Book Review: Tokyo Vice

Tokyo Vice

Tokyo Vice

I recently made a career out of reading the book, Tokyo Vice (meaning, it took me forever to finish it). It took me quite some time to get through the book for a couple of reasons which I will explain in a bit, but all in all, I can highly recommend it.

Tokyo Vice is written by Jake Adelstein, the only American to ever work as a journalist inside the Tokyo Metropolitan Police press club. It is a unique insight into Japanese culture that few Westerners will ever get to see.

My View of Japan

I have been to Japan twice and loved the country. The people are very friendly, the organization, efficiency and cleanliness are only rivaled by Singapore and Switzerland, and it is overall very safe. The citizens follow the rules.

On the metro, there are signs that prohibit talking on one’s cell phone while on the train. No one talks on their cell phones on the trains. On the escalators, the people who just want to ride stand on one side so the people who are in a hurry can walk up the other unimpeded.

I have a friend who’s then husband used to regularly forget his backpack on the train in Tokyo. It was returned to him every time.

It is one of the safest countries on the planet.

Jake Adelstein’s View of Japan

Not everywhere is perfect, though. Tokyo Vice reveals another side of Japan. One that is seedier. One that is unknown to most tourists.

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Movie Review: The Way

The Way Movie Poster

Movie poster from the movie The Way

When Sara and I are not traveling, I try to recapture that travel feeling that I so enjoy by either reading a good book or watching a good movie. Unfortunately, sometimes it is difficult to find something that I like. I find a lot of travel writers to be a bit pretentious. They feel that their version of travel is the best and everyone else's is inferior. I admit that I am guilty of this from time to time as well, but I really try to keep an open mind. I have decided to start celebrating outstanding creativity on this blog by providing reviews of movies, TV shows and books that I really enjoy. You probably will not find any reviews here on things that I did not like because years ago I made the determination that my time is important to me and if I am not enjoying a movie or a book, I simply do not finish it. Consequently, I shy away from trashing something that I have not completed. A side note, I did actually finish the movie Mulholland Drive, so I feel confident in mentioning that, aside from one memorable scene, it is the worst movie ever produced. Read More

Gear Review: Vibram Five Fingers KSO

I had been reading about these amazing new shoes that make you feel like you are walking barefoot, but still somewhat protect you from the elements. I am referring to the Vibram Five Fingers line of shoes. They are designed to be like gloves for your feet, fitting a sleeve around each of your toes, and having a very thin sole, so you can really feel the ground as you walk. I love to go barefoot and I had read that running in them is incredible. I was apprehensive, as they are not inexpensive, however, last Spring, I decided I would try a pair and I went to the local REI to pick out one that I liked. After talking with the salesperson and trying on several styles, I decided on the KSO (Keep Stuff Out). Each style varies in features and benefits, but I chose the KSO because it has a protective mesh covering to keep sand and debris out of the shoe, but a thin sole, so I still felt barefoot. Once I settled on the exact style, I needed to choose the size. I read that you really need to size it correctly, because if it is too large, you will develop blisters, but too small, you will be uncomfortable. They did not have my exact size in the KSO, but through trying on other styles, I felt that I had a good fit and could order a pair. Two months went by and I finally received them. Not to spoil the review, but the wait was well worth it. Read More

Gear Review: SCOTTEVEST Fleece 5.0 Jacket

Let me start by saying that I love travel gear and am always on the lookout for the next perfect thing to add to my collection. I also travel light, so most things that I buy need to either be multi-functional, or be really good at what they do. I purchased the SCOTTEVEST Fleece 5.0 Jacket and can say that it is almost the perfect travel jacket. It is a welcome addition to my gear list and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Description The Fleece 5.0 Jacket is available in any color that you want, as long as that color is black.  It has 24 pockets, zip-off sleeves, inside wiring guides for your iPod, and an internal pocket big enough to carry a magazine (or the iPad). It has a special strap inside one pocket that will hold a water bottle upright, a key chain, several pockets to hold small memory sticks/cards, a see-through pocket so you can control your iPod/iPhone without removing it, and several hidden pockets. I was walking somewhere with Sara the other day and she was a bit annoyed as I was not paying attention to what she was saying. Finally, she asked me what was on my mind. I smiled and said, "I think I just found another pocket!" Read More

How We Evaluate Gear

Minimalist travel requires some thought when it comes to gear. In order to travel light, it is necessary to evaluate everything that one carries for true need and functionality. Most items should fill several roles or be compact and lightweight, or both. One of the things that I love about travel is the idea that I will carry very few things and everything that I have is something that I need. Consequently, I spend a great deal of time thinking about 'stuff'. I am the type of person that does not like to own many things, and if I do buy something, I want to use it until it wears out. What this means is that I generally do a good bit of research before I buy something, because once I buy it, I'm stuck with it. One of our themes here at is how to travel light. Through our gear reviews, we are going to share our experiences with gear in real world trials. Most of the items that we review will be things that we have purchased for our own use, with our own money. If, however, we happen to be asked to review something by a manufacturer, or any third-party, we will fully disclose that in the review itself. We will also disclose if that party is an advertiser or contributor to the website. Our goal is to provide true unbiased reviews of items that you, the light traveler, can use and rely upon as you do your research, so that when you buy something, you, too, can use it until it wears out. We welcome any and all comments to the reviews and are anxious to hear other travelers' experiences with the same gear that we use. Read More