Three Things

February 2019 — Issue No. 62

Hello! I just got back from the trip of a lifetime so you might want to hold on to your phone or iPad with two hands and get ready for a scrolling adventure!


Maia O.

I'm actually just going to use this space to give a special shout out to Maia for planning this amazing trip to Japan. ILY!


Real World Nihon Crew

Mike, Matt, Maia, Sophia, and Will thank you all for making this trip hecka fun!

Get featured on Three Things

Share a photo


—–Things I Ate

Let’s start our culinary trip through Japan with a traditional Kaiseki. This multi-course meal had it all: soft tofu, seafood stew, mochi, and fried fish. We had this glorious meal after a refreshing bath in an onsen in Kyoto. Everything was brought to our room at precisely the right time in precisely the right order. We all sat cross legged still in our robes and devoured everything in sight only stopping to comment on how great everything was and to drink another Asahi. 


—–Things I Ate

On our last day in Tokyo we went to the famed Tsukiji market. There are many stands and many things to eat but this is best. It’s just a corner stand at the end of a long row of stands. No seating area, just pieces of wood to balance your nigiri on while you consume. But as you take your first bite you realize that you don’t need much time before you’re back again for more. They have three options of tuna: maguro, chu-toro, and o-toro. We tried it all and agreed the chu-toro was best and went back for a few more nigiri to satisfy our craving. They expertly slice the fish right in front of you and wrap it around a freshly formed ball of rice before plating it. It was easily one of the best things I ate on the trip. And that’s saying a lot. 


—–Things I Ate

While in Kyoto we went to the Fushimi Inari Shrine (more on that below) known for its beautiful orange tori or gates. At the base of the shrine are these small stands of amazing food. I’m not sure if the food was incredible or we were in desperate need of sustenance after the 5 mile hike. Based on my limited knowledge of Japan I’d like to think it was the former. We started with takoyaki (one of my favorites) small spheres filled with octopus and seafood. Then moved on to some unexpected soup dumplings which were phenomenal. Maia got some yakisoba noodles that they made right in front of us. My favorite thing from this food expedition was the fried chicken. Some context, the Japanese have cracked the code on fried chicken. Keeping the bites small, super crunchy, very flavorful, and most importantly… boneless. We had 2 skewers of this fried chicken and each bite had us impersonating Post Malone and saying, “wow.”

Also get you someone that looks at you the way Sophia looks at chicken karaage.

Share something you ate

Fushimi Inari

—–Things I Saw

You’d be hard pressed to find a Kyoto travel guide without learning about the iconic Fushimi Inari shrine. Hundreds of vibrant orange tori (or gates) follow stone steps up the side of a mountain leading you to a shrine. What I appreciated most about all the shrines and religious institutions that we saw was that it’s a really internal experience. There is no minister, pastor, or pope shouting down to the congregation. Just you, your thoughts, and your connection to whatever you believe in. It’s beautiful. Because it’s in every travel guide there were a lot of people, however, the main shrine is about 3 miles up the mountain and as we continued on our way the crowds dissipated. It was just us, the orange tori, the stone steps, and the lush green of the mountain side. 


—–Things I Saw

We were a little tired after the Fushimi Inari Shrine and we had to be to the Onsen later that day. Our good pal and fellow bangah, Will, urged us to go check out Nara park– home of the wild deer– and I’m so happy we did. I’ve seen pictures of this place but didn’t really understand that the deer are just roaming freely in this gigantic park. Throughout the park, people set up carts to sell deer cookies to help coax the deer to get near you so you can take a selfie. After years of this, the deers have expected people to have these cookies so they come right up to you whether you have food or not and have no problem sticking their noses in your pockets. Sophia had cookies in her back pocket and lil Bambi took a bite out of her butt to try and get it. It was amazing to see all these wild deer just hanging about. 10/10 would feed deer again. 

Studio Ghibli

—–Things I Saw

There are a few things that I see/experience that I attach some of my identity to: the skillful prose of Drake, the characters of Wes Anderson, and the imaginative worlds of Studio Ghibli. An absolute must do on this Japan trip was to visit the Studio Ghibli museum. In fact, the tickets to the museum were bought soon after the flights. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed within the museum itself but it was like stepping into the mind of Hayao Miyazaki and his animators. The pages and pages it takes to make a character take a single step. The watercolor backdrops of the sets that frame the characters. And what I would soon learn about all of Japan, everything is precise. Everything is created with intent and everything has a purpose. If you’ve seen any of his films—and if you haven’t… what… ok start with Princess Mononoke—you would know that he tackles complex environmental and societal problems in this animated world almost always staring a young female lead. I feel honored to have had experienced the stories these artists have told and I'll be watching to see what they do next.

Share something you saw

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

—–Places I Went

You know, nature sure is neat. In Kyoto, theres about a half a mile stretch of dense bamboo winding its way up a mountain side. Because the bamboo grows so close together a lot of the sunlight gets filtered out, so when you’re standing in the middle it kinda feels like the world is closing in. 


—–Places I Went

Incredible food was literally around every corner in Japan. There are a ton of outdoor markets with all the things: fried things on sticks, fried things in ball form, tasty things on rice, fresh seafood things, soup things, literally all the things! Every time we went to the market I made sure to get these mochi filled with sweet azuki beans topped with a strawberry. Eating all this food is dangerous because you start to question your reality. After Sophia bit into her A5 Wagyu beef skewer she had a look of sadness on her face, resentment almost. I asked her why and she replied, "my life is a lie, every steak I've had in my life was nowhere near this good and I'm afraid I'll never be able to eat a steak again." Dramatic? Yes. One hundred percent true? Also yes. And I can attest, being back in America for the past week has been challenging. It's hard to enjoy some of the food here knowing that there is fresh takoyaki being made by some small Asian woman as we speak. I'm sure our memories will fade and everything will go back to normal but let us exist in this longing feeling for just a bit longer. Thx. 

Kurama Onsen

—–Places I Went

While we were in Kyoto we stayed at this amazing onsen nestled in the mountains. After about a week in the densely populated Tokyo, it was nice to train out to the countryside of Kyoto for a few days. I had never experienced a true onsen, I’ve been to one in San Francisco but that one is co-ed and everyone wears bathing suits. In Japan it’s just you in your birthday suit and mother nature. It was a truly awesome experience to be sitting in a naturally heated bath surrounded by trees and mountains. Unfortunately (or fortunately) they don’t allow photographs so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Share somewhere you went

🙌 You made it to the bottom! Thanks for taking the time to read this email :) See you again next month! Three Things is a way to connect with my family and friends through photos and stories.

✍️ Hand-typed in San Francisco by Darren Wong.

🙏 Catch up on all the past issues here: Three Things Archive

Three Things, a monthly email for family and friends by Darren Wong.

Unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp