Monday, January 25, 2010


In case you were suddenly taking the USA's method of Trash Disposal for granted I would like to let you in on the experience here in Japan.

First, everything must be separated and if it is not you get this huge orange ticket on your trash bag! I mean what are you supposed to do with that? Plus, I don't know about any of you but once I deliver my trash to the curb - I don't necessarily go back for it.

Now on to the the separation. Everything must be separated into burnable / un-burnable. After which, it must be separated into plastic, paper, glass, burnable trash like food, aluminum, and so on. Everything must be placed in a special clear city approved trash bag - which you must buy YOURSELF.

Next, there is trash pick up. Each form of trash has a designated trash pick up day (much like the USA) - here at our apartment it 3x a month for burnables and 2x a month for un-burnables (not like the USA). If you put something out on the wrong day - yup, you get an orange ticket - we are still unsure how they enforce these tickets and we are convinced it's mostly so your neighbors can give you the stink eye.

Now, the attention to recycling is something that could be taught to the whole world, I mean it could truly be the future of trash disposal - it's unbelievably amazing. This is just a post to let you all know how completely complicated (and a bit funny, as in funny ackward) it is. It really makes you appreciate the uncomplicated system on your street - one bin for trash, one bin for recycle, your trash comes 2x a week and is picked up with out fail no matter the size, shape, or color of your bag. Have I made you want to give your trash person a fruit basket of love and appreciation yet?? No?? Keep reading.

Wondering what brought this post on? I just witnessed a young girl buy her monthly ( I assume) trash bags, a total cost of Y8,800 (roughly $90.70). That is right, you have to drop a bill just to throw away your trash - and that was for a single lady. One of the only times I will be thankful for daunting city taxes was the moment I saw that transaction.

How do we deal with this? We separate and take our trash to base - in whatever bag we want, what ever day we want.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

hot wheels

Here she is!

Jewell's hand-me-down super awesome cruiser from her super awesome friend Laura.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Since we have a few reader's I really wanted to let you all in on this amazing project our friend Clayton is beginning.

In May after graduating from medical school he will leave on a cross country bicycle & mountaineering fundraising tour. The purpose: to raise awareness and funds for The Modern Women's Clinic and Research Center in Pampram, Gauna. His journey will take him from North Little Rock, Arkansas to the Redwood Forest in California, a 5 month, 3,000 mile journey. After which, he will move to west Africa to join the team at the clinic!

Take some time to get familiar with the program, and maybe donate if you can!! Every little bit helps!

Clayton on a mountain.

Dr. Frank Addo - founder - in front of the clinic.

Visit Clayton's Website & Blog here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, we look forward to keeping you updated on his progress!.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

snow day

The weather has been pretty wacky lately, with the few feet of snow and all. That didn't stand in my way yesterday when I chose to go to Hello Kitty Land with one of our friends, Ayumi. I piled on multiple layers of clothing and socks, threw on my boots and gloves and got super pumped to visit the land of my childhood obsession. However, when we entered the destination into her GPS unit (which also plays local TV) and were told said destination was 3 hours away we finally decided - maybe today is not so good a day to go to Hello Kitty Land.

So, once again my plans to Hello Kitty Land fell through. Doesn't anyone else understand how important it is for me to go to this place???

Plan B: Bio Park.

On the way to this amazing interactive zoo (not in the technology sense - in the you get to hold the animals sense) we quickly realized that Sasebo was not the only place that received the gift of snow. We also noticed that Sasebo was the only place the snow seemed to have actually melted. As we neared Bio Park (about 45 minutes from Sasebo) we oohed and ahhhed the several feet of snow still piled over rice patties and orange tree's. We noticed the homes with white roofs. Basically, we realized that maybe going to an interactive zoo in a typically warm climate might not be the brightest idea. However, we stuck with Plan B and enjoyed the scenery.

Detour: Giant Tori = Giant Temple.

On the way to the glorified petting zoo we came across a Tori that was huge, and orange, and very captivating. (the picture above is taken while exiting, entering was much more magical. sorry.) We pulled in and entered what I could imagine what a Japanese snow heaven might look like. There was several feet of snow resting on perfectly manicured gardens and trees. There were "oh, so Japanese" bridges to the likes I have only seen in travel brochures guiding you over koi ponds, and beyond the gardens and trees a really large and beautiful temple. Great detour.

Upon our arrival to Bio Park, we were greeted by an empty parking lot and some parrots sitting on a branch, covered in snow. The poor guys were freezing, but non-the-less doing their jobs. It instantly reminded me of a cold day at the water park when we would to have to stand in the Texas Tree House getting routinely drenched in cold water just so the 10 idiots that thought playing in freezing water would be fun wouldn't drown. Well, those poor parrots had to stand out on a branch in snow just to greet the two idiots that thought coming to a Zoo in 2 feet of snow would be fun.

First of all, this place is amazing. It's set around a mountain and the path sort of guides you up and around to the top - with all of the animal sanctuaries along the paths. A lot of things were closed due to the fact that the animals were huddling in random corners trying to keep warm, but I could still tell that in Spring this place is going to be amazing. Some animals were happy to see us, especially this beaver that put on quite a little show. We held some Guinea pigs and fed several goats and sheep, you know all the guys that probably get ignored when the kangaroos are hopping along the paths (I will believe the brochure when I see it). We fed some random animal that was wandering the path with a head of a dear and the body of Brandon's dog. Finally, a monkey jumped on Ayumi's shoulder which was the icing on the cake and was also nice because at that point we couldn't feel our toes and were about ready to give up.
In the end, it was quite a successful day. Complete with a stop at Uniqlo for some cool new pants and a scarf it was just what I needed after several days of sitting around.

For your enjoyment:

Mr. Beaver performing his Maneki Neko Song

The monkey and the ??? both getting quite aggressive. I have now thrown out those gloves.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

current happenings: snow!

This morning we woke up to snow at 6:00am. Much to our surprise, it is still here - and layering like a biscuit at 7:00pm. Sweet winter!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

it's all happening

Congratulations to our dear friends Sean & Alanna on their engagement! We can't wait for the wedding, but mostly we can't wait for a life-time of married couple memories.

In their beloved Mexico.

jazz spot

We found a really great bar that happens to be dedicated to Jazz. There is not too much to say about it except that it was amazing. I think we found our new "Our Bar".

Great seating.

Look Adam - we found your drum set!

The record wall.

Good tunes and super cool coasters. What else do you really need??

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

missing this - the family farm

In loving memory of Grandma Audrey P. Riexinger 1930-2010

{The family farm in Buffalo Prairie, IL}

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


We have been partaking in our fair share of mochi eating during this new year. Our new year used to be about eating cakes and candies still holding out from Christmas and securing good luck with something made out of black eyed peas. Now, we proudly indulge in glutinous rice that has been pounded into something like looks like cookie dough. It actually goes with just about everything you might put in cookie dough though, so it's a fair trade. Our favorite way: baked in the toaster oven and then topped with walnuts and honey.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

fukuoka for the first time

We traveled to Fukuoka on the train the other day. We took the chance to go with Tom and Laura and they showed us the whole city in a sort of walking/subway tour. Getting a crash course on the subway system was nice so we don't look like complete idiots when we go to Tokyo in March. Although, I'm sure we will most definetly still look like idiots. It was so great to get an idea of what to do and where to go. It's a big city with national sports teams and big glass buildings - the opposite of Nagasaki. It was more international and the shopping appears to be spectacular. Safe to say, we can't wait to go back and spend a few days visiting temples, attending a Fukuoka Hawks baseball game and shopping.

The pictures are quite random but it wasn't so much about the pictures this time around.

the willett's top 10 + 1 collection

It is no secret that we love great tunes. Brandon is the music guru between us, often doing the labor of finding new albums, but always finding the right soundtrack to our life. It is also no secret that we have had quite the year. Marriage, moving to San Antonio, Brandon graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, and most of all - this little move across the ocean.

You can bet that we had some great albums on repeat that gave us great comfort - and here they are in no particular order.

Our favorite albums of 2009. Most were released with in the year with a few exceptions - there is nothing wrong with dusting off an old favorite.

Here are a few singles that are worthy of mention:
Loving Cup - The Rolling Stones (the first dance)
Poker Face - Lady Gaga (Brandon didn't have a say in that)
Many Shades of Black - The Raconteurs
Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
Ramblin' (Wo)man - Cat Power

Photo Credits:

our japanese new year

We took the opportunity to join our friends and visit Sasebo's Temple on New Year's Eve! Here are a few pictures from our experience:

There were booths throughout the temple selling various festival foods. Here is Manami purchasing our taco yaki - Octopus Balls.

The busy, crowded temple. Here we waited in line to throw an offering in the shrine, ring the bell by those giant ropes, and say a prayer.

The year of the tiger!

Manami, Brandon, and I with our fortunes at the temple. Just a warning: they both said babies.

Exchanging arrows. The arrow is a symbol that protects your household from demons throughout the year.

Reggie, Manami, Brandon, & Jewell.

Akamashite Omedeto Gozaimasu!