The November Link Love

Hello November!!!
It’s so chilly in Tokyo now! All the more so because I just got back from Singapore, which was very much the humid-town I heard it would be.
I flew in to Tokyo yesterday morning and went straight to work after a quick shower at the airport. Then after work I dashed to a nomikai, dragging my luggage with me, before finally getting home around midnight. I was deep in sleep before I could even think it’s good to be home!
Well, I can’t wait to share my Melbourne and Singapore trip with you. I’m hoping this month will be a slow and relaxing one. All I want to do is wear sweaters, drink lattes, and read a good book.
It’s another three day weekend here in Tokyo so I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend! xx

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– What do you usually eat for breakfast?

How to cook fall vegetables. Yum.

– Someone has taken our beloved nabe dish to a whole new level.

Wes Anderson Palettes…need I say more?

– Beautiful photos of cities with a twist.

Snarky Puppy is now in my life.

The Kurushima Straight Boat Tour

I went on my first Kurushima Straight (来島海峡) boat tour this summer!
My parents and my sister drove out to Oshima Island (大島), which is the first exit off Shimanami Kaido (しまなみ海道) from Imabari (今治), to take a boat tour of the Kurushima Straight tidal currents. Kurushima Straight is said to have one of the three most rapid currents in Japan, along with Kanmon Straight (関門海峡) and Naruto Straight (鳴門海峡). I’ve never been to either of them so I couldn’t really compare…but the boat ride was fun!
As Kurushima Straight is located in the middle of Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海) and leads to both Kyushu and Kansai areas, it is considered an important international route for many ships and vessels. But in the olden days, it was also considered a very difficult place to navigate, due to the narrow routes and the unpredictable rapid currents. The tour guide mentioned that the speed of the current whirlpools at times exceeded 10 knots (not that I know what that means…I’m guessing very fast).
The boat tour took us under Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge (来島海峡大橋), which is part of Shimanami Kaido, and towards the Kurushima Straight tidal currents. We also navigated around islands such as Kojima (小島) and Kurushima (来島), before going by Hashihama Port (波止浜港) to see various ships that are docked there.
I had a great time on the tour, especially with the wind blowing in my hair. It felt great and the waves and tidal currents made for a thrilling boat ride. If you’re ever in the area, I would definitely recommend this 40 minute boat tour to learn about the history and experience the tidal currents!
While we were on Oshima, we also stopped by the Imabari City Murakami Suigun Museum, which is all about the pirates that roamed and guarded the Seto Inland Sea. We also stopped by a roadside station to try the local soft serve and mikan juice. So so good!
Who knew Oshima could be so much fun?
Here are some photos:
Our tickets for the Kurushima Straight tidal current boat tour.
Big smiles all around…even though we had to wear orange life jackets!
Some parts of the straight are so calm you’d never know…
The anchorage (left photo) is a 150,000 block of concrete that secures the bridge cables. 
Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge is the first bridge consisting of three successive suspension bridges in the world.
Everyone’s eyes were glued to the large current whirlpools.
Not only did we see the whirlpool but we felt the pull on the boat as well.
My first time seeing the bridge from underneath!
Many of the smaller islands still have a small community of people living there.
Hashihama Port is home to Imabari Shipbuilding, Japan’s largest ship building company.
The water looks so peaceful from here.
There were many smaller boats out and about as well.
We had a great time on the boat tour!
This was the boat that took us around the Kurushima Straight.
Mikan and lemon soft serve and ponkan juice! Yum!
My ticket to Imabari City Murakamisuigun Museum
Ships with the “上” flag were able to pass through the straight safely back in the day.
I’ve discovered that Imabari may be a small city but it is rich with history.
Bari-san and his lady dressed up to promote Imabari!

The Beautiful City Guides

I’ve been seeing these city guides everywhere…and I love it!
The CITI x 60 city guide series came out this summer and it introduces you to the city through the eyes of 60 local artists along topics such as art, design, and architecture.

What really caught my eye were the book covers. Not only are they beautiful, it can spread out to display a map of the city created by one of their artists! Each map is unique and I have a feeling I won’t be able to stop myself from collecting all the city guides, especially because I’ve yet to visit many of these cities. What do you think?

The first series covers London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Barcelona, and Berlin.


The Tiny Plane To Matsuyama

I got on the tiniest plane ever this summer.
Okay, I exaggerate a little…but not by much. It has definitely been a while since I’ve been on an airplane that has propellers and only one aisle, so I thought I’d write about it. Especially because I got great pictures, too!
Sitting by the boarding gate at Itami Airport, I saw a tiny plane land right outside my gate from the corner of my eye. I thought it was a cargo plane or something and didn’t even give it a thought. But then my flight to Matsuyama Airport was announced and once we passed the gate…we were guided outside.
Well, that doesn’t happen very often.
I’m not a nervous flyer at all but I’d be lying if I said my eyes weren’t glued to the propellers when we lifted off (not that I could do anything if they had stopped). I definitely felt the G’s, which was kind of fun. Also, because the airplane was cruising at a lower altitude, I had a great view of the Seto Inland Sea from above. All in all, I loved it!
Do you prefer larger airplanes? Or enjoy smaller ones?

Boarding our Bombardier DHC8-Q400 airplane!
Going up up up above the city of Osaka.
Onaruto Bridge (大鳴門橋) connects Awaji and Tokushima across the Naruto Straight.
A view of Seto Ohashi Bridge (瀬戸大橋), which goes from Okayama and Kagawa.
I’m almost positive this is the island of Nakajima (中島) near Matsuyama (松山).
We also had a super moon the day before…so pretty!
I love how the clouds look like cotton candy!
Enjoying the beautiful view while simultaneously checking for loose screws (just in case!).
It was too cloudy to see from below but we got a good view of the moon from here!
Isn’t this like an oil painting? Love the colors!
Ta-dah! We landed safely at Matsuyama Airport!
My sister’s airplane from Tokyo landed a little later and we both headed home to Imabari together!

The Rakuten Japan Open in Black and White


Have you ever been to a tennis tournament?

I remember the first time I ever saw a real tennis match was at the Japan Open Tennis Tournament in my third year of college. I only had a vague idea of what the rules were (keep inside the lines?) and knew of only the super famous players (Agassi and the other hairy guy).

But I wasn’t there to just watch though. I was there to work as part of the court management team at the tournament, which was even better! Our crew was responsible for keeping all the matches in all courts running smoothly. And in between delivering extra bananas and running after players to retrieve tournament towels (yes, it happens)…I even got to learn a thing or two about tennis!

So here I was again, another year at what is now Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Tournament. The local favorite, Kei Nishikori, who’s had an amazing year (or so they tell me), played against Canada’s Milos Raonic in the finals. It was a good game (or so they tell me). But like two years ago, Nishikori fought off the pressure and went on to win the tournament, to the delight of the home crowd! Whoop!

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos:

Happy for Kei-kun but even more happy I got to see everyone here again! x

The Halloween Day in Disneyland


Tokyo Disneyland is famous for introducing Halloween to Japan.

Truthfully, Halloween isn’t even in my list of top ten favorite holidays. I’m not sure if it’s because everything is all spooky, or because I’m just not that into costumes, or simply because I don’t like the color orange.

But my high school friends from Kyoto were in town and they wanted to go to Disneyland so I was game, as were my sisters and another high school friend. It was extra fun because my friend has a six-year-old son and there is nothing like experiencing the Disney magic with a real child (you know, not just the inner child in all of us).

It’s been years since I’ve braved Disneyland from the morning (especially on a holiday weekend!), so my sisters and I joined my friends from 3pm with the starlight passport. We did things that we usually wouldn’t do, like watch the Halloween parade or ride some of the smaller rides, and it made the day that much more interesting!

We stayed until the very end and when the park closed, we headed back to the station. My friend’s son, who had been up since 7am, still had enough energy to shout out “Tanoshi-katta! (That was fun!)

Mission accomplished! 😀

Did you know that Disneyland now has new passport tickets?
How cute is this couple? 😀
No trip to Disney is complete without popcorn! This was the curry flavor…yum!
The Happy Halloween Harvest parade was full of pumpkins, of course!
I now know why people watch parades…it gives them time to sit and rest! Group picture!
H is holding on to our 3D glasses for us…does this make him see 6D?
Getting ready to see Mickey’s PhilharMagic show!
Cinderella’s castle lit up in the night.
The Haunted Mansion was a lot more haunted than usual for Halloween.
And laugh, we did!
If you’re into Halloween, you can enjoy the decorations at Disneyland until October 31st!

The Other Typhoon Day in Kobe

I sort of forgot about my blog posts from summer break.
But this typhoon passing through Japan yet again (the wind is howling outside at the moment) reminded me that I still had photos from my trip to Kobe this summer, which was also during a typhoon! A couple of typhoons ago, to be exact.
One thing I love about large railway stations is that they are connected to various buildings and have underground passages that make it easy to get around and enjoy your day without getting drenched. Especially when there is a typhoon passing through. No umbrella can stand against those crazy typhoon winds so I don’t even try.
In Tokyo we have places like Shinjuku station, Tokyo station, and Shibuya station. The city of Kobe has Sannomiya Station. My best friend from high school (who I went to Yakushima with in May!) was in Kobe with her family so we decided to meet up at Sannomiya station that day. 
I checked out of my hotel and made my way to the station earlier in the morning because I knew that the typhoon was going to hit around noon. I got to look out the window as the rain and winds got stronger while waiting for my friend, who also got to the station early just in case the trains stopped.
We found a nice cafe and spent the morning chatting away and catching up with each other. Once we start talking, it’s hard to stop us girls! We barely noticed the craziness outside and before we knew it, the rain had stopped. So we took advantage of it and ventured outside to see a little more of Kobe, before I had to head to the airport.
Kobe is such a beautiful city. I love it. And although I was only there for two full days, I got to see my dearest friends and had an amazing time! I am already looking forward to the next time, preferably without a typhoon though! 😀
Here are some photos:
We found a cafe in one of the retail facilities. The risotto lunch set was delicious!
The streets of Kobe after the typhoon.
The flowers survived, as did the lovely flower planter.
Every time we are in Kobe together, we end up just sitting on this couch and talking!
A Jizo for retail prosperity sitting in the corner of a shopping street. Look at that smile!
Too soon it was time to head to the airport. So convenient that we can use Pasmo in Kobe now.
Headed to Itami Airport in Osaka on the Hankyu Kobe Line. So retro, I love it!
Mint Kobe 8F, 7-1-1 Kumoi-dori Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
兵庫県神戸市中央区雲井通7-1-1 ミント神戸8F
TEL: 078 200 4730
OPEN: 11:00am-11:00pm

The Nomikai Season

The end of September is the end of the fiscal half year in Japan.
For me, this has always been another nomikai season due to various company shuffles that occur. I can’t speak for everyone, but my company always says good bye with at least one nomikai. There are times I end up going to several different nomikai’s for the same person, just with a different group of people.
Then at the start of October, the second half of the fiscal year begins.
Yup, you guessed it. We also say hello with a nomikai. But I’m guessing many companies do this because, well, this is Japan. And also, because a lot of the izakaya and bars around town are full during this season.
I had a couple of weeks filled with various gatherings of good byes and hellos. Nomikai is the time when people cross over certain barriers and protocol and interact with people they wouldn’t usually speak to at work. Or they find something to discuss besides the usual work related topics. Or they just pat each other on the back and continue get each other stinkin’ drunk.
I don’t know why but I watch everyone all red in the face and smiling…and it warms my heart. I know, drunk salary men and women are not a pretty sight. But when you’ve been through thick and thin with them and know what kind of worries and troubles they carry, it’s just a nice feeling to know that they have this time to throw their arms around one another and just be merry.
Or maybe the umeshu is getting to me and I’m just being sentimental. x

The Handful of Fall Leaves

I love fall, especially when the leaves start to change colors!

I was especially loving it today on my way to work. I always walk along a river that has miles of cherry trees on both sides. You might think cherry tree leaves just turn brown. Well, they do. But they actually change to different shades of yellow, orange, and red…before quickly turning brown.

So this morning I started picking up the pretty ones…and before I knew it, I had a whole handful (with a few other types of leaves thrown in)!

I was also late for work. (If you saw a crazy woman with a handful of leaves running her butt off this morning in Shinjuku, that would be me.) But it was worth it because these leaves are so pretty!

What do you love about fall? x

The October Link Love

Heigh ho October is here!
How are you all doing? I am in a rut regarding blog posts…but on the other hand I’ve been quite busy with everyday life. Septermber was a blur of fun with high school friends (weddings are reunions these days) and one nomikai after another as another fiscal half-year comes to a close and company shuffles are announced.
But I am ready and excited for October because I am off to Australia at the end of the month! Yay! I haven’t been there since 2003, when I went to Brisbane for a few weeks. This time I am headed to Melbourne to attend my darling friend’s wedding. So so excited. I also get to stop by Singapore on my way back, which is also another country I’ve never been to!
Have you ever been to Melbourne or Singapore? I’d love any suggestions!
It is quite chilly in Tokyo already and I am going to have to dig out my sweaters and knits. But I do think that food always tastes better once we hit fall, something about the cold weather and warm comfort food. Oh, and don’t forget all the nashi (Japanese pear), kyoho (Japanese grapes), and kaki (Japanese persimmon)…my favorite fall fruits! Yum!
I hope you’re all enjoying all this fall deliciousness, too! xx

——————————————————-Link Love——————————————————-

– Starting off this month once again at this tennis tournament.

– This butternut queso looks amazing.

– Surprising facts from these maps.

#AskLena about feminism.

– David Parkinson’s love letter to Japan. (via)

– Sometimes I pretend I have a fire place with this on my computer screen.