The Blossom Season Has Begun

They came a little early this year. 
Ume blossoms against the blue sky is one of my favorite things in the world.
And also very hard to find sometimes in this mass jungle of buildings in Tokyo. Many houses have plum trees in their yard but the buildings or telephone poles/lines always get in the way. Which is why I was giddy to find ume blossoms by a river with nothing blocking the blue sky!
So pretty, don’t you think? x

Has spring sprung in your neighborhood?

The Sign of Spring in Tokyo

Despite the snowy weekends we’ve been having in Tokyo (here and here), blossoms have been popping up here and there.
And you know what that means!
It’s a sign. The very best sign of all. It means warmer days are just around the corner (which is all I need really) and mother earth is starting to snuggle out of her winter blanket so we can enjoy her magical spring transformation (obviously I’ve forgotten how bad my hay fever is during the winter…but I don’t care!). Can. Not. Wait.
Major blossoms in Japan are ume (梅 – plum) and sakura (桜 – cherry). I love the ume for its delicate and fragrant blossoms and the sakura for its lush gorgeous trees. 
I’ve been seeing ume blossoms around the city but my absolute favorite blossom of all time is this yellow blossom. It’s called Robai in Japanese and Winter Sweet in English. (The kanji for Robai uses the characters wax (蠟) + plum (梅), apparently got the name from the fact that the blossoms look like waxwork.) It has an strong sweet fragrance and I couldn’t make up my mind whether to snap a shot or just keep on sniffing.
Aren’t they gorgeous?

PS: If you want to see ume blossoms in Tokyo, here is a great guide to the best spots!

The Snow in Black and White

Well, it snowed AGAIN in Tokyo this weekend! (Miracles DO happen!)
So naturally, I took this to mean that I can post even more snow photos here! But just to keep things from getting stale, I decided to post black and white photos so it wouldn’t just be another snow post…it would be the black and white snow post! Ha.
I took most of these photos while walking through Shinjuku on my way to meet a friend in Shibuya. The view from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building was an ocean of white. How amazing is that? It’s not a view we see too often in Tokyo. I also stopped by Shinjuku Gyoen and had a hard time resisting the urge to make snow angels. And you can see in one of the photos but the lake in the park had frozen over!
Don’t you love how quiet it gets right after a snow fall? x
Here are some photos:

The Day It Snowed In Tokyo

I know, I know. Everyone is tired of seeing snow photos from Tokyo.
But I can’t help it. I love love love snow. I dislike winter (with a passion), but snow makes the cold, the dry air, the shorter days all worth it. I was telling a friend yesterday that everyone needs snow in their lives. They really do.
I was born in Okinawa and it never snows there. My grandma, who still lives in Okinawa, actually called me this weekend to make sure I hadn’t fallen on ice and cracked my head open or gotten buried under all the snow. I love her. She mentioned this winter was a cold one for Japan and that temperatures even fell to 18C in Okinawa yesterday…I had to tell her that sounded like paradise 😀
Anyways, I don’t remember the very first time I saw snow but my parents tell me that my sister and I were outside playing in the snow EVERY SINGLE DAY. Pretty sure it’s true because I have a lot of memories of us (and photos, of course) playing in the snow (like here and here). Snow was magical to us. And in Tokyo, where it snows only once a year, if at all, it still hasn’t lost its magic for me!
Here are some snow photos:

The Holiday Weekend in Yokohama

Aren’t these the cutest Christmas reindeers (aka poodles) you’ve ever seen?
While many other countries may have a day off to celebrate Christmas on the 25th, here in Japan it is not an official holiday. So a lot of people get together over the weekend or on the 23rd, which actually is an official holiday here (it’s our Emperor’s birthday!).
I ended up in Yokohama this weekend with my Japanese friends, who currently live in South Korea, and their Chinese-Malay friends, currently visiting Japan from Malaysia. We went by Chinatown and had lunch at Bawarou, a Taiwanese restaurant that actually had vegetarian options. It was really good and the owner was quite the character.
After learning how to count from one to ten in Chinese, Korean, and Malay (this is what happens when everyone speaks a different language), we took a walk down the pier. Yokohama has so much history, it’s really interesting learning about how the port opened and evolved. Also, the view is pretty amazing, too.
Our Malaysian friends wanted to try ice skating so we stopped by the Red Brick Warehouse, which we call Aka-renga. Every winter they have a popular outdoor skating rink in their event space. It’s very crowded so it’s not the place to practice your triple axels, but skating with friends is always fun. Especially when it’s someone’s first time on ice. The girls had previous experience so they were very good but their dad had never ice skated before. He was like bambi on the ice! Teehee!
We had tons of fun and I’m glad we got to spend our holiday weekend together. And even though I’ll be working on Christmas day, I’ll still be in a festive mood for sure! (Especially since everyone on the other side of my emails will be on holiday and I won’t have that much to do anyways ;D)
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas from Japan! x

The December Link Love

Ho ho ho December!

It’s the last month of the year and I am excited to be swept away in the holiday cheer. December will be full of Christmas songs and hot chocolate!

In Japan, it is also the peak Bonenkai season. My schedule is steadily filling up. Bonenkai is the year-end gathering of co-workers and/or friends. We love any special occasion to drink together and be merry!

Also looking forward to heading home to spend new years with the family. I can’t wait! It seems like the older I get, the more I appreciate time with the whole family. Especially at new years, which is a family holiday in Japan.

How will you be spending the holidays? I hope it’s a jolly month for you all! x

——————————————————-Link Love——————————————————-

– Here comes winter and this chart explains how I feel perfectly.

– Ever seen a Leaf Man?

– Emma Thompson gets wild.

– I need a vintage wooden ravioli pin in my life.

Histagrams make me laugh.

– Can fist bumps save lives?

Reading positions. Which is yours?

The Longer Days

The days are getting longer.
I can actually see the remnants of a sunset
when I get off work on time.
Which has been sadly rare in the last month.
We’ve hit our busy season.
And it sucks that I’m missing all the sunsets. 
But on the other hand
work is busy but very satisfying.
Love pushing forward with the team.
Love the rush of working with an impossible schedule.
As spring is upon us
I’ve started to wake up earlier.
I walk to work most mornings basking in the sunlight.
Taking in the signs of spring.
Signs of new life.
And I don’t mind so much that my days are longer.
I’m ready to move.
To make things happen.

The Old Photos: Lake Michigan

Look at this crazy winter photo of
the North Pier Outer Lighthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan!
Apparently a wind chill advisory
was issued in Michigan this past week.
My family used to live right by Lake Michigan.
In the winter, parts of Lake Michigan would freeze over
and it becomes this massive field of snow and ice.
(I don’t think Lake Michigan has ever completely frozen over.)
This is us exploring out on Lake Michigan.
I remember being excited and a little freaked out
about walking out above the deep water.
Don’t you love our retro snowsuits?