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Japan: Instagrammed


After spending 10 days in Japan, followed by a week in Korea, my mind is still processing the whole, amazing experience. I visited Japan in 2008 on my round the world trip, and it’s still one of my most-loved countries for so many reasons. For now, I’ll start by sharing some of my favorite Instagrams from Japan!

Frozen yogurt and freshly made potato chips, drizzled with chocolate sauce at Calbee+ on Takeshita St in Harajuku.

Japanese bookstores have a nice selection of cat magazines. Shocking how much print is NOT dead in Japan. Side note: their fashion magazines come with a purse attached!

One of the things I love about Japan is their dedication to cute (“kawaii”) culture. Socks shopping at Mighty Soxer on Takeshita St in Tokyo.

Biking in Karuizawa (& fall colors). Also love the trust factor of bike locks in Japan.

Hot coffee from vending machines – why do we still not have these?

Snow monkeys soaking in their mountain onsen in Yudanaka – one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen!

Fall colors from the Shinkansen train from Nagano back to Tokyo.

First stop in Osaka: okonomiyaki for dinner

The best aquarium I’ve ever visited. Fantastic.

Japan takes photo booths to a whole new level. Another Japan item I thought would have reached American shores by now.

We stopped by a cat cafe in Osaka. It was an… odd experience.

Worth a second visit. Golden Pavilion temple in Kyoto.

Udon in Kyoto.

Love the food “cart” culture along Fukuoka’s waterfront.

We spent our last few hours in Japan watching sumo!

Have you been to Japan?

You Had Me At Hello Kitty


Japan, I love you. Seriously though, after the initial shock of just being back in a developed country, I fell in love with Japan all over again. It’s truly amazing, it’s clean, orderly, polite, and let me tell you about the symmetry and design and presentation. That’s probably the biggest difference for all things Japan and all things NOT Japan. Japan is all about presentation, which for a graphics person, is sensory overload. God, I love Japan. After a six hour walk through Osaka, I’m totally taken with this country.

PS. The toilets are even high-tech. The toilet seats are heated, yes, heated, and there are lots of funny buttons to press. Check out the picture. I had no idea the Japanese had such a toilet fetish.

The Slow Boat From China


Sushi in JapanAnd I`m back! I completely forgot about the China censorship issue, so I was only partially surprised when I couldn`t login from China. It`s been a busy week! We just arrived in Osaka this morning off a 48 hour ferry boat from Shanghai. Good Times! :) I`ll be filling in the gaps of the last week eventually, but for now, I`m alive! Japan is so different than China. China was a great experience, but it`s nice to be back in a 1st world country. Biggest difference… the toilet situation (not a big fan of squat toilets, but that`s another story).

I`ve had my first real Japan sushi lunch, yummm! And now it`s off for some exploring! I`ll try to post some pictures of China soon.

Just Call Me Jonah


Let me tell you about my boat journey, but shhh… we’ll have to whisper, so I don’t get thrown overboard.

After a long morning of hurry up and wait, we finally made it through Customs to board the boat for our trip across the East China Sea. It took us about an hour just to get out of Shanghai, which made me thankful for not taking a river boat here in Shanghai, as we saw the whole thing from the ferry anyway. So, our accommodations are “clean and comfortable”, lol, no, really, it’s cool, it’s just a little cramped to have 4 people in a closet-sized room. Thankfully, the boat is fairly empty so there are a lot of lobby and lounge areas, and even a reading room that looks out over the front of the boat. I guess I’ll be doing a lot of reading over the next few days. The sad part of the boat? Back to regular prices, lunch was $5, I miss my 25 cent street food!

After lunch, everything was going fine, people seemed to be getting along, we tried some real Japanese saki at lunch, everyone was reading or playing games, no one had gone stir-crazy yet… and then? People started disappearing. The sea sickness was setting in. Even after their meds, almost everyone had gone to their rooms, and the halls and bathrooms had a distinct vommity smell. The water got choppier into the evening, with some pretty big swells, that the whole boat was rocking from side to side. By around 6pm I started to feel it a little bit, so I decided to just go to sleep in case I was getting sick like everyone else. That did the trick and the waves rocked me right to sleep. (I’ve heard it wasn’t such a calm night for my comrades). After about 12 hours of sleep, I was refreshed and ready to… sit around on the boat. At breakfast, I discovered that I was the only one enjoying our little adventure at sea, and was beginning to feel a little like Jonah.

OK, I admit, by mid-afternoon I was just about stir-crazy, but at least I wasn’t ill. I spent the day playing games, reading, and drinking the free tea from the vending machine downstairs. Oh, it’s nice to experience simple means of travel, but it will be nice to just get there tomorrow.

Are we there yet?!?

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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