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August 03, 2015

SEA BREEZE | Japanese Cool 2015

I have a system for managing the Japanese Summer heat. Cool showers. Cooling powder. Cool clothes. Cooling sprays. Cooling wipes. Oil-absorbing papers. Kakigori. This aside nothing beats the disappointment of a sweaty patch on your shirt. This year I have added a parasol and a cooling towel to the mix and was inches away from buying cool-type pillows to garnish our beds. Perhaps just saved by the rather obscure animal design, I decided to buy ice pillows instead. You could say I am mildly obsessed with feeling FRESH and this year the challenge is every man′s game.

Sideways glances at hotpants (never going to happen), arm covers (not a fan) and visor hats (watch where you are going!) shows that personal preference is key. My preference lies in the preparation for the heat. Any sweating there after is enjoyed and accepted as best as one can standing in a puddle of sweat.

My new find as of yesterday has got to be the delectable sounding SEA BREEZE Citrus sherbet spray.  I liked the promise of natural plant based ingredients as the kids have been known to whip something out of my bag and start spraying up a storm. ICE TYPE was another hello moment. Not convinced it kills body odor, I tend to back it up with an antiperspirant at least under the arms where it counts.

Now to go and grab a frozen towel from the freezer to frolic with.

August 01, 2015

Nagano | Summer Roadtrip 2015

Something that I love about Japanese road-tripping is that I can leave the house in reckless abandon and know that whatever was forgotten can be bought along the way. With a number of pitstops at convenience stores, we could happily change the baby, stock up on pickled plum onigiri (rice triangles), senbei  (grilled crackers) and some strong coffee to keep the driver going. A must for the return journey in the car of 9 hours due to Japanese holiday traffic.

A favourite recommended in the bathroom at some of the bigger refreshment stops were Black Black gum, a can of Boss coffee and Mintia Black. All are caffeine charged so be aware if you are sensitive to it. Our driver's door was a mini-bar of caffeine.

We started on the adventure in celebration of Batman's birthday. First stop Chausuyama Dinosaur Park and Zoo in Nagano. To do both in a day is a stretch for any toddler and parent but we managed both and are happy we did. The cable car ride up to the zoo was enough to sell us on it. 

A short stopover in Obuse on the way back to Tokyo. we came back almost empty handed except for some chestnut confectionaries and a belly full of soba. 

July 13, 2015

Suntory | Kakigori Fruit Syrup 2015

I am thankful that this year I am not pregnant as we face another scorcher of a summer here in Yokohama. The salty fruit products are instore and I can already feel my tastebuds dancing in anticipation of kakigori icy sweetness. Hot on the heels of summer kakigori is the 3-flavoured variety of Suntory Premium Fruit Sauces. Available in White Peach, Strawberry and Orange, I am loving the pink strawberry tint on our lips. Memoirs of a Geisha re-enactment!

Last years pregnancy obsession was Shirokuma. Shirokuma meaning polar bear, is a devilishly delicious mix of icy condensed milk atop a mountain of shaved ice with a sprinkling of fruity toppings. In the past I have made my own syrups, but in the haze of a summer 2014 pregnancy I could not be bothered to make anything and by ritual used to waddle down to the kakigori stand at Tama Plaza station to buy my daily dose.

Kakigori, shaved ice or snow cones, are the easiest thing for me to make in Japanese summers. Scratch that, my eldest makes it and not just for himself but he whips up a batch for all of us. One of my greatest purchases was the kakigori machine a few summers back, but being the cheaply made item it was, it gave out a summer later and I replaced it with an equally disposable one. I purposely decided to go with a manual option as a throwback to retro Japan. That, and I love seeing little people churn the wheel.

July 11, 2015

2015 Japanese Summer Preview

I am trying to break through a writers block of sorts. You know how summer gets in the way of online pursuits while you are all encompassed with everyday living? This has happened a lot lately. The kids need sunning, the plants watering and the students teaching. Somewhere in between I am trying to keep track of a number of clever japanese products that are in on my radar at the moment.

Bear with me on this one. The summer is just kicking off here in Japan and there are so many exciting things I want to tell you about! I have discovered a new holy grail skin product, some amazing healthy water keeping the family rehydrated this summer and some lovely little products to add a few extra minutes to the day and help relieve a minutia of mum frustration.

More to follow is news on our summer travel plans - of which we have a few. Our first actual road trip as a family of four and how we are gearing up for that.

Anyway this is to check in and to promise that I am chipping away at my writers block.

June 21, 2015

World Party | Japanese Rainy Season Wear

The puddles have got splashier and the journey to the train station longer as it is officially Japanese rainy season. A train trip into Tokyo this week saw me caught short without one of the many umbrellas we have in the genkan at home. On a whim I dashed into a store at the station to pick up a quick make-do one for the day.

Elbow to elbow with a gaggle of Japanese ladies, I left with one that would double up against the strong summer sun anticipated in July and August in Yokohama. I have finally become a convert of the parasol after seeing ladies glide by me under their umbrella shade looking effortlessly cool. I would like a piece of that too this summer and was loving the range by World Party.

I chose the MINI UV/RAIN UMBRELLA while others tended to prefer the longer types. Particularly cute is their RAINBAG cover and KiU Poncho for the Fuji Rock Festival in July.

June 18, 2015

TAYASUI Memopad | Kanji Practise to Infinity

If you are anything like me you have a stationery drawer full of half started notebooks with shabby looking Kanji scrawled in them. Then when I revisit them a short while (erm 5years) later I have forgotten these scribbles and the Japanese symbols they were meant to replicate. In fact these kanji are not committed to memory in any way and sit useless in my Japanese notebooks.

A simple app later I am having fun practicing and redoing these kanji over and over again until they are committed to memory. Perhaps I could have done this in a notebook, but I am loving the simplicity of the Paris based app TAYASUI Memopad. From the Japanese word for simple, Kanji practice made easy. 

June 14, 2015

TWG Tea | Blended Teas in Japan 2015

Hong Kong was amazing! I stayed in a bustling neighborhood of Causeway Bay. The accommodation was less luxurious that the branded stores alongside us, but the proximity to the nearest subway was hard to beat when traveling came into play. A short walk from Victoria Park I spent one humid morning enjoying an iced milk tea before getting my game on. Really, it is hard not to notice that the Japanese and Korean beauty brands are holy grail at the makeup and skincare counters, so I instead enjoyed anything food or beverage related this trip. The supermarkets and convenience stores had familiar Japanese chocolates like Pocky and flavored Kit Kats but it was the local brands of tea and soy milk that had me from the start.

I fell in love with not one but a few local Milk teas with variations including tapioca balls, the addition of coffee and a Jammy Lime Honey drink that I am dying to recreate! The flavors were rich and hit that thirst quenching conundrum of TEA OR COFFEE sideways. Let's do both and more - all at once. Fabulous stuff in the unforgiving heat of Summer 2015.

Souvenir-wise you cannot go home without a sampling of TWG Tea. A brand established in Singapore, I particularly like their Sakura Sakura tea and the TWG firefly tea bowl is magic. With subtle nods to countries around the globe and with Japanese stores in Jiyugaoka, Marunouchi and Tamagawa Takashimaya, I am excited to try their Haute Couture Teas starting with Geisha Blossom Tea.

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