Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Christmas

Huis Ten Bosch

During my visit to the IACE travel office in Sasebo, I saw a brochure for Huis Ten Bosch. Huis Ten Bosch is theme park with a Netherlands inspired theme. What caught my eye in the brochure were the holiday light displays. I immediately added this to my list.

We arrived before the sunset on Saturday in order to see some of the park in the day light. We took a 20 minute train ride from Sasebo to the Huis Ten Bosch Station. We were amazed by the view from the start!

That huge building is the main hotel of the park. Dave and I decided we needed a return trip to experience all the park had to offer, including a stay at one of the hotels!

At the entrance of the park, visitors walk through a field with three large windmills. This time of year the fields have pansies and lights. In the spring, the fields are full of tulips. Just like Holland. Before dark.

After dark…

We enjoyed a walk around the park taking in the sights. One hotel is completely run by robots. Check out this guy!

There were tons of cute photo opportunities.

Even roses blooming!

Lots of decorations.

I also had a giggle seeing another pirate ship. My third one in the past 10 days! Notice the cute Amsterdam Row Houses in the background.

As the sun set, lights started to come on. I was giddy! We worked our way to the magical waterfall.

I hope I captured the beauty in the video. It’s truly amazing to watch.

We walked through the blue garden lights. Enjoying the lights and singing “Blue Christmas” and wishing those wine glasses had wine!

Our next highlight was a ride on the Ferris Wheel.

The ride around was 11 minutes. I’m happy to report the cars were Dave proof. They were completely enclosed so he couldn’t drop water on anyone! The views were spectacular!

After the ride, we walked to the huge tree so we could enjoy the tree lighting ceremony.

It was mesmerizing!

I took a close up of the fountain. Notice the wine fountain sign, Santa, and all the muses. Amusing!

The last highlight of our visit was the boat ride. We rode through the canal and were able to enjoy the lights and animations.

The best part was the canal light show. I recorded part of it for you.

One last funny. The parade was going on while we were on the boat. After we got off the boat, we saw part of as we were walking around. There were lots of Santas dancing and floats and Christmas music and a dinosaur. Yes, a dinosaur. Apparently, nothing says Merry Christmas like a dinosaur float!

All the lights and holiday music truly helped us get in the Christmas spirit. The theme park and illuminations were over the top. I hope we have the opportunity to return in the spring. I would love to see the flowers!

Japanese Tea Box 

In early December, Dina and I signed up for a class to make (cover) a Japanese Tea Box. I had to delay sharing this experience because the tea box was a Christmas present for my mom and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. The class was taught by a sweet Japanese lady named Atsuko and was held here on the Ikego base.

Dina and I went shopping for the materials together at the fabric store, Swany’s, in Kamakura. The box itself is provided as part of the class fee.

The first step was to wrap the inside edges with a metallic tape to match the aluminum lining.


In Japan, the tea box is part of the traditional tea ceremony. The tea box holds the items used throughout the tea ceremony. I thought the tea box would be a fun and unique gift for my mom for Christmas. Simultaneously, parents love getting homemade gifts, right? I picked out this fabric to cover the tea box.



The next part involved wrapping the tea box with batting. I was actually able to use leftover quilt batting I had from making tshirt quilts. Yes, I moved batting scraps to Japan. In my defense, it was an excellent use of the scraps!


First, the batting is wrapped around the box and then with a decent amount of tension, the fabric is wrapped around. The last part requires hand stitching of the corners.


The final part to the bottom of the box is wrapping the upper edge with a contrasting fabric. A plastic band is stapled to the edge to help hold the fabric and keep it taut.


The top is made in a similar manner. Atsuko helped me ensure the print of the fabric was centered.


The finished product!


Besides having a cool Christmas present for my mom, another positive result occurred from meeting Atsuko. Earlier this week, I was contacted by Atsuko’s daughter asking if I would be willing to give her private English lessons. She recently took a new job with an International company and needed to brush up on her English. We agreed to meet once a week for our English conversation sessions. Our first meeting was last night, (Thursday) at my house. I met her at the train station on her way home from work. As in true Japanese style, she brought me a gift. Wrapped perfectly.


And inside, little cheesecakes. Very delicious, but more like a moist coffee cake vice cheesecake.


Our first session went very well. I helped her with comprehending a work related email and we talked about her New Year traditions. I’m excited to have an opportunity to learn more about the Japanese culture, make a local friend and build my travel fund.

Christmas Vacation 

Christmas Vacation. 


Two of my favorite words. Having the opportunity to live on the other side of the world gives us a chance to vacation on the other side as well. We debated for a couple weeks at the end of September where we would like to visit. After seeking counsel from new friends we have made here and old shipmates (thanks, Audry & Matt), we decided on Phuket, Thailand. 


I have spent the day cleaning the house and packing our suitcases. We leave tomorrow morning and fly non-stop to Bangkok. After a brief layover we continue to Phuket. From the airport, we will have about an hour taxi ride to our hotel. Here is a Google map of the island. We are staying at the red dot. It is a resort right on the beach in the Patong Beach area. 


Here is a bigger perspective we are the blue dot in Japan. 


We have plans to lounge on the beach and by the pool. We have looked at the possibility of taking a sea kayaking adventure and a speed boat to visit neighboring islands. We are planning to do some sightseeing around the island as well. 

Unfortunately, with my Japanese cell phone, I will only have connectivity when we are in our room. I came to the decision that I am not going to stress about updating my blog while I’m on vacation. I will take lots of pictures and share our adventures when we return after the New Year. 

Thank you for reading and following me through our first 5 months in Japan. I’m looking forward to the coming New Year and sharing all the adventures it will contain with you. I miss you all and love you even more. 

Wishing you the happiest of holidays. 

XOXO 

Tokyo Christmas Market

Sunday afternoon Dave and I went to the Tokyo Christmas Market. We had heard it was better than the Red Brick Christmas Market we went to in Yokohama. It was a beautiful afternoon and we thought it would be a fun and festive way to enjoy the sunshine.

Here was our route. We met in Kanazawa-Hakkei and switched to the Yamanote line. The Yamanote line makes a big rectangle around Tokyo. The trains run in both the CW and CCW direction. It reminds me of the EL in Chicago. Except it’s underground.


Once off the train, we stopped for a quick bite to eat. We found a nice little Italian restaurant. Dave had calamari and steamed mussels & clams.


I had the lunch set. It was a turkey sandwich with fries and a side of lasagna. The sandwich and fries were good. The lasagna was a seafood lasagna. Gross. I had one bite and passed the rest to Dave.


After lunch, we walked over to Hibiya Park where the Christmas Market was located. The park was lovely and festive with the lights.

Notice how they make Christmas trees by using structures around the sculpted trees.


The Christmas Market Entrance.


This Christmas Market had more vendors overall. There were many food vendors and cute little shops. Like most places in Japan, it was very crowded.


The decorations on the buildings were very festive!


The German Christmas Pyramid (Weihnachtspyramide) was beautiful!

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Can’t forget a selfie with my Glühwein and Dave’s Bier!


I stood in line to visit a store so I could buy an ornament.


It was a long line and an expensive ornament. But, it’s super cute!

My favorite photo of the day was Dave with the nesting doll. Kawaii!!


Merry Christmas! Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Ginza Christmas 

Dave and I spent Saturday morning and early afternoon walking around Ginza. Ginza is a popular upscale shopping area of Tokyo. There are numerous internationally renowned department stores, jewelry stores and restaurants located in its vicinity. Ginza is considered one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world. It was like The Magnificent Mile on steroids. 

It was a quick 15 minute trip on the Tokyo Subway from our hotel. 


Every day at noon the main road, Ginza Street, is closed to vehicles and pedestrians are able to walk freely across the street. 


Several of the buildings have unique architecture. The DeBeers building is amazing. 


The Sapporo building – 

The Bvlgari building. 


The highlight this time of year was seeing all the Christmas decorations. 

Check out those diamonds!!

If only in my dreams…

Let it snow!

Of course, a cat!


So many trees!! 


We had to pose for several tourist photos! 


For all my Hello Kitty fans, there is a Sanrio World in Ginza. Kawaii! 


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