After a few years completely immersed and devoted to Japanese brushes I decided it was time to see who is behind these treasures. To be very honest, I was a bit scared to travel to Japan on my own, specially due to the language barrier but I had to do it, when something is in my head, until I do it I won’t rest.
I had to visit Kumano, the origin of my favorite brushes, and then come back with some pictures and stories to tell you, so here I am back from the source of our passion with a more clear idea of what Kumano is and how our beauties are made. I often visit museums during my trips wherever I am but this time it was very special, a museum combining art and brushes, for a brush lover it just can’t get any better.
Today I will share some details, not all the details but enough so that if you are also interested in a trip to Japan with the “brush and beauty” topic in mind, you know a little bit what to expect. Please don’t expect me to be 100% correct and do your verifications because due to the language I could not get a lot of details. Another very important thing is that due to problems at work and with our dog’s health, I could not prepare for the trip, just no time. Since I could not postpone the dates, I had to leave just like that.
I feel like I missed on many things due to the lack of preparation but despite that the trip has been high in emotions and unforgettable, I have no words to define how I felt when I was with this beautiful people, what I haven’t told you -yet- is that everyday I had tears in my eyes because of them, I have never ever felt so much kindness and generosity and I had to be very strong to appear calm and “normal”. Being there is overwhelming in every aspect.
Sorry, this is going to be long, I will try to summarize my best and hope you won’t click away 😉
The idea was to arrive in Tokyo on the 27th of May, sleep in Tokyo one night, leave on the 28th to Hiroshima, meet Hakuhodo and Tanseido on the 29th, meet Chikuhodo and Koyudo on the 30th, travel to Kyoto on the 31st, travel to Tokyo on the 2nd of June, finally spend a few nights at the same hotel and fly back to Switzerland on the 8th of June.
Important note : Keep in mind that before you leave to Japan you have to check :
- If you need a visa
- If you want a railpass to travel inside Japan, you have to buy an exchange voucher in your country since you’ll not be able to get it directly in Japan. This is a pass that will allow you to travel cheaper, you buy the pass but then you don’t pay for the trip or the reservations. I bought a one-week railpass and it saved me a huge lot of money. Some more details here.
- If you need cash (and you will) you cannot easily withdraw cash, for me it was actually impossible, since the end of April 2013 they changed many ATM’s and Maestro cards are not working anymore for now.
I took some cash with me before I left but I had to order it. Here is Switzerland not all the banks have Yens, they will need to order them for you.
Travelling and getting around
I left on a Sunday morning Swiss time and arrived on Monday morning Japanese time. On arrival I went to the JR station, exchanged my voucher against the railpass and in the same station bought the Suica card (when you load cash on it, it allows you to take the Tokyo metro without having to think about tickets). Only problem is when you have to load more cash on the Suica card, the machines are in Japanese ! First time I asked an agent for help but then for the following times I managed on my own -very proud of me- I felt like a local ! “of-course-I-can-read-Japanese” expression when tourists where blankly staring at me doing it 😀 😀 😀
The Metro is the best in the world, it’s so easy to travel around that you will be very pleasantly surprised. The stations also have numbers, for example let’s take the Ginza line, you will see either the name of the station “Shimbashi” or the initial of the line then the number of the station “Shimbashi” equals “G-08”. Simples.
For the JR lines (the bigger lines that take you to Hiroshima, Osaka, etc), there are either unreserved seats or you can reserve a seat, if you do, they will assign you a “car number” and a “seat number”. With this info on your ticket, you go to the platform and place yourself in the queue related to your car. Again : super simples.
When it gets crazy complicated and irritating is when you need to find the exit in the station, in Shinjuku where I was the second time, there are more than 200 exits. It will drive you crazy at some point. I could go from my hotel to the Isetan department store just walking underneath the station… providing you get the right exit. Good luck by the way.
Luckily you can ask anyone and they will go beyond imagination to help you. Even if you don’t want to bother them, if they spot you opening a map they appear like magic ! I remember one day I didn’t need help, I just didn’t remember what was the name of my connection so I opened my map and a very old man saw me and he started to walk towards me, I didn’t need help but he just wanted to help me… the poor man spoke no english and had been victim of a stroke in the past so he could barely walk and barely speak, he was doing so much effort to help me and he was so proud and happy to help… I listened to him, thanked him, and when he left I couldn’t help a few tears. I just can’t believe this, they will steal your heart. Bless him…
When you are outside the stations, sometimes the gps is lost too, since you may only have wireless internet and no phone to locate you, the position may be confusing. I got lost every single day. You also have several layers of roads so in these situations gps is not very helpful. Look up and see if there is any other level … just in case !
First day I stayed near Tokyo main station in order for me to get back easily to the station in the morning. My train to Hiroshima was departing from there on Tuesday at 10:33 am.
When I first arrived at the hotel on Monday morning with my luggage it was around 11am. I couldn’t check in until 3pm so I had to leave my things there and go for a walk… it was near Ginza so I headed for Ginza and for the TAU shop. I was a bit disappointed because they did not had a lot to choose from -I have many brushes so I am being difficult here-. It’s fun to see these brushes in person, be able to feel them before purchase. But you will get so much more to chose from on the internet websites. They don’t speak a lot of english so I couldn’t easily ask them questions. Unlike in European department stores and despite the fact you can touch all the brushes, the brushes are in excellent condition so you are able to actually feel how they are and what their original shape looks like since it’s not altered or distorted.
Then I found myself in front of huge department stores ! had to get inside… It was surreal to see the Japanese beauty counters in person ! I wanted to try everything but suddenly I had a little panic attack because I realised it will be impossible to do that, way too many things. I thought I had to accept the fact that there was no way for me to be able to play with everything !
Left the department store with a few palettes inside my bag.. I hadn’t even checked in and I already had a bag full of goodies !
At this point the phone and internet connection I had ordered hadn’t arrived at the hotel yet (my fault since I ordered them at the very last moment), I had a map but the streets are rarely written. It’s so confusing. I got really deeply lost in directions. I walked for two hours but I was at the total opposite from where I wanted to be. I decided to ask for help… I entered a flower shop, a lady and her mum were there. The lady opened google maps and told me “you are here, your hotel is here”. Holy !! I wasn’t at all where I thought I was ! Then she left the shop and wanted to walk with me to the hotel, we walked for half an hour, I was telling her that she didn’t need to but she just insisted until I said ok, so she took me to my hotel and even called the lift for me ! I really didn’t know how to thank her, I wanted to pay her a drink or something to eat but she said she was very happy to spend some time with me (she doesn’t even know me!). Again this is extraordinary !
After 6 months of winter in Switzerland, snow and rain, I arrived in Japan where many people carry umbrellas… because of the sun. Such a cultural difference between our countries.
After the hotel check-in, I went to the station to book my seat for my Hiroshima trip and visited the food mall of the big department store in Tokyo station. I couldn’t help buying macarons and japanese delicatessen to try, there are so many things you will want to try that you will also get lost there !
Tuesday 29th, 2013
My phone and internet connection arrived at the hotel at 9h45 and I had to leave the hotel at 10am. It was so tight !!! So lucky I just got them on time. I thought I had to postpone my trip to Hiroshima at least for a few hours but it worked out ! This is what they look like (internet connection and phone) :
If you reserve a seat in the Shinkansen trains and you don’t take the train, they don’t really like that, the reason is that sometimes the trains are quite full and that blocks a seat that could have served for someone else. When I left Kyoto for Tokyo I had to wait nearly two hours at the station because there were no seats available before, just reserve as soon as you know which train you will be taking, you will have more chances. They will always try to assign you a window seat and will always try to not put someone in the seat next to you. If they do, it’s because they have no other choice.
If you travel from Tokyo to Hiroshima you will have to change trains at Osaka. Except if you take the fastest train but it’s honestly not worth it. This was my schedule (when using the rail pass, be careful what trains you select in the “Optional conditions”, my pass allowed me on the trains Hikari, Sakura, Kodama and Tsubame but not on the directs Nozomi and Mizuho :
If you are interested in that website for your future trips, you can click here to reach it. I wanted to take the N700 series so that was perfect, they are so beautiful !
I arrived at 15:30 on Tuesday, it was pouring with rain – monsoon. I was waiting at the pedestrian crossing with all my luggage and suddenly the rain “stopped”, I looked up and a lady was protecting me with her umbrella. She told me something in Japanese, I have no idea what she said, so I said “Arigato”… 🙂 I tried to learn a few words beforehand but that I quickly forgot when I had to use them simply because of the stress 😀
That Tuesday I just wondered around the station, there are big department stores where they sell food delicatessen (yes again), drugstore products and … brushes !!! youhouuuu !
My very favorite “delicatessen” is this sort of pancake with white beans paste inside, this was just my favorite gourmandise ! they make them in from of you and then wrap them with beautiful paper, they are still warm but they don’t remain wrapped for a long time 😛
In the shopping center called “ASSE” attached to Hiroshima station there is a shop for Kumano brushes there, just in case 😉
It was difficult finding anything because everything was written in Japanese, it was like being parachuted in another planet. I felt really lost and overwhelmed, not knowing where to go…
The hotel was amazing, I was staying at the Sheraton in Hiroshima, I totally recommend it. The only problem is the bathroom… if you go with a “friend” get ready to see each other naked 😀 you can see through the glass doors of both the shower/bath and the toilet, not 100% clear but clear enough ! Just saying… 😉
My first day in Kumano (Hakuhodo – Museum – Tanseido)
Hakuhodo sent someone to pick me up at the Hotel lobby. I don’t know who was more nervous, him or me 😀
He was so kind, he spoke english that’s why he had been assigned the task to pick me up. We talked and laugh during the trip to Kumano which was around 40mn from there, I kept on asking him questions and I think he was getting sick of me 😀 but we enjoyed the trip. Then we arrived at Kumano but the manufacture was really in the middle of nowhere. I will tell you exactly what happened at the Hakuhodo manufacture but this will be a full post just for that. It was a dream… I was really nervous, so I forgot all the Japanese words I had learned ! They gave me such a warm welcome ! Unbelievable ! You will fall in love with each and everyone of them !
After my incredible visit to Hakuhodo, Mr Ko Takamoto (Hakuhodo’s General Manager) took me to the brush museum since I had to meet Tanseido there, I wanted to visit the museum before meeting them, only problem : I was running late. It was 12h30 and I had to meet Tanseido team at 1pm. I had just 30mn to visit the museum !
Mr Takamoto entered with me and we made our way to the reception, I was excited like a bee. I looked at the employees of the museum and the bowing kept on going and going and going and suddenly I realised !!! I was with Hakuhodo’s General Manager !!! JEEEZZZ !!! this probably explains all the bowing going on ! I had no idea what they were talking about so I took my purse and told them I wanted to visit and pay my ticket, Mr Takamoto shaked his head. I had no idea what he meant (but I really wanted to visit !) then a man appeared, he was the curator of the Museum Mr Takeshi Matsuda. Mr Takamoto asked him to show me around and so he did, in english !!
I don’t know how many of you would have loved to be there with me at that precise moment, probably some of you for sure. Again, it was a dream come true.
Mr Matsuda showed me the gallery with the paints and he talked about brushes but I was so excited I couldn’t focus properly !! 😀
Anyway, here are some pictures of the museum that I can share with you.
The Museum is on the right :
Everything is written in Japanese, no chance I could understand… Well “Information” and “History” is written in english but then… so glad I had the curator of the Museum with me !
You could touch and feel the different type of hair :
This is the view from the inside to the outside, see the two hearts ? I saw them pictured in some Chikuhodo handles but I don’t know what they represent so far…
This is the place where the master works but he was taking his lunch break so I could not see him…
We entered the master’s room (without our shoes of course) and Mr Matsuda explained a bit about his work.
And this is the shop that you know… mainly calligraphy brushes but also a few nice make up brushes.
At 1pm, Tanseido’s team, Jun and Natsuko came to pick me up and took me to their manufacture. Again the visit will be commented in a separate post because it will be too long. It was absolutely amazing, I have been welcomed like a queen, but more details later 🙂 They took me back to my hotel, so the trip was really easy, that day I was picked up and then dropped at the hotel.
In the evening, Jun and Natsuko took me to dinner in a fun place. At some point I was eating things that I should not and not eating things that I was supposed to eat….
These green beans are delicious but don’t try to eat the outside like I did, no chewing possible ! Tanseido’s team were looking at me a bit surprised ! I just did not know…. I had to spit it out 😀
But you can eat the head of these…. I could not, I ripped the head apart with my chopsticks….
Our dinner was great fun !!! and of course we continued talking about brushes !!!
My second day in Kumano (Chikuhodo – Koyudo)
I had to travel to Kumano on my own, since a taxi from Hiroshima to Kumano would have been way too expensive, I decided to take the train to Yano, and then take the taxi from there. I tried to take the bus from Yano but everything is in Japanese so I just could not manage… but the taxi was fine. When I said I wanted to go to “Kumano Town Office” the driver had no idea where I wanted to go…. he was very funny but he did not understand. So I said just “Kumano”, and then…. “Kumano center”, then he said “hai” which means yes or ok….
We left Yano, he drove to Kumano and he was talking to me during the trip, I couldn’t understand what he was saying at all. Then after 20 mn I saw what it looks like Kumano Town Office, and I said “hai hai hai” 😀
He looked at me and he was sooooo happy, you can’t even imagine !!! he was laughing like crazy ! He was probably wondering why on earth I was going there !
This is an exterior little monument outside the Town Office :
And you can see that from there, it’s 3km to the museum :
Malin from Kohlindo.se gave me the name of her Kumano friend (Yumie). I had an appointment with Yumie at 9h45. Since I was there at 9am, I wanted to see if I could get a coffee somewhere. I entered the Town Office, said “Coffee” and they showed me a little local coffee/restaurant inside the Town Office. Only locals there, but since they had menus, I wanted to try breakfast 🙂 I selected something that looked like a breakfast and it was de-li-cious. Soup, rice, coffee, a big toast, an egg, I was starving so that was just perfect ! Couldn’t eat everything due to my food intolerances but it really was fantastic !
When Yumie arrived, we headed to Chikuhodo. It was the first time I was meeting Yumie, she is the sweetest, seriously I was blown away by her infinite kindness. I was really nervous to meet Chikuhodo’s President Mr Shin Takemori, really very nervous. When we arrived, it was again such a warm welcome, unbelievable, so simple and so kind. I will tell you more in the separate post because once more, it will be loooooong and again just like Hakuhodo, Tanseido and Koyudo, you will love them and that doesn’t help with our budgets 🙂
At lunch Yumie took me and Mr Yutaro Takemori (Mr Shin Takemori’s son) to eat sushi. It was the first time I tried sushi in Japan and it’s just not comparable with Swiss sushi. If you love sushi you have to go to Japan just for that !
This is the Kumano restaurant, you have to take your shoes off and then it’s like a little hut inside the restaurant, this one has room for your legs to be sitting like in a chair (hole underneath the table so it’s more comfortable) but some restaurants don’t :
The roads in Kumano are really narrow, I mean really ! you can barely drive a car there ! When I saw Kumano’s map, I thought I could walk from one place to the other but the center is actually quite far from the manufactures and you won’t always see the names of the manufactures. Unless you have something arranged with them, it’s not going to be easy and if you don’t speak english, try to call a taxi 🙂 . I was really happy they took care of me and Yumie was amazing, I will tell you more in my Chikuhodo post but what she did for me is so huge that I don’t know how I could ever thank her.
I guess you want to know what Kumano looks like, just a pic here, it’s a mix of houses, with little roads and beautiful trees…
During my Chikuhodo visit, I had the opportunity to use a calligraphy brush in Mr Takemori’s office, I deeply enjoyed it so Yumie wanted me to try the water writing in Kumano’s museum. She drove me there and we played, it’s a special paper where you write with water and after a few minutes it disappears, great for training for example. She then offered me a calligraphy brush (her husband owns a little manufacture too) and I bought that special paper at the museum and now I am playing at home ! It’s my new way to relaxation… love it.
In the afternoon Yumie dropped me at Koyudo’s place, I spent the afternoon with them, omg, all these beautiful brushes …. Again, I will tell you more in the separate posts that will arrive soon because I will have a lot to say about them.
Koyudo asked me if I had something planned (as you imagine I didn’t) so Koyudo’s team (the ones that are behind your emails and orders) came to Hiroshima to have dinner with me. It was a do-it-yourself but since I had no idea what I had to do, Koyudo team did it for me 😀 You may have written to them and you may think they are cold since they reply with short replies, believe when I tell you they are the sweetest people, here we have just a language barrier unfortunately, they are now just like family to me.
Very typical Hiroshima dish… (I think), you are supposed to add egg as well but I could eat egg so it was less “typical” for me, despite that it was really delicious. I loved it !!
The sight seeing day in Hiroshima
I went to Miyajima island, it was so beautiful ! it’s like a fantasy world over there ! Very surprising how the deer wander around everywhere, I love deer so I kept asking myself if I was dreaming !
It was a beautiful day, very hot, the rain had stopped and the island was not too full of people, it was easy to walk around and enjoy. It was my first day without appointments so I felt a bit more relaxed.
The smell of the ocean and the sand on the island was probably what made me realise I was on holiday ! Honestly, I didn’t want to leave the island, probably that next time I will stay there for the night.
When I was having dinner with Tanseido’s team the day before, Natsuko told me that her sister had a local bakery in Miyajima -not in the tourist area- and that if I wanted to go she could give me the address. I took the address and thought that I could at least try. After my walk around the island, I asked several times for directions in order to find her bakery, showing the locals the address in Japanese, at the end I got there but I had no idea if there was a bakery where I was standing… suddenly a door opened and a beautiful woman started to talk to me in Japanese with a smile from there to there, I had no clue what she was saying, I thought she was telling me to go away or to help her with something but then she told me to enter (I guess), I entered and then I saw the bread and cakes !!! the bakery !!! Her sister was so kind, so incredibly pleased and honoured that I came to visit her.
Apparently she was informed of my possible visit so she was expecting me and hoping I visit 🙂
I bought a few delicious cakes and the man that was there with her gave me an island spatula as a present with the Torii imprinted. Spatulas are the typical thing over there. Can you imagine that ? I don’t even know what to say anymore, they were just so excited to see me that I initially thought they mistook me for somebody else.
Her beautiful sister and me… me very sweaty… sorry about that! It was really hot and humid!
The typical spatula, present they gave me :
Then back in Hiroshima, I went to see the Peace Memorial Park, of course it was impressive to be there, we always remember what happened and it feels weird to be so close.
After my sightseeing day, I left to Kyoto, I arrived late and the taxi had no idea where the hotel was, I felt he was really stressed out and he had to call the hotel to ask for directions. But we got there eventually.
I didn’t really do much in Kyoto because I got really sick, could barely walk and the pain in my stomach was killing me ! Of course I still managed to visit a bit, enter a temple and go to Yojiya… Yojiya has a big shop and my hotel was 5mn walk from it, I didn’t even did that on purpose ! I wanted to be near the temples and my hotel was near the main road too.
There is also a Yojiya cafe, where I ate a fruit sandwich and I ordered a cappuccino just ’cause it was beautiful … but I suspect these two things were the cause of my pain afterwards 😀
For somebody who can’t eat lactose or gluten it was a bit too much, I know I know…
This time the hotel was a traditional japanese hotel, I thought you may want to see what this looks like so here are some pics of my room, basically you sleep and sit on the floor.
The bathroom had a very little bath and a foot shower (I guess?? but I don’t know how I was supposed to use it).
The great thing was the hot water for the tea, it’s always hot, which is great, but first time you want to use it is tough. After a while I found out that if you press on the 1 it unlocks, then the 2 it pours hot water (I put the numbers on the pic, the numbers are not on the machine!) Since I had never seen that kind of machine I had no idea what button did what. Same for the iron, I asked for an iron but everything was written in Japanese, there are warning signs everywhere but since all is written in Japanese, good luck with the usage…
After my little adventure in Kyoto I left for Tokyo, but at the end I don’t think I did much in Tokyo actually, just a bit of sightseeing and shopping. I was really overwhelmed by the activity, all the people, the difficulties I had to feed myself, find the places I was looking for.
In Tokyo I had the opportunity to meet my Japanese colleagues for dinner, I know them since 7 years ago, sometime they come to Switzerland but just for work. I asked them if they would like to have dinner with me and they said yes, so the appointment was in a restaurant called “Ninja”. I drank Sake and a cocktail called Cleopatra beauty or something like that, we ate several dishes that we shared, the sushi again was too good to be real !! The evening with the “ninjas” was absolutely hilarious.
My colleagues were impressed that I could so easily travel by metro on my own, but it really is not difficult. As long as you have an english metro map ! My colleague Osamu :
My amazing colleagues (Nozomi, Osamu and Chiaki) and the ninja who was taking care of us, she asked me where I came from and at the end she took this “HASTA PRONTO” roll and opened it just like a ninja would… and with the big ninja moves ! 😀
We had a magician “master ninja” playing tricks and honestly it was mind blowing. I was the “victim”, he asked me to take 3 coins, to hide them in my hands, shake them, so I did. Suddenly I had just 2 coins in my hands… what ???? Stunning !!! I have no idea how he did that but I think my jaw hit the floor !
This is a “cheesecake” frog, how cute is that ? I could not eat cheesecake and I did not want to risk being sick again but that was pure evil temptation… I did not eat it but I was dying to … 🙁
But too risky, I did not want to repeat the Kyoto episode 🙁
On Wednesday I spent the day with Estrella that I met via this blog, when she saw I was going to Japan she contacted me, so glad she did because we had such a great time ! Not only I was happy to spend time with a friend, but she was just mind-blowing, we could do anything together, talk seriously, talk makeup, have histerical fun, go shopping, go to the hairdresser, anything. Sometimes it’s difficult when you meet somebody for the first time but here no problem at all !
At lunchtime we had Ramen, she took me to a fantastic place, it was so tasty, I need to ask Estrella this address for the future ! She said this place was better than the others and that was true ! Not easy to eat with chopsticks but she showed me how to do it and from that day on, I was entering these restaurants and eating like real locals (or trying…). At least I knew how to order and where the things were, that’s really not easy when you are alone and you don’t know how all this works.
In the evening we had sushi and then we had drinks (just don’t remember the places…), not that I was drunk !
I really wanted to play with these things, we played and I LOVED IT ! Next time I go to Japan I will spend a bit more time in there that’s for sure 😀
When you go alone to Japan it’s just not the same. It’s much better if, at least for a few days, you can meet someone. I will never go again on my own, it’s so much fun to share the trip with someone !
I went back to the hotel that night, well, it was late but I was really happy that it was such a fun day ! I hope I can meet Estrella again soon !
The day after I went sight-seeing and shopping and I did manage to meet with Rosy, she has great posts about brush shopping in Tokyo 🙂 We went to Isetan for shopping, we spent some time at the Chicca, Tom Ford and some other counters, trying things and shopping… 😛 I am so happy that I could spent a little time with her !
During my trip I have bought a “few” things, mostly brushes. I thought I had already too many but gosh I have been naughty ! I will have reviews to write for the next year without having to buy anything else again ! (yeah, sure).
You can find brushes from Takeda, Hakuhodo in some big department stores, but you may struggle to find them ! sometimes they are a bit apart, like in the “present” area instead of the beauty area. The selection is not huge, just a few brushes displayed but at least you can see what the quality is like.
Regarding my beauty purchases, I am now trying the drugstore products I bought and all the items, some are really on top of my dresser and some are not often used yet. I leave that topic for another post 🙂
In one of the biggest department stores I took a pic of the instructions in the toilet, you know how Japanese love luxurious toilets and hygiene, I thought I could share this pic with you … just for fun !
Inside the lady’s, there is a place to sit your child while you are busy, how clever is this ??? I have never seen that before and I really had to share ! Amazing !
For more sightseeing I went to the Tokyo Skytree, had to queue for nearly 2 hours but at the end I still managed to get inside and up to the highest point. You have two levels, the floor 350 is the first stop, then you can take another ticket and go up to the 450 floor, that’s what I did. That’s ok, you don’t really feel scared but there is just one moment where your heart goes AWWWWWW…. When you take the elevator in the 345 floor to go to the 450, suddenly there are no opaque walls anymore and you can see outside….
You can pay them to take your pic at the top, it costs 1200 yen. I have scanned mine for you but I swear, I was not trying to strangle the doll ! … weird !! 😀 I may need to work on my maternal instint at some point.
This is the view from the elevator in motion, you can’t see much but believe me it’s impressive, the first time everybody will shout, it’s like being launched into space, you start your ride and it’s opaque then it becomes clear. The elevators are really fast, your ears may POP and hurt… !!! Mine did.
On my way back, I was again a bit lost…. I thought why not pop inside the Kashoen boutique… again…. 😛 and then I met the Vice-President Mr Shunsuke Takamoto, we had a nice chat and we discussed the brushes of courses. I will write to him this week because of one topic we were discussing regarding Switzerland. It’s fun to discover that after my trip I have met so many amazing personalities and that they were always so kind with me.
I know how much you love them, so I asked if I could take this pic for you :
Some more sight-seeing… the Shibuya crossing :
… and its dog :
Asakusa, Sensō-ji area :
Harajuku : (not that you can see anything…)
Now, if you want to go to the Hakuhodo main store in Omesanto, I got lost for nearly two hours but it’s actually not that complicated… here is some help :
Somebody from the boutique was outside distributing leaflets, when she gave one to me I told her “I was looking for you”, we took the lift and went inside 🙂
Can you spot the brush ?
They have the whole range !
… and exceptional beauties… but too expensive !
Then I went to Tokyo Bay with the monorail, the robot monument there is huge, you can see somebody’s head near his feet 🙂
You will soon get the posts for each manufacture visit (one for each), I am working on it 🙂
If I had to change something about the trip it’s certainly the preparation and I would try to learn a few sentences. I left unprepared and that costed me a lot of time. It’s also sometimes really sad to be there on its own, never again, but I did enjoy this trip a lot specially because I met so many wonderful people ! I will never forget them. They spoiled me and they all treated me like a queen !
I did a few things just like the locals, I slept in the metro, ate Ramen, I have been offered sweets by a stranger in the metro (I accepted and I ate them…still here), I could talk about this trip for hours despite the fact that I didn’t do that much.
The day I left I couldn’t stop my tears, I don’t know why we always need to cry when we leave Japan, I don’t understand, you tell me… so much emotion it hurts.
I’m overwhelmed. I have to read it all again & ….WOW!!
AMAZEBALLS Miss SMUT 😀
What a Post!!!
What a trip!
I’m totally in awe of the entire experience.
My eyes are THIS BIG!!!!!!!
You’re a CHAMPION!!
Thank you Buggsiebee… your support has been so important to me ! thank you so much !
Aaarrrgghh….I can truly feel your emotions through this post Sonia!! Still mesmerized by this mind-boggling trip u did….!
I’m reading it and feeling so overwhelmed myself! I’m so proud of you girl!!!
Now, I’m going it re-read it again for the 3rd time and keep notes of all your tips! Cant wait to get there and get lost like u did 🙂
Oh….and that pic u took with the instructions of ‘How to wash your ‘ bottoms; PRICELESS!! Just hilarious! U cracked me up 🙂 🙂 and YES the Yojiya cappucino is soooo beautyful! I def will take 1 too and think abt u sitting at the same cafe 🙂 hopefully my stomach will survive, but just in case I will keep some bananas and a Coke at hand 🙂
😀 😀 😀
everything is so clean, you have super clean toilets everywhere you go, and look at the pic I just added near that one (I forgot to add it before), you can sit your child near you… I think they are simply the best !
Imagine if we were all there together ! what a pity you weren’t there with me 🙁 shame we could not fit the same dates…
Thank you Melissa, I am sure you will love your trip ! enjoy !!!
FANTABULOUS post Sonia!!! I have to read it again and again and again. We all need to go there together!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Thanks Bea ! we definitely need a trip like that together, for sure !
I just read this and I have tears in my eyes. I think you have had such a deep experience, it is unforgettable! I am so dying to go to Japan since I was 16, no joke, I am now 45 and I must go. They have such a philosophy about life that we cannot fathom. I cannot wait to read more.
In using such beautiful objets such as the hand crafted brushes from Chikuhodo, Hakuhodo, etc. we all amplify our experience on being human. Even the mundane can have astral heights. I celebrate you and your travels! Banzai!!!!!
I don’t understand why it makes us feel so different after we experienced Japan, I feel so much peace after the trip, we work and we behave like machines everyday but there’s more… we can work like crazy and still be zen and enjoy life, we should just take the time and copy their insanely kind attitude.
Please go there, live it and you’ll see that it was really worth it ! Thank you Silvita for your sweet comment, don’t hesitate to do it and let us know if you loved it and what you enjoyed the most 🙂 Take care !
AMAZING ! What a post i think i can almost feel your “ups and downs feelings” 🙂 do you have any adrenalin left ? 🙂
The whole post i had a fat smile on my face because i’m very glad you enjoyed your trip and the people like that 😀
🙂 I confirm I had a few big downs but when you see how they will help you and how they treat you, you definitely think it’s worth it.
simply AMAZING…thanks so much for sharing!!
you are welcome Vivian !
Great post, Sonia! Loving all the little anecdotes about your trip! (:
I have a few others but I will add them in the next posts 😀 thanks Bernice !
Oh Sonia! I am without words. I feel…. happiness emanating from your post and I’m so happy for you!
It’s how I feel, glad it goes through 🙂
Oh gosh, I remember a few of those places from when I went when I was still in primary school. I remember Miyajima especially with all the deer wandering around freely Your photo really brought back memories of that place!
I’m so happy that, in spite of the language barrier, you were able to meet so many wonderful people. I think Japanese people are some of the most polite and generous people out there! Thanks for all the information – I will be referring to it all later this year 😛
you were in Miyajima ? I think this is such a magical place !
They are, and the respect they have for objects (not only for people) is unbelievable, I admire them. I am really happy that many of you are going there soon !
Yup, I was in Miyajima and it was one of the most memorable part of the trip (the deer)!
I went to the usual places, like Osaka, Tokyo, Hiroshima, around Mt. Fuji…Kobe?? Yokohama… I can’t really remember too well. It will be such an interesting experience going now that I’m older, because I’ll be looking at different things and well, it’ll be an entirely different season! It’ll be winter this time I go, whereas when I went last time, it would have been similar to your trip.
The people really are wonderful, as a collective whole. I mean, I think I’ve met some wonderful people in the different places I’ve been, but the Japanese really stand out for being polite and courteous as a society!
What a life experience!! And now I cannot wait to go!
Thanks for this amazing post. Just in time. 😉
you are welcome cc, please let me know if you have any questions ! HEY !!!! 2 DAYS TO GO !!! ENJOY 🙂
wow, it was an intense experience ! It’s weird English is not used more especially in hotels and public places. BTW, I’ve read somewhere Japanese were so polite and kind that they get depressed when they come visit Paris, known for the rudeness of its residents
Hi Nikoleta, I believe you because when I arrived back at the airport I was in shock, so rude in comparison, they are surely really disappointed with other countries, not only speaking about France by the way!
@ Nikoletta – I’m sorry to say it, but the French in Paris are the most unfriendly, unhelpful & arrogant people I have EVER come accross. My parents, however, took a house boat trip along the Seine and assured me that the French who live in the province are wonderful!! Why are the Parisiennes so unwelcoming? I don’t find it charming at all. I encouraged my sons to take Spanish as a third language instead of French. The French I studied for 6 years at school was not good enough for Paris & I regreted every year I spent learning it. That’s really sad 🙁
In general people in big touristic cities are less friendly, my sister-in-law was in New York and was shocked by the rudeness of New Yorkers. That said I still prefer Parisians to some provincials that are particularly narrow-minded and not particularly helpful either but indeed, in France, you better speak a good French and be quite independent.
You’re absolutely right about big cities Nikoleta. I was very very pleasantly surprised however by the helpfulness & friendliness of the New Yorkers when I was there in January this year.
Perhaps it was due to the fact that they were experiencing a few very mild days in the middle of Winter & that put everyone in a particularly good mood 😉
I was really sad when I first went to France and tried to use my six years worth of French because they just brushed me off as if I was speaking a foreign language. I mean when you see that someone is making a real effort, then why not just give them a bit of slack if the pronunciation isn’t perfect?
Buggsie… I have something for you… our hedgehog (since you like them) he is living with us !!! http://sweetmakeuptemptations.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/hedgehog.jpg
I took a pic this morning, he is under the car, he is not scared he stayed there with me. He is always around now ! our dog is going crazy !!! 😀
I hope we’ll have babies hedgehogs 😀
Omgsh, that is so cute! I’ve never seen a real hedgehog before, but I have seen echidnas!
Oh my gosh, luckily you saw him ( or her…if she’s going to be having babies 😉 ) before driving off! Haha, our dog would be going nuts too!
EVERY morning he sits and waits for the neighbours cats who dare run accross the wall of our garden. When he spots them he goes balistik, running up & down like a crazy lunatic & barking his head off while the cats completely ignore him. Same thing every day 😀 !!
It’s HOT, HOT, HOT here today!!
I’ll take sunshine over grey skies any time, but does it have to be SOOOOOOOOOO hot?!
There’s nothing moderate about the weather here.
it is hot indeed 🙂 and for a change (since I changed, right?) I had lunch with a super nice colleague in a terrace 😉
enjoy the weather Buggsie ! I hope it lasts… but you are right, we had the warmest day yesterday, my car is black and was parked in the sun, I couldn’t even hold the steering wheel 😀 and I burnt my hand on the car roof… (was trying to change shoes and hold on to something, ouch) If only we could go swim right now !
I made my kids banana milkshakes with loads of ice cream for lunch today.
That made me to ‘the best mummy in the world’… for a few few minutes 😉
I walked out of the house onto the sidewalk barefoot & nearly burnt my feet off!
Oh, Sonja. Thank you for taking us with you.
And I have to say that you are very beautyful woman (and I love your leather jacket!!!), you look so happy!
Looking forward to read all the other Japan posts!
Chapeau for beeing so brave!
Thank you 🙂 so sweet !! I was exhausted and often scared but all ended really well ! the first day I thought I needed to come back with the first flight though ! so scary ! then when I met them, I didn’t want to leave.
the leather jacket is sooo old, I just didn’t know what to grab since it was a last minute thing, the jacket is from All Saints if you wanted to know 🙂 here is a link for their current leathers just in case…
Thank you again 🙂
Sonia, If you brought nothing back from your trip but this (I quote you) “I feel so much peace after the trip, we work and we behave like machines everyday but there’s more… we can work like crazy and still be zen and enjoy life, we should just take the time and copy their insanely kind attitude.” then your trip was a monstrous life changing success! I can’t lie, I can’t wait to read about all of the “things” you got! ;p
Hi Stacy !!! gosh, so sweet of you 🙂 … and you know what ?
the day I arrived I had a meeting with the CIO and my manager where I had to present a project, my manager looked at me and said “you look very relaxed, we definitely need to put more pressure on you”, he was joking (he wasn’t), but he has this blog’s link so I need to behave 😀 When I came back, I felt really zen and even today I feel peaceful despite the stress at work, this trip did something to me…
Thank you for sharing!!!! Awesome experience =)
you are welcome Bo 🙂
It looks like the trip of a lifetime – I am so happy for you that you made it there, Sweetheart. You should set up a “Brush Lovers’ Pilgrimage” tour for the rest of us!
Thank you Dena, I hope you are ok ! thinking of you here !!
yes I may do that one day, first the forum, then the pilgrimage 🙂
Wow, thanks so much for sharing all this Sonia!!!! When I read ‘I hope you don’t click away’ my first thought was are you NUTS?! Tell me more!!! It sounds like the most amazing experience, and like Stacy said even if that was all you learned it was quite the trip! Cannot wait (I think…..) for details about the factories and brushes. And wow, you really are beautiful!!!!
Hi Jen, omg thank you !!!
you are so kind I don’t know what I am going to do with you all !!!
I can’t wait to share these visits, I am really sad I can’t write faster, if only I could do that full time !!!
Thank you Sonia! This was so much fun to read. I have to say i loughed out loud couple of times while reading.
oh so coooool 😀 happy it made you laugh ! my pleasure !!!
a museum of brushes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m dying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ahahah thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!!! sooo great!!
In a few months I’ll have one here at home 😀 😀 😀 you are welcome Laurence !
Thank you so much for sharing this life-changing experience with us, Sonia.
I can’t wait to read the next installments.
Thanks Sylvia 🙂 my pleasure !
I loved this post Sonia! I am so glad that this trip was so wonderful and life changing. I can’t wait to read more, just a wonderful people and place to visit.
Thanks Devin, so glad you are looking forward to the upcoming ones 🙂
I am very impressed that you did all this by yourself. You are very brave. Thank you so much for sharing everything with us, it is wonderful to be an “arm chair traveler”. I look forward to your posts on the brushes.
I can’t deny it was horrible at the beginning, I have never been so tired and hungry in my entire life 😀 I don’t really want to go back on my own but it was life changing, that’s for sure. If somebody is fed up of their life and feel depressed, they should go there for a bit of love… I also know a lot of people that could go there to learn some respect and manners (and eventually hygiene too) 😀 😀 😀
thanks Meredith, I really can’t wait to share, I am soooo excited !!! it’s weird to think that some weeks ago they were unknown to me and now I feel like I have family there, it really feels amazing.
Im so so happy that you met my Japanese family: Yumie 😀 and that you had the chance to go to Chikuhodo 🙂
I love reading about your trip! You are so great Sonia 🙂
Malin, I still had no time to send you a proper and decent email to thank you ! how are you doing ? everything ok 🙂 ?
Yumie was out of this world, she doesn’t know it but I was so touched by her attentions that I was in shock… she was beyond kindness, I know why you love her so much now !!
thank you so much for letting me meet her, I will never forget that ! big hug to you !
that was an epic trip and an epic post! Loved reading this and looking forward to your more detailed posts on each of the brush manufacturers. It’s wonderful that you got to experience the incredible kindness of the Japanese people. It’s a truly unique country, one that I will never tire of visiting. Hope you get to visit it again sometime!
Sorry for not responding earlier, I am watching the Japanese yen rate, bothering those brush companies with lots of email and updating my brush purchase list everyday…
A very fruitful trip! I didn’t told you your UK shopping trip guide helped me a lot when there are so limited shopping tips in all books I can find in Hong Kong or Taiwan. And now you have given me an even better trip sharing for Japan! You always say you don’t have much preparation time but you have visited so many good places and good people! I can imagine why you are loved by your boss so much. : )
I laugh through your article as there are so many humorous and happy memories there. I finally have a good look at how tall are you, and your smile is so friendly. You made it to the Hakuhodo main store and Gundum! Never have expected that.
Have I told you that I always think your photography skill is very good? It’s essential for me to love a blog and shows me how much work you have put in your blog! Your end-of-trip-aeroplane-wing photo is the best of the bunch I have ever seen.
Your trip will inspire more people to go visit Japan. I am lucky to be a reader of your blog.
What is your next post? Would it be a brush company visit review?
I am quite busy this weekend.. sorry… I have a wedding to attend to and actually I also have to take some pics for them but really I think I need to improve A LOT so I hope the pics will work out !
Anyway, the pic of the plane was actually taken with my mobile phone 🙂 so glad you like it !
I will reply to all your comments as soon as it calms down, just wanted to let you know that all is fine, I haven’t returned to Japan (yet) 😉 I am still here but our guests arrived yesterday so I am really busy, my bf’s brother gets married tomorrow.
Actually if you want to know what’s coming in terms of posts, I confirm there is a post about Hakuhodo, then another on Tanseido, then Chikuhodo and then Koyudo but I need to first reply to your comments and receive some approvals for the pics. Maybe before that there is a different one that is regarding “how to chose a make up brush”, it’s more on the fun side, because with all the manufacture posts that will come maybe you’ll want to get a few ones so I just wanted to give you a little piece of advice or share how and why I chose the brushes I buy.
I haven’t had the time to test all the brushes I got yet in Japan, can you believe that ?! But I will take them with me to Spain and will do my homework 🙂
This is such a great post! I’ve been a fan of your blog for ages and I am so glad I found your blog when I did. I salute you for doing this trip alone plus making a HUGE success of it!! I live in Asia and even I have difficulties getting around Japan. My admiration is two-fold. Your resilience and resourcefulness in making the trip, and your dedication to your interest in brushes. The Japanese adore people are passionate about craft. Of course they would treat you like a queen. I look forward to your next posts!
Hi Joopah, I know !! I remember you !!
thank you so much for staying here with me !!
Hi! I have been following your blogs about kumano brushes. I am from the Philippines and I was only able to get my hands on the Suqqu brushes on my trip to Japan. The Suqqu brushes (cheek, e/s l, m & f) I purchased are the softest brushes and I love them to death. But seeing as you reviewed the Chikuhodo Z series as the brushes you like more than the Suqqu, I am definitely interested in buying them, same goes for the Koyudo and Tanseido brushes you love. I use your HG brushes blog as my guide in the brushes I want (and will) to buy when next I visited Japan.
I know what you mean about these wonderful japanese people. They are so humble, kind and extremely polite people. They go out of their way to help you even if it is 12 midnight and they are tired they will guide you the right direction. They smile at you and even kneel on the ground to study your map so they can help you. I went there with a friend last april and we still keep on talking about them on how they are extremely hospitable and kind and humble. No matter which country you came from, they all treat the tourist with respect, humility and warm kindness. I LOVE JAPAN!!!
And I will definitely go back there next year for the Chikuhodo, Koyudo and Tanseido brushes that you love.
Btw, do you know if Chikuhodo, Koyudo and Tanseido have stand alone shops in Kumano or are they only available online?
I think they do have some shops where you can find them but the choice is clearly not as big as on the website, that’s why I was a bit disappointed.
Do you mean in Kumano town or in Hiroshima center ? There is one shop in ASSE mall in Hiroshima station. I was there but the choice is really very small. I saw the Z series there by the way.
Chikuhodo have a boutique at their manufacture.
I had to idea that Japanese people were so kind… glad we all love them 🙂
Do they (Chikuhudo, Tanseido & Koyudo) sell wide range of their brushes in their Kumano Office or their production plant?
Chikuhodo do, do you intend to go there ?
Yes. Im going back next year just to shop hahaha.. I want to go to Kumano and visit/buy in the chikuhudo boutique. I would like to go to Tanseido and Koyudo as well because thanks to your mouthwatering posts about their brushes, I feel the need to have them
I will mention that on each post, I still miss information.
I haven’t tried the Venus port… yet. Who knows maybe in my next visit. Many things are tempting over there, you just need to find them. Do you speak Japanese ?
I dont really speak Japanese, just the basic greetings and some expressions I often hear from watching animations. In my trip to Kyoto, I mostly relied on my pocket wifi rental, my iphone and the kindness of Japanese people.
Wow is all I can say. I’m so glad you went, had a great time and made it home safely. Thank you for sharing it all with us! I have really enjoyed reading about your trip.
thanks Christine 🙂
I wasn’t sure where to post this, but it looks like someone is copying your posts. I was searching Hakuhodo brushes and came upon this website. I can’t read Chinese, but I’m pretty sure that the post was stolen from your site without credit. http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6b47ee6501018v5l.html?tj=1
When I think of how much work Sonia put into that post!! It’s soooooo unfair to just steal it.
I don’t know if this is stolen, I don’t understand the purpose of this copy, I don’t see the link of the blog anywhere… Thanks to Gladys and Momo for mentioning it to me.
I will deal with this case when I am back from Spain, at this moment my schedule is a bit out of control as you can imagine by my absence !
If I think like Chikuhodo’s President and refer to what his son told me “if we are copied it’s because we are good at what we do and it’s a sign of success” 🙂
The guests are still here, the wedding was amazing (my bf’s brother), we had so much fun ! Many men wearing kilt and Scottish pipe music, I certainly enjoyed it ! On Sunday I had to rush to prepare lunch for 13 people, so we went do the meat shopping and we were stuck on the road because of an accident (we could just avoid a front crash with a car that had lost control in front of us, then that car went down the precipice, the guy was so lucky his car was just stuck on a tree ! we stayed to help and I had to manage the traffic (I was relieved because just before I left home I took off my fake FBI training gear, I was going to leave them on, imagine me doing the traffic wearing an FBI outfit !! hilarious !!)
Anyway… I am here, I am just running and running !!
oh wanna a see a pic of the groom ? http://sweetmakeuptemptations.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/groom.jpg
Sonia, it’s good you are having a joyful moment. But you guys have so many car incidents of different unimaginable sorts…
I haven’t seen this kind of groom’s outfit before! it looks serious and dashing. You look good in blue!
Um. I just can’t understand the white balance thing, you look darker than your Japan photos.
it’s the Scottish kilt, it’s known that underneath they don’t wear any underwear 😉
I haven’t checked… but for one pic the bride and groom jumped in the air and we nearly had the secret breached 😮
I love that blue top, thank you 🙂
The balance is too dark but still, I am spanish and I tan quite easily, when I was in Japan I was really white because I also was in a very low phase of energy. Now I feel more alive and a bit tanned already despite protection.
I have totally given up.
So many overseas swatch photos and articles have been “shared” by taobao sellers or review sharing weibo (they call themselves editor) as the sina blog or weibo system don’t show the source link and insanely added a watermark of the name of the sharing person. I have learned to accept that.
Not to mention Temptalia.com’s swatches are always “shared” without credits or link (For god’s sake how can a beginner be able to identify Christine by the name “expert T”. With such anger I almost prepared an email to send Christine, but I stopped. I don’t want Christine to think I am some kind of crazy fans. Her reviews help a lot of Taobao sellers on weibo to build credibility, her swatches also helped these sellers sell also those bad products! Some sellers even attack on some of favorite brands without knowing the right usage, the whole weibo makeup world is so sick. Either I see false raves or used products sale (2 times only on average).
I have seen another far “worse” translation on a more popular cosmetics forum in China, and the writer is a very skillful blogger that has shared many brush articles that I admire, so sad. Her “joking” tone is ill mannered, I didn’t have the guts to translate her comments on “lion paw” or RougeBR. I just lost my temper and wrote my honest comments to her article (but I didn’t scold her or gave bad words). I am not as grown up as I should be.
The blogger is reposting Sonia’s post, and at the beginner, she writes a disclaimer that basically says (rough translation of important bits):
“Today I read an awesome makeup brush post. She [Sonia] summarised her favourite brushes, of which there are over 140…divided into individual sections [of the face]. The “top” amongst these, many are Japanese brands, including Hakuhodo, Chikuhodo, Tanseido, Koyudo, Suqqu and some I haven’t heard of, as well as some Western brands, like Tom Ford, Rae Morris. Miao Miao [I] am conveying it [the post], with the hope that it will be of help to everybody. Today, I’ll first forward the eye section. When I have time, @isigmbeauty and I will translate it…. ” etc
So, she has mentioned that it isn’t her post, but she doesn’t link back to SMUT. I hope that helps with what you decide to do, Sonia! My translation is word-for-word, but I don’t think I’ve mistranslated her intentions….
Well, Sonia, at least people value your opinion if that helps :S
thank you Bonnie, I actually need to put my name on all pics now 🙁 which is time consuming…
no you are right don’t worry, I think I understood it like that also.
anyway, thanks to all of you for your help ! 😉 so sweet of you !
I hope I didn’t cause trouble.. I couldn’t read it, and didn’t see a link back to your website so I figured I would let you know. I love reading your brush reviews, and I would hate if someone took it without giving you the proper credit.
no worries Momo, of course you haven’t ! thank you so much for all your support 🙂
Thank you for your reply, I am glad to hear I didn’t create troubles 🙂 I am about to place an order for Hakuhodo brushes based on your reviews. Thank you again for your wonderful and detailed information, they are of great help!
What a fantastic travel post. Now I would like to visit Japan as well. It really sounds truly amazing.
First of all:
What a great writer you are!
Amazing,I can feel this atmosphere..I’m crying while reading,don’t get me wrong:)
You are so brave!
I thought you are with your BF,not alone.
Amazing woman you are!with great experience.
The brush museum with great interesting people!!!i’m jealous jealous jealous
if I were you,alonе in beautyland,all these meetings with Chiku,Haku and other top brush makers would be too stressful for me.so I would need another completely lazy vacation after vacation with relaxing see view%))
The posts about the other manufacture visits will start to arrive soon hopefully. It has been a crazy month of June !
I hope you will enjoy those posts too 🙂 thank you so much for being so sweet to me !
Great post! Glad you enjoyed Japan. It has a very special place in my heart. I used to live there as well.
Reminds me of the first time i went there:traveled alone for 2 months across the whole country, barely speaking the language. best holidays ever!
2 months is a nice period to start really enjoying the atmosphere, it took me a few days to feel normal there, and that was thanks to the companies and the friends that I met, otherwise it wouldn’t have been such a great souvenir 🙂
you did speak some Japanese ?
Hi Sonia, this is my first time commenting in a blog entry but I just feel that I have to becuase how you felt when you visited Japan for that first time is exactly how I felt when I visit Her two years ago. Especially the ‘teary’ part when I was leaving it. But you were so brave to go there by yourself with language barier and Yen and all the train schedules. Lastly I just want to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy reading about your trip. I wish I found this entry when I was planning my Japan trip those years ago :)) Take care
Thank you for sharing Linda, I am very touched that you comment here, every comment makes my day and is precious to me!
I have to share my recent adventure because I returned this year but with my bf, it was much easier but going alone was amazing too, scary but a trip to remember… as you know, coming back is not fun 🙁
talk to you soon I hope !
Hello, Sonia, it was nice to visit your site and read all about my hometown ‘Hiroshima’.
I live in Kumano town now, and am a Peace Volunteer at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (on Sundays).
My profession is a freelance English interpreter/National English Guide, and I came into your site after searching information about Kumano & Hiroshima written in English! Everything is beautifully presented here and photos look nicer than the real ^_^ Thank you very much for your wonderful job!
Next time when you have a chance to come over here, let me invite you to my house!!
Take care, and let us keep in touch,
I will write to you separately to talk to you a bit more in private 🙂
It’s not beautifuly presented, it is actually more beautiful in reality, I love Hiroshima, if I could live there I would!
I cooked Okonomiyaki last week, of course not as good as in Hiroshima but I love it so much !!
sure I will contact you and I would be delighted to meet you 🙂
I have to post my visits from this year, I was there in May/June and haven’t published my visit yet!
Wow Sonia. What an amazing trip. I am planning a trip to Japan and Korea in about 4 years. I should definitely like to visit either Chikuhodo or Koyudo. Will be reaching out for your expertise.