Okay, you’re probably sick of Japan by now, but I can’t help it, I got a few more random, fun photos to show you. These aren’t places, but rather, awesome experiences we had discovering such a different culture to our own.
You may not think that toilets are a big deal…until you go to Japan. They. Were. Awesome. First, there was this fantastic set of instructions:
You may wonder why a culture would need instructions on how to use a modern toilet…until you come across a less-than-modern toilet like this:
These are squat toilets very common in Asia. I did not attempt to use one, mind you. But in case you’re curious how they work, I got instructions for you on those too:
The bestest toilets, however, are in the hotel rooms and come with remote controls, heated seats, automatic spraying thingies and a control panel. Behold our toilet control panel in Tokyo:
Let me just say that yes, I pressed all the buttons and yes, they are all awesome. Too bad these bad boys cost thousands of dollars in the US! You know we looked into it!!
Meeting a colleague
Another incredible experience we had in Tokyo was meeting one of my colleagues from work! I had told everyone that we were going to Japan months in advance, and my coworker Takao both gave me advice on what to see and do and cleared his calendar one Friday night to have dinner with us!
We made reservations at a 100-year-old restaurant where you had to take your shoes off and wear slippers (yes, that again) and we had a multi-course traditional meal with lots of fried stuff on sticks and sake. Here we are living it up!
Fun with food
Okay, I took a larger-than-normal amount of food pictures in Japan because, well, everything was so new and different to me, and stinking cute! Like this most adorable layered chocolate cake in the shape of a kitteh. Best $6 cake I’ve ever had from a train station!
You also have to have fun with the Engrish. I didn’t see as much of it as I had imagined, but this spice jar (which just looks like it has salt in it) is truly philosophical.
And one morning we stumbled into the Pegasus Cafe and had Viennese coffee and pizza toast, which was actually really good!
Our hotel in Kyoto included a hot breakfast, which was a great opportunity to try all the things! Here’s one morning’s feast: mango smoothie, salad, curry over white rice, coffee, yogurt and fruit, fried noodles, dumplings, smoked fish, meatballs and cocktail weenies. Yes, this is breakfast.
And here I am double-fisting some amazing Chinese food. The chopsticks were super easy to learn.
Because it was 1,000 degrees outside, we also hit up many of these amazing vending machines that are everywhere (yet there’s no trash on the streets). Nothing in here is recognizable but we had loads of fun with the Pocari Sweat, the blue and white bottles in the middle row. It tasted like a slightly more sour Sierra Mist. We were excited to find it here in the Asian market!
Of course, cute signs were everywhere. There’s this one, which was not far from a police station that had a sign outside with a cat in a police cap with its arms crossed in an X. It clearly didn’t want us to do something! But this poor cigarette looks sad.
And, as you know, I nerded out over there over the pens, washi tape and stationery that abound. I showed a couple of pics of one of the shops in a previous post, but this is the pen aisle in another art supply store that stopped me dead in my tracks for a while. Too many choices!!!!
So, that’s Japan. But that was just the first half of September. What else did we do, you ask? Well…
Attend a Roller Derby double-header, naturally! Going to roller derby has been on my Goals List for years and I could never remember to dig up the schedule and see if I was free. Well, this was the year that I actually did it! I finally subscribed to the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls mailing list to get the schedule, booked a date with a friend for the Saturday after we got back from Japan and it was quite the experience!
It takes place in a nondescript warehouse-like area of town and the space consists of a flat track, a set of bleachers, a small bar and a food truck outside. We slowly learned the rules of the game and eventually really got into it, throwing the lingo around and pretending like we were regulars.
The first bout was the Sugar Kill Gang against the United States Pummeling Service (above), and the second bout was between the Dooms Daisies and the Red Ridin’ Hoods (below). Good times!
Then, Michael and I went to a Japanese brush calligraphy class! Talk about good timing! It was like a week after we got back and lo and behold, I got my traditional tea ceremony after all because the class was taught by a Japanese master calligrapher in a kimono who performed a tea ceremony first.
We got to practice several basic strokes and characters with a variety of brushes on this super smooth paper before choosing characters to do on better quality paper, which are the two smaller papers on the right. The teacher then stamped them with an official red stamp. They are framed and waiting to be hung in my office. SO fun!
After that we spent a lovely Sunday with Michael and a friend at the Wild Animal Sanctuary checking out all the cute animals. My next event was scrapping, learning and shopping at the Scrapbook Expo that comes to Denver every late-September. I originally planned on just showing up on Saturday to shop a bit, but after I found out that my friends Margaret and Marcie were cropping, I signed up to a couple of classes and the crop too! It was just the crafty therapy I needed as I hadn’t scrapped in several months and was craving some return to normalcy.
We had lots of fun, I loved both of my classes, I spent too much money (shocker) AND I won a huge prize at the crop!
Last but not least, JC and I went to see Stabbing Westward, a band from the 90s that is touring to celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of their albums. I really didn’t need that ‘damn you’re old’ reminder, but the show was EXCELLENT. I had only seen them once in their heyday, but they showed no signs of wear or tear. The best part was when they sang one of their singles for which they made a video, and they played the video on the screen behind them. The singer was both in front of us and 25 years younger on the screen. Sigh. He’s still cute though!