The Making of Harry Potter

Recently, we finally managed to visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour near London – it’s the place where you can see the making of Harry Potter. As a fan of both the books and the films this was definitely a magical place to visit.

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

The Hogwartz shield above the fire. Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

In the main hall you could see the different house uniforms. Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry PotterHagrid was huge!   Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry PotterThe ice castle seen at the Yule Ball.

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

The potions classroom. What was so impressive was the attention to detail in everything that was made. Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

The golden snitch! Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

If only the Time-Turner was real – I could definitely use one of those. Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

One of the most famous residential addresses in the UK! Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

There were a lot of different parts to the Warner Bros Tour, much more than I expected. After looking around some of the sets and the outdoor parts (where you can try butter beer) there was a section which showed how some of the creatures were made – seen here was a mandrake plant. Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

One of the most impressive parts of the tour was the Hogwarts model. I had seen pictures of this but I didn’t imagine it would be this size. The attention to detail was incredible.

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

And it changed between simulated night and day. Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Many, many wands.

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studios Making of Harry PotterIf you’re a fan of Harry Potter and can make a trip to the studios I would highly recommend it. It’s a set of stories that I have grown up with and it was wonderful to see how some of the films had been put together.

Overkill?

“What do you guys think they sell on that shop over there?”

_MG_0804

Glimpse of a Geisha

While in the Gion district of Kyoto I had read that you might sometime see Geisha or Maiko moving swiftly through the streets. I didn’t actually expect to see any, particularly as it was a busy time of day and the area was full of tourists. But, as I was taking photographs of something else a lady – either a Geisha or Maiko literally swept past me. It all happened in a matter of seconds , she appeared from a side street a moved along the street in a swift but elegant manner. The make-up on her face was beautiful, pristine and striking – you can see from the picture I took the pattern of the make-up that has been made on her neck.

Geisha Maiko Gion Kyoto Japan

Food in Japan

One of the best things about Japan was the food. Whenever I talked to people about going to Japan the usual reaction was that they thought it would be expensive, but in reality you can eat very reasonably in Japan (in fact very cheap), it really depends where you go and the type of food you want. Here are a few of the delights we tried on our journey.

This wasn’t beer but melon soda in a restaurant in Hiroshima – despite the bright green colour this tasted very fruity.

Melon Drink Japan

What was very surprising was the McDonalds in Japan, much nicer than we have here in the UK. We stopped in a McCafe in Kyoto for coffee and Carlos decided to try some of the cake too. The sauce decorations were a nice touch. Japanese Food Japan McDonalds

The coffee was pretty good too. Japanese Food Japan McDonalds This was another incident were Carlos tried food that we weren’t quite sure what they were – tasty nonetheless. Japanese Food in Japan

This doughnut was from the Nagano bakery in Tokyo, near Roppongi Hills. I would go to Tokyo just for this bakery. Doughtnut Japan

While in Hiroshima we ate at a Chinese restaurant – mainly because I wanted to try the dan dan noodles we had seen in the window. But when inside the restaurant I saw a spicy version of the dish and decided to order that instead. This was probably the spicest thing I have ever eaten but was also extremely delicious. It got the the point where I didn’t want to eat any more because it was so hot, but wanted to keep on eating because it tasted so good. I ate as much as I could bear. That will teach me for ordering the spicy version of dan dan noodles.   Dam Dam Noodles Dan Dan Noodles HiroshimaYakitori in Tokyo!

Japanese Food Japan

Okonomiyaki in Osaka – cooked and then served on a hot plate in front of you. Definitely a different kind of dining experience. Japanese Food Japan OkonomiyakiA bento box from one of the many train journeys.

Bento box bullet train JapanThis was a memorable meal. We found a restaurant with a menu that looked good but there was nothing in English and the staff didn’t speak English either but were very friendly. We managed to order with a combination of broken Japanese, smiling and pointing. We didn’t realise what we ordered would need to be cooked at our table so we were a little surprised when they brought a cooker to our table. But it was probably one of the more fun meals we had on the holiday.

Japanese Food Japan

In many of the department stores in Japan there were bakeries with all sorts of novelty food items – including these little sweet buns. Japanese Bakery TokyoThe most amazing chicken Ramen I have ever eaten, from a small ramen restaurant in a basement in electric street near Shinjuku.

Chicken Ramen Japan Tokyo

Another day, another train, another bento box. Bento box Japan

Breakfast in Hiroshima – sweet buns with vanilla custard and a double espresso. Japanese Food JapanThis is just a sample of the food we tried, it was all amazing.

Wandering with the Deer in Nara

While staying in Kyoto we took a local train to Nara to visit a temple with one of the world’s largest Buddha statues. The Eastern Great Temple or Tōdai-ji is located in a complex a short walk from the train station. The temple grounds also have freely roaming deer. The deer were very comfortable around humans and there were plenty of places where you could buy deer food – I don’t imagine any of the deer around here ever go hungry.

Nara Temple Deer Japan

This picture was taken just before we entered the park at a bakery at the train station. It puts train station food and drunk in the UK to shame. I had an apricot bun from here that I can only describe as heavenly. Bakery Nara Japan

Apricot bun Nara Japan

 

I didn’t manage to convince Carlos that we really did need an inflatable deer pull-along toy. Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

As to be expected in an area that is famous for its deer – the tourist shops are fully of various deer-related items. I acquired a deer shaped pen! Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Despite the deer appearing very comfortable around humans, there were a lot of warnings about the potential for deers to be a little less than friendly. Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer JapanThe statue on the right is the Daibutsu or ‘giant Buddha’ that the temple houses, and another just as impressive but slightly smaller Buddha to the left.

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nara Temple Deer Japan

The Eastern Great Temple which houses the Buddha statue in all it’s glory. It’s not hard to see why this is a UNESCO Heritage site. Nara Temple Deer Japan

Nishiki Food Market – Kyoto’s Kitchen (2)

Continuing our exploration along the Nishiki food market in Kyoto we manage to find one of the things that the market is famous for – baby octopus stuffed with a quails egg.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanI had read about these when doing some research on places to visit in Kyoto. I managed to convince Carlos he should try one.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

And he didn’t seem to mind. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanMoving on, there were lots of other street foods to try – most of which involved some kind of stick.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

It’s not hard to see why the shopping street is called Kyoto’s kitchen. There was more of less any kind of food or ingredient you could want here. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

 

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanAs we reached the end of the market, there were more kinds of things on sale, clothing and accessories for example, as modeled here by this giant teddy bear in a kimono.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Probably the cutest doughnuts in Japan? Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanThat concludes our trip down Nishiki food market in Kyoto – definitely a highlight of our trip.

Nishiki Food Market – Kyoto’s Kitchen (1)

When travelling I love to visit markets, particularly food markets, they reveal so much about cuisine and culture. Nishiki Market in Kyoto was a great example of this. It is a very long shopping street that is covered and is known as Kyoto’s Kitchen because of the hundreds of market stalls and restaurants that line it (and the surrounding side streets).

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

For many of the stalls I wasn’t even sure what a lot of the ingredients were, which makes it even more fascinating. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

 

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanI could have spent hours wandering off the side streets from this market as there were so many more places to explore.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

I was quite tempted by these Japanese sweets, all individually wrapped. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Unsurprisinglythere was a lot of seafood. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

So many different types of food, as you move from one stall to another the smell of the market totally changes. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

A lot of fishes on sticks were for sale. There is a particular delicacy on a stick that Nishiki food market is famous for and I’ll explain more about that in the next blog post. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanSo we are now about half way down Nishiki food market. The next blog post continues the journey…

Cherry blossom rain in Kyoto

While in Japan we had seen some cherry blossom in Tokyo but it was really towards the end of the season there. However, when we reached Kyoto many more of the cherry trees were in bloom. After visiting the temple of the Golden Pavillion we went for a walk in search of lunch and accidentally discovered a small park that had an event as part of the cherry blossom festival.

It was literally raining cherry blossom everywhere in this park.

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom KyotoLater in the day there was going to be a procession here, and people were already lining the path.

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Several time while wandering around here there were gusts of wind and the air just became filled with cherry blossom – probably one of the most beautiful moments of the holiday. Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom Kyoto

As part of the procession the shrine was moved from it’s usual place and carried along a processional route. Cherry blossom Kyoto Cherry blossom Kyoto

So much cherry blossom – everywhere!Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom KyotoQuite a few times in Japan, by wandering off the tourist trail we discovered places that were both beautiful and fascinating. This was definitely one of those times. Technically we ended up in this place because I mis-read the map, and I am very glad I did!

 

 

Reaching the Temple of the Golden Pavillion

I have a lifetime ambition to visit as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible and on the trip to Japan I was able to tick quite a few off this list. One of the most spectacular sites had to be the Temple of the Golden Pavillion (Kikaku-ji) in Kyoto.

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-jiThis place was even more beautiful than I thought.

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-jiNew life springs from the tree trunk.

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Before we left we sat and had some fresh green tea, and a small Japanese cake. Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Sundown in Shibuya

One evening in Tokyo we headed back to Shibuya, keen to see what the place looked like once the sun went down.

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

I even had time to play around with the camera for a bit. Many of the photographs just looked like streaks of light but I quite like this one. Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

At the famous Shibuya crossing there were plenty of tourists heading backwards and forwards across the crossing trying to get that ‘in action’ shot. Shibuya Tokyo JapanIn the earlier Shibuya post I mentioned the view from the Starbucks store, and this is that view.

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

So many colours, so many lights. Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

This scene makes our earlier trip to Shibuya look like it was deserted. Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo JapanI took quite a few long exposure shots of the Shibuya crossing and made a very short video to try and show just how busy it was.