Whatever Happened To…?

Yasu:
Inspired by the Japanese minimalistic movement, I decided to tackle my post-Ohara travels with only a single carry-on. This meant letting go of A LOT of my stuff. One of these belongings was this pair of kawaii (cute) bunny slippers bought for me by my dear mama. I decided they belonged with Yasu (my unexpected friend) seeing as she loves bunny rabbits so much (image below drawn by her). Yasu decided they better suited her mom whom apparently now wears them all-the-time. My heart. Oh my heart.

Also, I may or may not have influenced Yasu to go against her entire country/upbringing… for just a week ago, Yasu got not one but TWO tattoos by the same guy who inked the tulip on my arm. Talk about bad influence (hehe). Ha-ha I joke, I joke! Not to boast my own trumpet or anything, but I totally feel I opened her eyes. As in, challenging the norm, thinking for her own and taking pride in being different to everyone else! Next, she has promised to travel out of Japan to visit me sometime: “wherever you go” she says.

Watch this space people!
image[8]image[4]image[5]image[6]image[7]
Yuko:
My dear Japanese momma who’d invite me to her house and cook me all sorts of delicious food, that Yuko. She, her husband and her teenage daughter, Juri will be visiting and staying with my family in New Zealand this December. The funny thing is, I won’t actually be there. Now that’s some friendship! I promise to ask my sister to take many a nice pictures for me to post here.

PS can you tell which is Juri and which Yuko?! Goodness, I NEED Japanese genes.
image[9]
Lifa, Akiko and Oz:
These guys message me all of the time. Always asking if I’m okay and/or if they can help me in anyway. They’re the sweetest family there ever was. I look up to them and wish to have a beautiful family like theirs one day. Soon, they’re off on holiday to Haifa, Israel (Lifa’s hometown). They’ve promised me to eat mounds of falafel and tahini on all of our behalves.
20160821_163205.jpg
Michiyo:
Mi-chan is the lovely girl who let me wear her Yukata for my going away dinner. A beginner yoga instructor, she has promised to visit me in Yoga capital India. Her dream is to travel far and wide. Here, we are eating a vegan lunch, a term many Japanese countryside dwellers have never even heard of.
image[2]image[1]image[3]

Osaka Somewhere

image[5]image[4]
Guys, I said I was gonna blog less, not not at all! I mean, I blogged every single freakin’ day for two entire years. So now, only 3-4 times a week, if that’s okay with you (hehe).
image-5
Japanese grapes are like no other. Really, some of them sell for thousands and thousands of dollars! The purple ones (similar to these) are usually peeled. I can still remember the first time I saw my colleague, a 50-something year old carefully peeling her bunch of grapes as if they were bananas or apples. My mind was, and still is, blown. Also peeled by Japanese: pears, apples, the inner skin of all citrus fruit and figs.
image[2]
I volunteered as a security guard in Haifa, Israel once where we used the code 10-68 for inappropriate behaviour. Nowadays, even though 5 or 6 years have passed, every time I see something “inappropriate” I think 10-68! Funny how some details stay with you.
imageimage[1]
It’s not all green-smoothies and health-foods. You know it’s a bad day when you find yourself sitting inside a Mos Burger at 9.25 on a Saturday night alone. Biting into the flesh of a dead animal as a second dinner – after having already eaten a big plate of cold left-overs plus two cream buns. Which, is the reason you’re out at all, you know, to convince yourself you’ve killed some of em kilojoules. Listening to Adele through stepped-on-broken headphones while using the restaurant’s feedback pad to write ex-lovers depressing love notes.
image[3]image[6]image[4]image[3]“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” -John Burroughsimage[1]image
100 yen vending machines are popular because they only require 1 coin.
image[6]
Singledom has a completely new meaning when you’re with the flu. These are freshly squeezed orange and carrot juice – my attempt at mothering myself with my real mama so far.
image[2]
Would have been a completely vegan meal if not for the fish flakes atop the tofu. Of course, still delicious. I am really going to miss soba. Both soba and tofu are my favorite Japanese foods.
image[5]
Often I have to remind myself that being single and living alone has its benefits too. I swear, except for the time I ate my feelings through a Mos Burger and fries combo, there hasn’t been a night where my dinner hasn’t been muesli and fruit.

PS I have had some recent fame, you can check it out HERE also, my latest Savvy article, HERE.

Osaka’s Top Ten Instagrammed Foods

Believe it or not, Osaka’s humble tacoyaki (octopus balls) isn’t that popular anymore. As Osaka’s hipster scene continues to grow, so do the number of foodie pictures from these super popular, you-won’t-be-able-to-get-a-seat joints.

Behold, Osaka’s hottest and most Instagrammed foods:

1. NORTHSHORE
Mostly for their gloriously overfilled sandwiches but also for their super fluffy pancakes. Always busy but I guarantee it’s worth the wait. Takeaways also available. image[2]image[13]
2.  w a d 
Who knew ICE could look and taste so nice? If you’re unfamiliar with kakigori, it’s a Japanese shaved ice dessert flavoured with syrup. Though at wad, it isn’t a cheap food vendor buy. Instead, it is both prepared and presented with absolute class. No wonder locals just can’t get enough.
image[6]
image[4]image[5]image3. SATURDAYS SURF NYC
Except in Osaka (and one in Kobe). This place screams “salty” for not only is it very minimalistic but also super hip.
image[8]
image[6]
4. Fielder’s Choice Salad Bar
Like subway except for salads and not like subway at all cos so much better. image[7]image[6]
5. Streamer Coffee Company  
I swear on my Mother’s life (sorry mom!), here is where I drank the best freakin’ coffee of my life. image[4]image-4
6. All Day Coffee 
Always Instagrammed alongside one of their infamous slogans: life begins after coffee, but first coffee and coffee and love taste best when hot.
image[5]
7. Brooklyn Roasting Company 
Good coffee and everyone seems to speak English here. Also, the nicest outdoor patio with a gorgeous river view.image-46image-31imageimage[2]8. Smorrebrod Kitchen
Probably the most Instagram worthy of all. Located in the Osaka library building which (the library) is also worth checking out. These guys also do incredible cabinet food which are served on the most beautiful wooden boards.image[7]image[4]image[2]9. City Bakery 
For next-level baked goods.image[1]image-45image-4410. Camp Curry
For their vegetable packed curries, frying pan plates and shovel spoons.
image[3]image[2]

A Speck Of Dust Inside A Giant’s Eye: Osaka At Night

I went to the most epic salad bar of my life for dinner last night and on the walk back to the station, I got lost having gone the opposite way and ended up in Shinsaibashi, Osaka’s main shopping area. I had been there before but never alone and never this late at night. When I finally arrived home after sightseeing (ahem shopping) for a while, my special friend (hehe don’t ask) asked me to describe to him my favorite sight of the night. This, with a few minor grammar adjustments is what I replied:

To be honest, I liked the look of the luxury dresses in Dolce and Gabbana but all I could think about when I looked at them was the image of the poor little staring boy recently rescued from the rubble in Syria. How can one nation and some people be so filthy rich (myself included) when others not only have nothing but live everyday in fear of their life?

I enjoyed walking through the busy city with my headphones on playing Dido. Do you know her? Her voice is really calm. I felt like my life was a movie. In a way, it was as if I wasn’t really there but viewing it all (the people, the lights, the concrete jungle) from the outside.

Tonight, I saw the most people I have ever seen in my life. There was just so many of them. I wondered about their life and their hopes and their dreams and their struggles. What made them smile and what kept them up at night. I thought of how interesting and unique we all are and how imperfectly beautiful.

I took delight in seeing beautiful women in fashionable dresses and high heels zoom past me on road bikes. Catching just a glimpse of their attractive face with their long straight hair dancing behind them in the night lights felt like the meet cute of a romantic drama. And of course, I enjoyed the heavily cologned businessmen carrying fancy briefcases, lit cigarettes and/or vending machine coffee who flashed me an attractive smile.

Japan is a very fortunate country. I only saw one homeless person the entire night. Everyone seemed happy. Or at least, I only noticed the smiling ones. They were either family members on holiday trying not to get lost or selfie-taking loved ones or Japanese themselves out for a Friday night. Again, because everything was so busy and so full-on, I felt I wasn’t actually there but merely observing from the outside. And for the first time in my life, I enjoyed being alone really really alone after a long time of wishing I had someone.

“…Is this you saying you don’t need no man?”

Haha no. It’s me saying I can handle waiting for you.
image[7]image[6]image[8]image[4]
image-4.jpg
image[2]image[4]image[3]image[9]image[5]image[8]image
image-3.jpg
image[1]

Mom Was Right

Dear Ones:

I’ve realised my mom was right. I have been blogging too much, working too much, exploring too much, thinking too much, exercising too much and plain pushing myself to exhaustion. When she first said it, of course I disagreed with her. “You don’t understand, I’m FINE,” I said. And we all know what that “fine” means. But a simple comment by Yuka today on how I’d mistakingly written “orange” in place of “apple” in a previous post,  finally touched the right nerve.

Believe me, I’ve had the best of intentions. I’ve blogged everyday because I enjoy doing it but also because I believe it will one day, some way or another, make me a real writer. For the past two years, I have not stopped. Even now, on holiday! I am walking, thinking, over-thinking, exploring, photographing, blogging, and freelancing. Then I write a post about holiday blues. I am so silly.

I don’t want to be like this anymore.

So, I have made a choice. The great Bahai leader, Abdu’l-Baha says:

“One cannot obtain the full force of the sunlight when it is cast on a flat mirror, but once the sun shineth upon a concave mirror, or on a lens that is convex, all its heat will be concentrated on a single point, and that one point will burn the hottest. Thus is it necessary to focus one’s thinking on a single point so that it will become an effective force.”

In short, I am finally going to take that overdue holiday. I am going to enjoy my upcoming travels to their fullest and I am going to live in the moment. This means photographing less, blogging less, hopefully thinking less and overall, chilling the F out. I guess my only concern is losing followers but I know that my health comes first and that this way, contrary to my previous thinking, I can become a better writer. Something to do with quality over quantity, I guess.

In the words of Anne Lamott:  “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you”.

Again, thank you for being there.

image[2]image[3]image[1]image[1]imageimage[2]
imageimageimage[3]image[4]image[5]
image[1]image[1]image[6]image[5]image[3]image[4]image[2]
image[7]
image[6]
image[2]imageimage[8]image[3]image[5]image[7]image[4]
image[1]imageimage[7]image[6]image[5]image[4]image[3]

10 Epic Music Videos Filmed In Japan

Interested in Japan? Sick of seeing it through the eyes of a food loving, flower loving, baby loving almost 24 year old? Then these are the videos for you! All very different and all shot in JAPAN!

1. The Killers – Read My Mind
1343184000269795_animate.gif

2. Clean Bandit – Rather Be ft. Jess Glynne 
maxresdefault.jpg

3. HONNE & Izzy Bizu – Someone That Loves You
maxresdefault-2.jpg

4. OK Go – I Won’t Let You Down
maxresdefault-3.jpg

5. You Say Party – Underside 
Screen_Shot_2016-04-22_at_1.03.16_PM_ffwjki.png

6.Pharrell Williams – Happy (Tokyo Version)
maxresdefault-4.jpg

7. Sub Focus – Turn It Around 
sub-focus-turn-it-around-finish-02.jpg

8. The Black Eyed Peas – Just Can’t Get Enough
bep1.jpg

9. DJ Fresh ft. RaVaughn – The Feeling 
FeelingDJFr.png

10. will.i.am – #thatPOWER ft. Justin Bieber 
1713672.main_image.jpg

The World Is Indeed Full Of Peril…

“…and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring…

From top to bottom: avocado, tomato and walnut sandwich made with brown-rice bread, a NZ apple – I was so freakin’ excited to find it and its three brothers. This is because, Japanese apples are HUMONGOUS. Believe me, they’re the size of my dad’s head. So it’s been really fun actually holding an whole apple with one hand and completely finishing it. Next, lunch at One Room Cafe, more boyfriend adventures and last, my new personalised chopsticks and tofu-shaped chopstick holders gifted to me by Yuka’s loving parents. Why two? “One for you and one for your future husband” they said.

image
image[3]
image[6]image[1]image[2]image[3]image[2]image[5]image[4]image[3]image[5]
image[7]image[2]image[4]image[6]image
imageimage[1]

Osaka Desu

image
image[1]
image[1]
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
(Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)
image[2]image[5]image[6]
“I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure”
(Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist)
image[7]image[6]image[1]
“I decided that adventure was the best way to learn about writing.” (Lloyd Alexander)image[7]image[4]
“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.” (Roman Payne)
imageimage[2]image[9]
“Marry me, Zelda. We’ll make it all up as we go. What do you say?”
(Therese Anne Fowler, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald)
image[5]image[2]image[3]“It’s the unknown that draws people.”
(E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly)
image[5]image[3]image[8]

Arashiyama

I feel much better today.

Thank you for always being there. I love that we are on this journey together.

Today I went to Arashiyama (Kyoto) with my friend Yuka, her husband, her son (my bf) and her parents. Now, I want to tell you about how Yuka and I became friends. When Yuka was 16? 17? She did an exchange programme in Timaru, New Zealand where my family used to live. In super rural Timaru, fate brought her and my sister together. They became very good friends and eventually parted when Yuka had to return.

Flash-forward 15 years, Yuka is married with a gorgeous little boy living in Osaka and I (was) teaching English near. Thanks to Facebook (yes, it does have its benefits!) I also got to meet Yuka and become her friend! Further, when my sister came to visit, her and Yuka were reunited. Also, my parents met her on their trip. Can I just say, how very amazing is this incredible world we live in?

For all of August, Yuka’s parents have left their fully furnished city apartment, bicycle, unconditional love and fresh vegetables (see previous post) in my hands. Today, they took me to Arashiyama were they didn’t let me spend a penny and bought me a pair of very pretty, green and floral personalised chopsticks! I will never forget their kindness.
image
image[5]image[4]image[10]
image[1]
image[6]image[7]image[9]image[8]
image[1]
image[2]
image[3]image[2]
image[9]image[8]image[7]image[6]image[5]image[2]
image[4]
image[1]imageimage[1]image

Holiday Blues

I have holiday blues. Yes, there’s such a thing. I Googled it.

WAH.

Seriously though, I feel so blue tonight. I am pinning it down to these:

Over-scheduling (see previous post)
You see, I only have 2 weeks left in Japan which is why I’ve been really pushing myself to see and do everything. Also, to keep my blog fresh and up to date. Because I truly enjoy it, it is my passion and of course to keep with my hot-shot writing dreams. However, amidst all the hustle and bustle and adventuring, I seem to have forgotten I’m not superhuman. I am exhausted. But here’s the problem. It’s not like I have anything else. I do a bit of free-lancing here and there but it’s not enough to occupy an entire day. And I know you all wish you didn’t have to work a 9-5 day and/or look after your needy significant other and/or rowdy children so that you could have even a spare moment to read a novel, go for a run, drink a coffee in silence, paint your nails etc but I swear, human wiring comes with the disease of always always wanting what we don’t have.

Holiday food
My general diet for the past year and half of Japan life has been a challenge. You can read about it here. Or in short, it’s been challenging learning to shop, cook and eat for one. I miss sitting around a table and eating with others. When I do eat with others here, it’s usually eating out. Which is exciting yes, and I feel should be done cos like when else am I gonna be in JAPAN to eat this authentic soba?! But at the same time, it’s not the healthiest. And even though I try to choose the healthiest menu items and exercise everyday (sometimes walking or cycling 10+ ks), it’s still not the same as eating and living on a normal schedule in the comfort of your own hometown. All this holiday food then, is starting to make me feel bad about my body image and myself.

Unrealistic expectations of myself
A quote I’ve mentioned several times here, “comparison is the thief of joy” by Theodore Roosevelt. During holidays, we meet countless faces. In Japan, most are settled in good jobs with babies and husbands. My current life is much much different in comparison. Again, it seems instinctive of human wiring to compare. I keep forgetting that this won’t be my life forever and that I too am chasing my dream/working towards a good future. When I compare my very undetermined life with theirs, I feel sad.

Lack of sleep
A combination of the above.

I know I’m probably being too hard on myself but I, 1. needed to get this off of my chest and tell someone seeing as I’m all alone in this wah and 2. wanted you to know that it’s not all castle and croissants and that there is depth to the pretty pictures.

Last, am going on a money and food diet.

1…2…3… (a goal-starter countdown I’ve always done as a kid for which my father would always mock me)

image
image[6]image[7]image[4]
image[5]
image[3]image[8]image[1]image[2]image[5]image[10]
image[1]
image[4]image[3]image
image[1]image[2]
image[1]image
imageimage[2]