Small-town Alberta Girl Attempts Making Various Japanese Foods

As you will know if you get me talking on the subject (don’t do it, I’ll never stop talking), I am very much enamoured with Japanese food, fashion, and culture. I’ve visited Japan twice in the past, and am currently planning trip #3 once it’s safe to travel again. With the many different things to see and do and local cultures and food specialties in every prefecture, I will never get bored of visiting this lovely country.

In Japan, both my sweet tooth and my umami tongue (?) are satisfied. Yet, every time I fly back to Canada I find myself missing the delicious foods of Japan. Sure, there are a few wonderful Japanese restaurants where I live, but there are some things, like mochi and dorayaki, that I just can’t get in town. Some foods can be ordered online, but then they are heavily processed and super overpriced. Monthly Japanese snack boxes are fun, but you don’t get to choose what’s in your box, and after a while you get a lot of repeats and stuff that you don’t want. I also live in a small town in northern Alberta where the nearest big city with an Asian supermarket is at least 5 hours away.

So what’s a small-town Alberta girl to do? Well, I’ve started to stock up on Japanese ingredients. Some things I can find easily in town, like udon noodles or panko breadcrumbs. Other things, like mirin and rice wine, are more hit or miss. Then, some things, like kombu seaweed, sweet rice flour, furikake rice topping, are impossible to find anywhere in my area.

With no other options, I’ve had to bulk up my pantry. Between ordering things online, stocking up whenever I go to Edmonton or Calgary, and even bringing home a few things from Japan, I’ve begun to gather my own stocks of ingredients. I’m the flustered girl you see at the T&T market during my biannual trip to Edmonton rushing around and buying implausible amounts of dashi soup stock because I simply cant buy it at my home grocery stores.

Where to start!?

A good place to start might be the konbini egg sandwich. These humble and unassuming morsels are known to travellers as a quick and cheap option available in convenience stores (“konbini”) across Japan. You might be thinking “who the hell wants to eat a stinky convenience store egg sandwich when they are travelling?!” and in any other country you’re totally right. However, Japanese convenience store offerings are on a whole other level, to the point that one of the things I regularly miss about Japanese cities is stopping into a friendly neighborhood konbini and loading up on affordable snacks and meals. A lot of things are new and exciting in Tokyo, and it’s great fun to explore restaurants and try out new cuisines, but there’s also something so comforting about knowing that the bright lights of konbini are waiting for you nearby (always nearby) any time that you just want something that you don’t have to think about or navigate. A simple, quick sandwich.

RECIPE USED: A pretty simple mix of a couple mashed up boiled eggs, couple tablespoons or so of mayo, salt and pepper to taste. Throw it between a couple slices of bread and voila. Should give you enough to make 2 sandwiches.

I was pretty happy with how my egg mix turned out, but my whole grain braid couldn’t compare with the soft, thin, chewy, cakey white bread used on my favorite konbini egg sandwiches.

Next up, another konbini staple: onigiri.

RECIPE USED: it popped up on the MyFitnessPal app one day and I’ve since lost the recipe, but rest assured these are easy to make and if you google “onigiri recipe” you will get tons of hits.

I guess I never took a picture of an onigiri in Japan aside from this one of them still in the wrapper. My own onigiri look like sad little rectangular lumps because they took on the shape of the little bowl I used to form them, but I assure you they were tasty. I used tuna (with mayo, basil, salt, and pepper) for the filling.

Coming up: shabu shabu!

RECIPE USED: https://www.justonecookbook.com/shabu-shabu/ (with some substitutions)

Shabu Shabu is a type of hot pot and a really great meal for sharing in the winter when it sometimes gets to be -38°C where I live. I bought a double-chambered electric hot pot that we can keep on the kitchen table while we eat. The name Shabu Shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ) refers to the swishing (shabu) noise that the thin slices of meat make as you twirl them through the hot broth. The broth gets tastier and tastier as you eat, because the juices and flavorings of more and more ingredients get deposited to the pot as the meal goes on. I took this a little too much to heart when I was in Gunma and one of the ryokan staff noticed me putting pickled vegetables in my hotpot… they got a good laugh out of that (apparently the pickles do not go in the hotpot. To be fair I didn’t even know they were pickles).

I’m still experimenting with my Shabu Shabu, as some ingredients are hard to find. Enoki mushrooms are hit or miss in my town, and so far I’ve only found one grocery store that offers the thinly sliced hotpot meat.

Next, it’s bento time:

RECIPE USED: White sushi rice topped with furikake and mini hamburger bites with carrot shapes from The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go by Makiko Itoh, Mini-hamburger bento, p. 27

Bento are awesome kuz you can throw together whatever you want into a cute little portable bento box. Bento picks and other little accessories can add to the creativity, but bento don’t have to be Pinterest-worthy; leftovers make great bento fare and you can use whatever tupperware you have on hand. I also love making tamagoyaki, which is like a rolled omelette.

Speaking of omelettes…

RECIPE USED: not applicable ^-^’

Ok, to be fair I didn’t actually make omurice here, sorry… this is just a badly flipped omelette on top of some hastily placed lettuce and grape tomatoes. It was basically an excuse for me to try some ketchup art. Someday I will master the omurice in all of its smooth, saucey glory. Someday.

On to dorayaki…

RECIPE USED: Get Started Making Japanese Snacks: Step By Step Recipes for Delectable Bites by Yamishita Masataka, p. 14 Tsubu-an & p. 22: Dorayaki

I have something to admit…The first time I had dorayaki (well, actually it was taiyaki, those fish shaped cakes which are sorta similar) I was put off by the red bean paste that is a common filling in Japan. I am someone who has a huge sweet tooth and is used to overly sugary western snacks, so the first time I tried azuki bean paste I thought something like “this is weird…I’d rather have custard or icing inside”.

HOWEVER! I can honestly say that anko has since grown on me. Very much so, in fact. I’ve developed a taste for it, and I’ve bought my own azuki beans and started making Japanese snacks with anko filling at home. The first one I tried was dorayaki.

Dorayaki is like two sweet pancakes wrapped lovingly around a filling of anko paste. These pictures are from my second attempt. The first time I tried making dorayaki, I used custard powder (the recipe calls for custard sugar) and ended up with globby, chewy pancakes that were less than delightful. Pro-tip: regular sugar works just fine! Then for the anko paste filling, two common kinds of anko paste are tsubuan (chunky consistency) and koshian (fine consistency). I made tsubuan for my dorayaki, and I also used it in my next sweet:…

mochi!

RECIPE USED: https://www.justonecookbook.com/daifuku/

The mochi I made in Japan with friends is probably about as authentic as you can get. We made it as part of a New Year tradition, and took turns pounding hot rice in a giant usu mortar.

Take that, mochi! And that! And that!

The one I made at home, on the other hand, involved using sweet rice flour to quickly make the mochi dough. I put a bit of anko paste inside, and voila: daifuku mochi. Make sure to have some potato starch or cornstarch on hand to keep the mochi from sticking to every single surface imaginable.

It’s even got the Butters’ seal of approval!

Next: kakigori

RECIPE USED: No recipe… just shave some ice and pour a bit of syrup on top. I ordered grape kakigori syrup online, but you can also use sno-cone syrup or whatever.

I had to buy an ice shaver to make homemade kakigori, but I’m so glad I did. It’s such a nice summer treat, light and cold and sweet. The closest thing I can compare this to is a sno-cone, but in Japan shaved ice, as with so many other things, is taken to higher levels of sophistication (levels which I clearly did not successfully replicate at home).

Finally, a soothing beverage:

RECIPE USED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uavCHN_k0Lk&t=9s

Latte art is beyond my talents currently, but nonetheless I was super surprised at how tasty my matcha latte turned out. It’s so easy to make, too! This is a recipe I will whip out again and again. Heating the milk also gives me an excuse to use the cute spouted Animal Crossing pot that I bought at the Nintendo store in Parco Shibuya last year! I think it makes the latte taste better…

Bonus time: pudding!

RECIPE USED: Dr. Oetker Crème Caramel boxed pudding

I’m calling this a “bonus” because I only have a picture of a pudding label that I stuck in my travel journal (can’t believe I never took a picture of an actual konbini pudding! I guess I was too busy eating them), and the pudding I made at home was from a box…

The custard puddings from Japanese konbini are… TOO good. I ate way too many of them. Breakfast with a side of pudding? Pudding with lunch? After dinner pudding? Dangerously delicious.

You don’t see these puddings out and about in Canada. The closest I could find for a quick pudding was this Dr. Oetker box mix. It was tasty! Still, not quite as tasty as the plentiful puddings of Japan.


Well, that’s about it for my forays into Japanese cooking for now, but I have more ideas for the future that I want to try, such as matcha mochi, kushiage skewers, and maybe even a fluffy Japanese style strawberry shortcake!

The Art of Conversation

This is by far the most special art project I’ve ever done ❤. The Art of Conversation is a project that brings artists and seniors in our community together, made possible through a partnership between the Arts Council Wood Buffalo and St. Aidan’s Society. The idea is that the artist hosts a conversation with their partner and the resulting discussion becomes the muse for an art project.

Before I first called my partner Libby I was nervous- what if we didn’t click? What if I didn’t get any ideas for my piece? Happily, my fears were unfounded, as we had a great chat and I had the initial ideas for my project before we were even done talking. This project was a joy and Libby was my inspiration.

This video includes some audio clips from parts of our conversation, and video from my process creating the artwork.

Tokyo Video: December 2019

A few weeks ago I compiled some of my video clips from our last trip to Japan (December 2019) into a 30 minute video. It’s a chronological mashup of many of the sights and sounds that we experienced on our trip, which took place mainly in Tokyo this time.

I hope that you will enjoy this video, which features dancing, singing, a Pokemon cafe, some cute dogs, amazing food, Sailor Scouts, robots, cram-packed stores, shrines and temples, kawaii monster girls, karaoke, mochi-pounding, snakes, and much more.

And even after my second trip to Japan, I am again dreaming of my return. Someday! ❤

If you’d like to see the videos from our last trip to Japan (2017) in which we traveled more broadly, check out this post.

Or, if you would like to read the detailed day-by-day blogs from our trips, they start here (2017) and here (2019).

Thanks for stopping by!

SuperM in Vancouver

A couple of days ago I had a whirlwind trip to Vancouver to see SuperM- as a Shawol I wanted to support Taemin on his return to Canada while Key, Minho, and Onew are doing their mandatory military duty.

I was (and still am) fighting off a nasty cold, and my voice was completely gone the whole time I was in Vancouver, but the trip was still worth it!

I also got to debut my WIP jean jacket with SHINee Married To The Music on the back:

Originally I had booked my 2-night stay at the Cambie hostel in Gastown, thinking that an historic hostel might be a fun new experience, but I cancelled that booking the day before leaving when I realized that my cold would make communal living much less fun for everyone involved… so, I booked a hotel room instead. I was so glad to have a quiet sanctuary at the Ramada in which to rest, watch HGTV, and blow my nose with reckless abandon.

Soon after checking in I took a photo out the window of my room, and minutes later Taemin posted a photo where he is standing with the same landmark in the background, so I definitely fangirled.

The morning of the concert, Feb 6, I did a little bit of exploring in downtown Vancouver, stopping at the Paper Hound bookshop as well as a couple of fabric stores.

Finally I headed out toward the venue, Rogers Arena, and met up with some lovely new Shawol friends! A couple of them were women I had been talking to online for a while (Yo, Court and Gabby!), and several more were people that joined up just because they saw we were Shawol- I love our big Shawol family! I met so many lovely, friendly people.

One of the Shawol I hung out with was Kiki from YoursTrulyDance- check out this talented group on YouTube! Here is their Jopping cover:

Yassss that’s Kiki in the plaid pants, doing Taemin’s part OF COURSE! ❤

It was especially special connecting with Shawol at this concert, because SuperM is made of members from several groups, so when I saw another SHINee World fan it was like ONE OF US! ONE OF US! ONE OF USSSS!!!

We chilled for a few hours before the show started, getting cheap eats at Costco and geeking out. When we made our way into the arena we had to separate into our different seats, but I was so happy to find that I was sitting next to another Shawol named Katie! Her ult is Key, too! After a couple of minutes someone approached Katie and said “Wow are you Katie!?” and I was like, Katie are you a YouTuber? Yup, she is! She does lots of cool unboxing videos, kpop hauls, and stuff like that. Glad to meet you Katie!

We sat in anticipation as the arena filled up around us. Our seats were directly in front of one of the catwalks.

And then, it started!

The concert was really awesome, with solo and group performances, lazers, streamers, and cannons. Surprisingly, we were allowed to film with our phones, and I got some great videos of Taemin!

Sadly, I thought I got all of Jopping on camera but in the last 15 seconds of the song I realized that I hadn’t hit the record button T-T .

***EDIT*** NO ACTUALLY I DID GET MOST OF IT, YAY!

There was also a very tense moment when Kai tossed his frisbee directly toward me and it landed on my feet, but I had been looking in Taemin’s direction so I didn’t notice at first and two girls in front of me whirled upon me and began scrabbling at my feet for the frisbee! Katie and I exchanged glances like “holy crap” and the frisbee was snatched from where I’d clamped it between my two shoes. Oh well…

And so quickly, it was over (2 fast, you might say) and some of us met up again in front of the Costco to freak out together and get some food down the street.

Just like when I saw SHINee in Toronto in 2017, the concert was amazing but the experience was especially wonderful because of all of the new friends I met. Thank you for making me feel welcomed in Vancouver!

I hope SuperM enjoyed their time in Canada. Mark is from Vancouver, so it was heartwarming to see how genuinely happy he was to return to Vancouver for a concert.

Thanks Taemin and SuperM for coming to Canada!

Tokyo Memories, Day 17: Last-chance Shopping in Akiba, and Sailor Moon Shining Dinner Theater! Plus Day 17.5 (departure day)

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it! (Or, start with day 1 here!)

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 17, December 30th, 2019

Our last full day, and what a day! Early in the morning I set out for Akihabara which was PACKED with muggles people- maybe because there was a big Comiket this past weekend? Anyone who travelled to go to Comiket would surely want to visit Akiba, too, so it would make sense. I went to Radio Kaikan to check out the dolls and doll supplies on the 7th floor. I bought the parts to make a partner for the gothic doll I created from my last trip in 2017!

After braving the full-to-bursting Radio Kaikan, I got conveyor sushi at Aburi again and also checked out the Aki-Oka Artisan area, which was fancy and had a cool vibe.

Then, I headed to AzabuJuuban to meet up with Dustin and go to the Sailor Moon Shining Princess dinner theatre show! We walked around a bit until our reservation at 6:30. We got seats right in front! The resturaunt is very cute, with costumes on display and an upstairs room with ADORABLE merch (totally overpriced, but adorable…). The Sailor Moon jewelry is stunning, but $$$$$! We did get to keep our Sailor Moon dinner plates and drink coasters, though!

Anyhoo, we got our drinks (Dustin: Sailor Mercury blue alcopop. Me: luna latte) and our food (Dustin: Usagi’s Omelette. Me: Sailor Jupiter’s Pasta).

Our food and drinks were pretty good… however, like the Robot Resturaunt, nobody is really going for the food… it’s the show!

***Spoilers of the Dinner Show- Scroll to the video to skip!***

The show started with Luna on screen telling us that the Negaverse is up to no good >.< Each Sailor Scout got their own battle sequence, and lots of effects were used, like lazers, shadow screens, smoke, and so on.

At one point (During Rei’s fire sequence) I suddenly started crying!? I guess the Moon Prism Power of nostalgia washed over me. Today being our last day also probably had something to do with it… lots of pent up emotion.

The plot continued- the Sailor Scouts defeated the evil, except for Usagi, who slept through the entire thing! So, now that Tokyo is safe, the scouts show us the sights of Tokyo, and they basically visited all of the places we visited on this trip, so of course my tears kept flowing… for Harajuku there were jfashion dancers, and Asakusa was “festival time” so the Scouts got drums and other percussion instruments and played them on stage.

Then, Luna comes back and says “Oh no! A dark force is here and *gasp* it’s even stronger than before! Strong enough to destroy Tokyo– or even the entire WORLD! And so of course the Scouts come together to banish it.

One of the best parts was when Tuxedo Mask was overtaken by the baddies- they encapsulated him in a green lazer cage and he fell to the ground. When he rose he was under their spell and tried to attack Sailor Moon, slapping and choking her, slashing her down. She collapsed, and all of the other Scouts were down around her too, just like the end of the first arc of the series, she heard their voices and it inspired her to come back, and it was a happily ever after.

Then Luna announced a mini-show would start and that we could now take pictures and video- I got some great shots, and the entire theme song dance routine!

Then the Scouts and Tuxedo Mask walked around each table, waving and posing for pics.

I really enjoyed it, and Dustin said he liked it too! ❤

Day 17.5, December 31st, 2019

Today I write in black like my deep, dark soul! Oh, tormented with dismay at this tragic day.

Jk. We had a wonderful trip. ❤ Today we packed and checked out, and loaded our luggage onto the Airport Limo Bus. We are now crammed onto our first plane and wishing we could just conk out and wake up at home… or back in Tokyo! Seriously excited to see the doggos, and Dad.

Today before we left I did manage to visit a cool store called Stellaworth- somehow I hadn’t ever gone there before, but it was mentioned in the Otome Guide pamphlet I found at Sunshine City.

Japan, I love you. Rest assured, I will be back some day. Count on me. ❤

-Shauna

Tokyo Memories, Day 16: Pounding New Year’s Mochi With Friends, and More Karaoke!

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it! (Or start with day 1 here!)

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 16, December 29th, 2019

Another packed day full of adventures ❤

Dustin and I met up with Maika at Tokyo Guest House Nakano, a place that she stayed at for a while previously. We took our shoes off in the entrance and donned some communal house-slippers, then took the stairs up to the common room where a ton of people were gathered. We joined the group in making mochi for New Year’s celebrations!

First, white rice and hot water is added to a giant hollowed out stump mortar called a usu (theirs is 80 years old!) and then two pestles called kine are twisted against the rice. The rice gradually becomes gummier and more paste-like, and is folded against itself again and again.

Next, we take turns pounding the mochi! The kine need to be wet every so often, and someone keeps folding the mochi at intervals.

Then the mochi is taken out and carried quickly inside to the kitchen table where clean, floured hands roll the mochi balls and add fillings/mix-ins like edamame paste, and wrap with nori.

Fresh mochi is so yummy! Making mochi with everyone was a very special experience that we feel lucky to have had the chance to enjoy.

There was a cute toddler there with his family and he watched his grandfather pound the mochi with the giant kine, yelling “Ojiisan! Gambatte!!!” (Grandfather, you’ve got it/good luck!) The kid also began talking to me and randomly singing “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” with me! Adorable.

Thanks for inviting us Maika-san! And thanks for having us, Tokyo Guest House Nakano!

After we said our farewells, I went to another Karaoke meetup group! Dustin didn’t want to go >.< but I sang my heart out for 4 hours! This karaoke place, Cote D’Azur near Gotanda station, didn’t have unlimited slushies like the other one, but it was FANCY! It had a stage, huge screens on all 4 walls, party lights, and an excellent sound system.

We sang so much, even a few more duets, and I think I sang the most powerfully in my life. They said that “my song” is White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane!

Then we were hungry from all the singing, and Hayato, the organizer, invited me to a Japanese chain resturaunt, Ootoya, where we had nabe hot-pot and matcha ice cream. Yummmmm.

Tomorrow is our last day before we leave on the 31st 😦 this has been such a whirlwind couple of weeks, I don’t want it to end and yet I feel satisfied that I’ve lived every moment to the fullest. I miss Teegs and Butter, and everyone back home too… I do love Japan so much, though, I don’t think I will ever get over my love of this place!

Check out day 17, Last Chance Shopping in Akiba and Sailor Moon Dinner Theater, here!

Tokyo Memories, Day 15: Karaoke with Strangers, Taemin in Yokohama

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it! (Or start with day 1 here!)

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 15, December 28th, 2019

AHHH what a day! My feet hurt so bad that I fantasized about chopping them off with a guillotine, but honestly today was worth it!

I started off the day meeting up with a meetup.com group I had joined a while back called “Let’s Release Ourselves By Singing Karaoke Together!”. After getting lost (nothing new there) I found the place across from Ikebukuro station on the 2nd floor. The group was patiently sitting waiting for me >.< There were 7 of us- myself, one other woman, and 5 men, including the organizer Rin. Rin collected our karaoke fees and separated us into two groups which we would rotate in and out of later on (more chances to sing with a smaller group!) We grabbed some of the unlimited drinks- unlimited slushies!!!??? and headed to the rooms.

Everyone was quite good at singing! Most of the songs they sang were new to me, but I did recognize the song from Your Name, and one guy sang a Linkin Park song. I sang Linger (Cranberries), White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane), Just a Girl (No Doubt), Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and My Medicine from the Nana movie! I’d been practicing that one in the car, and I was so glad to see it was an option to sing with the karaoke system. Right after I sang it, a man sang another song from the Nana film!

The highlight of today’s karaoke experience had to be when a man joined our room and asked me “A whole new world?”- I was like “InuYasha?” thinking he meant the song Brand New World, but then he put on Aladdin’s Whole New World and handed me the second mic! I hadn’t heard that song in a long time, so I was rusty, but I caught on (luckily he started the song) and it was so much fun!

I even managed to record some of our duet! Thank you for singing with me ^_^

Then, I bid my new friends farewell and went back to the station. With the aid of Google Maps, I took an unneccessarily roundabout trip to Yokohama Arena, involving 25 minutes of walking through a ritzy residential area where I got a lot of stares…

Finally, at Yokohama Arena, I joined the GINORMOUS lineup of people (99% women) waiting to get into Taemin’s concert!

I waited in line for ~2 hours, standing and wishing I’d worn better shoes. I also couldn’t get over how well the crowds self-organized without dividers or ropes, winding effortlessly into neat curving ribbons: a similar approach in Canada with that many people would have ended up with a giant mosh-pit of frustrated fans (just thinking about it is giving me flashbacks to the Hallyu North fiasco… I’m so glad SHINee came back to Canada after that mess o.o)

ANYWAY, I finally made it to the doors and got my QR code on my phone scanned (for a short time I thought the app wouldn’t work for me and I was in a panic, but I realized that it only worked when my phone was set to Japanese language settings!) and I got my ticket- seat “centre, 15-15”. I thought, wow, that sounds like such a good seat?!

I joined another line, for the women’s washroom, and finally after that headed for my seat. Unbelieving, I made sure confirm with an aisle-helper, and… yeah, no, WOW. I got an AMAZING seat! The arena is HUGE, but I was 15 rows away from the main stage and right by the catwalk! I couldn’t believe my luck! The tickets are randomly assigned when the QR code is scanned, and I won the jackpot!

I exclaimed “II SEKI, NE!? (GREAT SEATS, EH!?)” to the woman seated beside me, and we fangirled together a bit.

When the lights went down and I was immersed in the Pearl Aqua Ocean, it was just beautiful.

(This was just before the concert started- look at that beautiful ocean of Shawol!)

Taemin was fantastic, he and all of his dancers were so energetic, the SFX and tech were the fanciest I think I’ve ever seen- lazers, moving spotlights, a motorized slanting stage with harnesses for aerial tricks, a raising area, long catwalk, explosions, fire bursts, streamers, so awesome.

Some highlights:

  • He said that with the return of the members in 2020, SHINee will be up to something new to look forward to!
  • He sang a new song! Very slow and loving.
  • A new comeback album is on the way
  • A male fan screamed TAEMINNNNNN!!!! and he said “Yes. I am Taemin.” :3
  • “INTO THE RHYTHM” WAS SO GOOD LIVE AND HE DID SO MUCH AEGYO, AHH!! I have always loved Into The Rhythm but I also think of it as the cutest Taemin song ever now~!
  • “One By One” really made use of the angled stage and harnesses
  • When it was time for encore we chanted “LEE TAEMIN, DAISUKE! LEE TAEMIN, DAISUKE!”
  • He sang Pretty Boy, Danger, and Ace!
  • HOLY WATER– HOLY WATERRRRRRRR– HO-LY-WA-TER-HOLY WATERRRRRRRRRR!
  • When he walked down the catwalk stage, he was so close
  • I GOT TO SEE “MOVE” LIVE! AHH!
  • The last thing he said (in Japanese): “I hope you had a beautiful time like I did. See you all again very soon!”

I feel so lucky to have had the chance to attend this concert, in Japan, in such a great seat!

P.S.- PART OF “SHERLOCK” WAS USED AND EVEN PART OF THE DANCE, AND KEY’S “GIVE IT UP FOR SHINEEEEE!!!” LINE! I WAS SO SURPRISED, I CHEERED SO LOUD!

P.S.S.- I caught a streamer! It says something like “Taemin 2nd Concert 1001101: We are very happy to be able to spend the end of the year together! Let’s stay together!”

Final note: A huge thank you to @enzeru_no_innen for your extremely helpful post on how to make a SHINee World J account and get my ticket for the concert! I couldn’t have done it without you! ❤ I love our international Shawol family!

Check out day 16, Pounding New Year’s Mochi With Friends, and More Karaoke, here!

Tokyo Memories, Day 14: Yanaka Ginza, Ameyoko, and Kindness at Nippori Textile Street

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it! (Or start with day 1 here!)

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 14, December 27th, 2019

Today we checked out Yanaka Ginza and enjoyed a bit of street food: yakitori and croquettes, mmm. I got a couple of personal hanko stamps made, too!

My hanko!

Then we went to Ameyoko, where I got blissfully lost in the giant Yamashiroya toy store. The Ameyoko walk was so crowded that we were pretty much swept up in the wave, but we did manage to dip into a restaurant for some hamburger omurice and melon soda floats.

I also visited Nippori Textile Street today (well, first I got lost and ended up in a quiet and beautiful cemetery).

Textile street has so much lovely fabric, lace, jewelry-making items, embroidered patches, etc., it’s overwhelming! I got a few bits and bobs, but it was getting late.

I was expecting warm weather, but with gale wind and the evening chill I was actually quite cold, and moreso just annoyed at all of the whispered well-meaning “Samuii! Gaijin samuii!!?? (isn’t that foreigner cold!?!) I was getting again, so when I spotted some shawl-sweaters on sale outside a shop I tried one on and promptly went to buy it.

Cute, and also on sale for a really good price! ❤

When the staff member went to bag it I said “Oh, no please, I’ll wear it out… it’s a little cold…” Suddenly, as if they had just wholly noticed my existence, she and the two other women in the shop (a customer and another staff) began fawning over me and tut-tutting, touching my open-lace sleeves and remarking things like “ehhhh! samuii!!!!” getting me to step into the sweater and rubbing it over my arms. One of the staff reached behind the counter and grabbed an instant-heat patch, exclaiming “Heat! Ok?!” I nodded and thanked her many times as she lifted my new shawl-sweater up with a “Hen, ne!? Gomen!” or something like that, meaning something along the lines of “sorry for being weird lifting up your shirt like this!” and she stuck the patch on my back. To be honest, I didn’t really feel much heat coming from it, but the gesture warmed my heart more than I can say.

They asked me where I was from and how I could stand the cold so much, and when I said Canada they “aaaahh”ed knowingly. They bowed to me as I left and saw me out the door. ❤

Lastly I swooped through Uniqlo on my way back to the hotel, finding a few quirky printed shirts, and got some laundry done again (no easy feat when everyone is waiting for a dryer >.<)

I waited in a big line for these amazing cheese tarts at Ikebukuro station as well ❤

Check out day 15, Karaoke With Strangers & Taemin in Yokohama, here!

Tokyo Memories, Day 13: Traditional and Whimsical Shopping in Tokyo

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it! (Or, start with day 1, here!)

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 13, December 26th, 2019

Today Dustin was very tired, so I decided to scout out a few places that are scattered around less touristy areas of Tokyo. I did a LOT of walking today, and have a blister the size of a toonie on my left foot >.<

My first stop was Bingoya Folk Crafts, a multi-floor shop filled with interesting handiworks. I was specifically looking for temari balls (an internet search led me to Bingoya!) so I picked up a few, as well as some cards and wooden toys. This shop was out of the way but very worth a visit.

I next visited Japan Traditional Craft Aoyama Square, which is near the Canadian Embassy and also had a variety of unique and interesting handicrafts made with care.

And finally, Kaleidoscope Mikashi-Kan, definitely the most unusual and niche shop I’ve ever visited in Japan (maybe anywhere): Kaleidoscopes of all shapes, sizes, styles, and price ranges. The staff was very helpful, instructive, and kind. He showed me how to use some of the more unusual kaleidoscopes. I purchased a small teleidoscope, a mini telescope-kaleidoscope necklace, and a larger two-mirror system dry-chamber scope featuring rainbow 8 point image by Tamoo Hosono. So beautiful! VERY different and much more mesmerizing than those plastic dollar-store “kaleidoscopes” I played with when I was a kid.

After recharging at the hotel with Dustin I tried to go to a karaoke bar in Shinuya (Pasela Station) where you can sing with live musicians, but it was closed for a private event, so instead I explored the big Tower Records. Found some Kamijo DVDs and made sure the SHINee section was well stocked and faced!

I finished my day perusing the CanDo beside Ikebukuro station, as well as the massive DonQuiote, and getting some more souvenirs for folks back home.

Check out day 14, Yanaka Ginza, Ameyoko, and Kindness at Nippori Textile Street, here!

Tokyo Memories, Day 12: Christmas Cruise To Odaiba

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it! (Or, start with day 1 here!)

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 12, December 25th, 2019

Merry Christmas! Though, for our family and friends in Canada, it’s still Christmas Eve. We got up early this morning and took the trains to Asakusa. There, we arrived at the pier and got some frozen yogurt and drinks while we waited for our boat to arrive.

Our ride to Odaiba, the Hotaluna, was designed by Leiji Matsumoto, who we know most affectionately from Interstella 5555! Hotaluna has a very spaceship-like feel, and was a nice change of pace from the many trains.

We could see the ferris wheel, Fuji TV, Rainbow Bridge, and other landmarks from the boat. When we landed in Odaiba, we headed out right away for Teamlabs Borderless Digital Arts Museum. It’s a good thing we did, because later in the day we saw a MASSIVE lineup stretching down the street– we barely had to wait. 🙂

The lights museum was very cool, with various surfaces, rooms, and structures to explore. Some spots had interactive aspects, like creatures you could “squish” under your feet (illusions of light), and one room had people colouring in pages of Santa, reindeer, and cars, then scanning them and seeing their artworks come to life on the wall. LED lightstrips, lasers, beams, spotlights, mirrors, shadows- these and more were used for various effects. Lots of people trying to get the perfect selfie!

Hungry, we then wandered Venus Fort, a huge mall with an artificial sky, for lunch–we decided on yakiniku at a place called Toraji, which had wagyu beef on the menu. MAN, we had a great lunch. Bit on the expensive side o.o

Dustin then went to the Aquacity Cinema to see the new Star Wars movie, but I had heard of some old-fashioned candy stores and a retro arcade in DECKS, so I went off on my own in search of those. I saw some cool things in Aquacity and Decks: an entire store dedicated to the Nissin Chick, a large Godzilla statue, lots of couples fawning over eachother, and some unusual gatcha machines. One of them stole my 500 yen T-T I just wanted a giant pill bug! I found 3 different retro candy stores, and definitely got a bunch of new candies and snacks to try.

We used the free bus service to get around Odaiba, and when we were done we went back to the trains and stopped at 7&I on the way back to the hotel. I picked out some more snacks, sweets, and hot foods to try. The corn dogs, buns, and croquettes are so good!

Turn on the sound to hear Dustin waxing poetic about Star Wars, and me shocking myself when the condiment packet suddenly flings out of my hand XD

Check out day 13, Traditional and Whimsical Shopping in Tokyo, here!