Sophia Weight Loss Body Shaper & Lilia Weight Loss Leggings- Do They Work?

Lilia Weight Loss Leggings

Have you seen those ads on Facebook and Instagram for the amazing weight loss and anti-cellulite leggings or panty style body shapers sold by Trendiness? The ones with the fancy animation showing their magic cosmetic textile technology?

Yeah, me too. I saw them over and over for weeks. And in the end, I bought a pair of the leggings.

So, here’s my experience.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Lilia

Sophia

Basically, the seller says these “cosmetic textiles” are created to slow release various ingredients to help with weight loss and the reduction of cellulite.

Weight loss leggings are nothing to be laughed at- I still swear by my Zaggora Hot Pants, leggings, and Hot Tops . I wear them for every workout.

But, after losing my thyroid to cancer my body doesn’t do what I want it or work like it

once did in terms of weight loss, so I was open to seeing if these leggings could be a useful tool.

From the website:

Lilia Weight Loss Leggings Unboxed

What is the Lilia™  ?Lilia™ is a cosmetic body shaper that focuses on weight loss and anti-cellulite through its combination of more than 30 special ingredients such as red algae, almond oil, or buckwheat, that are micro-encapsulated directly into the textile and released when the shaper is worn, to provide long-term, continuous benefits.

Using unique sewing techniques from the high-end shapewear industry, the Lilia™ shaper also provides instant shaping benefits and will lift the butt, flatten the tummy and remove love handles.

It’s perfect for all-day shaping and perfectly balances comfort and compression to be your most favorite everyday essential!

What are cosmetic textiles?
Cosmetic textiles are functional fabrics impregnated with cosmetic ingredients that are released onto the skin during the course of wear. They can provide multiple cosmetic benefits, such as moisturization, slimming, UV protection, energizing, or temperature regulation.

POWER FEATURES:

INSTANT SHAPING – Unique sewing techniques for shaping the waist, hip, belly, and love handles to look better and slimmer instantly.
LONG-TERM RESULTS – Special micro-encapsulated cosmetic ingredients added into the textile, promoting weight loss and removing cellulite.
JUST WEAR IT – and look slimmer instantly, while letting the beauty ingredients penetrate your skin over time.
RESULTS WITHIN 2 WEEKS – The powerful action of the active ingredients can last for up to 8 weeks. Visible results can appear within 2 weeks.
CAN BE WASHED – the microcapsules are designed to resist more than 40 washes before they degrade. Thus, the cosmetic action is guaranteed throughout the entire period of treatment.
WHENEVER YOU WANT – The capsules won’t degrade if you won’t wear the body shaper, so you don’t have to wear it every day – a few days a week is more than enough.
SEAMLESS & COMFORTABLE – High elasticity provides comfort and seamlessness.
60-DAY MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE – get a full refund if you’re not 100% satisfied. No questions asked.

RESULTS:

Reduce cellulite by up to 41%
Up to -2.1″ (-5.5cm) around hips
Up to 1.2″ (-3.1cm) around waist
100% Satisfaction Guarantee policy

USERS REPORT:

91.4% of users reported losing weight over a 12-week period
99.1% of users reported improvements in combatting cellulite
97.7% of users recommended this product

DETAILS:

Fabric: 96% Polyester, 4% Elastane
Active ingredients: Caffeine, red algae, flower bamboo cypress, almond oil, buckwheat fat, garcinia fruit, lavender, shea butter, sophora flower, ginkgo leaf, guarana, forskolin, coleus extract, nagi podocarpus extract.
Cold wash only. Hand-wash recommended. No drying machine.
Capsule resistance: ~40 washes.
Not recommended for pregnant women.


I wore these for 35 days. Here’s what I took away from the experience.

Pros:

  • They’re soft.
  • They’re Comfortable.
  • They’re moderately stretchy.
  • They smell nice right out of the box, but it fades quickly
  • Wearing them reduces hunger cravings due to light compression. Your brain doesn’t get the signal that it’s hungry.
  • Trendiness has great customer service (see below in the Cons section)
  • Trendiness has a pretty decent return policy- though I was not granted a full refund as advertised (see the Cons section).

Cons:

  • I did lose almost 2 pounds, but these simply don’t live up to the hype.
  • The weight loss seems to be due to the compression and appetite reduction rather than any of the ingredients that are supposedly built into the leggings.
  • The first pair’s thread unraveled in the crotch in 10 days, but Trendiness sent out a new pair at no cost.
  • The second pair’s thread unraveled in about the same amount of time
  • They’re too expensive. They’re comfortable, but the minimal results in no way justify the price of about $50 for a pair of black leggings.
  • While Trendiness says they offer a FULL REFUND within 60 days I was offered a refund, but it was $6.95 less than the amount I paid. I’m not sure why I got less than a full refund, but I have bigger things going on right now so I’m unsure if I’ll fight it.

The Verdict?

Waste of money, which is incredibly disappointing. I was so optimistic about these.

Maybe if you have a biologically “normal” body they might work for you, but it was a bust for me.

Oh well, live, learn, and get almost a full refund, I suppose.

So, did you try them? And did they work for you?

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Hanacure: Hype or Holy Grail?

For a while now I’ve been seeing ads and posts for Hanacure’s miracle at-home facial kit and after months of thinking about it I finally tried it.

Hanacure is all over the internet, but just to recap it’s a facial kit from South Korea that you can do at home that makes you look old and wrinkled while providing benefits like:

– Anti-aging
– Clarifying
– Detoxifying
– Lifting & Firming
– Brightening
– Pore Tightening
– Evens Skin Tone
– Contouring

It is being touted online as the anti-aging treatment of the year. Celebrities and Social Media Influencers are doing it and loving it, so with all the benefits it promises what’s not to love?

For some, the price tag.  I ordered the 4 application kit from the company’s website I paid $119 including shipping.

While that is on the high end of over the counter treatments I feel like it is a reasonable price to pay for an at-home facial though considering you’re not paying a tip or sales tax on each treatment.

The Hanacure Box

If you get can past the price tag (and it’s in stock) you’re going to get a fancy white box in the mail.

The packaging is clean, sleek, and refined, I’ll give them that!

These photos were taken with my phone and look fine there, but seem blurry here in WordPress for some reason. Sorry about that!

In order to use the treatment you’ve got to peel back the edge of the square gel tray. Next remove the metal seal, uncork the lifting serum, and pour it into the gel.

 

Inside the Hanacure box

Sometimes a bubble with form and the serum won’t pour out, so just blow into it to pop the bottle and keep pouring.

Hanacure Before, During, After

Then fold the corner of the tray back down, hold it closed with your thumb, and shake it up. You’ll feel when it becomes a gel.

After that open the gel, dip the brush into it (included in the kit), and start covering your face with it.

This is a mask, so think of it that way when applying it. Coat your face as evenly as possible.

If you sit in front of a fan you’ll feel the tightening effects faster, but all in all it will start tightening on its own.

You might be tempted to make funny faces and take pictures like those you’ve seen online but the company actually discourages that as it doesn’t let the product work on all the areas of the face (where the cracks in the mask form).

Wait about 30 minutes and wash it off.

What do you get? Well, I got nothing special, even after doing all the applications.

I noticed no brightening. I did see some tightening along my cheeks and jawline, but it is a short term result and was gone the next morning. My forehead and cheek areas were red from the pulling effect of the mask. That went away by the next morning.

I noticed no minimized pores and no impact on fine lines (I’m 34). I’m sad to report that Hanacure did nothing special for me and that the whole experience was pretty disappointing.

Granted, I am light skinned and have minimal wrinkles. So, perhaps someone with other skin concerns might have different results.

Is it worth the money? For me? Meh. I’d say no. Remember, YYMV though.

Would I buy it again? Nope. I wish I had saved my money.

Was there anything positive about my experience with Hanacure?  Yeah. The box is pretty, it didn’t break me out or cause any allergic reactions, and it was a fun thing to do on a night when I had some free time.

Did you try Hanacure? What did you think?

Makeup for Thyroid Patients/Super Dry Skin-Product Test (Continued- with Holy Grail find)

Got dry skin? REALLY dry skin? Me too….

I’ve been diligently pursuing my “holy grail” products since June 2016 and it has been a frustrating ride, to say the least.

I have some updates, though, and wanted to share to keep other dry-skinned brothers and sister from wasting money like I did.

All of these are YMMV, of course.

If you want to see my first round of product testing here’s the link.

A quick rundown of my situation:

  • Super mega crazy dry skin
  • Cool pale/classic ivory
  • Slight redness mainly on cheeks, chin, and nostrils (possible mild rosacea? My derm didn’t agree, though)

Now, to the data!

To pick up where I left off, there were some products I wanted to try.

Wishlist: 

  • Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse
  • Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid
  • L’Oreal True Match Lumi 
  • MAC Face & Body

Here’s my verdict on these:

Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse

  • I found this to be a pretty good drugstore foundation for my situation.
  • However, it was still a bit too dry.
  • I found this to be medium coverage
  • The color match was good, and the texture was good, too.
  • I kept this, but am actively trying to sell or trade it because I found something better.

Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid

  • I couldn’t get this in my location, and I gave up in terms of testing this brand

L’Oreal True Match Lumi

  • This was a good foundation if your goal is sheer coverage, but I was looking for medium to full coverage
  • I was not a fan of the color N1-2. I found it to be too dark and there’s not a ‘cool’ in this particular product.

MAC Face & Body

  • I was told by a local makeup artist that this would be too sheer for my goals, so I didn’t bother trying it.

My new favorite store: Sephora

I expanded my wish list after I learned about Sephora.com’s amazing return policy.

They will fully refund any unused or gently used products with or WITHOUT the original manufacturer box and return shipping is FREE from USPS. 

Considering my location this was my best, most economical option.

Here’s my tests from Sephora. I must have been too focused on taking notes on these that I forgot to take my own photos- sorry about that!

All tests included my full skincare routine, a gentle exfoliate with a konjac sponge and primer. 

1. Makeup Forever Ultra High Definition Stick Foundation

Initially I thought this was one of my Holy Grail products, but after a few wearings I accepted it just wasn’t meant to be.

MUFE Ultra HD Invisible Cover (Sephora.com)

*115=R230 Ivory

*Medium to full coverage

*Tested with Maybelline Babyskin primer and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating

*I tested with and without color correcting my red areas. I found that it did cover the redness pretty well, but not fully

* Pretty matte by the end of 8 hours

*Didn’t seem to cling to dryness, or my peach fuzz

*I didn’t like the feeling of how thick and heavy it was, even though it can be sheered out with a blender

*$43

Verdict: Return

2. NARS Sheer Glow

I hated this foundation. I really, really wanted to love it, but I just couldn’t.

NARS Sheer Glow (Sephora.com)

*Mont Blanc  light with pink undertones

*Sheer coverage

*Tested with Maybelline Babyskin primer and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating

*It really attached itself to dryness and peach fuzz

* The color was a bad match for me

*$45

Verdict: Return

3. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

This was another product that I really wanted to love, but couldn’t stand.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation (Sephora.com)

*3.75 Fair with Rosy Undertone

*Really sheer coverage

*Tested with Maybelline Babyskin primer and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating

* Took 2 layers just to get so-so coverage

*The color was too light for my skin tone

*Clung to any dryness and peach fuzz

*Didn’t seem to want to blend well (at least for me)

*I didn’t like the fragrance. It smelled nice in the bottle, but I tend to avoid putting products with fragrance on my face, as it makes my red cheeks sting.

*$42 for the TRAVEL SIZE!

Verdict: Return

4. Laura Mercier Silk Creme Moisturizing Photo Edition Foundation

-sigh- another product I wanted to love, but my skin had other plans.

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Moisturizing Photo Edition Foundation

I also thought this was one of my Holy Grail products for lighter coverage days, but in the end I just had to accept reality.

*Rose Ivory

*Moisturizing

*Tested with Maybelline Babyskin primer and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating

*A bit too sheer

*This seems to be buildable, but for my skin texture and condition building layers of makeup just doesn’t result in a good look for me. YMMV, of course.

*My redness shined through, even with color correcting (though I could have just been using a poorly pigmented color corrector at the time)

*Totally my fault, but I ordered a shade that was just a tad too light

*Clung to my dry patches and peach fuzz

*$48

Verdict: Return

——————————————————————————————————–

Are you ready for my Holy Grail foundation? 

Well, it’s not technically a foundation..but I digress.

After trying a lot of Western foundations I decided to research and test a Korean product.

I found a BB primer that was medium to full coverage and included Hyaluronic Acid, which is a product that promotes moisture and lubricates tissue and is found naturally in the body.

BEHOLD….

Missha’s  M Perfect Cover BB Cream with SPF 42 PA +++

Missha Perfect Cover BB (from Misshaus.com)

I wish I had known about product before. This would have saved me so much trouble and frustration!

*Provides great coverage, and covers my redness without color correcting. Even better coverage when I do color correct.

*Tested with Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating and The Body Shop’s Drops of Youth Wonderblur (not a fan of the Wonderblur, too hard to work with)

*Cruelty free

*Scented… which is a bummer for me, but not a deal breaker. This scent is light and disappears during the day. It also somehow doesn’t irritate my red cheeks.

*Limited colors, so it’s only an option for fair to medium tones. I’m a Western Ivory, but Missha’s #21 Light Beige is a tad too light, and #23 Natural Beige is a bit  too dark. I’m mixing them to get a better match.

*CHEAP! This cost me less than $20 USD a tube.

So, as of 9/1/2016 this is my Holy Grail in terms of foundation/base.

WHAT.A.JOURNEY.

Have you found your Holy Grail product yet?

Skincare and Makeup for Thyroid Patients/Super Dry Skin-Product Test

I’m on a mission to find the most hydrating medium-to-full coverage makeup for extremely dry skin…starting with drugstore brands.

If you’re in the same situation as I am I hope you’ll join me on this journey and let me know what has worked for you!

 

About me:

2 years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had my entire thyroid removed.

My life has been turned upside down ever since.

I once had normal skin texture with no redness,  hair that didn’t fall out, no dry scalp, and a body that responded to exercise and diet with the appropriate response (weight loss/muscle gain).

Those days are over, apparently… and 2 years later I’m just now starting to come to terms with it.

Lately  I noticed that my skin looked awful in cosplay photos- it was dull, dry, and made me look way older than I really am.

This made me seek out some new information and help on how to choose makeup that isn’t a heavily advertised Japanese BB cream.

I needed something that matched my skin tone and moisturized my now desert-like skin.

I’ll warn you- these images could be disturbing to those who have an aversion to dryness!

About the photos:

  • All applications are on a clean face with PCA moisturizer and Maybelline Baby Skin pore eraser primer underneath.
  • No undereye concealer except for the Skinfood that I had on hand. It’s the wrong color- I’m kinda new to this whole “color correcting” thing.
  • Photos are taken with my iPhone 6s using the “daylight” setting on my vanity mirror. They looked much more clear before posting them here..not sure what happened there.

A quick rundown of my situation:

  • Super mega crazy dry
  • Cool pale/classic ivory
  • Slight redness mainly on cheeks, chin, and nostrils
  • Current mood: embarrassed and frustrated. Thyroid skin is such a hassle!

Skincare:

First things first. I needed a good skincare routine.

Seeing as I never had skin problems before and always just bought whatever the Clinique rep recommended (a generic, normal skin regimen) I had no idea where to start.

At first I was getting regular facials. I thought that was the first step. However, even with the hydrating facials I was left dry.

Then I went to the Korean district of Tokyo and blindly bought whatever the salesperson recommended.

He recommended sensitive skin products  without touching my skin. From a distance it still looks normal, so as you can imagine this was a total fail when I got home.

The only silver lining was that the kit included one of those super soft face brushes. I sold my failed skincare locally and moved on.

Then I bought a trial kit of PCA’s dry skincare products.

So far I’ve been able to stick with it, but I feel that there’s got to be a more moisturizing brand out there. If you have a suggestion, please comment! 

Makeup- the hunt begins:

Earlier I mentioned that my face is now dry. Unless you have a thyroid problem (hypothyroid, hashimotos, no thyroid, etc) then you may just be thinking “winter skin” level dry. Think again.

I am quite sure that my daily dryness is worse than the average person’s worst winter dryness day.

I started researching and found a few leads. I live on a remote military base with very limited products, so unfortunately some of the best suggestions online were nowhere to be found.

I did find a few to test, though.

Potato quality iPhone photos incoming…

1. Maybelline Dream Velvet Soft Matte Hydrating foundation

Maybelline Dream Velvet Soft Matte Hydrating foundation

The general rule of thumb based on my research is that if you have dry skin that you want to avoid a matte base because it will make your skin look dull and more dry. I found this to be true, but this was marketed as “hydrating foundation” so I decided to give it a try.

These are my notes from the application: 

 *Doesn’t blend well with dense brush

* Sits on the really dry places

* Feels nice overall, light and doesn’t feel tight

* Lasted about 2 hours before I felt like it got a dull, matte look (it was a soft-matte, after all, so I wasn’t surprised).

Verdict: Changed to Toss

 

2. Covergirl + Olay Facelift Effect Firming Makeup
My Notes:

*Exfoliated

Covergirl + Olay Facelift Effect Firming Makeup

*Same blending issue- doesn’t take the dense brush well.

*Used fair tone, might be a shade too light

*Doesn’t seem to cover redness or take the translucent powder under my eyes very well.

*Rubs off when I blow my nose , sweats off

*This felt dry and cakey to me

Verdict: Toss

 

3. Neutrogena Nourishing Long Wear Makeup with tone correcting complex

 My Notes: 

Neutrogena Nourishing Long Wear Makeup with tone correcting complex

*Blends somewhat with the dense brush. Had to finish with finger tips.

*Feels nice overall, light and doesn’t feel tight

*Kind of deals with my redness

*Has a seriously matte finish, though

*Most expensive of all the foundations I bought

Verdict: Toss

 

 

 

 

 

4. Covergirl + Olay Simply Ageless 3 in 1 

I got frustrated and thought I was maybe imagining the redness I kept seeing so I did a half and half makeup comparison.

My Notes:

My right: Neutrogena Nourishing Long Wear Makeup with tone correcting complex My left: Covergirl + Olay Simply Ageless 3 in 1

*Half and half CG+Olay Simply ageless (my left) and Neutrogena (on my right)

*Hard to tell since I’m new to this whole makeup thing, but seems to look more hydrated/shiny/dewy compared to the other side.

*I liked the feeling of the CG, so I’m going to try it again with my new Spackle primer.

*It seems to have more unfavorable chemicals than I’d prefer

Update: tried it with the Spackle primer. Nice and dewy at first, but I felt a change after about an hour or 2. I’m going to give it a go today and see how it does. It’s not tight or flaky..yet.

Update 2: I didn’t realize it at first, but this is a scented product. The third time I tried it I didn’t use any of the other skincare items I was using before because I suspected they caused the tingly redness on my cheeks. Nope, this product made my cheeks kind of tingly and red all by itself.

Verdict: Changed to Toss

 

 

5. Covergirl CG Smoothers

My Notes:

Covergirl CG Smoothers

*Didn’t blend very well with brush. finished with hands.

*Dried really matte, feels dry, but not as dry as Neutrogena.

*Doesn’t help with tone evening, cheeks still red even before adding blush

 

Verdict: Toss

 

 


 

Here’s a few I want to try. They’re unavailable in my area, though, so I’m going to try to find them on Amazon.

Wishlist: 

  • Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse- I have tried this since this post and it’s kinda awesome- I’ll update this post later with photos and a review. 
  • Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid
  • L’Oreal True Match Lumi- I have also tried this. I feel it’s so-so, but still a keeper. I’m not a fan of the N1-2 shade, it’s kind of dark on me. I’ll update later on this, too. 
  • MAC Face & Body

 

Have you found the holy grail of foundations for us super dry skin types?

Do you have a favorite skincare brand that I should think about buying? Please let me know!

Our Visit to the Famous Kitsunemura (Fox village) in Japan

Kitsunemura, 蔵王キツネ村 or Fox Village near Zao in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan is now world famous thanks to bloggers, so naturally it was on the top oIMG_1519f our Japan bucket list when we learned we were moving here.

Mainland Japan has 4 seasons, the best being fall and spring. Summer is hot and humid. Winter is okay, but I don’t particularly like being cold.

For us, a well-timed trip is key to our overall experience. Making the journey only to find that you’re either too early or too late to see the seasonal flowers or trees kind of puts a damper on the trip’s mood, so I’ve been faithfully checking the foliage reports in Miyagi and Twitter posts from that area for the past month to see what the trees looked like.DSC_1231

 

I finally found a US holiday that aligned with the foliage up north’s schedule (the leaves turn later the farther south you go), so we took the
opportunity and went.

We decided to drive, which was about 3.5 hours and cost 8212 yen going there, and 7630 yen coming back on the toll roads.

If you decide to take the shinkansen it will be much more expensive, but that’s up to you. You’ll need to arrive at Shiroishizao Station and take a cab to the village. Just spend a few minutes googling and you’ll find several articles that provide detailed instructions on how to get there by train.

DSC_0941With only a week’s notice, I was fortunate enough to find  a very nice, reasonably priced ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with an in-room hot spring and included breakfast, which allowed for my husband and I to enjoy onsen together.

DSC_0965I’ve been told by Japanese people that it is very rare to find a mixed-gender public hot spring (onsen) these days, so I thought it was a nice luxury that we should try.

The breakfast at the ryokan was delicious, the onsen made our skin feel unbelievably smooth, and the crisp mountain air made for a refreshing break from our fast-paced Tokyo lives.

I wish we could have stayed longer. Or that we could go every month. Or.. just live there.

 

The staff members at both the ryokan and the fox village were very kind and accommodating. Granted, we communicated in elementary Japanese, so I can’t speak to how well they could assist foreigner guests.

I’m not sure about the hotel, but I know that kitsunemura has seen many, many foreign guests over the years.

If you speak zero Japanese, just be prepared to try to use hand gestures, writing, or however else you can think of to communicate if you find that the staff member you meet doesn’t speak or understand much English.

Kitsunemura has over 100 wild foxes living in a large, open space with plenty of room to hide, play, eat, and sleep. They also have a small petting zoo with lots of rabbits, some minature horses, a few crows (?), guinea pigs, and small goats.

There has been some visitors who felt the animals were not well taken care of, but when I was there clean water was abundant, the animals all looked happy and those who were awake were curious, wild, and playful with one another.

I feel like the staff at kitsunemura aim to take excellent care of all of their animals. and I was pleased with the experience.

Overall… 10/10.  We both really enjoyed the ryokan and onsen, and who couldn’t enjoy watching wild foxes play and lounge in a large, natural habitat? 

The logistics, you ask?

Total run down:

Tolls: 15,842 yen. About 3.5 hour drive from northwest Tokyo.

Gas: ~ 8,000 yen

Hotel: ~21,000 yen

Kitsunemura: 2,000 yen + 400 yen fox cuddle experience

Omiyage (souvenirs): 1,500 yen

Meals/road trip snacks: ~4,000

And now, for adorable kitsune (fox) pictures! (mix of iphone and dlsr that my husband and I took)

Just click the thumbnail to view the full image.

 

 

My First (and Last) Time to Skydive

In August I had the opportunity to use an event credit I had with a local adventure club, so I decided to use it towards skydiving.

Yes, skydiving.

It has been on my bucket list since I was in middle school, and even though I’m terrified of heights I thought I should do it if I had the chance.

The problem is that my husband exceeds the height and weight limit of skydiving companies here in Japan, so I had to go it alone.

Even though I really wanted him to be there I thought it would be no big deal to go by myself. We had just climbed to the top of Mount Fuji 2 weeks before, so I was sure this would be easy.

Except, it wasn’t. The whole language barrier thing kind of poses a big problem when you’re about to jump out of a plane at about 4,000 meters.

The day started by all of the club members arriving at Fujioka station early in the morning. This is a very small station and the closest store is about a 10 minute walk. It was so early that the store wasn’t open yet, so I started walking around foraging  for breakfast.IMG_0792

Luckily I was able to meet and talk with an older couple who owned a hardware store. My Japanese speaking ability is intermediate, but I was able to ask them if they had any snacks for sale.

Instead they gave me a bag of pastries and snacks and wouldn’t let me pay them. I told them I was skydiving that morning and they wished me good luck and sent me on my way.

I ran back to the station so I could be sure to catch the shuttle to the jump site and made it just in time.

So, we arrive to the site and we get the safety briefing in English. No problem. All of that was very clear.

What wasn’t clear is what would happen once inside the plane and how it would happen. You know, the logistics of who would go first and whatnot.

They were doing back to back jumps that day, so while everyone else was geared up and in the plane I was standing out waiting on my teacher to parachute down, unhook from the last jumper, and hook on to me.

By the time my teacher hit the ground he literally ran to me, strapped my to his chest, and threw me on the plane- no introductions, nothing.

What I didn’t realize (and nobody told me) was that since I was the last person on the plane I would be first one off.

So, we’re up in the air. It’s a hot summer day. We’re all sweating and terrified. I’m sitting on a stranger’s lap and he’s trying to point out mountains and such as we rise higher and higher in this little tin can of a plane.

DCIM100GOPRO

About this time I’m thinking “hm, maybe I can still change my mind?” but at that same time my teacher threw the plane door open.

What happened next was somehow both simultaneously instant and in slow-mo. The door flew open. I’m thinking “oh, that’s a nice view” but then I realize he’s PICKING ME UP. I guess I’m supposed to be moving by myself at this point but I’m frozen and confused since I didn’t know I was going first.

He sits me on the edge of the plane. I still don’t know what’s happening. Then he throws us out the door. Untitled

My stomach goes up into my lungs. Then I realize I’m seeing the sky. I shouldn’t be seeing the sky. For several days after I thought we were having trouble in the air,  but now I think he was just trying to have fun with me. I was not having fun.

So, after what felt like 5 minutes of facing the sun he jerks my pack and throws me so that I’m under him, facing the ground.

Untitled3By this point I’m already confused about what just happened, it’s hot and muggy, and I’m free falling from 4,000 meters. There really is nothing like feeling the wind hitting you was you plummet towards the earth.

When our neon-green chute caught air we both jerked up  and thought I was going to vomit. But luckily that feeling didn’t last long.

The view parachuting down was nice. However, my teacher thought it would be fun to do some kind of turning left-to-right action, which I had to ask him nicely not to do because I already felt quite sick. IMG_0806

I was so thankful to hit the ground. Everyone else on the trip seemed to have a blast, and I’m glad they did. I, on the other hand, had a headache for the rest of the 1.5 hour train ride home and felt shaky for the rest of the day…but I did it!

I can attest that the sights, sounds, and feelings were certainly unique and something I will always remember, but once was enough for me.

What was the craziest/most adrenaline pumping thing you’ve ever done?

A Foreigner’s First Concert in Japan

Last weekend David and I attended our first concert in Japan- the Sekai no Owari Twilight City tour in Yokohama. Much to my surprise the whole concert process is pretty different than all the concerts we’ve been to in the states. In the states when you want concert tickets you have a few methods of getting them:

  • winning them (free) in a contest
  • getting them through a fan club membership
  • buying them from the artist’s recommended venue
  • buying them from a ticket broker like Ticketmaster
  • buying them from individuals

It’s somewhat similar here in Japan, but we had some hurdles. First off, we don’t speak and read enough Japanese to buy tickets from auction sites or individuals. Second, we don’t have a Japanese bank account or credit card, so we can’t easily pay for them on said auction sites or from said individuals. This really limited our ticket buying options.

Getting Tickets: Japan has this really interesting lottery system that they use for many different things, including concert tickets. Each convenience store chain hosts a specific concert/artist. In our case we wanted to see Sekai no Owari. Lawson was the chain hosting their ticket lottery.

To enter the lottery you have to have a membership point card (at least you did for Lawson). Considering I don’t have a Japanese name it was a little difficult, but I just made it work on the online form. After you get a membership card it’s time to enter the lottery. You have to put your name, number of tickets, and date you want in the drawing. For really popular groups you can only enter once, so ask your Japanese or expat friends to enter their names in the lottery, too- but have them read the rules. For our show if you won you weren’t required to pay for them- no credit card was needed, but a friend did this for another band and ended up winning the lottery for 2 different shows. She had to pay for both sets of tickets! Luckily she was able to sell them.

Then you wait a month or so to find out if you won. We didn’t win with our entry, but my friend got the email that she (I) had won.

Winning the Ticket Lottery: Next you have to take the ticket lottery conformation number and go to your local convenience store and use their electronic transaction machine to get the placeholder tickets. These transaction centers can do much more than confirm event tickets, you can pay bills and utilities through them, too.

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These are just placeholder tickets- no seat numbers listed!

There was no English option, so the helpful clerk typed in all the information for me after my 4th failed attempt at retrieving the paper ticket stubs. I finally got it printed out. Then you take it to the register and pay for your tickets. That’s right. You won the lottery, but it’s not free. You just won the right to have guaranteed seats. The tickets that print out don’t even have the seats on them. You could get amazing floor seats, or you could get nosebleed seats… that’s part of the lottery-ness of it all.

Going to the Concert:

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Sekai no Owari Twilight City set

Then you wait some more. You wait and you wait and you wait until about 2-3 weeks before the concert when your actual tickets arrive. Mine arrived to my friend’s house, because they were linked to her membership rewards card and online account. I anxiously waited to find out what the seat numbers were. Would we get lucky with those, too? Based on the online seating chart our seats weren’t great, but they weren’t terrible. We had our tickets and the day of the event finally came around. We had no idea what to expect at the venue, so we arrived about 4 hours early. In the future we could probably arrive 1.5-2 hours early.

There were a lot of similarities to US concerts, like the huge crowds and long lines- especially for the women’s bathroom. There were some differences, too. At this show the concession food was reasonable, maybe only $1.00 more than what it cost outside the arena. It might have been because this band had a theme relating to local festivals, and food at matsuri (festivals) are usually quite cheap.

Whatever the reason, for the first time I didn’t have to pay over $4.00 for bottled water! I also noticed that there was a lot of cosplay. I mean, a lot. There was also a ton of young guys and girls doing “twin style”- where friends dress alike. Twin style is really huge in Tokyo right now, so seeing it wasn’t a big shock. Seeing so many people in cosplay did surprise me, though, especially considering that it was such a hot day. Some people had very elaborate and heavy costumes on.

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Sekai no Owari Twilight City show

Another difference was that people picked up after themselves. In Japan, everyone is expected to pick up their trash, so people had little plastic bags to put their trash and bottles in. In America most people leave their concession trash under their seats if they can get away with it. Something else that stood out to me was that when the crowd went to clap along to the music…everybody was in time with each other. In America you hear all sorts of off beat, out of sync clapping, but I didn’t notice it at all in our area.

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Japanese crowds clap in time!

And what about an encore? They do it here, too…. except it’s more polite. In the states we all chant “encore, encore!,” but at this concert the crowd sang a sweet sounding song that I couldn’t catch all the words of except for “one more time.” Everyone was singing this nice, polite song asking the artists to come out and sing once more- and they did. And it was fantastic. If I didn’t hear Dragon Night I thought I was going to go crazy, but luckily it was part of their encore.   Overall, it was a great first experience, but we couldn’t have done it without the help of our Japanese friends.

 

Have you gone to a concert in Japan? Did you find the food to be more expensive than this concert? What else was different from concerts in your home country? Feel free to comment!