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Whenever I visit Japan, I usually go in the Summer or Winter. (Maybe I like to torture myself with the crazy weather.) Each time I come home, I always bring back a new & interesting cultural experience, or reminisce about my favorite ones that I wish we could observe here in The States. I don’t think I’ll be visiting Nippon again for a long time, so here I’ve compiled a short list of the things I miss about being in Japan.

  • No matter how late you go to bed, you will always wake up at the butt-crack of dawn (around 6am-ish). I’ve tried the sleep-in thing, & it doesn’t work, even if you don’t have jet lag.
  • Their TV commercials are so much cooler & funnier compared to ours. We may not quite understand most them, but they are still highly amusing.
  • When you walk into a shop or a restaurant, you will be greeted by the entire staff no less than FIVE times. Even if they’ve already seen you, they will greet you again (& again, & again).
  • If you wake up & head out early enough, you can catch a glimpse of shop workers getting ready for the day’s work by reciting cheerful chants & receiving a rousing pep talk from the store manager.  (Watching this in person really amazed & pumped me up as well.)
  • The breakfast sets (served until 9:30am) are so delicious & divine.  The portions are ample & the prices are very reasonable.
  • Beware of walking around Harajuku too early in the morning, you might be looked upon as a spy, or a crazy person for waking up so darn early.
  • Obviously, being in the land of sushi, you’ll find sushi restaurants everywhere, ranging from basic kaiten to gourmet Michelin star rated.  So far, I haven’t encountered a sushi joint I didn’t like.  Pretty much all sushi you’ll find is delicious no matter if it’s a hole-in-the-wall joint (which are the most fun to explore) or an expensive 1-month advanced reservation restaurant.
  • The street vendor food (especially ones at Kaminari-mon at Asakusa street) are so fresh, delicious & tastes just as good as eating at a dine-in restaurant.  Don’t forget to try the cola flavored shave ice!  (I also miss the fresh-off-the-grill senbei from Kamakura.)
  • I really miss those 1am karaoke sessions that last into the wee hours of the morning… Big Echo is one of the best places for karaoke. They have the most up-to-date song selection I’ve ever seen…& the kitchen is open 24hrs. Booze + karaoke + tambourines with friends = Pure Bliss.
  • I’m not into teen flash fashion, but I really miss shopping in Shibuya on the weekends.  That’s when they block off the streets to cars so people can walk on the streets. This is the same in Ginza on the weekends…but I can barely afford the cookies at the patisserie, let alone shop at Mitsukoshi or Matsuzakaya…
  • Harajuku (especially Takeshita street) is wall-to-wall packed on the weekends, but I love the high energy feeling & the bustling atmosphere. Omotesando street is the best place to sit, slow-sip your coffee & just people watch.  Especially with the trees lining the street, it really gives off a serene feeling even though you are in the middle of a popular shopping district.
  • I love it when, regardless how small or large the shop is, the store clerks always pay careful attention to even the smallest detail in wrapping/packing your purchases.  Don’t think of it as excess rubbish.  Think about how much care & warm feeling was put into packing your goods. Not only do the store clerks want your packages to look good, but they want them to be taken care of, especially if you’ll be shopping for long hours…they’ll even put ice packs in your bags, so your delicate food items won’t spoil.
  • I love how on rainy days, all shops will tape plastic slipcovers over all your shopping bags, so that they don’t get wet from the rain.  It’s small things like these that really touch you & make you feel warm & appreciative.
  • I take public transportation to work everyday, & it’s right then where you encounter a lot of really rude & arrogant passengers: people who cram their bikes or strollers on packed train cars, or place their bags & such on the seat next to them even if seating is crowded.  It’s so refreshing to see people in Japan exercise restraint & politeness on their public transportation systems.  Everyone puts their cell phones on quiet mode, so that the phone won’t ring loudly & disturb others. Passengers also refrain from making phone calls while on the train. Most of the younger generation are well aware of loud music echoing from their headphones & keep the noise down out of courtesy…& this is just scratching the surface. I miss the Japanese public transportation system in general.
  • Most, if not all, people who drive cars use their turn signals & strictly abide by all traffic laws (especially the No Drinking & Driving law).  This is much more than I can say compared to China. Just kidding.  No, really.  I’m serious.
  • Getting stuffed on homemade foods & sloshed on booze with your close friends & family is so relaxing & enjoyable… It’s a warm feeling that cannot be properly described.
  • I enjoy watching fat dudes with awesome top-knots & giant ceremonial “thongs” push each other around on a tight stage in a centuries old sport.
  • I also love watching dudes dress up as women & playact one line every 5 minutes in a 6 hour performance that could rival any Broadway show in New York.
  • I love how even the smallest of items can be practical & make sense. No matter if it’s as large as a sofa or as small as a paper clip, Japanese people will find a use & a purpose for the item.
  • I really miss late-nite snack runs to the local conbini, or 3am ramen munchies…Those things really hit the spot sometimes. In terms of late-nite ramen runs, I’d suggest trying Ichiran at least once. The raw garlic add-on alone will blow your mind.
  • Even weirdoes get some love. Whether it’s the Rockabillies twisting in Yoyogi park, or the cosplayers acting emo on the Harajuku bridge, or the OL’s & Ri-man’s boozing it up & talking loudly over a rousing after-work meal, or the misunderstood pervy Otaku in Akiba who lust for the LovePlus+/Mirai-chan body pillow & a Gundam garage kit…everyone gets some lovin’ & acceptance.
  • Where else in the world can you sit down at a restaurant & they serve you beer BEFORE they serve you a glass of water. I’ve been to a few Izakaya restaurants where they immediately serve you a glass of ice cold beer (at $3 US bucks a pop) & you have to request a glass of water.
  • I also miss the cakes & the afternoon sweets hour that comes right after lunch & just before the shop prepares for dinner. High tea is a tradition that dates back centuries in many countries around the world, & I wish we could adapt something like this in the U.S. Trust me, it would really reduce a lot of our stress.

After sifting through all of my old photos & videos of my past Xmas trip to Tokyo, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking another overseas vacation.  This year, I’ve been really getting into the Holiday spirit, & I really enjoyed all of the Xmas displays & Holiday light shows blooming all over Tokyo.  This really makes me miss the whole experience, & I wish I could go back to Japan again soon.

All of this really got me thinking about planning a new trip to Japan again, & I am really getting excited about it.  I understand that I have very important events that will take a big chunk of moola from my budget, but I really think that we will be able to make this all happen.

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This statement has probably been said millions of times over, but for me, I miss the fast-paced lifestyle & the bustling streets.  I miss the perfectly manicured socialites dressed to-the-nines hailing a cab in their triple-digit Christian Loubutin pumps; the savory aroma of the homely street vendor peddling fresh hot dogs & salted pretzels; the ever-present bright neon lights of the infamous Times Square… I miss it all.

You know, I’ve only been to New York once in my life, but one encounter was all it took for me to fall in love with the city. Being in New York reminds me of the wonderful times I’ve spent in Tokyo. Both cities are filled to the brim with skyscrapers & neon lights & gorgeous folks dashing to their next fabulous destination.

I just love the hustle & bustle of the ever-changing city & it’s extremely urban lifestyle & culture.

Ok, so…put all the couture shopping, gourmet eating & museum viewing aside. Forget about all the various landmarks the city has to offer. The key element that keeps me so entranced with the city is the whole atmosphere/aura of it all.

Sitting in a street cafe on the quaint shop corner, I love watching the people walk by, some with meticulouusly groomed dogs in tow, some pushing the baby strollers of their employer alongside a number of equally employed child-care staff, others walking the early morning path of shame leading from their miatress’ apartment…

I just love to sit in a cafe or on a park bench with my fiancée, sipping our coffee drinks & watching the scenery in the daytime. Then, after a light lunch, we’ll go for a little afternoon shopping before heading out to a fun dinner & night on the town.

This is the perfectly painted scene of a time spent in New York. Enjoy.

I found this funny poem on the web & thought it was so clever & funny. So I wanted to share this with you all. This is so awesome.

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I’m not a stylish or fashionable. Not a fashionista or a model. I don’t work in the Fashion industry. I’m not a starving artist. I’m not a hipster or a prepster. I don’t follow the latest trends or read WWD, Nylon or Vogue magazines. I’m not even an average consumer….but here’s what I AM………….someone who enjoys wearing comfortable, functional, clean clothes.

Here are my Top 5 Wardrobe Favorites (let’s see if you have similar ideas):

  • 1) skinny jeans – For an Asian person like myself, with a smaller stature, skinny jeans are the most ideal. They feel comfortable, are very functional, & most important of all…many denim brands now make skinny jeans with shorter inseams for a shorter pant leg. This is perfect for a person who has petite legs like myself. All other jeans cuts, to me, make my legs look stumpy & widens my hip frame visually. So I’ll just stick to my skinny’s…as long as they’re not skin tight like cling-wrap.
  • 2) sweatshirts – I love wearing sweatshirts, especially ones with a cool graphic on the front. Sweatshirts are perfect for lounging around the house, going to a sports game, or just hanging out with friends. I really like crew neck sweatshirts. They give off a casual yet stylish vibe. I’m not particularly fond of pullover hoodies, especially ones with the mono pouch pocket, which I like to call the belly warmer or the cargo-pocket of hoodies…’cause you know at one point in time you also liked to stuff your keys and wallet in there when making that quick trip to the supermarket. Also, I know I like the casual look, but sometimes even the zip-up hoodie looks a little too sloppy & too casual. I just like sweatshirts.
  • 3)socks – I love socks & I can wear them in every type of weather, even when it’s totally hot & humid outside. But nothing beats the feeling of warm, dry socks on a cold and/or wet Winter’s day. I especially like to wear thick crew socks with a pair of worn-in sneakers. Mmmm.
  • 4) graphic t-shirts – Two of my favorite places to get my graphic tee fix: Design T-Shirts Graniph & UT Uniqlo. I absolutely love wearing t-shirts. I even took one of my W)Taps pocket tees and turned it into my everyday pajama top…Sooooo comfortable I say!!! Seriously though, graphic tees are awesome & can often tell people about you & your interests all thru the picture printed rightfully on your chest (or back?). Graphic tees are also a great way to express yourself & throw a little color into your life. I just like them ’cause they often hide my lil’ stomach pouch after eating…Easy to wash & to wear while your cleaning house, or washing your car, or making pit stops at the local coffee shop.
  • 5) shoulder bags – Perfect for throwing all of your miscellaneous junk inside, great for traveling, & they can also look stylish. I love messenger-style shoulder bags because I carry a ton of things around with me (ie. band-aids, Tide detergent pen, gum, mini nail clipper, datebook planner with a pen, a fully stocked pill case…) my friends all call me the human Doraemon ’cause I’ve got nearly everything imaginable shoved neatly & compactly in my bag. I’ve tried to cut down the contents of my bag to the bare minimum, but I still end up with a crap load of stuff. Trust me, I may look like a bag lady, but everything I have in my purse has been used in an emergency or tight situation before, so I’m grateful to my chunky bag.

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Found a pair of conjoined twins in my basket of berries.  This is rare. 🍓🍓
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