If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that Chris and I lived in Japan for 3 years. It was almost immediately after I graduated from college and I went from being a college student, to being a graduate, a wife and living in another country — all in a matter of months. To say that I was caught off guard would be an understatement. I was literally terrified. I hadn’t ever even traveled away from the east coast and I really didn’t know what was going to happen on the other side of the world. In retrospect, I’m so glad that I went because it shifted my view of life and the world really. I started working at a Japanese school teaching English as a Second Language and this experience exposed me to even more Japanese culture! I even made a few Japanese friends, which was really cool. I wanted to share some reasons you should take that long (did I say long) plane ride over to the far east. I think that you’d be surprised at how much you’ll like it.
The 100 Yen Store
Not to be confused with the dollar store here in the United States, the 100 Yen store has a massive mall of merchandise all for a dollar.(Give or take, depending on the exchange rate) The thing that makes this store amazing is that it is filled with quality merchandise. If you have an extra 1000 Yen ($10.00) to burn, this place is where you need to be! You can buy anything from mops, brooms, cleaning solutions, paper, pens, waste baskets and cute notebooks, all for a dollar. That list is in no way exhaustive, because this place had EVERYTHING!
Everything is Smaller
From the cars, to the restaurants, to the people — everything is smaller in Japan. If you visit a popular mom’s and pop’s restaurant, you most likely will have to wait in a line outside before you are seated. The restaurants are so small! One French inspired restaurant that Chris and I frequented called Marche’s was always packed and so was New Miyaki’s, Kurrumba’s….really everywhere! Also, the cars are super tiny. Seems like everyone had a smart car in Japan, but it was in proportion to the small roads and highways. Plus, things are cuter when they’re smaller.
I didn’t know what I was missing until we were long gone. The food is nothing short of amazing! Chris and I went out to eat several times a week back then. Most places give you the beef or chicken and allow you to cook it yourself. I also tried Kobe beef while I was over there. This is the most tender beef you will ever taste and is exclusive to Japan! I really feel like I’ve been spoiled because now when I eat at the Japanese restaurants here, I’m disappointed most of the time. I have found a few Japanese restaurants that taste amazing stateside. There was Tokyo One in Lorton, Va and Fujiya House in Fredericksburg, Va. Also check out my delicious Sesame Chicken Recipe that will give you a taste of Japan!
Japanese people have such a rich culture. They actually have traditions and customs — an authentic way of doing things. Everyone knows that no one wears their shoes in the house and that they usually have inside slippers for the house. Same thing with brooms, one for outside and one for inside. I was told by one of my Japanese friends that if your boss ask you out for drinks, you have no choice in the matter. It’s seen as disrespectful if you don’t have a beer with him/her. The architecture of the buildings is very distinctive, with layered levels, triangular roofs and striking colors. The geishas of Japan are another facet that I found to be fascinating. I fell in love with their gorgeous kimonos and jet black hair decorated with vibrant flowers. Living here also made Arthur Golden’s book “Memoirs of A Geisha,” come alive.
Soda Machines On Every Block!
This may not seem like an amazing thing to you, but there are soda machines right on the sidewalk every block or few blocks. I found it so comforting that I would never be thirsty for long on the streets of Japan! There was soda, juice, water, and tea!
One Country All Climates
We lived in Northern Japan, almost at the tip, in a place called Misawa. It snowed three fourths of the year. Being from the East Coast, this definitely took some getting used to. However, I went snowboarding at Appi Ski Resort to see what all the fuss was about. I wish I could tell you I had a great time but I started crying about halfway down the mountain. I had never had lessons and Chris thought it was a good idea to go with his friends anyway. It’s really funny now, but it wasn’t at the time. We also traveled to Tokyo and visited the Roppongi district, which is filled with clubs and bars. Okinawa is another beautiful place in Japan. It’s like Hawaii, but in Japan. Chris and I vacationed there and literally did not want to leave!
You Get To Be Nude In Public
One thing that was starkly different from our culture was the public onsens. These are indoor or outdoor hot springs that are said to have a healing effect when you soak in them. I loved going there because it made my skin and hair feel softer. There is one side for men and one for women. You go in with your basket that is filled with your soap, washcloth, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner. You bathe at these small sinks before you get in the super hot water! There is a sign that says you are not allowed in the springs until you have washed up from head to toe first. There was also a cooler bath that had a milky white color to it. It only cost 300 yen (3.00) to go. People would stare but I wasn’t really uncomfortable. There were people of all sizes there and they all seemed to be pretty comfortable in their birthday suits.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my adventures across the world and I hope that you take a trip to Japan one day to see it for yourself!
I’m an observative person and I usually don’t make purchases until I’ve had some time to weigh if it’s something that I really need and if it will benefit me or end up under my vanity collecting dust. So I’ve been browsing these internet highways and I’ve found some products that excite me and make me want to try them. I always have a short list running in my head, in case I’m out and spot them at Ulta or Sephora. I wonder if I’m the only careful purchaser. I wouldn’t say I was frugal, because I don’t mind paying for products that live up to their promises. Without further ado, let’s get into these beauty products that I can’t wait to try!
Honest Beauty: So Jessica Alba expanded the Honest brand to add an eco-friendly beauty line called Honest Beauty. You can buy individual products to clean and moisturize skin or try an array of makeup foundations, mascaras, blushes and lipsticks. I like that it’s also a subscription box, so you can have it delivered to your door every month and I love getting mail! (Who doesn’t) There’s a foundation color for diverse skin tones and that’s something else that scored points in my book. I’m all about products that are great for the environment and my health, so this product line is definitely attractive to me. You can also check out my Cherry Lip Scrub if you are looking for an all natural way to exfoliate and moisturize your lips. If I try any Honest Beauty products, I’ll be sure to update you with the deets!
Glossier: Firstly, I absolutely love the branding of Glossier. That alone has prompted me to visit the website a few times and look around. It’s a very youthful and fresh vibe. There are two products that I’m particularly keen on trying from the names and marketing alone. These are the Milky Jelly Cleanser and Coconut Balmdotcom. The Milky Jelly Cleanser can be used on dry or wet skin. It’s said to dissolve makeup or can be the beginning of your skincare routine. Kudos to the marketing folks because “milky jelly,” really pulled me in. The power of words, eh? Also the Coconut Balm is a universal skin salve that can be used anywhere on the body. The description says it “smells like the best parts of summer.” Again, amazing marketing that is pulling my millennial dollars out of my pocket.
So tell me, do you stalk products before buying? What really makes you attracted to a brand? For me it’s the product name, description and of course packaging.
Hi Everyone! I hope you are well! I’m glad it’s finally starting to warm up around my way. The weather here has been much cooler than usual for spring and it’s been putting a damper on my springtime mood. However, I would like to share a little sunshine with you today! Who wants donuts? I know I do! Every time I eat a donut, I say a prayer of thankfulness to myself because they’re just like little bites of heaven. Today I wanted to gift my lovely readers with 2 Free Donut Printables for you to use any way you like! I just love a great art print and pictures of donuts make us all smile on the inside. These would look great framed in a wall collage, at your studio, or keeping you company at your desk. You’d be surprised how small changes like putting up fun and colorful pictures can really change the mood of a space.
I hope you are enjoying this day and all the wonderful sunshine. Enjoy your Free Printables and Tweet me when you do put them up. I’d love to see how you style them!
Happiness. It’s a feeling that we all love. It’s grounded in being grateful for the life you have and everything that God has blessed you with. It’s when you have on your shades with the yellow tint, so even the bad things in life don’t seem so bad. Happiness can be elusive at times and no one is expected to be happy every hour of every day. That is not realistic and it’s not what this article is about. There is a time to mourn people, things and unfortunate circumstances. However, on a regular day to day basis, you want to feel good, right?! *James Brown yell* Check out these tips that will help you get — and stay — on the good foot!
Tune into your inner voice. Yes, we’re all constantly talking to ourselves whether we’re conscious of it or not. There is a record playing. What’s it saying? If you write down your thoughts, you can decipher what’s really bothering you. Is it true? Is it real or absurd? If you have an issue with negative thinking, writing out your feelings can be cathartic. It can help you make a more objective assessment of what’s going on in your life. As a creative, mind management is imperative because we tend to have minds that can run away with us. It’s great when you’re brainstorming ideas for a new project, product or writing an amazing suspense novel. But not so much when you’re obsessing about whether people are staring at you, judging you or playing back past conversations in your head. Make sure you take care of your mind in the same way you care for your body.
Adopt A Mantra
Our brains are like gardens and whatever we choose to plant will grow. Our brain doesn’t care if you plant constructive or destructive thoughts. It plants whatever you give it. It never questions our thoughts, but always takes us at our word. So when you’re overreacting by running from a small spider as if it’s an escaped tiger, your brain believes your thoughts are valid. So make sure to plant things that are going to serve you. Some great mantras are:
- I am worthy
- I am confident
- I am special
- I am talented
- I am successful
This is a very personal thing. Your mantra should be whatever makes you feel empowered and loved. You’ll know you have a good one because your mood will lift. We believe our own words more than anyone else’s, so make sure to say things that encourage self-love and acceptance.
Give Yourself A Break:
So your startup hasn’t been backed by a wealthy venture capitalist yet? You will survive, you will make it. Life is more about the journey than anything else. The people we meet, the relationships we build and just being thankful for how far we’ve come is something to be proud of. I’m not saying to abandon setting goals. I am saying to be grateful for exactly where you are and trust that you’ll get exactly where you need to be. Work, but work in peace and not angst, knowing that everything will fall into place as it always has.