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Japan Earthquake & Tsunami – Forkover Friday Week 10


Like the rest of the world, I woke up Friday morning in utter shock of what had/was happening in Japan. I don’t really have much to say for this week’s Forkover Friday. It’s devastating. Text REDCROSS to 90999.

I love Japan. Three years ago, I was on a bullet train from Hiroshima headed to Tokyo — three weeks into my round the world trip. The picture of cherry blossoms was from a park in Tokyo, as flowers were just starting to bloom as I was leaving Japan. Anyway, I’ve been following Makiko Itoh‘s (from Just Bento) local news updates on twitter.

Forkover Friday Week
Who it helps: Japan relief efforts
What non-profit: text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Japan earthquake & Pacific tsunami relief
Where: Japan
Why: earthquake and tsunami

10 Things That Make Me Happy {About Winter}

It’s been a while since I did a non-travel related Things That Make Me Happy round-up (ok, the last one I did was in September for my frugal blog). So without further ado, here are 10 things that make me happy right now.

groupon knee-highs-american-apparel junior-drake-purse masteringartfrenchcooking cuff-bracelets
dahlias-bunch love-it-or-leave-it burtsbeesbetteroffted franco-sarto-pumps

1. groupon – how cool is Groupon? OK, this week’s deals have completely sucked, but maybe that’s a good thing, as I’ve bought way too many deals lately — really, you can never have too many home goods and massages though. Plus, it’s awesome getting a $10 credit when a friend buys something. groupon

2. striped knee socks – Japan officially has the coolest sock selection. I bought a pair of striped knee socks when I was in Tokyo, and they’re my absolute favorite socks — perfect for winter and they make me smile. American Apparel sells some similar [almost as cool] ones, but not sure on the fit as they’re unisex, so they might be gigantic in the ankles. $10 american apparel

3. green – I love green. Yep, I’m oddly drawn to green. I often find myself thinking “ooh I really like something about this…” and then I’m all “oh, it’s because that entire wall is painted green.” Perhaps that’s what prompted me to buy a green handbag a few months ago. <3

4. learning to make a perfect omelette – I checked out Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking at the library last fall and as luck would have it, got to keep it for several months. I had lots of time to practice making the perfect omelette — as you may have guessed it’s all about the butter. $18.50 amazon

5. cuff bracelets – Although I’ve never been much of a jewelry fan, I love cuff bracelets. I bought a silver one in Essaouira, Morocco and it’s one of my favorite travel ‘souvenirs’.

6. dahlias – I love dahlias because they’re almost obnoxiously colorful and every single one is completely different… and they remind me of summer.

7. love it or leave it coat rack – a daily reminder to live at 100%, instead of just surviving. Life. is. short. $24 urban outfitters

8. burt’s bees chapstick – every day’s a jolly holiday with you Burt! $3 everywhere

9. better off ted – This show is incredibly funny. Add it to your Hulu queue stat! free hulu

10. grey suede pumps – I have joint custody originally found/borrow often a pair of Franco Sartos. They make me smile. nordstrom rack

What’s on your list?

Tokyo Highlights


Over the last few days I’ve revisited a few districts, Shibuya and Akihabara, and had a great time catching up with my sister. Being in Tokyo for a week has been an amazing experience. Here are a few of my favorite things about Tokyo:

  • Akihabara was much more fun the second time around. My brother-in-law watches some anime and collects Transformers, so he was kind of like having a tour guide. We checked out several hobby/toy shops and went to one of the capsule machine shops. I spent way to much yen for trinkets. So much fun. And we went to another arcade and got sticker pictures taken. Hilarious!
  • Ginza for dinner and a Kabuki play (which was so boring I almost fell asleep and we only went for 1 act).
  • Harajuku for people watching and socks shopping.
  • Meji Shrine, a forest in the city.
  • Tokyo Metro Government Office Tower for views of the city.
  • Sony Building for cool gadgets.
  • Tempura restaurant in Shinjuku area where we saw live eel being murdered in front of us. I was glad I was done eating. The chef held up an eel, smacked it, pinned it’s head, chopped the head off, slit it down the middle, skinned the inner meat out, rinsed it, dipped in batter and threw it in the frier. Oh geez. Now that’s fresh seafood.
  • Ghibli Museum in Mitakato was a magical place.
  • Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest fish market in the world. This place is so busy.
  • Shopping in Shibuya.
  • American actor advertisements. This was very “Lost In Translation.” Tommy Lee Jones and Cameron Diaz do a lot of advertising in Japan.

I’ve loved my time in Japan, especially Tokyo, but I’m ready to move on (and to get some sun)! I’m flying to Cairns, Australia this evening, (I’m also saving an expensive night of lodging in Tokyo by sleeping on the plane). Goodbye, Japan!

Lost In Translation


I love seeing a familiar face that looks like mine! :) I sat for about an hour at the Asahi Beer Tower (a very visible tower on the Tokyo skyline, as the “froth” on top of the building is nicknamed the golden turd) before my sister came up the escalator. She and her husband arrived in Tokyo last night. I’m so excited to see them after traveling for three weeks! We headed to the Asakusa district for lunch and touring the Sensoji temple. We probably did more catching up than touring this afternoon. :)

We planned to meet for dinner later in Shinjuku and I headed back to my hotel to pick up my bag and move to my hostel that’s closer to the Shinjuku area. It was pouring rain and rush hour on a Friday and I was so tired and frustrated. I finally got back on the JR line with my pack, transferred to the Shinjuku line, and finally arrived at my hostel. I’m staying at a capsule style hostel near Shinjuku, that has a floor for females. Regular capsule hostels are really cheap, but don’t allow female customers. :( Thankfully, my “capsule” is by the window and my pack fits in my locker. Since I’ll be here for about a week I dumped everything out of my pack. After unpacking I jumped back on the metro and then walked around and around Shinjuku station. The Shinjuku station is huge, it’s the busiest train station in the world with over 200 exists, so to say I wandered around (and around) several times is an understatement. I’ve often been accused of having internal GPS, so to pass the same exit several times was so frustrating! Well, I finally arrived at their hotel and decided that I needed a better strategy for navigating the station next time. :) After dinner, I started my long trek “home.” Oh and my new Shinjuku strategy is to find the biggest tourist attraction near where I want to go and then follow the signs for that exit only, much easier!

Akihabara, Shibuya, & Roppongi


We left on the 6:21 train to Tokyo this morning, which put us in Tokyo by 7:30 am. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we walked around the outside of the Imperial Palace (a small scale Himeji Castle), before heading to Akihabara, techy shopping center of Tokyo. Nerd central! We wandered through shops and stared at electronics and people equally. After lunch we took the rail to Shibuya, a well-known shopping and fashion district. It’s so fascinating to see all the people and trends and signs and lights. A little sensory overload. I’ve never seen anything like Tokyo.

Later, we checked out the Roppongi area, a nightlife and expat district. It didn’t really seem to Western-y, but there were more foreign influence than the rest of Tokyo: Italian restaurants, Irish pubs and African club promoters.

Olivia Raymer
Things I ♥: travel, food (I'm a pescatarian), the Pacific Northwest, bikes (I ride an orange mixte), beer (IPAs), summer, coffee, lists, and kitties. Travel enthusiast, former product manager, dabbler, and currently helping small businesses with digital strategy at Early Bird Strategy.

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