Sunday, March 26, 2006

more Tokyo

It's amazing how a whole country can be consumed with time that the sakura trees will open. The other day on national news, the whole country map of Japan was shown along with the dates the cherry trees are projected to bloom.

This is at a fish market in downtown Tokyo. Everyday, starting at 5am, fish from Japanese waters and all over the world are brought here to be auctioned off to restauranteers and daring individuals. Although an early morning trip to the Tsukiji auction was the highest on my to-do list in Tokyo, we slept in until 6:30 and made it only to catch the last bit of morning action. Next time, I will be there with the earliest of them...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Rub that lamp!

While I was in Tokyo, I got to meet with my Tokyo University of Science friends for a graduation party. We met at a Arabian style izakaya- random, but really fun! After eating and drinking there, we went to a nearby karaoke for some more good times.

...Mizuki, Mana, Risa and Natsumi congratulations on graduating!

Monday, March 13, 2006

kyoto travels

What an adventure! I am on the 5th day of traveling with my international friends. Our group consists of 6 wonderful individuals, excluding myself. As far as nationalities go, Brian and I are from American, Hanna is from Indonesia, Mikko from Finland, Christoph from Germany and Inkung and Minsoek from Korea. Everyone truly brings their own personality and humor to the group...making this trip soooooo fantastic!

Hanna and I couchsurfed last night! We are planning to stay with another girl next week when we go to Tokyo.

We will be in Kyoto for 3 more days, then we are traveling by the slowest train to Tokyo.

3 cheers for cheap transportation in Japan!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


みんなのママ means "everyone's mama". It's the funniest thing whenever my mom comes to Japan, everyone she meets whether 70 or 21, calls her mama. I think Therese is a little hard to pronounce...

My sister Eiko and I at Endoshima. This is a beautiful island about 1 hour from Tokyo. Its in a cute beach town called Fujisawa which has the feeling of a beach town in California.
We rode the world's largest ferris wheel! It's in Yokohama and taller than most of the skyscraper hotels surrounding it. From the top, even through the smog, you can see the way to Tokyo tower.

On our overnight trip to Nikko. This is after we relaxed in the onsen and had a delicious 14 course dinner including (but not limited to) raw fish, egg custard, pork miso soup, baked fish, rice, duck soup, boiled fish, tofu rolls...

At the Plum Festival...We watched a traditional dance which involved 2 guys with weird masks and a dancing dragon. After the show, all the little kids come forward for the dragon to bite their head or hand for good luck. Mom decided she needed some too.

I want to finish posting about me and mom's trip because tomorrow I am rounding out the rest of my spring vacation with a 2 week trip to Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Tokyo and Hakodate. I am going on the train by myself from here to Kyoto tomorrow and meeting up with 6 of my good international friends from Hokkaido. More about that as it comes...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

in a few words...

Sorry, friends, that I haven't written for a month. Sometimes I feel just living is way more important than taking the time to post my life on a blog. And, to complicate the matter, I have so much to write and so many stories to tell, it is overwhelming to try to capture them in just a few words and pictures. However, I want everyone at home to feel like they at least kind of know what's going on here in Japan, so for your sakes I will overcome my perfectionist tendencies and deliver you these tales...

My mom's visit here was outrageously fun and refreshing in countless ways. We had much fun together in Sapporo for a week sleeping in my dorm room, eating lots of sushi-go-round, meeting my friends, braving the snow, going to the snow festival and chocolate factory...

Thereafter, we flew together to Tokyo area to stay with our dear Japanese family. As always, they were (are) wonderful hosts, and took us many places including Endoshima, Yokohama, and Shonan beach. Furthermore, Yoshiko cooks amazing spread every morning and night...I'm pretty sure she is one of the best cooks in this country!

One cool thing about Mom's timing in visiting here was that we got to experience a wide variety of Japanese festivals including Sapporo's Yuki Matsuri (Snow festival), Otaru's candle-lit path (Hikari no michi), Odawara's plum blossom festival (Ume Matsuri).
This picture is one of the sculptures at Yuki Matsuri. There are about 10 huge snow and ice sculpture and perhaps a hundred little ones. Although the temperatures are well below freezing, and the sidewalks barely walkable, this is Sapporo's busiest time of the year. We spent 2 lovely nights wandering among castles, queens, dinosaurs, doraemons all sculpted (by the Japanese army!) out of snow.

This picture is inside the onsen bathroom on our 2 day trip to Jozankei, a hot spring resort town an hour from Sapporo by bus. I was worried about my mom liking the onsen because everyone goes in naked together and I think foreigners are the only ones who get a second glance (or a good staring). To my delight, sitting outside in the steaming bath, surrounded by 3 feet of billowy snow and more accumulating as we soaked, mom fell in love with the onsen. You are on your way to becoming Japanese!

I love you, Mom!