Saturday, January 25, 2014

Life's Little Joys

1. Our office's new neighbor is a flower shop. During lunchtime last Tuesday, I asked how much the flowers were and I got a whole bunch for free The owner said she didn't wanna sell these lilies because they're not so fresh anymore and therefore would not last very long... but still... Hurray for free flowers!

2. I managed to cover a switch plate with washi tape.

3. I made sukiyaki last weekend using this recipe. I made some Cambodian green mango salad too.

raw egg for dipping the beef!

4. Our dog (a nine-year old black Labrador-Dalmatian mix) was sick last week. For a couple of days, he would not eat unless the food came straight from my hands and even then, he wouldn't eat as enthusiastically as he normally would. He barely moved around too. I brought him to the vet where they took some of his blood. The results returned with some elevated values but thankfully, the next day, our dog became his usual [energetic though mischievous] self again. I'm so relieved. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dreamed of the Beach

A few nights ago, I dreamed of the beach. I know it sounds odd with this sweater weather in Manila and all but I kinda wish I were in the beach right now. Rough sand, cool waters, warm sunlight and little swimsuits all sound enticing to me right now.

My last trip to the beach was June 2013, when Rachel (a friend from Texas whom I met during Summer Course 2012) visited Manila and we brought her to Nagsasa Cove in Zambales. It was my first time in Nagsasa too although I've been to the nearby Anawangin Cove a few years ago.

Summer Course 2012 mini-reunion!

We left Nagsasa Cove after lunch the next day and went to Talisayen Cove.

Rachel had to have this photo taken haha.

We also went to Capones island to go up the lighthouse. 

That trip left me great memories and terrible sunburns on my nape and arms. I don't want to remember the sunburn part, though. Haha.

a windmill (for water pumping) in Pundaquit

Oh man, this reminds me that I haven't worked out for a week already. I should be preparing myself for summer!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

One Off the Bucket List: Asagaya Tanabata Matsuri

"Attend a matsuri wearing a yukata". That's one of the things in my bucket list. Now, for the benefit of those who have yet to know, 'matsuri' is the Japanese word for 'festival' while a yukata is basically the casual version of the kimono and is usually worn during the summer.

Last August 7, after the TISP 2013 fieldwork (We visited two companies: Fuji Xerox in Roppongi and JR East in Shinjuku.), I went back to the dorm and wore the yukata I bought in Harajuku the weekend before. Yep, I dressed up on my own. With the help of Youtube and some practice on how to tie an obi (the belt), I was able to do it.

Got my yukata and obi for JPY~2700 (~USD27 or ~PhP1200)

I dressed up for the Asagaya Tanabata Matsuri. I took the trains (three trains actually) from the dorm to Asagaya shopping street looking like that! Seeing people wearing yukatas in the trains and streets of Japan is normal during the summer because there are many festivals. I didn't get stared at (not by the locals, at least). However, the rush hour made it a bit difficult. I was quite scared that my obi would get squished and fall apart haha. Also, it was a little difficult for me to walk because I cannot take my usual big strides while wearing a yukata.

Asagaya shopping street was FILLED with decorations

Orihime and Hikoboshi, perhaps?

Wishes are written on stars.

A lot of people were wearing yukatas!

Kids in yukata listening to the guy playing the flute

Goldfish scooping: one of the typical activities in a matsuri

My dinner: takoyaki!

OOTN? Haha
One off the bucketlist!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Katsu in Tokyo

We had lunch at a katsu restaurant in Shinjuku during one of our fieldwork sessions for TISP 2013. Again, I'm thankful that we have our Japanese classmates around to show us where to eat.

The truth is this is my first time at a katsu restaurant. I've never been to Yabu, which is currently famous in Manila. (Everyone's been raving about Yabu but I'm too lazy to go because the lines are always long, they say.)

One of my classmates, Rena, said that this restaurant is quite famous is Tokyo

This lunch set is only JPY980! The price is pretty reasonable for Tokyo standards, I guess.
The cabbage is unlimited. I'm not sure about rice and miso soup because I didn't ask.

I think this is mochi with kinako/soybean powder. I love kinako!
Free dessert from my classmate who had some coupons

Monday, January 13, 2014

My First Nabe Experience

After one of the lecture sessions of TISP 2013, my classmates were discussing what to have for dinner and we ended up having nabe in Shibuya as suggested by our Japanese classmates. (Our lecturers also joined us!) Nabe or Japanese hotpot is usually eaten during cold weather but I didn't really mind that we had it on a summer because I like hotpot and I really wanted to experience nabe in Japan because it's something that I only used to see in Japanese manga/anime/TV drama haha.

two types of soup: sukiyaki (left) and shabu-shabu (right)

See those stacks of black containers? They all contain strips of pork and beef!

I don't remember eating so much meat in my life. I even had two cups of rice that night (considering that I typically eat half a cup of rice).

I'm really thankful that our Japanese classmates accompanied us and even taught us how to eat nabe the Japanese way. (Hey, I would not have known what to dip into what and that raw egg is used as sukiyaki dip!) It's really impractical for me to spend JPY2000 (~PhP900 or ~USD20) for a single dinner but I don't regret that I did. 

Sigh, I'm craving sukiyaki right now. I should scour Landmark this week for sukiyaki ingredients.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kamakura and how the world is small

They say it's a small world [after all] and I must agree for I have learned this to be true during my day trip to Kamakura last August.

One Sunday during my stay in Tokyo, I decided to go to Kamakura to meet my friend Rachel. She's from Texas and I met her during the 2012 Summer Course held in UP SURP last July 2012. She visited the Philippines for a week last June 2013 and then flew to Japan for her two-month internship. Thankfully, our schedules gave us good timing to meet up (a little over a week before her flight back to Texas and my flight back to Manila)! I was really excited because I'll be meeting a foreign friend in a land that is foreign to both of us. How cool is that?

I met Rachel and two of her British co-interns Lois and Chris at Kamakura Station.

big lunch for only JPY1000! Much cheaper compared to Tokyo

When Lois learned that my purpose in Japan was to participate at the Todai Innovation Summer Program (TISP) 2013, she told me that she had wanted to apply for the same program but decided against it because she didn't want to take a leave from her internship. Turns out, two of my TISP 2013 co-participants are Lois's classmates in Oxford. We were all surprised by the coincidence! Small world, indeed. Eventually, I told Lois's classmates that I met her in Kamakura through a common friend and they were like "Whoa!"

taro-matcha soft-serve ice cream to battle the summer heat

jet stream

walking from Daibutsu to Hasedera
Hase Station of Enoshima line (it looks old but I think it looks really cool!)
Studio Ghibli shop near Kamakura Station!!!
sadly but not surprisingly, stuff were expensive
I've always wanted this kind of glass chimes.
This one wins more brownie points because it's Totoro... but it was so expensive!
Now I suddenly remember that I forgot to buy something like this in Tokyo... darn.

ramen for dinner!

And this is why whenever I need to say goodbye to friends from different places, I don't simply say "Goodbye". I say, "See you around (the world)" because it's actually possible.

PS: Around the same time, another co-participant from the 2012 Summer Course, who's also from Texas, posted a picture on Facebook with herself and two of my former colleagues in UP ICE. They were all in Malaysia, participating in another summer school. It was amusing.

PPS: One of my [Japanese] co-participants in the TISP 2013 used to be a classmate of my friend/orgmate/co-worker Sty when he did an exchange student program in Todai. How's that about the world being small?