Sonntag, 8. April 2018

One Week without Added Sugar - Meal Plan

I figured out, that it would be best to make a meal plan for my one week challenge.

By doing this, I can pick out beforehand what I can and cannot eat. And I can think of recipies and food, that I like, in order to make me look forward to every meal.

It will propably help me, stick to my diet, without making me think "Today I can make an exception." or "Today is a cheat day." I had this problem several times, while I tried to eat less sugar, without determining, what "less" means and without setting rules. 

If you want to know, why I decided on these foods and recipies, you should read my other two posts on my reasons and research. Because, as the title already suggests, I only try to cut out added sugar and as you can hopefully read in between the lines of my other two posts, I'm no dietician or doctor or anyone who has a profound knowledge of nutritiens. Therefore, it is very much likely, that I might make some mistakes by putting together my meals.

I might change this plan, depending, on how hungry I'm that day, because I never now beforehand how stressful work is going to be.

Apart from that, I might alter the meals the little bit. This is more or less a rough draft of the things I want to prepare on the weekend before I start. Just to spare me the time to think about it during the week. 

Here is the Plan:

Monday
  • Breakfast: smoothie, milk 
  • Lunch: rice, chicken, salad (avocado, lettuce, salmon)
  • Dinner: sashimi, salad
  • Snacks: apple, cheese
Tuesday
  • Breakfast: oatmeal with fruits, plain yoghurt 
  • Lunch: rice, chicken, salad (avocado, lettuce, salmon)
  • Dinner: sashimi, salad
  • Snacks: carrots, reddish

Wednesday
  • Breakfast: chia seed pudding with fruits 
  • Lunch: rice, chicken, salad (avocado, lettuce, salmon)
  • Dinner: eggs, vegetables
  • Snacks: mango, kiwi  

Thursday
  • Breakfast: smoothie, milk
  • Lunch: rice, chicken, salad (avocado, lettuce, salmon), eggs
  • Dinner: eggs, vegetables
  • Snack: sweet potatoe

Friday
  • Breakfast: oatmeal with fruits, plain yoghurt 
  • Lunch: rice, chicken, salad (avocado, lettuce, salmon), eggs
  • Dinner: rice, fish or meat
  • Snacks: apple, cheese

Saturday
  • Breakfast: smoothie, milk 
  • Lunch: o-nigiri with sashimi
  • Dinner: cheese plate, chips (without sugar)
  • Snacks: pumpkin 

Sunday 
  • Breakfast: chia seed pudding with fruits
  • Lunch: bread (dough without sugar) with butter
  • Dinner: chicken, cheese
  • Snacks: banana-icecream
Plan B 

I will prepare one particular snack everyday, for in between meals. But I also will allow myself to eat certain snacks (list below) always and everytime, when I'm hungry or craving sugar. First of all, I'm not counting calories. Therefore, I have to be able to get some more calories throughout the day, in case I need them. Secondly, I will definetely crave sugar and especially icecream. For that reason I will add fruits as a snack and banana-icecream, which tastes basically the same or even better than "normal" icecream. I don't want to eat honey, but in case my cravings become too bad, I might add it to certain meals as a natural sweetener. There are also certain kind of chips, that contain no sugar. I lately discovered some, that seem pretty healthy, but I will try to avoid them, if I can.

Snacks
  • nuts
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • banana-icecream
  • raisins without sugar 
  • cheese 
  • honey (maybe) 
  • chips (without sugar) 

Apart from the snacks I listed above, I will allow myself to eat anything that comes to my mind, that does not contain added sugar.

I will try to film a video for my YouTube channel about my challenge and will keep track of what exactly I eat and how I feel. 

I will start on the 15. April or 16. April, depending on my plans for the next weekend. I might also consider a massive cheat day before I start. Just for fun. I will keep you updated on Twitter and later on YouTube.

See you!

One Week without Added Sugar - Research

I'm no nutrionist or dietician or any other kind of expert on these kind of topics. You propably came to that conclusion while reading my first post.

It's basically just me, trying to eat less sugar to hopefully do my body a favor by giving him the nutritions and energy that he needs. But if I say, "I want to cut out sugar" I need to define, what food I can and cannot eat, because sugar comes in many forms.

I somehow just thought of John Locke from Lost, while writing this last sentence.

Sugar is Life, Sugar is Energy

Well, the first and most important thing, that I found out is, that it would be really hard to cut out every type of sugar that exists. Some people might be able to do this. But in order to succeed, I need to do small steps, because my mind would simply freak out, if I would try to convince it, to eat no sugar at all. Why? Because sugar is in nearly every food you can think of, even in a bunch of vegetables, like carrots.


For that reason, I decided, to cut out only added sugar.

Obviously, I thought of this challenge, because I wanted to start eating healthier meals and I personally don't see any health benefits in forbidding myself to eat vegetables and fruits, which contain natural sugar. It would be really hard to cook something without vegetables and still calling this a healthy diet, I guess. And apart from that, I'm of the opinion, that, to some extend, sugar is an important source of energy, our body needs.

The idea, to try to eat less sugar, came to me at the end of February 2018. I knew, that it wouldn't be easy, that I needed to take slow steps into the right direction and that I need to prepare my challenge  as thourough as possible, in order to be able to succeed.

What I learned About Myself

During the last three to four weeks I tried to eat less sweets. Even though I'm still eating a little snack or icecream now and than, I would call my first attempts a success.

I learned a lot about myself and my relation to sweets and sugar in the last couple of weeks.  I learned, that I need to force myself  a bit harder, in order to come to a point, where sweets become less of a necessity to me. Even though, I eat less now, I still have the feeling, that I need them and that my eating habits could change everyday for the worse, if I don't take care.

Apart from that, I realized certain patterns, e.g. that I'm graving sweets the  in the evening, while it doesn't bother me that much anymore, to eat savory things for breakfast. And even though  I was able to reduce my chocolate consumption, it was and still is, very hard  for me, to do without icecream. And without snacks in general, because one of my most favorite things in this world is snacking. For example while watching TV series, or basically at any time in between meals, while relaxing, playing smartphone games, or simply during work, to get some new energy.

I don't know much about addictions. But I guess, it can't be wrong, to first of all, learn something about yourself and about your relation to the thing, you are addicted to, in order to get over it. For that matter, I will use the things I have learned about me and my weaknesses, to put up a meal plan for my one weak challenge, that will e.g. include enough healthy "Plan-B" snacks.

It might also be useful, to think of some other supportive measures, that are not related to food itself, but that give you some kind of mental support, as e.g. meditation and music, sport, writing about your experience or, like me, making a YouTube video about it.

Reading Labels like a Boss

During the last weeks, I started to read nutrition labels on nearly everything. What takes my attempts at actively learning more Japanese to a whole new level. Not only, because the vocabularies for that purpose are difficult and very specific.

In the case of sugar, we face a problem, that we have in every language:



What kind of Sugar is still OK?

After a lot of confusion and a small panic attack, I discovered some blog posts, that described pretty well, what I already thought I knew:

Fresh fruits and vegetables contain natural sugar and are therefore OK.

Milk contains lactose, milk sugar, which is sometimes listed as "added sugar", what let me kinda freak out at first. However, after reading all types of articles, I found out, that sugar in normal (unsweetened) milk is natural sugar, which is extracted and used in a lot of other products as well.

Which means, that I will still allow myself milk, plain yoghurt and every type of cheese, that doesn't contain hidden sugar.

Carbohydrates 

I think, that bread is out of the question. Because, if there is anywhere a type of bread on this island, that doesn't contain added sugar, I won't be able to pay for it. Healthy food is unfortunately never cheap, and all that Japan has to offer, or at least ninetynine percent of it, is white toast.

Sidenote: I found a "recipe" on the internet, in which flour and water (without sugar!) are used to make the simplest and most tasteless dough ever. But even though, this kind of dough tastes basically like nothing, it would probably be an alternative to "bread", if I wanted to have some. Or just in case I want to experiment, because it should be possible to make something good out of this, e.g. by adding eggs and other ingredients. 
I already added it to my meal plan on the weekend, just for fun.

But let's take the problem, we are facing, to the next level: What about rice and noodles?

Last week, I went grocery shopping and looked closely at labels on noodles and rice. We all know that bread, pasta and rice contain Carbohydrates, which can be devided into three groups of which one can categorized into different types of sugar.


The question is: Is this sugar still OK?

I will answer this, with regard to my weaknesses and the overall purpose this challenge has, namely to get over an addiction to e.g. icecream and chocolate.

I already wrote, that I'm planning to avoid bread. Apart from that, it shouldn't be difficult for me, to live one week without pasta and noodles, as I'm not eating them very often anyway. However, I would find it pretty difficult to cook, eat and still call it a healthy diet, without any of these three products. I already mentioned, that sugar is a form of energy, that we need.

For those reasons, I consider to use rice for my cookings. 
I will continue to do some research in the next weeks and during my challenge. It’s kinda possible that I’m going to make mistakes during my challenge. But guess what. Life is not about being perfect.

Apart from the above reasons, I'm not of the opinion, that eating rice will in any way endanger my attempt to get over my sugar addiction. Just consider, that there is probably no person on this planet, who is addicted to rice because it contains Carbohydrates. Correct me if I’m wrong. 

Lately I saw a video, in which was mentioned that you will want to eat more Carbohydrates when trying to eat less sugar. Because the body needs to compensate the added sugar and needs energy.

It is however possible, that I'm going to use a type of rice that is widely recommended on the world wide web, for it's health benefits. And who knows, I might visit the organic supermarket I discovered some weeks ago, and buy some stuff there. If it is only for one week, I might be able to spare that money.

I will post a concrete meal plan in my next post. So that every expert out there can judge and roast me for it. And that some people might get some inspiration as well. 

Irony intended. 

See you. 

Samstag, 17. März 2018

One Week without Added Sugar - Reasons

As some of you, who are following me on Twitter already know, a while ago, I decided to eat less sugar and to cut out added sugar for a certain period of time.

After some consideration and research, I decided to do a one week challenge in April. I wanted some more time, to make research on all the types of sugar there are and on sugar and sugar addiction in general. Further, I'm pretty busy with work until mid April and I want to do this challenge in a week, where I have less stress at work. 

First of all, let me explain to you, why I decided to do this challenge and what kind of preparations I have done so far.

The most important Reason 

 I often hear people say "You are so thin, you can eat whatever you want." and until recently I thought "They are right. Why do I care?"

Because sugar or better - too much sugar - is not good for your health and eating too much can lead to an addiction. And guess what. I'm addicted to sugar. And sometimes I also fear for my health. Trust me when I say that it is a miracle that I’m still alive *exageration intended*

I know a lot of people who are eating sweets every day, without thinking about it. And I'm of the opinion that this is totally fine, as long as you still eat normal meals as well. But, and hear is my problem. I’m that much addicted to sugar that I’m on some days eat nothing else, that as soon as some hours have passed I’m again craving sugar. And I’m totally loosing appetite for normal food. I only happen to realize that my body needs something else, when I literally force myself to eat meat, vegetables or fruits.

When it comes to sugar addiction, I know that I'm not the worst. I have seen documentaries where they showed people eating much more sugar or in general much unhealthier than I use to do. Further, I regularly try to change my unhealthy eating habits. But I never cared about my sugar consumption as much, as I do now.

I never knew, that sugar can make you addicted.

Some, maybe four years ago, I went to visit my parents for a week. And that was the first time, that the thought I could be addicted to sugar came to my mind. Even thought I had never heard of this kind of addiction before.
My parents usually have no sweets at home and supermarkets in Germany are usually closed on Sunday. On the first evening after our arrival, I already started to crave chocolate so bad, that I felt unconfortable all the time. I knew, that my parents where basically never - or at least not very often - eating sweets and I started to compare myself to them and other people I know, who don't eat sweets as much as I do. I wasn't able to even imagine myself to not eat sugar or chocolate for at least one day.

The moment I finally got some chocolate, I somehow felt like a drug addict. It felt like a big relieve for me to finally put some chocolate into my mouth.

However, at the same time, I felt very weak. Because it felt like I wasn't able to decide on my own, what to eat and what not. I wasn't able to tell myself to stop eating this chocolate.

One of the things, that in my opinion makes humans special, is the ability to decide to do or not to do something, even though their feelings, instincts or, in this context, cravings tells them otherwise. Maybe, for that reason, or just because I'm a person who likes to control everybody and everything, I cannot stand, that I'm not able to decide about my sugar consumption.

Being lazy and trying to eat Healthy 

That's me.

Sometimes I just don't bother about the fact, that I'm an unhealthy eater. I try not to think about it and to simply enjoy the food I eat.

And sometimes, I have a moment of enlightment. A moment, that makes me realize, that I can't continue eating chocolate, ice-cream, pancakes, cookies and all types of sweet bread around 24 hours per day and on 7 days per week. If I have a phase like this, I try very hard for a while. But at some point I alsways reach a limit.

I guess, if you really want to eat healthier, you need to prepare your own meals. And I'm a lousy cook. If you don't believe me, let me tell you that back in Germany I wasn't even able to make an instant soup. What should say a lot about my "cooking skills".
Another reason is, that I'm lazy and I love to keep myself busy with so many things, that I don't want to use my precious time for cooking a meal, that doesn't even taste good.

And than I got a package full of chocolate

And I did, what every German is doing over Christmas, every year. Eating too much, gaining weight and falling back into the best and laziest habit, of simply opening a box of chocolate and cookies for breakfast, as a snack in between meals, for lunch and even around dinner time.

I love this time of the year. But I was unable for two to three month to get back into my "normal" eating habits, of at least eating healthier during the week and making one or two or three or ten exceptions on the weekend.

Let me draw a picture for you, how worse it really was. Try to imagine a human, eating like this for over two month:

I usually started my days with something sweet, like cereals, bread, coffee with milk. On days where I tried hard to be healthier, I could bring myself to eat a banana at least. But as we all know, Bananas have a lot of sugar in them as well.
Before work, I would buy my lunch at the convenience store. On my worst days I started to go for a snack, that I would eat, right after arriving at my company. Basically every day I bought a small bar of chocolate, because I knew how bad it felt to crave it and not beeing able to eat it. So I always needed some of it in the drawer of my desk.
On most days I was reasonable enought to buy one sandwhich or one O-Nigiri and a small salad. However, the rest of my lunch would consist of all kinds of sweets. Unfortunately, convenience stores have a lot of different sweets to offer, which made it even harder for me, to avoid them.
After lunch, I would normally eat some more snacks, that I bought beforehand and always put into my drawer.
The worst part of the day was the evening, after work, when I was most exhausted and tired. You can imagine, that I was not able to keep myself from eating sweets again at this point.

Health and Weight Loss

I had two personal reasons for trying to eat healthy again. One was, that I gained weight over christmas and my sugar addiction made it impossible for me to get back to my ideal weight.
Another reason was my hair. My hair has always been pretty thin, but it is a fact, that I never did something for it. On the contrary, I was dying it for over ten years or more, constantly.
However, since last year, I started e.g. to take supplements as well as trying to get enough sleep, what is very important for my stress level and therefore also for my hair. Even though I'm not sure, if my eating habits will effect my hair growth and health, but at least I need to give it a try. When it comes to hair, the effect of a healthy diet will probably only show up in the long run. Therefore, I first of all need to get over my sugar addiction.

Inspiration

I'm easily influenced by other people. Therefore, inspiration plays a big part in my life in general and also when it comes to healthy eating and living habits.

One thing, that constantly keeps inspiring me, is YouTube. I started to watch YouTube videos only around four years ago. However, the people I watch on YouTube did not only teach me a lot about a healthier lifestyle and better eating habits, but they also inspired me to start my own YouTube channel, what changed my life in so many different ways, it would take another blog post, to talk about this in detail.

Some years ago, I bought an e-book, that I found by chance. Again, this had a big influence on my eating habits and taught me a lot about nutritiens and food in general. It gave the advice, to take a closer look at the eating habits of people around you in order to change or reflect on your own. And even though, I was never able to "copy" the eating habits of other people, who I thought were eating much better than me, this idea inspired me to make at least small changes. It also kept reminding me, that there are people out there, who were "surviving" without eating sweets every day and that in fact, my body doesn't need them either.

Curiousity

Last but not least, I'm curious. I want to know, if I'm able to, at least, cut out added sugar for a certain period of time and if my body will at some point stop craving sugary things.

On that note: Wish me luck!

Montag, 15. Mai 2017

Flipper's in Shimokitazawa

Last week I went with my boyfriend to Shimokitazawa for shopping and because I heard of a cafe that serves pancakes and is really popular, I asked him to visit this place with me. 

This cafe is called Flipper's and it will take you 10 min to get there, from the north exit of Shimokitazawa station. Shimokita-zawa is a entertainment district that is famous for its second hand shops. You will find small fashion retailers, as well as cute cafes, theaters, bars (izakaya) and live music venues. To get there, you have to take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku station (local or express).
I like the atmosphere of Shimokita and therefore I went there very often when I was living in Kanagawa prefecture.

My previous article was about a pancake restaurant in Ikebukuro. 
I didn't intend to eat pancakes again in such a short time. But lateley I don't get to go to Shimokita that often, so I took the chance. I also considered this a good opportunity to compare a "normal" pancake cafe with one that is apparantly very popular; when you check Instagram and other social media. If you want to get the full picture, you can check out my previous article as well.

If you want to read more reviews like this one, please leave me a comment. I would like to try new restaurants and places for you and check them out.


As it is the case with popular restaurants and cafes in Japan you have to wait in a pretty long line.
Therefore, I would recommend you to eat something, before you go to Flipper's. We had to wait for a little bit more than an hour and because we had no breakfast, we were nearly starving to death in front of the restaurant. What sounds actually really funny, now, that I write this.
 But I would not be  surprised if this is actually happening in Japan from time to time. Because people in Japan seem to like waiting in a line. You will get my point here, when you visit or have ever visited Japan (or when you are living here).

This sounds ridiculous, but: On another occasion I experienced with a friend a three hour waiting marathon at Kura-Sushi in Ikebukuro. I assure you, that was awesome!
 (They tell you the waiting time at Kura-Sushi, but we didn't believe that it would really be three hours. Therefore it was our own fault. But, would you believe it?)

Back to Shimokita-zawa.
While waiting, we discovered a take-out window, where you can buy so called pancake pies. I haven't tried one of those, but they looked pretty good to me. A little bit like a cookie with cream and fruits in between. If you don't want to wait and just want to eat something sweet, then this might be a solution as well! One pancake pie was around 300 Yen.

What is also common at popular places like this one, is that the staff gives you the menu while you are waiting. In the case of Flippers, they also took our order, while we were standing in front of the take-out window. I guess, in this way, they are able to prepare the pancakes you order, before you even enter the cafe. Therefore, at least the waiting time in the restaurant itself is reduced. It took them maybe 5 minutes to serve our pancakes, once we entered.


But back to the line. 

Before you enter, you can see a part of the preparation and baking slash cooking process from a window in front of the shop. What was definitely interesting but not really, let's say motivating, when you are already hungry. But definetily interesting.
(But to be honest: Nobody wants to work in a position, where every guest watches you for 30 minutes, before they enter the place, for which you are preparing the food.)

To sum the first part up: The long waiting time at Flipper's was the biggest minus, in my opinion. Even though I know that this is normal in Japan, I was a bit disappointed in this case.


As in my previous article, I made some pictures of the menu, to give you an impression. The prices don't differ from other places, where you can eat pancakes (1000 - 1500 Yen). And after all, you get three pancakes and not just two, as in most other places.

If you are not that hungry or don't like to eat that much sweets, you can share one plate with others. 
Next to us were three girls, who each got an extra small plate for one of the pancakes. You just have to tell the staff that you want to share it and need extra plates, I guess. 



As you can see on the picture, they have three sweet pancakes and two savory options. Other restaurants offer only sweet variants.

After a little bit more than an hour, we could finally enter the cafe. One of the staff will come out and show you your table. What is by the way normal in Japan. There are only few restaurants or cafes, where you can choose the table yourself. However, if you see a place that is empty and you rather want to sit there, instead of the table they are showing you, you can always ask them politiely, to change to that other table.

Flipper's itself is surprisingly small, considering its popularity. Of course, most restaurants in Tokyo are small, but at Flipper's they have only about four or five tables. This is in my opinion still rare.

It really depends on the person, but for me, the space I have around me influences how comfortable I feel and with a row of around 30 people or more waiting outside, I personally felt a little bit uncomfortable in this small cafe. Considering the size of the place, it might be a good idea, not to go with too many people, because it migt take more time, until a bigger table is free.



The interior design of the cafe was cute, as it is always the case in Japan. On top of the kitchen you can see milk bottles, or that's at least what I think it looks like.

Here is what we ordered: 



Now, the most important question is: Were the pancakes worth it? Were they good? 

Yes, they were really good ... (dramatic pause)

... but, in my opinion, they were in no way better than at any other place I visited so far. 
In fact, I thought they tasted a little bit dry. Therefore, you can order more of the cream, what would cost around 500 Yen extra. At other places, you normally get a small jar of honey in adition, what makes the pancakes less dry (and tastes good as well). The cream was really good, but in no way extraordinary. 
That is what I can also say about the pancakes in general: They were really good, but in no way extraordinary and (for me) not justifying the long waiting time. 

I'm not sure why this place is that popular, but maybe one reason is, that the pancakes at Flipper's look really delicious. Maybe people tend to judge their food by it's appearance, what I don't consider a bad thing. However, sometimes, this might lead to a wrong conclusion. 

However, if you ever went to Flipper's, then tell me, how you liked it there. 
Or if you intend to visit this place, don't judge it based on only my opinion, but try it yourself.

Apart from that: If you come to Shimokita-zawa for the first time and want to see enough of it, I would not recommend Flipper's. Because it will consume so much of the time, you could spend visiting the cute shops and streets of Shimokita. There are many other good restaurants and cafes around, that you can visit as well.


Thank you for reading this article. 

Enjoy your time in Shimokita-zawa

Montag, 1. Mai 2017

Pancakes in Ikebukuro


I normally don't go to restaurants alone but last week on Friday I was craving pancakes so much that I simply had to leave my work place early just for this purpose (And yes, I can technically decide when and where I want to work, but this is only a temporary condition)

I wanted to try some of those fancy, fluffy pancakes that are popular lately, so I searched on Google Maps for a nearby restaurant or cafe. 

Fun fact: The word cafe has not the same meaning in Japan as in Germany (or Europe). Cafes in Japan serve several dishes, whereas in Germany you mostly get cafe, tee and sweets and maybe sandwhiches as well. Most cafes in Japan also have sandwiches, some serve pasta and salad, soups or even curry rice. It depends on the place. On the other hand, restaurants in Japan do not always serve coffee.

But well, long story short, if you want to get those fluffy pancakes, you have to make some research where to get them. I always get catched in the well known trap, that when I search for something in particular I definitely won't find it. (Do you know this or am I the only one?)

But Google Maps told me about this place ...
"Cafe and Dining ground H" (Try not to be bothered by Japanese English.)



The cafe is located on the 8th floor of the PARCO building near Ikebukuro station. Go to the east exit first. Before you leave the train station, you will already see the "PARCO" label. Like most big department stores, this one is located directedly next to the station and connected to it as well. What means, you don't have to leave the station, what might be a bit confusing at first. You can take an elevator to get to the 8th flore, where you will only find restaurants and cafes. 
This is by the way the case for most big department stores in Japan: On the upper floores you will mostly find restaurants and cafes.

If you go early and on a weekday it will not be too crowded. 
This might also be applied to nearly all places in Tokyo, especially the tourist spots.

When I take a look at the history of pancakes, I'd rather not jump to wild assumptions about where they are originally from. But they are definitely not an original Japanese dish.
In Tokyo you can eat a lot of food from overseas and many have become a part of Japanese cuisine. For example curry, pasta and pizza, a lot of dishes from China or Korea, and of course pancakes too. I don't visited all of these countries but I assume those dishes will taste different in Japan. 

However, even if I don't know how pancakes in America taste like, I love the Japanese version of it. If I continue writing regularly, you will get to know, that I love sweets in general way too much.


I have made some photos of the menu to give you an impression of what you can order and what it costs. In most restaurants or cafes you will have to pay around 1000-1500 Yen for a plate of pancakes. 
You can get a cheap version at every convinience store though and also make pancakes yourself, if you have a kitchen and a fry pan. It's not as hard as it possibly seems. 

One thing I liked about the cafe in Ikebukuro were the variations they offered. For example the two Sapporo Pancakes you can see beneath, with "Premium Milk Cream" (whatever that means) and mascarpone cream. Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido prefecture. I think that many dairy products come from Hokkaido, so they maybe use Hokkaido milk for the pancakes.


The "normal" menu for pancakes looks like the one below. I was really thinking about taking the Tiramisu version, because I lately want to eat Tiramisu. But on the other hand, I could not imagine Tiramisu flavored pancakes.


In the end I ordered the Choco-Banana pancake, the one option I would probably never regret taking.


The pancakes were really good in my opinion. 
Because of the sauce on top and the small jar of honey you get, they were not dry. I'm a big fan of pancakes, but I also don't like them without sauce, honey or anything else.

The staff in the restaurant was really nice, as in most places in Japan. But I learned that you should not take this for granted. 
The price was, as I said, normal. Compared to other places I went to, the pancakes were a bit smaller. But as they still have enough calories, I don't mind, and I also don't like overeating so they had the perfect size for me. But you might expect more, as long as you are not used to Japanese prices and sizes.

Thank you for reading the article

Morgain

Dienstag, 25. April 2017

Fuji Rock Festival


Fuji Rock Festival
All Good Things come in Threes


I could have been going all three days, but I went only on Friday and Sunday. Why? Because it was the first time for me to go to a festival and I wasn't aware of the fact, that you have to wait until the Lineup is out, if you want to see a certain band (You are free to laugh about me!)
So, I basically bought a ticket for Friday first. And then I heard that the band, I wanted to see, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was going to play on Sunday!
(And yes, you don't get your money back for the tickets you buy.)

But, who cares! It was so much fun anyway!!!

I'm a huge fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and, in the past, I had the chance to go to one of their concerts in Germany for maybe three times. I failed! (Meaning, I didn't go) Because of different and hilarious reasons.

However, last year I finally did it! And now I want to share my experience with you as well as some (maybe) usefull hints, about what to prepare for a festival in Japan.


The Fuji-Rock festival is one of the most famous festivals in Japan (if not THE most famous). I would so much recommend it. Even or especially for "beginners", because it is one of the cleanest festivals, I was told.
Everything, from booking your ticket to your way back home, is really simple, because it is Japan and Japan is convenient (if you ask me). The festival itself is well prepared and even if you haven't gone to one before (like me) or if you forgot something at home, you will get along.  

Another reason, rather for going to a festival, is that you can listen to several bands and artists throughout the day.
I only went there because of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so I didn't know most of the other bands. But I didn't really care about that. One reason is, that I tried to inform myself about the other bands, whereby I discovered new artists and music genres, that I have not listened to before. You might be surprised what you will discover. In the end, I went to see Baby Metal on Sunday, because I started to like them (what I never thought I could do)
You can find playlists on Youtube, that are compiled for the Fuji-Rock festival and list every band and artist you can listen to on those three days.
I listened to some of those playlists and decided beforehand, which band I want to see most.

What is to be done?

1: You have to buy your ticket (of course)

You will find the official website of the festival here:
http://www.fujirockfestival.com/

In Japan, you can order your Ticket online and pay at the conbini. I think this goes for nearly all concert tickets. This is incredibly convenient (a pun!) for people like me, who still have no credit card (To have no credit card in Japan is by the way, one of my worst experiences so far. I recommend you to get one!)
However, I'm sure there are other payment options as well.

In my case it took a while until they sent me the ticket, but I guess, this depends on where you are living etc. When you pay at the convinience store, you get a confirmation paper. In case you have questions or problems, there is a phone number written on it, that you can call.

The ticket is actually a wristband, as many of you will know. You will get the wristband send to your adress or you will get a temporary voucher or receipt, that you have to  bring to the festival and exchange there for the wristband.
That is not as hard as it sounds!


By the way: Buy the ticket(s) as soon as possible. I bought mine maybe 3-4 month beforehand. I'm not sure how fast they sell out.

2: Don't forget to look for a hotel or hostel
(In cace you don't camp)

Most hotels (hostels) are sold out shortly before the festival!

I booked a hostel, that had only rooms for festival visitors (for those three days) and also only for women. It was a share room, so I was happy about the "only women" thing.
It was really cheap compared to most hotels around Echigoyuzawa station and the owners were driving me to the train station every morning.  
They were also picking me up in the evening until 3 am.

Most trains only run until maybe 22 - 23pm, except the Shinkansen. So, I was happy about the transportation service they offered me.

The hostel I stayed at, is called Eco-lodge (エコーロヂ). In case you want to try it out. As the name says, the area is also famous for skiing (surprise!) and also for Onsen (温泉).
The hostel itself was not the most beautiful thing I ever saw, but I was at the festival anyway! And the owners were so nice!

Apart from that, the area around the hostel was simply stunning! And for 600 Yen you will get a Japanese breakfast as well, what is really cheap compared to what you get at the festival.


The room I stayed at was a share room. The bathroom and shower room were also for sharing. Because I forgot my towel (or didn't bring it with me on purpose, because it's inconvenient), I rented a towel for 300 Yen at the hostel.

If you forget to book something beforehand, the hostel I used might be just right for you. I don't know why, but it was one of few, that were not fully booked. My friend forgot to book a room at a hotel, but was able to still get one (on the day we went to the festival!)

In the beginning I was worried about the share room thing. But it was not as bad, as I thought. Japanese people are always really thoughtful and quiet and I shared my room with two or three Japanese women. So, I had no problem sleeping, even though I'm a light sleeper.

3: Look up the options for transportation

If you go the Fuji Rock, you are no longer in Tokyo, and the last train goes early!  Also, the train station is not "near" the festival site. You have to take a bus to get there.
So, if you want to stay at a hotel or hostel, make sure it is not too far away from the train station or that it offers a transportation service or something similar. Some hostels offer rooms and services only for people who go to the Fuji Rock festival!

The festival is at the Naeba Ski Resort (Niigata Prefecture) and the train station you have to go to is Echigoyuzawa (越後湯沢駅).

The festival starts at 9 am and music is played until 5 am in the next morning.

From Echigoyuzawa on, you will have to take a Shuttle-Bus, which is going from the East exit. You should check the running time. Because, even though bands are playing until 5 am, the busses are e.g. on Friday only running until 1 am.
When you arrive at the train station you will already see a row of people, standing in front of the bus. Don't underestimate the waiting time there. We were waiting for maybe 30-40 min until we got into the bus.

The bus ride costs 500 Yen and the way back is free. So, in fact, you pay 250 Yen for one ride, which is pretty cheap for a 40 minute drive.

After you arrive at the festival site, you will first have to get your ticket. Afterwards, you will see people, handing you a map of the festival ground and a table, that shows you the Lineup. You can check the same table on the homepage, as soon as the Lineup is confirmed.

4: Other preparations

In fact, you can buy nearly everything at the festival site. It will just be a little bit more expensive.

Food
You might want to bring food or at least snacks with you.
You will get water and other soft drinks for a reasonable price. I bought one for only 200 Yen. However, food is expensive! A small meals costs around 600 - 1500 Yen at the festival. I'm not a person, who eats much, but because I was walking the whole day on the festival grounds and burned a lot of energy there, I was literally starving at the end of the first day!

Weather
Even though the Fuji-Rock is in the summer, it is getting really cold at night! Because the festival site is on top of a mountain. So, I would really recommend you to prepare for any  possible weather conditions.
About noon, it is getting really hot, so you might want to have sunglasses, a head or sun cream (not joking!)
On the other hand, it is getting really cold in the evening. Therefore, it is good to bring a jacket or something that keeps you warm with you The most known bands are playing in the evening, and you don't want to miss them, because you are freezing, right?

I read a little bit about the weather conditions on the years before and found out that it is also mostly raining. We were lucky, because most of the time, the sun was shining.
It is actually not allowed to bring an umbrella with you. So, go for a rain cape instead. You can buy a cheap one at every 100 Yen shop.
Friends told me that umbrellas are not allowed and I was surprised first, but imagine a festival (with thousands of people), opening their umbrella! I guess, nobody wants that.


Something to sit on
Most people bring a folding chair to the Fuji-Rock, what sounded ridiculous to me in the first place, to be honest. But, imagine, you have to walk or stand the whole day. You definetely will want to sit sometime and there are not too many chairs and tables on the festival ground.
I heard that you can buy a really cheap, and small folding chair at the 100 Yen store.
I think you can also go for a blanket. I saw some people doing that. I'm not sure why Japanese are going for a folding chair instead. Maybe because you can see the stage better on one of those chairs.

Money
Prepare some money, just in case you really need to buy something there.

The most known artists and bands are playing on the Green Stage, White Stage and the Red Marquee.
I personally liked the Green Stage the most. Because the music they played there was closest to Rock music in my opinion.

The last and most important part: Enjoy the festival and have fun! 


Thank you for reading the article.

Morgain