Holiday Food

20120525_163201

Latimer: After my study woes, I’m at last contemplating a holiday – and what’s one of the first things I dream about when I think of a holiday? Food, oh food; I am such a fan of food.

giphy

I’m not a good cook, I try sometimes and I make a mean Kedgeree if I do say so myself, but I don’t try often enough to be considered ‘a good cook’.

Kedgeree

So it’s always a big thing for me, going on holidays and looking forward to eating some nice food!

When Ridley and I went to Tokyo, I was always putting out my hand before she could eat; “WAIT! I need to take a picture!” She got so used to this she’d actually wait sometimes, staring at me, holding her fork poised over the food… “Hurry up.”

I think the food-photo-taking started in Tokyo, but that trip was a major food event. There was so much yummy food to be had… and yes I have a food-porn collection as a result!  

20120531_163625

20120522_135332 20120523_144556 20120529_163226 20120523_144500 20120526_130325 20120525_174752 20120523_194607 20120528_162029

I also have nice photos of afternoon tea in London…

20130809_162911

20130809_162413

I love taking my own photos of food (because it’s like you can then remember how tasty the food was) but I also like seeing other people’s food photos!

There is an amazing artist from deviantart (Jo aka cartoongirl7), that we now follow on Instagram and she takes some amazing food pictures – so amazing – check out her foody photos (she has seriously good taste mwhaha)! http://instagram.com/myrollingstar

Seriously, after the joy of actually going on holidays, food-joy is definitely next on my holiday joy list. I can’t wait to take lots of food photos on my next holiday 🙂

giphy (1)

Manga and Me

I'm a manga nut and I'm okay!!
I’m a manga nut and I’m okay!!

Latimer: I’m a bit of a manga nut.

I really adore them. They are also the means through which I’ve developed, rightly or wrongly, my view of Japanese, and to some degree Korean, culture!

I’m a fangirl, so I love shoujo – the girly manga! I love the ones set in schools; the drama between the school president and the yankee, or the shy girl and the cool guy.

In Korean ‘shoujo’ manhwa there’s always (ALWAYS) a jjang (leader of the gang), in the story. Sometimes it’s the girl, and sometimes it’s the boy. So again, I know I’m misguided, but I just assume in every Korean high-school there are warring factions of gangs, and everyone can fight and kick-ass! And everyone is angry… so angry!

I wouldn’t be able to hide my disappointment if I turned up (very randomly) at a Korean high-school and I wasn’t caught in a show-down between two rival gangs from opposing schools. Even though I don’t speak the language, I’d know… I’d just know what was going on. I’d know the first jjang had kissed the other jjang’s sister, or belittled her… and I’d stand there fists waving in the air screaming.

“Oh it’s on! FIGHTING”

Then if I ended up at a Japanese high-school, I’d be looking for the yankee (the bad boy, delinquent) and the bookish girl – or the tsundere (initially cold character who shows their good side in time – a staple of the shoujo!) school president and the silly, but kind-hearted girl… and I’d be chuckling to myself thinking; “Oh how is this going to turn out!”

It's Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!
It’s Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!

Ah, manga (and manhwa), you really distort reality for me (but in a way that makes me so happy)! Reading them is a roller-coaster ride of emotions!

Pandora Hearts, confuses me, makes me gasp in awe, then confuses me again…

pandora-hearts-576048

Naruto always makes me emotional – it’s the best manga for making you empathize with the baddies, because they were good once… or they have these tear-inducing back-stories…

Naruto-Manga-Volume-65

Kamisama Hajimemashita makes my fangirl squee – such a lovely romance story! 

kamisama-hajimemashita-3494513
Tomoe is a Kitsune (fox) demon – not a vampire (though it looks that way here!) …. Anyway, I’m off on Cloud Squee!

Anything by Minami Maki will make me laugh and wait desperately for the next chapter; her stories and artwork are sweet and cute and hilarious…

Komomo-Confiserie2

tumblr_mtlskjpYKH1sbu57zo1_500

Then, recently (and as it’s a week for pets!), I came across this webcomic (they seem to be v.popular in Korean – at least to my untrained eye). It’s called My Young Cat and My Old Dog (by Cho) and it is… wonderful…

0cacf6946e3a159c7c5426154b2be7af

If you have a pet, it will make you cry.

At times the issue/episode/chapter is about the young playful pet and all the silly things they do. Then at times it’s about the old pet, who isn’t quite as fast as they used to be, or sleeps more than they used to. It’s those one’s that grab your heart and squeeze the feels out, leaving you gasping and in tears (I am an emotional being!).

I'm 16 years old 1 im 16 I'm 16 years old 2I have an old, old dog, and those episodes make me pause and think of him 😦

Well, but there’s lots of joy to be had in the series too, things that make you remember how wonderful your pet is. How selfless and how they love you unconditionally; they love you for you, no other reason and we love them too..

v001

Ah, manga and manhwa, you give me so many different feelings – and I love you for it 🙂

Obsession Island

ID-1009476

Ridley: Hello…*waves* I know, I’ve been quiet as of late, I’m sure you were all wondering where Ridley had gone. (No? No one?) I’ve been busy! Kind of. While Latimer has been ploughing new roads through the unknown jungle that is the comic book world and developing her inner fangirl there, I’ve gone back to the old staple of Asian dramas. I will follow Lat down the comic book route, eventually, when she has the road newly paved and there’s been a bus route established with a tourist map on all the best locations (aka stories).*grin*Dublin-Tourist-Map

I can just imagine me wandering forward into the large sprawling forest, wide eyed and hesitant, staring up at the comic book trees…

TA8

Latimer will be pointing at one tree with a beautiful sturdy trunk, “Let’s climb this one! It seems like a great story!”

And then we look upwards with smiles of excitement and far higher than we can see the branches have become all twisted and cancerous as the tale has gone awry, and then closer to us a whole thick limb suddenly disappears from the tree and I turn to her in horror, pointing at it.

Latimer huffs in annoyance, “They’ve just retconed the story line.”

“Ret-con?”

“Restarted it, so it’s like everything that they’ve done up until now hasn’t happened.”

I gasp at her. “But I could have been on that part!!”

I look down at the leafy forest floor, imagining myself lying there dazed not knowing why I’d plummet to the ground. I turn and shake my fist up at the now blank space on the tree.

So…I’ll wait until some of the trees have hazard signs erected first! And maybe a train line, I can get a bit travel sick on the bus…

EPSON scanner image

As I said though, I’ve been away, lost in the world of Asian dramas, I’m the canary (as in canary down the mine!) for, Flower Boy Next Door (Latimer pointed this series out to me). It’s a Korean one this time. I’ve ventured forth alone to see what it’s like and to report back on whether others (well, just Latimer) should follow me or run away, and so far? Oh it’s so good!Flower-Boy-Next-Door-04

But I’ll tell you (another side journey here), I got this hankering to return to the dramas after I’d tried my hand at watching a Bollywood film, I’d never watched one before-a proper one now, made for their home audiences, not Europe or America. It had the same type of romantic elements, the restrained passion and heartbreak as the dramas. The film was called Veer-Zaara (it’s the name of the two main characters). Basically the two main characters are from different countries (India and Pakistan) and they meet when the main girl, Zaara, visits India. Over the few days they travel together, they fall in love, but then the man she’s been promised to comes to take her back to Pakistan….and heartbreak and forbidden love ensues!veer-zaara

Absolutely beautiful images and colours and the dancing was great, but I’m just not really a fan of people breaking out into song at critical moments in the tale.

Veer-Zaara 16veerzaara_2004_4

Musical episodes in any series I’ve ever watched have never really sat well with me (even that Buffy episode-though I just looked at the trailer…it was kinda good…I loved that series, and Angel!).

The reason for not possibly liking it is because I get sucked up by the tune and while I’m humming and swaying, I don’t hear what they’re actually singing about, so I miss important parts of the storyline.  (Though for some reason, this never seems to happen with my beloved Disney films, I sing and sway to them, but I still know what’s going on afterwards!)

Hakuna MatataThe biggest plus this film had though, (that if I see this in any drama that I watch I sit back with the words, ‘this is gona be gooood’), is the rain scene. There has to be a rain scene in any epic or tragic or hard-fought-for love story, there has to be a rain scene when the two couples reunite or finally come together after overcoming all the hardship or just kiss for the first time. It truly is a swoon worthy moment.Veer-Zaara 21Veer-Zaara (1)

I just realised they had quite a few rain scenes in this film, though some of them didn’t technically happen as they’re just the character imagining them. Like this one (but now you hopefully understand the beauty of the rain scene?):

veer_1350921300_460x460

Now back to my, Flower Boy Next Door. I’m only in the middle of it, but basically it’s about a girl (Go Dok-mi played by Park Shin-hye) who avoids people and contact with the outside world.Flower-Boy-Next-Door-Korean-Drama_korean-dramas We’re getting flashbacks to the tragic events behind this with each new instalment. Then there’s a possible love interest in the beautiful man next door (Oh Jin-rak played by Kim Ji-hoon)543806_576111315748402_241042218_n-1

and also the beautiful neighbour across the road (Enrique Geum played by Yoon Shi-yoon)tumblr_mkj5a0u3n91qiq9wto1_500

and then there’s the scheming ‘other woman’ (I always hate the ‘other woman’ in any story *glare*) who wants one of the men and is making the girl’s life a misery. (no one cares who she is….oh fine! It’s Park Soo-jin as Cha Do-hwi, she a great actress too….but I still hate the ‘other woman’.)boynextdoor8-00204

I’m all set for some fantastic viewing and roller coaster moments. I’m already wrecked from not going to bed early enough during the week while watching this! And of course having to go to work, eat, sleep, and also get my writing done, people (other than Latimer, who is now getting 20 texts a minute with random happy (no doubt confusing) lines like, ‘oh my god, he just looked at her!’, as I’m watching the drama) think I’ve disappeared!

I have, into Korean drama land!   

PS: I just realised you know, when you find something new that you absolutely love, it’s like you’re on your own little obsession island, completely by yourself revelling in it and consuming as much of the comic, series, book, music that you can, that’s stage one. Then stage two is bursting free from your little hovel, when there is no more (you’ve read, seen or listened to everything) and you share your love of the obsession and want to meet others just like you. I think stage two lasts quite a while especially now we have the internet!

Tokyo Time!

Konnichiwa from Nippon!

Meiji Jingu shrine and Harajuku

Ridley: Our first proper day in Tokyo was last Sunday as we spent much of Saturday completely jet lagged-sleeping on long haul flights is just so damn difficult-when we arrived, we were like zombies. We stumbled our way through the streets, trains and subway to our hotel, where we slept till the next morning.

As it was Sunday, we decided to head to Harajuku. There we saw the Meiji Jingu shrine (we also wanted to see all the cosplayers dress up in costumes of their favourite anime characters). The day consisted of us getting confused (pretty standard), praying, wetting our hands to purify them and witnessing a Shinto wedding at the Shrine!

I was busy trying to capture ‘artistic’ photos of the wall of wooden blocks filled with people’s prayers, when a very nice (and extremely thoughtful) Japanese man came over to me.

He said ‘wedding parade’ and he gestured for me to come with him. So I shuffled forward to where he was pointing and saw the wedding procession. I think I thanked the man in about three different languages before I got it right! He didn’t have to do that, it was very kind of him and it’s the little things like that, that really make your holiday! I have to say the Japanese are the politest, most helpful of people.

Other things that happened at the shrine; we took many pictures of the large old decorated barrels of sake.

Latimer got chased by a fly all the way there (it really wouldn’t leave her alone) no matter how many times she’d flayed her arms around like a crazy woman.

The praying part took us a while to master. I think we seemed like stalkers as we studied the people around us so we could copy what they were doing. They all give their donations first, then they clapped twice, prayed and bowed twice, but each person had a difference sequence of these three. Eventually we both went with what we thought would work for us. At the end of the day, we were trying to be respectful, the good intentions were there!

Outside of Meiji Jingu, we squeezed down through one of the main Harajuku shopping streets, Takeshita.

Latimer: wherein you can buy all manner of crazy clothes, I will return for odd tights and socks at a later date. Before I bought lots of clothes along this street, but I’m not sure I’m up for a mad shopping spree this time. Might just stick to tights this time.Ridley: Then we doubled back, passed the park in search of people dressed up. Instead of them, however, we stumbled upon a load of stalls selling food and tribal art. There were crowds of people in the middle of picnics and a large stage with singers. I wondered (out loud) if it was some sort of African festival, having not seen the giant Jamaican flags and colours-everywhere. However, I did see the annoyed look of disbelief directed at me from one man, yes people, the blond does seep all the way through sometimes. There was a definite haze nearer the stage too (teehee-it could have been smoke from the barbeque too though…) so we held our breaths and scurried away to continue our search.

Consequently, because of this festival (we think) not many (at all) of the cosplay Harajuku people turned up that Sunday. Only the rockabilly boys were there, dressed up in leather jackets with giant quiffs. They were dancing outside Yoyogi park, which was brilliant too. Inside the green, there were comedians (though we couldn’t understand them, they were getting a lot of laughs), there were dancers, musicians, loads of groups doing yoga or playing Frisbee. There was hardly any part of the large park that wasn’t occupied. We wandered for ages through it all and then sat on a bench to people watch.

Latimer: from a distance we observed a mime artist setting up his act. A group of boys passed by, one decided to sit down in front of the mime artist and await his act. His friends were forced to join him. The jury was out on whether they wanted to or not. Ridley watched the mime artist and noticed the act was flagging; “he’ll loose his audience if he keeps up the crap Olympic ring-acrobat miming.” She nodded. I got bored and started people watching. I saw a westerner on a bike walking his dog. Odd I thought, what if he went too fast or the dog got startled? By the time I looked back at the mime, the boys were gone, his audience diminished. “Where’d they go?” Ridley gave a deep nod, “Lost his audience didn’t he.”  

Ridley: There was man playing a music on possibly an erhu beside us. There were rounds of head bowing from us and him when we were leaving. 

The next day was Akihabara….

Where it was brilliant, crazy, loud, colourful and just plain fantastic all rolled into one!

We’ve gotten so many pictures of the billboards, the anime, the manga and all the technical stuff that’s for sale here.

There were also loads of girls dressed up in maid costumes…

Latimer: Ridley was caught staring at the maid-dreaming café.

Some of the maids that lined the busy Akihabara streets must have misinterpreted her confusion as interest.She was swiftly handed a flyer by a school-girl in a maid costume with a happy, high-pitched ‘irasshaimase’. Without thinking, Ridley took the flyer. She stared, still baffled.

The odd, anime-esque map, depicting a girl and her rabbit/dog thing, plotted a course through Akihabara towards what we could only imagine was a café full of maids waiting happily to serve the masses- but were we wrong? Was it actually a cry for help? Were the maids prisoners in some strange anime-esque story of betrayal and corruption- was she the only one that could get away- was she trying to get help for her friends?

Had we, the adventurous, intrepid gaijin, in fact scorned her cries? We’ll never know. In true shoujo-anime style, I hope some bishounen (pretty boy) swept in to save her and her friends, as myself and Ridley enjoyed our curry dinner (yums).

Ridley: We went to a cat café instead of the maid one, it was the less strange of the two options. Though it was still very surreal, being in the middle of Tokyo city, randomly petting other people’s pet cats. We went to Ja La La café, which shows up in an accurate location on google maps when you type in it. The door slides open not pulls open, for anyone going there-took us awhile to realise that one. We stood outside like idiots wondering how to get in, I just kept worrying we’d let the cats out. Eventually we knocked and we were ushered into a room with about twelve cats all lounging around. Though we first had to take off our shoes and wash our hands before we were allowed touch the cats. Just in case we were diseased or anything. We were there for 30 minutes, where Latimer had more luck with the little felines. She had two cats stalking a toy she’d started to wave round, they ignored me, despite numerous attention grabbing tactics. I pouted and told them all my cat at home likes me, sometimes. Eventually this gorgeous tabby here and I made friends. He was purring as he lay on his back half asleep. Very Kawaii (cute)! There was also the biggest cat I’ve ever seen there (a Maine Coon). Really beautiful! He kept turning his head, avoiding me deliberately as I took pictures, fame will make you hate the camera it seems! Going to a cat café is definitely something extremely different to do and after all, that’s what Japan is all about, doing things out the ordinary!

Latimer: The Maine was the biggest cat I ever saw in my life. Like a tiny Tiger cub. But, my god, the cat café reeked of cat (surprise surprise). Might need to air out your clothes after ward!

Later that day, as we walked through Asakasa of an evening, we were asked by some Korean business men (with pretty good English) did we know the way to their hotel. We stared, laughing inside (of course we didn’t know the way). We said ‘no’. Then Ridley said; “why don’t you pop into a shop and ask?” (this seems like a straightforward statement). The businessmen stared, then shook their heads and went on their way. Of course to Ridley it seemed like going into a shop and asking for directions just wasn’t the done thing.

Ridley: There really seemed like there was so much disapproval in his face at the time, now I realise he was just perplexed! 

Latimer: I wondered- just what did the Korean man think ‘pop into a shop’ meant? Ha, well to us it’s ‘to go into a shop’. This is just an example of Irish English isn’t necessarily English-English! Pop into a shop… haha, what must that sound like? What do people think when they hear Irish people say ‘grand’? That’s probably a word that is used very regularly by us, but likely makes no sense to non-Irish-English speakers!

More later on our adventures!

We’re working our way through Tokyo and we’ve been taking lots of pictures….don’t miss out!