9 Thoughts I Had As A Tourist In Kyoto

9 Thoughts I Had As A Tourist In Kyoto

There's a reason Kyoto is the world's best city for travel.
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Kyoto is the home to ancient shrines and temples amid the busy clatter of a modern city, making it the hub of Japanese culture, both past and present. I traveled to Kyoto for the first time last week and I've documented my impressions of the city during the four days of my trip (with pictures!):

1. Kyoto Station is enormous.

I arrived in Kyoto by train from the Kansai Airport and I was met with a huge train station -- and by huge, I mean huge. Kyoto Station has 11 floors of restaurants and stores where you can find world-famous makeup emporiums next to tiny ramen shops. Thankfully, the locals are incredibly friendly and willing to help lost travelers (such as myself).

2. What a gorgeous view from my apartment window.

I was staying in a small studio apartment on an unexciting street I found on Airbnb for my trip. It couldn't get any more ordinary than that, so I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up to a stunning sunrise the next morning over a beautiful cityscape.

3. Everyone is incredibly polite.

Everyone said "ohayou gozaimasu" (good morning) as I passed him on the street, no one would push her way through busy subway stations, and cashiers thanked me profusely as they gave me my change. Best of all, there was no loud chattering into phones on the bus. It was a nice change of pace from the abrasive environment of my hometown.

4. Nature and the city -- Kyoto has it all.

Kyoto is surrounded by mountains, covered with trees, and has ancient religious architecture juxtaposed with modern buildings, skyscrapers and tiny apartments alike. The weather is also comfortably moderate. What doesn't this city have?

5. There's merchandise for every anime.

Although there aren't as many anime department stores as there are in Akihabara or Ikebukuro, I found merchandise for all of my favorite animes along Teramachi Street, one of Kyoto's well-known shopping arcades. I snagged plenty of posters, magazines and figurines in one visit.

6. Kyoto has an obsession with matcha ice cream.

It might be just in the tourist destinations, but there were so many matcha ice cream shops, I lost count on the first day of my trip. It's definitely not something to complain about though -- matcha ice cream is like the best green tea latte you've ever had made into ice cream form. It's that tasty.

7. Ramen lives up to its delicious reputation.

I ate at the ramen shops in the aforementioned Kyoto Station twice during my trip and I was surprised by how good the noodles were both times. Ramen is famous for a very good reason: the taste of creamy soup with springy noodles is incomparable.

8. Shinto shrines look exactly like they do in travel magazines.

I visited lots of tourist destinations in Kyoto but my favorite was the beautiful Fushimi Inari Shrine. Aside from the main shrine, there are numerous smaller shrines on Inari mountain that can be reached by climbing the paths lined with tunnels made of torii gates. The glow of red-orange in the sunlight is magnificent.

9. Did I mention the food is good?

I've already made two other points about food in Kyoto but it was so good, it merits another. In restaurants, the dishes are generally of small portions so that you can try as many different dishes as possible. Each dish also has its own unique method of consumption and restaurants have little signs explaining (in English too!) how to enjoy Japanese delicacies properly.

Cover Image Credit: Lucy Jing

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What 'The Drink You Bring To Class' Says About Your Personality

I think we're ALL #thirsty.
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Sometimes it's a well thought out protein shake made in a blender bottle, a smoothie from a Nutribullet or a venti cappucino with 3 extra shots and a pump of caramel from Starbucks.

No matter what it is, we all have a preferred drink we bring to class.

1. Aloe water drink

You probably follow #fitspo trends on Instagram, but you're not sure if the drink is actually healthy or not. Sure, aloe on the outside of your body is good for it, so what happens when you drink it?

2. Very Large™ iced coffee

You tell your friends, "caffeine doesn't affect me!" but two hours later you're in class with tunnel vision wondering if the new boots you bought will go with your denim skirt.

3. Naked juice

I mean, it's made of sugar basically but you probably think it's the healthiest thing you can get at the convenience store on the way to class. Who needs Starbucks when you can juice your way to a 2,000 calorie diet?

4. Jamba Juice smoothie

It's a step up from a Naked juice but not any better. You probably also follow #fitspo accounts on Instagram and think that drinking a sugar smoothie will get you #swole. It won't.

5. Boba tea

Maybe you're an international student or maybe you're just an American who loves Asian culture, calls everything "kawaii" and can't live without pho. Or maybe you just picked one up on the way to class because a student group was selling them. That's cool too.

6. Unidentified colored liquid in a water bottle

Who knows. You're a complete mystery. It could be Emergen-c, it could be alcohol, it could be a flavored iced tea packet. We can't figure you out.

7. Soda

Your teeth are probably rotting or you don't care what people think of you.

8. Coffee from the pretentious shop on campus

Ugh, we get it. You pay for your coffee without using points. You're so bougie it hurts.

9. Water in a Nalgene bottle covered in stickers

Probably think you're so hip and cool, but no one cares. A sticker that says "Mind the Gap"? Soooo original, Sarah.

10. Gallon of water

Either you're a frat boy who lost a bet, or you just feel a great need to be hydrated. This doesn't make sense. Carry a water bottle like a normal human.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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6 Types Of Fats You Can Use In Your Next Stab At Baking From Scratch

There are several different types of fats you can try out in case you are out of butter or you want to try something new to give a new flavor to your recipes.

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Undoubtedly, butter is considered the best baking fats when it comes to different baking recipes but that doesn't mean that it is the only thing you can have in your recipes. Here's a list of those ingredients including butter to help you make a better decision which one is best for you and with what baking recipes you can use them respectively.

1. Butter

Now, who is not aware of butter? Everyone knows that butter is the standard ingredient used in baking. The reason why it is used often as it makes your baked goods tender and adds flavor to it, also you can use it in a number of ways.

You can easily cream the butter and mix it with other ingredients in order to make your cakes and cookies fluffy. You can even use it cold in short pastries and pie crusts to give your baked goods a perfect flaky finish. You may not know this but butter is also used as toppings or fillings in many baked goods and pastries.

2. Coconut oil

You know that coconut oil is one thing which is solid when cool and comes to the liquid state when kept in slightly higher than room temperature. That's why it might not stay the same while replacing it for butter. You can use coconut oil to cookies, cakes or even pie crust to add a tasty coconut flavor that also makes your goodies unique.

But sometimes when you add coconut oil, it can make your baked goods slightly heavier. A number of people add a ration of 1:1 while replacing coconut oil with butter. However, it would be best if you use it this way: when replacing 1 cup of butter with coconut oil, add 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon of it.

3. Lard

This particular ingredient comes from the rendered pork fat and can be an excellent alternative while baking. Leaf lard is made from the fat around the kidneys and is chosen while baking because it makes your bake good more tender and doesn't give you a porky flavor.

Lard works best with pie crusts as it makes them very tender and also give you the flakiest of results. On the other hand, lard when added to the batter prepared for cookies, it can cause more spreading in them and also make your cakes slightly denser. Generally, lard barely performs well in buttercream as butter.

4. Margarine

One cannot actually make a difference between butter substitutes and margarine. A number of vegan butter products are categorized as margarine. The product is made of hydrogenated oils and water instead of dairy milk.

While baking, make sure that your margarine should contain at least 80% vegetable oil reason being low-fat margarine will not work in the same manner during baking. If you are making pie crusts, cakes or cookies you can use the margarine in the same quantity of butter.

5. Oil

You can use liquid oils that doesn't provide any flavor while baking different recipes. This one is mainly used in making a quick bread and in some specific kinds of cakes. You'll get a slightly airy and coarse-textured crumb if you are combing oil with other ingredients.

When you're replacing oil for butter, make sure you add slightly less say a ¾ cup of oil for every cup of butter. In fact, you can use oil in glazes or sauces to make some different type of ganache but adding oil instead of butter in any classic buttercream recipe won't help you much.

6. Vegetable shortening

If you want to give your pie crust, cookies or cake a tender texture, this solid, snow-white fat can be taken into consideration. This ingredient can be easily used in place of butter in recipes but there's one disadvantage of using vegetable shortening is completely neutral in flavor. If your recipe calls for butter to add flavor like pound cake then the ingredient cannot be considered.

There is butter-flavored shortening available in the market and a number of bakers prefer to use half butter and half shortening for their baked goods. Like crushing buttercream depends on shortening but for flavor and structure, you need to add butter to it.

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