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Japan: Autumn Leaves and Nosebleeds

The Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto

The Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Tourist Spots are like Alcohol. The worst ones leave a bad taste and the best ones keep you asking for more. Not that I know much about wine, but for me I’d never think twice about coming to Japan the same way I won’t refuse another glass of Martini.

Unfortunately, the signs didn’t look good even before my trip began. It started with one innocent sneeze while I was still packing my things then soon came that sneeze’s brother, sister, pet dog, and before I knew it was the whole family. I had the feeling that the stars and galaxies conspired that day to align themselves in the sky and jinx my trip.

It’s easy to say it could have been worse…until I forgot to bring my tripod.

As usual, this Japan Trip was primarily business with me just making extra arrangements to stay longer so I can go around. Now that I think of it, having the trip partly business and partly sightseeing painted to me a more complete picture of the Japanese way of life. For three days, me and my colleagues went to this factory to witness a new equipment that our company bought undergo a series of tests. This gave me a chance to see the famous Japanese work ethic which blew me away.

In the factory, there was this guy who manually recorded the test results for us every 5 minutes for the entire day during our 3-day test. In those 3 days, I’ve never seen anyone show such enthusiasm and pride in the face of an obviously boring and repetitive task. I was impressed how this guy never even once faltered as he timely and carefully read each instrument and wrote them down in his paper. And when he is not doing that, he goes to his computer to encode it so he can “Work on other things after the test” as he says. What’s doing the same thing again and again for 3 days anyway? It still doesn’t make someone superhuman but what if that person has been doing that job for 15 years? Now that is something. To be fair, this guy was also in charge of setting up the whole test which entails configuring all the equipments to match the conditions set by customers like us.

I can recall countless other examples demonstrating how the Japanese put so much Passion and Respect in whatever they do. From the lady behind the counter at McDonald’s who greets us with the same lengthy speech every morning to the guy serving us doing his best to explain what is in our Ramen every evening, Japan’s work culture was like everybody else’s work culture shifted to high gear. At some point I remember telling myself how I wish this culture was contagious so I can bring home some of it.

Our booking for this trip was nothing less than a challenge as well. As our main destination was Ritto, Shiga which around 20 minutes from Kyoto, our travel agent must have had the impression that flying us through Tokyo is a good idea since they sound almost the same (Tokyo and Kyoto). Unfortunately they’re far from close so we had to ride the Shinkansen…Unfortunately 

A view aboard the Nozomi Line Shinkansen

A view aboard the Nozomi Line Shinkansen

But of course, I couldn’t just pass through Tokyo without looking around. I managed to squeeze in a few itineraries in the morning the day before our group headed for Kyoto.

The Statue of Hachiko outside the Shibuya Station in Tokyo

The Statue of Hachiko outside the Shibuya Station in Tokyo

A typical scene in Tokyo's Akihabara District

A typical scene in Tokyo’s Akihabara District

The tree-lined path leading to the Meiji-Jingu Temple

The tree-lined path leading to the Meiji-Jingu Temple

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Barrels of Sake wrapped in straw offered to the Meiji Jingu Shrine

Barrels of Sake wrapped in straw offered to the Meiji Jingu Shrine

The Fornt Gate of the Meiji Jingu Temple

The Fornt Gate of the Meiji Jingu Shrine

Seeing the Shinkansen for the first time stirs up a childish awe far from what you’d feel when you see Europe’s TGV or ICE. With a fuselage resembling Donald Duck, it was like a Disneyland train ride on steroids. However, despite being more technologically advanced, the Shinkansen (Nozomi Line) is slower on the tracks than its Euro counterparts at least for the Tokyo-Kyoto route.

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Let’s leave that statement as it is we don’t want to be talking about System Reliability, Track Design or Motor placement here do we?

On reaching Kyoto Station, I was surprised to see that it was just as hectic perhaps even more than Tokyo Station. Having arrived on a Sunday afternoon, I saw several Japanese ladies in their elegant Kimonos out and about the Station. Later I learned Japanese women wear their Kimonos as men would wear their Tuxedos whenever they attend significant gatherings.

The Internet offers vast amounts of information on what places to see in Kyoto. My bag was literally bursting with brochures and maps I printed out in advance as I tried (sort of) planning my sightseeing itineraries in Kyoto. However with my nose acting up and the cold weather not on my side, I had to trim down my list.

There is no way I am taking Fushimi Inari Taisha off the list and it was the first spot I went to just in case I can’t get enough of it in one day. It was an advantage that I was still adjusting to the new time zone that I always woke up early in Japan. There’s almost nobody around in the temples early in the morning so I didn’t worry about Photo Bombers in my photo and by the time I was done and already leaving, I was Photo Bombing other tourists’ photos.

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I definitely had my fill of Torii Shrines because the place was so full of it. Apparently, the eye-catching orange shrines are donated by Japanese businessmen to pray for wealth to Inari – the God of Rice among other things. Besides the shrines, statues of foxes or kitsune can be seen everywhere. The kitsune are considered as messengers and commonly depicted biting a key to unlock the rice granaries. To simply put it, donate a Torii, be kind to the Kitsune and hopfefully you’ll get yourself a rice granary. Well…something like that.

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Next Stop was the Nijo Castle. To me, the highlights of the castle were its amazing autumn foliage, unbelievably manicured gardens and its inspiring lagoons. Of course, there is the Castle but since they don’t allow photography inside, tourists tend to just breeze through that part and spend most of their time in the gardens. What I remember about the castle interior though is that the wooden floors squeak. According to the guide, these floors are actually called “Nightingale Floors” because they were specifically designed to squeak not in an annoying tone but somewhat resembling birds chirping. It was very convincing especially when groups of people walk on the nightingale floors as the squeaks sound as if a group of birds were playing outside the windows.

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Last on my list was Arashiyama to see the Bamboo Forest. Although it might sound strange to include the Bamboo Forest as part of my itinerary when there’s plenty of it where I came from, this was entirely different. Back home that is Philippine Bamboo, what they have here is Japanese Bamboo get it?

The Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto

The Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto

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And like I said earlier, being early to places like the Fushimi Inari and the Bamboo Forest makes a big difference because your photos can be easily bombed with tourists. Also, never forget to bring your tripod because cold mornings and low light don’t mix well.

There’s more to Arashiyama than just the Bamboo forest. By midday, the place was buzzing with businesses catering to tourists selling anything from Cakes to Trinkets and even Mushrooms. Rickshaws are also everywhere in Arashiyama and the drivers are friendly too. They do not hesitate to give you a small bow even if you just cross glances.

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The Tenryu-ji Temple grounds are among the best places to enjoy the autumn leaves in Arashiyama. Actually, it was a bit late since it was already the first week of December nevertheless, the leaves were still impressive. The Temple itself and the Sogen Pond are among its highlights and are said to be one of the great examples of Zen Architecture.

Tenryu-Ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

Tenryu-Ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

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After the Tenryu-ji Temple, I decided to walk further towards Togetsukyo bridge. Here, Mt. Arashiyama and the Oi River provides a wonderful backdrop for doing just about anything. The road running parallel to Oi River was also lined up with Rickshaws waiting for tourist patrons. Everything seemed to be in order and despite of the volume of tourists, cleanliness was impressively maintained. A Tourist Trap in its negative sense was far from the impression I got of Arashiyama.

My flight home was through Kansai Airport in Osaka so I hurriedly went back to the hotel after finishing Arashiyama to get the rest of my bags. Osaka was not very far from Kyoto so I chose not to ride the Shinkansen. This time I got on the Haruka Express which was a flat nosed train and looked more muscular compared to the Shinkansen. The ride to Kansai Airport was smooth and quiet all throughout. After a short nap, I spent the rest of the trip reviewing the photos I took. It was a proud moment for me as I realized that a few days ago I was only looking at these places on the National Geographic website while now I’ve actually been there and I have my own photo to prove it.

Probably that comforting thought and the Zen Gardens taking effect were the reasons I wasn’t sentimental about leaving this time. But I am definitely coming back.

Who knows?

Cherry Blossoms?

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Our Wedding

Our Love Story

The hands of destiny brought us in each other’s arms in the month of March 2004 when we were both hired in PNOC-EDC. We never knew that the friendship that kindled on the very first day that we met will grow into something that is very special. I never have thought that we’ll be romantically involved, since he unceasingly tease me with just anything that he can think of (which he does until now, haha!). Then suddenly, everything changed, he started to be friendly and have shown concern to how I was.

To make the long story short, we started to be a couple after a year of friendship, on February 18, 2005.

Our Wedding Preparations

We always have dreamt of a grand wedding.

One day, while we were strolling in the mall, we were given free entrance tickets to a Bridal Fare (September 2011). It was this time that things started happening and everything just seem to fall into place 

The Church and Venue

We decided to set the location somewhere south since we are both comfortable with the area (we are both residents from the south). We started inquiring in King James, Alabang Village. We were fortunate that February 25 has an available slot; however the reception venue that we are eyeing (Fernbrook) is not available on that day. We decided that if the Fernbrook reception venue and its chapel will be available any day in February, we’ll go for it. We were relieved to know that the evening slot of February 26 is available. We then booked the evening slot of February 26 right away (luckily, the bridal fare promos still apply even if the booking was not done in the bridal fare).

We then proceeded to the bridal fare to look for other suppliers.

It was then I realized that we have less than 6 months for the preparations… I feel so ecstatic and so excited!!

On our wedding day, I was surprised! The venue is so elegant and fairy tale like!

Thank you Fernbrooks!

The Invitations

The package that we availed for in Fernbrook is an All-In Package, where we get to choose two out of 8 freebies. We were looking on invitations, bridal car or photo booth. We compared prices, and decided to go for bridal car and photo booth. On our search for invitations, my husband wanted something elegant while I go for something formal and something within budget. We searched for an invitation that would suit both our wants, and settled on a beautiful red (my favourite color!) invitation. The cover has an intricate lace design, with our names in gold letters. It was pricey but very much worth it!

Thank you Global Invitations!

The Wedding Rings

It was a long search for wedding rings, we wanted rings that are heavy (as he says that this is the ring that we will be wearing for the rest of our lives) and with a simple design. I would have wanted a ring with diamonds, but realized that in the long run the diamonds may one by one be detached from the ring. We settled for a gold ring with a silver matt finish, we both love the design!

Thank you Zuniga Jewellery!

The Bridal Gowns, Grooms Apparel and Entourage Gowns

We admired the gowns in my sister-in-law’s wedding (we were both part of the entourage). The designer, Ms Evelyn, is very creative and her dressmakers are very experienced, there were no major adjustments in my first fit, only the gown length (which actually will also depend on the height of the heels that you will be wearing) – this is given that measurements were taken by them also.

I have two designs in mind, one design that my husband wanted my gown to be and another design that I wanted my gown to be. I showed both designs to Ms Evelyn. She combined the design and the result was spectacular! As wedding gowns are typically all white, I chose my gown to have a touch of our motif, which is wine red.

The Grooms Apparel has a similar design as with Oyo Boy’s apparel. I was definite I will have a hard time to convince my husband to agree on his apparel (he was away then when we were discussing the designs :-p). The design was suggested by our designer, to which then I thought was a good idea so he will stand out, then thought that the rest of the entourage shall wear barong.

Eventually he gets to appreciate his apparel and was all the more happy when he saw our wedding photos 
The designs of the gowns of our mothers and the entourage (secondary sponsors and bridesmaids) were done on the spot (while their measurements were taken). The secondary sponsors have different designs while the bridesmaids have similar gown designs. My mom’s and my mother-in-law’s gown were elegant!

Thank you Tita Evelyn of Creative Fashion!

The Make-Up Artists

We first met our make-up artists during my sister-in-law’s wedding The package comprises the bride and groom, the mother of the bride and groom and the rest of the entourage. I was impressed with the outcome of my make-up in my sister-in-law’s wedding! It was then that I am sure that they are my make-up artists in our wedding.

The package includes make-up during the pre-nuptial pictorial and during our wedding day. It was a “sulit” package since both my husband and I were applied with air-brush make-up. I was surprised when my husband was so proud of the result of his make-up that he didn’t take it off after our pre-nup shoot. We strolled in the mall after our pre-nup shoot, with our make-ups on, haha!

On our wedding day, since our entourage will also be made up by our make-up artists, we requested our make-up artists to be in the hotel at 10am. We made a make-up schedule for the entourage to ensure that everything is in order and everybody is all set when the photographer arrives (expected to arrive at 2pm).

I am so delighted that I have a supportive entourage! Everybody cooperated and as I have wanted, they were part of my pictures during the preparation in the hotel!

I have heard compliments that our make-up is superb and was happy to hear people saying that I have a beautiful entourage!

Thanks Alex and Alvin of Destiny 88!

The Photographers

Ariel Javelosa already has made a name in the industry. We have heard of him a couple of times in the past, and we expected that his package would be expensive. On a separate bridal fare, they were the first supplier that welcomed me when I entered. I checked on the inclusions in their package, made comparisons to other suppliers in the fare, and to my surprise, they have the best package! I love their albums, the freebies and their payment terms is an advantage! Our freebies include the coffee table album, AVP and on-site video 

We first met our photographer, Ben, during our pre-nuptial pictorial. My husband and I were never used to posing to pictures; it was during this pictorial that we learned a lot of poses. Our photographer helped us a lot on taking a pose (he actually demonstrates the pose!). We were very comfortable with Ben that posing for the rest of the pictorial came out naturally haha!

On our wedding day, Ben, the other photographers and the videographers were very creative and exerted great effort to get the best shots. I love the result of the AVP and the on-site video! I actually saved the on-site video in my phone and watch our video every now and then; it brings me back to the wonderful feeling during our wedding day 

We are now on the process of selecting the pictures for our album, I am so excited on what our album will be!

Thank you Ariel Javelosa c/o Ben and Company!

The Caterer

Based on comments that we have heard, Josiah’s seem to have received most of the compliments from clients. We then decided to book to Josiah’s. I love the way they handle their clients. And the package that we have availed for along with the freebies that they have given is a great deal!

They have arranged the venue elegantly and their services during our wedding day and the food was excellent! Our guests enjoyed the food and were surprised with how good it was, they especially mentioned that the noodle station and mongolian station are fantastic!

Thank you Josiah’s (c/o Ms Onie)!

The Florist

I always have thought that choosing the flowers is a minor detail in our wedding. Well it turned out that it was hard to choose the flowers! Since the colors should be coordinated with the entourage gown and as well as the church flowers. We were lucky to have 15-58 as our florist for both the church and the entourage. I love the flowers. The bouquets, which include my bouquet, our mothers, the bride’s maid and our principal sponsors’ bouquet was very nice! The secondary sponsor’s flowers are pinned in a ball with a handle, this is to give them a free hand to light the candles, to pin the veil and to lay the cords on us. All the men in our entourage were provided with boutonnieres! The church flowers were amazing (please see the photos above, under “The Venue and Church”.

Thank you 15-58!

The Coordinator and Emcee
(Coming soon!)

The Supplier of Souvenirs
(Coming soon!)

The Hotel
(Coming soon!)

The Photobooth
(Coming soon!)

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Hello World – This is It!!

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I was still studying computer programming the first time I came across that rather stimulating phrase.  Back then my impression was that computer programmers were indeed the nerdy, aloof-type and I wasn’t surprised that all they could come up with for an introduction is a mere 2-worded phrase that sounded more like a cheap spinoff of the famous Japanese feline.  Little would I know that moving forward several years (ok, a few more several years) my golden time will come that I will suffer the same fate and croak up my own version of – Hello World.

People will be surprised to find out that Arianne is now blogging.  I recall when I was younger we used to have these formal theme writing routine in school.  Being the hyperactive child that I am, I never saw the relevance for it and sad to say I found it a pain. Getting my formal themes done was such an ordeal as I struggle to come up with ideas and there ever were… figure out how to make them cohesive. The whole routine was more of a forced exercise rather than the rewarding and enjoying experience. Nothing against it though as now I believe our teachers had the best intentions its just that in my case I wasn’t ready for it yet.

Who would have known that someday I will be scouring the internet searching how to make my own blog.  What happened? I ask myself now.  One important thing, I realized  is that our life experiences are more relevant for ourselves and in varying degrees to everybody else but no matter what, we have the strongest urge to share and keep. What makes it different now from before is that I find myself more focused and I have learned that experiences are best enjoyed by Appreciating. Unlike when I was younger, I was guilty of overlooking life because I was caught in the blurry of Wanting.

So what is this blog all about folks, this is about me and my wife as we go through experiencing life trying our best to relish their memories and share them.  We’ll talk about stuff we love to do and probably anything under the sun. What should make our page different is that everything here comes out from the heart without the unnecessary serving of glamour because we want you to see life that way we do.

And so the first page has been set and I now invite you to come and join us as we embark on this adventure called LIFE!