a good weekend

It is officially fall here in Japan people and what that means is a small window of time where the weather feels the closest to socal as it will ever feel and we all experience a few weeks of pure bliss until.....BAM. WINTER HITS and I am frozen 24/7. So October is a beautiful month and I have been taking advantage of it by spending more time out in the city with new and old friends! 

Got to visit my new friend Nami at Jaho coffee! Anyone and everyone in the Tokyo area...go here!! You will not be disappointed. 

This past weekend Steph (back to co-worker Steph...I know a lot of stephs) and I headed into Tokyo to meet up with a few of her friends from CA who were here on a prayer missions trip. Steph's friend Amy had a friend, Nathalie, who just moved to Tokyo with her family...so they all met up with us to hang out for the day. Nathalie has two adorable kids who came along with us and I was in auntie heaven! Being around kids, especially the same age as my nieces and nephews, is so therapeutic for me so you could imagine my excitement. We spent the day on the ultimate Tokyo tour...Dominique Ansel, Nakamegs, Jaho Coffee, Afuri, then ending at Loft in Shibuya! 

Typical Tokyo life...taxi trying to get through a crowd.

After a fun day in the city, Steph and I headed to Makuhari to attend the best party ever...

This is Shun, my coworker and good friend. He is half Japanese half Nepalese and is one of the most hilarious people I have ever met. His parents own a restaurant and they host a sari party every month and this month was extra special because it was Shun's 30th birthday!

We got to rent a sari (his mom helped us put it on), eat an amazing buffet of Nepalese curry + rice + bread, eat birthday cake, and dance the night away with all of his family and friends. It was crazy and SO much fun. 

Shun, his beautiful wife Noriko, and his mom! At work, Shun always talks about his wife and how they met when they were in college and he had long rockstar hair but his humor won her over. Steph and I have been dreaming to meeting her for some time now, so when we finally got to see her I felt like I was meeting a celebrity! Not only is she beautiful, but she is so kind! She made sure that after the party Shun drove us back to the station so we didn't have to walk. How did this guy get so lucky to find a girl like her? Also, how amazing and cute is his mom?! 


So that wraps up another rad weekend here in Japan. So thankful for all the new friends the Lord has brought into my life here. How cool is it that God created our hearts to always love and embrace more people? Thank you Lord!


Not too long ago, my good friend Steph sent me a text about cheap flights to Tokyo and the possibility of her coming out to visit. I noticed a three day weekend in the middle of October and told her to aim for that timeline. With only a month or so to spare, she booked her flight to Narita and stayed with me 5 days! 

Steph and I met when we were 14. We were teeny tiny little teenagers chosen to be a part of the 12th Yonsei basketball team. Ever since we were young, Steph has been the planning type. On our Yonsei team she was basically the team mom, planning our Christmas parties, tournaments, and even our senior trip to hawaii together! (pic above from that trip in 2009)  I knew having her in Tokyo would be a breeze, and that she would research all the best places to go before I even had to worry about it.

Sure enough, she came and we hit up some new spots that were all amazing. We cruised all over Tokyo and then spent the holiday (Monday) in Yokohama. 

First stop in Tokyo...RAINBOW PANCAKE. Steph is a huge fan of pancakes and really did her research on this one. I had never even heard of it and I'm the one who lives here haha! Rainbow pancake is located in Omotesando and is famous for these insanely fluffy and delicious pancakes. 

Steph ordered the Macadamia pancakes which were OFF THE CHARTS good. Forsure some of the best pancakes I've ever had. I ordered the seasonal Flower and honey pancake special which was almost too beautiful to eat. They somehow managed to infuse floral taste into the whipped cream (beats me) and the honey tasted magical on the fluffy cakes. 

Good coffee + pancakes...does it get much better than that?

After breakfast we cruised around Cat street and Omotesando on our way to Shibuya. 

Cats street is definitely the place for hispters and fashionistas in the Tokyo area. I especially love the Japanese guys who dress like Justin Bieber haha. 

Steph's younger cousin is a huge TsumTsum fan so we had to stop by the Disney store in Shibuya. Now that I have been to Shibuya more times than I can count...I will say that the scramble still gets me every time. It's always as crowded and busy as you would imagine...and I am always fascinated people watching. 

Next stop..afternoon coffee in Nakameguro. Let me just say, I am so thankful Steph is not only a major foodie but she is a coffee addict as well! The perfect person to travel Tokyo with. 

We looked up a place to check out in Nakamegs and Steph found this place...JAHO Coffee which I had heard of briefly before. It just opened recently and is in the perfect location by the river. IT IS SO CUTE INSIDE I ALMOST COULDN'T BELIEVE IT. TOO TOO GOOD. 

There's also the most stylish clothing store in the back of the coffee shop that sells ridiculously soft expensive sweaters that I can only dream of wearing one day. 

Talk about a cool look out spot. This place will be straight up MAGIC when it is cherry blossom season since all the trees along the river will bloom!

Introducing the newest member into my family...BAOBAO. Issey Miyake is one of Japan's most famous fashion designers and BAOBAO is his line of geometric bags. I had been eyeing this guy for a while so when Steph came I took it as an opportunity to splurge and get me a new Japanese made bag. To say I'm obsessed is an understatement. 

The carrot cake was next level. And the drip coffee? legit. 

I started chatting with the barista and I learned that she lived in the states for many years and is actually the owner of Jaho coffee! So cool. I asked if I could take her photo...isn't she the cutest? And I told her I would be back again soon. Japanese coffee people are seriously the coolest. 

We ended up eating lunch at Afuri at 3pm or so (because of our large breakfast)...so at around 5pm we were due for a snack. We were around Roppongi area and picked up these really good cream puffs (in Japan they call cream puffs "shu-cream" which makes me think of "shoe-cream" and I laugh every time).

We ended our day with Soup Stock for dinner which always has flavorful soup, curry and bread. Can't go wrong with that!

A few more phone my phone...

Another spot we hit up over the weekend was Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki Paris, which was exactly as fancy as it sounds. We ordered the cake platter thing which came with 6 pieces of the most flavorful and beautiful little cakes! We also cruised around Akihabara area which offered us this nice sunset view.  

Monday was a national holiday and we decided to take a trip (1.5 hrs) down to Yokohama. Yokohama is an awesome city with a very chill vibe, which I love. 

We strolled around the red brick warehouse where they were having Octoberfest (went last year), grabbed coffee, and took in the nice ocean views. 

Oh and how could I forget our incredible Sukiyaki lunch with the coolest entry way ever. The meat was amazing and the ambiance of the restaurant really added to the Japanese feel of everything. And yes, that is a raw egg that you dip your cooked meat into. The true way to eat sukiyaki. 

On Stephs's last night here we decided to meet in Ginza (where her hotel was) and she found this udon place online. It was very unique dipping style and tasted amazing! Good call Steph. And we ended the night and our time together in Japan with parfaits from nanas Green Tea. 

It was so nice having Steph in Tokyo for a few days. She is so chill, easygoing, yet simultaneously really good at planning and getting things done. That is probably the best type of person to travel with! 


Few things excite me more in life than journaling. 

I know that sounds a bit odd, but just ask anyone I've ever lived with (family, roomies) and they know that waking up and writing down my prayers to God is something I can't live without.

When I moved to Japan a year ago, I brought two journals with me. One was a big beautiful lime green one with a fat zipper all around the side. It was from Anthropologie and I went through it in 8 months. The second journal was from my friend Kelcie and it was a beautiful brown one with two buttons on the front. I went through that one in 6 months. So last week I was coming to the end of my second journal and bought a brand new one from the bookstore. It's all white, simple, and doesn't have lines (my favorite. doodle freedom).

Today I wrote on the first page some lyrics from the song Hidden by United Pursuit Band. My good friend Colton, who lives in Haiti, recently reminded me of the beautiful lyrics to that song and this part felt very fitting...

"I want to seek you first
I want to love you more
I want to give you the honor your deserve"


Ending one journal and starting the next feels like a very real end of one chapter and beginning of another. The timing is no coincidence and as I begin filling these blank pages, I want the words of this song to echo true throughout. I want to seek God first. I want to love Him more. I want to give Him the honor He deserves. Japan is not necessarily 'new' to me anymore so now that I've been here over a year I pray this journal would be filled with deeper reflection and pure intent in my pursuit of honoring God in all that I do. 

And for those of you who have never tried to daily journal...I highly suggest you do! It has been one of the biggest blessings in my life and one way I stay closest to God. 


a lot of random things I've been up to via my iphone...literally all over the place...

"leave me alone" was the store's name. brilliant. And my good friend Curtis brought me chick-fil-A sauce THANK YOU CURTIS.

Steph and I pulled off a two-day English camp for the first year international class. We planned a bunch of activities and sessions to get the students more comfortable speaking English. Also, we took four of our girl students to a recent speech contest. Unfortunately, none of them placed but let's just say I would have chosen otherwise!! *They were all amazing!

Bentos delivered old school style to the English camp...and Tamaoki sensei explaining the proper way to choose a drink at 7-11. He chose this LIFEGUARD soda for me while I was getting through my cold. It tasted like extremely flavorful mountain dew. never again.

TAIKUSAI aka SPORTS FESTIVAL was a few weeks ago and it was awesome. 

The game everyone loves is when the girls have to pick up a card which tells them what ingredient they have to stuff their face in. The worst one is the nori (Seaweed!)

My two fellow teachers and I (wore a face mask all day due to my cold)...and the 2A students in a group huddle. 

A few other events recently...I had to help out with a local festival in Kashiwa. It was an international festival so there were a bunch of different cultural dances and performances. The day before, I had a church lunch with a bunch of awesome ladies and Sayumi was the queen in the kitchen cooking up a bunch of eggs to go on top of our Thai food!

Nothing like a good cup of coffee in Tokyo. This one was from Sidewalk stand in Naka Meguro. 

Two good things for the soul...a nice walk outside and a power lunch (Acai smoothie and salad). I would eat that lunch every single day if I was rich and had money to throw around. 

Giant greens in Tokyo and a nice farmers market. 

House plant envy...and the cutest Tokyo kids going home after school.


Wowza...September was a wild month. It's almost mid way though October now and my good friend Steph has been staying with me these past few days. I has been so nice and refreshing having her around. The Lord knew that having a good friend from back home visit was exactly what I needed to get me through this crazy season. 

Then, the end of October means mid-terms, a few nomikais, dinners with former coworkers, a halloween party for English club...and then I will be preparing myself for the cold that comes with November. What I am NOT looking forward to is freezing my butt off every day but what I AM looking forward to is being home for the holidays!!! Counting down the days...


*i'm so behind on my posts...Bunkasai was almost a month ago!*

Bunkasai (cultural festival) is a BIG deal at Ichikashi and one of my favorite events all year.

Every homeroom designs class t-shirts and decide months in advance if they are going to sell food, do a game, or some other type of attraction. This is a two day non stop party. The first day is reserved just for the students and the teachers. People often say the first day is just a "practice" for the second day, Saturday, when our school is open to the public and things really get crazy. 

This year I just brought my camera around on the first day because I knew the second day would be crazy (I participated in a teacher dance). Ok...welcome to the wild world of Ichikashi Bunkasai 2016...

First event of the day...opening ceremonies and the moment you get to see all the impressive class t-shirts. They always put numbers on the back signifying their birthday, or sports number, and choose a nickname to put on there as well. This year there was a bit of drama when the first year students (10th graders) had the exact style of shirt as the third year students (12th graders) so one of the teachers had to make an announcement saying if they kept complaining about it, t-shirts would be banned next year! In my opinion, the third year students were just jealous because the first year students shirts were a cooler color. haters gunna hate. 

Everyone gets a pamphlet explaining what each of the homerooms are doing. Most of them sell food (beef bowls, icecream, snacks, drinks), make a horror house, some type of game or attraction, or perform a show! It is incredible the things they pull off just using their classroom and a bunch of cardboard haha. 

1A replicated a popular style of gameshow on Japanese TV where you do a bunch of games like minute-to-win-it. For this one they had us kick a ball at big moving objects and see how many we could knock over. I loved how they created a system for the board to roll across the ground smoothly - clever! 

3A did a maid cafe, except the maids were the boys haha! Their skirts were definitely too short but you gotta give them credit for creativity and full commitment. 

They sold boba, performed dances throughout the day, and made everyone pose with them like the maids at cafes do. Hilarious. 

3B has been making a short movie every year so, this being their last year, they filmed their finale! They made their classroom into a movie theatre and showed the 20min production throughout the day. I was so impressed by it! I even made it into the credits for some reason. So cute. 

3C did a crazyyyyy crazyyyy Toy Story Mania cart attraction. A least one class a year does this and it is one of my favorite things. They create four or five separate games in their classroom and push you around (yes one students job is to physically push the cart) as you play the various shooting and throwing games. They try and make it as much like the real Toy Story Mania as possible and it is so legit! Also can we just admire the spot-on Woody entrance.

They even had a standby entrance sign lol! The line for this gets pretty long, and on Saturday there was at least 20-30 people waiting to play.

Loved all the decor. When I was in high school I made some posters for student council and painted a few things for dances, but I would have loved something like Bunkasai. The students spend so much time all working together brainstorming ideas, designating jobs, and creating all these awesome displays...the whole school participates and it is awesome to witness. 

3D did this funny forest themed game and they had me cracking up with their "challenge" sign...especially since I teach them English writing class and I always get on them for their spelling errors!! 

2I put on a high school musical performance in their classroom! HAHA...I didn't get to see it but I heard it was amazing. 

2A did a horror house and had a line outside all day. They were so excited to scare everyone as make their room as frightening as possible. 

all throughout the hallways students will walk around or put signs up to advertise their classroom.

3G did this hilarious play on words with "LIONEL (UNDA) MESSI" because they all love Lionel Messi and in Japanese "undameshi" means "test one's luck" so they created all these stages of luck games that you pass through to make it to the end. When I turned the corner and saw their giant Messi face I couldnt stop laughing LOL. 

selling Yakisoba and ramume! 

2G did a really impressive job with creating their version of Yoshinoya (restaurant chain) by changing it to their homeroom teacher's name...IKEDA-ya! Their design look just like Yoshinoya as well haha. 

They sold beef bowls for 300yen and after two days....sold about 600 bowls! 

Kawamoto, Takeda, Steph, and... Matsuo Sensei who always tries to look tough and scary in front of the kids but is really a softy hahaa. 

Akimoto sensei is the homeroom teacher of 2B and he does two years of preparation leading up to the third year musical he always puts on. So this class has chosen to do Sound of Music next year...so this year they sold "Austrian beef plates" to raise money for next year. They went all out! 

The peace sign is still very alive and well in Japan. 

Another big part of Bunkasai are the performances. The sports class (1S, 2S and 3S) have a tradition of doing a really crazy and over-the-top dance every year. This was 2S doing their routine and it was just as loud, wild, and sweaty of a performance as you would imagine a group of 40 sports kids to do haha. 

The music club also performed and one of my students Soichiro was the MC. He is always so so soooo quiet in class so it was so fun seeing him in his superstar getup and slicked back hair.

The dance club did an amazing job this year. They had like three wardrobe changes, danced to 10 different songs, mixed up the hip hop with the cheer and pop...seriously, I kept thinking to myself, "I could have never looked this cool in high school!" 

2F did an ocean cafe and sold popsicles. One boy even dressed up as Ariel and walked around to advertise for his class. 

And the craft club sold a bunch of keychains, handmade notebooks, stationary, etc. I bought a bunch of cute little things to keep at my desk at work. Love it!

I feel so honored to be able to see a real Japanese High School Bunkasai from behind the scenes. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience to be living and working here...and I am so thankful for everyday I get to walk into school and be a part of life here at Ichikashi. 

a lot.

I have been so MIA from my blog recently. I have so much to catch up on with photos and events...but for now here's just an honest lament of whats been going on in my heart and mind lately

"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tent of the wicked. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. LORD almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you."
Psalm 84: 10-11

Life has been crazy lately. September is always a busy month when you're a teacher (welcome back, cultural festival, sports festival, etc) but I feel like all areas of my life lately have been on overdrive. I arrived at a place recently where my heart was overwhelmed and my spirit was feeling weak and vulnerable. Being on the other side of the world really elevates all of that.

When I faced overwhelming moments as a kid, my parents were right there to bear some of the burden. They would pray for me, hand me tissues, and support me through every bump in the road. Then in college, I faced the typical frustrating moments of anxiety and growth...and I had my strong and fierce web of friends right there with me (you know who you ladies are). We sat on the couch and drowned our tears in prayers, coffee, and sisterhood. 

So where am I now? In Japan. Thousands of miles away from all that's familiar...facing these real life things head on. Is is scary? yes. Are there moments when I ask myself "what the heck am I going to do?" yes. Do I worry and fear? yes. Does God know all the turmoil in my heart and love me deeply? yes. Is God full of grace, truth, mercy, and forgiveness? YES. YES. A thousand times yes. 

Psalms 84 is beautiful. water for the soul. Better is one day in the house of the Lord than a thousand elsewhere. I believe that with all of me. No good thing does He withhold. As humans, we desire so many crazy things.... but God knows what is best for us. He knows what we've been through and He knows what is coming. He is the father of light, the giver of all good things, the creator of this earth and the one who holds all time in his hands. He is the comforter in our chaos and the bearer of all our burdens. I am thankful I serve a God that never leaves me on my own.

This song came into my head this morning...my spirit sings it!

My hope is built on nothing less
thank Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
but wholly trust in Jesus' name 

On Christ the solid rock I stand
all other ground is sinking sand
all other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils his lovely face
I rest on his unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil




One of my favorite sources for all things art/design/photography/Japan is SPOON+TAMAGO and thanks to their good work I stumbled upon this exhibit in Odaiba called HOUSE VISION 2. Basically it is this super rad exhibit where architects and designers partner with big name companies to create model houses and rooms for the future. Yeah, talk about amazing. 

I cruised on over there on a rainy Saturday with Steph and as soon as we turned the corner and saw the entrance our jaws dropped...we had entered JAPANESE ARCHITECTURAL DREAMLAND. *insert heart eyes*

Tickets were around $15... but to me, it was worth every penny. 

There were about 12 model houses to walk around and see. I wanted to live in every single one of them. 

The first house was a colaboration with airbnb, which is a company gaining a lot of popularity in Japan recently. They happened to hit the jack pot and design the most amazing house ever. dang. Apparently, after the exhibit, the house is moving to an actual location and being put up for rent on airbnb. I gotta get on that!

The stairs were somehow hanging from the ceiling. TOO COOL. 


This next house was built to work as a communal living space. It had tiny rooms for an office, a bath, kitchen, bedrooms, and tiny nooks for resting or journaling or just chillin. So basically a glorified adult tree house. ughhhh too good!! 

They had this cute little area where you could order coffee and a snack. 

cool dude in cool overalls

The line for this house was too long so we didn't go in, but the outside was what really mattered anyway! I mean, look at that beauty! brilliant. 

There was a partnership with Tsutaya bookstore...which of course always does the dopest collaborations with designers. This one was a win forsure. 

And whats the best way to end a day you ask? Ichiran ramen of course! We met up with stephs friends in Shibuya for dinner + dessert. 

I love that I get to live so close to Tokyo where there is endless amounts of artistic and design inspiration. Thank you HOUSE VISION 2 for giving me a life supply of house envy!


okay I'm sure you are thinking to yourself by now..Amie and Emi sure do take a lot of photos together...but when you put the two of us, with cameras in hand, in one of the best cities in the world we have no choice but to document every moment!

Here's the last installment of our time in Japan together...and we spend our last few days exploring a few new areas of Tokyo that I hadn't even been to yet!

The first pic I took on our last full day in Tokyo was my favorite.

The first place we hit up was Akihabara area to go to a few cool shops that they've built under the train tracks.

Next spot was 2k540 which, in my opinion is the weirdest name, but it is this rad building also under the train tracks that they have converted to a bunch of tiny artisan shops. SO COOL. 

We were in search of coffee by this time...and stumbled upon Asan cafe which had HAMMOCKS! Affogato + hammocks = perfection. 

After Akihabara we decided to do some shopping in kita-senju and found a SHIRO cosmetic store. All of the products are made in Japan using Japanese natural ingredients like red bean, potatoes, sake, flowers, etc. We spent a good 40 minutes trying out everything and becoming best friends with the lady working there haha. Emi bought anko (red bean) face scrub!!! and I bought solid perfume which smells heavenly. We fell in love with this place!

We ended the day fabric shopping, eating musubi, doodling our future plans, and watching the trains pass by at a cool starbucks right on the kita-senju tracks. 



We headed into Tokyo in the morning to drop Emis luggage off at Hamamatsucho so we could walk around freely. Soon enough, we realized that they day would be a SCORCHER and anywhere we walked we just felt like we were melting. (SO. HOT) We hid inside for a few hours at Starbucks and soaked up our last few hours in Japan together.

The starbs on the rooftop in omotesando is pretty cool with its outdoor terrace. 

That afternoon we met up with my friend Shoki who happened to be in Ebusi for work, and decided to hit up Afuri again since Emi loved it the first time. Emi ordered the vegan ramen which was not only incredibly beautiful but so good! Full of flavor and really fresh tasting. I decided to try something new and got the charsiu rice with daikon on top which was BOMB and Shoki got the superrr red spicy ramen. Afruri is always a good choice. 

By this point we only had an hour or so before we had to head to the airport so Shoki took us to Ebisu Garden Place. Little did he know that was the perfect spot to go because it's the location where they filmed Hana-Yori-Dango AKA the ultimate Japanese drama AKA one of Emi's favorite shows ever! We sipped our Pineapple soda and enjoyed the famous spot. 

Then it was time to say our goodbyes so Emi and I headed to Haneda and had one last Japanese dessert before giving eachother one last big hug and saying bye. Having Emi here was so special and we really did have the best week ever together! It's going to be hard to top that :)

I am so thankful to God for blessing me with a lifelong friend like Emi. We have walked through every life stage together and have grown closer as the time has passed, and that is something I will always treasure. We always have the best ideas flowing when we're together and I have no doubt we'll create some awesome art/fashion/crafts/blogs/photography/etc in the future when we live in the same city again! Praise God for friendship and thanks for coming Em - LOVE YOU TONS! 


Before we left for our two day Tokyo takeover, Emi and I decided to challenge ourselves by bringing only the clothes we were wearing + pajamas...and we would have to buy a new outfit to wear on Friday. It turned out to be a pretty funny challenge as we kind of put it off until 8pm when all the stores were closing and we were frantically thinking "OKAY I just need to find something!" We pulled it off though, and I say out outfits turned out pretty well..

Emi's stellar outfit. I'm working on a vlog to upload here where we explain our outfits in detail, so stay tuned.

What better way to start the morning then by some green smoothies! After fueling up on the goods...we headed to Shibuya to hit up the giant and beautifully curated LOFT there. Emi had been anticipating this moment for a while since LOFT is the home to all things stationary, books, pens, and little amazing trinket. We spend 2 hours or so there and almost shopped til we literally dropped...and we decided to take a break and eat at the MUJI CAFE near by. We were laughing about how long we stayed in ONE STORE hahaa and so we eventually headed out in search of good coffee.

We went to Onibu in Nakameguro which is the cutest little Japanes-ey coffee shop tucked back behind the main streets. We cooled down with some iced coffee and sat upstairs where we met a really cool Japanese dude and started chatting it up. If you know Emi and I, you now we are both pretty social people...so put us together and we don't mind striking up a conversation with just about anyone! haha. So we were talking to this nice guy and found out he was just traveling through Tokyo to see his parents but really lives in Nagoya and works for a fashion company (cool). He had this really awesome lens on his camera and told us it was a 'pancake'  lens (24mm) and my eyes widened at how perfect it was and get this...the next day I literally went and bought it! (Emi also bought it when she got back to the states!)  haha. So it was a divine conversation because Emi and I got to encourage this guy and tell him his English was so great and we both got a new lens out of it! 

Our next stop was one of the best stores in Nakameguro... Travelers! It is a notebook store and I knew it would be a hit with Emi. We both loaded up on new pens, little notebooks, and inspiration for our doodling hobby. 

We cruised around Nakameguro, checking out the shops, taking photos, laughing about how romantic the place was and picturing all the Japanese dramas that are filmed there! 

Our last stop of the day was Shibuya Hikarie where we met up with Emi's friend from Belgium (who is Japanese!) We ate dinner at this Okinawan restaurant and then decided to just go all out and get HARBS for dessert...

SOOOO GOOOOD. Harbs is a fancy and expensive cafe and they have that one rule you know, "everyone must order at least one drink" and those drinks are easily $7 but you know what...it was worth it! Fruit cake crepe, banana chocolate, and blueberry cheesecake yummmmm. 

A few more from my phone...

Pretending to be fashion people for a moment.

Our very LA "look-at-me-i'm-healthy-and-drinking-my-green-juice" selfie...and the incredibly perfect rice we had for dinner. 

Our friend we met ordering his coffee at Onibus...seriously how cool is the design of that place? and speaking of cool...that couple on the right is straight up LIFE + STYLE GOALS.


So after two full days in Tokyo Emi and I headed home for the weekend. Saturday we declared our day of rest and hung out in Kashiwa most of the time. We went to the store to buy my camera lens that I learned about the day before...and since we had some free time to spare, we went to the popular pop-up shaved ice spot in Kashiwa!

We waited about 40 minutes to get a seat inside and ordered the peach shaved ice and matcha...they did not disappoint! Melt in your mouth deliciousnesssss. 


Okay moving on to Sunday...we went to church and people loved talking to Emi and hearing about who she is and what shes up to. I loved being able to worship the good Lord with my bestie in Japan!! After church we got a quick snack at Lalaport Tokyo bay and then headed to watch a baseball game with my coworkers! 

awesome pic courtesy of Steph. 

We went to the game with Steph, my coworker Mr. Ikeda and his son kai who I love so much! This is our second baseball game with Ikeda and Kai and we always have the best time with them. They are such a loving and funny father-son duo!

We ended the night in our matching uniforms and a front seat to the fireworks show. And to top it off...the Marines won the game in the 10th inning!! What a weekend!


After a nice weekend...we headed to my school on Monday so Emi could meet some of the students and see where I spend most of my time. 

We had a meeting with this group of students to prepare them for their trip to Australia! Emi was able to hear some of their speeches they gave about Australian culture...and of course after class they all wanted to take photos with her! 

After school we headed to Nagareyama-Ootaka for a snack, and whats a better after school snack than a green tea parfait! Nanas green tea never lets us down! 

We ended our night with dinner in Kashiwa with Stephs sister Courtney and our good friend Mina. We went to our local indian restaurant for some good Naan and curry! 

wow...looking back at all the pics I realize we did a lot in a few days time haha. And...there's still one more post to go! 


Before Emi came, I spent a few days doodling out ideas of all the places we had to check out. There was a long list of coffee shop options, stationary stores, photo spots, and places to get the best snacks in the city. We appropriately dubbed this day our "Tokyo takeover" and I may be bias, but I'd say we could make a pretty good guidebook of how to spend the best day in Tokyo...

First stop--> Omotesando. We picked up these really good fresh juices from konbini (convenience store) and headed to find some food...

BREAKFAST--> DOMINIQUE ANSEL. You've probably all heard of Dominique ansel by now due to the fact that he created the iconic "cronut" out of his NY bakery a few years ago. This is a rich people type of bakery reserved for special occasions haha. The store opened at 10 and there was already a line of people waiting for the fancy shmancy treats. 

DROOLING. The cakes were so pretty I didn't want to touch them...but simultaneously I wanted to eat every single one of them. This day's cronut flavor was orange creme! 

How cute is this artwork? 

THE CRONUT WAS AMAZING. And we got this really good matcha passion fruit cookie...AND...the best of them all...drumroll...

Okay, get this...its basically a giant marshmallow with crunchy chocolate crisp inside covering vanilla icecream. They use a torch and fire it up to taste just like a perfectly roasted melting marshmallow so when you bite into it its warm....and then cold because of the icecream. MIND BLOWN. It cost like $7 and we ate it at 10am but you know what...100% WORTH IT. 

Next, we went shopping around Omotesnado where Emi bought the most ICONIC RED HAT. 

Of course we tackled Takeshita-dori which is just a madhouse of teenagers, cheap clothes, and tourists. We soon slipped down a few side streets and got some good shots of Emi and her hat.

Love these. outfit on point.  

This place is too good to be true. Home to the best and most beautiful sandwiches ever. I knew I had to take Emi here. We arrived in the afternoon, 2pm ish, and there was still a little line outside. We opted for a table on the rooftop which got us a seat faster...and quickly ordered our vegetarian sandwich and bean salad. NOT ONLY IS IT BEAUTIFUL BUT IT IS DELICIOUS. SO SO GOOD.

Then we stopped by t-site Daikanyama where they had a pop up shop of the world's fanciest Kit-Kats hahaa...unbelievable. Only in Japan. 

COFFEE--> SATURDAYS. of course we had to go to my favorite coffe shop in Tokyo, Saturdays Surf. Its hip, clean, has a surfer vibe, great coffee, and the chillest outdoor patio. 


Okay so prior to Emi coming, we had been scheming up a place to stay in Tokyo and were sifting through a few airbnbs. We decided on a place right smack in between Shibuya and Daikanyama station. It was perfect and we screamed like little girls when we opened the doors and saw the view. 

EEEEK!!!! dream. We stayed a night and it was perfect so we didn't have to trek back to Kashiwa after a long day in Tokyo. Plus it was fun to pretend like we lived right smack in the middle of the city! 


Okay, now a few more snaps of the day from my phone..

Our morning juices. yummmm. Made in hong kong lol. 

So hilarious....Emi was matching a girl in Dominique Ansel. literally twins. 

The ladies at the hat store were so cool and so cute!! We wanted to be best friends with them. 

I guess we were so tired at this point that I didn't even take a pic on my big camera of dinner haha but from shibuya we headed to Ebisu to get a nice bowl of ramen. Afrui is always a win. can't go wrong with Yuzu ramen! also I have a funny story...

While at Afrui we saw this giant man walk in and I said to Emi "he looks like Jason mamoa" the famous actor who has all that manly facial hair. I was so tired at this point that I just snapped a photo of him and moved on (the guy in the white shirt). Then, the next day we're watching the olympics and it was showing the womens shot put (how random right?) and they're showing this story of the reigning gold medalist who is from New Zealand and I recognize her because of her brother, NBA player Steven Adams. And then it hits me....THAT WAS STEVEN ADAMS AT AFRURI! lol!!! Literally I was at Afuri ramen in Ebusi Tokyo with Steven Adams. How random is that. 

You gotta admit...they look alike right!?? lol!! 

We ended the day eating icecream in our airbnb and scheming up our plans for the next day. I say that was as close to a perfect day in Tokyo as you can get! 


Emiko has been my best friend ever since I was old enough to remember having friends haha. I think we met back in 2nd or 3rd grade? When we were little she used to live next to my Aunt and Uncle and I thought it was the coolest thing ever that I could go to their house AND her house in the same afternoon. She was always homeschooled, so we never went to school together... and when we were in the 5th grade her family moved to Japan for her dads job. Yet the distance seemed to affect us in a positive way and we wrote emails to each other like "Hi Emi I just got home from school and ate a popsicle. My dog is funny. bye" because that's what 10 year olds do haha. The best part is I would then print out every single email sent between us and put it in a special box decorated with AMIE and EMI all over it. I think I still have that box somewhere. 

So basically, having Emi visit me in Japan was a childhood dream come true. The absolute best week ever. Our friendship was solidified all those years ago when we were younger, and it has survived moves to Nagoya, OC, Brussels, London, Azusa, Redding, LA, and now Kashiwa. The running joke is that I have seen every place Emi has ever lived (and it has been a lot of places) so the tables were turned and she was able to visit my home here in Japan. 

We explored all over Tokyo and took a bazillion photos and selfies. When Emi left last week we literally both cried like our 10 year old selves and wished we could just be roomies already. 

We knew we had to recreate this photo from our time in Nagoya, Japan in 2003! We have come a loooooong way from our awkward teen selves lol. But its true, your best friends know you and accept you before you are ever anywhere close to being "cool" 

On our first day together I showed Emi Teganuma, the river by my house. 

Had to get some umeboshi onigiri! My fav. 

It was so hot out in the blazing sun, but the breeze was blowing pretty nicely for us and we had a blast running around the rice patties and unashamedly taking photos. This last one of her is my fav!


A few more of day 1 from my phone..

We woke up each morning to the always fabulous 7-11 coffee, oatmeal for Emi, yogurt for me, and some fruit. 

We ended our first night with an amazing Kushiage (a bunch of fried meat and veggies on a stick - chef's choice!) with two of my good friends Mina and her husband Aki plus their friend Shun! Aki's other friend owns the restaurant which is a cozy little place a few minutes from Kashiwa station. The food is so good and I even got an order of the most delicious umeboshi ochazuke! I could eat that everyday without hesitation. Because we were with such good company, it helped Emi fight most of her jet lag and stay up all day so we were sooooo ready for the next day...aka the day we took over TOKYO! coming next...



365 days ago...I left LAX airport with a one way ticket and landed at Narita International Airport to start my new life in Japan.

That makes today my 1st official Japanniversary. wow.

This picture was taken over a year ago, at my going away party. 

A year? One entire calendar year? Through every holiday, season, and birthday...I have called Japan home. WHAT? That is crazy. What is even crazier is that I plan to stay. Two more years. 

Before I moved here I thought living abroad for one year was crazy. So three years seemed impossible. I had no grasp on how I would survive being so far away from my family and friends, and the time frame just seemed daunting. But now, here I am..and life has a funny way of working out because I love Japan more today than I did yesterday, and buckets more than I did a year ago. life. is. crazy.

I could go into detail about the things I've been learning, or all the little reasons why I love living here...but what I really just want to say is that I owe it all to Jesus. Because of Him I am here and thriving. He has given me a job I love, a church I can call home, friends and family to hang out with here, as well as the may friends and family that have visited. He has protected me everyday, provided for my every need, and comforted me through every moment of doubt. I have seen God in so many beautiful ways since moving here, and for that I am eternally grateful. 

I'll end with this...the greatest gift God has given me while being in Japan has been a heart for the Japanese. He has opened my eyes to the ways He loves these people and my heart now breaks for the Japanese people to know the love of God. This burden I have on my heart for the people I work with and the friends I have here has driven a passion in me and filled me with purpose every single day. Before I moved here I was so worried about being homesick, about doing things independently, or being lonely. I was worried about feeling the pain and sadness that would come from all of that, but let me just tell you this --> When you are filled with purpose you obliterate all of the pain. I am filled with purpose... and it is all from God, through God, because of God, and for God! Amen! 

^me talking with my hands, per usual. 

Thanks for all the love and support from afar! Cheers to two more years loving and serving God in Japan! 

*anyone who wants to visit, please feel free! I love sharing my love for this country with others. 





In the states, we associate fireworks (Hanabi) with the 4th of July.
In Japan, we associate fireworks with two things : summer + yukatas! 

A yukata is a casual summer kimono that is seen all over Japan in the summer. The girls yukatas are all BEAUTIFUL. Actually, the point is that each part of your outfit, the yukata (main cloth part), the obi (the waist tie), and the geta (wooden shoes), are all supposed to stand out on their own which creates very bright and colorful miss-matched patterns. aka AMAZING. 

So August 6th was our local Firework show at Tengauma river. Thousands and thousands of people come out to watch this 1.5 hour show (YES AN HOUR AND A HALF OF FIREWORKS) and Steph and were lucky that our two good friends saved a spot for us the day before! 

So, I don't have a yukata yet but my good friend Haruka is pregnant so she said "Amie, I can't wear mine so you can borrow it!" I then borrowed Steph's red Obi for a pop of color and we had a fun time trying to put the darn thing on!! haha it is not as easy as it may seem. 

Steph in her pretty yukata and yellow obi. 

The fireworks started around 7pm so we headed to the park around 5:30 and I was already VERY SWEATY. 

Feeling very 日本人 (nihonjin - Japanese) 

A sea of blue tarps reserving spots. We had THE PERFECT view of the show right on the water. Front row and center.

It wouldn't be a Japanese event without plenty of good food...I even found spam and it took me right back to my childhood! We grabbed some food and sat down on our tarp with a bunch of other snacks and drinks to enjoy the show. 

So. many. people. I even saw two of my students on a date which made me laugh that they somehow found Steph and I in this sea of people! how?! No idea. 

The show started at 7:10 and it was incredible. Forsure the best firework show I have ever seen. It felt like we were right under them! The atmosphere was epic too...just a hot Japanese summer, cicadas ringing in the trees, kids running around, ladies in beautiful yukatas, and the booming sound of the fireworks. I am approaching my one year JAPANIVERSARY (a year since I moved to Japan) so it made it more epic knowing that this place has been my home for the past year and will always hold a very special place in my heart.  


Long before Kobe Bryant became the iconic image and hero of my generation...there was the city of Kobe, in Japan. Actually rumor has it Kobe Bryant's parents named him after the famous Kobe beef that comes from the area. 

Last week I had the chance to help out with a camp, and we all know I am a camp person...but get this...this was a BASKETBALL CHURCH CAMP IN KOBE! Talk about the most perfect combination. The only thing that would have made it more perfect is if KOBE Bryant was there himself. 

I took the Shinkansen down Tuesday after work. From my school, it took me an hour to get to Tokyo station where the Shinkansen leaves. From there it took me around 3 hours to get down to Kobe (it's far!!) and I made a pit stop in Osaka on the way.

There is an unspoken rivalry (I guess it is often spoken of but Japanese people are polite compared to rivalries in the states) between Osaka-Kansai people and Tokyo-Kanto people. The two cities try to differentiate themselves as much as possible so in Osaka people stand on the right side of escalators while in Tokyo people stand on the left - confusing!

Anyway, the reason I stopped in Osaka was to meet up with Kazue, who is marrying my brother-in-laws good friend Jose. Kazue was recently up at my place in Kashiwa with Jose and Ant, so it was fun to see her on her home turf. She took me out to eat Shabu shabu and it was so good! I hope I can visit her one more time in Osaka before she moves to CA to get married!


So after dinner with Kazue I finally made it to Kobe and stayed at a local church with the team of Americans I would be working with. The next day we woke up, met our campers at a nearby station, and drove into the Inaka (countryside) for camp!!

We stayed at this Rugby sports facility about an hour inland from Kobe city. My dad's friend Martin, organizes this basketball camp every year and that is how I heard about it. It combines the four things I love most JESUS + JAPAN + KIDS + BASKETBALL. So perfect

We partnered with a local pastor and his wife and they sent out the info for the camp to the public. In Japan, from a very young age, kids are highly involved in their school clubs so it is hard to find kids with a few free days to spend at a basketball church camp...so this year 7 junior high boys came! Everyone wished there were more kids, but we all understood its the cultural circumstance and were stoked to have 7 boys to hang out with!

On the first day, we played bball from 1-5pm!! The boys were excited to get on the court and if the sweat on their shirt is any evidence, they definitely played hard!

We were all tired that first night...so it felt nice to come into the cafeteria for a nice big meal. Like I said, this is a Rugby sports facility so the chef really cooks some hefty food. We had teriyaki chicken, sausage, cabbage, rice, and soup the first night. 

We wrapped up the evening playing camp games (ninja is always a huge hit with kids, especially boys), a time of worship, and a message from Pastor Taniguchi. 

Day 2! Wake up call was at 7am, for breakfast at 7:30, and I made sure to get up earlier to take in as much nature as possible. I found a nice spot out on the patio...and it reminded me so much of my time working at Forest Home back in college. There is something magical about that early morning sun on a summer day, with a full days adventure ahead of you, the peaceful moment staring at Gods creation, far from the hustle and bustle of the big city...ahhhh the best. 

Day 2 was a crazy basketball day. We played from 9:00-11:50am, had a lunch break, and then played from 1:00-5:00pm!! That is a lot of basketball even for me! We made sure to split things up between fundamental drills, plenty of water breaks, groups games, scrimmages, and the best part - Bible time! There were 5 of us coaches who each shared a devotional throughout the camp. We then split up into small groups to talk to the kids about what they learned. 

the gym was SO HOT. I want to guess it was 90 with 110 percent humidity haha. I was sweating just standing there...literally dripping sweat. The good thing is, at Japanese convenience stores they sell frozen drinks so this frozen aquarius (sports drink) tasted like HEAVEN. 

For lunch we all ate Hambagu (hamburger patty) with mushroom soup and rice. It was funny being with 7 junior high boys because they ate everything extremely fast. I think one kid ate his entire hambagu in 1 minute. 

It was fun sitting family style at camp and I loved praying with the kids before every meal. 

Phew! day 2 of basketball ended and everyone was exhausted...but in a good way. After finishing at 5, there is designated "bath" time where everyone washes up in the public bath. Yep, that Japanese life! I wish you all could experience public bathing here in Japan..it is so funny to me how it is so normal for them here but the weirdest thing for foreigners! Lucky for me, there were only 2 other ladies at camp with me so we took turns and went separately. *I don't mind using public baths if I am with strangers, but if I am with people I know, it's weird!

Night session on day 2 consisted of a lot of fun games outside in the dark...an awesome message by Pastor Taniguchi..a few worship songs in English and Japanese...and to top it all off we ate SMORES! Now, smores are not common here in Japan so for most of the students it was their first time eating them. As Americans we grew up with them, but can you imagine being a junior high boy and eating one for the first time?? They freaked out. They all ate at least 4 and some of them we had to tell to stop or else they would be feeling pretty sick!

Day 3 of camp. We all woke up to the classic Japanese breakfast of Miso soup, rice, a few veggies, and fish. (I passed on the fish obvi) but the miso soup was sooooo goooooood. 

I've been lovin this song off Hillsongs new album.. "And we owe it all to Jesus/ sin and all its shame deleted/ death and all its chains defeated/ and the light we see is Jesus/ and the air we breathe is freedom" AMEN!! 

Last day of camp...we played a full four quarter game all morning and had the best time. 

After our game, we closed things off with a short speech about each of the kids and gave them a gift bag of a framed photos of us, a manga Bible (so cool!) and a bunch of other stuff along with one of the camp balls to keep. One kid even ran upstairs after to immediately start reading the manga Bible because he was so curious. Praise God! 

Group photo. back row of coaches: Jen, Martin's daughter from Maryland...Russel from SD...Dennis from SF...and JJ from soCal. Front row is all the kids! 

After our last basketball session we headed into the cafeteria for...drumroll...CURRY!!! Curry is everyones' favorite comfort food, right? (side note: can you imagine how many basketball jokes could happen if Japanese people became fans of Steph Curry??) The boys dug right in...and we let them serve themselves which might have been a mistake because some of them put SO MUCH curry on their plates. But they ate it all! Every last drop of curry and rice was consumed. It was crazy. 

We were so far out in the inaka (countryside) that our gym was the true definition of a "jungle gym" with so much greenery surrounding it. My eyes were in heaven because we don't really get this type of greenery near Tokyo so it was a treat. 

On Friday we drove the boys back to the nearest station and sent them on their way. They all were traveling back towards Osaka and it was amazing seeing them just confidently take public transportation like it was no big deal! 

It was so refreshing for the soul to be out in nature, and it was even more refreshing to the soul to be reading God's word and sharing His love with these Japanese kids. I was so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of a camp like this, praising Jesus and playing sports. It was the best way to spend a few days and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here!" 
2 Corinthians 5:17


This past weekend was the Kashiwa Matsuri (festival)... aka a giant party in my backyard. Funny thing is, I had originally planned to travel down to Kobe on Saturday to help out with a basketball ministry camp so I wasn't going to be able to go to the festival. But at the last minute, the camp schedule got pushed back 2 days leaving me with a free Saturday to go, so it all worked out! 

The streets were packed when I got there at 3pm and the Odori dance competition was going on. Everyone looked so lovely, and the booming taiko drums and high pitched odori music created that quintessential-Japanese-matsuri atmosphere. 

Can we all take a moment to appreciate this man's incredible photography form. 

Kashiwa station is pretty big so all the surrounding streets were packed with booths selling snacks, drinks, and offering games for the kids. Steph's sister Courtney has been traveling through Japan these past few weeks and it was fun to have her in town for this specific matsuri. 

I loved these two girls and their grandpa.

On the other side of the station they had a big stage set up for many performances that ran throughout the weekend.


all kinds of seafood on sticks, amazingly crispy and delicious Japanese pickles, and these traditional candies...just to name a few snacks for sale. 

fresh squeezed orange jucie with a bit of sparking cider mixed in. 

As expected, Steph and I ran into so many of our students there. It was as if every 10 minutes or so we heard, "OH!? AMIE! STEPHANIE!" These girls are on the dance team at school and were dressed in the cutest Yukatas! 

ahhh...a nice cold bottle of Ramune! 

Ok, I think we can all agree that Japanese kids are reallyyyy cute...but Japanese kids in their summer yukatas take it to the next level of undeniable cuteness! 

It's not a true matsuri without some good Kakigori (Shaved ice) and this one did not disappoint. 

As a kid, I remember looking forward to the JCI (Japanese Cultural Institute) carnival every summer, which took place in the parking lot of our local community center. I have so many distinct memories of eating okinawa dango, yakisoba, shaved ice...playing bingo downstairs...making those tiny bead bracelets in the arts room upstairs (my Torrance peeps you know exactly what I'm talking about right?!)...fishing for goldfish using paper plates...saying hi to my uncle who sold plants from his nursery...and fully enjoying hanging out in the summer with friends. 

There is something so special about summers + matsuris and spending the afternoon in Kashiwa filled me with so much nostalgia. It was definitely the perfect way to spend a summer day in Japan!


Summers are for adventuring...and now that I get to call Japan home, I've been doing just that. 

SO...THE OTHER DAY I ATE MEXICAN FOOD. But wait one second...before that, I ate this really good little apple pie as a snack.

Okay so let's talk about this MEXICAN FOOD...

Here in Japan, people glorify Taco Bell which we all know isn't "real" mexican food, so I was more than stoked to actually get a taste of the real deal. 

The restaurant we (me and three homies) went to is right next to Hiro-o station and is called LA JOLLA which is so ironic considering I have spent a lot of time in San Diego and La Jolla with two of my best friends from college...so it was meant to be!


GUACAMOLEEEEEEEE AND STUFFED JALAPENOS!!! I ALMOST CRIED. THE GUAC WAS SO GOOD AND LEGIT. AND THE CHIPS WERE LIKE REAL SALTY, THIN, DELICIOUSSSS CHIPS. Lets all remember that I had a Mexican themed going away party a year ago because I knew I would miss it...so this was heaven

We split a chicken quesadilla. It was amazing. 

Steph got this beautiful chimichanga which was really really good. Love how they make the sour cream look like frosting lol. 

OKAY. THIS. THIS PLATE OF FOOD. I knew that I needed to order rice and beans. I am a rice and beans person (shout out to my Gulu peeps) so I was so happy to be eating this plate. Chili Verde enchilada too! 

The restaurant had a California vibe with maps of SD and the USA all over, and a bunch of signed papers from famous people. Right behind us was Earth Wind and Fire haha!

So after our amazing dinner (highly recommend to anyone in Tokyo)...we walked towards Roppongi area and stopped by this international super market where we found...

 H A W A I I A N S U N! Praise the Lord. I grew up on this stuff and it is not commonly found in Japan so I bought one for everyone haha. Lilikoi passion is the best and we drank them while walking over to roppongi hills, in perfect summer weather, playing a little bit of Pokemon go...

Our last stop was the Tsutaya + Starbucks near roppongi hills. Japanese people love love love chillin at starbucks and this one was one of the coolest I have been in! 

I already love Tokyo. But now that I know there exists a real Mexican food restaurant in Tokyo...I may never leaaaaveeee!! (jk mom) 


Ok now on to Sunday...

I finally got to spend time with Sayaka who is like a sister to me since she spent a lot of time with my family earlier this year when she interned in Torrance. We met up at Lalaport Tokyo bay after church for shopping and dinner!

We were unintentionally matching, and had a really good thai dinner at Monsoon. yummmm. I love Sayakas sweet spirit and her down to earth sense of humor...for example, when we go out to eat we always end up ordering a bunch of things like "oh hey wanna get fries and a salad too...and maybe smoothies?" hahaa love her!

I also got suckered into buying candy from Sweet Factory because it reminded me of home...but what I didn't realize was that this bag would cost $10. NOOOOOWHYY??? 



Since it is summer here, Steph and I don't teach classes...but we still have to come to school. Basically, we can come in anytime and leave around 3ish. We spend the day planning for next semester or meeting with students to practice for upcoming speech contests. On Monday we didn't have much to do in the afternoon so we left a bit early and went to the nearest mall so steph could buy Birks, which she has been wanting for a while. Before we went I literally said "Steph, don't let me buy any. I already have two pairs." But WHAT DO YOU KNOW....they had a sale and I accidentally bought a pair of blue ones. haha oops! Also, we had Komeda coffee's really good pancake/croissant ice cream snack thingie that was so good. 



Tuesday was such a fun day. My fellow coworker and I held a small English Summer Camp for local kids who are interested. Japanese high schools often offer summer lessons to the public just for fun and for the school to get more exposure. So Tuesday we hosted a 2 hour little camp and had 6 cute kids!

We played a lot of number games, gave them silly bandz, practiced self introductions, ate snacks, and had the best time.

Little Riho was so cute! She is only 7 but speaks English really well because, as I learned from her mother, she watches Disney Channel! I guess that's the ticket folks..because this girl was amazing. Our conversation went something like this
"So what do you want to be when you grow up?"
"Oh, I haven't decided yet. But I like baseball. I play catch with my dad and I love English"

My coworkers son, Kai, is one of my favorite little kids and he came to the summer camp with his classmate Tadakatsu. They were really fun to hang out with and after camp we had a little party eating eclairs in the English Office. 

After a busy day at work, Steph and I met up with our Mexican Crew (as in the homies we went to eat mexican food with haha) and we grubbed some amazing ramen. I got the tsukemen dipping noodles with a really good spicy shoyu broth. yummm. Then, we stopped by Lawsons where I got this pineapple horoyoi drink which contains 3% alc but really tastes like juice!! So refreshing, and the only alcohol I am willing to consume. After dinner and a snack, we all went to go play pool which is our new hobby haha! Perfect summer day.



Liane, who is a former ELT at Ichikashi and a dear family friend, came to school to pick Steph and I up for lunch. She jokingly said she hijacked us (since we are technically "working") but she knows our Vice Principals so they were cool with it. She brought along her daughter, Mina, who is teeny tiny and the cutest little disney princess. 

Love this little girl! 

Liane drove us to eat lunch at a really good Okonomiyaki place. We ordered the "ladies set" which came with salad, soup, a small okonomiyaki, yakisoba, two meat wraps, all-you-can-drink-bar, and icecream!! All for ¥1000 aka $10! At the drink bar I got Melon soda + Calpis which made for the weirdest color of drink...but it tasted great. 


Well folks, this summer is off to a great start. I have the month of August to adventure around some more before school starts back up in September. The weather recently has been really nice...a bit overcast and not too humid...but I know the heat is coming! 


Although Japan is technically an island nation, the beach is not as accessible as it may seem. I live an hour away from Tokyo...and although Tokyo has it's own body of water (Tokyo Bay), it is not swimable water. So the closest beach would have to be somewhere on the other side of Chiba, which is a good 2 hours away from me..noooooo.

Well, recently we celebrated a national holiday: OCEAN DAY, so I took it as a sign from the good Lord above that it was time for me to dip my toes in the other side of the pacific. 

I took the train 1 hour to meet up with my friends Haruka, Daniel, and Amy who I know from church...and we took another train 1 hour and then a bus 30 minutes to get to the beach! We went to Kujukuri beach in Chiba and upon first sight...I was in heaven. 

Haruka and Daniel are awesome humans who brought fresh watermelon (ICED!!!) and shared with us on the sand. It was perfect. Also how random and funny is that CHIBA POWER graffiti lol. 

Haruka and Daniel met back in the states and are now living in Japan expecting their first child! I love hanging out with them and Haruka is such a cute pregnant lady! 

Daniel trying to fold the tent lol.

Amy is a missionary here in Japan, originally from Oklahoma. Both her and Haruka have become big sisters to me here in Japan. I admire their wisdom, grace, love for nature, and unwavering faith in the good Lord. Thankful for them! 

This little dude was riding the back of his grandpas bike and was giving me this look like "OH YOU KNOW I'M SO COOL RIGHT?!" I was cracking up hahahaaa. so cute. 

Daniels idea..."oh! take a pic with our rings in it!"

I totally get why Japanese people love Hawaii. The beaches vibe the same way. Laid back, family style atmosphere with good food and drinks..totally a place you could hang out all day long. 

Bought this at a local bakery before going to the beach. Sesame mochi ball with anko inside yummmmmm!

For some reason, after a loooong day of activity I always crave this Georgia Caffe Late. Its super sweet and just the refreshing boost I need!

The bus ride back was beautiful...rice patties galore. After making it back to Funabashi we decided to get some good food to close out our perfect day...and we opted for Vietnamese food because Amy knew a good place in the station.

When we walked up to the restaurant...I saw a bunch of Vietnamese people inside and knew it must be legit! Sure enough...

...IT WAS SO GOOD. There are few things on this earth better than a fresh Banh Mi sandwich. 

The Pho was really good too. I was laughing because in Vietnam this bowl would cost $2 or something...but here it was $10. But hey, it's Japan you know. It was really good though and the perfect thing to fill our bellies after a long day in the sun.

After dinner, I took the train back to Kashiwa at around 9pm. I was so tired at that point that I knocked out...only to be woken up to the rush of everyone getting off the train because we had reached the last stop - Kashiwa. If the train would have kept going I would have slept straight through my stop and more...haha. 

Thank the good Lord for His creation! The ocean is so refreshing because it reminds me of our creator and all the goodness He has bestowed upon us on this earth. 


"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea"
Habakkuk 2:14


There is something really special about having friends from home visit Japan.

Especially when that friend is someone you've known your whole life.

Most of us have those friends...the ones we've grown up with and have more memories with than we even realize. The friends you go to camp with, run basketball drills with, celebrate every birthday with, go through your most awkward teen years with. The friends who's house becomes your house, you know the taste of their moms cooking, and all the pets they've ever had. The friends that make you laugh effortlessly by just bringing up some silly childhood memory and the friends that are perpetually stuck with you in life because you've just done too many things together for there to ever be a divide.

To me, that friend is Kristen. (better known as Dresser, dress, kdress..)

We've been through it all together and she just so happened to be on the Japan mission team from our church that came through Tokyo recently. I was so stoked to see her, even if it was just for a brief dinner and hang out on the roof overlooking Tokyo Station. 

HAHA this is a pic of us during our F.O.R days. I was super chubby and she was tall, lanky, and always wore knee pads. We have come a long way folks!

This is Dresser in a nutshell : Right when I saw her she was like "oh I changed my clothes because I thought you were going to come all stylish since you live in Japan now!" HAHAHA. She didn't realize I was coming from a field trip with my students in which I was running around Asakusa all day so I was clearly NOT dressed to impress. 

The last time we saw each other was a year ago or so, right before I left the states...but we picked up right where we left off. She's one of the people that makes me laugh the most and anyone who knows dresser knows this to be true. 

She also hand delivered this B E A U tiful package from the kiddos! yay! Everyone was asking my mom "what should we bring Amie?" and the honest truth is, I have everything I need here so hand written notes and cards are the best!

Tiny bookmarks of the kids!!

We spend most of our time hanging out on the rooftop of the KITTE building which offers an awesome view of Tokyo station. 

We all had dinner at this popular Giant-bowls-of-udon place near Tokyo station. It was so fun to talk to everyone and just hear how their time in Japan was. You know, God really is so faithful and being around my brothers and sisters from GVBC reminded me of that truth. We all know Japan to be a nation of not many Christians, so having the team here and one of my best friends was just really encouraging and uplifting for the soul! 

"...so everything will live where the river goes." Ezekiel 47:9




Sports are definitely a part of the fabric of any culture; deeply woven into childhood memories,  wrapped up in historical milestones, giving us heroes, rivals, underdogs, champions...and ultimately unifying a group of people over a common goal. 

In the states we have Super Bowl Sunday, the NBA finals, March Maddness...just to name a few. They're cultural icons woven into our American ideals and the moment you step away from the states you realize just how true that is. A few years ago when I was living in Uganda, I woke up at 2am to watch the Super Bowl with a room full of Americans. We bonded over the nostalgia of it all and found humor in the fact that we were all gathered around a TV in the middle of the night in the middle of Africa watching football. ahhh...sports. 

Now that I get to call Japan home (almost for a year!) I have gotten past the fact that my number one sport, basketball, just isn't the same here... and fully accepted a new sports hobby : Baseball.

Baseball is THE sport in Japan. Not only is it the sport that most Japanese people have been famous overseas for (ICHIROOOO) but baseball teams here have huge followings. Also, every summer there is a huge high school baseball tournament (similar to the Little League World Series) called Koshien. One school from every prefecture advances to the tournament and it is a big deal here. 

My high school had GAME 1 of the tournamnet recently and myself, and a bunch of other teachers went to watch. Coincidentally, on that same day, I had planned to see a professional baseball game with a few friends so this day was easily dubbed : 野球の日...BASEBALL DAY. 

The game was held at a nearby stadium and all the teachers drove there while most of the students rode their bikes. 

All of the sports teams came to support the baseball boys. The pic on the right is of me and two of the basektball girls, Saki and Hana!

The underclassmen baseball boys are in charge of the cheering...which is a huge part of the culture of the game. They lay out posters of song names on them that they have all memorized. A different song is held up according to each player and the band plays along.

Everyone was given a cone to cheer with...either shouting in them or banging them to make a loud sound. Everyone stands up while our team is up to bat, cheering, dancing, screaming, and rooting for the team like it's game 7 of the NBA finals!

The underclassmen working hard to support their team! so cute

Our team won 4-1 and moved on to the second round, where (sadly) they lost.

But, being able to attend one of their games was really fun as a teacher.  I have a lot of the baseball boys in my classes and they always greet me with an eager and LOUD "HELLO AMIE SENSEI" with a bow. I used to wonder why they were all so loud...but after attending a game it all makes sense now haha. 


So after attending our school's game, Steph and I headed into Tokyo to go see a game at TOKYO DOME! I was all excited to wear my Giants hat, but then I looked at the tickets again and realized I wasn't going to a Giants game but a Softbank VS Marines game LOL. That's like bringing a Lakers hat to a Clippers vs Warriors game. No.No

Even though Tokyo Dome is usually home to the Giants, the home team this night was the Marines so everyone got a free Marines Jersey. 


I met Saki back in 2008 or so when we were highschoolers and we recently reconnected back in Japan. Saki mentioned she loved baseball so I got super excited and we scheduled this game together. It was so fun cheering on the team with her and her favorite player Navarro who is from Dominican Republic LOL...not even Japanese! 


The Softbank Hawks KILLED the Marines...and although the game wasn't terribly exciting, I still had a great time with Steph and Saki, and Saki's friend!

野球の日 was a crazy day but I learned that baseball in Japan is much more exciting than back in the states. I can't exactly say why...maybe it's because back in the states there are so many competing sports to watch so for me, MLB gets swept under the rug. But here...baseball really is life. People are die hard fans and the cheering at games is non stop. I love it though, and I love that I have found a sport to follow here in the motherland!


One of my main responsibilities at school is to lead the English Conversation Club (ECC) with Steph! This year we have about 30 students in ECC which is awesome considering English is not the easiest subject for students and they tend to shy away from speaking. We meet every Monday after school and usually do English conversation activities, holiday parties, prepare for English speech contests, or just hang out! 

One annual event ECC does is a trip to Asakusa (famous sensoji temple) to talk to foreigners. This year, Steph and I ordered shirts, planned the route to get all the kids there, and made interview sheets so they could ask questions in English. 

We had been preparing for many months in advance, getting the students pumped up to speak to strangers in English and the day turned out to be just as awesome as we anticipated! We had a group of about 25 and we split them up into smaller groups of 3-4 to go talk to people. I brought my camera along to document the day and a couple times I kept telling myself, "I can't believe I get paid to do this..." 

These two call themselves "da brothers" since they do almost everything together! haha. Avhishek is from Nepal and Kurt is from the Philippines so English is their most comfortable language together. 

Our route to Asakusa...SCHOOL --> BUS --> TRAIN 

Steph chose the shirt design and I chose the colors in honor of USC HAHAHAA. Well, I thought they would look nice in contrast together and also rep the cardinal red and gold you know. 

Thankfully the train from Kashiwa Tanaka station (nearest station to our school) goes straight to Asakusa (30 minutes) so it was easy to get there with a big group. 

I let one of the students play around with my camera for a while and when I was looking through photos after...I saw this shot and loved it. 

Official Logo for the Tokyo 2020 olympics. 

When we arrived to Asakusa we went to the information center across from sensoji and ate lunch on the 6th floor free communal room! It was air conditioned and a perfect gathering place. 

ALSO, TOKYO SECRET: the 8th floor of the information center across from Sensoji has a SICK view of Tokyo skytree and the big golden poop as most people call it (aka Asahi beer hall) haha! 


Steph and I, being the photographers that we are, were freaking out over this view. I think I took 100 pics of this one spot haha...SO DOPE. 

A couple of my students were talking to this group of tall Europeans who happened to be in Japan for the World Ballroom Championships...what!??? They were representing the Czech Republic and when I asked them to show us an example they happily busted out their best moves in the middle of the street. Gotta love Tokyo man...

For those who know this about me (mom, sis, and rin) I am slightly obsessed with everything about dance, specifically the show So You Think You Can Dance (watched every single season) so when they were dancing I was kind of having a fan girl moment and did not want them to stop...

My students were also freaking out saying things like "HE IS SO COOL" "SHE IS SO BEAUTIFUL!"

Good job boys!

The modern kimono look...with selfie stick

Cute moms. Side note: moms in Japan are seriously so cool. Especially in Tokyo. They are always dressed super cute yet still conservative, pushing their little babies on bikes being so active and awesome. Love it. 

I made these signs for them to wear in case they were too nervous to just walk up to people.

Miriam is from Egypt and she is normally a bit shy, but she really loved chatting with people at Asakusa - especially these ladies from the states who were here to sing in a concert!

I love melon pan...so melon pan WITH ICECREAM INSIDE was next level. WOW. 

group shot!! Love these kids and so blessed to work with them.

The extremely tan men pushing Rikshaws around for $80 an hour. nuts. 

"the brothers" said to me..."hey take a pic of us in the street.." lol these kids crack me up 

Funny story...Don Quijote is a huge chain store here in Japan that is comparable to a slightly more chaotic Walmart or Target but people in Japan just call it "ドンキ" literally pronounced "DONKEY" (everything in Japan is shortened!) It is so funny to me because I remember reading Don Quixote in school so I know the story, but the translation doesn't go that far in Japan so students don't really get the name...anyway we were walking in Asakusa where they happen to have a HUGE Don Quijote and one of the only stores where DON QUIJOTE is actually written out (usually just says in katakana) so one of my students was like..."Amie sensei what is DON-QU-EE-JO-TAY?" I just started laughing...hahhaa

Phew...so there you have it. Crazy day in Asakusa! Not sure if you can tell from the photos but it was literally 85degrees that day with 90% humidity...yikes! The kids were troopers though and all had a good time. I was so proud of them for stepping out of their comfort zones and talking to a bunch of friendly foreigners. I really can't believe I get to call this my "job" and I am loving every minute of it! Thank you Lord!