Japan Week 7: Photo Shoots, Face Masks, and Too Many Temples / by Shane Henderson

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It’s our second to last week in Japan! Sad face. 

Living in Texas has made me a pansy when it comes to the cold and it’s definitely gotten a lot chillier here in Kyoto. Especially in our Airbnb. It’s nestled up in the woods and never sees sunlight. Good because it's nice and dark which is perfect for comfy movie watching, bad because everything is slightly damp and nothing really dries. Shane did laundry the other week and hung things to dry, they didn’t dry until four days later! Plus it’s freezing despite having a heater in our room. Once we go outside to sunshine, I’m like a plant soaking in all those glorious UV rays. But I’m going to have to suck it up because I hear Beijing is going to be A LOT colder. Anyways, read all about what we’ve been up to during our 7th week in Japan...

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Templed Out

Kyoto is home to about 2000 temples and shrines. So, you understand when I say that we are starting to to feel all templed out. We’ve hit some of the major ones (Kinkaku-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Ginkaku-Ji, Nanzen-ji, etc.) and some off the beaten path (Honen-in, Myoshin-Ji, Shoren-in, Kurama-dera). On your next visit to Kyoto, I HIGHLY suggest you either wake up at the crack of dawn to get to the popular temples or stick to the off the beaten path sites. The absolute crazy hordes of people that come through the popular temples puts a major damper on the whole experience. It’s as if you’re cattle and are being shuffled from pagoda to pagoda. When you do plan to see them in the early morning, you will have to go catch the first subway at 5:30 am and get to the temple right when it opens. Then you’ll have at least 30 minutes to leisurely explore the temple at your own pace. 

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Anniversary

I met Shane as an extra on the set of a movie. Four years later look at us, wandering the world together. Crazy where life takes you. To celebrate this momentous occasion I planned on surprising Shane with a sake tasting at the Sake Bar Yoramu. Both of us know nothing about sake except that we like it when eating sushi. Kyoto has some of the oldest sake breweries in the country, what better place to educate our taste buds on all things sake? Sake Bar Yoramu is a soba noodle shop by day and a sake bar by night. The owner is also the bartender/connoisseur of all things sake. The bar is very small, only nine seats and when it’s full its full. You have to wait until others leave so you can grab a seat at the bar where the bartender gives you a lesson on what types of sake to drink and how to properly savor it. We tried 3 types of unpasteurized sake and to be honest, I really couldn’t taste the difference. It was only when he gave us three more kinds of sake, this time aged, that the flavors really made themselves apparent. To keep the celebration going, Shane made reservations at the very nice Italian restaurant The Sohoh in Higashiyama. It was a nice change up from all the Japanese food we’ve been chowing down on. The ceilings were super low inside the restaurant and Shane had at least ten people warn him watch his head. The meal was six courses of delicious Italian food but with a few Japanese ingredients thrown into the mix. I actually had wine for the first time in two months which was a treat. We’ve been drinking only Japanese beers and sake this whole time. 

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Work, Work, Work, Work

It’s not all fun and games on our trip around the world. We’ve set out to do some brand photography and have landed a few clients along the way. We woke up early and headed out to Higashiyama to shoot Shane wearing some of the menswear that was sent to us. It was a SUPER chilly morning and poor Shane was freezing his butt off coatless since he had to show off the shirts. Despite the coldness, we got some amazing shots (much better than the outtakes above haha) and even ran into some fellow photographers which Shane recognized from Instagram. For the second location, we shot at Kyoto Station. The whole place is interesting and oddly designed with high glass ceilings, a sky bridge that looks over the whole station, concrete alcoves, and long escalators that lead up to even longer stair cases. Like all other train stations in Japan, this one comes with a ginormous shopping mall (11 stories high) with multiple awesome food stalls. They even have a Cafe Du Monde there!

Beauty Mask Obsession

So for those who don’t know me, I have a serious face mask addiction. I am that person on a plane who puts on a mask mid flight. I don’t care how ridiculous I look, I’m walking off the plane hydrated and fresh faced. Worth it. Korean beauty products are all the rage right now and I’m a HUGE fan of their different types of face masks. What I wasn’t aware of, is the rising popularity in Japanese beauty products. You’ve probably heard of Shiseido or SK-II which are two expensive beauty brands in Japan that are very popular. But they are priiiiicey and I’m on a serious beauty budget for this trip. Where does one go for some reasonably priced skincare items? Answer: drug stores. Anytime you walk into a drug store here you are bombarded by the beauty section. It’s like the US beauty store Sephora but on crack, everything seems to be jumping off the shelves for you to try and buy. It’s completely overwhelming but in a fun kind of way. Like a kid in a candy store, of course, I’m interested in the madness. But unfortunately I can’t read what the product is or what the ingredients are. With a little bit of research and some test trials, I have found a few of my favorite face masks here in Japan (so far...). Lululun Masks are my numero uno at the moment. At 400 yen per pack (about $3.50)`they come in a pack of seven and are meant to be worn one per day. That’s right, a mask per day. They have three different types of masks: hydration (blue), balance (pink) and whitening (white). I gave the hydration (blue) set a go, since I’ve been here my skin has started to become dried out from the change in weather. After a long day of walking and seeing the sites, I relax with a face mask in bed. So comfy, so cozy, so good. And EVERYDAY! Afterwards my skin feels hydrated and soft like I just had a spa facial. What’s even better about these masks is the packaging. Instead of seven individual packages, all the masks are in one and are kept fresh once you open them with a zip lock seal at the top. So nifty! The only problem I do have with the masks is that they are a bit small for my face since my head is like a cannon ball (so it’s more like I’m the problem but whatever). Anyways, I will definitely be stocking up on these bad boys for when we leave. For those that are interested, you can order these face masks on Amazon. They come in packs of 7-36 and are still pretty reasonably priced. Another face mask brand that I’ve tried and liked are the Pure Smile line of face masks. They have more variety than the Lululun line, with ingredients like rose essence, crushed pearls, and honey to the truly wild ingredients like snake venom and snail essence. It’s a lot of fun to try out and they all cater to whatever skin issue you might be having. 


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