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1000 bottles of pop on the wall, 1000 bottles of pop! That’s basically Tokyo in a nutshell, at least in my 9 years of experience (cue Horio here). Japan is all about the newest fad, the latest little libation, and especially gentei nomimono (limited-edition drink). Well, gentei anything, really, but especially those liquids.

I don’t think that these drinks are necessarily limited-edition, but none of them existed when I was last in Japan a few years ago. And I may have left some aspects of Japanese culture behind, but apparently not this one. I was really excited to give them a try!  Continue Reading »

Tokyo welcomed me back with open arms.

It was virtually the same as I had left it. Most of my friends still lived there, most of the shops that I had loved were still there, even if some of them had changed locations. Most of all, the anime was still there.

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Well, I mean, I’m not! Your mileage may vary. Japanese and me are old friends, anyway.  The staff also spoke English pretty well, at least the times that I spoke to them in my native tongue, so there’s that!

I actually chose this title because the Park Hyatt Tokyo was the hotel that was used in the movie Lost in Translation. How cool is that? I love movie sites!

This trip marked the first time that I ever stayed in a hotel in Tokyo (I had never needed to when I had my own place!), and they didn’t disappoint in most fronts! I stayed at the Park Hyatt for the second portion of my trip, and the Disneyland hotel for the first (after a night at my friend Adrian’s). Since I’ll probably never stay here again, I had to document the experience with some photos!

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I’m making so many decisions back here to make life easier and better, and just overall more geared toward my true self, you know? But just bear with me, guys… right now, it’s picture time!

Tokyo Disneyland was cold. Coooooooold cold cold! I  moved away from Japan because of constant cold like this. It was/is really hard to live in such frigid temperatures when the houses are not insulated but that’s actually perfectly acceptable to most (crazy) people there so nothing changes. Every Fall, Winter, and Spring that I lived in Japan, I wanted to scream: “It doesn’t have to be this way!! Demand insulation! Don’t just go with the status quo when there is a solution!” But, it’s Japan, a place that is notoriously slow to change when it really matters. Heated toilet seats with bidet, sure. Right next to the squatty potties. Cold? Don’t heat the whole house, just make up a little table with a blanket attached and a heater underneath so that half of you doesn’t freeze as long as you’re sitting at the table. Yeah, “innovations” like insulation are probably a long way off from getting installed in many Japanese homes. Some of the newer, very expensive buildings have them, but that’s like saying that living in a comfortable home is reserved only for the 1%. (Not that Hawaii is any better as most homes don’t have a/c, and trust me, it’s brutal in the summer). Oops, I’m ranting. I was supposed to share beautiful pictures of Tokyo Disneyland!

Let’s go! Continue Reading »

I went to see Hidden Figures last night. I’ve been waiting for this movie since I first saw the trailer half a year ago, so even though it was at 10:10 and I am a definite early bird, I braved the night anyways.

It was really, really good! Not just the story itself, but how it made me think about uncomfortable things in ways that I sort of saw coming, but didn’t really. I knew what history was like, but I didn’t really know what it was like. At all. What I mean is, I didn’t live in the 50s and 60s, especially as a (brilliant) black woman, so no amount of research, reading, or movies could really make me understand what day-to-day life was like. The movie definitely made me sympathize, though, and you know it’s good when you feel just as frustrated by the inane obstacles placed in front of these brilliant women as they do.

The book is going right into my to-read list. It’s a good price on Amazon, but I’ll probably buy it at  my local B&N because it’s the only bookstore on Oahu and gosh darn it, it’s worth the extra dollar or two to keep brick&mortar here! Continue Reading »

Here’s something new… for me, at least! Thuy really wanted to stay in the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, in one of the character suites, and I tend to go with the flow, so we ended up in the Beauty and the Beast suite for two days!

No complaints here! Well, about the hotel itself, that is. It’s really, really nice, and I’ll let the pictures speak for m.

But first, a few things, dear Disney and Japan:
1) The front desk is on the second floor, so to check in and out, you have to either carry your luggage up a large, opulent flight of stairs or go quite a bit out of your way to get to an elevator. I know you think you’re worth it, but we notice those things.

2) Our suite was on the bottom floor. It overlooked the pool, so we were lucky that it was winter and the pool was closed. If it had been summer, though, it would have been both noisy, dangerous, and a LOT less private. As it was, I still felt exposed. Plus, there’s no view but the backside of some bushes. Fancy hotels should never have rooms, especially suites, on the first floor.

3) There were two restaurants and a cafe in the Disneyland hotel. Neither of the restaurants could accommodate vegans. I said it yesterday too, but Japan as a whole has virtually no concept at all of animal welfare or special diets (or the LGBT movement, for that matter). The most fancy restaurant in the hotel had a set menu, and none of the options were even vegetarian. When I asked if they could make something special, they said “absolutely not. We do not accommodate vegetarian diets.” Wow, okay. The waiter was very blunt, spoke plainly (which is quite rude in Japan, especially in the customer service industry), and just left an overall bad taste in my mouth. All I was asking for was something without parts of animals in it, and I was willing to pay for it. It’s not a hard thing to understand. The other restaurant, a large, expensive buffet, was a lot nicer and let me in to look at the options (but even the rice had seafood in it!). I would have literally been relegated to a few pieces of fruit, and that was all. Talk about slim pickings, and for a buffet that sets you back $50 to boot. Animal rights, what’re those? I’m being redundant, I know, but this issue is really important to me and Japan has NO CONCEPT AT ALL of any movement in the world beyond a trend or fad. Anyways, the cafe upstairs next to the front desk was amazing. They special-made me a veggie sandwich that blew my mind. They were very creative, and it was by far the best thing that I ate for my entire stay in Japan. So there’s that. Thank you, lovely cafe, and I recommend that everyone stops by there and eschews the other options. Wallets speak louder than words, especially in a consumer-driven society like Japan.

But the hotel and room itself? Heck yeah, it was very, very nice. Continue Reading »

Oh Japan. I miss you, and I don’t.

That’s for another post, though! This is all about Tokyo Disney Sea and my journey there this time. I’ve been there a handful of times, and written about it before, too! I was just getting the hang of my new camera (I still thought that the touchscreen was the best way to take photos, but I was SO wrong, and of taking photos in RAW. If you’ve known me for a long time, you might remember when I started to post photos of my walks in Arizona and my first arrivals in Japan in my old livejournal. Most of those photos are not online anymore because the server that I used isn’t around, but maybe I’ll dig some up for posterity later.

Anyways, I’ve never taken photography super-seriously (it’s a hobby for me and a way to share my life), but some of you know that a few months ago, I took a side job at a resort in Hawaii doing portrait photography. I mostly do editing and printing, but I take photos sometimes as well, and I decided that I really want to up my game. So I picked up a Nikon D5500 with the kit lens. I liked the red body and touchcreen, and it was decently priced, so even though the kit lens is nothing special, I am saving up for a better one and learning how to use Lightroom to get the effects that I want. I used to own a Pentax, but in an incident with Tofu (my youngest kitty), it met the floor HARD and shattered part of the body and my only good lens.  So, it was time for a new baby, and while I was interested in Pentax as well, this red one won my heart with its good looks. <3 I really have zero brand loyalty. Good cameras, come my way, whatever brand you are!

ANYWAYS, enough about that! Let’s enjoy a trip to Tokyo Disney Sea, the revised and expanded Winter 2017 edition!  Continue Reading »

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