Saturday, January 23, 2016

Japan: Takodanababa & Ramen 2012-06-28

Takodanababa is a neighbourhood of Tokyo with a bit of a more youthful vibe, catering primarily to high school and college aged kids. There are tons of affordable restaurants and an especially competitive ramen market in the area. Personally, I wasn't so much worried about the politics as the tastiness of a steaming hot bowl of noodle-y goodness. I happened upon a tiny ramenya off one of the many small, winding alleyways that fill Tokyo as a whole where ample personality bubbled out from not only the decor but my chef, all to be taken with a gratuitous grain of salt. If you can't get past the golden dong on the ticket machine, you may want to look elsewhere for your consumption. ;)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Japan: Ginza Pescaderia 2012-06-26

Ginza was a neighbourhood I visited relatively often due to it's being fairly close to my home base in Urayasu. A few stops on the Keiyo-Line and there I was, surrounded by glitz and glamour. This arrangement made it exceptionally simple when I needed to pop into the city for something after work. On this day, I went to the Apple store in Ginza and picked up an Iphone. My laptop had recently died and left me disconnected from the world and while I was able to eventually get a Mac desktop at an electronic's store in Urayasu, I was reminded just how disconnected I felt and decided to cave and reinvest in a cell-phone. I'd made it this long through my stint in Japan without a functional portable communications device and had rather enjoyed being untethered, but it was time...the old Blackberry I had been using to take photos was outdated and I was ready. After going through an extensive paperwork process and plunking down the yen for the phone upfront (no monthly payment plans were offered for foreigners with less than 2 years left on their visa) I walked into the streets of Tokyo with a shiny new iPhone 4s in hand. I still have the phone, but the cellular networks are/were differently configured between the countries and as far as I'm aware my Japanese iPhone isn't suitable for use with American cellular networks. Womp. I'm a Samsung girl these days.

New phone in hand and lust for tech fulfilled, it was now time to satisfy my physical hunger.
Wandering the streets of Ginza around 9pm, I found a small oyster bar on a busy alley off the main drag. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Japan: Shin-Okubo 2012-06-18

Shin-Okubo is Tokyo's epicentre for accessible Korean culture and food. Shortly upon stepping outside the station you'll find yourself in a vibrant and colourful neighbourhood full of restaurants, groceries, culture-stores plastered in images of the moment's most popular idols and lots of cosmetic shops. Korean cosmetics and skincare have been gaining in notoriety and for good reason!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Japan: Ginza Lunch 2012-06-18

After a few hours walking around Monzen Nakacho I had worked up a bit of an appetite. 
I hopped a train over to Ginza and quickly opted to try the Hot Tandori Chicken sandwich from Lotteria with an iced coffee and salad cup. The chicken had a nice spicy sauce on it that wasn't overpoweringly hot. The coffee was a lovely pick me up, but after my meal I happened upon a small pub that specialised in Belgian and craft brews from around the world so I popped in for an afternoon sip.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Japan: Monzen Nakacho 2012-06-18

As part of my work agreement, I was slated for an annual physical.
Our medical office was located in an office building attached to the train station, which made finding it pleasantly simple. One thing about Japan is that the address system and structure of the buildings can make finding specific businesses difficult, sometimes nearly impossible. Sometimes a world famous restaurant or infamous eatery could be tucked into a corner of a sub-basement of a major shopping centre.  This same set-up means that you're bound to find some truly wonderful hidden gems if you explore enough!
Since my physical was scheduled early in the morning, I had the rest of the day left to use as I wished. I spent some time wandering around Monzen Nakacho before moving on to other neighbourhoods. 
I found out later that one of my coworkers lived in the area! It seemed quite lovely from my time there, with lots of waterside walkways, parks and bridges as well as many reasonably priced restaurants. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 in review

2015 has come and gone! Rather than prattle on wistfully about the passage of time and the ephemeral nature of existence, let's focus on some of the highlights from the past year!

Antho and I were both pretty busy this year! Between our trip to Hollywood to perform at the Whiskey a Go-Go, and the subsequent backpacking across L.Athe Holi-festival of colour, Blinking Man bike ride downtown, our trip to San Francisco (01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23...), our multiple tie-dye sessions and all of our liquid light performances (01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16...) combined with my volunteering with Critical Care Comics, art gigs (01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06...), private commissions, tutoring and blogging it's been an enlightening and mostly enjoyable year full of learning, colourful creations, travel and nesting.

We moved into our adorable little townhouse around Valentine's Day and our lease is rapidly coming to an end... I had originally planned on moving to Korea (and Antho following!) for work, but due to the passing of my grandmother I've had to postpone as I attempt to get her affairs in order. I've started a GoFundMe campaign trying to raise funds to get her buried...if you can contribute anything, anything at all, I would be so grateful! It's awful knowing she's just sitting there, stuck somewhere in Florida, when her last wishes were to be buried next to the man she loved in Ohio and there's little to nothing I can do about it at this moment. That put a real damper on the end of the year for me, as I struggled with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness on top of mourning the loss of my last grandparent. Creating the campaign helped me to feel like I'm at least trying, so I've been slowly crawling out of the depths of my depression of late, but it hasn't always been easy. Antho lost his grandpa a month later which left us both rather down and out during the holidays...

As heartbreaking as it is to lose someone, it's an unfortunate consequence of getting to exist at all, isn't it? Normally I prefer to focus on all the good experiences we shared and the memories they've given us, which helps, but the lack of closure in this instance is especially difficult for me to deal with. Antho's grandpa is already having his service later this month while my grandma's is still unknown, unscheduled, despite her having departed over a month prior and it pains me. Our bodies aren't intended to last forever, especially once we've evacuated the premises... *sigh* every day that passes is another day she sits alone and lost.

Well, look at this.... After starting this post with a vow not to prattle on about life, the universe, and everything, here I am waxing philosophic. Oof. 

In the end, 2015 had a lot of good in it. There were some truly beautiful, exhilarating, eye-opening moments that I will be forever grateful for having the opportunity to participate. The year ended on a real downer note, but that doesn't mean the entire year was a bust. You have to try and take the good with the bad, right?

Hope your 2015 was a good one guys.
Much love.