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    What happens next on Trump’s super-sized state visit to China?

    What are Trump’s plans?

    Trump has already been treated by Xi inping to a personal tour of the Forbidden City and a night at the opera complete with cheering schoolchildren on the first day of his “state visit-plus”. That lofty designation meant China’s nominally communist rulers welcomed the world’s most famous capitalist with a show-stopping display of pomp and circumstance designed to flatter his ego and win, if not his heart then at least his acquiescence.

    Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the red-carpet welcome was payback for the “considerate” reception offered to Xi Jinping earlier this year at the US president’s Mar-a-Lago estate: “We Chinese people believe that courtesy calls for reciprocity.” http://livefromsilvercity.com

    “You can believe it will be to the tenth power,” Orville Schell, a veteran China watcher who is chronicling Trump’s Asian journeys for Vanity Fair, says of Trump’s reception in Beijing.

    On Thursday, Trump will hold a series of face-to-face meetings with Xi, with whom he has enjoyed an on-off bromance since his inauguration in January.

    Before arriving, Trump said he had high hopes for the China-leg of his tour. “I like him a lot. I call him a friend. He considers me a friend,” he said of Xi, although the Chinese leader is not known to have ever referred to the US president in such intimate terms.

    Why is China rolling out such a red carpet?

    Experts say China’s leaders are hoping to woo their American visitor with a headline-grabbing, ego-massaging show of respect that Trump can use to project power back home in the US.

    But Beijing is also hoping to make itself look great again – both within China and around the world – through Trump’s presence on Chinese soil.

    “China wants good photo ops to show the domestic audience that Xi is equal to Trump, and China is almost guaranteed to get that,” says Jeff Wasserstrom, a professor of modern Chinese history at the University of California, Irvine.

    Last month Xi proclaimed the start of “a new era” of Chinese power at a major Communist party convention in Beijing. Trump’s visit represents another high-profile chance to trumpet the rise of China – and Xi – to the world.

    “Xi and Trump have the opportunity to jointly open a new chapter in history,” an editorial in the state-run Global Times said on Wednesday, championing Trump’s visit as a chance to show off “the rising China”.

    “For Xi it’s about his own image and trying to flatter and cajole Trump to play nice with China,” Ely Ratner, a China expert at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP.

    What will Xi and Trump talk about?

    North Korea and economic issues will hog the agenda.

    Trump and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, are expected to push Xi to take further action to rein in Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions. Meanwhile, Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, will spearhead potentially thorny negotiations over trade.

    However, experts are pessimistic on both fronts. Having already backed two rounds of United Nations security council resolutions against Pyongyang, most doubt Beijing has much more to offer. Observers also suspect Trump will return from China with little more than tweet-able, short-term business deals.

    “Nobody expects a lot to come out of this trip,” says Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The Trump administration hopes for some deliverables but they don’t have anything lined up yet, the whole thing is a work in progress.”

    What won’t they be talking about?

    Human rights activists and even members of Trump’s own party have urged him to challenge Xi over the crackdown that his five years in power has seen unfold in China. In a letter to the president, two prominent Republicans urged him to raise the “forced isolation” and ongoing surveillance of Liu Xia, the wife of late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and call for the release of political prisoners including the jailed Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti. They also petitioned Trump to challenge Xi’s alleged erosion of Hong Kong’s political freedoms.

    Few truly expect such topics to be raised by the US’ deal-making president who has expressed admiration for authoritarian leaders including Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte and Xi himself.

    Observers believe Trump is also unlikely to complicate talks by raising the territorial disputes in the South China Sea and Beijing’s controversial militarisation of the region.

    What could go wrong?

    In democratic South Korea, Trump has faced some noisy street protests, at which critics have held up banners reading: “Trump not welcomed” and “Say no to Trump”. His time in authoritarian China is likely to be entirely dissent-free.

    Instead, the most likely source of risk may come from Trump himself and his habit of firing off early morning Twitter salvos with a tendency to outrage or offend. The billionaire’s favorite means of communication is blocked in China but Trump is unlikely to have any difficulty tunnelling under the Great Firewall of China to vent, should he so desire. Chinese officials will be anxiously scanning Trump’s feed for any rogue tweets that might put their leadership’s nose out of joint.

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    ‘It’s Over!’ 10 Breakup Survival Tips to Get You Through It

    You just got dumped, or maybe you broke up with someone. You just want to curl up and retreat from the world.

    It doesn’t matter if it was a long-term relationship, a short-lived cyber affair, an unrequited love or a good friends-with-benefits arrangement. If you cared and connected, you feel a deep and painful void where there was once laughter and affection. It’s like experiencing a small death.

    Grieving over your lost love for a short time is understandable, but if you linger too long in the purgatory of how-it-used-to-be, your friends will eventually get tired of hearing you talk about your ex and advise you to “Get over it.”

    You agree on some level. You know that you really ought to start getting on with life and move on. Every day starts with that intention. But every night ends with you wanting to call them, check out their Facebook page or look through old photos, just to feel closer to them.

    Getting over it. Easy to say. Much harder to do.

    And no wonder, because there’s a bio-chemical reason behind the desperation and despair.

    Researchers who’ve looked at the brains of the lovelorn say that loss, especially rejection by a romantic partner, lights up areas of the brain that are associated with addiction. This can lead to psychological reactions that cause obsessive preoccupation with your partner, feelings of frenzied desperation, guilt over what you could have done differently and even physical pain. Letting go for good seems unimaginable.

    Trust me, as both a relationship therapist and a veteran of countless breakups myself, I’ve seen it all and I get it. What I’ve discovered along the way is that you need a holistic approach to getting over a breakup, one that addresses the four core areas: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The following are highly effective strategies from the healing section my book using each of those four core areas to get you on the road to recovery from that breakup — fast.

    PHYSICAL

    1. Meditate, don’t medicate. Avoid overusing drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and coffee and resist the urge to stuff down your feelings using chocolate and food. You’ll only end up feeling worse about yourself. In times of stress, having a drink or eating a quart of ice cream may be tempting, but doing so will only cause you to spiral down into a depression, lose sleep and gain weight. Instead, take five minutes to sit quietly, meditate, practice yoga or deep breathing.

    2. Eat healthfully and regularly. Your body can’t function properly without the proper nutrition. Don’t skip meals or resort to convenience food. Treat yourself as if you were your own child — eat wholesome meals that are balanced and freshly made.

    3. Get plenty of sleep. There’s nothing more replenishing to your body than quality sleep. If you are having trouble going to sleep because of punishing, pain-producing thoughts, try this: Keep a journal by your bed, write down your anxieties and imagine them flowing out of you and onto the paper. Say, “I fully release you and let you go. I give myself permission to peacefully sleep.” http://legendarylea.me

    4. Exercise your blues away. The absence of pleasure-producing endorphins after a break up can make you feel sluggish and miserable. Exercise increases your endorphins. Join a health club, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to work, do some yoga or take a salsa lesson. Make a promise to do something active for 30 minutes a day for 30 days, no excuses.

    EMOTIONAL

    5. Feel your feelings. Don’t ignore or stuff them down. Let the tears flow and express your anger. Ignored emotions will only make you calloused and afraid. One way of unloading your feelings is to write out what might be too difficult to say out loud to others right now. Or better yet, start a dialogue with your broken heart, asking this part of you questions and giving it the solace and attention it needs right now.

    6. Surround yourself with smiles and happy vibes. Make time for some feel good activities — anything from having a cup of tea with a friend to taking the kids to the zoo to playing a round of golf. Be sure to surround yourself with people that will uplift you, not unhappy ones that will just drag you down. Studies have shown that laughter or just smiling has a way of lifting your mood instantly.

    MENTAL

    7. Stop obsessing. All those obsessive thoughts and instant replays of would of, could of, should of head trips must stop NOW. The best way to do it is to say, “STOP!“ If the thoughts won’t stop, then say, “NO! STOP NOW!” If they persist, then continue, “ENOUGH! NO MORE! STOP!”

    Saying “STOP!” interrupts the obsessive thought process and breaks the cycle of pain. Immediately, redirect your thoughts away to something good that is happening in your life.

    8. Take a 60-second vacation. Thinking relaxing thoughts and verbalizing calming statements starts the healing process and helps you lessen anxiety. Take a deep breath and say out loud, “I am calm. I am safe and I can handle this.” Anything from smelling a flower to petting an animal can help take you away for even a minute, which starts the process of feeling free.

    SPIRITUAL

    9. Gratitude is grounding. Have you ever noticed that it’s impossible to feel grateful and depressed at the same time? Gratitude can transform pain into love and bring peace to your emotional chaos. Remind yourself of all the things you’re grateful for. Better yet, write it down. This strategy works miracles for bringing you out of any gloomy mood.

    10. Give to others. Studies show that the happiest people are ones who give the most to others. When you’re depressed, anxious or stressed, there is a high degree of focus on the self. Focusing on the needs of others literally helps shift your thinking and your mood from victimhood to empowerment.

    When you’re feeling down after a breakup, you may feel like you want to avoid the very activities that will actually make you feel better — exercise, visiting friends, being kind to those in need. As much as you might want to, avoid isolating yourself from others. Ask for help and talk to a friend who you know is a good listener. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Don’t think of this as time wasted because you aren’t with that special person, but as precious time you need to reinvest in a healthier, more grounded and more spiritually enlightened you.

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    How IoT is affecting mobile app development

    The benefits of connected things are fairly obvious and plentiful. By connecting devices to a smartphone, one can have complete control of the features provided by the different gadgets and machines. Running devices through the internet means that applications can push notifications straight to the phone and allow update parameters as well, thus making it possible to switch the systems on and off remotely.

    Mobile phones and mobile app programming provide scope to access IoT-enabled devices. Various sectors, such as healthcare, education, retail, travel and more, are using mobile connectivity and applications to access IoT ecosystems. There are multiple benefits of a mobile app approach:

    • Mobile apps boost the involvement of customers as they can easily use applications and can provide valuable opinions to help a business grow. http://ioandco.com
    • Creating mobile applications is very affordable; they reduce the costs of sending newsletters and SMSes. Applications can integrate communication directly to customers via messages.
    • It’s a faster option than web browsing; it won’t take even a minute to access applications as customers do not have to wait for the site to load.
    • Mobile app development companies try their best to create mobile apps that are IoT-friendly and reform the mobile app development and mobile app development services world.

    In addition, there are many reasons why a business should opt for an IoT mobile app:

    • Customers today use their smartphones to acquire information on just about everything. Unlike traditional websites, mobile apps come up with quality browsing and buying options, and they’re considered more important nowadays for business growth than websites.
    • Companies can reach their target audience through a mobile app, spreading information to all customers in seconds. By using features such as push notifications, one could connect to customers and remind them of updates.
    • Mobile apps can promote the brand and win over the most customers. Furthermore, one could earn a great deal of customers via the applications that persuade them to buy products and services.
    • Mobile apps prove to be excellent social platforms. This is because they come with features, such as likes, comments and so forth, which can boost social media presence.
    • The soaring demand of mobile apps is due to their flexible accessibilities. Mobile apps can be access on a smartphone 24/7, from any part of the world.

    The evolving IoT trend and mobile app development

    The IoT trend is evolving with each passing day. However, it’s also true that the internet of things is a beginner industry and will take some time to prosper. Improvements in mobile and IoT apps can boost the connection between people all over the world. A lot of businesses are already running numerous devices online, adding another security layer as well as growing productivity and response times. Security is a key pivot point of any enterprise app, and IoT could help improve overall defense barriers by allowing physical devices to be the first entry point.

    More than anything, the fast rise of IoT will drive mobile application development, leading to a mobile application development explosion. Without a doubt, IoT devices will soon be everywhere. Hardware spending by consumers and businesses on IoT devices will total almost $3 trillion by 2020. All of the investments in IoT will drive the development of mobile applications. Among the most popular IoT devices are smartphones, which let people not only access apps and the internet, but also provide a huge amount of data that could be tapped into and used by businesses all over the world.

    In fact, IoT has already changed mobile app development. In another 10 years, expect hundreds of thousands of jobs in this field. Nonetheless, to achieve the ultimate goal of making people’s lives easier, developers must first undergo the pains of building infrastructure and platforms from the ground up. Developing a mobile application is similar to developing a web application and has its roots in software development that is more traditional. Nevertheless, there is one major difference: Mobile apps often are specifically written to benefit from the unique features mobile devices offer.

    Creating IoT-friendly mobile apps

    The time is now for app development companies and businesses to come together to build mobile apps that are IoT-friendly. For example, an IoT-friendly mobile app could help build a mechanism in which information is transmitted by objectives through integrated sensors that would be received by the app in real time.

    Mobile applications have revolutionized the mobile field, gaining more power in the hands of customers, as well as more business for organizations. In the dynamic technology field, the mobile application development market is at its peak. It is the need of the hour and the latest trend in business.

    The future of mobile applications looks both challenging and bright with enticing and innovative possibilities. Remember that quality will always remain a constant and a major component in the development of mobile applications that are futuristic for both mass and niche markets.

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    16 Fashion Secrets from a Celebrity Stylist

    We asked celebrity stylist, Erin Walsh, to spill her styling secrets so we can spend our fall wardrobe allowance wisely.

    1. Understand your best and favorite features and how to play them up! Some of my favorite features to emphasize with style are women’s collar bone, wrists and ankles–they’re all very feminine and can be embellished beautifully with the right garment or jewelry.

    2. It’s important to know your body shape and the styles that look best on you, but then it’s all about proportion. Trapeze cuts are flattering for most body types if you balance the proportion so you don’t lose your shape. Also, an inch longer or shorter for skirts and pants can make a huge difference in flattering your figure. http://infashions.net

    3. When wearing sleeveless styles, we often think about the look of our arms, but forget to think about our underarms! Using a moisturizing deodorant like Dove Advanced Care will give you softer, smoother underarms in just three days.

    4. Have a tailor on speed dial! You can make inexpensive pieces look like they were made for you, or even transform an old top or skirt into something more fashion forward for the season like turning a shirt into a crop top.

    5. Know the value of undergarments and how they can best flatter your body shape and your style. Many women don’t know the full range of options available, and with so many different silhouettes in fashion it’s important to have the right undergarments to complement look.

    6. The easiest way to transition pieces season to season is with layering and playing up different textures is the best way to transition an outfit from season to season. For example, you can pair a white shirt dress with thick ribbed black tights, boots and an oversize cardigan to counterbalance the lightness of the fabric.

    7. To build a closet full of staples, you need versatile items in your wardrobe.Start with a few key pieces that you can wear with most things you have. A piece you should absolutely invest in is a perfectly fitting blazer, smoking jacket, or cropped jacket that can be worn with jeans, a dress, on a plane, etc. Also, figure out the style of jeans that looks best on you and buy them in a few colors. Another must-have is a white men’s-style shirt–they’re great as a top layer and perfect for throwing on with jeans.

    8. A style that looks good on every body type. Everyone should own is a trapeze or A-line cut dress—they’re generally always flattering, but make sure the proportions are correct. Too much fabric can be unflattering and take away from your shape!

    9. You should always splurge on high-quality blazers and jackets. They are staples you can have for years and are definitely worth the investment.

    10. Jeans are an item that can be inexpensive as long as you like the fit and the wash. Trendy summer sandals can be found for less, too!

    11. Ask yourself if you’ve worn the item in a year, and if you haven’t, get rid of it (unless it’s a family heirloom)!Don’t think about pieces individually, but how they can go with other items in your closet. If you can’t see yourself making an outfit out of something that makes you feel confident, it’s probably a good idea to get rid of the item.

    12. Tailoring is incredibly important. Sometimes you can find things that fit perfectly off the rack, but you can also buy and invest in pieces that do not fit exactly right and make them look like they were made for you. Just remember, size up and tailor down.

    13. Not sure about your personal style? You need to ask yourself what kind of image you want to project and what makes you feel the most confident. This will help you find your own personal style.

    14. I look to iconic references in film and pop culture to inspire me. I like to keep things classic. Lauren Hutton, Ines de la Fressange, Carlyne Cerf, Talitha Getty, Patti Smith and Diane Keaton are some women I draw inspiration from.

    15. Looking for chic brands that always look great on? The Row, Rag & Bone, Madewell, ALC, Isabel Marant, Chanel, and Zara are all great picks. And for accessories, Oliver Peoples sunglasses are always a go-to!

    16. A major investment piece for fall? A cape—Chloé makes beautiful capes! Or a great vintage cape from NY Vintage or What Goes Around Comes Around.

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    If This Is Where Claire Is Headed, Outlander Is About to Get Dark

    If you think Outlander heroine Claire Fraser has been through a lot in three seasons, well, you’re right. She works as a military nurse in World War II, gets married, travels through time, gets married again, gets pregnant twice, loses a child, gives birth to a child, loses a husband, travels through time again, and is now off on a high seas adventure to the West Indies.

    For a preview of what’s in store for Claire in what’s left of season three, check out our guide to Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager. But to find out what might befall Claire in seasons four, five, and beyond, read on below for a guide to Gabaldon’s other novels in the Outlander series.

    Be warned of spoilers from books four through eight below.

    Drums of Autumn

    On their way to the plantation owned by Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta, Jamie, Claire, Ian, and Fergus are robbed by Stephen Bonnet, a man they had previously helped escape the gallows in Charleston. He makes off with the rest of their money, treasure, and Claire’s gold wedding band from her marriage to Frank.

    Upon establishing that they don’t want to take over Jocasta’s plantation, the Frasers settle Fraser’s Ridge in North Carolina, making it a place for ex Ardsmuir prisoners to call home. This is where we suspect we’ll see Murtagh again after he survived Culloden on the show (he perished there in the books).

    After establishing their settlement, word of Claire’s skills as a medic spreads far and wide, and she begins traveling the nearby countryside to tend to the sick.

    She is reunited with Brianna when her daughter arrives at Fraser’s Ridge, having traveled through time to warn her parents because she found a record of their death notice in an old newspaper (though that printing turned out to be incorrect). When Claire learns that Brianna is pregnant, she agrees to keep her daughter’s secret that she was raped by Bonnet and he may be the father of her baby.

    After Jamie’s misunderstanding about who raped Brianna, Claire must travel with Jamie and Ian to rescue Roger Wakefield from a local Native American tribe that is holding him prisoner. They manage to get Roger back when Ian agrees to take Roger’s place; Ian is adopted into the Mohawk tribe and stays with them for a long while.

    Claire helps Brianna deliver her son, and Roger says he’s the baby’s father, the paternity notwithstanding.

    The Fiery Cross

    The Frasers attend Jocasta’s wedding where a slave ends up dead and Claire suspects foul play. Upon investigating, they figure out it was one of Jocasta’s would-be suitors whose advances she rebuffed. http://independentshavian.org He also attacked Jocasta and her husband-to-be, Duncan. But he was not connected to the men looking for “the Frenchman’s gold,” a reference to money sent by Louis XV of France to help in Charles Stuart’s rebellion.

    Back at Fraser’s Ridge, Claire starts improving her medical supplies by cultivating her own penicillan from moldy bread. It saves Jamie’s life when he is bitten by a snake while hunting.

    Much of The Fiery Cross is actually focused on those around Claire, while she works to be the best 18th-century doctor she can be. But at the end of the book, she, Brianna, and Roger all confess to Ian that they’re from the future.

    A Breath of Snow and Ashes

    Claire holds down the homestead while Jamie must go off to act as an “Indian agent” for the government, which culminates in him helping start a Committee of Safety (one of the first forms of local government in the United States). On a trip to the malting shed (where they are making their own whiskey), Claire is attacked and kidnapped by a group of criminals that includes a fellow time-traveler named Wendigo Donner from 1968.

    While captive, Claire is assaulted and raped. She manages to escape and Jamie, Ian, Fergus, and Co. slaughter most of the men who kidnapped her.

    As she continues her medical practice, Claire manages to make her own ether and eventually uses it to perform a successful appendectomy on a sick young boy. She also treats people for a devastating plague, saving as many as she can.

    Eventually Claire’s medical prowess begins to be seen as a kind of witchcraft. When a young pregnant girl named Malva is found dead, Claire tries to save the unborn baby, which lands her in jail on trial for murder. The only thing that saves Claire is the governor’s need for a midwife for his wife. Due to rising political tensions in New Bern (the Revolutionary War is less than a year away at this point), Claire poses as the governor’s wife so that his real wife may be smuggled out in the middle of the night.

    Eventually Malva’s father confesses to her murder, and Claire is exonerated and allowed to return to Fraser’s Ridge. A few months pass, and Brianna gives birth to a daughter, Amanda, whom Claire says has a heart murmur that will require surgery — surgery she cannot perform safely in 1776. So Brianna, Roger, and their two children travel back through the stones to the 20th century.

    Claire and Jamie continue their lives at Fraser’s Ridge until Donner and his companions loot their house looking for gemstones (which aid in traveling through the stones). In the riot, Ian sets the house on fire, trapping all the criminals inside. With their house gone, Jamie says they need to return to Scotland to retrieve his printing press.

    An Echo in the Bone

    Of course, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men — they often go awry.

    Claire, Jamie, and Ian try to set sail for Scotland, but their ship is stopped by a British naval vessel that presses Jamie and Ian into service. When a second ship attacks the British ship, Jamie is forced to join a militia for a while. During the Battle of Saratoga, Claire works as a medic for the militia and must amputate one of Jamie’s fingers. At the second Battle of Saratoga, Jamie’s cousin, Simon Fraser, is killed. Simon’s general asks Jamie to take Simon’s body back to Scotland for a proper burial, so Jamie, Claire, and Ian finally set sail for home.

    They arrive at Lallybroch to find that young Ian’s father, Ian Sr., is dying, but Claire soon receives a letter from Marsali back in Philadelphia, asking her to come perform life-saving surgery on Marsali and Fergus’s youngest, a boy named Henri-Christian. Claire and young Ian return to America, while Jamie stays behind to be with Ian and Jenny while Ian passes.

    After Ian’s death, Jenny decides to go to America with Jamie, but they miss the boat they initially were meant to be on and must take another one. When the first boat sinks, everyone in America (Claire, Ian, Lord John) think that Jenny and Jamie have perished at sea because they haven’t gotten word of the travel plans changing. A British captain wants to then arrest Claire as a spy, so she marries Lord John for protection. The two eventually become intimate — not because they love each other, but out of their shared grief for Jamie.

    Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

    Jamie and Claire are finally reunited (again) and reconcile, even though Jamie has a lot of feelings to work through about Claire and Lord John. But as the country is in the throes of the Revolutionary War, Claire and Jamie don’t have much choice but to join the fight.

    They join General Washington’s army, but within a month Claire is shot, and Jamie resigns his post to stay with her as she recovers. They eventually decide to return to Fraser’s Ridge, but are waylaid by the death of Henri-Christian, who dies in a fire in Fergus’s print shop. The grieving Frasers and Murrays move to Savannah, GA, to start again, but when the British invade the city, Jamie takes Claire, Ian, Ian’s wife Rachel, Jenny, and Fergus’s eldest son, Germain, back to Fraser’s Ridge. Fergus, Marsali, and their two daughters remain in Savannah.

    Back at Fraser’s Ridge, the man who raped Claire those many years ago when she was captive appears. Jamie leaves to find him and kill him, while Brianna, Roger, and their two children show back up at Fraser’s Ridge.

    While Claire has been embroiled in the Revolutionary War, Brianna and Roger have been having a time-traveling adventure of their own that involves Jemmy being kidnapped and all of them ending up decades farther back in time than they meant to go, 1739. But they are eventually able to find each other and get back to Claire and Jamie. And that’s where the latest book ends.

     

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    ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: Everything we know so far

    Oh my Skywalker! “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is approaching fast. And ever since the first trailer’s premiere at Star Wars Celebration in April, we’ve been fed a healthy diet of clues regarding what to expect when Mark Hamill’s Luke, Daisy Ridley’s Rey and the rest of the characters in a galaxy far, far away return to movie screens.

    While we have absolutely no early intelligence about the movie’s plot, let’s lead off with the 100 percent spoiler-free details for anyone who’s been avoiding online trailerstoys and any other possible hints about what they might find when the film debuts.

    When you can watch ‘The Last Jedi’

    “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opens in the US, UK and Australia on Thursday 14 December. Tickets went on sale in October and many screenings have already sold out, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to check with your local movie theater to grab an opening-weekend seat.

    Take a restroom break before the movie begins, as it will be the longest Star Wars film so far with a runtime of 2 hours, 30 minutes. (Pro tip: Just in case I have to go mid-film, I use the RunPee app on my phone, which recommends the best times to take a quick break). http://hulumagazine.com

    Who’s in it?

     

    Nearly everyone in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is returning in one way or another. That includes legacy actors Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and the late Carrie Fisher in her final portrayal of Leia Organa. (We’re not holding our breath for a reprise of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo.)

    Newer faces like Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron will also continue their stories.

    CGI-wise, Andy Serkis returns to embody Supreme Leader Snoke and Lupita Nyong’o will be back as Maz Kanata. Expect BB-8 to roll on back, and Chewbacca too.

    The movie is directed by Rian Johnson, who also helmed 2012’s “Looper” and three episodes of “Breaking Bad.”

    As far as new faces, we’ll get to that below the giant spoiler warning.

    Benicio del Toro is joining the Star Wars universe as DJ, a “shady character of unknown alliances,” said by Entertainment Weekly to be a codebreaker. It’s still vague as to exactly what DJ will be up to, but in the hands of an actor with a resume like del Toro’s, it’s potentially juicy. Kelly Marie Tran will play Rose, “a maintenance worker for the resistance” who Vanity Fair reports will be part of a “mission behind enemy lines” with Finn.

    New CGI characters are also on the way in the form of the adorable, penguin-like Porgs. Lucasfilm Story Group’s Pablo Hidalgo said in July the creatures are native to Ahch-To, and will be living on the island where Rey and Luke meet at the end of “The Force Awakens.”

    Just as cute, but with a questionable allegiance, is the new BB-9E droid revealed in August as part of Force Friday. BB-9E is painted in dark colors and has a flat head that stays on top of a rolling body similar to BB-8’s.

    And the rolling droid army might not stop with just BB-8 vs. BB-9E. IGN discovered in September that the blue 2BB2 and light brown BB-4 droids are options in the Star Wars Droid Factory at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The Sphero Star Wars app describes the droids as “ready to aid in the fight against the First Order.” Will these two droids make an appearance in “The Last Jedi”?

    What’s the story?

    The latest trailers appear to pick up not long after we left off from “The Force Awakens” — with Rey starting her Jedi training with an apparently wary Luke Skywalker. Following the destruction of his Jedi Temple by his nephew Ben-turned-Kylo-Ren, Luke describes the raw power of the Force wielded by Rey as something he finds frightening.

    While we don’t know from the trailers if Luke eventually refuses to continue training Rey, we do see her ask Kylo to “show me my place in all this.” Since murdering his father, Han Solo, Kylo is also seen smashing his helmet and donning a black mark over the scar he received at the end of the 2015 film.

    While Rey and Finn spent plenty of time together in “The Force Awakens,” trailers for “The Last Jedi” show Finn on a separate mission. It puts him back in a First Order uniform and eventually pits him against his former boss, Captain Phasma, in a fiery confrontation.

    We last saw Phasma taken prisoner by Finn before being thrown in a trash compactor on Starkiller Base. (If you want to know how she escaped, there’s a comic book for that.)

     

    We’ll also get to see the late Carrie Fisher continue as General Leia Organa, shown in the trailers leading her forces while on some kind of spaceship.

    While she had shot all of her “Last Jedi” scenes before her untimely death in December 2016 at age 60, it has been heavily rumored her character was expected to be a big part of 2019’s “Episode IX.”

    That sentiment was confirmed by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy to Vanity Fair in May. Kennedy said that movie would have put a focus on Leia in much the same way Han Solo was depicted in “The Force Awakens.”

    Instead, Lucasfilm said in January the studio has no plans to digitally re-create her, stating “We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.”

    Who is the last Jedi?

    And here’s the biggest thing we don’t know: who is the title referring to? Judging by the trailer it seems Luke Skywalker is deeply conflicted about Rey’s powers of the Force. So will he train Rey to become the last Jedi after he’s gone? Or will Luke withhold his teachings from Rey so the Jedi order dies with him? And yes, Johnson did say that Luke is the Jedi in the title, but until we see the movie for ourselves that could be a misdirect.

    On the other hand, Finn proved surprising adept with the traditional Jedi lightsaber in “The Force Awakens.” Or the new film could introduce a new character with Force powers who could take on the Jedi mantle — maybe, to borrow a phrase from the original trilogy, there is another.

    What about ‘Episode IX’? And that ‘Solo’ movie?

    Have some patience, but you won’t be waiting long. While both of these upcoming Star Wars movies have had their original director(s) replaced, the future of Star Wars movies is looking pretty bright.

    Director Ron Howard announced in October that he’s wrapped shooting on “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the movie all about a younger Han Solo played by Alden Ehrenreich. It’s still planned to debut on May 25, 2018, despite losing original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller during filming.

    Meanwhile, J.J. Abrams is returning to the director’s chair for “Star Wars: Episode IX,” allowing him to close out the trilogy he started with 2015’s “The Force Awakens.” Abrams’ return was announced a week after original “Episode IX” director Colin Trevorrow stepped away from the movie in September. Along with the director change came a delay, with the film now scheduled to debut on Dec. 20, 2019 instead of May 24, 2019.

    And what’s Rian Johnson doing after this?

    He’s hoping you’re going to love “The Last Jedi,” because after that, he’s starting a whole new trilogy of Star Wars films that are completely disconnected from Luke Skywalker and his family. In case he’s reading this, here are a few tips that we hope he could consider while crafting this new corner of the Star Wars universe.

    Star Wars at 40: A look at the cultural phenomenon that’s been thrilling fans since the first film in 1977.

    Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.

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    HACK TO THE FUTURE Mums share time-saving life hacks they believe help them on the school run, cleaning and with their kids behaviour

    But these crafty parents believe they’ve found solutions to everyday problems that make their lives a LOT easier.

     Parents have even come up with ways to make their kids eat less-expensive food products

    Parents have even come up with ways to make their kids eat less-expensive food products

    Women have taken to Mumsnet to reveal the parenting tips they swear-by. http://hugomccloud.com

    While some help them save money on groceries, others can apparently keep your child’s behaviour in check.

    Here are some of the best…

    1. Get your children to do the chores

    One mum believes that challenging her kids to a contest is all it takes to make her kids do as she says.

     One mum said 10p was enough to get her kids do their chores - and she puts the money towards a takeaway

    One mum said 10p was enough to get her kids do their chores – and she puts the money towards a takeaway

    The parent admitted that this is particularly good for children who are under eight-years-old.

    She said: “I turn everything into a competition.

    “I can brush more teeth than you, I bet I can put more toys away than you etc and then loads of praise when they do well.”

    Another parent admitted to paying her children 10p every time they complete chores, putting the cash towards a takeaway at the end of the week.

    2. Trick picky kids

    Does your child claim only to like eating a particular brand of food?

    One cheeky mum admitted to tricking her teenage son into glugging a cheaper alternative.

    She said: “My son, who is 19, is drinking ‘organic’ hot choc.

    “Little does he know it ran out ages ago and has been refilled with a much cheaper option, which he ‘doesn’t like’.”

    Make scrubbing away at your oven a thing of the past

    3. Cleaning

    No parent wants to spend hours of their day tidying the house.

    One mum revealed an easy way to clean the oven – and all you need is a dishwasher tablet to budge the grease.

    To pull-off the hack, dampen the kitchen product before rubbing it all over the glass to remove all the dirt.

    Another parent recommended getting rid of limescale by spraying on a solution of white vinegar and washing up liquid.

    While a third said placing a dish of bicarb in the fridge was great for eliminating odours.

    4. Save money on the weekly food shop

    Dozens of different parents have revealed their money saving tips on Mumsnet – and they’ll help you prevent food waste.

    One mum advised: “Save the bits you cut off vegetables – broccoli stalks for example – and make into a veg soup when there’s enough.”

    Another added: “Make ‘mash’ using baked potatoes then save the baked skins for another day. Pop them back in the oven and cover with cheese.”

    Preventing food waste is essential if you want to save money

    5. Preventing a hectic school run

    In a recent thread, mums revealed how they made the school run run smoothly.

    For many, bribery was the best way forward.

    One Mumsnet user said: “Mine can choose a ‘coming home snack’ if they get ready nicely in the mornings.”

    Another advised allowing them to have 15 minutes of fun if they get ready quick enough, adding: “They want to get everything done quicker to get some time playing before we have to leave.”

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    Gambia: ‘Nearly U.S.$10 Million Spent On Maintenance of Aircrafts, Over D72 M On Hajj Packages’-Lamin Cham

    The Managing Director of the Gambia International Airline (GIA), Lamin Cham, yesterday revealed to the ‘Janneh’ Commission that about ten Million US Dollars was spent on the maintenance of some of the States Aircraft’s, within a period of three years and over D72, 000,000 was spent by the office of the former president on Hajj packages, from the year 2011.

    He said he inherited five state aircrafts out of which, two were scrap while three were in service; that among the scrap aircrafts were C5 GNM and C5 GAM but that he could not remember how long they’ve not been used. He said Boeing 727 was last used during the political impasse when the former First Lady used it to travel to the United States.

    According to him one of the Aircraft is under maintenance in Bonn, Germany, and has been there for two and a half years; that the last time they visited Germany, it was almost done and once Gambia Civil Aviation (GCA) recommends that it’s airworthy, they will bring it back. He added that states aircrafts are jointly managed by the GIA and GCA but that GCA being the ‘technical experts’, are responsible for identifying maintenance facilities around the World, and submit their recommendations to GIA for onward transmission to the office of the former President.

    Earlier business tycoon and proprietor of Excel Construction Company Amadou Samba, continued with his evidence but denied the claim that he was a close associate of former President Jammeh.

    When asked by Commissioner Saine how often he used to communicate with Jammeh on phone. Samba said Jammeh whom he considers a friend, used to call him two to three times a day, or sometimes continuously for a week; that most of their talks centred on social issues and not business related; that though he was not visiting State House frequently, he used to clear security anytime he was supposed to meet the president at state house through protocols.

    “My relationship with Yahya Jammeh was more on the phone than meeting him personally and he never visited me at my house. He used to invite me to his birthdays in his house together with others as a guest,” he said.

    When asked by Commissioner Saine whether he is the sole owner of the compound at South Atlantic road in Fajara, he responded in the affirmative noting that he acquired that property for $475, 000 from one Lebanese in 1994; that it is correct as alluded to by Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda, that he did endorse some of the properties acquired by the former president because Jammeh asked him to do so.

    According to him, he played a pivotal role between the two former presidents, Jawara and Jammeh and was even the one who travelled to UK to bring former president Jawara back to the country.

    On the ownership of Excel Construction Company, Samba said he owns 40% while Patrick Ricchatti and his son Kabba Samba, each own 30%; that the said Company is in operation and it was after the 30th December attack in 2014, that the former president requested for the fencing of State House. According to him, the job Jammeh wanted, needed specific skills and materials which a French contractor was initially contracted to do.

    The contract awarded to Excel according to him, was in three phases and the first involved the payment of D11, 766,012 while the second phase of the contract amounted to D21, 324,470; that there is an outstanding sum of D2, 180,000 which triggered them to stop after completing 85% of the work contracted to them. http://howiesmarine.com

    At that juncture, Mrs. Bensouda applied to tender the Memorandum of Article and Association, Business Registration Certificate, Certificate of incorporation, undated first phase contract for the fencing of state house as well as several letters from the Company, addressed to the office of the president as exhibits. However, the contract was returned to Mr. Samba on the ground that the attorney Ida Drameh, who prepared the document did not append her signature on it.

    Commissioner Saine at that point reminded Mr. Samba that most of the expenditures were for the former president and the Commission rarely sees expenditures made on behalf of the Gambian people and then asked him to explain any project he knows where Jammeh ignored himself and put Gambians at the center stage. Mr. Samba in response said Jammeh is selfish and everything he does was for himself. He however said Jammeh did a lot of infrastructural projects for the country which people are benefiting from such as construction of roads, the airport and taking people to Mecca among others. On why he supported a selfish leader, Samba said it was his constitutional right to support any political party of his choice.

    Earlier in his testimony while reacting to the testimony of Momodou Lamin Sonko, the country coordinator of MA Kharafi on the sale of Kairaba Beach Hotel, he said Sonko’s testimony was an afterthought and that he deviated from his testimony; that he has listened to the evidence of Mr. Sonko whom he said was trying to manufacture evidence and appealed to the commission for Mr. Sonko to produce documents that he was alleged to have signed, with regard to the sale of Kairaba Beach Hotel. “There is nothing like Amadou Samba in the Sales Agreement of the hotel and I never went to the Standard Chartered Bank with Mr. Sonko in regard to the sale of Kairaba Beach Hotel,” he clarified. Mr. Samba at that point tendered deeds of assignment on the sale of the hotel which he said was prepared by Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda, and was admitted as exhibit.

    Mr. Samba testified that the document will show the history of the hotel since he has earlier told the Commission that the hotel was on liquidation at the time of the sale.

    According to him, Baba Jobe was dealing with Robert Aswandi, former manager of the hotel and he was answering to the former president which he said indicated that the hotel belongs to Jammeh; because Baba did not have money to buy the hotel.

    Mr. Samba said he dares not to say that Jammeh bought the said hotel from public funds and has no vested interest in the Chairmanship of the hotel which he said, was even symbolic because there was no commission for him and he was not hungry.

    “I have never discussed the sale of the hotel with the ex-president but I remembered Robert Aswandi calling me on two occasions during the sale of the hotel, on the stocks and mortgage of the hotel. Apart from this, I knew nothing about the hotel,” Mr. Samba added.

    Next to testify was the Managing Director of Gambia International Airline (GIA), Lamin Cham, who became the Managing Director in January 2017. Prior to his appointment, he joined the airline in 1997 as Marketing Officer and rose through the ranks to become MD. Mr. Cham said the GIA was in charge of travels of the former executive; that they are also responsible for accommodating the pilot crew and their salaries; that the executive used to choose the type of aircraft they intend to use in collaboration with the ministry of foreign affairs and all budgets relating to their travel were submitted to the office of the former president.

    According to the witness, from 2013 to 2016, the sums of $2, 360,664 and € 27, 507 were used as maintenance cost for C5 RTG while the sum of $6,6093,265 and €4,54,609.70 was spent as maintenance cost for the Challenger aircraft. At that juncture, Cham informed Commissioners that they did not produce any information on scraped aircrafts. However, he said there are no documentary evidence with him but at some point, they were made to understand that the Bazzi Group was in charge of managing state aircrafts.

    Dwelling on the number of pilgrims Jammeh took to Mecca (Hajj) from 2011-2016, he said in 2011 the former president sponsored five people at a cost of D595, 000 while in 2012 he paid for 127 pilgrims through bank transfer, amounting to D17, 333, 500 and for that of 2013, the office of the former president sponsored 82 pilgrims which was also through bank transfer, amounting to D13, 858,000; that in 2014 there were 85 pilgrims and the amount involved was D14, 875,000 and in 2015, 44 pilgrims were sponsored for D9, 292,976. In 2016, he said the sum of D16, 940,000 was spent on 77 pilgrims.

    Mr. Cham disclosed to Commissioners that they used to get instructions from the office of the former president that he was sponsoring certain number of persons for pilgrimage. At that point Counsel observed that from 2013-2016, GIA spent nearly $10,000,000 for maintenance of some of the aircrafts and spent over D72, 892,000 on hajj packages for pilgrims, from 2011.

    Statements on Hajj packages sponsored by the office of the former president and expenses on the aircrafts from 2013-16, were admitted as exhibits.

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    Vetements Fans Flock To Limited-Edition Event With Joyce In Hong Kong

    ON the dock of the Kai Tak terminal in Hong Kong’s old airport, a fleet of yellow DHL trucks formed an unusual marketplace on Saturday afternoon. Spilling out of them were Swiss tourist goods, luxury T-shirts and trainers, and white raincoats that spelled out ‘Hong Kong Playboy’ on the back. You might have mistaken it for the most epic car boot sale on the Orient – the Hong Kong skyline giving panoramic backdrop in the afternoon sun – but as hoodie-clad youths formed a mile-long queue outside, it could only mean one thing: Vetements had come to town. “To me, everything has become so digital and accessible today, I think it’s so important to get out there and do something that’s special and unique; something you can truly experience,” Guram Gvasalia reflected over coffee the morning after his limited-edition shopping event. The ingenious Vetements CEO – brother of the brand’s designer, Demna Gvasalia – had partnered with Joyce on the one-off affair, which followed similar Vetements orchestrations in Seoul and Los Angeles over the past two years. http://hongkongeye.org

    “We have creative discussions that are not just about selling stuff, but about creating experiences,” said Andrew Keith, president of the Lane Crawford Joyce Group, minutes before the doors opened on Saturday and crowds flooded the terminal dock. “Both Guram and I feel very strongly that in this world where there’s so much fakery, it’s the experience that becomes the new authenticity; that becomes the truth. Certainly, from what’s happening from a consumer perspective, there’s that need for something unique and something to share.” Like the secret gig of a rock star, the event was announced through Vetements’ Instagram account just one day before, giving fans like Kim Jaebun, who had been queuing for 20 hours, little time to make arrangements. Coming from mainland China, tickets to the Hong Kong ferry were sold out and he had to go via Macau to be first in line. “It was exhausting,” he said. “Look at the line, it’s all the way down!”

    Like many in the queue, Kim’s sights were set on Vetements’ collaboration goods: the Tommy Hilfiger hoodie, the Reebok trainers, and the DHL raincoat. “It’s very famous nowadays and quite hot worldwide,” he said of his affinity for the brand. Further down the line, Sonia from Hong Kong concurred: “It’s quite different compared to other brands. It’s not too high-profile. Some brands are too high-profile,” she said, summing up the cult brand status which has defined the success of Vetements since its sky-rocketing launch in 2014. Sonia, whose collection counts seven pieces already, said she had come for the oversize cuts, a common denominator for fans in the queue. “I like the special collaborations and the oversize fit,” said 16-year-old Aaron, who was there with his girlfriend Kitty, both of them draped in Vetements head to toe. “Apparently Demna said he’s going to make less oversized things, but I hope he’ll continue some of it because I think it looks really cool.”

    “The cult of Demna and the way they’ve built their social media following around that,” Keith reflected, attempting to explain the ongoing appeal of Vetements. “There is this global connectivity through social media that’s been great for this particular brand. In this market, they’ve tapped into a kid who’s looking for something that’s different. This market has always been about new and unexpected, and particularly now. The collaborative element of it is something that’s quite interesting.” Hong Kong’s ultimate destination for in-demand and independent brands, Joyce has played an integral part in the rise of Vetements in Asia. “They bought us the first season, before we even had a show,” Gvasalia recalled. “And they place big orders. The store had a sell-through this spring/summer of 95 per cent. It’s beyond any average.” Before Joyce proposed the event, Gvasalia had been in Bonn to visit Ken Allen, the CEO of DHL Express, which Vetements first collaborated with on their legendary DHL T-shirt from spring/summer 2016.

    “They have this whole room dedicated to people wearing the DHL uniform, taking pictures in fashion poses,” Gvasalia noted, amused. Allen had told him how Hong Kong is one of DHL’s hotspots, so when Joyce got in touch it all came together. DHL provided 25 trucks and 13 containers for the event, art directed to reflect the local Mong Kok hawker markets in Hong Kong. True to the upside-down normative nature of Vetements, Swiss tourist souvenirs (manufactured in Switzerland) graced the boots of the DHL trucks. Mugs, saucers and fridge magnets – even cowbells – featuring cheesy Swiss landscape photography were branded with the Vetements logo. On the backdrop of the Hong Kong skyline, it made for an unusual constellation to say the least. The souvenirs weren’t just a nod to Zurich where the brand relocated from Paris in early 2017, Gvasalia explained, but a reflection of the event’s global spirit. “People are so international today, they come from so many backgrounds, and all these cultures create one big global culture,” the 31-year-old business mogul said, himself a product of Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, London and Paris.

    “When I was studying in Paris, I always found it interesting when I’d see Chinese tourists buying those little Eiffel Tower trinkets, coming all the way from China to Paris to buy something that’s actually produced in China. But it’s about the experience.” When yours truly posted the Swiss fridge magnets on his Instagram, one follower wrote: “I don’t know if this is Demna & co completely losing it or striking gold.” Another replied, “Selling tourist magnets for 200HKD is striking gold I’d say.” Is there anything Gvasalia couldn’t sell if he stuck the Vetements name on it? “But I wouldn’t put the logo on just anything,” he retorted. “We don’t license, and that gives you a certain power of control. Once you start licensing you can’t stop the machine. But if you do really small quantities – a hundred pieces for your global market – it disappears in seconds. It can be a pencil, or tape, or in our case, fridge magnets, but it’s a good memory and something that makes everyday life nicer. It’s not necessarily about buying expensive sneakers. It’s about having a memory.”

    After the brand’s meteoric rise to stardom and the overexposure that inevitably came with it, whispers in the fashion industry questioned if Vetements would be able to sustain interest and sales. Observing their Hong Kong fan base casually pulling £700 hoodies out of the backs of those DHL trucks, there’s certainly no need to worry in Asia, which Gvasalia said is his biggest market after America. Asked if he knows how much Vetements they sell, Keith laughed. “Yeah, a lot! And we continue to sell it very well.” It’s the breadth of Vetements that gives their business longevity, the Joyce boss explained: “What’s really great about the brand is that they’ve given themselves license to take it wherever they want to. That’s its sustainability. They’re going to continue to be able to extend the brand for a long time, because they’ve got that unexpected quality and flexibility.” You could call the fridge magnets a case in point, but on a more significant level it’s Vetements’ cleverly positioned partnerships with household name brands, and their knack for the unexpected, which gives the Gvasalia brothers space to grow and extend their following.

    Rendez-Vogue: Demna Gvasalia

    “I always check up on what’s happening with our social media statistics,” Gvasalia said. “Every day around 3,000 to 4,000 people start following the brand. And I’m always wondering, who are these 4,000 people who find out about Vetements on a daily basis and want to start following it? It’s around a 100,000 people a month, or one million people a year. It’s insane,” he admitted, a smile on his face. “Out of these 4,000 people, even if it’s just one per cent, it’s 40 people, who represent the new clientele of the limited-edition clothes we make. That’s a lot of new customers on a daily basis.”

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    TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN TOKYO

    Vibrant, stylish, well-organized, ancient and futuristic at the same time. This is Tokyo, a metropolis of 13 million people with an unexpected traditional side that makes it one of the most charming cities in the world. Tokyo is constantly changing and there are so many things to see and do that one trip is not enough to experience all the faces of the city.
    Here is our selection of top 10 things to see and do in Tokyo for first timers. Get ready to start dreaming your next adventure in the land of the rising sun!

    Watch the Top 10 Things to Do in Tokyo:

    1) Tokyo Metropolitan Government
    The building was designed by Kenzo Tange, and has been used as headquarters of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government since 1991. When it was built, it was the highest building in Japan with the height of 243m.
    Especially the building No1 has panoramic observatories on the north and south wing at the height of 202 meters on the 45th floor. It’s free of charge and from the north wing, if you are lucky (the weather is fine), you’ll see Mt. Fuji. There is a souvenir shop and café on the same floor.

    2) Shimbashi traditional izakaya-pub

    Shimbashi is a town of Japanese salaried workers, as it’s near the business district. It features lots of izakaya, or Japanese traditional pubs, and after five o’clock, this town becomes lively with full of salaried workers who finished working and letting their stress out, complaining about their bosses or subordinates or even their companies, and then they go back to hard work tomorrow…
    The izakayas here mainly feature traditional Japanese dishes rather than Western, so it would be a good opportunity to have some Japanese foods, in addition to see Japanese workers lives.  http://harajukutokyo.net Unfortunately most of the pubs don’t have English menus, but you might find the experience very local!

     

    3) Harajuku (trends and crepes)

    In Harajuku, you can find almost everything about Tokyo’s pop culture and especially Takeshita dori is one of the hustle-bustle and noisy street in Tokyo. Regardless of the day of the week, there are full of visitors who are trying to find something interesting.

    One of the must-dos in Takeshita st. is to try Japanese crepe. It’s obviously from France originally, but Japanese crepes contain rich whipped creams, fruits, ice cream and even mochi-sticky rice cake as toppings. Since the first shop was open in 1977, Harajuku has been thought as a mecca for this Japanese crepes. Groups of people who are taking a big bite of crepe while walking in the street is a common sight here.

    Also what you’ll see in Harajuku are unique souveniers, character shops, cheap accessory and clothing shops and kawaii cafes… you name it!

    During the weekends, you can hardly move ahead with lots of tourists, but don’t rush, enjoy the noise too. What you are seeing is really Tokyo-ish.

     

    4) Puri-Kura

    Puri-kura is a shorten word for Print Club in Japanese, which means a small photo booth and also the photo stickers produced by the machine. During the early stage when the machine appeared about 20 years ago, the special devise was to choose the background of some sightseeing spots behind you, and some stamps like heart or stars to put on the photos, but it’s drastically changing, and now we can try funny effects like drawing graffiti or messages on the photo, or you can modify your image such as making your legs slimmer, your eyes bigger and your lip colour brighter. It takes some steps to get a photo sticker, just try and let’s see how much prettier you could be by the magic of technology!

    5) Snake café (Tokyo snake center)

    There are many themed cafes in Japan, for instance, cat café is one of the most famous ones, we also have another animal cafés such as rabbit café, owl café, hedgehog café, apart from animals, we have stationery café, maid café, butler’s café and knitting café. You name it! However, the most peculiar one should be a snake café. Since it opened this café is full of visitors from all over the world and got interviewed for TV many times.
    The system of this café goes like this: The entrance fee is \1,000 and it comes with one drink. You can choose a glass case with a snake, (which is called an attendant here) out of about 40 cases per person, and the snake will be with you on your table during your stay.
    You cannot touch one in your case, but if you are hoping to touch snakes, there is another chance for you. Once you decide you want to touch one, you’ll be led to a special seat and you can enjoy touching one of the snakes from different cases especially which are ready for welcoming you. You can have this touching snake session for 10 minutes, and it costs
    540 yen per person. It’s surely unusual experience – touching snakes in Tokyo! Wanna try now?

    6) Omoide Yokocho old street in Shinjuku

    The Japanese word “Yokocho” will be a key word to enjoy something local in Tokyo.
    Yokocho is literally side street, meaning back street or alley in Japanese, and you can see many these alleys in the centre in Tokyo. Most of them are the synonym of drinking places, in which small Japanese pubs and bars are lined, and usually they are old and have histories.
    Many yokochos date back in the postwar period, when Japan was very poor. There were many black markets which thrived at the time and many yokocho have the traces of the period, which makes the atmosphere unique. Omoide-Yokocho, Nonbei -Yokocho, Ebisu-Yokocho and Harmonica Yokocho are all in Tokyo.
    More than eighty pubs are crammed in the area, and the food provided there are mostly traditional Japanese foods such as Yakitori, soba, ramen and sushi. Visiting here serves you a dual purposes:to feel the good old atmosphere of Japanese post-war, Showa period, and of course to have delicious foods!

     

    7) Maid café/Izakaya (Japanese pub) 

    Akihabara is a mecca of electronic appliance stores, but also well known for geek culture such as anime, cosplay and Japanese idol(especially girls). The maid culture is one of them, which represents Akihabara, and there are many maid cafés and pubs where you can see maids who are serving foods and drinks. Some of the places have a performance of dancing and singing by the maids, and you can even take a photo with them. (Additional
    fee is needed) The foods have mostly “kawaii” decorations on the plate or food itself. It will surely be an unforgettable unique experience in Tokyo!

     

    8) Boat tour on the Sumida river from Asakusa to Odaiba.

    You might’ve not thought about seeing a part of Tokyo from a river, but it’s actually one of the fun attractions, in that you can see Tokyo from different angles. There is a big river called Sumida River, which has been very important for transport for more than 400 years. There are some boat companies and destinations. The one I recommend is to take a boat called “Himiko or Hotaluna” which takes you to Odaiba from Asakusa (Vice versa is
    possible). Himiko/Hotaluna are neo-futuristic shaped boats which were designed by Leiji Matsumoto. He is a great master of Japanese anime field, one of his great works is Galaxy Express 999. From this futuristic boat, you’ll see the both sides of Tokyo – something new and something old at a time, which is always appealing characteristic of Tokyo.

     

    9) Shiodome and Ghibli clock

    Shiodome is now a business district which bears main offices of leading companies, such as TV company, telecommunication company, and airline company, but the area was originally wet land and during the Edo period (1603-1867),and it was landfilled as a part of the infrastructure development. After the development this area was the residence of the feudal lords. About 150 years ago, the first railway started running from this area to
    Yokohama.
    As well as being a business district, Shiodome is becoming an entertainment area, which entices tourists from home and abroad. One of the features in this area is Ghibli automaton clock, which was designed by Hayao Miyazaki. It’s quite huge with the height of 12 meters and the width of 18 meters. The clock strikes four times a day (five times during the weekend) and draw many fans of Ghibli. It’s worth visiting and watching the motion of the
    clock, which draws you into a fantasy world.

    10) Tokyo Tower night view

    Although Japan has a notable new tower called Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower is still a landmark of Tokyo and loved by tourists and Japanese people as well. Tokyo Tower is a radio transmitter which started operating in 1958, and it has witnessed the dramatic changes of Tokyo since then. Also for Japanese people, it’s a symbol of post war reconstruction.
    The role for radio transmitter has mostly been transferred to Tokyo Sky Tree now, but visiting Tokyo Tower is still one of the popular tourists sightseeing spot in Tokyo.
    There are two panoramic observatories on the height of 150m and 250m above the sea level, where you can command the view of Tokyo. Especially night view from here is something you shouldn’t miss. Of course the illumination of Tokyo Tower itself is stunning. Basically it’s orange and white, but it varies depending on promotions or events happening in the world.

     

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