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

The Sudden Summer Rain

Thunder storms excite me to no end.
We had a sudden storm on Sunday. I was just coming out of the supermarket when it started to rain a little and I thought, oh I’ll wait it out because I didn’t bring an umbrella with me. But then, it started thundering and the rain got stronger and stronger. And the power of the storm was so electrifying, I couldn’t help myself. I walked out into the storm.
Needless to say I got SOAKED!!! But it was awesome. The warm summer rain felt really great. And I wasn’t the only one walking around in the storm. I passed a couple of people without an umbrella and we just grinned at each other.
By the time I got home…the rain was still pouring but the sky was unbelievably blue. So where was the rain coming from? Who knows. All I know is I had a great time getting wet in the rain.
Hope you all get a summer storm or two to enjoy, too! x

The Teacher with the Same Outfit

(via swissmiss)
Oh gosh, this is fantastic.
PE teacher, Dale Irby, wore the same outfit for every yearbook photo during his 40-years of teaching. I cannot get over how great this is. And yes, I secretly wish I would have thought of that when I was still taking school pictures. I mean, look at it!
In this Dallas News article, he said that it all started out as an accident when he wore the same outfit the in his second year…and his wife dared him to wear it again. And on it went. You can see many of his yearbook pictures on Seriously awesome.
So of course I had to go look for my old school pictures. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I only found the one of me in 7th grade. But it was good enough to have me laughing my head of for a good 10 minutes! Teehee!
Aren’t school pictures the best? 😀
What was going on with my hair?
And how patriotic was I? ;D

The Bary-san Chocolate

We seem to love mascot characters in Japan.
We pretty much have a mascot for everything. The most popular ones of late are the mascots of various cities throughout Japan called Yuru-kyara, which means something like loose characters in Japanese. Not sure whether they are called that because they aren’t official city mascots or because the characters are quite casual and quirky, but they are popular.
There’s even a Yuru-kyara Grand Prix every year, where people can vote for their favorite mascot. Last year, 880 mascots entered the contest. Told ya. I wasn’t kidding when I said we really love our mascots.
Imabari City, where my parents live, also has their own mascot character. His name is Bary-san (his profile in Japanese is here). He’s a pretty cute mascot, in my opinion.
Imabari is known for their yakitori (skewered chicken), so the mascot is a bird. His crown is the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge, which is a bridge that connects the main land to the Shikoku Island (which is where Imabari City is located). It’s also apparently the longest suspension bridge in the world.
It doesn’t stop there. He is wearing a haramaki, which is a cloth that wraps around and warms your stomach, because Imabari is famous for their towels. I hear they make about 60% of the towels in Japan. Also, the little ship he’s carrying is a wallet, representing Imabari’s shipping industry.
Don’t you love the details and the story behind the character? I love it. Probably because I’m Japanese. Ha.
Anyways, Bary-san is not only my favorite…(drum roll please)…he was the winner of last year’s Yuru-kyara Grand Prix! Whoop! It’s pretty huge considering a lot of Japanese people don’t even know where Imabari City is.
But they are taking this chance to promote their city and Bary-san has even made his way into convenience stores all over Tokyo. He has his own Chiroru Chocolate (pictured), which are bite sized chocolates that come in many flavors. The Bary-san chocolates are orange flavored because the whole prefecture of Ehime, where Imabari City is located, is famous for producing oranges called Iyokan.
I found this chocolate at my local convenience store and had to get it. I loved the packaging with Bary-san saying different things in the local dialect. Too cute.
Doesn’t he grow on you? 😀
You can get Bary-san PC backgrounds for free here!

The Ploughman’s Sandwich

I got my hands on some Ballymaloe Country Relish last weekend!
V brought this delicious Irish relish with her when she came to visit Tokyo with her family all the way from her kitchen in Kobe. Yes, that’s right, it’s homemade!
I actually had to ask V how to use this relish because I’ve never really tried relish before. She told me it went well in a Ploughman’s Sandwich. So naturally, my next question was, what exactly is a Ploughman’s Sandwich?
V was nice enough to explain what kind of sandwich it was and then I went home and did what any respectable person would do. I googled it. And I found this really interesting website called All Sandwiches that actually had a recipe for a Ploughman’s Sandwich!
I’ve been making this sandwich to take to work lately. I love it.
(adapted from All Sandwiches)
Wholewheat bread
Sliced Tomato
Cheddar cheese
Lettuce and/or greens
Ballymaloe country relish
Spread mayo on both slices of bread.
Place a slice or slices of cheese on one.
Spread the ballymaloe country relish on top of the cheese.
If you really like relish, add on the other slice of bread, too.
Top with slices of tomato and lettuce/greens.
Put them together and enjoy!