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This site has been moved to JulieinJapan.com because I bought that domain.

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Now it will be easier to remember.

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Little Red Riding Hood Worship

This site has been moved to JulieinJapan.com because I bought that domain.

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Now it will be easier to remember.

I wish someone would explain why all the statues of gods in Japan get covered with little knitted red caps and bibs. They look adorable, but I couldn’t imagine worshipping them or asking them to bless me with a straight face.
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This god is a healing god. You’re supposed to rub it and then rub the part of your body you want to heal. It’s face looks intimidating and god-like, but it’s outfit makes it look just so weird and homely that it’s hard to take seriously.
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Also, there all these white ceramic animals in cages all over temples. Again, they look really cute, but why are they there? I like them, though.

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Vancouver has Sakura without the Hanami

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In April, Vancouver gets really pretty. I live in East Vancouver and there are cherry blossoms blooming all the way down my street. East Vancouver can be kind of depressing in the wintertime because it’s always raining and there are a lot of bad areas with drugs and homelessness, but in April, the pink trees make everything look softer and hopeful. I actually really like East Van; it’s cheap to live here and people are pretty friendly and there are nice restaurants and cute little stores along Main Street. I’m not saying I don’t like East Vancouver, I’m just saying that it gets waaay better in April and then on to Summer.
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Vancouver has, as does almost all of North America, really strict rules about alcohol compared to most other developed countries. In France, you can buy a bottle of super-cheap, decent quality wine at a store and then go walk down the road to any coffee shop or restaurant and just calmly ask the server if they would open your bottle because you left your corkscrew at home. And they’ll help you out. And then you can go have a picnic in the park and share a bottle of wine with your friends just like you’d do at home. In Japan, it’s even easier to drink alcohol in public. It’s available in vending machines, and people sell it on the side of the road in parks.
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In Canada, except I guess Quebec, that would be unthinkable. You’re not allowed to drink in public, and alcohol is only available from special government sanctioned liquor stores located really, really far away from any skytrains or buses. I really don’t care either way, but from what I’ve noticed, alcoholics and underaged kids and wild idiots will drink when they want to drink, and they’ll drink in public regardless of restrictions, so it may as well be legal and governed, because the only people who obey the laws are the kind of people who wouln’t cause any trouble anyway.
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In Japan during Sakura (cherry blossom) season, people go to parks and put tarps and blankets under the trees and have lovely parties called “Hanami”. I left on March 27th, so I missed most of Sakura season, but I got to see the very beginning of it at Yoyogi park and at Ueno park, where the blossoms were just beginning and everyone was lounging around with their friends under the flowers. It was really beautiful.
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It’s beautiful right now in Vancouver, too. I took these pictures today on my way to and from work. The trees are so gorgeous, and these aren’t even the really nice ones like in Stanley Park or near the Planetarium. I’m really glad we have all these beautiful cherry blossoms, but it’s kind of too bad we don’t get the parties that come with them in Japan.

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Blonde Redhead in Vancouver

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Blonde Redhead is coming to Vancouver next Friday!
This is probably my favorite band that still plays shows.
Here is their website and here is a site about them.
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Finding Vegetarian, Organic Foods in Tokyo

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Japanese food in Vancouver is basically my favorite kind of food. It’s so fresh, tasty, and healthy, and it looks like edible art! I love all kinds of sushi, wakame and gomae salad, and yaki udon. I was so excited to try Japanese food in Japan, too.
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I’m a vegetarian and I like eating fresh, organic food when it’s available. Because of this, the food in Japan was the biggest disappointment for me while I was there. I guess I’m really North-American west-coast when it comes to my diet, and Japanese food was one major culture shock. In Vancouver, I’ve never gone into a restaurant where they don’t offer anything vegetarian on the menu. There are so many people who don’t eat meat here in Vancouver that it’s not even an issue and I never have to think about it.
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In Japan, most people don’t really understand why a person wouldn’t want to eat fish, and most “vegetarian” food I had to eat there had fish stock in it. Also, for any vegetarians, most pastries there are made with lard, just so you know.

For people who like meat, though, Japan’s food is supposed to be really incredible!!

Metropolis is Tokyo’s largest English-language magazine about the city. I couldn’t find it while I was there, because I was there at the end of the month and it’s free. I guess it’s like trying to find Vice magazine in Vancouver near the end of the month. Anyway, Metropolis is online, and I found an interesting article about how Japanese people are beginning to eat organic food. Organic food is called Yuuki in Japanese.

Metropolis magazine says Organic food is catching on in Japan

This article says that because of a bunch of horrifying recent food scandals in Japan, people have begun to pay more attention to where their food comes from. The scandals included imported Chinese spinach that had 250% more pesticides (chlorpyrifos) than regulations allow and caused respiratory problems for many people. Another scandal was when Snow Brand Milk, Japan’s largest dairy, made hundreds of Japanese people sick because their milk was tainted. The article also says that there’s a lot of curiosity surrounding organic food, and that people are excited to try organic fruits and vegetables because they are more expensive than regular produce so people want to know what’s so special about them.

Either way, the article made me happy because I didn’t see any organic grocery stores while I was there and I was kind of disappointed by that. At least now I know they exist so that I can go look for them.

I found one great vegetarian restaurant in Kyoto called Peace Cafe kind of near Kyoto University. It was a bit expensive but it was so delicious. They had veggie gyozas that were incredible. That was my first time trying gyoza; even the ones in Vancouver restaurants usually have fish stock in them. The staff was friendly and calm, and the restaurant was candlelit and beautiful. I found a macrobiotic food store in Osaka, and I bought some gingersnaps but I’m not going to recommend that place because they weren’t very tasty and anyway, I forget the name of the store. Here are some organic grocery stores I found online at this organic and vegetarian website.

Crayon House
(Harajuku Station – JR Yamanote Line, Omotesando Station – Ginza & Hanzomon Subway Lines) Tokyo.
Organic fruit and vegetables and various health foods.Has bookstore and play area for children.

Mother’s Organic Market
Organic food supermaket & restaurant
(Kamiyacho Station on the Hibiya Subway Line
Onarimon Station on the Toei Mita Subway Line) Tokyo.

National Azabu Supermarket
(Hiroo Station on the Hibiya Line) Tokyo.

Natural-Harvest
(Near Meguro JR Yamanote Station & Nakameguro Hibiya Subway Line Stations)
Organic Fruit and Veges etc.Tokyo.

Tengu Natural Foods
Mail order Japan wide and store in Saitama

A vegetarian review site
Another place to find vegetarian restaurants in Japan
A recently reviewed vegan restaurant in Tokyo
Aya Kitagawa, a Japanese vegetarian lady who started a website
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When I move to Tokyo and find some great places, I will post pictures and reviews for you.
If you have a favorite restaurant or know anywhere to buy organic yoghurt in Tokyo, please let me know! I eat yoghurt every morning for breakfast with muesli.

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The best hotels in Japan

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My favorite hotel, Guesthouse Yougendo
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Gueshouse Yougendo is the best overall place to stay in Japan for a healthy person who wants to experience a traditional Japanese-style place without spending very much money (ME!). You can make free long distance phone calls, rent a bicycle for free, and have a vegetarian, organic breakfast. The owners are really nice and speak English, which is helpful. The house is built in the traditional way, using no nails. There’s no curfew. And it’s 6500 yen per night! (only 65 Canadian dollars) Overall, I think this one is the best. Here are some more reasons why this is the best hotel for young tourists in Japan:

+Very convenient access to Osaka(17mins), Nara(15mins), Kyoto (58 mins) Mie(45mins), Kobe (56 mins)and Wakayama(1hour).
+ Choice of home cooked breakfast
+ Luxury Bath / Face Towels
+ Toweling Bath Robe
+ Japanese “Yukata” Style Pajamas and “Haori” Jumper
+ Specially Selected Toiletries (Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Soap)
+ Crisp, Fresh Linen
+ Extra Pillows and Mattresses
+ No Curfew
+ Safe Storage for Valuables
+ Fully Equipped Self-Catering Kitchen
+ Wi-Fi Internet Access
+ Computer Terminal with Printer with Internet Access
+ Free National and International Phone Calls (SkypeOut Service)
+ Free Luggage Storage (Long Term Available)
+ 42-Inch Bilingual TV
+ Free Bicycle Loan
+ Free use of BBQ Kit (w/o Charcoals)
+ Bilingual Staff (English / Japanese)
+ Comprehensive Travel And City Information
+ Guide Services / Translation / Sightseeing Advice etc.
+ Complimentary Services and Items (Umbrellas, Rain macs, Fans etc.)
+ All Amenities within Very Close Range (Shopping Mall, Post Office, Restaurants, etc.)
Luxury Lounge area with TV, small library, information corner computer terminal (free internet) nice sofas, at home feel
+Dining area with self catering facilities (microwave,refrigerator,plates,cups,cutlery etc.)
+Extensive gardens with stunning Japanese antique ornaments. BBQ area/patio area, private and quiet

Guesthouse Yougendo also has a myspace you can visit.

KIMI RYOKAN
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This one is even cheaper, and it’s easily the best budget hotel in Tokyo. It’s always super booked-up, so if you wanted to stay here you’d have to reserve a room maybe one month in advance. This was the first place I stayed in Tokyo, and when I got here, the whole hotel smelled like lillies because the owners make new fresh flower arrangements (called Ikebana) every two days. It’s easy to find from Narita airport and it’s just so pretty and cheap. Lonely Planet calls it the best accomodation in this price range in Tokyo.
Here’s the Kimi Ryokan Website.

PARK HYATT TOKYO (That Lost in Translation Hotel)
If you have money, you could stay somewhere really amazing like that hotel with the great view and the amazing pool from Lost in Translation. It’s called the Park Hyatt Tokyo and it’s really beautiful. It’s a western-style five-star hotel with a futuristic, hypermodern Japanese twist.
Wow.
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A LUXURY RYOKAN
The most beautiful places to stay in Japan.
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Seriously, click the link above. Some of these places are so beautiful. A Ryokan is a traditional-style inn. You’re supposed to arrive there at 3 PM and you’ll be shown to your room and given tea and sweets. Later, you’ll get dinner served to you in your room, and a maid will come to lay out your futon for bed. In the morning, you let them know when you want breakfast and they’ll bring that to you, too. Usually there is a beautiful flower garden right outside your window, or one of those pretty raked-sand gardens. It’s really calming and quiet, and someone told me the best luxury Ryokans are found in forests.
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FINALLY
Don’t stay at the Uno House in Kyoto. It’s 15 dollars a night, but it’s really disgusting.

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Video of Julie Feeding Deer in Nara

Cute Deer in Nara!

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Nara is the ancient capital of Japan and now it has become this tourist city (but I mean that in a good way). It’s full of World Heritage sites and beautiful temples. It also has free-roaming deer everywhere, and they’re tame. You can buy special deer cookies and feed them. They’re tame, and they know what to expect, so they’re not afraid of nudging you or biting you a bit if you don’t give them all your cookies right away.

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