Japan Travel Essentials

Current mood: super, super excited!

In just a little less than two weeks, Brons and I go back to Japan.  I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we were there.  It was such an amazing experience that we decided to go back again.

If you’re a first-time traveler or need a simplified list of things to bring, read on 😉

JapanChecklist2018

BACKPACK – better than a handbag or shoulder bag as it fits more items and doesn’t cramp one side of your shoulder.  The more compartments, the better.  Find a lightweight, versatile and classic style that will match any outfit, such as the Calais backpack from TUMI’s Voyageur Carson collection.

TRAVEL MAP & GUIDE – I’m a bookworm and I’ve preferred hard-copy books over digital books.  Same goes with a physical map.  It’s easier to see the big picture, just need unfolding 😉 Also, just in case your phone loses battery, you’ll have a back-up.  A survival phrasebook is useful to have, to familiarize yourself with the country’s culture and learn basic conversation phrases. Lonely Planet Japan Map and Japanese Phrasebook and Dictionary will make you feel like a local when you no one knows how to speak eigo. 

COIN PURSE – We’ll get to the “cash is king” memo in a bit, but in Japan, you will rack up lots and lots of coins because the most common form of payment is cash.  As you use cash, you’ll end up with coins, so having a coin purse will help you organize, locate and separate your crisp bills from your baby yens.  Might as well get a cute one, just like this exquisite handmade buckle coin purse from Jan Dee.

MONEY – Of course without money, how can you have fun, let alone survive your trip?  Save up and cash in the yen.  To-date $1 = 112Y.  Carry more cash than credit card as we recently learned Japan is predominantly cash-culture.  A lot of the places we went accepted cash only.  Don’t be afraid to carry a lot of cash as Japan is super safe.  As far as utilizing credit cards- VISA or Mastercard are the most common.  Make sure to inquire with your bank or credit card company for fees associated with international transactions.  Personally, I know that Capital One does not charge foreign transaction fees.  If you run out of cash, the best place to get it is at an ATM at your nearest 7-Eleven.  With 22,000 locations, they’re conveniently everywhere in Japan and they’re open 24 hours.

HAND SANITIZER – Japan’s cleanliness is immaculate.  Ironically though, their bathrooms lack soap and even hand towels.  Therefore, you must carry with you at all times, hand sanitizer or hand wipes.  Most people carry their own handkerchief.  Stock up with travel-sized hand sanitizers and single-use wipes from Bath & Body Works or Purell.

COMFY SHOES – For a shoeholic like me, I cannot stress it enough that you should not only find fabulous shoes, but also comfy ones.  Trust me, you will do miles and miles of walking.  And yes, the mythical combination of looks & comfort exist.  Last trip, I learned to value my boots and booties as they are fitting for the season.  However, I’ve learned to absolutely love my casual white sneakers as they matched with almost any outfit, whether it’s with leggings, skinny jeans, or even a dress!  In Japan no matter what type of skirt or dress – flowy, midi, maxi (even mini), a pair of white fashion sneakers will finish the look!

ELECTRONICS – Your phone, of course!  A digital camera to capture memories, a travel adapter as most of Japan’s electrical outlets are two-pronged “Type A”.  Don’t forget to rent a pocket WiFi for Google and Google maps, the internet have all the answers when you’re on an adventure.

JR PASS –  Hands down, a total money saver.  This will save you hundreds of dollars in travel fees especially if you’re going from one major city to another.  We used our passes mainly to get from Kyoto to Tokyo and Tokyo to Osaka in the shinkansen (bullet train), and any transportation owned and operated by Japan Railway throughout the rest of our stay.  You can buy them in 7-day increments and you have an option to purchase a regular pass or Green (First Class) pass.  We opted for the Green pass as it guaranteed seat reservations and more leg room for Brons.  Learn more about the JR Pass here.

LUGGAGE – Packing a light, small suitcase can help you navigate Japan a bit easier.  Crowded stations and trains leave very little room for large luggage.  Even the shinkansen allows minimal space for large luggage, with the overhead compartment being able to accommodate carry-on sizes.  Opt for a suitcase with spinner wheels, 4-wheeler even an 8-wheeler if you can – so much easier to maneuver!  Especially towards the end of your trip in which it will get heavier as you fill it up with omiyage.  This innovative carry-on Luggage Crew 11 from Travelpro might just do the trick.  It’s expandable and lightweight, and it has an external USB port to charge to gadgets!  Super cool.

 

Hope this helps your planning.  Would love to hear about your trip!

 

<3,

Honey

Advertisements

She was beautiful…

 

…. but not like those girls in magazines.
She was beautiful for the way she thought.
She was beautiful for the sparkle in her eyes
when she talked about something she loved.
She was beautiful for her ability to make other people smile,
even if she was sad.
No, she wasn’t beautiful for something
as temporary as her looks.
She was beautiful, deep down to her soul.

She is beautiful.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Brunch Perfection: Brother’s Cafe – Namba, Osaka

I love breakfast.

I absolutely do and in addition to coffee, I have to have it every morning or I have no energy for the rest of the day.  Sometimes I might also get a little grouchy.  But I don’t like to have it too early in the morning.  The best breakfast is eaten after 10am but before noon.   Oh yes, so sorry…. that actually makes it brunch.  So I retract my statement.

I love brunch.  I do.  🙂

Another highlight during our trip to Japan was the food.  So much food!!!! Of course Japan has the most exquisite selection of food and they are served to perfection.   From the sushi to the takoyaki to the noodles to the broiled salmon to the supermarket bentos, everything was just… perfect.

And for brunch lovers like me who are searching for the PERFECT breakfast/lunch cafe, let me introduce to you Brother’s Café.

BrothersCafe1_HoneyAubrey

Brother’s Café is a quaint little pancake house in Namba, Osaka- their second location is in Umeda.  Brother’s Cafe serves a variety of pancakes, toasts and sandwiches.  They also serve coffee, which smells decadent as you enter the shop, and matcha.  It was here that I was introduced to spoon pancake-  a pancake soooo fluffy you can eat it with a spoon.  Spoon pancake is limited to their Namba location and takes 20 minutes to bake.  It tasted heavenly and worth the wait.

Here are photos, I’ll let you swoon (and maybe even drool a little ;P)

BrothersCafe3_HoneyAubrey

BrothersCafe8_HoneyAubrey
Coffee & Matcha Love
BrothersCafe4_HoneyAubrey
One of their specialized toasts, with grilled vegetables and chili sauce
BrothersCafe5_HoneyAubrey
Cornflake french toast
BrothersCafe6_HoneyAubrey
Another version of their sweet & savory french toast
BrothersCafe7_HoneyAubrey
The undeniably delicious and one-of-a-kind spoon pancake

Still drooling?  Here’s a quick little video of our dine-in…

Brother’s Café is a cozy restaurant that can satisfy even the biggest sweet tooth…..including me!

Aloha,
Honey

Memoirs of a “Geisha” – A Maiko Makeover Experience in Kyoto

Just over a week ago we returned home to Hawaii after a 10-day vacation in Japan.  From Osaka to Kyoto to Tokyo then back to Osaka again.   Even with the threatening typhoon Lan and stormy days during the trip, it was still oh-so-amazing!

To me, the most memorable experience was the opportunity to be a Maiko for a day.

GeishaMaikoKyoto_honeyaubrey_1a

A maiko  is a geisha-in-training.  The term “Geisha” means “art person”.  This means one must be highly skilled in their arts to be considered a geisha.   Geishas are experts in traditional dance, classical music, tea ceremony, and much more.   They are well versed in social situations and are expert conversationalist. The role of a geisha is constantly misunderstood (mostly by westerners) as they are thought of as escorts, sometimes prostitutes.  They are not.  They are exclusively hired to entertain during sophisticated dinners and events.  They portray beauty, elegance, and their talents that they perfect.  They go through rigorous years of training, and they are an important cultural asset to Japan, sadly there are very few of them left.

Having a maiko makeover wasn’t just the chance to put on white makeup and dress in a kimono.  It was the experience of being professionally made up, to wear a warishinobu wig adorned with colorful hair pins and be beautifully dressed in a traditional kimono.  Not to mention being able to tour (in tabi socks and platform clogs) a few of the most historic and preserved streets of the Edo Period in Gion, Kyoto….. specifically Ninenzeka, one of the oldest streets in the history of Kyoto.

For a few hours you get to feel like a real maiko or geisha, and it was an unforgettable experience!  Although it was a bit tiring because of the stairs, slopes and uphills, and the nonstop photo ops/selfie requests by tourists and locals alike…..but well worth it….

AYA KYOTO –

This Maiko Makeover Experience would not have been possible without AYA KYOTO. They have been very accommodating since the beginning.  They were responsive through email even while I was still on-island (Akiko and Wakana were my contacts through email). We rescheduled because of the storm and they even allowed my bff Kelsie to participate.  Another geisha makeover company in Gion, who will remain unnamed, wouldn’t allow any woman expecting, no matter what stage of pregnancy, to participate in the makeover.  AYA accomodated Kels, and we had the time of our lives!  Here are some photos from our maiko makeover, to help you get a feel of how the process works.

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_0

The AYA studio was a traditional teahouse during the Taisho Period in the early 1900s so it has an authentic, traditional feel as you enter.  You are welcomed into their common room where you fill out paperwork and choose what poses you would like during your photo shoot.  You will then have to remove any makeup you are currently wearing in the washroom, where there are lockers to place your belongings.  They will give you a simple white under-robe  and white tabi socks, the robe which you will be wearing beneath your regular kimono.

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_1

You then go into the makeup room, partnered with one of their professional makeup artists, where all of the magic happens!  

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_2a

Phase one includes skin cleansing, moisturizing and the application of white makeup powder.

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_2b

Phase two – four includes eyebrows, eyes, then lips!  Pictured above with my makeup artist Yukiko.  She was such a joy to work with, such a sweetheart!  After the makeup was applied, my hair was styled and sprayed to accommodate the maiko wig to make it look as natural as possible.

Here’s a quick video clip of how much fun and laughter actually happens during hair and makeup!  Look at those adorable little maikos behind me! 🙂

After makeup you go into the dressing room where you pick from over a hundred choices of kimono and obi combinations.  I picked a black and red color palette.  Pictured below are the racks of exotic and colorful kimono designs and obi sashes you could select from.  

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_2c

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_3

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_4

In the photo above, pretty Kelsie is getting dressed after choosing a pink and light green ensemble. 

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_6

After dressing, we are taken into a different room where the indoor photo shoot takes place.  Below is a candid while doing a sitting pose, with photographer Mark guiding  proper body angles and where to look.  

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_7b

After the indoor photo shoots, we were given one hour outdoors to walk/tour the streets Maiko style 🙂   We could not do it without our platform clogs, or slippahs as we call it here in Hawaii.

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_5

During the walking tour, our husbands Marlon and Bronson along with little Kellon became our personal photographers.  They took candid photos as we strolled the fascinating streets of Gion.  It was like taking a step back in time as you meet tourists dressed in casual kimonos and yukatas.  There were some locals who may have believed we were also real maikos on the way to an appointment.  It was sooo fun to see how curious and starstruck they were. 

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_9

Photo above were students from Sakurajima Elementary School who wanted a photo, they were soooo adorbs!

And just a few more photos featuring Honey-san and Kelsie-san as Maikos, promise 😉 ….

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_8

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_10

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_10b

Doesn’t it look fabulous?!?!

If you are thinking of doing something as amazing as this during your travel to Japan, contact AYA KYOTO below:

AYA03
“Maiko or Geisha in Kyoto. Try on a Maiko Costume at AYA and experience the exotic worlds of traditional Kyoto culture. to be a Maiko makeover yourself. “

They recently received a 2017 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Adviser where they hold an average of 5-star reviews!!!

If you are still not convinced, watch their official YouTube video below

Thank you so very much AYA KYOTO, we had the time of our lives, we will never ever forget our memories in Gion.  Much love and Aloha from Hawaii!!!

AYAMaikoExperienceKyoto_11

Honey

 

Gifts for Mom

Happy May, everyone!

One of my favorite celebrations this month is Mother’s Day, which is less than a couple of weeks away.

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 14th.  Of course we have to spoil her because she is supermom and every amazing thing about you, you most definitely got it from your mama! 😉  If you are not sure what to get her yet, don’t worry too much as Miss Honey have some wonderful gift ideas that will sure to wow mother dearest.

Here are some of my faves:

GiftsForMom

Pandora Vintage Allure Gift Set –  An exclusive, dazzling set with silver drop earrings and matching necklace will sparkle mom’s heart and any room she’ll walk into while wearing this striking jewelry set from Pandora.

Fraas Lightweight Solid Scarf – A wardrobe staple that can be worn for all seasons.  The pastel color is perfect for spring and summer and can take any of mom’s outfit up a notch!  For fashionista moms, let her know this one’s made in Italy 🙂

Desserts LaBelle: Soulful Sweets to Sing About– Ms. LaBelle, the original Lady Marmalade songstress, superstar singer and bestselling cookbook author recently came out with her desserts/baking book!  This will definitely have mom singing and you wishing for more, more, more pies please.

LipSense Lipstick– Say goodbye to smudged lipsticks, lipstick on cups, clothes or even on your loved ones! As a loyal user of LipSense, I can definitely say it what all the wonderful things everyone say it is!  Mom needs lipstick that will stay all-day and LipSense will give her that.  She can pick from a whole range of color and gloss styles, from glassy to matte.  For my fellow island girls, please contact my dear friend Lila Uyeno, or order online through LipSense Distributor #277486.

Kate Spade Flower Metro Watch– For no-nonsense moms that don’t want anything too fancy, but they deserve it, this rose gold watch etched with a single blossom will surely catch her attention. Simple but special enough to wear every day and/or on special occasions.

S’ip by S’well Insulated Water Bottle in Pineapple Bliss – This stainless steel water bottle use ThermaSwell to keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12.  It will keep mom well-hydrated for all of the multitasking that she have to do.

Godiva Sweet Dreams Deluxe Chocolate Gift Box – The perfect indulgence for a chocoholic queen who is as sweet as what she eats.   Pamper her with this gift set that includes two boxes of chocolate, cosmetic bag and a satin pillowcase.

Nest Fragrances White Camellia Reed Diffuser A breathtaking scent of fresh camellia, wisteria and Indonesian jasmine with notes of white tea and amber will fill mom’s home with luxurious and memorable fragrance.

Minnie Rose Cashmere Slippers – For the low-maintenance mom who wants comfort around the house.  These cashmere slippers speak for themselves with a “Cool Mom” embroidery.

Tory Burch Block-T Brogue Tote– This sleek leather tote is ideal for any tasks that must be done whether it is for quick errands or a weekend away.  It features a distinct perforated trim and can easily hold a full-day’s essentials.  It also includes a removable zip pouch for smaller items.

Hope I inspired you a little.  As most of us can agree on, mother knows best, and she deserves the best.  To our angel mother in Heaven, you know if you were here I would get you anything you ever wanted.  To everyone else, have fun shopping for mom! The price shouldn’t matter, the most important thing is the thought and effort you put in it 🙂

**For more ideas, SHOP Mother’s Day Gifts here.**

Love,
Honey

Pretty-In-Pastels

Hope everyone had a blessed and beautiful Easter Sunday!  Today’s fashion post takes inspiration from the soft and sweet candy hues of our most recent holiday – pastels!  We are already seeing pastels as one of the biggest trends this year, and with spring and summer (almost) here, it doesn’t look like it’s going to fade out anytime soon.

Pastels can be incorporated with almost any color.  The light, delicious hues range from blush pink, pale yellow, sweet sorbets, lavender to mint and seafoam green, to baby blue. They are indeed, very ladylike, however pastels can be worn by anyone, even if you don’t consider yourself to be a “girly-girl”.

Here are some wardrobe ensembles you can put together, whether you’re just beginning to add a touch of soft colors in your wardrobe or you’re a fashion diva experimenting with color blocking.

BlushPinkPastelOutfit

Anson Asymmetric Stretch-Ponte Mini Dress, TIBI
Alexia Suede and Leather Shoulder Bag, M2Malletier
Jurassic Rose Fan Station Necklace, Lele Sadoughi
Keenan Block-Heel Sandals, Charles by Charles David

BabyBluePastelOutfit

Cutout Hammered-Crepe Top, Michael Michael Kors
Scalloped Crepe Shorts, Madewell
Crystal & Gemstone Daydreamer Earring, Isabella Tropea
Harper Crossbody Bag, Tory Burch
Lafayette Loafers, Diane von Furstenberg

YellowWhitePastelOutfit

Wool-Blend Cardigan, Vince
Pointed Toe Pump, V Italia
Crepe Blouse, Atos Lombardini
Pleated Tulle Skirt, H&M
Rayne Pendant Necklace, Kendra Scott
Gancini Crossbody Bag, Salvatore Ferragamo

MintGreenPastelOutfit
Le Skinny De Jeanne Jackwood Stagger Hem Jeans, FRAME
Bomber Jacket, H&M
Chuck Taylor All Stars Dainty Sneaker, Converse
Cotton Drawstring Backpack, Baggu
Women’s Aloha Forever Hat, Billabong
Marled linen-jersey Tank, MAJESTIC

Hope these ideas inspired you to mix and match your candy colored wardrobe pieces!

 

Love,

Honey

Introducing First Lady Melania Trump

This morning, Friday January 20th, 2017, American businessman Donald Trump was sworn in as the United States of America’s 45th President. His wife, Slovenia-born former model Melania Trump was also formally introduced as our nation’s First Lady.

Speculations grew in the fashion world of who would (and wouldn’t) dress Melania Trump amidst the scandal of her husband winning the highest seat in office. Today, she stuns in an elegant ensemble from a classic American brand, Ralph Lauren.

gallery-1484938853-hbz-melania-trump-embed
Original Photo Source Harper Bazaar

Her outfit consists of a cashmere cropped jacket and mock turtleneck knee-length dress, pointed stilettos, and suede gloves and clutch, all in powder blue.  She wore her hair in an updo, departing away from her usual simple hair down style.  Makeup is smokey eyes and soft pink lips.

landscape-1484952992-hbz-melanie-index
Original Photo Source Harper’s Bazaar

Her outfit has earned comparisons to Jackie Kennedy’s pale blue suit she wore to her husband John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.

01045159.jpg
Original Photo Source: Kiro7

#FlashbackFriday indeed!

gettyimages-632183632_1484927879218_7738730_ver1-0
Original Photo Source:  WFAA8 ABC

This is not the first time Melania chose Ralph Lauren design as she also wore a Ralph Lauren Collection jumpsuit to Trump’s final presidential debate against Hillary Clinton.  A wise move by the First Lady as Ralph Lauren brand has already secured its place in fashion history, representing patriotism and America in all positive ways.

melaniatrumpdonaldtrumpinauguration
Original Photo Source: New York Times

Here some fun facts: Melania Trump is the second foreign-born First Lady, and the first First Lady to have immigrated to the U.S.  She also speaks five languages: her native Slovenian, Serbian, English, French, and German.

Looking forward to what our beautiful First Lady will wear in historic events during the next four years….

Honey