Friday, May 30, 2014

Traditional Farmhouses in Tono Furusato Village

With only a couple of hours of [uncomfortable] sleep in the bus the night before and having to walk around Otsuchi town under the summer heat the whole day, naturally, everyone was tired as heck. All I wanted was to rest!

But darn, I could not sleep immediately because I was too giddy about the place where we were staying.

Tono Furusato Mura is a farming village in Tono City, Iwate Prefecture. It has three farmhouses where guests can stay. There is a main hall with a restaurant, a library, and a souvenir shop. I think they also hold workshops there in the village. They also have a number of facilities which we weren't able to visit because of time constraint.



Above is the farmhouse where the ladies stayed. Being there I felt like I was transported somewhere else-- like in a Rurouni Kenshin episode, maybe? Lol. To be honest, I never imagined that it was possible for me to experience staying in such a lovely place even if it was just for a night. It was really amazing. (And I felt like everything I spent going to Japan for that program was totally worth it.)

Looks like the workshop or stabling area inside the farmhouse

Tatami room!

Paper doors




We had dinner first and the went to the (gasp!) public bath. But that's another story for later haha!

Dinner yummmm

Super refreshing morning view from where I slept (Oh, we slept in futons, by the way!)






I don't know if I will ever be able to return to Tono. I'm just thankful to TISP for giving us this amazing experience!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Otsuchi Town Photodump

During the summer program at The University of Tokyo last August 2013, we had the opportunity of visiting the tsunami-affected areas in the Tohoku District.

From Tokyo, we took a 10-hour night bus ride to Otsuchi Town in Iwate Prefecture, Tohoku District. Otsuchi town is one of the hardest-hit areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. It lost around 10% of its total population. The place may be quite familiar to people because of this photo:

photo from

One year and five months later, here is a view of Otsuchi from the hill. Very little land was occupied when we went there last August 2013 but we were told that there used to be a lot of structures before the tsunami. At the bottom of the photo, you can see a cemetery.


My co-participants and a volunteer of Otsuchi. Behind them is a mobile library.

Cranes: folding a thousand of them is said to be able to make a wish come true

We were divided into groups and given a tour guide (mostly teenage volunteers who are residents of Otsuchi). Our group's guide was Akane, a college freshman. We cannot talk to each other without a translator. However, when one of my Japanese co-participants talked to her about anime, we started to understand one another, lol.


Slope protection [against landslides]





Below is Otsuchi Elementary School. It was rebuilt with trailer material (a temporary situation).




Wind and solar energy for lamp posts

We had lunch at MAST department store, which I believe is the same building where the ferry in the first photo was resting on. It was back to normal when we went there.

Kaisendon (raw seafood on a bowl of rice) for lunch!

Black sesame ice cream after a long day of walking in the summer heat

A model representation of Otsuchi town before the tsunami

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cebu City

The company trip to Cebu last April was a quick one. After spending two nights in Oslob, we went back to Cebu City, the oldest city in the Philippines. We arrived at noon, had lunch at Zubuchon (gee, that was a lot of food), went around the old parts of the city in the afternoon and then flew back to Manila the next morning.



I love trellis roofs and courtyards!






IDK why most of my co-workers are in black, lol

When we got back to Manila, I swear I stopped eating meat for a while. I was fed too much lechon (roasted pig) in Cebu.

Am I going back? Definitely! I have to visit more islands like Camotes, Malapascua and Bantayan!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My First DIY Skirt

Finally, I was able to sew my own skirt! It even has a pocket and a zipper closure. (Hurray for skirts with pockets!) I am really thankful for Meream's tutorial! This crafty lady is totally amazing and I love her blog.

I have to admit, my skirt's workmanship is not really good because I never really had any sewing training. I'm just glad I was able to make something wearable haha.

Navy blue polka dots! Just my type of fabric!


I had to handsew some parts of the zipper because I do not have a zipper foot. (My sewing machine belongs to my late grandma. It's vintage and no one knows where the accessories are. I need to find a place to buy feet for old Singer sewing machines.)

I actually wanted to make a lace skirt but darn... lace fabric is very expensive. Next time, perhaps! I'm definitely making more skirts!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Recipe: Mango-Kani Salad

Because I always, always get disappointed by kani salads from restaurants, I decided that I'll just make my own.

Kani Salad (serves around 6)

1 bunch of lettuce
2 medium-sized cucumbers
2 medium-sized ripe mangoes
8 pieces of short kani sticks (the ones that are around 3 to 3 1/2")
roe / ikura (if you have access to them, unfortunately I don't)

1. Cut up the lettuce and lay them into a bed.


2. Peel the cucumbers, cut into half and then remove the seeds by scooping/scraping them out with a spoon. Cut into thin strips. 

The first time I made kani salad, I found this task rather tiring so I recently bought a mandoline slicer to help. I think it's a pretty good investment. I mean, I can hold a knife quite well, of course. However, if you're slicing a lot of veggies and fruits (e.g. for pickling or for veggie/fruit chips), this mandoline will cut [not just your vegetables but also] your prep time significantly. This mandoline is pretty easy to clean too. I got it from Landmark for ~PhP500.


3. Slice the kani sticks into thin strips.


4. Cube the mangoes.


5. Arrange them all on a plate and add Japanese mayo.


I forgot to add some nori (cut into strips or into tiny squares with scissors) but you can do that. Add roe/ikura too if you have any.

Now this is was waaaay cheaper than those sold in restaurants and I love that I can adjust everything to my taste. You can actually ditch the lettuce and just use more cucumbers instead.

And just today, I actually got an idea of making mango-kani lettuce wraps. Next week, perhaps. :)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bye Boring (Hair)buns

It's currently summer in Manila and, needless to say, the heat is horrible. I cannot stand leaving my hair down and therefore ponytails, buns and quick braids have been my go-to hairstyles recently.

Yesterday, while I was putting up my hair in a bun, I suddenly wanted to make pearl bobby pins to make my otherwise boring hairbuns more fun. I took the box where I store my pearl beads and got distracted when I found these old crochet flowers that I made back in January 2011. I've always meant to attach the flowers into a headband but never got to do so because I don't feel that such a headband would fit my style.


Now, being a person with a short attention span, instead of making pearl bobby pins as initially planned, I had a little eureka moment and decided to attach the old crochet flowers into bobby pins and I was happy with the result!

low, messy bun

normal bun

Once the weather cools down, I can wear it with my hair down!