Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Spending Christmas in Japan

Ahhhh I can’t believe it’s already Christmas!? December went by so quickly! Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas is celebrated a lot differently here than what I’m used to in Canada. Since Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, if Christmas lands on a weekday most of us end up spending it at work. Yay. ^^;

Due to the lack of turkey here, the “traditional” Japanese Christmas feast is fried chicken, and KFC has become a symbol of Christmas in Japan with many families ordering the special party buckets for their Christmas dinner. Christmas cake is also done a little differently here. A usual Christmas cake will be a white sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream. No pumpkin pie in sight.  

Some Christmas customs have made their way to Japan, such as gift giving, however it’s done a little differently here. You could say that Christmas in Japan is like another Valentine’s Day. Christmas is a time for couples here, not family like in the West. Christmas Eve is often spent with your boyfriend or girlfriend enjoying some of the beautiful light displays that you can find all over Japan throughout the winter season. Christmas presents are generally only given to your significant other, and not your friends or family. (Edit: My Japanese friend told me that many parents will give their child one Christmas present!) But children don't seem to buy any presents for their parents or relatives.

Wait, so you mean children in Japan don’t get to experience the awesomeness that is Christmas morning!? Well, technically, no. But Japanese New Year’s or “oshogatsu” is similar to a Western Christmas. During oshogatsu families get together, enjoy a large feast, exchange greeting cards, and children are given large amounts of money from their relatives in little envelopes (this is known as otoshidama). So don’t worry, Japanese children also have their own special holiday to look forward to ^^

Hope you guys are enjoying your winter holidays! <3

Friday, July 25, 2014

Preparing for Grad in Japan - Choosing a Kimono :D

After 10 or so years of university, several switches of my major, and LOTS of part time jobs to pay it all off, I'm finally graduating!!! The thought of never having to go back to university is such a relief, you have no idea. I'm not the type that enjoys sitting in the classroom, so I am SO excited to be free from that and have all of my time available to be put into other things :) But I'll talk more about that later...

Today I went to the kimono shop to choose what I will be wearing to my graduation ceremony! In general girls will wear something called hakama for graduation. It looks something like this:

I'm not really a fan of the hakama look, so I chose to rent a furisode instead. Furisode are long sleeved kimonos, the most formal style of kimono worn by unmarried women. Because furisode are generally very expensive, it is common to rent one instead of purchasing it.

I was lucky and got a great deal because I had done some modelling for this kimono shop last year :) They have so many colours and patterns to choose from, it was so much  fun!

I'm pretty sure these ones pictured here are for males. Pretty colourful right? :D

In this cupboard were tons of different furisode to choose from. When I modelled for this store last year I wore a white furisode and also a purple one. I just loooooved the look of the purple one but unfortunately it was being rented out so I had to choose something else.

Ogawa-san (the owner of the store) suggested that I try a black and purple combination. (Um YES. My 2 favourite colours... I like how she thinks!)

She pulled out 2 different furisode to try.

The first one was black with a pink/purple cherry blossom pattern, which is very commonly seen. I liked how it looked, and was happy with the colouring, but it didn't really stand out to me. I guess it felt too ordinary.

The second one, however, was gorgeous!!! I had never seen this pattern on a kimono before and I just fell in love with it. These flowers are fuji, I think they are called wisteria in English :)

Not only was the pattern amazing, but the colours were all pastel-y and gorgeous and just omgggg *_* Love at first sight. I couldn't have asked for anything more perfect!

It's hard to tell in the photo but it has a nice gold sparkle to it as well.

Now that I had my furisode picked, it was time to choose the obi (belt) and accessories.  I went for something super colourful! Love itttttt.

So excited to wear this to the ceremony, stay tuned for a video! <3 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spring Cycling in Tokyo

The weather has been so nice recently, and I really want to get outside (and get more exercise) so I decided to get a new bike! I used to mountain bike when I lived in Northern Japan, but since moving to Tokyo I've only been riding a "mama chari" which translates as "mom's bike" haha. Mama chari are basically just the basic, lame bike that most people ride around Japan. They're cheap and usually have a nice sized basket which is great for grocery shopping. 

Typical mama chari

But this time I wanted something that would be good for long distance travelling, so I went for a hybrid bike. Hybrid bikes are a cross between a road bike, touring bike and a mountain bike, so they seemed to be a good choice for riding around in the city :) 

There are so many beautiful sights to be seen around Tokyo! I can't wait to try it out! Especially looking forward to riding in Odaiba. The ocean view there is just gorgeous~!! I'm thinking that Kichijoji would also be a pretty cool place to ride around in. I've been spending a lot of free time there recently and it's just beautiful

Sunset in Odaiba

Inogashira Park in Kichijoji

Since I'm planning on taking some long trips around the city, I needed something that's both comfortable and durable. But of course I want one that looks cool too!! I tried to keep my budget around the 50,000 yen range (approx $500CAD). After a long 2 days on the internet searching for the perfect bike, I narrowed it down to these two: 

Louis Garneau vs Bianchi

I asked for opinions on Twitter and nearly everyone said to go with the Bianchi, so that's what I did! I agree. I like the sleek style and I think having the suspension is a good idea. Thanks for the input everyone! :) 

Bianchi Cielo 2014 - 55,080yen

It doesn't come with pedals so I have to order those separately. I went with these simple white ones. I'll probably switch the tires to all white ones later on >:)

Grunge pedals - 1,980yen

It should arrive this week!! Can't wait~ I'm thinking about buying a little camera to attach to it so I can make cycling videos, wouldn't that be cool? :)

If you know of any cool cycling spots around Tokyo, please let me know!