A trip to Kate Spade's Saturday

I first heard about Kate Spade's new brand Saturday a few months back on Women's Wear Daily. I looked up their Instagram and immediately fell in love. If you haven't seen their account or their website, its definitely worth taking a few minutes to check out. Saturday is the casual and colorful, slightly younger sister to Kate Spade New York. 

What really floors me about the new brand though, is the marketing campaign. Saturday is yellow, bold, and colorful, exciting, trendy, and casual all at the same time. They took everything about the best day of the week and somehow encompassed that into a brand image. I can't remember the last time I was this drawn to shop a store simply by their online presence. (Whoa, I think my marketing major is showing!) 

I fell in love with the brand before I even realized it was opening here in Japan. Turns out, Saturday was designed for Kate's Japanese market. I have noticed since coming to Japan that Kate Spade is really popular over here. The first store to open was in Tokyo, and the second was here in Osaka. I was so excited to learn we were living so close to one of the store's first locations and I would be able to see the store in person. Saturday is only available online in the US.

That stellar brand image created online is consistent inside the store as well. The shelves are filled with bold printed travel accessories like the staple weekender bag, luggage tags, and passport covers. Colorful cross bodies scarves line the walls. And the home decor and stationary printed with slogans like, "Make Everyday a Saturday" make you feel like you somehow stepped out of the real world, and into a picture perfect Saturday Afternoon.  All of the clothes in the store are casual enough to wear to the airport or on a Saturday road trip, but trendy enough that you wouldn't mind being photographed in them. Although, more apparel is available online then in stores.  A few minutes spent inside the bright yellow walls should put anyone in a weekend state of mind. 


One thing that makes Nathan and I so compatible is that we both love to eat! This also happens to be our favorite part about traveling. Before coming to Japan, the only Japanese food I really knew about was sushi. Turns out, there is so much more! We decided to start sharing all of the amazing cuisine we have been trying. 

If I had to pick one example of Japanese food that is the furthest from what Americans eat, this would be it. Takoyaki originated here in Osaka and everyone LOVES it. There is no where you can go in this entire city where you cant get some Takoyaki within a block or two. It is sold in all grocery stores in various versions ranging from freshly made to frozen. There are takoyaki flavored potato chips, crackers, and candy. Everywhere you look you can find a Takoyaki stand, food truck, or restaurant  I am not sure what the takoyaki store per capita is here, but I am sure it is ridiculously high. If you see notice a long line of people when you are out and about, I can almost promise you they are waiting in line for Takoyaki. 

With all of that being said, you are probably thinking that this takoyaki stuff has got to be something good. So it may come as a shock to you to know that takoyaki is a fried octopus ball.

Yes, thats correct. People here line up to eat octopus, cut up, fried in batter, and covered with sauce, mayo, and fish flakes. 

Before I gross you out too much with the description let me say, it is better then it sounds. I actually enjoy an occasional small order of Takoyaki. Octopus doesn't have a strong taste. If you like calamari, you can handle octopus. And the batter and the sauces all go really well together. The texture is a little weird, with the gooey batter and the tough inside, but if you get past that its actually not bad. 

If you dont believe me, we have a few second opinions. We have made all of our visitors try takoyaki to get the full Osaka experience, and so far almost everyone enjoyed it. Me, my Dad, and my friend Jenna thought it was pretty good, although we all agree it is not something we could eat everyday. My friend Kyla hated it, and Nathan hated it at first, but is crossing to the other side of the fence and starting to like it as well. 
People lining up for takoyaki
Takoyaki chef pouring the batter. 
A fresh batch ready to be served. 
One of the cutest establishments frying up octopus that I have ever seen.

Seeing the chef's make takoyaki is pretty impressive. They roll each ball individually with chopsticks. I will try my best to master this skill so I can make takoyaki for everyone back home. I know you are all dying to try!

Surviving our First Earthquake

Well, just when I thought that we were in the clear, and that our time here in Japan would be completed earthquake free, it happened. On April 13 at approximately 5:30 AM we were awoken with a little surprise.

Emergency notification, sent out to all phones in Japan
in the instance of an earthquake.  
When I first felt the bed begin to shake, I honestly thought that maybe Nathan was just moving around. I opened my eyes, and saw that the sun was up. I turned to look at Nathan, who had turned to look at me and we both realized simultaneously that the other one was not the cause of the shaking. Nathan was the first to verbalize, "It's an earthquake!" We both jumped up out of bed and started running. Where to, I am not really sure. Neither one of us have any clue what to do in the instance of an earthquake, so I guess our instinct was just to get up and panic. 

My Dad was staying with us at the time, so I ran to his room to make sure he was okay. I said, "Dad, it's an earthquake, what do we do?" His response was, "Go back to bed." He was obviously slightly calmer then myself or Nathan, who at this point was trying to unlock the door and run outside. Now I am no earthquake expert, but I dont think that exiting the house directly onto an 8th floor balcony is the correct response. I actually had to stop him twice from running outside. He walked away from the door the first time and as soon as I turned my head to talk to my dad he was bolting back at it! Picture all of this happening in a matter of only a few seconds. I imagine it would have been pretty comical scene to watch. Later in the day when things calmed down I asked Nathan what exactly his intentions were once he got outside and he said he was going to make it down our 8 flights of stairs and to the ground in case our building collapsed. A flawless plan, right?

Turns out the earthquake was a 5.8 magnitude that occurred on an island about 35 miles away from us. There were no reports of any serious injuries. And thankfully no tsunami warnings followed. I am so thankful that the earthquake occurred early enough in the morning so that we were at home. Had it occurred later in the day we could have very easily been caught on the train which would have been terrifying. Luckily Japan seems very prepared and equipped for emergencies like this.

Kyoto, Japan in Pictures

Dad's week in Japan

Me and my Dad at the Osaka Caslte
Finally, our second visitor and first family member to come to Japan has arrived: my Dad! We are about midway through his 10 day stay. He has already taken in a weekend full of basketball games, countless subway rides, and lots of new foods. On Monday we were able to spend the day in the ancient city of Kyoto, Japan visiting multiple temples and the Imperial Palace. The rest of the week we are conquering all that Osaka has to offer including the Osaka Castle, the Dotonbori Canal, the Umeda Sky Building, desserts from Daimaru and of course, sushi! 

We could not be more happy to squeeze another family member into our tiny happy Japanese home. Hopefully by the end of the week he is loving Osaka as much as we do!

Osaka Evessa vs. Akita Hapinets


Starbucks: Japan vs. US

Starbucks is a place you can count on all around the world. Or at least pretty close to it. Going to Starbucks here in Japan is great because the menus are labeled in English, and for the most part the baristas understand the American names of the drinks. This sounds simple, but it doesn't always happen at other places you would expect, like McDonalds, but thats another post. For as popular as Starbuck's is in the US, I would say it is equally, if not more popular here. I have rarely seen a Starbuck's that is not packed. The stores located at prime locations, like Umeda Station, are usually so packed that getting it to go is the only option, and an employee will greet you at the entrance to tell you that you cant stay to have your coffee because they are too full.

In Japan, a tall just isn't small enough. They serve an even smaller 8 oz cup of coffe, called "short."

Disregarding the fact that it is so tiny it's like paying for a sample, isn't it the cutest little cup of coffee you have ever seen? A short regular latte costs 340 yen, or just under $4.00. 

Not only does Japan have their own size, but they have a very interesting seasonal drink menu. The current promotion is the Candy Orange Latte. I havent tried it, because there are too many weird things about that name (orange+coffee =no, as does candy in my coffee). The previous promotion was the White Chocolate Sakura Latte. A sakura is a flower that blooms here in Japan, so I can't imagine what that one would taste like either. Some other slightly unusual flavors that can be found at a Starbucks in Japan include:

Crunchy Caramel Latte (and yes, it is crunchy)
White Chocolate Green Tea
Coffee Jelly Frappachino
Chocolate Cookie Crumble Frappachino with white chocolate pudding (I would have tried this one if I would have been here for it!)

If comparing Starbucks in Japan to Starbucks in the US, I would give this one to the US for one reason only: drive throughs! Nothing beats not leaving the comfort of your warm car to pick up some hot coffee!

Exciting Wedding Info!

In case you can't tell from reading all the other posts, Nathan and I love Osaka. It has to be one of the coolest cities in the world, and we love everything about it: the energy, the people, the places, the food, everything. Now that its Spring time, the flowers are starting to bloom and the city is even more beautiful. Which is why we have been thinking lately, that it would be such a great place for a wedding! Just so happens, we are in the market for a wedding venue, so........

Start saving your vacation days because we have decided to plan a destination wedding here in Osaka!!! We thought it would be the perfect way to be able to show this amazing city to all of our friends and family. We want to give everyone plenty of notice in hopes that everyone will be able to join us next April. We plan on making it a week long event with festivities, sight seeing, and group activities planned every day! Below are some pictures of where we want to hold the ceremony.

We are considering the Osaka Castle for the venue. It is a historical landmark and symbol here in Osaka. Although it is thousands of years old, owned by the Japanese government, and used today as a sacred museum to honor the history of Osaka, we figure they will probably make some exceptions for us. I dont see why they wouldn't allow 2 Americans access to the castle to host a foreign wedding. We will also be bringing in sushi chefs (obvi) and there will be a traditional Japanese Sumo match immediately following the ceremony. Yu Darvish, being a fellow Osaka-ite and Texan, has agreed to perform the ceremony.

Mark your calendars people and get ready for a wedding that will knock your socks off! The date is exactly one year from today, April 1st 2014. Oh wait, today is April 1st, right??

Gotchya! :)