Wednesday, August 26, 2015

End of Summer (Nearly)

Suddenly the temperatures in Tokyo dropped, but it's probably only temporary. Still, it's a nice break from the heat and humidity, and a sneak peek at autumn (even though September in Japan will be just as hot as August).

I worked a lot this month, but since every shift is so short, it keeps it interesting and just gives the perfect balance to my week. I love having an excuse to go to Shibuya, and at the same time I like how I can avoid morning rush hour commutes.

August also brings natsubate, literally 'summer fatigue'. Not sure if it's an actual condition, but it does feel real. Could be due to the intense heat or the overuse of air conditioning, or a mix of both. I'm trying to stay hydrated with room-temperature tea (cold isn't so good for the belly, especially if there's a bebe inside) and eat lots of fruit (watermelon, fresh figs and ¥300 apples). My summer go-to food is soba, I could eat it every single day. I've been trying different restaurants around Tokyo, ranging from local neighbourhood spots to Michelin-star places. I much prefer the handmade noodles, and the best side dish is tempura. I'm also eating lots of sashimi and sushi, which is thankfully not forbidden during pregnancy in Japan. I could never live without it! In fact, I like how relaxed Japanese are about all those  so-called 'pregnancy rules'. Although they can be strict about weight gain and keeping the belly warm, the rest is fairly relaxed, which I really like.

Maternity fashion in Japan is another story, though. As expected, everything is quite frumpy, flowery, frilly and cutesy. Pregnant women in Japan tend to conceal their figure, instead of flaunting their beautiful growing bump. It's been interesting to flip through maternity magazines and see what's offered in stores. Let's just say, thank goodness for online shopping and Asos free Japan shipping.

I'm planning for more yoga, afternoon teas, reading, cafe lounging and hopefully a few getaways for the next few months. It's a nice change of pace, although my life is about to change even more, in the best possible way.

Doughnuts at Fred Segal

A visit to the aquarium

I feel like this animal

Never enough soba

Afternoon break at Magnolia

They painted Domo-kun! 
Summer fireworks

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer in Japan

So, it's been a while, and summer has fully kicked in, along with its suffocating, sauna-like humidity and cicada soundtrack. I was able to escape to Canada for a few short weeks, but to be honest, the weather was unusually hot and humid there too. Still it was a nice trip, as usual, but it felt very rushed and tiring. I never thought I'd say that, but coming back to my Tokyo life actually felt relaxing.

Canada was a mix of catching up with everyone, being at my mom's house and eating her lovely food and trying to catch our cat (who gives me bad allergies), meeting my adorable nephew for the first time,    going on a road trip to Toronto, having coffee with my former Montreal roommate and a dear friend who shared Osaka memories with me (and their cute babies), spending time with Seoul friends in TO, a day trip to Niagara Falls (eh, I had to introduce Canada's most famous landmark…), an impromptu stay at the Park Hyatt Toronto, swimming on one of MTL's rooftops, shopping trips at the huge supermarkets and marveling at the fruit selection, barbecues in the backyard, bare feet in the grass and every morning a delicious breakfast.

I found Canada a bit more difficult this time- have I been too spoiled by Japanese convenience and cleanliness? The first few days back home are always a reverse culture shock for me, but this time it dragged on: the horrible customer service (it's a hit or miss), the lack of public restrooms anywhere, the inability to buy water at vending machines on any corner. Have I been in Japan for too long? Still, I loved how warm people are, how strangers sometimes strike up a random conversation with you, and how it's socially acceptable to pretty much do anything you please. I also liked how everywhere is non-smoking, Starbucks are practically empty (and they have those healthy lunch boxes), you can find amazing-tasting coffee, sandwiches and pastries on every corner and green spaces for picnics.

It's always nice to be home, and this time coming back to Japan was equally good. I love my (fairly new) home here, I love my job and I was excited to get back into it. I've been a bit of a homebody lately, taking it easy. There has been a huge change in my life in the past few months... I'm pregnant! It was a lovely surprise (also to my family and friends, as I'm apparently the last person they imagined with a baby), and we're so happy and excited. It's actually been a wonderful time, even if this summer heat. I never thought I would enjoy it so much, as I had never even really thought about what it would be like. I cherish every moment of it, I like sitting alone sipping tea or iced coffee and think about the bebe. I also started maternity yoga, which is a great workout and so relaxing at the same time. I also love updating my wardrobe, with lots of summer tunics, bump hugging t-shirt dresses and treating myself to a little DVF wrap number, which I'll be able to wear for decades. Pregnancy in Japan has been a smooth experience, the health care is very good and I feel like I'm in good hands.

I can't help but look back at my time in Japan and realize how things have changed. I probably say that every time, but it's been quite the journey, and somehow it's just the beginning. I have so much to be thankful for.