Category Archives: Travels

Sawanoya Ryokan – Home Away from Home

I called Sawanoya Ryokan ‘home’ when I stayed there in 2010 from the 5th to the 13th of June.

How did I end up choosing this local inn over many others? The reviews I read were – and still are – pretty consistent: it’s budget-friendly; it’s located in a quiet and safe neighborhood; the surrounding areas are steeped in culture.

My personal take-away is that even though Sawanoya Ryokan is tucked in a quiet neighborhood, what with downtown proper at least 30 minutes away by train, its location abounds with little surprises. I lost count the number of times I stumbled into a stationery shop, a plant gallery, a coffee shop, a pet shop, and so on. Believe it or not, I even caught a glimpse of the royal princess one night when I was out for my walk! The street I was on was lined with people, with necks craning as if waiting for someone. It turned out they heard the royal convoy was passing through so they decided to wait. Their efforts were rewarded.

Pulling myself away from the ryokan’s dining area is a challenge in itself because it’s so comfortable there! Once your co-travelers are gone for the day, silence descends on the room, and it’s tempting to just sit around and read a book. But I didn’t. And your host, Isao Sawa, won’t let you, especially if he sees it’s a beautiful day outside. If you can’t decide where to go, he’ll gently make suggestions, tell you how to get there, and even say how much it’ll cost.

So, are you planning to visit Tokyo in the near future? I’m excited for you! Book a few nights at Sawanoya Ryokan, make your next trip unforgettable, and let us know how it goes!

Note: Photos were taken using the Moto Razr’s camera feature. Some images may appear sharp, but dark because the phone doesn’t have an automatic flash.

Sawanoya Ryokan - Entrance

Sawanoya Ryokan – Entrance

The ryokan owners: Isao Sawa and his wife. Isao-san is holding a copy of the book I bought from him.

The ryokan owners: Isao Sawa and his wife. Isao-san is holding a copy of the book I bought from him.

The small foyer includes the front desk, an internet corner, a stationery corner, and shelves filled with travel books and walking tour maps.

The small foyer includes the front desk, an internet corner, a stationery corner, and shelves filled with travel books and walking tour maps.

Sawanoya Ryokan - Dining area

Sawanoya Ryokan – Dining area

Close up of the menu board during my visit in 2010.

Close up of the menu board during my visit in 2010.

A shelf filled with many Japanese toys. I always had breakfast at the table in front of this shelf so I can start my morning on a ‘fun’ and colorful note.

A shelf filled with many Japanese toys. I always had breakfast at the table in front of this shelf so I can start my morning on a ‘fun’ and colorful note.

Close up of the Japanese wooden dolls

Close up of the Japanese wooden dolls

Close up of the rest of the toys, which include three Daruma dolls. They're the ones with the egg-shaped heads and considered lucky to have around.

Close up of the rest of the toys, which include three Daruma dolls. They’re the ones with the egg-shaped heads and considered lucky to have around.

Entrance to the bathing area

Entrance to the bathing area

Inside the bathing area

Inside the bathing area

The water in this bath is very warm, hot even. Slipping into one feels like being in an onsen. Do it gradually, and then let your worries slip away.

The water in this bath is very warm, hot even. Slipping into one feels like being in an onsen. Do it gradually, and then let your worries slip away.

Enjoy your bath and the serenity of the pocket garden beyond.

Enjoy your bath and the serenity of the pocket garden beyond.

The hallway on the second floor. My room at the time is the last door on the left. That’s an ironing board at the far end of the hallway in case you need it.

The hallway on the second floor. My room at the time is the last door on the left. That’s an ironing board at the far end of the hallway in case you need it.

The futon is very comfortable. You *have* to try it.

The futon is very comfortable. You *have* to try it.

There's even serenity in the way the hangers are arranged in the closet.

There’s even serenity in the way the hangers are arranged in the closet.

Fueling the Wanderlust: A Look at Travel Blogs on WordPress.com

I like to travel as much as I like to write. Hopefully someday, I can do an abundance of both.

The WordPress.com Blog

We hope Vagabond, the travel theme launched yesterday, inspires the nomad in you. To fuel the wanderlust even more, get blissfully lost in the words and images on the blogs below. From narrative writing on place and culture to photographs of the places on your bucket list, we think you’ll find something you like from this sampling of writers, wanderers, and photographers who explore the world.

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Postcards from Travels – Thailand

Classical Dance Costumes for Females

Classical Dance Costumes for Females

Classical Dance Costumes for Males

Classical Dance Costumes for Males

Hello Kitty Around Town

Going around Tokyo, it’s almost impossible not to see “Hello Kitty,” the most recognizable Sanrio character, in one form or another. Her presence was so pervasive during my June 2010 trip that I decided to just snap away whatever “Hello Kitty” product or advertisement presented itself in front of me.

This page is dedicated to all the fans of the popular feline. Enjoy!

Ikebukuro - Sanrio Gift Gate

Ikebukuro – Sanrio Gift Gate

Shimo-Kitazawa - T-shirt shop

Shimo-Kitazawa – T-shirt shop

Shimo-Kitazawa - T-shirt shop

Shimo-Kitazawa – T-shirt shop

Ueno (Train) Station - Hard Rock Cafe

Ueno (Train) Station – Hard Rock Cafe

Ueno (Train) Station - Hard Rock Cafe

Ueno (Train) Station – Hard Rock Cafe

Ueno (Train) Station - Kiosk

Ueno (Train) Station – Kiosk

On my way to the Ueno Train Station, I saw this very tall poster (billboard?) in front of the entrance of a mall. "Samantha Thavasa" is a line of women's bags.

On my way to the Ueno Train Station, I saw this very tall poster (billboard?) in front of the entrance of a mall. “Samantha Thavasa” is a line of women’s bags.

Kagurazaka-dori, Kagurazaka - I was on my way to the "ryokan" I was staying at when I saw this sign: a drawing of Hello Kitty with a "shamisen."

Kagurazaka-dori, Kagurazaka – I was on my way to the “ryokan” I was staying at when I saw this sign: a drawing of Hello Kitty with a “shamisen.”

Shinjuku - Hello Kitty "kokemaru." I'm not sure what "kokemaru" means. Perhaps it has something to do with plants as I saw these in a flower shop. The display had happily spilled over to the sidewalk.

Shinjuku – Hello Kitty “kokemaru.” I’m not sure what “kokemaru” means. Perhaps it has something to do with plants as I saw these in a flower shop. The display had happily spilled over to the sidewalk.

(Note: All photos were taken using the camera feature of the MotoRazr2 V9.)

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