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The title of my blog post is in reference to one of my favorite songs, “Tokyo I’m on My Way” by one of my all-time favorite bands/rock duo PUFFY (a.k.a. PUFFY AmiYumi, as they are known outside of Japan due to a copyright infringement lawsuit by rapper P. Diddy). Tomorrow I leave for my next trip to Japan. I can barely begin to describe the mixed feelings I have about going on this trip.

On one hand, I’m not excited at all to be going on a crammed guided tour with groups of other anonymous families. I am certainly not excited about visiting all of the overly clichéd tourist traps during the height of tourism season. Also, the one thing I’m the absolute & utterly least excited about is the scalding hot temperature of summer in Japan. If there’s one or two things I’ve learned throughout all of my travels to the country of Japan, it’s 1. to avoid vacationing during the hot summer months, & 2. avoid tourist traps at all costs. No matter what high-tech gadget or expensive clever outdoorwear you’ve brought with you, nothing & I mean nothing will prepare you for the sticky humidity & the unbearable heat resonating off of all the concrete Japan has to offer. You can try to eat all the shaved ice in Japan, but that won’t help you stay cool. You’ll only end up with cavities, a sloppy mess, & sticky fingers.

H O W E V E R . . .

On the OTHER hand, I am super excited to be going on this trip. This is the first time since the late 1980s that I’ve been able to go on a vacation with my extended family. It’s going to be so much fun to be traveling with my family, since we all get along so well. The idea of visiting Japan came from my 17-year old cousin, who is a huge fan of all things Japanese. She is the co-founder of the Japanese anime/manga club at her high school; she is also taking a Japanese language course at her high school. My cousin is turning into part Japanophile, part Weeaboo (but not in a vulgar or obnoxious way). So, clearly it would be a dream come true if my cousin could visit Japan.

As a reward for her exceptional academics & grades/marks in school, her parents planned a guided tour trip to Japan for their whole family. My mom heard about the trip & proceeded to draw her “I’m the oldest child & current matriarch of the family” card & invited herself on the trip. She also took it upon herself to invite her sister on the trip as well, to round out the group. I only stepped into the picture later on when my mom invited me to join the group on sort of a whim. My mom thought it would be a good idea to have a seasoned traveler of Japan to join their group, so I would be able to help them get around town, read signs, & teach them how to use all of Japan’s ultra-modern technology.

Well, there you have it…a roundup of our family roster. The five of us came together to support my amazing & wonderful cousin. I am so happy that we’ve remained close over the years, even while she struggles through her toughest years of teenagehood & finding her independence. I’ve been close to this little one ever since she was in diapers, & I’ve loved every minute of being her cousin. She is truly awe-inspiring & the most incredible young person I have ever known. I am so happy to be supporting my cousin through this trip, which will be her first experience & a huge milestone in her life. I can’t wait to look upon her face & watch her expressions as she learns new things about this country she loves so much & yet knows precious little about. Being able to explain things to her that she wouldn’t be able to otherwise learn from reading comic books & watching cartoons, I will gladly take the time to show her around & be her family, her friend, & her guide.

I am also incredibly happy to be traveling with my own mother. Every time my mom takes a big trip all on her own, I get so worried for her. I always want to make sure that she has packed everything she needs (& then some), & make sure she has not lost or forgotten anything when she leaves. I have welcomed with open arms the unofficial title of being my own mother’s sort of “lady in waiting”. I like to call myself her personal assistant. I am always right behind her, following her around, making sure she’s got everything taken care of down to the last letter. To be able to go on this trip with my mom will be so much fun…& a bit of relief for me, as I will be able to take care of her & make sure she has a great time.

So, now I’m off. This is where I end this blog post. I’m going to make sure I’ve got everything packed. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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Original article via Tokyo HivePUFFY to release best album to celebrate their 15th anniversary.

I’m really excited that PUFFY will be celebrating their 15 year anniversary (& I’m a bit stunned that it’s been 15 years already).  I’ve been a long time fan of the band & I have already been to 3 of their concerts in the U.S. (as well as collecting as many of their CDs as I can).

I must say that these 2 ladies are an amazing pair.  Being able to balance work & family life is not an easy task, but Ami Onuki & Yumi Yoshimura are able to make it look so effortless, & I applaud these strong women.

You know what else?  This is a little-known fact about myself: PUFFY was one of my “gateway” / “bait” bands into the Japanese Pop music scene.  Around the time I had just learned about Japanese Pop music (a.k.a. JPop), Japanese anime was just becoming hugely popular in America.  I had previously known about anime & such, but I had no clue what Japanese Pop music was like.  I had no idea that Japanese Pop music was so modern & popular all around the world.  I first learned about this amazing music genre when I was given some Japanese Pop CDs from my older cousin who resides in Japan as a gift.  He had given me one CD by Morning Musume & one by BoA.  I really had no idea what was going on or what the lyrics meant, but I had immediately fallen in love.

After that first experience, I dove head first into the world of Japanese Pop music & pop-culture.  I spent many weekends at the one music shop in the local Japantown, browsing all the aisles, marveling at all of the beautiful & shiny CD covers.  I was lucky that I had a friend that knew about Japanese Pop music long before I had even heard of it, & she recommended a few artists for me to listen to…one of which was PUFFY!  This friend was great.  Not only did she know a few things about Japanese music, but she could also read some Japanese text, so she was able to translate a few CD names for me at the time.  (Thanks friend!)

Once I had immersed myself into the Japanese Pop music scene, I was utterly obsessed!  To this very day, I am still crazy about Japanese Pop music…probably more now than I ever have before… But now I have branched out my musical ears into other genres of Japanese music…also listening to: JRock (i.e.: LUNA SEA, Judy And MaryOrange Range, the Pillows, etc.), JSoul a.k.a. R&B (i.e.: Ken Hirai, Namie Amuro, Emi Hinouchi, Kato Miliyah, etc.), JRap (i.e.: m-flo, Teriyaki Boyz, Rip Slyme, Rhymester, etc.), & JSka/JJazz (i.e.: orange pekoe, Crazy Ken Band, Jazztronik, OreSkaBand, etc.) among many others.  If you browse through my iTunes music folder, you’d probably notice that 80% of my music is Japanese,  10% Western Top 40/Pop, 8% Jazz/Bossa Nova, & 2% World/International.

Overall, I’d definitely say that PUFFY has influenced me in exploring other genres & (languages) of music.  Thank you PUFFY & Congratulations on celebrating 15 years & many more!

Ame Warashi approved!

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