Thursday, December 31, 2009

How I Spent My New Year's Eve

Abe and I decided to celebrate the New Year by doing it the way the locals do. It ended up being one of the funnest New Year's Eve celebrations we've had in a long time! {All photos taken with my Iphone}

It started with all you can eat soba noodles and mochi, and all you can drink Japanese sake.




This guy enjoyed himself just a little too much.




We continued onward to the shrine, which was so crowded. But we endured the wait and the freezing temperature to do as the locals did.




We got our fortunes for 2010. Ours were pretty good. But those who had unlucky fortunes tied them to the shrine to leave behind.




The walk along the streets looked like a middle of the night festival. There were vendors set up along the freezing road selling everything Japanese, from okonomiyaki (octopus pancake) to fried squid and chicken on a stick. And the desserts were so pretty! Chocolate bananas and candied apples. Yum!










Finally, the new photo banner on Abe's team website. Abe is the third guy from the left. I actually think it kinda looks more like him than some of the other drawings of the other players.




Hope everyone rang in 2010 safely with their loved ones whether it be on a cold street in Japan, in a crowded casino in Vegas, or in the comfort of your own home.

Happy 2010~!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Japanisms


So, I realize that this blog is pretty random. Sometimes I post stuff about my life, sometimes it features Abe's basketball activities, every once in a while, I'll show some people I've photographed.

And lots of the time, I either brag {or gripe} about Japan. Today is one of those days. Random "Japanisms" as I like to refer to them. Things about Japan that I wouldn't know had I not been living here for almost 5 years. For example:

-It's considered polite to wear a mask when you are sick, as to not infect other people. {How considerate!}



-However, I've been the unfortunate victim several times to have been sneezed on while in a public place. Japanese do not acknowledge sneezing {no "excuse me" or "bless you"s are exchanged} so it's pretty aggravating if that happens to you. :(

-There are lots of cool varieties of foods and drinks from back home here in Japan, with a little twist. For example, I went to Costco in Tokyo and found a beautiful octopus. At random stores I've also seen Red Bean Pepsi, Kimchi Freetos, and today, I found Tuna Mayonaise Doritos.




-If you lose something or leave a belonging behind in Japan, chances are you might go back and find it (unless it's money). Case in point: Yesterday, I went to my local Starbucks in the mall for a large bag of coffee beans. I went to the supermarket in that mall and accidentally left my beans at the register while paying, not noticing until I got home. I returned almost 24 hours later with just a pinch of hope that it would still be there, and would you believe the held it for me in the Lost & Found?! {WOW!} That would never happen in LA.

-Drivers use their hazard lights and even bow while driving to thank you for letting them in front of you on the road. I still smile when I get "the bow" :)

Ahhh, as the end of 2009 approaches, I'm glad that I continue to find things that amuse me and continue to make me grateful for the opportunities I have while living in Japan. I'm sure I'll still have those moments when I want to scream in the middle of a supermarket or when the cashier insists of giving me a FORK at the convenience store when I assure him I am capable of using chopsticks. But there'll also be plenty of moments like today when I'll be able to smile knowing I'm in one unique country!

Hope everyone is enjoying their last few days of 2009!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

Just wanted to wish everyone a joyous holiday season. We decided to stay in Japan for Christmas and ended up having a wonderful time traveling and shopping in Tokyo. Abe surprised me with a nice trip that started in a hotel overlooking Tokyo Bay and ending with a boat ride under Rainbow Bridge; something that I'd always wanted to do while living out here.

Here are some 'touristy' photos I took...



The view from our hotel room:

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Some photos from our boat cruise:


That glowing tower back there is the ever so famous Tokyo Tower:

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And the Rainbow Bridge was looking so stunning that evening!

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Tokyo PERFECTION...

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LOVE.this.man:

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In other news, my family did not disappoint. Since we couldn't go to them, they brought Christmas to us, yet again. My beautiful niece and nephew sent hand-drawn cards with Christmas greetings and my parents sent loads of wonderful gifts...i.e. American candy, gum, clothes that actually fit us, and my personal favorite, Mexican candy. Yum! :)

Although it is definitely difficult being overseas for big holidays like Christmas and New Years, it totally helps having the internet (Skype and Facebook...oh how I love thee!) to keep in touch with friends and family. For that I am soooo grateful!

Hope everyone is enjoying time with their loved ones.
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Brex (less Abe) ;)

This season I've been fortunate enough to have opportunities to photograph more of Abe's games. It's hard to pay attention to all of the technicalities that are involoved with sports photography when the games are exciting so sometimes I forget to take pictures at all. I'm often asked by fans and teammates if I just take pictures of Abe. Of course not! :)
I try to get lots of action and drama when I can, but getting around to posting everything is another story...

Here's the proof that I don't just take photos of Abe :P


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The Million-Dollar Man, Tabuse...

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The most animated player on the team...

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Confronting the ref...

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December

I can't believe how quickly December is flying by. Two thousand and nine will be over in just a week and a half. Christmas shopping and working so much has really sped things up for me. Abe and I finally have breaks from our respective jobs which means more quality time and more photos! :)

I just wanted to post a couple of recent photos. Last week I arrived early to Abe's game. I noticed how beautiful the scenery was behind the gym and there were about 10 minutes of golden sun remaining in the chilly sky. So I grabbed my friend Mana and had her pose for me for the 10 minutes that we had. She's shy and probably wouldn't want me posting a bunch so here's just a few...{Thank you Mana!}

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Hope everyone is having a great holiday season!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Not a morning person

Today was one of those days. Where things just seemed a little off. I woke up early and had the worst sore throat, but I had scheduled a lesson with a student and it was too late to cancel. I arrived at the coffee shop on time, but unfortunately, my student completely forgot about the lesson. (Totally not her fault...these things happen sometimes). So I decided not to waste a trip to Starbucks and bought my favorite Pumpkin Spiced Latte {sooo yummy!}.
I was enjoying my morning coffee when I accidentally spilled it all over the floor. The staff quickly came to the rescue saying they would help me out, and they took my cherry blossomed decorated coffee tumbler with them. I waited a few minutes and they returned it with what was left in it after I dropped it.
So, I was sick, stood up, and a clutz. All in the timeframe of an hour.

Well, what's a girl who's down on her luck supposed to do? Duhhhh, go shopping! And wouldn't you know...my sore throat felt better! Guess buying Christmas gifts is a good remedy for a yucky morning. Glad I got through it ok :)




Anyway, I was going across some old photos I took while back in LA. I went to a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights and learned a lot about what I see here in Japan (but was able to understand everything in English!)

How can you not be happy when seeing this guy?!

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Friday, December 11, 2009

The little things

Abe and I will be celebrating our fourth Christmas together in Japan and I'm looking forward to it. We have yet to decide what we're going to do but I'm sure it'll end up being fun. We thought about going home but it was too pricey for the short time we'd be able to make it. So we'll probably do something creative in Asia somewhere.

I've mentioned before how crafty Abe is at making things around the house. At our old apartment, he made a bed out of straight up wood and also a kitchen counter. This year, he made something even more awesome than imaginable. He made a kotatsu table. For those unfamiliar with Japanese furniture (I was until last week!) a kotatsu table is basically a low table with a heater built under it with a blanket on top. You sit under it and feel the heat radiate your legs and feet. (See the picture below that I found online)






At first, I didn't understand how it worked, but once I sat under it, I was in heaven! It was wonderful!


In other news, we recently discovered a newer Costco than the one we stopped driving to because it was too far. Helllloooo hot dogs, pizza and American food at reasonable prices! We stocked up on major "necessities" (lasagna, yogurt, organic veggies, MUFFINS!!!!) and have since been eating like we were back home. Christmas came early this year! :)

Although I tend to complain about the inconveniences or lack of communication while living abroad, I am constantly reminded of the little things that I should be grateful for. I really am fortunate to have this amazing life opportunity in Japan, which might take us back to the US sooner than I know it. Ahhhh.



Here's something you won't find this at Costco in SoCal...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Action!

I've had these photos for a while now, but am just getting around to posting some of them. Abe's team had a photoshoot before his season started and he invited me to watch how they do these kinds of shoots. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. :(
But I was fortunate enough to get some of the shots that the awesome photographer took. I wanted to post some on my blog. (Even though my name is on the photos, he took them) :)


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I'm having lots of fun learning sports photography from the friendly people I've met in Japan.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yellow

I was driving to Abe's game on Sunday and saw the most beautiful sight: A single street flooded with cascades of bright yellow. It looked like a scene from a movie. It was just perfect. So I went all the way back home to get my camera and join the crowds of other nature enthusiasts and captured some yellow goodness...


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By the way, the game was great. The Brex won. Abe was happy. Which meant I was happy. Yay!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Still here!

Booo me. I haven't been able to update my blog lately. Being a grown-up can really take time away from doing stuff you like to do, as opposed to what you need to do. The good news is that I got a new gig teaching at a local kindergarten which is fun, but terribly exhausting. Also, Abe's season has been keeping me busy, but it's been exciting so far and they are currently third in the league.

I've still been taking lots of photos, which I hope to post soon. Hope everyone has been doing well!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

The season...so far

I can't believe I haven't done a basketball post since the season started. So far, Tochigi is ranked second in the league and they have beaten the 2-time reigning champs once already. That's one more time than I thought they would ;) So things are looking very promising right now...

The first three pics are from the season opener against Toyota (Abe's old team). The Brex won both games, so they were really excited.

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The last few are from last weekend in Gifu against Aisin, the number one team in the league. Even with injuries, the Brex were able to surprise a few people.


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This one is for my friend Anna. She likes photos that show emotion ;)

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This weekend we play against Hokkaido's team here in Tochigi. Good luck Tochigi!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Architecture

One cannot live in Japan without noticing its amazing and unique buildings. I'm constantly intrigued while walking down streets by the neatness and sharp angles that form the scenery of Japan.

A year ago, one of my students told me she was going to move out of her apartment and into her own home. A home that she was going to design and build herself (with the help of an awesome architect). She described it to me as the home was being built, but I couldn't quite grasp a home made out of solid wood and different levels with open space...especially in Japan. Last month, her vision became reality as I was able to visit her new abode...

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Can't you just feel the openness and airyness of her home?


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Pretty much everything in the house is made of wood! (It smelled wonderfully!)


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I just loooved her kitchen. There was so much space and it had such a simple layout:

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Skylighting in the kitchen? Yes, please!

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The house also had this sweeeet balcony/deck. It extended across the entire top floor! I know a good place for a summer bbq :)


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I'm sure I didn't do this house the full justice it deserves...but I DO know that I've got some cool new ideas for when we move home to the US for good for our own house. Just don't tell Abe yet ;)