August 31, 2012

Clothes post...

I have been unimaginative and simplistic during this unbearable heat.  I take two showers a day because it's so hot and I sweat so much even if I'm outside only a short while.  It doesn't matter how much water I drink, I find it hard to cool off and sometimes I still end up dehydrated.  If I have errands or whatnot, I try not to go outside until it's dark.  I want to ride and ride my bike but it's too hot to even step outside some days.  All this is meant to say that fashion lacks when I lack energy to put much effort into my appearance.

Nonetheless, I have a few simple outfits for you.

August 24th:

Mostly I wore this to cover up my heavily mosquito bitten legs.  (Stupid park!)  Top Goodwill, leggins Kohl's, bracelet Forever 21 and shoes Payless.

August 25th:

Dress & sweater Kohl's, shoes Payless.  You better believe I lost that sweater once I stepped outside.  Way too hot for it!

August 31st:

Pride volunteer t-shirt (altered by me), skirt Wal-Mart (dyed by me), and so happy my mom sent a box of boots!  Boots from Kohl's.

It's September 1st here in Japan.  I am so glad August is finally over because this means (hopefully) cooler temperatures are on the way and also all my favorite TV shows premiere in September.  I'm already feeling withdrawals after the upsetting mid-season finale of "Burn Notice."

I hope your September brings you cooler temps and fantastic new shows.  :)

August 25, 2012

A vegetarian foodie in Japan...

Hi all!

Just so you know I'm still eating guacamole and drinking milk tea like there's no tomorrow.  Thanks Japan.

I'm also maintaining my Culinary Goddess title.  ;)

So here are some things I whipped up lately:

So I bought a jar of marinated feta at the import market and I've just been eating it out of the jar.  Maybe that's gross to you but it's delicious!  Nevertheless, it seems a waste of the feta.  I needed to do something with it so I made this.  I am about to eat this entire plate.  Well that may be a bit of an exaggeration.  I love partying with myself.  Also, a note from one culinary expert (that's me), always, always seed your tomatoes.  The seed sacks do nothing for any recipe I've ever made and the tomatoes taste much better without them.

Perfect perfect recipe!  I love this and how delicious it is!  I couldn't find grape tomatoes at the store (I prefer these to cherry tomatoes) so I just left the tomatoes out.  Also, I cut the lemon juice and added rice vinegar instead since this is obviously an Asian style recipe.  A definite improvement.

I did not like this.  You are welcome to try it but I don't recommend it.  In fact, I am just angry that I wasted my white beans on this crap.

That's all for now.  I'm currently on the hunt for cilantro and spinach as my local (large) market has neither which is strange.  There's a grocery store by my friend's house that has nectarines (a rarity in Japan and incidentally my favorite fruit) so I may take the bike up there tonight after the sun goes down and look for my greens there while getting my nectarine fix.  Truth be told I am really missing fresh spinach right about now so if anyone knows where to get it, please let me know!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  My vacation is over soon so back to work I go.

August 23, 2012

A few outfits...

Today is my last weekday of vacation.  I still have the weekend though.  It's a bittersweet.  I am a little excited to go back to work but I am really enjoying the freedom of vacation. 

Today, I'm studying Japanese, drinking melon soda and eating an offensive amount of guacamole. 

Meanwhile, here are some clothes:


Top Daiei, tank H&M, shorts Goodwill and shoes Chiyoda.

Sunday for bike riding:

Top YesStyle, tank H&M, pants made by me and Converse from ABC Mart.


Outfit is meh but hair was fabulous.  Tops from Kohl's, shorts Goodwill and shoes Chiyoda.

Had dinner and did プリクラ with a friend:

I had been trying to blog once a day but I don't know if I can keep that up when I go back to work.  In addition, working all day leaves out the possibility to run around and do fun things all the time.

I hope everyone had a great week. 

August 22, 2012

Lipton Tea...

A couple of new tea flavors have graced the shelves of Japan these days.

First is Chamomile Citrus Tea:

It's quite tasty.  I've enjoyed it a couple times.  Still doesn't beat OG Milk Tea or 50/50.  Speaking of 50/50 they took it off the shelf at my local コンビニ so I've been buying it up everywhere I can.

Next is Roast Milk Tea:

It's part of the Premium Series.  It's weird.  If you get it on the right taste buds you can confuse yourself into believing it's chocolate milk.  If not, not so great.

The list:

Milk Tea
Maple Milk Tea
Lemon Tea
Peach Tea
Earl Grey Milk Tea
Green Apple Tea
50/50 Tea & Lemonade
Tropical Fruit Tea
Chamomile Citrus Tea
Roast Milk Tea

The weekend is upon us!  What to do?

Tower Hall Funabori...

After a particularly stressful day, I decided to visit a place I had been meaning to go to for some time.  Tower Hall Funabori is a tower that extends 105 meters into the sky and you can see much of Tokyo from it.

It's very easy to get there.  Just take the Toei Shinjuku line and get off at Funabori Station.  Take the north exit and you'll see it just to your right.  Did I mention it's free?

Statue on the ground floor:

Inside a lovely dress advertising a bridal show:

The views:

Small replica of the Tower Hall:

Inside the Tower Hall there is a movie theater, a coffee shop, a wedding chapel, a restaurant, a bar, a music shop & school and a beauty shop among other things.

If you'd like to go up a free tower, I definitely recommend Tower Hall Funabori.

P.S. - Welcome my new follower:


Thanks!  I hope you like it here.  :)

August 19, 2012

Off the beaten path: riding bikes...

This is a long post, sorry!  Feel free to skip to the pictures!  ;)

If you haven't heard my bicycle woes, then this is news to you.  For maybe a good month and a half, I have been scouring Craigslist for even the prospect of an inexpensive bike.  See the thing is, I don't NEED a bike.  I can get to work by walking.  The bike would be purely for recreational purposes and to explore things off the beaten path.  ;)

So my tale of woe begins.  I found many suitable bikes.  I found some in my price range (¥5000 - ¥7000).  I contacted more than 3 people but only 3 people I contacted responded to my e-mail.  The first person I spoke with offered to sell me her bike and then minutes later responded saying she was selling it to a friend instead.  One lady and I had a long conversation, decided on a day and time to meet but at the last minute she reneged on the deal claiming she didn't want to sell the bike for "personal reasons" which is weird because her post on Craigslist said it was a Sayonara Sale.  I still don't buy her story.  Anyway, I contacted another person who after speaking with her was obviously selling a stolen bike.  Oops, I didn't want to buy that.  Finally, disheartened and days later, I contacted Sam about his bike.  Also, leaving Japan, Sam was selling his for ¥5000, perfect.  I commissioned my friend and bodyguard, Melissa to go with me to Kichijōji to meet Sam and get my new bike.  Kichijōji is a very cool place and if you've never been there, I recommend that you go.  I need to go back and do some proper shopping.  (They have the largest Chiyoda I've seen!)  Anyway, my heart was pounding the whole way there.  I was afraid he'd back out at the last minute and I be devastated and without a bike still.  He had told me to meet him at the Baskin Robbins and we were there at 4PM sharp (the designated meeting time) and no Sam.  I waited nervously.  Finally Sam arrived with the bike.  A huge sigh of relief some light conversation later and she was mine!  He had even replaced the awfully uncomfortable standard Japanese bicycle seat with one much more cushy.  Unfortunately, it had a flat tire.  No worries though because I was about to begin the arduous process of transferring ownership from Sam to me. 

The first step (if you buy a bike off the internet) is to go to the nearest KOBAN which is a police box and if you've never seen one, it is practically a box (one or two small rooms and some police officers).  Here I had to explain to the police officers that I just purchased this bike and it was not stolen.  This was difficult with my limited Japanese and the police officer's limited English.  Reason #25921 I need to learn more Japanese.  However, after 4 police officers attempted to assist me, the main officer got on the phone to a very lovely sounding lady with perfect English and I explained the situation to her which she then explained to him.  Who knows how much later, I left with the required paperwork and I asked the officer where a bicycle shop was so I could complete the process.  He looked at a terribly distressed map, seemed equally distressed but then proceeded to escort us to the bicycle shop.  You heard me right.  I had a police escort to a bicycle shop.  The walk was about 5 minutes away from the station and he walked us right up into the shop.  Both Melissa and I thanked him immensely in Japanese and moved on to the next step.

The next step was the provide the shop owner with the required paperwork so he could transfer ownership of the bike from Sam to me.  Unfortunately, this was a little confusing because the police officer wrote the address of my company instead of my address.  After a little broken Japanese explanation he was able to write the correct address on my registration.  I paid ¥500 for the transfer of ownership and the other man in the shop aired up my flat and helped me adjust the seat.

Finally, freedom!

To finish our Kichijōji visit, Melissa and I shopped, did the obligatory プリクラ and had dinner at a lovely Italian place.

One thing I forgot to mention is that Kichijōji is approximately 16.8 miles from my house.  Even the police officer was shocked I planned on riding the bike that distance until I showed him my muscles.  I hope he thought that was funny.  ;)

(Freedom in the form of a bicycle)

To start I found a park and the a river which I followed for quite some time.  It was so nice and cool and I listened to the sounds of nature as I rode.

(The river path)

Not too long after, I stumbled onto a festival with lanterns and cotton candy.  I really wanted to go but my goal was home.

Not too long after, I reached sings of civilization where I replenished my cash and got a water.  Using the marvel that is modern technology, I used my iPhone map to get me on the right path.  Easy.  To be fair since I am familiar with the title of this blog, I did not at any time get horrifically lost.  I think the river path was not on the required directions but it was a nice ride nonetheless.  I might have veered off the beaten path any number of times but it was never a bad thing nor was it the wrong direction.

Random large torii gate:

Once I reached greater signs of civilization (Shinjuku) by way of seeing the unmistakable Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the map had me follow the train line I have taken so many times, only this time I was above ground.   At Shinkuku, I had to walk my bike from Shinjuku to Shinjuku-Sanchome because I couldn't pedal through the 18.5 million people on the streets.

Love in Shinjuku:

Another random torii gate at a shrine:

Along the way there were so many places I wanted to stop and take pictures of or stop and visit (saw some interesting bars and restaurants) but I was sweaty and disheveled from riding such a long way.  I dropped a number of f-bombs some directed at idiot people who refused to move out of my way almost causing me to crash and one at the car who went through a red light almost hitting me.

I rode past the hotel I stayed at in March in Higashi-Nihonbashi.  I reached the Sumida river and took a picture of the Sky Tree which didn't turn out.  :(

I rode through the back streets of Ryogoku.  I rode through places I have never seen because I was underground.  I rode by my Japanese class and across the bridge and all the way home.  I rode approximately 16.8 miles.

Today, I am hurting but not as much as I thought I would.  Yet I feel like a champ.  I have never ever ridden a bike 16.8 miles but I'm glad I did it.

I'm on vacation still and I have reserved today strictly for rest.  I am armed with AC, food, entertainment (time to catch up on my TV shows before the onslaught of September premieres) and most importantly Advil (god bless America's miracle drug).

If you actually read all this, I salute you.  Thank you for sharing in an important event in my life!  I think it is important (even though some might shrug it off) because I am not an athlete (never have been) and I don't usually partake in any form of extreme exercising.

I hope you have an enjoyable week!  I'm off to buy a proper lock for my bike!

August 18, 2012

A vegetarian foodie in Japan...

Maybe it's just me but it seems like it's getting easier to eat here.  Granted I have been spending more time cooking and less time going out but I think even the eating out is easier.  Although it really helps if you have a Japanese friend (or someone with you who is kind enough to ask if there is meat in something.  I need to learn this phrase:


Which means "Is there meat or fish in this?"  Because I think I told you before that Japanese people don't consider fish to be meat which makes for tricky dining sometimes.

Anyway, here are some of my dining adventures both at home and out!

Shared おにぎり, the 梅 was mine.  Isn't this the most beautiful おにぎり you ever seen?  I couldn't tell you the name of the place but I might be able to get back there.

Pasela Resorts is a big entertainment building.  They have darts, karaoke, food and booze.  Would you believe they also have the best vegetarian (taco) salad I've ever had in a restaurant in Japan?

Adventures in cooking!

This is the total amount of counter space in my apartment.

With that I made:


Some beautiful Insalata Caprese:

Obviously, I know how to make this but if you don't I found this funny explanation here.  Good for a laugh even if you already know how to make it.

My recipe for guacamole:

I really can't tell you how to make this.  I think everyone needs to have their own guacamole and salsa recipes.  I unfortunately cannot make my famous salsa as there are no chipotle peppers here or if there are, I've yet to find them.  By the way when I say your own guacamole recipe I don't mean open a package mix and pour it in avocados.  If you do that, I will punch you in the jeans.

Rachael Ray's:

A funny story about this recipe.  It calls for giardiniera which is spicy.  I bought something here that I thought was spicy but it was really just pickled mixed vegetables.  Here's what I did: I dumped some Tabasco (the Japanese love this by the way, it's at every restaurant) into the jar, shook it up and gave it a couple days.  Lo and behold giardiniera!

Have you ever had grape juice?  Silly question I know but it's made from concord grapes.  I can't speak for other parts of the US, but in Arizona I've never even see concord grapes and that means I've never tried them until now.  It's a grape juice party in my mouth!  Weird.  Anyway, this recipe doesn't call for concord grapes but that was all my local grocer had at the time.  It makes the salad unique but quite tasty.

The website picture is much prettier than mine but I live in Japan so I have better mayonnaise.

Adventures in dining continue as I stumbled onto a little Italian restaurant in Kinshicho.  They had a hefty menu which can sometimes be difficult to find in Japan.  Some places have menus a page long.  I've still yet to find a menu that rivals Cheesecake Factory.

I had some delicious gorgonzola pasta.  I seriously love the portion sizes in Japan.  They don't really have doggy bags need but they are not needed anyway.  The portion sizes are easy to finish and it's kind of considered rude not to finish all your food.  So short of licking the plate (which I might have done if I was home), I finished all this delicious pasta and even had room for desert:

This was dubbed American Cherry Cake because as my friend explained these are American cherries and not Japanese cherries which are much smaller.  For the record, I haven't seen cherries this big in Arizona so maybe they exist elsewhere in the US but I find Japanese cherries to be quite delicious.

Also, food related are UFO catchers.  Google that if you need to.  Anyway, do you need a GIGANTIC can of Pringles?  Head to your local arcade!

Hilarious Japan.

That's all the food for now.  Just a note, I find the majority of my recipes by scouring Pinterest since all my recipe books remain in America.  I don't actually pin the recipes because if I do that I will never make them.  I save them to a Bookmark folder and then they are easier for me to look through.

Don't tell anyone:

And last, I have a new follower:


Welcome and enjoy!

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

August 17, 2012

Green with envy...

I cannot speak for what's out in America but in Japan, fall and winter clothes have started to make their appearance at some of my favorite stores.  Long sleeves and heavy sweaters infest the front end displays.  It's a bit difficult to look at since it's still sweltering here.  One trend which isn't sweeping the shelves but closely tucked away with its brothers and sisters is the color green.  I am nuts about brilliant bright blues which I hardly see ever and even crazier about all shades of green.  So much so that I have neglected purchases in my signature color (pink) for all shades green.

Here are some of my recent purchases:

Both the sweater and the shorts came in pink but when it came down to it, I couldn't resist these lovely greens. 

Kelly Green Capris - Forever 21
Mint Green Nautical Shorts - Zara
Honeydew Green Sweater - Allamanda

In addition, I promised to not be so late with my clothes so here you go!

Tuesday (for a trip to Odaiba):

Still my favorite jeans from the Colleen Collection (if not of all time) originally from Target, shoes eBay Target brand, tank Wal-Mart, hummingbird jacket Forever 21.  Unfortunately, it was much much too hot for this outfit and I changed just after getting to Odaiba.  I often do that in Japan, incorrectly gauge the weather.  The problem is it's much windier and cooler in my town than it is in big city places.  I also still haven't got a handle on how awful the humidity makes things seem.

Wednesday (プリクラ):

I figured the shirt would be light enough (it's very thin) but, in fact, it was still too hot.  I did do better to wear the shorts this time.  Top Daiei, tank Forever 21 (XXI), shorts H&M and shoes Chiyoda.  I love these shorts but even more so since they were on clearance for ¥700.

Pretty much the best puri ever:

Friday (out with a friend):

Shirt 80s Tees, skirt Wal-Mart, shoes ???

Here's what the shirt says:

Mirror it if you need to.  And why?  Keith Richards donned this shirt for a Rolling Stones tour.  Too funny.  My shirt was slightly altered (by me) to make is less shirt like and more girly.  Also, I wanted to show off my tattoo which always gets lots of attention from the Japanese.  It was funny.  An Australian dude with the cutest Japanese girlfriend asked me if I was often mistaken for a Yakuza wife.  The answer to that would be no sir.

In other news, I didn't wear my glasses out last night which I used to do sometimes in America.  I received more attention last night than I ever have since I moved here.  I'm not saying it was the glasses but I was happy to be out and I think I felt a little confident.  I was just talking to anyone: boys, girls, foreign, Japanese.  I was also getting fanned by random Japanese men.  You heard that right.  Japan is the place for me.  I'm like Cleopatra here.  ;)  It was great!

I hope your weekend is starting out right.  One more week of vacation for me!

August 15, 2012


I haven't lived here very long, a little over two months but I want to share some very common misconceptions that many Japanese people have about foreigners.  I doubt this will stop the masses from doing this but it makes me feel better getting it out there publicly.

Common Misconceptions About Foreigners in Japan
  1. "You teach English right?" 

    I know that many foreigners come to Japan to teach with English schools like Nova or Aeon.  Others may come to be ALTs on the Jet Programme or through other agencies.  Regardless, they all have this in common: they teach the English language primarily to Japanese people either in elementary, junior high or high schools or in private offices.  The problem with these jobs is that the requirements for such a position are not very stringent.  Almost always they hire people with a college degree in any subject and they hire people with no formal training in teaching.  This is not such a negative thing because as one of my friends who was a former ALT described it to me he was simply a pronunciation guide.  He was there whenever the teacher needed something pronounced by a native speaker.  This requires no actual teaching.  Knowing what I know about these positions I never wanted to do this in Japan and it irritates me that people believe this is the only job foreigners can do in Japan.  (Note: Not only Japanese people have assumed this about me but other foreigners as well.)

  2. No Japanese

    Another common assumption about foreigners in Japan is that they speak no Japanese.  Granted I am not fluent in Japanese but I can speak some but I need all the practice I can get!  It bothers me when Japanese people (especially in areas heavily populated with tourists) assume I speak no Japanese and skip right to the English.  A friend of mine told me an easy way to combat this is to answer them in Japanese which I do.  You cannot believe how many times I've heard "Oh you speak Japanese!"  Hey, you're in a foreign country; speak the language!

  3. Tourists

    Many people believe I am a tourist just because I am a foreigner.  I don't look like a tourist.  Trust me they are very easy to spot: large backpacks, large cameras around their necks, confused looks (but even I get those) and maps.  Japanese people are constantly surprised when I say 私は東京に住んでいます。I actually say my specific district and drop the 私は but you get the idea.  I don't know why this misconception exists and I wish I could give you more insight into this.  It's weird even after I've said I live here some people are still surprised and ask me how long I’ll be visiting Japan.
I hope this post doesn't offend anyone as that was not my intention.  After all, isn't a blog just simply a catalogue of experiences.  Well, these are mine.

August 14, 2012

Oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh Odaiba...

On a whim (and I can do that since it's my vacation) I decided that I hadn't been to my fair Odaiba in a long time (since 2009, I think).  This trip, my primary purpose for the visit was to see the gigantic Mobile Suit Gundam statue in Diver City which is (surprisingly) one thing in Tokyo I've never seen.

Me before heading out:

For those who don't know Odaiba is an artificial or man-made island in Tokyo Bay.  To get there you have to get to the ゆりかもめ line which is a private above ground rail and from my place it is a little under an hour travel time.  You can also get to Odaiba via a Sumida ferry but it is more expensive.  To get there you have to cross Rainbow Bridge which sadly I've never seen at night.  Perhaps that's next on my list.

Once in Odaiba, I noticed there was some interesting kind of festival going on.  Fuji TV is holding it and there is a 50 foot tall statue of Princess Shirahoshi from the popular anime "One Piece."  Turns out she is a slide for kids.  We didn't go in the festival because that wasn't the primary purpose of the visit.

I've never seen "One Piece" but I'm nuts about the mermaid princess.  Why?  Because she's not only a mermaid but a GIGANTIC mermaid bedecked in pink.  What's not to like?

Anyway, on to the GUNDAM!  The Mobile Suit Gundam statue stands 18 meters tall or 59 feet for my American readers.  It is AWESOME!

It stands in front of a Gundam theme park in front of the newly opened Diver City, a 7-story shopping plaza and in front of that stands hoards of people snapping pictures.

I thought I would stand in front of it to give you an idea of it's immense size.  I'm 5 feet 4 inches tall.

In addition to being a popular shopping and gaming area, Odaiba is also home to the very unique Fuji TV building:

Something you might not expect to see in Japan sits in Tokyo Bay with Rainbow Bridge (and Tokyo Tower) in the background, a smaller scale replica of The Statue of Liberty.

Erected to commemorate Japan's good relationship with France.

I hope you enjoyed this mini tour of Odaiba.  There's so much to see and do there that my post barely covers the tip of the iceberg.  If you're ever in my neck of the woods I'll be happy to take you there.