribetsu the Hell Valley. it’s too beautiful to be called so. but I guess maybe because it’s filled with boiling hot water all around.

it takes less than 2 hours drive to reach Noboribetsu from New Chitose Airport and almost 3 hours from Noboribetsu to Sapporo station where we returned the car. and that’s by the free roadway. too poor to pay for toll even though it will save us about 1 hour on each trip.

노보리벳츠, 홋카이도, 일본.

이 곳의 명칭이 왜 지육인지 모르겠다. 너무 아름다워서.. 그래도 바닥속에 뜨꺼운 물은 흘려가고 있어서 지육으로 볼 수도 있겠다.

신치토세 공항에서 노보리베츠까지는 2시간도 안걸리고 (GPS예산하는것 보다 일찍 도착할것이다. GPS 계산하는 속도는 60km/hr인것 같다. 그리고 노보리벳츠에서 삿포로까지는 3시간쯤 걸렸다. 무료도로를 이용해서 유료도로보단 1시간씩 더 걸린것이다.

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but no doubt as we drove through the entrance, a hell guard greeted us. a hugeeeass hell guard. it was funny how the whole place is filled with devilish decorations and devils. D=. but yet it’s so beautifulllll. if hell is really as great as this, I don’t think anyone would mind going to hell. =X.

출구를 지나갈 때 저승사자 아저씨가 환영했네요? ㅋㅋ. 노보리벳츠 자체가 지육과 관련된 물건이나 인물으로 꾸몄고 되게 색다르다고 생각했다. 지육이 이렇게 아름다웠으면 지육 가는 사람이 좋아하시겠다 ㅎㅎㅎ.

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we went there by renting a car because renting a car and moving freely is only roughly about 2,000yen more expensive than taking the bus (and waiting. and wasting time.) for two. so imagine if there’s more than 2 person. it’ll be even cheaper.

so in Noboribetsu, there are a few things to do.
1. visit the hell valley
2. visit the great lake there
3. dip your feet at the open air foot bath
4. onsen
5. see bears

I skipped number 3 and 5 because it was too cold for me to take my shoes off and take a dip. eventhough people do that but.. it was snowing super heavily and I wasn’t in the mood for it pfft. I also read views on how the bears aren’t worth the money as it costs 2500yen (25USD) per person to see the bears (plus the cable ride). I already saw the awesomely cute bears at Everland so I shall give it a pass as I’m poor T_T.

우리는 렌타카으로 이동했다. 공항에서 차를 대여하는것은 버스를 공항에서 노보리벳츠, 노보리벳츠에서 삿포로까지 타는것보단 2천엔쯤 더 비싸긴한데 훨씬 더 편하고 버스를 기다리는것보다 시간 많이 아낄수 있다고 생각한다. 이것도 2인 기준으로 계산했었다. 만약에 2인이상 있으시면 더 쌀거다.

노보리벳츠는 크지 않기 때문에 아침에 가다가 (겨울) 거의 4시에 햇이 지기전까지는 다 관광할 수 있다고 본다. 여기에 하는 것을 정리한다면 5까지가 있다.
1. Hell Valley
2. 호수
3. 무료 자연의 foot bath
4. 온센
5. 곰

춥고 눈도 내려서 저는 3번을 건너뛰고 곰을 보는것 2천5백엔이라 돈 아까워서 안 갔다. 곰을 보는 것의 인터넷 리뷰도 별로 안 좋더라구 에버랜드에서 곰을 많이 봤으니까 여기서 볼 필요 없다고 생각했다. 학생은 돈은 어딨죠 뭐 ㅠ.

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welcome to Shikotsu-toya National Park, Noboribetsu Jigokudani! or simply, the Hell Valley.

첫번째는 헬벨리.

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and this was how it looked like. super breath taking T_T. I’ve never seen anything so surreal in my life. but.. it smells a lot. the strong sulfuric smell was pretty pungent after a while. =S.

너무 아름답죠?

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now isn’t it beauuuu-tifoool.

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being the kid that I am.

전 여기에 정말 반했다.

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I guess the real reason why it’s called Hell Valley is because it’s dangerous? D=. imagine burning to death by touching those smoke coming out from the ground. sounds pretty hellish to me!

예쁘긴하지만 위험해서 조심해서 다녀야됩니다~

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but really, if this is how hell is like. then I must say, it’s hella phenomenal.

보기만해도 기뻐지는 이 풍경.

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agree?

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tourists do what they do.

관광객으로써 사진은 필수!

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at the end of the walkway, you’ll find a small boiling pond. it is still most of the time but it suddenly boils up and splashes all around D=. like in the picture. I was pretty lucky to be able to see that! =3.

길끝에 작은 호수가 있더라구요. 평소엔 걍 연기밖에 안 나오지만 가끔씩 물을 끓인것도 볼 수 있다.

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and more breath taking pictures to lure you to Noboribetsu.

여기 풍경이 정말 기가 막히게 아름다웠다..

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v ^^ v.

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I liked it there <3.

냄새를 심한것 빼고는 정말 좋았다 <3.

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hotttttt.

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another tourist shot. =D.

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and more.

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the pathway to hell. teehee.

지육 가는 길? ㅋㅋㅋ.

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I just came from hell!

지육에서 다녀왔습니다!

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hence I’m happy.

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on the way up the hill.. there was so much snow and I almost slipped like 50 times but thank goodness I didn’t. I did witness many tourists and even Japanese people slipping because of the hardened ice so walk carefully! T_T.

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Noboribetsu, I CONQUER YOU!!!

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and it started snowing super heavily.

눈이 왔다.

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as a tropical girl.. OF COURSE I LIKED IT!!!

열대지방에서 온 저는 물론.. 눈이 좋죠!

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=>.

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the sights around Noboribetsu. it isn’t a very huge place to be honest so if you come here in the morning, you can pretty much see everything before that not awesome 3pm (almost 4) something sunset.

노보리벳츠에서 관광할 수 있는것은 많아보여도 사실은 그 만큼 많지 않았다. 재미는것만 보면 몇 시간 안에 다 볼 수 있구 꼼꼼히 볼라면 이틀이나 봐야될듯?

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despite the snow and my frozen feet, I made it up the hill to see the amazing lake! it’s hot at 50 degrees and it links to the sea!

유명한 호수다. 이 호수의 물은 50도이고 해까지 연결된대요.

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I CONQUER YOU TOO!!!

it seems like Noboribetsu Hell revealed my my true nature, a manly man.

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isn’t it beautiful? it wasn’t as breath taking as hell valley but if you’re in Noboribetsu already, why not?!

풍경이 정말 아름답죠?

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ALL THAT SNOWWWWW <3.

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눈이 좋다 진짜 <3.

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I’m happy nowwwww.

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when I was about to leave, the snow piled up so here’s another picture. hehe.

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meet Mr. Snowman from Hell.

저승.. 눈사람.

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those horns!

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and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll spot super cute foxes around! I saw one.. but.. it was dead. apparently dead foxes are always seen on the road in Hokkaido >_>”. the souvenir shops here are filled with fox and devil souvenirs. also (scary looking) bear keychains too!

홋카이도에서 여우가 많다고 들었다! 운이 좋으시면 귀여운 여우들과 만날 수도 있다~ 저는요… 도로에 차 맞고 죽은 여우밖에 못 봤다. ㅠ.. 힝. 그래도 여기서 귀여운 여우 기념품을 샀다~

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those are many packs (talking about his muscle on his stomach). scary much?

저승사자들 무섭다~

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the blue devil’s scarier =S.

파란색애 더 무섭죠?

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there are a few onsens around but the one nearest to the Hell Valley is deemed to be the best so..

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look at how smokin’ the place is!

이곳에 정말 여기저기에 연기가 나온다~

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after this, we headed to the onsen where.. no pictures were permitted. the onsen was 2000yen per person. crazy price but it was soooooooooooo good. it was the best onsen I’ve ever had. they had water falling from the very high ceiling and dropping down on you like punches but it felt so good. my tensed shoulders were treated that very day =3. the indoor onsen was great as there was a huge glass overlooking the awesome view. and after enjoying the indoor onsen, you may walk out to the outdoor onsen NAKED (like a boss) under the snow. it doesn’t feel that cold really. and the outdoor onsen was THE BOMB. I kid you not. having your face chilly and body warm. the best feeling ever. =3.

마지막엔 온센 갔다. 일본에서 갔던 온센 중에서 최고였다. 물이 정말 바닥에서 온 물의 냄새 있고 (마셔도 된대요 근데 맛 없다!!!) 시설도 너무 좋았다. 2천엔 주고 가는게 되게 비쌌지만 이런 좋은 언센이면.. 가치 있다. 좋은 풍경을 보면서 온센한거 처음이다. 높이서 물이 흘려내리는것이 어깨마사지도하고 밖에 온센한것도 너무 좋았다. 눈 내리면서 온센한것은 최고!

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here’s my only picture taken inside that grand onsen. before entering the bathing area of course. =3.

온센하는 데에서 찍는 사진! 그 호텔이 진짜 우와하고 어마어마 컸다. 부산 스파랜드만큼 새롭지 않지만 물이 정말 좋도라고요. 홋카이도 간다면 여기는 강추!

How I learned Korean + Japanese books giveaway!

January 5th, 2015

this is probably one of the most frequently asked questions by not only my readers, but friends, acquaintances and people (foreigners) whom I’ve met in Korea especially.

I’ve studied Korean for 1 year in Yonsei University and I am of level 6. graduated.

1 year and level 6? well that’s possible if you study in SKKU because their language course is super tight. but I actually landed myself in level 3 when I first came to Korea. which was why I saved myself half a year worth of money and time (Yonsei’s the most expensive language school now so yeah, I saved myself quite a bit of money!)

in fact, I wasn’t the only one, many people self studied and got into even higher levels. but they’re normally Japanese because they have almost the same grammar and it’s literally much easier for them to learn Korean. as for an English speaker like myself, I found it rather daunting to learn all those sentence structures and also something called.. “particles.” we don’t have it in English so.. they say if you learn one of either language, learning the other will be much easier (Korean and Japanese). and it is proven true by many of my friends who speak them both.

back to the main point.

so how did I learn Korean? at least up till level 2, I self studied. I went to ICLS in Fahrenheit 88 for a short period of time and did what was equivalent to level 2.5. the classes (my teacher was fabulous.) did help me for speaking but my writing.. I learned most of it before. myself.

SELF-STUDY
people get shocked each time I told them I self studied most of my basics. instead of using online websites which had never worked for the longest time (I kept forgetting!), my mom bought me my first TUTTLE book “Korean for Beginners” and I can say that.. I relied absolutely on that one book to get to where I was before coming to Korea. I was so fond of that book I didn’t want it to go to waste so I gave it to my friend who’s earnestly learning Korean at the moment. the explanations were witty and reading it was so much fun. it felt like as if the book was talking to me. I always get demotivated to learn a language (I bought tonnes of other guidebooks and they were more touristy rather than a book that teaches you how to speak the language) if they aren’t easy to adapt but in the end it all depends on how interested you are.

I got most of my books from Borders Pavilion but I am pretty sure they have it at other bookstores too.

note that I am not getting paid to say this because I have always told my friends about that book so it is 100% honesty and I am saying it because I really loved that book.

I also own a few other TUTTLE books (they are all in Malaysia ATM) which I thought was fun to read even though I am now fluent in Korean. one of them was.. “making out in Korean” they even have a volume 2! it was so funny but.. if you’re below 18 then just forget about it =D.

another way of learning Korean is.. after learning most of the particles and a little grammar, you can search for the 가사 (lyrics) of songs and translate them one by one. it was actually pretty effective this way. but still, you need to learn the particles and grammar first. and the way I did it was by reading and writing down things I wanna learn and keep repeating it. I also have a book of words I want to memorize!

in my opinion, as long as you have a grasp of the core (grammar, structure and particles), vocabs will fit in perfectly like the missing puzzle piece. so vocabs can wait. like how we say it in Korean, 바탕을 먼저 세워야한다, which means that we should build our core first.

JAPANESE

if you follow my blog, you’d know that I have an equal love for our neighbouring country, Japan. I love both countries and I’m not going to lie. I always thought that learning another language would be impossible for me until I started learning Korean and it was so fun to learn.. the more I learn, the more I want to know. and Japanese, one of the most complicating language to me (one Kanji can be said in 3 different ways. then there’s the 3 different writing systems. and the crazy amount of Kanji, of course.) was out of the picture for me before.

but after being told how learning Japanese would be a bit more of a breeze if I speak Korean, I decided to challenge myself for my 7th/8th language; Japanese.

I am lucky enough to have TUTTLE publishing (my favourite publisher. it’s true, I have told my friends long ago when I first started learning Korean! I had always recommended their books.) provide me some additional Japanese books in addition to the ones I already have.

anyways, TUTTLE sent me 3 books after I told them I loved their Korean book and that I want to learn Japanese this time and I told them to recommend me a few. my package just came in today and here’s how it looks like!

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it seems like they got me covered in Hiragana, Katagana, Kanji and speaking! I forgot to mention to them that I’ve already learned most of the basic (mostly hiragana) Japanese but I was actually surprised to see the practice words behind every page of the Katagana and Hiragana book!

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it’s pretty huge and it seems like.. if you finish all the practices you will definitely remember how to write each word. it isn’t as hard as it looks. really! though there are twice the amount of.. “symbols” to memorize compared to Korean. but on the bright side, Japanese words are much easier to pronounce and they look cute too!

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at the end of every chapter, they provide these practices which I found pretty useful because most of the words are easy daily words that you can use. so you get to learn a few new words while practicing how to write them! even after studying Japanese for a semester, I didn’t know most words there T_T. so it does help me brush up on my basics again.

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I am really bad in writing Japanese. when in uni, they didn’t bother to teach me the strokes and origins of each symbol so I am glad I finally know how to correctly write them.

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Tuttle’s Kanji book is my absolute favourite. I hate Kanji yes, but they made it so that Kanji’s fun to learn! just like how TUTTLE always are; fun to learn!

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there are a lot of Kanji. which is why this book is pretty darn thick. around 450 pages. but they explain each kanji in detail and also they provide illustrations on how to memorize them!

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illustrations for EVERY word.

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besides, they have practice sheets at the end of every chapter to refresh your memory after studying the first part :3. definitely my favourite book.

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and last but not least! the essential Japanese book for speaking!

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this one’s pretty normal with all the survival phrases. a book you should carry around when travelling in Japan when you know zero Japanese.

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it consists of topics from making a conversation to shopping to emergency. this is basically all you need if you’re visiting Japan and is worried about the communication barrier.

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dear books, ONEGAISHIMASU! I shall use you and speak great Japanese soon!

also, for you who are learning Korean, just a few recommendations, their best selling book is Korea the Impossible Country, Elementary Korean, A Capitalist in North Korea and they recently have a book on KPop!

okay let’s see how many TUTTLE book I owned before being in contact with them..

I have..
1. Korean for Beginners
2. Making out in Korean
3. Mini Korean Dictionary
4. Essential Korean Phrase Book

I have more.. but I can only remember these few. I found the Essential in Korean Phrase Book good for tourists but if you want to learn Korean I’d recommend Korean for Beginners =).

GIVEAWAY!

so the best part was, I am giving away a few TUTTLE Japanese books which I have reviewed! I’ll have them send directly to you no matter where in the world you are.

and they include..
1. Essential Japanese
2. Learn Japanese with Kanji
3. Learning Japanese Hiragana and katagana

I have two sets to give away! The same 3 books that I’ve received!

I am sure many of you are interested in learning Japanese right? so lets learn it together!

so for the giveaway..
FIRST! leave a comment here telling me what made you want to learn Japanese and where you are from.
SECOND! like my facebook page and write me a comment. you can tell me whatever you want to tell me but make sure to state your name to the comment you made here so I can contact you.

it’s that easy!

I will pick winners based on how special your encounter with Japanese is! so be sure to be witty with your words! I also don’t mind if you stay across the other side of the globe. you still have a chance to win it!

the giveaway will be announced on January 15th so quick!!! get your brother, sister, and friends to join!

Winter Photoshoot.

December 28th, 2014

I did multiple photoshoots during spring, summer and autumn but I had never done winter. why? well because it is VERY cold and I often travel during the season so..

this year, fellow Singaporean Dennis Abdon came to Seoul so we did a last minute shoot. without much preparation since I was going to sit for another test at that time. hahaha. anyways, here’s the pictures.

enjoy!

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#1. the most girly picture of them all!

I really have to tell you that there’s a total of 62 picture of ME in this post so if you want to continue…

Read the rest of this entry »

Honey Butter Chips and Christmas!

December 26th, 2014

if you follow Korean news or some idols, or live in Korea, I bet you know about this recent craze over this bag of 1500won chips called the honey butter chips. how did it started becoming so famous? well I’m not sure. but one thing I’m sure of is that Calbee is doing a good job in persuading everyone to long for it by making it a sacred item at the moment.

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but is this bag of chips really something new? well no it isn’t! guess what? it was on the Japanese shelves in 2012 as a limited edition item. it somehow got to Korea and that craze over it started. I have a feeling that it is just another marketing scheme made by the Koreans but yeah, it is successful every single time. they started selling these bags of glorious chips once again in Japan and I heard it will be on shelves only until.. March. so if you’re in Japan (these chips are just sitting there on the shelves. not very popular really. the Koreans are the ones buying most of them I guess haha.) you might want to try some and see what’s all that craze about. since getting it in Korea is nearly impossible for foreigners like us.

these bags of chips are sold online too for like 60 dollars (for 3) I heard. crazy. please don’t! it isn’t worth it. it costs slightly less than 200yen so it’s about 500won more expensive than the one in Korea but hey! it has around 2 times the amount of chips! I couldn’t even finish it. =S. left it OPEN on the table and finished it the next day and it was still crispy.  I don’t want to know what it’s made of to be crispy for so long.

I made a video review so… here it is! I don’t really make videos haha but I thought you guys might want to know how dorky I am and also how un-glam I am. and also how I sound. that disgusting flu voice. haha.

I might sound like the chips don’t taste very good. it was really good. but I just thought that it isn’t worth the effort and money (and many of my friends whom have tried it thinks similarly. haha). it has a very nice blend and the right amount of sweetness so I guess that’s why people like it. BUT STILL, it isn’t as good as Kobe beef and it doesn’t make me fly while eating it. it’s a good new combination. but it isn’t heavenly like certain food. or maybe because I am not a big fan of chips myself. but since I’m in Japan and these chips ARE good. I’m going to eat them every alternate day until I get so sick of it that I’ll never crave for it for a loong while =P. I gotta admit it’s pretty addictive but there’s just no way to finish the whole thing myself haha.

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so for Christmas, I had chicken (convenience store chicken are pretty good here!), honey butter chips and a bottle of wine. couldn’t even finish half of it though ><“. bought it because the wine bottle hat’s so cute =D. fell for the Japanese marketing scam le sigh.

well before you think my Christmas was all lonely, let me introduce you to my twin sister.

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there’s only one Jamie in the picture. the other is my twin. haha.

well, not biologically, but somebody tweeted that this girl looked like me. and SHE REALLY DO. so I contacted her since I was going to be in HER city! and we met for the first time in Christmas, it was like meeting a long lost sister I never knew I once had. she’s Japanese but her Koreans sooooo good. she’s super cute and chatty =D for once I think I really do want a younger sister.

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we went to this beautiful french dessert cafe at Dotombori (Osaka) called Dalloyau but… to my disappointment, I have to say that this particular shop which is said to be famous for its macarons wasn’t even on par with the normal macs in Seoul. U_U. most desserts in Japan was very delicious and even the ones from the convenience store wow-ed me. either that it’s really mediocre or this is the way Japanese people like their Macaron. bland.

back to my twin sister, here’s more for you to compare.

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we don’t look exactly the same of course. even real identical twin sisters differ as they grow. but you can definitely see the similarities!

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us making the same faces lol wtf.

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and more.

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Osaka was beautiful on Christmas day. Seoul was as well. but I had no time to explore it and blog T_T. but Seoul’s beautiful places are.. quite limited hahaha. places that I don’t usually go >_>.

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you can’t see the decorations but there were snowflake illumination above the river!

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and moreeee illumination. basically the whole SUPER LONG street looked like this. my friends in Tokyo uploaded pictures of the decorations there too and it was just so… pretty <3.

you can’t see it in the pictures but I find it really fun of them to wear santa outfit *both guys and girls* on Christmas. many of them did. I saw at least 20 of them but I was too shy to ask for a picture since I was alone and nobody could help me take pictures T_T. but it was super amazing!

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I brought my Christmas hat out so I thought I’d pose for a picture. =X.

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my Christmas lunch. hahaha. I was feeling kind of sick in the morning so I woke up at noon =X. and in Japan, you eat your avocado with ponzu! or that’s just me ><“. but that mentaiko was the highlight. when it comes to Mentaiko? the best’s the spicy ones from Fukuoka!

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Japanese people have this thing about eating cakes on Christmas day. I don’t know why is it a MUST. but.. I had my fair share. though they weren’t exactly cakes..

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it was too late when I saw these I already bought a handful of desserts. BUT LOOK AT THESE!!! SUPER CUTE OR WHAT?! love Japan when it comes to desserts. they are simply the best ^^.

yeap so that’s all for Christmas. and.. well I went to this new observatory in Osaka a few days ago called the Harukas 300 at Abeno. I’ll blog more about it next time but here’s a little preview!

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my legs were shaking ><” but the view here’s the best I’ve ever seen. better than the Umeda sky building except the one at Umeda have a nicer building. and it was much cheaper too (7 dollars). Harukas was like 15 dollars T_T.

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kthxbai.

Owl Cafe @ Osaka!

December 14th, 2014

if you’re a bird person then you should have heard about how Japan’s taken over by these owl cafes. not only is owning an owl (very very expensive pet) becoming a trend, stores don’t just sell owls anymore but they are earning by letting you pet very softly on their owls and shower them with human love!

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there are quite a number of these owl cafe’s but I decided to go to the one with the MOST owls! although it’s located literally at nowhere, we were practically their last customer of their day. since it was raining cats and dogs that day, it wasn’t so full. I’ve read reviews how you have to come here and put yourself on a list (they don’t accept over the phone bookings) a few hours before you actually get a place since they limit like.. 6 or 8(?) couples of 2 in only.

it costs 1000yen and you get a drink (which you’ll eventually just leave there) and an hour. they basically explain the rules for around 15 minutes so 45 minutes left. time goes by really quickly there! they have an ENGLISH menu so it’s quite foreigner friendly =D.

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so this is not even all. they are not actually tied very tightly around the pole so they can walk around the area but they are just so obedient @@. however, the ones above are actually the more badass owls so.. you should only look at them.

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and then there’s the baby owl section. my favourite owl!!!

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then there’s the evil looking owls.

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one thing I noticed about them is that.. certain owls squint a lot. like that.

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when an owl gets scared they actually say sorry to the owl and their care taker even gave the owl a big warm hug ngaww T_T.

they also require everyone to sanitize their hands before touching the owls. and you can only stoke and owl’s head and back with the back of your hands =).

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the 60 year old (or did she mean that this owl can live up to 60 years old hmmmmm… I don’t understand Japanese so T_T) owl was hugeeeeeeeeeeeee. and he, squints his eyes too. “whatcha lookin at?”

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just owl’s doing their thing~

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SO, my first owl. you can put it on your arms, shoulders or…….. HEAD. but the thing about putting it on your arms and head is that.. you need to bear the consequences if they suddenly poo poo on you =X. thank goodness for me, I had him on my head for quite a while but he just enjoyed grabbing my hair.

does it hurt? nope, not at all =D.

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and at certain angles, he look so completely clueless hahaha. <3.

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“go away”

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then I found an owl who liked looking at me. bigger owls are put on your hands and because they have… ridiculously long claws, you’d better wear a glove for it! the employees don’t though ahhaha.

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meet little wasabi. I wanted to put her on my head but I just saw someone else having poop on their shoulders so I thought having poop on my shoulders would be better than directly on my hair =X.

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=D.

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I found my owl twin!!!

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and then there’s this owl that doesn’t look like an owl.

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back to my cute baby owl! <3.

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the evil-eyed owl. @_@. and that owl beside’s still like “whatcha lookin at?”

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doe-eyed owl.

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winking owl.

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uhhh okay you win.

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look there!

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this owl was realllllly heavy. I could only hold it up for like 5 minutes and my hands got so tired =S.

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so our baby owl’s balding. just kidding. owl feathers are said to give you good luck!! they sell them for like.. 500-1500yen so if you see one GRAB IT! but make sure nobody saw you *chokes*.

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but the employee there took it’s feather and put it on the evil looking owl’s head. ahahahha. he didn’t even realize.

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look how warm and fuzzy it looked <3. so owls here sleeps at night with their caretakers =3.

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“what do you want?”

 

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*squints*

here’s the address!

1-10-13 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan