All Nippon Airways ranks second on our list of favorite airlines with Air New Zealand as the reigning favorite. There is a direct flight from Portland, Oregon to Tokyo, Japan but it’s only offered through Delta airlines. Our distaste for Delta is so extreme that we fly to Seattle, San Francisco or Vancouver BC in order to avoid them.
What do you buy for the boy who owns all the Calvin and Hobbes comics, has grown out of Legos, and played every video game and system on the market? Why, you go to another country and get the same things. The twelve year old who has everything will score age appropriate Japaneses Anime, Gundam Models to build and the newest video games that won’t land in American for yet another year or more.
Portlanders know there’s more breweries in their city than any other city in the world. Watch out, because Tokyo isn’t far behind. In fact, many Japanese craft breweries (like Baird Beer who have four taprooms across Tokyo) are started by Oregon transplants who’ve worked at places like McMenamins. Shimokitazawa is the craft beer and Bohemian vintage clothing district where I’m dying to get lost.
Dreamliner, Boeing 787-
Despite the aircraft’s rough start, I will board the Dreamliner before I set foot in another one of Delta’s tin cans. The pressure and air are supposed to be significantly more comfortable and the seats will be slightly larger than older models. Flying always seems to suck the life force from my soul so I’m thrilled to experience a gentler airplane.
I’ve carried on my stork shears to Hawaii, Tokyo countless times, Seattle, L.A., San Francisco, Vancouver B.C. and into Hong Kong. Security agents open my magnetic embroidery needle case every time my purse goes through the x-ray and my scissors haven’t risen any red flags. Apparently, Hong Kong flights can be riddled with scissor wielding maniacs and they were forcibly tossed in the security trash on my way back into the States. This doesn’t mean I can go without scissors. We’ll see if they let me in and out of South Korea with my new pair.
Darling husband and I have been together for seven years but we maintain ‘my friends’ or ‘his friends’. Before last summer, we had yet to make ‘us friends.’ Meeting new people, as 30 somethings with children, seems to have alluded us. Last summer we made a handful of ‘us friends’ who we are looking forward to seeing again. Nice, half Japanese ladies who speak English as one of their several languages, a lovely and well traveled American who struggles with teaching children as she lives her Japanese Dream and our favorite bass playing punk rock bartender who I communicate with through music, charades and whiskey.
Super hot porn star turns author and this is the kind of smut a saucy lady can’t turn away from. I’ll be bringing her debut novel, The Juliette Society to read on the airplane, before bed and on trains. Japan loves it’s filthy literature to which I declare: When in Rome….
Husband, Quality Time with-
We met, riddled with children, and they haven’t moved out so this will be the first ever, adult only vacation. Never have we indulged in a romantic weekend at the beach or even a honeymoon after we got married. We haven’t even left and I’m already wondering if we’ll travel with the children again once we get this taste of freedom.
Instant Ramen Museum, Osaka-
The Instant Noodles Tunnel. Birthplace of Chicken Ramen. Momofuku and the Story of Instant Noodles. Exhibition of Instant Noodles of the World. CupNoodles Drama Theater (in the shape of a CupNoodles). Magical Table Quiz Section. Tell me not to miss this and break my noodle loving heart.
Japanese Craft Books-
One of my best kept secrets is Japanese craft books. They’re overlooked by crafters for two reasons. 1) They are in Japanese 2) They are in Japan. Not true. Books contain universal charts and diagrams, you don’t need to read the words to follow the instructions and you can buy them on Etsy. If you happen to be in Tokyo then save the shipping cost and buy them at Kinokuniya Bookstore.
Kimchi is served with breakfast, lunch and dinner in South Korea. Then you get drunk and vomit in the street. Kimchi flowers. I didn’t make this up.
Pelts are hot right now, they are what to wear for snowmageddon-polar-vortex this Winter season. Overdoing it doesn’t begin to describe my packing list: Sheepskin lined black leather boots, leather bound journal, leather skirt, shearling coat, Tokyo Dreamer gold leather camera strap, distressed leather Porteen camera bag, Doc Martins (leather), snowball shearling hat.
Mass Mental, ‘ How to write love songs.’-
Robert Trujillo is hot. With epic long hair and a low hung bass guitar. It’s clear when you watch him play why Metallica chose Mr. Trujillo to join their legendary group. As much respect as I have for godfathers of metal, I’ve also got a serious fascination with ‘before they were famous’. Way back in the 1999 when he was a member of Suicidal Tenancies, Robert Trujillo played for a side project called Mass Mental. They only made one album, ‘How to write love songs’ and it was solely released in Japan. I will find it.
The district of Osaka, Japan where we decided is the place we’ll stay. We have one full day flanked by two half days to soak up as much Osaka as possible. Namaba contains Dontonbori, a popular entertainment district, Shinsaibashi Shopping Town and Amerikama which is supposed to be full of young and kitschy Americana thrift culture. I’m curious about what, precisely, that is.
Eggs. Smoked egg. Raw egg with soy sauce for dipping avocado. Egg sandwich on white bread with no crust from 7-11 for breakfast every morning. Egg custard. Soft boiled egg on spaghetti bolognese. Fried egg on a beef patty. Raw egg for dipping random meat on a stick. Fish eggs. Egg in my octopus balls.
The fastest way to learn a language is to immerse yourself. Since the last time I was in Japan I’ve mastered 2 of their alphabets, practiced sentence structure and learned how to conjugate verbs. I’m excited about being able to pick out more words than eleven, beer, cat, potato and tuna. The goal is to eaves drop effectively.
1)What is the word for water in Japanese and in Korean? 2)What is the weirdest thing I’ve seen on a menu during my travels? 3)What, besides Kimchi, do Koreans eat for breakfast? 4)Why haven’t you been to Japan? 5)Will I survive without a good sweater?
Answers: 1)’mizu’ and I have no idea but I’d better find out before anyone gets thirsty. 2) Womb 3) No clue 4)Well?! 5) Sources point to ‘No’.
Reversible Destiny Lofts-
These are a stupendous creation of architect Shusaku Arakawa and his wife, artist Madeline Gins-Arakawa. They’re designed to awaken some dormant quadrant of your mind. Experimental textures and angles entice the resident to throw aside their preconceived notions about how a home should feel. It’s likely we won’t venture far outside central Tokyo but I appreciate this certain kind of genius.
In order to return from Seoul, South Korea to San Francisco one must lay over in Osaka, Japan. It’s an 11 hour flight from there. Then a few more hours back to Oregon, then another hour driving home. So, to add a 4 hour layover in Osaka on top of 2 hours from Korea makes this a 20+ hour travel day. No thanks, I’ll just stay in Osaka. A train from the airport will drop us off inside the lobby of Swissotel Nankai after a brief 30 minute ride and is located at bustling district of Namba. Why not stay a day or two?
Three DS, Nintendo XL-
You don’t get it. I’ve yet to convey to people my age how awesome Nintendo is. Our generation grew up with at least a Nintendo console in our home and hours were devoted to it. Nintendo is still cool but you don’t realize this because you don’t live in Tokyo where the portable game system truly comes to life. The best games are played using Street Pass and Miis (other players) who you pass throughout your day. There aren’t enough people carrying hand held consoles for Americans to take advantage of the wonderful world that is Nintendo.
Uuupa Gangnam Style-
K-Pop (Korean Pop) is my guilty pleasure. I adore early ’90′s neon hip hop fashion clad doll like teenage girls, I love Psy and I love his girlfriend. I’ve read that Korean women’s fashion comes in only one size fits all. That’s amazingly conformist! Can’t wait to see if I fit. Better believe you’ll see me in Gangnam.
From the den mother of Chuck Palahniuk’s writing group comes a new Young Adult novel from the best creative teacher I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from. I’ll be reading this to cleanse my brain of the smut that I mentioned earlier.
Typically, I like to buy clothes in foreign countries but Wolf Child is an exception. Support unique and artistically designed small batch fashion. I’ll be doing my part all over Asia. www.wolfchild.com
There’s an uncanny bond between my Australian Sheppard, Luna and I. She needs me. What if my son gets hurt and I won’t be nearby? In fact, this is the farthest distance and longest time I’ve ever gone without seeing him. What if I don’t pack warm enough clothes? All my favorite socks have holes in them. What if coyotes eat my husband’s puppy? This Valentines trip comes with a lot of pressure to be ultimate.
Yarn Bomb Yibisu-
Wether I use it or not, I’ve always got yarn, string and/or needles on my person. Never grew out of cat’s cradle and subsequently have learned various string games to entertain myself in a more mature fashion. Tokyo takes pride in it’s cleanliness and have restrained myself from lifting my proverbial crochet leg on their city. Then I learned of the yarn bombing in Yibisu park. Consider yourself warned.
This is the Japanese word for ‘magazine’ and they’ve got the best. Often including a free prize, Japanese fashion magazines easily rival Paris and Milan. They’re thick, progressive and chocked full of extraordinary advertising. I’ll be looking for home décor, as we’re remodeling the first floor and probably some dirty anime periodicals.