Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Volunteering at Rikuzentakata 陸前高田

On our third day in Tohoku, we headed down to Rikuzentakata (陸前高田), one of the most badly affected areas during the 3.11 disaster. What used to be a populated coastal town was literally flattened, nothing could be seen in the distance except for piles of debris, crushed cars and buildings reduced to their steel supports. To get an idea of how much debris there was around, compare the size of this single pile with the size of the building nearby.

Really, the first word that came to my mind was...nothing. There really was nothing. Nothing to describe what I saw, nothing to describe the feelings you feel upon standing in the middle of nothing. In pictures and on TV you see the whole areas, but when you're actually there you feel so small in that vast area of land; the destruction and debris seem so much bigger, and the impact and scale of the destruction feels magnified. I can't imagine what the people living there must have felt.

Lands were barren; no greenery; no people. It was heartbreaking to witness. Though I had seen countless pictures and TV coverage of affected areas, seeing them with my own eyes was a different experience.

Think this is some autumn scenery of the changing colors of leaves? Wrong. The reddish leaves are leaves of pine trees that have died as a result of being hit by the tsunami.

All the free-standing trees in the town were uprooted and washed away by the tsunami, save for this single pine tree which they call the "Miracle Pine Tree" 奇跡の一本松 (kiseki no ippon matsu) or "Pine Tree of Hope" 希望の松 (kibou no matsu). This miracle tree survived the disaster and even saved the life of a man who clung onto it. It is now a symbol of hope for Rikuzentakata.

Even amidst the barren land and debris-filled water, this sunflower grows steadily. A sign that life continues and can grow even in the harshest of environments. I do believe that Rikuzentakata can do it. Bit by bit, one step at a time, it will happen: they will recover.

We were tasked with clearing drains which had been blocked and covered with debris and mud, hardened over time by the weather. Despite a collective effort over a few hours, all we could clear was a section of a single drain. It was a tad sad to know that our minute efforts did not make a significant impact, although it was nice to know that at least we were helping albeit in a small manner. Imagine all the time and effort needed to get the whole town back to recovery. Or all the affected towns.

We headed back to the volunteer center and met people from Uganda and the Red Cross who were also on their way to do some volunteering. It was really touching to see people from all over the world come to support Japan and participate in relief efforts; to show her that she is not alone. Alone, we might not seem to make a difference, but working together, we can make things happen.

*** Special thanks to group B for some of the photos!***

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Dolly Wink Items for F/W 2011 ♥

Right now they're in the midst of taking promotional pictures and deciding on the packaging, but here's the line-up for the new Dolly Wink releases due out sometime in Fall/Winter this year~

さくらんぼ 6 new types of lashes
さくらんぼ Eyebrow pencils
さくらんぼ Brow mascara
さくらんぼ Brow powder

Guess this time round it's venturing into brow products! Plus the new lashes, can't wait to see the designs of those~ ♥

The other day I finally spotted tubes of Dolly Wink Eyelash Fix in my local Watson's, so I grabbed 2...despite still having 3 tubes of DUP Eyelash Fixer. I somehow still prefer the Dolly Wink one despite it being non-waterproof, it's easier to remove and I like how the glue kind of holds the shape of the lash after removing it? ^^

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chopper Goods! ♥

Say hello to my new camera case~
A Chopper head attached with an omamori (protection charm from temples/shrines) from Chuusonji, and dangly stuff from Pink Latte. Opens at the top, around the edges of the hat^^

I think Chopper's a really cute mascot. So he's not actually my favorite character from One Piece (Zoro is!) but he's really cute as a mascot so I can't help hoarding stuff with him on it!

Before it became my camera case.
I got this at a store in Shinagawa, near the ground floor of the hotel we were staying in.

One Piece-themed cooling packs, saw this at a bookstore in Narita Airport.
Other than Chopper there's Luffy, Ace and Shanks!

Candy in a Chopper tin~

The back.

Chopper and One Piece merchandise in a UFO catcher machine.

Large Chopper dolls in a UFO catcher machine~!

The very skilful Kensei caught it and now I have a mega-Chopper doll!

And I was happily camwhoring with Chopper on the bus

Squeezy little Chopper keychain

Chopper piggy-bank.

Tote bags anyone?

Miniature poker cards!

And my ever-growing collection of ご当地(location limited edition) Chopper keychains. For now you can see the individual Chubu ones here, and the individual Kantou ones here! (And the individual Tohoku ones will come when I get round to posting those!)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sun With Moon ♥

Sun with Moon is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants, the food is great...usually. This was the first time encountering such disappointing dishes. Though the rest made up for it, now I know what never to order, and to be wary of the servings of certain ingredients.

First, take a guess, how many people this meal is for?

You might that think this looks nice,
but you'll be fooled, just like we were.
And we ordered two of this.

Kurobuta (pork) okonomiyaki - Disappointment #1

I was craving okonomiyaki, but ended up feeling cheated.
This was dry, flavorless and empty.
For all the slices of kurobuta, at least 70% was fat and not meat.
The bottom of the okonomiyaki was a tad burnt.
There was too much flour and hardly any cabbage!

Needless to say, I could only stomach less than half of mine, my friend fared better and finished 3/4 of hers.

Mentaiko cheese yaki - Disappointment #2

Total ripoff. Guess where the mentaiko is?
It's the miniscule, hard, brown bits at the top, I was cheated.
But the kitchen said it's been "cooked".
The mentaiko was supposed to be inside/under the cheese, not on top!
All the other times I had it, it was not like this.
The picture in the menu is totally different from this.

Niku udon

After the previous two disappointments,
thankfully the udon and soup were nice!
But sadly this was not my dish T_T


Best dish of the night~
Loved the flavor of the soup too!
Golden mushrooms are my favorite, and so is beeef!
But the beef slices were so thick though.

Chirashi sushi

This was good too; roe, salmon, unagi
Not mine though T_T

Came as a set with chawanmushi, soup, vegetables, soft shell crab.

Hahaha, the meal was for 3 people. Greedy little pigs aren't we? (:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

夏祭り 2011 ♥ Natsu Matsuri

Natsu Matsuri (summer festival) this year was held 2 weeks after I got back from Japan, a good chance to wear the new yukata I got hehehe~ I got the yukata at Uniqlo at Narita Airport, it was only 2,990yen and the quality's not bad! Plus I looove the design, and especially the color of the obi (belt/sash)! ♥

Right after I bought it I tried tying the obi for the first time in my life; I'd like to think it looks somewhat decent, no? However I don't think it would've lasted if I went out walking around with it!

The person who tied the obi for me at Natsu Matsuri tied it really prettily! Instead of the usual one wrap around she folded it to show the colors cos my obi is colorful~ And it became useful for slotting stuff.

There are lots of variations to tying the obi,
I love looking at the back view of people wearing yukata for the tied obi.
This only applies to "real" obi, not the cheat/fake obi with pre-made bows haha!

Posing with out cups and pretending to be spokespeople for Asahi.


Ice cream to cool off on a hot summer day~

Her kanzashi (hair ornament) is gorgeous! ♥

Lots of delicious food stalls at this year's Natsu Matsuri!

Taking pictures on this day is a must!

Had squid yakisoba for dinner~!

Cute little hula girls.
In the field there were lots of performances by various groups, with people of all ages.
Cheerleading, taiko (traditional drums), hula, different types of dance etc.

Playing around with my camera's different color modes...

What's that over there?

How about over there?

Yukata girls~
3 of us bought ours at Uniqlo at Narita^^

Pseudo-dance pose~

Playing with sparklers after the event~!

We had to go out onto the streets cos sparklers were banned at the event location.

Don't mess with us or we'll beat you up!

Playing pool in a yukata is possible!
Not by me though, I'm horrible at pool in general.

This was how the person tied my obi for me, love the contrasting colors! ♥

Natsu Matsuri is a yearly event organized by the Japanese Association, Singapore (JAS). It's usually held at the Japanese Primary School in Changi, on a Saturday around the 20th of August. Expect lots of yummy food, nice performances and a great atmosphere~!

Hopefully with time I'll learn how to tie the obi more nicely hohoho! ♥