Sunday, October 20, 2019

Special Weekly Update: Kyoto

Weekly Update 2019-39: Upbeat rhythms travel across the globe to us from Superorganism, how to lay out a room for the best job interview experience and the magic of runny eggs. Be warned: lots of Kyoto photos from my trip.

Music: Superorganism
The benefit of having so much time on planes is that I get to watch movies - this is really one of the only times I can sit myself down to watch something for an hour and a half straight, so I finally watched Lego Movie 2. Putting aside the fact that this movie and its predecessor are both marvels of modern animation styles, I really dug the movie soundtrack. Big shoutout to The Lonely Island for producing the most entertaining and catchy end credits song ever, but I really want to draw attention to a little band called Superorganism.

Their sound began as an online recording project, with members spread over three continents. Lead singer Orono Noguchi was on summer vacation in Japan when she met four other members touring in Japan with their previous band from the UK. She had since been living in Maine but had just graduated high school and deigned to move to Europe to live with the other six members in a work/live/24-hour recording studio.

All eight members of the band met through mutual friends, in passing, or on the internet. They're like the synth-pop version of Brockhampton. Nowadays, the only member of the band living there is their background vocalist Soul, who lives in Australia. It's even more complicated than that, but I love their sweet, innocent style of music that matches the Lego Movie really well. Maybe it's something to do with their weird, wacky, multi-national family dynamic.

The song in the movie is called Hello Me & You.

The last major leg of my trip has drawn to a close - my stay in Kyoto was very spiritual in a few ways. Being the spiritual capital of Japan, the city is covered in shrines to explore and enjoy the nature held within tiny pockets between the buildings. Kiyomizudera Shrine is quite famous for its views of Kyoto from up on a hill. It was lovely walking around and enjoying the ancient pagodas.

We stayed at a bike hostel, which was pretty handy for biking around except that I didn't realize how steep of a climb up the hill it was to get to the shrine. Mixed with being the most humid time of day made for a sweaty pair of people. More photos of stuff...

Pumpkin ice cream!

Special grapes at Nishiki Market

I won a crane game somehow??!!

Capsule toys that are capsule machines o_O

The many gates of Toji Shrine.

This naan was bigger than my hand.

He was alive, just sleeping!

Arashiyama was like a dream. Ancient bamboo forest at one end, mountain inhabited by monkeys at the other, a beautiful lake dividing the two in the middle.

I'm in the cage, not the monkey ;)

Feeding time!

The alpha monkey gets the stump where a large portion of the food is dumped.

We visited the Botanical Gardens, which I think no one under the age of 70 ever visits, but we made friends with the ticket taker and he made sure we knew where all the cool spots on the map of the Gardens were.

One of my favourite things of the trip was walking through Yokai Street where all the stores have statues themed like their stores. There was a mattress monster garding the mattress store, a yarn monster for the yarn store, and so on.

This was mall food court food. Yummmm.

The perfect capsule toy for my mother.

Mochi donut from Mister Donut. Soooo good.

Caramel waffle, freshly made.

After only three short days, I said my goodbyes to Kyoto (and Sasha) and took a train to Osaka for my final night in Japan. I had a reservation in a capsule hotel - which fit the bill perfectly since I needed one last sleep without amenities before an early flight home. But I was still surprised; for $30CAD the stay included use of a hot spa and sauna, which was lovely after carrying my backpack all over the place.

I got to do a lot of last minute shopping for presents, bought a cute pair of shoes at Uniqlo, and rode the ferris wheel at Don Quijote. Why not, it was raining and I thought I would get a nice view of the city at night. I feel like I saw so little of Osaka on my trip.

My lunch to eat on the train - only $3 Canadian for all this!

The slot machines in the capsule hotel.

Comic book room.

None of these were in English.

The kimono rental - there were rubber geisha wigs so I felt this was sort of inappropriate?

Boba hojicha and caramel sundae

More kushikatsu!

On the ferris wheel of Don Quijote.

The view from the top!

The bathroom of the capsule hotel - they lend you cool pajamas.

In my capsule.

When I got back, my dad helped me put up a shelf in my room. He did a great job and it looks awesome.

We also put together a shelf I had brought home from work in pieces.
I saved it from the trash and gave it a new purpose as a vertica garden :)

I'm back in town from Japan, and immediately have a guest staying with me for the next eleven days. Adriana Portela of Banda Dida fame is coming to stay with me while she teaches drumming workshops with TDot Batu. We also have an all-female show to play with her - which may be a bit challenging due to my back being really messed up from using the travel backpack and the jet lag.

I want to try planting one of my monsteras in soil, especially since it's growing roots way out of its jar. I was worried I'd have to break the jar to get the roots out, but it looks like I have just enough time to squish it out of the jar and into a pot with soil! Wish me luck.

Random Thought: Seats at the Table
I have been sitting in a lot of interviews at work to hire our upcoming design manager as well as a new product manager. It's made me think a lot about the structure of the room for these meetings and how that plays into the experience (for both interviewer and interviewee). Of course we know the classic situation is to sit directly across from the candidate, which creates a physical divide of the table between the two parties.

I don't really have an adversarial bone in my body, not even a fake one for interviews (call me the Good Cop Extraordinaire), so I've been experimenting with different alternatives to sitting directly across from the candidate. Especially since our interviews usually involve at least one of my colleagues as well as myself and the candidate, this provides a lot of choice for how things could play out.

I find that sitting at a right angle (at two sides of the same corner) seems to give good results for the conversation to feel a bit more natural and cuts the pressure a bit. But my coworker made me realize - the best layout always involves a circular table. This is the least adversarial style of table, which is probably why it feels the most comfortable. No corners, only one smooth edge. Technically, everyone is sitting at the same side of this table, no matter where they sit. You'd have to work hard to be adversarial...perhaps by sitting on top of the table?

It's too bad there aren't more circular tables in the world.

Inspiration: Runny Eggs
Since I came back from my trip, I've been a bit obsessed with runny eggs. Specifically putting them on top of food as a garnish adds so much rich flavour, as well as their own delicious sauce and texture of the yolk and white. I have never liked runny eggs on their own, but as a topper they're insanely delicious.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find a sustainable source of protein, or even just to eat less meat, so an egg topper feels really useful as a topper for lots of different types of food.

I didn't get a chance to try the Japanese fast food chain Yoshinoya, but was delighted to see they were the meal on the flight back home! Their signature beef bowls come with an egg sauce that appears to be literally creamed egg yolk, and made the beef and rice taste extra rich and delicious.

Plus, I guess they're pretty aesthetically pleasing. Just ask Gudetama:

I really wanted to buy something Gudetama related.
This was the only thing I considered and I still didn't buy it. No more useless stuff ;)

Studio Ghibli always showcases runny eggs so deliciously:

Eggs are already a kitchen staple in North America, but I appreciate the more versatile ways they're used in Japanese cooking that just didn't really translate over to this side of the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment