BACK HOME

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I’ve been home exactly a month now and life is good. There are definitely pockets of time when I am living life so normal and I think to myself, wait…was Japan all a dream? did that really happen? and yet there are also very distinct moments when I remember…ohhhh yes. I have been gone for three years. Take for example when my nephew says to me, “oh Bonbon (what they call me), that’s not the rule here. Nana says we have to wear these shoes outside. But you don’t know the rule since you’ve been gone.” hahahaa kids these days.

Anyway, i’ve been loving being back in Socal and checking out some new places I haven’t seen before…the remodeled Del Amo mall, The Point in El Segundo and The Platform in Culver City. I realized that Torrance and LA are full of amazing ethnic food, incredible shops, trendy neighborhoods, and a diverse array of people. Truly blessed to call this my hometown!

But also… a month into being back I am starting to miss Japan. Specifically…CONBINI!!! I know that is ridiculous but I do miss 7-11 and Famima. I also miss takin the train and the bus. And of course, I miss my friends there…and my church family. But it also feels amazing to have my heart so full of two places…TORRANCE and KASHIWA…LA and TOKYO. double the hometowns. double the love.

Anyway, being home has been busy to say the least! So far I have been able to…
-Visit my besties in San Diego and go to San Diego Zoo
-Go to Disney California Adventure with my sister, her fam and the kiddos!
-Go to Disneyland with my college roomie and bestie Abbie and her family
-Fly to Washigton to see my sister from Uganda, Maddy, get married!
-Stay at my roomie Anna’s house outside of Seattle

-Visit my other roomie Megan at APU (our old stomping grounds)
-See my nephew plays basketball!
-Go to the Natural History Museum with my nieces and nephews
-AND…..LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST….SEE BTS IN CONCERT AT THE STAPLES CENTER!!!!

God is good, all the time.

and…the best is yet to come!!!

FAREWELL, ICHIKASHI

The high school I worked at for three years… “ICHIKASHI” …became my home way from home. I learned every nook and cranny of that four story building and ironically learned more in this school than any other school in my life.

During my last week there…I took my camera around and took some pics of places I wanted to remember. Here are the shots and the little memories behind them.

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BUS.
This is the bus stop I stood at every morning for three years. Yep, glamorous right?? haha. It was just a short 5 minute walk from my apartment..and the bus came promptly at 6:59 every single morning.

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COMMUTE.
I sat in the back row of the bus every morning. I did this for a few reasons…first, I got off at the very last stop, so it was easier to not have to move to let others off. Second, I liked to people watch. I would literally ride the bus with the same 20 people every morning and I unintentionally memorized where they all got off hahaa. It was such a real thing that I got concerned when I didn’t see the same people on the bus and wondered, are they sick? did they transfer jobs? oh no!

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INAKA (countryside).
Ichikashi is in the countryside…like…foreal. Farm houses, plots of land growing cabbage, sunflowers, blueberries, etc all surrounding campus. No highways, no tall buildings, no bustling shopping centers, nope. Just the peace and quiet of the countryside.

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THE APPROACH.
At school, there is a long road leading in to campus. This is what they call “the approach” …and I walked it every morning. The trees that lined the road would change during the seasons…bare branches in winter, bright yellow ginkgo in spring, and lush green leaves in summer…B E A U T I F U L.

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EKIDEN (cross country).
Every morning as I walked in to school, I would see the cross country team running around the track. I would arrive at school around 7:30ish, at which point they were always well into their run…probably having arrived at school around 6:30 or so. Not only would they be pushing it in a full on work out, but when they rounded the corners and passed the teachers walking on the approach they would enthusiastically shout “ohayogozaimasu!!!” (good morning!!) to us. That always blew my mind. They exhibited a level of dedication and commitment I aspire to achieve.

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SCHOOL.
This is it. school. The building that grew me. The building I walked into every day for three years. This place is special. unforgettable.

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GENKAN (entrance).
Every student and teacher at school has a shoe locker. Yes, a shoe locker. In proper Japanese fashion, we all took our outdoor shoes off and changed into our indoor shoes every day. The student lockers have their class numbers on them, while the teachers lockers have our names. Mine was right there…second row from the top, third locker in from the right.

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CORNERS.
Once in a while, our school’s Ikebana (flower arranging) teacher would place a different bouquet in the corners of a few hallways. I always loved walked up the stairs and seeing a bright new cheerful display.

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HALLWAYS.
Most Japanese schools are indoor which was a new thing for me, being a girl from CA. Our school has A LOT of hallways. Four floor of these long hallways…peeling paint on the walls, slippery floors, sliding doors and memories hanging around every corner.

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BAND.
Our school has a famous brass band. And I mean…no joke, intense, professional level brass band. Every morning when I walked into school, these kids were already practicing their instruments. At lunch I would hear it, after school I would hear it, and as I walked out at the end of every day, they were still playing. The sound of their music really became the anthem of my time in Japan. I love these kids, I love their music, I love their passion, I love their work ethic…love it all!!!

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COFFEE.
Every morning I would make myself a cup of coffee when I got to work. This became my routine with my favorite starbucks sakura mug : )

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NIHONGO (Japanese).
Japanese is a beautiful and complex language, especially in it’s written form which you can see here. I always found it funny that our school had chalkboards in every room as opposed to white boards…but then I realized it was because Japanese characters are easier to write on chalk boards than the English alphabet, so I was really the only one bothered by them haha! Anyway, for those of you wondering my Japanese level…I could always read about half of the things on the morning meeting board (Seen above)…for example, #2 is about Bunkasai (cultural festival) things while #3 is regarding big cleaning time and separating trash.

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SENSEI (teacher).
Every morning all the teachers gather in the “teachers office” which is a big room on the second floor…different from our smaller offices where most of us spend our day. So we all gather in the big office and have a brief 10 minute daily meeting discussing daily events, any incidents that happened recently, and changes in schedule.

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THANKS.
These were the pens I made as my thank you and farewell gift to my coworkers. I decided to gift my coworkers something useful, something that would brighten their day if they saw it. I bought these pens from costco and meticulously stuck tiny pieces of paper in each one…then attached a heart with the words “Thank you so much! - Amie”… I made 90 of them!

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HANA (flowers).
I was given really beautiful flowers on my last day at work. A part of what makes flowers so beautiful is the reality of them…how they bloom for a moment, last for a few days, and are to be thrown out after that. It makes the moment in which they are given very special - the peak of their color and radiance exhibited in that one point in time. And these flowers were ones I wanted to keep forever, for the moment they symbolized. I’m thankful for a photo to help me remember them haha!

TAYAH TURNS ONE.

Back at the end of August, five days after I returned back home, my niece Tayah had her first birthday celebration! Here are a few photos from that day.

These photos are in black and white since i’ve been feeling all the emotions lately haha…