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Japan 2016: Kyoto

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!)

aoi matsuri 2016Our 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

Japan 2016: Osaka

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. osaka castle, hotel new otani osakaThe 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

Looking Back: Japan 2016

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.)

sunset over rice fields in japan

Sometimes We All Need to Run Away, Part 3

(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

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

Sometimes We All Need to Run Away, Part 2

(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

Sometimes We All Need to Run Away, Part 1

(Originally posted January/February 2014 on my previous blog, Quid for Quill.)

I suppose it is about time I get around to posting the long-promised account of my epic December adventure. . .

Picture-heavy post ahead, but hopefully you will enjoy! I’ve split this into 3 parts because this is simply too long for a single post.

Let me preface this with saying sleep is a good thing. Sleep is a great thing even. And 30 minutes of it the night before a big trip is… probably a poor idea. Then again sometimes I make really dumb decisions. By the time I was getting on the plane to leave Tulsa at nearly 6 AM I had only had 30 minutes of sleep since roughly 7 AM the previous day.

Waiting for takeoff from Tulsa

Honestly at this point I figured I already had enough adrenaline going and would probably acquire plenty more along the way to keep me awake for the day. The first step of all of this though? Getting TO California.  Continue reading

Where Planes May Lead

I am a planner. I like having a plan. My brain loves lists and schedules and goals and plans. airplane in the air at sunsetBut every time I see a plane rising into the sky, a part of me soars with it. I wonder who’s on board. I wonder where they are going. I wonder if they realize the adventure at hand, simply by traveling to a new place.

While I have a spontaneous heart, my brain allows for little that doesn’t come with a plan that has been gone over dozens of times (and often considering a rash of horrific and unlikely possibilities). And yet… I watch the planes.

There has been one time in my life that spontaneity won. It forever changed me.

In December 2013 I did something that is all too easy to say and very difficult to do: “drop everything and run”. There was some basic planning involved, but only the bare bones needed. Instead of trying to fit a getaway into my life, I made my life rearrange itself to allow for me to get away. 

Now, two years later, I am planning for a trip that actually requires a great deal of planning, but will hopefully allow for plenty of spontaneity in the moment. And while I’m looking ahead to that trip, I’m remembering this one. It’s why I watch the planes.

Over the next week I’ll be reposting my account of that spontaneous adventure. It was originally published on my previous blog nearly two years ago, but with it so firmly on my thoughts now I wanted to share here, on this blog, with new and old readers alike.

*Image taken from Pixabay, creative commons license, user skeeze

Being Productive on a Writing Retreat

One thing I learned over this past week is that I deeply enjoy the companionship of my friends and my adventures with them, but when I work, I work alone.

The great room of our cabin

The great room of our cabin

The cabin where we spent our writer’s retreat was spacious and beautiful. We could more than easily spread out in the great room to cook, eat, write, read, chat, and more. It was a rare time (other than eating) that all five of us were immersed in the same activity, but we could still be silly and carry on conversations and I loved this. However it took me no time at all to realize I could not work in this environment. Continue reading

Off to a Cabin in the Woods

Well there are five of us.

And we are going off on a quiet retreat to a semi-secluded cabin… in the woods.

Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into a horror film.

It has been two years since my writing group has been able to go off on a writing retreat, and at last the time has arrived for us to trek off once again. Five days to ourselves to catch up on friendship and spend time with our respective arts.

I’m hoping to write a few blog posts (both for here and the group’s blog) and work on some poetry in addition to taking a much-needed breath of calm away from work and daily responsibilities. When I return, I’ll be posting all about it, but for now there are two wonderful posts up on our writing group’s blog, The Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society, for you to check out.

Serena posts about what ‘writing retreat’ means to her, as it is a bit different than how the rest of us feel. Rebekah posts about the excitement and some of the bizarre mishaps we’ve had thus far.

If you could go on a creative retreat for five days… what would you work on? Where would you go?