A Gift for Grace

I have a friend who is very smart, but also very, very stupid.

He is a professor and scientist and an expert in something smaller than I can see with my eye. He is also a college friend, which means I have seen him perform antics not suitable for re-telling on this family-friendly blog.

Recently my friend went to a party, and to bring the proper party pizazz he asked his coworker Grace if he could borrow her jacket. Grace was known for having an eclectic wardrobe, and this was no ordinary jacket. As my friend describes it:

Shiny.  Metallic.  Vinyl.  Bright pink.  The only label inside reads “palm tree.”  It was a custom made gift from her grandmother in China.

I’m sure you already know where this story is going. My friend went to the party with Grace’s jacket.

The jacket did not survive.

And so my friend contacted me, and with tears in his eyes told me this horrible tale. I was quiet; I let the story sink in. I mourned for Grace’s jacket and cursed my friend. And then I told him he was lucky to know another person who owned a metallic pink jacket.

Maybe he chooses his acquaintances carefully, or maybe he’s just the luckiest bastard I know. But it’s true that I happen to own such a jacket, hanging in my tiny Tokyo closet.

But a simple metallic replacement just wouldn’t do for poor Grace. We had to make up for my friend’s silly, fat-man-in-a-little-coat misstep. So I added sparkle.

And more sparkle.

And a pig wearing a bow.

For you, Grace — may it not replace your grandmother’s gift, but help you forgive my very-smart-but-still-a-little-stupid friend. His heart is in the right place.

A Stylish and Cute Craft Book

If you would have told me a few years ago that after moving to Tokyo I would be ooh-ing and ah-ing craft books dedicated to ribbons and pink bows, I would have laughed in your face.

Only the bows knows who’s laughing now.

I even made a mega bow. I’m not sure what head of hair is ready for this.

This craft book is adorable, full of easy accessory projects to make in under an hour.

I love the brooches and badges. If I wore one of these, I would feel like a winner all day.

I’m not sure what to try first — the bow necklace or the hairy shoulders.

The illustrated step-by-step instructions are really easy to follow, and the assembly techniques heavily favor a hot glue gun. It’s like I’m an 11 year old again!

And get ready for this … scrunchies are making a comeback! A J-pop band even sings a song about them (ponytail to shu shu) though due to gratuitous beach and wet t-shirt scenes, I’ve decided not to link to the music video. Do the work yourself.

Kyoto is for Eaters

Kyoto is so beautiful it almost makes me mad.

But since we’re being totally honest with each other, I’ll admit I was the most excited by this sight:

Black sesame and honey ice cream. With a gingersnap spoon. I shoved it into everyone’s face, insisting they must try the Most Delicious Ice Cream Combo, until I realized that meant less for me. So I sneaked away to lick my cone clean in the dark shadows of a shrine.

We opted for the kaiseki meal in our ryokan, which meant dinner while wearing our pajamas and yukata (cotton robes). While our server delicately described the seasonal components and zen balance of each dish, I was busy taking photos and so I had no idea what I was eating. Vegetable or fish? Who cares! It’s boiled!

It was great, but it made my mouth tired.

Our ryokan also served us breakfast, with amazing little pillow-like cubes of tofu.

I love Japanese breakfasts. I’ll take some rice and grilled fish over an omelet any day.

On our way out of town we stopped for lunch at Katsukura, a tonkatsu (fried pork) restaurant in Kyoto Station.

The sorta-trendy restaurant serves you sesame seeds with a small mortar and pestle, to grind and add sauce to for dipping. I did it wrong. Who knew you could be so uncouth at a fried meat restaurant?

In case anyone is curious we stayed at the lovely, not-too-fancy Ryokan Motonago. The tonkatsu restaurant is located in the JR Kyoto Station, The Cube, 11F (above Isetan).

Truth in Advertising: Super Butter

At first, these felt wrong. The first taste reminded me of the butter in a squeeze bottle that was sometimes offered for our grilled sweet corn when I was a kid. The kind of squeeze butter that, upon closer inspection, says “butter flavor” on the bottle, causing a gut punch of betrayal.

But 5 seconds later, I got over my butter supremacy issues and ate the entire box. These should be called Super Duper Lick-your-Fingers-Clean Butter.