Monday, June 30, 2008

Baikin Clothes

I saw the movie “The Magic Hour” (pronounced "Za Majikku Awaa") today. I even bought caramel popcorn (pickled-plum-with-something-green flavor was sold out), which came in a little bucket in a plastic bag. I guess to make sure you don’t spill? And then when you leave the theater you put your garbage neatly on a tray, which all gets taken care of by a theater employee. The popcorn was lightly flavored, and might as well not be labeled “caramel” given Garrett’s signature flavor. Anyway my outfit colors were purple, black and gray, inspired by none other than Baikinman, who I posted earlier. It's funny how I hated purple until very recently.

Pedometer Purchase

Jenni introduced me to this random Japanese girl’s blog. She appears to be Japanese, but writes all her posts in near-impeccable English. My hypothesis is that she’s studying at maybe Aoyama Gakuin in Shibuya to translate in the future, so the blog is her personal language exercise. A while back she wrote about how she got a pedometer and how she walks a lot around in Tokyo. Inspired, I bought a pedometer at Yodobashi Camera the other day. It counts how many steps I take, and apparently it also tells me how many kilocalories I burn as a result of my walking. I wanted it to record and confirm that I walk a lot more in Japan than in Chicago, and by how much. Also, it’s to replace the Pikachu pedometer I once had my freshman year of high school, which ended up on the CTA train tracks. The blame went to Vinh, who was borrowing it for some reason, but it turned out the person who actually caused it to end up on the tracks was none other than Nik. If I complain, I’ll look like the asshole, so let me leave it at this: Pedometer Pikachu lived a fulfilling life and died a brave, noble death.

Anyway, I walk a lot—I usually exceed 10,000 steps, which may sound like nonsense to most people who never even think about how many steps they take in a day. But the other day, I surpassed 20,000 steps, and my feet died. But it turns out meandering doesn’t burn many calories, especially if you stop for a McFlurry and a dorayaki back to back and come home before dinner completely full :D

Friday, June 27, 2008

Caramel Corn Bath

You can enjoy Caramel Corn in bath form. They are adamant about not eating the bath salts or drinking the bath water mixed with the salts.

I'm glad I took this picture and not a picture of the salts mixed in. It looks like a pool of urine, basically, though it smells like milky caramel. Either you get used to the smell or it's not too overwhelming. I imagine the latter to be the case so as to reduce the temptation of consuming the bath water. Now I'm both afraid and curious about the chocolate bath salts I saw at the same store.


I wanted to take a picture of the famous crosswalk at Shibuya facing the Hachiko Statue. And then Jero had to get all up in my photo. Good timing!

Peter Rabbit in Japan

Generally speaking, Isezakicho is a kind of odd place. The first strange thing there that comes to mind is the Snake Store, where they sell strange medicines made from snakes. There's a sign on the door that says to only enter if you are making serious purchases; it's intimidating enough to make you reconsider entering to gawk and then pretending like you didn't find what you were looking for and leaving without saying anything. The other strange sighting I have yet to see but have heard about is our family priest roaming about, lonely and drunk. The other day, I saw this man with his rabbit on a leash. Naturally, people stare and comment on how "kawaii" it is, but it looked really anxious and displaced to me.

Fauchon in Japan

Apparently in the U.S. there are only four places where you can enjoy Fauchon delicacies. Three of them are not surprisngly in Manhattan, and the fourth one is surprisingly in Dallas, Texas. In Paris I was too intimidated and too poor to enjoy Fauchon products; plus I was incredibly satisfied with local bakeries' pastry choices anyway. But Fauchon in Japan? This is just plain destiny.

Internet and Hot Dogs

Marron & Sakura

I'm experiencing a sudden burst of internet availability FROM MY OWN LAPTOP at my uncle's. What a fine feeling, to return to my own bookmarks, to use Adium, to download profusely from Jpopsuki to save money so I don't waste lots of money on CDs at HMV, to randomly Google random things on Google.COM and not The list is both endless and frivolous.

Childhood Friend

I grew up with Anpanman (Sweet Bean Bread Man?) and his archnemesis, Baikinman (Germ/Mold Man?; above). Ironically, he appears to be advertising for vacuum cleaners at Yodobashi Camera.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Macaroon Dialogue

Man in Blue: What are these giant things blooming on this tree? I thought this was a blue flower tree.
Man in Green: These are the tastiest macaroons Kei has had so far in Japan, from Yoku Moku. Apparently, the size and textures are perfect and they all taste magnificent.
Man in Blue: They will crush us if they fall.
Man in Green: We will die a sweet death.
Man in Blue: Why are we floating?
Man in Green: Perhaps we are already dead and are in Macaroon Heaven.


It is obnoxiously smokey in this internet cafe, the employees are awkward, and I overpaid 100 yen for the time I will end up spending here. Grumblegrumblegrumble.

Chanel Mobile Art

Another day in Tokyo, another day of waiting in line. It's like I'm in Disneyland. Naomi accompanied me to see the Chanel Mobile Art exhibition at the Yoyogi park in Harajuku. Entry is free, but you have to reserve tickets for an exact date and time. They were sold out for the entire time the exhibit is here at Family Mart (convenience store), and apparently the line for this weekend's tickets at the box office started forming at 8AM so it was totally impossible to get any when we arrived at 11AM. We ended up waiting in line to enter the exhibit that day, which we were told was possible because there are often no-shows. But it was well well well worth the one and a half hour wait!

You enter through the cave-like part, and exit where the woman is standing by the slick glass doors. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the structure is basically a mobile art museum with Chanel-bag-related contributions from various artists. It moves from city to city—it started in Hong Kong, came here in May, will move on to New York in September, and then I think it goes to Paris. When you enter, you get an audio guide that helps you navigate the building and the works of art. The woman’s voice who guides you sounds like the old lady at Margie’s—for those of you who don’t know her, she’s a crabby old lady who takes ice cream orders inefficiently and sounds like she’s been smoking since birth. Anyway, it was a cool interactive guide with nice music and direction. Before you leave, you get a gigantic, unstapled (wtf?) magazine that includes artist information, interviews with Karl Lagerfeld and Zaha Hadid, and other random cool stuff.

I should've checked to see if my camera has a panoramic option. I highly recommend seeing this exhibit if possible. Long live Uncle Karl!

Speaking of waiting in line for donuts...

On Wednesday I went to Shinjuku on a whim, and decided to pick up a box of donuts for Naomi et al on a whim. The wait totaled to about 30-40 minutes. My favorite part was that there was a donut guard (top right), who administered the line. I wonder how much he gets paid and if he gets stressed out. Like back at home, they give you a free donut while you wait in line (bottom left); it tasted the same. You can see them making the donuts, just like at the Krispy Kreme out in Rosemont (does it still exist?). I'm not sure if they discard the disfigured and failed ones that flip over and get sugar coating on the wrong side in Tokyo too.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pon de Awesome

Mister Donuts is so awesome. Their “Pon de Ring” donuts are soft and chewy, like donuts + mochi = Pon de Ring. It seems they’ve expanded their lineup to include green tea flavored Pon de Ring. To some extent, as gross as it is, I’m reminded of Nik’s cell phone picture he sent me of the results of his St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Sorry—I’m just telling it like it is. People here apparently line up for two hours for Krispy Kreme in Shinjuku; I hope Pon de Ring is as appreciated, even if there are no lines or morning specials on TV for them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Neighbor at Totsuka

I first saw this guy the day arrived in Japan, when I was walking from the Totsuka Bus Terminal to a different bus stop. But as of late, around 6PM or 7PM, I’ve been seeing him on my way home from the Totsuka train station. He always has that backpack with a keychain of Canada’s flag, and carries what looks like his dinner for that night. The last time I saw him he was walking along the exact same path I take, and he kept looking back, noticing that I was taking the same route too. To dodge suspicion, I took a less trodden route. Maybe he saw me taking photos so it was too late anyway?!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

French Macaroons in Japan

I am in macaroon heaven. They are everywhere--on accessories, in bakeries left and right. So far, Fauchon and Starbucks (above) have the best ones.

McDonald's Japan

Ebi Filet-O
(Filet-O Shrimp)

Chicken Filet-O
(Filet-O Chicken)
To be continued...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Yokohama Subway

I've had a couple of opportunities to use the subway train since arriving. When I went down to the platform the first time, I immediately noticed these barricade thingies, which slide open when the train arrives and its doors open. Being the big awkward American tourist that I can sometimes be, it took me about 24 hours to realize what their real purpose is--preventing suicides. Scary! I'm surprised I figured it out by myself.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The saddest cat in the world

Japan sans Internet

June updates! I'm in Japan but without Interwebs access. It is difficult, but (barely) bearable. I wrote up some posts on Word and prepared images, so I will copy and paste them. See below, as I plan to upload them next according to the date I wrote them. Bye for now!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tadaaki Wakamatsu Macaroon Necklace

Yesterday I went to Tokyo with Naomi to acquire my macaroon necklace. I found out about this necklace by way of the MoMA store, but at the astute advice of Mordecai, I researched the designer’s name, Tadaaki Wakamatsu, and found that he has a store, Q-Pot, the flagship of which lies hidden in Harajuku. I actually had my mom make an international call before I left to reserve one for me to ensure acquisition.

Without Naomi, I probably would’ve been wandering around for hours looking for the store, which is completely buried among residences and other unremarkable stores, behind the main street, sub-main streets, and sub-sub-main streets. I don’t know if they intend to be secretive so as to enhance exclusivity-ness, or if the rent is cheaper behind all the other stores. Their PVC items seemed significantly cheaper than the other non-PVC, probably special metal products, so I highly recommend the ice cream, banana + whip cream, and macaroon items. They had a lot of wisdom teeth designs, but they were expensive and I most certainly didn’t appreciate the reminder that I need to get mine removed at some point in the probably near future. Apparently there is a lot of similar jewelry for cheap everywhere, including DIY kits, but I went for the MoMA-approved macaroon necklace :D

And then today my grandma and I were out and about at the department stores of the Yokohama station. Many purchases were made, including these little expensive suckers! I got chocolate, peach, and passion fruit macaroons.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Umm... chyeah, not sure what happened here but I'll fix it later.

It has been a year and a half since I was last in Japan; it has been approximately seven years since I was last in Japan for two months straight. I haven’t had the leisure to spend a majority of a summer there due to things like “responsibilities” and “financial concerns” but I have jettisoned such worries and embraced extravagance. As per usual, one of my suitcases was almost filled entirely with stuff for my grandma—Jell-O, bagels, cream cheese, Cheetos, organic things from Whole Foods, dried fruit, nuts, JC Penny underwear, and so on.