About Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.

Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett

A Very Scenic Walk Around West Ireland’s Historical Westport House

November 26, 2014 by  


Designed by the famous architects Richard Cassels and James Wyatt in the 18th century, Westport House is located west of the Shannon and is one of Irelands’ most beautiful historic homes.

I was there recently as part of Surf Summit, an event dedicated to entrepreneurism, or rather I should say, where entrepreneurism and surfing meet. As part of the event, 200 of us participated in a series of sessions, talks, dinners, including one where Ireland’s prime minister Edna Kenny was present, and adventurous activities, of which surfing was part of it.  (See the video I shot of Edna Kenny addressing our group)

On the adventure thrill seeking agenda was also archery, zorbing and rope climbing, all of which was held on the grounds of the luscious Westport House. Be sure to read my article on the event, which has plenty of photos of those thrill-seeking activities.

Westport House isn’t just a historical house although it’s got plenty of history and culture!

The house sits amidst a parkland setting with lake, terraces, wonderful gardens and magnificent views overlooking Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Achill, Clare Island and Ireland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick. 

It was built and is still privately owned by the Browne family who are direct descendants of the 16th century Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley.

The original house was built by Colonel John Browne, a Jacobite, who was at the siege of Limerick, and his wife Maud Bourke and at that time, had no lake or damn and the tide rose and fell against the walls.

The east front of the house as it is today was built in 1730 by Colonel John Browne’s grandson, 1st Earl of Altamont, who hired the famous German architect Richard Cassels.  The house is built with the limestone taken from the quarry south of the estate farmyard and was executed by local craftsmen. Westport House was completed by James Wyatt one of the great English architects who also laid out the town of Westport.

A bronze statue of Grace O’Malley by artist Michael Cooper is situated on the Westport House grounds.

Grace O'Malley Bronze Statue

On the south face of the House is the date 1778 and inside many of the ceilings, cornices and fireplaces are examples of his finest work. The Large Dining room is perhaps the finest remaining example of his work. The doors are mahogany, brought back from the family estates in Jamaica. There are still a number of original James Wyatt drawings on show, together with some of his son’s, Benjamin Wyatt, who also did some work in the house. And, the house is loaded with historical paintings of the time as well.

Among the pictures are portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds of the 1st Earl of Altamont; the Rt. Hon. Denis Browne, brother of the 1st Marquess of Sligo and a member of Grattan’s Parliament, by Beechy; Howe Peter, the second Marquess of Sligo who spent four months in an English jail for bribing British seamen in time of war, to bring his ship, full of antiquities from Greece to Westport. Howe Peter was a friend of George IV and of the poet Byron and more.

There is also a portrait of Earl Howe, Admiral of the Fleet, father of the 1st Marchioness of Sligo, by John Singleton Copley. Other Artworks include a magnificent collection of landscapes painted in the locality by James Arthur O’Connor. Other artists such as Chalon, Barret, Gibson, Opie, Brooks and Lavery are part of the collection.  There is also a collection of waxwork figures by Gems Display Figures, which are a tribute to the literary, arts and music achievements of the West of Ireland.

Other original items on show in Westport House, of particular interest, include a fine collection of old English and Irish silver, including 18th century Irish ‘potato’ or dish rings, Waterford glass, a library with many old Irish books and a Mayo Legion Flag which was brought to Ireland by General Humbert when he invaded the Country in 1798 and has ever since been in Westport House, which was occupied by his troops.

Westport House was opened to the public for the first time in 1960 and since then has welcomed over 4,000,000 visitors.

The exterior and the grounds inside and around Westport House.

All photo credits Renee Blodgett with the exception of Grace O’Malley statue which is courtesy of the Westport House website.


The North of Tokyo & Its Historical Asakusa Shrine

November 25, 2014 by  


While of course I had heard about the shrine at Asakusa in northern Tokyo, everyone initially told me to go there for its infamous colorful market rather than the shrine, which is known to be one of the more traditional markets in the city. I did in fact find it interesting and took a boat load of photos – see my separate article on the Asakusa Market. While the place is in fact all things traditional, it is also seething with tourists.

That said, it is one of those places that despite the abundance of foreigners, the shrine is still so inspiring that it’s easy to overlook the commercialism, especially with the breathtaking Asakusa Shrine at the end of one of the market streets.

Asakusa-jinja, also known as Sanja-sama (“Shrine of the Three Gods”), is one of the most famous Shinto shrines in Tokyo and is part of a larger grouping of sacred buildings in the area. Located in Asakusa, the shrine honors the three men who founded the Sensō-ji.

You can easily see all of this by foot. My recommendation is to to the market first and get shopping out of your system, so that you can be fully present at the shrine without the attraction of consumer goods and food around the corner. While there’s no doubt, it will be crowded, you can still get lost in its presence.

Once upon a time (and I mean a long long time ago), Asakusa used to be Tokyo’s leading entertainment district however during the Edo Period (1603-1867) when the district was still located outside the city limits, Asakusa was the site of kabuki theaters and a large red light district. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, modern types of entertainment, including movie theaters, set foot in Asakusa.

However, large parts of Asakusa were destroyed in the air raids of World War Two. And while the area around the rebuilt Sensoji has regained its former popularity after the war, the same cannot be said for Asakusa’s entertainment district.

Think of the area as a place to meander and soak in the culture rather than a place you might hang in Tokyo several days or nights during your stay. The shrine is simply breathtaking and could easily warrant a second trip in my opinion although some travelers will say you can explore it all in an hour or two. BUT, I’d argue that to see the shrine at different times of day could be enlightening. Below, the views of this majestic shrine that inspired me so….below them is a video I shot while walking through the shine.

Below is a video I shot walking through the shrine.


Asakusa Shrine

2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito

Tokyo 111-0032 Japan

For more posts on Japan, see our Japan section and on Tokyo, visit our Tokyo Japan / top things to do in Tokyo section.

Dublin’s Cleaver East & The Exquisite Dishes of Oliver Dunne

November 24, 2014 by  


I have another great restaurant discovery for you from my most recent trip to Ireland. Situated on East Essex Street in the heart of Dublin sits Cleaver East, which is a beautiful blend of history, charm and traditional fare with a twist. While they have a full bar and apparently their cocktails are one of the main draws, their wine list is outstanding as well.

I dined at the bar, which I’d recommend if you’d like to learn more about the local scene. My neighbors, one English engineer, and two locals were tackling one cocktail after another while I got comfy with mostly deep, bold reds for the majority of the evening, that is after a couple of white wine pairings with seafood appetizers earlier in the evening. Note the word earlier – this was one of those evenings that went on for hours — I’d recommend starting out here for dinner but then heading back up to the heart of Temple Bar for post dinner drinks.

It sits in the historical district of Dublin just beyond the popular Temple Bar area, where night life is bustling into the wee hours of the morning. A great way to ignite all of your senses before and after dinner, is to meander down Temple Bar’s main drag, which eventually becomes Essex Street, and take in the smells, the colors, and mostly the sounds coming from the umpteen bars, many of which have live music playing most nights.

You’ll walk along a quaint cobblestone street until it starts to become a bit more windy and you’ll soon hit Cleaver East on your right hand side. This classic restaurant bridges old world dining with classic Irish pub ambiance and the food, is out of this world.

The history is worth noting since they’ve actually been around since 1852. The hotel was refurbished in the 1930’s and its location on the Quays, the thoroughfare for entering and leaving the city, made it the perfect location for an eclectic clientele, from visiting clergymen to bawdy musicians. This tired and shabby stopover was bought by Bono and The Edge in 1992 and transformed into a contemporary boutique hotel, the kind of place that they would choose to stay themselves. Their new Clarence Hotel opened in June 1996.

Bono can still be found here and in fact was in the night before with a group of Dublin Web Summit VIPs where they polished off some fabulous wines. I was fortunate to taste a couple of the wines his crew were drinking for most of the night — the 2010 Grand Vin de Domaine La Coste and the 2009 Grand Vin Chateau La Coste.

Before I happily got carried away with their luscious reds, I tried the PicPoul de Pinet (Domaine Langaran), with my second favorite dish, the Dublin Bay Prawn Dumplings with langostines and salmon mousse, served with oriental mushrooms, bok choy and lemongrass broth (pictured below).

I also fell in love with their Fivemiletown Goats cheese panna cotta served with basil (second photo below) served with mascarpone cream, slow roasted cherry tomatoes and pine nut praline as well as the Irish beef carpaccio with salsa verde, lemon, rocket pesto and pecorino crips (third photo pictured below). Yum!!

These scrumptious delights are the work of Executive Chef Oliver Dunne, who currently holds a Michelin Star for Bon Appetit in Malahide. Also on the appetizer menu worth exploring is the Citrus salmon with apple and fennel salad and smoked almonds or the crispy suckling pig belly with beetroot and hoi sin puree. (below)

For mains, they offer a Spinach and Buffalo Milk ricotta Cannelloni with Muscat Pumpkin with Basil Pesto and Buttered Greens, a Roast Organic Salmon with homemade Herb Gnocchi and Poached Hens Egg and Parmesan Pine Nuts (below), a Pan Fried Hake with Smoked Haddock Brandade, Lemon Gel, Spring Onion and Pistachio Dressing (second photo pictured below) and a Roast Fillet of Cod with Sweet and Sour Piquillo Peppers, Chorizo and Almond Minestrone.

Below is the Rare Breed Pork T-Bone, Slow Cooked Butternut Squash, Chorizo and Pork Shoulder Sausage served with Caramelised Pink Lady Apples. Yum!

For more classic traditional dishes, you can try the Caramelised Pink Lady Apples Surf n Turf, Seared Monkfish with Duck Croquettes or my favorite, the Cutlet of Wicklow Lamb with Crispy Lamb Breast (pictured below), Garlic Purée, Organic Golden Carrots, Crushed Swede and Rosemary Aioli.

For desserts, the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, Blackberry and Lemon Curd and Cinnamon Crumb concoction is to die for as is the Tiramisu with Chocolate and Almond Crumb and Espresso Gel. For chocolate lovers, they also had a yummy Dark Chocolate Ganache, Peanut Butter Mousse, Peanut Crumb and Pear Sorbet. (below)


Below is the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, Blackberry and Lemon Curd with Cinnamon Crumb.

We give Cleaver East a royal two thumbs up and would definitely return. I loved the staff as well as my neighbors, which goes a long way. Well done!

For more posts on the Ireland food scene, check out our Ireland food coverage as well as our Dublin food and top Dublin restaurants coverage.


Cleaver East

6-8 East Essex Street

Temple Bar

Dublin 2

353 1 531 3500


Note: I was hosted by all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

5 Must Try Brunch Places in New York’s Harlem

November 24, 2014 by  


I love discovering new New York finds if you haven’t noticed and have been exploring off the beaten path neighborhoods outside of traditionally known Manhattan restaurants or the more trending little bistros in the East and West Village.

Over the past six months, we’ve been diving into the Bronx, from Charlie’s in the South Bronx to  to Portofino in City Island (there’s more we plan to cover on Arthur Avenue and City Island btw). I love Brooklyn and recently took on the brunch and foodie scene in Harlem.

Meet 5 wonderful picks for cuisine in an up and coming trending Harlem neighborhood on the East Side (around 125th and Malcom X/Lenox Avenue). In that area, the quality of cuisine is going up as the demand for it does. While it may still cater to clientele who love comfort food, there are some surprises along the way. Parking is fairly easy and you can also get there via the 4,5 and 6 trains and get off at 125th Street.


Located in the heart of Harlem, Red Rooster serves comfort food celebrating the roots of American cuisine and the diverse culinary traditions of the neighborhood.  The chef behind this ever so fun and slightly older hipster restaurant is Marcus Samuelsson who brings his passion for food to the neighborhood he calls home.

The restaurant was named after the legendary Harlem speakeasy that was located at 138th Street and 7th Avenue, where neighborhood folk, jazz greats, authors, politicians and some of the most noteworthy figures of the 20th Century – such as Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Nat King Cole and James Baldwin – would converge to enjoy drinks and music in an inviting atmosphere.

They want to offer a platform to celebrate local artists, musicians and culinary talents and support the success of Harlem by hiring people from within the community; inspiring better eating through neighborhood cooking classes; and buying from local purveyors. Bravo!

What’s so magical about the place however in addition to the cuisine is the ambiance. We went for Sunday brunch recently and there was over an hour wait. In front of the restaurant, there’s a bar section where you can hang out, order a bloody mary or margarita while you’re waiting for your table. It’s a bit loud in both sections of the restaurant, but the music is fun and festive and those who show up, seem to be the neighborhood fashionistas.

From blackened catfish and mac and greens to lighter healthier options like the market salad (below), there’s plenty to keep you enticed. They also offer a delicious lentil soup with  yoghurt and barbecue chicken and fried delta catfish sandwiches.


Red Rooster

310 Lenox Avenue

New York, NY 10027


Perched at the northwest corner of 126th and Lenox is Corner Social, which has a warm, inviting, vibrant, pulsing scene. Corner Social offers late night dining, outdoor seating, special DJ nights, in addition to daily lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, a 18-brass tap bar and year round custom catering for events.

They source ingredients from local vendors that serve the community and partners with local organizations that further the interests of the Harlem neighborhoods it serves and holds cooking classes.

I ordered a healthy kale salad with bacon however they offer a lot of southern comfort style cuisine.  Some options include Butternut Squash Lasagna, with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, eggplant, spinach, tomato basil sauce and toasted parmesan baguette, a Jumbo Lump Crabcake, Sweet potato salad, soy bean succotash,”Old Bay” aioli, Sauteed Montauk Flounder, Artichokes, fingerling potatoes, organic spinach and a lemon-caper sauce, a Grilled Hanger Steak and the yummy Grilled Atlantic Salmon. Below is one of their burgers.

I loved the ambiance and the service was a grade above what you’d expect – gracious and timely.


Corner Social

321 Malcolm X Blvd

New York, NY 10027


Head to Amy Ruth’s roughly ten blocks away from Corner Social and Red Rooster for classic traditional southern fare. What’s so fun about this place is its down-to-earth ambiance and its fabulous names for its dishes.

For example, the President Barack Obama is fried, smothered, baked or Bar-B-Q chicken, the Reggie Harris, which is Southern Honey-Dipped Fried Chicken, or the Gabrielle Union, which is fried or smothered pork chops. You get the idea — lots of fried or smothered meats. OR order The Nate Robinson for your BBQ spare ribs. 


Amy Ruth’s

113 W 116th Street

New York, NY 10026


Sylvia’s call themselves the Queen of Soul. It’s been around since 1962 and serves traditional southern style food. From corn meal dusted fried catfish with grits and home fries and Salmon Cakes with eggs, to Shrimp & Grits golden fried, to classic Southern Fried Chicken and eggs, served with grits or home fries, you won’t be burning any calories here. And, how about those fried chicken livers?

This is where you head when you want a little comfort food day or night, although their brunches are notorious – you can even get a bloody mary with your meal. A must stop!

A must to try in addition to those artery hurting dishes is their Gospel Sundays.



328 Malcolm X Blvd.

New York, NY 10027


For French cuisine, head over to Chez Lucienne, also on Malcom X Boulevard. While their menu includes burgers and fries, and you can order eggs and omelettes (think herbs, onions, mushrooms, tomato, kale, cheese and ham), there’s also a twist to their menu, such as the veal sausages with scrambled eggs and of course eggs benedicte with smoked salmon and caviar.

More classically styled French dishes include the ever so renowned Croque Madame and Coq au Vin, but there’s also a lobster ravioli a la Vodka in a light tomato sauce.

So, if you don’t want all the batter and grease, then this may be a more compelling brunch choice on the infamous boulevard. That said, remember it’s still French cuisine, so they’re not going to skimp on the butter and cream. You can also get French Toast, crepes and cheese sandwiches.


Chez Lucienne

308 Malcolm X Blvd.

New York, NY 10027

Photos: Red Rooster, taken from their website and Instagram feed. Corner Social photos, first one from their website and second one AHT.seriouseats.com, Amy Ruths from their website. Sylvia’s – tripadvisor.co.uk and onfoodandtravel.com, Chez Lucienne from their website.

Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen Garden, One of Japan’s 3 Most Beautiful Gardens

November 23, 2014 by  


Touted as one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens is Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa Japan to the north of the country is a must for your Japan planning list. It covers 11.4 hectares on the heights of the central part of Kanazawa and next to Kanazawa Castle. The Maeda family, who ruled the Kaga Clan (the present Ishikawa and Toyama areas) in feudal times, maintained the garden from generation to generation. From its scale and beauty, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful feudal lords’ gardens in Japan.

Kenrokuen Garden has a big artificial pond, and hills and houses are dotted in the garden. Visitors can appreciate the whole, dropping in at them. The big pond called “Kasumigaike” was compared to an open sea, and an island, on which an ageless hermit with miraculous power was believed to live, was constructed in the pond in hope of the long life and eternal prosperity of the lord. Kenrokuen, which means “having six factors”, was given the name because of the six attributes that bring out the perfect landscape of the garden: spaciousness, tranquility, artifice, antiquity, water cources, and magnificent view from the garden.

There is a stone lantern designed in the image of the Japanese koto (harp) by the pond, which becomes the symbol of Kenrokuen Garden. There is a fountain created using the natural pressure of water flowing from the higher pond.

You can tap into the beauty of the flowers and trees, such as plum and cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas and irises early in summer, and colorful red and yellow leaves in autumn.

The Shigure-tei teahouse – constructed in 1725 – miraculously survived the fire of 1759, and it offers evidence that not only was the tea ceremony present before the fire, but more importantly so was the culture associated with this elaborate ritual as it had a significant effect on garden design. Following the fire, the teahouse continued to be used and was completely restored during the Meiji period. It can still be seen today in the Renchitei section of the garden.

Another object that existed in or around the garden before the fire of 1759 was the Kaisekito Pagoda, which is currently situated in Kenrokuen Garden on an island near the center of Hisago-ike Pond. Not only is this object of considerable interest due to the theories which suggest its origin, but it also requires extra consideration due to the fact it “was erected by the third lord Toshitsune” who lived from 1594-1658, as it provides evidence that perhaps it predates the initial creation of Renchitei Garden. Of course, this depends upon ones interpretation regarding both when the garden was initially created, along with the two theories regarding its origin. The first theory suggests it was formerly part of a “13-tiered pagoda that was once in the Gyokusen-in garden in Kanazawa Castle.”

The garden was named by Matsudaira Sadanobu at the request of Narinaga. Its name was derived from the “Chronicles of the Famous Luoyang Gardens”, a book by the Chinese poet Li Gefei and stands for the six attributes of a perfect landscape: spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, waterways, and panoramas.

Have a look at what I encountered on my walk through the gardens.

For more posts on Japan, see our Japan section and on Tokyo, visit our Tokyo Japan / top things to do in Tokyo section.

Kyoto’s Magical and Mysterious Bamboo Forest

November 22, 2014 by  


I’ve always found bamboo to be fascinating. Sure, it has been used to manufacture various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes and mats at local workshops for centuries and certainly, it looks beautiful in those products and there’s nothing more free flowing than a bamboo door. It wasn’t until I read the book Bend Not Break by my friend Ping Fu that it struck the right chord…in other words, why it has always allured me so.

A quote in her book from her Shanghai Papa, a man she lived with for part of her childhood in China goes something like this: “Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”  

It really hits home and couldn’t be more spot on about how we live our lives. Imagine then being faced with not just one bamboo stalk but an entire forest of bamboo in the midst of a tranquil environment, where you too can just hear the gentleness of the wind if you only listen.

Kyoto’s Bamboo Forest is in the historical and somewhat touristy (but for good reason) town of Arashiyama. See my separate write up on this area called Central Japan’s Kyoto Exudes Charm & Beauty.  From the main drag of Arashiyama, the entrance is just a little to the north of the entrance to Tenryu-ji Temple, which you should also spend some time exploring (photos below).

You can take a ride if you wish or simply walk through through this serene trail.

For more posts on Japan, see our Japan section and on Tokyo, visit our Tokyo Japan / top things to do in Tokyo section.


Getting There By Japan Railways (JR)

The fastest access from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama is provided by the JR Sagano Line (also known as JR Sanin Line). The one way ride to Saga-Arashiyama Station takes 15 minutes and costs 240 yen. From Saga-Arashiyama Station, central Arashiyama can be reached in a 5-10 minute walk.

Getting There By Keifuku Railways (Randen)

The small trains on the Keifuku Arashiyama Line connect Arashiyama with Omiya Station at the intersection of Shijo Street and Omiya Street in central Kyoto (20 minutes, 200 yen). Keifuku Railways also provides access to Kitanohakubaicho Station in northern Kyoto, not far from Kinkakuji, Ryoanji and Ninnaji Temples (20-30 minutes, 200 yen). One transfer of trains is required along the way. Keifuku Arashiyama Station is located in the very center of Arashiyama.

Getting There By Hankyu Railways

From Kawaramachi or Karasuma Station in central Kyoto (Shijo Street), take the Hankyu Main Line to Katsura Station and transfer to the Hankyu Arashiyama Line for Arashiyama. The one way trip takes about 20 minutes and costs 220 yen. Hankyu Arashiyama Station is located on the opposite side of the river, about a 5-10 minute walk from central Arashiyama.



Note: Princess Cruises sponsored my trip to Japan, however all side trips and attractions and my opinions of them are entirely my own and are not shaped by taking the cruise with them. 


Sculpteo 3D Printing Engine Will Replicate You In Miniature

November 22, 2014 by  


For those in the technology “know,” you have seen that there’s been significant advances in 3D printing lately, a prototyping process that makes it possible to create an actual object from a 3D file. The object is formed by applying successive layers of solid material. This fall in Paris, I attended an event called Digital Day, which was a conference focused on an interactive discussion around the latest in technology and innovation largely from French start-ups. The event held workshops and vendors participated in an area where they showed up their latest.

I was fascinated by Sculpteo, who has offices in both Paris and San Francisco. On-site, they had a machine which scanned YOU and then from that scan, was able to create a 3D object of yourself. And so, of course I did this, how could I not?  Below I’m standing in the machine as I wait for it to circle around me and scan my body.

Above, the engineer is at work as the image of me comes up on the screen in real time. As it formulates what it needs of my body, I watch in amazement.  Sculpteo allows users to upload a 3D file, change the size and dimensions of the object directly within the browser, select a printing material, and order their design to be 3D printed and shipped. 

Below are a few views on the computer screen of what the Sculpteo machine sees as it scans my body.

Here are some of the objects of people Sculpteo has already created to give you an idea of what they’re capable of….

I’ve been waiting to receive my 3D image of myself before posting this review — alas, it has arrived. How fun! I’m astonished at how realistic it is.

It was sitting atop one of my books on a bookshelf and a friend noticed the miniature “me” from across the room and walked over immediately to pick it up.  He looked up and down at “it” and then at me and repeated the process. “Incredible,” he said to me in a very committed voice. “Simply incredible.” I couldn’t agree more.



Walking Through Tokyo’s Cultural & Very Alive Shinjuku District

November 22, 2014 by  


I was told about the Shinjuku (新宿) district when I first arrived in Tokyo, but didn’t have an opportunity to explores its streets until my last two days in Tokyo. The sprawling area is one of the 23 city wards of Tokyo and located in the central western part of Tokyo. It is commonly known as one of the city’s largest and most happening entertainment, business and shopping area.

Everything is pretty much a stone’s throw from Shinjuku Station, which btw, is the world’s busiest railway station, handling over two million passengers every day. It is served by about a dozen railway and subway lines, including the JR Yamanote Line and is also one of Tokyo’s major stops for long-distance highway buses and city buses. Whoah Nelly is right. I was lost on more than one occasion and I found myself there by foot on both occasions.

The city streets are sprawling with bustling crowds and everyone appears to be in a hurry, except for the random teenager you run across who might be off in a corner texting his girlfriend for the fifteenth time in the last five minutes.

Billboards are massive and colorful, making London’s Picadilly Circus and New York’s Times Square look and feel small in comparison.

While I didn’t really see homeless people elsewhere in the city, I’m sure they exist in other neighborhoods. Here in Shinjuku, it wasn’t hard to spot one curled up on the side of the road taking a nap.

There are also numerous festivals in this area. I happen to be there during the Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri Festival, which seemed to go on for hours with a parade procession that included plenty of drums and dancing.

West of the station is Shinjuku’s skyscraper district, home to many of Tokyo’s tallest buildings, including several premier hotels and the twin towers of the Metropolitan Government Office, whose observation decks are open to the public for free.

Northeast of the station lies Kabukicho, Japan’s largest and wildest red light district, while department stores, subterranean malls and electronic shops surround Shinjuku Station on all four sides, including the recently redeveloped Southern Terrace.

There are plenty of sushi restaurants and noodle bars and the great thing about this area is that the food is great but not expensive and there are countless choices on every street. There are also a lot of bars and cafes as well and it offers a serious nightlife scene.

Below are a few videos I shot while I was there, the first one just wandering through the streets of Shinjuku, and the next two are of the Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri Festival in July. Enjoy!

For more posts on Japan, see our Japan section and on Tokyo, visit our Tokyo Japan / top things to do in Tokyo section.



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