Anata No Warehouse.

Anata No Warehouse.

Arcades are usually bright and loud, an assault on the senses with cheery music and gaudy lights. Anata no Warehouse (Your warehouse) in Kawasaki is a different breed. Step through it’s ominous doors with me.

The creators of Anata no Warehouse took great care in its construction. The outside is murky and deliberately worn, a stark contrast to its cleaner neighbors. Inside, the entrance lies on the first floor, along with parking. Step through its automated doors (parking side), and you’ll be transported to the seedy underbelly of Hong Kong’s infamous (and now extinct) Kowloon Walled City. Take the elevator or escalator up to the second floor, and be amazed at the level of detail.

There are five floors altogether. The first floor is parking and entrance/exit. The second floor is a mix of retro and modern arcade systems, including driving games, beat em ups, RPGs, and UFO catchers. This floor is the most impressive. Every inch has been made to look like Kowloon City. Dim neon signs in kanji light up the top half of the room, old posters scatter the walls, and there are even props you can take photos in, including a street food market and an apartment complex entrance. Look up, and you’ll see tattered clothing crisscross the ceiling, listen carefully and you’ll hear sounds of a long dead city. The decor alone is a reason to go. But, if you love games, you won’t be disappointed in that respect either. The place is like a tardis, it seems like you’ll never reach the end. Each floor is the same in that respect.

Once you tire of this floor, head up and check out the others. Whilst sadly the same theme isn’t carried up, each floor has its own set of features and entertainment. On the third floor, you’ll find a huge bank of medal games. The purpose of this game is to simply drop medals (you’ll find machines dotted around that allow you to change yen into medals) into a machine that continually pushes them forward. It’s oddly cathartic, but not for the impatient.

The fourth floor is all about billiards and darts. Speak to the staff at the central desk to get the equipment needed (darts, balls, cues), then take your pick. Again, it’s a big floor, you won’t spend much time waiting around.

The fifth floor is an internet cafe that serves food, but you have to be a member to use it. It can only be reached by elevator.

There’s no limit on how long you can stay. Anata no Warehouse opens at 9.00am and closes at 11.45pm, and it has free parking. You pay as you play, so be sure to take cash with you. There isn’t much in the way of food, but you will find vending machines scattered throughout for drinks. There is a restriction on age. No under 18’s are allowed. There is disabled access in the form of elevators, though if you are entering and have mobility issues, use the street side entrance as it’s level. Smoking is permitted inside, floors 3-4 get especially smoky, and ventilation is limited.

Overall, I really enjoyed Anata no Warehouse. It’s unique and has a lot of arcade games I enjoyed as a child. If you’re in Kawasaki, I recommend a visit. You can find it here.

Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto.

Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto.

Fushimi Inari Taisha sits resplendent at the base of Mount Inari, Kyoto. Bright pops of vermillion can be seen even before you set foot upon its hallowed grounds, and this only intensifies as you explore deeper.

Step through it’s alluring Torii, and into a world of ancient history. In 711, on the Inariyama hill in Southwestern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Taisha’s earliest buildings began to take shape. However, In 816, at the direction of Kukai, a monk, these were relocated. In 1499, the Honden, or main shrine was completed. At the base of the mountain sits the roman tower gate, and the go-honden. The inner shrine sits within the mountain behind, reached by a path lined with Torii. Along the path to the summit you will find over 10,000 tsuka, or mounds for private worship. In the 8th century, it was dedicated to the Japanese God of rice, sake, fertility, agriculture, and industry, Inari, by the Hata Clan. In 965, Emperor Murakami made it law that messengers must carry written accounts of important events and present them to the guardian God of Japan. Early on, these “heihaku” were presented to 16 shrines across the nation, Fushimi-Inari being among them. From 1871 to1946, it was officially designated a “kanpei-taisha”, a first in rank of government supported shrines. It is head shrine of all the Inari shrines, and since its early days has been seen as a patron of merchants, manufacturers, and businesses. It’s estimated that this shrine has over 32,000 sub-shrines scattered throughout Japan.

The Senbon Torii, or “Thousand Gate”, is arguably Fushimi Inari Taisha’s most famous attraction. From the base of the mountain, snaking around and up to the 233m summit, is a chain of thousands (actual number unclear) of Torii. All are painted a bright orange, a feature very typical of Inari shrines. Since the shrine has strong ties with industry, a lot of the Torii are sponsored by businesses. You can see the names of each sponsor carved and painted black. They sit vertically along the supporting posts. From an aesthetic point of view, it’s a bewitching sight. Even on a dull day, the Torii stand loud and proud. I highly recommend making the full 4km hike (moderate, but not wheelchair or stroller friendly, sadly) to the summit.

Another famous feature is the many resident Kitsune guardians. Kitsune, or fox in English, are another common feature at Inari shrines. They usually come in pairs, bearing items such as granary keys. They are also often adorned in red, a color that has come to be associated with warding off evil spirits. There are many Kitsune to be seen and enjoyed across the grounds of the shrine, so keep your eyes peeled for them.

The easiest way to access the shrine is by rail. Both the JR Nara Line Inari station and the Keihan Electric Railway Main Line Fushimi-Inari station service the shrine. If you plan to hike to the summit, allot a full day to visit. Check the streets leading up to the shrine for cool gifts, local delicacies, and even the odd cat cafe! It can be visited in all seasons, but bear in mind winter could mean additional hazards, such as snow and ice. Be sure to wear sensible shoes, take cash with you, and carry plenty of water. There are shops and vending machines along the mountain path, but these can be expensive, since you are a captive audience. The path of Senbon Torii sits behind the main shrine buildings, but do be sure to peruse these before you ascend, as they are very beautiful.

Intrigued? Here’s a location to help you out.

Taiwan’s High Speed Rail system.

Taiwan’s High Speed Rail system.

Taiwan is a country known for it’s commerce (check your house, at least one item there will be made in Taiwan!). But did you know it also has one of the best rail systems in the world? No? In that case, allow me to introduce you to Taiwan’s High Speed Rail (THSR) system.


The HSR runs from the north of Taiwan, starting at Nangang, right down into the south, terminating at Zuoying. All in all, the route has 12 stops, including Taipei (2nd stop), Taichung (7th stop), and Yunlin (9th stop). Not all trains stop at all stations, some have less stops from north to south, meaning you can get from Taipei to Zuoying (the stop you need for Kaosiung) in 2 hours. Great if you have limited time to explore.


There are several ticket types available, allowing single or multi-use depending on your needs. They can be purchased from machines in the stations along the route, from ticket offices, and online. The train enquiry feature on the website is a great tool for gauging prices and making advanced bookings. You can search based on destination, class of travel, seat preference, and time and date. It’s easy to use, and has English language options.


Honestly? I travelled from Taipei to Zuoying (and back), and it was easily one of the best rail journeys I’ve taken. The stations are clean and well staffed, so plenty of people to help if you have trouble finding your way. The trains are punctual, spacious, and smooth. There’s plenty of space for luggage, the seating is comfortable, even in standard, and the view is great. That’s one thing I most enjoy about rail journeys; the view. You can enjoy the changing face of Taiwan; the bustling metropolis of Taipei, the expanses of farmland, the little towns, and the many tunnels. Seeing a side of the country you couldn’t see if you flew or drove is an opportunity that’s hard to pass up.


If you have a trip to Taipei planned, and an extra day to spare, why not take the HSR south and see what else Taiwan has to offer.


Airline review: Skymark airlines.

Airline review: Skymark airlines.

Skymark is a LCC (low cost carrier) serving Japan, with it’s hub airports being Tokyo, Fukuoka, Kobe, and Okinawa. They also fly to Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Nagoya, Ibaraki, and Sapporo, but how do they stack up compared to the other LCC’s? Let’s take a look.


Their website is pretty good, easy to use, and with language options including Japanese, Chinese. Korean, and English. They have a map of destinations, information on each airport they serve, as well as a simple fares search. Booking through their website directly will give you the best deal for your flight.

Booking options.

You can either book online, over the phone, through a travel agent, or at an airline counter, and payment can be made by credit card or cash. You also have the option to pay at a convenience store if you book online (payment must be made by 2200 on the day before departure or the reservation will be cancelled).


Skymark are pretty competitive when it comes to pricing. They have a range of fares, so you can choose one that suits you. For a list of fares see their website here. Although Skymark prices are low, they aren’t as cheap as Peach and Vanilla, but if you’re looking for good service as well as a good deal, I’d take Skymark over Peach or Vanilla any day.

Customer service.

They out-perform Peach and Vanilla in this department by a large margin. Staff are always helpful, informative, and quick to assist if there’s a problem. On a recent flight to Nagoya I was warned my flight might be diverted to Tokyo Haneda due to poor weather conditions. Accommodation had been put on standby (it was a late flight), as well as transport the next day. Luckily my flight made it to Nagoya, but I was impressed at the flow of information, the professionalism of the staff, and at how quickly Skymark made alternate arrangements.


They hold a fleet of 26 Boeing 737-800’s, and are recognisable by the blue and white with star logo. The aircraft is modest in size, but it’s clean, the seats are reasonably comfy, and leg room isn’t too stingy either. As all flights operate within Japan, no flight is longer than around 3 hours, but you can buy food, drinks, and gifts on board.


If you find yourself needing a flight within Japan, I’d recommend looking at Skymark over Peach and Vanilla. They offer a more reliable service, better customer care, and more options with their fares.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul.

Seoul. A city famous for its pop stars, high cost of living, and food. It’s also a city steeped in history. For the purpose of this article, I’d like to home in on a slice of its regal history; Gyeongbokgung Palace.


Built in 1395, the palace is commonly referred to as the “Northern Palace” thanks to it’s location (further north than its counterparts, Changdeokgung and Gyeonghuigung). It’s the largest of Seoul’s five palaces, and the most beautiful. Sad to note, it isn’t the original structure; this burned down between 1592-1598 during the Imjin War. Between the years 1852 and 1919, all buildings were rebuilt by Heungseondaewongun during King Gojong’s reign.

But why was it built? Well it served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty, housing both the Kings and government. Of course, the palace was abandoned after it’s destruction, for two centuries. During it’s restoration and rebuild, 7.700 rooms were rejuvenated, and a total of 500 buildings were reconstructed, spanning 40 hectares. Today, a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace can include a visit to the National Palace Museum of Korea, and the Folk Museum of Korea, both of which sit within the same grounds.



Don’t have a car? Take the train and you’ll find a stop attached to the palace, barely a two minute walk to the Main Gate. You can either choose to enter the first of six outer courtyards using the side entrance near the station, or you can walk round and go through the main gate, which I recommend as it is very beautiful. This will also put you right by the ticket office. There are fees for adults, children, and groups, and people who choose to visit in the traditional dress of Korea (the hanbok) can enter for free (there are plenty of rental shops close by, it’s fun but it’s not cheap). Once you have your tickets, cross the court yard and enter the main body of the palace. Having no prior knowledge (a friend recommended visiting), I was taken aback by how big it is. The best thing to do to enjoy all of it, is adopt a leisurely pace, choose a direction, stick to it, then meander the other way once you’ve covered that part.

It’s beautiful. The architecture is sympathetic to that of the palace’s original, and is exceptionally detailed. Stop for a moment to admire the intricacies of the paintwork, the lines of the roof patterns, and the way buildings seem to keep appearing the deeper you venture. A particular favourite for me was the banquet hall; it sits in the centre of a large lake, and appears to float serenely atop it. What a wonderful view it must have afforded its occupants. Due to its size, a full day can be spent here, especially if you factor in the museums. If not, a good chunk of it can be seen in a few hours, though I implore you to try and see all of it.

It’s open daily except Tuesdays, and times vary depending on season. They are:

November-February 09:00-17:00
March-May 09:00-18:00
June-August 09:00-18:30
September-October 09:00-18:00

Visitor fees are as follows:

Korean Citizens:
Adults (ages 25-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won

International Visitors:
Adults (ages 19-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won
Children (ages 7-18): 1,500 won / Groups (10 people or more): 1,200 won

Integrated Palace Ticket:
– Four Palaces (Changdeokgung Palace (including Huwon, Secret Garden), Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace) and Jongmyo Shrine. Ticket is 10,000 won and is valid for use for three months after purchase. Non-refundable once first place is visited.

I didn’t have time to take advantage of the Integrated Palace Ticket on my last visit, but if you do, it’s worth buying. It offers great value and convenience.

Want to learn more? Visit the official website here.