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The title of my blog post is in reference to one of my favorite songs, “Tokyo I’m on My Way” by one of my all-time favorite bands/rock duo PUFFY (a.k.a. PUFFY AmiYumi, as they are known outside of Japan due to a copyright infringement lawsuit by rapper P. Diddy). Tomorrow I leave for my next trip to Japan. I can barely begin to describe the mixed feelings I have about going on this trip.

On one hand, I’m not excited at all to be going on a crammed guided tour with groups of other anonymous families. I am certainly not excited about visiting all of the overly clichéd tourist traps during the height of tourism season. Also, the one thing I’m the absolute & utterly least excited about is the scalding hot temperature of summer in Japan. If there’s one or two things I’ve learned throughout all of my travels to the country of Japan, it’s 1. to avoid vacationing during the hot summer months, & 2. avoid tourist traps at all costs. No matter what high-tech gadget or expensive clever outdoorwear you’ve brought with you, nothing & I mean nothing will prepare you for the sticky humidity & the unbearable heat resonating off of all the concrete Japan has to offer. You can try to eat all the shaved ice in Japan, but that won’t help you stay cool. You’ll only end up with cavities, a sloppy mess, & sticky fingers.

H O W E V E R . . .

On the OTHER hand, I am super excited to be going on this trip. This is the first time since the late 1980s that I’ve been able to go on a vacation with my extended family. It’s going to be so much fun to be traveling with my family, since we all get along so well. The idea of visiting Japan came from my 17-year old cousin, who is a huge fan of all things Japanese. She is the co-founder of the Japanese anime/manga club at her high school; she is also taking a Japanese language course at her high school. My cousin is turning into part Japanophile, part Weeaboo (but not in a vulgar or obnoxious way). So, clearly it would be a dream come true if my cousin could visit Japan.

As a reward for her exceptional academics & grades/marks in school, her parents planned a guided tour trip to Japan for their whole family. My mom heard about the trip & proceeded to draw her “I’m the oldest child & current matriarch of the family” card & invited herself on the trip. She also took it upon herself to invite her sister on the trip as well, to round out the group. I only stepped into the picture later on when my mom invited me to join the group on sort of a whim. My mom thought it would be a good idea to have a seasoned traveler of Japan to join their group, so I would be able to help them get around town, read signs, & teach them how to use all of Japan’s ultra-modern technology.

Well, there you have it…a roundup of our family roster. The five of us came together to support my amazing & wonderful cousin. I am so happy that we’ve remained close over the years, even while she struggles through her toughest years of teenagehood & finding her independence. I’ve been close to this little one ever since she was in diapers, & I’ve loved every minute of being her cousin. She is truly awe-inspiring & the most incredible young person I have ever known. I am so happy to be supporting my cousin through this trip, which will be her first experience & a huge milestone in her life. I can’t wait to look upon her face & watch her expressions as she learns new things about this country she loves so much & yet knows precious little about. Being able to explain things to her that she wouldn’t be able to otherwise learn from reading comic books & watching cartoons, I will gladly take the time to show her around & be her family, her friend, & her guide.

I am also incredibly happy to be traveling with my own mother. Every time my mom takes a big trip all on her own, I get so worried for her. I always want to make sure that she has packed everything she needs (& then some), & make sure she has not lost or forgotten anything when she leaves. I have welcomed with open arms the unofficial title of being my own mother’s sort of “lady in waiting”. I like to call myself her personal assistant. I am always right behind her, following her around, making sure she’s got everything taken care of down to the last letter. To be able to go on this trip with my mom will be so much fun…& a bit of relief for me, as I will be able to take care of her & make sure she has a great time.

So, now I’m off. This is where I end this blog post. I’m going to make sure I’ve got everything packed. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Black Treacle” by Arctic Monkeys

black treacle


Why am I writing this blog post when I should be at home packing? Oh my gawd, I am procrastinating like crazy! There are some times when I am so good at organizing & I can pack a suitcase in one hour or less. For example, when Jian goes on his business trips, I can pack his suitcase in approximately twenty minutes; it’s incredibly easy. However, when it comes to packing my own suitcase, I drag my feet until it becomes crunch time & I absolutely have to pack or else I will be stuffing clothes into a plastic bag right up to the last minute.

I’m excited to be going on another trip, but I am kind of dreading packing my suitcase. I don’t like the feeling of anxiety that I might forget something important, or anxiety that I am over packing for such a short trip. I think I am an efficient traveler. I try not to bring everything plus the kitchen sink (like my mom does), but there are some times when I feel like I’ve over packed & don’t use half of the stuff I’ve packed. There are other times when I feel like I’ve packed the wrong items & wished I had brought that other shirt/pants. I also get anxious about over packing my toiletries. Of course, I’d love to pack full-sized bottles of shampoo & body wash, but it’s just not practical, logical, or feasible. I always have this fear that I’ll run out of my favorite bath product while I’m on vacation, & I dislike buying new bottles when I should’ve just brought more of it from home. I know that hotels offer their own soaps & shampoos, but I like using my own brand from home. I’ve gotten so used to the scents & how my body has adjusted to the products.

It’s hard to be a female sometimes…with all of those skin care products, body washes, hair products, lotions, etc….when all guys have to bring is a bar of soap, toothbrush, shaving razor, & deodorant. If a guy wants to “do” his hair, he can throw on a hat. Girls always want to style their hair, even for wearing hats. Jian’s got one small dopp bag for all of his toiletries. I’ve got two large organizer bags/pouches to hold all of my toiletries. I try to scale down as much as possible, but even with my bare essentials, I can still fill up two toiletry pouches.

I should stop complaining now & just get to it. I’m one of those types of people who, when pressed for time, can hunker down & get the task done in one fell swoop. So, I’m going to just focus on my task & get my suitcase packed. I’m leaving for Los Angeles on Thursday with my mom, & for the first time without Jian. We’re leaving early to celebrate my aunt’s 69th birthday before our tour. From Los Angeles, our tour group will be flying to Tokyo on Saturday. Then, from Tokyo, we’re taking the Shinkansen to Kyoto. We’ll be traveling around between Kyoto, Biwako, Gion, Osaka, & Nara.

This will be my first trip to Japan without Jian since 2006. It feels very weird to be traveling without Jian for the first time in a long time, especially to our favorite Asian country. I am excited though to be showing my younger cousin around Japan for the first time. I’m so fortunate that my cousin & I are super close & we get along so well. Although she loves hanging out with her parents, I’m sure she will feel relieved to have someone closer to her age that she will get to hang out with, rather than just being around older adults all day. My cousin is a huge Japan-ophile, just like I once was when I was in my teenage years until my twenties. I’m betting that this trip will only make her want to visit Japan more, & probably sign up for a study abroad program at her school. Either way, it’s going to be great. I’m going to leave this blog post & pack. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Paul Revere” by Beastie Boys


fox hanky1a

“Okay. Say hello to my little friend.” – Tony Montana (Scarface circa 1983)

I was recently browsing the Internet, doing a little bit of online window shopping, looking for some last minute travel gear I might need for my upcoming trip to Japan. I like to shop at the online store MochiThings, which specialize in Korean-based stationery, gifts & home/lifestyle goods. Some of their items such as backpacks, luggage organizer pouches, & electronics carry cases can be on the pricier side. However, their stationery goods are often reasonably priced, & this website often holds discount sales events. I got extremely lucky when I saw this fox pattern handkerchief on their website. It just happened to be on the last day of their 15% off sale, & I knew I had to snatch this up immediately. I mean, hello! It’s a freaking handkerchief with foxes printed on it! Need I say more? Nopes (except, maybe they need to come out with a rabbit print handkerchief next).

Anyway, I nearly jumped out of my seat when I saw this handkerchief smack dab on the front of their homepage, under the “new items” category. Then, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw that this was part of the 15% off sale. I had to check my desk calendar (which I also bought on MochiThings) THREE times just to make sure I made the cut-off date for the sale. I grabbed this handkerchief right on the very last day of the sale, & with the discount, I was practically able to shave off the cost of the sales tax & reduce a tiny bit of the shipping cost. This handkerchief was already reasonably priced at $12USD. If I were to have bought this handkerchief at a department store, or some fancy Asian stationery store, it would have easily cost upwards of $18USD or more. So, I feel like I got a pretty good deal here.

When I first saw the handkerchief on the website, I was sort of skeptical about the fabric based on the description I read. The website listed the fabric as being 100% cotton, but based on the photos, I thought the fabric might feel a bit coarse or stiff like natural linen. I was so incredibly happy when my package arrived in the mail. When I felt the fabric texture for the first time, I was so incredibly happy. This weave of cotton material is just the right type of fabric I look for in a handkerchief. It is so soft & smooth, but also has a well-made structure, so when you iron the handkerchief, it will maintain a sturdy shape.

It is often very difficult for me to find a cotton handkerchief that is soft in texture. Ok, I admit that I am very picky when it comes to the types of handkerchiefs I like (almost to the point of being fussy/particular/critical). I find most cotton handkerchiefs to be too stiff & too coarse/rough in texture. It almost feels like natural linen. I like soft pliable textured cotton. That’s what I know from my early childhood, when my dad used to lend me his handkerchiefs to use. He would often buy packs of 6 or 12 soft white cotton handkerchiefs to keep in his trouser pockets. Every time I had a sniffle, he would lend me his handkerchief to wipe my nose. Eventually, he would just let me keep the handkerchiefs so I wouldn’t have to borrow them from him every time. That’s how I came into the habit of using handkerchiefs on my own.

This new handkerchief that I just got is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorites, not just because of the fabric & texture, but also because of the fox print. The fox graphics printed on this handkerchief is so perfect! It’s just the right balance of whimsy, charm & playfulness. What I love most about the fox print (other than the fact that it matches my blog’s name) is that the fox design itself is perfect. It’s sweet & cute without being too feminine, cartoonish, or childish. I am so in love! I can’t wait to bring this handkerchief to Japan & use it! It’s also going to make a great addition to my ever-growing handkerchief collection.

On that note, I’d like to end this blog post with a little update on the decorations on my backpack. I added a new pin to my backpack that says “Legit”. I don’t have any specific reason why I chose this pin. I guess I like this frequently-used pop culture word. I think it fits in well with my Victory V hand pin. I don’t think I’ll be adding much else to my backpack. I don’t want to over-clutter it, & most importantly, I don’t want to put too many decorations on my backpack only to break it, scratch it, or lose it. So, I think I will keep it simple like this. Cheers!

hellolulu pin1

Today’s song of the day:

“A Certain Romance” by Arctic Monkeys

a certain romance

 

First of all, I want to say that I’m so excited to be going on another vacation at the end of this month. Although I have proclaimed many times in the past that I’m a lover of traveling, I am getting a little burnt out from all of this back-&-forth flying & packing/unpacking. I am extremely appreciative & grateful that I am able to travel (regardless if it’s near or far), I’d just like to say that here & now. I love what I do, & I want to express my sincerest & humblest of gratitude & appreciation.

During this past long weekend, when most Americans were celebrating Fourth of July/Independence Day (also jokingly referred to as #Amexit on the Internet), Jian surprised me with an impromptu road trip to Los Angeles. He was somehow itching to go on a long drive, & he was throwing out random ideas like driving to Portland, Oregon or perhaps Las Vegas, Nevada. While I was all for driving to Portland, I didn’t want to spend too much time driving & not enough time exploring the city. So, I threw out the random idea of driving to Los Angeles. It’s far without being too far. Jian absolutely loved the idea, & we pretty much pulled this hair-brained idea out of our derrièrs at the absolute last minute.

Once we had our weekend mapped out, we pretty much had one goal in mind, well, actually two goals: 1. to revisit all of our favorite hang-out spots from our college days, & 2. to visit the California location of Lady M Café. Yes, our minds were pretty much blown away when we found out Lady M Café opened a location in Los Angeles. Our minds were blown even more (if that’s even possible) when we found out that this shop was only 5 blocks down the street from our hotel. Needless to say, being a huge cake lover, I made several trips to this shop, & I do not feel one bit guilty for eating so much cake.

What makes Lady M so special? Well, they specialize in various delicate cakes, but their absolute specialty & signature cake is the infamous Mille Crêpe Cake…a cake so delicate & delicious that I would do just about anything for a slice of this creamy crêpe heaven. 

What is Mille Crêpe cake? Well, it’s a French invention, but has been popularized around the world by the Japanese. It’s basically a stack of thin crêpe sheets with thin layers of soft cream in between the sheets of crêpes. These cakes, in more recent years, have expanded from the traditional vanilla flavor to other flavors (i.e. matcha, coconut, chocolate, etc.). My favorite flavor will always be the classic vanilla flavor.

lady m los angeles

This is a sample of the various cakes we bought for our friends. From Top Left: coconut crêpe flavor, Courrone du Chocolat, matcha crêpe flavor, strawberry Mille Feuille. Bottom Right: signature flavor.

Over the years, Jian & I have tried various forms of this cake, but we could never find anything as comparable to the first place we ever experienced this golden unicorn of cakes.

la voie crepe cake

Café la Voie in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo is where we first encountered this cake. It is so beautiful & delicious, I nearly burst into tears every time I eat Mille Crêpe cake at this café.

harbs choco crepe cake

HARBS is also another famous high-end cake shop in Tokyo that has their own crêpe cake recipe. I tried this chocolate explosion just to compare the flavor to the original. This one is very, very sweet, so proceed with caution if you’re not a sweets fan. This cake was also particularly dense, which I was not used to.

We’ve had various crêpe cakes from here to there & everywhere in between. Some of the the chain coffee shops in Tokyo have Mille Crêpe cakes that are also as delicious as the high-end cake shops. Chain shops like DoutorExcelsior (which are like the Starbucks & Peet’s equivalent in Japan) have some of the best inexpensive crêpe cakes.

Back in the States, I’ve had my fair share of ups & downs with this elusive cake. Many years ago, there was a Japanese restaurant that had opened in Japantown. The pastry chef that worked at that place specialized in Mille Crêpe cake. Jian & I were so ecstatic that there was finally a place near us where we could eat this cake again. Sadly, after 2 years this restaurant closed & the pastry chef moved on. 

There have been other American restaurants all over the city that have attempted to serve their version of the Mille Crêpe cake (eg. Café des Amis, Cockscomb, & Hog&Rocks), but somehow they weren’t able to quite grasp the light, airy, soft texture of the cake. Some of the cakes were just too dense, too hard, too sweet, too dry, &/or too over-the-top in avant grade flavor for such a delicate cake recipe. I just cannot wait until I go back to Japan at the end of this month & will be able to try the original cake recipe once again. Yessssss!
In other news, like I’ve said in my previous blog, I’ve decided to decorate my new backpack, & I’ve already begun the process. So far, I’ve only added two things to my backpack, a keychain & a pin, but I’m in love with the progress.

hellolulu chain

I chose this Rilakkuma bird keychain because it fit with the yellow color scheme of my backpack. Also, I liked how it was a small discreet size without being too tiny to notice.

hellolulu pink

I chose this Victory V hand emoji pin because I using this emoji often on all of my social media accounts. It’s my favorite emoji icon to use.

Well that’s just about all I have to say for now. I’m sorting through all of my things to pack for my next trip. Three weeks will really sneak up on you fast. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” by Frank Sinatra

youre nobody til somebody loves you

In anticipation for my next trip to Japan, I got myself a new backpack. Jian offered to lend me his backpack, but his is too masculine looking & large, & it would make me look like an odd shaped turtle waddling down the slim streets of Kyoto. Therefore, I opted to pick out my very own backpack. Why buy a backpack? Well, Jian & I have been using his backpack on our last several trips, & it is such an incredible convenience. I hate hauling around my over-sized & cumbersome purse when I’m on vacation, especially when I’m traveling to a hot weather destination. Also, I hate it when I constantly have to stop & adjust the strap(s) of my purse. Well, I could get myself a travel purse, but let’s face it. Those travel purses look like old lady bags (no offense to women of an older age…) & they’re just overall unattractive (& more expensive than the backpack I just got). A backpack is so much cooler looking, even though they still scream “Look at me! I’m a bloody bumbling tourist.

Originally, I had bought a backpack from the brand Fjällräven, but I had to return it because I had picked the wrong size. I accidentally got the child-sized bag instead of the adult size, & to my defense, the website was very confusing in their description. They don’t ever mention the dimensions (i.e. height, width, etc.) of the backpack, but instead they list how many ‘litres’ the bag can carry. Since I’m not familiar with the European metric system, obviously it was harder for me to figure out. I was going to exchange the backpack for a larger size, but decided it would just be easier to return everything & get something else for myself. I was a little bummed that this backpack didn’t work out for me. It had a super cute fox patch already on it, & you know how I am about foxes (LOVE THEM, hence the blog name.)

fjallraven

This is a sample of the first backpack I accidentally chose & the backpack next to it, was the one I was intending to get. (All photo credits belong to www.fjallraven.us)

So here is the backpack I ended up getting. It’s from a brand called hellolulu, & I think this backpack is sooo much cuter & more practical for my needs than the other bag I returned. I got this backpack from Flight 001, a travel store, during their backpack & luggage campaign. I still kept the mustard-ish yellow color, & I am so happy with what I got. Here is a proper description of my backpack as described from the website:

Make your everyday commute in the city a mini-adventure. Tate is here to declutter your journey by neatly and effortlessly organizing your belongings. The main zippered compartment, with magnetic closures, features an internal padded laptop sleeve, storage pockets, and pen slots. The exterior features two side slip pockets as well as a front zippered pocket with a key clip. The bag’s water-repellant coating allows you to take this bag anywhere to do anything, rain or shine.

Features and Benefits:

  • Polyester body with water-repellant & heavy duty UTX Duraflex buckles/accessories
  • Internal laptop compartment fits up to a 13″ laptop

Measurement: 11″ x 6.7″ x 16.1″

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Shall I give it a name?

hellolulu5

The straps are adjustable & very comfortable.

hellolulu2

This clip attaches to the ends of your shoulder strap to tuck them neatly out of the way.

hellolulu7

The front pocket is padded & large enough to fit an iPad sized tablet, & it even has a discreet carabiner for keys. The pocket on the side is roomy enough for large water bottles.

hellolulu3

There is an additional pocket on the other side as well.

hellolulu4

I love the green accents just on the zipper pulls to give the backpack a pop of color & a break from all that yellow.

hellolulu6

The opening of the main compartment has both a zipper closure & a magnetic closure for added security.

hellolulu1

There are FOUR additional pockets inside the main compartment. The largest pocket is also padded & able to hold up to a 13″ laptop.

I am so excited to be able to use this backpack in the future. This is going to be my new travel companion from now on, so I won’t have to only rely on Jian’s backpack, & I won’t have to schlepp around my bulky purse all the time. I’m thinking that this backpack would also be perfect to use on my annual Thanksgiving tradition of visiting Disneyland. My trip to Japan is still one month away, but I’m already itching to decorate this backpack with charm straps for the zippers & patches for the front. I might just post an update on how this backpack looks after I’ve decorated it. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Wave” by Antonio Carlos Jobim

wave by jobim

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