The Gold’s Gym

I never thought this day would come…but I’ve joined a gym!!!
That’s right, a gym. And not only any old regular gym but the scariest and most unappealing gym in the world, Gold’s Gym (unless your into body building, of course).
I don’t even know how this happened but technically this was the most convenient gym for me. So after weighing myself and nearly falling off the chair from how high my percentage of body fat has climbed, I’ve started their beginners program.
Putting aside the fact that there are just too many men pumping ridiculous amounts of iron in every corner, it’s actually a pretty good gym. And by good, I mean they have TV’s on all their running and biking machines. Seeing as I don’t have a TV at home, this is amazing. It actually motivates me to run/bike for a longer period of time because I want to see how the program ends!
Good deal, right? 😀

The Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Did you ever watch the American sitcom called Seinfeld?
I know it was huge and a lot of people still make references from the show. But I’ve actually never seen an episode. Probably because when I was in grade school, my daddy had full power over the remote control and his English probably still wasn’t good enough to fully enjoy the sitcom back then. And I grew up in the Friends generations so our family pretty much missed the whole Seinfeld era.
But now Jerry Seinfeld is back with his new web series called Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee and I’ve been watching them!
It’s just him and a comedian talking about things while he drives the car and then while they drink coffee. It’s pretty funny, some more than others. My favorites are the ones with Sarah Silverman and Seth Meyers. It’s become a ritual to watch an episode during my lunch break when a new one is on the website.
PS: A random Seinfeld fact…in Japan the dubbing for Seinfeld’s voice is the same person who did the voice for Uncle Jesse from Full House! 😀

The Old Photos: After Church

When was the last time you took a family photo?

I found these old pictures from our family photo sessions we often had after church. One of the reasons I think I take so many pictures now is because my daddy was a big camera person. This was before we even knew what digital was, so he had a Fuji film camera that he would take everywhere with him.

He took tons of photos. Everything from our family trips to just normal evenings at home. But one of the things he liked to do is take family pictures after church. Probably because we tend to look nice when we go to church. And probably also because the church is such a nice backdrop for a photo session!

Nowadays, all us kids live in different prefectures of Japan and we only get to take a family photo once or twice a year. I guess that’s normal. But seeing these pictures made me nostalgic for family photos!

The Afternoon at the Blueberry Farm

Have I ever mentioned how much I love blueberries?
I really do. I actually love any type of berry. But blueberries are my favorite. Which is why I always long for summers back in Michigan (where I grew up) because we had every kind of berry sold in farms and supermarkets for unbelievably low prices. The joys of living on the agricultural side of Michigan.
If you live in Tokyo, you know how expensive berries are. My eyeballs nearly fell out when I first saw the price. This teeny tiny plastic package filled with 15 or so blueberries can cost almost 600 yen. Isn’t that the craziest thing?
Anyways, I’d heard that there were blueberry farms around the Greater Tokyo Area so I looked into it and found a lot of farms. Some were even as close as the next ward over for me. But my friend wanted to take the car somewhere so a couple of us headed out to the further side of Saitama to go blueberry picking last weekend.
And let me tell you…it has heaven! 😀

The farm was called Myrtille Moroyama (Japanese website here).
The farmer said that the blueberry season this year was just starting.
We were all pretty serious about finding the best blueberry bush…so many to choose from!
I cannot tell you how excited I was to see so many blueberries within reach!
The first half hour I only had this much in my basket because I kept on eating it all!
So interesting how even on the same branch, some are already ripe and others still young.

There were 3 types of blueberries on this farm; Tifblue, Brightwell, and Powderblue.

I specifically tried to pick bigger blueberries to take home with me.

Found out that this farm has been growing blueberries organically since 1998…how awesome.
I love how they gave us these little baskets to put the blueberries in!
It was so much fun! Definitely going to try to come back again this summer!

Myrtille Moroyama
258-2 Takinoiri
Moroyama-cho, Iruma-gun
Saitama 350-0456
Blueberry Picking Hours:
(Open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays,
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
Entrance Fee: 300 yen (includes all the blueberries you eat)
Blueberry Fee: 130 yen/100g (the ones you take home)

The Rosemary and Parmesan Popcorn

Sometimes I have a craving for popcorn. Especially when I know I’m having a movie night. It just seems like the thing to do.
So, since I hadn’t made much use of my rosemary plant lately, I decided to make something along the lines of the rosemary and parmesan popcorn introduced on A Cup of Jo. I didn’t have parmesan cheese so I just used Kraft’s parmesan grated cheese. I also didn’t have time to make rosemary oil, so I just cut them up in tiny pieces and let them sit for a bit in the oil. And since I had a lemon laying around, I added the lemon zest, too.
It turned out really delicious and made my movie night all the more fun! And how can you not have fun when you’re watching Burlesque (I’m a sucker for musicals)! 😀
What is your movie night snack?
Rosemary and Parmesan Popcorn
1 tsp  lemon zest
2 tbs  extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs  parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp  rosemary, finely chopped
pinch of black pepper
pinch of salt
Add chopped rosemary in to the olive oil.
Let it sit while you pop the popcorn.
Once the popcorn is done
pour the oil all over the popcorn.
Also add the parmesan cheese,
black pepper, and salt.
Mix in the bowl.
And enjoy!
*Black pepper and salt is optional. 

The Little Garden Plants

Only grow plants that I can eat.

This is my motto regarding my little garden outside my window. Actually it’s always been my motto when it comes to any type of plant around my apartment. I tend to kill most plants because I’m not at home most of the time and sometimes forget to water it until it’s too late. Or the summer heat kills it while I’m at work.

But when given a motive such as you can eat it!, it triggers something in my brain and I don’t forget to water it as much. This is how my basil, rosemary, shiso, and okura plants are still alive and well outside my window. Good deal, right?

My favorite lately is this bagel with  mozzarella, tomato, lettuce, and of course, basil 😀

The Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine

Last weekend I went to Mitama Matsuri, or Festival of Lights, at Yasukuni Shrine, after learning about it from Rurousha’s blog post. (I’ll let you learn about the festival and enjoy her photos here and here.)
Not only did I not know about this festival, but I’d never been to this shrine before. It was surprisingly close by so I’m glad I got to go this year.
My friend and I went during the day. There were thousands of lanterns all around the walkway and inside the shrine grounds, tons of food stalls selling everything from baked potatoes to cotton candy, and even more people there to enjoy the festivities!
Here are some pictures from the day:

There were over 30,000 lanterns on the shrine grounds. These were the big lanterns.

Many people in a yukata, walking towards the entrance of the main shrine.

Colorful festival decorations.
I’ve always wanted to work at a festival and wear the special miko (巫女) outfits!

A shrine stall where you can buy different kinds of charms called an Omamori.
This paper is an Omikuji, which you pull from a box randomly and it tells you your fortune.

Mine said that if I stay humble, god will protect me from harm…good advice.
These were the smaller lanters inside the grounds of the main shrine.

When you donate to the shrine, they write your name on the lantern.
The festival reaches its peak at night. Lots of people were admiring the pretty lanterns.
Rows and rows of lanterns…there were many people with cameras here.

The main shrine where people offer their prayers and offerings.
The moon was out this night above the shrine.

I loved how there were so many people in yukatas.
Like Rurousha, I liked the quiet parts of the shrine where the lanterns softly glow in the night.
It was a lovely festival full of fun and gorgeous lanterns.

The Lunch at Panino Vino

This weekend my college friend M was in town!
She currently lives in Australia and is newly engaged! (Whoop whoop!) So you can imagine, we had a lot to talk about. A LOT. We were literally there for hours.
It felt good to talk. I know how we have technology now so we can phone, email and/or skype each other even though we live far away. But still, there’s nothing like an official gabfest face to face, don’t you think?

We had delicious panini and tea while we caught up. I love the bread they use here. So good. We also had dessert, which I didn’t even have time to take a picture of because we scarfed it down so fast 😀
M brought me my absolute favorite Australian omiyage, Tim Tams, but even better, she also gave me one of her drawings!
 I love it. M draws so beautifully. Her drawings are always so sweet and kind, you can really see who she is through her work. I already have this drawing up on my wall and smile every time I see it! x
Happy long weekend everyone! (Also, happy regular weekend for people who aren’t in Japan!)

Panino Vino
Sepia Harajuku Bldg
4-5-12 Jingumae
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
セピア原宿ビル 1F
Open: 11:00am-11:00pm

The Setouchi Triennale 2013

I am very excited.

My sister and I are flying home for Obon this summer and we are going via Takamatsu Airport in Kagawa Prefecture. Our parents are in Imabari, which is in the neighboring Ehime Prefecture, but the airport there is about the same distance away and Takamatsu somehow always has more vacancies on their flights. So we are going to fly into Takamatsu airport.

And what am I excited about? Well, yes, I am excited to be going back home again…but I’m also excited to have a day to see the Setouchi Triennale 2013!!!

It’s an amazing art exhibit highlighting various islands in the Seto Inland Sea and we are leaning toward going to see Ogijima (男木島). There are so many islands but this one is small enough to get around on foot and close to Takamatsu Port so it won’t take that long to get to. To be quite honest, I have the worst motion sickness and I don’t want to ruin the day by getting on a ferry and end up feeding the fish. So the shorter the ferry ride, the better. But also, the island itself looks like a great place to spend the day!

Have you gone already or are you thinking of going? I would love suggestions.

I’m going by the bookstore to buy the Official Setouchi Triennale 2013 Guidebook (Summer/Fall) which are in stores today! x