Let it Snow

white christmasBright and early Saturday morning, I’ll rise to the first day of winter vacation. Actually, the plan is to pull an all-nighter at the airport, but let’s imagine, shall we? Regardless of starting position, I’m stoked. Somehow, I’m more excited about winter vacation that I was about summer vacation. This might be because this Florida girl is gonna have a white Christmas. Of course, I’ve lived in both Vermont and Colorado, but snow is still a magical thing to me.

(Those of you who grew up with snowy winters, I can hear you laughing)  Continue reading

Kurisumasu 4 – German Town

写真 H.24-12-16 18 34 36Sunday, after an long night of partying, we dragged ourselves out of the house just in time for the sun to set and the illuminations in German Town to switch on.

This was probably the biggest illumination display I’ve seen outside of Disney World’s Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights. In someways, it was better because it didn’t look like lights we’re just thrown willy-nilly over everything. The ground was blanketed in a mural of lights showing rainbows, hot air balloons, turtles, octopi… you know, the usual.  Continue reading

Let’s Party

303723_507767365911786_1732709935_nKris has been planning a Christmas party for about two months now. With every passing party he throws, not surprisingly, more and more show up. This time we had a shocking 40 people at the izakaya (restaurant) which was sandwiched by 25 people pre-gaming and post-gaming at Kris’ place. The party started at 5:30pm and hadn’t finished at 4am when I finally called it a night.

The first leg of the party involved watching YouTube and enjoying a pot luck of traditional (and some non-traditional) dishes. I brought my usual (mashed potatoes) and a pot of my family’s traditional avgolemono soup. It was quite a delicious spread of food. I couldn’t resist snacking on the cheesecake and shortbread cookies. I’m assuming that’s why my pants were a bit tighter today.  Continue reading

Kurisumasu 3 – Odaiba

写真 H.24-12-13 20 29 05Last Thursday, I hopped on over to Odaiba to see what sort of fun illuminations they’d set up. I really love Odaiba because it’s a completely man-made part of Tokyo and feels super futuristic. Not to mention, 10 minutes walking in any direction is something fun to do or see. It’s got everything from a full beach to an indoor theme park to a full-size gundam. No, seriously. Check out the pictures.

In my opinion, the ride on the Yurikame monorail is fun on it’s own. But, maybe that’s years of riding the People-Mover at Magic Kingdom over and over (it’s lame, go on, google it).

Anyways, here’s a few shots from the adventure.  Continue reading

A Christmas Challenge, Party, and Cold

写真 H.24-12-13 20 18 23My apologies. Last week was absolutely insane, all through the weekend. It was fun, but insane. How insane? Well, I called out sick from work yesterday. In 7 years of employment, I’ve never once called out sick from an entire shift. Well, not that I can remember. Point is, I’ll come to work even if it could mean I perish mid-day. I slept half the day, and spent the rest of the day drinking all kinds of herbal teas in an attempt to clear up what I suspect is bronchitis.

I want to fill you in on all these great activities, so we’ll take it one day at a time. Of course, this Saturday, it’s off to Hokkaido for eight days of snowboarding and skiing! So much to do, so little time. Now where to start…

Jess, the Mountaineer

From the top, 360 view

From the top, 360 view

Having grown up in Florida, I’ve never in my life climbed as frequently as I do here. For obvious reasons. I’ve come to realize how much I really love it! Since coming here, I go hiking at least once a month, if not more. Who knew Japan would make a mountaineer out of this beach bum.  Continue reading

Kurisumasu 2

Tokyu PlazaLast night, while shopping for survival clothes (a.k.a. sweaters for my Florida wardrobe) I got to see Harajuku officially all lit up for Christmas. The top of Tokyu Plaza, at my favorite Starbucks in Tokyo, is a huge Disney-themed light display out on the deck! It’s an amazing addition to an already amazing location! There were little disney characters everywhere too, so I hunted for Stitch, the Little Mermaid, and Peter Pan. (Success)  Continue reading

Shooting Shashes

The milky way at the Tanabata festival near Nijojo Castle in Kyoto

The milky way at the Tanabata festival near Nijojo Castle in Kyoto

Let me preface this with an explanation for the title. The Japanese word for picture is shashin. As respectable English speakers living in Japan, we’ve developed slang for some of our favorite Japanglish. Naturally shashin becomes shash. Daijoubu (“it’s OK”) becomes daijoubs. And so on. It always amuses our fellow English-speaking Japanese friends.

I digress.

I like to do this thing where I take pictures on my adventures. And, by “take pictures” I mean that I bring this not-so-cheap piece of equipment and actually put some thought into it. As it is now, photography is mostly a hobby for me, but I’d like to think I’m OK at it. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of my stuff, check out the photography section in my portfolio! I swear, this isn’t a shameless ploy (well, not completely), I just finally got around to creating a place to view the pictures I’ve taken on my travels.

But yea, please stop by if you can!

Japanglish

Local hair salon

Local hair salon

Learning Japanese and living in it’s country of origin makes it practically impossible to avoid using Japanglish in your everyday speech. There are just some words in Japanese that don’t have an English translation. Probably the best known word is genki- meaning lively, healthy, spirited, etc. That’s as close of an explanation we’ve come up with. For anyone living in Japan, this word is definitely part of daily speech as it holds it’s own meaning and is among the most common of Japanese words. “How are you?” is “Genki desu ka.” 

Another good example is mendokusai meaning “I can’t be bothered.” Granted, mendokusai can be conjugated and used in a variety of ways. But, it’s just mendokusai to say it in English.  Continue reading

A Tiny Apartment and no Gym: Fitness in Japan

WorkoutI have this problem. I love to work out, but there isn’t a gym here (at least not one that works for my wallet or schedule) and I live on the second floor of a building made out of paper-mache. See, Japan loves sports clubs, biking, and walking. At least where I am. If I was farther north, we could add in hiking and winter sports. As it is, I live in the plains of Japan. My options are quite limited as I don’t feel accomplished about walking, my bike is pretty A to B, and I don’t have the time to commit to a club. For cardio I go running, but just running won’t cut it. I’ve learned how to become super creative with working out in a 8ft x 10 ft area.  Continue reading