Tag Archives: Japan

Halloween in Tokyo: A Photo Diary

Nothing can be as wild, crazy, festive and colorful as the Halloween celebration in Tokyo.

I still get goosebumps and that giddy feeling when I look back to a little over a year ago, when friends and I were in Tokyo, Japan, and incidentally, during Halloween week.

As early as October 28, we started seeing the change in the locals’ outfits. But nothing could prepare us for the level of creativity, playfulness and wackiness for October 30–the Japanese (teens, most especially) spilling onto the streets. If you lose a friend in the crowd, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Foreign TV news crews getting the scoop on the weirdest, prettiest and most inventive of costumes (I even saw someone dressed as Jesus Christ and carrying a cross).

The crowd immediately thins though when it’s time for the trains’ last few trips. It can get very tricky if you don’t know what line you should be on. Thankfully, by that time I had mastered which trains to take going home to our AirBnb in Shinjuku.

I’d gladly go back to Tokyo to celebrate Halloween once more–the chaos, the merriment, the mayhem, it was all magical to a first-time tourist to Japan like me.

Below are some snaps that I took back then. Enjoy and leave a comment if you feel like it!

October 29--we couldn't help but order these cute limited-edition Halloween ice cream treats from Baskin Robbins.
October 29–we couldn’t help but order these cute limited-edition Halloween ice cream treats from Baskin Robbins.
The colorful, Halloween-themed window displays in Shinjuku
The colorful, Halloween-themed window displays in Shinjuku
Sexy ladies covered in crime scene tape--a scene I'm sure my boyfriend found entertaining.
Sexy ladies covered in crime scene tape–a scene I’m sure my boyfriend found entertaining.
Yoda, just chillin' with some Jedis.
Yoda, just chillin’ with some Jedis.
Manly swans? I couldn't help but notice the strategic placement of the swan "necks". XD
Manly swans? I couldn’t help but notice the strategic placement of the swan “necks”. XD
Disney characters and sexy nurses were a common sight.
Disney characters and sexy nurses were a common sight.
Snow White and Rose Red? Or is she the Little Red Riding Hood?
Snow White and Rose Red? Or is she the Little Red Riding Hood?
Me and Mr. Toy Soldier! He had just parked his car and excitedly got out when we signaled we wanted to have our photo taken with him. Japanese folks are always so eager to have a good time and to entertain tourists.
Me and Mr. Toy Soldier! He had just parked his car and excitedly got out when we signaled we wanted to have our photo taken with him. Japanese folks are always so eager to have a good time and to entertain tourists.
More cute nurses. See their gleeful faces?
More cute nurses. See their gleeful faces?
Kawaii bunnies!
Kawaii bunnies!
More bunnies. And the tourists love it.
More bunnies. And the tourists love it.
Sexy policewomen
Sexy zombie policewomen
Human tetris
Human tetris
An assortment of costumed characters
An assortment of costumed characters
Super Mario was another especially popular theme in people's costumes
Super Mario was another especially popular theme in people’s costumes
Japanese girls can get away with any outfit because of their slim figures.
Japanese girls can get away with any outfit because of their slim figures.
My favorite. And I have absolutely no clue who these robed creatures are supposed to be. Haha.
My favorite. And I have absolutely no clue who these robed creatures are supposed to be. Haha.

My 10 Best Moments in 2015

It’s officially four hours away to 2016 as I write this blog entry – mom’s preparing the Media Noche feast (a humble combination of hot chocolate, ham, white bread, refrigerator cake, Nathaniel’s buko (coconut) ice cream, tuna carbonara and red wine).

I’m a bit bummed because for the past two months, I have been lethargic due to the outpouring of work, holiday obligations and the lack of enthusiasm to get back into exercising (but I was very sprightly coming from my Japan trip, sigh). Some clothes just don’t fit the same way in a matter of weeks (due to impulsive and incessant snacking).

Despite all of this, I still can’t believe that another year has passed, and am feeling a slight stirring in my heart as I think of what 2016 could hold. Here are some of the events I am most thankful for this 2015:

  1. February – first time to visit Europe and see snow!

It was quite the nerve-wracking experience of a lifetime back in February as we were told that we had less than seven days to apply for a Schengen VISA for a business trip. On top of that, purchase items to protect us from the winter cold.

The obligatory coat-boots-snow shot with @triciasomebody. #KalvebodBrygge

A post shared by Steph Esguerra (@steppanyaki) on

Thankfully, we got ours just in time and off we were to Europe! I was stressed the entire time, but I got a glimpse (and touch) of snow, my first real peach (I’ve been eating peaches out of cans my whole life), saw the Little Mermaid up close, and had my first dose of jet lag.

Not so bad to experience at the age of 30. 🙂

little mermaid copenhagen denmark steppanyaki

  1. April – Reconnecting with my cousin in Batangas!

Being one of the eldest grandchildren on my father’s side, I grew up playing and babysitting my younger cousins. But we had not expected that my uncle and cousin would be visiting! Which called for some spur-of-the-moment balikbayan outing planning.

As luck would have it, we were invited by my brother-in-law to stay at a hotel he manages in Bauan, Batangas. We got to ride a boat to nearby Sombrero Island, which, as the name entails, is shaped like a sombrero! My cousin and I got to spend some time to catch up with each other while enjoying a specially prepared lunch by the beach.

sombrero island batangas steppanyaki

  1. May – first time to go surfing in Baler!

Like most trips, only those that are prepared last minute push through. And in May, my boyfriend and his pals planned a quick weekend trip to Baler in Aurora. Because of the tour we mistakenly booked, we had to squeeze in a really cramped van and endure the five hours travel time.

Alas, the misadventures did not end there. The beachside cottage we booked was a true disappointment. The beds had sand on them, we weren’t even sure if the beddings had been washed, and the restroom was horrid. It had cement walls, no tiles on the floor and as you shower, the water would flood the entire room. Ugh.

Nevertheless, the sights of Baler were truly one for the books, which sort of balanced the misfortune of our travel and accommodation. We saw the largest Balete Tree in Aurora, hiked to the Ditumabo Falls (totally worth it, but the crowd was massive), visited Manuel Quezon’s old house, saw the amazing rock formations at Diguisit Beach, and tried our hand at surfing (which I totally flopped at, LOL).

diguisit beach baler aurora steppanyaki

ditumabo falls baler aurora steppanyaki

balete tree baler aurora steppanyaki

I would want to go back and stay (if I can afford it) at Costa Pacifica Baler and visit the rest of what Baler has to offer.

  1. June – first time to visit Germany!

Another business trip! We had more time to prepare for this one, but I’m happy to say it was less stressful than our trip in February. And we were able to sneak in some time to enjoy Munich’s Bavarian specialties (and the beer!). I must admit I was quite speechless taking in all the view of the glockenspiel and other centuries-old architecture.

Bavarian plate. That odd reunion with Silke though! @erikacita @triciasomebody

A post shared by Steph Esguerra (@steppanyaki) on

The world-famous glockenspiel. Didn't move though at 10 pm.

A post shared by Steph Esguerra (@steppanyaki) on

  1. July – Getting back into the running game

Because of an upcoming race, my boyfriend together with former officemates decided to train regularly together. I used to run frequently a few years back, but got out of the habit. It was great hitting the track again and feeling the runner’s high once more.

Stretching with Coach Tracy #InstaSize

A post shared by Steph Esguerra (@steppanyaki) on

  1. August – Seeing my barkada again

Now that some of my friends have started their own families, we’ve come to give a greater appreciation for each time we get together. During the first birthday of my friend’s son, we got to enjoy a cup of coffee after a long, long time.

Sweet dreams are made of these. ☺️

A post shared by Steph Esguerra (@steppanyaki) on

  1. October – Getting into OTWOL

I remember my indifference to the James Reid and Nadine Lustre (Jadine) love team as I would hear about their movies. But when I started watching their TV series, “On The Wings Of Love”, I was instantly hooked! There’s something very charming about their portrayal and they have such strong chemistry. I actually watched a few episodes in Japan just to catch up, until my access was blocked.

  1. October – Tried yoga again

I discovered a yoga studio just a 10-minute walk away, and the price isn’t bad! The yoga instructors are so friendly and professional as well. Having never practiced it seriously, though, I was wobbly as ever and ungraceful. They offer Ashtanga, Hatha and Bikram yoga sessions.

I feel bad I haven’t been able to go back in the past month. Work has been crazy, and I felt myself wallowing in whatever time I could get to sleep or rest or just go out to unwind. I suppose that goes with the holiday season.

In case you’re interested, the name of the yoga studio is iBreathe Yoga Studio. Check out their Facebook page !

  1. October – Tokyo!

No words can describe how exhilarating and unbelievable it still feels to realize that I have already been to Japan, my dream destination. I felt so alive and so youthful during my stay there—exploring as long as my legs could carry me, and enjoying every morsel of food (glorious food!) because I would keep burning the calories from these anyway.

I’ll never forget the taste of ramen and chirashi. I’ll keep dreaming about it until the next time I’m back in Japan.

Garlicky #ramen at some random spot in #Shibuya 😍🍜

A post shared by Steph Esguerra (@steppanyaki) on

There are a lot of things I would have wanted to do differently, but as they say, chalk it all up to experience! At least I have a better idea of how train stations in Japan work, and man, it is confusing! But ultimately, knowing that I can actually plan and pay for my own travel whims is one of the most fulfilling feelings in the world.

  1. November – Starting a blog

My six-day Tokyo trip changed me—I bounced back with renewed energy and enthusiasm at work (also lost some weight, which is usually the case when I travel abroad), and I got to think about what I would want to achieve in 2016. All this inspiration pushed me to finally start my own website and share all these stories with you.

I hope you’ve been enjoying my posts so far. I plan on posting more frequently, it’s just that I suffered from a torn hand ligament. Hopefully I can dive back into writing more often as soon as I’m done with therapy.

It took me an hour to write this, and now it is officially 3 hours away to 2016! I hope you had a fulfilling 2015, and I wish you a blessed new year.