Monday, September 30, 2013

Keeping the Faith: Nylon Japan across continents


I am a creature of habit.

Since living in Los Angeles I developed a weekly ritual that  has yet to cease.

Nearly every Sunday, I would buy a Japanese fashion magazine, and read it at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, while drinking a Vanilla Ice Blended, and smoking a Black&Mild. One of those magazines had to be Nylon Japan.

I took this very habit with me to Portland, but made a few changes along the way.

I gave up smoking cigars due to a health insurance premium, and because I felt half-assed about the whole pursuit. Smoking one gas-station cigar a month does not a "smoker" make, however I couldn’t in good conscience tell someone that I was a "non-smoker". After getting tired of the whole neither-here-nor-there business to my smoking routine, I gave it up.

Also, there was no Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Oregon, so I had to improvise. After months of living in the city, I fell in love with a tiny café 25-minutes from my house called Insomnia. Their Iced Chai Lattes kept my Vanilla Ice Blended-cravings at bay, and their quirky atmosphere seemed a fitting place to thumb through pages of sky-high stilettos and glitters corsets.

The only problem with Insomnia is that, contrary to their name, they are not open all night. In fact, they are hardly open at all. Since they closed at 3:00 pm on Sunday, that barely gave me enough time to wake up and drive there (yes, at 26 years old I still wake up at noon on Sundays) so I changed my routine to Saturday, when they were open until 10:00 pm.

One thing didn’t change, and that’s Nylon Japan. Fortunately there is one Japanese bookstore in Portland, so I was able to continue the subscription I have had for the last seven years.

From cafés in Portland and Los Angeles, I dreamed of moving to Japan and living the life I had seen inside the magazine.
Shopping, dancing, crazy outfits, wild parties….
Now I am living in Japan. But instead of crazy outfits and wild parties, I am working full time, writing a novel, training for a marathon, driving on the left side of the road, and navigated through this country and culture with Japanese language skills that aren’t suitable for any conversation taking place outside of a bar.
But I still go to the bookstore each month and buy a copy of Nylon Japan.
And while sometimes the copies pile up on my desk unread, I still visit a café from time to time, and sit down to my usual routine.
The same routine I’ve kept since 2006, across three cities and two countries.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Moments from Matsue

Now that I have returned to my quiet mountain village, I am slowly settling into life in rural Japan, and finding time to appreciate and capture truly beautiful moments here.

This picture was taken on a street in Matsue. 

That day I visited the Matsue castle, some museums, and many historical sites. 
But somehow this house, overtaken by potted plants and vines, struck me as the most beautiful image of the day. 

This is a bit how my life has been lately. 

On the other side fo the world, one of my friends coincidentally described this very phenomenon to me in a recent email:

"It is amazing how your perspective changes when you suspend yourself in a moment of pleasure."

Let beautiful things be beautiful.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tea at the Heathman

the plant behind me makes my hair look huge
 Its funny how I’ve blogged on afternoon teas all over the world, from Dubai to Canada, but never in my home town: Portland. Just before I was about to leave this beautiful city in the northwest, I paid a visit to the Heathman Hotel for its famous afternoon tea.

This was my second time at the Heathman. Three years ago I had taken my mother to afternoon tea, but this was before I decided to blog every time I had a cup of tea somewhere. What I remembered most about that visit was the delicious vanilla tea I ordered, and thankfully after three years they still had it. 


Tea at the Heathman was a much more laid back affair than it is in other hotels. It is served in a quiet section of their mezzanine, and we sat in deep round booths, which made for a very private atmosphere, so unlike the bustling noise of the Peninsula in Hong Kong or the Bulgari café in Tokyo


Like many traditional tea places, the finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries are served on a three-tier platter.



This was a wonderful way to commence my four-year stay in Portland. Now I will have to look for afternoon tea places in Japan!

Drains of Taipei

My last drains diary in Taiwan was back in 2012 , and I looked forward to updating it with a couple new finds: