Patty (woodycakes) wrote,

Welcome to Japan, it's been waiting for you

So out of all the amazing things that happened to me this year, I have to say that going to Japan was on the top of that list and Taylor Swift's 1989 album coming out was a very close second, if not a tie. It was so good that the entire time I was in Tokyo, it was all I listened to. Like literally, all I listened to. I got the LJ user formerly known as jamypye (aka my sister) to listen to it and she liked it -- but probably didn't obsess over it as much as I did. I don't think anyone could equal my obsession.

And for the two weeks I was in Japan (mostly the Tokyo stay), I tried to 'match' a song to the day's activities. Unfortunately, I cannot do that here. I've thought long and hard and it just won't match everything and I wanted to do it in chronological order for both the stay in Japan and the track list (the anal side of me is panicking at how this can't work) so it won't match and so i'll have to separate them. But know that the feelings I felt while listening to the album were AMAZING and I've grown to love the ENTIRE album, even the songs I weren't feeling too much.

Also, I come from a third world country so Japan was pretty impressive. If you aren't as impressed, I'm sorry but everything was AWESOME for me and I am seriously considering moving to Japan now even if I don't speak the language or have a viable job waiting. So as promised to catteo, behold, my favourite lyrics from 1989 and some photos from Japan.


I bought the cheapest to Osaka that I could find and that was Cathay Pacific -- my first time to take the airline. That meant I'd take a detour to HK International Airport which is A-OK with me because that airport is brilliant. And it was an omen of things to come because every single bus, train, Shinkansen, sidewalk and station I encountered in Japan was beautiful. Call me starved for basic transportation but coming from Manila where commuting is a pain, I welcomed and revelled in the magnificence that was the Japan transportation system. Expensive? Yes. But worth every damn yen.

When I arrived, I discovered that my hotel was very very near Osaka Castle -- tourist trap, I know but I am a tourist. So I left my bags and walked right away. And it was a kind of gloomy day but it didn't stop me. The park surrounding the castle was beautiful and I just wanted to hang out and chill. The moat surrounding the castle was beautiful and all the mini-gardens inside were just so nice to walk around. So many trees. I loved it.

But i had an entire list to get through so after going through the entire park, I walked back to the hotel to check in and discover the rest of Osaka.

Walking around Osaka, I saw so many awesome things including but not limited to vending machines everywhere. And cute signs made of foliage -- this was for a parking garage, take note. I wish I could read Japanese, and everything would have been glorious.

Instead I walked around aimlessly, trying to understand the google maps I painstakingly planned ahead of time and walking through walkways covered and sting like shopping arcades that last for blocks on blocks. Finally, I got tired of walking and had a very late lunch at a random restaurant that had an oyakodon. It also happened to be the cheapest meal I found.

Also amazing about Japan, there are luxury stores everywhere. not that I was about to buy something from Louis Vuitton but literally as you step out of the train station, there is a HUGE LV installation and this was a nice collaboration with Frank Gehry.

After chilling in the hotel for a couple hours in the afternoon -- i was so tired -- i ventured out again and made it my mission to find the Ferris Wheel on top of a mall (HEP 5). I found it and rode it and was terrified the entire time. I'm pretty scared of heights, so I'm not sure why I keep subjecting myself to this. It was a nice view of Osaka at night.

As I walked around that night -- looking for the Umeda Sky Garden (and seeing it from afar but being too tired to walk all the way), I end up at this shopping arcade that had a really pretty outdoor staircase and lighting. Gorgeous.

I visited a temple -- the first of many and though I had to pay to get in, it was pretty worth it because the structures were just so well kept and intact. After the temple, I saw a grocery and decided to go in because really, groceries and convenience stores in Japan are the way to my heart. The yakitori offerings they have are superb. And though I don't have a single photo of the inside of Family Mart, it will be forever remembered as a lot of my dinners were purchased off their ready to eat meals. I love the food of Japan -- both instant and restaurant.

Also abundant, arcades and though I'm not a big player, they have ALL sorts of arcade games. I know no one ever wins these catchers but they have the best giveaways.

While walking around, I didn't realise that the Glico Guy was such a big deal. Or that there was a countdown over his head. Only when I went back that evening to the Dotonbori area did I realise how a big a deal he was and how I was there for the unveiling of the new Glico man billboard. There were so many people.

That evening, after not having spoken to anyone in English for 2.5 days, I decided to go find an Irish bar where I find a bunch of English/Irish grandpas speaking English. Hurrah! They were very nice to me and broached the idea of teaching English in Japan. I didn't realise this was possible as I speak no Japanese. But apparently, it's totally normal. Going to a bar is a feat for me, so the fact that I dragged myself out of the hotel and to a bar and talked to the folks there is a HUGE deal. Look at me, all grown up.

I reserved an entire day for Universal Studios given that I really just wanted to go to the Harry Potter portion -- literally, the reason I went to Osaka. So when I arrive at the park at 11 and get informed that i need to get another pass to enter the HP part, I freaked. Luckily, I made it. I had a 430pm slot so I had a lot of time to kill. And the time will be killed.

The line to Spiderman was 2 hours long and it was like a 3-minute ride. But then I discovered the 'single-rider' pass and since I was alone, I got to skip all the long lines and just got inserted when there were odd numbered groups riding an even number car. Not bad. Plus I got to visit other sections of the park. It was my first time in any Universal Studios, after all. I know, I'm so lame.

And so 4:30 rolled around and I finally gained access to the crazy section and it was worth it. Sure, there were people covering every nook and cranny but Hogsmeade felt like it did in the movies and the place really felt true to the book. Plus butter beer is very sweet and I don't think I could drink too much.

But really, the Hogwarts castle was beautiful and I took a bazillion photos of it from every possible angle with my phone because I just wanted to cement the memory in my head. The line for the Forbidden Journey ride was terribly long too, but at this point, I was quite numb to lines already. Sure, the characters spoke in Japanese but it was pretty fun.


The train ride to Kyoto was really fast and I walked quite a bit to get to the Ryoakan that jamypye had reserved but it was nice to see my sister even though I was also dreading our eventual fight that would go down. Luckily, it didn't happen on our day 1 together and instead we were able to appreciate the prettiness of Kyoto.

It's funny because I honestly thought that Kyoto would be very Memoirs of a Geisha-esque which is funny because obviously Kyoto has modernised since then and still that's what i had in mind. No wonder other foreigners think the Philippines is still a bunch of nipa huts. But I digress, the more 'rural' Kyoto is so modern already but definitely not at par with Osaka or Tokyo and therein lies its charm.

We spent the afternoon climbing the misleading Fushimi Inari mountain trek aka the millions of orange Toriis that you see in the Geisha movie. This is where she runs through the gates and I'm thinking as I climb it, that 'wow that kid had stamina' because the toriis never ended and the mountain was quite the walk.

And when you reach the top of the mountain, there's a shrine but it wasn't much for me. It was more beautiful at the 'scenic' view 3/4 up the mountain but not bad. I'm glad we did it, but boy was I tired. There was an old man that pointed out the sign that said 'top of the mountain' to us because I really couldn't believe we were there already. Their map was shockingly misleading and definitely not to scale which is weird. But we just laughed it off in between gasps of breath.

Day 2 in Kyoto was when I was not in a good mood to get along with my sister but the places we went to were beautiful We took a really long bus ride to the Arashiyama Bamboo grove and it was so picturesque. I wish my photos would do it justice but the views were really breathtaking. There were mountains and rivers and bamboo and trees and a pretty temple and lots and lots of people.

In the afternoon, after having eaten, I was in a much better mood but also tired but we still made it to the Kinka-Kuji temple which is apparently an 'all gold' temple which I think was really just painted on but it was pretty. Another deceiving park just because there isn't anything else there but the golden temple but the place it was in was really beautiful and there were a lot of tourists and students taking photos across the pond. Plus, there were some orange foliage in our search for autumn leaves.

And yes, we ate that massive noodle pancake thing on the right. It was stuffing and heavy and rich and so un-very Japanese but it was very very good. I don't think I've tasted this kind of Japanese food and I've eaten quite a bit so it was nice to have something new.

On our last full day in Kyoto we visited the not-so-tourist-heavy Tofukuji Temple and it had to be my favourite temple just because there weren't many people there so we actually got to sit and relax and feel as 'at peace' as we could be. We could have gone to Nara but we didn't have the time and we wanted to get around Gion. So instead we headed back to the centre of Kyoto.

Apparently, our ryoakan was very near Kyoto tower and though we didn't go up, we could see it from the train station. We also switched from the ryoakan (traditional japanese accommodations -- read: tatami mats and all) to a capsule type of accommodation. I don't have a proper photo because i was so tired, I just slept but it didn't feel as claustrophobic as I thought it would be which is great.

We went around Gion at night and that's where the Kyoto in my mind could be found. We saw legit geishas walking and there were really picturesque scenery. My sister almost rented out a kimono but it was a little too expensive for just an hour's worth -- since the day was almost done. Instead we snacked at this really artsy cafe and the owner's dog kept on coming over to us. He was obviously, adorable.


After checking out of our capsule, we did a little more shopping on our last morning in Kyoto but I decided to just head to the train station because I hadn't yet bought a Shinkansen ticket to Tokyo (aka the biggest expense of my entire stay). It was expensive for sure, but totally worth it because the train was so efficient and so fast and before we knew it, we were coasting along the Japanese country side and entering the madness that is Tokyo. Plus, I got to bring a nice katsu bento box on the train. I can't say no to food.

On our first night in Tokyo, we met up with Jenny and Roy (aka as the cutest married couple ever, whom we went to Batanes with earlier this year). They were on the tail end of their Japan trip but we had dinner at a great katsu place and they took us to the Kabukicho area where we scouted for a bar to go to in Golden Gai. The bars are so tiny, it could only fit like 8 people. We managed to squeeze into one with two Japanese guys, two Canadians and an Australian lawyer and it was just a fun night.

It's nice because if it weren't for Jenny and Roy, we totally wouldn't have gone to a bar on our first night Tokyo. My sister and I aren't necessarily bar people so it was lovely to be taken out of our usual comfort zone and meeting new folk even if just for a bit in Tokyo.

The next day, I got a headstart from my sister and because I didn't have data or wifi (it's highly suggested you get a pocket wifi, it's so much more convenient), we ended up missing each other at the Meiji Jingu. The entry to the palace was really beautiful and felt very Out of the Woods. The temple itself was okay. I didn't get to see a traditional wedding.

I ended up walking around the Omotesando area and it's like the major shopping road for Tokyo. All the foreign designer brands were there in really amazing buildings with modern architecture. I didn't get to take a lot of photos because i was busy window shopping and there were so many people. Instead, I found a nice coffee place that was so hidden and so hard to find, I'm shocked they're doing well.

And of course, you can't visit Shibuya without seeing Hachiko. No, I'm still not going to watch the movie. It just makes me sad thinking of it. Hachiko will be the place I meet up with everyone moving forward because it's the easiest and most accessible land mark to find.

At night, I go back to Shibuya Crossing just so I can see the craziness and the sheer amount of people crossing all at once and it's the first time I see people crossing diagonally. It's quite the sight. Shibuya also has a lot of shopping and though I couldn't enter every single store, I did my fair share of Center Gai and of course, saw a Taylor Swift 1989 billboard on a truck going around. HOW COULD I NOT HAVE KNOWN SHE'D BE IN TOKYO A DAY AFTER I LEFT??!

I woke up extra early the next day, because my sister was heading to Mt. Fuji (I was too poor and didn't have as much time so I stayed in the city). So we both headed out early and I ended up at Ropponggi Hills which is such a classy and modern art-ish place. I wanted to live there. It also happened to be where the Tokyo International Film Fest was going on and as much as I wanted to buy a ticket and watch a movie, there was still so much on my to-see list.

I end up walking to the 21/21 Design Museum which was still closed by the time I got there (I swear I was incredibly early) and then headed to the National Art Center which I technically didn't really see any exhibitions but the building was so beautiful and their museum store was so pretty if not expensive. I wish I could have eaten at the cafe but there were other things to do.

I headed to the Meguro and Ebisu neighbourhood which was very posh and quaint and the canal had cafes and little stores lining it's sides. It would be nice to live there because it was so calm and out of the way and slightly hipster if i were to be honest.

I met up with one of the folks we met at the bar the other night and we went to eat at the market before heading to Ueno Park which is waaay across the other end of Tokyo but definitely worth a visit. With the massive ponds and lots of greenery, it was a nice place to spend the afternoon. Plus, they had some stuff going on that night so there we booths all lit up.

Despite having seen so many temples, there were still many more to see and so i headed to see the Senso-ji was a HUGe tourist destination with the big lanterns. From Senso-ji, I could see the Sky Tree from a far so I took a look already. I could have ridden the train to it but I've seen so many towers already.

Instead I headed to Iidabashi to see the really pretty koshikawa kōrakuen garden. I didn't think I'd be so into gardens but the Japanese know how to do a garden or a park and I found myself just sitting near the pond (listening to all the slow songs on Taylor's album) and just chilling. It was a nice reprieve from all the walking.

I didn't get to mention that today was Halloween and the Japanese are really into it (though they just started the tradition a couple years back and are constantly asking Caucasian tourists if they're doing Halloween right, and boy are they into it). I've never seen them so rowdy and so completely into something. Shibuya Crossing was CRAZY FULL OF PEOPLE, I couldn't do it anymore. I met up with my sister at Hachiko and I had to head home because I was seriously close to a panic attack. But it looked fun. I just wasn't prepared for this.

The only day it truly rained in Tokyo and my sister and I decide to head to the Tsukiji Fish Market to splurge on sushi. It's difficult when you can't read Japanese characters so we lined up in the rain in the shortest line. I know you're supposed to line up in the long line cause it's supposed to be good but at this point, we really didn't care and just wanted to have some sushi. Boy was it worth it. I love sushi and it was a bit pricey but worth the wait and the money. I want more.

Afterwards, we headed to Ginza which was a nice closed off street that had the flagship store of Uniqlo. And though we already have this in Manila, it's still nice to visit the flagship store. It's so beautiful! 11 floors of amazing basics. I wish I were loaded, I would have bought the place out.

We find ourselves at the Imperial Palace's garden thinking that we'd be able to see the Palace itself, but apparently, you have to walk a long way and can only see it from afar, from across a moat and a bridge. Still, the garden was beautiful with the stone walls and all the pretty trees and landscaping. Japanese do gardens so well.

In the evening, we stopped by the Tokyo International Forum just because the interiors are so beautiful. I love a good modern architectural feat and this one is listed in Lonely Planet for a reason. It's just jaw-dropping-ly pretty. Just google it because my photo on the right doesn't do it justice.

On my last full day in Tokyo, we decide to chill a bit and we head to the Shinjuku Park which is the neighbourhood of our hotel. Our hotel, is the most central thing ever and it's such a nice place to stay. This Park is one of the prettiest parks I went to just because it had different types of gardens -- Japanese traditional, French garden, English Garden etc. The French garden felt very Parisian and I missed paris for a bit there. And it was orange. Hello, autumn leaves.

I ended up doing a lot of shopping in the afternoon for family and friends, then I met up with my sister who treated me to drinks (non-alcoholic for me, since i was terribly paranoid that I wouldn't wake up for my train ride to the airport) at the New York Bar at the Tokyo Park Hyatt. My sister is a HUGE Lost in Translation fan so we had to go to this bar. and well, it was quite the view of Tokyo. Again, my photo does not do it justice but the views were superb.

Japan is seriously amazing and I definitely want to go back one day -- when I'm way richer than I was. It's possible to go on a budget but everything is just tempting, you'll want to spend more. I'm so glad I finally got to go.

And now we move on to the amazing album that was 1989. At first, I only liked 85% of the album, but after multiple repeats -- in Japan and even when I got home, how could I not fall in love with the entire album??? Please stop being awesome to my ears, Taylor. I need to give everyone else in my library a chance.

  • Welcome to New York
    I wish I lived in New York. There's no doubt about that, and this song made me want to pack my bags and forcibly enter NYC regardless of my visa not being the proper one.
    Took our broken hearts, put them in a drawer
    Everybody here was someone else before
    And you can want who you want
    Of course, every NYC fantasy involves best girlfriends, dancing in streets and meeting boys. I've been to NYC twice in my life and I've experience 1 out of 3. I want to experience Taylor's NYC and this song totally makes me want to do that.
    It's a new soundtrack
    I could dance to this beat
    The lights are so bright
    But they never blind me

  • Blank Space
    Clearly my favourite song off the album on first listen, I'm over the moon it became the second single because I listened to this WAY too many times as I walked around. And though the video is brilliant, it definitely wasn't what I had in mind when I listened to the song. I choose to think of the happier times before it all goes to shit.
    So hey, let's be friends
    I'm dying to see how this one ends
    Grab your passport and my hand
    I can make the bad guys good for a weekend
    I love this thought of just jumping into love and not knowing the outcome. Obviously, I am not this kind of person and I like knowing exactly how things end, so this song is such a fantasy/achievement for me to unlock -- minus the craziness.
    'Cause we're young and we're reckless
    We'll take this way too far
    It'll leave you breathless
    Or with a nasty scar

  • Style
    This song breaks my heart in the best way possible just because I don't blame her for finding out the truth and just not caring -- or 'feeling' for him because she's been in the same place. Taylor, why must we hurt ourselves and empathise this way!
    He says, "What you've heard is true but I
    Can't stop thinking about you," and I...
    I said, "I've been there too a few times."
    And true enough, they keep going round in circles and repeating the same mistakes and it must be such an addictive feeling to keep wanting to crash down every time.
    And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
    'Cause we never go out of style
    We never go out of style.

  • Out of the Woods
    I'll admit this wasn't my favourite song at first, when Taylor released the full song as a teaser but I just wasn't feeling it. And then I listened to it with the entire album and fell in love with it. The lyrics are cryptic but they're beautiful and I love dancing (cue: All the Well's dancing by the refrigerator light)
    Your necklace hanging from my neck
    The night we couldn't quite forget
    When we decided (we decided)
    To move the furniture so we could dance,
    Baby, like we stood a chance
    Two paper airplanes flying, flying, flying
    And I remember thinkin'
    The bridge though is my favourite and I think I read that searchtheskies loves it too and with reason. I love the part where the sun comes up and they were looking at each other. Oh to be in that situation.
    Remember when we couldn't take the heat
    I walked out and said, "I'm settin' you free,"
    But the monsters turned out to be just trees
    And when the sun came up, you were lookin' at me

  • All You Had to Do was Stay
    I wouldn't want to be left behind and to feel these feelings but I like that she's able to tell the person that it's all they had to do and they couldn't even do it. It's a very blame-y song but come on, you just got left behind, i can't fault her.
    Here you are now, calling me up, but I don't know what to say
    I've been picking up the pieces of the mess you made
    People like you always want back the love they pushed aside
    But people like me are gone forever when you say goodbye
    This is the happiest bitter song ever or at least the happiest sounding even if the lyrics are all pointing fingers and all. The blame games hasn't sounded this good and upbeat.
    Let me remind
    You this was what you wanted
    You ended it
    You were all I wanted
    But not like this

  • Shake It Off
    Shockingly, this song suddenly pales to the rest of the album even if I love it and it holds a special place in my heart. I get why it's the first single to introduce her new style and the video is adorable but I guess it's what i relate to least, just because I'm not popular enough to have haters -- or haters that I know of.
    I'm dancing on my own (dancing on my own)
    I make the moves up as I go (moves up as I go)
    And that's what they don't know
    But any time Taylor mentions a fella, with hella good hair, you know i"m listening. I swear, to find a fella and one with good hair. Some girls have all the luck.
    And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
    Won't you come on over, baby? We can shake, shake, shake

  • I Wish You Would
    Now is the sort of acceptance phase after the blaming and it's nice that she's just remembering and being all nostalgic still with some pining and longing but not so aggressive and or at least I don't feel it that way. Again, I love how peppy this song is. I swear, pop is suiting her so well.
    I wish we could go back
    And remember what we were fighting for.
    And I wish you knew that I miss you too much to be mad anymore.
    And I wish you were right here, right now, it's all good.
    I wish you would
    Wishes, we can keep on wishing. God knows I've done my share of it and that's why I love this song, because there are so many 'what ifs' and 'if onlys' and yet, she's still able to move on in a way. I hope I can produce this much material during a heartbreak. Not that I want a heartbreak.
    You always knew how to push my buttons
    You give me everything and nothing
    This mad mad love makes you come running
    To stand back where you stood
    I wish you would, I wish you would

  • Bad Blood
    Definitely not my most favourite song on the album at first listen, it feels very rah-rah-rally against something and it reminded me of Hollaback Girl for some reason. After a couple listens though, I totally feel like doing some cardio to it.
    Did you think it all through? All these things will catch up to you
    And time can heal but this won't, so if you’re coming my way just don’t
    Oh, it’s so sad to think about the good times, you and I
    And luckily, I haven't gotten into any girl fights so I won't have to relate to this soon but it sucks that we have to go through this drama. I say no to girl drama. Let's all just be friends.
    Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes
    You say sorry just for show
    If you live like that you live with ghosts
    If you love like that blood runs cold

  • Wildest Dreams
    This one crept on me and if it weren't for lusimeles, I wouldn't have realised it was a very Lana del rey tune. But regardless of the inspiration, I really did grow to love the lyrics and the song and the style of it. And of course, the feels.
    He's so tall and handsome as hell
    He's so bad but he does it so well
    And when we've had our very last kiss
    My last request is
    It's really bittersweet to ask this of someone just because there's an end to something but at least it's a nice memory to remember you by and I definitely found myself repeating this one just because.
    Say you'll remember me standing in a nice dress,
    Staring at the sunset, babe
    Red lips and rosy cheeks
    Say you'll see me again
    Even if it's just in your wildest dreams

  • How You Get the Girl
    Though half the lyrics don't make sense, it still is such a fun song and the chorus has me all 'aww-ing' over it. A little optimistic and a little too hopeful but hey, one can't lose hope and just be negative.
    I want you for worse or for better,
    I would wait forever and ever,
    Broke your heart, I'll put it back together.
    I would wait forever and ever.
    I love this reminiscing part. Taylor really has a way of being all narate-y about things and i guess it's her 'country' background so I always like these little vignettes she writes about. Pictures on frames and Kisses on cheeks? Yes, please.
    Remind me how it used to be.
    Pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks.
    And say you want me.

  • This Love
    Other than Clean, this was one of the slow songs that really stuck out to me right away and though I wish I had a love to speak of, this one sounds pretty intense and tragic. The sadness of it is quite horrible but the melody is so pretty it lulls you into a false sense of ease.
    Tossing, turning, struggled through the night with someone new
    And I could go on and on, on and on
    Lantern burning, flickered in my mind for only you
    But you're still gone, gone, gone
    And though I don't think it ends well, I'm in a little capsule of denial wherein all pretty sounding songs end happily. I know, leave me be in this little bubble of safety I've created.He comes back, right???
    Your kiss, my cheek, I watched you leave
    Your smile, my ghost, I fell to my knees
    When you're young you just run
    But you come back to what you need

  • I Know Places
    To be honest, the foxes and hunters metaphor really made me laugh at first but then it grew on me with it's Lorde-sque influences and before I knew it, I was chanting along to every line. And anything with 'grabbing hands' and holding hands is A+ for me.
    Just grab my hand and don't ever drop it
    My love
    They are the hunters, we are the foxes
    And we run
    I'd love to know places where one can hide, hopefully with someone to hide with. And so you see the theme of all these songs and my feelings. They're awesome in concept but better in practice if there was someone to pine over.
    Baby, I know places we won't be found
    And they'll be chasing their tails tryin' to track us down
    Cause I, I know places we can hide
    I know places

  • Clean
    I could listen to this song over and over and over again and I wish there were more of Imogen Heap because I quite miss her music. It's such a nice and positive-ish ending to the album knowing that she'll be okay after all. Still, quite sad how she got there.
    There was nothing left to do
    When the butterflies turned to dust that covered my whole room
    So I punched a hole in the roof
    Let the flood carry away all my pictures of you
    The bridge of her songs usually kill me and this isn't any different. 10 months to get sober and to get older and hopefully we learn our lessons. Now let's try to move on.
    10 months sober, I must admit
    Just because you're clean don't mean you don't miss it
    10 months older, I won't give in
    Now that I'm clean I'm never gonna risk it

    Thanks for sitting through the craziness that was this entry. I didn't realise how massive it was going to get. Until the next time I visit Japan or when Taylor releases another album.

  • Tags: japan, kyoto, music, osaka, siblings, taylor swift, the canadian, tokyo, vacation
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