Sunday, August 6, 2017

Akita Kanto Festival (秋田の竿燈祭り)

Last weekend I arrived in time for the final day of the Kanto Festival (竿燈祭り). As imagined, it was a stunning sight. The lights of the lanterns glimmered ever so brilliantly in the night sky.  When gazing over at the parade on a faraway bridge, the kanto sticks appeared to be still moving. However, upon approaching the dynamic scene, I could see the tremendous efforts the young lads went through to balance the 50kg+ lanterns upright on top of their foreheads.

The festival has a long history to it, one I won't really go into too much detail for now, but during my study abroad at Akita International University, I could tell that the students and people of Akita truly appreciate and cherish this tradition. The amount of time and energy everyone goes through to prepare for this week is incredible. This night is surely one I won't forget.

If I ever finish editing the footage I took, I'll upload a YouTube video later. Enjoy the photos from the festival in the meantime! :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trip to Tokyo~^^

Hey everyone! So I'm finally in Japan now, and I'm absolutely loving it here! So I arrived on Friday, August 21, 2015, and I stayed in an apartment in Harajuku, Tokyo with my friends until Monday. It was wonderful living in the heart of the city, especially in the fashion district! I really wish I was actually living there for the rest of the year, actually, just living there period, but unfortunately I don't...but the location of the apartment was just so perfect and it was just so neat and clean. Sigh...

Anyway, here are some pictures of my days in Tokyo. Hope you enjoy! :3

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hello Again~

Hey everyone! So I know that it has been a very long time since my last posting, just over a year now since I've updated this blog. Well have no fear cause I've returned! Yay! lol.

So I bring good news! I'm finallyyyy going to Japan!! Yayyyyy!! :3

I strive to update my blog at least once a week this upcoming school year of mine in Japan. I depart on August 20th, so I guess starting in September I'll start updating more frequently. Look forward to all my text posts, photos, and videos!

I'll also reactivate my blog on tumblr: @thworldismine. There you can find more of my pictures that I'll be taking throughout my travels abroad. And of course you can always follow my adventures on my Instagram @funtoo2 which I update daily! Enjoy! ;)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fourth of July

How was everybody's July Fourth? Do anything special? Go anywhere exciting? As for me, I just stayed home and had an impromptu celebration with my family. We ate a ton of fun, but we enjoyed ourselves. 

If you're wondering what the Japanese word for fireworks is, it's 花火 (hanabi). 花 (hana) meaning flower, and 火 (bi) meaning fire. So essentially it literally translates to be fire flowers, or rather, flowers of fire. But that does make logical sense cause they do kind of look like that. :3


(If you would like to see the short video clips that I posted on Instagram, simply click the images above.)

So I'm still in the patriotic mode and had a very red, white, and blue breakfast this morning. Nothing beats having a typical bowl of Cheerios for breakfast. It's a simple go-to meal, yet this time I topped it off with some blueberries and raspberries for an added kick. Yum! :3 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Japanese Language vs. Korean Language

I've noticed quiet a few similarities between the Japanese and Korean languages. One major similarity being that their grammar structures are basically the same. They both have their verbs at the end, whereas in English the verb is seen somewhere in the middle.

For example:

"(It is) water."
  • Japanese: 水です。(mizu desu.)
  • Korean: 물이에요. (mul i-ye-yo.)
In both cases you have the subject first, mizu/mul, and the verb last, desu/iyeyo. You could potentially create this sentence in that same structure in English too, but it's somewhat strange to phrase it that way, "Water, it is."

Another similarity which I'm still confused about is a lot of the vocabulary. I know that Japanese and Korean were influenced by Chinese, but whenever I look up the Chinese word, it never resembles how it is said in neither Japanese nor Korean. So what gives?

For example:

  • Japanese: 鞄 (kaban)
  • Korean: 가방 (gabang)
  • Chinese: 袋 (dài)
  • Japanese: 野球 (yakyū)
  • Korean: 야구 (yagu)
  • Chinese: 棒球 (bàngqiú)

However, there are still some similarities between Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, like the usage of the same characters and some similar sounding words (but in current day Korea, they rarely use Chinese characters anymore). On the otherhand, they can be completely different and seem totally random.

For example:

  • Chinese: 豆腐 (dòufu)
  • Korean: 豆腐 (dubu)
  • Japanese: 豆腐 (tōfu)
  • Chinese: 苹果 (píngguǒ)
  • Japanese: 苹果 (ryugou/ringo)
  • Korean: 사과 (sagwa)
  • Chinese: 狗 (gǒu)
  • Korean: 개 (gae)
  • Japanese: 犬 (inu)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Snapshot An Hour

This may not seem like such a difficult challenge, but reminding yourself to take a picture every hour is actually quiet difficult. I decided to give this challenge a try after seeing Free People's blog post about it. As they had said, you get to see a glimpse of someone's daily life. Doesn't that intrigue you? Don't you wanna know how others live their lives too? (But then again, you can just check their Instagram or Twitter and it gives away what they do all day right there.) Anyway, I hope you enjoy this posting! :3

9am: Arise

Like many of you, or not, I am (sadly) addicted to Instagram. Every morning when I wake up I have to check my feed. If it's not Instagram your obsessed with, then it must be Facebook, or Twitter, or Vine, or just you name it, there's something that you probably check on a daily basis.

10am: Kpop Dance Practice

Unfortunately my dancing skills aren't as great as my photography skills, so I decided to cut out this picture... (笑)

11am: Smoothie Time!

After a nice workout, I love to enjoy a nice and refreshing smoothie. I love making smoothies in the morning for breakfast or brunch! They're so light, yet very filling! This one is packed with lots of nutrients, including bananas, strawberries, spinach, chia seeds, mint, almond milk, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. I love adding vegetables to my drink to ensure that I get my veggies in for the day!

12pm: Herbs

This was my first time ever purchasing dill from the grocery store, so I'm actually not too sure how to store them. When I had visited a friend at her house one time I noticed that they had put their dill on display on the kitchen table, so I decided to create a little presentation of our own. It's nice to be able to just pluck some fresh herbs and nibble on them throughout the day for a quick snack. :3

1pm: Friendly Visitors

I'm not sure if many of you have this issue, but at my house, we have the unfortunate luck of having these little critters crawling around. Their favorite hangout spot is of course the kitchen, and strangely the bathroom.

2pm: Korean Studies

If you haven't realized it by now, but I'm an extremely lazy person. I've been wanting to learn Korean for a while now, and honestly it doesn't take that long to learn it, but I just can't seem to focus. I'm usually not this bad when it comes time to do work, but maybe it's just because I'm on summer vacation that I have an excuse to be as unproductive as I want. So instead of cracking open my Korean textbook or visiting one of my online resources, I decided to watch a children's show in Korean. I probably won't be watching Hutos: The Last Forest anytime soon since it wasn't too fascinating. On the otherhand, I'd totally recommend Why? Like that show explains everything in very simple language. No wonder Asian kids are so smart, they have television shows like this, whereas we in America have Ed, Edd n Eddy....

3pm: Cleaning

I noticed my mother had been scrubbing the gravel with a toothbrush earlier in the week, so I wanted to finish up the rest of it for her. When she came home she was really impressed with all of my hard work (I also washed all the dishes for her too)! :3

4pm: Out for a Stroll

We arrived early to the Eastern Market and Capitol Hill area fairly early for our 5 o'clock dinner reservations, so we took a little walk around town. The weather was so wonderful.

5pm: Interior

As my mother pondered over what to share for our appetizer, I went ahead and started exploring the restaurant. I really liked how the walls were covered in pebbles.

6pm: Pecking Duck

Dinner was fabulous! It was by far one of my favorite meals I've ever had out. The experience somewhat reminded me of Benihana since the chef carefully sliced the duck in front of us. I highly recommend getting pecking duck from Nooshi located in Capitol Hill! (Click here for my Instagram image and here for my Instagram video.)

7pm: Macaron Mania

I have this weird obsession with macarons, so after dinner we stopped by The Sweet Lobby for some macarons. Flavors I got (from top to bottom): balsamic fig, cappuccino, rose, and vanilla violet. My favorites were the two flower ones. (Click here my Instagram posting.)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Korean Resources

If you're trying to learn Korean or looking to learn more about the Korean culture, then I'd suggest visiting the following:

Websites and Youtube Channels:
  • Talk to Me in Korean - TTMIK was launched in 2009, so they're veterans to when it comes to teaching Korean to those who wish to learn on their own. Their website includes a curriculum of the Korean grammar, along with other Korean language lessons, such as learning Korean through K-Pop or Idiomatic Expressions. Talk to Me in Korean has printed textbooks and workbooks available for purchase at their online store, but everything featured in them are all available, 100% free, on their website for digital download. Listen to their podcasts and enjoy learning Korean with their community. They even have a wonderful YouTube Channel to accompany their site with language and cultural help.
  • HaruKorean - The creators of TTMIK have now created a Korean language learning website which gives you access to lessons and daily exercises along with getting instant feedback from native speakers. There is a small monthly fee for their various memberships, but I highly suggest checking out once you've mastered the hangeul.
  • Sweet And Tasty - Great tool for learning Korean! Also check out her YouTube channel! She has a great series called KWOW giving you wonderful insight to the Korean culture! Her videos are very informative and entertaining! Love Professor Oh and Grandma Kim! They're so helpful when it comes to learning Korean! ;3
  • Migook Saram's YouTube Channel - Migook is an English teacher in South Korea who loves to vlog. Check out her YouTube Channel for videos about Korea's pop culture regarding it's music and fashion, along with tips for foreigners wanting to visit Korea. She also has a blog, but as far as I can tell, she hasn't updated it since 2013, but it's still a valuable source!
  • Live Mocha - In 2013, Live Mocha was purchased by Rosetta Stone. Regardless, it still functions as a free, online service for those who wish to pursue learning a new language. The benefits of this website is that you can 'purchase' courses in your desired language through the currency of points. You initially start off with a certain amount of points, and the only way to gain more is to either complete your lessons or help out others who're learning your native language. They also have a currency called 'beans,' but I think that you actually have to buy those with real money; you also have the option of buying 'points' with real money too. The different portions of each lesson includes: lesson introduction, review of vocabulary terms, review of language usage notes, practicing language usage, practicing reading and writing, practicing reading and speaking, practicing listening and writing, and practicing listening and reading. The concept is very similar to that of Rosetta Stone, probably why they bought it, but it's soooo much cheaper! Definitely give it a try!
  • Drama Fever: Kids - Drama Fever is a great website that has all of your favorite Korean dramas, along with other Asian TV shows and movies. But did you know that they also have a children's section to their page? What better way to learn than to just sit back & relax and watch a show in the foreign language of your study with little to no effort? I feel that watching kids' shows encourages me to study Korean more frequently since I'm able to pick up on what they're saying because the language is very simple! I'd definitely recommend checking out Drama Fever Kids, along with Drama Fever's YouTube channel! :D
  • Eat Your Kimchi - Eatyourkimchi is a website all about kpop. If you're a major kpop lover, this is the site for you! They'll let you know about the hottest artists and songs and help you to discover some new Indie Korean Music. Their site offers a lot besides kpop, such as strange finds in Korea (check out their WTF Korea videos), Q&A videos (see TL;DR videos), or even live chats on Fridays! And don't forget to subscribe to their YouTube Channel!
  • Seoultastic - Seoultastic is a wonderful resource for finding out more about the Korean food and culture. They even provide you with living and travel information for planning your next trip to Korea. They have an awesome YouTube Channel! Check 'em out!
  • ChelseaSpeak3 - Chelsea is an American who lives in South Korea, teaching English to her adorable elementary class. She mostly uploads videos focusing on life as a foreigner in South Korea, along with other cultural aspects of Korea. She also has a blog, but her updates are very infrequent.
  • Hyunwoo Sun's Youtube Channel - Hyunwoo is one of the founders of TTMIK. Check out his YouTube Channel for videos about Korea and learning a new language! 
  • Seemile - Seemile is an Asian language learning website, offering courses for Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and surprisingly Russian. And apparently they even have an app for both the Apple and Android markets! However, I'd suggest subscribing to their YouTube Channel for Korean language learning. 
  • Maangchi Maangchi's Korean Vocab YouTube Channel offers quick and easy to learn videos for Korean vocabulary. However, her main YouTube Channel focuses on Korean cuisine, providing you with step-by-step help on preparing delicious Korean meals while also teaching you about the culture. Check out both her YouTube channels, along with her website!
  • Seokjin Jin's YouTube - Seokjin is another member of the TTMIK board. He likes to learn new things and draw, so check out his YouTube for drawing tutorials, in Korean, along with cultural aspects of South Korea. 
  • Mind Pasta - On May 31, 2014, some random person on Twitter tweeted me, asking if I was learning Korean. I was a little skeptical of the link that they provided, but nevertheless I clicked away. It brought me to this website,, a community of fellow Korean learners. Little did I know, but apparently Ryan, the guy who created Mind Pasta (in only 11 days! O.o), was the one who had tweeted me and invited me to join his site. I suggest just clicking here to automatically be lead to Part 1 of his Korean teaching series, however, to access more of his lessons, you have to acquire more points. Currently I'm not sure how to get more points, nor do I know how to make perfumes (what ever that does), but don't let that stop you from giving it a try! Also, he supposedly has an app out. And another thing, I feel that the website can be a little slow to load pages; just an observation.
  • Korean Class 101 - I've honestly never used Korean Class 101 website, nor any of those other "language" Class 101 sites, but they do have some helpful Korean language videos located on their YouTube Channel
  • Richard Lucchesi's YouTube Channel - Follow Richard's journey as he learns Korean! He also has some Korean cultural videos.

  • Korean Letters - Korean Alive, LLC presents this wonderful flashcard-like app to help you learn Hangul. Learn Hangul in 1 day! I highly recommend spending the mere $2.99 for the full version; it's definitely worth it! (Download from App Store. Free version: Korean Ltrs Lite or Purchase: Korean Ltrs)
  • Pop Popping Korean - Pronunciation - Hansol Education presents (Download from App Store)
  • Play With Korean - I haven't played this one yet, but it looks cute (Download from Google Play)

This list will periodically be updated.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Chocolate Bark

Earlier this month I begged my mother to buy me some strawberries and she finally gave in. To my surprise one afternoon, I found in the fridge a huge case of fresh, ripe strawberries. There were so many berries that I feared majority of them would rot! So I decided to freeze half and save them for my smoothie making and the other half would simply be eaten fresh.

As a thanks to my mom, in return I wanted to surprise her! So one afternoon when she returned home from work she found these lovely chocolate covered strawberries awaiting her in the refrigerator. After consuming her first strawberry, she claimed it tasted better than the ones from Godiva! Honestly I didn't do much but melt some chocolate. Maybe it's because they were made with love that caused them to taste so delicious? :3

If you're wondering what ingredients I used:

  • Strawberries from Costco
  • Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate chips

Yep. Just those two items. And here are the directions:
  1. Wash strawberries in cold water and set aside. (You can place them back into the refrigerator or freezer to keep them chilled until you're chocolate is fully melted.)
  2. Use a double boiler to melt chocolate. Constantly stir so that chocolate melts evenly and doesn't burn! (Careful not to get any water mixed in with the chocolate!)
  3. Dip strawberries into melted chocolate, and gently place onto a flat surface covered with parchment paper. (You want to complete this step fairly quickly since hotter chocolate achieves that smooth appearance, whereas lukewarm chocolate results in a more rugged/rough texture.)
  4. Place strawberries in refrigerator or freezer to cool or eat them while they're still hot! Enjoy! :3

If you run out of strawberries, but still have extra chocolate, have no fear! That lovely chocolate won't be wasted! Use the rest for a fondue! Dip any other fruits you have around the house in there. Bananas, kiwis, pineapple, you name it! Also try adding some baked goods, such as pound cake or doughnuts! Even potato chips will work! (Trust me, chocolate covered chips are soooo good! I tried Royce's white chocolate potato chips, better known as their Fromage Blanc, and instantly fell in love!)

But lets say you don't have anything to dip in your chocolate, fear not since there's still a solution! You can make chocolate bark out of it! Here's what I did:

  • Melted Chocolate
  • Almonds (preferably crushed)
  • Sea salt

  1. (If you already have crushed almonds, you can skip this step.) Place almonds into a Ziplock bag and smash until almonds pieces are at desired size.
  2. Sprinkle crushed almonds and salt into melted chocolate.
  3. Mix until evenly incorporated.
  4. Pour melted chocolate mixture onto a flat surface covered with parchment paper and smooth it out into whatever shape you want. (Chocolate mixture should be thinly dispersed, about 1 cm thick, or to desired thickness.)
  5. Place into refrigerator or freezer to chill.
  6. Enjoy! :3

You can always substitute the almonds for a different type of nut if you'd like, such as cashews or peanuts, or you can switch it for something completely different like dried fruits or potato chips. ;3

Or you can just skip the adding of anything and simply have 'pure' chocolate. I definitely suggest making chocolate covered strawberries and then some chocolate barks since they're a nice treat to share with loved ones!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Avril Lavigne's Hello Kitty

I've noticed that there's been quite a lot of controversy over Avril Lavigne's new song, "Hello Kitty." Many people are saying it's racist, while others are simply commenting that it's a terrible song. Whatever your thoughts may be about this, I for one definitely don't agree with those statements.

I believe that Avril Lavigne was simply trying to bridge the gap between Japan and America by bringing about more awareness of the Japanese culture. Either that, or she was just outreaching to the rapidly growing 'otaku' population. Obviously though, a key give away that this song has a Japanese influence is its title, "Hello Kitty." Even though she doesn't exactly specifically talk about the 'icon' itself, there is a major hint that it was definitely named after the figure Hello Kitty as seen with the background dancers' outfits. Even though they aren't wearing Hello Kitty's iconic red bow, they are however wearing red colored wigs, and her colors of white, blue, and pink.

Another major point is the physical location of where her music video was shot at. The main setting is Japan, and I'm assuming it was filmed in Tokyo (but I could be wrong, especially since there weren't that many people running around in the background). The candy shop, CANDY A☆GO☆GO!, that Avril appears in is only located in Japan with majority of their locations found in Tokyo, so this just confirms that video was in fact shot in Japan.

Of course your stereotypical Japanese food of sushi and sake were included in this video, but she could have introduced some other Japanese dishes. That way people would have wondered what she was eating, which would then lead them to research (a.k.a. search Google) more about the Japanese cuisine.

In her video, there were bits and pieces of random Japanese words throughout the song, such as "みんな (minna = everyone)," "ありがとう(arigatou = thank you)," and "かわいい (kawaii = cute), which just shows that she's trying to incorporate and expose people to the Japanese language. Avril was also possibly influenced some Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, a famous Japanese artist who is known for her extremely bizarre and outlandish kawaii fashion, and she just wanted to reveal to the world that Japan has a more clothing styles than just a kimono.

There was one part of her song, however, where I was utterly confused. At the beginning, where she's spouting random Japanese words, when she says, "sai-kõ," is she actually saying "さいきょう(saikyou)," which means "the best"? Or rather, "サイコ (saiko)," meaning "psycho"? But after re-watching the video again, it's probably just saikyou. Later on in the video she walks through the streets, smiling and waving to everyone, so now I don't think it's random Japanese she's saying at the beginning. I'm now under the impression that her fragmented sentence at the beginning, "みんなさいきょうありがとう," Avril is trying to say, "Everyone, you're the best. Thank you." Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts about this and your overall thoughts on this new song of hers.

If you want to watch and listen to her video, click here, or watch it below!