Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cute as a button

Hi Hi sisters ..... have been very sick for the past few days. Unfortunately, my computer suffers the same fate and it's been choking real bad too. I found this very cute gif. I know it's inappropriate to describe a mature man as cute, but but ...... he DID it first, you just look at his expression!


Sorry can't locate its origin, thanks to its creator Fumika.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Enchanted encounter

Hi Hi sisters ....... have you ever met someone whom you take an instant liking to and feel a special bonding between the two of you? Well, I’m not really talking about the mother sitting next to you in the PTA meeting or a fellow fan who you share a common interest for BYJ. I meant someone quite different from you – a different country, a different language, and even a different generation?

Well, I have the pleasure of meeting such a charming young lady back in summer 2007 while visiting Tokyo. Since then, we passed by each other a few more times in Gosireh after I moved here. But every time I was with a group of sisters and she was always busy, our interactions were only limited to a formal Konnichiwa, a genuine smile to each other and a hopeful promise to return. Our friendship really started to realize recently when the kind Olivia and cloudnine acted as our bridge of communications.

Yesterday, dear cloudnine, our imooto-chan (hehe, imooto is younger sister) and I spent a leisurely afternoon attending a Coffee seminar by ‘none other than our friendly around the corner’ Starbucks Coffee Company. And in the usual attentive Japanese standard, the staff:customer ratio is at least 1:1 meaning in every direction you turned to, there is always a staff smiling and anticipating your next request.

Since I am more of a tea person, excuse me if I sound a bit uncivilized or unsophisticated in the art of Coffee. Before I walked into this seminar, my idea of a cuppa is nothing more than java loaded with butter milk, maple sugar, whip cream, chocolate syrup, chopped nuts, cocoa powder, the fancier the merrier! It’s such an ironic coincidence that the night before I happened to re-watch the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’ in which Tom Hanks wrote to Meg Ryan :

“You know the whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people who have no decision-making ability whatsoever to make 6 decisions just to buy 1 cup of coffee? For people who don’t know what the hell they are doing or who they are, can for $2.95, not only get a cup of coffee, but an absolute defining sense of self! Tall, decaf, non-fat .....”

Hahaha, how brilliant and so true! Haven’t you ever pondered in front of a Starbucks chalkboard menu as if you are reading a scientific journal while the cashier is staring at you pitifully like you have a literacy problem AND the people lineup behind you are jiggling impatiently as if they have to run off to a G7 Economic Summit or something? True, I know you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to enjoy a java at Starbucks, but you pretty much need to be a genius mathematician (well obviously, all their staffs are!) to figure out all the computations and permutations from their multitudes of options. Every time before I go to Starbucks, I’d tell myself, “Ok Jaime, don’t be such a bore. This time you got to try something different!” But alas, a Tall is a regular and a Grande is a large, so what’re a small and a jumbo? At the end, I still have the same old boring café latte in my hand when I step out of the joint :(

Oops sorry, I diverge again, back to the seminar. So when the presenter handed me my first cup of coffee, I habitually asked for my cream and sugar, double double please. He looked at me with a despicable disbelief, “we hope you can enjoy the real taste of coffee here, we will not serve cream and sugar in this seminar.” What?! What’s coffee without cream and sugar, you might as well tell me to drink black ink right now! I can already feel those poor taste buds in my tongue and throat planning a mass exodus somewhere.

Well, I wouldn't do justice to the seminar if I don't write about what they preach. So, a bit of coffee facts here : coffee growth largely depends on the ideal climate, altitude of the land and its soil condition. The global coffee belt lies between 2 Latitudes, namely the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. In Latin America, countries like Colombia and Jamaica tend to produce medium body, smooth tasting coffee while Asia Pacific, in particular Indonesia produces full bodied, smooth acid tasting coffee. In Africa Arabia, a more complex, spicy citrus tasting coffee is produced. The 2 most common coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta, 75% of the world’s are Arabica which are used in brewing coffee, latte, espressos etc. while Robusta beans are used for instant coffee and vending machines.

When you drink coffee, there are 4 facets that you want to consider :

1. aroma – hold the hot coffee up to your face without burning your nose and breathe in.
2. acidity - take a small sip and savor it at both sides of your tongue to feel the taste.
3. body - the richness or lightness of the coffee. Hehe, I actually thought how much you dilute it, silly me.
4. flavor – the taste, is it smooth, spicy or citrus-y?

We are served with Sumatra (Asia Pacific) and Ethiopia (Africa) coffee, then Guatemala (Latin America). I know cloudnine likes her coffee black. I turned to my pretty imooto-chan with an inquisitive look “daijobu?” She nodded and smiled to reassure me that she does not take milk or sugar in her coffee either. I looked at the other 4 ladies and they have not thrown up yet. Okkkkkk, so I guess I was the only weird one there! The presenter was eager to fetch our reactions to each coffee especially I had this dazed, murky look on my face. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, I am very willing and readily to share my opinion with others. However I didn’t think he’d be too thrilled to hear me say, “Um Hm, well, my thoughts on the 3 kinds of coffee are bitter, bitterer and bitterest!” so I stuck these goodies in my mouth to keep it occupied :)

Regardless, I still enjoyed my ‘enchanted-leisure turned caffeine-charged’ afternoon with cloudnine and my imooto-chan, just hope they were not bore to pieces. I thought I could blog about this last night, afterall, I did have 4 cups of black ink, oops I meant black coffee! Hahaha, but I slept like a baby, must be charmed out by my lovely companions :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tokyo Anime Fair - Winter Sonata

Hi Hi sisters .... today is a Japanese holiday (Spring Equinox) and also happens to be the first day of the Tokyo International Anime Fair. So bright and early this morning, we took the Yurikaomome Line Monorail, went across the Rainbow Bridge to the other side of Tokyo Bay called Odiaba (お台場). Odaiba is a relatively recent development catering to the leisure and entertainment for young families. Everytime when I think about the beauty of Tokyo - Tokyo Bay, Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower are 3 sights that come into mind, and you can see all 3 from the side of Odaiba!

Haha, let me throw in a Statue of Liberty too :)

The best view of Tokyo mainland is from the spherical observatory inside the Fuji TV HQ (or you can take a ride on that humongous ferris wheel in Odaiba :)
Hehe, I really had another agenda in mind. I was not thrilled at being squashed by a million people and got deafened from all the yelling and screaming by the promotors, so I opted to go shopping at the nearby Venusport and AquaCity. Venusport is modelled after the Forum, Ceasars Palace in Las Vegas. The interior architecture is that of ancient Roman piazzas and fountains with sunny blue sky. This place is humongous but then, which shopping center in Tokyo isn't?

Before I bid my hubby and son goodbye, I have delegated a very important task to them : find the Winter Sonata's booth, take pictures from every possible angle and grab souvenirs of every kind! After they understood their 'mission', I went happily on my own merry way and hoped they would come back to me in 1 piece :) So, here is their report, thank you boys!

The Anime Fair venue - Tokyo Big Sight, so futuristic!

The Winter Sonata booth sign, notice both the Japanese and Korean flags

The dreamy and serene concept :)

JunSang and Yujin's standees, I was hoping for lots of Yong Joon's pictures @@

How come this JunSang and Yujin look so sad :(

I guess because this is still in the creation stage, they display a lot of sketches from the drama. The character sketches are all over the wall.

These are sketches from the locations like ChunChoen High School, JunSang's dream house ....

Sadly there is no souvenirs, not even a flyer, to distribute. Does that mean there's no schedule regarding the production yet? Well, guess we'll have to wait again for BOFi announcement. Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Japan onsen

Hi Hi ........ my ‘real’ sister called me the other day wondering what’s going on with my life lately. She hinted that every time she comes into my blog, it’s all about THAT man! Hehe sorry, sometimes I do get a little carried away. Well, who told him to be that handsome ma?! But honestly I really want to record my experience here in Japan, so while HRH is burying his head into writing his ‘Beauty of Korea’, I should be writing my own ‘Beauty of Japan’ or ‘Beauty of Asia’ :) We know Yong Joon loves the onsen (hot springs) in Japan, so maybe I'll share my own onsen experience ......

The very first time I tried onsen was in my 20s, single and carefree, working on a special assignment in Tokyo. My colleagues were kind enough to invite me to their friends’ weekend onsen outing. Now where we went and how we got there, I honestly had no clue. All I remember was a bunch of us - guys and gals, Japanese, Australians, British, Canadian (moi) boarded this train at Ueno station and pretty much stood at the back of the train car the whole time talking and laughing. We arrived at a quiet town with soaring mountains, running creeks and a main street lined with old shops and ryokans. When I watched Junsang, Yujin & the whole gang went on that mountain picnic, the scenes of the train station and mountain brought back such fond memory of this trip.

The ~10 of us dashed into this cozy family-owned ryokan, girls in 1 big tatami room and guys in the other. What?! No private toilet and bath, how was a girl going to wash her face, shower, shampoo and dry her hair? Well, I was told you were supposed to accomplish all those tasks at the onsen area. I remember it was mid-winter and cold air was creeping in through the shoji paper screen windows. The only heat source was from a charcoal burner under the table which you might end up barbequing your own feet or you just covered yourself from head to toes with a big blankie and drank lots of hot green tea. I went for both :)

My tummy was very much fulfilled when our obasan served us her home cooked ryori in the dining room. The food was simple seafood and tofu hot pot but our hearts felt so warm and delightful. By nightfall, I was soooooooo looking forward to submerge myself in some natural hot spring water! So I had my yukata and happi coat on, brought my big white towel and followed the gang happily up the mountain steps in the dark. Viola, a steaming hot spring surrounded by naturally formed rocks, high up on the edge of the mountain. Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t get anymore natural than that!

The hot spring was lit up by night lights and looked very spectacular. Well, not as spectacular as what came next ...... hey, was I seeing it right? Weren’t those ‘men’ in there?? I meant m-e-n! Yes, without hesitating for even 1 second, my ‘dependable, professional’ business colleagues jumped in one by one wearing nothing but their birthday suits! (maybe wrapped in a towel, I don’t remember) Leaving only ‘moi’, frozen by the sight of this very ‘new & real’ experience. I was faced with the dilemma of simply closing my eyes and join in OR searching my way back down the mountain in the dark, not even mentioning being the laughing stock for the rest of the trip? Well, it would’ve been a quick n' easy decision if Yonsama were soaking in there! But Yonsama was still a baby then, sigh! So the silly me did neither, I just turned around and had my back to the hot spring, sat on a giant boulder and stared out to the shimmering small town below until my friends were done!

Hehe, please don’t feel too bad for me as the girls were nice enough to take me to a private onsen inside the ryokan later for a dip. Actually it was more like a humongous bathtub, but I was happy to be 'in touch' with hot spring water at last. Well, the night was still young for the gang, so the gals decided to go to the guys' quarter and party all night! Since I can't drink, I opted to stay in our tatami room and enjoyed my own companionship sleeping on a futon the first time. I opened the shoji window, looked up at the starry sky and felt the chill of a wintry night. Eventhough the town and the ryokan was very simple, but there was this charm of calmness and quietness that seemed to cleanse your mind and body. Many years later when I returned to Japan, I come to learn that onsen is indeed a very civilized, relaxing and even addictive leisure, just like my ‘chuom’ experience :)

Next .... Hakone onsen (箱根)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yonsama no Heya

Hi Hi sisters ....... It's late now but I tell myself I'd better write in case you wonder if I have evaporated from the face of the earth :) The weather is beautiful today and I had a pretty good time lunching with some wonderful Bae sisters. But as usual, my tardiness leading to a mad dash out of the house has pretty much become a pattern now no matter how much lead time I allow myself. Next time, maybe I should start getting ready the night before I go out! Well, as a blogger, I have committed 3 major mistakes today : 1. forgot my camera 2. forgot to take pictures and 3. taking horrible pictures! So my dear sisters, please bear with me as I show you the Yong Joon's room in that Korean restaurant in Shin-Okubo. They have re-decorated the room - hehe what else? With new Yong Joon's posters :) Please forgive my below-beginners level pictures using a cell phone @@

Sorry, as I said I forgot to take pictures of our yummy food. If you come to Tokyo, you might want to give this a try. The restaurant is called 'Heshin' - Japanese translation is Umi (sea) Karai (spicy hot). Hehe, it's not Gosireh, but you can also visit Korean town and its many Hallyu shops. I can guarantee you, once you step into those shops, you will not want to leave :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Journey to apprenticeship

Hi Hi sisters ..... are you having a relaxing weekend? It's another damp and windy Saturday afternoon in Tokyo. With my son suffering from his 3rd sports injury (again!) since we came here, we opt for some quiet family time at home in lieu of Tokyo-ing (hehe, my invented word :)

The Japanese weekly magazine Josei Jishin (3/24) had an interview with Mr. Jun Yong Bok, the lacquer artist of Iwayama Urushi Museum, whom Yong Joon visited 2 weeks ago. Thanks to Snowkin's (from Loveyongjoon) Chinese translation, we are able to have a glimpse into his journey of apprenticeship on traditional lacquer art. Excuse my laziness, I am just going to extract and translate the portions related to this topic.

According to Mr. Jun, his first meeting with Yong Joon was back in Dec 9, 2008. He was expecting a superstar with all the egos that come along with it, but instead he was amazed at Yong Joon's modest and sincere attitude. The purpose of this initial meeting was for Yong Joon to learn about Korean traditional lacquer art as part of his 'Beauty of Korea' book. By the end of their 3 1/2 hours conversation, Yong Joon expressed that he wanted to learn the art and be Mr. Jun's student.

Mr. Jun reacted that he did not just accept anyone to be his student. He told Yong Joon if he was asking for the purpose of simply experiencing the life of a lacquer artist or for furthering his acting skills, he would refuse his request. However if Yong Joon really had the desire to be a skilled artisan, then he would welcome him. Afterwards, he heard Yong Joon's detailed account of his view on life and philosophy, Mr. Jun was deeply touched. They shook hands that day and established their teacher-student relationship. From then on, Mr. Jun addressed Yong Joon directly without 'ssi' (meaning a closer relationship).

To be honest, all along I thought this 'Beauty of Korea' book was nothing more than another business venture of Yong Joon - maybe boosted by his patriotism and a mere promotion of Korea's tourism industry. However the longer we wait for his acting works (in vain if I may add) and the more details of his foot coverage unveiled, I started to realize this is not just a tour guide book. Yee's comment sort of opened me up : "I can imagine how excited he is to do something different from what he's been doing for more than a decade and a half." YES! Acting in 1 more drama or movie is not as much a challenge to him now, especially after that mega-production TWSSG. This book will actually be another one of his ‘pride & joy’, much like ‘Image Volume I album'! In 2005 after Untold Scandal, our prince spent 90 ‘blood & sweat’ days (much longer including pre-production and post-production works) to transform himself physically to what he felt as the image of an ideal man – strong physical presence with gentle mannerism.

This time, Yong Joon is pursuing his other dream to be an artisan, a talent probably has been hidden inside him waiting to be surfaced now. We know he is not satisfied to be just an actor, an entrepreneur, a celebrity. He is still an artist at heart, he is using his eyes to capture the beauty he witnessed (photography), his bare hands to interpret it (lacquer art) and his mind and literacy to express it (book). I am sure he understands that 1 week of intense training would not qualify him to be even a beginner. To achieve expert craftsmanship, he will be required to spend months and years to perfect his art. So dear Yonsama, may I assume you will come back to Japan at least once a month to continue your apprenticeship? Hehe preferrably in a class format, so that we can all sign up to be your classmates, daijobu desu ka?

Oh oh, before I forget, there is a little cute side story : it happens that Mr. Jun's wife is a also Yonsama's fan. When Mr. Jun told his wife that Yong Joon has become his apprentice, expecting her to be jumping with joy from the news. Instead she reacted with a disappointing face, saying "Oh, I am his fan. You mean I have to address him as a son now!" (Note that in Asia, a teacher's wife is being respected as mother and students are being treated like her children :) There is also another interesting incident from the same Josei Jishin interview when he attended a tea ceremony in Chusonji, I'll translate and share with you later.

Thanks again Snowkin from Loveyongjoon for your Japanese to Chinese translation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

As far as .....

Hi Hi sisters .... We are seeing more pictures and footage of his 'not so private' Japan visit now. Looks like our prince had quite a fruitful trip accomplishing his goal of being an apprentice to a Lacquer Art master and a carefree tourist in Morioka and Tokyo. Well, almost everywhere in Tokyo except here :) Hehe, what do you expect? This is Gosireh, Yonsama's Headquarters in Japan!

With Yonsama's skyhigh popularity in Japan, we already expect Iwayama Urushi Museum will have non-stop visitors from now on. I enjoy watching the serene museum setting, the rustic interior and his finished artwork on TV. I just broke out laughing when even a half bottle of leftover tea from Yonsama has become newsworthy! The female reporter was ecstatic to drink the remaining cold uloong tea! (Did she even ask if Yonsama drank from a cup or DIRECTLY from the bottle?)

This reminds me of Chanwoo's sister in 'First Love'. Remember Chanyok loved her little brother so much that she always put him before herself. They were so poor and could only afford to buy a tiny fish for dinner, so she pretended she didn't like the taste of fish. After Chanwoo finished his dinner, she then SUCKED on the fish bone behind his back!

Or remember a scene in 'Have We Really Loved?' when Jaeho and Shinyeung were stuck in that private art gallery outside of Seoul? While they were still at a professor-student relationship, Shinyeung actually cared about Jaeho so much that she washed his socks with her BARE HANDS while he was asleep!

Hehe, what's my point of saying all these? While we will never have the 'privilege' of drinking Yong Joon's leftover tea, sucking his eaten fishbone or handwashing his worn socks (I know I know, we have dignity too :) I wonder how far we would actually go for him? or rather, what we wouldn't do even for our prince?

I was talking to a sister whom I haven't got in touched for a while tonight. Surprisingly, we both felt that while we are googoogaagaa-ing over Yong Joon's latest gorgeous pictures, it's his 'invisible' perseverance and quest for knowledge that are even more beautiful to admire. Maybe it'll please him more if he knows that we are following his example and devote in pursuing our own life goals, just like him chasing his own dreams. Am I making any sense? Thanks for reading :)

1st picture original from Shukan Josei, posted in BYJGallery by miemi, thanks.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Back to work

Hi hi sisters ..... Phew! What a whirlwind visit from Yong Joon to Japan, by now he should be home safe and sound. I know I know, it's his private trip and he had no public engagement with us. But knowing he was roaming around in the same city, being blown by the same wind and touched by the same rain, how could I stay calm and cool? Everyday I kept praying for the weather to co-operate, worrying that our prince would not be able to enjoy the beautiful aspects of Tokyo, silly me! As he's back home to continue working on his 'Beauty of Korea' book, it's time for the little me to really concentrate and work hard on my own personal goals in Japan too :)

I LOVE these 2 beautiful gifs, his expression is priceless!

So dreamy, like in a fairy tale :)
posted in BYJ Gallery by 권오경

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bamboo & Roses

Hi dear sisters ..... Thank you for your kind concerns for my sleepless nights. I think as long as Yong Joon is within a 500 miles radius from Tokyo, no kazoku (and the Japanese police!) can have a good night sleep this week :) So, you saw his pictures in Nikkan Sports and TV riding the Shinkansen from Sendai to Tokyo? He was indeed very adventurous and secretive, eh? After so many quiet days, we are blessed with some 'very pretty' pictures of him surrounded by bamboo and French roses (hehe, quoted by himself :)

He looks so delicate here, just like the roses :)

the colors of these roses are just stunning! As for the man in here, well, need I say more?
pictures original from Face Shop

Just like to share this wonderful calendar poster given to me by a very kind sister today. This poster is designed by Hiyonn (I lost count how many) of HRH's images on it! Thank you so much. I have also received my (very late order of) 2009 BYJ diary and TWSSG Event DVD set. Yes, the size is small enough to carry in your bag :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sleepless in Tokyo

Hi Hi sisters ..... can't believe I am actually up and blogging. I really should be sleeping snuggly in my warm soft bed, but there seems to be a thousand things running through my mind (and you probably know where this is coming from). It's been cold and rainy for the past week in Tokyo, last night it was even reported the 'choum' snow fall this winter! Sure makes me miss our Yong Joon even more. Hope everyone will stay safe and warm, spring obviously hasn't arrived yet.

I have kept a few rare Winter Sonata pictures which I'd like to show you. They are not behind-the-scene pictures, have you seen them before?
I think this scene was flashed for 1 second - it's Yujin's imagining they went to visit her father's grave.

I'm sure a lot of us are wondering why this dreamy scene never made it into the drama-proper? It's quite cute with both their long legs dangling, hor?

I love how playful and natural MinHyung was with the sofa cushions while decorating his new home :) Hehe, this picture gives me a thought that he himself loves soft cushy stuffs in real life, hehe like a baby!

Hehe actually, we have seen this scene of MinHyung leaving the hotel just before his 2nd TRUCK accident. Sigh, figure the man had learned some road-crossing rules already from his first lesson?!

Good night, now I'm really going to try to get my beauty sleep :)

pictures credited as shown