We’re packed and ready to leave soon. Well, not ready but our time on retreat is up for now.
Last night we were treated to one last view of the Milky Way before the clouds came in. This morning it is a calm sort of overcast with a light breeze at just the perfect temperature. I’ll miss the water and the cottonwood that sounds like rain. I’ll miss running barefoot in the grass. Continue reading →
Poor birdie flew into our door and was a bit stunned, but he flew off okay!
It’s the dawn of our last full day here. (Okay, it’s 9:30 am, but it’s the start of my day. This is vacation after all.)
I’m sitting on the front porch in a wooden rocking chair. The sun is beautifully bright reflecting on the surface of the pond and the tiny, rippled waves on the water are soothing to watch. The air is comfortably cool, the breeze is fresh, Continue reading →
Last night we saw the Milky Way. It has been more than ten years since I was anywhere dark enough (with a night clear enough) to see. We wondered aloud how could anyone live somewhere where the Milky Way is visible and not stare up in awe each and every night. One of the RRFS noted that people get desensitized to it over time like we do everything else. She then added, “and it’s a damn shame.” Continue reading →
It’s hard to make the switch to going on retreat. It’s a vacation, of course, yet quite different. Once we’ve stopped by the local grocery store there’s no shopping to be done. There are few, if any, sights to be seen. Just a cabin and the noises that nature brings. It’s a hard stop from working the day job, running errands, and planting yourself in front of the TV.
I’ve spent the last few weeks so eager to get away, to breathe, to read and write… but there’s something to be said about waiting too intensely for something. Something to be said, but I don’t have the words. Continue reading →
We spent most of our time in Osaka and Kyoto, but did get to explore a little bit of the surrounding areas. There’s just so much to see and experience I feel like we barely even got a start on it!
– Otsu: A very short train ride from Kyoto. I would like to return to this little town and explore some of the temples there, especially the ones up the mountain, but we went to Otsu on this trip for a particular reason: I wanted to see Lake Biwa. I had read Dr. Junichi Saga’s book Memories of Silk and Straw and Lake Biwa was a central point mentioned time and time again in the stories he recorded from residents who remembered living and working in rural Japan before modernization occurred. After reading all of these stories I really wanted to see the lake for myself and connect it all in my head, so we planned to take a daytime cruise there.
I loved it. This is the boat we took, the Michigan, and it was an absolutely lovely, relaxing, hour and a half tour across the water. There were some games and sing-alongs on board hosted by a gentleman that I felt like could have been a modern-day, very charismatic pirate (I mean this in a good way), but my Japanese wasn’t strong enough to participate and that’s okay, I mostly just wanted to see the lake anyway. Continue reading →
On to Kyoto, where we spent the majority of our trip and still had only barely begun to see the incredible city.
View from the rooftop of our apartment building
We rented an apartment in the Higashiyama area, only a moment’s walk from Gion. There was so much to see and do from here without ever even stepping on train or bus, but both modes of transportation remained easily accessible for the times when we did venture further out.
Our first day just consisted of us moving ourselves and our luggage from Osaka to Kyoto via two separate trains and two separate taxis. It was very different than managing such a move in America, but we did it! Despite having bought many lovely things in Osaka which meant our luggage had very much increased in size. (We would end up buying another full sized suitcase in Kyoto and another carry-on in Kansai Airport before going home… and that was after I had already packed one suitcase inside another on our way to Japan, knowing we’d need the extra space!)
Our first full day in Kyoto, however, was timed so we wouldn’t miss the magnificent procession of the Aoi Matsuri, or Hollyhock Festival. Continue reading →
For my first trip to Japan we decided to stay in the Kansai region. South of Tokyo, this is where you’ll find Osaka and Kyoto. I hope to visit Japan many times in my life and see many faces of it, but I planned my first trip as if it were my only one since nothing is ever guaranteed. I wanted to see the traditional side and the historical side of Japan more than the modern, so to Kansai we went.
We spent most of our first week in Osaka, staying at Hotel New Otani Osaka because it was both near a JR train station, making it easy to get around, but also because it was directly across from Osaka Castle and the surrounding park. The hotel was incredible. The staff made our first days in country wonderful, helping us get our bearings in the new culture and giving us an incredibly beautiful and comfortable place to stay. I mean… who can possibly deny this view? I spent time every day sitting in this window, loving on the view and watching the crowds below. When it came time for us to move to Kyoto I was already very sad to leave this behind.
Osaka Castle was one of the very first things we visited in Japan. Our first day we mostly spent exploring Osaka JR Station because it was rainy and while I wasn’t really all that jetlagged, hubby was. There was more than enough there alone to spend a very full afternoon. (My first purchase in Japan? An umbrella! A lovely mint green with white polka dots umbrella.) Continue reading →
A year ago today I was in San Francisco boarding a plane that would next touch down in Osaka, Japan.
Japan has been and still is my dream. It’s the home of my heart, the place my soul feels most joyful and most at peace. Everything there is both achingly familiar and fascinatingly new and ready to be discovered. This was the very first time I had the chance to “go home” and not one moment was a disappointment.
It’s a year later and I want to share a few of the memories I have, mostly through photos. Give you a glimpse into the world I experienced last May. I’m not sure yet when I’ll be able to return, though I have tentative ‘hopeful’ plans that are far too early in the making to be sure if they’ll pan out.
For now, I hope you’ll enjoy the posts this month as I look back at the awesome country and culture that is Japan. (At least how I was able to experience it.)
(Originally posted January/February 2014 on my previous blog, Quid for Quill.)
At long last… the final part of my trip in December! If you haven’t read them yet, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.
Once back in our hotel after the concert, Tameri and I promptly passed out in our beds. (Despite the fact that we did not order pillows from our very special ‘pillow menu’, the beds were incredibly fluffy and comfortable and everything you could hope for when it comes to melting into a warm cloud.)
The next morning we wandered down to the Fountain Coffee Room for breakfast. It might not be the meal of the day you’d think about caviar for, but when offered we couldn’t turn it down. Why not? We were in Beverly Hills! It was a must to test out. Alas… far too salty and I think Tameri was probably right when she suggested that caviar probably does not get better tasting as it goes up in price.
Not your average breakfast
(It was an easy decision between us in finding our pancakes and waffles more appetizing than the sour cream and caviar omelette. But what’s life if you don’t step out of your box?) Continue reading →
(Originally posted January/February 2014 on my previous blog, Quid for Quill.)
If you haven’t read the first part of this trip, you can read it here.
Part of the excitement of our tickets for the VAMPS show was that after more than an hour of trying for them on release day, I scored us two VIP tickets. The VIP bonus for the Los Angeles show was a meet ‘n greet.
Everything on the House of Blues website had mentioned this would be after the show. I am so happy I called the HoB before we had lunch to find out more information however, because it had been moved to an hour BEFORE the doors opened for the show. Apparently some people did actually miss the pre-show event and I felt bad for them. HoB did a poor job with that one.
Knowing we needed to be at the venue by about 5:30 we wasted no time heading to our room once it was ready for us after lunch. Continue reading →