Japan's Art Islands

Japan's Art Islands
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” 
- Edgar Degas

Paying a visit to the Seto Inland Sea “art islands” in Japan was a profoundly moving and creatively rejuvenating experience. I’ve spent the last couple days reflecting on how deeply visiting these art islands has affected me. The perspective I have on my own work (among other things) has been transformed. And for that, I am endlessly grateful. 

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Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

I can’t quite believe it’s already November. This semester is flying by (as semesters always do) — but this one in Tokyo feels especially fleeting. Senior year, stay a little longer, please?  

My attempts to squeeze every second out of my time here in Tokyo have resulted in a balancing act between getting the most out of the city and making my way out of town. Two weeks ago, my friends and I went for the latter, and spent the weekend away in the mountains. Best. Decision. Ever. It was so rejuvenating, and a welcome break from the monotonous day to day routine that being a student can sometimes become. With Kshitij’s glowing recommendation, we travelled to the famed Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in northern Japan. This route is a seven part sightseeing trek across the Tateyama Mountain Range (aka the Japan Alps), and takes an average of 6-8 hours to complete. Here’s a quick breakdown of our weekend trip (cleverly hashtagged #imallthewayalp by David).

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Healing in Hiroshima

Healing in Hiroshima

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you.”

― Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach

Visiting the city where the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped and detonated in 1945 was a powerful, emotional experience. It was by far one of the most important trips I’ve ever taken — and Bourdain’s words above couldn’t be truer: Hiroshima left a “mark on my memory, [and] on my consciousness.” 

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Hello, Tokyo!

Hello, Tokyo!

Ohayo gozaimasu (good morning) all the way from Tokyo, Japan! As per usual, apologies for the lack of updates — my Evernote is filled with drafts of blog posts that have virtually developed a light coat of dust. So be forewarned: a bunch of #tbt blog posts are coming (is that a thing, blog world?) — from visiting the Glass House in Connecticut to summer adventures in Northern Europe. 

Anyhow, what better way to start my senior year (!) of college than with one last adventure studying abroad in Japan? I feel so lucky to be living in one of the most futuristic, colorful and charming places in the world. From the high-tech conveyor belt sushi restaurants of Tokyo, to the gorgeous Japanese countryside, to the art islands in Southern Japan — I'm hoping to spend the next four months getting to know this beautiful country as best I can.

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Bom dia, Brazil!

Bom dia, Brazil!

In between binge watching (aka giggling ridiculously at) The Office and recovering from an untimely bout of laryngitis, I’ve been meaning to blog about my recent travels to beautiful Brazil! 

South America has always been on my bucket list — and getting to see Rio de Janeiro putting its tuxedo on and gettin’ all jazzed up for the 2016 Summer Olympics was dreamy. To top it off, I got to take this trip with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Alice. Alice is one of the most fearlessly ambitious people I know — and does casual things like write for Fast Company and New York Magazine. Oh, and also, casual things like moving to Lima, Peru (!) with Hope International for a one-year missions trip post-graduation (I know. My friends are the coolest). I couldn’t resist visiting Alice during her year working abroad, and when we decided to meet up in Brazil, I knew this was going to be a spring break to remember. And indeed it was. :)

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Sleepless in Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle

Seattle, last weekend, was so wonderful. So many things we ate! So many things we heart-eye'd over! And so much laughter — the kind that only comes from catching up with the best of friends.

Evelyn, Caleb, Sam and I flew out from all over California to meet up for a weekend in Seattle. This weekend was a long time coming — with attempts to get the four of us together in Seattle beginning two years (!) ago. And it finally happened! A miracle indeed, especially given all of our crazy calendars. We’ll have to start planning our next trip now ;).

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Welcome to New York

Welcome to New York

Two whole months (!) with crickets here on the blog. I’m trying to get better at this documenting-my-life-via-a-blog thing — but adjusting back to the grind of junior year has been unwaveringly busy. Nonetheless, I’m excited to squeeze in a blog out of my recent travels to New York City. I’ve been to NYC 5 or 6 times over the last few years (thank you for living there, Chris hehe), but still can’t get enough! 

My first day in town, I met up with the lovely Mariel, whose work and writings I admire immensely. She planned a Brooklyn date for us that made me fall madly in love with Greenpoint and good ol’ Willy-B! 

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10 Days in Spain + Portugal

10 Days in Spain + Portugal

Wahhh— has it really been more than a month since my last update? Major apologies for the crickets on the blog — it’s been such a hectic couple weeks juggling traveling and attempting to be a student (anyone else out there cramming in psets before plane rides?!). Since my last update, I’ve explored cities outside my London home (Stonehenge, Bath and Windsor to be exact), been enamored by Monet in Paris, blown away by the beauty of Iceland, and charmed by the weather and food of Spain and Portugal.

But for now, a recap on the sunniest, yummiest and most glorious weathered places I’ve been thus far: Spain and Portugal! My friends and I planned a 10-day trek across Spain and Portugal for reading week. Yes, “reading" week, aka the time that UCL gives us to catch up on our assignments (aka, an extended travel break for us exchange students heh). Over the course of our trip, we had so many memorable outings — way too many to recall here — but here were some of my highlights:

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London Love Letters: Petersham Nurseries

London Love Letters: Petersham Nurseries

In between my attempts at being a student again (you guys. I haven’t studied in so long — the struggle is real) and going on weekend trips, I’m trying to remind myself to really get to know my absolutely phenomenal home base: London, England.

London is so special to me. It stood out to me on a trip to Europe with my family three years ago and I knew I wanted to come back ever since. There’s something so historical and grand, yet modern and artistic about this place. The gorgeous clothes, rich coffee, iconic transportation, British accents (*sigh*), buildings seeped in years of history, the little “look right” or “look left” block letters painted on the ground that tell you which way to look before you cross because of their whole drive-on-the-left thing — I love it all. Today, I walked to my art history lecture at the National Gallery (in Trafalgar Square, which has this killer view of the Big Ben) and just felt so, so lucky to be studying here. Who gets to do this!? I don’t ever want it to end!!

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Antwerp + Amsterdam

Antwerp + Amsterdam

And just like that, trip number two is in the books! This let’s-go-to-two-countries-in-one-weekend thing is so much fun — and I must admit, a little exhausting. Nevertheless, so much was eaten, learned, and appreciated whilst in Antwerp, Belgium and Amsterdam, Netherlands. We lucked out with the weather this weekend -- it felt like I was back in San Francisco with gorgeous clear skies, crazy wind-hair and a flight delay due to fog (Karl — is that you?!). 

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#BigBentotheDen: Copenhagen, Denmark

#BigBentotheDen: Copenhagen, Denmark

A big hello from Europe! It’s been a hurricane lately — from spending time with my mama, auntie, cousin and her lovely husband in Zurich, to moving in and meeting fellow exchange students and locals from London — the last couple weeks have felt like a travelers’ dream. 

I left London as hurriedly as I arrived — my fellow University of California exchange students and I spontaneously planned a trip to the beautiful Scandinavian city of Copenhagen, Denmark.

We picked Copenhagen, Denmark on a whim and booked tickets two days (!!) before we were scheduled to depart. Copenhagen was so different from any other place I’ve ever visited, and I fell head over heels for the quiet serenity, cobblestone lined streets (albeit difficult to walk on), romantic canals and pastel colored houses. The herds of flawlessly dressed bikers on the streets (with their adorable bikes with woven baskets) and the beauty of Scandinavian design took my breath away. I wanted to refurnish my entire room with the mid-century modern pieces in the stores here! Everything and everyone is so darling — it's no wonder that it was named the happiest place on earth. Although I could go on and on and on about how much I loved this Scandinavian capital, here were my four favorites from Copenhagen: 

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