Archive for December, 2010

happy giftmas

God, this little girl is an ANGEL. Love Mana-chan.

Today, we had a full day of nail art, shopping, and Japanese style Christmas. After much hemming and hawing about the design, I ended up with:

Don’t worry, I’m already kicking myself that I didn’t get 900 crystals and sparkles and 3D ribbons stuck on. It was pretty much the same as getting a manicure, except you put your hands under UV light between each coat, and the end result is a bit more bulky. I think I’ll get another set once I get back from the states, but I can totally see this as being a horrible money drain.

After that, we finished most of our Christmas shopping, picked up a cake at Takano (pro-tip: buy it at Ikebukuro Tobu to avoid the lines!) and a pack of KFC chicken. KFC had the brilliant idea of convincing Japanese people that fried chicken is a perfect Christmas tradition, so the typical Japanese Christmas is spent with your significant other over a pack of chicken and strawberry cake. Who can complain about that? Last year Noji and I did chicken-and-cake before we left for California and enjoyed it a lot, so we did an encore this year.


After which we slept for a few hours, only to blearily wake up at 8:01pm– zombies! We watched a dissatisfying season finale to The Walking Dead, finished off the second half of the cake, and now we’re watching dance and Simpsons until it’s bed time because– gosh– tomorrow is work! I miss school when semesters ended on the 17th.


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sniff sniff

Last week I caught a terrible death-cold, and just as I was feeling better, promptly gave it to Noji. Oops.


Still, it’s the end of the year so there was work to be done, hair to be cut, and bounenkais to be had, so I fought through the mucus, the shortness of breath, the parched throat. At some point, I also realized I had forgotten to get a re-entry permit and had to make the horrible trip to Shinagawa immigration during rush-hour. Work has oscillated  from super busy to super hima lately and I still have three more days to slog through, but for two glorious weeks I will:

1) not listen to Bloomberg news

2) not convert any currencies

3) not write the words “Attached please find…”

Instead, it will be a blur of KFC’s Double Downs and Four Lokos and Bridezillas.  (Mom: I’m joking about the Four Lokos). I am most homesick right before I go home because thinking of all of the American goodies, food, family I’m going to experience is all the more close and real. At the same time, it’s a nice chance to remember the things I like about Japan (… karaoke?) when I’m away because it’s east to forget why I’m here. Noji’s preparing for our trip by playing hours of Grand Theft Auto.


Anyway, after waiting years, tomorrow I’m going to get biogel nails done for the first time. My transformation into a Japanese girl is nearly complete! I did nail art on regular polish last year for Christmas but now I am stepping into a completely new world of gaudy potential. The reason I haven’t done it before now is because it is expensive (depending on what you do it’s between 40-200 dollars) and it only lasts a few weeks before starting to look whack (please see the nails on the ladies at my post office for example of said whackness). They also theoretically need to be taken off by a professional (10-30 bucks, though sometimes free if you get another set) which is ripe for creating an endless loop of nail art goodness. It’s too easy for this to spiral into a sick addiction. In any case, I haven’t decided yet on a design– diagonal french with glitter line? holograms? reverse french with a double glitter line? double french tips? color gradation? glitter gradation? 3D FLOWERS?– so pardon me as I return to furiously googling nail art blogs for ideas.


ps Still not finished with Christmas shopping. *is pained* You’re all getting Giant Pocky.

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Yesterday we were watching Pussama and they had a game wherein everyone wore helmets with plants attached to them and move a flag post in a pen with two ostriches. If the ostriches ate the plants, they lost. I told  Noji, this is why people think Japan is weird. Next week they have to wear goggles with ostrich treats glued to them.

Our weekend in Yokohama with the fam was ages ago and I still haven’t written about it. I kept meaning to, but the weekend itself was so exhausting, combined with a busy few weeks at work, and I never got around to it, so here goes:

I went straight to Yokohama Chinatown after work to meet up with Noji, the rents, and gramma for dinner. Mom had chosen Heichinrou so we had fancy Chinese for the first night. It was good but not mindblowing– but then again we eat a lot of Oushou no Gyoza so who knows if our palates are too advanced and/or numbed with MSG. The family had bombed around Yokohama and Chinatown earlier in the day, so we went with them to their hotel, then walked five million miles to ours.

We live pretty much as far as you can be from Yokohama while still being in Tokyo, so the ‘rents kindly put us up for the two nights we were there so we didn’t have to do the 1+ hour ride to and from. The first night we stayed at a brand new business hotel in Kannai which was all very white and clean and had a big ol’ TV in a teensy tiny room. I took a bath without worrying about the water bill, and collapsed into bed at the same time as a small elementary school child.

On Saturday, we went Kamakura to look at some temples. I took a lot of pictures which are all up on Facebook here, but here are a few specifically:



The sculpture in the middle supposedly represents sokushinbutsu, who would turn themselves into living mummies.

Noji and Gramma!

Noji and Mom!

Japanese-style Christmas.

Kamakura is a nice area with a ton of temples (and beef stew??) but full of tourists. All the sidewalks are very narrow and everyone crowds onto them. All the food is wildly overpriced– 4 dollar sweet potato soft serve ice cream, anyone? We had soba on Komachidoori, which is the main shopping street in the area, and one bowl was 2000 yen! It felt a bit tourist trap-y at points, to be honest. Still, we got some delicious mitarashi dango (guys, I love dango), was warned by hand-drawn signs to beware of crepe-stealing eagles (????), and crammed ourselves on the tiny train to the Big Buddha.


We’d gone to see the Great Buddha in Nara over the summer, so it was only natural that we go to see the slightly smaller but still massive Buddha statue in Kamakura. We took a lot of pictures here and it was super crowded.


If you pay 2 bucks, you can go inside the back. We did not go in.


On our way out, we got more dango (yum), and rode back into Yokohama to find some dinner in Motomachi. We ended up at this tiny Italian place I think called El Ella, which was delicious but SLOW. Holy wow, the service was a mess, we were there for like two hours. Noji’s gramma (who is 83 and was probably completely exhausted by the first temple) and Noji’s dad ended up going back to the hotel in the middle of the meal. I was also really tired and I messed up my knee at some point (walking to the hotel in my work heels?) so I had intense, unrelenting pain in my left knee for most of the trip. We retreated back to our hotel (a different, ghettoer one from the first night) and I think I went to bed at 10:30pm out of sheer exhaustion. The hotel wasn’t as nice as the first night, but it did have one perk: free breakfast! I ate three bowls of Choco Rice Krispies and we met the family on Sunday morning for their last day in Kanagawa.


That’s where the trip started to kind of fall apart. We had no plans for Sunday– they’d already seen Yokohama, Chinatown, Motomachi, and Kamakura, and they weren’t leaving until 7pm on the shinkansen. I’ve only ever been to Yokohama once and Noji’s really only been there for work, so we had no suggestions. We went to the Red Brick Warehouse and Noji’s mom bought us some Mutekiro chocolate cakes— oh man, these were delicious. Literally bricks of chocolate brownie. I gave them to my work for omiyage but swiped one for me and Noji and instantly regretted not eating all 6 myself. After that, we had burgers at Kua Aina, did some shopping, had some omiyage-related drama, wandered to the station… now what?



We ended up going to the Ramen Museum in Shin Yokohama, where you can eat at a variety of different famous ramen joints in a totally 1950s-era Japan. I’m not so big on ramen, but I think Noji’s dad got a kick out of it, and we killed some time. Still, it was a few hours before they had to go. Got some omiyage (including a box of Tokyo Banana, which I ate by myself) care of Noji’s mom, who paid for everything God bless her, and went to the shinkansen platform with the idea that they would just ride the non-reserved seats on an earlier train. Technically this isn’t allowed so we just hung out with them for a bit while they decided what to do. Mom and Dad bought us shinkansen tickets from Yokohama to Tokyo ;_____; which was so kind and generous, because it’s literally only two stops but cut down on our travel time considerably. Came home around 7:30pm, dug into the Tokyo Banana snacks, watched The Walking Dead, and slept for 600 years.


All together, it was a fun but tiring trip. Noji’s gramma has a hard time getting around and I don’t think she’s even really into the whole temple thing either, but it was fun to have her around. She gave us each a hundred bucks, right in the middle of Doutor! Her husband was a police officer so she got a decent chunk of money when he passed away– though she sniffed that her cousin got a cool mil when her public servant husband retired. Damn, baller! We had some good meals (but always slow for some reason), got some yummy snacks to bring back, and now I can cross Kamakura off the list. Thanks, Nojima family!

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