Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Ikego

Fuku Sei Ramen

I must confess to something a little embarrassing. We have been in Japan for almost 15 months now and last night was the first time we ate at the closest ramen restaurant to our house. I know! We pass the restaurant each time we go for a run or drive out the gate. We always talk about eating there. Finally, we did! 

We took about a 15 minute walk from our house to the restaurant. The restaurant did not disappoint. We enjoyed an American sized Japanese beer to quench our thirst after the warm walk. 

The added bonus was an English speaking staff and English menu.

The ramen and gyoza were delicious. There were a plethora of choices for ramen. Even a vegetarian option which can be very difficult to find in Japan. Plus adding extra noodles was an option. For only ¥210! I ordered a salt based ramen with chicken. It also came with bean sprouts, seaweed, and corn. Because our waiter spoke excellent English, I could ask him for no corn. Ahhh, yes! The result was a beautiful and delicious bowl of ramen. 

I’m always hesitant with gyoza. Sometimes they give me a bit of indigestion. Sorry for the TMI, but these only required two Tums compared with others requiring four… 

It was the perfect outing for a casual Sunday night. We will definitely return. Sooner than later. 

As my Japanese students have taught me to say when you want to change the subject, “thank you for sharing, ok, subject change.” I’m writing this as I sit on the Narita Express. I’m heading to the airport to meet my friend, Layla, and her two adorable kids. They are coming from Memphis and staying for the week! I can’t wait to share and explore Japan with them! I have so much planned for their visit. We are starting off strong and heading to Tokyo DisneySea tomorrow. It’s like the “Epcot” of Tokyo Disney with a “sea” theme. Stay tuned for kawaii Disney Halloween 👻 🎃 ! 

Saturday in the Park

Saturday MWR held a “Friendship Day” at the Ikego track. It was an open event welcoming together Americans and Japanese to enjoy fellowship and cultures. 

Dave and I were able to walk down and enjoy the event. 

Like any good American day in the park, there were American Firetrucks and Sparky! 

There were several food vendors. The longest lines were for the American hamburgers and shaved ice. 

When we first arrived, the U. S. Navy Band was finishing their set. They sounded pretty good as we walked down the hill to the track. 

There were tents set up with games for kids to play. Also, a muscle man hammer. It was funny to watch the Japanese men. They were often dressed so nicely and slammed the sledgehammer like a boss! 

The highlight was watching a group of Japanese dancers. The dancers were all ages. Check out the shoes the ladies were wearing! 

The dancers were impressive and very entertaining to watch. As you can tell by the video, it was a very windy day. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to dance with their hats in the wind! 

They had their own band playing the music. 

The little kids were so cute. 

“Saturday in the park, I think it was the Fourth of July…” or maybe just the 29th of April! 

Angry Birds

We have the loudest, most obnoxious crows I have ever experienced. There are often many of them in the forest around our house and they are ridiculously loud. They “caw-caw” from before sunrise until dusk. They are so loud, when I’m talking on the phone, the person in America has commented on being able to hear them! 

They greeted me as I returned home from Costco this afternoon. Ugh! They are so annoying! They were in the trees in the front of the house and in the trees around back. I felt like I had a cuckoo clock stuck in my head! 

Here they are out front. 

I walked to the back of the house to capture the squawking there as well. 

They carried on like this for about a half hour. Clearly, they enjoy raising a ruckus. 

One More Sakura Adventure 

Tuesday it rained and rained. It was pretty ridiculous. If this isn’t the “rainy season” I’m not sure I’m gonna make it without owning a canoe! Haha

The clouds finally parted and Wednesday started off beautifully. Dina and I had plans to hike to Mt. Miurafuji and to visit the cemetery pagoda in hopes of catching a few remaining Sakura.

We set out on the hike I did last month to Mt. MiuraFuji and made the steep climb. Unfortunately, today was not a clear enough day to see Mt. Fuji. The blue skies want to promise you otherwise. None the less, the views along the hike were stunning. If we were going to see Mt. Fuji, it would be in the first picture.

At the top, we made the decision to head towards the Nobi train station. There was a trail and a sign pointing the way and I thought this might connect us to the pagoda faster. Simultaneously, we knew we wouldn’t see Mt. Fuji anywhere else on the hike. So, the pagoda became our next goal.

Off we set, back down the mountain.

Soon we came to a fork in the path and a sign. Google Maps helped to point us in the correct direction. We veered right at the fork.

Down we went.

It doesn’t look very steep from the top. How about from the bottom!

We continued hiking down and found a beautiful little over look. The dark spots in the photo are Sakura petals falling. It was so serene.

We were eventually dumped out into urbanization. We followed Google Maps to the cemetery. On our journey, we passed through a quaint little park and beautiful cemetery. Both with Sakura trees in bloom.

My beautiful friend! How is she not a sweaty mess?

Me… Sweat-a-Saurus Rex! Honestly, who cares about me! Look at those Sakura Blossoms!

Ok, enough with the suspense already, we made it to the cemetery. First stop, Buddha.

This view!

A few more steps and the pagoda was in sight!

The Sakura trees in bloom with the pagoda were well worth the hike. Dina and I picked up onigiri for lunch and had our own Hanami under the Sakura trees. It was perfect. Except we forgot the Sake!!

I think the first picture is my favorite. Or maybe the second…

By the time we stopped for Hanami, I was pretty hungry. I snapped these pictures after we both finished our onigiri. Oops! It was a beautiful setting!

As we returned home on the train, clouds started to roll in and so did a few sprinkles. By the time I was walking up the hill towards home, it was full on raining. I had no umbrella, just more beautiful Sakura and a chu-hi!


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.

Home is Where the Navy Sends You

Great news! We received the keys to our house today!! As discussed previously, we will be living in a three bedroom town home in Ikego Hills. It is a Navy housing community about 23 minutes away from base. Dave and I drove out there today. Yes, I typed that correctly. I drove us out to Ikego. It wasn’t bad, especially with a second pair of eyes and navigational assistance.

Tomorrow we will receive our unaccompanied baggage. Remember the stuff we sent at the end of May? There was a reason to send it because our household goods are still 2-3 weeks from arriving. I’m also really glad I took these pictures 3+ months ago. I have totally forgotten what I packed!!

I’m chuckling at this picture.  It has a vacuum.  You will realize why it is so funny when you see the pictures of the house with tile floors everywhere!  The main thing, tonight is our last night in the lodge. Yay! Tomorrow night we will sleep on “Dolly,” our air mattress. Regardless, we will be in our own space. Speaking of our own space, if you remember our house in Great Lakes and think about the complete opposite… That will be our new living arrangements.

Here are a few pictures…

First, the den. 

The doors in the picture above look out to our backyard… I was going to take a panorama shot.  Then I realized – not necessary…

On to the kitchen & laundry *room*.

Downstairs half bath. 

Going upstairs. 

The spare bedrooms and bath. 

Master bedroom, closet, and bathroom. 

Did you notice a reoccurring theme?  Like WHITE!  Yeah, it’s ridiculously white.  Dave is insistent that once we have our belongings and I do a little “bird” magic it will really feel like home.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed he is right.  None the less, for those of you who visit, you’re obviously coming to see us.  Not the house.  As an added bonus when you visit, you will have your own bath & bedroom or two!

Simultaneously, to add a little spice to the moving in & driving around fun, we are currently under a tropical storm watch. Tropical Storm Chanthu is approaching the island. It’s blowing warm rain sideways.

At the time I am posting, the wind is howling through the windows.  In a weirdly calming way, I feel like I am back in Great Lakes right off of Lake Michigan.  It makes me want to snuggle in and sleep.  I feel a great night of sleep ahead of me listening to the wind howl.  Good Night!

PS.  We also received our PO Box today.  I will email/message you our new address.

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