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8 Things to Know Before Visiting the teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum

Right now all the hype in Japan is this museum called the MORI Building Digital Art Museum by EPSON teamLab Borderless. Everyone kept saying how amazing it was, so I decided to check it out to see what the fuss was all about.  Is it hypeworthy?  Read on to find out!

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  • Getting there. First, let’s talk logistics (i.e. tickets, parking, etc.) The museum location is in Odaiba and an easy walk from the train station — although they have an attached parking lot as well. You’ll want to purchase tickets beforehand because they can sell out on the day of – especially on weekends and Japanese holidays.  You can buy tickets online or at 7-11 (because 7-11’s in Japan rock).  I purchased our tickets online and paid about 7400 yen for two adults and one kid (small kids are free).  One thing to know is that these tickets are non-refundable and can only be used on the specific day you choose so make sure you are ready to commit! We opted for the train and went on Saturday after 4pm because the website said it would be less crowded then.
  • Lines.  Even if you have prepaid tickets, you may still have to wait in a few lines once you enter the museum to see different exhibits – so be prepared!  You’ll also spend about 2-3 hours in the museum so make sure you eat beforehand.

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  • There’s no map.  If you are wanting a layout of the museum to follow, you won’t find one.  Just like in the title, the museum is literally borderless.  It’s a giant building that’s kind of set-up like a dark maze with walls that you can walk through.  <—- Yes, pay attention, because some of the walls lift up and take you to another room.

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  • It’s dark.  Again, I just want to emphasize that the museum is pretty much dark and only lit up with the moving digital photography.  I’m mentioning this for those of you with small children because this might cause some anxiety.  If you have children that like to escape, you may want to invest in one of those leash things because this would be a stressful place to lose a child.  The museum also has a policy that there has to be one adult for every two children – and this is for good reason.

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  • Make time for the Athletic Forest.  The Athletic Forest is a cool spot for kids to let out some energy.  There are designated areas for climbing, sliding, and trampoline jumping (although you only get one minute of jump time). My three-year-old spent most of the time in this one spot so I recommend to save some of your time for this area.  Another thing to note: the floors here are slanted but you are not allowed to slide or jump on them.  It’s a little misleading for kids, but there will be staff there to immediately stop you.
  • It’s still a museum.  As fun and interactive this museum looks, remember that it’s still an art museum so there are rules.  In addition to the no floor-jumping/sliding, the LED lights are fun to look at but you can’t touch them (and by you, I mean your children).  Also, the giant balloon/balls are not for playing with, but they make a great Instagram photo backdrop. 🙂
  • Your art can come to life!  One cool thing about this museum is that you can choose a pre-made drawing to color and then watch it come to life!  A staff member will upload your picture and the drawing will then move across the floor and walls.  My five-year-old loved this and it’s a cool way to be a part of the whole art experience!
  • Appreciate your surroundings.  There is so much to see in this museum so try not to get overwhelmed by it all.  Take your time to enjoy the beauty and creativity of the whole experience!  And of course, check out the lantern room (but be prepared for a bit of a wait).

Have fun. Enjoy the day.  Hang on to your kids. 😉

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What do you think?  Would you like to visit a unique museum like this?

I’m off to a new adventure!

~SM

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I’m All the Way Up (in the Tokyo Tower)

If you ever come for a visit to Tokyo, one of the most touristy things you can do is visit the Tokyo Tower!  At 1,092 feet high, it’s one of the tallest structures in Japan and a must-see during your next trip.

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On the outside, it just looks like a cool looking communications structure.  But, on the inside there is actually a museum, theme park, restaurants ,and plenty of shops.  I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Tokyo Tower twice – once in the evening and once during the day – and both times did not disappoint!

The first time I went, it was during the Illuminations in the winter.  Illuminations are basically Christmas lights multiplied by 100 that last from November-February.  You can find them all over landmarks and popular attractions in Japan during this time period. For the Tokyo Tower, they had an Illuminations area at the base of the tower, where there were tons of orange lights and lots of photo ops.

Did I mention you can get some pretty amazing crepes at the base of the tower, too? Also craft beer!

After the lights and crepes, we headed up to the Main Deck Observatory for some sweet views of Tokyo!

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You can also grab a drink and hit up a smaller souvenir shop on this level.  And you can check out this super adorable sparkly pink version the Tower! 🙂

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And if you visit on the weekend or a holiday, you might even catch the Tokyo Tower mascot (yes, there’s a mascot) – Noppon! My kids thought he was Patrick Star from SpongeBob, but they were excited to see him nonetheless.

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I will say there is something pretty dazzling about the evening views from the Tokyo Tower.  It’s mesmerizing to see Tokyo lit up in beautiful lights!  Also, don’t forget to stroll through historic Shiba Park to take in some more sights!

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My next visit was during the day which provided even more unique views!

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This time, we (my cousin and I) headed all the way up for the “Top Deck Tour” because we are fancy like that.  For the Top Deck Tour, you ride the elevator to the Main Observatory, then go to a secret room for a whole different tour.

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You will be given a special phone and headphones so that you can listen to the presentation and tour in English (or language of your choice) and you also get a cup of lemonade and learn a secret hand signal! 🙂 Then, you go into a much smaller elevator to head up to the Top Deck.  Now, I love heights – I’ve hiked some pretty tall mountains and have even gone skydiving – but this little elevator almost gave me a mild panic attack.  Not only is it small, it’s see-through all the way around and it shakes a little as it gets higher.  But, no worries, the nice elevator controller lady explained that it was “just the safety mechanism kicking in”.  A piece of info that would have been handy before entering the elevator.  Anyways, once you reach the top, you enter into a disco ball.  A literal DISCO BALL! Like I said, things are fancy up here.

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The day was a bit foggy, but the views were still nice.

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There’s also an opportunity to stand on a floor window and look below!

But is there SWAG?  Why yes, there is!  Besides the scenery, cup of lemonade, and secret hand signal, you also get a free small photo (with the option to upgrade to a larger one for a fee).

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Nothing can stop us…we’re all the way up.

And if it’s your birthday, you get an envelope filled with coupons for free and discounted stuff within the Tower.  For instance, a coupon for a free crepe!

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Overall, the Tokyo Tower was a breathtaking experience that I will remember forever!  I highly recommend a visit during your next trip to this gorgeous city!

Day or night, the views do not disappoint!

Have you been to the Tokyo Tower?  What did you love about it?!

~SM

Why I’m Sticking With KT Tape

“Disclaimer: I received five types of KT Tape as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

This month, I got the chance to try out KT Tape and it could not have come at a better time! My sample box came with 5 different types of KT Tape: Cotton, Pro, Gentle, Extreme, and Wide.

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Last summer, I rolled my ankle while training for the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon and THEN I rolled it again on the 4th mile of the actual race and kept on going (which maybe wasn’t the best decision)…so ever since then, things haven’t been quite the same with my left foot. I did go to an Urgent Care the day after the race and nothing was fractured.  After RICE’ing it for a while, I wore a compression wrap for a bit, but it got kind of bulky and annoying so I pretty much gave it up.  A couple of people recommended KT Tape to me over the last few months, but honestly, I was a bit skeptical of it.  I didn’t understand how “tape” could help me.

So what exactly is KT Tape and how does it work?

Per kttape.com:

“KT Tape is an elastic sports tape designed to relieve pain while supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments.”

“When an area of the body is injured through impact or over-use, the lymphatic fluid builds up causing inflammation and swelling. This accumulation of lymphatic fluids may cause increased pressure on muscles and tissue which can cause significant discomfort or pain.
It is believed that when applied correctly, KT Tape lifts the skin, decompressing the layers of fascia, allowing for greater movement of lymphatic fluid which transports white blood cells throughout the body and removes waste products, cellular debris, and bacteria.”

In other words, KT Tape does some fancy science-y stuff in your body to relieve discomfort. 😉  Also, Olympians use it so it must be pretty rad, right?? Well let’s see!

Since I am new to any type of taping of anything, the first thing I did was watch 47 YouTube videos on taping techniques.  Okay, maybe not 47, but it was quite a few.  I also read through all of the tips and tricks on the KT Tape website.  They have some great instructional photos and videos on there!

When I first started taping, I had no clue what I was doing and made a few mistakes. I started out with the basic Cotton KT Tape…

As you can see,  I didn’t properly apply the tape…which meant it didn’t last very long.  I’ll list my tips for success a little later on.  Then I tried a bit of a different technique with the Pro tape…

This ended up lasting longer and I felt like it was a more beneficial taping sesh. And in case you’re wondering what the big differences between the Cotton and Pro are:

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Then I tried out the Gentle tape…

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Surprisingly, I actually really liked the gentle tape.  I don’t really have any skin issues, but I thought it was flexible and supportive and I could remove it with no pain or skin-pulling.  Then I went on to try the Extreme

The Extreme is a bit thicker and supposed to last longer, so I really liked the idea of using it for my feet since it’s a sweaty and flexible area.  Then something life-changing happened! I got on #BibChat (It’s like a Twitter party/Educational session for runners every Tuesday) and I discovered that you can mix up the tapes! Whaaaattttt?  I can wear three different tapes at once?  Did I mention that I’m really new to taping??  Anywho…so I decided to put the Extreme under my foot, then use the Pro on top and then wrapped the Cotton next to that one (where I didn’t need as much support)…

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Since I’m not sure what my ailment is exactly…I sort of combined the wrapping techniques from both the ankle stability taping instructions and plantar fasciitis instructions.  I have pain in my arch (first thing in the morning and then while running) and since I rolled my ankle, I like having extra ankle stability.  After messing around with some more taping, I finally figured out a good wrapping method that’s been working for the last week!

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And now, after a few weeks of taping, I’m feeling more confident in my methods!  And what about the pain?  Well, it hasn’t completely gone away and I’m not sure that it ever will…but it has decreased during and after my runs.  I think I would need to use it consistently for a few more weeks to see a bigger difference.

How ’bout the Wide tape though?  I tried out the wide tape on my hamstring because I do get pain/soreness there sometimes.  I definitely need more practice with the Wide, it was a little tricky to apply since it’s so big.  Also, removing it was pretty painful (like a lot painful).  So next time, I plan to try the Gentle on my hamstring since it’s a sensitive area and use the Wide on my lower back because I have issues there as well.

So here are my tips for beginners!

  • If you have severe/chronic pain, see a doctor (common sense, y’all)
  • Clean the area first
  • Apply 1 hour before your activity
  • Don’t pull too hard on your anchor points or else it will create an “accordion” effect and basically the strip is ruined.
  • Don’t pull too tight on the middle part.  The KT Tape website recommends about a 50% pull for many of the methods – just don’t pull 100% – you still want flexibility and blood flow!
  • Putting on too much tape is not going to help you.  Again, you want flexibility.
  • Rub the tape after you apply it because it’s heat activated.  This is a really important step to get the most out of your application!
  • There really isn’t a wrong way to apply KT Tape.  I highly suggest watching the videos and reading the instructions…but you can also test out different methods to see what works best for you!

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with my KT Tape experience and I will continue to use it in the future! Here’s what I liked most about it:

  • Pre-cut Strips– The strips are already cut and easy to pull off.  The backing is super easy to pull off too, with no sticky residue.
  • Bright Colors – They are available is super fun colors!
  • Flexibility – I like the support and flexibility they provide without being too bulky, like a traditional brace.
  • Confidence – Something about wearing the KT Tape makes you feel a little bit more hardcore.  KT Tape lets people around you know that a little pain isn’t going to stop you from reaching your goals!  Also, Olympians use it, remember??  You are using something the best of the best use!  How cool is that?
  • Containers – With the exception of the Cotton and Gentle tapes, they come in reusable containers!  So when you are done, you can save them for tiny things around the house, small toys, etc…it’s especially great for travel!

What I didn’t like:

The only issue I had was that I couldn’t get my strips to last 4-7 days.  Mine lasted about 1-2 days. I’m still new to taping so it could be that I haven’t gotten the technique down quite yet.  Or it could be that my injury is in a spot that gets wet, oily, sweaty…that it’s not meant to last very long on my foot.  But if YOU know of a way to make it last longer, please let me know!!!!

Are you curious about KT Tape?  Pricing ranges from $9.99 to $45.99 depending on which product you are after.   The Pro, which was my favorite, runs for $19.99.  And as a bonus, you can score 30% off your order with code, “BIBRAVE30”!  So if you’re interested, now is a great time to try it out!

Go ahead, add a little Joy to your life! 🙂 🙂

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Have you used KT Tape before?  What did you think??

~SM

5 Reasons to Get Excited About the San Jose 408k!

*Disclaimer: I received a free remote runner entry to the San Jose 408k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I may have left California, but California has not left me!  So I’m super excited to have the opportunity to run the San Jose 408k as a remote runner!  In my previous blog post, I mentioned how I’ve missed running races so it will be fun to feel like I’m running the 408 even if I am in another country!

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So whether you live in San Jose, Asia, or somewhere in between – you can also get excited about this race and here are 5 reasons why!

5.  The Location! – After your run through beautiful San Jose you will finish at Santana Row, which is an upscale shopping/dining/living development and it’s the ONLY event that finishes here!

4. Special Course Miles! – Running the 408k gives you the opportunity to run both the Memorial Mile and the Mariachi Mile.  The Memorial Mile is a chance for runners to show their respect to local military as well as an opportunity for veterans to cheer on the runners. The Mariachi Mile will feature several mariachi bands playing along the last mile of the course. How fun is that?!

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3.  Extra SWAG! – Run the 408k (in person or remotely) along with any of the race distances from the Silicon Valley Half event and you will score some extra BLING!  It will be a great addition to your medal rack!

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2.  Pat Tillman Foundation – This year’s Official Benefitting Charity is the Pat Tillman Foundation.  Fundraising and donations to Pat Tillman Foundation will be invested in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships.  This is a great charity and there are even fundraising levels.

1. Remote Runner – And my fave thing about this race?  Well, I think it’s pretty obvious…but I’m excited that I can run this 8k on my own and still score some swag! What does it mean to be a remote runner? It means I can run at home and I will receive a bib, official race shirt, and medal in the mail! No traffic, no crowded expo lines! Super easy and convenient!

And if you aren’t excited yet, use code “BIBRAVE” save $10 on your race entry or remote runner entry! 

And of course, if you aren’t up to running an 8k (4.97 miles) you can always head over to cheer on the runners  (we love spectators!) or be a race volunteer!

This is sure to be a great event for all so be sure to register today before online registration closes! And let me know if you register as a remote runner so we can run “together”. 😉

~SM

13 Surprising Things About Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty Land)

In case you didn’t know there is a magical place tucked in the little town of Tama – located within Tokyo, Japan.  It’s where a special lady lives with all of her best friends!  Her name?  Hello Kitty!  And yes she is a lady and not a cat.  Make sure you tell your friends that,  I get the feeling she doesn’t like being referred to as a cat.  😉  She lives in a castle called “Sanrio Puroland” although many people refer to it as “Hello Kitty Land”.

You might be familiar with Sanrio, they have locations all over the world and you can’t miss them – they are small, but colorful and bright stores. They sell lots of stationary, school supplies, and accessories as well as stuffed animals and apparel. We took our kids here during Thanksgiving week to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and I was pretty excited to go as well since I loved going to the Sanrio store when I was a kid.  So here are a few things I learned about our adventure!

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  • Take the train.  It’s a fairly easy train ride and the park is only a 5 minute walk from the Tama train station.  You even get to walk down Hello Kitty Street. 🙂

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  • Buy your tickets beforehand.  I got our tickets on GoVoyagin – it’s like the Groupon of Japan.  We ended up paying $19.50 for each adult and my daughter. Kids under 3 were free. You don’t even have to print anything, you can just show the barcodes right on your phone. If you plan to go frequently or want to purchase a Puropass (like a FastPass), then you may want to get your tickets from the park’s website.  Keep in mind, the price increases for weekend and holiday visits.

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  • It’s indoors.   One thing that might really surprise you is that the entire theme park is indoors!  I think this is pretty awesome since the weather conditions aren’t always great here in Japan.  You don’t have to worry about your kids being too hot or too cold and you can leave the ponchos at home. 🙂

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  • It’s kind of small.  Since the entire park is inside, you can imagine that this place isn’t all that big.  It’s four stories high but doesn’t really have a huge circumference and there’s an escalator and elevator.  But the steps are kind of built into the enchantment of the place so my kids loved going up and down the stairs.  They do have a large stroller parking area and locker rentals so you don’t have to lug around your bags and coats.
  • The details are amazing!  No Hello Kitty detail was left behind here.  You will see prints of Hello Kitty and her friends all over this place – down to the wallpaper and the vending machines!
  • Even the food is themed!  There are a few cafes/restaurants located throughout the park.  They serve all types of Japanese cuisine as well as French fries, pastries, and ice cream.  But you will see that Hello Kitty has made her mark on the food (and snacks), too!
  • There are rides.  Even though everything is indoors, there are a couple of rides within the park.  One is a boat ride that takes you through a land of mechanical characters and the other is a little car ride where you take photos in different themed rooms.  We had to wait about 25 minutes for each of these, but the PuroPass will get you in faster in case you’re in a time crunch.
  • There’s an arcade.  If you need a break from the rides or want to play some games, there’s a spot for that.  The park has an arcade area with a small carousel and little 100 yen arcade style rides.

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  • There are plenty of opportunities for character meet-and-greets.  If your little ones aren’t afraid of giant and crazy costumes, then they will love the characters at Hello Kitty Land!

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  • Catch the parade.  There are a few shows that happen throughout the day.  You’ll want to pick up a show guide at the front, but make sure to watch the parade!  They will start roping off areas (just like they do at Disney) long before the start of the parade, so make sure you grab your seat early.  They also sell light up wands for 1500 yen and your kids WILL want one so they can interact with the performance.  Since we were there the day after Thanksgiving, the show was Christmas themed and it was a mix of Japanese and English songs.
  • She’s worth the wait.  You will have the opportunity to meet Hello Kitty herself!  She has her own wing of the castle and it’s extra magical!  We waited about 30 minutes, but I did see the wait times increase at times.  You can also skip the line with the PuroPass.  Once it’s your turn, you are ushered into her special house.  There are lots of photo props and interactive areas – and it’s beautiful!  Then you wait in another short line to actually meet her.  You have the option to purchase a rose for 500 yen to give her during your meeting.  In exchange she will give you a gift as well.  We didn’t purchase this option so I’m not sure exactly what the gift was although it appeared to be a small notebook of some sort.  Also, this was the only spot where personal photography was not allowed.  We bought our Hello Kitty photo with the frame for 1600 yen.
  • There’s SWAG!  If you are celebrating a special occasion, head to the Information Desk when you first enter the park.  They will give you a card that you wear around your neck with your name and celebration date.  Then when you walk around, everyone will give you a sticker for your card and in our case, wish my daughter a Happy Birthday.  It really made her day extra special!  They even gave one to my son so he wouldn’t feel left out.  Instead of ‘Happy Birthday’, his occasion was ‘First Visit’.

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  • Everyone is super friendly!  Okay, maybe this isn’t surprising since it is Japan and all.  But everyone was very friendly – not just the employees, but the people in the park too.  It’s a pretty crowded and busy place, but anytime my son had a meltdown or fell (he falls a lot) – someone would stop and check on him.  Also, everyone that worked there spoke enough English to communicate basic instructions which made things a lot easier.

Overall, we really enjoyed our day at Hello Kitty Land!  If you plan to go, check the park schedule because it does close fairly early so you’ll want to give yourself enough time to explore everything.  And if you don’t have kids, don’t let that stop you from visiting this little gem.  We saw a lot of couples there without children and they looked even more excited than the kids we encountered.  🙂

Have you been to Sanrio Puroland?  What did you think?  Would you go if you had the chance?

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I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

Hats Off to BOCO Gear!

“Disclaimer: I received a free BOCO Gear Run Hat to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

If you scroll through most of my running photos, you will find that I am almost always wearing a hat.  Why is that?  Well a few reasons.  1.  I have a ton of hair.  2.  I don’t usually have a lot of time to properly style said hair (thanks kids).   3.  Hats offer protection from the daily elements (i.e. sun, wind, rain).  4.  They are stylish!

So you can imagine my excitement when I had the chance to test out a new run hat from BOCO Gear!

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If you’ve never heard of BOCO Gear, they are a company based out of BOulder, COlorado (clever, huh?)…and they create performance hats, headbands, and other accessories for athletes.  You can browse their online shop or they will even create custom orders for your organization, team or event!  They created custom hats for BibRave and I love the look of this product!

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Since moving to Japan, I’ve been faced with some “challenging” weather conditions that I haven’t been used to.  San Diego spoiled me with it’s annual perfect weather, so I had to quickly adjust to various temperatures, humidity, rain, and even some crazy wind.  When I first received my BOCO Run Hat, it was typhoon season.  I didn’t even know that was a thing until I moved here.  BTW –  the height of typhoon season is like September/October so beware if you plan to travel to Japan during those times.  😉  Anywho, I didn’t want to let any little typhoon weather get me down so I thought, “What the heck – I’ll run outside anyway.”  Well the wind was no joke.  Running against the wind will really test your strength and it’s also annoying.  But I survived, and more importantly – My BOCO Run Hat didn’t budge!  I was shocked!  In fact, I kinda forgot I was wearing it at one point because it’s so lightweight!

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The good news about typhoons is they don’t last long.  After about 8 hours, it was all over and the skies cleared.  In fact, the next day was absolutely beautiful and I had to run again so I could see Mount Fuji in all of her glory!

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Not only did I like how this hat protected against the wind and rain,  I also liked knowing that my face was being shielded from the sun.  But for real – wear your sunscreen, kids!

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I also took my new hat friend for a ride in spin class, for some posing in yoga, and some stretching in pilates.  Obviously I didn’t need any protecting from the elements here…I just didn’t feel like doing my hair. 😉

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Overall, I think this is a great hat that all runners should own!  I love how light it feels and the way it stays put without squeezing my head.  The inside features a soft sweatband to wick away the sweat and it’s totally adjustable with a snap buckle (Velcro pulls my hair so I especially appreciate this feature).  It also folds up really easily so you can stick it in your pocket or bag when you’re travelling.  And throw it in the wash when it needs to refresh!  Super easy!

I was really impressed at how much this hat could withstand!  It even stayed put during play time with the kids and speed work on the track!

If you are looking for a new running hat, then BOCO Gear is the way to go!  Or if you are an organization or have a team looking for a custom order of hats, BOCO will hook it up!

Prices range from $23-$35 in their online shop and there is a minimum of 35 hats for a custom order.  So go create some great SWAG that anyone would love to have! 😉

Already own some BOCO Gear?  Snap a pic and tag #BOCOGEAR on Instagram for your chance to be seen on their website!

I’m off to review the next product!

~SM

From Japan with Love

You may have noticed that the scenery has changed a bit in my pictures and that’s because it HAS! That’s because a few months ago I relocated from sunny Southern California to The Land of the Rising Sun (seriously, the sun rises crazy early).

So I thought I would share what I’ve been up to and what I’ve learned over the last few months!

Trains are the way of life.  I’m still trying to navigate the train systems – like figure out if I need to be on a local or express train.  I had never been on a train before living here, so this has been quite the experience.  There is also train etiquette – everyone is pretty quiet and you don’t invade other people’s space.  They are also very clean!  This is kind of surprising since public trash cans aren’t as common as they are in the U.S.

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Noodles are on every corner.  You won’t find many drive thru fast food restaurants here with the exception of a McDonald’s here and there, but you will find sushi and noodles spots everywhere!  And ramen is amazeballs here!

No drink refills.  Unlike dining in the U.S., you will have to pay for each cup of soda in most restaurants.  But you will get unlimited water and many places have pitchers of ice water right on the table!  Also, there is no tipping and the servers rarely check on you because they want you to enjoy your meal without being interrupted.

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Treats are everywhere!  While we are on the topic of food, you will also find donut shops, ice cream, pastries, crepes, etc. on almost every block.  Sweets are a big deal here and it’s all delicious!  You will also find KitKat bars in all types of flavors like wasabi and wine flavor!

Starbucks isn’t the same.  You will find Starbucks all over Japan, but their drink options aren’t quite the same as they are in the U.S. (no pumpkin spice lattes here) 😦 And the drinks are also a little sweeter than they are back home, but I’ve tried some interesting flavors as well like the Almond Milk and Granola Frappuccino!

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Vending machines.  Speaking of coffee, you can find it in any vending machine.  Cold or HOT!  That’s right, you can get hot coffee, tea, or hot chocolate right out of the vending machine!  And you literally can’t walk more than 10 steps without passing a vending machine in Japan.

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Toilets.  Toilets are either really fancy or really primitive.  😉

Playgrounds.  The parks in Japan are unlike anything you’ve ever seen!  So much larger and complete with streams, bouncy areas, zip lines, roller coaster slides, etc.  Even the adults have a great time!

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Manhole covers. You can find art everywhere you look, including the street!  Even the manhole covers are beautifully painted!

Nature.  You really don’t have to go far to appreciate the nature in Japan!  There are gardens everywhere, beautiful forests, and the trees are so unique and gorgeous!

Temples.  Temples are everywhere and they are quite sacred so do as the locals do as respect the grounds.  Also visit the Big Buddha! It looks just the way it does in the history books!

Narrow Roads.  The roads are pretty narrow here which takes some getting used to…as well as the whole driving on the left side of the road deal.  There’s also tons of pedestrians so you gotta watch out for people riding bikes and crossing the street.

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Tokyo.  Tokyo is enormous.  There are so many different districts and things to look at…you could easily get lost for days in this city.  Harajuku has some pretty amazing shopping spots and the architecture is unique and beautiful!  Shibuya Crossing (Pedestrian Scramble) is insanely busy and a great place to sit and watch all the traffic!

The people.  The people here are so friendly and many will try to speak as much English as they can when speaking to you. They are so polite and will help you if you are lost!

I’m still adjusting to this new life, but trying to enjoy the ride. 🙂  Stay tuned for more updates on Japan and I will continue to share the SWAG as much as I can!

And continue to enjoy the view! 🙂

mt fuji

Have you been to Japan?  What was your favorite part?

I’m off to explore!

~SM

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