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This Week I Liked…Links

29 Aug

I really just HAVE to share 4 of my favorite links from this week:

(1)  If you haven’t heard of him already, you must watch the heartbreaking video of Song-bong Choi  from the show, Korea’s Got Talent.

  Click HERE to watch Choi sing & tell his story

(Fair warning, get your Kleenex ready!)

The story behind the singer:

Choi was abandoned at an orphanage at the age of three, where he lived for two years until he ran away due to abuse.  At only five years old, Choi lived alone, on the streets, selling chewing gum and energy drinks to survive.  Choi lived this nightmare for 10 years.  He didn’t even have a proper name until a woman running a food cart gave him the name, Ji-Sung.

Choi was inspired to start singing at age 12, when he first heard a classical vocalist at the nightclub where he sold gum.  In order to pursue his love of singing, Choi completed the GED equivalent for elementary school and junior high, and started attending Daejeon Arts High School, where he received classical voice training.

I was completely depressed after hearing of Choi’s gut-wrenching past, but also truly amazed by his ambition, perseverance and talent.  His voice gave me the chills and also brought me to tears.

For me, watching Choi sing puts so many things in perspective.  It reminds me to be grateful, EVERYDAY, for the life that I’m living and also COMPELS me to help those in my community who are less fortunate.

Coincidentally, for the past month, I’ve been researching volunteer opportunities in Korean orphanages.  If anyone knows of a non-denominational organization working in orphanages in Seoul, please let me know.

***

(2)  After hearing a story like Choi’s, I think we are all in need of good a laugh.  So, on a MUCH MUCH lighter note… or actually (ironically), a heavier note … I wanted to share with you this HILARIOUS article by Sally of the blog Unbrave Girl.

Click here to read Sally’s “Big Girl’s Guide to Surviving Asia”

Sally’s witty & entertaining stories of being a “fat” girl in Asia had me hysterical laughing.  Her insight was especially hilarious (and comforting) after my recent trip to Japan, where I found myself STUFFING my body into an ELASTIC, FLOWY skirt.  I kid you not, even the loose & effortless hippie skirt requires some sucking-in when in Tokyo.

***

(3)  Speaking of skirts & effortless looks, I can’t help but post this New York Magazine article about Jenna Lyons, the tres chic president of J. Crew

Click here to read about Jenna’s roll in J. Crew and get a glimpse of her personal, unique and masterful sense of style.

(If my compliments haven’t made it obvious enough – I’m a true Jenna Lyons fan)

***

(4) And to end this post on a fun note- I thought I’d share my song of the week.  You know, the song I’ve played over and over and over again (to the point where G starts grumbling to himself when I run to the computer to replay it), & still can’t quite get enough:

http://soundcloud.com/greco-roman/joe-goddard-gabriel

I can’t take any credit for finding this fun party song, as it was introduced to me by one of my favorite music bloggers (and dear friend), on  http://kathykearns.com/

Check her out!

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Tokyo Highlights (Part 3)

27 Aug

I realize that I shouldn’t be abusing my lovely blog platform to wax-poetic about Tokyo (see Tokyo Highlights Part 1 & Part 2 for evidence), but I just can’t help myself.  So, dear friends, allow me to indulge in 1 final post about this delicious city & then I promise I’ll stop with all the Tokyo talk (for now).

Dōmo arigatō.

Okay, so let’s talk Sunday FUNday.

If you happen to be visiting Japan on a Sunday, I’d highly recommend that you spend the day people-watching and boutique hopping in Harajuku and Aoyama.  These vibrant, young neighborhoods are the best places in Japan (dare I say, the world?!) to indulge in crazy, cool and unbelievably unique fashion.

For someone who is lightly obsessed with fashion, like myself, walking around Harajuku is pure divinity- neon pants, colorful wigs, 6 inch platforms – anything goes!

But this area isn’t fun for the fashionistas alone, it’s also the perfect place for the anthropologically-minded tourist.  Believe me, you’ve never seen anything like it.

On a sunny afternoon, Jingu Bridge (right outside the Harajuku metro stop) is the perfect place to witness some of Tokyo’s many sub-cultures.  Here you’ll find Harajuku’s cosplayers, Lolitas, anime characters, etc. hanging out with each other and getting photographed by wide-eyed tourists, like moi.

(Stare all you want, but be sure to ask permission before taking a photo.)

If you need a little break from the “cray-cray” Harajuku fashion, cross the Jingu bridge to reach the beautiful Meiji Shrine.  The gardens surrounding the shrine are so lovely, that you can easily forget that you’re still in ultra-modern Tokyo.

But I didn’t want to forget.

So, after the quickest of walks to the Meiji Shrine (I didn’t have time to dilly dally – I was on a fashionably anthropological mission here, folks!), I pushed G & my friends toward the neighboring Yoyogi Park.

Looks pretty normal, right?

WRONG!

Yoyogi Park, on a Sunday, is one of the kookiest places I have ever visited.  (And for point of reference, I went to U.C. Berkeley, so I know kooky.)  Remember the quote from Zoolander, “I feel like I’m taking CRAZY pills?”  That’s exactly how I felt when walking through Yoyogi.

Let me explain.

At the entrance to the park, we had our first encounter with weirdness (in a good way) – the Rockabilly dancers.  This eclectic group of rockers, rappers, greasers and twisters gather every Sunday at Yoyogi Park to perform their favorite dances.

You know, just for fun… leather jackets, pompadours & all that jazz.

It was a fascinating display, to say the least.

Once we were finally able to detach ourselves from this bizarre jiving site, we entered the park & saw…

HAIR!  And lots of it.

But that was probably the most “normal” thing we saw that day because right around the corner there was…

a novice boy band!  (It wasn’t pretty.)

And just a hop-skip away, we ran into…

and people playing…

and dogs wearing…

and who can forget…

not to mention…

Now can you see why I fell so hard for Tokyo?!

I thought so.

Okay, now I’m done.