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First Naked Onsen Experience At Ryuguji Spa Hotel Mikazuki

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My first onsen experience was in Taiwan. My friends and I went on condition that swim wear was allowed. My second time was a year later with Mr Mode, also in Taiwan, and swim wear was definitely encouraged since it was a mix gender public onsen.

When I heard that we had to go completely naked for an authentic Japanese onsen at Ryugujo Spa in hotel Mikazuki, I firmly said ‘no, no, no’. I mean, if you grew up in a completely naked onsen culture, you’d be open about exposing your bits to strangers and friends alike. But most Singaporeans didn’t grow up that way and my previous onsen experiences didn’t prepare me enough for it!

But an hour later I found myself walking down the hall clothed in a thin, floral, pink Yukata, my heart thumping in anxiety, threatening to shoot out of my birthday suit. We reached our lockers, shed the Yukata, and agreed to look at one another ‘neck up’ hahaha. 😆 Then we commenced the walk of shame, also known as the short distance from lockers to shower area to pool, but which felt like eternity.

The main reason why swimwear is not allowed in a pure onsen is because the goal is to keep the water as clean as possible. Another reason I heard is that the temperatures can be so high they can melt certain kinds of fabric.

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Making Toothpicks The Ninja Way

Under the scorching sun we trailed behind our guide who fervently led the way, crossing this street and that. Despite the harshness of blaring sunlight, we stopped for a brief moment to admire the blooms that lined the roads. Into a inconspicuous dark alley we stepped, and it felt like we were transported back in time, in some ancient period.

Upon reaching a brightly lit room, each of us sat before a tree stump, readied with 1.5 inch long wooden sticks and a small knife with a slant tip. Not knowing what to do we studied the master’s swift wood-cutting actions, his words in Japanese which probably contained plenty of important tips wasted on us. Haha. But as always, actions speak louder than words, and after realizing that no amount of staring would get us out of the situation, we cautiously picked up our own knives and attempted to make our own toothpicks.

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It was one of the hottest days in one of the hottest months in Yokohama. The sun outside was merciless, and we were trapped in a room with no ventilation save for a small fan, trying to make toothpicks out of wood. Actually we weren’t told what kind of wood was that, but research pointed me in the direction of spicebush. They are speckled greenish-black and are flexible yet sturdy, and even imparts a pleasant aroma to the toothpicks.

I was hot, sticky, and wanted to get it over and done with. Why are we doing this, I questioned silently. I raised my head to look at the master who came to help me, his forehead and temples glistening with sweat, and yet he continued to demonstrate and encourage me. I understood not a single word he spoke, but I could hear the enthusiasm in his voice while making those natural wooden skewers.

In his tone, I heard his passion for making these wooden skewers, and to keep this tradition alive. His spirit spurred me on and I wanted to let him know his efforts were not wasted on me, so I decided to do my best. My first few toothpicks were roughly carved and my lack of patience and skill were apparent in the results. I tell you, it’s really no joke. Each strike of the knife greatly determined how the skewer would look like, – if you cut too deeply, the stick would not budge and using brute force is the wrong way; if you cut too shallow, you’ll be making ribbons out of wood. The masters made it look easy, but it was by far one of the hardest manual tasks I’d ever endeavored.

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Harvesting Organic Blueberries In Yokohama

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You know what they say about your food preference determined by your first experience of it? If your first ever taste of something wasn’t fantastic, that will most likely be the impression for the rest of your life. Well, that is until you get a taste of how GOOD it can be.

I’ve never liked blueberries. Perhaps those I’ve tried are always sour and small, and worse are those inside and atop blueberry cakes glazed over with some gooey blueberry gel-like liquid. Oh my, I shudder at the thought of it. :(

The experience at Yokohama Asahi Blueberry Forest changed my idea of blueberries forever. It was the first time I saw blueberries not in boxes or cakes, but in their most natural state – on trees! And they were large and super sweet!

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Clean Skin With Simple Steps: Simple Micellar Cleansing Water

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There are many things in life that are not quite as simple as black and white, most of them beyond our control. For those that I have control over, I try to keep it simple, especially when it comes to skincare. Gone are the days where I used 9 different products after cleansing. I realized it all boils down to the very first step – proper makeup removal. Even when I don’t apply makeup, I make it a point to remove the impurities and dirt that had accumulated on my skin throughout the day from environmental pollutants or oil and smoke from cooking in the kitchen or sunscreen.

It is imperative to find the right type of makeup removal. I worked out that cleansing oil and milk don’t quite sit well with my oily skin, while it appreciates water-based makeup removers.

How Does Micellar Water Work?

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about Micellar Water, what with all that buzz about it being a magical potion that removes makeup, dirt, and oil from the skin without rinsing. It doesn’t dry out the skin, and some brands’ even provide hydration benefits.

It looks and feels like plain old water, and Simple Micellar Cleansing Water has NO artificial fragrances, colors, or harsh chemicals, making it THE magic potion for sensitive skin like mine.

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