Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Snow Day

You would not even believe the amount of snow we received today. I still can’t believe it. The snow started around 10 am. It snowed briefly and then stopped.

Around noon it started snowing again. It hasn’t stopped. It’s a very wet snow and sticking to everything!

You know what’s funny, at the Ikebana event on Saturday, Miki told me it was going to snow today. Monday? Really? Hai! No. It’s just supposed to rain. This is definitely not rain! I will never doubt her about the weather again!

The snow is so wet and sticky it makes the trees look beautiful.

The good thing about all the snow, it gives me an excuse to don my hot pink snow pants.

Watching snow fall is so peaceful.


We left our snow shovel in Great Lakes. I’ve gone out a several times to sweep off our front porch and sidewalk. It’s a big slushy mess.

The toll road between where we live and the base has closed. Needless to say, Dave will need to take the train home. I’m sure they will be delayed as well. The schools have already posted a two-hour delay for tomorrow. I know this sounds familiar to many of you. The good news for us, the temperature is supposed to be in the 50s tomorrow. I don’t think our winter wonderland will last too long!

One last owl planter picture. So much snow!! I took this last set at 18:30 on Monday and it is still snowing!


The government shutdown has been the talk of our town. I know you can relate. We are fortunate that Dave’s command is not affected. The biggest impact we have felt is the reduction of the number of AFN (Armed Forces Network) television channels available. Side note: Back when I was in the Navy, the acronym was AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio and Television Service). We still affectionately refer to AFN as “AFARTS.”

Anyways, normally we have eight AFN channels. After the shut down, all the channels were showing this announcement.

AFN provides access to the three major networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC. We have access to other traditional cable channels, Netflix, and Amazon. We definitely aren’t without television. Just perhaps without access to sports and our favorite evening shows.

The good news, a couple hours ago, Dave noticed the news channel and sports channel were working again. Hopefully, that means everyone will be able to watch the playoff games tomorrow. May the best team win! Go Navy!

Ikebana – New Year

Ikebana International January Event was held on Saturday 1/20/18. Dave and I were fortunate to be able to attend. It was held at The Great Buddha of Kamakura- Mrs. Sato’s residence. The gardens and flower arrangements were beautiful even in winter.

The event included a Taiko drum performance, mochi pounding, and sake tasting. The Taiko drum club is a group from Zushi High School. I took a picture of the information from the itinerary.

They were incredible. They had a total of five performances. I took a short video of each one for your pleasure. Please take time to enjoy. Their performances are amazing. They do not use a conductor during their performance. The first one I filmed from our seats.


After the first performance, Dave showed me a much better vantage point to capture video and pictures.


The third performance.


The fourth performance.


The final performance included eight members each taking a turn on the large drum. We learned the large drum cost the same amount as a Toyota Prius. The strength they use to beat the drum is incredible. Notice, there is at least one person holding the drum during the performance. I filmed several, this one was one of my favorites. Please remember, these are high schoolers!!!


After the Taiko drum performance, we observe mochi pounding. The Mochi pounding was an orchestrated dance! Fresh mochi is delicious!


Before lunch, we posed for a few pictures in the garden. Me with Dave and Miki.

For lunch we enjoyed a gourmet bento box.

It was a delightful afternoon. Probably for everyone’s sake, I put my phone down before we started tasting sake. Happy New Year! Kanpie!

Hike and Lunch

The original forecast for today was sunny with a high close to 60 degrees. Unfortunately, it was cloudy most of the day and barely got to 50. I am definitely not complaining. Especially, as I continue to hear about the cold temperatures and snow storms back in the U.S.

So, despite the chillier conditions than we anticipated, Amanda and I set off to hike the Kuzuharaoka-Daibutsu Hiking course.

Before starting the hike, we made a quick stop at the Jochi-ji Temple. One of my favorites. What isn’t to love about Hotei – the God of Happiness!?!

Besides the God of Happiness, the daffodils were starting to bloom.

Without further delay, we were on our way along the trail.

At one intersection along the trail, I saw a sign for a restaurant I have been wanting to try. I’ve heard great things about the food at Cafe Terrace. Plus, on a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji.

The sign literally seemed like a sign for us to stop and enjoy lunch. We ordered first and then sat down at the cute outdoor cafe tables.

While we were waiting for our order, the sun started to come out. It was lovely.

The server brought our food and an information card about the restaurant. I was relieved to see hikers were welcome. I was worried we might be under dressed.

We both ordered the mac and cheese with side salad. It was delicious, warmed us up, and fueled us for the rest of the hike.

I definitely want to return to Cafe Terrace. I want to return on a sunny and clear day and sip a glass of wine while watching Mt. Fuji.

After our meal, we finished our hike and made our way home. The rain from yesterday made the trail a bit muddy and slippery. Fortunately, we made it through without consequence.

Furusato Matsuri Tokyo

Furusato Matsuri Tokyo is a 10 day festival held at Tokyo Dome. The event includes local food dishes and short demonstrations of local performances. Katie and I took the train up to Tokyo Tuesday morning. After a 30 minute detour caused by me getting us on the correct train line at the correct time, but going in the wrong direction… we finally found our way to Tokyo Dome. We followed the crowd to the ticket line. For ¥1400 we had all day access.

Despite the 30 minute delay, our timing was perfect! We arrived just as the Tatemon Festival was beginning their performance.

The Tatemon Festival is held on the first Friday and Saturday in August at the Suwa Shrine in the town of Suwa, Uozu. I took a picture of Google Maps to help identify where the festivals are located.

During the festival, offerings and dedications are presented at shrines to pray for a good haul of fish and safety at sea. The lanterns on the large structure have lobsters on them.

I took a short video of each group to help you appreciate the experience.


After this performance, Katie and I walked down to the floor area where the numerous food vendors were located. So many people and so many food choices!

It was easy to become overwhelmed walking around. We both rejoiced with glee when we saw the Baird Beer stand. A Wabi-Sabi IPA makes everything better. Kanpie!

We continued taking in the sights and found a giant Daruma doll. Who doesn’t need a little extra luck in the new year!?

By the time the next show started, we were directly in front of the performers. And no one was telling us to leave. We felt like we were breaking rules. But, no one seemed to care!

The second show was a folk story reenactment. From Kanazawa City, the Kagajishi is a story about a lion being chased out of the city.

The performers included the warriors who were fighting each other and the lion. Eventually, the lion was driven from the city.


After the performance, we walked around some more and selected a delicious fried snack. I realize now I didn’t take any pictures of my Festival food. We shared dumplings, croquettes, and a fried dough cheese stick. All were delicious. Although I did need a couple Tums by the time I got home!

Anyways, back to the festival. The third show was my favorite. This presentation was called the Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival and comes from Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture. Located in the very northern area of the main island, Honshu.

During the performance, the group moved the 23 meter tall statue weighing over 19 tons across the floor.

We had fantastic seats to watch as the giant Tachineputa floated its way through the performance arena. During the actual parade, more than a dozen of the Tachineputa are pulled through town!


By the time the fourth performance started, Katie and I were losing steam. The event was becoming more and more crowded. This made it difficult to find a seat and walk around without bumping into people. Katie and I agreed we started to feel like we were in a human pinball machine.

We decided to stay for one more performance. The last one we watched was the Tottori Shan-Shan Matsuri Festival. Tottori Prefecture is on southern end of Honshu.

The performance is conducted using “Shan-Shan gasa” or rice paper umbrellas.

In 2014, the Tottori Shan-Shan Festival celebrated the 50th anniversary. With over 4,000 participants, set a Guinness Book of World Record for the largest umbrella dance.


We only experienced a small portion of what the 10-day festival had to offer. It was great to be able to see festival demonstrations from areas further away where we might not have the opportunity to visit. I hope you enjoyed the videos!

Meatball and Beer

On Sunday, Dave and I went up to our favorite barbecue and beer spot in Yokohama – Bashamichi Taproom. Our beers were refreshing and delicious after our 40 minute train ride.

We both enjoyed our meals. Dave opted for the Lucky Seven Anniversary special.

I happily picked my favorite, the brisket sandwich.

After lunch, we walked around the local area a little bit before going back to the train. We found this little bar called Thrashzone Meatballs. The sign outside said “meatball and beer.” Yes, please.

We popped inside to check it out. The beer list was longer than the meatball menu! Look at the last beer. Lagunitas IPA! My Chicago heart was so excited.

However, I did choose to drink local. I selected the Speed Kills. It was excellent.

The meatball menu consisted of two options. Regular or the Special. Regular meatballs were served with marinara with mozzarella. The Special was a Moroccan style meatball. The meatballs were served by the size number.

We started with four regular meatballs. They were served in small cast iron skillets.

The meatballs were made using a “takoyaki” maker. Takoyaki is an octopus dumpling very common in Japan.

As we sipped our beers, we chatted with one of the managers. He is an ex-pat making a go here in Japan. We decided we couldn’t leave without trying the Special. The Moroccan meatballs were served with small pitas.

We couldn’t help but make Happy Gilmore jokes with each bite. “That’s good meatball.” With all fairness, they were delicious and the beer list was extreme as promised. It was worth the stop and I will make sure to stop in again soon.

On a slightly different note. I know I mentioned the strong winds we have been having. Sunday was glorious. Sunny and no wind. Monday was sunny with strong winds. I took a couple videos from our walks to the beach each day. Check out the difference a day makes!

Sunday 1/14/18 – so calm and peaceful.


Monday 1/15/18 – watch for the wind surfers!


SRF / JRMC New Year Celebration

The SRF / JRMC New Year celebration was held on Friday, January 12th. The event was held in one of the large “shop” spaces within the SRF / JRMC compound. There was a plethora of food and beverages.

The celebration included a speech given by the Commanding Officer and the presentation of awards.

After the speeches and awards, the traditional ceremony of opening a sake barrel was conducted.

I recorded a short segment of the music.


At the correct moment, the master of the ceremony (his hand is in the left corner of my photo and video) directs the openers to crack the lid.

I did a little research to understand the sake opening ceremony a little better. The ceremony is called “kagami biraki.” Kagami means mirror and biraki means to open. Obviously, no mirrors are used or opened during the ceremony. The lid is broken using a wooden mallet called a kizuchi. Then using a wooden ladle, hishaku, the sake is is poured into masu cups. The masu or sake cup is a square cup made of pine. The pine adds a nice flavor to the sake as you sip.

The reason the ceremony is called “kagami biraki” is because the surface of the sake looks like a mirror when the lid is removed. The ceremony is believed to bring good luck to the organization.

It was a fun afternoon. I mean, what’s not to love? Drinking sake during the work day with my husband in uniform. I wore one of my new Thailand skirts.

And if sake wasn’t your drink of choice, there was plenty of Miller Lite! The pine also added a nice taste to our Miller Lites.

Plus, I had a chance to catch up with a couple of Wubas. Class of ’00 & ’97 represented in Japan!

As always, it was fun to observe another Japanese traditional ceremony. Happy New Year! Wishing you good fortune, friendship, and prosperity. Kanpie!

Motivation – Sole Adventures

One of my favorite quotes about running is:

I find this even more true when I’m running solo. I much prefer to know my running partner is going to be on the corner waiting for me and so, I best get to stepping.

The past couple days, the temperatures haven’t been too unbearable. However, the wind has been miserable. It makes taking that step out the door really tough. This morning as I listened to the wind blowing outside the kitchen sliding door, I was truly longing for one of my running partners to be waiting. Hmmm. I decided to make a new game with a favorite mountain of mine. I decided to meet my friend on Zushi Beach. Mt. Fuji-San!

The waves show how windy it was today. On a normal day, there are hardly any waves! It was so windy and chilly, we both were covered. Mt. Fuji-San with a snow cap and me with my running hat, breathable running turtleneck and hoodie. I’m like the pink ninja running through the streets of Zushi!

My new running friend trick worked. I endured the the cold and wind and completed my five mile loop.

My reward was a huge plate of pancakes! Amanda and I went to Happy Pancake for breakfast. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since Dina and I first went eat at Happy Pancake. Why have I not been back until now!?! This time, I opted for an omelet and the whole wheat pancakes vice the traditional “happy pancakes”. The salad was a nice healthy touch.

Amanda had the whole wheat pancakes and eggs as well. We both agreed, the traditional ones are better. Now we know what to order next time!

To all my running partners, I hope you felt a little warmth in your heart today. I thought about my favorite runs with each of you as I stepped it out. Run Happy!

Neko Break

Before the holiday, I saw an advertisement for Neko Break Yokohama. It described the event as a photography exhibit showcasing cats who have become famous Twitter and Instagram. I added this to my “must see list” post holiday. I thought pictures of kawaii Neko would warm me up on a chilly winter afternoon.

I took the train to Mark Is, a large mall in the Minato Mirai area of Yokohama. The exhibit was on the 5F of the mall. I made my way up the numerous escalators, I think like 9 or 10. (The train station is on B4.) The entry fee for the exhibit was ¥500. Let’s just say I was in cute cat picture heaven! There were so many!

The exhibit was contained by temporary walls and setup in a “L” shape.

I love the 3D exhibit at the end of the row. This person’s cats apparently busted through the screen. They have pictures and a model demo.

These guys had me giggling. Check out the Trump hair cat.

Or the snot bubble cat. Still giggling.

Or the cat with a Tokyo Skytree hat.

There were a lot of cats with hats. Kawaii! The cat to the left of the Tokyo Skytree Cat is a sushi cat!

I think my favorite was the stray cat exhibit. I noticed immediately the cats were all outdoors. Google Translate confirmed my suspicion they were feral cats. It made me smile thinking how this person took time to take pictures of cats that weren’t their own.

More cats with hats and A few Christmas pictures.

I also like the cat decorated as Kagami Mochi.

Kagami Mochi is a Japanese New Year decoration. It consist of two mochi cakes stacked on top of one another with a daidai (bitter orange) and leaf balanced on top. The mochi is used for soup.

There was plenty of merchandise available. I had my fingers crossed for Neko Atsume charms. Unfortunately, no luck.

I had a good giggle during my Neko Break. It made for a silly and fun outing. As advertised, the feline photo exhibited warmed my heart!

Mt. Fuji Sightseeing

Dave and I took an ITT Mt. Fuji sightseeing excursion on Sunday. During the trip, we visited five different locations around the base of Mt. Fuji. Each location gave us spectacular views of the mountain. We enjoyed plenty of sunshine and Mt. Fuji views. Even at the rest stop!

Our first stop on the tour was at Fuji Peace Park.

The Fuji Peace Park has a large white pagoda known as a Buddha Sarīra Stūpa. The Stūpa was built with the prayers of peace and happiness for Japan and World Peace. Within the pagoda are preserved and enshrined sacred relics of Buddha.

Mt. Fuji looked spectacular in the early morning sunlight.

The gardens around the park were beautiful. They were perfectly manicured and maintained.

Our second stop was at Oshino Hakkai Springs. The springs are fed by the water that runs off Mt. Fuji. According to our tour guide, water takes between 20 and 80 years to go from the top of Mt. Fuji to the Oshino Hakkai Springs. As the water moves through the Earth, it is filtered and purified. The spring water was incredibly clear. Check out the fish! The dots in the water are coins at the bottom of the pond. The fountain was available to fill your water bottle. The water was cool and delicious.

There was also a specific fountain where you could hold your hand in the water for 30 seconds to purify your soul. I expected the water to be a lot colder. It wasn’t difficult to leave my hand in the water for the full 30 seconds. My purification was completed without much difficulty.

While at the springs, we were able to visit another beautiful garden and see other ponds.

Our third stop of the trip was a visit to Lake Kawaguchi. Lake Kawaguchi is one of the Fuji Five Lakes. During the stop, we enjoyed a hot pot of noodle soup. It was delicious! The small flame kept the soup hot while we ate.

The Lake was so beautiful. The fleet of swan paddle boats had me giggling. We will definitely need to return when we have more time and the weather is a bit warmer. I need to take a ride in a swan boat!

After lunch, we returned to the bus and went to the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center. The center has a plethora of information about Mt. Fuji. It was fun to learn a little bit more about the mountain we have climbed and the one we are always excited to see.

The final stop was at the Sengen Shrine. The Sengen Shrine is at the base of Mt. Fuji. It was built to protect the people of the area from Mt. Fuji eruptions. Also, if you want to climb Mt. Fuji from the very bottom, you can access the trailhead from the Shrine. It will make your climb about five hours longer!

This hiker statue and the Torii mark the trailhead for the Subaru Trail to the top of Mt. Fuji.

It was a great trip and the weather was perfect. It wasn’t too cold, lots of sunshine and mostly clear skies allowing us to have so many opportunities to see Mt. Fuji. I saved the places we visited on Google Maps. So, when you visit and on a clear day, we can take a day to drive over and see the mountain up close!

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