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It’s been over six months since I returned to Miyazaki Prefecture from Tokyo, yet only recently did I attend my first festival here – a shame, as traditional Japanese festivals are not lacking in number (seemingly monthly or more here in Kyushu) and they usually make for a pleasant, leisurely way to pass an afternoon. Festivals are especially delightful and exotic to newer expats as they offer a taste of the local traditions, foods, music, costumes, dance, and more. READ MORE

Minimalist makeup


To me, minimalism is not about avoiding ownership of things that aren’t completely necessary. If that were the case, I wouldn’t own and wear makeup, and where would be the fun in that? While wearing makeup can be all about vanity and superficiality in some cases, mostly it is literally and figuratively all about putting your best face forward, fostering feelings of confidence and femininity. For me, makeup also nurtures an appreciation of aesthetics, and does not that help make life worth living, broadly speaking? What is part of what minimalism means to me, however, is not hanging on to possessions which aren’t regularly used and loved.

What this means, then, is that a minimalist makeup collection will look completely different depending on the individual, both in quantity and quality. For me, it’s all about owning a relatively small amount of items that are multifunctional and versatile, flattering to my age and skin type, and gentle or even nourishing to my skin. I am also trying to own items that are kind to the environment and animals in addition to my own health.

The picture above shows almost everything I currently own, minus a few lip products that live permanently at my office or in a bag. I aim to finish off or ditch at least half the items above over the next few months, but I will be replacing a few items with new makeup that is better suited to me. What is “better”? Well now that I’m well into my 40s, different types of products are more suitable for my skin, and I cannot get away with the same stuff I wore in my 20s, lest I end up looking something like Tammy Faye Bakker. Here are what I feel to be my new makeup essentials, which won’t be for everyone, but if you are a woman with older skin, are too busy to spend more that a few minute each morning on your face (or simply don’t want to invest time in that area), like to keep life simple, and appreciate quality products that make you look like you, only better, then read on! I also have some makeup storage, organization, and decluttering ideas at the end of this post. READ MORE

Online Shopping

(Above image credit: Unotelly) You might think it contradictory to write about online clothing shopping on a blog that espouses minimalism, but we all need clothing, regardless of our size, and although you can sometimes find bigger sizes in Japan, the pickings are slim (check this post on shopping in Nippon), and not every expat in Japan lives in a big city where larger sizing can be hunted down, often still with fitting issues.

I generally prefer to shop locally, and shopping on consignment makes sense financially and environmentally. In Miyazaki Prefecture, thankfully, second-hand shops abound. I recently had luck buying a high quality, barely-used Italian pair of shoes for a steal, but yeah – they were men’s shoes. Although small for my height, my US size 10 women’s shoe is simply not going to be found here. As for used clothing, forget it. When I lived in Tokyo, I was able to participate in clothing and shoe swaps with other larger expat women (via a working women’s group called FEW), but that’s a lot trickier in less cosmopolitan regions with far fewer foreigners and social groups.

I’d also much rather make any clothing purchases after trying them on, but that is not a luxury I have, so it’s to the Internet I go! Note that expat women don’t have to be particularly large to have difficulty finding something that fits in Asia. A large percentage of female expats smaller in size than yours truly will also have to shop online or outside the country to find stuff they like that fits, but people who fit into standard western sizing have far more options, including buying men’s clothing locally, which is often a little more “feminine” than fashion from other countries. Men – even rather large men, interestingly, will likely have far fewer qualms with finding clothing that fits in Japan, but if you’re an atypically larger-than-life guy, I’d recommend this website: Destination XL

For my fellow plus-size expat ladies, below is a set of alphabetically-organized lists of online retailers with which I am familiar. READ MORE

managing time with social media

You cannot deny that computer-based social interaction has revolutionized they way people interact in a very positive way over the years. In particular, when Facebook first came out, I found it truly wonderful to reconnect with people from my past that I had not spoken to in decades, or had, very sad to say, almost all but forgotten! The asynchronous, media-rich, distance-free nature of social media allows people to connect with more people of personal significance, and can even allow them to connect more deeply. It also has provided an incredible surge in productivity and collaboration possibilities for people on the professional side of life. It can allow bloggers, podcasters, and other content-providers, whether hobbyists or business owners, to reach a wider audience. I am grateful for and in awe of what technology is doing for us in this way.

I have social networking accounts with the major players – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Line (popular in Asia), and Youtube – as well as several other platforms that I use exclusively for my professional life that are probably not known to many people working outside fields related to mine. Sometimes I have felt overwhelmed with all these personal and professional platforms, all while considering the constantly emerging new technology. There are days when I miss having just one social media account.

Since relocating to Kyushu earlier this year, I’ve somehow inadvertently been using fewer social media platforms, and using them less frequently. My life has not suffered for it. In fact, I have been feeling somewhat liberated, saner, and yes, a tad happier. This has propelled me to think about how to use social media more wisely in order to further curate my use of it. Inspired by other bloggers I’ve been following on the topic, below are some tips I’d like to share.


dealing with jetlag

The worst jet lag I’ve ever experienced was during a fairly routine trip back home from Japan to Canada. The domestic flight from Calgary (usually from Vancouver – maybe that’s what made it suck) to Ottawa was overbooked, and I ended up volunteering to take a much later flight so that this poor frantic woman could arrive to a wedding on time. I also ended up leaving my duty free presents in a public toilet in an international to domestic transition section by accident due to brain fuzz, and as I was not allowed to backtrack, this created several hours of negative energy to add to the exhaustion. When you factor in my 3 flights, surface transportation and waiting time, that journey probably took around 2 days. I got sick soon after arriving, despite sleeping for ages at my parent’s home first.

With only a few hours of time difference, you can adjust fairly quickly, but I’ve read that if you’re going past a five hour time difference, it takes about one day per hour of jet lag to adjust to the new time. Add to this exhaustion from not having slept (I struggle on planes), and the excitement of travel, and it’s easy to see how the body accumulates stress. READ MORE


What is considered extra tall or plus size here in Japan and other nearby nations is similar to standard sizing in western countries. Generally speaking, if you wear “medium” sized clothing in the west, expect to be XL or XXL here, at least, and know that standard Japanese sizing rarely goes above XL. Not only that, but the fit of local clothing is different, especially for women, and usually not in a good way. Like anywhere, though, it will depend on the brand and style you are looking at to determine if something will actually fit properly and look good. Ultimately, you’ll want to check the sizing guides and measurements to see what might work for you. READ MORE

Top Blogs on Minimalism


From where do I draw inspiration to share ideas on the topic of minimalism? Well, books and online videos have been a great source, but it’s primarily other bloggers who have motivated me write my own random posts about the topic.

So here you go – an alphabetically listing of blogs that I feel deal wonderfully with minimalist living. The list is not comprehensive, but it’s pretty long and more than a start if you’re looking for more reading on leading a simple life, whether at home or abroad. READ MORE

Convertible Clothing

Even before I’d heard of the concept of minimalist living, I was already on the path with regard to clothing. I love garments that are versatile in terms of what you can wear with them, in terms of the different styles they afford, and in terms of their ability to cross seasons. Especially if you travel a lot, it does not take a great deal of thought to find benefit in being able to wear the same things over and over again without anyone noticing!

Inspired by the likes of Project 333 (33 items of clothing for 3 months at a time for a minimalist, seasonal capsule wardrobe – the program is one of my affiliates), I am now on the look out for more multifunctional clothing as I endeavor to downsize my wardrobe, ditching several pieces of clothing that one multifunctional item can replace. What follows is female-centric, so If you’re a dude, you’ll probably want to skip this post. READ MORE

DYI solid perfume

If you read my post on managing collections, you know that I LOVE perfume. I bring it everywhere, and have one purse-size spray ready to go in each of my bags and at work, too. When I’m traveling abroad, however, perfume can be a pain: there are strict liquid restrictions for carry on baggage, and more importantly, I worry that some of my bottling choices may not be the best. I have had a few glass atomizers break in the past, and some of my cheaper plastic ones aren’t exactly 100% leak-proof.

One option I sometimes use, especially when I have a particularly strong perfume or if I think I might need some moisturizer as well, is to create my own solid perfume. It’s incredibly easy – even simpler than making your own lip balm. READ MORE

The 5 Minute Journal


The Five Minute Journal (affiliate link), devised by Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas, is a simple tool that promises to increase overall wellbeing and happiness. I figured I could spare 5 minutes a day in pursuit of such lofty feelings of bliss, so I decided to download the iphone app version to see for myself what all the fuss is about with regard to this uber quick journaling thingy. It’s approved by the likes of Tim Ferris and Leo Babauta, which I admit helped to sell me on the idea.

I’ve been at it since early March, and I have to say, I’m very impressed.