🎄 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 🎄

If you’re reading this now it means you’ve been kind enough to take time out of your day to visit my Cherry Blossom Stories Blog and I really appreciate that. It doesn’t matter to me whether this is the first time you’re visiting my blog or you’re a regular visitor. I’d like to wish each and every one of you a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year! Thank you so much for your support in 2018 and I wish you all the very best in 2019!

Please enjoy this festive video. It’s a funny one this year!!

Review of Etude House Cosmetics: The Good, the Bad and the Kawaii

Beneath the makeup and behind the smile I am just a girl who wishes for the world.” — Marilyn Monroe

If you live in Japan or South Korea and you’re a fan of cosmetics and makeup you may have been hiding under a rock if you haven’t heard of Etude House. This famous South Korean brand with its pretty packaging and adorable bright pink window displays has been going from strength to strength all over Asia and it’s now hugely popular in Japan. If you haven’t bought at least one of their products I highly recommend you plan a visit to one of their stores or order online asap and I can assure you you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the price and the quality of these cosmetics.

Etude House the set

If you live in Japan, there are stores all over the country from Hokkaido in the north to Fukuoka in the south and of course you can find Etude House shops all over Tokyo with a total of 12 stores in nearly all of the major shopping areas. I bought the above products from the Takeshita Dori Head Office store in Harajuku where you can find a wide range of products, but there are also branches outside of Japan in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait! If you live in the U.S. you can buy directly from etudehouse.com. If you live in Australia, nudieglow.com stocks Etude House. If you’re in the UK you can buy Etude House products from YesStyle.com and if you live in Europe you can get these cosmetics on Amazon.

Everything in the Etude House range is reasonably priced and I truly believe the products are of very high quality. Okay, a couple of products were recalled this year in March 2018 for containing excessive traces of metal (the AC Clean-Up Mild Concealer and the Drawing Eyebrow Duo No 3 Gray Brown) but c’mon guys, they sell hundreds of different products and they have 231 stores worldwide so it’s not surprising they’ve come across a few minor glitches.

Even though I’ve only known about this makeup colour and cosmetics brand for about five years, this South Korean company was actually established in 1966. Etude House Seoul was launched in 2005 and they opened their first store in Japan in 2011.

Now, let’s get on to the most interesting part of this blog post — the Etude House cosmetics — and I’m going to be completely honest here as I weigh up the pros and cons.

◆ Face Blur ◆

Face Blur

Let’s start with the Face Blur primer. A primer is a cream or lotion used to create an extra layer between your skin and your makeup. These base products have been around for some time now and I love them. Your foundation goes on a lot better when you use a primer and they can definitely minimize pores. Face Blur by Etude House does all of this and a little bit more. When you apply it, you’ll notice it gives you a base but it also acts a little bit like a skin whitener. If you’re Caucasian like me you may be wondering why you’d want to do this but if you’re Asian you’re going to know exactly what I’m talking about and you’re going to love this Face Blur because it illuminates the skin and lightens yellowish skin tones. This is something nearly every Asian woman I’ve met wants to achieve. I do like the pearly sheen it leaves on my skin but my skin doesn’t need whitening so I prefer The Porefessional Face Primer by Benefit Cosmetics. I think it does a better job of minimizing my pores.

◆ Double Lasting Foundation ◆

double lasting foundation

Next up is the Double Lasting Foundation by Etude House with SPF 34. Just the fact it has a high SPF factor is a real bonus but I love this product for so many other reasons. It’s low in price, it gives great coverage, my skin never looks oily, it doesn’t run off my face, and it lasts all day. What more could you ask for in a foundation? I live in the UK and I know the rest of the world thinks England is always dull, cold and dreary but we’ve had some really warm and humid summer months over the past few years and this is the best foundation for that. It feels light but it covers my face really well and it doesn’t slip off my face at all so I always wear this particular foundation in every month of the year. The only problem you may encounter when you’re thinking about buying this product is if you’re looking for darker colours you won’t find any darker than tan. However, after speaking to a customer service representative in Dubai I was told this is something Etude House might introduced in the future.

◆ Lash Perm Proof Mascara and Volume Mascara ◆

proof mascara
volume mascara

Okay ladies (and maybe a few gentlemen out there!), how many different mascaras have you tried in your lifetime? I’ve tried a lot so I’m pretty selective about my mascara now and I know what I like and that’s Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Volume Mascara but I’m always willing to try cheaper mascaras and that’s one of the reasons I bought the Etude House Lash Perm Proof Mascara as well as their Volume Mascara. The Proof Mascara makes your lashes longer and the Volume mascara makes them appear thicker. Used together you can achieve really dramatic full fat lashes but there’s just one problem that I encounter every time I use these mascaras: my eyelashes curl naturally and these mascaras have brushes that are made to curl your lashes as you darken them but that means I get quite a lot of product on my eyelids that I need to wipe off after using them. If you’re Asian there’s a good chance your lashes are dead straight so you probably use a lash curler and if this is you then you’re in luck with these Etude House mascaras. You could probably ditch the curlers and just use these mascaras to create really long, thick lashes that curl up with a flick of the wand. I think these mascaras are the perfect choice for Asian lashes but for me, not so much.

◆ Bling Bling Eye Stick ◆

Bling Bling

Bling Bling colour

I like a more natural look when it comes to eyeshadows and Charlotte Tilbury’s face palettes help me achieve that look but I bought the Etude House Bling Bling Eye Stick #9 in Gold Meteor to apply just near my tear ducts to give my eyes a wider look when I go somewhere nice with my husband in the evening. This product goes on well and stays on for hours so I wish I’d picked up so many more of these in Harajuku. I’ll definitely buy some more Bling Bling Eye Sticks in the future because they’re cheap and as you can see in the chart above they have some great colours that would work in the day and the night to give your eyes a lovely velvety effect with a subtle sheen.

◆ Oh M’Eye Line ◆


The final product I want to talk about is the Etude House Oh M’Eye Line eyeliner and what an eyeliner it is! I adore this eyeliner although I tend to use it more when I’m going out in the evening. I have bought so many crayon eyeliners in the past that look so good when you put them on but they fade away in a matter of minutes. In contrast, this eyeliner from Etude House gives a fantastic jet-black finish that stays on for hours. If you’re not used to liquid eyeliners it might take you a couple of tries to get the perfect straight line but when you do, you’ll be really happy with the result. You can also make that black line as thick or as thin as you like and this eyeliner is the perfect product to get that winged eyeliner flick that’s trending right now.

There are quite a few other bloggers out there who have reviewed Etude House products and we all like different items in the range so don’t be afraid to try some of the products I haven’t mentioned in this blog post. I’d love to hear what you think of Etude House and whether you’d recommend their cosmetics and skincare to others in the future.

A Lovely Letter from the General Manager of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo

This week, I felt deeply honoured when I received this beautifully written letter from the Managing Director and General Manager of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Mr Yukio Kanao, thanking me for my most recent blog post.

If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, you should definitely consider staying a few nights in a luxurious room or spending a few hours dining in one of the magnificent restaurants at The Imperial, Tokyo’s most prestigious hotel. You’ll certainly be in good company. A noteworthy fact is that Princess Sayako (the third child and only daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan) held her wedding ceremony to Yoshiki Kuroda at this hotel in 2005.

This introduction to the Imperial Hotel on their official website gives you even more reasons to book a room:

“A rarefied combination of East and West, the Imperial Hotel’s stately buildings are within close distance of virtually everything important in Tokyo. Only a short walk away are the fabled delights of the elegant Ginza, Tokyo’s centre for high fashion; the central business district of Marunouchi, where international transactions by the world’s leading companies occur every day; Japan’s government offices in Kasumigaseki and the nearby Diet; and the tranquil gardens of Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace.

In addition, the Imperial Hotel’s proximity to major traffic hubs assures convenient access to popular areas such as Roppongi, Akihabara, Shibuya, and beyond.”

Letter from Imperial Hotel, General Manager

Most Romantic Birthday Ever at Les Saisons in the Imperial Hotel Tokyo

If you love great food and fine dining this blog post will be right up your street but that’s not any old street. I’m referring to a very posh address within walking distance to Ginza, Yūrakuchō and Ōtemachi. It’s right in the heart of Tokyo and it’s a hotel that represents the pinnacle of exceptional dining and five-star accommodation. If you’ve ever been to Japan you’ve probably heard of this opulent venue — it’s the Imperial Hotel Tokyo!


My husband enjoys visiting Japan as much as I do and he knew we’d be celebrating my birthday while we were in Tokyo so he said we should have lunch or dinner somewhere really special. When I lived in Tokyo, I always thought the Imperial Hotel was the epitome of good taste and such a romantic location to have a meal with a boyfriend or your husband, so I told Roy the Imperial Hotel would be expensive but such a memorable place to celebrate my birthday and he agreed (bless his heart) straight away and told me to make a booking at the restaurant of my choice (he was afraid they’d speak in Japanese so he wanted me to make the call).

When I was younger my father took me, my boyfriend Gus, and the rest of my family to Petit Choux, one of the best French restaurants in Melbourne, for my eighteenth birthday and it was such a wonderful night in so many ways so I wanted to try the French cuisine at Les Saisons. I was hoping this lunch at the Imperial Hotel would be just as amazing as the meal I enjoyed so many years ago.

As you can see in the photo below, which was taken in the foyer of the Imperial Hotel, I really dressed up for the occasion. I don’t know why I’m clutching my carrier bag for dear life but I do know I was wearing extremely high heels and I was really afraid of slipping on the highly-polished floor. I asked Roy to hold my hand as I walked through the reception area and up the stairs to the restaurant after this photo was taken, thinking it would be pretty embarrassing if I twisted my ankle and fell flat on my face in front of all the sophisticated guests and staff members in this very posh lobby!

Imperial Hotel

As soon as you enter Les Saisons you’re aware of the elegant and refined atmosphere that encompasses you from the moment you step through the door. This permeates throughout the entire room which is obviously very beautifully furnished. The carpet acts like a burnt orange, cream and mint green-coloured sea undulating in and around several extremely luxurious islands. There’s enough distance between the tables for you to be aware of the other patrons but you’re not close enough to hear any other conversations. The restaurant was so serene and quiet I almost tiptoed across the plush carpet as we were led to our table, not wanting to draw attention to myself, but as soon as we sat down I immediately felt at ease. It was like being swept into a lavish cocoon where we could relax, sit back and enjoy being waited upon by the friendly and attentive staff who were there simply to serve me, my husband and the nine or ten other guests, while they made sure our time in their restaurant was truly memorable.

table at les saisons

The staff at Les Saisons have thought of everything to make their guests feel comfortable. I was delighted to see they’d provided an elegantly appointed footstool in between the dining chairs for your handbag or your phone so they were within easy reach. We also quickly discovered how nice the waiting staff were at this restaurant. The name of our head waitress was Yuka Ishikawa. She came over to introduce herself and have a chat at the end of the meal. We talked about the dinner menu, the restaurant, and the head Chef du Cuisine Thierry Voisin who has been living in Japan for about 12 years. According to Maki Yasuda at Japan Today, “Thierry Voisin took the helm of its kitchen in 2005 and has truly done the hotel proud. Having come to Les Saisons straight from Boyer Les Crayeres, the multi-Michelin-starred mecca for gourmands in Reims, he has brought with him the best of Europe and merged it with the dining culture of Japan with finesse, earning him a place in the Michelin Tokyo book as well.”

Yuka-san has been working at the Imperial Hotel for 12 years and she has spent the past four years as a “Captain” at Les Saisons. She spoke English fluently so I asked if she’d lived overseas and Roy and I were very impressed when she told us she’d only spent five years living in Massachusetts in the States. Not only did she have a wonderful command of the English language, she also had a real passion for her job at this prestigious five-star hotel.

The whole meal was delicious but I thought the tastes and textures of the dishes were a bit different to what I’d eaten in the past at French restaurants in Australia and France, where the food can often be extremely rich and very filling. In contrast, this French cuisine at Les Saisons was light and refreshing. You might even refer to it as sappari (さっぱり) in Japanese. This made sense because this restaurant mainly serves French food to Japanese guests and Japanese food is usually much lighter on the palate than Western food.

I must admit the whole affair was very grand right from the start. When they bring out a ball of butter on an impressive silver dish like this one you know you’re about to have a meal that will stand out in your mind for many years to come!

Les Saisons butter

Every time a different dish was served we were offered a bread roll that was suited to that particular dish. They were all very light but slightly crunchy on the outside and each one had a unique taste. I particularly liked this bread roll pictured below. It was infused with nori and it went perfectly with the lobster entrée.

Les Saisons bread roll

There were only a few other guests in the restaurant that Tuesday so our food arrived quickly but not too fast. We had lots of time to savour each dish and it never felt rushed.

The first course arrived and I was blown away by the presentation. I’d chosen the lobster entrée and Roy had decided to try the daurade (European sea bream).

Lobster in Apple and Lemongrass Jelly, Compoted Celeriac with White Port Wine
オマール海老のりんごとシトロネルのジュレ寄せ 白ポルト酒でコンフィにしたセロリ

Les Saisons A

Lightly Poached Daurade with Shellfish Sauce, Girolle Mushroom

Les Saisons B

For the main, I enjoyed the roasted chicken and Roy savoured every mouthful of his pork dish.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables, Seasonal Fruits with Honey Vinegar
地鶏と野菜のロースト 季節のフルーツに蜂蜜ヴィネガーをからめて

Les Saisons C

Pork in Three Styles

Les Saisons D

These cakes and sweets after the main course were just lovely!

Petits Fours

Les Saisons sweets

Luckily we still had room for dessert and we were not disappointed. Roy thought the sherberts were just right for the end of a very satisfying meal and I loved the fresh mango and the curry ice-cream.

Sherbets and Ice Creams

Les Saisons sorbet

Mango with Lime Jelly, Curry Ice Cream

Les Saisons G

Just when we thought we’d finished eating the staff presented us with this raspberry shortcake as a special complimentary dessert to celebrate my birthday and it was a wonderful surprise.

Birthday Cake

Les Saisons cake

So, how much was this splendid meal for two? The menu changes every three months. You can choose from a 3-course (7,000 yen), 4-course (8,800 yen), or 5-course (12,000 yen) set menu at lunchtime. We decided to go for the 4-course option. We both enjoyed a glass of French wine from the Sancerre region in France and this cost 3,600 yen for two glasses. I also had a glass of San Pellegrino mineral water and an iced tea for 1,100 yen and Roy finished off his meal with a beer for 1,400 yen. A service charge of 2,370 yen was added to the bill but the goods and services tax (1,970 yen) was included in the price of the meal. In the end, the total cost was 26,070 yen. We didn’t leave a tip because it’s considered rude in Japan to tip.

Was it worth the money? Absolutely! It was a very romantic restaurant, the food was delicious and the service was exceptional.

Would we eat here again? Definitely, but next time I’d like to try the kaiseki cuisine at the Tokyo Nadaman restaurant or the Tokyo Kitcho restaurant. Roy and I really like tempura so we’d also love to dine at the Ten-ichi restaurant which is located on the lower level on the first floor inside the Imperial Hotel.


Les Saisons at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo,
Main Bldg 1-1, Uchisaiwaicho 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8558

Tel: +81-3-3539-8087 Booking a table in advance is recommended. Please note that men are required to wear a jacket when they dine at Les Saisons.

The Imperial Hotel Tokyo is a 3-minute walk from Hibiya subway Station (Exit A13), a 5-minute walk from Ginza subway Station (Exit C1), and a 5-minute walk from JR Yūrakuchō Station.

Breakfast: 7 a.m. – 10 a.m. Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Dinner: 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m

If you’re travelling to Japan I can assure you a stay at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo will exceed all your expectations.