Wednesday, October 31, 2012

happy halloween!

I just wanted to share two pictures from a Halloween party. #1: Minnie Mouse is scared of skeletons.

#2: Minnie Mouse and her hero: Sailor Moon!

Happy Halloween! Who did you dress up as this year?

Monday, October 22, 2012


I bought a hot plate at my school's bazaar because with winter coming, I knew I would make a lot of nabe, or hot pot food. Today I had a sukiyaki party with a friend! It was my first time to make sukiyaki, and luckily, my friend is Japanese, so she knew what she was doing.

The whites of leeks, cut into diagonal chunks
Tofu, cut into rectangles
Enoki mushroom (the long stringy ones)
Shiitake mushroom (the round ones)
Konnyaku (some kind of potato? not sure what this is, but it's some kind of starch substitute with no calories!) cut into rectangles. We slit the middle and twisted it through to make it pretty.
Napa cabbage, cut into chunks
Sliced beef
Raw egg to dip the ingredients into (you can do this in Japan because the eggs are fresh! I wouldn't want to do this in the States...)

Equal parts soy sauce and mirin (rice wine), add sugar to your taste, then add half the amount of water to dilute.

It's really easy and really fun. You cook as you eat. It was my first time to eat honest to goodness raw egg like that and it was really delicious.

Have you had sukiyaki before?

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I'm really not looking forward to winter, but I was at my local grocery store today and was delighted to find this:

It's Melty Kiss! If you haven't had these before, they're flavored chocolates that literally melt in your mouth. They're so delicious and I really missed eating them, because they only come out with these flavors in the colder months! (Also I don't buy chocolate when it's warm, because it'll just become a huge sticky mess in the Japanese humidity.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

kyushu day 4&5: yakushima and kagoshima

If you're a Mononoke Hime fan, you should definitely check out Yakushima! Yakushima is an island about a two hour ferry ride away from Kagoshima. It's a UNESCO reserve and a natural World Heritage Site. Since we only had a day on the island, we decided to go hiking around the Shiratani Unsuikyo, which is the ravine that is said to have been the inspiration for the scenery in Mononoke Hime.

It was really beautiful and the hike wasn't too strenuous! We hiked for about three hours. It was funny because all the Japanese people who were hiking were super prepared with gear and walking sticks and raincoats...and we looked like we just came off the streets. I felt super out of place, but to be honest, I don't think the gear was necessary for just hiking. Maybe they were camping! In which case, yes, you need gear.

We came back in the evening to Kagoshima. This is a picture of Sakurajima, which is across the bay from Kagoshima. It's another active volcano!

Kagoshima is famous for all kinds of potato, so we had a sweet potato and yam gelato. Yum!

Our last day in Kagoshima was a bit...interesting. Sakurajima decided to spew out some volcanic ash, so we were basically walking through a cloudy haze of the stuff. It was horrible for my eyes especially since I wear contacts. You can see in this picture that cloud of ash coming towards Kagoshima.

Nevertheless, we tried to endure it as much as we could and went through a park that commemorates the Meiji Restoration.

I recently watched a Japanese period drama called Atsu-hime, which was set in Kagoshima! This house was where one of the characters lived.

Our flight was in the afternoon, so that was all we had time for. It was a really good trip, and if you are thinking of going to Kyushu, I definitely recommend going to Yakushima if you can fit it into your schedule!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

kyushu day 2&3: kumamoto and aso

We went to Kumamoto castle first--doesn't it look impressive? The picture on the right is a view of Kumamoto from the top of the castle.

Then we went to the Hosokawa residence, which is a restored samurai house. Earlier this year, I visited samurai residences in Akita, which is up north, but most of those houses weren't open for visitors to walk through. The Hosokawa residence is though; I definitely recommend it!

There was a festival going on at night too that involved a lot of candles...not sure what it was for, but it was beautiful!

Day 3, we took the train to Mt Aso, which is an active volcano about an hour away from Kumamoto. The sad thing was they wouldn't let us near the crater because the volcano was showing signs of activity. Hence the sad face!

It's okay though; the scenery was beautiful!

As we walked through Aso town, a man in a pick up truck stopped us to give us tomatoes! I guess he knew we were tourists. Japanese people are so sweet! The tomato was delicious.

The last thing we did in Kumamoto was visit the Suizenji was amazing. The grounds were pretty extensive and the landscaping was really breathtaking.

Next up, Yakushima and Kagoshima!

Monday, October 15, 2012

kyushu day 1&2: nagasaki

Our first stop was Nagasaki, which is famous alongside Hiroshima for being one of the cities that was hit by an atomic bomb. We went to the Peace Park and museum. The museum had a beautiful reflection room.


I randomly saw a fruit store and I had to stop in! You can also see outfit #1 here.

We also went to Nagasaki's Chinatown and had some Chinese food.

Also stopped by a sweets shop and they gave us castella for free! Japanese hospitality is so amazing. Castella is a cake brought over by the Portuguese way back when and is now a special of Nagasaki.

Day 2 (and outfit #2!): We saw a cathedral (there were a lot of secret Christians/Catholics in Nagasaki--they were the first to open their ports to the outside world), and the Glover Garden, which was where Europeans built their houses. They also had a section with floats from different Japanese festivals.

Then I saw Totoro! Love.

We went to the Confucius Shrine, which is curiously owned by China! Then we stopped at the Suwa Shrine.

Then, equipped with ice cream, we boarded a train to Kumamoto!

Friday, October 05, 2012

going on vacation! what i'm packing

I'm going on a mini-vacation from Saturday to Wednesday to Kyushu, which is the southern most of the four main islands. I live about 2 hours north of Tokyo, so I've never ventured out there before, and I'm really looking forward to my trip!

Since it's a five day trip and we'll be walking around and travelling from place to place by ourselves, I want to pack light. This is what I'm bringing:

Since it's a mini-vacation, I only want to bring one bag and probably my cross body purse (oops! forgot to take a picture of that), and I'm having trouble deciding which one of these to take... The top two are definitely cuter, but I have to wear it on one shoulder whereas the backpack would be more comfortable to carry around, especially if I'm out walking a lot!

Outfits: I tried to choose outfits that are comfortable, that I can mix and match, but at the same time not look like a slob. To minimize what I'm carrying, I'll be wearing the T-shirt with the tank over it, the leggings and the shorts over that, and then the cardigan over everything. That way I won't be cold on the plane plus I'm only carrying two dresses in my bag!

The tank will be layered under the black dress for one outfit, the T-shirt can be layered under OR over the green dress (that's two outfits!), and depending on if it's warm or cold I can always forgo or wear the leggings and the cardigan.

Shoes: I'm going to bring my Ked-lookalikes for comfortable walking, and my flip flops for those days when we're in hostels and I don't want to walk around in shoes!

Make-up (left to right): Visee Glam Pink in PK 1, Dolly Wink Pencil Eyeliner in Brown, Heroine Make Long and Curl Mascara, Sweets Sweets Eyeliner in Beige, WaterLip chapstick with SPF20, Canmake Cover&Stretch Concealer in Light Beige, Elsia Pencil Eyebrow in Grey, Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer, My Beauty Diary Lip Essence, Benefit Benetint, Shiseido eyelash curler, Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel

I'm not a big fan of heavy make up, especially not on vacation! Sunscreen is of course, a must. I think that small eyeshadow palettes are the best to bring on vacation, since there are so many different looks you can do with them! I usually wear Bobbi Brown's gel eyeliner, but it's a pain to clean the brush every single time I use it, and I would rather not on a I bought the Dolly Wink! Also, I might not bring the mascara even though this is seriously the best mascara I've ever tried on my stick straight lashes, it's super hard to remove and if I'm tired I don't think I can be bothered. I'll probably bring buy makeup wipes at the train station when we get there.

I moved my Skinfood Red Orange Jelly BB Cream into this small sample jar--never throw these away when you get samples, they seriously come in handy!--my Mandom Bifesta Eye Makeup Remover (this gets EVERYTHING off) and my Isofurabon moisturizer into small sample containers.

Lastly, my super cute Totoro towelette, a Sephora mascara (that I will probably replace the Heroine Make one with), my H2O+ eye moisturizer, a sample Bobbi Brown facial cleanser, and some hair ties/bobby pins.

Surprise! It can all go into the Totoro towelette, since it has a little pouch. Isn't it handy? I saw it at the Studio Ghibli Museum and couldn't resist.

The earrings I'm bringing.

Oh right--and I mustn't forget my Kindle for those long train rides. My friend made the cover for me. Isn't it cute? I wish I could sew!

I'm so excited for my trip! I'll try to take pictures of my outfits, so you can see the clothes in action.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

uniqlo goes to sf

Uniqlo is opening in San Francisco on October 5th! Hurrah! It's such a great place to shop for basics, and before I moved to Japan, the only Uniqlo I've ever stepped in was in New York. My impression then was that it was like Gap with similar pricing, but after having lived in Japan for a while now, I've realized how much it gets marked up outside of Japan. I was reading a U.S. fashion magazine, and a cardigan that I got from Uniqlo was featured. I had paid  ¥1250 for it, or roughly $16, but it was selling in the U.S. for $30! That's pretty much two times the price. They're also forever running special deals; I bought another of the same cardigan maybe a week later for  ¥790!

I've also found that in Japan, people see Uniqlo as a really accessible, inexpensive store. Even out in rural Japan, there will be Uniqlo stores littered throughout the rice fields (I kid, but that's kind of what it feels like). So it makes me giggle a little when I hear about the hype around Uniqlo in the States. Don't get me wrong, I love Uniqlo! But...

I was more excited to find out about Uniqlo's sister store, G.U. When you pronounce G.U., in Japanese it becomes ji-yu, which means free. The concept is that you're free from paying high prices for fashion. It's cheaper (hard to believe!) and trendier than Uniqlo. They have a huge store in Ginza, (Japan's premium shopping area) and I stopped by there recently to pick up some skinny jeans.

I got a mustard pair, a black, and a dark wash denim. They were so affordable at ¥990, I couldn't resist! The black and dark wash pairs fit really well; I can't wait to wear them!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

dolly wink

Picked up the new version of the famous Dolly Wink eyeliner. I got the brown pencil one--I know most people prefer the liquid, but I've been looking for a good pencil eyeliner for a while now. Here's the hoping it lives up to the hype!

I know most people prefer the old pink with black bows packaging, but I think this new packaging is quite cute too!