Wednesday, June 27, 2012


In two weeks, I will have hopefully hiked to the highest point of Japan.  This has been on my Japan bucket list for almost 2 years and now that it's finally about to happen, I'm kind of freaking out {what if I can't make it to the top?!?!}!  Even from afar, Mt Fuji, or Fuji-san as it is referred to in Japan, is intimidating!  I've hiked a bit in Colorado and in the Appalachian mountains but never attempted anything as high as Fuji-san at 12,389 ft.
photo courtesy of Wikipedia 

Due to the weather at the top of the mountain, it is only open to hikers during the months of July and August {you can climb during other times but it is not recommended}.  The mountain is broken down into 10 stations.  Most people take a bus or drive to the 5th station {the highest station you can get to by vehicle} where the elevation is about 7,500 feet and begin the climb there.  From that point it takes around 5-7 hours to hike the remaining 5,000 or so feet to the top, where the temperature can be up to 40 degrees cooler than it was at the 5th station.  The descent back to the 5th station can take anywhere from 3-5 hours.  We are going with a group of about 60 people from my husband's unit and are giving everyone 12 hours to complete the hike.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia 

I guess the thing I'm most worried about is gear.  The terrain varies greatly on the mountain from sand to large rocks and the weather is very unstable/unpredictable.  I'm confident in my boots, which are the most important thing in my opinion but after those, I'm unsure what else is actually a necessity!  I do not want to carry any unnecessary weight with me so I'm trying to decide what I can eliminate from my "packing list".  Trekking poles to save my knees?  Hiking gaiters to keep the rocks out of my shoes?  Gloves for when I must use my hands {it's pretty steep at some points} or in case I slip on the way down?  My beast of a DSLR for the breathtaking photographs {that thing is NOT light!}?

As I mentioned, I'm going with a group from my husband's unit.  We're taking 2 buses, leaving base at 0600 and not returning until about 2300.  We have decided to use some of our FRG funds to provide food and water for everyone going.  I've spent the last 2 days making a "menu", pricing items and placing special orders at the commissary to make sure they have everything I want the day I need it. Everyone is going to receive a "sack lunch" with a sandwich, an apple, a granola bar, a candy bar, trail mix and carrots.  We want to have food available for the bus ride home after the hike as well but I'm having a hard time coming up with something that we can keep on the bus all day and still be nutritious and refueling.

My goal for the day is to not be the very last person back on the bus.  So long as someone finishes slower than I do, I'll be happy.  I've already began hyper hydrating to try to prevent getting dehydrated on the mountain {praying for no altitude sickness}.  I wish I had spent more time at the gym the last few month but there's nothing I can do about that now...friends, wish me luck!

Monday, June 25, 2012


For the past week I have had the pleasure of showing the amazing country I call home to my dear friend, Rebecca.  This trip was far less exhausting that the last time I had a visitor...I think the lousy weather we've had all week might have had something to do with it.  We still managed to pack in a ton of activity.

Rebecca saw the Pacific Ocean for the very 1st time

We visited Daibustu

We took a stroll through a cave that is said to make those who pass through it more beautiful...obviously it worked ;-}

We had a craft day with my friend, Kumiko.  We made our own washi,

and did some tie-dying with indigo that was grown behind the building we were in

We shopped for fans, an essential item in Japan

I navigated our way through Shinjuku, a train station in Tokyo that an estimated 3.5 million people pass through daily {a place I avoid at all costs}

We discovered many interesting items while browsing Kappabashi, the kitchen district in Tokyo
{Can someone please explain how they just make the yolk a shape but the white stays normal?!?}

Hit up the 100 Yen store for more unique Japanese inventions

Visited Odawara Castle

and of course, we road a few trains

Those are just the things I have photos of!  It was such a joy having her here and showing her everything I love about Japan.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

iPhone dump {America Part 2}

A quick recap of the rest of my time in America, in photos.

I spent some time in the pool with this guy who was kind of scary but created a super interesting shadow...I'm still not sure how that worked!

drove through the "cut in the hill", my favorite view of Cincinnati

had dinner with a friend

got a facial

had some fun with cookies

almost got kicked out of WalMart with my best friend and her boyfriend

then my husband joined me in the US, finally!

we visited his grandparents, where the men kicked the women out of the kitchen to make us lunch

and his grandmother insisted he sit on her lap lol 

we rode the Anderson ferry from Ohio to Kentucky

Jason decided to start his own dog sled team with my friends huskies

we rehearsed a wedding {and I rocked a side pony when my semi hair trial fell out}

celebrated my brother's birthday

visited with college friends

and finally, hung out in the CVG USO before boarding a flight back to Japan 

It was a fun 5 weeks and it was so great to catch up with friends I hadn't seen in a long time but I sure am glad to be back in Japan!

wedding rehearsal luau

After we rehearsed our wedding day responsibilities {I was busy rehearsing and didn't take any photos}, we headed to the bride's parents house for a luau.  It was the perfect, laid back way to spend an evening before the wedding.

Here are some photos from the party.

My brother is going to be a great dad some day!

someone had too much fun with the flower girls bubbles

the girls

the bridal party and the bride & grooms parents

the men

best man, groom, bride, matron of honor

my awesome sister-in-law, Suzi, surprised my brother with a birthday cake.

his birthday was the day before the wedding

happy 26th bro!

my husband found a beer, a child and some cloths pins...he sure is special.

I'm one lucky lady!  This was the perfect night with my family that I had been craving.  It's nights like these that make being so far away a little difficult!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


We had been back in Japan for less than 24 hours when my husband called and said he had to make a trip to Kumamoto for work.  Since we haven't traveled much within Japan, he wanted me to accompany him.  So Friday morning, at 0530, we took off for Kumamoto.

He took care of his business then we set off to see a few of the sights.

before we checked into our hotel, which had an awesome view of the Kumamoto Castle

We were still pretty jet lagged and had been up since 0430 so we decided to take a nap...that lasted 3+ hours!  After we finally drug ourselves out of bed, we went off in search of an izakaya.  We were pretty tired and neither one of us was in the mood to translate a menu or think too hard about what we were ordering so we went with a set course menu.  BAD IDEA!
 We had 9 dishes.  My husband tried every one of them but only liked about two thirds of them.  I only tried about 5 or 6 {the rest I could tell by my husband's reaction that I wouldn't like} and really only enjoyed a couple of them.  Oh well, it was a fun experience!

Saturday we had a few hours to kill before our flight left so we went out in the pouring rain to see the castle.

The weather was down right miserable but luckily I married an amazing man and we had a lot of fun in spite of the awful weather! 

The view from the top of one of the turrets was incredible!

I even got to have my photo taken with a "samurai"

after exploring the castle for a few hours we set off in search of something to do that was out of the rain.  
The town had these great covered outdoor streets with tons of shops and restaurants.

including this interesting dining option

It was very quick & wet trip but a great experience none the less.

We returned to a bit of a shock though.  We had parked our car near our local train station thinking  we'd only be gone 48 hours.  Most parking lots have a 24 hour cap, for example, 100yen per hour up to 1000 yen for a 24 hour period.  Well, we picked the parking lot that didn't have that cap so our parking fee came to a whopping 9300 yen...that's about $125 US!
We definitely learned a valuable lesson...if you can't read the signs, park somewhere else!

Now I'm off to the airport {I'm starting to feel like I live there} to pick up my friend, Rebecca!  Hopefully I'll have time to blog a time or two while she's here but I'm not making any promises.