July 2016 - Vikingess Voyages

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bon Odori Midsummer Festival in Ebisu (恵比寿駅前盆踊り)

12:33:00 AM
The rainy season has come to an end here in Japan, and it is finally time for summer (although as a Norwegian in Tokyo it has already been what I would describe as summer temperatures for the last 4 months already). This time of the year you can find a number of places arranging so-called Bon festival dances, and this weekend the Ebisu district in Shibuya is hosting their annual Bon Odori event.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Pokemon Go is up in Japan! ..aaand down again

7:30:00 PM
And the moment we have waited for is finally here: Pokemon GO has been launched in Japan. I have been trying to suppress my old passion for gaming, which was very strong from elementary and all the way up to high school, but my inner gaming nerd could not resist the temptation of downloading Pokemon GO. A big chunk of my hour was spent running around my office looking for the little critters.
Zubat discovered in Ikebukuro
As the gaijin I am I didn't work much too much overtime, and could get out of the office before most of my colleagues. Could even get a hold on a couple of more pokemon on the train home (you know, just this weirdo gaijin randomly filming people on the train). When I got to Ikebukuro, however, my phone had to give in for the massive pressure on the servers..
A message from the Pokemon GO team saying the server is down
Aaaand that was that, it seems like it'll be hard to log into the game for a while. I must say, though, that if Pokemon GO can make Japanese workers finish their job early and get them out of the office before the last train then this launch is definitely a positive thing (except for the possibility of total chaos in Tokyo..). Go go go!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Delayed, rebooked or cancelled flight? How to easily get compensation from the airline

10:28:00 PM
If you're a frequent traveler you probably know how it is like to suddenly be stuck in the middle of nowhere after some unforeseen issues with your flight. That happened to me as recent as in May; after a short visit to Norway me and my husband were taking a plane back from Bergen to Tokyo with a short stopover in Copenhagen, but due to technical issues with the plane we landed in Copenhagen just as the next plane took off to Tokyo.

While our originally scheduled flight from Copenhagen would land in Tokyo around noon we had to take a different route with a stopover in Shang Hai, which lead to our arrival being delayed by 7 hours (!).

The airline rebooked us on a new plane for free as we were using the same airline all the way (I would recommend anyone taking a flight with a stopover to use the same airline for all flights for this exact reason), but all we got in compensation for the delay was a 50 DKK (approximately 8 USD) coupon to use at the airport. On top of that we were told that the luggage would be sent directly to Tokyo, which it turned out it wasn't, thus ending with our bags being stuck in Shang Hai for another 24 hours.

Originally we thought it would be too much of a hassle to try and get something back from the airline, but luckily my father knew about a company that could take care of all the hard work for us called AirHelp.

AirHelp does all the work with getting your compensation from the airline if they deem you have a strong case. In fact, if you had a flight that was delayed, cancelled or overbooked within the last 3 years you might be eligible for a refund from the airline. And unless the airline agrees to give you a compensation you won't have to pay AirHelp anything for their services. All you have to do on your hand is to fill in your flight details through their webpage, which is really simple and should take you no more than around 5 minutes in total.

After a couple of weeks we received an email from AirHelp saying that the airline accepted our claim, which lead to a compensation for both me and my husband. AirHelp got their commission of 25% of the total sum - which was not a small fee but considering that they did all the hard work it was still a small price to pay. I know that if AirHelp hadn't been around we wouldn't have gotten anything beside the lousy 50 DKK coupon and we're both extremely happy with their assistance. If you experience problems with your flight and don't know how to proceed to get a compensation I would strongly recommend AirHelp's services!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tokyo: The Ultimate Secret Karaoke Place in Shibuya: Rainbow Karaoke

11:17:00 PM

There are endless opportunities if you want to go singing karaoke in Tokyo; you can find everything from that shady place in the back alley to those intensely glowing neon-lit places where you dress up as your favourite manga character while singing. 

In this post I will however introduce a karaoke place that lacks the flashy neon-lights but instead has both a great location, style and price; Rainbow Karaoke in Shibuya. Despite the awesomeness of this karaoke place it remains a relatively hidden secret; unlike the karaoke chains that use all the neon-lights possible to attract new customers you probably won't run into Rainbow Karaoke unless you already know where to find it. In other words, if you like karaoke and have gotten tired of the Karaoke Hirobas you find at every corner then Rainbow Karaoke might be the place for you!

Rainbow Karaoke is situated in Shibuya in the newly opened MODI building, only a short 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station. There is a separate small entrance to Rainbow Karaoke on the left side of MODI's main entrance where you’ll find an elevator taking you up to the 8th floor. Their opening hours are from 11 am to 5 pm, and as you can imagine during the prime time hours it can get really crowded. 

Karaoke room with drum set (credit: Hot Pepper)

Their rooms are all uniquely decorated, as you can see from some of the pictures below. They even have a room with a drum-set and stuff, so it is the perfect place to go if you want to take it all out. 
As common in Japan all rooms are private, so you can sing to your heart’s content with your friends/family without having to worry about strangers listening.

New York style room (credit:  Hot Pepper)

Another fancy room (credit:  Hot Pepper)

When to Visit:
Raibow Karaoke is for some reason particularly popular among students in university and high school, and these students usually come in from 3pm. Around these hours it gets quite crowded and you might have to line up in order to get rooms. I have however only visited the karaoke place for Friday and Saturday evenings and I've surprisingly never had to wait for rooms at all.
On a side note, do you know the meaning behind the word karaoke? Karaoke can be divided into two parts, kara and oke. Kara (空) is the Japansese word for empty (as in karate - 空手 - empty hand), and oke is a shortening for orchestra. In other words, empty orchestra. As you know, at the karaoke you are the one responsible to fill in the vocal part.
Their 7PM-11AM menu (Note that all prices are without tax)
Rainbow Karaoke's prices are surprisingly low! The original room charge after 7PM is 10 yen, and each person has to order one drink at costs starting at 480 yen (Note that all prices are without tax). It costs an additional 380 yen per extended 30 minutes. You could also opt for a all-you-can-drink soft drink course that costs 650 yen/hour, which also includes free ice-cream. 
All-you-can-drink (softdrink)

If you plan on staying for a long time then you have the possibility to choose a max 8-hour stay plan including soft drinks for 1980 yen. Not a bad deal right?! With prices like that it won't even be a hassle to lose the last train..

What do you think? Pretty awesome right? My advice would be to go check it out before it gets "discovered" by the crowds..!

Here are some basic information about Rainbow Karaoke:

Basic Info

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Yokohama World Porters: Norwegian Skolebolle in Cafe Be LL Be

5:28:00 PM
As a Norwegian living abroad I tend to get slightly patriotic about finding Norwegian stuff in the stores here in Japan, simply because Norway is a country most people here only associate with salmon and cold weather. It also seems that Norway doesn't do that much to increase its "brand awareness" in comparison to the other Nordic countries (who hasn't heard about Moomin, Ikea or Marimekko?), which means that once you're lucky enough to stumble upon a product that has any relation at all to your home country you kinda just have to proclaim it for the rest of the world.
So.. Anyway.. I discovered that they sell a type of Norwegian bun known as skolebolle (lit. school bun) or skolebrød (lit. school bread) at the bakery on the first floor of Yokohama World Porters called Be LL Be. That is to say, after another Norwegian friend had posted about this finding on FB and of course I just had to go there to get my hands on one of those delicious skolebolle myself. 

Skolebolle is basically made in the same way as an ordinary bun except it is filled with custard cream in the middle and has a layer of icing/frosting on top along with grated coconut. Apparently this type of bun was first made in Norway in the 1950s. Whether you call it skolebolle or skolebrød depends on where in the country you're from. The bun originally comes from the west part of Norway where it is called skolebolle, but in the capital most people call it skolebrød (as used in the bakery in Yokohama: スコーレブロー).

I asked one of the girls working in the store about why they were selling the Norwegian buns in their store. She went to check with one of her sempais, and he apparently said it was a decision taken on chain-level to see how well this Norwegian pastries could sell.

One of my friends told me he once came across skolebolle for the neat price of 400 yen (!) at an event in Tokyo, so with only 180 yen/bun the Be LL Be sure will be getting my support!

The Be LL Be bakery is a Kanagawa-based chain that has a number of small and cute bakeries spread out through the prefecture. If you're in Japan and want to try out this delicious piece of Norwegian pastry I would strongly recommend visiting their store! You can find their stores and menu here.

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below

Basic Info
  • ・Name of Cafe: Be LL Be (カフェ ベルベ 横浜ワールド ポーターズ)
  • ・Address:〒231-0001 神奈川県横浜市中区新港2-2-1
    ・Phone: 045-222-2018
  • ・Opening Hours: 10:30~21:00  (Depending on the season)
  • ・Official Home Page:http://www.bellbe.com/kanagawa/

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How to Make your own Japanese Plum Wine - Umeshu (梅酒)

10:15:00 PM

It is the beginning of July and we have just had the big season for plum wine (umeshu - 梅酒) making here in Japan. If you like the taste of plum wine you can even try to make your own, as starter kits are available in almost any of the bigger grocery stores here.

It is actually quite easy to make your own umeshu even without a kit, and it is said that it is hard to fail at making it, so even if you have any experience making drinks you could easily give it a try.

Below I'll give an easy explanation about how to make your own plum wine.

What you need:

●Plums 1kg
●Sugar Around 700g
●White liquor 1.8L
●A clean container (For instance a 5L bottle)

① First you leave the plums in a bowl of water for a couple of hours before cleaning them. It is important to remove all dirt from the plums to avoid any fungus developing during the period the plum wine is left to mature.

Dry the plums & remove the plum stems

Fill the jar with plums and sugar in layers one after the other. Be careful so that the plums don't get crushed.

⑤Pour the liquor carefully into the jar

⑥Once you have filled up the jar, leave it in a dark place. From time to time you can shake the jar carefully to make sure that the sugar is evenly mixed.

...And that's it! Now you only have to wait a year or so before the umeshu is ready (it is drinkable after three months or so, but the longer you wait the better it gets!)

Step 4: Plums and sugar

When can I make plum wine?

If you find yourself in Japan the best season for making plum wine is around May-June. This is also when you can find equipment and ingredients prepared for you in the stores. Apparently the best timing to use plum for wine making is 3 months after the plum flowers have bloomed, so you can time it depending on when the plums bloom in your country.

If you succeed with keeping the plum wine safely in a cool place it can refine in up to 20 years! Good luck!

Plum wine ready to be stored
Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sightseeing in Shizuoka: Fuji Safari Park

8:00:00 AM
A giraffe in front of Mt. Fuji (taken from Fuji Safari Park's homepage)
For people wanting to see the sacred Mt. Fuji while in Japan it is possible to combine the trip with other activities in the vicinity, and a visit to Fuji Safari Park might be an enjoyable option for both young and old travelers. The park is located in Susano in Shizuoka Prefecture, and can be reached by car from Tokyo in about 1 hour 45 minutes so it is also an option for a day trip if you don't want to spend the night. Last weekend I and some friends stopped by the safari park as a part of our trip to Shizuoka where our main goal was to go paragliding with Mt. Fuji in the background.

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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