Bankan Sweet Lip – Candy Or Cosmetic?

If there’s one thing the Japanese are really good at, it’s presentation. I first heard about Bankan Sweet Lip about a year ago and was determined to see it for myself on our 2013 trip to Japan.

Bankan Sweet Lip Review - Candy Lip Gloss From Japan
You can be excused for thinking you are looking at a picture of lip gloss – that’s the impression the company behind Sweet Lip wants you to have. However, Sweet Lip is actually a liquid candy packaged to look like your favourite lip gloss.

The bottle even has the same applicator top that you would find on a bottle of lip gloss!

Bankan Sweet Lip Review - Candy Lip Gloss From Japan
If you wish, you can apply Sweet Lip to your lips like regular lip gloss. It does give a nice shine to your lips and doesn’t feel sticky. However, I’m guessing if you do this, it won’t be long before you give into temptation and lick it all off. Lol.

Bankan Sweet Lip is made and sold by a company called Ameya Eitaro. They have a small store on the Food Floor of the Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku, Tokyo. It’s an adorable little store offering a selection of beautifully packaged candy. Of course, the Sweet Lip range is the most unique, but the other products are worth a look as well. From memory, they also offer candy that looks like soap.

There are six flavours of Sweet Lip to choose from…or you can purchase one of each in an amazing cosmetics box.

The flavour I chose was mandarin. It is sweet, but subtle. It has a very silky, liquid texture. At first I thought it might be a little like jam (without the lumpy bits), but it is more like a light syrup.

The sales lady at Isetan recommended that we try it with bread. Instead, we decided to try it with pikelets.

Bankan Sweet Lip Review - Candy Lip Gloss From Japan
It worked quite well. The flavour was quite subtle though, so I had to put a lot on each pikelet in order to taste it. I think perhaps it is better to have this candy by itself, or at least find a less overwhelming pastry to put it on.

I’d love to try some of the other flavours of Bankan Sweet Lip. I have just seen that they now have a lychee flavour. I’m not sure if this is a seasonal release or a permanent addition to their range, but I want to try it. I love lychee! Hopefully I will be able to find it next time I am in Japan.

I hope you have enjoyed my Sweet Lip review. I’d love to know what you think. Please leave a comment in the comments box below. And, as always, I’d greatly appreciate it if you would please pin my pictures to Pinterest.

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Tuxedo Sam Memo Pad

Tuxedo Sam was always a favourite character of mine, but even as a child, it was hard to find Sanrio merchandise featuring this adorable little penguin. So, when I spotted a Tuxedo Sam memo pad at Sanseido Stationery in Osaka, I grabbed it. Who could resist that cute face?!?

Tuxedo Sam Sanrio Memo Pad
The front cover features Tuxedo Sam, his friend, Chip the seal, and an array of ice-cream cones. The text on the cover reads ‘A roly-poly penguin who loves to eat, Tuxedosam is famous for his bungling manner and a collection of 365 bow ties!’

If you look closely, there is also a window in the bottom left corner and you can see Tuxedo Sam peeping through from the memo sheet underneath.

The memo pad features four different designs inside and 25 sheets of each. The first design continues on with the ice-cream theme from the cover. Personally, I love the images of Tuxedo Sam holding an ice-cream cone with so many scoops that it has toppled over and stuck to his head. So cute!

Tuxedo Sam Sanrio Memo Pad Design 1
The second design features Tuxedo Sam in lots of different poses across the top and an image of him drawing a picture of himself at the bottom.

Tuxedo Sam Sanrio Memo Pad Design 2
The third design also features lots of images of Tuxedo Sam, but this time, against a pink background. This one just makes me smile.

Tuxedo Sam Sanrio Memo Pad Design 3
The final design is in two parts. The top half features a large image of Tuxedo Sam while the bottom half features his friend, Chip and an area to write your message.

Tuxedo Sam Sanrio Memo Pad Design 4
The back of the memo pad even features instructions for the optimum way to fold your memos once you’ve written your message.

Tuxedo Sam Sanrio Memo Pad Instructions
I hope Sanrio will continue to release more stationery items featuring Tuxedo Sam and his friends. I will certainly be on the look out for them. If you think this memo pad is as cute as I do, please pin it to Pinterest. 🙂

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Books By Me

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first novel when I was just 11 years old. Of course, it wasn’t any good, but it was a mammoth effort at the time. Now, I prefer to write about the things that I love so that I can help other like-minded people from around the world tap into their own passions.

I have written three books, all of which are available to purchase as digital downloads so that you can read them today (and not have to pay for expensive shipping).

Guide To Kawaii Shopping In Tokyo Japan


My favourite creation is my guide to Kawaii Shopping in Tokyo. This is my comprehensive guide to all my favourite cute kawaii shops in Tokyo. It features 61 pages crammed full of kawaii gold. It tells you where all of my favourite stores are and how to find them. It even tells you which tourist attractions are nearby so you can easily integrate your shopping into your tourist schedule. So, whether you are looking for Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, Totoro, Mickey Mouse or just kawaii cuteness in general, if you are visiting Tokyo, then this guide is for you.

Click Here To Get Your Copy Today

500 Scrapbooking Sketches


500 Scrapbooking Sketches was my first digital book. I first released it in 2008 and it has gone on to sell over 6,000 copies. As the name suggests, it is a collection of 500 different sketches to help and inspire scrapbookers to create their own scrapbooking pages. The sketches are arranged by how many photos they feature, so it is always quick and easy to find one to match your current scrapbooking project. If you love to scrap and are always looking for new ideas, this is a great place to start.

Click Here To Get Your Copy Today

50 Card Making Sketches


50 Card Making Sketches is similar to my collection of 500 Scrapbooking Sketches. However, each card sketch features at least one example showcasing how it might be used and comes with full instructions on how you can create the card yourself and adapt the design to your own unique style. The collection has been designed for those of you who love to make personalised greeting cards for your loved ones and who are always on the look out for fresh ideas and inspiration.

Click Here To Get Your Copy Today

I have put a lot of time, effort and love into all three books and I work hard to make sure that they are the best that they can be. All of them come with 60 Day no-questions-asked money-back guarantees, so if you try them out but don’t like them, I will happily refund your money to you.

If you have any questions or suggestions about any of them, I would love to hear from you. I’m always happy to help whenever I can.

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Bear Cafe Kyoto

Café Bear is a cute little café near Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion). We stumbled across it quite by accident. We had planned to grab a bite to eat somewhere along the shopping street just outside Ginkaku-ji. However, since there was a big clean-up going on after the typhoon, most of the food places were closed or offering a limited service. So, Café Bear it was.

Cafe Bear Kyoto Review
Café Bear is a little off the tourist route, but it is quite easy to find. After you leave Ginkaku-ji, head straight down the shopping street. Instead of turning left at the Philosopher’s Walk, keep going straight ahead, on the left side of the road. You will pass a bus stop. Keep going for a few minutes and you will find Café Bear on your left.

Cafe Bear Kyoto Review
It’s quite easy to recognise as there are lots of bears in the window and a sign outside.

Inside is nice enough. The only problem is that they do allow smoking inside. Usually, that would put me right off a restaurant, but as it was almost closing time, it was fairly empty.

Cafe Bear Kyoto Review
There isn’t a lot of theming at this Café. You won’t find bear-shaped cakes or the like on the menu. However, scattered around the room are lots of cute teddy bears. The cutest and, I think, the biggest, is the brown bear who seems to permanently reside at the bar with his little pink friend.

Cafe Bear Kyoto Review
Even Duffy and Shellie-May make an appearance in a cubbyhole in the wall.

Cafe Bear Kyoto Duffy & Shellie May
We did not get to sample much from the menu. We arrived only 15 minutes before closing, so we opted for something quick and filling – a plate of fried rice.

Cafe Bear Kyoto Review
It was a fairly simple meal, but very tasty and satisfying. Overall, I was glad we stopped by this cute little café. If you’d like to visit one day or just think it’s cute, please pin my pictures to Pinterest. Thank you. 🙂

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Rilakkuma Pocky

I discovered Rilakkuma Pocky in Japan. Well, technically they aren’t actually pocky, but they follow a similar concept. I guess it would be more accurate to call them sweet biscuit sticks. And they are yummy! I think the flavour is supposed to be honey, but I’m not sure.

Sadly, I didn’t take any nice pictures of the pack I bought in Japan. However, I recently found a box here in Sydney. I couldn’t help buying it, so I took photos of it instead. 🙂

Rilakkuma Pocky Biscuit Sticks
As you can see, the box featured the recently released Hawaiian Rilakkuma theme. It’s one of my favourite Rilakkuma themes. It’s just so cute!

Rilakkuma Pocky Biscuit Sticks Packaging
Once opening the box, I discovered that even the plastic packaging inside features Rilakkuma and his friends. These images are from much older themes though. I like the one with Rilakkuma eating dango.

Rilakkuma Pocky Biscuit Sticks
And, of course, inside the plastic packaging is the yummy Rilakkuma Pocky (biscuit sticks).

Rilakkuma Pocky Biscuit Sticks With Kiiroitori
The sticks have an interesting grain pattern on them. They don’t really seem to serve any purpose, but I guess it does make them look more interesting.

And now all that’s left to do is eat them. 🙂

I did have a look back through my photos from Japan and discovered I did take one quick picture of the box I bought in Japan after all. It isn’t nicely framed, but I thought you might like to see it anyway. It features a different theme to the box I bought in Sydney. Instead of a Hawaiian theme, it features the Rilakkuma 10th Anniversary theme – Rilakkuma Wonderland.

Rilakkuma Pocky Biscuit Sticks
If you ever get a chance to try Rilakkuma Pocky, I highly recommend them. They are sweet, but the flavour it not particularly strong so they aren’t overwhelming. The only real problem is that it’s too easy to eat the whole box at once.

If you like Rilakkuma Pocky, please pin my photos to Pinterest.

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Hello Kitty At Ginkaku-ji

Yesterday I wrote about our visit to Ginkaku-ji, otherwise known as the Silver Pavilion. So, today I thought I would share my favourite Ginkaku-ji souvenir – a Sanrio memo pad featuring Hello Kitty at Ginkaku-ji.

Hello Kitty At Ginkaku-ji Memo Pad
I adore this memo pad. The cover features Hello Kitty dressed in a beautiful kimono standing by the Silver Pavilion. Even the sand mound and sand mountain feature in the image.

Hello Kitty At Ginkaku-ji Memo Pad Cover
As you can see, the image is set at night time and shows the silvery appearance of the roof of the Silver Pavilion when the moonlight is reflecting off it.

Sanrio released this memo pad exclusively in Japan. I have only ever seen it in the Ginkaku-ji gift shop, but you might be able to find it at other attractions around Kyoto. It is dated 2008, although I purchased it in 2013.

Inside the memo pad are four different Japanese Hello Kitty designs. The first features Hello Kitty in her kimono against a floral blue Japanese background.

Hello Kitty At Ginkaku-ji Memo Pad Design 1
The second design features Hello Kitty in a different kimono. She is admiring the view of Ginkaku-ji and standing against a background of orange flowers. I think this is my favourite design as it actually features the Silver Pavilion.

Hello Kitty At Ginkaku-ji Memo Pad Design 2
The third design features Hello Kitty in a more under-stated kimono against a light blue background. It’s hard to see from the photo but there is a Japanese style artwork in the background.

Hello Kitty At Ginkaku-ji Memo Pad Design 3
Hello Kitty is back in her original kimono for the final design. This time, she is standing against a Japanese-style floral background. I love this design too. But then again, I love almost any design featuring Hello Kitty in traditional Japanese attire. 🙂

Hello Kitty At Ginkaku-ji Memo Pad Design 4
There were plenty of other souvenirs to choose from at Ginkaku-ji, but I thought this Hello Kitty memo pad was just perfect. If you love the designs as much as me, please pin these pictures to Pinterest.

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Ginkaku-ji And The Silver Pavilion

We visited Ginkaku-ji, otherwise referred to as the Silver Pavilion, on the third day of our trip to Japan in September 2013. We had actually planned to go to Okayama that day, but due to a typhoon further north, most of the trains weren’t running. So, we improvised and headed to Ginkaku-ji instead.

Ginkaku-ji is on the eastern side of Kyoto, nestled up against the mountains. It is one of the main attractions of Kyoto and attracts a lot of tourists every day. The main attraction here is the two-storey temple pavilion. It closely resembles Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion) only the roof is not covered in gold. Instead, it is brown.

I’m not entirely sure why it is called the Silver Pavilion. Some sources suggest the original plan was to cover the roof with silver foil. It may, however, simply be a nickname it acquired to distinguish it from the Golden Pavilion. Or, the name may have arisen from the time when the roof was covered in black lacquer. It is said that the moon reflecting off the lacquer gave it a silvery appearance. Whatever the reason for its name, the Silver Pavilion is a national treasure and well worth a visit.

*** Warning: There are LOTS of photos in this blog post ***

Getting to Ginkaku-ji

Getting to Ginkaku-ji is easy. If you are using the Kyoto bus system to get around, you will find several bus routes stop near Ginkaku-ji. Please keep in mind though, that the bus system can be very slow. And, if you are leaving towards the end of the day, you will find long queues to get a bus back to the station and other areas of Kyoto, so please allow yourself plenty of time.

Ginkaku-ji is a short walk from the bus stop. Most people getting off the bus with you will be heading for the same place, so just follow them. 🙂

To get to the main gate, you will need to walk up a hill. This is essentially a shopping street full of cute souvenir stores and places to eat. Unfortunately, the typhoon that had passed through the area the night before we visited had flooded many of the stores so most of them were closed for business and there was a big clean-up going on.

Arriving At Ginkaku-ji

The shopping street will bring you to the main gate to Ginkaku-ji. From there, you will find yourself following a path to the middle gate and the ticket counter. Once you have your ticket, you can enter the main complex. In 2013, the entrance fee was 500Y per person.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Map
As you can see from the map, Ginkaku-ji is quite a large complex. Of course, most people are there to see the Silver Pavilion itself, but there are also several other buildings in the complex, a beautiful garden and a pathway up into the mountain.

Exploring Ginkaku-ji

As you enter the complex, the first thing you will probably notice are the cultural buildings on your left.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Buildings
Sadly though, if you’re like me, you probably won’t pay much attention to them, as you will be eager to see the main attraction, the Silver Pavilion:

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion
There is a viewing area just in front of the Pavilion. Unfortunately, as this is the first viewing area you come to, this area is always very busy as everyone is trying to take photos here. It is a great photo spot, but do remember you will have plenty of opportunities to photograph the Silver Pavilion from different viewpoints as you make your way around the complex.

If you do manage to get down to the bottom of this viewing area, you will also find a small shrine, the Hachiman Shrine.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Hachiman Shrine
As you make your way along the walking path, you will notice the sand mound and sand garden on your right.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Sand Garden
The sand garden is called Ginshadan or the Silver Sand Sea. It has been designed to resemble waves in the ocean.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Moon Mound
The sand mound is call Kogetsudai or Moon Viewing Sand Mound. Some believe it was designed to resemble Mt Fuji. Others, however, suggest that mounds like this were created to reflect divine light from the moon into the hearts of the viewers. On moonlight nights, this mound reflects moonlight onto the Silver Pavilion and from above the Silver Pavilion, it is said that it resembles a full moon reflected in a deep lake.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Moon Mound 2
Next, the path will take you through some beautiful gardens centred around two ponds.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Gardens
I love Japanese gardens like this. I can never spend too much time in them. They are just so beautiful and relaxing to walk through. I love the way they create bridges too. Just stunning!

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Garden Bridge
As you make your way around the garden, you will come to the Sengetsusen Waterfall. It is only a small waterfall, but its setting is beautiful.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Waterfall
From there, it’s time to head up the hill and onto the side of the mountain. It’s not a particularly difficult walk but there are plenty of inclines and steps. If you have mobility problems and can’t make it up the stairs, I believe there is a second path to bypass this part of the walk.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Stairs
A short way up the hill is the Benzaiten Shrine, a small shrine dedicated to Benzaiten, the goddess of music, poetry, learning and art. She is one of Japan’s seven lucky deities.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Benzaiten Shrine
Further up the hill is a well called Ochanoi. Water from this well is used in tea ceremonies.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion Well
As you reach the highest part of the path, you will find yourself with a fabulous view of the Silver Pavilion from above. You’ll also find it’s a great spot for a birds eye view of the surrounding areas and the perfect way to get a feel for how the Silver Pavilion fits in with the geography and layout of Kyoto. You might even be able to spot your hotel!

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion View
From here, the path takes you down hill, towards the exit. I noticed that by this point, a lot of visitors are rushing to leave, but try to keep a few minutes up your sleeve for one last photo stop at the bottom of the hill. This is probably my favourite spot for photographing the Silver Pavilion, so please take a moment to enjoy it. It’s a great vantage point, plus a lot less people crowd around here than at the viewing area near the front entrance.

Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion
If you have time, stop by the gift store on the way out. They offer a wide range of traditional Japanese souvenirs as well as some cute kawaii items. Here, we found several items that had been made specifically for Ginkaku-ji and that feature Hello Kitty, Mickey Mouse and other characters. And they were all so cute!

I really enjoyed our time at Ginkaku-ji, particularly the walk around the gardens and up the side of the mountain. If you’re in Kyoto, it’s worth a visit, but please allow yourself plenty of time to wander around and really enjoy the setting. If you are thinking about visiting, or you just like the pictures, please pin them to Pinterest. Thank you. 🙂

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Oreo Truffles

Have you tried Oreo truffles? I made these for Christmas and they are soooo good! I didn’t actually put them out for Christmas lunch though. As you can see from my Christmas lunch blog post, we already had too much food. 🙂 But, that just meant my hubby, my parents and I were able to enjoy them for several days after Christmas.

Oreo Truffles For Christmas
The middle of the truffles is very easy to make. It’s just mashed up Oreo cookies (I put them in a zip-lock bag and hit them with a rolling pin to squash them) and cream cheese mixed together and rolled into a ball. There are recipes all over the internet if you want to give them a go.

The hard part was dipping them in chocolate. To melt the chocolate, I just put it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, until it was melted. I then worked through the Oreo truffles, one at time. To dip a truffle, I first put it on a toothpick. I then dipped it in the chocolate, making sure it was fully coated. The tricky part was to then get the truffle off the toothpick and onto a tray. I used a teaspoon to help me, but I did make a few blunders. Still, plenty of them turned out well enough to serve.

Oreo Truffle Close-Up
Before I put them in the fridge to set, I added a few decorations to each one.

I was pretty happy with how they turned out. I don’t think I’ll make them again for awhile. They are delicious but definitely not healthy! They are evil! 🙂 Maybe I’ll make them for my birthday or perhaps I will wait until next Christmas. If you like them and want to give making Oreo truffles a go yourself, please Pin these pictures to Pinterest.

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