CHIBA | Christmas in Japan [Day 2]

Christmas in Japan has gotta be one of the things in my unending bucket list that's been scraped off much earlier than i expected lol, funny how we humans always trying to have a bucket list with a time frame to achieve what we have penned down, but most of the time it doesn't go according as planned. Life screws with us that way, but for the most parts that's where unexpected blessings step into the picture :)

Celebrating one of my favorite festive seasons of the year in my favorite country and last but not least my 2nd favorite season which is winter (obviously!) but without my favorite other half doesn't make this trip less desirable la, just abit lonely. It does feel kinda empty without him to celebrate with but anyways he's the type who doesn't share the same sentiments as i towards celebrations. あなた is kayu that way.
Hahaha, omg that's alot of "favorite" in just one sentence alone, must have boggled your mind by just reading it, because it did for mine! :-P




MY CHRISTMAS SUMMARY
  • Learned how to appreciate & drink traditional Japanese green tea
  • Met the Governor of Chiba Prefecture, Kensaku Morita-san
  • Hugged two cute mascots: Chiba-kun & Kisa-pon
  • Ate delicious authentic Japanese cuisines for Lunch & Dinner (so atas!)
  • Been blown away (literally) @ Umihotoru port
  • Watched one of the best Christmas light illuminations in Japan @ Tokyo German Village  

Waking up on a cold frosty (snow-less) Christmas morning gazing out from my hotel room balcony, still feeling surreal that i am actually here in Japan for the 2nd time of 2015 and in less than 2 months of my previous visit lol. Was all excited to start my day as we were told that we will be visiting Chiba prefecture's beloved Governor, Kensaku Morita-san himself and Chiba-kun!
Wore a red dress purposely (or was it a coincidence? :P) for that day to match Chiba-kun as he was also red in color which very much reminds me of those western children storybooks featuring red dog characters like Patrick & Clifford that my younger baby brother loves very much (dawww!)

Can you imagine being in a meeting with such an important figure who obviously has a jam packed schedule but took the time off specially for us, this is like one of the biggest honor a small fry (ex)student like me could ever experience in a lifetime. 
If only my old college would acknowledge all my accomplishments for all the past participations & contributions, i would be more than glad to represent them here in Japan but instead i am here as an independent individual on my own brand (my blog).  

FYI: Did you know despite the Christmas decorations and all, 25th December is not considered an official public holiday for Japan lol. They are just adapting the western cultures of celebration without the religious purpose (like Halloween, Valentines' Day, etc) hence it's not exactly an official thing but just a popular one. 

Before we get to that part which i would show you guys in a video, it's seriously like a red carpet greeting man! The whole office building awaiting for your arrival and upon stepping in, you are greeted with thunderous sounds of clapping @_@ Shy person like me want to just dig a hole & hide in it wei lol.



After a delicious morning buffet breakfast served by Hotel Springs Makuhari, located on the 1st floor where the receptionist counter is, we headed for a morning walk (considered as mini "exercise" la pfft) on the beautiful grounds of a traditional Japanese Garden that was not too far off from the hotel.
About 20 mins bus ride or less within Makuhari City before approaching the gates of Mihama-en (みはまえん), considered one of the notable tourists spots for one to experience the tranquility of a Japanese Garden, learn of its roots & purpose while getting to enjoy the traditional tea ceremony.


Mihama-en isn't your typical sightseeing tourist spots where visitors only get to only experience the mere surface of the local cultural aspects but a proper one with a well maintained Japanese Garden complete with stone paths, ponds and streams surrounding it filled with extremely large Koi fishes (koi's are considered lucky fishes), variety of local trees that change colors according to season like the maple trees and plum blossoms and last but not least the traditional tea house called Shorai-Tei (茶室「松籟亭(しょうらいてい)」) where guests can enjoy being served delicious green tea, accompanied with traditional sweets for only 500¥. But this has to be mentioned and paid along with the entry fee at the entrance of Mihama-en to allow the tea house to prepare the food & drinks before your arrival.




That manju & green tea combo is so delicious! Can have this everyday for teatime wei T^T

This is where i learned how to appreciate & drink proper green tea like a local Japanese, for a person who had always loved her teas, i've learned the western ways of making, serving & enjoying it but never had the chance to learn from the Asian side especially the Japanese.
Was wee bit sad that i didn't get to see how the Tea maker perform in the tea preparation, in general the full tea ceremony which i think it would be a great experience for tourists who are into cultural stuff like me. But she was clad in a beautiful traditional kimono with her hair donned neatly into a bun showing her gentle wise features.
Oh, they do hosts traditional tea ceremonies and outdoor tea parties, but prior reservations needed.

And according to our tea maker that being one isn't as easy at it sounds, in order for one to master the art it's a life long process of learning and improving passed down from master to apprentice.



Heading to the office while being stuck in usual weekday traffic

After our stroll next stop was the governor's office which i mentioned earlier above that i felt like hiding from the VIP treatment welcoming ceremony buy everyone in the office. Thank you guys, don't know what i did to deserve to be a part of this amazing program and i am very, very grateful for this opportunity.
This was the moment i wished so badly i could speak the language fluently when we were asked to introduce ourselves to the governor and everyone else on the board. Pretty embarrassing for me honestly, in my opinion but was told not to be too hard on myself. Let this be an motivational booster to master the language for 2016! *Adds oil*


So happy for once my Japanese name is being used instead of my given English name lol!


FYI: Did you know that Morita-san used to be a well known actor & singer who was the heartthrob of his time & is still is to this very day! Even our tour guide, Akiko-san said she had a childhood friend who was a huge fan of Morita-san, convinced her to join Kendo because of him lol




And this is where i finally got to meet Chiba-kun in person, he was standing there in his cute christmas outfit (can i please design & make this year's Christmas Outfit for Chiba-kun? lol) and i couldn't help myself from wanting to hug him. Everything about Chiba-kun is so lovable, from his character to his design execution to his back story and all, just makes you happy just seeing him.
Yes, i might act like a tough tomboy girl (it's a habit since young) who denies everything cute but the truth is, i love them very much!




How did Chiba-kun came long?

He is actually derived from the geographical shape of Chiba prefecture. So if you look closely on the map of Japan, you'll definitely see the figure of Chiba-kun with his belly button sticking out :-P
Don't so naughty to think of something else okay? I swear i won't forgive any of you guys, if you ruin the image of cute Chiba-kun for me lolol.

Source: Google.com
About Chiba-Kun taken from Chiba Prefecture’s Tourism Website:

He is very curious and loves to take on a challenge. When facing something unknown, he becomes even more courageous and passionate, and his body shines red.
Living in Chiba Prefecture, blessed with a warm climate, rich nature and abundant seafood and agricultural products, he has a weakness for tasty foods and loves to eat. He is a lovable character who can sometimes be mischievous.



Now it's almost about lunchtime after our meeting with Morita-san ended (he had another meeting to rush off to),so we were back on the bus again waving to Chiba-kun our last farewells. Such a bittersweet moment that this is our first and last meeting with Chiba-kun *sobs* hope one day we'll get to see him again soon. Well at least i have a mini keychain given to us by the governor as a souvenir of Chiba prefecture, that i can look at it everyday to remember chiba-kun (‘∀’●)♡

Lunch we had was at Kisarazu City and to enter it we had to pass the Tokyo-Bay Aqualine bridge (4.4km) which is also known as the fourth longest underwater tunnel bridge in the world (9.6km) spreading across at total of 14km. Cool right? :D
We arrived at one of the city's renown heritage restaurants- Takaraya (宝家) Authentic Japanese Restaurant and what makes them unique is not only they have been serving in this industry for over a decade (108 years to be exact) but also offering halal food menu to our fellow muslim brothers & sisters visitors so they can enjoy the taste of a proper authentic Japanese cuisine with a peace of mind.
Really thoughtful & considerate of them!




Not only that the owner whom we shall address as "okami (女将)-san", was really welcoming to all of us, making sure we were comfortable whilst enjoying our lunch in their humble family restaurant.
Talking to her was really pleasant too since she's quite friendly & talkative, reminded me very much of my mom!




During our lunch, we suddenly had a surprise visitor! It's none other than the mascot of Kisarazu city named KISAPON!
He is a cute Tanuki 狸 (raccoon) by the way and it's common for each city/ prefecture to have a mascot that represents them. Which i kinda regretted not purchasing any of the mascot plushie sold at Takaraya cashier counter upon leaving >.<
At least i have a photo of him as a keepsake lol.
If you are wondering why is Kisarazu represented by a Tanuki, feel free to read more about it on the city's official website: www.city.kisarazu.lg.jp/kisapon


Thank you for the surprise gift Kisapon! 
Photo credits to: Micheal liew yong fei


The only thing i could say about the food here is AMAZING!

Haven't had a bento (lunchbox) this satisfying in my entire life till this, seriously fresh meats (white & red) served in multiple ways  whether its cooked to perfection or served raw, all of them just give your mouth a literally orgasm (is that even possible? lol).
Takaraya was nice enough to prepare a special bento for me without any shellfish in it as i am sadly allergic to them, so more fresh fish for me yay!
Not to mention the portions were generous too, is it me or Japanese have a somewhat bigger appetite than us (lol) when it comes to food, because i had a hard time forcing myself to finish it :P
And i would definitely feel super guilty if i didn't wipe my plate clean!


Thanks Hermes for helping me take this photo! :)


Left feeling like a bloated whale (but a satisfied & happy whale!) before heading to our next location by the sea, a port named UmiHotaru (海ほたる).
LOLOL this feels legit alright, left feeling like a whale and ended up by the sea next XD
If you are doubting my review, feel free to check what others have to say on TripAdvisor :P
They too would agree with me on what i have to say about Takaraya (宝家)
Thank you Takaraya for the wonderful experience, would definitely come back again for another round with my family & friends :)


Takaraya even offers traditional Bridal photoshoot & costume rental services.


Today has gotta be the best day of my life because not only i met & hugged Chiba-kun, but also Kisapon of Kisarazu city!(♥ω♥ ) ~♪


My Christmas gift from Kisapon & Takaraya, thank you & i love it so much :')


I couldn't contain myself, ended up squealing like an over excited small girl who's been given her very own magical pony lol wtf. My life is seriously complete liao, being greeted by 2 cute giant mascots who allowed me to hug them and selfie together. So guys, if you want to attract me to anything (event/places), just have a cute animal mascot standby and confirmed i'll be there XD
I am seriously not kidding when i said i love cute animals very much, remember animax's notable blue raccoon mascot called OO-kun? That also i went head over heels with it lol wtf, i sincerely apologize if i have ruined any imagine you had of me guys (actually not sorry at all LOL!).


*Right click & open in new tab for bigger view*
Had a hard time photographing this panorama picture with the strong wind blowing and it's hard to stay stable lol. 


Our 4th location of the day was Umihotaru, which we passed by earlier on the way to Takaraya so now we are heading back through the same highway bridge of Tokyo Bay Aqualine where Umihotoru is also located.
Guys, i would highly recommend to stop by this port if you are using this bridge!
The view here is amazing, you can even see the others cities opposite by just standing there and the wind here is not to be messed with too haha!


See what i mean by can't take a proper photo of yourself? Everyone of them is having you struggling not to be blown away but the icy cold wind lol.


I literally felt like i was being blown away, kena up-skirted by the wind countless of times (thank god for black leggings or my 'pansu'* would have been flashed lol wtf) and i am not exactly that light ya'know. With my current weight  i am still being able to be blown off my feet, can't imagine my
skinny 35kg self. Confirmed fly off to the next prefecture liao lolol.


*undies in Japanese slang

This port has 5 floors, the loading docks are at the ground floor where you can also park your vehicle, climb up to the 5th floor to enjoy the full view of Umihotaru, seriously you won't regret this and make sure to have a camera to take tons of nice pictures.
There are stores on each floor, foods, entertainment & souvenirs but didn't have much time to explore every one of it but you can study the layout of Umihotaru HERE.
After complaining "samui samui" (寒い寒い)*  for being out in the open cold sea air for almost an hour, guess what i did next? Ate ice cream even when i was already freezing my butt off, just for lolz, genius right?

* Cold, cold


Soft serve ice cream! 
Enjoyed it very much since it was sweet but it gave me an upset stomach because i am actually lactose intolerant haha!

Ah well.. #yolo while we are young haha.
Next we are off to visit one of the biggest & best voted Christmas Illuminations in Kanto Region, Tokyo German Village. Despite the name "German" & "Tokyo" it's actually located in Chiba prefecture, but the architecture of this small village does remind me of those medieval times but a more sparkly & livelier crowded version.
This place is opened for a certain period of time annually, around middle of November to end of March, so it's not too late to visit them if you have not!
This whole place is filled with close to 2 million LED lights to illuminate the whole park once night falls, i mean it is still beautiful while the the sun is setting, but best seen when it's completely dark.




There is a field for you to sit down and admire the lights, just make sure to bring your own picnic mats along, some food & good company :D
At night it does get rather chilly since it's a hillside area, make sure to bring your gloves or your fingers will drop off like mine pfft. But if you are not afraid of the cold (like some people) then less things to wear, trust me i've even seen girls in MINI SKIRTS here at a temperature of 5-2°C lol wtf.


famous rainbow tunnel, but so many people that i could barely 
take a decent picture here :'(

Cute pig shape steamed buns!


That was the last location before we retired for the day at our awesome hotel in Kamogawa, about an hour + drive from Kisarazu. By the time we arrived at Kamogawa grand hotel [鴨川グランドホテル], it was close to dinner time so we were told to check-in and meet the rest for dinner with the dress code "Yukata".




Didn't expect this modern building to have a traditional touch for their rooms, the floor is called "tatami", a type of mat used as a traditional flooring material woven from rice straw. So one has to remove their shoes before entering a tatami room.
Another dream come true, it might not be the same as a 旅館 (Ryokan) but close enough and our tour guide also informed us to keep a look out for the sunrise in the morning from our room as that's one of the best points of this hotel. Imagine waking up to that kind of view, bliss.

Honestly i have a hard time sleeping on beds so sleeping on the ground is totally my thing lol, can't wait to jump into my futon for the night.
Yukata of different lengths were provided for us including a manual on how to wear them on the table, this is way much easier to wear compared to the yukata i have back home lol wtf.
In Japan, my dinners were always not later than 7.30pm compared back in KL where i eat at super odd hours (not good) and i am glad to be able to enjoy all kinds of food now compared to many years back when i was literally living on nothing but fruits. I might be fatter than i was, but at least i can enjoy abit more without being so paranoid.


Here comes another round of full course meal with some seafood specialty of Kamogawa Grand Hotel as they are located by the sea, so all their seafoods are freshly caught & served daily.

Cheers to such a fruitful Christmas Day.

Here comes another round of full course meal with some seafood specialty of Kamogawa Grand Hotel as they are located by the sea, so all their seafoods are freshly caught & served daily.


This is the first time i am seeing a FRESH ALIVE Abalone, honestly kinda freaked out by it lol and it did look kinda scary compared to those canned ones served in the usual restaurants. Those are the kinds that has been heavily bleached to remove all natural colors and stains from the abalone, just like polished rice.
I did feel sad for the poor abalone being cooked right after i saw it still moving, that's one small problem with me which most people find weird that i can't stomach food that's been has been slaughtered and cook in front of me lol. Since young actually, recalled one scenario from my late grandfather's kampung house where he slaughtered a chicken by the neck but it somehow managed to escape and ran around with it's head hanging till it hit the Water well and dropped dead D: 
That's my story on how i developed a weird phobia la lol, but not all has that problem with live food being cooked in front of them la haha.

After being stuffed so full (HUGE PORTIONS as well with so many dishes) till we can't walk, some of us decided to explore the area while getting abit of exercise. According to Yingtze, we girls felt so "fat & unattractive" liao that no guys want us after that lol but ended up at the nearest kombini with 2nd round of desserts HAHAHA!
So much for being "fat & unattractive + wanting to diet" after this XD
Also learned a new thing over here, never wear a yukata out on a winter night even when it't not snowing because the brutal winds would get to you first and blow cold freezing air up your crotch lol.
Ya la..try to act like "the cold never bothered me anyway" but actually freezing at every single part of my body and the best is eating ice cream while walking out there. Much win.


There you have it guys, best idiot award goes to "Arisa"
photo by Khalil who was having a bad day lol.


Can't wait to share about my 3rd day in Chiba soon, i do sincerely apologize for such a lengthy post, i already tried to cut down as much as i could without leaving out important details (●´・△・`)
To me each places deserve a post on it's own, but i shall save that for future posts la.
Big thank you to the group members who helped me took some of the photos featured in this post, Violet, Khalil, Kenta, Hermes, Faiz & Idham :)




Thank you for reading! 
Please leave me a comment below & i promise to reply :)




XOXO,

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