5 Steps to Hanami (View Cherry Blossoms) in Japan

Spring has Sprung!

Spring has Sprung!

Ah, March.  The prelude to Spring.  The light at the end of a long winter tunnel.

Or in Japan, it’s the start of one of the most prized occasions of the year:

Cherry Blossom Season.

Whatever high expectation you have for watching cherry blossoms in Japan (or better known as ‘hanami,‘ which literally means ‘watch flowers’ 花見),  Japan will not disappoint on this front.  It’s a magical experience.

While many tourists envision their hanami experience like an anime opening (think wind blowing in your hair as sakura petals brush past your skin), the reality may differ somewhat.  To get the kind of hanami experience you’re dreaming of, it involves more than hopping on a plane and finding a sakura tree–it will take a whole ‘lotta planning.

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The Ethnicity Question

The Dreaded Ethnicity Box

The Dreaded Ethnicity Box

After years of being uninsured in the U.S. (and a few more years of having third-world equivalent healthcare in China), I finally received fully covered health benefits through my new job.  In fear of medical bills and non-preventative coverage, I went years without a standard check-up.  When I got my shiny new insurance card, I booked the first appointment I could to get tested for–well, everything.  After all, I was fully covered.

“It looks like your application is incomplete, Ms. Mary O’Connor,” the secretary smiled sweetly.  “You’ll need to answer a couple of quick questions before you can see the doctor.”

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My Favorite, Must-See Places in Los Angeles

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I complain about Los Angeles.  A lot.

Yet beneath all of its guck and yuck, Los Angeles does have some gems.  While I officially rank Los Angeles as the worst city I’ve lived in thus far, I still think it’s a great place to visit (especially if you live in a colder state–L.A. is great for winters!).

Whenever I need to feel a little better about Los Angeles (or have my friends from afar in town), I go to my favorite spots.  Usually starting with…..

Taking in the Waves at Manhattan Beach

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Is Living in Big City America Worth it?

photo credit: Pranav Bhatt via photopin cc

photo credit: Pranav Bhatt via photopin cc

Why Big City L.A. Sucks… Traffic

I apologize, I haven’t updated in almost a month. Aside from my terrible job and daily four hour commute (yes, you read that correctly, four hours), I have been busy with my favorite hobby:

Traveling.

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When I was younger, all I could think about was how to get out of the United States rather than travel in it. The arches of Moab are nothing compared to the Great Wall of China, I sighed. The Grand Canyon simply pales in comparison to the intellectual beauty of Paris’ Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysses.

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Interracial Dating and the Japanese Drama Massan

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Image Courtesy of Sachi’s blog

When I heard about the newest show to premiere on NHK, “Massan,” was all about the trials and hardships of a marriage between a white woman and a Japanese male, I was a bit skeptical. I was afraid the show would be another ridiculous showcase of stereotypes about foreigners. The advertisement revealed a blonde hair, blue-eyed woman frolicking around the fields of Scotland with an attractive Japanese man running to embrace her.

Oh god, I thought.

This is going to be another repeat of My Darling is a Foreigner.

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The Good and Bad in Los Angeles Living

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Since my fateful return in April and the initial culture shock that ensued after China, I have found both good and bad to my new life in Los Angeles.

I Miss the Seasons

I returned to America for a myriad of reasons, one of the big ones being:

Pumpkin Spice Flavored Goods

(Note: Asia has no such thing as the American pumpkin)

photo credit: julochka via photopin cc

photo credit: julochka via photopin cc

Oh, how I lamented when I saw my friend’s pumpkin spice latte photos taken in the U.S. I’m having a new craft pumpkin spice beer, my friend from the U.S. would tell me over Skype, gulping it in all its delicious glory as I sat on the other end of the world, completely helpless. We’re having your favorite pumpkin pie, my parents would tell me as I heard them chomp on that delicious, orange morsel with whipped cream on top.

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Escape to Jeju Island

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The wind pummeled us relentless, but we didn’t care. The dark blue waves screamed in protest as they crashed violently against the lava formed rock formation we stood upon. Although the dark, unknowing waters of Jeju looked unwelcoming, the fresh and cleansing breeze of the Korean countryside and its pastel, blue sky was more than enough to keep me here. After relentless days of smog and apocalyptic skies of dust and toxic matter in China, the coast of Jeju was like medicine.

The wind whipping my hair across my face, the sprays of fresh, seawater splashing across my open toed sandals, a fresh paint of blue sky:

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Learn Japanese with Legal High

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Why You Should Watch Legal High

I know that Japanese dramas aren’t for everyone. It’s like the Home Shopping Network, or Mexican soap operas, or golf—some people love it, others hate it. Hell, even my Japanese friends refuse to watch Japanese dramas, calling them “the garbage of television.” Sometimes, I don’t blame them. The same old plotline of boy meets girl, hospital politics, or police detective nonsense starts to get old. Most Japanese dramas also tend to lack character depth, a plot, and half-decent acting (sorry, Arashi boys don’t always cut it).

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American in Niigata

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As soon as I stepped off the train, with luggage in both hands and two Japanese officials at my side, I knew that I was definitely not home in the United States anymore. Thousands of miles away from the familiar and transplanted in a new country, nothing had registered mentally—but physically, however, I was indeed feeling it.

July in Japan. I was hit with a tidal wave of humidity that drenched me senseless. The Japanese government in Tokyo decided to send me to this hot, humid sauna called Niigata, Japan. I was sweating profusely, my body was jet lagged, and there was a ringing in my ears that I would later know as “cicadas.” My eyes were heavy, my legs like water and my heart still in Salt Lake City.

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Wang Lee Hom Making Asian Men Attractive

Last weekend I saw Wang Lee Hom perform at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Knowing I love everything Chinese, my aunt bought us tickets to see “An Evening of Chinese Splendor,” a Chinese themed performance by the L.A. philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.  Zong Zu Ying (a famous communist-like folk singer) and Ruby Chen (pianist) were some of the big names to make it on stage, but there was only one singer that managed to get not only the girls, but the boys in the crowd scream in glee:

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