The April Link Love

Hello April, it finally feels like spring!

How fabulous is it outside these days? I’ve finally started waking up earlier (thank you sunshine!), which means I can walk to work (no rush hour!) while admiring the cherry blossoms along the river. It doesn’t get much better than that.

March was full of ups and downs. Cold days, sunny days. Fun days with friends, sick days in bed. Sobbing sad days, fabulously confident days. Thankfully though, more ups than downs, which were mostly in my head anyways.

I’ve come to realize that I am not that great at thinking long-term. You know the whole what-do-you-want-to-do-with-your-life discussion? Thinking about it makes me go bat shit crazy at times. I know what I’d like to do next week…but ten years from now? Um, I could be anywhere doing a multitude of things. And I would probably be happy just to be alive and well. But sometimes that answer is just not enough for this tough world. Which brings in the bat shit craziness.

I’m hoping April will bring answers. Or at least some peace of mind. Until then, maybe you can tell me how you deal with things you can’t control in life…like the future?

Looking forward to more warm days outside under the sun! How about you? x

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

The man who collected maps.

– I could use this in my apartment.

Ghibli color palettes.

This article about the world of Miyazai Hayao by Priscilla Ahn.

– Hope the sky is clear for the eclipse on April 4th!

– Also, this eclipse song is genius (even though it’s for a past eclipse).

The Afternoon at the National Museum of Singapore

Museums are a great way to learn about a country’s history. 
Which is why I was looking forward to visiting the National Museum of Singapore, located just a short walk from Dhoby Ghaut station, right by Fort Canning (for those of you who know Singapore…I think it’s a park?).
I love how it says on their website that they are “Singapore’s oldest museum with the youngest and most innovative soul,” because it’s true. The museum was both historical and modern at the same time. Their design game was spot on.
R and I had a quick bite to eat before heading to see the exhibits. There was a photography gallery but what I was excited to see was the Singapura: 700 Years exhibit that had opened the day before, in celebration of Singapore’s 50 years of independence.
I knew that Japan had occupied Singapore for a time (well, I read it in a Japanese travel guide for Singapore and it said that it could still be a sticky subject so be humble…which is not bad advice at all). But other than that, I had no knowledge of their history so this unique exhibit allowed me to see how Singapore grew from a small village to the financial capital of Asia that it is now.
We had just gotten past the first couple of sections and R says to me, “This is so nice how peacefully this country has evolved,” referring to Ancient Singapore and the British Colonization that made Singapore an international port. Then we turned a corner to see the section on the Japanese occupation during WWII and he turns to me and says, “Oh.”
Yes, oh. Well, you know it’s never the greatest feeling seeing your country’s not-so-proud moments in the past. But…my thought is, the more you know about it, the less the chance of repeating it in the future. It’s more sensible not to shy away from the past. 
Looking through the visual gallery of scenes during the occupation, watching the short documentary video of interviews with the Singaporean people who lived through it, and reading the facts and data regarding the war…it gave me a sense of what those 3 years of suffering through Japanese occupation must have been like for the people of Singapore and it once again confirmed my belief that nothing good ever comes from war. 
The following sections were just as interesting, displaying photos of post-war Singapore and another section on how it led to an independent Singapore.
I think this exhibit was the perfect way to learn about Singapore’s history and get a feel of how the country has evolved. It had the perfect amount of information in each section, giving you just enough to be curious and want to learn more on your own. Not to mention how visually appealing all the displays were. I really loved this exhibition.
And if you’re really into it, you can always take the quiz at the very end that tests your knowledge of Singapore’s history!
Do you like learning the history of other countries? Do you go to museums?

(photo by R)

93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897
TEL: +65 6332 3659
HOURS: 10:00am-6:00pm
FEE: Exhibition fee for non-residents 6.00SGD

The Quote By Wu Hsin


I just stumbled upon this quote this morning and it was just what I needed today.

It’s from a book called “Aphorisms for Thirsty Fish” by Wu Hsin, the work of a mysterious Daoist in ancient China. No, I’ve never read his book (although I have now downloaded a sample on my kindle and put in on my find-in-a-bookstore list), but it was featured on my new favorite tumblr, The Highlights of My Day.

Being in that current season of change when winter turns to spring, with an old fiscal year ending and stepping into a new one, having to look back and set new goals, my head tends to be full of what-should-I-do’s and what-do-I-want’s. Not to mention the am-I-good-enough-for’s.

I’ve always been a worrier, especially when it comes to things out of my control. Which is ridiculous because those are the things that you can least prepare for by worrying. And when I look back on changes in my life, it always comes out of nowhere and I am actually quite adaptable (must be that nomad upbringing). So that’s even more reason not to worry.

But sometimes I do anyway.

Maybe I’m stubborn that way. I don’t know. But this quote has reminded me that yes, there are better things to think about than myself. So many things to be thankful for and to look forward to during this season of change.

So I think I’ll just empty my thoughts and just enjoy the beautiful spring day today!

What kind of thoughts are in your head lately? Are you a worrier?

This is why I walk to work…blooms everywhere! x

The Some No Komichi 2015 in Nakai

Local festivals are the best!

Which is why I was once again at Some No Komichi this year, celebrating the art of traditionally dyed fabric. (2013 post here.) This year I was scheduled to help out in the mornings so I invited my friend M to come out in the afternoon.

As this event showcases traditional kimono fabric, many people come wearing their own kimonos. Walking around Nakai during this event, you can almost imagine hat the old streets of Japan were like. I love it.

But for people who don’t have their own to wear, the vintage kimono and goods shop Gallery Sakura provided rentals for anyone who wanted to spend a day in a kimono. They also provided experts to help you wear the kimono (because it’s pretty hard putting it on your own). Isn’t that great?

M and I decided that we wanted in on this kimono day, so we made reservations. There were so many different patterns and colors of kimono that it took a while to choose!

I decided to go with a hakama, which I haven’t worn since my university graduation. It’s half kimono but with a skirt-like wrap around your waist. It basically means you can run while wearing it (which is almost impossible in a regular kimono). M chose a beautiful vintage kimono.

We had a great time walking along the River Gallery and doing a little shopping around the Street Gallery. And with so many people with cameras ready to take a photo of the event, we had no problem finding people to take photos of us. Most of them knew how to use my camera better than I ever could. Ha.

Despite the last day of rain, an estimate of over 12,000 people came to see Some No Komichi this year. It’s so exciting to watch this event grow each year and I’ve loved getting to know the local businesses and discovering new shops through this event. I’m already thinking about what kind of kimono I want to wear next year!

Have you been to Some No Komichi? Would you wear a kimono?

Looking forward to next year! x

The Hinamatsuri Display at Keio Plaza Hotel

What? Hinamatsuri is over?
Yes, well, you’re right. It was last week. But I’m posting this anyway because some parts of Japan celebrate Hinamatsuri according to the old calendar (which would really be April 21 this year, but as the day changes year to year, people usually just celebrate it a month later on April 3rd…I know, so confusing!).
Although Hinamatsuri is not an official you-don’t-have-to-go-to-work holiday, it’s still celebrated quite widely in Japan (and sometimes abroad), especially is you have girls in the family.
Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku brings out this beautiful display of Hina-dolls (雛人形) every year during this season. But what’s even more eye-catching (for me) is the thousands of hanging ornaments made from vintage kimono fabric surrounding the display. There are over 5,500 ornaments, each handmade with love and hope for a child’s happiness.
Did you celebrate Hinamatsuri? Or see Hina doll displays?
I think this daikon radish was my favorite ornament for some reason.
The emperor and empress.
This will be displayed until March 31st at Keio Plaza Hotel.

The Geological Maps of Volcanos in Japan

It’s impossible to live in Japan without bumping into a volcano or two.

There are currently 110 active volcanoes (volcanoes that have been active/still are active in the past 10,000 years) in Japan, of which 47 are under 24-hour surveillance. That doesn’t mean that they are all billowing ash and lava at the moment, of course. It just means that they have a higher chance of erupting in the near future.

Volcanoes tend to wreak havoc when they erupt. They disrupt the lives of the people in the surrounding area, sometimes stop air traffic, and bring up health issues. I still remember seeing the news of how everyone had to evacuate Miyake-jima when a volcano there erupted in 2000.

But there is a plus side to volcanoes as well, if you can believe it. These volcanoes are one of the reasons why Japan has such an abundance of fresh water. The volcanic ash is also known to be rich in minerals that help fertilize the soil. And of course, the amazing onsen experience would not be possible without volcanoes!

One more thing about volcanoes is that they make beautiful geological maps! (Yes, this is where I was heading all along!)

The maps are bright and colorful due to the many layers of different types of rock units on volcanoes. I’ve always loved geological maps. Even in high school, despite not learning a thing in my earth science class, I was drawn to the flow of shapes and colors in geological maps. If I had payed more attention, I may have realized how gorgeous the maps for volcanoes were! (Kids, studying IS important!)

Have you ever climbed a volcano? What do you think of these maps?

My personal favorite, this is Nasu-dake (那須岳), which is near the Alpaca farm and Onsen Shrine.
This is Miyake-jima (三宅島), where parts of the volcano are still off limits due to poisonous gas.
Mt. Aso (阿蘇山), famous for its caldera form, is a popular tourist spot in Kumamoto.
Mt. Kirishima (霧島山) is right by Sakura Sakura Onsen and the garden cafe in Kagoshima.
And this is the ever active Sakura-jima (桜島), which you can see from downtown Kagoshima.

(via Kateoplis)

The View From Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Sometimes I forget how massive Tokyo is.
Which is normal, I guess, when you’re in the midst of it all. The hustle and bustle of everyday life can make you forget a lot of things.
Like getting to this exhibition on architect Kenzo Tange that I’ve been wanting to go to. I’ve had my eye on this exhibition even before it started and I’ve yet to go. I have about two more weeks so I’m definitely going to squeeze it in somewhere this month.
But today, until I can get to the exhibition, I decided to take a short walk to one of his most recognized works in Shinjuku, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. It’s very popular among tourists because it has an observation deck on the 45th floor on each of its towers. And the great thing is, it’s absolutely free!
On a clear day, you’d be able to see Mt Fuji. But today it was a bit too cloudy. You have a better chance of seeing the majestic mountain in the winter. Right now with all the pollen, pollution and yellow sand flying around in the air, it makes it hard to see.
I personally just like looking over the city sometimes. 
It’s so huge. So many buildings as far as the eye can see. Kind of crazy. But sometimes I need this view. It’s good for me to get out of the office and look out into this vast land, jam-packed with buildings and people, to realize that it’s all about perspective.
Also, pictures of the city are always a plus! x