Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's SUPER Setsubun!

Well, one year ago ... this week ... we began the best darn travel blog EVER! And, our inaugural blog post was a little tome titled "Soybeans, demons, and a giant tube of sushi." We used the Japanese festival that marks the beginning of spring to catapult ourselves into world holiday relevance and we haven't looked back since -- not even when someone was pelting us with colored dye during Holi or promising us the world's best gelato in Rome.

This week, in honor of our year of holidays & holiDAYtrips and the upcoming Setsubun festivities planned for this [Superbowl] Sunday, we are re-visiting our first blog post. So, read on, my friends. We've even changed a few bits here and there to keep things interesting!

Hi World! Welcome to the holiDAYtrips video blog!
(It’s lovely to make your acquaintance.)

Most days, on Twitter, we post a new world holiday; but, we also wanted to create a forum for posting the video evidence of our global [mis]adventures!
("We," by the way, is me and my husband, Ed!)

Today’s video holiDAYtrip is Setsubun, the Japanese festival that marks the beginning of spring. For centuries, on the day before spring, the Japanese have performed rituals in order to chase away evil spirits and prepare for the new year. One of my favorite Japanese customs, from the 1200s, involved burning dried sardine heads and using the smell to keep bad energy at bay. Now THAT'S a party!

Nowadays, the most popular custom associated with Setsubun is mamemaki, or bean throwing. Of course, there are many variations on mamemaki throughout Japan; but, in a nutshell, families throw roasted soybeans out of their house via the front door (or at a willing volunteer in a devil mask) and shout:
"Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" (Demons out, happiness in!)

Afterward, everyone picks up and eats the number of beans, which corresponds to their age; and, usually one more for luck.

Roasted soybeans...reminded me of Corn Nuts
So, for our first order of Setsubun business, Ed and I headed to the one place we knew wouldn’t disappoint -- Mitsuwa Marketplace. For those of you who aren’t crazy foodies (like us), Mitsuwa is the largest Japanese supermarket in the United States and has most Japanese specialty items a person could want.

For those of you that are foodies, it turns out that the best time to go to Mitsuwa is at 1:40pm on a Monday.

Once inside, while on the hunt for beans, we were promptly asked to stop filming.

(Aww, fuku mame!)

We eventually found the small Setsubun section – where all the packets of soybeans had a little devil head on the outside. Now that I think twice about it, we may have also found the entrance to Yomi-no-kuni, the Japanese realm of the dead! Good thing we promptly made our purchases and got on our way...

Ed, with Sapporo and Demon Mask (Our usual date tools)

Now, gaining popularity in some parts of Japan is another Setsubun tradition that we were most excited to try – eating a “Lucky Direction” roll, or Eho-Maki. It’s customary to eat this sushi in a very specific way.

First of all, the roll must stay uncut (mmm…sushi tube!); it must contain 7 ingredients (mmm…fat sushi tube!); you must eat it in silence while facing the yearly lucky compass direction, determined by the zodiac symbol of that year.

As 2013 is the Year of the Snake, the lucky direction is South-South-East.
(Don't be thrown by our video, below, saying it's the Year of the Dragon ... that was correct when we first filmed, in 2012.)

Now, all of this would have been fine; however, Ed and I unknowingly stumbled into a sushi restaurant near us that didn’t have a single Japanese person working there!
(Aww, makizushi!)

So, we ended up schooling the sushi chefs on how to perfectly craft our Lucky Direction rolls.

We decided on yellowtail, mango (yellow is a lucky color), avocado,
cucumber, spicy red remoulade, tempura flake, and brown rice.

If you don't like to watch people chew giant mouthfuls of food, you should probably turn back now! Also don't be thrown when I mention (in the video below) that the lucky direction is NNW ... that was the case when we first filmed, in 2012. Again, if you're celebrating Setsubun this year (and I hope you are), the lucky direction for 2013 is South-South-East.

Setsubun was a truly great time. We laughed A LOT and were really excited that this was the first holiDAYtrip that we committed to video! Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!

And, it seems only fitting to leave you with the following…

It's been a particularly great year and I'm guessing that we did Setsubun up right in 2012 and we owe of a debt of gratitude to that old lucky direction and to that big-ass tube of sushi! We made a blog; we changed the name of the blog (did anyone catch that in the credits at the end of the last video?); we celebrated holidays from Japan, Greece, South Korea, India, the United States, and Indonesia; we monetized; we made $3.41; we realized that we love doing this so much that it doesn't matter if we never make more than $3.41.

So, to all of our loyal followers and those of you just joining us for the first time, a hearty THANK YOU! If you can't wait to find out what's next for us ... neither can we!

Get ready for the new year and all that comes with it,


The “Packing List”

This week, we were rocking the following...or close to it:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Luggage Diet (Less Painful than a Juice Cleanse)

Today's travel tip comes from the most comfortable location yet...my bedroom!

That's right, I ventured to the farthest reaches of Dirtylaundrystan to talk to you a bit about some of the new luggage hitting the market now and how it will change your packing life, for the better, going forward!

I honestly can't say enough about how impressed I am with American Tourister's new Atmosphera collection. I don't know how consistent the price points are across the board; but, the link above is to Walmart, where I purchased my carry-on for just under $50.
(The ad below, while also for a 21" American Tourister rollerboard, is not part of the Atmosphera collection and was the closest thing I could wrangle-up on Google Ads. I'm sure it's also lovely!)

Another tidbit for you, in case you're strictly Samsonite...American Tourister is owned by them...so you can pack easy knowing that you're still using a luggage line that won't let you down! From what I can tell, the warranties and commitment to repair are the same with both brands.

'Til Next Time,


The “Packing List”

This week, we were rocking the following:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Today's Weekly Travel Tip: Keeping it Moving at the Airport

Believe it or not, the folks who keep everything moving smoothly in airports can see you and your over-stuffed roller boards and unmanageable shoes coming from quite a distance. How you dress, carry yourself, and (most importantly) pack can alter your on-line wait times through security and baggage check.

I suspect you could use a tip or two...here's one to get you started:

I have a hunch, we will be featuring more vids on proper airport and packing etiquette in 2013! Stay Tuned...

Feel free to click directly through to YouTube and subscribe for all of our newest video updates. Though, we'll keep posting here, as well!

Waiting for Take-Off,


The “Packing List”

This week, we were rocking the following: