Photography, The organised chaos

Tokyo raves: Meiji Shrine

Since this was my first trip to Japan, I decided that we should get all the touristy places out of the way. One of our first stops was Meiji Jingu, or Meiji Shrine.

The gravel path leading to the shrine was long but because the path was lined by trees and the weather was cool, we had a nice stroll.

When we were there, we were lucky enough to spot three wedding parties! I loved seeing the bride and groom dressed in the traditional outfits – they looked so elegant and beautiful.

We also saw lots of little children being blessed. They were so cute! It’s apparently a custom for children aged three, five or seven who are coming of age to be blessed by the priests at the shrine.

There was also some sort of procession going on when we got there. The priests were preceded by guards, who would clear the way and warn people to get out of their path.

At the shrine, we decided to spend 500-yen to buy an ema: a wooden tablet where you write your wishes or prayers. The ema is then hung at the shrine for the gods to receive them.

Despite the hordes of people at the shrine (we were there on a Sunday morning), there was still an air of serenity which was not dispelled. Exactly what we need on our holiday!

The organised chaos

Tokyo rave: Citadines Tokyo Shinjuku

And the recap begins!

The TV can be slid from the lounge area to the bed. Clever!
The TV and various set-top boxes can slide from the lounge area to the bed. Clever!

When we were hunting for accommodation for our Tokyo trip, we were quite concerned about prices. Most of our friends’ suggestions hovered at the S$200 mark and above, and we came to the conclusion that this was probably the average price for our hotel stay.

Cousin Ching, who works at The Ascott, mentioned to me that her company had just launched Citadines Tokyo Shinjuku not too long ago and suggested I check it out. The rates sounded reasonable enough and the online reviews were glowing so I decided to bite the bullet and book a studio apartment for our stay in Tokyo. I wasn’t planning on asking my cousin for discounted rates because I knew it would put her in an awkward position, and tried to book the room through the website.

Thankfully for us, the booking did not go through due to lack of availability. I emailed the cuz, told her about the situation and emphasized that we were willing to pay the full rate as long as we can get a room. Being ever so efficient, she forwarded my mail to her Japanese colleagues immediately. It turned out that the company has to divide up their rooms among the different tour operators and websites, leaving a small number of rooms for their own website, which happened to be filled. But yes, there was a room available for us and we would be offered a 25 percent discount, which was part of a 25th anniversary promotion Citadines was running worldwide.

Bingo! Including taxes and all, our stay there cost less than S$200 a night. The room was large enough for two, extremely comfortable and had free Internet connection (which made husband extremely happy). The location of the apartment is great: it’s a mere five-minute walk to the nearest subway station. Surrounding the building was an enclave of convenience stores and eateries and we could also walk to the nearest Isetan department store in Shinjuku.

The hotel staff was also wonderful. I was dying to check out Ghibli Museum but the entrance tickets were sold in advance only at the Lawsons convenience stores in Japan and the various JTB offices around the world. JTB, being a shrewd company, would only sell the tickets as a package with a hotel stay, which we did not need.

I emailed the sales coordinator and asked if there was someone who could help me purchase the tickets. She kindly offered to help me out and the tickets were placed into my hands upon our arrival. Points for efficiency!

All in all, we had a lovely stay at Citadines Tokyo Shinjuku and would definitely select the service apartment when we go back to Tokyo. Thanks cuz!

A sliding door cleverly divides the bed and the lounge area
A sliding door cleverly divides the bed and the lounge area

More photos here

Photography, The organised chaos

Fixing those pix from Japan

I have finally gotten down to tackling those 800 photos I had shot during our trip to Japan. Thank heavens for Adobe Lightroom! It sure made things easier for me. And I am so happy that I shot everything in RAW format, cleaning up terrible white balance and overexposed shots has never been easier.

I still have more than 600 photos to go through but it’s fine, the editing process is quite a joy. Thanks to my stint at Loiters, which taught me to be bold with my edits and to try out angles that I normally wouldn’t have thought of. I may not be a good photog but hey, I’m trying!

Here are some random favourites of mine, they are mostly from our jaunts in Yanaka and Meiji Shrine. A proper recap will be coming up soon!

Chain of buckets hanging from a well
Chain of buckets hanging from a well

Buckets at a shrine in Yanaka
Buckets at a shrine in Yanaka

Religious procession at Meijijingu
Religious procession at Meijijingu

Wedding couple posing at Meijijingu
Wedding couple posing at Meijijingu

More photos here.

The organised chaos

The wise man says

“One becomes extremist when life offers no other hope or meaning and someone offers you these in exchange for your life. That someone could be yourself and the delusions that manifest in that void.

The solution is simple – offer everyone you meet hope and meaning. Sometimes all it takes is a kind word or gesture to turn someone away from the edge. We all touch lives. Whose will you touch today?

And if you know no meaning in your life, then let this be it. Give hope. You will then find meaning.”

He was once my GP tutor back in Victoria Junior College and I suppose it’s fitting that he answers my question. And suddenly, I feel inspired to pick up the pen and write, like how I used to write as a student.

Thank you, Colin Cheong. After 10 years, you are still the teacher and I, the student.