The Life of Erin

Married life, home projects, music, travel, movies, politics, random stuff I think of on a daily basis

Smoke for health, money for prayer February 12, 2009

Filed under: Japan — erinp @ 7:05 pm
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Asakusa is one of my favorite places in Tokyo. The street leading up to the famous Sensoji Temple is lined with shops and “osembe” (Japanese crackers). It is always vibrant and crowded, with mobs of gaijin and Japanese school children on class trips. The main street is probably the one place in Japan that you have the possibility of getting ripped off (it almost happened to me) but if you deviate from the main path and explore the winding back alleys, you will be pleasantly surprised with the old architecture and quaint shops and restaurants.

At the temple. you can purchase a bunch of incense sticks for 100 yen and then waft the smoke over you for health. For extra immunity, throw some coins in the giant offerings box to pray.

Sensojiback of lanternincensesmoke for healthmoney for prayer

Each photo through this ethernet connection takes 44 second to upload, so these will be abbreviated posts from now on to protect my sanity! For all of my photos, please go to my online photo album here.

Oh yeah, anybody want an Obama mask?

Timing: train from Tamachi at 10:00, 18 minutes to Asakusa
Cost: 210 yen per person (one way)
Time elapsed: 5 hours
Accomplished: Mister Donut, Sensoji, health smoke, exploration, gelato, omiyage
Breakfast: Mister Donut, 700 yen
Snack: apple sweet potato, 575 yen
Lunch: gelato, 600 yen


Back to the ‘hood February 11, 2009

Filed under: food,Japan — erinp @ 7:13 am
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You may wonder why you haven’t seen anything really “traditional” yet. Or maybe you don’t care. I am taking care of all of my “old haunts” with my parents, and then I start sightseeing tomorrow and with Matt. Today, we went to my old neighborhood, about an hour away from where my parents live now. I would spend every weekend in Kichijoji, a bike ride away from my old house in Musashi-sakai. It’s modernized a bit since I lived here in 1999-2001 but like I said in a previous post, everything still feels the same.

KichijojiKichijoji stationSun RoadSun RoadSteak house lineThis steak house always has a line. Every time I have ever been here, the line stretches at least 20 people. And I’ve walked past this steak house at least 100 times.neon, really.Diabolina told me neon was in. Proof.SamratcurryI ate Indian food for the first time in Kichijoji at Samrat. They serve the biggest nan and the best curry I have ever had since then.face braStolen idea from Elaine.

Timing: train from Tamachi at 10:15. Arrive Kichijoji at 11:00
Cost: 380 yen per person (one way)
Time elapsed: 7 hours
Accomplished: natsukashii, Sony Plaza, Tokyu, Loft, Samrat, Woodberry’s
Breakfast: home, free
Lunch: Samrat, 980 yen per person

Tomorrow: Asakusa

(There will be a noticeable lack of links from now on–my mom’s computer automatically brings up all Japanese sites and I am too tired to search in English.)


The Hills February 10, 2009

Filed under: Japan — erinp @ 6:37 pm
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Roppongi Hills. The Star Wars-like architecture of open spaces, stone walls, wind tunnels, and space age design didn’t win me over, but I’m glad I finally saw it and got to laugh at the boutiques of plastic bags selling for over $100.
Roppongi Hillsexplanation whykoi pondwind tunnelgot milk?Mom's new boyfriendcascadesspiiiderI love you spider!

We walked home ( a few miles, 7 miles total all day), rested for an hour, and then went back out. Why? Because I thought I had enough energy. Little did I know that it was just fumes.
Ito Yokadotoo tired

Timing today: Got bus at 10:30, arrived Azabu Juban at 11:00
Cost: 100 yen per person (one way)
Time elapsed: 5 hours
Walked home: free
Accomplished: omiyage shopping, gawking at Roppongi Hills, walking on a 65-degree day
Breakfast: Starbucks, 900 yen
Lunch: bakery, 1000 yen

Left home at 4:30, arrived Ootemachi 4:45
Cost: 150 yen per person one way
Time elapsed: 2 hours

Today: Kichijoji!


We model for GAP on the side. February 9, 2009

Filed under: Japan — erinp @ 7:05 pm
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Yesterday was my first full day in Japan. Of course, I went shopping. I got almost all of my omiyage taken care of in one day, thank you very much. Tokyo is the same. The wondrous thing about Tokyo (and Japan, really) is that construction is always taking place, buildings are always being torn down and built back up as something new and improved, and fashion changes every time you blink. But the atmosphere stays the same. After a few slip-ups (handing my money directly to the sales woman instead of placing it in her money dish) and language barrier problems, it easy to get into the groove. Boy, I’d like to prove that I still still hang here.

This post contains some great pictures that my Dad took yesterday. I am using my parents’ computer and my photos are not on it, so I am using license to publish photos taken by someone else. Thanks, Dad.

This is my favorite of the day. I love the Gap here. I know it sounds so wrong, and even more wrong because I always have to buy the pants two sizes larger than what I buy in the States. (I wear a 6 and 10 size pants fit me in Japan.) When I lived here, the notion of not “fitting in” wore on my mental state and actually caused me to lose a little too much weight over a couple of years. But I digress. Here is the photo that I am submitting to Gap (too bad my sweater is JCrew and my mom’s jacket is Eddie Bauer):
Gap ad

And actually I lied. I forgot that my mom put my photos on her computer. Score! Continuing below are some shots my dad took:
100-yen shop

I got some very mixed advice from many fashionistas about this pattern combo (Burberry and tweed). I tried it and I love it. So there. And I also added a new accessory from my mom:
Dad and Erin

Here are some shots that I took (side: for some reason WordPress decided to not save the rest of the post that I had completed 5 minutes ago so this next section may be half-hearted.):
HarajukuHarajuku station–hasn’t changed in at least 23 years.

Takeshita-doriTakeshita-dori (famous street for new fashions)

umeUme blossoms trying to bloom

We are too early for fully-bloomed sakura and ohanami (I wrote about it here) but hopefully before we leave we will see some ume blossoms, which I sometimes think are even more beautiful than sakura.

Timing today: left Tamachi at 10:00 and arrived in Harajuku at around 10:45
Ticket cost: 190 yen each way per person on Yamanote-sen
Time elapsed: 4 1/2 hours
Accomplished: omiyage shopping, walking around Harajuku, eating lunch
Lunch: Shakey’s pizza: 850 yen all you can eat

Stay tuned!
Today: Roppongi Hills, Muji, local sites


Feels like home. February 8, 2009

Filed under: Family,Japan,travel — erinp @ 6:19 pm
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I got right back into the groove yesterday when I arrived in Tokyo. My mom met me at the airport (I love that!) and got to the apartment at around 5:30. I feel like I’m “home.” I can’t wait for Matt to get here.

My dad took this photo of me after I washed off all of my airplane grime and was relaxing:

clean and in Tokyo

Right now I am just waiting for my parents to wake up. I was out by 9pm and up by 5:30am. Love the jet lag!

Stay tuned–today we’re facing Harajuku and Takeshita-dori. And it’s my first time in Japan with a digi-cam and digi-video-cam so watch out!


First Japan Planning Update November 10, 2008

Filed under: Japan,travel — erinp @ 9:57 pm
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First of all, I am so excited that I figured out how to embed maps that I make into my blog! Matt and I are starting to really plan for our trip, and we are customizing our own map of places we want to go through Google Maps. This is just a start–it shows the area where my parents’ apartment will be (I labeled it, the train station, and the Lawson convenience store). I think the map is interactive on this page!


Yakuza and Human Rights May 15, 2008

Today is “Bloggers Unite Day” and in going with the theme of blogging on a human rights issue, I chose to post about the yakuza in Japan and an article I recently read. I’m stealing the article from my friend Miki (she posted on Facebook yesterday) about a gaijin (foreigner) writing about the Japanese Mafia (yakuza). It was so incredibly disturbing that it almost seems made up, but unfortunately I think it is very real. You can read the article here.

It brought back memories of a film I saw at a film festival in Tokyo call Dead or Alive. The first time I saw it, I couldn’t believe how absurd it was, and actually got a kick out of it. A few years later, I watched it with Matt and the two of us were disgusted.

Anyway–I love Japan and I loved living there and visiting, but I also think it’s important to know “what else” goes on below the surface and to expose the terrible acts against Children’s Rights.