Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Yokohama (Page 1 of 3)

Flower Church

For the past three Sundays, Dave and I have spent Sunday morning exploring blooming flowers. Two weeks ago we went to Gumyoji to see the Sakura. Last weekend on our way to Shinjuku Gyoen with the Thompson Family, the phrase “Flower Church” was used to describe our mission to see the Sakura. I enjoyed the phrase and decided to make “Flower Church” part of our Sunday routine. Especially, when there are so many beautiful gardens and parks to explore.

This weekend, we went to Yokohama Park. The park is located in Yokohama by the Baystars Stadium. It was a quick train ride to a beautiful garden full of tulips.

There were so many different colors. We soaked up the beauty as we walked through the park.

We stopped for a Flower Church selfie.

Besides so many different colors of tulips, there were so many varieties.

Walking through the parks is also very entertaining. There are so many people to watch. My favorites are the people photographing their dogs. I can appreciate their dedication and their love of their puppies. This time we also saw people photographing their anime dolls. Simply proving, everyone has a hobby.

Adjacent to the tulips was a more traditional Japanese garden. I noticed right away the wabi-sabi of the garden. The peaceful and serene garden contrasted with the giant orange and white antenna. Ahhh, the beauty of the imperfections.

We left the park and walked around the area before deciding on a lunch spot. As we were walking we found a street lined with Sakura. What a lucky bonus.

We decided on Charcoal Green Grill. It was still just as delicious as it was over a year ago! Clearly, we need to go back more frequently.

Yokohama Afternoon

After we got Danny off to Haneda Airport on Friday morning, the girls and I headed to Cup Noodle Museum. This stop on the Julia Tour was especially for Chase-Chan. The little one loves ramen. First step, stand in line to buy your cup to decorate.

Next, we spent time decorating our Cup Noodle.

Then we added our noodles, seasoning, and flavors.

Finally, our perfect, made-to-order Cup Noodle is packaged and sealed.

After making our personalized Cup Noodle, we spent time exploring the Cup Noodle Museum. The museum encourages innovation and persistence in pursuing your dreams.

The Cup Noodle Museum is on top of my list of places for kids in Japan. However, it might be one of the loudest places in Japan. Therefore, I like to incorporate a beer stop before or after for the adults. This time, we choose the KIRIN City restaurant in Yokohama. Jennifer and I ordered a frozen beer. After our adventures in Miyajima and seeing the sign missed labeled for beers as bears, we decided they should be calling the frozen beers “polar bears.” Haha! The foam was completely frozen. It was a little different, but nonetheless refreshing.

We finished up the afternoon with a little shopping before heading home for a relaxing night before their flight on Saturday.

Saturday morning, Jen and I enjoyed one more walk to Zushi Beach. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. It was our lucky day.

A few hours later we were saying our goodbyes as they waited for the Narita Express.

Dave and I enjoyed a wonderful week sharing Japan with the Thompsons. I still can’t believe how quickly the week passed. We enjoyed so many laughs and created so many memories. We will see you soon, friend-family aka fri-amily. Ja Matane

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.

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

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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!

Winter Illuminations

The head Sensei of the English school where I teach on Fridays organized a school trip to Tokyo to see the winter illuminations. We met at Yokohama station at 11:00 am. Here we were able to meet up as a group – teachers and students. Our bus for the day was number 1 – Mango Poodle.

We boarded the bus and set off for our first stop. Yokohama Christmas Market in the Red Brick Area. Dave and I haven’t had a chance to visit the Yokohama Christmas Market this year, so I was happy it was included in this tour. We enjoyed about 30-40 of free time at each location to walk around. It was a sunny and cool day.

After our stop at the Red Brick Warehouse Area, we rode the bus to Tokyo. Our first stop in Tokyo was at the Washington Hotel for a buffet lunch. It was a large buffet with a mixture of eastern and western cuisine. A friend took this picture of me with my two students, Junko on the left and Haruko on the right.

After lunch, we went to Yebisu Garden Place. Some of the pictures might look a little familiar. Dave and I visited Yebisu Garden Place a couple Saturdays ago. Do you remember seeing a picture of the large chandelier, huge Christmas tree, and cute “Make it Happy” sign?

While we were visiting, I had a picture taken with my students. They are so very kind and sweet. I truly enjoy talking with them and spending time together. During trips like this one, I have the opportunity to learn more about their families and interests.

Once again, we boarded the bus and were driven across town to Odaiba Seaside Park. We arrived as the sunset and waited to boarded our water taxi. The first picture is of Tokyo Tower. Followed by the Tokyo skyline and sunset. The last picture is of Rainbow Bridge.

Once we were safely across the harbor and the sun had officially set, it was time for the illumination viewing portion of our tour. The next stop was Shiodome. The illuminations were blue and the animations were every 15 minutes. The lights were in rhythm with a variety of Disney songs.

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The other highlight at Shiodome was the artistic Christmas trees. They were so kawaii!!! My favorite was the universe tree. Junko’s favorite was the frog tree. I had a good laugh at the Japanese snack tree. The name of the tree was “Japanese Happy”, of course.

Once again, we were back on the bus. We went across town to Tokyo Station. Here we were able to view the GIANT white Christmas Tree and light show. The tree was sprayed white and then spotlights were used to change the color of the tree. There were also singers performing. Haruko, Junko, and I didn’t hang out here too long. We used our 30 minutes to grab an onigiri. Junko treated me to a salmon and fish roe onigiri. When she asked me if I liked it, I said yes, I like both salmon and fish roe. Hmm? Was her response. Roe? And then she said “fish children”? I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help myself. Fish eggs, I said. Fish eggs. Bahahaha! We enjoyed a good laugh together.

Our next stop was at Tokyo Midtown Christmas. This was probably my favorite. I will make sure to take Dave next year. The light show was spectacular. It was sponsored by Toshiba. Interesting fact I learned, Toshiba also sponsors the lights at the Louvre Museum. Anyways, the show was about 5 minutes and absolutely fantastic.

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Can you believe we still had another stop!! Two actually!! Two more stops. I must admit, by this point in our tour, even I started to lose the excitement. It was as though we saw too many spectacular lights and nothing was seeming spectacular any more. Plus, the last two I had already seen with Dave. The next stop was Roppongi Hills. We visited there two weeks ago.

The finally stop before returning to Yokohama station was the blue lights near Shibuya. Dave and I visited these illuminations last year. They were again very beautiful. I took a couple pictures of the same location. Strategically positioning my phone to cut out the people. Can you believe how many people were out on a Wednesday night at 10:00pm?!?

Overall, it was truly an amazing day. I enjoyed spending time with my students. They are so kind and attentive to my wellbeing. It is definitely a different type of teaching than I am accustomed to doing. Maybe I’m not changing the world, but I’m nurturing friendships and my soul. And selfishly, that is good for me in a place so far from home. By the end of the day, Haruko, Junko, and I all agreed “we are good tired and our hearts are full.”

Yokohama Day Trip

Our first stop in Yokohama was the station. We stopped for train stamps and an onigiri snack. When in Japan, visit the Conveni and eat onigiri! 


Next on the agenda was the CupNoodle Museum. This is the second time it has been on a Julia Tour. I highly recommend it. I love the fact your Cup Noodle is your souvenir. They have worked out the process to a science. First, you buy your cup. 

Then wash your hands. 

After reading the rules for decorating your cup, you are escorted to a decorating table. 

We spent about 20 minutes decorating our masterpieces. I made a cup for Layla’s husband, Nick, so they could enjoy a Japanese ramen dinner after they returned home. 


Our finished products. 


After decorating, we prepared our cups with noodles and flavor. The cups are placed upside down on the noodles. Each person turns the wheel and the noodles drop into the cup. 

Next, you select the flavor of the ramen. Nina and Noah each selected traditional ramen flavor. Layla choose seafood flavor and I picked curry flavor for the cup I made for Nick. Also, we selected four toppings for each of our CupNoodle. 

The chicken is my favorite. Kawaii! 


After our cups are filled, the lid is applied and the cup is shrink wrapped. 


After we made our own CupNoodle, we walked quickly around the museum. We were able to learn more about the history of the CupNoodle and pause/pose for a few pictures. 


After our visit to the CupNoodle Museum, we meet up with Dave. We enjoyed a nice American lunch at Hard Rock Cafe Yokohama. As we made our way to the next stop on Julia’s tour, we took a quick detour at the Gatcha and Pokémon. 


Our next adventure was at the Trick Art Cruise. This again made the Julia tour because it’s entertaining and a fantastic rainy day activity. Here are a few of my favorite pictures. 


One of Noah’s Japan requests was to find a Yokohama Baystars baseball hat. We looked at Sports Authority and didn’t have any luck. We jumped a train and two stops later we were at the Baystars Stadium. 


Of course we found one at the stadium! 


This was our last stop of the day. From here, we headed home on one last train ride. From our first to the last train ride, we were all smiles! 

Dr. Fish Foot Massage 

A visit to Dr. Fish foot massage in Yokohama’s Chinatown has been on my list for a while. To be honest, one of the reasons I haven’t gone was the thought of fish snacking on my feet freaked me out. I almost chickened out today!

Katie and I went to Yokohama’s Chinatown to have lunch, explore, and visit Dr. Fish.


For lunch we stopped at a delicious sushi place that serves tuna rice bowls, my favorite!


After lunch, we made our way to the Fish Foot Massage. For ¥1000 ($9.50), you can soak your feet in a fish tank for 10 minutes. Students and kids are cheaper.


The facility is full of tanks. I was secretly hoping it would be too crowded and we would need to come again another day. Alas, no. It was empty.


The receptionist escorted us to the foot bath first. Here we washed our feet before dipping them into the tank.


She then showed us to our tank and instructed us to dip our feet in. I was following her directions perfectly until I saw the fish schooling under my feet before I put them in the water!! OMG! Look at all the fish! I was a little scared and decided to wait for Katie.


Together, we plunged our feet into the fishies.


Look at the grimace on my face!!! It tickled. It really tickled.


Katie and I tried to decide if it was their mouths or their fins that tickled. Both. Seriously, OMG! Both. It was weird and anything but relaxing.


At times one of us would need a break and lift out our feet. When we did, the fish would go immediately to the other person!


Close to the end of our time, Katie commented how long 10 minutes seemed. I couldn’t agree more! We also discussed how was this sanitary, relaxing, or ok? We decided – because Japan. I’ll keep my fins fingers crossed I don’t start growing scales.


Finally, the receptionist told us our time was up. We were so relieved. Whew. It was such a weird experience. When you visit we can easily add this to your itinerary. You’ll love it! Or at least I will love watching your reaction!

Yokohama Museum of Art

How do you get a science teacher to an art museum? Tell her there is a science exhibit, of course! 

Currently, at the Yokohama Museum of Art there is an exhibit by Triennale featuring many different aspects of science. I needed to check it out! 

The theme of the exhibit were connectivity and isolation. Forty different artists were selected to participate. They created exhibits based upon the theme from their perspective. 



The entire museum was transformed into a fusion of art and science. I was given an English brochure to follow as I walked around. Also, many of the exhibits were labeled in English. There were so many exhibits within the exhibit. I focused on a few that I enjoyed the most to share with you. 


This huge structure was at the entrance. I felt as though the quote was referring to my hair! 


The first exhibit featured different islands made from a variety of mediums. The island of Australia is made from shells and plastic. 

This island made from pink and green sea urchins was called “Color Blind Island.” The pattern is similar to the cards used to measure color blindness. 


Accompanying the larger islands were small models. 


The different sea shells used in the exhibits created a very unique representation of the artist’s ideas. 

The next exhibit was Anime. Because Japan! 

The Family Mart screen painting made me laugh! 


The beads in this necklace are made from fossils! There are 170 varieties of fossils. They come from all over the world and are arranged chronologically according to evolutionary history. 


The next exhibit made me chuckle. It is an exhibit by Rob Pruitt. It displays several of his eBay items currently up for auction. You can visit his eBay store “Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market.” There you can bid on these items and many others! 


This next exhibit reminded me of a child’s room with blocks all over the floor. Fortunately, no one injured their feet because the rug was part of the exhibit and not to be stepped on. 


This one was another of my favorites. The artist tracked the currents of the Mediterranean Sea. Interesting art indeed! 


If looking at current patterns didn’t m excite you, wait until you turned the corner! Kawaii! Life size polar bear statues covered in feathers!! I was ready to take a nap with the pink one! 


 The exhibit was great. I enjoyed wandering around and spending a couple hours thinking about the connection between art and science. And trying to figure out where I would put the polar bear in my house!! 

Silver Lining

Dave had a full day of work off. So, I planned an afternoon in Yokohama sampling different craft brews. 


All was right in the world until… I received a message from my GF Audry asking if I could forward her one of my September blogs about Japanese eggs. When she tried to access the post, the pictures wouldn’t load. Hmmmmmm. 

When I tried to access the same post I had the same problem. What in the world? My stomach started to knot when I realized what has happened. Stay with me as I explain… 

I write wabisabisole via the WordPress app on my phone. In March, I was having issues with the lack of storage on my iPhone. One of the biggest storage problems was the WordPress app and all the pictures. So, I started to delete pictures. I was delighted in how much storage I reclaimed by deleting so many pictures. It wasn’t until today when I realized the repercussions of my actions. All of the blogs from mid April back  to August 2016 – have no images. As I scrolled through, it was like looking at a skeleton. My heart broke. So much work. Such a rookie mistake. 

Simultaneously, Dave and I had plans to have a nice day together. It’s just a blog. Get a grip! Ugh. 

As we ride the train to Yokohama, Dave asks me if I’ve backed up the pictures elsewhere. Yes, on the iCloud, Google photo, and Shutterfly. I have most of them somewhere. It’s just a matter of downloading them and uploading them in the right spot. Where is the right spot!? This is when Dave says, “I saved wabisabisole in my emails, will that help?” Say, what!?! Omg- yes! I can match the email (which doesn’t change regardless of my edits) to the missing pictures. Simply, amazing. Unbeknownst to me, Dave made a folder for wabisabisole emails and has saved them for the past year plus. Dwyer for the win, yet again. He seriously is the sweetest and the best. #silverlining 

Dave saved the day. And so did beer! 

While in Yokohama we visited Yokohama Bay Brewing for a pint. 


For lunch, we enjoyed a delicious bowl of ramen. So, good. 


Half way through, I saw the ingenious way to add sesame seeds. Check it out! You might think it’s mustard. Nope, sesame seeds! 


Despite the wabisabisole set back, the day ending on a positive note. Time together exploring and enjoying. Tomorrow, Monday, will begin the great wabisabisole edit of 2017. I’ve been procrastinating on this task since I reached the one-year point. I’ll take this as a sign. As always, thanks for reading and sharing the adventure with me! A special thanks to all of you who talk about/share my adventures with others. As always, beauty is in the imperfection. 

Kirin Brewery 

The Kirin Brewery in Yokohama made it into my top six “Favorite Brewery Tours.” 

Also in the top six are: Revolution Brewing (Chicago, IL), Magic Hat Brewing (Burlington, VT), Lagunitas Brewing (Chicago, IL), Heineken (Amsterdam) and Miller Brewing (Milwaukee, WI). 

The tour was free, lasted 80 minutes, and had three free tastings at the end! The staff was friendly and the tour was animated with automation. I can’t wait to go back! 

Sonia and I took the train to Yokohama and then switched to a local line. From there we walked to the Brewery. 


The area was very industrial and gave us the feeling we were in the wrong place. Until we saw this sign. 


Yay! We are on the right track and only 200 meters away! Walking up to the entrance, we were greeted by a security guard. 


He showed us to the reception area. We arrived at 11:10 am. The receptionist asked if we had reservations for the tour. No, we don’t. That is ok, she said. The next tour is at 11:20. Would you like to go? Yes, please! We were given buttons to wear and an English lamented guide to help us understand the tour because it was all in Japanese. Our tour guide came and introduced herself to us! Talk about feeling like a royal! The first part of the laminated booklet included the rules. 


At the beginning of the tour, we watched a short movie. Please notice all the kids who were part of our tour! It’s important to teach the youth to appreciate beer. 

As we moved along the tour route, we stopped for a tourist pose and to snap kawaii pictures. 


After the movie, we moved to a room where we could play with the malt and hops. Tables of different sizes were set up for participants to taste and smell the ingredients. 


My favorite quote was on the ingredients page. “All the ingredients of beer are gifts from nature.”


We left the ingredients room and were taken to see where the mashing occurred. Another video and light show was used to show the purpose of each tank. 


From here, we were able to taste the wort. The kids were so excited! They were cracking us up! 

I would describe the wort as tasting like raisin bran water. Like if you put water on your raisin bran instead of milk and then drank it when you finished the cereal. Sweet and branny. 


After tasting the wort, we had another interactive exhibit to understand the fermentation process. These cute little cartoons were projected onto a table. A true love story. Yeast eats sugar releasing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Voilà – Wort becomes beer. 


Check this out! We passed by a classroom that can be reserved and you can make your own beer! They will store it for you and ship it to you when it is ready. For a small fee, of course! 


The final part before tasting is the packaging. The beer we have been learning about is now packaged into Kirin Beer cans. 


Japanese happiness is shared throughout the world as Kirin is shipped globally! Locally, we enjoyed the final stop on the tour in the tasting room. 


After our tasting, we were ready for lunch. We stopped at the Spring Valley Brewery restaurant on the grounds of the factory. 


We split a flat bread salad and yogurt fried chicken. It was delicious! 


As we were leaving, we couldn’t resist a few shots lifting the (empty) pony kegs. 

It was a fun day! I am more than willing to add this to the Julia tour when you visit. I mean – free beer!! 

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