Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Shopping (Page 1 of 2)

Long Way Home

Two things were notable during my English class this afternoon. First, my students loved the cakes I brought back from Nagasaki for us to enjoy during tea time. Second, one of my students gave me a huge hug when she saw me. “Sensei, good to see you!” It feels good to be missed!

After my English class, I decided to take the long way back to the train station and walk through Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Shrine. I haven’t been to visit in a few weeks and thought I might have a chance to see a little fall foliage. And who knows what else, I mean it’s Friday!

Check out these crowds! While I was there I observed three weddings and a plethora of school groups.


I walked up the stairs to the top of the Shrine to make my Christmas wish. (Layla, these stairs!) 😳😬

After sending off my Christmas wish, I was ready to find Fall foliage. It was my lucky day! Fall foliage and vermilion bridges.

Plus, a Torii gate.

I found a very secluded spot. The serenity was amazing.

I had to wait patiently to capture some of these pictures without too many people. Like I said, it was crowded.

As I walked back to the train station, I did a little Christmas shopping along Komachi Dori. It was a delightful afternoon doing things I enjoy: teaching, snapping pictures, and shopping! Happy Friday!

Enoshima Sea Candles

Last week, I went out to Enoshima Island and during my visit, I saw an advertisement for a candle illumination display. Wednesday evening was the perfect opportunity for me to revisit the Enoshima Garden, Sea Candle, and candle illumination. I arrived a little before sunset and was very happy I did! I was able to capture a few pictures of the sunset and Mt. Fuji. 

I purchased my ticket and quickly went up into the Sea Candle before the sunset was complete. I wanted a few more pictures! 

I returned to ground level and I tilted my phone to capture Mt. Fuji and the Sea Candle. A very gorgeous evening! 

After watching sunset, I returned to the candle illumination. The path leading to the Sea Candle was illuminated with white votives. 

The candles were placed with great care throughout the garden. 

The Shrine seemed majestic with the red votives lining the path. 

The candles were beautiful and it was so quiet. It wasn’t very crowded, but still a good number of people snapping pictures from every angle. As couples spoke, they whispered. The silence truly set a peaceful tone for the evening. 

This is my fourth visit to Enoshima Island. It is moving up on my list of favorite places near where we live. Even though it takes a little while to get there, the train ride is nice along the coast. Also, there are a lot of shops leading up to the Shrine that can be fun to explore. The Shrine is beautiful and there are a lot of stairs! On a clear day, the island provides a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji. It is worth a visit during cool (remember- lots of stairs!) and clear weather.  One last picture of Mt. Fuji as I walked back to the train station. 

One more funny story about the Enoshima Sea Candle. In America, we would refer to this structure as a lighthouse. I call it the  Enoshima Sea Candle because those are the English words written on the signs on the island. Even Google Maps refers to it as the Enoshima Sea Candle. 

The funny thing is, I have told both of my English classes about my visits to Enoshima Island and the Enoshima Sea Candle and they respond with confusion. They will say to me, “you call it Sea Candle?” Clearly, confused by the silly American who isn’t familiar with lighthouses. I try to explain I call it that because that’s what the sign says- in English. Normally, I would call it a lighthouse. “Oh, yes, lighthouse. Yes, very beautiful.” Yes, very beautiful. For now on, I will always giggle when I see a lighthouse aka Sea Candle. 

Beautiful Day

Today was beautiful. It warranted a get out and go attitude. I decided to venture over to Enoshima Island. I’ve been a couple times, both with Dave and Dina. It provides a spectacular vantage point for viewing Mt. Fuji (on a clear day). I knew today would be a great day for a trip to Enoshima because I snapped this picture earlier in the morning from Zushi Beach while enjoying a U.S. phone conversation with my girl, Jules. Enoshima Island is the island slightly off center and in front of Mt. Fuji. 

One part of the island I haven’t had the opportunity to explore are the rocks and sea cave. It is some what of a trek out to the island. It requires three trains and a good bit of walking. Here was my route. 

As I walked across the bridge to the island, I was giddy seeing Mt. Fuji with a snow cap. Signs of cooler weather! 

I decided to walk the stairs on the island vice taking the pay escalators. I figured the steps would do my rainy day lazy legs a favor! I was huffing and puffing by the time I reached the top. But, that view! 

Before descending down the other side to the sea cave, I decided to stop for a quick visit at the Sea Candle. I love the gardens and the Sea Candle and I knew the view would be amazing. I purchased my ¥500 ticket from the machine like a boss and entered the garden. I was greeted by thousands of unlit luminaries. 

I saw the flier with relevant information and have already made plans to return next week in the evening to see them illuminated! I think it will be so enchanting. 

As I approached the Sea Candle entrance, an advertisement for the caves caught my attention. I looked it over and then proceeded to the ticket taker at the entrance. He nicely informed me the sea caves were closed. Oh? Hai! Because typhoon caused damage. Oh! Arigatōgozaimas! I was so thankful he told me before I walked down the other side of the mountain! He also told me he wasn’t sure when it would reopen. 

The views of Mt. Fuji from the Sea Candle were as beautiful as I hoped! 

I walked around and enjoyed the 360 degree view of Shonan Beach. The bridge pictured is the one I walked over to access the island. 

As I was returning to the elevator to go back down, I observed a man taking the stairs. I decided to follow and ignore the sign written in Japanese. Again with the great views! 

The spiral staircase took me down to the Terrace level. As I came to the end of the staircase, I realized my error. Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t think I was supposed to use the stairs. 

Oops – a – daisy! Let’s just keep this between us, shall we? But, just so we are clear, I paid for an entry ticket to the garden and Sea Candle! 

One last view from the Terrace. 

And from the bridge as I walked back to the train station. 

On my way back home, I stopped and did a little shopping. Both in the Shonan Beach area and then in Kamakura. It was just such a beautiful day! 

Tokyo Shopping

Dave and I went up to Tokyo on Sunday for two reasons.

1. Pizzeria da Michele for lunch.

2. I needed to go shopping!

Since we weren’t running a marathon the next day, like the last time we enjoyed a pizza lunch at Pizzeria da Michele, we shared a small caprese salad and a pizza. The pizza was incredible.

After our lunch, we went to Harajuku for my “American” shopping. I wanted to go to GAP for a few staples for an upcoming trip. I was able to find just what I needed!

As we were walking around, I mentioned to Dave that I have bought more GAP clothing in the past year living in Japan than I have in the past five years living in the U.S. The style is classic and more importantly, they have American sized clothes.

I did make one super fun purchase. I’ve seen summer hats with cat ears on a couple of people. Dave found me one on Takeshita street! I love it!

Dave was quite the sport as we walked around. Harajuku is always crowded and more so on a Sunday. I snapped this picture as we started walking down Takeshita street.

When you visit, we will definitely walk around the Harajuku area. Let’s just try to avoid the Sunday crowd!!

Sogo Yokohama

I went on a shopping trip today to the department store, Sogo, in Yokohama. My mission was to visit the Sanrio store for a Hello Kitty t-shirt to wear during the Tokyo Marathon. 

I didn’t find one. Turns out the Sanrio stores only stock kids stuff. However, I did find a whole new feature of Google Maps. 

Google Maps will show you the stores on each floor of a mall. Check out the first picture. It shows the B2 level or the second floor of the basement. It is at this level where you come out of the train station. The highlighted level on the side corresponds with the map layout. 

Next B1. 

As you scroll up the floor on the left side, the layout changes to match. Pretty amazing. Skipping ahead, level 2 & 3. 

When I first saw level 7, I got a little excited. It says LOFT. This was not the LOFT from the US. It was a cute store with a lot of Japan souvenirs. Just not cute clothes. 

Finally, on up to level 8 where the Sanrio was located. Lots of cute Hello Kitty toys and clothes for little kids. No t-shirt for me. I think I’m going to have to order from Amazon. 

With 10 levels plus a rooftop, this feature of Google Maps is essential! 

Google Maps proves yet again to be my favorite traveling partner for navigation! 

Mitsui Outlet Park

After our trip to Costco, Dina and I decided to check out the Mitsui Outlet Park at the Yokohama Bayside Marina. A quick selfie before getting our shopping on.

The outlets had several name brand American stores. Eddie Bauer, GAP, Coach, UA, Nike, and New Balance, just to name a few. It also had a gigantic whale tail in the center and windmill at one end, because it’s Japan.

I was pretty excited about seeing an Eddie Bauer. The funny part, the store only had petite sizes.

At Under Armour, I was able to find a solution to my latest problem. I found two new pairs of gloves. One pair for running and one pair for going out on liberty.

Here is an explanation of my problem. When riding the train on date night and during the weekends I typically enjoy a Chu-hai or three. It is a cold drink. In the winter, I have on gloves to keep my hands warm from the cold air and the Chu-hai. I hold the drink in my left hand leaving my right hand available to use my phone to scan my train card, check the train schedule or message as required. Under the influence of a couple or four Chu-hai, even with tech-friendly gloves, I need to remove my glove to accurately and efficiently type on my phone. This resulted in me losing my right glove not once but twice on the trains this past weekend! I needed a solution and I found it at UA. Mitten tops that fold back with a cut out for the thumb! Amazing! Absolutely amazing!

Performance ready! I’m excited for our date night on Friday! Fingers crossed I make it home with two gloves!

Another wonderful discovery of our shopping adventure was a store called Franc Franc. The store carries very cute household items. I purchased an aroma humidifier.

To compliment my aroma humidifier, I purchased the Love Beach aroma water. It smells delightfully like a beach. The label made me happy as well. It has the “wabi-sabi” motto.

“Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections.”

One last funny story for the day. While shopping at Franc Franc, Dina and I both had accumulated a carry style shopping basket full of items to purchase. The baskets were awkward because we had the humidifier balanced precariously in them. One of the store workers came up to us and asked in Japanese and charades if she could take our baskets. Having no idea what she said we said, “hai” or yes. She took the baskets and Dina and I were laughing because as normal, we had no idea what she said. We decided she didn’t want the already tall and space taking up Americans to take up any further room. We were obviously interrupting the store “wa.” She returned with two cards. They were the markers for our baskets which were located behind the counter.

The Japanese can be amazingly efficient at times.


Throughout Japan there are vending machines that will dispense small toys inside plastic capsules. 

They are called gashapon or gachapon or just gacha for short. The word gachapon is a Japanese onomatopoeia. “Gacha” for the sound the dial makes as it turns and “pon” for the sound of the capsule dropping. The gacha machines are everywhere and have toys designed appeal to all ages. 

The gacha have a variety of available toys. Most of the gacha machines I have seen cost either 200¥ or 300¥. The machines only take a 100¥ coin. Typically, the toys are sold in sets of 5 – 7 different toys. However, your purchase only gives you one toy at a time. Trying to collect all of the toys in a set can become frustrating and expensive because you are making blind purchases. Not to mention, the series you are trying to collect may be difficult to find. 

I keep trying to get a dog drinking beer. All I have gotten is a sad cat drinking Sake, twice. 

Each time I go shopping, I check the gatcha machines. The closest one to me here in Zushi is at the Japanese grocery store, Yorkmart. Here are the gatcha I have collected from the grocery store. They are supposed to be little cherub statues. Peeing. What in the…?? 

I have also been looking for my favorite Japanese characters from the Neko Atsume (Cat Collector) app. I finally was able to find them today while in Yokosuka. Yay!

Jeeves and Kathmandu

This series are like the opposite of wine charms. They sit under your wine glass instead of hanging on them. The brunette with a smashed umbrella makes makes me giggle. I think of my friend, Sue, enduring car rider circle in VB during a Nor’easter. Just make it wine time already!! 

A couple more things you should know. During my gacha collecting, I have gotten duplicates. These I plan on sharing with you and I hope they make you laugh. Second, when you come to visit and if you fly into Narita Airport, there is a expansive collection of gacha machines. You will be able to search and find your favorite to look for throughout your visit! There are so many choices!!



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! 

Cruising in da Cube

I picked up our car today. A Nissan Cube. Seriously.  It’s kind of cute in a cube sort of way. Not top-down-convertible-Saab cute. However, it is new-driver-in-Japan-only-need-for-three-years cute. Check it out. 

Once I had our Cube, I made a list of errands to do and cruised. I wanted to go to the Home store and the Japanese grocery store. The home store is like combination of a Home Depot, Walmart and PetSmart. There is one part of the store I LOVE. The store has PUPPIES! They are adorable. I decided to make a beeline to the puppies and then do my shopping. Here are today’s cuties. 

Check out this little miniature pincher and his price. ¥158,000 is about $1,580.00. Serious sticker shock! 

The cute lab puppy pictured above had a price tag of ¥98,000 or $980.00. Unfortunately, no puppy will be purchased while we live here. 

After getting my puppy fix, I shopped for a few this or that for the house. On my list was to investigate paint options. I had an idea of painting an accent wall in our family room. Here is what I discovered. Paint is different here. The paint is sold already tinted and expensive. 

The color is painted on large paint chips set above the cans and the cans have the designated color on the label.  There are no portable paint chips to bring home and think about. And you definitely don’t want to buy the wrong color because the price doesn’t accommodate mistakes.   

Upon closer inspection. It is important to note Japan uses the metric system. Paint is not sold by the gallon. Pictured here are 1.6L cans for ¥2,980. Google conversions helped me understand this amount. 1.6L is equal to approximately.422 gallon. In summary, less than a half gallon of paint cost $30. What! That’s ridiculous. Check this picture out- 

This can is less than a liter and ¥2,550. A gallon is approximately 3.7L. This color blue was one of my favorites. I would need to purchase 4 of these baby paint cans to make a gallon. That’s ¥10,000 or about $100! That’s craziness. I don’t see myself painting any more than I see us buying a $1,500 puppy! 

Shifting gears to what isn’t expensive. Sushi. My reward for cruising in da cube & not buying a puppy was picking up sushi at the grocery store for dinner. All this sushi was less than ¥1,000 or $10.00. Pretty good deal. Plus, I picked up some bubbly sake. This one may be a little too sweet. However, it pairs nicely with the salty soy sauce! 

One final picture of our kitchen table arrangement. I’ve been working hard to make this house feel and look like home. 


Long story short, I saw our future house today!!  Here is a picture of our “le” (pronounced “e-et”).  It was great to put eyes on our home sweet home.  Less than 2 weeks!

What you can’t see is the long hill I climbed to get to the house.  Nor can you feel how hot and sweaty it was to make the climb.  I know the U.S is feeling the torch of summer and Japan is no different.  It was 89 degrees – 70% humidity with a heat index of 99 degrees.  Sounds familiar to so many!

Added bonus is that it is an end unit and tucked away with a woody backyard.

And now for the longer part of the story.  Let me back up to Wednesday, 8/3.  Two key things happened.  1.  We obtained our Japanese cell phones.  This enabled me to utilize GPS and cellular service beyond wifi.  2.  My newest friend, offered to show me how to use the trains.  Armed with my new cell phone (iphone 6s) and money for a drink at a vending machine along our journey, my friend, her two kids and I, set off on a field trip to Ikego Hills and back.  We were successful in our adventure and I was prepared for my solo journey on Thursday.  Here are a few pictures to provide better understanding of the Japanese train system.

  1.  Boarding passengers form a line behind the diamonds while waiting.  Also notice the passengers across the tracks.  The benches are unique. 

  1. If you desire to sit on a bench and wait, you sit on a specific square on the bench.  Do NOT hog the entire bench.  If possible, leave a space between you and another person on the bench if you don’t know them as demonstrated in the above picture. 
  2. The trains are really clean.  Ok, maybe not the train station but, the train is really clean.  Also, it is really difficult to find a trashcan.  Another lesson learned, keep a trash bag in your purse at all times. 
  3. Do NOT talk loudly, eat, drink or anything else that would cause you to make a spectacle of yourself.  I should probably include “be a tall American women with blond hair” because people will stare at you.

This leads to my favorite game to play on the train.  During my first solo train ride on 8/4/16, I developed the adult version of “peek-a-boo”.  I sat in silence and I played on my phone for a minute or two.  Then spontaneously I would look up, make eye contact with the person staring at me and smile.  Without fail, each time I looked up, someone was staring at me.  After I looked up and caught them staring they would quickly look away or at the floor.  It was hard to keep a straight face.  I was giggling on the inside.  I didn’t feel threatened by any means.  It was more a feeling of being a mysterious anomaly who should be admired and studied.  Too much?  Seriously, I didn’t feel threatened or awkward just different because I am and that is OK!

Continuing on with my journey, here is a screen shot of my Google Map.  In case I haven’t explained how easy Google Map is to use, if you look at the directions at the bottom, it tells you what time your train will arrive, which platform, how many stops your train will make and total travel time.  Even more helpful, the blue dot travels along the route.  Enabling visual verification you are on the correct train.  Completely user foreigner friendly.

I also develop a mnemonic to help me identify my stops.

  1. Jimmuji Station – Jumanji (Station by our housing area)
  2. Kanazawa-Hakkei Station – Kwanzaa-Hanukkah (Where we switch trains)
  3. Yokosukachuo Station – Yokosuka”chew” (Station near the base)

Silly, but very helpful when everything is indecipherable.

After my trek to and from housing, I shopped along Blue Street as I made my way back to the base.  Here were items I found at a little convenience store.  Tomato Pretz, 2 flavors of KitKats (still searching for wine flavored), clorets (gum) and two individually wrapped Japanese “uncrustables”.  One flavor is egg salad and the other peanut butter.  Interestingly, neither were refrigerated and both had an expiration date of 8/6/2016.  Hmmm….

Finally, it was time for lunch.  This was a yummy soft bread covered with macaroni salad, 3 pieces of broccoli and 1 shrimp.  It was served warm.

I am happy to report that I was not a bobbing blond bobble head while exchanging currency.  I made two separate purchases and felt I handled it like a 96-hour newbie.  I followed the locals in line ahead of me and placed my CASH on the little tray that was by the register.  I bowed slightly each time (only once) and said “hai” and “aragoto” – (thank you).  Oh, and of coursed smiled.

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