Kyoto Escape – The allure of Japan’s ancient capital. Part 2

A week ago I shared pictures of the first half of our short but amazing trip to Kyoto last year. During the second part of our stay, we decided to visit the nearby towns of Nara and Kibune. Each of these towns is about a 45 minute train journey from Kyoto, so we decided to make day trips out of these visits instead of taking all our luggage with us and finding new accommodation.


For me the beauty of Nara lies in the beautiful park that you have to walk through to reach the main temple, Todaiji. The massive building is home to Japan’s biggest bronze statue of Buddha – it’s 15 meters tall!



In the Northern mountains of Kyoto is a small town situated in a forested valley. It felt like quite a trek reaching the actual town, but once there, respite is offered from the excessive summer heat in the form of the restaurants’ covered platforms where visitors can sit and enjoy a meal with the cool water from the river running beneath them. Bliss!


Back in Kyoto

On our last evening in Kyoto, we decided to hang out in Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. Alas, we didn’t run into any geisha on their way to or from an appointment, but it was just a lovely time to take in the facades of the traditional wooden ‘machiya’ merchant houses.


Nijo Castle

The last of our sights to see  in Kyoto was Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by two beautiful gardens called Ninomaru and Honmaru. As impressive as the castles were on the inside, I have to be honest and say that I preferred the tranquility and calmness of the two gardens much more.


Here’s a little round-up of more pictures from our holiday.

Eleanor J'adore in Kyoto

I really can’t wait until the next one!


Hand in Hair Syndrome – What is it and do you suffer from it?


So you’re still in the new phase of discovering your curls and can’t believe how soft and bouncy your natural hair is. You just want to touch it and play with it all the time. You are in awe of it and constantly catch yourself twirling and twisting your curls around your finger while you are watching TV, reading a book, or while you are deep in thought. Sometimes you just pat your hair to make sure it’s all still there. You might even feel the need to try out a new hairstyle every single day. If you find yourself guilty of this on a continuous basis, I can confirm the diagnosis is Hand in Hair Syndrome.

While this sort of behaviour is completely understandable – I mean, who would want to deny you the pleasure of  revelling in your new-found curls – I can’t begin to describe what a detrimental habit this can turn into. If your goal is to retain lots of length, you seriously need to rethink your strategy and stop this NOW as it can wreak havoc on your tresses.

This is why

  • The on-going friction from twisting and playing can cause split-ends.
  • You can end up causing knots from the constant friction, which can sometimes only be cut out.
  • The continuous tugging and touching can lead to frizz and breakage.

How to stop the madness

  • Wear a protective or low manipulation style.
  • Something as simple as a bun or wrapping your hair in a scarf will do the trick.
  • Every time you catch yourself playing in your hair remind yourself of your hair goals and how doing this will detract from reaching them.

Admittedly, while writing this piece I find my fingers in my hair from time to time, so this is definitely one of the few cases where I’d say do as I say and not as I do. But I think a lot of us naturals are guilty of this naughty little habit. The times when I am most at risk of this behaviour is when I arrive home from work and I let my hair down after it’s been up in a bun or ponytail the whole day. That’s when I really have to remind myself of my healthy hair goals.

So my final piece of advice  to you as well as myself is simply this: As difficult as it is just leave your hair alone!

Do you suffer from Hand in Hair Syndrome? What do you do to overcome  it?

Image Source

Kyoto Escape – The allure of Japan’s ancient capital

The city I’d want to live in if I wasn’t already living in Tokyo…

In August last year my fiancé and I had the opportunity to visit Kyoto. We decided to spend four days of a glorious summer in what’s always been in my mind, one of the most beautiful cities in Japan. With a population of just 1.4 million, I found it a lot more relaxed and easy going than Tokyo. It also proved to be the most picturesque place I have seen in this country so far.

Japanese summers are well-known for being exceptionally hot and I had gotten used to the stifling humidity coupled with the extreme heat of metropolis Tokyo, but nothing could have prepared me for the swelteringly pervasive heat of Kyoto, which is why I still can’t believe that we decided to stick with our original decision to  take in the sights via bicycle! (There were times I didn’t think I would survive the sun’s onslaught.) So after laying the sunblock on really thick and stocking up on plenty of water we left our wonderfully air-conditioned hotel and headed off to explore the ancient Japanese capital.

We took so many pictures that I really had a hard time choosing my favourites. Because there are so many I’ve divided this picture post into 2 and will post pictures from the second half of our trip in a separate post.

I do hope you enjoy these pictures.

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) 

We started off our sight seeing by visiting Kinkakuji, a zen temple in the nothern part of Kyoto. The amazing thing about this temple is that its 2 top floors are entirely covered in gold leaf. It overlooks a large pond and although it’s not actually possible to go inside, it really is quite a sight to behold as all that gold glitters in the bright sunlight.


P1060584 P1060591

Hojo Rock Garden

After being mezemrised by  Kenkakuji, we moved onto Hojo Rock Garden. Situated inside the Ryoanji temple,  it is said that this rock garden’s rocks resemble tigers and cubs crossing through water, or that is represents an abstract concept like infinity. I’m not so sure if I see these suggested concepts, but I loved the tranquil atmosphere that came from sitting in the cool calmness of the garden.

P1060629 P1060634


We ended off the day with a walk and cycle ride through the most beautiful (and only) bamboo forest I’ve ever been in, called Arashiyama. Following the walk we hired a boat on the lake next to the forest and set our rowing skills to the test – rather my fiancé put his rowing skills to the test while I leisurely dipped my feet in the cool water.

P1060645 P1060647 P1060653 P1060658 P1060660

Fushimi Inari

The next day we set off fairly early for  a shrine that I was really excited to see: Fushimi Inari. The reason? Because its marked for its thousands of brilliantly red torii gates, which honestly seem to go on forever behind the  shrine’s main buildings and only end in a wooded forest some distance behind the shrine.

P1060667 P1060676 P1060677 P1060685 P1060687 P1060696

Here are some pictures of Kyoto in general. In the next post I’ll share pictures from the second part of our holiday.





If any of these photos make you feel like booking a plane ticket to Japan, let me know below!

When you think your hair isn’t growing, but actually it is…

Yearly Length Comparison

In addition to having just celebrated my birthday this week, I’m also celebrating my one year healthy hair care anniversary. It got me thinking whether all this effort and work has been worth it and how much my hair has actually been growing over the last year. I have to admit there definitely are times when I wonder if my hair is growing at all.  Even though I know it’s doing its thing, I know I can’t be only  the one who thinks like this occasionally. So I decided to to do a comparison of pictures taken round about the same time a year apart.

Lo and behold, look at how far it’s come!

At first I wasn’t sure if there was much of a difference and I even had to ask my sister if I’m imagining things. In the picture on the left taken in April 2013, my hair is in a twist-out (one of the first I ever did) and in the second picture on the right, I’m also sporting a twist-out. In both pictures I have the hair in the front pinned up.

The truth is that I experience a lot of shrinkage which is why there isn’t a big difference in the actual length however, there is a huge difference in volume. In the April 2014 picture my hair is a lot thicker and bigger, which to me means there is a lot more hair. That makes me incredibly happy.

I do hope this post serves as a little bit of inspiration to you if you are still early on in your healthy hair care journey, or simply if you feel like you are stuck in a rut. It made me realise again that our hair doesn’t all grow at the same pace – for some it’s faster, for some it’s slower and it is a case of just being patient. Obsessing over length won’t do you any favours, as it really is like watching paint dry. Just place the focus on healthy hair, and the length will follow.

If you have ever felt frustrated with the time it takes your curls to grow, please comment below and let me know how you deal with these moments. I would love to hear from you.

Happy healthy hair journey and love your curls,


Deep moisture for your curls with Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Range

Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Deep Moisture Curl Set

The premise of the Carol’s Daughter (CD) Hair Milk Deep Moisture Curl set is that getting the perfect curl shouldn’t be a long drawn-out affair. With the product line consisting of 3 products, the aim is to simply cleanse, moisturise and style in 3 easy steps. Even though I’ve had this set for  a while, I decided to only review it after I had used it a few times in order to experience the full effects of the products over time. It’s the first time I’ve ever used all the products in a specific curly hair care range and all I can say is that I’m in love.

What it says

  • “The ultimate curly girl regimen for curls that can never get enough moisture — sure to leave curls defined, frizz-free and long-lasting.”
  • “Cleanse and detangle with the Hair Milk Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner. Moisturize to tame frizz, soften curls and add shine with Hair Milk Original Leave-In Moisturizer. Style without a crunch or residue, but still have definition and frizz control that lasts with the Hair Milk Pudding Style. Define. Hold.”

What it does

Hair Milk Nourishing and Conditioning Cleansing Conditioner

  • It cleansed my hair and scalp without stripping it of all moisture.
  • My hair felt soft and moisturised after rinsing it out.
  • It provided a good amount of slip so I was able to detangle while the conditioner was still in my hair.
  • It smells distinctly of roses, but not so strong as to put me off.

Hair Milk Nourishing and Conditioning Leave-in Moisturizer

  • It’s very light-weight and absorbed easily into my hair.
  • I was able to detangle even further after I applied it as it provided a lot of slip.
  • My hair felt very soft and moisturised in the immediate couple of days after styling.
  • I loved the subtle fresh aroma, a lot fresher than the cleansing conditioner.

Hair Milk Nourishing and Conditioning Pudding

  • If you’re after a product to provide hold, but you don’t like using gel, this is the THE product to reach for. Although I don’t usually use products to supply extra definition or shape to my curls, I was very impressed with this pudding.
  • It’s light-weight and didn’t leave any tell-tale white flakes.
  • My defined curls lasted a good 3 days.
  • It contains guar gum, which is responsible for the natural hold.
  • As it is on the pricier side, I’ve decided I’ll save this pudding for the times I do styles where I really want more curl definition (which probably won’t be very often).

It was definitely worth the wait for these goodies to arrive in the mail, as I love how my  hair turns out every time I use it. I styled with the products in this post, and over here it was the same twist-out on its second day. The first time I used it I didn’t seal with an oil as I wanted to try the range  simply as intended, but the second time I used it I decided to seal everything in with my usual coconut oil and that really did the trick – I had moisture for days. Although I think a small amount of frizz is inevitable with natural curls, I definitely had less frizz with this line.

I also love the fact that all the CD products are completely free of sulphates, parabens, petroleum, mineral oil and artificial colours. As for pricing, have a look over here.

And just in case my post hasn’t summed it up, I would definitely purchase this range again and wholeheartedly recommend it for all curly girls.

As always, love your curls!


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review.

Natural Beauty – Amanda Cooke

Today we chat to natural beauty, Amanda Cooke, who gives us insight into what made her decide to go natural.

Natural Beauty - Amanda Cooke

What is your name and where are you from?

Hi, my name is Amanda Cooke aka @kaapie_girl. I’m from the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a single mom to an amazing 11 yr old little woman. I am a librarian, a dreamer, a blogger, a business woman, a cheerleader and a naturalista to name but a few.  

Natural Beauty - Amanda Cooke

How long have you worn your hair natural and what made you decide to do it?

I transitioned from November 2012 and then in December 2013 I finally decided to get rid of the relaxed bits. It was scary but so empowering. The reason I did it is two-fold. 1) I want my daughter to be proud of her own natural hair and I needed to be that role-model for her. 2) Growing up as a coloured (mixed race) girl in Cape Town, straight hair is a big thumbs up. The straighter the hair, the more fabulous you are. Well, that’s what society dictates. I got sick of living by society’s rules. I needed to break free of the insanity and express my true self. As India.Arie sings, “I am not my hair” – my hair does not define me. 

When did you first realise that you love your natural hair texture and what exactly do you love about it? Describe your hair.

I fell in love with my hair the moment I left the hair salon, after I had all the chemicals cut out.  Every single day has been an amazing journey. Bear in mind that I had not known my natural curl pattern. Ever. My hair has been relaxed since I was about 5 or 6 years old. I don’t really pay much attention to the hair types but I think my hair could be between a 3c to 4b. I have a lot of hair on my head and I am in love with my natural curl pattern. 

Natural Beauty - Amanda Cooke

What is your hair regime? What do you do to keep it healthy?

I shampoo and condition with Tresemmé Naturals once a week, usually over a weekend. I add about a teaspoon of coconut oil to my conditioner and then wrap my hair with cling film and a shower cap to deep condition. I’m very much a wash and go girl, but I have been experimenting with twists, flexi rods and hair setting lately.

Natural Beauty - Amanda Cooke

What have your experiences been as a natural, including reactions from friends, family and colleagues? Have you experienced any opposition from anyone in your life regarding how you wear your hair?

It took a while for me to take my fro out for a walk (I usually use bobby pins to keep everything in place). I did so this past Saturday while shopping and received a lot of stares. One brave woman came up to me in a public bathroom and commended me for my “gorgeous hairstyle”. We had a 10 minute conversation about going natural.

Other questions include:

“What did you do to your hair to get it that curly?” (Uhm… I wet it and use a leave-in conditioner?)

“Are you wearing a weave?” (No, it’s all me.)

“I don’t believe you. Can I touch it?” (Are your hands clean? Don’t be touching my hair with dirty paws!)

Natural Beauty - Amanda Cooke

What is your favourite go-to hair style for days when you don’t have a lot of time?

I either co-wash and go, or I  do my favourite Grecian/Goddess hairstyle. I do this by separating the front of my hair with a side path. Then I two-strand flat twist each side to form a crown, after which I use a hair band to keep the curls neat at the back. Oh and as of Monday past, I discovered that my hair is long enough to go into a puff. Yay!

What is your hair goal? 

My personal goal is to grow a healthy head of hair just past my shoulder blades. The bigger, the better.

Natural Beauty - Amanda Cooke

What is your best hair advice to someone who is thinking of going natural, but who is apprehensive about doing it?

Research, research, research. Don’t allow anyone to force you into anything you’re not ready for. Be patient. Your hair may not grow as fast as the next person’s. Learn how to handle your own hair. Fall in love with your own hair. Most of all, enjoy every second of your own journey. 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your natural hair journey?

Self love! It has given me the courage to be my true self and to be true to myself. 

Natural Beauty - Amanda Cooke

What is the state of the natural hair “movement” in South Africa? Is it even considered a movement at all?

I think it’s much bigger in Johannesburg than it is in Cape Town. I have however seen more naturals in Cape Town in the last few months though. I am quite tempted to run up to them and give them a high 5 or a hug or shout out “Yay, naturalista!” 

Where can we find you online? Website/Blog/Instagram/Twitter? 

You can find me on twitter and instagram @kaapie_girl and my blog is