The Sophomore Slump

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Kinkaku-ji: The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan

I just thought that I should start the journey to 500 with something … golden.

Whenever I go to a country, I don’t ever jump immediately to those places I dream of going to or those popular or must-go-to places that everyone loves. When I was in California for three years, I always wanted to visit Yosemite, but I went only 2 months before I left the state. When I was in Greece, I visited Athens a month before leaving Crete.


When you visit tourist places in Japan, it’s inevitable that you would see people wearing the kimonos. It’s good picture that I always want to capture.ย  It gets frustrating sometimes when you can’t get things done, especially when there’s so many distractions around. Just like in life. But I don’t force things to happen. If I get it, great! If I don’t, oh well.


It’s part of my chips-fall-where-they-may, happy-go-lucky kind of me. I remember when I was in Italy where everyone was going out of town to visit all these famous cities and I would only go to lesser known, nearby places.


That is just me. I let things to sit. I anticipate. I let it brew and percolate, like a coffee. I don’t want great things come so easily. I like to dream a little more. I like to imagine more. So when I finally get to taste it, it would be so much more delicious.


When I achieve something really good, after I become successful with something, I go… now what? I let my guard down. I become complacent. That is when I stop dreaming.


Kyoto is a place I heard so much about. It’s one of my most coveted dream places in Japan, but not THE most.๐Ÿ˜‰ There are many times or opportunities that I could have gone here earlier but I didn’t or couldn’t. Took me 6 months of being in Japan before coming here. There are so many people there. You can’t escape it, in touring the places and in taking picture of the places. And there are so many people on their kimonos here, even other traditional outfit. I’ve been in Japan for 6 months, and I just couldn’t get a shot of people in their kimonos. Here I was in a city where there were so many of them, I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t get a good shot. I told myself it’s okay, that I got time in the world. I’ll get it someday, somewhere.



It was here at The Golden Pavilion that I get to do it. It felt like my quest for that photo overshadow my dream of coming here. It felt satisfying and kind of awful at the same time; that my drive to photographing was taking over my passion for travelling. Oh well, I always admit to consider myself as a tourist anyways.


Kinkaku-ji has been rebuilt numerous times. It is so beautiful that it was burnt by a young monk.ย  This monk was a stutterer and considered himself ugly. It wasn’t by envy that he burned it, but because of its perceived beauty. He adored its beauty so much, he became obsessed with it and by it. Because he knew this kind of beauty so much, he lost his own self-esteem. Being made fun of because of his stuttering didn’t help either. Even when a girl waited for him, he had lost his confidence. He would reference its beauty on how he saw all other things, how he perceived the world. The beauty beguiled and encapsulated him. In his head, the destruction of The Golden Pavilion would free him. He waited, he hoped that the war would take it down the ground. So when it escaped the bombings during the war, he finished the job himself. At his trial, the stammering priest said that his hatred of all beauty had driven him to destroy the six-century-old building. He expressed no regrets.

So now what?

PS: The whole path in viewing the temple goes only one way. That means you cannot turn around to go back to wander around or take more pictures.


Hi! My name is Rommel. You are viewing The Sophomore Slump, and this is my 400th post. Followers and alike, I hope you enjoyโ€ฆ


May I borrow your precious time as it took 1 year, 8 months and 27 days๐Ÿ˜€ for me to finish this 400th post. I beg of you to view each of the entries. Not just because I browsed and sifted through countless of blogposts to compose this, but mainly because these are great words and images by your fellow WordPress bloggers. It doesnโ€™t take too much time to finish this post. I promise.๐Ÿ˜‰

I cranked up a notch, just a hair, from what I did on my 300th post. I basically combined what I did on #300 and what I did on Epilogue 2, compiling the words and images and turning it into a video.

It wasn’t pain stalking at all to make. It only took a lot of editing and redundant playbacks. The most headache was actually looking for the images and the words from bloggers.๐Ÿ˜€

Deciding on music was a little knotty. I always wanted to be instrumental only. I always had in mind the track “Hand Covers Bruise” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, but it’s short and it’s a bit of a dark sound. I contemplated on “Clocks” by Coldplay. I thought it’s too generic. I considered songs from The xx, Pharell William’s “Happy”, Bon Iver and Wilco. At the last minute, I suddenly thought of “Alligator” by Grizzly Bear. It’s too obscure, but I decided on it because it has a lot of instrumentals and minimal lyrics. That’s good compromise or balance.

I knew from the very start that I was going to use more images than words this time around. #200 was all about quotes from bloggers, #300 was a mixture of words and images, and this time I focused more on images; with a little bit of quotes.

Without any further ado …. I hope you enjoy it …

Blogger’s Name of Blog Name/Title, Blogpost Title

The “credits labels” showed very quickly so here are the linkage …

Credits (In order of appearance):

Maria Job of Mary Job, Kakum National Park :
Elisa Ruland of Eleven Summer Roads, Camera Shy :
Luann of Paint Your Landscape; What Draws Us to Nature? :
Rommel of The Sophomore Slump, Beauty in the Mundane :
Linda of Living with my Ancestors, Pastels :
Walt of Rivertop Rambles, Spectacle Pond :
Jo of RestlessJo, Before and After :
Helen C of HHC Blog, Another Stage of my Life :
Zee of Life Confusions, Broken Creatures :
Zee of Life Confusions, Vibrant But … :
Debra of Breathe Lighter, Aiming for a Week in Slow Motion :
Holly of House of Heart, because we still believe :
Amy of The World is a Book, Jubilant Dancing :
dunelight, Aurora Borealis Muskegon Harbor :
Slow Nature Fast City, Try to Look Up More :
hermitsdoor, Anniversary Date :
Shelley of Travel-Stained, February 2016 :
Robert of Discovery and Wonder, On Turning 200 :
Pam and John of Oh, The Places They Go!; Mountain Lakes :
Alok of The Learning Curve, A place I can never forget :
Jude of The Writer in the Woods, First Post For Ages :
Mona Liza of The Lowe’s Travel Adventure, A Wonderland of Rocks :
Allan of Modes of Flight, Contrast :
Dalo of Global Sojourns Photography : The Fishermen’s Lore :
Yvette of In the Zone: Waking up … :
Eric Tonningsen of Awakening to Awareness, Today It Was About Me :
Grace of A Good, Gracious Life; To Live by the Beach :
Andrew of Have Bag, Will Travel; Split-Second Story :
Gayle Alstrom of Old Woman on a Bicycle, Seasons :ย
campari of campari & sofa, Reflections on Cancer :
Madhu of The Urge to Wander, Solitude in Images :
Cardinal Guzman, Runner in the City :
Colline of Colline’s Blog, Difficult Becomes Easy :
Sylvia of Another Day in Paradise, If crocs could fly :
Karen of Healing Your Grief, Unlearning :
Debra of Bagni di Lucca; Noto, Baroque Theme Park, Sicily :
DG MARYOGA of My Space in the Immense Universe :
Jet Eliot, California Quail :
Edelweiss of Explore.Adventure.Discover; Day 92 :
Alexander Lautsyus of World in your Eyes, People of Paris :
Gilly of Lucid Gypsy, Parent Craft in the Ape World :
Peggy of Gracefully Global, Time in London :

Technical Credits:

PowerDirector for video making
PhotoBlender by primary0, obviously for photo blending
Microsoft Paint for writing texts
Phonto for writing text (used once)
Youtube for video downloading
Facebook for photo uploading
SoundCloud for music downloading
Soundload for music saving

I think this is the highest it could get with my century posts ideas. But who knows what I’ll come up with when it comes time for the 500th.๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you for viewing The Sophomore Slump. Have fun blogging!



My 10 Most Favorite City Overlooks

For nearly 400 posts, this is only the first time that I’ve done a travel related top 10 ranking post.


These are based on MY preferences out of MY travel experiences.

10. Stratosphere [Las Vegas, Nevada]


You can view the pretty casino lights and themes of the Sin City from Stratosphere. However, I heard seeing it from the top of Mandalay Bay is so much better especially it being near the main sights.

ย 09. The Castle of Kavala [Kavala, Greece]


One of the most underrated travel destinations has one of my best overlooking views I’ve ever seen.


08. Chania [Crete, Greece]


This is a very personal choice, mainly because that’s a view from my apartment when I was in Greece.๐Ÿ™‚ You can see the similar view from Koukouvaya Cafe or Nymfes Cafe; or see the other side at Mega Place; all in Chania.


07. Eiffel Tower [Paris, France]

Well, duh! I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m including the City of Light on the list.


ย 06. Tokyo Tower, Skytree, World Trade Center [Tokyo, Japan]


I was shocked how concrete Tokyo really is. Skyscrapers everywhere. But don’t be alarmed, there are still a lot of hidden nature gems scattered around this city. You just not have to keep a wider look.๐Ÿ™‚ The top picture is from Skytree. The bottom picture shows Tokyo Tower as seen from World Trade Center.


ย 05. Michelangelo Plaza [Florence, Italy]

I love Florence. I’m sure not everyone agrees, but I actually prefer it over Venice.๐Ÿ˜‰


ย 04. Griffith Park Observatory [Los Angeles, California]


An outstanding vantage point to view the Hollywood Sign, the California sun, and LA’s skyline.


03. Acropolis [Athens, Greece]


Acropolis means the highest point of a city in Greece. Despite the bad reps of Athens from being messy, crowded, and congested, I actually love the city for its numerous attractions and historical presence. Get atop the Acropolis and see the concrete jungle that is Athens.



02. Oia [Santorini, Greece]


Santorini is popular for all the right reasons.



It’s a tight competition between this and my #1.

01. Capri, Italy


How I wish I could just fly and glide through this gorgeous overlooking view.


Dang! I, myself, am day-dreaming of going to these places.

Well there you have it, folks. These are my most favorite city overlooking views. Care to share some of yours?

Others into considerations:

Palazzo Pubblico [San Marino, Italy]; Old Fortress [Corfu, Greece]; San Francisco, California; Rome, Italy; Urasoe [Okinawa, Japan]; Paleochora, Chania [Crete, Greece]; Cabrillo National Monument [San Diego]; Paul Getty Center [Los Angeles]; White Tower [Thessaloniki, Greece]; Serra Cross Park [Ventura, California]; Jerez, Spain; Naxos, Greece;ย  La Fortezza [Rethymno, Greece]; etc.

I hope to see you on my 400th post, coming up next!

Ramen “Museum” in Yokohama, Japan

Hmmm … I can’t remember the last time I did a post related to food.


Yokohama is practically the closest big city from where I currently live. So whenever I have short time to spare before going home, I sometimes end up exploring Japan’s second largest city by population. Being it nearby, it is also a good destination for me since weather here is so unpredictable, and September here in Japan means a lot of rain.

I first went to see the Cosmo Clock….


… and to see the pretty lights of Yokohama’s skyline.


*All images are taken with a cellphone.

Then I boarded back on the train to Shin-Yokohama and visit the Ramen “Museum”, which is 30 minutes away. I say this not to confuse it with the nearby Nissan Cup Noodles Museum which is in Minato.


I’m air-quoting “museum” because it is barely a “ramen museum”.


The whole basement is a recreation of Tokyo in the year 1958- the year when ramen started to become popular.


Visitors can walk aroundย  this made antiquated narrow alleyway with one complete loop of the basement area. The whole area is not big at all. And that pretty much is the museum part of the Ramen “Museum”.


It has 9 ramen restaurants you can pick from. They have lots of ramen varieties which include dishes from other regions in Japan and even the ones with influences from other countries. The neat part is that the restaurants offer small bowls so you don’t have to order just one kind of noodle dish. And that’s the ramen part of the “Ramen Museum”.


I have to say that the ramen I had was pretty darn good! I was slurping away like no one’s around me.


I’m shrugging my shoulder on this one. It’s barely a museum. And the other unsavory part is that you have to pay about $3 to get inside. That’s like paying a fee to go inside the mall to order your meal in the food court area. I hate to be frank, but it looks more like a ramen business museum to me. And if you really want to visit old town settings in Japan, there are some much more authentic places like the ones in Kawagoe and Narai. That’s without paying an entrance fee.

People come here for the ramen part of the Ramen “Museum”. People try out the different varieties, flavors, or influences. I guess that’s the savory part of this place. Then again, you can find ramen pretty much anywhere in Japan to have that much variety.

Last Call …


Cat Cafe in Ueno, Japan

Following my post on Ueno, Japan is the Cat Cafe. It is my favorite from the gazillion of things to do and see in the colorful city of Ueno.


The biggest part of the reason why I choose to visit is that I really miss the cats I had last year when I was in Greece. I think it’s primarily the reason why people visit this place. It’s for foreigner travelers who are missing their cat, for people who can’t have pets on their apartment, or basically for cat lovers.


The cats here have very nice furs that feels so good to pet.



They all look so curious.



*All images are taken with a cellphone.


How to get to Neko Maru Cafe in Ueno: Get to Ueno Train Station. Once there, take the Asakusa Exit, take left, you will get to a building with a Wendy’s at the front with a “First Kitchen” sign below that building, go to the left, of the same building you should see an elevator, take that elevator and go up to the 8th floor, and ahoy! Neko Maru Cafe is right there in front of you.


All it really is a room full of cats that is open for visitors, well, customers to spend time with the cats.


To be completely honest, it’s may not be worth it for anybody. It’s good for me because I needed some pet time with cats.๐Ÿ™‚ And that’s all it really is … some pet time with cats. I was there after 7 pm, and it was a good time because most of the cats were awake and were walking around.


If you really want to visit a Cat Cafe, for some pet time or for the unique experience, Neko Maru is a really good choice. The place is very pleasant-looking; it is clean and organized. They have a lot of toys for the cats. Available snacks for cats are offered. I didn’t care for the “cafe” part, but food and beverages are available too. Everything is cat-themed. And most of all the cats here really are cute.

Last Call…


By the way, many of the cats in Neko Maru are rescued cats.๐Ÿ˜‰

Ueno, Japan

Need to get something or do something in Japan?


Ueno has got everything.


It has got everything Japanese.


Temples and shrines …

Colors, signs, characters, and decorations…





Shisa, lanterns, and taiko drums …

Pachinko places that will tear yours ears into pieces. These machines are deafening …


Ueno Park reminds me so much of Balboa Park in San Diego where the zoo, museums, gardens and others are all in one general area.



Statues …



Oh my gracious goodness, everyone is on their cellphone!!!



It turns out that the whole place is a Wifi area.

My favorite of the gazillion things to do and see in Ueno is the Cat Cafe…


…. but that’s on the next post.๐Ÿ™‚

* Most images are taken with a cellphone.

Last Calls …



Tokyo at Night, as seen from World Trade Center

Tokyo can be so overwhelming.


It really is a buzzing metropolis of tall buildings, blinding lights, whizzing cars and dense population.



Having previously lived in Okinawa for 6 months, I was really taken by surprise on how different mainland Japan is.



Tokyo is the largest city in terms of population.


Things here can get congested, crazy, bizarre, chaotic and beautiful. Just get to one of the markets or train stations then you’ll know what I’m talking about.


And as much as I love going places where I find peace and quiet, truth is, I am a big city kind of guy because I grew up in one.


I am an explorer and an observe so I love it when there’s so much to see and do in a city.



The stream of commuters passing you by left and right at a train station, the outrageous signs and decorations of shops and restaurants, the array of colors and characters, the cheerful noises of greeting and invitations, intimidating skyscrapers, the maze of traffic and the congregation of pedestrians, the procession of delicacies, the unexpected quirks and surprises you encounter along the way, Japan really can be so much, but with so much to offer.


It is overwhelming, but that sense of being in the midst of movements and sights is an incredible and wonderful feeling, and it gives great perspectives.

Last Call …


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