Wednesday, December 28, 2016

[Japan 2016] Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Taisha

Photo By: Elin Chow

No trip to Kyoto is complete without visiting the Fushimi Inari Taisha. This is one of the most popular sightseeing spot in Kyoto. After a quick lunch at our Kyoto Airbnb apartment, we headed out to Fushimi Inari Taisha.


Fushimi Inari Taisha is located just right across the street from JR Inari Station and the best way to get here is by JR train. It can be also be reached in a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line.


If you are taking the JR train, the Inari Station is the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line. However, please note that there is a number of express trains operating on the JR Nara Line and these trains does not stop at Inari Station. To get to Inari Station, you will have to take a local train. The one way fare from Kyoto Station to Inari Station is 140 Yen.

The train from Kyoto Station to Inari Station is surprisingly packed, with both Japanese and foreigners heading to the same destination.


Even though its official opening hours is from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Fushimi Inari Taisha is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Visitors are free to visit the Shrine at any time of the day, even after wee hours. However, the entire place does gets a little eerie after dark. It is best that you bring along a companion and torchlight if you are planning to visit after dark. Furthermore, all the restaurants would be closed after 5.00 pm, so it will be impossible for you to get any food if you visit after the official opening hours. Entry is free of charge.


Fushimi Inari Taisha is one of the important shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice, sake and business prosperity. Foxes (Kitsune) are believed to be messenger of Inari and this is also why you will find hundreds of stone fox statues scattered across the shrine's grounds. These fox statues typically come in pairs, representing a male and a female.


Standing at the entrance of Fushimi Inari Taisha is the two-storied Romon gate, which was donated by in 1589 by the famous leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Of all the Romon gates that you will find at shrines in the city of Kyoto, this one is the oldest and largest.


We arrived around 11.30 am on a sunday morning and we were surprised by how insanely crowded it already was. Fushimi Inari Taisha is popular with both Japanese visitors and foreign tourists. However, I noticed that there were actually more Japanese visitors than foreign tourists.


Passing through the Romon gate, you will see the main shrine. Locals visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha to pray for success and prosperity in business, especially at the start of the new year. Try to visit as early as you could for a more tranquil experience. The best time to visit is either early in the morning or late in the evening.


At the back of the Romon gate, you will find two parallel rows of Vermilion colored Torii gates. Both paths eventually lead to the same place so you can enter from either left or right tunnel of Torii gates. Torii is a gateway to a sacred ground and usually you will find this at the entrance of a Shinto Shrine.


Some ten thousands Vermilion Torii gates wind through the wooded forest of the sacred 223 metres high Mount Inari. It was a very impressive sight. Simply google Fushimi Inari Taisha and I believe most pictures you will see will be the seemingly endless rows of vermilion colored Torii gates. The tunnel of vermilion Torii gates are undoubtedly the most iconic landmark of Kyoto. This is also what attracts the hordes of tourists to Fushimi Inari Taisha.


We began our walk through the tunnel vermilion Torii gates leading uphill. There were way too many people at the beginning for it to be enjoyable. It was nearly impossible to have a picture taken without having anyone else in the frame.


But do not be disappointed. As you climb further uphill, the crowds will start to thin out and it gets more relaxing. The density of Torii gates gradually reduces as you ascend, but you will be able to find a lot of secluded areas with fewer tourists around. This is also the perfect opportunity to take some nice pictures.


Each torii gates is donated by a company or organization giving thanks for their prosperity and good fortune. People who have been successful in business are said to often donate Torii gates to an Inari Shrine to express gratitude to the deity of the shrine.


You will find the donor's name and date of donation inscribed on the back of each gate. If you would like to donate, a small sized gate cost around 400,000 Yen and a large sized gate can cost over a million Yen.


The entire trail comprises of slopes and stone staircases, so it will be best to equipped yourself with comfortable walking shoes. Unfortunately, this part of the attraction is not accessible by wheelchair or stroller. People with mobility issues might find the staircases extremely challenging.

There are so much to do and see at Fushimi Inari Taisha. To sufficiently explore the attraction, I suggest you allocate at least 3 hours for this visit.


The hike to the summit and back takes about 3-4 hours, depending on your pace. Reaching the top will reward you with the spectacular view over the city of Kyoto. But unfortunately, not many tourists actually take the effort to reach the summit.

Of course, you do not have to walk all the way up. In fact, you are given the option to turn back any time you wish. All along the way, you will see multiples of small shrines and altars, some with lit candles and burnt incense as offerings.


Inside the smaller shrines, you will find stacks of miniature torii gates that were donated by people with a smaller budget.


Other than the small shrines and altars, you will also find a few restaurants along the way for tired visitors to take a break and replenish your energy. Most of the restaurants serves tofu-specialties such as Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon. Aburaage fried tofu is said to be the favorite food of foxes.

There are vending machines everywhere in the mountains too. Just make sure you bring enough coins with you so that you can buy yourself a bottle of hot tea or cold water anytime you wish. But there are no rubbish bins anywhere in the mountains. Please bring all your rubbish with you until you see a rubbish bin. Do not throw them anywhere in the mountains!


Walking through the tunnel of Torii gates, it felt as though we had been transported hundreds of years back time.


I have no idea how long we have climbed. But we did not hike to the top of the mountain because we were running out of stamina. Furthermore, we did not sleep much during our 7 hours overnight flight to Osaka, thus we were feeling really tired. 


We descended using a different trail, hoping to see the shrine from a different perspective. Stepping outside of the magical tunnel of Vermilion Torii gates, we slowly trek our way down through the forest path alongside it.


The alternate path was steeper but much more scenic that wind through the forest. Getting off the beaten path, we managed to break away from the noises and crowds.


Fushimi Inari Taisha has some beautiful autumn leaves, offering plenty of stunning photo opportunities.


Occasionally, you will also see young girls dressed in traditional Kimonos, taking photographs of each other. It was a very lovely sight!


Near the entrance, you will find a cobbled side street lined with restaurants, souvenir shops and food stalls. This would be a great place to try some delicious Japanese street food and pick up souvenirs for your family and friends.

Walking through the thousands of Torii gates gave me a sense of peacefulness and quietude. Fushimi Inari Taisha is definitely a must see destination for those visiting Kyoto. After three hours, I left Fushimi Inari Taisha with the feeling that I had not seen enough. I told myself someday, I will be back and when that happens, I will make sure I hike all the way to the top.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 7D6N Osaka - Kyoto - Nara - Kobe Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 7 days in Japan. For anyone planning your first trip to Japan but have no idea where to start, you should read my "How To Plan A Trip To Japan" post.

 Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates on my 7 days adventures in Japan! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

[Japan 2016] From Kansai International Airport (KIX) To Kyoto Station


Photo: Elin Chow

After months of anticipation, we finally landed in Kansai International Airport, Osaka at 7 am in the morning. After alighting from the plane, we took a short train ride to the main terminal building where we have go through the immigration process.

Foreign visitors are required to fill out an embarkation card and present it along with their passports during immigration clearance. Usually you will be handed an embarkation card before arrival on your airplane, so remember to bring a pen with you so that you can fill it out while on board. Filling out the card can be a hassle, especially for those who are staying in an Airbnb apartment. You are required write down the full and exact address of the Airbnb apartment that you will be staying in and the phone number of the owner. I actually recommend writing the address in Japanese if possible.


After clearing immigration, we collected our checked luggage before proceeding to the Arrival Hall located at the ground floor of the main terminal building. Arriving in Osaka, we plan to head straight to Kyoto for 2 nights.

The fastest and most convenient way to travel from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto Station is by the JR Haruka Limited Express train, which leave from the Kansai Airport Train Station across the road from the Arrival Hall. To get to the Kansai Airport Train Station, you will need to take the escalator up to the second floor.


Once you are on the second floor, take the first glass door on the right to exit the terminal building. Walk across the connecting bridge and you will arrive at Kansai Airport Train Station.


Kansai Airport Station is a railway Station shared by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) and Nankai Electric Railway. JR and Nankai Ticket Offices are both located side by side to each other.

ICOCA + Haruka

The JR Haruka train is covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass. However, for those who do not have a JR Pass,  I recommend getting the ICOCA + Haruka discount set. The ICOCA + Haruka discount set is available only to short-term visitors entering Japan as a "Temporary Visitor" and with foreign passports.

The ICOCA + Haruka discount set consist of an ICOCA IC card and a discounted ticket for the JR Haruka Limited Express train (non-reserved). The ICOCA card is pre-charged with 2,000 Yen (include a deposit of 500 Yen), which can be used on JR trains, subway, private railway and bus transportation throughout Japan. Other than transportation, it can be also be used for shopping.

The ICOCA card can be recharged for repeated use and the deposit is refundable and can be claim at any JR-West Ticket Offices. However, a 220 Yen handling fee will be charged for any balance left in the card.

Ticket Price

There are two types of ticket - one way or round trip. You can purchase either a one way or round trip ticket.

Service Area
HARUKA Service Section
One Way
+ ICOCA
Round-Trip
+ ICOCA
OSAKA
Kansai Airport - Tennoji
1,100 Yen
3,100 Yen
2,200 Yen
4,200 Yen
Kansai Airport – Shin-Osaka
1,300 Yen
3,300 Yen
2,600 Yen
4,600 Yen
KYOTO
Kansai Airport – Kyoto
1,600 Yen
3,600 Yen
3,200 Yen
5,200 Yen
KOBE
Kansai Airport – Shin-Osaka
1,500 Yen
3,500 Yen
3,000 Yen
5,000 Yen
NARA
Kansai Airport - Tennoji
1,400 Yen
3,400 Yen
2,800 Yen
4,800 Yen

It is possible to purchase the JR Haruka discounted ticket without buying an ICOCA card, but I really recommend getting one. For us, we have opted for a one way ICOCA + Haruka from Kansai Airport Station to Kyoto Station because we will be flying home from Osaka Itami Airport instead of Kansai International Airport. Since the JR Haruka train does not go to Osaka Itami Airport, there is really no point buying the round trip ticket. 

A one way ticket to Kyoto Station costs 2,980 Yen for non-reserved seating and 3,500 Yen for reserved seating. By purchasing the Haruka discounted ticket, we have saved 2,760 Yen in total for 2 persons.


You can either purchase the ICOCA + Haruka discount set directly from the JR Ticket Office at Kansai Airport Station or reserve it online before your arrival. Reservation can be made using the online booking form between 27 days to 2 days in advance. However, please note that online booking is not available from other stations to Kansai-Airport Station.

I really recommend reserving your ticket online before you leave home. This will save you the trouble of filling out a form with your details at the JR Ticket Office.


There are two originally designed ICOCA cards, only available at Kansai Airport Station - Wind and Thunder Gods and Hello Kitty and Osaka Castle. It is good to reserve earlier online to ensure its availability.


For those who have reserved your ICOCA + Haruka discounted set online, you can collect it from the JR Ticket Office at Kansai Airport Station. Please print out the Booking Confirmation email and bring along all the passports for collection. Each passport can only purchase one set of card and payment has to be made only in cash during collection.


Both of us chose the Hello Kitty and Osaka Castle ICOCA card. We did not claim a refund for the deposit because we want to bring the ICOCA card home as souvenir. 


During peak hours, the JR Haruka train operates every 30 minutes, stopping at Tennoji Station and Shin-Osaka Station before arriving at Kyoto Station Platform 30. The entire journey takes about 75 minutes to reach Kyoto. However, please note that the JR Haruka train does not stop at Osaka (Umeda) Station. To go to Osaka Station, you have to drop off at Shin-Osaka Station and transfer to a local train.

Please note that the JR Haruka ticket does not allow unlimited rides and will be collected once you exit the ticket gates. However, additional fees will apply when using trains outside of area of usage.


At Kansai Airport Station, the JR Haruka train departs from Platform 4. The earliest Haruka service from Kansai Airport Station is at 6.30 am and the latest is at 22.16 pm. The JR Haruka train runs about 30 round trip services every day between Kansai Airport Station and Kyoto Station.


There are both reserved and non-reserved cars. Non-reserved cars are less expensive, but you are not guarantee a seat. The JR Haruka train is operated in either 6 or 9 cars and cars no 5 & 6 are for non-reserved seats regardless of total number of cars. You may take any seat available in a non-reserved car. However, from Kansai Airport Station, seats are usually available, so there is really no need for you to pay extra to upgrade to a reserved seat unless you do not mind the extra cost.


Arriving at Kansai Airport Station, the JR Haruka train undergo a quick and extensive cleaning process before passengers are allowed to board. Amazingly, it took probably less than 10 minutes to clean the entire interior of the train and we are allowed to board!


The inside of the train is comfortable and clean, offering very spacious seatings with plenty of leg room. Each car has a dedicated luggage area for passengers to store their luggage but spaces are a little limited.

The JR Haruka train finally pulled out from Kansai Airport Station at 9.15 am. Soon after departure, a conductor came by to check our ticket and gave us a small bow before continuing down the cabin.


It takes about 75 minutes to arrive at Kyoto Station, which is the second largest station building in Japan after Nagoya. As expected, the station was bustling with people and everyone around us seems to be in a hurry.


Exiting from the ticket gates, we were excited to see the Kyoto Tower stands majestically next to the station, welcoming our arrival. Walking out from the station, we headed straight to check in our Airbnb apartment located near Kyoto Station.

We prefer to stay somewhere near Kyoto Station because it is the main transportation hub and shopping district in Kyoto. The station is served by all JR trains (including the Shinkansen and Haruka), Kintetsu Railways and Karasuma Subway line. Right in front of the Station, you will find a main bus terminal for city buses and overnight highway buses, providing convenient access to downtown Kyoto.

Besides being a great starting point for sightseeing in Kyoto, the station building is also packed with shops and restaurants. Surrounding the station are more shops, theaters and hotels. All in all, Kyoto Station offers all amenities you will need, not just rail services, but also food, shopping and entertainment.


It was 10.30 am when we arrived at Kyoto. The check in time was supposed to be 3 pm, but the owner, Mhichiko was actually gracious enough to let us check in early at 10.30 am. Our Airbnb apartment is located in a very convenient location, within a 10 minutes walk away from Kyoto Station, providing immediate access to the public transport.

Before departure, Mhichiko has sent us detailed instructions on how to get from Kyoto Station to her apartment with map and picture of landmarks. We did not have any problems finding our way to her apartment.

We did not have a chance to meet Mhichiko in person. But Mhichiko's husband was kind enough to wait for us below the apartment to hand us the key and show us around the place. He even helped me to carry my luggage up the stairs to the apartment located on the second floor.

Even though Mhichiko's husband does not speak any English, he still tried his best to communicate with us through sign language. He showed us around the apartment and make sure we know how everything works in the house before leaving.


The apartment is decently sized by Japanese standard even though it was really small.  When I said small, I mean it was really tiny because there was minimum walking space if we were to open our luggage.

The apartment is furnished with a small double bed, a small table, a small TV and a very old wardrobe. Inside the wardrobe, you will find plenty of bath towels and two toothbrushes. The apartment also comes with wall-mounted air-conditioning and heater. I suggest leaving the window slightly open when you switch on the heater just to let some fresh air in. I find the room gets a little too hot if you have the heater switched on for the entire night.

However, the apartment faces a busy road, which gets considerable amount of traffic. The noise of the traffic tends to wake us up very early (6 am) in the morning. This can be a big issue for light sleepers. But other than that, the apartment is located in a very safe neighbourhood with several 24 hours convenience stores within walking distance.


As expected, the bathroom was tiny with a deep soaking tub. But sadly, it is not equipped with a Washlet, which is one thing I really look forward to when I travel to Japan. Basic toiletries like body soap and hair shampoo were provided.


Just like most Airbnb apartments in Japan, our apartment also provides a pocket Wifi for free. Even so, I would still recommend you to bring your own pocket Wifi instead of relying on the one provided by the apartment. Most of the time, we find the pocket Wifi provided by the apartments pretty unreliable. We actually prefer using the one we rented from Travel Recommends to the one provided by the apartment simply because it offers better connection, speed and battery life.


The apartment also comes with a fully-equipped kitchen. The tiny kitchen is equipped with a fridge, stove and hood, pans and utensils.


In the fridge, there are 5 bottles of complimentary water provided. Other than that, there are also plenty of snacks and cup noodles, all provided for free too!


A hot and cold water dispenser was also provided for us to refill our empty bottles. How thoughtful of them! As a result. we managed to save some money on buying water during our stay in Kyoto.


As we arrived exhausted and hungry, we decided to grab some cup noodles for lunch before we went out again to explore the city of Kyoto.

Overall, we have an wonderful experience staying Mhichiko's apartment. The main reason why we decided to book this apartment is due to its convenient location and fairly affordable price. We love to stay somewhere where we have easy access to public transportation. But most importantly, it was cheap, and really cheap. I would definitely recommend this apartment to anyone looking for a conveniently located place to stay in Kyoto without breaking the bank!

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 7D6N Osaka - Kyoto - Nara - Kobe Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 7 days in Japan. For anyone planning your first trip to Japan but have no idea where to start, you should read my "How To Plan A Trip To Japan" post.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates on my 7 days adventures in Japan! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

[Japan 2016] A Huge Beauty + Snacks Shopping Haul


Photo By: Elin Chow

Whenever my husband and I visit another country, one thing on our to-do-list is a little shopping, and by a little, I mean a lot. Shopping is an inevitable part of traveling and usually, we will most likely returned with a heavier bag than when we departed. Of course, Japan was no exception.

I have been contemplating whether to write about my shopping haul because I usually find such posts somewhat boring to read, but I ultimately still decided to blog about this just to keep a record of our purchases in Japan. Shopping is without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable things to do in Japan. For anyone planning to do some shopping in Japan, I hope you will find this post useful because I believe this will give you a rough idea how much things actually cost in the country.

If you have read my 7D6N Osaka - Kyoto - Nara - Kobe Trip Itinerary + Overview post, you would know that we have spent a total of 35,362 Yen, or RM 1,425.80 (100 Yen = RM 4.03) on shopping in Japan, mainly on beauty products, snacks and confectioneries.

Beauty

A trip to Japan is never complete without visiting a drugstore. Unlike your regular pharmacy stores, drugstores in Japan does not only sell medicines, but also everyday necessities like skin care, cosmetics,snacks and household products and even kitchen items. You can find almost everything in a Japan drugstore.

Walk into any drugstores in Japan and you will instantly be overwhelmed by the huge variety of beauty products available. Japan drugstores are well known for its high quality yet inexpensive beauty products. It is not uncommon to see foreign tourists stocking up on beauty and health products, spending hundreds of dollars in these stores.

Drugstores in Japan are usually packed with products and it can be overwhelming if you do not know where to begin. Before my trip, I did some research online and created a shopping list to avoid any impulse purchases. It is best to have a clear idea of what you want so that you will not overspend.

My plan is to pick up a few beauty products that are not readily available in Malaysia. I believe you can easily find these products in any drugstores in the country. Some of the biggest drugstore chains I saw in Japan include Matsumoto Kiyoshi, Daikoku Drug and Sun Drug. But I bought most of these products from Tsuruha Drug Dotonbori store while we were in Osaka. Besides Tsuruha Drug store, I also bought a few of the items from both Matsumoto Kiyoshi Dotonbori store and Kokumin Drug Kuromon Ichiba store.

I have not started using most of the products that I bought in Japan and I cannot wait to try everything and review them soon. I will be posting individual reviews once I have tried the products, so be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates.

Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder

Price: 1,700 Yen / RM 68.51

The first thing I picked up is the Kanebo Suisai Beauty Clear Powder. This is also the most expensive item I have bought in a Japan drugstore, so hopefully this will not disappoint. Basically, this is a cleansing powder that claims to exfoliate, moisturize and brighten the skin. I have always wanted to try powder cleansers because they are such a big hit in Japan right now.

Sold in either packs of 15 or 32, the powder comes into individually packaged little plastic pods containing 0.4g of the product. I find the packaging very cute and this is also one of the reason why I bought this.

Hada Labo

Hada Labo skin care line has been a hot seller in Japan for years and I believe it's no secret that I am a big fan of this brand.

Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Lotion

Price: 669 Yen / RM 26.96

I have been a loyal user of the Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Lotion for years. This is one of the most popular toner in Japan with one bottle purchased every two seconds. My plan is to stock this up when I visit Japan because it is so much cheaper to buy this in Japan than in Malaysia.

Hada Labo Koi-Gokujyun Perfect Gel

Price: 1,329 Yen / RM 53.56

The Hada Labo Koi-Gokujyun Perfect Gel works as an essence, moisturizer and sleeping mask and is very popular in Japan among working women and housewives. I bought this simply because I find this gel really good value for the money. After all, you could never go wrong with the Hada Labo brand.

Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cream

Price: 1,182 Yen / RM 47.63

I am also a loyal user of the Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cream. Since it was cheaper to buy in Japan, I decided to stock up on this as well.

Rosette Goma-jyu


Price: 385 Yen / RM 15.52

I have been looking for an exfoliator for some time and since a lot of people have been raving about the Rosette Goma-jyu, I decided to buy this to try. Rosette Goma-jyu is a pore peeling gel cleanser that contains natural fruit acids that claims to be very effective on dead skin cells and gentle on the skin. I really could not wait to try this!

Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner


Price: 482 Yen / RM 19.42 (500ml)

I picked up this Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner because I feel it is a great value for the money. A huge 500 ml bottle of this is only sold for 482 Yen - so cheap! Hatomugi is Pearl Barley or Coix seed. This is moisturizing toner, but I read that this will work well as a toner, a lotion mask, a mist and even a body moisturizer. It is effective in reducing redness caused by sunburn and protect the skin with powerful hydration.

Sana Nameraka Honpo Moisture Skin Lotion

Price: 579 Yen / RM 23.33

Sana Nameraka Honpo is Japan No 1 Soy milk skin care line with over 35 millions unit sold. Formulated with soy Isoflavones, the skin care line comes in 3 different ranges - Haritsuya CoQ10, W Series with Arbutin and Deep Moisture. I have been dying to try their Deep Moisture range because I have read so much amazing about it.

Sana Nameraka Honpo Cream
Price: 718 Yen / RM 28.94 (50g)

Other than the Sana Nameraka Honpo Moisture Skin Lotion, I also bought the Sana Nameraka Honpo Cream under a Sales Assistant's recommendation. The cream helps to seal in moisture with rich masking effect during sleep.

DHC Lip Cream


Price: 462 Yen / RM 18.62

I read so many people raved about this product, so I thought I must try this out too. The DHC Lip Cream is packaged in a lipstick style container. Although it says lip cream, this is actually a lip balm, and probably the most expensive one I have bought so far. But it is so hard to resist the urge to buy because the packaging is so pretty.

Lion Pair Medicated Acne Care Cream W

Price: 736 Yen / RM 29.66 (14g)

I have been looking for a pimple treatment cream for a long time, so I decided to buy the Lion Pair Medicated Acne Care Cream W to try because so many people raved about it. The cream is available in 14g and 24g. I bought the 14g one because I find it a little pricey. Hopefully it will not disappoint.

Sheet Masks

I always stock up on sheet masks whenever I travel because it is usually cheaper to get them overseas than in Malaysia. Enter any drugstores in Japan and you will see shelves upon shelves of sheet masks.

Kose Clear Turn White Facial Sheet Mask

Price: 385 Yen / RM 15.52 (Box of 5)

Surprisingly, Kose offers a variety of Clear Turn masks at very low price. I picked the Kose Clear Turn White Facial Sheet Mask up under a Sales Assistant's recommendation. This is one of the top selling mask in Japan. I bought two boxes of this mask from its hydrating series and I really cannot wait to try them out!

Kose Clear Turn Babyish White Mask

Price: 291 Yen / RM 11.73 (Pack of 7)

The Kose Clear Turn Babyish White Mask is one the most readily available and popular brands of sheet mask in Japan. While most other sheet masks are usually sold individually in simple foil packets, this one actually comes in a zip packet of 7. The Babyish White Mask is meant to be used every single night, so a pack of it will last for a week. But most importantly, it is very cheap, which is great for people who use sheet mask often but have serious budget constraints.

There are three different kinds of masks for different purposes. I bought the both the moisturizing (pink) and whitening (white) ones. The Babyish White Mask is also available in 50 sheets pack, which offers even greater savings. I did not get the 50 sheets pack because I read that the masks tend to dry out fast. But so far, I have not encountered such problem with the 7 sheets pack. In fact, I love this mask so much. It is very hydrating and refreshing, The serum is watery and light and get absorbed by the skin easily. Highly recommend!

Quality 1st All-in-one Sheet Mask

Price: 356 Yen / RM 14.35 (7 Pieces)

My skin gets so dry while I was still in Japan, so I bought this mask in hope that it will save my skin, Quality 1st is still not a well-known brand outside of Japan, but it is very popular in the country. Just like Kose Clear Turn Babyish White Mask, the Quality 1st All-in-one Sheet Mask also comes in a zip packet of 7 or 50, at a very affordable price. I have used them all up in a week and I must say that prefer the Babyish White Mask to the Quality 1st All-in-one Sheet Mask. I find this mask not as moisturizing as the Babyish White Mask.

MK Customer Natural Pure Cotton Pads

Price: 108 Yen / RM 4.35 (2 boxes * 90 Pieces)

I love Japanese cotton pads! They are extremely soft and fluffy and never leave any cotton on your skin. Each cotton pads is of excellent quality and you probably only need half amount of toner than you normally do. This particular one from MK Customer is really cheap and this is also the reason why I bought this instead of other brands.

Pure Smile Nippon Art Mask 

Price: 644 Yen / RM 25.95 (4 pieces)

This is the only item I bought from Kokumin Drug store at Kuromon Ichiba market for 644 Yen. Both Tsuruha Drug store and Matsumoto Kiyoshi were selling this for 1,000 Yen, and that is also why I did not purchase this earlier even though this was on my must-buy list. Pure Smile is actually a Japanese brand but manufactured in Korea, which is a little weird. But I find these masks interesting and fun, so I decided to buy one to try.

The mask is formulated by Arbutin and hyaluronic acid to moisturize and brighten skin. There are a total of four different designs in this series.


I have tried a piece of this facial mask while I was still in Japan. The mask is very thin and soft and comes with a scent of green tea. My skin feels moisturized after application. It was a fun mask to try. The moment my husband saw me with the mask on, he erupted into an uncontrollable laughter. I wanted to put this mask on his face too, but sadly, he does not allow me to.

Kose Sekkisui 

Sekkisui is a budget skin care line developed jointly by 7-eleven and Kose, thus the products from the line can only be purchased at 7-eleven in Japan, at a surprisingly affordable price. This is a sister brand of Sekkisei, one of the most famous whitening skin care line sold by Kose. To be honest, I am not really a fan of whitening products, but I still decided to buy because I feel that I could not leave Japan without bringing this luxurious skin care brand home, especially when they are so cheap! Below are the three items I picked out from the Sekkisui skin care line:

Sekkisui Brightening Lotion

Price: 993 Yen / RM 40.02 (60ml)

The Sekkisui Brightening Lotion is a medicated whitening toner that refreshes and clear skin, leaving it beautifully translucent with every application.

Sekkisui Brightening Emulsion 

Price: 1,058 Yen / RM 42.64 (60ml)

Containing Coix seed extract, loquat leaf extract and Dioscorea Panthaicia extract, the Sekkisui Brightening Emulsion keep skin moist and smooth, leaving it with a healthy glow.

Sekkisui Beauty Gel
Price: 1,058 Yen / RM 42.64 (42g)

Combining emulsion, moisturizer, essence, mask and cream into one, the Sekkisui Beauty Gel hydrates the skin, shrinks the appearance of pores and create a smooth and clear skin. 

Snacks & confectioneries

Japan snacks and confectioneries are of high quality in terms of both their designs and flavours. You will find an amazing range of snacks and confectioneries at any shops in Japan.

Pocky Wagokoro - Uji Matcha

Price: 250 Yen / RM 10.08 (Box of 4 packs)

Pocky is a very popular Japanese snacks and you will see it everywhere. We bought Pocky Wagokoro - Uji Matcha, which is almost similar to Pocky Matcha Green Tea. Matcha biscuits sticks wrapped in milk chocolates, but with extra crunchy chucks of Matcha in every bite. The green tea and chocolate blends really well together.  It is amazing.

Jagabee

Price: 172 Yen / RM 6.93 (Box of 5)

I believe anyone who love potato chips would love Jagabee. Jagabee are potato chips that are shaped like french fries and comes in two different flavours - lightly salted and butter soy sauce. I prefer the lightly salted flavour to the butter soy sauce flavour.

Kit-kats

My husband and I are a little obsessed with Japan's many weird and wonderful varieties of Kit-Kats. There are hundreds of different flavours of Kit-Kats in Japan, with special and limited edition released every year. Nearly every region has a its own unique flavor sold only in that part of the country.



Our plan is to buy all the unique flavours that are only available in Japan. But of course, that was impossible due to budget constraints. We bought three different flavours from a souvenir shop while we were in Kobe. I believe we would purchase even more if we have more money.

Sake-flavored

Price: 393.38 Yen / RM 15.85 (Pack of 12)

The Sake Kit Kat contain sake powder which has been kneaded into the white chocolate-encased wafers, giving the chocolates the flavours and aroma of the top quality rice wine. I believe this is the only Kit Kat in the world that contain alcohol. But it is only 0.8%, so not exactly enough to get you drunk. Surprisingly, the taste of Sake is very light, which mixes well with the sweetness of the chocolate. However, the aroma of sake does linger in your mouth for a while even after you swallowed the chocolates.


Price: 749.50 Yen / RM 30.20 (Pack of 9)

The Sake Kit Kat is also available in a nine-piece box set, which comes in a specially designed Isshobin, 1.8 litres bottle packaging. The packaging is very beautiful, but obviously, it is a little pricey. I wonder why we even bought this in the first place. This is definitely an impulse buy for us!

Roasted Green Tea (Hojicha)

Price:
830.75 Yen / RM 33.48 (Box of 12)

Other than than, we also bought the limited edition Roasted Green Tea (Hojicha) flavour Kit Kats from Kyoto. Basically, these are wafers coated with white chocolates mixed with roasted green tea leaves. I heard that the Hojicha flavour Kit Kats are only available in the Kansai region. But I am not sure how true is that.

Chocolatory Moleson

Price: 408.50 Yen / RM 16.46 (Pack of 12)

Chocolatory Moleson Kit Kats are the first ever Kit Kat with topped with clusters of nuts and dried fruits, finely chopped and embedded on the chocolate's surface. This is sinfully delicious! Now I really regret not buying more of this.

Meiji Kinoko No Yama Chocolate Biscuits

Price: 204.75 Yen / RM 8.25

When I first saw this adorable-shaped mushroom chocolate biscuits, I told my husband that I have to buy this. Shaped like tiny mushrooms, the stems of these bite-sized treats are made up of crunchy crackers, while the mushroom heads up made of thick creamy chocolate. A truly delicious treat!

Tongari Corn Lightly Salted Chips

Price: 229.50 Yen / RM 9.25

This is a crunchy grilled corn snack in the shape of cones lightly flavored with 50%  deep water salt crystal. I bought this to try because it looks really tasty.

Wasabi Peas

Price: 536.50 Yen / RM 21.62 | 261.50 Yen / RM 10.54

My husband bought some Wasabi Peas too. These are simply just roasted peas covered in Wasabi powder or flavoring.


Price: 108 Yen / RM 4.35

We bought this one from Daiso for 108 Yen including tax. I did not eat any of these because I am not a fan of Wasabi, so I am not sure how they taste like. But according to my husband (who is a big fan of Wasabi peas), these are delicious.

Wafer Biscuits 

Price: 1,296 Yen / RM 52.23 (Box of 6)

We bought this from a souvenir store in Nara. I have no idea what this is called, but these are basically lightly baked sandwiched wafer biscuits with flavored cream.There are three different flavours - orange, green tea and strawberry. All three flavours are delicious, but I love the green tea flavours the most. The packaging is so cute. How to resist the urge to buy!

Matcha Confectioneries 

Price: 1,260 Yen / RM 50.78 (Box of 6)

You will find a variety of Matcha flavoured confectioneries in Japan. My husband bought this one from a small shop at Kyoto Station. Basically this is soft green tea cookies sandwiching green tea cream. This is incredibly delicious, but a little pricey. I love the softness and chewiness of the green tea cookies.

Matcha Cakes

Price: 1,080 Yen / RM 43.52 (8 Pieces) | 540 Yen / RM 21.76 (6 Pieces)

Other than that, my husband also bought some Matcha cakes from a souvenir store at Kyoto Station. I am definitely not a fan of Matcha cakes because I actually find these a little too sweet.

Malebranche 's Cha No Ka



Price: 1,360 Yen / RM 54.81 (Box of 10)

We bought Matcha-flavored Langue de Chat from famous flagship store, Malebranche while we were in Arashiyama. Cha No Ka are green tea biscuits sandwiching white chocolate. The cookies are made with special Okoicha strong Matcha green tea from carefully selected tea leaves grown in Uji.

Langue de Chat has a bitter taste, but it matches well with the sweetness of the white chocolate. Sold only in Kyoto, which makes it a popular souvenir to bring home from your trip.

Japanese Green Tea

One cannot leave Japan without buying tea. Tea is a widely enjoyed drink in Japan and an important part of Japanese culture. You can find green tea leaves, tea bags and powder sold everywhere in Japan. Price of tea can vary very much depending on the quality, but you can still get tea starting from a few hundred Yen.There are literally hundreds of best Japanese tea brands in Japan, so it can difficult to decide which ones to go for.

Genmaicha

Price: 432 Yen / RM 17.41

Japanese Stems Tea

Price: 810 Yen / RM 32.64

Sencha

Price: 810 Yen / RM 32.64

We bought Genmaicha, Stems Tea and Sencha from a small tea shop in Arashiyama. All three are produced by Fukujuen, a well-known green tea brand in Japan. The shop offered sample of teas for us to try, so we just bought everything that taste good.

Instant Green Tea Powder

Price: 248 Yen / RM 9.99 (40g)

I am a big fan of green tea powder, so I bought it from Tsuruha Drug store because it was really cheap!


Price: 650 Yen / RM 26.20 (100g)

Other than that, I also bought a packet of green tea powder from Niishiki Market in Kyoto.

Osaka no Koibito

Price: 670 Yen / RM 27

Osaka no Koibito means "Osaka's Lover" in English and apparently, this is an imitation of the Hokkaido's famous souvenir, Shiroi Koibito. It is just milky Langue de Chat with white chocolate sandwiched in between. It is sweet and milky. I bought this from one of the souvenir store at Itami Airport.


Shiroi Koibito

Price: 1,058 Yen / RM 42.64

I have been searching everywhere in Osaka for this famous souvenir from Hokkaido, but could find it. So I am really happy when I finally found this at a souvenir shop in Narita International Airport. Shiroi Koibito means "White lover" in English. Just like Osaka no Koibito, this is just milky Langue de Chat with white chocolate sandwiched in between. But I find actually this a little sweeter than Osaka no Koibito.

Orihiro Purunto Konnyaku Jelly

Price: 108 Yen / RM 4.35 (6 Pieces)

I bought this from Daiso because I find it cute, even though I have absolutely no idea what this is. But luckily, this does not taste bad or weird at all. Konnyaku is a rubbery flavourless traditional Japanese food. I recommend anyone to try it because it taste really good.

Fan


Price: 108 Yen / RM 4.35

Other than that, I also bought a traditional hand fan from Daiso for my colleague. This is the only non-beauty and non-snack item I bought in Japan.

So, these are all the items we have picked up in Japan. I hope you have enjoyed reading through my little shopping haul post. For those who plan to do some shopping in Japan, I hope you will find this post useful.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 7D6N Osaka - Kyoto - Nara - Kobe Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 7 days in Japan. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates on my 7 days adventures in Japan! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.