The Fireworks in Ichikawa

Did you go to a firework festival this summer?
The annual fireworks at Edo River (江戸川, edo-gawa) is always on the first weekend of August. This firework festival is one of the biggest ones in the greater Tokyo area. 
It’s a little bit confusing because it has two names. Edogawa ward in Tokyo began this annual firework festival along the river in 1976 and they call it the Edogawa-ku Firework Festival (江戸川区花火大会). But then in 1985, Ichikawa city in Chiba, which is right across the river from Edogawa ward, joined in on hosting the firework festival, calling it the Ichikawa Shimin Noryo Firework Festival (市川市民納涼花火大会). So technically it’s the same firework festival with a different name, depending on where you watch it from.  
I know Dru was on the other side but I like watching from the Ichikawa side of the river because you don’t have to save your place during the middle of the night to get a decent spot. Last year, there were approximately 490 thousand people on the Ichikawa side and a whopping 900 thousand people on the Edogawa side.
A lot of people take pride in which side they watch from. I was told by my coworker, who defines himself as a true Edokko (江戸っ子), that someone who was born and raised in Tokyo would never cross over to Chiba to watch the fireworks. But me? I was born in Okinawa and I could really care less about which side I watch it from, so naturally I choose the side that has less people and a larger space.
Like last year, we had a little picnic in the evening before the fireworks. I love festival food, it’s so good! We ate and talked while watching the sun go down, which was beautiful in itself. And when the fireworks finally started with a huge bang, we were ready to be entertained!
Here are some photos:
The festival stalls selling everything from yaki-soba to shaved ice!
A photo in between buying food from the stalls.
It was a beautiful sunny day!
You can never have too much festival food! 
We celebrated my bestie’s birthday with a candle in the jyaga-bata! 😀
Happy 30th birthday to D!
The beautiful sun setting across the river (that’s the Edogawa side of the river).
The festival starts with the traditional 1,000 fireworks in the first 5 seconds!
These are my favorite fireworks, with just one color…simple but stunning!
What a night. Hoping to be here next year, too!

The Birthday Fun at Disneyland

Have you ever been to Disney in the rain?
My baby sister turned nineteen in June and she wanted to go to an amusement park to celebrate so we (my sisters and bff) decided on Disneyland! Unfortunately, the forecast for that weekend predicted rain and wouldn’t you know it, the forecast was accurate. Not that that could stop us. We donned our rain coats and boots and headed out for a day of fun and celebration!
My sister got a birthday sticker with her name on it at the entrance so every time a cast member (i.e. an employee of Disney) noticed her sticker, they would give her a “Otanjo-bi omedeto-gozaimasu! (Happy birthday!)” greeting. It was apparently a little embarrassing for her, which made it all the more hilarious for the rest of us.
Even though we opted for the Starlight Passport (entrance from 3pm on weekends), probably due to the rain, the lines at Disneyland weren’t as long as usual and we actually got to go on quite a few rides. Here is our list:
I’ve said this before but the most important thing you need to remember when going to Disneyland is to go with people you know you like and can talk to for hours. Because that is what you will be doing most of the time, standing in line and waiting to get on the rides. I once came here on a first date and…oh the horror! Needless to say, there was no second date.
So for us four (we go to Disney together often), it’s really great because we always have tons to talk about and catch up on that it’s almost like sitting in a cafe and having a gabfest, except we get to go on rides every hour. How great is that?
Anyways, we got to celebrate my baby sister’s birthday with candles I brought from home. I cannot believe she’s nineteen already. Until last year, she was still in high school and since she was in boarding school, it’s been a while since we got to celebrate together in person. So this year, it felt extra special to get to celebrate her special day together!
Here are some photos of birthday fun in Disneyland:
Starlight Passports are perfect for weekend fun in Disneyland!

My sister’s birthday sticker (anyone can get one at the entrance!).
Smiles while waiting in line for Pirates of Carribean.
We got our raincoats at the 100 yen shop (much cheaper than buying one inside Disneyland!).
Yes, it was June. Apparently Easter in Japan lasts much longer than elsewhere.
Waiting in line is always a great time for photos!
In line for the new Monsters Inc ride…yay for rainy dais and shorter lines!
This scene reminded me that I really need to watch this movie (never seen it before!).
These two know their games and  are quite serious about how well they do on the ride.
Waiting to watch Mickey’s PhilharMagic with our awesome 3D glasses!
Group picture! These rain coats made everything easier, no need for umbrellas.
There were plenty of people who were using umbrellas, too. Very pretty from above!
We rode one of my favorites, Bit Thunder Mountain. Great ride to scream your head off.
Everything looks even prettier when the sun goes down.
Someone looks like E.T.
Celebrating my sister’s birthday by sticking candles in her dessert 😀
We couldn’t find a number one candle so we used a regular one to compensate…can you tell? Haha.
Just turned nineteen and already a strong, beautiful, logical girl. So proud of her.
This Toy Story ride is a favorite of both of my sisters…because you play for points.
I never get a good score because my aim sucks and also because I’m taking photos like this!
Thank you Disneyland for letting us celebrate a special day here! We’ll be back! xx

The Golden Week Road Trip: Choshi

Have you ever been to Choshi?
It’s in the northeastern part of Chiba prefecture and has an amazing view of the pacific ocean. Well, it usually does. But when we stopped by on our way back down to Chiba, it was so cloudy that we couldn’t see a thing! Of course, that didn’t stop us from going up to the observatory deck to take a few pictures just so we can say we were there.
I actually liked the view that we had, even if we couldn’t see far.
There are also some other activities going on inside the observatory deck and we ended up working on seashell art. The project itself was fun but the older men and ladies teaching us were the real entertainment. So nice and eager to tell us their outrageous stories.
After that we took the Ken-o-do further down Chiba to drop off our baby sister at her campus. And that was the end of our short Golden Week this year. I’m hoping next year we have an even longer vacation so we can take an even longer road trip somewhere! x
Here are some photos:

The Golden Week Road Trip: Chiba

Hello, hello!

How is everyone’s post Golden Week? Or if you’re not in Japan, your regular week? I’ve been dashing around Tokyo lately. May might end up being my busiest month yet.

But before I head off to Kagoshima, I wanted to share a few photos from my Golden Week.

What started off as a sleepover at my sister’s place in Ibaraki, inadvertently ended up being a road trip through Chiba. I know that doesn’t make any sense but let me explain. My other baby sister is currently a university student in Chiba so we drove down there to pick her up. Her campus was gorgeous. It was also quite far…who knew Chiba was such a large prefecture?

But we had a great time cruising up the highway along the shoreline, with Beyonce and Taylor Swift belting out their tunes (we were, of course, their backup singers).

Here are some photos:

My sister’s campus had a random phone booth sans telephone…so random!

Together again! We hadn’t seen each other since the picnic in Yoyogi Park.
The beautiful green arch of cherry trees above this path…isn’t it lovely?

I promised my grandma to send pictures…so we did a little photo shoot!

Look how lush and green the mountain is. I love it.

No better place than this to celebrate Greenery Day.

Posing for a photo before heading out to eat!

We stopped by the small beach town Katsuura for lunch!

Our yummy lunch sets…we were pretty hungry!

My delicious tamago-don (oyako-don minus the chicken) set.

My baby sister filled us in on how college life has been since April.

We left the soba shop to take a walk down to the beach.

I always love looking out to sea…something so calming about the sound of waves.

Another group shot before we head back up to Ibaraki.

A pretty sunset at the end of our road trip.

The 30th Anniversary at Disneyland

Did you know that it’s Tokyo Disneyland’s 30th anniversary this year?
Tokyo Disneyland (which is technically in the neighboring prefecture of Chiba) opened on April 15th, 1983. I had no idea but it was apparently the first Disney park outside of the United States. And what a fabulous park it is. Despite the long lines and more long lines (and did I mention the long lines?), it’s still one of my favorite places to go to and have fun!
We had the after-5pm passport, which is plenty of time to enjoy the magical land of Disney. We went on rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, Castle Carrousel, Pooh’s Honey Hunt, and Space Mountain. We also ate various flavors of popcorn and even pizza while waiting in line. Which we did a lot of. But it’s fun when you’re with your bff because if you always end up in a cafe and chatting your heads off, why not just do it at Disneyland while waiting in line? 😀
Our time there was the perfect mix of Disney magic, fun rides, and girl talk. And of course, it’s always fun to scream my head off non-stop on Space Mountain. It’s not that I’m scared, but I just like to scream on rides no matter what. I mean, where else can you scream at the top of your lungs? x
Here are some photos:

I love all the popcorn flavors! My favorites are curry, honey, and now soy sauce & butter!

The other flavors are salt, caramel, and corn potage this season.

Happy Anniversary Tokyo Disneyland! We’ll be back soon! x

The Summer Fireworks

Fireworks, called hanabi in Japanese, are a summer staple here in Japan.
I don’t think there’s ever been a summer without going to a hanabi festival or just fireworks in the park with friends. But fireworks are definitely linked to summer here and I can’t seem to do without it.
This year, I took my beautiful new picnic blanket (you can probably tell from the pictures that I want to show it off! haha!) with me to the hanabi festival in Ichikawa. It’s a city in Chiba prefecture, located along the Edogawa river. We had a little picnic of festival food before the fireworks started. And then we just rolled over and enjoyed the show in the night sky while we oohed and ahhed 😀
Here are some pictures:

My sister with her we-found-a-great-spot smile 😀

I got free uchiwa’s (a hand fan) the night before and decided to redecorate them!
This is how we save seats! The whole riverside on both shores was a sea of picnic sheets.

There were lots of different festival food stalls along the river.

Anzu-ame, a festival favorite, is apricot dipped in sweet syrup.
People start gathering as the time for fireworks comes near.

People also watch the fireworks from boats called Yakatabune.
We had a glorious sunset…you can even see the Skytree in the distance!

My absolute festival favorite is Gyaga-batah, which literally means potato-butter.

The fireworks start off with a bang!

Tons of people were there watching the fireworks!

Something special about each explosion of lights. Aren’t fireworks fabulous?

It was a pretty great night…might have to make this an annual event!
“Bright lights and the big city.
It belongs to us tonight.”
– Cee Lo Green