Monday, March 21, 2016

We've Moved!!

& by we, I mean blog. 

So if you're signed up to follow this ol' site, please accept my apology in the delay of getting the word out. 

I'm over at now just blogging away. There are a couple of fresh posts waiting for you!

Join me over there & feel free to follow that site instead. 

Thank you for reading!

love from japan,

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Valentine's in Kanazawa!

Well, to be specific Kanazawa & Shirakawa-go & Takayama...

I know, these are currently just names of places in Japan that end with an 'a', but they're also incredible tourist destinations with valuable history and places on the UNESCO National Heritage Sites list.

We had the chance to spend our 4-day weekend touring these locations which meant a trip on the famed bullet trains of Japan. We loved those...

 I mean, nothing better than having a reserved seat on the train.

Kanazawa was a beautiful old castle town that we explored extensively; unfortunately it was wet & rainy the whole time & I was a *little* paranoid about my camera getting damaged, so the pictures are minimal. We did get to visit the excellently restored Kanazawa castle that offered free tours in English (which we always take FULL advantage of) and this time we were graced with a guide who loved his job. He studied English in Washington for a few years & told us that he felt he'd never been able to fully express his gratitude for the help the American friends he'd made gave him, so upon his return he started a job as an English tour guide in an effort to indirectly repay the Americans for their gift to him. We were underserving recipients of this gracious action & we couldn't be more grateful. I was humbled to receive the benefits of this ripple effect. What a wondrous work gratitude does on the heart.

We did a little shopping (at the Gap, but MOSTLY) at the open-air market that featured lots of fresh seafood and a shop where I got to try my first cup of sake...
& found the perfect hostess gift for Chieko-san's tea ceremony (that was amazing, btw, but I'll blog about it later...gotta have cliff hangers because strategy).

 We wandered quite a bit here & got to visit a Noh Theatre Museum where I got to dress up like a Noh actor#timelapsesforthewin

After two nights in Kanazawa, we took a bus to the remote, mountain village of Shirakawa-go, famous for its thatch-roofed farmhouses, some of which are almost 300 hundred years old. That's older than our COUNTRY, by the way. #respect.  We got to see it in the snow and I was enchanted. 
Fortunately for us, The Last Samurai was on the Japanese-content-version of Netflix in our hotel & we watched it the night before visiting. It was very moving & will instill in you a new, fresh respect (& maybe love?) for Japanese culture. That was my experience, but here. 
Either way, I recommend it. 
Tom Cruise. 
So...enough said. 

 Our first glimpse...
 Magical, isn't it?

 (please tell me you knew I was kidding...)

 ughhhhhhhhh. Doesn't this look just like the yard of your dreams? #curbappeal
 Village view from the mountain.
 Inside one of the farmhouses.
This is on the second floor.
 Did I mention that all of these were built WITHOUT NAILS?!
ok, so now you can be REALLY impressed...

 *swoon* I think I have a know, the feeling you get every time you watch Fixer Upper?

This crane is my attempt at "wildlife photography."
I think I'm ready to break into the industry.

 I mean, have you even ever SEEN enough snow to make footprints without hitting the grass beneath?
(if you're from above the Mason-Dixon line, 
please refrain from answering this rhetorical question silently at your computer/handheld device)

 We took the time to build this little guy at the top of the mountain.
I think we named him Parson Frederick Brown.
Oakie's convinced it was something Japanese.
(which one of us sounds more credible??)

   Either way, we loved him.
 OOOOO, can you find me??

Oakie took this photo of our quintessential Japanese lunch of udon noodles.

Next up was Takayama, another remote, mountain town where we saw a lot of the mountain. 
Meaning, we hiked.
A lot.
It was awesome.
  I have quadriceps like tree trunks now...
 & we ran into one of THESE beauties, otherwise known as the Japanese serow...
As I was thinking about how I would google it so I could describe it in my blog,

 I thought, "It sorta looked like a goat deer..."
Turns out that's EXACTLY how the Japanese describe it too...

I am, like, SUCH a native.
 & Oakie is, like, SUCH a goat-deer whisperer...He fed it our snack nuts.

& then posed in this hero position fitting for someone of his woodsy stature...
I'd follow this woodsman anywhere...

We also got to see a classic Japanese rickshaw in action!
I"m linking you to this site because who better to tell us about rickshaws then Seinfeld?
(Side note, we recently exhausted the Camp Zama library's supply of Seinfeld DVDs 
& THEY DON'T HAVE THE 9TH SEASON! We are now accepting donations...)
Overall, this was a fantastic trip that we will remember for years to come.
Oh my gosh, I sound like I'm 85...

In other random news:
Here are some odds & ends in our life...

A piece of art I got to make with my women's bible study group...

T, look what I found in Japanese!!!!
Katie!!! Doesn't this just make you happy? #taylorswift

Until next time,
love from Japan