Kurisumasu in Sapporo

Christmas Town 2I flew all the way to Hokkaido for one very important thing: to have a white Christmas. And that’s exactly what it was.

Carolyn and I got a 4 day head-start on the group by arriving in Sapporo on the 22nd. Typical Japan, there were plenty of Christmas activities going on. The park and tower were all dressed up for the occasion with special lights and music. The middle of the park had the most amazing “Christmas Town” set up with German food and Russian goods.  Continue reading

Couch Surfing with Friends

Stupid me forgot to take a picture of our hosts. So here is a picture of cake!

Stupid me forgot to take a picture of our hosts. So here is a picture of cake!

When trying to book hostels for Christmas in Hokkaido, we ran into a glaring problem: everything in our price-range was booked. After much panicking and researching 24-hour McDonald’s, Carolyn and I decided to give couchsurfing.org a try.

For those who don’t know, you basically get to crash on the couch of someone you don’t know on the good faith that their recommendations are truthful. It’s actually a very well organized, thorough site. So far, everyone we’ve met through there has been nothing shy of amazing.  Continue reading

And She’s Back!

The "Florida girl" playing with snow

The “Florida girl” playing with snow

After two weeks of Christmas, New Years, Hokkaido, Tokyo, Shirakawa, snow, skiing, ramen, world heritage sites, fancy hotels, and making progress on that bucket list, I’m finally back where I started: good ole’ Ibaraki, Japan.

As if my lack of posting doesn’t tell you how much fun I’ve had, I’ll be sure to show you pictures from the whole journey. Apparently, I was pretty good a skiing back in the day! Apparently snowboarding isn’t like riding a bike! Apparently, I don’t know any French! Ok, well I already knew the last one. But still! Hope you’re ready for a week of catching up.

Akemashite omedetou! Happy New Year!

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…

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

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Kurisumasu

Japan does Kurisumasu (Christmas) very similarly to the west. Most importantly, they decorate for it. Of course, houses won’t put up Christmas lights (typically) but most major shopping/sightseeing areas put up special decorations.

All the shops are decorated and sell special Christmas merchandise, to boot. If you can imagine the fine, adorable quality of Japanese stuff, it’s like a Christmas shop-a-holic’s heaven.

All over Tokyo, special “illumination festivals” are held during December, and Disney goes all out, too. I’ve taken it upon myself to personally find all of them in the greater Tokyo area. Continue reading