Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 New Year celebration

I am slightly devastated that today was my last new year celebration in Japan.  Just 3 months after we arrived here I attended my 1st new year event and had no idea what a great time I was in for.  Last year's event was even better so I had really high hopes for this year and was not disappointed. These women work so hard to make this event enjoyable for us and I am so appreciative of their graciousness.  I love seeing them in English class each week but it's even more fun to see them outside of the classroom!

This year's Friendship Sagamihara President, Masako-san,  got the morning started

Then Mr. Juichi Ogata performed a traditional Japanese street act for us

I couldn't pick a favorite, so you get a BUNCH of photos.  This man had a small stack of bamboo pieces  that were tied together in a unique way and was manipulating them into different shapes all while singing a fun song.  

Fishing Rod


Bridge or Seta

Home Gate

Koinobori or Carp Streamer

Tokyo Tower

Noodle Shop Sign

The Halo of Buddha


and finally, a Willow Tree! 

Then he took time to teach a few of the American ladies how to make some of the shapes

I love these girls, even if they're about to take some eyes out with their fishing rods!

After the Nankin Tamasudare performance we enjoyed lunch which, as usual, was DELICIOUS!

Then it was time for my most favorite game!  The bean game!

If you read the posts from the past two years, you'll know that I am undefeated at this game!  Both years, my table has won.  This year I really wanted to win so I could leave Japan undefeated.  Unfortunately, my table lost by one single point! (Insert GIANT sad face) 

Each year the women sing for us and this year they sounded just as beautiful as they have in the past.  I think there is a secret gene that Japanese women have, they are all incredible singers!  (or maybe they just practice VERY hard)  These women have made a huge impact on my life and have blessed my time here in Japan tremendously!

I have to acknowledge Aiko-san here.  Last week in class she asked me to review her speech to make sure her English was perfect which I did.  I had no idea she was going to memorize it!  I was completely impressed.  All of the ladies did such a wonderful job with their English speaking!  All of their years of hard work definitely show.

At the end of the day we had a very special treat from Yoko-san.  She has such a wonderful voice and is a joy to listen to.

Ladies (I know some of you will read this), thank you so much for all of your hard work.  Today was perfect!  I am so grateful to each one of you for sharing your culture {and Wednesday mornings} with me!  I have no idea how I'm going to walk away from you all in 6 months when we move back to America!

Monday, January 28, 2013


Every single time I leave base {and sometimes even while I'm on base} I think to myself, "I love _____ about living in Japan".  Japan has truly become a 2nd home for me and I never ever want to forget these feelings of love and admiration for this great country, so I've decided to start a new series here on my blog.  I sat on this post for a few weeks trying to come up with a clever title for this series but kept coming up empty handed, then this week I noticed I used the hash tag "#ilovejapan" on multiple photos on instagram so thus a title was born.

Each week {hopefully on Monday} I'm going to share 5 things I love about living in Japan.  I'll probably repeat a few, but I shall try my best not to.  Some of these will have pictures to go along with the post, others may not, but I look forward to looking back on all these things once we leave this wonderful country.  Here is week 1:

1. bowing instead of hand shaking at the end of sporting events

this was at a little league game {1st-3rd graders} and I almost died from the cuteness

2. HOT chocolate from a vending machine

3. BOOKS in a vending machine

4. yakitori and Coke in a bottle at snack time

5. signs {this one will be a repeat I'm sure, with different signs}
no running

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

So I'm a tiny but late on this but congrats to my dear friend, Jenny!

She won this gorgeous necklace from the Nozomi project!

Thanks to all of you who entered. Keep spreading the word and supporting the Nozomi women!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


When you live overseas it's family and the little things that you miss the most {at least for me}, so this weekend we spent a chunk of our 4 day weekend {thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.} with our substitute family best friends enjoying one of the little things.

We accidentally overslept that morning which resulted in a sleepy train ride to Tokyo.

 A little over an hour and a few wrong trains later, we arrived at our destination!

In Japan, almost all employees at American chain fast food restaurants speak a good amount of English but for emergency situations they all have English picture menus.

Even with English speaking staff and picture menus, we managed to order the wrong thing, we wanted plain fries but that's obviously not what we ordered.  Even still, the food was spot on what we're used to in America and every bit just as delicious as we remembered.

We couldn't ask for better friends here.  One of the best things about these specific friends is that our families are all from the same general area so even after we leave Japan, we will see them again!

After stuffing ourselves silly, we headed down the road for a little sight seeing at the Tokyo Tower.

A little music sharing on our way home.

This was definitely the perfect end to a long weekend!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

5 years

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated 5 years of marriage.

I never in a million years could have imagined all the things God had in store for us for our first 5 years but I wouldn't change a single thing.  I am so confident that He placed Jason in my life for very specific reasons and there is no one I'd rather share this journey with.  I'm so blessed to have married my best friend!

photo courtesy of Loft3

We decided to celebrate our anniversary by doing what we did on our first date, rock climbing.  We had planned to take the train and knew we wouldn't be driving for a few hours so we stopped by a liquor store near the station that offers free umeshu {plum liquor} samples.  I am not a big drinker but I love umeshu and I'd been wanting to stop by this place for a while but never thought about it until I was driving past and then it wasn't really an option.  So we went in on our way to the station, tried a few varieties and bought a few bottles to add to our bar.

When we arrived at the train station we noticed that a train was stopped in between stations, something we rarely, if ever, see.  We knew immediately that something wasn't right so I took a photo.

 Then we noticed a station employee walking along the tracks, something else that I've never seen before, so again, I took a photo.
  He picked up a shoe and I thought, "oops, someone lost a shoe"...then I realized that the person who lost the shoe was UNDER THE TRAIN!  Unfortunately train suicides are a fairly common occurrence here in Japan.  We have no idea if this was a suicide or an accident {we're inclined to believe it was an accident because the man appeared to be with a woman when this happened and majority of suicide cases happen when the person is alone} but it was completely surreal to witness either way.  We couldn't help but stand around for a few minutes with the crowd to see what happened but after a short while we decided it was best to leave.  When we left the emergency responders were just arriving and the man was still alive.  From what I understand, unlike in America, the Japanese tend to down play these incidents.  There are no media crews rushing to the scene and I don't even know if there will be a report in the local newspaper.  I pray that the man is alive and makes a full recovery and if it was a suicide attempt, he gets the mental help he needs. 

After that I was pretty shook up so we decided to just head home.  Jason bought me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers which brightened my mood just a tad.

We went out and had a delicious dinner at a French restaurant near by that evening

The food was rich and cheesy and buttery and SO good!

It was definitely not the day we had envisioned but in the end we were together and that's all that matters, especially in this military lifestyle. This will certainly be an anniversary we will never forget.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nozomi Project

I am so unbelievably excited to be sharing with you all today.  I mentioned the Nozomi Project briefly back in November after I returned from a mission trip and I promised to make an announcement once the project was up and fully running so that's what I'm here to do today!

The Nozomi {nozomi means hope in Japanese} Project was created in response to the devastation left behind after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  It is a social enterprise bringing sustainable income, community, dignity and hope to the women in Ishinomaki, Japan by training women to craft unique jewelry products.  One third of these women are single mothers and grandmothers; most of these women and their family members lost their livelihood when the tsunami crashed through half of their city in 2011.​  These women are creating one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry featuring broken pieces of pottery left in the wake of the tsunami (called the Shards of Hope product line), as well as other beautiful products such as kimono accessories and note cards  Each of our product lines has been named by a Nozomi woman in honor of a loved one in her life. 

I had the honor of working with some of these ladies back in July and then on our trip in November  we got a sneak peak into some the lines that had been created.  If you look back at my two blog posts, you will see that the concept and designs have changed a great deal and will most likely continue to do so as the project evolves but each piece is truly beautiful in it's own way. 

Today, I want to share some of this beauty with one of you while also spreading the word about the project!  I am going to give away this GORGEOUS necklace from the Kukiko line {this is really, really hard for me to do because once it arrived in the mail, I fell in love with this and badly want to keep it for myself!}

I am a decent photographer but these photos really don't do the piece justice.  It is absolutely stunning in person!

My main goal here is to bring awareness to the project, not my blog so you don't even have to be a follower to enter to win this necklace.  You MUST complete number 1 or all other entries will be invalid.  For each task you complete, leave a separate comment on this post so that I am sure to give you the appropriate number of entries.  Also, be sure to leave your email in the comments so I know how to reach you if you win!

1. Go to their website, click on "gifts" and leave me a comment here telling me which piece is your favorite {line name and number}.
2. Like their Facebook page.
3. Tweet "I want to win a #Nozomi necklace from @bleudressnjapan #tsunami #relief #Ishinomaki #Japan". 
4. Blog about this giveaway & the Nozomi project.

BONUS.  If you purchase a piece from their website and email me a copy of your receipt {the receipt does not contain payment info but PLEASE feel free to block out your last name/address if you'd like} I will give you 5 extra entries!

Deadline for all entries is January 25th, 2013 at 10pm EST.  

Please tell all of your friends & family about this great project and the chance to win this beautiful necklace!