I expected a lot of things when reaching middled aged as a woman: the beginning of fading into the background, perimenopause with hot flashes and grumpiness, a bigger sense of “I don’t care what anyone thinks,” and diving into whatever I wanted to do without care.

The one thing that surprised me was the weight gain. 

Sure, I had been warned, I had been told by knowing women with sympathetic nods. But I wasn’t sure I believed it. Maybe I didn’t want to believe it.

Well, I told myself, if I eat right and keep moving, the gain will be minimal.

Of course.

If I eat right and keep moving.

But did I do that?

Errrr……

I do get my 5 plus servings of vegetables a day and most days keep the fat down. On the other hand, I drink more wine than I should. After all, how else are you going to wash down bitter kale?

As for exercise? It’s become non-existent other than a 30-minute walk during lunch. I try, I really do, but one of two things happen, I either go all out on day one, surprised that I can no longer do what I could before, and then stumble around the next several days due to muscle soreness. Or I ease into it, start to see gains, then get swamped by work, book stuff, and life for two weeks and must start all over. I never make progress. As someone who used to long distance run just for fun, this is frustrating.

This weight gain must be the stuff of menopause lore and not snacking too much, drinking too much wine, and being a stagnant blob 23.5 hours a day.

So, I did what any educated woman in their 40’s would, I got on the internet to see what was causing my weight gain and unattractive belly.

Images popped up all over from my search. If your belly is shaped like this, then it means this. Oh good, google was guiding me into the right direction.

I studied the drawings. I went into the bathroom and gazed at myself sideways. I went back to the photos, and back to my profile.

What does it mean if your protruding belly doesn’t match any of their drawings?

Mine is kind of trapezoidal shape. You heard me right, trapezoidal, more specifically an isosceles trapezoid. It slopes slightly at the top, right under the breasts, then juts out in a flat line, and finally slopes towards the pelvis region. My back creates the parallel line to my protruding belly line.

What on earth does this mean?

(It means you need to lose weight!!)

My legs, not as firm and muscular in the past when I happily jogged along 15 miles on an early Saturday morning, were still oddly skinny.

My belly, as stated previously, had jutted out in a trapezoid shape. If you don’t remember your high school geometry, look it up. But let me say this, you don’t want any body part to look like this.

My arms, always an issue and chunkier than I wanted, appear jiggly and bigger than normal.

I’m a mess. I know it, and on top of it all, my doctor told me I had “male patterned baldness,” and I’m thinning on top.

A thinning hair pigeon shaped lady. It sounds like a pitch for an SNL skit.

When I go to the doctor, and she does routine blood work, the test results are normal.

I know I should be ecstatic for this, but my insides don’t match my outsides. My blood pressure is low. My cholesterol is low.  All my blood markers hit right in the middle.

What’s going on?

The all-knowing older women in my life nod, and whisper the secret to my ears, “menopause.”

I think it’s more than that I think it’s menopause, not enough exercise, too much wine, plus stress. It’s an evil combination for the modern woman.

Or am I the only one who suspects this?

People tell me to embrace my body whatever shape it morphs into.

I will not go quietly into a larger pants size. I will do something about it.

Soon….

The mug shakes when I accidentally bump into the table. Droplets of hot 2023 optimism caffeinated liquid spills on to the surface. I wipe it up, a smidgen less optimistic than before. Still, the mug is full, and I’m ready to drink what I like to call my New Year’s Resolution coffee.

It’s the first cup of coffee I have of the new year. I haven’t taken a sip yet, but am confident I used the correct ration of grounds to water, sugar and half-half. This will be consumed while I create my New Year’s Resolutions List.

Sure, I failed at nearly all of mine from last year, and if I take a moment to be honest with myself, will fail at all of them this
year. My plan to trek on the treadmill every day and lift weights every other day did not happen. But I don’t care. I love starting the year brimming with enthusiasm for changing myself, making life improvements, and trying new activities.

Wincing, I drink my hot beverage. I pray it’s not an indication of the year to come, too bitter yet too sweet.

Yes, I will make resolutions, not intentions. For years we’ve had it drilled into our head by magazine articles, TV hosts and
psychologists, if you make a new year’s resolution, give it concrete details, so it’s more likely to happen. Don’t use vague phrases and terminology. 

Now people are saying, don’t make resolutions, set intentions.

Wait, what?

Resolve vs intend. 

Resolution vs intention.

One word is stronger, more emphatic, more concentrate.

Here’s a hint.

The United Nations (UN) says United Nations Resolution #432,  not United Nations Intentions #432.

If I say I intend to go running later, it implies there’s a chance I might not go. If I say I resolve to go to the running at the park,
that’s a firmer word choice, and a show of actual future plans.

Someone said I was missing the point, that intentions were generalizations about over all changes and mood, like “I set the intention to be a better person.”

Better person. What does that mean? Does that mean posting platitudes with photos of cats dangling from trees to inspire
people and thus make you a better person? How is that being a better person?

Does that mean once a week volunteering to clean the park and an additional day a week to feed the homeless? Or does it mean you will cuss at people less? How much effort does one have to make to go from a mediocre person to a better person?

Too vague and honestly, too annoying.

Here’s the worst of the Debbie Downer New Year Resolution nay-sayers: embrace and accept your flaws, be kind to yourself.

So, I’m suppose to embrace my mediocrity, smile at my unhealthy fat squeezing my heart, and welcome my ever-shrinking ability to walk stairs. Do not bother to change anything. Don’t try anything new or different or fun. Remain the same. Be kind to yourself.

Sounds like a cop-out.

And a bunch of nonsense.

I want change, for better or worse.

Besides, if I fail, I will not cry tears into my now cold cup of 2023 optimism coffee. I will simply shrug and move those items to the following year’s list.

In the end, who cares what people think. Do what you wish. Set intentions. Don’t make resolutions. Agree to embrace being out of shape. For myself, I wish to set resolutions.

1. Eat less cheese. Do I really have to explain that one? We all know cheese, with its full fat, creamy yummyness, isn’t the best for human cardiovascular system or waistlines

a. Steps to
take- um, eat less cheese?

b. Eat barley
instead of cheese

2. Lose 20 pounds. Yikes, how did I let that much additional fat latch on to my body?

a. Steps to take – see above

b. Eat more vegetables

c. Eat lentils three times a week

d. Eat steamed or raw cabbage 3 times a week

e. Exercise more (um, at all?)

                                          i.   Do old lady yoga – fun and easy

                                          ii.   Return to running – start with walking, then walk running, followed by running and increasing to 6 miles a day, 5 times a week, Easy peasy.

3. Drink less wine. It’ll help with the top two resolutions. After all, it’s caloric and what goes great with a glass of wine? Cheese!

a. Steps to take – don’t buy wine

b. No wine when eating out.  Done

4. Learn to sew – I’ve been collected fabric for years. It’s time to do something with them.

a. Steps to take – purchase sewing machine

b. Read manual to sewing machine

c. Watch youtube videos on how to sew

d. Buy some patterns

e. Start sewing!

5. Make a lizard costume, and take photos crawling out of the ditches at Bear Creek
Park.

a. Steps to take – see NYR above

b. Make costume, figure out the best fabric,

c. Recruits friends to help

d. Schedule one weekend or two. Whatever it takes

6. Write another book

a. Outline

b. Write every day, minimum one paragraph

Typically, I’d come up with an additional five resolutions but have decided to stop here. 2022 was a busy year, and I need a bit of down time.  

 

 

Treadmill to lose weight in 2023!

One of my NYR, use the treadmill, consistently, and by that I mean walk on it, not hang clothes on it.

 

Humans spend way too much time fretting about the future. They worry, they plan, they talk about what they are going to do, but fail to do much in the moment they are living.

 

They need to observe cats for a happier life. Cats care about what’s going on right then and there, not what’s going on the next day. Unless it involves going to the vet, then that’s cause to worry. Excluding that, even if it’s something awful happening like a dog chasing after you or not enough cat food on your plate, you deal with it as it happens, not lie on the floor dreading that it may one day happen. Because it may not.

 

However, I will add that having gone to Japan, I do see that at times there is value in planning, and also, learned about how sometimes you can’t help but worry about future events. I stressed over what the cat box situation would be in Tokyo, which, turned out fine. Stressing solved nothing, but it did help me understand Audrey a tiny bit better.

 

Right now, Audrey’s chirping about, going on and on about improvements in the next year. She does this every January. She pulls out a sheet of paper, chews on the end of a pen, and stares off into space for a really long time. Eventually she writes something down, and declares to me how the new year would be better. Then pesters me until I run away.

 

This time I jump up on the table to see what she is writing. 

 

“2023 News Year’s Resolutions.” Followed by a smiley face, a carrot, and an odd shaped cat face.

 

She reaches out to pet me on the head and rub my ears.

 

“Are you making any resolutions for the new year? Maybe eat more tuna?” she asks.

 

My ears perk up. I definitely could eat more tuna. Maybe this resolution stuff wasn’t complete nonsense.

 

Giving it a whirl, I came up with the following:

 

1. Eat more oysters

2. Eat more tuna

3. Go back to Japan

4. Lose a pound, so when I go back to Japan, I won’t be the fat cat puttering around

5. Walk on the treadmill to lose weight, since eating less isn’t going to work if I’m eating more tuna and oysters. Ten minutes a day, that’s what I’ll do.

 

Audrey bought that weird contraption during the middle of 2020. She walks on it and goes nowhere. Literally, she stays in one place.

 

I really don’t understand the purpose. If you want to walk, walk. Go outside, or pace around in the house, but strutting in one place and never going anywhere seems pointless and silly.

 

She tells me it will help her lose weight.

 

Well, if it helps her, then it should help me. Right?

 

Then again maybe I’ll just go outside and chase after squirrels. After all, that sounds more fun.

 

 

 

 

Time to be grateful, time to care,

Time to say grace, before luring the kids

into your lair

You give them chocolate, pecan, and even coconut pies

But then down comes the largest of lies

You call it dessert, a mash of puree

Spices and such, tufts of whipped cream,

So thick it will float like a cloud of dreams

Where plonked down in precious crowns

On top of the orange, in hopes of smiles and not frowns

But the silence covers the truth

They all know,

It’s not candy

or fruit.

But why stop with pumpkin, why not go all out?

Broccoli blend topped with sugar, or maybe mushed brussel sprouts

Drizzled with chocolate, a bit of a sugary glaze

Top it with cinnamon, everyone will graze

Sweet Veggie pie, sweet veggie pie, they will amaze

How about in a sweet puff pastry or a gramah cracker crust?

Maybe the vegetarians bellies will brim with lust

Oh that’s too weird, everyone will say

Instead, make pie from …

 

pumpkin

 

It’s perfect for the day

Where people say their thanks and all

And the next day people push each other down

at the shopping mall.

Happy Thanksgiving.

  

Are you a fan of pumpkin pie? Do you love it? Hate? Want it year round? Or can’t wait to toss it in the trash? Express your opinions in the comments.

voted best food blogger

The following is advice on how to be the most famous, best food blogger in the world. 

Ads for guinea pigs meds are a must.

Find a website to host your blog,  preferably one that has a minimum of 12 ads per page.  This will increase your odds of earning an income when people click on the link for erectile dysfunction or parasite medication for their guinea pig.  (By the way,  that would be ivermectin.)

 

Give your blog a cutesy name and be sure to include a photo of yourself from ten years ago.  No one really wants to see what you currently look like.  Be sure to state the obvious in your profile – that you love to cook and try new foods.  Give your significant other a code name  like  Fish Spouse or Moody One.

 

cutsie blog title required: creating creative curries

Time for the real reason of this blog,  recipes.   However,  you can’t dive straight into the recipe.  You  must wax on about your morning,  the more mundane the better.  You don’t want anything too interesting like a car broke down in front of your house and out stepped Elton John. Right behind him a tipsy Martha Stewart stumbled out of the back seat.  Not only did they break down, but they were also lost, in your humble neighborhood, without cell phones.  You invited them in and served them your not yet world famous grilled cheese sandwich.

 

No,  you want stories about how your husband forgot to take his cell phone to work,  that you stubbed your toe on the dining room table chair, or the cat threw up on the carpet, again.  Dedicate a minimum of six paragraphs to this.  

 

Now on to the recipe!  No,  not the actual recipe, silly, but three paragraphs on how great and amazing this recipe is.  Drive home how much the reader will love it and also how much you love it,  in case the reader gets confused and thinks you posted a recipe you hate.  In paragraph four, reiterate what was stated in the first three paragraphs. “Did I mention how much I loooooove this meal?” Yes, at least six times but it needs to be more than that! 

 

Finally,  you can get to main agenda,  the recipe.   Whatever you do,  do not have testers try the recipe first and give feedback.  After all, we all know that too many cooks, er opinions,  ruin a meal.  

 

Photos of kitchen tools = authenticity

Once you wrap up the instructions,  include a dozen or more photos of the completed dish,  all at a slightly different focal length and angles. This isn’t because you were indecisive.  This shows you aren’t stuffy like an old school printed cookbook that has one professional photo of the final dish.  This shows you are cutting edge cool.  This shows you are skilled at photography.  This shows you are on top of your game.

 

And you’ve done it. You are on your way to having a number one food blog and tens of thousands of dollars rolling into your bank account as a result.   Add recipes three or four times a week and you are set.  Happy cooking everyone.

It was one of those weeks. Without even going into details, you know exactly what I mean. A crappy Monday that progressively got crappier each day.

My cat would not respond to me nor eat her food, and this was a cat that would steal saltine crackers from your hand. She required an emergency visit to the vet.

I made a mistake in my data for work. No, a mistake implies one. I made 44 mistakes, and had to issue corrections to frantically make the 5:00 pm deadline, but I got it done.

The next day a technical glitch in the office informed me my numbers did not upload. The square on my computer monitor informed me I was in read only mode and can’t do anything.

I went back to the document, a bit befuddled on how I switched to read only mode when there it was, glaring at me from my computer screen, a typo. How did I miss that? Thank goodness the upload failed. With a clickety-clack of my keyboard, the number went from 10.52 to 10.25. Done. All I needed was to close out, reopen and click “stage.”

“Numbers failed to upload.”

Again.

Frustrated, I reached out to my boss to see if he had any insights on to what was happening.

“Your numbers are there.”

Oh good. They staged the second time.

Only they didn’t, they staged the first time, with the typo. I didn’t notice (I can’t look at the uploaded numbers), my boss didn’t notice, but the proof-reader noticed. You do not want to force your boss to work late in order to issue a correction to your mistake. It’s a bad feeling.

The next day my boss sent a meeting invite to the team about mistakes and corrections. Everyone knew this was directed at me.

I missed the meeting.

I saw the email invite to it, too late – after it happened.

We’ve all hit that point at work where the urge to grab your favorite coffee mug, your keys, and walk out without saying a word, and not come back on Monday, or Tuesday, or, well, ever. That Friday afternoon, I had hit that point.

With a few deep breaths, I finished my work, and used logic to talk myself in to returning next week.

Next week would be better.

I hoped.

But there was something at home that would make all the work tension fade away, forgotten until the day after Labor Day.

The Advanced Reader Copy of Whiskers Abroad: Ashi and Audrey’s Adventures in Japan was delivered! Years of work would suddenly materialize in my hand as a real physical book.

I burst into the house, immediately in a better mood than when I left the office.

“Any packages delivered?” I asked my husband.

“No.”

My shoulders sagged. I didn’t know if I had it in me to wait one more day.

I texted my publisher, “no book delivery today.”

“But Amazon said it was. They sent me a picture.”

She showed me the photo, a photo of a cardboard box in front of a white door, white siding, and a sign to the left that stated “beware of dog.”

I didn’t have a dog.

Or a white door.

Or white siding.

My heart sank. My package had been misdelivered and who knew where. I didn’t recognize the door.

My husband sprang into action, declaring he’d go door to door to find it if he had to.

Fortunately, he didn’t have to. The publisher texted the address the delivery driver left the package.

We walked across the street (across the street I said, which means I didn’t even remember what my neighbor’s door looked like! What is wrong with me?) and fetched the book.

Unable to wait until I got home, I tore into the package and showed her the book.

I glanced at the dog sign.

“Do you have cats?”

“Two,” she said and waved at the sign, “I’m more of a cat person. The sign is there to, you know.”

I did know.

I thanked her for keeping the package save and returned home. She promised to buy a copy.

I sprinted home.

In my hands was the book.

A bit surreal.

And all the week’s worries forgotten.

P.S.  My cat was fine by evening time, and her blood work came back showing she’s a healthy feline. We suspect she ate something she should not have.

Whiskers Abroad celebration
Celebration time!

Recently,  I’ve been getting questions from fans about the book, Ashi, and Japan.  In the next few months,  I will attempt to answer them.  If you have a question of your own, please put it in the comments section.

Do you (the author) like Anime?

I was a huge anime fan in college and while at the University of Texas attended the anime club on Fridays.  Sadly, I haven’t watched any in a while so I’m not up to date on recent stuff, but what little I have seen,  I have enjoyed.

Do you play video games?

I’m not much of a video game player.  If given the opportunity, I’d much rather read a book, or bake bread, or dance around the living room to World Order. I hope one day to meet Genki Sudo and the rest of the group in person and that we will dance.  If you don’t know who World Order is,  check them out here – World Order

Would you ever move to Japan?

Absolutely!  But I do think it would be difficult, especially leaving behind my family and friends. I’d have to figure out how to bring Frenemy along, and to find an apartment that would allow her.  I also suspect that the Japanese work ethic and I might have some issues. Long hours at a job I don’t have much passion for scares me. I know there would be an awkward transition, but ultimately, I think I would like it.

Do you have any pets other than your cat?

Right now, all I have is the one cat, Frenemy. She’s cute, an awesome hunter, and friendly towards me and Jim (my husband). I wish she’d get more comfortable around strangers though. She is terrified by them. My previous cat Asti loved people. It didn’t matter if she had met them before or not. If they would pet her, she was happy.

Do you drive a Japanese car?

Right out of high school I did.  A Nissan Sentra that got amazing MPG. Then I switched to a Korean car, a Hyundai Accent.  Now I have a convertible mini-cooper.

Will Audrey and Ashi continue to other locations?

Yes! They are curious about many other countries, not just Japan.  Perhaps South Korea will be next, and naturally, more about Japan.  You can’t cover it all in one book, or even a dozen books. Look for more Ashi and Audrey books in the future.

Will there be a recipe book?

I haven’t thought about doing one, but if the demand is there I will. Maybe I’ll feature a recipe once a month on the blog. I do love Japanese food and cooking.

To leave a comment, click on the title to take you to the blog post with the commenting option.  There has to be a better way than this,  but I don’t know how right now.  I am working on it.

Molly & the Ringwalds plus Jumbo Ashi

Happy Fourth of July! I hope you managed to schedule spending time with family and friends, or doing something that you enjoy. This holiday should lure you outside to grill up burgers, veggie or the muscle kind, while swatting away mosquitoes or you could just chill while watching the colorful fireworks explode against the night sky.

I will be doing none of the above. I made the decision to remained holed up inside so I can work on my costume for the Comicpalooza panel I was going to lead. Who needs fun outside when you can make a costume?

To create the base of the costume, I needed a pair of white leggings. Perhaps I should have ordered them online a few weeks ago, but the local stores in Houston assured me that the unflattering pants waiting for me on the shelf.  All I had to do was drive to the store. It would only cost $10.72 in gas for the round trip, my time, and sweat lost because of the 100-degree heat.

This way I could check out the thinness of the fabric, and determine if the waist band would come up to my arm pits. High rise pants and a short person is not a winning combination.

None of the stores had them in stock. I scrambled back to my house and got on my laptop, (I’m not a google-search-on-your-phone kind of gal.) and I found myself out of luck.

Too sheer. Too expensive. Too long to ship. Too small. Too big. My inner-Goldilocks must have gone on vacation, because I did not find anything “just right.”

A sinking sensation filled my gut. Without my base, how would I pull off the fabulous costume?

What would the host of “At Home With Amy Sedaris” do? She would wrap paper around her legs, and tape them to make pants. They’d be stylish and functional and would make crinkling noises when you walked.

I don’t have tape. Besides, once you get them on, how do you get them off without ripping them?

Wait, I could purchase gray leggings and bleach them white.  That should work.

Don’t comment on that.

In any case, I will make my costume, however good or bad it turns out, and pictures will follow on my website and social media pages. Stay tuned!

white leggings

Make a list of things you’d like to do,  but understand,  you cannot do it all so don’t even try.

Things to do in Tokyo, in no particular order.

  1. Go to a department store and go to the basement.  Here is a world of wonder all dedicated to eating.  Sometimes there’s samples.  It’s packaged foods,  a grocery store, green tea,  a few casual restaurants…. It’s amazing.
  2. Watch the Shibuya crossing – over 1000 people cross with each change.
  3. At the end of Nov,  the Christmas Illuminations will light.  You can see them in Ginza, Shinjuku and I’m sure a few other places I’m not thinking of right now.
  4. Shinjuku Robot Show is a must!  Book your ticket through a concierge or Japanican (often the cheapest).  Do not get the ticket that includes the meal because the food there sucks and there are too many amazing places in Japan to eat at to waste a meal.  Also,  go to the location early to see where to go.  It’s a bit confusing.  You go to one location to get your ticket and another for the actual show.  Do not read up about it, or watch videos or look at photos before hand.  You want to be surprised and delighted when you see it.  Not knowing about it before hand increases it’s charm.  I will say this,  it’s kind of like animae on LSD. And bring earplugs. It did not survive the Pandemic.
  5. Buy some clothes!
  6. Shop at Uniqlo for affordable clothes
  7. If you are into creating art,  one of the world’s largest art supplies store is in Tokyo.  If interested let me know and I’ll get the address for you.
  8. Go to Yodabashi or BIC camera to check out the latest electronics. If at Yodabashi,  bring earplugs.  Their jingle plays on repeat, and it’s awful.
  9. Spend a decent amount of time exploring Shinjuku station.  It is its own city.  There’s over 120 exits.  And don’t feel bad about getting lost there, even people living in Japan say they get lost.  It is the busiest station in the world.
  10. If you like kitchen stuff,  go to Kappaboshi. It’s the restaurant supply district but is open to the public – you’ll find knives,  fake foods,  plates, etc.  Also the Panasonic home stores have kitchens set up to view.
  11. Eat at mister donut
  12. Try some Japanese wine,  but you are warned – it’ll give you a nasty hangover so just drink  a little.
  13. Go to Odaiba.  Also, there is the Toyota Showcase with their latest cars and their concept cars.  There’s a huge ferris wheel too (the Japanese LOVE ferris wheels),  a mock statue of liberty,  the science museum, and an onsen theme park.
  14. Pick a train station/stop,  get out on foot and explore
  15. Eat ramen at Shinagawa Ramen Row. – Ramen shops are operated through a ticket machine as a lot of casual restaurants are.  Select your choice (most likely it will be random unless your kanji and hiragana reading is amazing), put your money in, out comes the ticket, hand it to the host and wait for your food.  They tend to be crowded and not a place people linger but oh so fabulous food. – shinagawa ramen row is now closed.  There is a ramen row inside Tokyo station.
  16. Yoyogi park and the temple there- If you go on a Sunday,  you can see teenagers in wacky outfits and maybe see a wedding at the temple.  If you are there during Thanksgiving,  you might get to see the 7-5-3 celebration.
  17. Pick up a good Tokyo subway map.
  18. Saturday night go to Shinjuku’s kabuchiko (red light district) – and watch the host boys strut their stuff.  To get a glimpse into this sad world, watch the documentary the happiness space: tales of an Osaka love theif,  before you go. Also wander around and check out the different love hotels. 
  19. I haven’t done this yet but it’s on my radar for my next trip – the 3d/VR video arcades.  Currently there’s about 6 in Tokyo
  20. If you like cats,  a cat café.  Pay a small fee to hang out with cats.  There’s a lot of rules… but then again… it’s Japan.  They love rules.
  21. Drink coffee in a kissaten – an old school coffee shop
  22. While it may be tempting to go to an Izakaya – Japanese style bar – very few have English menus or people that speak English. And for some reason,  communication just breaks down in these places.   I’ve been to one that had an English menu, but it was a chain and felt like going to Bennigans to experience a “ real” Irish bar.   If you do want to go to one,  either make sure your Japanese is semi-decent or go with a local. All the food and drink items are written on paper taped to the walls.  In Kanji. 
  23. While not the best quality sushi,  it is a lot of fun – a rotating sushi restaurant (there’s a bunch in Shinjuku)
  24. Go to the top of the government building – great view and it’s free.
  25. Go to the Toto store to check out the latest toliets.
  26. Have a drink at the top of a skyscraper building – the Park Hyatt is the most famous but does charge a $20 cover to get in, plus your drinks.  The Top of The Shinagawa – at the Shinagawa Prince hotel  has no cover.
  27. There are lots of tiny weird museums in Tokyo like the samurai sword museum, the kite museum,  the fire museum,  the Edo Period museum, the currency museum, etc etc.   But they can be hard to find.  Addresses don’t make sense to Americans.  Building numbers are based on when they were built,  not in the order they line the street.
  28. I’ve never done this but always wanted to.  You’ll probably need a translator though.  There’s a natural disaster museum, but it also has a fire simulator, where they stick you in a stairwell and fill it with smoke and an earthquake simulator to feel what a major earthquake is like.  I think it’s free but you need reservations.
  29. The parasite museum – all exhibits are in Japanese but you get the idea.  I found it fascinating.
  30. Repeat #14 using a different stop
  31. Kijichoji neighborhood has a different feel to it. Explore, eat, and stop in the Inokashira park for some greenery,  maybe take a ride in the duck boats.
  32. There’s a ramen museum in Yokohama.  It’s OK.  If you are in the area, check it out, but I’m not sure I’d go out of my way for it.
  33. The park in Shinjuku near the Government building has a yard sale on Saturdays. 
  34. Ueno area has a more old school feel to it.  Explore the back streets and buy some crackers from a store that has been selling crackers for 120 years.  Also check out the shops near Ueno station.  It used to be the black market.   And there are stores between Ueno and Asakusa that sells only red underwear to old men and ladies.  They think its lucky underwear. Ueno park often has live concerts at night.  Sometimes they are idol shows.
  35. Stop in a pachinko parlor and even play if you think you can stand the noise. 
  36. There is a bamboo valley in Tokyo.  Really cool,  a bit tricky to find.
  37. There’s a random Godzilla statue in Ginza.
  38. If you like watches,  there’s a watch store next to the Takashimaya department store,  Nihonbashi location. Owned by the Takashimaya.  Be prepared to have the staff handle the watches with white gloves on.
  39. Check out the oldest department store – Mitsukoshi Honten in Nihonboshi.; Although the Daimaru is right behind it in terms of longevity.
  40. Go to Akihabara for the otaku culture,  but honestly,  otaku culture has moved to Nankano, or so I have been told. Still, in Ikeburo you’ll get to see maid cafes,  nerds,  etc.
  41. I haven’t done this but people who live in Tokyo says it’s the best thing for  tourists to do – take a boat ride through the river system.
  42. Before going see what kind of interesting art exhibits there might be.  Hahaha.  I went to the goldfish exhibit.
  43. Eat at Iron Chef Kenichi’s restaurant – he has a casual tantanmen and mappo tofu restaurant in Yokohama and a more upscale one in Tokyo proper. 
  44. Eat Mexican food and be…. Puzzled.
  45. If you are a Ghilbi fan,  then get tickets to the museum in the USA,  a minimum of three months in advance.  Tickets are not sold in Japan.
  46. See an idol concert!  I haven’t done this, but I want to.  And I need to figure out how to make it happen. 
  47. Lots of people like the Skytree.  It’s  a bit pricey to go to the top and the restaurants inside are expensive but the surrounding neighborhood is interesting with a different feel to it.  Also by the sky tree is a Life Grocery Store, which is fun to poke around in and has great cheap sushi.
  48. Stop in a grocery store (not a department store one).
  49. Stop in the Family Mart, Seven-eleven or a Lawsons. Fascinating places. No, seriously.  The egg sandwich is amazing.
  50. Buy Japanese sunscreen.  It is the best.
  51. Explore and see the major neighborhoods – Shinjuku,  Shibuya,  Ginza, Ikeburo, Akihabara, Ueno and Asukasa,  and a few of the ones less likely to be on a tourist radar, Nankano,  Kichijoji,  Jiyugaoka
  52. Get a custom pen made based off of how you write.  I have no idea what this costs, but I’m sure it’s not cheap. It seems really cool
  53. Shopping is Japan’s national sport.

I’m sure I can think of more.  This is just a list of ideas.  The must do ones are – the department store basement,  random exploration of a train stop; exploring Shinjuku station; eating a donut at mister donut (unless you don’t like donuts) and going somewhere high up to have a drink or two.