Friday, August 21, 2015

World Press Photo Exhibit 2015

Flash back to a couple days ago when I went to Umeda/Namba with my lovely friend, whom I'll refer to as RiRi. She'll be going off to DC to study abroad at Georgetown (smart girl, I know) and she was stopping by in the Kansai area for her trip around Japan before setting off to the States. She found that the World Press Photo Exbihition was taking place in Umeda, Osaka so we decided to check it out. It was pretty incredible - a year worth of issues happpening around the world seen through photos. The photos were breathtaking and moving; I'm not sure if my sister is interested in political-type photos but I think these would be striking to see, since she's quite the photographer.
There was a separate photo exhibit of the 2011 Tohoku Japan Earthquake so we stopped by. I feel like Japan makes an effort to keep the issue alive because obviously, it affects the country the most; it got me thinking how much the rest of the world is aware of how destructive the earthquake/tsunami really was. I guess the same goes for me when I saw the World Press Photos. Even though I was aware of the big picture, I lacked the specifics. I guess overall, it was a mind-triggering (thought-provoking?) event.

Standing next to the sign that was way too bright for the camera.

HORAI 555 pork bun at Namba because you can't leave Namba without eating at least one.

1 am struggles of not being able to sleep made better after skyping with the two crazy (and lovely) ladies...and I am on the lookout for someone who looks presentable in the middle of the night because this proves it's not me.

夜中の一時なかなか寝れなかったのでこの二人のSkype. 久しぶりに話すとやっぱり楽しいですね。

Talk soon!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Food Diary #1

(At Osaka now)
I think today will be the day that I take you through the food in my life, because I think as you already know or have guessed, eating is pretty much what I live for. Counting calories is the devil for me so instead of eating less, I exercise to burn it all off, hence the start of my morning runs circa when I stopped gymnastics (Who knew working out in the morning would be so delightful?!?! I am officially converted to morning workouts instead of afternoons!). Watching Barefoot Contessa and Drivers, Diners, and Dives for hours on end is a passion (Food Network has always been my favorite channel, hard to guess since I watch so many crime dramas); not saying I am anywhere near being a chef. Funny story, I often helped my mom cook when I was little but always did the chopping. I didn't do much of the flavoring so now I'm left with decent chopping skills but not so much in the taste department. I think we can all say that there is always room for improvement.
わたしは食べることが生き甲斐といっていいほど食べるの大好きな食いしん坊です。カロリー計算は大嫌いで、ご飯を減らすくらいなら運動を少し長めにやって好きなだけ食べる方がいいです。それと体操の練習がもうないという理由で最近朝ランニングをすることになりました。夕方より朝に運動する方が一日を有意義に過ごせることに気が付き(これは人にもよりますが。。。)続けようと思っています。テレビを観ている時もFood Networkというクッキング番組が立て続けに流れるチャンネルと観ている時が本当に幸せで、特にBarefoot ContessaとDrivers, Diners, and Divesは永遠と観続けても楽しいです(最近Youtubeで動画を発見し、寝る前の時間がこの二つの番組に費やされています。)。
Fresh Fig, Yogurt, Mixed Nuts drizzled with Honey
Getting that healthy kick in during my mid-morning snack.

Lupicia Tea + Vanilla Cookies
Fancy tea time with the flavorful Peach Oolong Tea. I read somewhere the British people dip their cookies in tea? I hope I'm correct but I did it anyway and it was delicious.
Lupicia Tea + バニラクッキー

Daily Green Smoothie
I introduced Grandma to smoothies and she really liked them so we've been making it daily for breakfast. This one has kiwi, banana, spinach, broccoli, carrots, a spash of milk and a drizzle of honey - we measured how much fruits and vegetables we were intaking from this juice and it was a pretty impressive 200g! (Daily recommended intake is 400g)

Tempura craving satisfied with Grandma's homemade mix of shrimp, sweet potatos, eggplants, green peppers, green peas, and onion and carrots Kakiage.



Talk soon!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Recommendations #1: For a Spark of Happiness and Motivation

So it's a given fact that I am a nerd.
It's probably the second most obvious things after of course, my outrageous love for cheesecake.
Everyone just...knows it.
I would honestly spend my time reading than to go out dancing on a Friday night (or any night for that matter) and I am totally cool with that. I just thought that I would give a run down of my recent reads since I've been having quite a successful month in discovering some pretty interesting books.
There are no specific genres or languages (I mean English, Japanese, or French) when I decide to crack open the cover of a book. It all depends on whether I feel like the book is calling to me or not.
If you haven't said it aloud already, I will say it for you right now.
YES, I AM WEIRD. Get over it.
A little background story of a lot of these books:
I may or may not have mentioned this before but my Dad has quite the library. Growing up, he always had books all over the house and sometimes, he would hand me, or even buy me a copy, of books he thought would be meaningful to us kids. The last time I went "home home" to California was last summer, and again, he had a list for me to take on. I packed my suitcase with my new collection but until recently, these books have been left on the back burner. I'm getting ready to pack what I need for study abroad and I'm trying to keep things as minimal as possible. I'm thinking that maybe I can even sell the books after I finish them. And so, Operation Finish Books began.


Starting off with the book in my first picture: Why "A" Students Work for "C" Students
This is written my the New York Times bestselling author Robert Kiyosaki, who in a nutshell, grew up as a "C" student but now operates his business by working above so called "A" students. He introduces readers to a different perspective on financial education and how to live off of passive income, which essentially equates to generating cash flow without physically working. My Dad has ingrained in my head to "be the employer, not the employee" and this book is the epitome of Dad's life lessons. Why "A" Students Work for "C" Students is extremely non-bookworm friendly and draws reader's into to consider studying financial education. To be honest, I didn't really give this book a second thought when Dad first introduced it to me when I was in middle school (? maybe earlier??) but things are starting to sink in now that I am more educated about the world.

まず一冊目は最初の写真にも写っているWhy "A" Students Work for "C" Students です。ロバート・キヨサキ作のこの本は現在の教育システムに欠けている金融に関する大切さと受動的所得の得方を簡単にかみ砕いて説明してくれます。わたしは小さい頃からお父さんに"雇われる側ではなくて、経営する側になれ"という風に言われ続けていました。中学生くらいの時に同じ作者作の関連の本を"読まされた"のですが、当時はなんでそんな本を読んでいたのかも、なんで同じことを繰り返し聞かされていたのかもよく理解できていませんでした。最近ようやく自分の将来が見えてきて、それを実現するためにどれだけかかるかなどが分かってきたため、お父さんがなぜこの本をあんなに勧めてきたのかも理解できてきました。

Book #2 is a Japanese translation of Jerry Minchinton's Maximum Self -Esteem (I am assuming). This is a book that will just leave you happy, motivated, and feeling better about yourself. I decided to purchase this when I was really stressed about preparing everything for study abroad; I guess I bought it at the perfect timing because my head felt clearer and I was better able to control my emotions. I love the title, which roughly translates to "How to Become the Best Version of You"- if you're a multilingual, you know that companies often change the product names to more relevant terms for the targeted society - which is not something you see often in Japan and which was also a big reason why I decided to add it to my collection. The omnipresent voice gives just enough to think about; a simple read but definitely worth reading over and over again. 
Maximum Self-Esteem: The Handbook for Reclaiming Your Sense of Self-Worth
Book #3, or Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown, was a book that I kind of bought on a whim. I got drawn into the Japanese title (Lady Lesson) and thought, why not, I should probably start learning how to be more lady-like. I was positively surprised on how sucked in I became in reading the 350 pieces of advice written with wit, humor, and sarcasm. The comedic approach on how to deal with society, friends, family, money, work, etc. left me chuckling throughout the entire read. Funny, yet educational.
次はケリー・ウィリアムズ・ブラウン作のLady Lessonです。買うか買わないかで迷ったのですが、図書カードがあったので、まあいっかというノリで買いました。結果買って本当によかったです。ユーモアたっぷりの350個の女性向けのアドバイスは読んでいてつい笑ってしまう部分がたくさんありました。一つ残念なのが、もとの英語の文章を想像しながら読んでいると、言語の違いがあるのでしっかりユーモアをとらえきれていなかったことです。"英語だったらここ笑うところなのにー"と思う場面がいくつかありました。でも、ためになることをこんなにたくさん詰め込められた本は他にはないと思います。親近感が沸いて、たまに少し毒舌で、でも頼れるお姉さんみたいな口調なので、読んでいて楽しいのは間違いなしです。

Book #4 is 勝つまで戦う (in English: Fight Until You Win) by Watami CEO Miki Watanabe, which unfortuately does not have an English translation. This was the second book written by a CEO that I have read, after Onward by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and I loved this one just the same. Both just shine with their love for their respective companies and reading about the roadmap to becoming entrepreneurs and determining what they believe is the best during tough business situations are both motivating and fascinating. Thanks again to Dad for the recommendation.

For my current read, I have Grinding It Out by the oh-so-famous Mr. Ray Kroc who built McDonald's into the world's most famous and successful fast food business. This book translates to "Success is found in the trash bin" - which is actually quite perfect because of how innovatively Kroc utilized his meager resources to establish something that he was convinced would be successful. Another book I cannot wait to read on!


Happy reading and Talk soon!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Black Hair --> Brown Hair💁

Hi there!

Since I had left my hair black for my Seijinshiki photo shoot, I decided to change things up a bit and dye my hair. I've done the bottom half before for the ombré effect but this time, I ombré-ed the entire head.


My stubborn hair takes forever to dye but  it finally decided to show some color. 
Team Brunette ftw💪
(Yes, I'm aware this barely shows a difference. I'm expecting about a month before it's really noticeable)


Talk soon!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Coming-of-Age in Japan: Kimonos

Turning 20 in Japan is like turning 18 or 21 in the States, so quite a big deal.
Although my big 2-0 was last year, I never took my coming-of-age photos, aka Seijinshiki photos.
One of the main reasons I came down to Hiroshima this summer was to take these photos with my grandparents and also because my fashionista grandmother (while our style are totally different, I like to think that my interest in clothes and beauty comes from her) owns quite a kimono collection. I chose two that she personally has worn for some of her own photo shoots (she's a local singer) which are quite unique - traditional with a modern flare that you really don't get to see often.

This blue kimono was actually custom-made for my grandmother; I'm very fortunate that it was a perfect fit for me as well!

Talk soon!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Before and After: Hiroshima

Stopping by Hiroshima for a bit to see my grandparents for the first time in a little over a year. We had trouble finding each other since we all changed so much. I think my photo taken circa March 2014 speaks for itself.


I mean, LOL
Boy have I changed.


A three and a half hour Shinkansen ride that was well worth the trip.


A trip to Hiroshima is not complete without some Okonomiyaki. This is actually a "Hiroshima-style" Okonomiyaki.  There's also an "Osaka-style" and they're different depending on the regions, but don't call them "Hiroshima-style" or "Osaka-style" because the people in those regions will say that they're Okonomiyaki is the real one.
Typical family argument in my household since my parents are from those regions.


Shaved ice to cool down in the sauna-like hot and humid Japan weather.


...and maybe some gelato too.
It's summer, who cares.


Talk soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Goodbye...for now

I swear, burgers are the most versatile food. It can even be a food group all on its own. It literally fits for any situation: hunger, happiness, sadness, sorrow, anger, etc. etc.
Mine was a mix of sadness and excitement. Sadness because I'm going to miss my lovely friends and Tokyo. Excitement because, well you all have heard enough of it, I'll be in Paris in less than a month.


It was the third time this week in Shinjuku for me and I think I have exhausted that city in terms of places to go on a day out.


Stopped by Plaza, where we spent around an hour(?) looking at Polaroids, and cute cards, makeup, and products but ended up with just a Cadburry chocolate.
I mean, why not.


Talk soon!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Most Beautiful French Toast

I'll be saying bye to this place soon for an entire year and I'm already starting to feel some nostalgia about the last two years that I called this place my home.

I met up with my girls from my Spanish class that I took last semester for brunch but we decided to take a detour to our university.

Four Cafe for some of the yummiest and prettiest french toast located just minutes away from the main campus of the university.
大学の本キャンパスから歩いて二分くらいで行けるFour Cafeというところでキレイすぎて食べるのがもったいないフレンチトーストを食べてきました。
My Honey Ricotta French Toast

The girls went with the Blueberry Cheesecake option.
Any guesses on who made the suggestion?

Off to Shinjuku because we had some time to spare, and after a couple hours of walking and shopping...well, we decided to go round 2 for some sweets.
We all coincidentally chose cheesecake.
What can I say? Great minds think alike.

Talk soon!

Summer BBQ

I've had a lot of free time to spend time with friends since the end of last month when I officially stopped going to practice to prepare things for study abroad. I've been meeting up with so many people and it's been a wonderful summer break so far. Yesterday, I had a BBQ with my teammates and I had a blast. They surprised me with a T-shirt and an album with messages from everyone and I just felt extremely blessed and glad that I was able to be part of such a lovely team, even though it's actually only been a little over a year.

Kickball. The ball ended up getting stuck in the tree so the game ended before we got a final score. Haha

Talk soon!