Monday, October 20, 2014

Mondays

Lately I've been working a ridiculous amount, which even included the weekend. I feel like all I talk about is how much I work, but welcome to Tokyo life. Even though I've had to work nonstop, I've tried to infuse it with some fun, and it's amazing how a few hours at the bookstore, or shopping or sipping on coffee can make a difference.

I spent a few hours at T-Site in Daikanyama on Sunday and finally took home the Rose Bakery recipe book, which is filled with smoothies, salads, scones and tea cakes. Rose Bakery is one of my favourite cafes in Japan (I especially love the Marunouchi branch, located amongst the clothes at Comme des Garçons), and I can finally re-create some of the dishes- they're all so simple and tasty. I also paid an embarrassing amount for the winter issue of Porter, because Christy Turlington and I'm tired of depriving myself of (unaffordable) fashion prettily adorning glossy pages.

I also went to a wine course, at a cooking studio-meets-cafe near the Imperial Palace. The place is called Cook Coop Book, and they offer cooking lessons and wine classes in English. This particular class was about pairing wines with different foods, and even though things start to get a bit blurry after the third glass, I did learn some essential knowledge that I shall apply to my hostess skills, should I ever host a dinner party again (I promise I will, and I can't wait).

I watched a French moved called Casse-tête chinois, which is the sequel of L'Auberge Espagnole and Les Poupées russes, two movies I somehow grew up with, all about traveling and living abroad and coming of age. That last installment was just as entertaining, but it suddenly made me feel old, as I grew up closely to that generation and suddenly all the characters became um, old.

All I hope to do now is open this fashion magazine and also whip up a few recipes from my numerous cook books that tend to remain closed in favour of take-out sushi and meatball udon.

Bed time!

Let's get baking

Let's hope I have time to open it someday

Wine + foods

My new favourite place!

Japanese garden at New Otani Hotel

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Typhoons + Thanksgiving

I may have said that October has the best weather in Japan, but I retract that. I forgot that October is all about typhoons, then it gets really warm and humid, then suddenly it gets rainy and the temperatures dip to a chilly 13 degrees, like tonight. I'm wearing socks and a hoodie for the first time in several months. I actually love it, but I think November is best weather-wise.

It's been nonstop madness since I got back from Kyoto. Every time I escape Tokyo for a few days, I come back to out-of-control amounts of work and deadlines, but it's still worth it to go away. We were lucky this weekend was another holiday three-day one, with Monday being Physical Education Day in Japan, and Canadian Thanksgiving.

Canadian Thanksgiving is one of the holidays I miss the most, chiefly the food part (and family time of course). This year, we went over to some friends' house to watch a very very Canadian movie about hockey, so that felt really nice and nostalgic in a way, even though I don't closely follow hockey, but it's such an important part of our culture.

Canada suddenly feels so far away, even though I was just there a few months ago, being back in Tokyo just sucked me back into this crazy busy life, and sometimes I stop and try to remember that my visit back home wasn't a dream. I had promised myself I would live a more balanced life once I got back to Japan, I've been trying but I still have a lot to work on- it's just been a whirlwind.

As for Physical Education Day, I spent it not doing any P.E. and it was glorious, but I'm catching up on my laziness this week with some much-needed fitness sessions.

I've been liking staying in or just having quiet drinks and dinner at friends' homes, it somewhat balances out my insane schedule quite nicely, not to mention spending quality time with friends is at the top of my list. I haven't been sleeping much lately either, even though I go to bed early I can't fall asleep, which is a bit unusual for me. I think too much and I get too excited about many things, I guess it's good and nothing like worrying over life, which is a nice change.

Lately I've been mostly wearing everything from the Alexandre Plokhov collection, it's just so comfortable and it's like living in sweats all day long, minus the sloppiness. Yes, please.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Kyoto in October

We took a spontaneous trip to Kyoto over the weekend, and I realized the past few times I've been in Kyoto is was either scorching hot or bitter cold. Kyoto tends to go to both extremes of the thermometer, but this time it was just perfect, and we managed to avoid the typhoon.

Every time I'm in Kyoto I question my decision to live in Tokyo. Kyoto is much more mellow, less crowded, and even if there are so many tourists, it's such a great city. There is beauty everywhere you look, and you can cycle all across it and avoid trains and buses. Tokyo is the business and pop culture centre of Japan, so that's where I must be for the time being.

Our weekend was packed as usual, but I managed to spend some quality time with this girl and eat the best all-vegetable based dishes at this healthy version of an izakaya. I loved the vegetable tempura, grilled onion, soy-based tsukemen, and kiwi avocado smoothie.

We visited some shrines, and one of them was Kamigamo, a World Heritage site. We learned about how they build the wooden roofs and had a guided visit of the site, and wrote a wish on a piece of bark.  I also made sure to make some time for matcha by the river, and of course Shinshindo.

Kyoto makes me feel so happy and peaceful.



Kyoto station

Shinshindo keeps it real

All-green train

<3 td="">

on the outskirts of Kyoto

Kamigamo is a Shinto sanctuary

I loved this

Kyoto also has Omotesando Koffee

Shinkansen bento!

Sofia sparkling

It rained a tiny bit

standing on the tracks

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's October

I've been out and about a lot lately, whether it's running between meetings or catching up with friends on the weekend. The weather is still so warm, it's just as if summer is back and it's that awkward in-between phase when it's too hot to wear tights and boots but I still wear them because I just can't with summer fashion anymore (never liked it, never will). 

I like October, it's probably the best month in Japan, along with November. So much is happening in the next few months, and it's a great way to end this eventful and wonderful year. I've decided to volunteer more and join a nonprofit organization for women in Japan, which also holds monthly luncheons and talks. Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I think of my packed schedule, but I've decided to make space for what's important: friends and family, exercise, writing I enjoy, and things I actually want to do. I didn't really have this luxury to choose my first year or so in Tokyo, and finally life has somewhat settled and I'm able to try different activities and have quality time with friends.

Oh, Japan, it's been such an adventure- I can't believe I'll be celebrating my fifth anniversary here in mere weeks.

Happy birthday to my kitty, I miss her

Canada gets festive

Little Nap Coffee Stand in Yoyogi

October's Metro manner poster:
don't rock out.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mid-Week Holiday Week

September is great, mostly due to those random holidays, and the comfortable weather. It's still a tad too early for tights and sweaters, but that did not stop me from stocking up on warmer clothes. I literally bought every single item from the [Helmut Lang] Alexandre Plokhov x Uniqlo collection, I love those designer collaborations and they're so affordable. If you're in Japan or NYC, I highly recommend checking it out, although it's only available in select Uniqlo shops.

Besides wanting to just wear sweat pants and stay home, I ventured out to IKEA, which was the best way to spend a mid-week holiday. To be honest, I only go for the meatballs, but I picked up a few kitchen accessories and brightened up my tiny little apartment.

I haven't slept much at all this past week, lots of late nights and early mornings and lots lots going on. I just wish I could get myself in bed early, but when it's bedtime, I see it as free time (which I don't get much of during the week) so I just want to stay up, read magazines and watch TV re-runs. I found some reasonably priced international magazines at National Azabu supermarket in Hiroo, on the second floor. They have a pretty decent selection, along with books, and the magazines are much, much cheaper than at Tsutaya or Kinokuniya.



This is so much better than my French press!


Alexandre Plokhov x Uniqlo

Love that sweater dress, in black

IKEA feast

Friday, September 19, 2014

Train Posters + Friday

TGIF.

In celebration of ending yet another hectic week, check out those Odakyu line manner posters. They are by far my favourites:

don't rock out on the train

check out those pants

I successfully made it to the gym this week, and worked out so hard I couldn't walk or sit properly today- in a good way, of course. I also noticed I have actual arm muscles, which motivates me to keep up with it.

I had a long week with lots of deadlines but I treated myself to a latte- and a Daikanyama bookstore visit to wind down on Friday evening- that's how wild I get lately. I did some window shopping in Roppongi Hills and on Omotesando and I want so many things for autumn and winter, and trying to decide what is the best investment piece- a bag, shoes or a coat? Or all three…?



This sums up my week perfectly

First time i get a heart at sbux

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September Long Weekends

In September there is a holiday known as Silver Week, which covers a few different holidays over the span of a week. It's pretty much only two actual days off from work, but I welcome them with open arms, especially after summer ended- any extra holiday is good.

I was re-reading old entries about my first Silver Week in Japan, and I was oh-so-bored. Somehow the list I posted on my blog sounds quite fun, but I felt so lonely, isolated and trapped in Marugame at that time. Yet it's endearing to look back, it always seems better from a distance. You can read it here. I'm so thankful those days are over, but then again, I wouldn't be where I am today if it hadn't been for that part of my life. I easily get nostalgic!

This time around, my long weekend was filled with looming deadlines, picnics in the park, bubbly, cheese, a walk in Kichijoji and a surprise autumn festival, late summer fireworks and the gorgeous kimono gifted by Sophia's grandma. I also read another Amélie Nothomb, "Ni d'Ève ni d'Adam" (I believe the English title is "Tokyo Fiancee"). Loved the book so much, just like "Stupeur et Tremblements", her most famous novel. I was surprised to see a film trailer for "Tokyo Fiancee", and looking forward to watching it to see how it compares to the book. I can relate to a lot of Nothomb's writing and her experience living and working in Japan, and she has the ability of putting many of my feelings into words, but I also don't agree with many things the character (the author) does. I guess she was very young at the time and even though she had a great understanding of Japanese culture, many of her actions were quite odious.



Picnic essentials: lots of cheese and sparkling wine
The thought of the cost of the cheese makes me want to cry.

Fruit sandwiches, not sure how I feel about them

Festival in Kichijoji, with bus in the backdrop

Carrot cake from Rose Bakery, YUM

Fireworks and yukata

This sky.