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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: Japan

Japan in Photos

Paula Gaston

Have you ever been thinking what is the furthest destination you have been to? Seven years ago I was thinking that when I vacation in California or when I move there, I will be quite far away from my home. I was living in Finland at the time. Even the flight to California was so long, that I really felt like I was going to the other side of the world. And I was. If you look at thing from Finland, the furthest place I have visited is Hawaiian Islands. If I look at the same thing from California, it would be Dubai in United Arab Emirates. But I have actually traveled to those places from shorter distances.

But being far from home can also be measured as a feeling as well, not just by the miles or kilometres. Being in a totally different culture what you are use to definitely makes you feel like you are far far away. We got this feeling in Japan. Japan is physically far away from both California and Finland, but even more it really feels like far away. Everything there was different! After figuring out how things work there we absolutely fell in love with this country! It was both exciting and awesome, and somehow tiring as well. But we feel like it is definitely a country far away that we want to return someday.

These are the things we wont forget:

BUILDINGS

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Japan is a mixture of both history and modern building. From the skyscraper’s Tokyo you can take a bullet train and within an hours be walking around the traditional, old Japan. The picture on the left is from Todaiji Temple which is said to be the biggest wooden building in the world. On the right is the Himeji Castle, one of the national treasures of Japan.

DIFFERENT KIND OF PEOPLE

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The amount of people in Tokyo feels surreal. But even though the metro is full of busy people, they will never pump into you or be rude. In different prefectures of Tokyo you can meet different people with different styles, and you might run into a wedding couple if you visit a temple. We even saw few geishas in Kyoto even though seeing them is quite rare.

RELIGIONS

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Different religions are strongly visible and present in Japanese life. Anywhere you go, you will see temples and shrines. Visiting them is interesting and there are many rituals and traditions that takes place at the temples. Even though these places are open for tourists as well, they are mainly calm places designated for praying.

FOOD

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Exploring the Japanese food was one the highlight on our trip to Japan. We got to try many new foods that we had never tried, and some local treats. There is some international chain restaurants there but they are very expensive compared to the local food places. And who wouldn’t like Japanese food?!

GOOFYNESS

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We were surprised how often so serious and quiet Japanese people seemed to love everything goofy and silly. It was awesome! We visited several theme cafes, and at the Trick Art Museum where the photo on left was taken at. People in Japan truly knows how to have fun!

OPPOSITES

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From the city life to the calmness and quietness. From modern into a middle of the history. Japan was truly a country of opposites where you can meet the modern future and the old traditions in one day. The picture at left is from Nara where you can pet some tame deer, and the one at right is from Hiroshima. Hiroshima is a big modern city with a piece of sad and touching history in a middle of it.

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

 

10 Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 3

Paula Gaston

Every once in a while you can see some travel picture blog challenges going around. I have done it twice and showed you some pictures from my trips around the world. It is always fun to see people's travel photos, and it is even more fun to find some from your own albums. So many memories! 

So here it comes! Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 3. The first photos you can find from here:

10 Travel Pictures from My Past
10 Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 2

 

MY ALL TIME FAVORITE SHOT

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This photo quickly became one of my favorites. My family! And now we also have one more tiny traveller, but when the photo was taken, we were only three people. This picture was taken in Nara, Japan. We visited Todaiji Temple to see the world's biggest Buddha. The temple is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and it truly was worth going to. 

A SURPRISING SITUATION

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When we travelled to Japan, I was dreaming about seeing a geisha. Then I found out, that it is actually pretty difficult to find them, and there is only 200 of them left. One night we were strolling around the Gion Geisha District when we heard this jingling noise. Suddenly a geisha walked by us. That night, we ended up seeing several geishas on their way to work. I will never forget it!

A GEM FOUND NEARBY

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On our Christmas trip last year, we stopped in Solvang, here in California. Even though I had been there shortly before, I was surprised how much I liked visiting this Danish style town. We walked around downtown, stopped in little shops and ate some danishes. Perfect! 

WHITE SAND AND TURQUOISE WATER

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In California, when in need of paradise, it's time to head to Hawaii. There you can lay on the sand and snorkel in the turquoise water. I would really love to go snorkeling again. All those colorful fish and corals are so beautiful! This picture is from Big Island.

WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE WORD FREEDOM

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We have driven through Nevada several times, and it looks like this at it's best and worst. The total freedom to do what ever you want and go where ever you want! It is both exciting and a little bit scary to drive through the open desert. On this trip we drove through an Indian reservation, saw some Joshua Trees and wild horses, and got stuck in a snow storm. Anything can happen in Nevada!

IDYLLIC LIFE

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It is pretty cozy to stuff yourself inside the smallest pub in England with a bunch of other people for a pint. And I can tell you, the pub is really tiny! But it was fun to visit there. 

LUXURY IS...

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It is absolutely a luxury to fly in business class sometimes, especially when flying with All Nippon Airlines. The service was spotless, and the food was way better than that served in many restaurants with lots of stars. If I could always fly like this, I wonder if I would always arrive as happy and without jet lag to my destination.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ARHITECTURE 

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The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen. Many pictures from Japan could have also been used here, but I decided to go with this one from Saint Petersburg, Russia. The whole city is full of beautiful buildings on the inside and outside. 

A BITTERSWEET MEMORY

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I am still a little bitter about the way my trip to Israel and Jordan went. I was picked up by the border control at both borders for a special check up. In Jordan, a whole bus load of people had to wait for me to get through border control. In the end, everything went well, and my trip was a success, but I still remember sitting in the back room of customs. Although, now it seems like one big adventure.

IT HAS TAKEN TOO LONG TO GO VISIT THIS PLACE AGAIN

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There are so many pictures that I could have used on this topic. Since we just had a baby six months ago, I haven't been able to visit Finland in a very long time. This is actually the longest, I have ever been without visiting my home country. I chose this picture from the Snow Castle of Kemi, since it has been several years that I have been there. We rarely travel to Finland during the winter, and every year I think how cool it would be to visit the Snow Castle again. Well, maybe next year...

 

In case you are interested in participating in this challenge, you can copy the list of the topics from here. Originally this was started by a Finnish blog Journey diary. If you do write a post about it, I would love to read it. Please link it to my comments, and also link my blog on your post so we can find each other's posts easily.

1. My all time favorite shot
2. A surprising situation
3. A gem found nearby
4. White sand and turqoise water
5. When I think about the word freedom
6. Idyllic life
7. Luxury is... 
8. The most beautiful arhitecture
9. A bittersweet memory
10. It has taken too long to go visit this place again

 

10 Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 2

Paula Gaston

Last spring I posted 10 Travel Pictures from My Past. It was fun to look at pictures from my past trips and try to find ones that would fit into the post. Now this blog challenge is back again, and here are my new photos for it:
 

WING FROM THE WINDOW

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This photo is from our return trip from Utah to California with a beautiful sunset. On this trip we visited Arches National Park, Salt Lake City and we were able to swim in a hot crater at Homestead Resort


BEST PHOTO YOU ACCIDENTALLY NAILED

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Everyone knows that San Francisco can get pretty foggy sometimes. And when that happens, it happens very quickly and often hides the whole of the Golden Gate Bridge. While taking this picture we were trying to get some souvenir pictures with our guests from Finland. We were not quite fast enough, but instead of ruining the picture, the fog actually made it look pretty cool.


A TRAVEL PICTURE THAT MAKES YOU SMILE

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When we visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California, all my daughter wanted was to see Minnie Mouse. So all I can say about this picture is that it makes me very happy!


NATURE PICTURE

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Some years ago, I stayed in Iceland for a month. The most memorable thing was the varied beautiful nature. I have heard that since then, the tourism there have exploded, but I was able to enjoy everything without too much hassle. The picture is from Skogafoss waterfall. 


UP AND HIGH

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This picture is from Basel Switzerland, where we climbed up 242 steps to the bell tower of the Basel Minster. The view from up there was amazing!


A POSTCARD IMAGE

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Kyoto, Japan has been one of the most amazing places I have visited. There is so much to see in the town, that I could easily do another trip there. The Golden Pavillion, where this picture is from, was extremely crowded.

TRAVEL BUDDIES

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During the years I have traveled with many kinds of people. When I was a kid, we of course traveled with my mom and dad, and then later with friends. Today, I mostly travel with my own family, who are in the picture; all but our 2 month old who missing from it. This picture is from Nara, Japan, where we visited the Giant Buddha in Todai-ji Temple.


CHILLIN UNDER A PALM TREE

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For some reason it was hard for me to find a picture where I'm under a palm tree. So maybe I don't do that very often, even though we live in California. Coming from Scandinavia, I can't ever get used to the palm trees and seeing them always makes me feel good. This picture was taken some years ago in Los Angeles. 

By the way, did you know that palm trees are not native to California, and they were all planted?


"GOOD MORNING" PICTURE

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One of the best breakfasts I have ever had! We had long waited to visit Hawaii's Big Island again, and we finally went back last year. Since we were jet lagged in the beginning of our trip, we were always up early enough to be the first ones at breakfast. And because of that, we always got to choose the best table of the house and enjoy the sunrise.


FAVORITE CITY

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As my favorite city, I chose San Francisco, since we live right next to it and I love it! Even though there are many other awesome cities in the world that I really like too. But I will never get bored with San Francisco!

 

In case you are interested in participating in this challenge, you can copy the list of the topics from here. Originally this was started by a Finnish blog Journey diary. If you do write a post about it, I would love to read it. Please link it to my comments, and also link my blog on your post so we can find each other's posts easily.

1. Wing from the Window
2. Best photo you accidentally nailed
3. Travel Photo that Makes You Smile
4. Nature Picture
5. Up and High
6. A Postcard Image
7. Travel Buddies
8. Chillin Under a Palm Tree
9. "Good morning" Picture
10. Favorite city

Small Luxuries on My Travels

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

When travelling it is nice to spoil yourself a little. We usually don't travel in business class or stay at five star resorts, even though we have tried both of them. The luxury on our trips comes from small things. We usually like to explore our surroundings and be in nature, so staying in a resort sometimes feels like a waste.

At least the following things bring us joy and feel like a luxury on our trips:

LUXURY IS...

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...PAMPERING YOURSELF WITH GOOD FOOD.

We love to try local foods and we especially love seafood. When travelling we eat out a lot which definitely feels like a luxury to me, since I don't have to cook all the time. All the moms know what I mean! You don't have to think "when do I have time" or "what ingredients do we have". You can just sit down and enjoy.

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...TRYING SOME LOCAL DRINKS.

Every country or state seem to have their own drink. It is always nice to try something new and different. When traveling on wine regions we always choose a local wine, and my husband likes to try local beers as well. We sometimes also get a cocktail for an aperitif. 

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...CULTURAL EXPERIENCE IN A THEATRE OR MUSEUM.

You can't ever go to the theatre too much. I feel like we don't do that often enough, but most trips we end up going to a museum at least. There are however, some cities or countries that you can't leave without seeing a show or a musical first. Also, some seasons require an occasional visit to the opera or ballet. 

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...A CUP OF REFRESHING COFFEE.

We are huge coffee snobs. When home we always grind our coffee from fresh beans. Finding a good cafe while traveling feels like luxury since most coffees served in hotels are like poison. I am not a big friend of Starbucks or other chains; the best coffees are served at small, independent cafes. 

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...A MOMENT OF SILENCE IN NATURE.

Best ever! I love it when I get to escape the city somewhere where I can only hear the sound of nature. There is nothing better than that.

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...THE MOMENT WITHOUT A RUSH!

And then there are moments when you really are not in a rush and you can totally relax. Very often this happens on a vacation when you are travelling.

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...A FIRE PLACE AND A CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE ON A COLD WINTER NIGHT.

Here in California, I am sometimes missing a real winter. My childhood Christmases were always white, so I miss that. Especially when the evenings are dark and Christmas lights are already up, it would be such a luxury to have some snow. It really brings the Holiday feeling!

All Nippon Airlines business class dinner.

All Nippon Airlines business class dinner.

A warm crater at Homestead Resort in Utah.

A warm crater at Homestead Resort in Utah.

...SWEETER IN SMALL DOSES.

OK, fine. I can't lie that I wouldn't enjoy if I sometimes got the first class treatment, that "real" luxury. Sometimes it is nice to stay in a better room, fly with more room for yourself or eat in a fine dining restaurant. Especially the last one is familiar to me due to my old job, and I still like to find great restaurants. But when you don't get these things every day, you will appreciate them more.

What is your luxury when you travel?

 

Legoland Discovery Center Tokyo

Paula Gaston

On our last trip to Japan, we also visited the local Legoland. Legoland Discovery Center is located on the island of Odaiba, at the Tokyo Beach Island Mall where we also visited the Trick Art Museum. Both of the places were quite small, so it was possible to visit them in the same day. Getting to Odaiba is easy when you take the local train, and there is so much to do for families with kids.

I was surprised that the Legoland seemed to be very small. I have never been to the original Legoland in Denmark, or the one in San Diego, California, but I always thought that these were big outside parks. The one in Tokyo was indoors and it didn't take long to walk through. It wasn't until later that I realised, that Legoland and Legoland Discovery Center are two different things. There actually was a "real" Legoland in Japan too, in the city of Nagoya.

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So the Legoland Discovery Center was indoors. The tour started in a "Miniland" where we saw all the cool sites we had just seen on our visit to Tokyo. After Miniland there was a movie running, but we decided to skip it since we wanted stay active. We continued to a factory tour where we learned how legos are made. We also did a couple rides which were fun. Unfortunately they were the only rides they had! The rest of our visit we dedicated to playing. Our daughter enjoyed the play area, and there were several areas to built legos too. She tried the karaoke and made some friends while playing. 

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Shibuya Crossing  which we saw just few days before. 

Shibuya Crossing which we saw just few days before. 

The lit building in the front is  Nijo Castle  which we visited in Kyoto. 

The lit building in the front is Nijo Castle which we visited in Kyoto. 

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After a while we moved down stairs to "City Train World". We saw many warning signs saying that once down stairs, we would not be able to return. This was a little confusing since we didn't know how big the downstairs area would be. Did we spend enough time up stairs or should we stay longer? We had no idea, but we decided to see what was downstairs, since we were starting to get a little tired. "City Train World" was a room with different kinds of train related legos, and it didn't take us long to move on. The tour ended at the souvenir shop. 

Overall I think that the Legoland Discovery Center was a little bit disappointing. Or maybe I was just expecting too much, as I thought I was in an actual Legoland. If you are planning to visit this place, you should consider getting tickets beforehand online, since they are cheaper that way. There is a cafeteria inside the discovery center, however we ate at the mall where they had more to choose from. There is so much to do for kids and families at this mall. 

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Legoland Discovery Center can be found from: Odaiba 1-6-1 Decks Tokyo Beach Island Mall 3F, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 135-0091, Japan.