Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Japanese have my life motto!


Last night we took the train into Osaka to do some nightlife sightseeing. It was a short trip, but it made me want to go back for a longer stay. We visited the Galleria Akka by Tadao Ando. The downtown area made me think of what I picture Tokyo being like: tall buildings, lots of people, and HUGE advertisements. Lots of action, for sure!

Calligraphy Class

The place where we are renting a room for our design classes is called the Kyoto International Community Center. It is a large building with a library, cafe, and conference rooms. When we went on our tour, I noticed an advertisement for free classes there on the weekends. Yesterday, Sig and I went to the center and took a calligraphy class. Outside, there was a wedding party taking photos. The brides wear a huge headdress.
The ladies that taught the class were so nice! We practiced writing some characters and then tried to paint some flowers. Ugh, it was alot harder then they make it look! I definitely felt like a kindergartner writing for the first time, lol. But, of course, the instructors were very encouraging, telling us we were doing great and asked us to come back again. At the end, they brewed some fresh tea and passed it around. Very fun experience!

Geisha Sighting

I somehow stumbled upon this narrow pedestrian street, and was quickly by-passed by this Japanese girl wearing the complete geisha set-up. I have no idea how she can walk so quick in those funky wood sandals because I had to jog just to keep up with her! Then another one came out of no where and caught up with the first one. They disappeared into this nondescript building. Pretty cool! It didn't think I was going to see some so soon into the trip.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Food Feast

I was a bit worried coming over here about the eating situation. I was worried that we wouldn't be able to find good affordable food...fortunately I was so wrong! Sig and I stumbled upon this great sushi restaurant. We ate the best Japanese lunch I have ever had...udon noodle soup, tuna roll, and tempura for $8!!! I was joking that I was going to come back to California a sushi snob, heehee.
Our first assignment is to try "something weird". Don took us to the Nishiki Market, this famous covered food market. I tried these miniature fishies...salty and gummy! haha. There is just about nothing I wouldn't try, but I'm not sure that I'm going to repeat that particular cuisine :) Don bought us moshi balls with red bean filling. yum yum!

Loving Japan :)

My flight to Japan went really well! Luckily it was at night, so I slept the majority of the time. Asiana airlines is a very enjoyable airline to fly with.
I am currently in Kyoto and absolutely love it! The people are so polite and everything is super clean. It seems like there is an ancient temple on every corner. And nobody locks there bikes!
I am staying at the Higashiyama Sanjo Hotel for two weeks and then we move into student housing. Yesterday we went on a mini tour of Kyoto...Don Choi (my professor) showed us where we are renting a classroom for design studio, and then we went to visit his old Japanese professor who is going to be teaching us Japanese.
It is a very special time to be visiting Kyoto...cherry blossoms!! The cherry blossom festival is going to be in a couple weeks. I've seen several ladies dressed in traditional kimonos.
I'm really enjoying myself so far...I feel very fortunate for having the opportunity to study here in beautiful Japan.

Monday, March 23, 2009


My New Year's resolution was (is) to think about how I spend my dollar. Not only to be more economical, but more importantly, to be a more eco-aware consumer. I'm trying really hard to not buy things that are made over seas...the environmental restrictions in developing nations are considerably lower than in the US (lots of toxins released into their environments), wages earned in factories are barely enough to even feed oneself, and the amount of energy used to transport goods across the world into the hands of the American consumer are astronomical.
One of the easiest solutions to this conundrum is to buy local! In La Paz, if I'm going to buy a little souvenir, I always ask where it was made. For the most part, vendors are usually the fabricators (ex. jewelery). It is a good feeling knowing that you are supporting local economies and labor thru your purchases. I've been wanting to buy a pair of sandals that are not flip-flops. My dad told me to get some Mexican Huaraches. He bought a pair when he was my age, and used them in Europe for several years. While doing some errands the other day, I kept an eye open for a Huarache stand. I stumbled upon a mercado and jackpot! Stands full of Mexican goods: blankets, cowboys hats, etc. After half an hour of mentally debating just what style I wanted, I settled on a pair of light suede stappy Huaraches. The vendor said that they are made in Juarez. One thing I really like about my new sandals is the fact that they use used tire treads as the soles! A some-what green product too! Now it is just a matter of breaking them in :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

La Paz-ing it

It has been so nice to escape the hussel and bussel of California and spend a few days down in Mexico. Things go in slow motion in La Paz. My typical beach day: lazy around the house all morning, go to the beach in the afternoon , wade in the warm water, try to learn Japanese, read my adventure novel, pack up and leave, and stop and get a coconut on the way home!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stand-up Paddleboarding

Yay! My first blog :) I got into La Paz on Wednesday evening. Yesterday (Thursday) we took the paddleboard to Costa Baja. It is this HUGE Naish board-wood with yellow rails. Kind of a pain to lug up and down the stairs, but worth it. At the beach: The water was so incredibly warm! Daddy demonstrated how to stand up, manuever, and paddle on the mega-board. Pretty simple. Except for balancing! I was going fairly well, focusing on the board below me, when I got hit by a rogue wave (ie. ripple from a boat's wake). I lost my balance, and up! went my feet and I came crashing down into the water. I quicky got up and tried to ride one of the other waves back in, but was unsuccessful. We traded off for about an hour and a half, cruising around the bay. I was surprised to look back at one point, finding myself a good quarter mile from the coast. Oh! And I saw a few sting rays! And a bunch of fish, and one large crab covered in algae :)

Overall, great expereince. And a great work out! Definitely feeling it today! We are going to take it out again this weekend to La Ventana. Maybe I catch some real waves!