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January Favorite Things!

Hello everyone!

Welcome back to my blog. Yes, I haven’t written anything for such a long time I’m really sorry. Many things have happened, including me graduating from master program and now becoming a doctoral degree student~

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My graduation day!! – photo credit to Antonius Priyo

The last 6 months have been difficult in many aspects (study, lab-life, human relation, love relation, etc.) and apparently i am in a point where I feel to busy and cannot handle it until I decide to slow down a little bit >.< BUT, at least right now I only have 2 more deadlines : my grant final report and my publication.

 

 

So I am now trying to slow down myself by developing four habits : cooking, singing and playing violin, writing food journal, and… start to write in this blog again regularly.

Let’s start with something simple : JANUARY FAVORITE THINGS!!

So yes, as you maybe already know, I love kawaii (cute) things and it is such a heaven to live in Japan. Japan is full of cute things, and these are my favorite things in January!

  1. Pink sweets haul from school shop20170204-3i just love these! They are pink and super delicious! First, ふわふわ Pocky Midi (ストロベリーふローマジュ – Strawberry Fromage) — this is not the ordinary Pocky, Pocky Midi is shorter and a bit fatter (chibi, in my opinion). The taste of this? So delicious! ふわふわ means fluffy and this pocky tastes like fluffy strawberry cheesecake! 🍰 Chupa Chups ストロベリークリーム- Strawberry Cream  delightful old-fashioned lollipop! Tropicana Essentials 食物繊維 Peach Blend  食物繊維 means dietary fiber and this juice is really delicious! This is my favorite juice this month.

2.  Unicorn Iphone Case and Mobile Battery

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So well yes, I am obsessed with iphone case because I think phone case is also an important item for your fashion statement! Mainly I will go with book type case (it is super safe for your phone) with girly, pink and cute tone or elegant. My main themes as you can see are princess, disney or sanrio 😀

This month i bought a unicorn-motif case from Rakuten altogether with the unicorn mobile battery. I’m feeling pretty much like in a fairy-tale land.

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3. Purple Glitter Sailor Moon Nail Polish

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Sailor Moon Nail Polish JPY 700+tax, Nail Oil Stick JPY 1400+tax (all from Its Demo Aobadai Shop)

This nail polish comes from my favorite shop, Its Demo, located dangerously outside my train station (lol). I am already longing for this nail polish for long time because it’s sailor moon special series, for God’s sake! It’s purple, glossy, and glittery. As an addition to my nail polish, I also bought a nail oil stick. It is like a lipbalm for your nail and it will keep your nail moisturized especially during this cold and dry winter.

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And… above is my masterpiece by using this nailpolish!! Combining it with my 100 JPY light purple nail polish from Cando I can make a lame gradation imitation nail, lol. Quite beautiful isn’t it?

P.S : this kind of nail art will cost around 3000-4000 JPY in proper nail salon, lol.

 

So these are my January favorite things! Anyone want to share their favorite things to add up my kawaii Japan things?

 

 

With loads of love,

 

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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Kyoto 2016 : Maiko Dress-up Experience

Hello! Really long time no see :3

I was really busy with my research lately, but this week I have a “legal spare time, lol. I will attend a the annual meeting of Chemical Society of Japan in Kyoto, and since I have morning presentation I can go the day before. Since conference has not started yet today, so I have the opportunity to stroll around!

 

Because i have visited most of the notable temples in Kyoto.

This time I will only want to treat myself with a… Maiko Dress-up Experience! ❤

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*that was me, really

 

In case you want to try the same experience with me, I will give you explanation in detail!

 

What is Maiko and Why?

Maiko is a women that perform dance, sings and traditional instrument for visitors during feast. Maiko is the apprentice geiko and usually aged 15-20 years.

Their appearance is always very beautiful to me, all white make-up with a detail of red and pink. Beautiful hair style with enchanting hairpiece and of course the kimono! ❤

Right now in Kyoto, there are many shops that offer Maiko Dressing-up Experience for tourists. So that is why, right now it is very common for normal people to have one day experience dress-up as a Maiko.

 

Okay, so how do you select the right shop?

The shop that i chose is Maica. in Gion, Kyoto Basically I just typed “Maiko dress-up in Kyoto” using google and found this shop. The website has quite good English explanation and prices are also reasonable. They have variety of package so that you can choose which one suits your budget the most.

The package that i chose is “Okigaru” Plan, right now on sale for 6500 JPY (excluding tax). This package cover make-up, hair, kimono rental, wig rental (you can only choose whole wig), hair accessories rental, one studio photograph (printed in B5 size), and one hour of free photo time inside the house.

If you want to do longer, they also have package including walking outside (Gion area) or even guided tour to farther temple, but it also comes with higher price.

 

 

Sequences?

It is actually described well here, but I will just retell you my own version.

Upon arrival we will have to fill a short form (it has English, don’t worry, generally all staffs can speak English quite well!). We will be given plastic bag for our shoes and we are escorted to the third floor. Photography is forbidden at third floor and during make-up and dressing-up process 😦

First thing is kimono selection, although Okigaru plan has limited kimono selection, it is still all very beautiful for me. After that, we have to pay (please note purchase under 10.000 JPY has to be paid in cash). We will then be escorted to the second floor where we have to put all of our camera-related thing in a safety deposit box. After that we will go to the locker room to store our other belongings and change to kimono inner wear and room socks. *we have to pay 200 JPY for the locker

Then… make-up time (which was fast, they just paint our face white with little pink and red detail). Honestly it was really thrilling because they don’t put MIRROR in the make-up room! After make-up then wig placement, which was… heavy, really heavy. And finally, kimono!! There were so many layers, so so so so many and they just keep tightening it more and more 😦

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Tada! Suddenly I transformed into Maiko!

And after that, photo time! One studio photograph was taken and if you come alone (like me) the staffs will help us to take picture (Up to 5 pictures). Other than that we can just explore the house by ourselves and selfie stick is allowed. Although it is small, almost every parts of the house are beautiful with classic Japanese decoration.

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Full body picture with the help of the staff

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Beautiful neck detail

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Tea ceremony, one of my most favorite picture!

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The studio photograph 🙂

Oh, i forget to mention that you can wear contact-lenses for the make up and also don’t worry about the make-up, it is actually light. You can remove it without ease using any kind of makeup remover you bring, they will also help you to remove the neck makeup.

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I was really satisfied with my experience in Maica! I mean, who doesn’t want to look like a beautiful Maiko? <3<3 Staffs are friendly and helpful (and they keep praising me for my Japanese speaking, lol). I discovered that actually being Maiko is really tough. It was tough with all of those tight kimono (it was even hard to kneel down and get up again) and that heavy wig? Honestly, i feel tortured, yes maybe beauty is pain ^^

 

 

That’s all for today’s post!

I hope that i will have successful presentation tomorrow! ❤ enjoy Spring break, everyone!

 

Love,

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

 

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Summer 2015!

Hello everyone,

Very long time no see! So, right now the summer is almost over here, it’s getting colder everyday so I will make a post about how my second Summer in Japan’s going!

I experienced many things in this second summer, including the heat and heat exhaustion lol. Maybe the only thing that i did not do is going to the beach. It’s okay, still have 4 summers more.

So here are some highlights of my summer!

HYDRANGEAS VIEWING

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What? Hydrangea is the flower that starts blooming in the beginning of rainy season. Once the rainy season has gone, voila.. you have the real summer and the real heat and everything! This flower is really beautiful and colorful (some said the difference of the color is due to the soil’s pH difference)

When? Late May to early June, so basically the weather is still pleasant!

Where? There are a lot of choices but we decided to go to Hase Dera (Hase Temple) in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Hase Temple has a trail for hydrangea viewing. They will give you number tags to allow you get in to the trail in particular time, this is to avoid congestion inside the trail and be aware, the trail is a bit steep! But it has a good downhill view and in some other part of the temple you can have the mesmerizing view of the sea!

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How to get there? Take Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden, for short) from JR Fujisawa Station (Tokaido Line) or JR Kamakura Station (Yokosuka Line), hop off at Hase Station and take a few minutes walk to the temple.

FAMILY VISIT AND TRIP TO KANSAI

Although i could not go home this summer, my family visit me and we spent wonderful time in Kansai plus celebrating the Eid Al Fitr together! 🙂 We stayed in Kobe so that we can shuttle back and forth between Osaka and Kyoto!

As an aquarium lover family, finally we went full team to the Osaka Aquarium, Kaiyukan (i have posted about Kaiyukan here before). We explored a bit more in Kyoto by going to the Fushimi Inari temple and exploring Gion District.

Fushimi Inari Temple

What? This is one of the most beautiful and famous temple with its gazillions of Red Gate in Kyoto. It is located on the hillside and the red gate will continue up to the top of the hill. There is no admission fee for this temple.

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How to get there? Take JR Nara Line from JR Kyoto Station and hop off at Inari Station, the temple is just outside the station. Using Kyoto city bus is a bit more complicated and crowded too.

Gion District and its Yukata Experience

What? Gion District is one of the preserved Geisha district in Kyoto. Besides enjoying the sudden appearance of geisha or maiko on the street you can also enjoy the wooden merchant houses architecture. The streets are also filled with shops, tea houses, souvenir shop, and ice cream shops. I will write about recommended ice cream shops in Gion in the next post. One of the interesting part is the yukata experience. Gion is filled with yukata-renting shop, so you can walk around with yukata along the traditional wooden houses! The renting price differs among the venue, if you are lucky you can get a one day yukata rent around 3.000 yen for whole day! 🙂

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How to get there? There are variety of Kyoto city bus going to Gion (number 7, 205, or Kyoto Loop Bus) and stop at Shijokawaramachi stop. From Kyoto Station, train requires transfer.

FIREWORKS 

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What? The true Japanese Summer experience will not be completed it you haven’t watched fireworks or hanabi yet! Hanabi (花火、literally means flower and fire) in Japan are held throughout summer’s weekend (July-August) in various places, usually along the river side or beach. It is really beautiful and special in my opinion. I think Japan really has the latest technology for the fireworks that make it really beautiful. The experience is further fulfilled with attending it using yukata with your friends and chatting plus sort of doing picnic while waiting for the fireworks!

And take purikura (Japanese cute-styled photo box) after it while wearing yukata! The memory will last ❤

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Where? This year i visit Tokyo Bay Fireworks and watched it from Odaiba Beach. The magnificent view as you can see, is the graceful rainbow bridge with the beautiful fireworks!

What to expect? CROWDS!! There will be people everywhere, loads of it. But as long as you stay alert, and follow instructions from the officer it will be okay I guess. If you want to get a good spot, you can come to the watching place the night before, put a tarpaulin cloth and stick your name on it. Since Japanese are polite, they will not disturb your place and you can just come around 2 hours before the fireworks start.

N.B : But be careful if you use bus to the watching place, sometimes the road is closed if it’s already nearing the launch time! So I still advice you to come in advance.

SUNFLOWER FIELD

What? Last thing to make your summer complete? Sunflower viewing! Japan has plentiful of vast sunflower garden and the sunflowers are really tall and beautiful!

Where? This year, i pick a near viewing spot from my home, Zama Sunflower Matsuri (Matsuri means festival) in Zama, Kanagawa-ken. Along with the sunflower garden, they also have small festival containing food stalls. The festival was held only several days from late July to Early August.

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How to get there? This sunflower festival provides free shuttle bus from Odakyu Soubudaimae Station.

What to expect? Heat of course, wear adequate UV protection, bring umbrella or hat and water to prevent dehydration. Uneven terrain, of course. It is a field, so the terrain will be uneven, wear comfortable shoes! Full cellphone or camera battery, believe me the view will be breathtaking, both for serious photo hunter or selfie hunter like me :3

So, these are all my experience for this Summer! Let’s fight for the new semester!

Welcome, Autumn :*

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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Sanrio Puroland!

Hello everyone and happy golden week! 🙂

So yesterday I went to Sanrio Puroland with my bestfriend Hilda. And since we are sort-of a Sanrio-addict we were really-really excited! We even managed time to get the same dress for this particular occasion.

Before I told you about our adventure there, let me give you a general information for this park.

So, what’s Sanrio Puroland?

Outer Look of Sanrio Puroland!

Inner look of Sanrio Puroland!

Definitely from the name it is an all Sanrio-character theme park located at Tama City, Tokyo. It is located just a short walk from the South Exit of Odakyu Tama Center Station (Odakyu-Tama Line). You can basically meet any Sanrio character there from the famous Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars, to the little known ones like Monkichi (or it’s just me that don’t know Monkichi?).

In my opinion this park is really popular for Japanese (but we spotted some foreigner, though) and popular for toddlers and children (though we also spotted other grown up women, mainly come in pair with twin dress, just like me and Hilda). It was Golden Week so the park was kinda fully packed with people, but it’s indoor and the queuing is nothing like Disneyland, so don’t worry!

What’s the main event currently held there?

When we came, Sanrio Puroland also celebrates My Melody 40th Anniversary (geez, she’s that old). So they made special shop for her and the theme is just all for her! Good for me as a huge Melody fans!

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What’s the main attraction there in Sanrio Puroland?

Character Boat Ride

The boat ride is the first thing you will see at the entrance. During the first half of the ride you will get an overall introduction of all Sanrio Characters. During the second half of the ride you will see them all inside Hello Kitty’s Party! The decoration and character are so cute, you can even smell cinnamon when you see the cinnamon roll!

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Lady Kitty House

Next thing up is Lady Kitty House. But please note that Lady Kitty is not Hello Kitty (Kitty White), Lady Kitty is actually Rose White, Hello Kitty’s Grandmother. How can you see the difference? Rose White wears rose instead of red ribbon!

But the house itself is super cute and magnificent! You can go inside the house, look around all the cute stuffs, take picture, and in the end take picture with Lady Kitty :3 (but you will have to pay 1600 Yen more to get your photo printed). You will be greeted by Lady Kitty’s baby grand piano upon arrival and after that you can see Lady Kitty’s huge teddybear, her make-up, her dress collection, her bed, and everything!

It’s definitely a perfect place to take pictures!

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And this is me and my twinnie official picture with Lady Kitty Rose ❤

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Kiki & Lala – Twinkling Tour

This adorable twin is also my favorite and they also have attraction related to Kiki and Lala! Inside the Twinkling Tour you will watched a video about their born and also why did they descend to earth 😀 You will also learn about Kiki and Lala’s magical power and about a cloud machine that can grant anything that you wish for!

After we’ve finished watching the video, we will walk inside Kiki and Lala’s cloud house, it’s very cute!

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And of course, a photo with Kiki and Lala 🙂

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My Melody and Kuromi – My Meroad Drive

My Meroad Drive is another attraction hosted by My Melody and Kuromi. You can ride a very cute melody vehicle and the attraction mainly tell you about My Melody’s birth. The ride itself is only about 3 minutes but we have to wait for 1 hour for that, however, it is still worth it.

Any Musical, Parade or Character Greeting?

Yes, they are. But we did miss the parade and character greeting, though. Due to golden week, they did not have character greeting for main character (Hello Kitty, Melody, etc.) but only for some minor unknown character. But the musical, Hello Kitty in Wonderland is really excellent! Kitty is helping Kyle to search for Heart Queen’s lost heart (which was stolen by Joker, but Jack was the culprit).

You can watch it in youtube just search for ‘Hello Kitty in Wonderland (Sanrio Puroland)’ (but I think the feeling will be different than watching it directly)

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What i love the most of the musical is the song with very touching lyrics : 君にがいる大好きな家族、どんなに喧嘩しても、愛してる :’) (You have your loving family and no matter how hard you fight or have quarrel with each other, you will still love each other :’)

How about the shopping experience?

It is definitely a shopping paradise for Sanrio lover! :3 They have so many stores, like store special for Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars. But we explored the biggest one located near the main entrance, it had the combination of all characters! They basically sold everything related to Sanrio. From common things like doll, accessories, until shoes, bag, and even trunk!

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I ended up buying three Melody-related things. One stuffed toy (but not the LLL size probably only the L size), one melody-shaped tupperware, and one Melody transparent bag 🙂

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So, in overall?

I rated it 10 out of 10 (because i’m a Sanrio maniac, lol) 😀 I really want to come again later when it’s not Golden week, so we can get more photos with the main character!

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See you sooner or later, Sanrio Puroland! ❤

Love,

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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Spring 2015 : Hanami

Hello everyone!

It has been so long since my last post! Now it’s already April and Sakura season has almost ended here in Tokyo, Yokohama and its surrounding. Since i came back to Japan from my spring holiday in the right timing, this year I could enjoy the beauty of Sakura in Tokyo! So, let me share you my story about this year Hanami (Japanese tradition of flower viewing experience!

26 March 2015 – Ueno Park

Access : JR Ueno Station, ~3 minutes walk

Entrance fee : Free

This spot is really popular because they have numerous sakura trees lined up where you can do hanami just underneath. Spaces are already provided and partitioned, according to the rules you can use it for about 1 hour. Not only you can do Hanami here, but you can also visit many museum, Ueno Zoo, and many temples. You can also enjoy local delicacies by buying snacks from food stalls (Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Grilled Corn, etc.)

I went there when the Sakura had not bloomed 100% yet but the place was already quite full. So please expect it to be really crowded during Sakura full bloom. P.S : try the Sakura Cake from Starbucks located nearby, it’s so delicious!

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Enjoying Hanami with Starbucks

IMG_2183Local food stalls in front of temple :)

27 March 2015 – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Access : Tokyo Metro Shinjuku Sanchome Station (Shinjuku Gate) ~5 mins walk, Tokyo Metro Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station (Okido Gate) ~ 5 mins walk

Entrance fee : 200 Yen for Adults, 150 Yen for Group Admission

One of the most popular hanami spot in Tokyo due to its vast lawn, selections of park, and selections of beautiful sakura trees. Beware! The park is very huge! Do take the map and take a look carefully on where the sakura trees are located. Generally sakura trees are clustered around English Landscape Garden (nearer to Okido Gate). There are also some individual trees located in French Formal Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden.

During the time i went there it was pretty early so only some sakura trees had bloomed. We had the chance to watch some early blooming Sakura : Yokohama Hizekura (bright pink one), Youkou Sakura (light pink), and Ooshima Koshioyama Zakura (white)

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Line of Youkou Sakura Tree

Line of Youkou Sakura Tree

29 April 2015 – Tama Plaza

Access : just outside Tama Plaza Station of Den-en-Toshi-Line

Entrance fee : Free

There is a street lined with sakura trees just outside Tama Plaza Station and it’s quite beautiful.

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Sakura trees lined beyond the busy neighbourhood

Sakura trees lined beyond the busy neighbourhood

31 April 2015 – Tokyo Institute of Technology Suzukakedai Campus

Access : Den-en-Toshi Line Suzukakedai Station (5 mins walk)

Campus is (surprisingly) lined with beautiful sakura trees! The sakura trees are just everywhere! It lined up beautifully on the main intersection, it grew also in the canteen area (and there were dozens of it), and also it scattered in some other spot, like near J1 Building.

near the main intersection

near the main intersection

Welcome to J3 Building!

Welcome to J3 Building!

Just behind our canteen!

Just behind our canteen!

forming a sakura-forest pathway behind our canteen!

forming a sakura-forest pathway behind our canteen!

I went to the Suzukakedai PPI Tokodai Mini Hanami, it was fun to eat just under the sakura trees!

Mini-hanami!

Mini-hanami!

Selfie under the sakura tree!

Selfie under the sakura tree!

3 April 2015 – Naka Meguro River Side

Access : Tokyu Toyoko Line Naka Meguro Station, Main Exit (~3 mins walk)

Who said that sakura can only be viewed during daytime? Night time sakura viewing is called Yozakura (夜桜)and it is as popular as the regular hanami! The several meter line of sakura trees were lit up during Naka Meguro Festival! It created such a spectacular and beautiful view. You can also enjoy the atmosphere by eating some locally sold Yakitori, and Grilled Sausage. I went here with Kak Ay, my former band friend, and also met new friends there! 🙂

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along the river!

along the river!

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みんな!(my first night Hanami 夜桜)

4 April 2015 – Shinjuku Gyoen

I visited Shinjuku Gyoen once more and this time with PPI Tokodai (Tokyo Tech Indonesian Student Association). At this time, it was the first weekend after the full bloom, so the park was packed with people! But still the park was huge, it was still spacious! The sakura was sort of falling into the ground, creating a lush beautiful pink carpet on the grass and also on the lake! I did a little photoshoot with Hilda and explore the park more than my last time.

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Sakura trees falling into the lake!

Sakura trees falling into the lake!

new kind of sakura :)

new kind of sakura 🙂

We didn’t only get beautiful sakura pictures but also our own picture ! (happy, thank you Hilda)

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After that, we did the hanami! The activities were fun from Potluck, games and cooking competition. Today, i had breaded chicken cutlet and tamagoyaki with sesame-mayo dressing, i also had green salad with olive-sesame dressing I tried to join the cooking competition and got a takoyaki maker as a prize. Happy!

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My hanami menu!

Takoyaki Maker

Takoyaki Maker

So in overall my Hanami for this year is perfect! See you in next year’s Hanami, Sakura!

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Love

Afifa Ayu Koesoema