Kyoto's Geisha & Maiko

Among the many things Japan is famous for, Geishas have definitely put on the top of the list before. After the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha” in 2005, geishas were definitely popularized in the western society. But little of the public known that, the real geishas and their apprentices maikos look vastly different from the actress who portrayed them. As a kimono maniac, my visit to Kyoto(the old capital of Japan) couldn’t have been completed without maiko transformation. It’s among the more costly tourist activities in Kyoto but definitely gives a very different angle to view Kyoto’s history.

Even though commonly known as Geishas altogether, these artisans actually go through an apprentice phase when they’re referred to as Maikos “The Dancing Girl” before being perceived as a Geisha.

This is a real Geisha.
Geisha Front   Geisha Back
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Kyoto's Geisha and Maiko: Part 2

This entire process of just hair and makeup took 1-2 hours, which makes sense why most transformation shops just use wigs which they can dress a customer head to toe in less than 1 hour. After another 5 Kgs of kimono and obi put on me, we headed out to Gion for an hour of strolling around and taking photos.

me back
me front

Little did I know, how crazy other tourists can get. The moment the staff helped me off taxi, crowds came surrounding me in a scary speed. Despite the obvious flaws(my tattoo and not a drop of Japanese), people were very excited to meet a maiko-like figure. In reality, maikos only walk on the streets formally dressed in the evening and they walk really fast.
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Halloween Special: The Haunted Everything

You thought Halloween is for children’s trick-or-trick and pumpkin carving? Think again. With its Celtic tradition, Halloween has many ghostly and haunting tales, such as pumpkin carved for protection, the lights and candles are to light up the way for the dead, for more Halloween tradition please click here.

Warning: There are graphic images containing blood, abnormal creatures, and things that may be considered inappropriate for children or sensitive adults.
Proceed with caution.

We've got the tamer Halloween zoo at the bottom, so scroll to the bottom to find your fun!

From the origins of witch hunting to the modern day ghost tour, there’s definitely something for every type of spooky on this holiday. Many people travel across the world to visit the castles, asylums, and houses to witness supernatural occurrences. HelloWings Journey has put together a combination list of haunted houses, asylums, and ancient castles for each type of thrill and horror this Halloween.

Scare House - The Basement


Located in Pittsburgh, PA, Scare House is put together by a group of the local artists and performers. Scare House happens in a building that’s nearly 100 years old in its own history of a First National Bank branch, an Elks Lodge, and now the Scare House. With a history of ghost sighting, Scare House not only offers Haunted shows, it also has the behind-the-scenes tour for those that appreciate the performance but not the horror, and an actual ghost hunt tour to find those who walk among the corridors at night. The Basement tour is the most intense one out of the other activities where participants must sign waivers and be 18+ in order to enter the property and be dragged, blindfolded, and scared out of their mind.The nearest airport is Pittsburgh International Airport(PIT).

The Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, England

the ancient ram inn

A Blogger’s witness to the Ancient Ram Inn: Visit Mr. Humphries who has reside there since 1968...

If you’re more of a historic ghost and witch hunting tour, then The Ram Inn is for you. Located in the village of Wotton-under-Edge, this house has had all sorts of pagan references, even though it was built by St. Mary Church for the slaves and workers to live in while building the church. The location that Ram Inn is built on is also believed to be the intersection of 2 Ley Lines, having a higher spiritual energy; the place has also been noted as a Pagan burial ground more than 5000 years ago.

Pagan burial ground and rituals, church building slave house, and a witch burning at stake, The Ram Inn has changed hands several times. Even when it was later used as a B&B, there were places such as The Bishop’s Room in the house that guests didn’t want to live in. Those who actually dared to live in the room are often woken and scared away in the middle of the night. Even though the current owner John Humphries resides there, The Ram Inn is only open for ghost tours now. And quite frankly, it’s a stunning classical house just to visit.

Leap Castle, Country Offaly, Ireland

Ireland Leap Castle

Being named one of the most haunted castle in Ireland, Leap Castle has hosted several families and witnessed several turmoils since it was built in 1250. It was first owned by Ely O’Carroll clan. Although there were numerous disputes and constant warfares, it was not until 1532 “One eye Teige” of the O’Carroll who stabbed his own brother Thaddeus in the chest while the latter was performing a mass. Ever since that, that chapel where Thaddeus breath last has become the Bloody Chapel.

Leap Castle was later transferred into the Darby’s hands through marriage in the 1600s, and Mildred Darby later enchanted an Elemental evil spirit to the castle. In 1922, when the castle was being remodeled, workers found a secret dungeon behind the Bloody Chapel, where mercenaries and others were thrown into the dungeon by O’Carrolls and die a painful death with wooden spikes going through the lungs and brains. The human bones discovered was enough to cover up the thick wooden spikes and took 3 carts total to remove them. Even though Leap Castle is still a private property owned by Sean and Anne Ryan, private tours are available through booking here. The nearest airports are Shannon Airport(SNN) and Dublin Airport(DUB).

The Catacombs, Paris, France

the catacombs

If you are up to give ghost tour a try but doesn't want to go extreme yet, then the Catacombs would be an ideal choice. Partially made famous by the 2014 film As Above, So Below, The Catacombs hosts a large amount of Parisian and their bones that moved here from 1786 to 1788. Even though the process was conducted with various procedures and blessing, there are still various reports of tourists being choked, whispers, and sudden coldness felt while touring the Catacombs.

Before the Catacombs were offered as a tour, the locals used the crypts as mini concert halls in the late 1800s, how brave! Although not the entire place is open to public, the open part does hosts some amazing skull sculptures, and tours are offered daily but numbers are controlled to preserve the condition underground.

McKamey Manor, San Diego, California

scary Mckamey house

This is the #1 experience to go after if your Halloween is all about haunt and thrill. McKamey has given Haunted House a new definition. This 4-7 hour experience is 21+ only and all who enters must sign a waiver since they will be physically and psychologically "living the horror movie". Many have adored this place and many have hated it, claiming emotional trauma months after the event. Simply go and search for MkKamey Manor's video and it explains exactly what you'll encounter if challenging this tour.

Being much more lengthy than the other haunted houses, the duration often gets people psychologically haunted about half way through the tour, said one of the "survivors". Be warned that this is on the extreme end of the Haunted House series, and it may even surpass those historically haunted buildings. After all, seeing ghost won't leave as much harm on you as being thrown into a dryer and beaten up, or so we hope. The nearest airport is San Diego International Airport(SAN).

Everland Halloween & Horror Night, Seoul, Korea

everland halloween korea

Now let’s talk about Halloween in Asia, a little close and within reach. Typically the Asian ghost doesn’t just haunt on Halloween, they do it year round, and especially on the lunar month of July so called the ghost month. But with the western influence, many Asian cities have started to adapt the feel and incorporated them into the local theme parks.

Disney is one of the more famous Halloween incorporated theme parks, but that’s not quite as the thrill that haunted lovers would be seeking for. So we’ve found Everland in Korea that’s ready to throw a huge haunted party from early September to October 31 every year, with scary performances, spooky zoo, and realistic effects costumes joining all in a parade, it’s a tamer yet still thrilling version for Adults who want a theme park Halloween experience. Band, Pumpkin Garden, Haunted House and shows, and Spooky animals stories, Everland has a good mix of thrill and fun in their annual celebration. The nearest airports are Incheon International Airport(ICN) and Gimpo International Airport(GMP).

Find the airport near you and discover travel destinations here !

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Halloween Special: The Spirit Wheel

Halloween is long known to be a holiday for kids, candies, and pumpkin carving! Even though there’re various meaning and traditions that are no longer in mainstream society today, it’s still a holiday that means more than just store going on sale.

Now you’ve got the icon for Halloween spirit, Let’s take a took at them! Find the description right under the picture you got from the spirit wheel.

Halloween Foodies:

    Healthy Halloween Kebab

  • Trick or Treat Expert:
    For other people, Halloween might be about ghost and harvest, but for you it’s a candy, candy, and more candy! Candy Corns, DOTS, Twix, Pumpkin chewy, your house sure to be the most popular house in the neighborhood for trick or treating with kids lining up at the front door. Your expertise started in childhood, being the kid that can always sniff out where those best and exquisite candy are located.
  • Graveyard Cupcake

  • Professional Witchcraft:
    It’s astonishing, really, and in a good way. There are people who can make treats, Halloween treats, but yours are a whole new different level. They are surreal fingers made out of gingerbread, Eyeball Martini that anyone would be scared to drink, your skill is competent to be described as witchcraft, remaking Halloween as thrill and haunting as it could get on a plate or bowl. So, what’s on the recipe for this Halloween? blood vein spaghetti? a human organ appetizer platter? Let us know where to RSVP!

Halloween Beauty Queen:

    Halloween Nail Art

  • Subtly Artistic:
    You have an inner soul crazy for Halloween. Maybe not as extravagant as dressing up as a giant pumpkin for one night or throwing a Halloween themes body parts dinner, but you like to exhibit your Halloween spirit through the festive season. Putting them on your nails is the perfect way, not to flashy, yet it will surely provides some Halloween vibes when you’re doing the dishes or typing at work!
  • Halloween Addam Family

  • The Costume Maniac:
    Halloween is all about dressing up, right?! For you that’s especially true, from Twilight’s vampires and werewolves(that might be trickier) to this year’s Pokémon craze Pikachu or Snorlax, it’s all about being loud and clear with the costumes. The Halloween celebration for you is the all out costumes and props that shouts the holiday as loud as its orange and black color scheme.

Halloween Thrill & Haunted:

    dead girl haunted hysteria hall

  • Max Haunting:
    The ultimate Halloween you’re looking for is with those often unseen by human eyes. Whether it’s a haunted castle from the Iron Age, or a modern haunted house that challenges those who enter with physical and psychological endurance, it’s the trill and scariness that you’re looking for. The unknown of those who’s walked the Earth before us, they stay in the shadowy corners and are ready to terrify those who dare to wake them. The chance to be choked, shoved around, and perhaps see them in person is definitely the most meaningful event for you this Halloween.
  • Pumpkin Corn Maze

  • Pumpkin Harvest:
    With an affection for Pumpkin, your spirit is closer to Halloween’s tradition. It’s traditionally a Celtic festival, where they celebrate a year of harvest and store all the food, getting ready for winter. With harvest also comes the commemoration of loved ones pass away, and that’s why lanterns are carved and lit to guide the dead on their way to home. Even though the lantern later became a haunting sign, but it meant well for friends and families in the beginning, and your Halloween spirit is just as pure and original as those who celebrated for autumn’s harvest.

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Korea Part Three: Doing Non-Touristy Stuff

KPOP Dance Lessons in Seoul

Hallyu (aka Korean Wave) has grew tremendously over the WORLD within the last 5 years or so. Even if you don’t know what K=pop is, I’m sure you will know what Gangnam Style is.

Many people go “WOW” and “AHHH” & “OMG” when they see this in the itinerary but I’m like totally “…” No longer that young to be not shy to dance in front of everyone else..

(Random Joke) All along, I read “KPOP Contest” as “KPOP Concert” in the itinerary, thinking that Thursday evening = M! Countdown and that we would be given a chance to watch the famous music show. I was so excited about this activity from the moment I saw the itinerary, when I won the event, when I accepted the invitation, all until I saw the full itinerary which says “K-POP Contest: ….. now it is time to show off your k-pop song and dance skills as a team” I totally died when I read that line. D:

Anyway, despite the fear and anxiety and everything bad, I actually enjoyed the lesson and learn more about the whole K-wave culture among Korean youths.

We went to ENT Dance Studio (I can’t seem to find the address) for our lessons.
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The Lake View Toya Nonozake Resort

Despite running late for our buffet dinner (included in hotel’s price), we took a break at an observation area which was directly opposite the action and buzz of all the other Lake Toya resorts and hotels.

As it was close to dinner time, this place was.. empty; but I like it this way. The temperature dipped as the sun sets and we were pretty much braving the wind as we walked around the area. We also spotted a helicopter which probably offered bird’s eye view tour of the vicinity. The gift shop/restaurant at that area was not open too.

 Lake Toya view

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Shiretoko: Hotel Kifu Club

This ryokan (Japanese-styled inn) was one of, if not the, best accommodation we had in this trip. Initially, I was a bit turned off by the price of a 1 night stay ($380 for 2 people) which was the second most expensive accommodation in this trip. However, do note that this price includes BOTH dinner and breakfast and it turns out to be quite reasonable after all.

FYI: This hotel (likely to be a family business) only has 15 rooms so do book early to avoid disappointment!
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Can’t Wait to Play Pokémon GO?! Japan is Opening Soon.

Pokemon Go July HelloWings

Pokémon GO

Pokemon GO has been the craze all over the world, catching Pokémons buying groceries, driving, and jumping off a cliff?!
But, sadly Pokémon GO isn’t open yet to most(if any) of the Asian countries due to server crashing issues.Ugh.
There is one place in Asia that many fans are looking forward to: Japan.As the birth place of Pokémons, many would’ve expect Japan to be on the list of first launches. Unfortunately, not the case.

But now, Pokemon Go for Japan might actually have a hint of hope coming soon!
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HelloWings NOW App Tutorial


HelloWings NOW│Budget-Airline Prices in One Click, Late Bird Deals for a Perfect Trip

When you opens HelloWings NOW,WingShark automatically detects the closest airports around you as the pre-set origin, then tell you the cheapest destinations possible! Whether it's choosing destination, flight times, and prices , we've got you covered all around. HelloWings NOW ensures that finding an inspiration or a flight on the spot will never be your problem again.
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Lantern Festival: The End of Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year, or sometimes known as Chinese New Year, is the annual celebration where family members chat and share lives with each other, enjoying the feel of surrounded by family. Because it's not technically the one day holiday such as Thanksgiving and Christmas that you'd typically see in the western society, Lunar New Year celebration is close to a month worth of celebrating. Even though technically there's only one New Year. In the articles last week we introduced the list of events and holidays within the Lunar New Year celebration; however with the list being so long and complicated, lantern festival was mentioned but not explained in depth.

Lantern Festival Photo by Ting W. Chang. CC:BY-SA
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