This year was exceptionally marvelous. I am living my best life and I don’t plan on stopping! My first love is pleasure but my second love is travel and the combination of the two is what my dreams are made of. So let’s see- I kicked off 2017 in a private hot tub under the stars at Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley with a dear client. And baby, it only got better from there!
I've wanted to go to Japan for as long as I can remember; the stars aligned and it was finally my time to go. My first trip to Japan coincided with cherry blossom season this past April. Seeing the cherry blossoms at Tōdai-ji temple surrounded by deer in Nara was heaven. My second trip was in the fall and autumn was vivid- seeing the leaves change in Kyoto was breathtaking. I really had good timing with both trips. I was also blessed with interesting clients and had a lot of fun with Japanese and expat men alike!
Along with my libido, my collector heart was lit on fire as well. I loved how organized Japanese record stores were. Some of the larger chain music stores even had entire rooms devoted just to punk. It's basically Ramona heaven! I prefered record shopping in Osaka, although the hunt was fun in Tokyo. That said, record shopping in Japan can be confusing; it's hard to tell whether a record is used or a repress as all the vinyl is in such good condition. Basically, it’s a record collector's paradise! I definitely picked up some Japanese pressings of classic Rolling Stones albums with Japanese obi strips and the like as well as many items off my want list within my personal collecting niche: 1980s Japanese hardcore punk. Of course I caught a few live shows both trips which were amazing as I got to see some of my favorite bands. Also, shows in Japan are air-conditioned so I could keep my leather jacket on comfortably which delighted me.
One of my favorite moments in Japan, after a hard day of shopping, was eating sashimi in Kōenji. Kōenji is my favorite district in Tokyo; it has great vintage and record shops. The restaurant was tiny with a little room in the back, past the classic sushi bar. You had to take your shoes off to enter and sat cross-legged on a tatami mat as you were served the most incredible raw fish. I felt amazing after that meal and was truly satiated. There were many moments in Japan where I longed for nothing as I was completely satisfied. It is a place that fulfills many of my desires on so many levels.
Where else did I go this past year that’s worth a mention? Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles was a total blast. I am a sucker for the 1920s glamour and historical rock’n’roll debauchery that haunts every inch of that hotel. Eating in the garden terrace was a delight! I enjoyed staying at the Ace Hotel in New York City and drinking copious amounts of Stumptown decaf Americanos. I always love returning to my hometown during the summer as NYC in the summer is pure magic. I love walking the city streets on hot nights, running into old friends, and people watching. I would choose a crowded subway car over Bay Area traffic any day! Unless I’m on my motorcycle and lane splitting here in the Bay (which is illegal in New York).
I spent some time in the majestic mountains in North Carolina. I did a quick jaunt to Mexico City right after Thanksgiving. I, of course, went to Napa a few times to go wine and dine with a few gents. Well, more like sparkling water and some of the world’s best restaurants. Right now all I can really think about is how I’ll be ringing in the New Year in Havana, Cuba! And then shortly after jetting off to Tokyo…
I am so grateful for this past year and I am filled with excitement for next year’s travels and adventures. To those who have stayed in my life and to those that I have met this year; you are what it means to be generous and thoughtful. To those that I have yet to meet: what are you waiting for? I invite you to be a part of this upcoming New Year with me. So mark your calendars and plan on enjoying another fantastical year with your favorite Mistress!
xx Ramona Ryder