Kyoto 2016 : Maiko Dress-up Experience

Hello! Really long time no see :3

I was really busy with my research lately, but this week I have a “legal spare time, lol. I will attend a the annual meeting of Chemical Society of Japan in Kyoto, and since I have morning presentation I can go the day before. Since conference has not started yet today, so I have the opportunity to stroll around!


Because i have visited most of the notable temples in Kyoto.

This time I will only want to treat myself with a… Maiko Dress-up Experience! ❤


*that was me, really


In case you want to try the same experience with me, I will give you explanation in detail!


What is Maiko and Why?

Maiko is a women that perform dance, sings and traditional instrument for visitors during feast. Maiko is the apprentice geiko and usually aged 15-20 years.

Their appearance is always very beautiful to me, all white make-up with a detail of red and pink. Beautiful hair style with enchanting hairpiece and of course the kimono! ❤

Right now in Kyoto, there are many shops that offer Maiko Dressing-up Experience for tourists. So that is why, right now it is very common for normal people to have one day experience dress-up as a Maiko.


Okay, so how do you select the right shop?

The shop that i chose is Maica. in Gion, Kyoto Basically I just typed “Maiko dress-up in Kyoto” using google and found this shop. The website has quite good English explanation and prices are also reasonable. They have variety of package so that you can choose which one suits your budget the most.

The package that i chose is “Okigaru” Plan, right now on sale for 6500 JPY (excluding tax). This package cover make-up, hair, kimono rental, wig rental (you can only choose whole wig), hair accessories rental, one studio photograph (printed in B5 size), and one hour of free photo time inside the house.

If you want to do longer, they also have package including walking outside (Gion area) or even guided tour to farther temple, but it also comes with higher price.




It is actually described well here, but I will just retell you my own version.

Upon arrival we will have to fill a short form (it has English, don’t worry, generally all staffs can speak English quite well!). We will be given plastic bag for our shoes and we are escorted to the third floor. Photography is forbidden at third floor and during make-up and dressing-up process 😦

First thing is kimono selection, although Okigaru plan has limited kimono selection, it is still all very beautiful for me. After that, we have to pay (please note purchase under 10.000 JPY has to be paid in cash). We will then be escorted to the second floor where we have to put all of our camera-related thing in a safety deposit box. After that we will go to the locker room to store our other belongings and change to kimono inner wear and room socks. *we have to pay 200 JPY for the locker

Then… make-up time (which was fast, they just paint our face white with little pink and red detail). Honestly it was really thrilling because they don’t put MIRROR in the make-up room! After make-up then wig placement, which was… heavy, really heavy. And finally, kimono!! There were so many layers, so so so so many and they just keep tightening it more and more 😦


Tada! Suddenly I transformed into Maiko!

And after that, photo time! One studio photograph was taken and if you come alone (like me) the staffs will help us to take picture (Up to 5 pictures). Other than that we can just explore the house by ourselves and selfie stick is allowed. Although it is small, almost every parts of the house are beautiful with classic Japanese decoration.


Full body picture with the help of the staff


Beautiful neck detail


Tea ceremony, one of my most favorite picture!


The studio photograph 🙂

Oh, i forget to mention that you can wear contact-lenses for the make up and also don’t worry about the make-up, it is actually light. You can remove it without ease using any kind of makeup remover you bring, they will also help you to remove the neck makeup.


I was really satisfied with my experience in Maica! I mean, who doesn’t want to look like a beautiful Maiko? <3<3 Staffs are friendly and helpful (and they keep praising me for my Japanese speaking, lol). I discovered that actually being Maiko is really tough. It was tough with all of those tight kimono (it was even hard to kneel down and get up again) and that heavy wig? Honestly, i feel tortured, yes maybe beauty is pain ^^



That’s all for today’s post!

I hope that i will have successful presentation tomorrow! ❤ enjoy Spring break, everyone!




Afifa Ayu Koesoema



Summer 2015!

Hello everyone,

Very long time no see! So, right now the summer is almost over here, it’s getting colder everyday so I will make a post about how my second Summer in Japan’s going!

I experienced many things in this second summer, including the heat and heat exhaustion lol. Maybe the only thing that i did not do is going to the beach. It’s okay, still have 4 summers more.

So here are some highlights of my summer!




What? Hydrangea is the flower that starts blooming in the beginning of rainy season. Once the rainy season has gone, voila.. you have the real summer and the real heat and everything! This flower is really beautiful and colorful (some said the difference of the color is due to the soil’s pH difference)

When? Late May to early June, so basically the weather is still pleasant!

Where? There are a lot of choices but we decided to go to Hase Dera (Hase Temple) in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Hase Temple has a trail for hydrangea viewing. They will give you number tags to allow you get in to the trail in particular time, this is to avoid congestion inside the trail and be aware, the trail is a bit steep! But it has a good downhill view and in some other part of the temple you can have the mesmerizing view of the sea!

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How to get there? Take Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden, for short) from JR Fujisawa Station (Tokaido Line) or JR Kamakura Station (Yokosuka Line), hop off at Hase Station and take a few minutes walk to the temple.


Although i could not go home this summer, my family visit me and we spent wonderful time in Kansai plus celebrating the Eid Al Fitr together! 🙂 We stayed in Kobe so that we can shuttle back and forth between Osaka and Kyoto!

As an aquarium lover family, finally we went full team to the Osaka Aquarium, Kaiyukan (i have posted about Kaiyukan here before). We explored a bit more in Kyoto by going to the Fushimi Inari temple and exploring Gion District.

Fushimi Inari Temple

What? This is one of the most beautiful and famous temple with its gazillions of Red Gate in Kyoto. It is located on the hillside and the red gate will continue up to the top of the hill. There is no admission fee for this temple.

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How to get there? Take JR Nara Line from JR Kyoto Station and hop off at Inari Station, the temple is just outside the station. Using Kyoto city bus is a bit more complicated and crowded too.

Gion District and its Yukata Experience

What? Gion District is one of the preserved Geisha district in Kyoto. Besides enjoying the sudden appearance of geisha or maiko on the street you can also enjoy the wooden merchant houses architecture. The streets are also filled with shops, tea houses, souvenir shop, and ice cream shops. I will write about recommended ice cream shops in Gion in the next post. One of the interesting part is the yukata experience. Gion is filled with yukata-renting shop, so you can walk around with yukata along the traditional wooden houses! The renting price differs among the venue, if you are lucky you can get a one day yukata rent around 3.000 yen for whole day! 🙂

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How to get there? There are variety of Kyoto city bus going to Gion (number 7, 205, or Kyoto Loop Bus) and stop at Shijokawaramachi stop. From Kyoto Station, train requires transfer.



What? The true Japanese Summer experience will not be completed it you haven’t watched fireworks or hanabi yet! Hanabi (花火、literally means flower and fire) in Japan are held throughout summer’s weekend (July-August) in various places, usually along the river side or beach. It is really beautiful and special in my opinion. I think Japan really has the latest technology for the fireworks that make it really beautiful. The experience is further fulfilled with attending it using yukata with your friends and chatting plus sort of doing picnic while waiting for the fireworks!

And take purikura (Japanese cute-styled photo box) after it while wearing yukata! The memory will last ❤

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Where? This year i visit Tokyo Bay Fireworks and watched it from Odaiba Beach. The magnificent view as you can see, is the graceful rainbow bridge with the beautiful fireworks!

What to expect? CROWDS!! There will be people everywhere, loads of it. But as long as you stay alert, and follow instructions from the officer it will be okay I guess. If you want to get a good spot, you can come to the watching place the night before, put a tarpaulin cloth and stick your name on it. Since Japanese are polite, they will not disturb your place and you can just come around 2 hours before the fireworks start.

N.B : But be careful if you use bus to the watching place, sometimes the road is closed if it’s already nearing the launch time! So I still advice you to come in advance.


What? Last thing to make your summer complete? Sunflower viewing! Japan has plentiful of vast sunflower garden and the sunflowers are really tall and beautiful!

Where? This year, i pick a near viewing spot from my home, Zama Sunflower Matsuri (Matsuri means festival) in Zama, Kanagawa-ken. Along with the sunflower garden, they also have small festival containing food stalls. The festival was held only several days from late July to Early August.


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How to get there? This sunflower festival provides free shuttle bus from Odakyu Soubudaimae Station.

What to expect? Heat of course, wear adequate UV protection, bring umbrella or hat and water to prevent dehydration. Uneven terrain, of course. It is a field, so the terrain will be uneven, wear comfortable shoes! Full cellphone or camera battery, believe me the view will be breathtaking, both for serious photo hunter or selfie hunter like me :3

So, these are all my experience for this Summer! Let’s fight for the new semester!

Welcome, Autumn :*

Afifa Ayu Koesoema


Spring 2015 : Hanami

Hello everyone!

It has been so long since my last post! Now it’s already April and Sakura season has almost ended here in Tokyo, Yokohama and its surrounding. Since i came back to Japan from my spring holiday in the right timing, this year I could enjoy the beauty of Sakura in Tokyo! So, let me share you my story about this year Hanami (Japanese tradition of flower viewing experience!

26 March 2015 – Ueno Park

Access : JR Ueno Station, ~3 minutes walk

Entrance fee : Free

This spot is really popular because they have numerous sakura trees lined up where you can do hanami just underneath. Spaces are already provided and partitioned, according to the rules you can use it for about 1 hour. Not only you can do Hanami here, but you can also visit many museum, Ueno Zoo, and many temples. You can also enjoy local delicacies by buying snacks from food stalls (Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Grilled Corn, etc.)

I went there when the Sakura had not bloomed 100% yet but the place was already quite full. So please expect it to be really crowded during Sakura full bloom. P.S : try the Sakura Cake from Starbucks located nearby, it’s so delicious!


Enjoying Hanami with Starbucks

IMG_2183Local food stalls in front of temple :)

27 March 2015 – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Access : Tokyo Metro Shinjuku Sanchome Station (Shinjuku Gate) ~5 mins walk, Tokyo Metro Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station (Okido Gate) ~ 5 mins walk

Entrance fee : 200 Yen for Adults, 150 Yen for Group Admission

One of the most popular hanami spot in Tokyo due to its vast lawn, selections of park, and selections of beautiful sakura trees. Beware! The park is very huge! Do take the map and take a look carefully on where the sakura trees are located. Generally sakura trees are clustered around English Landscape Garden (nearer to Okido Gate). There are also some individual trees located in French Formal Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden.

During the time i went there it was pretty early so only some sakura trees had bloomed. We had the chance to watch some early blooming Sakura : Yokohama Hizekura (bright pink one), Youkou Sakura (light pink), and Ooshima Koshioyama Zakura (white)


Line of Youkou Sakura Tree

Line of Youkou Sakura Tree

29 April 2015 – Tama Plaza

Access : just outside Tama Plaza Station of Den-en-Toshi-Line

Entrance fee : Free

There is a street lined with sakura trees just outside Tama Plaza Station and it’s quite beautiful.


Sakura trees lined beyond the busy neighbourhood

Sakura trees lined beyond the busy neighbourhood

31 April 2015 – Tokyo Institute of Technology Suzukakedai Campus

Access : Den-en-Toshi Line Suzukakedai Station (5 mins walk)

Campus is (surprisingly) lined with beautiful sakura trees! The sakura trees are just everywhere! It lined up beautifully on the main intersection, it grew also in the canteen area (and there were dozens of it), and also it scattered in some other spot, like near J1 Building.

near the main intersection

near the main intersection

Welcome to J3 Building!

Welcome to J3 Building!

Just behind our canteen!

Just behind our canteen!

forming a sakura-forest pathway behind our canteen!

forming a sakura-forest pathway behind our canteen!

I went to the Suzukakedai PPI Tokodai Mini Hanami, it was fun to eat just under the sakura trees!



Selfie under the sakura tree!

Selfie under the sakura tree!

3 April 2015 – Naka Meguro River Side

Access : Tokyu Toyoko Line Naka Meguro Station, Main Exit (~3 mins walk)

Who said that sakura can only be viewed during daytime? Night time sakura viewing is called Yozakura (夜桜)and it is as popular as the regular hanami! The several meter line of sakura trees were lit up during Naka Meguro Festival! It created such a spectacular and beautiful view. You can also enjoy the atmosphere by eating some locally sold Yakitori, and Grilled Sausage. I went here with Kak Ay, my former band friend, and also met new friends there! 🙂


along the river!

along the river!


みんな!(my first night Hanami 夜桜)

4 April 2015 – Shinjuku Gyoen

I visited Shinjuku Gyoen once more and this time with PPI Tokodai (Tokyo Tech Indonesian Student Association). At this time, it was the first weekend after the full bloom, so the park was packed with people! But still the park was huge, it was still spacious! The sakura was sort of falling into the ground, creating a lush beautiful pink carpet on the grass and also on the lake! I did a little photoshoot with Hilda and explore the park more than my last time.


Sakura trees falling into the lake!

Sakura trees falling into the lake!

new kind of sakura :)

new kind of sakura 🙂

We didn’t only get beautiful sakura pictures but also our own picture ! (happy, thank you Hilda)

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After that, we did the hanami! The activities were fun from Potluck, games and cooking competition. Today, i had breaded chicken cutlet and tamagoyaki with sesame-mayo dressing, i also had green salad with olive-sesame dressing I tried to join the cooking competition and got a takoyaki maker as a prize. Happy!


My hanami menu!

Takoyaki Maker

Takoyaki Maker

So in overall my Hanami for this year is perfect! See you in next year’s Hanami, Sakura!



Afifa Ayu Koesoema


I’m coming back Japan!

Finally this is the day!! 24th of September 2014 and I’m coming back to Japan!!


So, this time I’m going to pursue my Master and Doctoral Degree in International Graduate Program (A) majoring Bioengineering in Matsuda Laboratory in Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. I’m thrilled yet very nervous, since my program is an integrated Master and Doctoral program, it will take 5 years to be completed.

Some people said that 5 years is such a long time to be spent in one place. Some of them worried that i might get bored, some of them also worried about my love life. Since I am gonna focus in a totally rigour higher education, I guess they think i’d forget about love and marriage. LOL.

But I believe this is the best way for me and I have plenty of reasons to support the argument. Since my career aim is to be an academic , i should pursue the fastest way to reach my Doctoral degree and further start my career. I also want to be an expert in one kind of field (in my case : enzyme engineering), that’s why i have decided to pursue master and doctor in the same place, to get a crystal clear understanding about my own field 🙂 And the last reason? I love Japan! The culture, the people and everything (but especially the food, fashion, and cute things) I wouldn’t mind spending years in Japan! ❤

Although i know I am still my Mommy’s and Daddy’s little princess (look, he’s also coming to Japan with me right now… with Mom, as always) i think my previous one year experience had given me confidence to live by myself, although the stake is higher right now. The difficulty of my research will doubled yet i really have to get along with a completely independent life (by living in apartment instead of dormitory). But, i think (and i hope) that I can excel everything! 🙂

I am also planning to try new kind of activities in Japan. I’m going to play with Khatulistiwa (a Tokyo-based Indonesian ethnic band). I might also reenter the orchestra or trying to follow some jazz bands. I also might want to find part time job, maybe as a music teacher (hurry up Afifa, get your ABRSM diploma! so you can be a legit teacher).

I want to live my new life, career, music and love to the fullest! 🙂

Now we’re going to the downside.

Do i have some anxiety and uncertainty? OF COURSE.

I’ve said this gazillion times but Bandung is really my comfort zone! Bandung is the place where my beloved family and friends live. Bandung is the place where I’ve started my career. I’ve done so many things in Bandung, from being an owner of a cupcakery, teach english, play music, play band, and so on. It’s really hard to leave a place where you have felt comfortable and it’s really hard to leave a place where you have gotten acknowledgment.

And of course, it is really difficult to build a new life in Tokyo, you have to start from the scratch again. Building network, finding friends, and trying to get recognition again. It’s such a hard work but i’ve gotta try for it 🙂

I have to move out from my comfort zone 😀 I have to be able to strive wherever I am!

I guess though i have some (MANY) anxieties and fear i have to keep moving on! I have to be grateful of this opportunity, not all people can go to school in one of the best university in Asia for free :’) I have to try to look at the positive side and try to reap benefit as much as i can from this education opportunity! 🙂



I want to say thank you to those who have been a true friend for me during my time in Indonesia. Everyone who had fought together with me, share every happiness and sadness with me. I am definitely no one without your support right now, so I want to say thank you from the deepest part of my heart :’)

Thank you Mom, Dad, Mbak Allya, Mbak Azisa, Ilham, and De for being the best family for me,  my big family in Bandung and Surabaya especially Mas Rafdi and Rio, my lectures in ITB especially from Microbiology Department,  Pak Gede, Bu Pingkan, and Bu Dea; my fellow friend of SITH ITB 2009 and Microbiology ITB class of 2009; my seven year duet and bestfriend Mas Syarif; Klabklassik friend, Ammy Alternative String friends, PEP fellow teachers and students also various Bandung Indie Band (4 Peniti, Mocca, Beside, Kuburan, and all); my music teachers Mas Ammy, Pak Krishnan, and Pak Oerip Without you I will never be like this 🙂



I hope I will see you again in the next five years, and by the time I would already be Doctor Afifa Ayu Koesoema! 🙂


With loads of love


Afifa Ayu Koesoema




Hello all! How are you? お元気ですか。

I’ve been long promised to write all of my experiences in America, so I will start with this post, describing about my elder sister’s city, Minneapolis. Anyway, right now i’m already on my way to another trip to Sydney, Australia. So i’d better finish posts about America sooner 😀


So, Minneapolis, where my sister live, is a city located in Minnesota (and it’s also claimed to be the largest). With population of 400.000 this city seems so far away from a busy and bustling city life. This city is incredibly peaceful and quiet, not so many people are wandering around the street nor cars. And also incredibly cold, in winter they sometimes get a deep-freeze and the temperature can reach -40 degree celcius (could you imagine that?!) Also the snow might be piling up until one meters. Frozen~

So let me tell you about some places that i’ve visited in this city :


Minneapolis College of Art and Design



This is the college where my sister took her master degree. It is a quite posh art college (thanks to Fulbright) and it was really nice. The main building is located adjacent to dormitories and also art museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art (so you practically live inside the campus!) But, for students finishing their thesis, they have a studio off-campus.

the whole family in front of MCAD!

the whole family in front of MCAD!

It has a huge lawn and i suppose they use it for picnic in a warm summer day. However, in the (quite) chilly weather of May the Minnesotan already walk around the lawn with only shorts and tank tops (look how they’ve adapted with chilly weather). On the graduation day, everyone take photos on the huge lawn.

everyone taking happy photos on the lawn :D

everyone taking happy photos on the lawn 😀

Around the campus there is street fully packed with nice restaurant and bars. I really love the Vietnamese restaurant! ❤

i've fallen into this lovely noodle soup :9

i’ve fallen into this lovely noodle soup :9


The Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Arts!

Minneapolis Institute of Arts!

This is the museum located next to the campus, it has a huge collections from modern visual arts to world ancient art. From textile, paintings, sculpture, they have it all! It’s free of charge except for special exhibition held occasionally.It’s also adjacent to the Children’s theater. Take a look of some of its dazzling collections!

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for more information you can go here

The Westin Minneapolis

We stayed at The Westin Minneapolis, located in the downtown Minneapolis. The hotel has been awarded Four Diamond Award from 2009 to 2014. The building is unique because it used to be a farmer and mechanic saving banks, they still have the safe (now it’s used as a wine lounge, super cool).

Farmers and Mechanic Saving Bank remains :D

Farmers and Mechanic Saving Bank remains 😀

Westin Minneapolis :D

Westin Minneapolis 😀

Lobby Area

Lobby Area

4 diamonds award for 6 consecutive years!

4 diamonds award for 6 consecutive years!

Safe-Wine Lounge Area

Safe-Wine Lounge Area


Minneapolis Downtown & Nicollet Mall

It only took about 5-10 minutes walking from our hotel to Minneapolis Downtown and its famous shopping street, Nicollet Mall. This mall is actually a street portion of Nicollet Avenue containing shopping centers and packed with many notable stores (Target headquarters is also located in this street) and public facilities such as orchestra hall.

One of the distinctive features of this street is their skyway, interconnecting buildings (because in winter it will be too cold to walk outside) and sometimes in winter they have parade in this street.

However, we went there in the evening (around 7 PM) and the stores were closed at 7 PM (it was funny, there was still daylight but all of the stores were closing and it was so quiet). But we had managed to take some pictures, thou.

Mommy and Daddy :)

Mommy and Daddy 🙂

Look at the skyway!

Look at the skyway!


Welcome to Nicollet Street!

Welcome to Nicollet Street!


Hell’s Kitchen and Angel Food Bakery


Not far from the Nicollet Mall there are several incredible places to eat! Hell’s Kitchen and also Angel Food Bakery, it is located at the same building, both at 80 South 9th Street.

So hell’s kitchen concept is to bring breakfast menu to every meal time of the day! So they served so many breakfast menu inside their menu and even they sell their legendary peanut butter. Their decoration is a bit hellish, red and black paints, a loads of scary paintings related to demons and evils, however the atmosphere is just like, Hard Rock Cafe i think 😀

HK interior!

HK interior!

our hobby, hunting for a good food all around the world :D

our hobby, hunting for a good food all around the world 😀

My commentary about the food? Just like it’s slogan, it is really a damn good food! We ordered Pecan Caramel Rolls, Steak and Egg, Hell’s Kitchen Juicy Lucifer (my favorite), and Lemon Ricotta Hotcake for our dinner 😀 you can see my review here :

Lemon Ricotta Hotcake

Lemon Ricotta Hotcake

Pecan Caramel Rolls

Pecan Caramel Rolls

Steak & Egg

Steak & Egg

Hell's Kitchen Juicy Lucifer

Hell’s Kitchen Juicy Lucifer

The restaurant open from 6.30 AM and closed at 11 PM. If you’re coming in breakfast or dinner time, you have to watch out for the long queue. Many people really want to eat breakfast here! Please refer here for more information.

Located just upstairs is Angel Food Bakery. The Angel food bakery is really really cute, all the decorations are just like what i want when i have a cupcake store later on. The pastry was good but not the cupcake (still i think it’s too greasy, the icing is too artificial, blah blah~) Please take a look here for their website.

Just Cute!!

Just Cute!!



Cupcupmeal VS Angel Food Bakery

Cupcupmeal Founder VS Angel Food Bakery

Unfortunately the cupcake did not taste as good as i expected..

Unfortunately the cupcake did not taste as good as i expected..


Foshay Tower & Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

I did not visit those two places but my auntie did with her college friend. Foshay tower used to be a legendary skyscraper in Minneapolis as one of the first building to surpass the height of Minneapolis City Hall. Now this building is a luxury collection hotel, W Minneapolis, when they also have the famous and posh steak house, Manny’s Steak House. You can visit the museum and go to the observation deck to watch beautiful scenery of Minneapolis.

Foshay Tower Observatory Deck.

Foshay Tower Observatory Deck.

Foshay Tower, a Washington Memorial.

Foshay Tower, a Washington Memorial.

While Minneapolis Sculpture Garden features sculpture works from famous artist and it’s most famous for its legendary huge cherry and spoonbridge monument.

Oldenburg Monument :)

Oldenburg Monument 🙂


Mall of America

I save the last thing for this huge shopping mall, gigantically huge and famous shopping mall, Mall of America. This mall is located near the airport so we can take light rail (blue line) from the city center.

Inside the mall there is huge selections of branded store ( i got crazy because of the gigantic F21 store, as always) and even Nickelodeon Land! I recommend to eat in Ruby Tuesday if you visit Mall of America.

Mall of America with my whole family and my auntie's friends.

Mall of America with my whole family and my auntie’s friends.

for further information you can go here.


So, pardon me for this extra long pages! I spent almost 2 hours to finish this post inside Starbucks while waiting for my flight to Sydney!

See you soon for other American-related post or even winter in Sydney!


Tons of love


Afifa Ayu Koesoema