Seoul, South Korea

East GateLast weekend, Becky and I took a little 4-day holiday to Seoul, South Korea. Like a delicious appetizer, it really wet our appetites for the summer traveling plans. The perfect weekend-getaway before the real-deal.

Seoul is the closest city I’ve every seen to what I would call a “city of the future.” Flat screen TVs can be found around every corner, most of them interactive touch screens. Many of the stations also had interactives designed for the last-minute shoppers. Need a new dress for that date tonight? Just scan your phone and it gets delivered to your house. Forgot to grab water at the store? No worries, it’s sold here too.  Continue reading

The Foreseeable Plan

With a six day work week and a slew of “big girl” documents that need to be taken care of, I’ve been nothing shy of busy. To add to the pile, it’s 8 weeks left here in Ibaraki meaning it’s time to take a look at that Life Plan. So far, I’m still not 100% sure what is going on, but I’ve bought a few plane tickets so I know at least that much. So here it is, my current, temporary, tentative, foreseeable plan.
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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

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!

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

Giving Thanks in Japan

Last Thursday, after nearly a month of prep and organization, we finally had our big, ALT Thanksgiving. Naturally, anyone was welcome, and by the looks of it, our Japanese friends really enjoyed the cultural experience.

Especially the part when I had to carve a rotisserie chicken (they were sold out of turkey at CostCo). Apparently, this is something not many get to witness in Japan, so many ooo’s, aah’s, and pictures as I cut the chicken. For me, I was instantly transported back to my high school days working at Boston Market. It was a glamorous job.  Continue reading

6,000 Miles of Thanks

I woke up this morning in one frame of mind: today is Thanksgiving.

This is obvious for those in the states but from 6,000 miles away, I have to work at remembering it/ feeling it. So, in an effort to embody the true spirit of Thanksgiving, here’s my list of things I’m thankful for. I promise to throw a few sidewinders in.
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Ichigo-ichie (一期一会): Once in a Lifetime

Becky and I!

From friend and reader Mr. Nakatani, I first heard the Japanese saying ichigo-ichie. He explained the word in a comment on my Momma Hakuba post. At that time, it was the first I’d heard of it. Since then, it has appeared more and more in my life, both literally and figuratively. The closest translation I know of this is “a once in a lifetime meeting.”

In a bit of history, the word is often associated with chado, traditional tea ceremony. It’s believed that the time the host and the guests spend with each other during the ceremony is a once in a lifetime opportunity that time should be cherished. For hundreds of years, this idea has been at the core of Japanese traditions and practices. It’s no wonder the Japanese are among the most gracious of hosts.  Continue reading

How Japan Does Halloween

In anticipation of Halloween tomorrow, I thought the western hemisphere might like to know how this eastern country does Halloween! As you may have guessed, they DO celebrate it here. In fact, they celebrate it nearly to the same extent that we do in America, with pumpkin flavored foods, candy, and costumes. The biggest difference, of course, is they don’t do trick-or-treating at all. In fact, they don’t really wear costumes. I mean, a lot a kids will wear costumes at Disney, or with friends, and they are available in stores, but it’s a lot more rare.  Continue reading