A Second Day in Kyoto -}

I feel like I need a disclaimer in addition to the post title, this was my SECOND time to Kyoto. I'd already been to Kyoto before (a few years back) and hit the major sites of Kiyomizu-dera, Ginkaku-ji, and Kinkaku-ji, and while I would definitely done some things differently if given the chance, I felt like seeing something a bit different this time around.

 As soon as I arrived at Kyoto Station, I grabbed a day bus pass from the Information Booth, but on busy days (the weekend, holidays, etc.) they have a small table set up outside, in front of the bus queues so you can skip the epic lines that form in the booth. And I highly recommend getting a bus pass, because with each fare a flat rate of Y230 and the daily pass at Y500, it's a very good deal. And the buses are a total necessary evil in Kyoto.

This time I did want to swing by Ginkaku-ji again, since it was under renovation when I went last time. The lady who sold me my bus ticket recommended grabbing a bus up to Ginkaku-ji and then working my way down towards Gion because the wait for a bus from the station to Gion was horrendous (trust me, I double-checked myself). Also, hopping the bus to Ginkaku-ji allowed me to get off at Imadegawa station and walk along the cherry blossom filled streets and creek-banks. 

After Ginkaku-ji, I wandered along the road, and wound up at Honen-in, a quiet, beautiful temple that is high on my re-visit list. I was running late to meet my friends and kind of sped through the galleries and rooms the temple had on display. Whoops.

How would you spend a second day in Kyoto?

Argelan Body Milk -}

You know how sometimes initial impressions can be wrong? Those pants that were such a steal make you look bloated. The super cute shoes, that actually pinch your feet. Ow. Yeah, I've made my fair share of those. But until now, none has landed me at the doctor.

Earlier this winter Matsumoto Kiyoshi put out a new organic house brand, Argelan. They might have other products but their two big products are lotion and shampoo. And I being a human being -that seems to magically posses scaly, lizard-esqe skin in the winter, I'm always on the look out for a new lotion.

So I bought this lovely packaged bottle of lavender scented body milk. And for the first few weeks it went well. And then I kind of forgot about it, until one morning I was feeling exceptionally dry and itchy. Before I threw on my normal layer of Heat Tech, I slathered my back with a coating of the lotion. Frankly this stuff smells amazing, I have to say, so the whiff of lavender I caught all day was quite nice.

However. That night, as I curled up and closed my eyes, I began to itch. And itch. And I couldn't sleep for an entire week because I was so itchy. I couldn't imagine what it was, nothing had changed. (I had been using the lotion semi-regularly at that point.) It took a trip to the dermatologist to figure out what was making me so unbearably itchy.

So while this is probably a lovely lotion/body milk for others, I shudder when I see it in the stores. Talk about trauma. Trauma from a body milk. Who knew?

Have you ever been lead astray by a product before?

Nara -}

Japan is jam packed with places to visit, if you look hard enough something old and fantastic is probably no more than a twenty minute leisurely bike ride away. Kyoto is a perfect example of this, almost to the extreme degree. But the lesser known, Nara is just as full of beautiful, ancient places, most much much older than your standard Kyoto fare.

Making it to Nara is relatively easy if you're already visiting another place in Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, etc.). It's around an hour's train ride from Osaka (probably faster if you pay the extra cost of hopping on an express) and maybe a bit more from Kyoto. I started from KintetsuNara on the Kintetsu Line, but starting from Nara Station on the JR Kansai Main Line doesn't really put you that far off the mark.

The walk through Nara Park up past Kofuku-ji (which is partly under construction, boo!) is nice on a good day, but beware – once you've purchased wafers to feed the deer in the park, good luck having any peace. Pushy little buggers!

Todai-ji is a must see, as it's complex houses the world's largest bronze statue of Bhudda, and the entire complex, along with seven other sites in the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Don't know what a World Heritage Site is? Do yourself a favor before coming to Japan and look it up. Japan is obsessed with them and very, very proud of the sites in Japan that have received the designation.) You can see quite a bit of the complex before having the pay the entrance fee to the main hall (Y500), but it's worth the coin to get and wander around.

I recommend buying a bento and bringing it with you through Todai-ji and the shrine's near by, and have a nice picnic lunch in one of the lovely open shelters in Nara Park. I unfortunately got hungry when I reached Tamukeyama Hachiman-gu Shrine and had to head back to find food, after which the weather became absolutely miserable and I had to call it a day. Major bummer. Don't make that mistake.

Have you ever been to Nara? What are your must see spots?

Rose Hair Shampoo -}

You know when sometimes you get swept away by beautiful packaging and the thrill of a new product? And it sits there, all shiny and pristine while your other products (while loved and much used) seem to shrink away from the perfection? But then . . . it doesn't live up to the excitement of the actual purchase.

Yeah, me too. And unfortunately, this shampoo is definitely one big fat case of buyers regret. After finishing up my CliniCare Full and Thick Shampoo, I was interested in trying a new shampoo and did some research (i.e. about five minutes of browsing Cosme.net).

So off, I went to Kokura (a land that's not as magical as Fukuoka city, but it tries). And I found myself in the organic beauty shop in Izutsuya. Completely confused. There are so many brands and so many things to consider that I never really thought of (clearly the research didn't help). Enter the prettily packaged, of Cosmetics 'Rose Shampoo.'

The bottle is beautiful and the smell is, not exactly my style, but quite nice, something I thought I could definitely learn to like. The sample size that I bought has a screw cap, so you have to unscrew the cap and pour some out in your hand, which is kind of a pain when you're in the shower – however the full size does have a pump. The formula lathers nicely and seems to rinse well and left my hair feeling nice after the shower.

However, by the second day my hair was limp and greasy at the roots and I felt like a hot mess. So I went back and tried using a bit more product. Nu-uh. I tried using less product. Nope. I tried using the product on a every-other time basis with my Seanik shampoo. No go.

I'm sure this product has worked well for other people, but for me it just fell flat (see what I did there?). So I think I'm going to try and pawn this off to one of my girlfriends and try something else.

Have you ever tried Of Cosmetics products? Do you have any shampoo recommendations?

Red Bean Paste BB Cream -}

Confession time. For about a year and a half, I had my mom mail me foundation from America because I was too terrified to try out any Japanese foundations. This was probably a good idea, because the one I did try out was . . . waayyy to dark and yellow. It was terrifying. I try to block out my memory of it.

However, fast forward through a bunch of Clinique and some Estee-Lauder foundations to my first trip to Korea. Seoul stole my heart and blessed me with the beauty that is BB Cream. I know a lot beauty bloggers and others think very little of BB Cream. That is is, essentially, just over-hyped tinted moisturiser. Maybe it is. But for me, Skin Food's Red Bean Paste BB Cream is my holy grail (well, relatively).

The formula is much more foundation like than tinted moisturiser, and it gives very good coverage. It's still a bit more yellow than I'd prefer, but I live in Asia, what did I expect? I like to use a foundation brush to apply it to give that nice airbrushed finish.

I have to say it does slide a bit in my t-zone since that's where I tend to get oily, but less so than all other foundations. (Foundations always seemed to slide off for me until I found my perfect moisturiser, but that's for another post). My only complaint is something that can't be helped. It's ridiculously cheap in Korea (W10,000 or Y1,000) but in Japan it's twice as much (Y2,000), but between all the tariffs and whatnot, I guess it's understandable.

Needless to say I've gone through countless tubes of this stuff and I'm still in love. Although I'm itching to get back to Seoul and buy a bunch of new BB creams to try (particularly Skin Food's Aloe Vera BB Cream, and one from Missha).

Do you have any favorite BB creams? Or do you think they're over-hyped?