20 Pictures Of A Japanese Summer Festival Guaranteed To Make You Smile

“I fell for her in summer, my lovely summer girl,
From summer she is made, my lovely summer girl,
I’d love to spend a winter with my lovely summer girl,
But I’m never warm enough for my lovely summer girl,
It’s summer when she smiles, I’m laughing like a child,
It’s the summer of our lives; we’ll contain it for a while
She holds the heat, the breeze of summer in the circle of her hand
I’d be happy with this summer if it’s all we ever had.”
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” (Henry James)
After a year and half of living in super inaka (countryside) I feel so alive. Connectivity is vital to life. For as long as I can remember, I have always liked markets and festivals and large crowds. I think this is because positive energy is so contagious and so nice! Though often, in such scenarios, I’d look around and concentrate on what I was not. I’d see boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives and large groups of girls giggling about and I’d see tall women with athletic figures and lush hair and fashionable clothes and bemoan my own life. Tonight, as I walked around completely alone, I didn’t do that for once. I saw the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in yukata (traditional Japanese summer ware) and I saw charming husbands carrying the handbags of their wives and young fathers piggy backing their little ones. I saw couples feeding each other yakitori and groups of young girls holding hands and fans and candied apples and their heads upright to protect their beautiful hairstyles, and I smiled. I rejoiced in their happiness and thanked God I was alive. Alive to share in their transmittable joy and alive to live their spreadable love. What do you think? Is that me growing up?
The first food is a mochi (sticky rice) sweet. Inside is anko (sweet red bean paste) covered with plain sticky rice and lastly coated in kinako (roasted soybean powder). The second is karaage chicken. As you may or may not know, I am a wannabe vegetarian. However; I had to, I just had to try this. Not only did it smell insane, there was a 10 meter line for it and we all know lines mean business. It was amazing. So much so, that I remixed Katy Perry’s infamous song for it in my head: “I ate chicken and I liked it…the taste of it’s…” Okay…so as you can see, it’s a work in process.

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

Except I got lost…good lost.
I forgot to take that yucky end-bit off of the fruit. Oops. And now it’s the only thing you’re noticing since I’ve pointed it out to you. Argh. But look! There’s also Lifa’s spoon. He’s with me. They all are.
There are SO many cute dogs in Osaka! I swear, they’re everywhere. In fact, I told my friend Soroosh that I’m contemplating starting an Instagram account titled: Dogs of Osaka. Sounds like the name of a biker gang, he replied. Alas, I am determined to photograph em all!


Bright Lights

I am in Osaka and I am already loving it. So far, I haven’t really figured out how I’m going to post about this place (I will be here for one month) but I guess whatever I do will be similar to the others: honest snaps of my every day. All I know is that I can’t wait to wake up and explore even more. Ah, I cannot begin to tell you how good it is here. Maybe because I was in the countryside for a little longer than I should’ve or maybe because this is just how Osaka is. It is alive. I feel energy everywhere. People are living, riding their bicycles, lighting their cigarettes, blowing on their hot food and catching Pokemon. I missed civilisation. We were born to connect. Don’t get me wrong, nature is beautiful and important but there’s only so much solidarity a young lady (only 23) can take!
In addition to vending machines and convenience stores, Japan has ample hair salons. And not just any old barber shop, their hair salons are so cool! Super chic and fancy! I always think they’re restaurants.
Japanese are experts at making fake food look just as appetising as real food! Actually, I once watched a documentary on this… so good!
“You can’t understand a city without using its public transportation system.” (Erol Ozan)

Keep Stillness Inside Of You

If you keep up with my Facebook and Instagram then you might know that I went to USJ (Universal Studios Japan) yesterday. AND, it was awesome but I felt bittersweet to be there. Sweet because it was indescribably fun. Bitter because I felt for the multitudes who would never be able to enjoy such an experience because of poverty, equality, injustice or some other unfortunate circumstance. We, the wealthy generation are incredibly lucky and often we forget that. Not that going to a theme park is luck or happiness but just having the freedom, the funds and the option to do so is fortunate. Anyways, I am going to work on a Savvy Tokyo article on USJ, so to hear more and see the HD photos, y’all just have to wait. Anywho, I came across a beautiful quote today:

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. -Deepak

PS please excuse my unfortunate tan-lines in the last photo >.<
So I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you. -Paulo Coelho
If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all. -John Green.
Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha

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I think you are very beautiful. And I’m not even talking about your face or legs or butt or eyes or those elbows. (Though they are all very lovely) I’m talking about you. -Bianca Cash
The weather isn’t perfect and my socks have gotten wet but my heart is full of promise so I’ll take what I can get. – Dallas Clayton

Osaka Bound: Day Two

My dad is the very opposite of a Japanese person. He is loud, blithe, bouncy and obnoxious. On top of all that, he won’t stop making what he believes is a funny joke but what actually is, a highly inappropriate comment. God save me. And my mom, my mom keeps telling me mom-stuff like “slow down around the bends” and “always carry a cardigan.” They’re both annoying as hell but I couldn’t be happier.

Pics from top to bottom: a giraffe made entirely of lego at Lego Land, Osaka aquarium (on the schedule solely for my father because he loves fish), okonomiyaki for lunch which my parents told me they didn’t really like or didn’t like as much as ramen (no shit!) only after, and my favourite part of the day, shopping at Lucua. It was so nice to shop with my parents! For one year I’ve had no one to ask if jeans make my butt look big and guess what? Turns out they do tehehe.

Lastly dear follower, I want to share with you something unreal: I bumped into my Kiwi ex. In Osaka Station, in a city with a population of more than 3 million. And, during Sakura (cherry blossom) season when the peoples quadruply. What are the chances? It was fate. It must of been fate. For you know what I felt? I felt absolute and utter confirmation. That it ended for all the right reasons. That I am exactly where I need to be, that I did exactly what I needed. In the words of Rudy Francisco:

“Instead of asking
why they left,

now I ask,
what beauty will i create
in the space they no longer

The accuracy! I am so proud of myself and the beautiful life I live. John Green is right, “grief does not change you… It reveals you.” And in the words of Mary Maxwell:

“…under duress great things are born. Diamonds form in molten stone. The sweetest flowers of man’s spirit have most often been watered by tears. To struggle gives strength, to endure breeds a greater capacity for endurance. We must not run away from our heartbreaks in life; we must go through them, however fiery they may be, and bring with us out of the fire a stronger character, a deeper reliance on ourselves”.

I hope you too, can find the strength and courage to create beauty in place of life’s inevitable heartaches.image[3]image[4]imageimage[1]image[6]image[9]image[8]image[5]image[10]

That Time Yuko Turned Her Lounge Into A Kushikatsu Restaurant

Kushikatsu is one of Osaka’s soul foods. Click HERE for a detailed video. Tonight, Yuko out did herself by basically turning their lounge into a kushikatsu joint! It was incredible. I am so full.  First, we dipped our sticks of meat, seafood and vegetables into a white sauce of egg, milk and flour (as a sort of glue) then panko, a Japanese-style breadcrumb then, hot oil.  Before eating, we smothered our fried goods in kushikatsu sauce, which at a kushikatsu restaurant you can ONLY DIP ONCE! I write that in capitals because it’s a big well-known rule however; at Yuko’s, we had our own individual set of sauce, lemon and salt which we could freely double-dip into. For dessert, we had my vegan, sugar and gluten free crumble (with 2 tubs of ice-cream LOL). How great is this ? I heart sharing love and culture through food!

Sister visit, final day 9.

As Deli and Andy were departing from Kansai airport, we spent our last day together in Osaka visiting Delaram’s high-school friend and now, my dear dear friend Yuka sensei and her adorable family. We shopped, sight-seed, sight-seed? is that a word? ate Osaka-style okonomiyaki, takoyaki (octopus balls) and kushikatsu (not pictured) and people-watched from the upstairs Starbucks lounge all in Shinsaibashi, Osaka’s main shopping area and thus busiest district.

say hello to my new writing partner

Yesterday I was in Osaka: takoyaki capital of the world but unfortunately, this post isn’t about octopus balls (as much as I wish it were) it’s actually about writer’s block? Wa? Confused? Me too! Often. Especially when it comes to writing. It truly is, a love/hate relationship. Sometimes I eat to distract myself (horrible horrible habit) or else I sit there beating myself up from the inside out doubting my worth as a writer then as a person. I think, “who am I kidding” and “this sounds horrible, the reader will see right through me, it sounds too forced” always, it sounds too forced. Too metaphorical, too this too that. Professional writers advise us wannabe writers to “get away from [our] desks. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise” etc when faced with writer’s block. That all sounds well and good but ain’t no body got time for that! It’s the 21st century folks. As much as we’re told to slow down, to smell the roses, it’s almost freakin’ impossible! There’s just so much to do!

Back to Osaka, I went shopping at Lucua next to Osaka station and after I’d bought all my omiyage (souvenirs) for my colleagues and family back home, I treated myself to a Caomaru. Designed by Makiko Yoshida, Caomaru is a fancy stress ball which comes in many facial expressions and vegetables. Yes, vegetables: eggplant, tomato and green capsicum. I bought the original grey Caomaru with a sleepy expression. So without further adieu, please allow me to introduce to you my new writing partner, Kobayashi-san (may or may not be named after a certain pot-bellied sensei at one of my schools – whom I actually LOVE so no offence taken Mr. K).


spontaneous day trip to osaka

Spent a spontaneous day in Osaka today. I ate takoyaki (octopus balls) in a strange rice-cracker burger thing which was delishhhhhhious and later, kushikatsu (deep fried skewers) of mushroom, brie cheese, squid, pumpkin, tomato and onion! Oh my goodness, I reckon if I opened up a kushikatsu restaurant in Christchurch, I’d be a billionaire. Errybody loves fried food, especially on a stick! What do you reckon?!
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