Monday, August 1, 2022

July 2022 recap - Mt Fuji hike, Misawa work trip, teamLab Planets & Sacred Forest, Mitama Matsuri

Bring on the humidity! But not really. This has been the hottest, most humid month so far, as expected. We intended to tone down outdoor activities, but still managed to find a few fun things to do that were appropriate for the season.

Hiking Mt Fuji
At beginning of the month, we hiked Mt Fuji! My second time, my husband's first time, and we were joined by 8 other friends and friends of friends. Full blog post with all the details here, but wanted to mention it as part of the monthly recap since it was a pretty big event. 
It was absolutely dreary due to the wind and the rain (plus, no sunrise), but I'm glad we all got to experience it together. The next day, I actually found myself considering going again on a random day during the open season if the weather was good! 

Misawa work trip
I had to head up to the Tohoku area (mostly Misawa) in the middle of the month for a quick Monday-Friday work trip. I only had about 9 days advanced notice, but fortunately everything worked out. I caught the first train from my house to Haneda Airport and arrived quite early. This was my first time flying domestically within Japan (all other times I've traversed from north to south have been on the shinkansen) and everything was very simple and fast!  
see me?
In commemoration of Miss Veedol (the plane) making the first trans-Pacific flight
Most of my pictures from this short trip that aren't work related are just food (see What I ate section below)! I was traveling with one other person - a coworker of sorts but he's actually at a different location so we hadn't met before. We didn't do a lot of sightseeing unfortunately because we were there for a short amount of time and were obviously working during working hours. 
We did manage to make some time to go stop at the Hachinohe fish market area though!
This market section had some fish/seafood vendors and lots of shops for omiyage shopping. One of its biggest features is this Shichirin Village section where you pay a small fee (400yen) to use the grill and some utensils (gloves, knife, etc). You purchase your own (raw) food from any of the vendors in the market. They not only had fish but also a butcher with meats as well.  
Sadly, it was closed by the time we got there - most of the shops were actually closing up around 17:00, so if you find yourself in the area, definitely don't wait until dinner time!

Galaxy x teamLab Sacred Forest in Harajuku
One of our friends invited us to join them on a rainy Saturday to check out the Samsung & teamLab Sacred Forest "exhibition" in Harajuku. It's at the multi-story Samsung store just across from the LINE Friends shop. Our friends had pre-reserved some tickets for themselves (which can be done up to 3 days in advance), but not everyone in our group had done so, including my husband and me, so we decided to check out the standby wait. 
Upon entering the Samsung store, there's a greeter, who, once he figured out we were there for the teamLab thing, gave us each a numbered ticket with a time slot on it. It wasn't busy at this time, so we were all able to head up to the 3rd floor together immediately. There was a small line there but we didn't need to wait long - maybe 20 minutes, with a group actively getting a briefing and maybe 4 other people in front of us. 
I actually hadn't done any research beforehand, so I didn't have any expectations for what to do, haha. You are provided a folding Galaxy smartphone (on a lanyard), and using the app/camera already downloaded to the phone, "catch" animals that are projected onto the walls. 
The exhibition is free (since it's basically an advertisement/promotion for the phone) but admittance is slightly limited so it doesn't get too crowded as the space isn't very large.
There is a slight "gotta catch em all" Pokemon-feel to it since there's 35 different animals you can catch and learn about. There's even a way to "transfer" your caught animals to your personal phone at the end if you want to hold on to a "library" of what you did.
As typical of teamLab, the projects were quite good and pretty immersive even in a small space. The colors are definitely fantastic. The "catching" technology on the phones was not perfect, I'd say, but certainly a great way to get us to interact with the new phones in general. Since this was something with $0 cost, I'd say it was worthwhile as long as there is only a minimal wait. Also, there is a set of phones that are set up with English if you need it. Even though we were part of a big group, my husband and I were the only ones who got the Japanese version lol.

Mitama Matsuri at Yasukuni shrine
After getting dinner after the Galaxy x teamLab Sacred Forest exhibition, we all headed over to Yasukuni Shrine (Kudanshita station) for the Mitama Matsuri event where they had a lantern illumination!
We went on the last day of the festival and it was quite crowded - lots of people everywhere inside!
Due to COVID protocols, there weren't really any food or other typical street vendors, so the main attraction is really just the lanterns and some featured artworks as well.
If you love illuminations and don't mind crowds, this is worth going to, especially if they bring back food vendors in full force next year. We enjoyed stopping by, but the rain and the humidity were a little junk when you're close in physical proximity to strangers.

teamLab Planets
Two teamLab experiences in the same month? Why not lol.
This was another friend-suggested idea that we happily went along with as we've never been to the Planets version before. Like Borderless, it's also located on Odaiba, and it's its own building near the Shin-Toyosu station. There were too many pictures to include here so I made a separate blog post - check it out here! We also visited a craft fair located in Big Sight (also in Odaiba) after, similar to the one I went to in Yokohama last month.

What we ate
 Karinba - Roast beef donburi (Misawa)

Tubes - Mochiko Chicken combo and cheese rolls (Misawa)

Kaminrida ramen - BBQ shoyu tonkotsu ramen (Misawa) (same dish, but I just moved the nori for the second picture)

Tubes (second visit) - Kalua Pork combo plate and spam musubi (Misawa)

Sapporo Ebi Mensha 札幌海老麺舎 - Noukou ebi tsukemen in hot stone pot (women's portion) (Misawa)

Coco Ichibanya - Homemade hirekatsu curry plate

Mendokoro Shinya ramen - Char siu shoyu ramen

Harajuku Gyozaro - Boiled garlic gyoza and rice set, fried gyoza 

Bamiyan - AYCE shabu shabu with side dishes

Jolly Pasta 

Unjyo-Kaku restaurant - Tonkatsu curry (Mt Fuji 5th station)

Hachigome Tomoekan - curry & hamburger dinner with green tea (Mt Fuji mountain hut) 

Udonkoubou Sanuki うどん工房さぬき - Curry udon tsukemen & butter chicken curry udon

Maisen まい泉 - Amai Yuwaku momo tonkatsu set & Kurobuta fillet tonkatsu set

Steak Gusto - Dice steak and cut steak (we also had curry bar/soup, salad & fruit bar/drink bar)

Dominos Pizza - Big New Yorker pepperoni and Quattro Meat Max with cheese n roll crust

Kappa Sushi

自家製麺こうじ - tsukemen and ramen

Kurumaya Ramen - miso ramen and shoyu ramen 

Ichiran Ramen

Miyatake sanuki udon - zaru udon with ala carte tempura

Torimasa とりまさ - deep fried wieners, egg fried rice, yakitori (wings, skin, chicken tights w/green onion)

Personal life/miscellaneous
I really thought running would fall off a lot this month due to the heat/humidity, but my personal levels of determination have surprised me! Through no small effort, I managed to get through my monthly "half-marathon" run and continued to run throughout the weeks, despite it typically being a shorter distance than usual. 
I was even motivated to run on two nights of my work trip, so much so that I went to the store to buy running shoes, a shirt and leggings since I didn't bring them with me! 
Granted, the weather was much nicer than it is in Kanagawa, so that made a world of difference. Plus, I was excited to explore the area a little more and it's way faster running than walking.

Outfits this month can be found in this post! It's felt a bit slow and uninspired because of the hot weather, but it's also a little freeing not to have to pair everything with a jacket or cardigan and making sure I'm not overusing any of them.
I also reviewed a lot of my dresses in the last week and moved a good chunk of them to the spare bedroom. I needed more room for my EATME stuff which now takes up half the closet on its own (just the dresses, since separates are stored separately non-ironically). I have a better idea of what types of clothes I'll be wearing on a daily basis throughout the seasons now and what will likely not be used here in JP. I'm not quite yet ready to donate because we'll be getting a new boss at work that is supposedly quite strict on dress code, so I'll have to see how that plays out.  

We went to a pool/darts hall with our friends for a small night out. I've never played darts before so this was a nice, casual experience. Although I always forget that these types of places are quite smokey in Japan!

We also finally went to the store and bought a bike for me! My husband has had one for about a year now (since a few weeks after he got to Japan) but we just hadn't made it a priority to get one for me. They didn't have the color I wanted in stock at the time, so we had to order it and are still waiting for it to come in.

This month has actually felt a bit long! It seems like we hiked Fuji more than just a handful of weeks ago. It seems like we had something to do almost every weekend, in a good way, and having a packed schedule of bits and bobs of different things definitely keeps the feeling of monotony away. I also had a lot of fun shopping the summer sales so far - can't wait to see what else gets discounted in August!