Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I Miss Thunderstorms

We had a thunderstorm last night. I can't even remember how many we used to have back home now, but they're incredibly rare in Tokyo. Probably less than once per year. 

The sakura seem to be unusually slow coming out this year. Maybe I'm imagining it, or maybe my information was less accurate this year, or maybe it's the cold snap we had last week but we haven't quite reached the flood of flowers I thought we'd have by now. 

This post is becoming more disjointed by the second, but I got some really sad news about a childhood friend this morning that makes my heart ache for her. It also makes me so grateful for my own life. The things I worry about, the daily annoyances that irritate me, the problems I'm trying to solve are trivial compared to what so many people are struggling with. I hope that on days when I vent my frustrations or mention bouts of homesickness I don't come across as ungrateful because I know how truly lucky I am.

My newest spring furoshiki
Sakura Cronuts - we may have a slight cronut addiction over here

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Almost Sakura

It's almost sakura season. The very first cherry blossoms are just opening up, and by this weekend they'll be in full force. But even now there are flowers blooming everywhere and warmer days have been sneaking in here and there.

I suppose this is how it always goes, but winter seems like it has lasted forever even though time also seems to be flying. In just a month John's mom is coming out to visit us and we are so excited to show her all the things we love about Japan! And I am so looking forward to warmer sunny days and more time spent outside.

These are best smelling flowers in the world! (If only I knew their name)

I think I associate Camellias with Japan as much as I do Cherry Blossoms

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Other Fifth Anniversary

Today is the fifth anniversary of the Great Tohuku Earthquake. I suppose it will always be linked in my mind with our wedding anniversary. We didn't even know it had happened until over a day later because we were on our honeymoon. I still remember arriving in the Miami Airport and seeing the news. We were stunned. At the time we wondered if that would be the end of our Japan dreams. Would John's job offer still exist? And even if it did, we wondered in the early days how safe it would be to live here.

If you've been following my blog that long (and oh how silly and embarrassing my blog is from back in those days) you know we did come out for the summer just three months later. The city was working furiously to conserve electricity, there were aftershocks all the time, and everyone was shell shocked. A little more than a year after that we moved out here permanently. Some of the freshest wounds had healed, but the country was still reeling.

Now, five years later, having lived here for more than three myself, I don't have any idea how to speak to the tragedy and recovery Japan is going through. In some ways things seem back to normal, and in others the devastation seems just as raw and immediate. There's a lot of criticism of the recovery efforts, there is still a great deal of confusion and anger over whether or not Japan should use nuclear power, there are still people living in temporary housing five years later. My heart aches for the loss and the suffering that has been and continues to be experienced. And at the same time I am so thankful that we were still able come to this beautiful country. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Five Years

This past weekend John and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. We've been traveling a lot lately, but just a couple weeks ago we decided to go away for one night to celebrate. 

Karuizawa, a little mountain town in Nagano prefecture, has become one of our favorite places in Japan. And being low season right now we managed to get a really great deal on the Mampei Hotel. Being in Karuizawa always reminds me of Western North Carolina, and the old-fashioned luxury of the the Mampei seems like it could be straight out of the resort in Dirty Dancing.

We spent the weekend walking around and enjoying the scenery, breathing in the fresh air, and being just as in love as we were five years ago. There was a hike John had been on before that he wanted to show me, but it turned out to be more than we had bargained for, with increasing amounts of snow, and then no bus running back into town. My legs are still sore today from all the walking!

A snowy creek side in Naka-Karuizawa
Our room at the Mampei
The Mampei Lobby
We went for a hike that got snowier and snowier as we went along.
We did see bear tracks on our hike
The snow got a little out of hand
Nothing like the best ice cream in the world after a hike, even if it is winter.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


If you go by the Japanese calendar it's already spring, though the western calendar says we've still got a few more weeks of winter. Either way a few warm days are starting to sneak in and the flowers are starting to bloom. Cherry blossoms are less than a month away, and the plum blossoms are out in full force. It's one of my favorite times of year in Tokyo!

Ume (plum) blossoms
In Yoyogi park
My new hina matsuri (Girl's Day) furoshiki

Pansies in Azabu Juban