The May Link Love

May is here!!!

Last month was a fabulous frenzy of pink petals and amazing weather (in my mind, beautiful days eliminated the stinky cold ones and now I don’t even remember them). I love spring.

This month is Golden Week in Japan! It’s a holiday combo of Showa Day, Constitution Memorial Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day. Last year, I was in Okinawa with my family during Golden Week but this year it’s just going to be me and my sisters, who are both in the greater Tokyo area. We’re having a sleepover and exploring a bit of Chiba together!

Holidays are great but travelling during this week can be incredibly stressful  at times because it is not only expensive but crowded wherever you go (especially transportation!). So this year we decided to skip the stress and do some relaxing locally. I think we’ll need this vacation to rejuvenate us enough to brave travelling back home during Obon, which is another intense holiday week in Japan.

Also, later this month I’ll be going to Kagoshima to see my best friend. We’re also taking a short trip together to Yakushima, which I’ve never been to, so I’m really looking forward to this!

Hope you’re all enjoying the holidays and/or spring days, too! x

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– Crossing my fingers this film comes to Japan.

– Nakizumo, who can cry the hardest?

– My love for avocado grows daily and this looks delicious.

The Oldest Living Things in the World are fascinating.

– Lately I am tempted to do this.

– We now have beautifully cut pattern seaweed in Japan!

The ABC Series By Hugo Yoshikawa

Have you seen these beautiful alphabet illustrations by Hugo Yoshikawa?

A French-Japanese illustrator based in London, his City ABC series features illustrations of famous monuments and buildings of a European city for each letter of the alphabet.

I’ve actually never been to Europe so there were some cities in the series that I wasn’t familiar with, like Jerez or Quimper. But it was definitely fun trying to guess the city from the illustrations. I even think it would be a great game to play at a dinner party (is that still a thing?).

These are few of the cities I’d love to visit one day. Can you guess where? x

The Weekend I Opened My Windows

Did you think sakura season was completely over?
Well, due to our love of sakura, we have many many types of cherry trees in Japan. Yaezakura (八重桜) is a cherry tree with blossoms of more than five petals and they tend to bloom a couple of weeks later than the most common Somei-yoshino.
I went to my local supermarket and happened to pass by this carpet of pink. So, of course, I had to stop and take a few photos. I love how full the Yaezakura blossoms are. They look beautiful with the green leaves, don’t you think?
This weekend was amazing, even though I didn’t do anything. I did a little cooking and a little tidying up. But I mostly spent the weekend working on my quilt stitching project that I have to finish very soon. Very mellow weekend.
But what made it amazing is the weather outside! I usually don’t open my windows this time of year due to all the pollen in the air, I couldn’t help myself. Well, I also checked the Japanese cedar pollen forecast and it said the amount in Tokyo was low. So I swept open all my windows and enjoyed the cool spring breeze inside my apartment. It felt great!
I hope you all had a fabulous spring weekend, too! x

I love the carpet of pink underneath my feet!

These guys (gods?) were showered with pink petals as well!

The Next Trip: Kagoshima

Guess where I’m headed next month!
Yakushima has been on my destination list since forever. In my head, it’s a lush mystical island. An island filled with thousand year old trees that have a million stories to tell. Oh and did I mention there’s tons of moss? I really love moss. 
 Growing up next to the woods, I’ve always appreciated those moments when you’re surrounded by nothing but trees that reach to the sky and all you hear around you is the sound of nature. The rustling of leaves, a bird here and there, the wind rushing through the path. I took it for granted back then but the state of tranquility at that moment is like none other.
So what better place is there to get back in touch with nature than Yakushima, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site? I can’t wait! 
 I’m also excited to see my best friend from high school, who lives in Kagoshima. We’ve been wanting to take a trip to Yakushima for years but it’s finally finally happening! We’ll only be in Yakushima for 2 days but we’re renting a car and plan on driving around and exploring the island one day and hiking in the forest the next. I’ll also be in Kagoshima city for a couple days, too. Whoop whoop!
If you have any suggestions or advice, I’d love to know! xx

The Afternoon at Granny Smith Apple Pie & Coffee

Did you know that ‘bestie‘ is now officially a word in the Oxford English Dictionary?

 I use it all the time and I know some people cringe over the word…but I like it! It’s so easy to say. Although that could just be my Japanesey side taking over. You know how we love to abbreviate everything! ;D

Well, I mentioned all of that to say…I went to eat pie with my bestie!

M loves apple pies something fierce so we decided to stop by Granny Smith Apple Pie & Coffee, a small cafe in Aoyama. And when I say small, there are literally only 4 tables-for-two and 1 table-for-four. But the store concept is take-out pie and coffee, so I guess they don’t need as many tables.

The pies all looked delicious! There were so many choices that it was hard to decided (see menu here). Very hard. But I had absolutely no problem deciding that we were just going to have to keep on coming back until I’ve tried every one of their pies. Every. Single. One.
I ended up ordering the Apple Cobbler (because you could only get it when you eat inside the cafe…I really AM Japanese. Ha) and a cappuccino. M got the Dutch Crumble and a latte. It was scrumptious and we had a great time chatting in the cafe, surrounded by the lovely fragrance of freshly baked pies in oven. I’m already pondering over what I’ll order next time I’m there!
Here are some photos:
My Apple Cobbler.
M’s Dutch Crumble
Isn’t my bestie gorgeous?
5-8-9 Minami Aoyama
Minato-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10am-9pm

The Standardized Metro Maps by Jug Cerovic

French Serbian architect Jug Cerovic has designed a standard metro map for 12 major cities, with a goal of make it easier for people to read, memorize and use the subway.
Outside of Japan, I’ve only taken public transportation in the US, South Korea, and Hong Kong. I think the subways of New York were the most confusing for me, mainly because there were no signs or timetable and the trains would randomly switch platforms on you. Or was that my imagination?
Looking at the Tokyo metro map, I’m not sure how much easier this is to read compared to the standard one we usually see in Tokyo. But that may be because I’m already familiar with the geography. I love seeing all the different designs the metro stations draw on each city though.
What do you think of all these metro maps?

(all metro maps via INAT)

The Weeping Cherry Tree

Have you noticed how I’m trying to mix different topics in between all my cherry blossom posts?
I didn’t want to overwhelm you with all this sakura spam. But it’s hard to hold back when you have houses like this in your neighborhood. A house that stands around a breathtaking weeping cherry tree that everyone stops to admire when walking past. (As they should!)
Don’t you adore the owners who decided to build their house around this cherry tree?

The Brooklyn Ribbon Fries in Minami Aoyama

I love all potatoes whether they be baked, mashed, or fried.
So when I passed by this food stall last year, I had to give it a try. The potatoes are cut all strung together like a ribbon, thus the name Brooklyn Ribbon Fries. These fries were a mixture of soft and crispy. So so delicious.
After the hanami picnic last weekend, my sisters and I stopped by 246 Common, the outdoor food court where the Brooklyn Ribbon Fries stall is located. We ordered sour cream and onion, which was a special flavor on their menu.
The best thing about these fries are that they make it after taking your order, so you are given a freshly fried batch. This means that you have to wait a little, but it’s worth it. Plus, it gives you a chance to take pictures of the stall or of your shoes (like we did) ;D
We got ours to go but it was gone by the time we reached the station. Yum!
Here are some photos:

246 Common
3-13 Minami-Aoyama
Minato-ku, Tokyo

The Afternoon Hanami Picnic at Yoyogi Park

What a perfect day for a picnic.

My baby sister N was staying with me for a week and my other sister Y also came down for the weekend, so we decided to have an early hanami picnic at Yoyogi Park after church last weekend. It was such a warm day and I cannot tell you how amazing it felt to sit under the sun and feel all that warmth. It was actually a bit early for the cherry blossoms but that didn’t even matter.

I brought my ridiculously bright and cheerful picnic rug and we ordered veggie burgers and rice krispies treats from my favorite little burger shop Arms. We also had oranges, thanks to my parents who live in the orange kingdom of Japan. Pretty much my favorite kind of picnic feast!

We bumped into an old friend and dragged him into our game of daifugo. Card games may be old school but it’s still a lot of fun. And you know what they say, playing cards can bring out one’s true inner-self. It’s so true. My sisters and I get quite competitive.

It was an afternoon full of laughs, although the card game did produce a few screams as well. We had a really great picnic and I’m hoping that this is just the beginning of many more to come!

Here are some photos: