4 things I love about Hamamatsu Flower Park

If I were to rank my favorite places to visit in another country, flower parks would probably be somewhere at the bottom of that list. You can imagine how a bit disappointed I was when, in Hamamatsu, our first order of business was to go to one.

Before buying our tickets for the Hamamatsu Flower Park, I didn’t feel any excitement or appreciation towards it. I mean, what else was there to see aside from flowers?! I’ve always been a see structure, see buildings kind of girl. Even while we were inside the gates, watching my mom pose for pictures, I told myself that the day was going to be excruciatingly slow. It was, but not for the reason that you’d think.

I was surprisingly the one who slowed down the group, because I ended up taking pictures in every corner of the place. There were so many parts of the flower park that I couldn’t get over with.

The rose garden

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The roses took up a big portion of the area. It’s landscaping is circular and a bit like a maze. Different colors were spread in every part of the circle, so rich in vibrance. If it were possible to go blind from looking at those flowers, it probably would have happened to me (and my mom).

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It’s shameful of me to have forgotten the name of this room, but just look at this arrangement. I can see romantic photoshoots and movie scenes happening here. It’s like a picture taken out of a fairy tale book.

This could be a place where the princess spends most of her time, singing to the flowers and talking to the butterflies.

I can tell that this room was very well planned out, seeing that the colors match each other.

These backgrounds

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I’m sure that you can’t tell by simply reading these words, but I am getting giddy just looking at these pictures. The striking colors, and the fact that they show such peaceful harmony, make me think of hopeful tomorrows, and achievable dreams. Flowers do create a sense of happiness!

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The rose flavored ice cream

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The flower park had a green house where their guests could sit and recover from the brilliant sun. Inside it, is a store that sells differen flavored ice creams. I ordered the rose flavored one since I’ve never heard of this before. I’ve had matcha and sesame seeds, but never rose flavored. The store sells sakura flavored ice creams too, but unfortunately, we came late for sakura season.

The ice cream tasted sweet, just like every other ice cream in the world, but it definitely had the aftertaste of a rose. It actually felt like I was smelling rose rather than tasting it.

There are still so many aspects of the flower park that I admired, like the many options of desserts and snacks inside their souvenir shop. But the ones I listed above are those where I took my time more. It’s safe to say that I fell in love with the place, despite my previous cynicism.

Good wagyu and a new experience in Shinjuku, Tokyo? 

Address: Japan, 〒160-0021 Tokyo, 新宿区Kabukicho, 1 Chome−26−3
Price range: 90-400 JPY
Rate on Yelp: 5 stars
Standing

Walking around Shinjuku with five hungry people who are depending on your choice of restaurant, but having no idea where to eat, is a situation you do not want to be in.

I created an opportunity for my family to grind my gears that one afternoon. After a long day of walking and going from one district to another, I found myself getting badgered with questions like “where are we eating?” “which restaurant?” “didn’t you search for it beforehand?” I should have, but I didn’t know which district we’d find ourselves last or if my family would be interested in wagyu. So there was really no point to look for a restaurant if I didn’t know where we’d end up in.

Finally, I gave in. I turned on my mobile data despite knowing that I would be paying 599 PHP once I came back home (I already saw my bill – it’s insane). I opened Yelp, the famous business locator app that I previously gave no mind until I met my now boyfriend. He uses it like a bible to find the best and cheapest restaurants in town.

I eventually found Jirōmaru, a Yakiniku place that only had 2 Japanese Yen signs next to its name. It was the cheapest around. Good reviews, only 0.6 kilometers from where we were standing. “Let’s check it out!”

I almost walked past it while I was looking at google maps. I thought that the front of the restaurant would be wide and conspicuously placed in between other establishments. Nope. The front was just about two and a half meters wide with two doors on each side of the facade. One door was for the customers to get into, while the other was for the chefs. As I peeked into the door I found myself looking at a line. This is a standing restaurant! One of the chefs firmly pointed that out when he saw us waiting and looking clueless about these kinds of places. My mom was not happy with this information.

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Much to my family’s reluctance, we stood outside for about 5 minutes before half of our group was allowed to go in. We had to wait for one couple to finish up because the space was that limited. I believe there were only about 6 small grills out on the counter. Three of us made our way to the grill that had just been cleared by the couple, while the other two waited for another 10 minutes before they could come in. My brother chose to eat at McDonald’s.

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As we were facing the area where the chefs stand, I noticed the small wooden blocks (bars?) hanging on the walls. Japanese characters were written on them, with numbers at the bottom of each bar. That’s how they displayed the menu, each wooden bar showed a part of meat together with its price. How nice. We couldn’t understand a single word.

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Thankfully, the chefs spoke good English. So they asked us if we’d like for them to pick their favorites for us. We said yes, and left everything entirely up to them. While the orders kept coming, with seemingly no sign of stopping, I thought that maybe letting them decide wasn’t such a good idea. I wondered to myself if we’d end up paying a fortune after dinner. The prices on the menu ranged from 100 to 400 JPY, which isn’t so bad compared to other sit-down (?) restaurants that offer wagyu. But small plate orders such as what were getting can add up. 

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True enough, our orders did add up to an amount I’d rather not disclose because it can speak of either two things: one, is that my family and I CAN EAT; or two, we got ripped off. The more that I think about it now, the more convinced I am of the latter.

We should have checked the bill more closely. Although, we could have probably paid for each slice of wagyu. I just checked the bill from another restaurant that we ate in on our last day in Tokyo, and one plate of wagyu was 900 JPY. I don’t know! I wasn’t briefed before going inside Jirōmaru.

Be that as it may, at least the food was far from disappointing. And even though I hate reviewing food (because I don’t know how), I’m going to list down a few thoughts:

  • The meat exploded like water, bursting from a dam, inside my mouth.
  • Scratch water and replace it with melted butter.
  • Wagyu does melt like butter.
  • The meat didn’t need any seasoning.
  • It was that flavorful.
  • Their sauce didn’t really do anything to the meat. Meaning, no added flavor.
  • Or maybe I’ve just forgotten.
  • Good thing the meat was that flavorful.
  • There’s a lot of rice in a small bowl.
  • Next time count the plates.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The food was great at Jirōmaru, as proven by the countless five star ratings on Yelp. Trying a standing restaurant, and possibly having been fooled into paying more for food, was also a first for me which I may not rate as a five star experience. But both are great to add to the imaginary travel portfolio! That’s not to say that I have never been fooled while travelling before, just not with food in particular. But every traveller must go through these things, otherwise, what fun stories would there be to tell? So cheers to great wagyu and new experiences in Tokyo. May our future travels introduce us to more food minus the problems. 🍺🎉

Hotel Review: The APA Hotel (Higashi Shinjuku)

Address: Shinjuku-ku Kabukicho 2-19-14
No. of nights: May 13 – May 16 (3 nights)
No. of rooms: 3 rooms
Rate per night per room: 10,333.33 JPY or 4,535.97 PHP

Wifi: yes
Breakfast NOT included
Parking space not available.

It’s not news to anyone that Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. So it came as a surprise to me that we were able to find a hotel for only 4,535 pesos a night.

The first time I visited Japan, we stayed in the Hilton Hotel, which offered big spacious rooms befitting for the five star hotel. The rooms at APA are undoubtedly the complete opposite of spacious, but notably far from being uncomfortable.

the room in APA Hotel in Higashi Shinjuku

Cons
To tell you honestly, I had a few complaints regarding the size of the room the first time I saw it.

  • The bed was pinned to the walls so whenever the person closest to it had to get out of bed, she had to either wake the person next to her or step over her (or roll over her, for people who have no regard for others lol).
  • I kept pointing out that there was no space to put our bags in, so I put mine right in the middle of the room door and the bathroom door. Everytime we came inside the room or went out the bathroom, we had to step over my medium sized luggage.
  • I kept bumping my smallest toes on the chair, the toilet bowl, or anything that was in the way really – which meant everything. Eventually though, I got used to the size.

A review of the APA Hotel in Higashi Shinjuku

Pros
The APA Hotel rooms do grow on you until you learn to love it. There are also a few things that I enjoyed about the hotel and my stay.

  • It was so close to the Higashi Shinjuku station, that walking to the hotel wasn’t a problem. There are also two other APA hotels in the area, one of which was so close to our hotel that the staff there led us to the right one.
  • Even though Booking.com already mentioned that the bed would be a semi-double (one for each room), it was still so roomy for both me and my sister. My brother was the only one who complained because he had to share the bed with our uncle, whom he isn’t so close with.
  • The room comes with all the necessities, like mugs with free coffee and tea packs, free bottle of water, a coffee pot, a mini fridge – all that jazz. Things you’d rarely find in a 4,500 PHP/night room in the Philippines.
  • The bathrooms come with a tub designed to be compact but efficient. The toilet bowl is a Toto Bowl too! That’s something that I still consider as fancy for a 4,500 PHP/night room.
  • The cleaning staff restocks the toiletries everyday. I didn’t even know there would be free toothbrushes, shaving kits, and combs.
  • Check in and check out were easy. We just had to drop our keys in a box upon check out. I know that’s what they do in a lot of other hotels around the world, but I just wanted to point that out.

One thing that our payment didn’t entitle us to having, though, is free breakfast. Although, that wasn’t really a problem since there’s a small cafeteria on the ground floor of the hotel.

In summary, I think that the price we paid for was reasonable for what came with the hotel. It also provided us a restful stay after each day of bustling around the city. So there was really nothing to complain about.

The size of the room may turn a few people off and the bathroom may get even claustrophobic, only because there’s so much fixtures inside (as opposed to the toilet in our last hotel). But when you get used to the size and eventually know how to avoid thumping your toes your way around the room, it will turn out to be just the right room for a 3 night stay in Tokyo.

When Travel Meets Fashion: My Japan Travel Closet

WARNING: If you don’t enjoy looking at superficial, amateur OOTD shoots, please look away!

 

I don’t claim to know fashion. I don’t understand matching colors with seasons. I don’t accessorize. If anything, I just copy off store mannequins whenever I make a purchase. But it is enjoyable to run around picturesque settings and ask my little sister to take hundreds of photos of me while I, air quote, candidly pose.

THE FLOWER PARK

When Travel Meets Fashion

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I love dressing for comfort, which is why in all these photos you’ll see my ever so trusted Adidas Superstars. They don’t hurt my feet even after a full day’s walk, and they go with anything. 

AROUND TOKYO WE GO

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Leatherette Jacket: Terranova
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Top and Bottom: The SM Store Woman

I bought this jacket from the men’s section at Terranova. I loved how sporty I looked the first time I tried it on. Looking at it now, I should have thought of buying something that enhanced my figure more. But again, I always choose comfortable clothing over anything else.

DISNEY SEA DAY

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Sun Glasses: Steve Madden | Trench: Uniqlo | Top: Uniqlo | Bottom: Promod

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A true travelista relies on her map. lol. 

If you can’t tell by the number of pictures, I enjoyed “shooting” my outfit in Disney more. Just look at how the color of my trench coat matches that of the concrete’s and bricks’. LOL. I bought my top and coat from the Uniqlo in Shibuya, the day before. I fell in love with them the moment I laid eyes on them. You can tell that the fabric of the coat isn’t the usual material used on so many others, but I love it for that reason since I can still somewhat use it amidst the tropical heat in the Philippines.

In Sushi Heaven

Address: 36-2 Shogencho Higashi-ku Hamamatsu Shizuoka
Tel.: 053-463-7666 (+81-53-463-7666)

For our second day in Hamamatsu, my brother and I chose to stay in the hotel. I know, such a waste of day in a new city! No need to remind me since I’d been told many times by my mother and my uncle. I just wasn’t feeling it because of a couple of petty events which led to my loss of interest. Such events I will no longer recount because they are not the topic of this post.

What I want to talk about is the Daiju Sushi Restaurant, where we had a hefty dinner that night.

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According to my aunt who brought us here, the restaurant has been running for almost 50 years. The owner, Mr. Kazou, is the itamae of the sushi place which he inherited from his father and it looks like it’s always been doing great. I guess any establishment does well when the owners are hands-on.

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Left to right: my aunt Mildred, my mom, my sister, Mr. Kazou, my uncle, my brother, my aunt’s step dad, and our family friend Tita Edith.

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First thing you see upon entering. The trophy is the owner’s win in a golf tournament.
The Daiju Sushi Place isn’t your everyday go-to sushi restaurant. It is one of the fancier places in Hamamatsu. Reservations have to be made, money has to be prepared, and your attachment to said money has to end even before you go inside the restaurant.

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Once you order your food, I guarantee that you’ll like what you see and will want to order more. In our case, our orders eventually stacked up.

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Sashimi Katsuo

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Kuchi No Nitsuke
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Tempura

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Chawamushi
This was the most full I’d been during our entire stay in Japan. Even though I was almost full to the brim, I still had room for the sushi platter.

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Mr. Kazou is such a friendly guy and is very easy to talk to, despite the language barrier (we had my aunt translate for us). He was eager to let us try everything on his menu, but too bad we didn’t have enough room in our stomachs. Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll be sure to order all the food that we failed to try and know that I’ll enjoy them just as much.