TAKING OSAKA CITY GUIDE

Images shot by myself & Michael hughes

Images shot by myself & Michael hughes

We have reached our final stop, Osaka! 

Osaka on first impression was what I assumed Japan would be before travelling there. Loud, Bright neon lights, so much going on that it is sometimes hard to stay focused. It noticeably had a different vibe to the other cities straight away. There is an attitude here that I didn't feel in Tokyo or Kyoto, and not a bad one. There was more confidence here, it seemed edgier to me. If you're coming to japan for the streetwear, neon lights and street food I think Osaka would be the place for you. 

WHERE TO STAY  

Once again, Michael nailed the location for our accommodation. I am not going to include a link to this AirBnb not because it was bad or anything went wrong, I just wouldn't stay there again. But the location was perfect. You could walk to Shinsaibashi (the main tourist location in Osaka) and all the boutiques around Orange Street. The suburb was Osaka-Shi. 

By the end of our trip we realised that a few of the locations we stayed in had stayed in all had a few things in common. This rule even applied when we looked at past Air Bnb apartments we had stayed in around the world. We had a few stores/brands that were always located nearby. So now our rule is to find accomodation where you have an APC, Saturdays NYC or Aesop nearby. Good neighbourhood vibes guaranteed.

Images shot by myself & Michael hughes

Images shot by myself & Michael hughes

WHAT TO DO

Day trip to Nara

Nara is just a train ride away from Osaka and is well worth it just to feed baby deer. Remember to make them bow to treats. If you haven't seen too many temples already, there are plenty in Nara to visit. 

DOGUYASUJI

This is an open mall for kitchen supplies but even more importantly for you - ceramics. Give yourself at least 2 hours to visit here. I went in thinking I wasn't going to buy anything due to my already stuffed suitcase and I came out with ink trays, painted bowls and jewellery dishes 2 hours later. 

NAMBA

Namba Parks is great for shopping and eating and walking distance Shinsaibashi and Doguyasuji. I have a few recommendations for places to eat in Namba below.

 

SHINSAIBASHI

Michael did me a favour and waited until night to take me down to Shinsaibashi for the first time and I would totally recommend doing the same. The neon light filled streets will overwhelm and amaze you at night. Besides the lights, Shinsaibashi has kilometres of shopping and places to eat. See below for my favourites.

ORANGE STREET

This is where you'll want to spend a day wandering around, checking out the shopping and cafes. I found there was a lot more cool mens and homewares stores here but either way it is worth visiting. It is just a short walk from Shinsaibashi. 

UMEDA SKY BUILDING

For an amazing view of Osaka, the Sky Building is the place to go. Be warned - it is fucking terrifying for someone who doesn't like lifts or heights. Firstly, the lift is outside the building and has glass walls and the escalator to the top is suspended between the two sides of the building so you are going up an escalator with nothing underneath. My hands are getting sweaty just typing this. 

Images shot by myself & Michael hughes

Images shot by myself & Michael hughes

WHERE TO SHOP

BioTop Rooftop near Orange Street.
While you are there to get a bite to eat, head downstairs and check out their range of designer fashion and lifestyle products. 

United Arrows / Beauty & Youth United Arrows
Every time you see a United Arrows of some kind, I would recommend having a look. It reminds me of Beams and has a really nice curation of fashion. 

Doguyasuji
There isn't one particular store here but walking through, head into all of the ceramic stores. When visiting it is handy to not be carrying a lot. These stores are tiny and have walkways only one small person wide.

Tsutaya Books, LUCUA Osaka.
This place is close to impossible to find. We spent over an hour trying to find it. Lifts didn't go to the floor it said it was on, and google maps said we were in it when there was no books in sight. Once you are in the Lucua shopping centre try go up to level 10 then walk around until you find the escalator. That will take you down into the book store. 

Grand Front Osaka
A large shopping centre that will have your favourites like Beams and United Arrows but also some lovely little boutiques. 


 

WHERE TO EAT

BioTop Rooftop near Orange Street.
Either get some quick fries from their street level window or head upstairs. We went back multiple times because it was that good. I recommend getting one of their ginger drinks, a salad, their rosemary bread (a must) and a pizza to share. You will not need another meal for 10 hours but it will be worth it. 

Tempura Daikichi, Namba Parks
You must go here for tempura goods! 

Craft Burger Co. Osaka-Shi
This place was started by an Australian so you know they do good burgers! 

Critters Burger, Nishishinsaibashi
Also a good spot for burgers.

LiLo Coffee Roasters

Mill Pour Coffee Shop
Good little spot for coffee and there is a bakery next door.

Streamer Coffee

Elk Osaka
Good spot for breakfast or lunch and they also do 3D latte art?!

Mauloa Acai and Cafe
If you're heading to the Umeda Sky Tower, go here for acai!

Pablo
The little mini cheese tarts are to die for. You must get at least 6.

Shinsaibashi Street Food
You must try some of the japanese street food on offer around Shinsaibashi. There is so much to choose from and you can just have a little bit of everything.

Saturdays NYC, Osaka Shi
Our apartment was just around the corner so this was our go to for a quick bite and coffee. They even had lamingtons which made me feel very aussie after 4 weeks away from home.  

Note. Michael is vegetarian & we are the only two people on earth that don't like ramen so all recommendations will be ramen-free and vege appropriate. 


HOW TO: ICED COFFEE

It is officially Summer down under and even though I drink iced lattes & ICED AMERICANOS all year
round they are essential in the heat of summer. 

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I feel like people try to over complicate the iced latte/americano and the truth is they are almost as easy to make as your usual winter coffee order. With that said, I thought it was about time that I put my super easy recipe in writing. I make my everyday coffee with my Nespresso Essenza Mini so my iced latte/americano is no different. However, I have fallen in love with using the new Leggero on Ice & Intenso on Ice over the last month which have been created just for iced latte & iced americano drinkers (hello, that's me). This range makes your iced coffee even simpler to achieve. As you may have guessed by the name, Intenso is more of a bold flavour with more cocoa notes while Leggero has a slightly fruity flavour.

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Along with the new coffees, they have released an ice cube tray and a travel mug
(ps. their travel mugs are the best in the business for keeping your drinks super cold or warm!). 

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I'd love to know below if you're also a huge iced latte/ iced americano drinker like me! 

jasmine x

This post was created in collaboration with Nespresso. Please be sure to recycle your capsules after use. To find your nearest recycling point or Post back your capsules visit their website

TAKING KYOTO CITY GUIDE

After two weeks in Tokyo it was time to take the Shinkansen down to Kyoto. We originally had 5 days there, but after taking out the first & last day for travel between cities and Michael not being well enough to leave the apartment our first official day, it really only left us 2 full days for exploring. Kyoto for me was kind of my little break. We didn't hunt out any shops, we caught up with a good friend who moved to Japan a few years back & I hardly took my camera out with me. From what I have seen it isn't common that people travelling to Kyoto stay here very long, it may be because the accomodation (even Air Bnb) are more expensive here, or that they take day trips while in Osaka. What I really wanted from Kyoto was to experience our first true 'Fall' and it definitely delivered that. 

A huge thanks to Michael for letting me steal a lot of his photographs for this post.  

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WHERE TO STAY 

When we were planning our trip we knew we wanted to have one of our apartments be traditionally Japanese and Kyoto would be the place to make that happen. We found this apartment in the neighbourhood of Nakagyo Ward. It was traditional but a super short walk to cute cafes and restaurants. The plus of this one was that it was above a Vegan Restaurant & Bar. Neither myself or Michael are vegan but he is vege so this was a huge help. A dinner experience was included in our stay and as someone who thinks they could never be vegan - Ukishima Garden Restaurant & Bar changed me. Hands down some of the best food I had in Japan. 

You can view the apartment we stayed in here.

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WHAT TO DO

As much as I am sure there are amazing shops and places to eat in Kyoto, my main focus was on what to see..

GION

Explore the streets of Gion for traditional architecture and traditional dress. It is such a beautiful area and it is nice to see the locals getting professional photos in their traditional dress. The only shame was the actions of tourists trying to hijack their professional shoots. I saw so many travellers getting in the way of shots so that they could get their 'geisha' shot. It was a real shame so I would encourage you put away your camera and see the situation for what it really is. 

Higashiyama

We spent the second half of our last day exploring Higashiyama. There are a few amazing temples to find along the way and is a beautiful walk. The small streets are also lined with stores and places to eat along the way. If you are to spend your money in any of the shops - go to the ceramic stores. They are dotted all the way along and you can find some absolutely beautiful pieces. You can also line up for Arabica Coffee if you're not heading our to Arashiyama. 

arashiyama

Arashiyama is a area not far out from Kyoto Central and easily accessible via a train. This is one of tourist destinations where everyone is trying to get 'the shot' but unless you're prepared to get there at 5AM there is going to be people in your image. We spent the day there with our friend that moved here and his girlfriend just walking and being completely in awe of the Fall colours. This place in fall is nature porn at its best.

The bamboo forest is here but to be honest it is so much smaller than you think and you're walking through like sardines. I loved walking up through the other paid gardens though. We came across a 'Tea Room' which we had all to ourselves and was pure bliss.

We also decided to go up to see the Monkeys. Half way up there was a cartoon of a monkey with boxing gloves on and an instruction not to look them in the eye. If you saw my Instagram Story of this you know how I felt. We got to the top, saw the monkeys and started our walk back down within 4 minutes. 

Don't go to Arashiyama for the monkeys or the pictures in the bamboo forest, go to see the gardens and the landscapes that you may not see anywhere else. Go for Arabica Coffee. The line is always long but if you have the whole day there then it's worth the wait. 

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WHAT I DIDN'T EXPECT

Good fucking coffee.
Drip Drop Coffee Supply
is a great place to stop for coffee and a bite to eat
Arabica Coffee has amazing branding and even better coffee.

Hints of new Kyoto.
Due to being known for their traditional nature, I didn't expect to see some amazing minimalist Japanese architecture. You can feel the juxtaposition there between the old and the new and the relationship between the two. I was all for it.


< PREVIOUS STOP, TOKYO

 NEXT STOP, OSAKA >

I know this guide was short but hopefully sweet. 

jasmine x 

TAKING TOKYO CITY GUIDE

Before I get into all the details about where I stayed, where I shopped and where I filled my belly I thought I should do a little de-brief. So we went to Japan for a month in total (Nov 1 - Dec 1 for those reading this in the future). Usually when we travel we like to try stay as long as we can in each town or countries if we are doing a few countries in one trip. I find it really hard to get a grasp or an opinion on somewhere after a few days so we really focus on a few places, stay there a while rather than trying to see and do everything that is on offer. Japan was the same, we stayed two weeks in Tokyo, 5 days in Kyoto and over a week in Osaka to end the trip. So naturally, that is the same order that I will be publishing my city guides in. First up - Tokyo. 

I am one of those people who hates planning holidays, but luckily enough Michael loves it and has never let us down in that department. So usually when I land in a place I don't really know what to expect. I didn't really read any blogs or other city guides and had just really seen what had come up in my Instagram Feed or from photos from friends & family. To be honest, I thought it was going to be crazy. And yes, some of it was. Yes I saw dogs being dressed like they were being filmed for toddlers and tiaras, yes there is a specific cafe for most animals you have always wanted to pat and Harajuku girls but when I think back on Japan I don't think 'crazy'. I found it so interesting how the city, the lights, the colours could be so loud but the people so quiet, polite & thoughtful in their approach. 

The other thing that I think Japan should be remembered for is their personal style. Nothing beats it. They are hands down the most stylish people I have ever seen. It didn't matter if they were old, young (or even their pets) they knew how to dress!

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WHERE TO STAY

We stayed outside of Shibuya in a suburb called Daikanyama & our apartment was between Shibuya & Ebisu. This suburb for me was the highlight of our entire trip. It was quiet at night but in the day you could just people watch for hours. It might not be the place to say with all the lit up billboards but for us it was perfect. They had amazing little streets full of amazing boutiques & places to eat. There was a train station just around the corner and it was only one stop away from Shibuya Station which was a huge plus. We also walked down to Ebisu which took maybe 5-10 minutes to eat. 

We stayed in Air Bnb accommodation again this trip and it didn't let us down. Our apartment was on the top floor and was spacious & filled with light which is unique for Tokyo accomodation. Downstairs there was multiple vending machines & a 7 Eleven which made things a little easier when we just needed a snack or a caffeine fix. I honestly could not recommend this apartment more.

Book Our Daikanyama Apartment


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COFFEE

Saturdays NYC - 1 Chome-5-2 Aobadai, Meguro
Good coffee and best little deck out the back. It's a must if you're in Daikanyama

Sarutahiko Coffee - 1 Chome-6-6 Ebisu
Good coffee and little muesli if you need a small breakfast.

About Life Coffee - 1-19-8 Dogenzaka, Shibuya
Go here for takeaway coffee. 

Alfred Tea - 〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku
A pink lovers dream right here

Sign All Day - 19-4 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya
Good Coffee. 

Why Juice? - 13-8 Daikanyamachō, 渋谷区 Shibuya-ku

Cafe Kitsune - 3 Chome-17-1 Minamiaoyama

Aoyama Flower Market Tea House - 〒107-0062 Tokyo, Minato
Be prepared to wait to be seated but it is so pretty that it is worth it!

 

FOOD

Grove Cafe - 1 Chome-11 Ebisuminami
Good cocktails and the french toast looked amazing

Bills - 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya
Expect to wait for a table but the Ricotta hotcakes are worth it.

Mr Farmer - 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya
Perfect for your vegetable fix 

Sidewalk Stand - Nakameguro
You must go here for toasted sandwiches and coffee.

Hacienda del Cielo - 〒150-0033 Tokyo
Would recommend going at dusk for the sunset & yummy Mexican

Frey's Pizza -〒106-0032 Tokyo, Minato, Roppongi
I am just going to put this out there that this was the best pizza I have ever had. Get the one with the egg on it, it sounds weird but it is so damn good.  

Fry Bar - Ebisu

Pizza Slice - 1-3 Sarugakucho, Shibuya
If you're craving some American style pizza. This is your place

Cafe Havana - 〒150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya
Great place for some Mexican and a few too many drinks.  

King George - 〒150ー0034 Tokyo, Shibuya
The best sandwiches. Hands down. You must go here.

Coco Curry - Everywhere
Michael is vegetarian so it was harder to find a Japanese curry where the sauce wasn't from beef etc. CoCo Curry is a Japanese curry chain which has a menu for vegetarians with a few different options which were still really tasty. 

Very Fancy - 12-16 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya
Pancakes & more pancakes. Get on it. 

Spring Valley Brewery - 〒150-0034 Tokyo

Grigio - 〒150-0034 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku

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SUBURBS

I thought instead of listing every store that is amazing I would focus on three areas that you must visit for shopping.

Daikanyama
Wander around here for amazing little boutiques you have never heard of and vintage or second hand designer gear. 

Omotesando
This is where you're going to see your designer stores and consignment pieces. If you want your hands on Vintage Chanel - Amore Vintage is one for you. If your man is into hard to find street wear there is also lots to choose from here. 

Naka-meguro
It is all about the small, niche stores here. This is a must visit for a leisurely stroll which peeping into a few different stores. If you are going in Cherry Blossom Season you have to go here.  

Ginza
If you want to check out Dover Street Market I would recommend going for a wander around this suburb.

 

IN PARTICULAR...

 Rag Tag - 〒150-0041 Tokyo, Shibuya
Second hand designer fashion but I found its Mens department more fruitful than the Womens. 

Dessin Books - 2 Chome-11-1 Kamimeguro, Meguro
Cutest little bookstore not far from Naka-meguro.

Beams Womens - 〒150-0041 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku
Out of all the Beams we went to, this was my favourite. 

Comme Des Garcon - Any of their many stores
You have to go into just one to stare at how beautiful these clothes are in person. 

  Itoya - Any of their many stores
If you're wanting to pick up brush pens or stationery pop in here.

Loft - Any of their many stores
Same as the above. If you're wanting to pick up brush pens or stationery pop in here. 

Pigment 〒140-0002 Tokyo, Shinagawa
This is an art lovers heaven and is a must-visit. 

Bonjour Records - 〒150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya
Coolest little store. Full of records, books and merchandise.

Converse Daikanyama - 17-4 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya
Not like any converse clothing you have seen before. 

Tsutaya Book Store- 17-5 Sarugakuchō, 渋谷区 Shibuya-ku
The Tsutaya at T-site is next level. I could have filled an extra large suitcase just with books.

Stalogy - 〒150-0021, 1 Chome-35-16 Ebisunishi
Cutest little stationery shop.


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GALLERIES

Mori Art Museum - Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 53F, 6-10-1 Roppongi

Gallery Speak For - Japan, 〒150-0033 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku

21 21 Design Sight - 〒107-6290 Tokyo

The National Art Centre - 7 Chome-22-2 Roppongi, Minato

Taka Ishii Gallery - 〒106-0032 Tokyo, Minato, Roppongi

Next stop, Kyoto! 

j x 

GETTING FESTIVE WITH ETSY

The Christmas tree is up, we have put fairy lights around the banisters and I am officially in the festive mood. I wanted to spread my love for Christmas by not only showing you how I will be wrapping my gifts this year and my table setting theme for Christmas with my girlfriends but more importantly spreading the love for my favourite local creators. 

I have teamed up with Etsy Australia to show you how you can support small Australian business this year. Not only are you able to give your loved one (or yourself) a unique gift but you also make someone's December (if not year) with your orders. 


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COLOUR SCHEME

Personally I like to have a little fun with my table settings. Just because it is Christmas it doesn't mean you have to stick to the typical Red & Green or White & Gold colour scheme. 

I knew I wanted to use a few of my pink pieces in my cupboard while still bringing a hint of Christmas in without it being too obvious. So I found this striped linen fabric on Etsy which was perfect. It is a slightly muted red and the stripe brought in a pattern to break up the other colour.

Drinks allowed me to add more colour to really bring the table to life. A hint of greenery with some Rosemary (you could also tie some rosemary into the DIY bonbons) then a hint of orange by adding passionfruit in a bowl and orange slice to the drinks. The orange also tied in perfectly with the gold cutlery (shop similar here). 

GIFT IDEAS


DIY NAPKIN BONBONS

Why have a napkin, a present and a bon bon with a terrible joke inside when you can combine them all?! This is the perfect way to give each of your guests a little something special, while giving them a napkin while taking your table setting to the next level. 

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WHAT YOU'LL NEED

- Toilet Rolls or make a cylinder from card
- Table Napkins or Fabric of your choice
- Confetti/Glitter/Sequins Filler (optional)
- String/Twine/Ribbon
- Scissors

STEP ONE 

- If you are using fabric, cut it to approximately 30 x 30 cm. 

STEP 2

Simply place your gift inside the toilet roll then roll the fabric around it.

No need to secure the napkin/fabric to the roll, the end ties will hold it all in place.

STEP 3

Secure one end by tying a knot where the roll inside finishes.

Fill the bon bon with confetti of choice then secure the opposite end. 

 


Hope this post not only inspired your Christmas table setting but also inspired you to shop local this Christmas & find something truly unique for your loved ones.

Jasmine x

This post was created in collaboration With Etsy Australia.