Getting some glimpse of Hakone lake from the hills of Onshihakone park.
Hakone – 2017
That is it! I am finally tackling all the Japan content I have! Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing my itineraries to help you plan your trip to the Land of the Rising Sun – starting with Tokyo!
As you can imagine, Tokyo is an amazing city, it is very old yet very modern, very calm yet very busy – it is a fascinating place! The itinerary below will take you to most of the main sights in Tokyo. The city is so vast that you could easily spend another five days exploring it, that is if you have a lot of time in Japan. If you are only there for a couple of weeks, five days is a good start for a first visit to Tokyo.
If coming from Europe, you will be landing in Tokyo around breakfast time. It will take you a good couple of hours to make it to Tokyo city-centre, time to grab your luggage, go through customs, taxi or train, etc. We were staying in Shinjuku where most of the big hotels are, so we decided to spend the afternoon there.
Shinjuku is one of the busiest neighbourhoods of Tokyo and a very convenient place to base yourself during your stay in Tokyo with multiple train and subway stations around. We stayed at the Hilton which was very nice, but a bit expensive.
Shinjuku is also the perfect place to have a first taste of Tokyo, it is overwhelmingly busy, but Japanese people are so quiet and respectful that it feels less busy than a London pub on a Friday night.
The second day is a perfect mixture of modern and ancient Tokyo. First stop Meiji Jingu in the heart of Harajuku. A beautiful shrine hidden in the middle of a park, offering a little bit of peace and quiet away from the buzzing streets of Harajuku, which I could best described as the Shoreditch of Tokyo.
After enjoying the tranquility of Meiju Jingu, we walked through Harajuku and headed toward Shibuya. Coming from that direction you will arrive straight to the famous Shibuya crossing, which, in real life, looks and feel smaller than what you may have seen in pictures or in movies. It is still busy though!
For the best views of the crossing head to Starbucks for a coffee and the best time-lapse spot.
Get lost in the back streets of Shibuya and make sure to grab lunch at Toritake.
Full of yakitori, we then headed to Roppongi, another very trendy neighbourhood of Tokyo and a great place to do a spot of shopping. We haven’t been there at night but it is supposed to be a very lively place to go out.
After walking all day, we ended the day back in Shinjuku with a delicious ramen at the very popular Ichiran.
On the third day, we headed to an older part of Tokyo and started in Asakusa. Just outside of the station you will have a great view of the Skytree. We decide not to visit it though to have more time visiting Tokyo and less time waiting in a notoriously long queue.
Walk to the ancient Sensō-ji temple, you will walk through charming ancient streets to get there.
Embrace the atmosphere of the old shrine and bathe yourself in incense smoke for good health.
Head to Tokyo National Museum and grab lunch on your way there. You can easily find bento boxes and onigiri in supermarkets for a lunch on the go. We had our lunch in Ueno Onshi Park.
The Tokyo National Museum is the perfect option if you only have time to visit one museum in Tokyo, or if you are not really into Museum. It gives an overview of Japanese history and culture, from clothing to housing.
After a few hours wandering the corridors of the museum, we headed deep into Ueno and got lost in the little streets for an afternoon walk.
We ended the day, again in Shinjuku, and had one of the most amazing meals at Imahan.
I talked about Tsukiji Fish Market into details in a previous post, and, because you can only visit the market the morning, it is a great place to start your day.
After a couple of hours among the fish and their fishmongers, we headed for a bit of fresher air and decided to visit Hamarikyu Gardens. This park is an oasis of tranquility in the middle of Tokyo.
We grabbed lunch on our way to Ginza, an upmarket shopping district.
Not far from Ginza is Chiyoda where you will find the Imperial Palace. It is also supposed to be a fantastic spot to see the cherry blossom during the season.
We ended the day in the very lively district of Ebisu where we had dinner and a cheeky beer at the Ebisu Beer Hall.
On your last day, immerse yourself in the gamer and technology culture in Akihabara.
Get lost in the game centres or in a cat cafe (we did both!).
Take some cheesy photo-booth pictures and embrace the weirdness of the place.
A highlight of our Tokyo visit was the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The place is breathtakingly beautiful and on a rainy day like we had, it had strong Lost in Translation vibes.
Talking about Lost in Translation, make sure to end your trip with a drink at the New York bar, at the top of the Park Hyatt, and made famous by Sophia Coppola’s movie. It offers the most incredible views of the city at dusk.
I hope you will enjoy Tokyo as much as we did! I just cannot wait to come back!
This scene took place sometime in 2016…
Andrew – “We need a new TV!”
Claire – “Why? This one works perfectly well!”
Andrew – “Yes but I want a bigger one and there is that new OLED technology which…”
I stopped listening at that point. When you are married you have to pick and choose your battles, right? So we got a new BIG TV. Which means that I was left to decorate around a giant black rectangle taking centre stage in our living-room.
The thing with TVs is that often, when decorating, people treat them as an after-thought or, at the other hand of the spectrum, make it THE statement in the room. I wanted none of that. I don’t find TV to be nice to look at when they are off, so I wanted it to merge into the aesthetic of the room, while yet keeping it noticeable and enjoyable when on. The easiest way to do it for wall art hoarder like me? A gallery wall!
This gallery wall was a challenge though as our TV sits in a corner of the living-room, so not only did I have to plan around a TV but also across two walls! So before to start nailing things on the wall I looked for inspiration on my trusty Pinterest, and below are my top four sources of inspirations! All have the lightness and aesthetics I wanted to achieve. Come back very soon to see the results!
Something different on the blog today, as I realised I have never shared that content with you and thought some of you my find it useful!
On the 28th of May 2016, Andrew and I got married It was the loveliest day full of laughter, dancing, hugging, kissing, eating and drinking. I briefly mentioned it in the past on the blog but because I wasn’t as active at the time I never shared much of the day with you. 2018 wedding season is upon us and a lot of couple are making key decision for their wedding in the Spring and Summer, so I thought I could show you how I styled my wedding day to give you a little bit of inspiration!
The colours we picked were grey and pink. I wanted the day to feel like a nice summer garden party and these two colours fitted well with the theme. Hopefully all the information below will help you plan your very special day!
It was done by Marie Nebinger at Marc Fabian in Strasbourg. We got very lucky as she privatised the salon the entire morning for us!
For my hair I went for a bohemian updo, the best way to keep my curls under control yet embrace them! I also wanted flowers in my hair. The florist create pins which Marie then put into place to look like a flower crown, she also made sure to leave some space for my veil.
For the make-up I wanted to look like me, but better. We kept it very simple with a subtle eye make up, rosy lips and a bit of foundation and bronzer. And I think it turned alright.
I knew exactly what dress I wanted, the Jenny Packham Dentelle dress. However the main challenge I encountered was that this dress was just too expensive for me, so I had to look for a cheaper dupe. Luckily, after hours online I found out that Martina Liana was doing a very similar dress and was able to source it via Angelica Bridal in London.
I loved the light fabric, the natural A-line waist, the delicate lace details and the touch of sparkle with the embellished belt. It was flattering, comfortable and quite unique.
I styled it with a simple veil I bought off eBay (cheap!) and rose gold shoes from Dune.
Andrew decided to wear a white tie suit which I absolutely loved! He looked amazing!
He wore it with personalised initials cuff links I got for him on Not On The High Street.
We almost looked like we were out of Downton Abbey, don’t you think?
Our reception took place at the Chateau d’Osthoffen, 20 minutes outside of Strasbourg. The venue is gorgeous and has a marquee which can fit up to 200 people.
The grounds are also beautiful offering plenty of photo opportunities!
I didn’t go completely crazy with the flowers (it’s expensive!). I selected a mixture of white and pale pink flowers and worked with Une Histoire Une Fleur who understood my countryside/rustic/garden party vibe and created the most beautiful arrangements.
My bouquet was round, not huge and a little messy which I wanted
In the church we had some small arrangements at the end of each bench.
And the table centre pieces were composed of small floral arrangements in jam jars (saving money again!).
Talking about table decorations, again I was quite decisive and knew what I wanted pretty much from the start. My aunt, who couldn’t have been more helpful, sourced some wood slices to create the base for the floral arrangements. I also picked grey table cloths rather than white which I think made all the difference.
On the wood slice we placed three small bouquets in old jam jars and a few candles.
The table plan theme was London’s tube and each table was named after a line, so I created signs using the TFL logo with the colours of our wedding.
As I mentioned above I decided to name each table after a London tube line. This was a nice way to bring a bit of Andrew’s city to our wedding. It took me hours to design it but I was really happy with the results!
I used Printed.com for most of our wedding impressions.
We took a controversial approach with our wedding favours, we basically had none on the tables. I just don’t really see the point of them to be honest, most we received over the years have either been lost, broken or forgotten in a drawer.
So instead of giving our guest a favour we had a candy bar set up where people could help themselves to whatever they’d like and I did some personalised bag so they could take the sweets with them.
Sweet, good and recyclable!
Again, with the guest book I didn’t want to do something too creative that we would never use, so we went for the good old paper guest book. The only difference was that we had a picture of each of our guests in it, and they had to find their page and sign under it, so if we would now exactly who wrote what!
Around it I had framed the wedding pictures of our parents and grand-parents and we also had a Royal Mail box for cards.
A few other things we did was a sign post with our two cities.
Some paper pompoms on the ceiling of the marquee.
We wanted a vintage car and opted for a Citroen Traction (very French!) which we booked with RJ Car.
Our driver was lovely and helped me calm my nerves on our way to the church, he even served us a glass of champagne after we exited the church!
Our wedding stationary was probably one of the most difficult things to find. I disliked almost everything I could find as I wanted something simple, not boring and in keeping with our theme. We looked and looked, but when we found it there was no doubt! We both looked at each other – that was the one!
Our invites where from L’Art Du Papier in Paris. We then recycled the design to create the menu, church book, placement cards, etc.
It was a beautiful day and we had an amazing time, even when it started raining!
I wish you a day as special as ours!
All pictures were taken by the lovely Claude Masselot!