Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Earth Day

I went to a local Japanese Beach for a Earth Day clean-up! Not only did I want to honor mother earth but if you must know, I was secretly scoping out what our beach access might be like this summer. You should know that I was very pleasantly surprised. It is small, but swimmable and clean-thanks to us! Not to mention the Navy Base has a shuttle during the summer. Exciting!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baby Thoughts

If for some reason you were not already aware, we are in the process of growing our first little baby in my belly. I am currently 16 weeks along and finally starting to look a little bit more like a pregnant lady and not someone with a serious cupcake fetish.

It's weird to think that the most important thing we will be bringing home is a child. As of February of this year we were under the impression the most important thing would be a full set of china from the beloved pottery factory in our town. If that isn't a testament to how fast your priorities can change, I don't know what is. I have always considered myself a citizen of the world, and now we get to raise a child who will really be a citizen of this great big place. Although, for those of you who are wondering we will hop on a train and travel to the Embassy to obtain a baby passport and social security card. So, technically, it will be an American. . .but it's all in perspective.

16 weeks in the belly.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


If you can only go one place in Japan, there is no doubt about it that place should be Kyoto. While we are all for the beautiful insanity that is Tokyo, there was just something about the atmosphere in Kyoto that had us hooked from the moment we got out of the traffic on the way to our hotel. To quote Anthony Bourdain, "it was unimprovable."

When we arrived it was snowing. We sat worried for the weather the next few days while we were in town but were easily distracted by the pure beauty of snow falling a top cherry blossom covered mountains. Really, it was like nothing you could ever see, anywhere, ever.

You have already seen the view from our hotel room in Kyoto, but here is the view of the mountain the evening we arrived.

The next day we woke to amazing clear blue skies. Not an drop of rain to be seen. The weather even warmed up just enough to not require an under layer of clothing. Kyoto is very natural and scattered with many ancient temples and castles. Here are some photos from the many places we visited. You are not allowed to take pictures of the interiors -as to no disturb the Gods of course - so most of the pictures you will see are of castle and temple grounds.

Nijo Castle front.
A temple rock garden and fortunes.
Frolicking in the gardens of the 1,000 Buda Temple.
Hanging around a temple.
Amazing colors.
The Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion).
The brochure for this unbelievable temple referred to the Kinkakuji as "the world's most elaborate retirement home."
One night we were searching for a great place to eat. Brandon and I asked the concierge where she went to eat. She sent us to the Gion District and ultimately to the best food we have eaten in Japan, thus far. It was so good that the next night went back again with the parents.
A Ginkakuji Temple market.
The 10,000 Tori Gates.
We hope you enjoyed reading about our cross country trip! We had such an amazing time getting to know our new home even more and words can express how great it was to have family along for the adventure. Where to next?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Part III: Tokyo Disney

Wow! Disney would have been awesome if there wasn't an average wait of 180-320 minutes for every ride and the surprise sub-zero rainy weather (as exhibited by our awesome fashions a few photos below). See ya later Fast Pass. As we learned all Fast Passes run out with-in the first hour the park is open. We all collectively agreed we had never seen more people in our lives in one place. I was fully prepared to sit around with my baby belly and not ride anything - but no one else was! In fact, I started a covert operation to run around with every one's tickets gathering as many fast passes as I could before the all sold out: 2. That's right - only 2. So, the best part of our Disney excursion was looking at all of the details. In true Disney style everything was magically designed to perfection. And if you thought Disney World was the cleanest park you'd ever seen wait until you see a Disney park in Japan. It was almost creepy how clean everything was! So, while we were cold, it was fun to look at everything through our shivering eyes.
Here is a view of our Hotel. We stayed right inside the park and went to bed and woke up hearing Disney music.
King Triton's Castle! It was an attraction I have never seen before, the inside was full of kids rides. Dang! 7 Months too early! I love the Little Mermaid.

Here we are looking like a "cold mess". There is nothing good about the way Sue and I look, but we were warm! And I am publishing this photo just to show you what we are willing to put ourselves through for the Disney experience.

Tower of Terror. While I was trying to look scared it actually depicts the weather much better!

Well, it's official. I have now travel to Disney parks in three different countries. I deserve a prize!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Part II: To Tokyo

Part II: The Tokyo Cavern Club
If you must know, this event gets it's own post because it's no lie that we are obsessed with The Beatles. So, after seeing a CNN report about a year ago when researching living in Japan, we already knew that this night was happening, some way, some how. So, on our only night in Tokyo we took our parents to the ever so tame Roppongi neighborhood to hear a Japanese Beatles tribute band. By tame, I mean that it's not tame at all. For those of you from Texas, imagine 6th Street in Austin times 10.
It is designed like the original Cavern Club The Beatles first played in and the walls are covered with albums, autographs, and photos at every inch. They serve themed cocktails also! We were able to reserve a table and since we called so far ahead of time we were right in front of center stage. What makes the whole experience so insanely cool, is the band doesn't speak a lick of English, but sings every song perfectly. It was fantastic. I would definitely NOT miss this if you are ever in Tokyo!

To Tokyo

So, we have made you wait long enough! Here are a few summaries of our amazing trek across Japan!

Part I: To Tokyo

Bright and early we caught our first train out of Sasebo, the start of a nine hour journey to Tokyo! We didn't exactly know it would take nine hours, but in true Amazing Race style we stumbled upon a few moments of "what do you mean we can't take the train from Fukuoka to Tokyo?!" So, after we made all of the right connection plans and cursed the train schedule the man at the domestic travel agency had given me, we were on our way!
The Shinkansen (Bullet Train)

Upon arrival at the most amazing hotel (Westin Tokyo) we have stayed at to date we cleaned up for a wonderful traditional Japanese meal, they even had veggie sushi rolls for me and the baby! After a full night of rest(in an actual bed!) we boarded a tour bus for a half-day tour of major sites in Tokyo. We are usually very anti-organized tour, but when given one day to conquer a city that should really be given 7 days, we agreed to cave in, but just to a half day. After we disembarked from our crazy little tour guide we found our way through the Tokyo Subway to Shibuya. The sole purpose of this adventure was to a. conquer the subway system and, b. walk across Shibuya Crossing. If you haven't heard about the Tokyo Subway, it basically looks like you threw some multi-colored noodles on a plate and attached Japanese characters to particular destinations along each noodle. Also, equally intimidating is the Shibuya Crossing. This is a 5-way intersection in-which it's said 1,000 people cross each time the light changes. Although, I am now convinced from experience - it's probably more. Awesome. Well, we conquered each task with such ease and delight that we moved on to the next thing. Finding the H&M. For some big city shopping. Funny how we could find our way through a plate of spaghetti and pass safely across the street with 1,000 people but we couldn't locate a store 150meters away from us. Eventually, it happened and we successfully completed 3 things on the top of our "Must Do" list.
Outside the Imperial Palace, well a guard tower at least.

Walking through a temple market.

Shibuya Crossing in action.

Hope you have enjoyed this first portion of our trip, in the next section you get to hear all about the Beatles Club!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Sakura

As previously mentioned, Cherry Blossom Season is in full bloom here in Japan - and also in Washington D.C. Since I can't make it to D.C. I will just have to settle for our 7 day trek across our new home land instead! While there is so much more to write about our trip, I need a few days to digest it all. I wanted to leave you with some person shots of the Cherry Blossoms that we took on our trip! Enjoy!