Shaking Hands

Finally the second part of the stripes shoot! And now that it’s officially fall, it’s even more appropriate! As I mentioned before, I’m a little in love with stripes, so when I saw this top in La Foret in Harajuku, I had to buy it. Once again, the pallet is a bit plain, so I threw on my lollipop necklace for a little fun!

Fall is probably my favorite season (possibly only second to spring), because the weather is perfect, the trees turn varying shades of orange, and I finally don’t have to worry about sunburns and heat rash anymore. This fall is also special because it marks the beginning of what could be my final year in Kagoshima. Or at least Shibushi. I’m so excited for the changing leaves and the opportunity to change myself. The future is bright ladies and gentlemen. Bright as this bright blue wall. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.

 

top: didizizi from l’atlier du savon

shorts: h&M

bag: Rebecca Minkoff Mac

necklace: Tatty Devine

I hope you also take the turn of season as a chance to reevaluate your outlook at try something new. Stay tuned to see what I try next!

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What (We) Wore – Tokyo

If you follow my Japan-related blog amakara, you know that I spent a week in Tokyo recently. Though I live in the country-side where there are few people to impress, I’m constantly thinking about my personal style, but going to the big city makes it feel a little more important. I’ve always felt as though style is the first and most obvious way to let others know what kind of person you are. It’s wearable art. So, needless to say, what I (and my friend) wore in Tokyo was a big deal to us. That being said, Japan is so super hot and humid in the summer, and we had to do a lot of walking in the city. So enjoy our comfortable summer looks!

drue6

 

 

 

Omotesando streets

American Apparel and ModCloth
Omotesando alleys of Omotesando

 (Shibushi temple hopping)

Breakfast

T by Alexander Wang and H&M

 

The vacationer

Asos and Zara
at Sensoji

Shopaholic

 Asos and Zarafreepeople

As you can see, we did keep it mostly simple. If you’re visiting Tokyo (or other parts of Japan) in the summer, I highly recommend light, breathable materials and flat shoes! You can check out more looks on my instagram. See you soon! XO

Taking it Easy and Traveling Alone

The end of April/beginning of May is a wonderful time in Japan known as Golden Week, because of the many public holidays.  Half of the holidays are on weekends though, and there are working days in between holidays, so it’s only so exciting. I didn’t take any additional time off, but I did have a nice four day weekend to do whatever in Japan.  I decided to be completely uncharacteristic of my shy and needy self and went alone. Oh yes, I took a four day vacay all by my lonesome, and it was amazing.

 

Okay, so I did spend one night at a friends house watching trashy dating shows, but for the next three nights, it was just me, myself, and I…

I took a 4-hour bus ride to Fukuoka Prefecture and eventually made it all the way to Kitakyushu, a city in the northern tip of the island I live on. I didn’t have much planned, so I just wondered around the city for a few hours. If you’re going alone, slow walks through popular areas are actually really nice. When you’re alone and not in a rush, you notice so much more of what is going on around you. I did feel like people were judging me for aimlessly walking around alone, but after a while I JUST DID NOT CARE. I was on a date with myself and was completely absorbed in my own world.

 

 

Krispy Kreme!

 

One night I stayed in my hotel to watch a movie, eat Krispy Kreme donuts, and have a bubble bath. I learned that I need more bubble baths, but I probably could do without Krispy Kreme.

 

 

I do think it’s a good idea to see the city and what other people do there and then pamper yourself. But it’s also nice to get away from it all.  I left Sunday morning for the Yahata district of Kitakyushu and later got on a bus leading to the Kawachi Fuji-en  (wisteria park) tucked into a mountain side. The bus stopped earlier than I thought it would, and long story short, I was left to walk 4 kilometers with a woman older than my grandmother. I asked if she was okay, but she kept her pace better than I did.

on the way...

on the way…

We talked a bit through our tired breathing, and once there, she offered me tea, food, and her photography skills. Her kindness nearly brought a tear to my eye, and I am still thankful that we could spend an hour or so together.

2014-05-04-19-13-04_deco

We lost each other after a while, and I spent more time wondering through the wisteria taking tons of pictures (including shameless selfies) and smelling those sweet sweet flowers for quite a long time. The park is up a hill and from the edge you can see a lake. Despite the crying babies and giggling couples, it was totally peaceful. And stunningly beautiful. And none of the couples walking under the hanging flowers made me want to vomit. Instead I was happy, that in that moment, they all seemed happy. Maybe some of them would get what we’re promised: a life of eternal love and happiness. I was just happy thinking of that possibility. Which is sappy and dramatic, but I guess that’s who I am now. Oh, Japan, how you’ve changed me.

2014-05-04-19-44-21_deco

2014-05-04-19-22-17_deco IMG_20140504_135813 so pretty

 

After the marathon trek down the mountain and back to the train station, I headed back to the city and shopped. And then shopped some more. Boy, did I shop. I think I got all my therapy sessions in. Natural relaxation, retail, sugar…yup all there. How many times can I say amazing before it loses its emphasis?

mini treat-yo-self haul!

 

 

BUT you know me…I won’t lie to you. I did experience of few moments just short of existential meltdown. Being alone did make me realize that a lot of times I am alone in Japan, and though I do appreciate solitude, it is nice having someone you like around for the times you want to hear another person’s voice. I did experience moments of intolerable longing, moments where I thought I could collapse from all the injustice of the universe. But, I didn’t. If there was only one thing I could take away from that weekend it’s that I do like myself…I love myself, and though I wish there were times I didn’t have to be away from certain people, I know I can do it because I love and appreciate myself just as much as I love and appreciate them. Or more. I’m pretty alright, you know? I don’t think that’s conceited or narcissistic. I think it’s sort of necessary to being sane in a foreign country when you so often feel alone. Beyond that, it’s so so necessary for me right now. I’m glad I could spend a few days alone to help discover myself and notice all those things that have slipped by before. I highly recommend you do the same sometime. It’ll change your outlook. And, of course, it’s amazing.

 

Thanks for reading! Enjoy the warmer weather all you Northern-Hemispherians. That’s a word right? See you soon!

7 & 7

So lately I’ve discovered that Japan is not perfect. I’m reaching the point in my adjustment process where I’m starting to realize all the things that suck about this place. To get it all off my chest, I’ve compiled a list. I like lists. But to keep this from getting depressing, I’ve also compiled a list of things that are awesome and I love. Shall we?

TOP SEVEN REASONS JAPAN MAKES ME WANT TO PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE FACE:

  1. Banking. I knew from the beginning that banks were different here. They’re open from maybe 8 am to 3 pm? I could look it up, but I feel like that’s about right. So if I need to actually use the bank, I have to leave work. That’s fine; I hardly ever need to actually go to the bank. I do however need to use the ATM frequently. If you’ve been living under a rock, Japan is mostly a cash-based society. I wouldn’t even know how to get a card if I wanted one (it could be easy, IDK). So I have an ATM card. Here’s where it gets good. I learned my lesson with ATMs the hard way this past weekend. ATMs in Japan have only slightly better hours than the bank. I know, shouldn’t they be open all day? They aren’t. I think most close at 7 pm during the week, and of course, my bank closes its ATM at 6 pm on the weekend. So I went to Kagoshima City to shop, and like an idiot, didn’t bring enough money. By the time I ran out of money, it was too late to use an ATM. I have two bank accounts, but my other account had about 700 yen in it, which is not an amount you can withdraw. So if it weren’t for the kindness of friends, I would have been stranded in the city with an empty belly and way too many bags. Needless to say, I will always have money in both of my accounts, and I’ll probably be caring around the equivalent of $500 from now on. Don’t tell anyone.
  2. Driving. First of all, the speed limit on the roads I travel is ridiculously slow. Whatever the speed limit would be in America in miles per hour, it’s that in kilometers per hour. It takes forever to get to places that are relatively close. The speed limit, though, is just the beginning. A lot of people here are really scary drivers. In America, when the light turns yellow, most people slow down so they don’t run the red light. Here, people go faster. Here, people run red lights. All. The. Time. It’s not that scary, because the delay between a red light and the other direction’s green light is long enough, but at first it really freaked me out. The best part is that, although running red lights is second nature to people here, it’s illegal to make left hand turns (right hand in America). Actually, maybe that’s why people run the lights; it sucks sitting at a light when you’re turning left and NO ONE is coming. Another scary factor in Japanese driving is the fact that people will pull out in front of you and stop in front of you with no prior warning. It’s illegal to be on your phone in anyway, so when people receive phone calls or need to mail someone, they pull over. I use “pull over” lightly here, because most of the time they just stop in the road. Way to go Japan.
  3. Gas. Speaking of cars, gas is really expensive. And that’s all I have to say about that.
  4. Freakin’ futons. Okay, they don’t actually suck. I just miss my bed. (;_;)
  5. Cute couples. This makes me want to punch people in every country, but there are a lot of super attractive couples/families here. It makes me sick (obviously because I’m super shallow, duh). But good for them I guess.
  6. Stereotypes. They’re getting to me. Yes, I’m American. No, I don’t eat bread with every meal. Yes, we have soba and sushi and sake in America. Yes, there are Japanese people in America. No, I don’t drink milk with every meal. No, I don’t even like milk. Yes, dishwashers and clothes dryers exist in America, and more so than here. Granted, this mostly comes from my students who aren’t at fault for not knowing things about the world, but ya know, I’m allowed to vent, right? Also, no, not all Americans own guns. Just all Texans. Kidding.
  7. AKB48. And most other idol groups for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy gazing at Johnnys just as much as the next girl, but I refuse to acknowledge them as musicians. AKB48 and HKT48 and WTF48 are not singers. No one should be singing their songs at karaoke bars where I can hear them. Some idol groups have decent songs, but the principle of idol groups alone just upsets me. They’re entertainment slaves. They “act”, “sing”, “dance”, and appear on variety shows. They make commercials and endorse the most random products. They’re everywhere. Actually, I think I hate the fact that most non-Japanese people think that Japanese music is completely comprised of these groups. It gives the industry a bad name, I think. And I care about the industry. Educate yo’self.

Alrighty then, that’s enough negativity for one day. And actually, most of those things are not real reasons to get violent. I’m stretching here. But the ATM thing really does piss me off. Anyway, there are good things to come.

TOP SEVEN REASONS I COULD GET USED TO THIS:

  1. カラオケ. Boy do I love singing to my favorite songs in strange keys and tempos. Karaoke is super Japanese and it’s wonderful. Except when you pick a Korean song and it ends up being the Japanese version. I don’t speak Korean, but if you listen to a song enough, you can mimic the sounds enough for it to pass. When something bad like that happens, you just dance. Or try desperately to read the words on the screen. By the way, Japanese is hard to read quickly when you don’t read Japanese. Just saying. Lucky for you, every karaoke place I’ve been to has a crazy variety of English music. Some really random, obscure things too. Karaoke definitely gets the thumbs up. It’s cheap, fun, and even if you don’t know a song, you can read the lyrics and still be involved.
  2. Driving. Okay, I know driving’s on the naughty list, but there is one particular aspect of driving in Japan that I love. A lot of roads have one lane for each direction. This is fine, but some of these streets get a little busy sometimes, so turning across the oncoming lane can be difficult. However, almost every time I have to turn into a parking lot on the opposite side of the road, some kind soul will stop and let me pass. This totally holds up their side, but it keeps everyone behind me from completely hating my guts. And it makes me smile every time.
  3. Clothes. Eventually, I will write a post dedicated to fashion, but for now I will just say it’s wonderful. Of course you have your Engrish, but sometimes it’s endearing, so it can be overlooked. A lot of cheaper places sell the general frilly, fluffy, super girly crap, but there are quite a few good spots in the city. I’m mostly concerned with the humongous sweaters, printed tights and cute socks, funky sweatshirts, and skirts galore. I also really dig guys’ style here, mostly because guys here have style.  Even the sometimes ridiculous use of leopard print and Hello Kitty are growing on me (for a visual, many otherwise “manly” guys have been spotted wearing HK track suits and matching slippers). I’ve been interested in Japanese fashion for a while, and I’ve spent way too many afternoons with my eyes glued to some Japanese street fashion blog. I really enjoy the crazy Tokyo fashion scene, but I also just really like the every day young person look as well. So naturally, being here has been hazardous to my wallet. And I don’t even live near a fashion-hub.  I need a sugar daddy like whoa.
  4. Kids. You’ve heard it. I won’t bore you.
  5. Old People. Freakin’ cute. More on this later.
  6. Boys. Like legal boys. Not expanding too much on this, but I’m starting to think that dyed hair and clunky boots on relatively small guys is my type. I’m totally into guys that can be simultaneously cute and cool, and that’s not something most American guys can achieve. I’m also physically closer to G-Dragon in Japan, and the thought of seeing him in real life one day gets me through the week. (Side note: I don’t dislike my job at all, but Monday-Wednesday is filled with a whole bunch of creepy kids and awkward moments, so I always feel like I need a drink and BIG BANG by the end.) Anyway, my wonderful city is lacking in the attractive and available young man department, but the surrounding areas are not. Do want. (By the way, this is sounding more and more shallow isn’t it? Whatever, I’m young. I can say what I want.)
  7. Life in Japan (in general). I really truly enjoy living here. I’ve experienced so many wonderful things that I could write a Harry Potter sized book. I’ve met some awesome people, eaten some amazing food, and made a lot of great memories. All the bad things (OMG! I forgot to write about mold!) are totally made up for by everything else. And I promise I’m not (that) shallow, I’m just so often taken aback by the beautiful of this country that I get a little giddy and excited.

So there it is. Seven good things and seven not so good things about Japan. I’m sure more things will pop up as time goes on. See you soon!

A week in the life…

OMG SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. I’m no longer as concerned with food, so that’s good, but I have much to tell. This month is a busy one for me. Well, relative to last month. First of all, I’ve done some major shopping. I’ve had a little more money this month than I thought I would, and I also found places that sell things that I actually want to buy, like zoo socks!

I’m a sock person.

I have also purchased many a phone accessory, so my iPhone is now more Japanese/fun. Speaking of zoos, this past weekend I went to the Kagoshima Aquarium (かごしま水族館) with my host family. I stayed with them one weekend last month, but they treat me like a real family member. Grandma came with us and she seriously bought me, like, four presents without my knowledge. And lunch. And ice cream. She, and my host mom, are so nice, as are most people here. If you show even mild interest in something, it will probably be given to/bought for you. Try it. Anyway, I mostly spent the day babysitting a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, so maybe it was deserved, but…no, no it wasn’t. SO NICE.

I stayed in the city after that and actually enjoyed normal night-time activities with fellow Americans for the first time in Japan. These of course included eating Baskin Robbin’s and walking around, but also drinking in the street and foreignizing a Japanese “club.” Foreignizing isn’t a word, so if it’s misspelled, I’m sorry.

I made it home somehow and slept for approximately 3 hours before I went to a 運動会 (undoukai-sports festival) for preschoolers/kindergartners. Background info: kindergarten isn’t compulsory in Japan, but kids age 3-6 (or something like that), can all go to 幼稚園 (youchien-essentially kindergarten) to learn stuff before they go to real school. Anyway, though I was running low on energy from not sleeping and what not, I had a great time. Watching small children dance and race and play with their parents is really cute. I also saw a lot of people I know around town there, so it was a nice way to socialize. I guess what I mean is that it made me feel somewhat part of the community. It was really nice. Thanks for inviting me, Kana!

It came at a price though. I don’t know if it was my general lack of sleep this weekend or the exposure to so many snotty-nosed kids, but I AM SICK. It is cold season though. Just so you know, being sick in Japan is less fun than being sick in America. I’m so tired and groggy that I don’t want to talk to anyone, especially the teachers, and it just makes me look like a huge bi…mean person (IDK who’s reading this!) for not wanting to try to speak Japanese. I just kept saying “hello. goodbye” to the kids and I feel terrible! Not to mention I have to walk to the bathroom on the other side of the school every time I need to blow my nose, which is a lot. Good thing it’s test week.

This week I can blame being sick, but I really need to stop being so afraid to talk to people in Japanese. I know that the biggest part of learning a language is making mistakes and then mentally correcting them, but I hate messing up! I’m getting a little better at talking to people that I’ve spoken to before, but limited vocabulary/sucky attitude is really starting to depress me. And it’s all my fault. If you have any ideas on how to get better at Japanese and stop being a wimp, let me know!

Now for pictures!

So there you have it, a week it my life in Japan. Not super exciting, but I do live in the middle of nowhere.