Japan Life: Ready Your Gundam!

I. LOVE. JAPAN!

Nothing describes the amount of feelings rushing through me when I went to Odaiba (Diver City) in Tokyo to see the life-sized Gundam.

One of my favorite childhood series’ was always Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, and seeing this Gundam model brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. (Now if only I could somehow get into the cockpit and pilot this beautiful thing, huh? Haha!)

For those of you who are a big fan of the Gundam series’, or for those that just admire Gundam models… this is one stop that you need to make if you ever visit Japan! It’s definitely a tourist attraction, and seeing the amount of details on this model is truly astounding and something to appreciate!

This Gundam is the iconic Gundam RX-78-2 replica, standing close 60 feet tall. It was built by Bandai in celebration of the 30th anniversary for the “Mobile Suit Gundam” anime series.

Japan Life: Rolling Clouds in Beppu-shi

It is now summer (rainy) season in Japan where the sun does not show itself for days at a time.

Lately, it’s been constantly raining on university campus, and it gets quite depressing when I constantly have to walk to my classes with wet boots and humidity sticking to my skin… definitely not a comfortable feeling as I strongly dislike hot weather.

But after days of heavy downpour, I woke up one Saturday morning to the sun peeking out through the clouds—–clouds which were visibly lifting off of the mountains.

Witnessing this sort of scenic view made my day much brighter!

Japan Life: New Hairstyle

After 2 months in Japan, I realized that my hair was getting ridiculously long. Well… not RIDICULOUSLY long since my hair is actually very short already. But my bangs were covering my face , there were no more layers… and there was absolutely no style. I really needed a haircut!

Now… I haven’t been to a hair salon in over a year (because I was saving up money, and I’ve been cutting my own hair up until now).

So I won’t lie. I was a bit scared and intimidated when I first walked into the salon. My group of friends decided to wander the shopping district in Oita City while I was getting a haircut. But things went pretty smoothly (minus my limited Japanese vocabulary, which actually stirred up some very interesting conversations between me and the hair-stylist, haha), and I was able to get a very good cut at an amazing price!

What I love about the way things are done in Japan is how dedicated people are to their jobs. They take care of things to the tiniest of details, are very organized, and are absolutely thorough with the task at hand. My hairstylist spent a lot of time on cutting and styling my hair, making sure that nearly every strand was perfect, and I truly appreciated that.

And now… I’m in love with the style! It’s short enough for the upcoming summer season, but just long enough so that I can style it however I want.

Now, for some shots of myself.

I had lots of time after class, so I was able to take plenty of photos. I decided to go for a new style in the way I edit my photos, and played around a lot with lighting and color.

I haven’t been able to do much photo-shooting ever since I got to Japan. But hopefully I’ll get a chance to do one while I’m here!

 

5.13.2012. Happy Mother’s Day!

A special little post for the most beautiful female figure in my life.

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Mothers are beautiful beings who sacrifice a lot for their children.

Mothers are the reason that people exist in this world.

Mothers should be cherished and loved.

Mothers are special.

Mothers = Love.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and mother-figures out there!

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Japan Life: Kannawa Onsen

Beppu-shi, Japan is famous for its onsens (natural hot-springs and bathhouses) and is a well-known tourist attraction in the Oita Prefecture. Many travelers who come to Japan visit Beppu for its well-known onsens, especially during the cooler seasons.

For foreigners (like me), bathhouses are like an absolute NO-GO because of the almost unbelievable openness that the Japanese culture has when it comes to nudity, and I grew up living an extremely conservative lifestyle. (I will not lie. I was on the verge of crying the first time I went to a Japanese bathhouse with my floor-mates. It was utterly terrifying and embarrassing since I was the oldest person in the entire group. And it’ll take me a while to recover from that little experience, haha.)

But, at the same time, it’s truly amazing what natural hot-springs have to offer people here in Japan.

Kannawa Onsen is famous in Beppu-shi for it’s food-steaming techniques. Rather than using the traditional fire-and-pan technique to cook food, the natural heat and steam from the hot-springs are used to steam food. This way of cooking food is extremely healthy (and cheap because it uses natural resources!!). You can just bring your own vegetables, meat, and seafood. Or you can purchase them from the kitchens (but they are usually a little pricier).

I joined Students of AP House on a day trip to visit this onsen and experience this type of cooking style. The streets by Kannawa Onsen look very similar to the streets in Kyoto apparently. So I look forward to the end of the semester when I can travel there.

There was a lot of people at the onsen the day that we went, so we got to see for ourselves just how popular this place is!

The heat from the steam was so intense that it felt like walking into a sauna. But it’s amazing how it’s all natural and not enhanced with fire or gas in any way.

After filming and taking shots of my friends trying out the steam cooking, it was my turn to take over the red gloves! (The next few shots of me are taken by one of the group leaders).

Opening the lid of the steaming compartment.

Taking the steamed (and ready-to-eat) foods out.

Setting the food down to be ready to serve.

Closing the lid.

And then it’s time to dig in!! All the vegetables and meat were steamed to perfection. Just add some salt, pepper, hot sauce, soy sauce (and whatever sauce you want), and it’s absolutely delicious!!

After finishing a satisfying meal, we went to a small foot-bathhouse that was right across the street. It was free and open to the public, so we went in to see and experience for ourselves the paradise of getting a foot-bath!

The water was ridiculously hot! But it felt amazing, and hot-springs really do something to the skin because in the end, you walk away with very smooth and refreshed-feeling skin!

And to end the day, we all took a large group shot together! There was lots of food and great fun!

Japan Life: Hanami (Flower Viewing)

Every year, around this time in April, when the season begins to change once again, a special occurrence happens… namely among Sakura (Cherry Blossom) trees. Their lifespan of usually one-three weeks after full bloom finally ends, and their petals begin to fall.

Students of AP House hosted an event over the weekend at Beppu Park for a Hanami; the hundreds-of-years-old practice of having a picnic under Sakura or Ume trees.

When we first arrived at the park, we witnessed the most amazing bubble-making ever!! I have never seen such huge bubbles before in my life! Our entire group of college students felt jealous of this man’s children, because they get to play with these bubbles whenever they want, haha.

On the way to our picnic sight, I passed rows of different types of flowers.

I also witnessed two little boys trying to retrieve something that fell into the water. I was worried for their safety, but the water was really shallow and their father was watching over them the whole time… (so I couldn’t help but take this shot…)

Then we finally got to our picnic sight… but unfortunately, because there was an intense rainstorm right before the day of the event, and majority of the Sakura petals fell by the time we arrived at the park for our picnic… there wasn’t much Sakura left to see. But I was able to snap some shots of the seldom few that lasted the storm.

Most people say that Sakura are at their most beautiful when they are in full bloom. And yes, although that is very true… I find them to also still be very beautiful after they have fallen. They will slowly wither away, reunite with mother Earth, and be reborn for next year so that we can witness their short lifespan once again.

Japan Life: Streets of Downtown Beppu-shi

After settling down a bit more at APU and slowly growing used to the new lifestyle, I finally had the chance to go into town (located at the bottom of the mountain that I am living on) and venture through a part of Beppu, Oita, Japan that I’ll be living in for the next few months.

My APU Buddy (a Korean student who I got paired up with for the duration of my exchange program) was kind enough to take a friends and I into town for a bit of sight-seeing and some serious shopping. We took a bus that leaves from AP House bus-stop and walked… a lot. I was also able to take a lot of photos along the way, capturing bits and pieces of Beppu-shi that I found interesting. It is a very quiet city, but extremely beautiful in its own way.

Here in Beppu-shi, you will find Pachinko‘s all over the place (nearly every other block… and I’m not exaggerating). Some are very fancy and high-class-looking like the one in the photo below. Pachinko‘s are large Casino buildings with lots and LOTS of slot-machines.

I confess… that I have a major fascination with streets in Japan. There is always so much going on in one photograph, and I always feel like I’m playing “I Spy” when I stare at one. Some people think that streets in Japan are too busy, there are too many things in one location, and that there’s no space… but I find them to be very beautiful. Something about them just screams at me to snap a shot!

I even got to walk through one of those outdoor streets that has a roof over it (but I have no idea what they are called…). And it eventually got dark, making the walk through Beppu-shi at night a completely different experience.

Before returning to AP House, my friends and I went to a huge shopping center called YouMe Town (but in Japanese, they pronounce it as yume… as in the word, 夢, to dream), and I finally bought groceries to stock up my fridge.

Here’s a snapshot of two kiwi plushies that I spotted in the supermarket! (Has anyone ever tried yellow kiwis before? Apparently they are much sweeter than green kiwis!)

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