Sightings: Mt Fuji!

During our trip to Japan, we tried to incorporate a couple legs where we could get some R&R to recover from a jammed pack schedule. The first one was Fujiyoshida, Japan. I specifically chose Fujiyoshida because of it’s short distance from the Chureito Pagoda to hopefully catch a glimpse of the elusive Mount Fuji.

It’s important to note that the Japan Rail Pass did not cover the entire leg there. We had to pay about 1000 yen each – but don’t quote me on that, it’s been a while.

We stayed at Hotel Mystays Fuji which we booked through hotels.com. The hotel is relatively new so the rooms and amenities are still in good condition. Unfortunately we did not have the Mt. Fuji view due to lack of availability. The hotel is a 5 minute walk from grocery stores, 100 yen store Seria, and several restaurants.

I have to admit that as much as I b*tch and moan about needing some time alone to relax – I got bored of relaxing. The Mr just can’t win, can he? Sorry, love.

The best views of Mt Fuji happened on the day that we checked out of the hotel – go figure. BUT WE GOT TO SEE MT FUJI! We caught our first glimpse when we went to grab coffee down the street. We rushed back to the hotel to go get my camera and took a 700 yen cab ride to the Chureito Pagoda.

Almost 400 grueling steps later, we reach the pagoda.

Chureito Pagoda Mt Fuji

We were too early for the cherry blossoms but the views did not disappoint.

ChureitoPagoda_01Everything about the Chureito Pagoda was serene from the modest temple to the traditional Japanese details.

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So thankful I had my male model along for the ride.

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We didn’t vlog very much but feel free to take a peek at what we did manage to capture!

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Robot Restaurant: What you need to know

So many things to do but where to start? That was the challenge we faced as we were coming up with potential agenda items for our upcoming trip to Tokyo. Yes, there were plenty of blogs and recommendations from sites but we wanted reassurance from people we know. Luckily, we discovered that a friend of ours travels to Tokyo for work on occasion so we were in luck. When we asked him what is one of the top things we should do – he mentioned that the Robot Café would definitely give us a unique and interesting experience.

Per his recommendation, we did the following:

  • Booked tickets well in advance of our trip
  • Skipped the addition of meals, as you can probably find better food options
  • Made sure to have “enough” beverages prior to the event

As we got to the Robot Café, we had to check-in and grab our tickets in a building directly across the main entrance. Afterwards, we walked into a waiting lounge area where we could grab drinks and enjoy some random shows while waiting. 10-15 minutes before show time, we were told we can head to our seats. We walked down a number of steps, saw a “special” room, made it to our seats, got more drinks, and then the show started.

I’m not even sure where to go from here…all I can say to describe the experience is “What happened”? You’ll just have to check it out yourself to get that experience. Definitely a must if you want to check out the crazy, animated, out-there culture you can only find in Japan!!!

Robot Restaurant

Where is it?
Shinjuku Robot Bldg. B2F, 1-7-1 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku 

Watch the vlog!


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Trip to Tsukiji Fish Market | Tokyo, Japan

What automatically comes to mind when you hear “fish market”? Narrow stalls, the sound of water hoses, fish carcasses perfectly lined up, delectable food stalls, but more importantly, that smell – you know what I’m talking about. The Tsukiji Fish market was everything you would imagine MINUS that dreaded stench.

Tsukiji Fish Market

We didn’t get up at 4am to witness the auction because I read that you needed someone to bring you in and I didn’t care to wake up that early to be perfectly honest. We arrived around 9am and dove right in. The alleys were crammed with locals and tourists alike. Of course, tourists – myself included, had our phones and cameras out to capture all the excitement. There were stalls upon stalls of dried seafood, fresh seafood and kitchen items – just in case you were missing something to prepare your meal.

To my surprise, there were two indoor fish markets in addition to the outdoor market! I’m assuming this is for temperature control so all the fresh seafood wouldn’t go bad. In true Japanese style, the buildings were spotless and very well maintained.

The best part, obviously, are the food stalls. Fresh seafood prepared right before your eyes, how could you go wrong?! My favorite had to be the scallops on a stick. At roughly $2 a stick, I still wonder why we didn’t go back for seconds or even thirds. Another crowd favorite was the mochi. I didn’t think I’d enjoy mochi that wasn’t filled with ice cream (darn westerner) but I was so wrong.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Next time you are in Tokyo, for the love of all things holy, don’t skip the fish market. You’ll be kicking yourself in the behind if you do! Even if you are not a die-hard sushi diner such as myself, there is still plenty to see – and eat!

Where is it?
Oedo line to Tsukiji-Shijo station, exit A. The closest JR station is Shimbashi station but be prepared for a 15 minute walk. But expect this to change shortly (if it hasn’t already) as the Fish Market will be moving to make way for the 2020 Olympic Stadium!

Watch the vlog:

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Japan Vlog: Kura Sushi, Old Castle and Anata No Warehouse

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I’m back with another Japan video. This vlog will cover our first full day in Tokyo.

The vlog opens with us preparing to board the N’EX (Narita Express) from Narita Airport. This train ride was included in the Japan Rail Pass so we were able to board for “free”. You do have the option to reserve your seats ahead of time but we didn’t plan ahead so we had to ride in the unreserved cars – which had plenty of room. The train was immaculate! It was clean, spacious, had hooks for your coat, a drink holder and plenty of leg room. It was honestly nicer than our flight in!

Once we arrived, we spent some time wandering Shinjuku Station because, well, we were lost. We eventually found our way to our AirBnb and dropped off our things.

After dropping off our things we wandered around the Shinjuku area to see what was near us and then headed to Ikebukuro area to grab some sushi at Kura Sushi. Ok, I have an confession: I am not a sushi fan. Whew, so glad I got that off my chest. My whole life I just figured that I never ordered the right sushi roll or I just wasn’t getting the “good stuff.” Now that I have had sushi in the homeland of sushi, I can honestly say that sushi is not for me. So I will let the Mr take over from here.

Discovered this place as we were waiting for the Alice in Wonderland Cafe and thought it would be fun to check out. Walked in, got a waiting ticket, then got seated relatively fast. It is a conveyor belt sushi place but is pretty unique due to the fun casino like game you can play with your empty plates – more about that in a bit!

In regards to the food, definitely would say it has great value – decent tasting sushi at a relatively cheap price!

Back to the casino like game – once you collect 5 plates, you can insert them into a slot and have the tablet above you “run” a game. We had no idea what the different games did but it was pretty fun watching the animations! Unfortunately, we didn’t win anything as our characters fell off cliffs or got crushed by boulders…haha crazy right!?

Ok, I’m back. One of the themed cafes I really wanted to check out was the Alice in Wonderland Cafe. I was under the impression that the different themes were all housed under one roof only to find out that they were all spread out around Tokyo. We ended up visiting Alice in an Old Castle in Ikebukuro. The cafe was down a flight of spiral stairs and shared the basement with 2 other equally amazing themed restaurants. The host was gracious enough to quickly explain the rules of the restaurant which were: 1 food, one drink item per guest and a 500 yen sitting fee. Since we already ate beforehand, we only ordered a couple drinks, fries and parfait. What the cafe lacked in taste, they made up in presentation. The attention and detail that was put into the decor and food was impressive! Take a look for yourself!

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Adorable parfait

After the cafe, we made the trek to the Anata No Warehouse arcade. The Mr was compelled to visit because he saw something that paid homage to Mortal Combat?

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Unfortunately, they banned video and photography (obviously I snuck some in) so I will do my best to explain. The arcade was 3 floors of sensory overload. The first floor had several large arcade games and a TON of claw games – MY WEAKNESS.  2nd floor was full of arcade games, pool tables, darts and ping pong tables. Lastly, the third and top floor had all the pachinko games and other games for cash rewards. We put in 100 yen in some game that dropped balls similar to “plinko” on the The Price is Right — apparently we were doing ok because we were playing for a solid 15 minutes. Not bad for 90 cents of entertainment!

This pretty much sums up our first full day in Tokyo and I have so much more show/tell you so hang tight! Watch the vlog below:

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Journey to Tokyo!

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We have been back from Japan for a couple weeks now and I’m just getting around to editing the footage we compiled during the trip. I’ve been avoiding them but the longer I wait the less likely I will edit them so here I am with the first vlog from Japan! Actually, more like our travel day vlog but it contains footage from our flight and the footage from the capsule hotel!

We flew Japan Airlines on a Boeing 787 on the usual sunny San Diego day. As we were boarding the first thing I noticed was how cramped it was. I realize that because we were flying economy I wasn’t going to get a luxurious lounger but I was pretty bummed at how little leg room we got considering it was an international flight. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Japan Airlines so maybe I had set my expectations a little too high? Other than that, I was still under the weather so I was extra stuffy and extra gross. I usually can’t sleep on flights so I stayed up almost the entire flight. All in all, my time on the flight was horrible.

After a grueling 11 hour flight, we landed in Tokyo at Narita airport around 5pm. After checking in at the 9h capsule hotel, we walked around the restaurants and shops at the airport in an attempt to stay awake until 9pm.

The 9h capsule hotel was an awesome experience. It’s the perfect place to stay if you have a flight during the wee hours of the morning. They provide you with a bag that contains a towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, slippers, and the most unflattering pajamas ever made. Men and women are in separate quarters with separate bathrooms, separate showers and separate pod areas. The capsules themselves are spacious but I’m also only 5’3″ so it may be a squeeze for the taller folks. 9h capsule hotel is a no frills sort of place that provided just what we needed, a place to sleep. To be honest, it was nicer than some of the Airbnb’s that we stayed at during the remainder of the stay but we will come back to that later.

Enough of my babble, here is the vlog to fill in any gaps.

Roarr! Ittybot turns four!

ittybotbdaylogoThis past weekend we celebrated Ittybot’s FOURTH BIRTHDAY!

This is his first birthday back in the states so we decided throw him a little birthday party. We went with a lumberjack theme because it coincides with the rustic, adventure theme I planned for his bedroom. Most of the decorations for his birthday party can later be utilized as decoration in his new bedroom! Pretty genius, right?

When I started to plan his birthday, there were still some post- Christmas sales to take advantage of at Michaels so I found a lot of the decorations there for 80%-90% off. SCORE! I really wanted some rustic elements so I ordered a couple wooden centerpieces that I found for a decent price on orientaltrading.com. While I was perusing their selection, I found inflatable axes. I personally thought the axes would be a great touch for the lumberjack theme but I knew some parents may not agree. Well…too dang bad! At $10 a dozen, I just had to. A lumberjack party would not be complete without some mustache blowouts. So naturally, I got some of those from Oriental Trading too ($4/dozen). Another item I had envisioned for the party and his bedroom was a little red lantern. Amazon had several options but I ultimately went with the cheapest option ($6). I found some fake moss at the dollar store and I was able to put together adorable centerpieces at an affordable price.

The party was held at the clubroom at our complex because there was enough space for our guests and the space itself is pretty amazing. Luckily the space was already well decorated that I didn’t need to do much to it at all.

Lumberjack Birthday PartyFor games, I made a bean bag toss game out of presentation board purchased from Michaels and printed out some forest animal pictures I found online. I called my MIL to sew some bean bags for me because I was too cheap to purchase them LOL. The game ended up being a hit with the kids! Another game we did was a simple ball toss game. I purchased 3 buckets in various sizes and some plastic balls from Daiso. Ended up being a simple carnival game that challenged guests of all ages.

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Food was probably the easiest part of the party. To stay true to the theme, we decided on simple camping inspired food such as burgers, brats, chips and a chili bar.

I really wanted to put together a photo booth for the party but I ended up being too busy with work that I had little time to prepare. That is definitely something I’d like to do for his next birthday party.

We are so thankful to have such a great turnout. We really didn’t expect to have that many people show up and and we were so excited that Ittybot was surrounded with so many friends and family. Being so new to San Diego, we weren’t sure how long it would take for it to really feel like home-luckily, it took no time at all. This is home.

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Empties Review: Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum

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Hi world, I’m a k-beauty aka Korean beauty/skin care-aholic. It all started with a trip to Shanghai that got me hooked on sheet masks. One thing led to another and here I am, a full-blown Korean Beauty addict. I’m no expert but I do hoard…a lot. I have an absurd amount of sheet masks that I had to purchase a cart to house (I’m both proud and embarrassed about it – it is a confusing feeling, really).

Today, I will talk about an Innisfree product. I was introduced to Innisfree in Hong Kong. The store lured me in by their sheer popularity. There were so many people crammed in their store, I had to see what the fuss was about. Innisfree is known for being eco-friendly and their mostly natural products. While in Hong Kong, I purchased a few of their sheet masks. Ok, at only $1 each, I purchased ten. In short, I ended up liking it SO much I purchased another 120. Yes, like I said before, I am a hoarder and an addict. Moving on.

Because I’m constantly experimenting with new products, I rarely finish a full-sized product. However, I managed to finish TWO bottles of the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum and I’ve almost emptied out the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Eye Cream (post to follow).

Today, lets start with the Green Tea Seed Serum. You can purchase one for yourself for $20-$23 on Amazon.

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PC: Amazon.com

Ingredients
(The green Tea Extract (75.9%), Propanediol, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Ethanol, Glycerin, Betaine, The green Tea Seed Oil (208mg), Prickly Pear Extract, Orchid Extract, Tangerine Peel Extract, Camellia Leaf Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia Extract, Grapefruit Extract, Orange Extract, Tangerine Extract, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Cetearyl Olivate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sorbitan Olivate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cocoa Extract, Dextrin, Potassium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance)

The product’s main ingredient (almost 76%) is green tea. Green tea is an antioxidant, with anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties – to top it all off, it’s great for calming and hydration. Well DANG, OK THEN!

One little minor issue though. The product contains ethanol (i.e. alcohol) which can irritate sensitive skin. So if you fall in the sensitive skin category, I would maybe do a test run before diving in head first.

My first impression when I started using it was that it was really light. Almost too watery to be a serum? I eventually grew to appreciate it because it made layering products a breeze! It all makes perfect sense to me now. Well played, Innisfree, well played. On particularly warm days, I only use the serum and skip the moisturizer for fear of being too oily. All in all, it helped reduce some of my redness and fixed my minor dry patches.

Rating:
8/10

I had two bottles in my arsenal because I received one for free (spent so much money that they gifted me one). Now that I have burned through both bottles, I’m not sure if I love it enough to purchase another? I mean, I do like it, but do I LOVE it? I liked it enough to finish two bottles but I’m still hesitant to consider it a “holy grail”. I’ll be trying out other products so we will see how I feel then!

Do you know of any products I should try out? If so, drop me a little note and I will more than likely give it a try!

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Up next: The Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum Eye Cream.