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I got this iPhone case 7 months ago while I was visiting Tokyo. As usual, the mega stationery/crafts shop LoFT always carries a large selection of electronics accessories & cases. I knew I would find one for my new cellphone at LoFT.

I ended up getting this rather simple case. It’s a soft pink color & has a sheep polka dot print all over. I say they could either be happy sheep, or fluffy cotton balls with smiley faces. I like this case, not only because it looks feminine (& I’ve been trying to become more feminine, less tomboy lately), but also because it is a very thin case.

I’ve used hard-shell cases in the past, ones that are meant for harsh conditions, & they tend to be bulky & uncomfortable to use. This new case is quite thin, yet it is still extremely durable. It also protects my phone in case I drop it (which I have done several times already). This case is made from a flexible plastic-like material, & the outer texture is rubberized for a good no-slip grip. It’s not a full wrap-around case, so it’s perfect for when you need to charge your phone or plug in headphones with a chunky plug. I used to use an Uncommon brand case, & every time I needed to charge my phone, I had to pop out the bottom of the case to get the plug to fit. With this case, there is easy access all around.

I feel a bit disappointed that I didn’t DIY myself another “gem-ed out” cellphone case like I did for my previous phone. Perhaps I will make another DIY case again, but first, I must think of a new design for my next case. Time to browse ETSY… Cheers!

Today’s Song of the Day:
Arctic Monkeys “Why’d You Only Call Me When I’m High?”

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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.

Many of you may have heard of those “shopping haul” videos on YouTube, where people post videos of their latest shopping spree purchases.  Well, here is my version of it…sort of.  OK, I just want to put a disclaimer out there that I’m NOT posting this to brag/show off.  I’m merely showing you a little glimpse of some of the interesting things offered in this ever-changing city, & also showing you some things that relate to my hobbies & interests.

Two of my favorite “staple” stores that I always must visit whenever I come to Japan are LoFT and Tokyu Hands.  These two are my absolute “go to” stores for any type of stationery, home goods or souvenirs/gifts that either not available or are too expensive in the U.S.  For those of you who have been reading my blog since the beginning, you will probably know by now that I’m a huge stationery (i.e. pens, stickers, office supplies) fanatic.  In one of my previous entries, I posted a photo of my hobby box overflowing with colored pens & stickers galore.  Whenever I travel to Japan, I always make it a habit to stop by these two places.  While I’m there, I try to stock up on a lot of my essential hobby items, since I know I’ll be paying the regular posted price, & will not have to deal with those pesky markups & import prices.  Yes, I understand that quite a lot of the items I purchase here in Japan can also be bought in the U.S., but these items are so much more expensive back in my hometown…so I try to stock up as much as I can (& stick to the items that are not sold overseas).

 

Here’s what I got from LoFT:

1. sticker sets, 2. UV resistant & waterproof decals

decorative border stickers in gold & pink glitter

 

Here’s what I got from Tokyu Hands:

1. miscellaneous greeting cards, 2. decorative paper tape, 3. pen refills, 4. Pilot FriXion Ball Knock Retractable Gel Ink Pens, 5. various sticker sets

1. schedule diary for my sister, 2. my schedule diary, 3. schedule diary for my mom

 

Like a tanning bed or coffin with extra headroom, the capsule hotel, popular for decades in Japan, is geared toward businessmen or late-night pleasure seekers too drunk or tired to head home. Stacked two high like washing machines, the capsules are typically equipped with beds, a mounted TV, wireless connection and a privacy shade for its lone window.

Source article: Capsule Hotels (Many Brands And Locations), Tokyo And Other Cities, Japan – Beth Greenfield – Forbes.

Guys who use man bags (a.k.a. “murse”) are hot. Well, I don’t like to use the word “hot”, but they are VERY attractive.  I find guys who use man bags to be very intriguing.  I can’t exactly explain this attraction.  It is what it is.

However, not all guys who use bags are attractive.  For example: no generic PC bags from the mall, no backpacks, no book bags, no bike-messenger bags, & no pretentious metal briefcases.  I like guys who use small bags, or technical waist pouches (which are NOT to be confused with a fanny pack).  These are also bag types that men use which I find attractive: leather tote bag, small postal bag or satchel, a business-casual or slim laptop bag, a soft leather briefcase, or anything else that looks technical.  I like it when a guy uses his bag naturally, with comfort & ease.  I don’t like guys who use bags as a fashion accessory just because it’s the trend of the moment.  It just has to be natural, simple & functional.

I know there are many guys who think using any type of bag, other than for school/work or grocery shopping, is not cool or acceptable in any way.  To those men, using a bag to carry your non-business/non-school related items is just such an overly feminine gesture, & it’s rather demeaning for males to do such a thing.  But those guys are just too chicken to explore & to dare themselves to do something out of the ordinary.  Plus, that just makes you so blind to our modern society….where everything is pretty much UNI-SEX, & the Uni-Sex style is a hot trend right now.  Besides, it’s not like you’re being asked to wear skirts (no offense to Scottish kilts) and/or makeup (no offense to Goths & Emo kids). Guys who use man bags are AWE-SOME…& it’s not cool when your pants pockets are puffing out & bulging with your personal effects (i.e. junk).

Not very many guys carry a lot of stuff  in our Western society. Most guys only carry  their slim smart-phone, slim wallet, and a basic set of keys.  However, there are more & more guys popping up who like to carry: a notebook (for random notes or doodling), a book (to read on a bus or train), or an mp3 player…something more than just your average phone/wallet/keys. It’s not cool when you try to stuff everything in your pockets (even if you are wearing cargo pants). Nowadays, more & more guys are carrying laptops, tablets and/or eReaders.  Hey, practically every guy in Asia uses a man bag…even kids as young as 10 years old use them. It’s just so common.  To me, when I see a guy carrying a man bag, I find it very normal (& pretty damn sexy).  It’s no different than lugging around your book bag when you were in college.  It also goes along with the whole “Metrosexual” trend that’s extremely popular these days.

So to all you men out there…go get yourself a bag, baby!

Some examples:

source: TokyoFashion.com

source: TokyoFashion.com

source: TokyoFashion.com

source: TokyoFashion.com

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