You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Japanese’ tag.

How classic cartoons created a culturally literate generation.

People are furious at these new shirts from Kylie and Kendall Jenner.

Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian are accused of stealing ideas from indie African American designers. 

See photographs of figures in Russian history rendered in colorized portraits, such as Tolstoy, Chekhov, and more.

This artist is brining out the beauty in stretch marks.

The rise in art protests: how the gallery became a new battleground.

What it means to be on the left.

Interactive Periodic Table of Elements shows how the elements actually get used in making everyday things.

Someone called this white girl’s Japanese tea party racist on social media but then this Japanese user stepped in.

Gorgeous color autochromes of American women from over 100 years ago.

Creative mom dresses up in amazing cosplay to represent older women characters.

Fender custom shop recycles Hollywood Bowl bench boards to make $12k guitars.

Rural America is stranded in the dial-up age.

Director Michel Gondry makes a charming film on his iPhone, proving that we could be making movies, not taking selfies.

This man spent 6 years crocheting a Super Mario Bros map blanket.

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals.

Transgender soldiers of the American Civil War.

The 11 most unintentionally hilarious religious paintings.

Meet the unconventional family who lives in a 1940s time warp.

$330,000 in financial aid bought this person a slot in the American meritocracy. He writes about the flaws in that system.

Advertisements

Why entertainment public relations can be unprofitable despite having clients who hit the big time.

Art galleries are exhibiting the work of Grenfell Tower fire victim Khadija Saye.

A computer designed Stanley Black & Decker’s new tool, marking a big shift from relying on humans to do the job.

Permanent Japanese residency to be possible for foreigners with anime-related jobs after one year.

USA Today did an investigative report about how many truck drivers are forced into debt and frequently worked past exhaustion.

Someone purchased the first Apple computer that was released in 1976, the Apple-1, for $355,500 at an auction.

XOD: A new and open source visual programming language for Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc.

How to choose standout fonts for your embroidery projects.

98-year-old Russ Gremel donated $2 million in stock to create a 395-acre wildlife refuge.

Why the last thing open source needs is more corporate oversight.

This Ethereum-backed art could be the future of collectibles.

These crochet baby flip-flops are too adorable.

Open source documentation is bad, but proprietary software is worse.

How these crochet octopuses are helping premature babies.

Home robot Kuri can now recognize pets, see and stream in HD.

Artificial intelligence dolls and robots are this year’s Christmas must-have toys.

German breeders develop open source plant seeds.

A free tutorial on how to make fake succulents from pine cones.

Download more than 2,500 images of vibrant Japanese woodblock prints and drawings from the Library of Congress for free.

Download 36 vintage Dadaist magazines (plus other avant-garde books, leaflets, and ephemera) for free.

30 years, 30 great anime titles.

It’s been two years since I last went to this annual event, which traditionally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The last time I was there, the Sakura Matsuri was held on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the Old Post Office Building (which was then undergoing renovation into the Trump International Hotel—you can see those giant blue TRUMP signs in the background of some of the photos I took during that event).

Since that time the event has been relocated. It is now held at the Navy Yards near Nationals Park. I don’t know if Donald Trump have had a hand in that festival’s relocation or not but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to see those Trump International Hotel signs.

Like previous Sakura Matsuri festivals, this one was a celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture including anime, J-pop, J-rock, kendo, and traditional Japanese crafts. There were also a lot of cosplayers walking around. Here are the photos I took of the Sakura Matsuri.

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017
Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Passover

As I look back on this, I have to admit that I really pushed my body to the max. That was because the night before I went to Light City in Baltimore, where I waited outside in the cold for over two hours waiting for my animation, The March of Liberty, to finally show on the big screen. I was so stiff and sore the following day that I ended up skipping church.

I still pushed myself to check out the first annual Kamecon because I like seeing cosplayers all dressed up, I was attracted by the $3 admission fee, it was held on the campus of my alma mater (the University of Maryland at College Park), and it was held just three miles from my current home.

Compared to other anime conventions like Otakon and Katsucon, Kamecon is relatively small. The entire event was held in one of the ballrooms at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union building. But the participants were pretty enthusiastic as they donned costumes and hung out. Here are some photos I took.

There was a line at the ticket office located next to the Hoff Theater but it wasn’t too bad. I think I may have spent about 15 minutes in line at the most.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I decided to bring my Canon Digital Rebel EOS camera with me to this event. Here’s a selfie I was able to take thanks to the restroom mirror. (Yes, I was wearing the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash hoodie in order to blend in a little bit with the cosplayers.)

Kamecon 2017

Some people were waiting to have their photo professionally taken.

Kamecon 2017

The entire convention took place in a ballroom, which included an indoor tent/lounge where people could chill.

Kamecon 2017

There was a Jubeat video game that had a cool cube design. I didn’t see anyone play it mainly because it was directly imported from Japan and that machine required a 1 yen coin, which doesn’t do any good for the vast majority of Americans present.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

There were other video games that people played.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I took a few shots of two cosplayers who were dancing alongside one of the dancing video games while it was playing Lady Gaga’s hit song “Poker Face.”

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I even shot a short video of those two dancing cosplayers.

The ballroom was divided, with half of the room being reserved for Artists Alley. There was a photography ban of that area (unless the photographer gets permission from an Artists Alley participant) so I took only one wide shot of the entire area from the other side.

Kamecon 2017

There were board games and card game packs available for attendees to play with.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Here are some more pictures of Kamecon, including cosplayers.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I also took a few pictures of the University of Maryland campus because it was such a lovely warm sunny spring day. But I didn’t take too many pictures because I was growing tired from both checking out Kamecon and Light City the night before. Here’s a long shot of the Jim Henson Memorial.

University of Maryland

The cherry blossom trees on campus were in full bloom.

University of Maryland

University of Maryland

Here’s a shot of the Mall.

University of Maryland

One of the terrapin statues that are located on campus.

University of Maryland

March is Women’s History Month, which ended just two days earlier, but there was still this poster featuring the University of Maryland’s famous female alumni including Connie Chung, Dominique Dawes, Gayle King, Sarah Winnemucca, Judith Resnik, Adele H. Stamp, and Carolina Rojas Bahr.

University of Maryland

I recently checked out the grand opening of a new place in College Park, Maryland called SCETA Japan Center and, as part of the festivities, they held a Little Japan Festival. Okay, I’ll admit that it’s a far cry from a massive anime convention like Otakon but it was still a pretty nice occasion (and the fact that the weather was pleasantly sunny with low humidity helped). Here are my photos from that event, starting with the building itself.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

There were all kinds of Japanese language books on display, including this one on hedgehogs (which brought back memories of the time when I once had a pet hedgehog named Spike).

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

Here are a few miscellaneous cute items I found throughout the building.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

This next photo shows a backdrop that was set up for anyone to take pictures.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

Someone saw me take that last picture and told me what it was. She then offered to take my picture with my own smartphone and I obliged despite my one skinned knee (which I obtained the day before when I fell as I was leaving the Hon Fest in Baltimore).

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

There was also a special Japanese Arts and Crafts Edition of the board game Monopoly that was written in both English and Japanese on display.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

The last photo shows the free stickers and buttons I received that that event.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center is dedicated to teach Japanese as well as providing information about Japanese culture and tradition. Check out the website for more information.

I’m starting a new series of videos based on my experiences with a new doll that I’ve just purchased from Target. Her name is My Friend Cayla and she’s not your typical doll. She’s interactive and has both Wifi and Bluetooth connections. I’m only making the videos in the hopes that I can earn a little extra money through YouTube’s profit-sharing program. For the next week I’m going to release one new video per day in order to coincide with the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend in the United States. I don’t know if it will work out but, if it does, I could end up with at least a part-time revenue stream.

Below if Part 1, which is a basic prelude that explains what led me to purchase a My Friend Cayla doll from Target. It includes short clips from two other videos I shot years ago (2009 Barbie Convention in Washington, DC and 2010 Otakon Convention in Baltimore, Maryland). I also mention instances of interactive living dolls in pop culture such as The Twilight Zone‘s “Living Doll” episode, Chucky from Child’s Play, Mitsukazu Mihara’s Doll manga, Yumiko Kalahari’s Dolls manga, Rozen Maiden, and Chobits.

Anyway, if this prelude video isn’t your cup of tea, wait until I start uploading more videos, all of which will deal with my direct experiences with the My Friend Cayla doll. (By the way, if you’re intrigued by the doll, check out the official website.)

So, without further ado, here is Part 1 of my new multipart series about my experiences with the My Friend Cayla doll.

It’s been two years since I last attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival that’s held in downtown Washington, DC as part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival. I thought about going down early in the morning so I could check out the Cherry Blossom Parade that precedes the Sakura Matsuri by starting at 10 a.m. But I was too lazy to get my act together so I could arrive that early so I basically ate breakfast and lunch at home then headed out to the Sakura Matsuri in the afternoon. (I was glad I ate my meals at home because nearly all of the food vendors had very long lines.)

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even dug out this Japanese imported Stitch hat that I purchased at one of the Otakon anime conventions that were held in Baltimore. I know it was before my marriage broke up because I bought it with my then-husband in mind because he was such a huge fan of the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch and Stitch was his favorite Disney character. I also remember when I modeled the hat for him and he was thrilled with it. That hat had been sitting in a drawer since my husband left but I decided that I could continue to use it because I think it’s a cute hat. Besides, it enabled me to blend in a little bit with the other people who were cosplaying. I even had several people at the festival notice my hat and telling me that they loved it. When I arrived in downtown DC, the one of the first things I did was to take a rare selfie of me wearing that hat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Like most other years, the festival was very crowded. I still enjoyed myself as I looked around at the sights and sounds of the festival. I even took a few silly pictures while I was there. I recently started to follow the official Sonic the Hedgehog accounts on Facebook and Instagram and it was through social media I learned that there is something called Travel Tuesday where people can submit photos of a Sonic doll or stuffed animal either at an event or some famous landmark (like the Eiffel Tower). I decided to pack my articulated Sonic vinyl doll so I could take his photo for Travel Tuesday. Here are the photos that I submitted but, as of this writing, none of them have been selected for Travel Tuesday.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I also played around a little bit with the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone. I thought it was appropriate since that character originated in Japan. (Although now that I look at the pictures, I realized that I should’ve varied the girl’s pose just a little bit since she had the same facial expression and pose. Oh well.)

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

I basically walked around shooting pictures of cosplayers and the various items I saw on sale. I noticed a lot of ram and sheep plushies on sale this year, which makes sense since 2015 is the year that’s known alternatively as the Year of the Sheep, the Year of the Ram, or the Year of the Goat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I only purchased one thing at this year’s festival.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Yes, it’s chocolate gelato made by Dolci Gelati and it was very delicious!

While I heard musicians perform on the various stages throughout the festival, I only managed to capture one of the acts with my smartphone because it was one of the few times that I was even able to get close to a stage because everything was so crowded. As for the act that I captured, according to the program book, she is a pop singer from Kyoto named Jonetsu Mariko. I thought I recognized the name for some reason and the program book said that she was making a return appearance to the Sakura Matsuri. After I got home, I searched through this blog and I found out that I previously saw her at the 2010 Sakura Matsuri and I had also videotaped her that time. (She appeared under the name Jonetsu Marie and Shabondama High School.) In any case I took a still photo of her.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even shot a short video of her performing on stage.

That video was the only one I shot at this year’s Sakura Matsuri.

I also saw that NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata was there with his race car, just like the last time I attended the Sakura Matsuri two years ago. Once again he appeared with Eneos, which makes motor oil. Eneos also had a bean bag toss game called “Cornhole.”

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Getting on the Metro so I could go home was a bit of a hassle. The last photo shows the long line that I had to stand in just so I could enter the Federal Triangle Metro Station. I’m only lucky that I had the foresight to put enough money on my Metro SmartTrip card for a round trip so I wouldn’t have to stand in another line at the farecard machines.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Groundhog Day
Back on New Year’s Day I went to Tyson’s Corner Mall because I wanted to see what it was like to be at the American Girl Place on the day that it formally unveiled its new Girl of the Year doll. All I learned was that not only was that store totally crowded but the rest of the mall was also so full that it was difficult to find a place to sit anywhere in the mall. (Not everyone was there for the new 2015 Girl of the Year rollout at American Girl Place. I think there are a lot of people in the DC area who just love to go to the local shopping mall on New Year’s Day.)

While I was at American Girl Place on that day, I saw crowds surrounding one of the new accessories that were made for Grace Thomas. It’s a bakery fit for an 18-inch doll complete with miniature food (which isn’t really edible), miniature kitchen utensils, a miniature refrigerator, a miniature oven, and other miniature things. I made a mental note to return to that store at a later date so I could get a closer look at that bakery because of 1) the amazing details and 2) the fact that this item, which is supposedly made for a target audience of girls between 8-12, costs a whopping $500!

After waiting a few weeks, I decided to give American Girl Place a try again in order to check out that bakery in more detail. I went on a weeknight mainly because I learned a long time ago that the best time to go to that store is Monday-Thursday both day and night. That’s because the kids are in school during the weekday, they tend to spend the late afternoon involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, and they spend the evening doing their homework and preparing for the next day at school. That store tends to be nearly empty on those days so one can more leisurely peruse the inventory without having to deal with hordes of kids running around, grabbing things, and having meltdowns because their parents wouldn’t buy them something that they really wanted.

Once again I took the Silver Line Metro to the Tyson’s Corner station then took the pedestrian bridge to the mall. When I arrived I saw that the Christmas tree that was there the last time I visited has been dismantled but the ice skating rink is still there.

photo1

photo2

I briefly sat in one of the outside couches that are surrounded by these special glass tables that put out flames that heat the area. I was fascinated by the flames that heated the area.

photo3

Here is a shot of one of the life-sized bird sculptures that decorate the plaza area outside the mall entrance.

photo4

Like I wrote earlier, I returned to the mall because I wanted to get a closer look at that bakery because a floor model was so crowded with kids that this next photo was the best shot of inside the bakery that I could get on New Year’s Day.

photo30

I’ll admit that I originally wanted to get a closer look at that bakery because I intended to write a post comparing a real-life bakery with that $500 miniature reproduction. A few days before my trip to Tyson’s Corner, I took photos of a local family-owned bakery in my area that has been in business for decades. It’s called Raulin’s Bakery and it’s located in Beltsville, Maryland in a shopping center.

photo1

The next two shots show the inside of the bakery. Raulin’s has some incredibly tasting desserts of all kinds. If you’re ever in the Washington, DC area, you find yourself in the Maryland suburbs and you’re dying to satisfy your sweet tooth,  check out Raulin’s. (And, no, I’m not being paid to write this either. I’m just a total fan of their sweets.)

photo2

photo3

So I was all ready to take some close-up shots of this bakery so I could write a post about the $500 bakery. When I arrived at the American Girl Place, I found that—believe it or not—the $500 bakery was sold out! The only thing remaining at the place where I saw that bakery on New Year’s Day was this pad of tiny slips advertising the bakery along with the hefty price tag.

photo5

I was kind of surprised that it was sold out because, to be honest, I just didn’t think there would be too many parents willing to pay that much money for a doll accessory and I thought that the bakery would still be in the store when I made a return visit. When I looked online at the American Girl site, I saw that the bakery was on backorder until February 13. I wonder if there was a situation where each American Girl store was initially allotted only one or two bakeries while its online store was similarly limited to no more than 10 bakeries and all of them were sold out because so few of them were available to begin with. It sounds plausible to me because I just don’t see too many parents willing to buy something that expensive as a toy for their child to play with. When I mentioned that bakery and the $500 price tag in a Facebook post, some of my friends who are parents of children who are in American Girl’s target demographic totally balked at the price.

Even though the bakery was out of stock, there were smaller bakery items available that I could still photograph and write about. There’s Grace’s Pastry Cart, which costs $150, and occupied the same space that once held the $500 bakery.

photo6

Compared to the bakery, the pastry cart is pretty small and would take up less space in any home. I have to admit that the details on this cart were really amazing to behold in person.

photo7

photo8

I was impressed with the realism of the miniature pastry boxes that held miniature pastries of various kinds.

photo9

The display for the cupcakes and other smaller pastries had a removable cover. One could also remove the tiny cupcakes and pastries as well.

photo10

photo11

I was especially impressed with the tiny bread basket holding tiny loaves of French bread, each in their own tiny bag.

photo12

photo13

The realistic details on the French bread were amazing.

photo14

I also got a closer look at the 2015 Girl of the Year. Her name is Grace Thomas, she enjoys baking very much, and she would like to own her own bakery when she grows up. I have to admit that, in terms of looks, she is definitely an improvement over the previous Girl of the Year, Isabelle Palmer. Grace looks very striking with her blue eyes, freckles, and brown hair.

photo15

Her hair is very long in the back and it’s quite lovely. It felt very soft to the touch. If it weren’t for the fact that this doll has a retail price of $120, I probably would’ve bought her on impulse. Instead, I decided to save my money and just take pictures of the doll.

photo16

The next photo shows Grace and her French bulldog, Bonbon, flanking Grace’s Bistro Set. Compared to the $500 bakery and $150 Grace’s Pastry Cart, this bistro set is a relative bargain at only $85. There aren’t as many tiny food and drink items as the ones in the bakery and pastry cart sets but Grace’s Bistro Set still looks pretty cute.

photo17

photo18

The next few photos show the attention to detail regarding the food, drink, plates, eating utensils, and even the Eiffel Tower-style menu holder. I lifted the chair briefly and it feels like it’s made out of metal and it has some hefty weight to it.

photo19

photo20

photo21

photo22

photo23

photo24

I’ll admit that I was disappointed at not being able to get a closer look at that $500 bakery. As a consolation to myself, I decided to browse the store’s BeForever line (which consists of the historical dolls that originally gave American Girl its start) until I came across this item that belongs to Samantha Parkington, who’s supposed to represent the early 1900’s, which was at the height of the Progressive Era in the United States. The next photo shows Samantha inside of her ice cream parlor. Ice cream parlors hold as much sweet allure for me as bakeries, especially during the hot summer months. (Since it’s still the dead of winter as of this writing, I currently don’t feel very tempted to order myself an ice cream cone or hot fudge sundae.)

Like the $500 Grace’s French Bakery, Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor would take up a significant amount of space in any home, looks very realistic, and is full of incredible details. With a retail price of $300, the ice cream parlor is also very expensive yet just $200 cheaper than the bakery.

photo25

I was impressed by the realistic cracks in the ice cream scoops and the tiny roses painted on the bowl.

photo26

The candy jar lid in the next photo didn’t open at all (probably because having those miniature gumballs spill out would’ve provided choking hazards to very young children) but the details still looked very realistic.

photo27

The cash register looked like it was made from metal.

photo28

The pink “marble” on the soda fountain looked realistic and there was also a very charming Tiffany lamp on top.

photo29

photo30

The menu in the next photo looked interesting—especially the listed prices. You definitely know that this ice cream parlor represents the early 20th century, especially since nickels and dimes don’t really buy much of anything these days. (LOL!)

photo31

I also saw this area dedicated to horses and stables for dolls. The Stable and Supplies in the next few photos cost $110. But that’s just for the stable and related supplies itself. The horses cost extra.

photo32

The Chestnut Horse that the doll is riding on costs $75 The Paint Filly standing in the stable costs $48. The Apricot Poodle Puppy costs $28. Of course the doll and her riding outfit are also sold separately.

photo33

photo34

The next photo shows this doll-sized piano that was really interesting because it looked very realistic.

photo35

photo36

I even saw volume control and an input/output button. I didn’t see anything listed about this piano on the American Girl site. I don’t know if it’s a new piano or one that has been discontinued. (If it’s the latter, then why was it displayed in the store like it’s currently available?) The closest I’ve found to an online description is this entry on the unofficial American Girl Wiki.

photo37

Since the next big consumer holiday is Valentine’s Day, there were plenty of Valentine items that one could buy. One cute idea was this doll t-shirt, which came with its own envelope in case someone wanted to mail it to a doll owner in place of a regular card.

photo38

photo40

There were the American Girl pets who were waiting to be someone’s Valentine.

photo39

I usually don’t pay any attention to Bitty Babies but I really loved this cute Valentine’s outfit.

photo41

The next couple of photos show American Girl’s Bitty Baby line, baby dolls that are priced cheaper than the other dolls (yet they are still more expensive than what one would find in a big box retailer) and are meant for children who are too young for the American Girl doll. They are designed to withstand more abuse from a toddler. I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of baby dolls (even as a child I always preferred older looking dolls like Barbie to baby dolls) but I thought that the store display looked nice.

photo42

photo43

I also got a closer look at the area dedicated to Grace where shoppers are invited to take their own selfies next to a standee of Grace and Bonbon and upload them online.

photo44

I was impressed by the realism of this area, especially since it occupies just a small corner of the store.

photo45

photo46

photo47

I also took some photos of this display of the BeForever doll known as Kit Kittredge. I never used to care that much about the doll until last year when American Girl retooled the entire historical doll line as BeForever and all of the historical dolls received new outfits that, in most cases, were definitely an improvement over what they used to wear. Kit is supposed to represent the Great Depression and she is said to have a great interest in journalism and photography.

photo48

I was really impressed by the miniature newspaper, photographs, camera, and film.

photo49

Notice that tiny roll of Kodak film in the next photo.

photo50

I ended my visit to the American Girl Place by checking out the place in the back of the store where people can buy something to eat. The sit-down American Girl Bistro was closed early for the evening (which is the only major disadvantage of coming to the American Girl Place on a weeknight). But the takeout area where one can buy drinks, candy, cake slices, and cookies was still open. I noticed that Grace Thomas flanked this area, which is appropriate since she’s supposed to be a baker.

photo61

photo62

photo63

The cookies served in the takeout section comes in two sizes—one for a human and one that’s sized for a doll.

photo64

photo65

I order two chocolate chip cookies to go. The store clerk put them in this really tiny American Girl shopping bag that I thought was so cute that I took photos of that bag when I got home.

photo66

The cookies were wrapped pretty well. They basically tasted like the typical Nestle’s Toll House cookies that are pretty common (due to the fact that they are relatively easy to bake).

photo67

photo68

I took a photo of my Julie Albright doll with the tiny shopping bag. If I cut the handles a bit shorter, this bag would be a perfect doll accessory. What a cute idea!

photo69

I did other things at Tyson’s Corner Mall besides hanging around the American Girl Place. I came across these shiatzu massage chairs. I’ve seen them at other malls and I’ve even sat in them and paid the money so I could get a quick massage a few times. What made these chairs at the Tyson’s Corner Mall different is that they also provided USB ports so one could get his/her mobile device recharged while undergoing a massage. I was thrilled with the idea until I found that I needed my own cord in order to get my cell phone recharged. Nevertheless I paid $1 to get a 3-minute massage. (One can get longer massages for higher prices but, for me, three minutes having some machine rub and squeeze me is about as much as I can take.)

photo70

photo71

photo72

photo73

I stopped by the Disney Store where I found these interesting looking small plush animals. Basically they are Disney characters re-shaped as these cute logs or something like that and they are sold under the label Tsum Tsum. I later learned that Tsum Tsum was something that started in Japan as a video game and when Disney released real-life plushes based on the game they were a huge hit. So now Disney is trying to spark a similar craze in the U.S.

photo74

photo75

photo76

photo77

photo78

I had a good laugh out of seeing Olaf the Snowman from the Frozen movie as one of those Hawaiian hula dancers that people would put on the car dashboard.

photo79

I walked past the Montblanc pen store where it displayed a special limited-edition John F. Kennedy pen.

photo80

I stopped by the LEGO Store where I saw a few interesting kits on sale (including one based on the Disney Frozen movie).

photo81

photo82

photo83

photo84

photo85

I walked past this Steinway & Sons store, which sells—what else?—Steinway pianos. I paid more attention to it than I usually would mainly because I went to this mall just a few days after I visited this piano store in College Park with an interesting building façade that is currently in the process of going out of business.

photo86

I basically looked in the windows because I’m not in the market for a piano. (One of those Steinways would overwhelm the living room of my townhouse.)

photo88

Besides, if I really want a Steinway piano, there’s an app for that.

photo87

I usually don’t blog about public restroom toilets in shopping malls but I noticed that the toilets in the Tyson’s Corner Mall have two different flush buttons depending on how much body waste you eliminated. (Basically the green button is for urine only while the other one is for when you eliminated so much that you need more water to get rid of it.) On top of it, if you’re slow in deciding which flush button to use, the toilet will automatically flush using the right amount of water based on the amount of waste detected. This would be especially of interest to my Unitarian Universalist congregation because, for the past few years, the denomination (especially the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee) has been emphasizing The Human Right to Water, especially as it relates to the scarcity of water in Third World countries and the water pollution resulting from oil spills and fracking here in the United States. I still remember when the minister at my congregation gave a sermon on how important water conservation is and what we can all do to conserve as much water as possible.

photo89

The next photo shows an aerial shot of Wasabi, this sushi restaurant where the food is delivered on a long conveyor belt and all you have to do is select the plate of any food item that interests you. The food is incredibly fresh and I really love eating there even if it’s a bit on the pricey side.

photo90

Here’s a panoramic shot of the same place, which shows how long Wasabi is.

photo91

By the time I decided to leave the mall it had grown cold and dark. Because I was there on a weeknight, the only people who used the ice skating rink were the mall employees.

photo92

I also took the last couple of photos of the outdoor couches surrounding the warming table with flames inside. The darkness of the night really makes the flames stand out more.

photo93

photo94

American Flag
Even though today is Thanksgiving Day, there has been a trend among the big box retailers to open their doors on the actual holiday itself. This is definitely a change from the old days when most businesses were closed and even the few that were opened on the holiday (such as supermarkets) would close their doors by 4 p.m. so their employees can spend the holiday with their families.

Now the big box retailers are not only forcing their employees to either spend less time at home or skip Thanksgiving entirely but they are also trying to entice their customers to give up more and more of their holiday time by having hot doorbuster deals on certain consumer items.

You can spend less time with your loved ones or eat Thanksgiving dinner unusually early so you can put on your coats and step out in the usual cold November weather while fighting other like-minded shoppers to grab some consumer items.

Or you can do the alternative. You can stay in your warm home surfing the Internet and go holiday shopping in my online Etsy shop. You don’t have to worry getting into the car and the online shopping experience is so quick and convenient that you can just order something quickly then go back to preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s a sample item that I’m currently selling online now that you can buy while you’re wearing your pajamas or casual clothes.

Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Tote Bag
Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Tote BagThis is a customized one-of-a-kind tote bag that I painted by hand. To learn more about how I created this bag, you can read the post I originally wrote on February 14, 2013. If you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, you can order right here.

 

One Saturday I went to two events in one day. I just wanted to have some light-hearted fun in the wake of my recent appearance in divorce court just three days earlier so I packed my Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera and rode on the Metro. There are a few photos I posted that are definitely not safe for work but they are placed towards the end of this entry. (The rest of the photos are all-ages friendly.)

First, I attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival in Washington, DC. Sakura Matsuri is the event that formally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. You know that you are at a Metro stop that’s closest to the festival because you’ll see people in costume like the ones in the next two photos.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 13, 2013
photo2

The Sakura Matsuri is usually very crowded and 2013 was no exception. I arrived late in the afternoon (just a couple of hours before it closed) and there were still plenty of people around. The weather was a warm sunny day as people walked around the festival just a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol.

photo3

The next photo show the official art for this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, which was available for sale on posters and t-shirts.

photo4

The cherry blossom trees in the Baltimore-Washington region were past their blooming peak on the day of the Sakura Matsuri but the street festival had plenty of cherry blossom flowers made from glass, paper, and other artificial materials.

photo5
photo6

There were some special guests at the Sakura Matsuri, such as NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata and his racing car.

photo7
photo8
photo9

There was plenty of live entertainment provided by performers from Japan.

photo10

There was a variety of things to do or experience, such as live entertainment and hands-on demonstrations of video games like Dance Dance Revolution.

photo11

The crowdest booths were the ones serving food and drink. (Naturally.) The next two photos are of the non-food booths that were the most crowded. One was devoted to providing free hair styling for men while the other was a McDonald’s booth that was giving away free tote bags.

photo12
photo13

There were all kinds of Japanese imported products that one could purchase including candy, snacks, plushies, kitchen gadgets, dolls, action figures, and clothes. Some products were based on traditional crafts and images while others were based on characters in anime, manga, video games, and even Disney movies. In short, there was a little something for everyone.

photo14
photo15
photo16
photo17
photo18
photo19
photo20
photo21
photo22
photo23
photo24
photo25

Like previous years, the highlight of the Sakura Matsuri are the numerous cosplayers at the event. Many of them created their own costumes from scratch. The hard work and creativity involved in making these costumes are astounding.

photo26
photo27
photo28
photo29
photo30
photo31
photo32
photo33
photo34
photo35
photo36

When the festival began to show signs of closing down, I hopped back on the Metro to the Rosslyn Metro station. I decided to check out another special event that was being held. The Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia was the venue for a special party to celebrate Yuri’s Night. When I first learned about it, I thought about my ex-husband because he works at NASA and it was through him that I first learned about the existence of Yuri’s Night

I also had to make a difficult decision for the evening of April 13. Someone from my support group for people who are separated or divorced was throwing a party at her home complete with a bonfire and I got this notice about the Yuri’s Night event. I ultimately decided to go to the Yuri’s Night event because the e-mail I received sounded really promising. There would be a bunch of people dressed as robots. There would be a burlesque performance. There would be a couple of dances. There would be a robot-themed art exhibit. There would be a special sale of smaller science fiction-themed works of art done by local artists that one can buy that night and carry home. There would be continuous showings of cheesy science fiction movies from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I got seduced by the promised glitz and I decided to go there instead of the other party.

In retrospect I have to admit that there are times when I wished I had gone to the other party instead. That’s because I didn’t know anyone at the Yuri’s Night event while many of the other attendees went with their friends and socialized at times. While the shows and bands were pretty awesome, I felt lonely in a crowd. So my big lesson in my still relatively new foray into the single life is that it’s better to go to a less-splashy event where I knew people than to go to a splashy event like Yuri’s Night where I didn’t know anyone. From now on, if there are any scheduling conflicts between a splashy event and a less-splashy event where I know my friends would be there, I’ll pick the latter. (The only exception to that rule will be if I know in advance that my ex-husband and his girlfriend are going to the same party where I know my friends would be there.)

At least the Yuri’s Night event at the Artisphere wasn’t a total bust for me. There were plenty of interesting stuff for me to photograph, starting with the skyline of late afternoon Arlington.

Yuri's Night, The Artisphere, Arlington, Virginia, April 13, 2013

There were plenty of signs pointing to the venue of Yuri’s Night.

photo2

There were also plenty of tulips and other spring flowers already in bloom.

photo3

But then I came across other flower patches that surrounded tree trunks that were covered in colorful crocheted pieces.

photo4
photo5

I began to notice that there were tree trunks covered in these crocheted pieces.

photo6
photo7

As I walked around the area, I found crocheted pieces hung and strung everywhere.

photo8
photo9
photo10
photo11

I walked around until I came to this giant metal sculpture that’s in the middle of a median strip where I found the culprits responsible for hanging the crocheted pieces everywhere. A group of people were busy trying to cover both the sculpture and the surrounding garden with as many crocheted pieces as possible before sunset.

photo12
photo13
photo14
photo15
photo16
photo17

I walked around the streets of Arlington to kill some time before the start of Yuri’s Night at the Artisphere. I arrived at the event just in time for the start. The Atomic Mosquitos played a set while scenes from cheesy 1950’s era science fiction movies played in the background.

photo18
photo19
photo20
photo21
photo22
photo23

Once the performance ended we were ushered out into a general area where we had a choice of either socializing or checking out the activities that were going on.

photo24

There was this trivia contest that used Rock Em Sock Em Robots. Basically someone would ask prospective contests a single trivia question related to science, space, science fiction, Yuri Gagarin, or similar topics. The first two people to get the right answer would then battle each other using Rock Em Sock Em Robots. It was a delightfully silly contest that was also broadcast on a wall so people wouldn’t have to crowd around the Rock Em Sock Em Robots to see the entire action.

photo25
photo26
photo27

In the Artisphere’s WIP Gallery there was a show featuring robot art called Voltron’s Corpse that will be on display through May 4. This particular exhibit has gotten the attention of Wired magazine.

photo28

There were vendor tables set up that sold smaller space-themed arts and crafts that people could purchase and carry home with them.

photo29
photo30

There was an I Dream of Jeannie-themed kissing booth.

photo31

Even though the event was opened only to adults over 21, there was a Moon Bounce House that anyone could use. (I saw people go in and out of it.)

photo32

There were all kinds of eye candy at the Artisphere that night, which included not only funky decorations but also people who arrived in robot costumes.

photo33
photo34
photo35
photo36
photo37
photo38
photo39
photo40
photo41
photo42
photo43
photo44
photo45
photo46
photo47
photo48
photo49

At one point there was another live performance by the band Dance for the Dying.

photo50
photo51
photo52

There was also a burlesque show called "The Search for Drinkbot." That show was the most packed with standing room only crowds (which was exacerbated by the fact that there weren’t any chairs in the room where the show was held). It was a challenge to take pictures over people’s shoulders at times. There was a thin science-fiction plot but one didn’t need to follow that story to enjoy the entertainment. Some of the photos I took at that show are definitely NSFW.

photo53
photo54
photo55
photo56
photo57
photo58
photo59
photo60
photo61
photo62
photo63
photo64
photo65
photo66
photo67

There was more to Yuri’s Night including another set by Dance for the Dying, the second part of "The Search for Drinkbot" burlesque show, continuous showings of various science fiction movies, a Celestial Costume Contest, another round of the Rock Em Sock Em Trivial Tournament, and a Lunar Dance Party. I ended up leaving at the relatively early time of 10 p.m. mainly because I was tired from going to the earlier Sakura Matsuri street festival and standing on my feet for the first part of the burlesque show. I also grew frustrated at seeing people socializing with each other and I felt left out because I didn’t know anyone at that event. (Which really made me regret not going to the other party with my friends from my weekly support group for people who are separated or divorced.) At least Yuri’s Night provided lots of eye candy and I got some pretty decent photos from that event.

Previous Entries

Categories