Japanese Fashion Trends

Japanese people are generally known for their creative and unique outfits. Three of the major Japanese fashion trends seen today, include the following: Harajuku, Cat and Furisode trends.

The Harajuku Fashion, which stems from the Harajuku District in Tokyo, and is known as the Birthplace of the Universal Concept “Kawaii”. Harajuku fashion is imaginative and vibrant, to the point of seeming eccentric at times to the older generation. There are many types of fashion in Harajuku including the unique Japanese Lolita style with emphasis on girlish cuteness and coquettish beauty, the medieval aristocrats-inspired Gothic style, the Gothic Lolita style that is a combination the two, and the ballerina-inspired style that mixes vibrant, colorful tops with a tutu skirt. Hats and leggings of all kinds are also popular in this area. Lots of bright colors are generally used, with no set of specific rules.

Then there is Cat Fashion. Cat’s are popular pets in Japan, and Cat Fashion has become popular among young Japanese woman in their teens and twenties. Cat’s are admired in Japan for their independent nature and the way they move, and cat lover’s want to express love and admiration for their cats through their clothing.

Cat-themed fashion items include clothes, shoes, Alice headbands, jewelry, and other accessories. Some popular items include blouses made from cat-print materials, skirts and pants designed as large cat faces using buttons and embroidery, and T-shirts printed with big cat faces. There is also hats and headbands with cat ears available.

Trends in Furisode is another style, but stems from more traditional roots. It features long sleeves that hang down to the ankles or calves, and has its origins in the Heian period (794-1185). By the early Edo period (1603-1868), the Furisode had become the standard formal wear for women that weren’t married. The garments are also said to protect against disaster and disease by shaking off misfortune with their long sleeves. The modern twist to this style, is using more modern colors, and contrasting the color of their Furisode to their Obi, (sash).

So between the very new and vibrant, to the very animalistic, to the traditional with a modern twist, Japanese Fashion Trends continue to push the envelopes of fashion and are as unique and varied in style with themselves, as they are with the rest of the world.

Eco-conscious Living in Asia

Asia has the largest population of any continent. It is also home to some of the most egregious environmental problems. However, that is quickly changing. Many Asian nations have started to become conscious of the need to clean up and protect the environment.

One Asian country which is taking major steps to improve their environment is Singapore. They have created a Green print program designed to encourage eco-friendly, sustainable living in their public housing estates. The program includes the building of underground pipes and a pneumatic system to facilitate refuse collection.

Another program is installing vertical greenery, solar panels and even secure facilities for parking bicycles. They are also installing ‘green’ roofs in 9 low-rise blocks and an energy-efficient Elevator Energy Regeneration System in an 18 block area. This program is designed to encourage residents to increase their recycling efforts, choose greener ways to commute, and decrease consumption. The new green program will increase community farming and install energy-efficient electrical appliances and solar powered home and street lights.

Shanghai’s contribution to Asia’s move towards a greener environment is an innovative one. They are constructing the first eco-friendly skyscraper in the world. Called the Shanghai Tower, the wind-powered skyscraper is the world’s second tallest building. It is an example of China’s new sustainable urban construction. The building has earned 3 stars in China’s Green Building rating system and the LEED Gold Standard. The building’s turbines produce 54,000 kWh a year in renewable energy.

Unique construction techniques created an air pocket which cools the building in summer and insulates it in winter. Recycled local materials were also used in constructing the skyscraper, 1/3 of which will be public green space. Plus the building is designed to achieve carbon neutrality.

The Chinese are also building an environment friendly ‘Great City’ using sustainable development practices designed for high density urban living. The city will house, educate and employ about 80,000 people while using 48% less energy and 56% less water. It will also produce 60% less carbon dioxide and 89% less landfill waste.

Residents will be able to walk to any destination within the city within 15 minutes. Mass transit will take people to the areas surrounding the city. It will also preserve the topography and 15% of land area will be used for green space.

Sweetlife Festival Returns to Washington DC in May

Sustainability, organic, local foods, carbon offsets, collection, recycle, redeem, are all contemporary buzzwords associated with a rising movement of environmental responsibility and sustainability by encouraging an integration of these values into everyday life and also as a solution for social problems as well as the health benefits of a preservative, additive free, sustainable diet.

In the Washington, D.C. area there is a home for this type of vision, it is SweetGreen. SweetGreen started in 2007 by three college students. In only 7 years, it has blossomed into 10 stores across D.C., 3 stores in Maryland and 1 in Massachusetts.

SweetGreen’s founders came together with five hundred people in 2010 to fellowship with like-minded people in the community the original store serves. That gathering, combined with live music and in only 4 years, grew into the SweetLife Festival. The festival hosts over twenty-thousand people and over 20 musical acts on its solar powered stage including, Lana Del Ray, Foster the People, Fitz and the Tantrum and platinum rap artist Two Chainz along with many other groups an individual artists.

This party with a purpose is held in the Merriweather Post Pavilion, located in Columbia, Maryland, which is thirty minutes from the D.C. metro area. It is a celebration and a continuation of the values on which SweetGreen was founded. This means the festival is carbon neutral, achieved by the purchase of green tags and state-of –the-art solar panels.

Parking at the Pavilion is always free but for more sustainable travel they are providing a “Rock and Bus” billed as luxurious and affordable and also the new ride sharing system Uber. The waste from the festival is used in making compost through a company called Fatworm Composting. Each vendor is charged with providing compostable containers, napkins and utensils. Even event goers can get into the act with a system that offers free stuff in exchange for their trash.

The food section of the party is provided through a large farmers market where festival patrons can purchase sustainable food and also meet and learn from the farmers with the vision to pursue these sustainable, organic methods. The festival even features sustainable beer companies including Flying Dog, who will be featuring beer brewed specifically for the event.

The purpose for the party and all proceeds go to SweetGreen in Schools, which educates the surrounding community and schoolchildren about the importance of sustainable eating. The program is in its third year and is collaborating with the DC Farm to School Network. The festivals partners are Kenny Produce Company, Honest Tea, Uber, Flying Dog, Acme Paper Supply Company, Tito’s Handmade Vodka of Texas, Kind Healthy Snacks and The Nature Conservancy.

Becoming Vegan

It is  estimated that there are approximately one million vegan Americans, and the trend is gaining more force every year. While some people begin this lifestyle for animal welfare purposes, many other choose vegan-ism in an attempt to better their health and prevent disease. However, a vegan diet can prove challenging. It requires you to drastically overhaul your eating habits and food choices, and also forces you to pay better attention to food labels. Here are some of the important considerations of becoming vegan.

By its very principles, vegan-ism shuns the consumption, and often the use, of any animal-derived products, including eggs, seafood, dairy and by-products like gelatin and tallow. Instead, vegans focus on a plant-based diet that can include grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables and nuts.

Associated Challenges
Although avoiding animal products in the diet has been strongly associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, obesity and some cancers, it’s not a perfect diet. Vegans may find it difficult to get adequate amounts of many essential nutrients, resulting in deficiencies that can cause health problems.

Vitamin B-12, which is mainly found in meats, is something that is rarely available in plant foods. For that reason, it’s critical for vegans to supplement with a seaweed-based B-12 product. B-12 is needed for red blood cell production, proper nervous system maintenance and regulation of heart rhythms. Deficiency can result in pernicious anemia, cognitive problems, neurological disorders and an increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia.

Heme iron, the most bio-available kind of iron, is solely found in animal products and is therefore nonexistent in a vegan diet. These people may find it difficult to maintain proper iron levels without supplementation. This can lead to anemia, physical weakness, menstrual irregularity and infertility.

It’s also incredibly difficult for vegans to get enough protein in their diet. Most plant foods are very low in the nutrient, and even nuts and legumes don’t contain as much as animal products. Therefore, it may be necessary to use a plant-based protein concentrate supplement to achieve optimal intake.

Another common issue with vegan-ism is more a matter of choice. Many people on this diet find it tedious and time-consuming to prepare each meal from scratch, and it’s also easy to get bored with the diet. This drives many people to consume pre-packaged junk foods, a surprising variety of which is entirely vegan. On its own, this kind of behavior can lead to obesity and related health problems. In order for vegan-ism to truly be effective at improving health, it’s important to incorporate plenty of fresh, wholesome and minimally processed foods into your daily diet.

Understanding Dubai’s Social Etiquette

While the modern city of Dubai welcomes visitors from all over the world, visitors should respect that Dubai is a Muslim city and take into consideration how they dress and the way they conduct themselves while there. Before making a visit, it’s important to become knowledgeable in the social etiquette and culture in Dubai.

Modest Dress
Visitors to Dubai, especially women, should dress modestly while in conservative areas and in public places where they’ll be seen by other people. Although swimwear is acceptable, it should only be worn around the swimming pool and the beach, taking care to be covered up elsewhere. Shorts and T-Shirts are also acceptable attire when visiting Dubai, however if you intend on visiting a mosque or another religious site, you should dress a bit more formally in loose-fitting clothes that cover the shoulders, arms, and legs. That applies to both men and women, with women also being required to wear a headscarf before being allowed into a mosque.

Courteous Behavior
In terms of behavior, courtesy and hospitality are important virtues in the Arab community and visitors will be treated with friendliness and given a warm welcome. When in the presence of new guests, it’s important to stand, as men are also expected to stand when a woman enters the room. When a visitor is greeting a member of the opposite sex who’s Muslim, you shouldn’t be the one to initiate a handshake as both Muslim men and women (mostly women) may not wish to shake hands without someone of the opposite sex because of religious reasons; you should only participate in a handshake if they extend their hand first.

Body Gestures
If someone offers you food, you should accept it with your right hand, which is also the hand you should eat with. You should also never point or beckon with your finger and if you must make a hand gesture, use your whole hand to make the gesture. Also, while in public, you should make sure the soles of your feet are hidden and that you’re not pointing your toes at anyone.

If you find yourself sitting in front of an important guest, you shouldn’t cross your legs as doing so is considered rude. And if you happen to be hosting Muslim guests, it’s important to keep in mind that you should never offer them an alcoholic beverage or any pork.