“Ita daki mas” – summer in Japan

“Ita daki mas” – summer in Japan

I have always been skeptical of the old adage that travel is the best learning experience. However, after traveling to Japan for a two-week cultural immersion program, I have become a firm believer that travel is indeed the best learning experience.

Get ready for a photo overload, especially of food since I’m a foodie 🙂
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On the flight to Japan. Despite all the bad news of United recently, this 14 hour trip actually went pretty well. I had so many cups of green tea during the flight which I oh-so regretted later.

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My first breakfast in Japan – guys they have green tea granola. Let’s just say that I was obsessed.

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Visiting the aquarium – the jellyfish were so cool!

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The Big Buddha – little did I know when taking this trip that I would be in for a long hike in the nearby mountains.

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The hike was only half as bad as its length because aren’t these hydrangeas beautiful? These flowers were peppered all throughout the hike. Apparently, they are called the June flower in Japan.

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After a long and tiring hike, and an even tiring hour-long wait for the restaurant, we ate udon. Oh. my. goodness. The wait was definitely worth it because the udon was so good. There was also tempura and the chefs just made it right in front of you. Warm tempura is always the best.

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To cool ourselves off after the long hike, we got green tea and sweet potato ice cream. I know, the combination sounds weird, but guys, it was so good!

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Here is Takoyaki. It’s a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special moulded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. It was delicious, but very hot! I could have watched the chefs making takoyaki all day long, it was such carefully methodical process.

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Apparently this is a hit-or-miss not only with foreigners but with local Japanese. It’s something called natto. It is fermented soybeans that can be eaten by mixing it with rice. I actually enjoyed the taste which my host family was very impressed by as only a few Japanese people actually enjoy it! Of course, as a foodie, as long as it’s healthy and relatively tasty, I’m always good 🙂

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On one of the nights, my host, my host sister and their cousin met up and ate out for dinner at a Hawaiian restaurant. It was so much fun hanging out with them – so much laughing and fun while with these three. The pancakes for dessert were equally as good, although we all regretted eating them because we became so full afterwards.

It wasn’t the healthiest option, but these days, I’m all about balance and moderation and that being mentally healthy is as equally as important as being physically healthy.

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My host introduced these to me, but apparently, these chocolates help reduce how much fat and sugar you absorb. My host and I both being foodies, ate a few of these chocolates just for good measure!

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Japan was just beautiful. Here are a few non-food pictures that are so beautiful.

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One of my favorite dinners while in Japan.

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I’ve always heard that you never know the taste of matcha unless you try it yourself. So I tried to try matcha as many times as I could. It’s definitely not as sweet as the matcha we taste at Starbucks or in the States. It’s a much more bitter taste but somehow has some charm to it. I actually brought home a matcha kit so I could continue making it at home! Once I’ve mastered it a bit, I’ll write up a post for those interested!

Japan was in short, such an amazing trip. I can’t wait to go back there someday!

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After two weeks in Japan, I took a two hour flight to Korea and stayed there for a week. My parents were already in Korea at that time so I met up with them at Incheon airport. After a quick week of meeting up with old childhood friends and family, we left Korea and finally headed back to home sweet home!

 

P.S.: In nod to the title of the post, “ita taki mas” is what Japanese people say before they start their meal. It’s kind of like saying “Thank you for this meal, I will eat it gladly!” I loved saying this every time before I ate because literally every time I ate something, it looked and was super delicious!

P.S.: If my host and her family or any of her friends are reading this, thank you for letting me have such a memorable trip!

 

 

Healthy Skin 101

Healthy Skin 101

We all want clear skin. Not only that, we want glowing, vibrant, and acne-free skin. And while not the complete cure/solution, our diet and our lifestyle affects a good portion of our skin.

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Here are a few tips and tricks on getting clearer skin, tips and tricks that are all in your control!

1. Drink lots of water | A hydrated skin comes from the inside and then out. No matter how much of expensive hydrating lotion and creams you put on yourself, if you don’t hydrate your body internally, your skin isn’t going to give much of a glow. Not only does water keep your skin cells hydrated, but it also flushes out toxins. Moreover, by being properly hydrated, your body sweats more efficiently, meaning it keeps your skin cleaner and clearer.

2. Drink green tea | Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties as well as properties that are protective to the cell membrane. Green tea may not only make your skin look better, but prevent or reduce the risk of skin cancer by reducing the risk of damage from ultraviolet light.

3. Eat a healthy diet | Overall, a healthy, clean, and unprocessed diet is the best for your skin. When you eat food (or don’t eat enough of it), the food is getting digested and broken down into vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. However, if there is no vitamins, minerals and amino acids as if you eat a heavily processed diet OR, if you go on a restrictive diet, you’re not allowing your body to have enough of these vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Make sure to eat enough and to eat enough of the good stuff.

4. Avoid sugar | This includes cupcakes, pastry breads (like croissants), anything with refined sugar. When you consume refined sugar, your insulin levels spike which can aggravate acne, wrinkles, and rashes.

5. Sleep | When you sleep, your body boosts blood flow including blood flow to your skin. In addition, poor sleep can lead to increased stress hormones that increases the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne. And speaking of inflammatory conditions, increased inflammatory cells lead to an increase in the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid. These molecules give the skin its glow.

There really isn’t much. When you eat healthy and eat clean, not only does your physical body reap benefits, but your skin shows it through its glow. It’s simply drinking lots of water, eating healthy, and sleeping lots.

 

Do you have a skin regime as simple as this?

Xoxo,

Stephanie

Lately Obsessed #4

Lately Obsessed #4

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I usually edit my blog and Instagram posts on VSCO, but this picture is wholly UNEDITED. Isn’t this beautiful?

ONE // drinking tea

Not only do I love drinking tea as the weather is so cold, tea helps both in calming me as well as rejuvenating me. The hot aromatic taste allows me to take a mental break from my busy school day. At the same time, I drink green tea (black black tea like earl gray for times that call desperate measures) instead of coffee. 

It’s also a great idea to drink tea in order to keep your body warm during the extremely cold temperatures (are any of you guys facing EXTREMELY cold temperatures?!)

TWO// moderate exercise

After being cut from winter track, I vowed that I would do as much work and running as winter track. That I would be fit just like the distance runners in my track team. However, after feeling pain creeping up onto the same place I got my stress fracture from XC, I decided against this extreme plan and turned to exercising for the purpose that I actually started loving it. To do it for stress relief and to find energy and happiness. 

Thus, instead of madly scrambling for the gym / from an outside run back inside to finish my homework, I’ve decided to exercise when my schedule allows for it. Right now, my priority is being a student and maybe there was a reason i got from track. Maybe I was being too obsessive over exercise (that I exercised everyday without fail over summer and thanksgiving break) and that this obsession for exercise, a healthy activity, was turning into an unhealthy one. 

So instead of working out six days a week, for at least over half an hour, with only cardio, I’ve been trying to do 3-4 workouts a week that are relatively short and mix cardio AND strength training. 

Read my blog post about workout plans if you haven’t already – I’ve been sticking to this regime, but the moderate version. 

THREE // meditation

I don’t necessarily meditate, but after our church’s youth group went on a retreat this winter break, I’ve been trying to do quiet time (dubbed QT) for 3-4 mornings every week. 

I’ve done it for one week now back in school (whereas back at home over winter break I had did it after I slept in and had my breakfast/lunch). I’ve set my alarm 20 minutes earlier than usual for QT. I go downstairs to the common room, plug my earphones to my Mac and listen to some Christian pop music and journal my thoughts and notes and I read the Bible. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but having this sort of routine has helped me so much. It has helped me become more calm and relaxed before I start my hectic day. It has helped me to complain less and be grateful for a day full of opportunities. It has helped me become a more selfless person and find areas where I can improve as a student, friend, daughter and human being. I really encourage y’all to try mediating this year. Even just for five minutes. 

What are you guys obsessed with this week?

Xoxo,

Stephanie

P.S.: Check out my other Lately Obsessed posts here, here, and here.