HAWAII I/V

The Komae + Lam crew all hit up the island of Oahu for a week vacay in paradise! This was honestly a dream come true for me...not only because I could spend an entire week with my family who I love and miss dearly, but also because Hawaii is one of my favorite places on the planet and holds a lot of special memories for me: aka Family vacay with my sister's basketball team, Yonsei high school graduation trip, and my sister-in-laws bachelorette when I was in college. To make matters even more perfect, Hawaii is conveniently placed almost equal distance between Japan and CA so meeting everyone there was a breeze! Thank you Lord! 

I left Japan on a Thursday night red-eye and landed Thursday am Hawaii time. I waited 30min or so at the airport for my mom, dad, and sister's fam to get in and we all had a fun reunion by the baggage claim!  

My little Eden "Ofie" Ophelia! When I moved to Japan, Eden was just a tiny baby so I've seen her grow up more via photos and social media than in person...so I was super stoked to spend plenty of quality time with her! 

Our first stop after the airport was to get acai bowl and head to the house my dad rented. I loved being back with Stac + Ant and their girls! 

ACAI + GOOD COFFEE...best way to start the day. 

My dad found this awesome house right in Hawaii Kai that fit all of us (8 adults, 4 kids), had a pool, back patio that led to the water to go kayaking, washer/dryer, tv, full kitchen, and conveniently in the perfect location!! Props dad! 

Not long after we got there...Russ + Jen and the boys arrived. They ran in the house and greeted me with a loud "BON BON!!!!" and my first thought was "Hunter is so big!!" Kids really grow so fast...and I couldn't believe how much he has leaned out and grown taller. Once we all hugged and I passed out the candy I brought them from Japan...we went straight in the pool. 

Our first night in the house was chill...we all relaxed in the pool (but is it really relaxing when you have 4 kids under 5 to watch in the pool HAHA) Jen D and I hit up Costco (literally so close to our house), and Dad ordered us bomb pizza, spam musubi, and breadsticks for dinner. Pair that with POG (Passion Orange Guava) juice and I was in Hawaiian heaven!! 

One of the best parts of this trip was that my auntie, uncle and cousins were also in Hawaii at the same time. If you know us, you know how close we all are as a family so being there with them was so much fun. On our first morning in Hawaii, my cousins had planned to hike up to the Lanikai Pillboxes so D and I told them we'd tag along. We woke up and left the house by 5:45 and started hiking at 6:15ish to make sure we got up to the summit before sunrise! 

The trail up is a bit steep at first, but once you get to the top of the rolling hills it's all easy breazy from there! This hike is foreal so dope. Everyone who goes to Oahu has got to see this view!! 

We got up so quick...maybe 15 minutes or so (thanks to D's fast pace) and caught the sunrise. It was so surreal standing up there...being in Hawaii with everyone I love so dearly, and standing there on my first morning in paradise looking at this glorious sea with the rising sun...WOWWWWWWW!!

UNREAL. BUT SO REAL. 

Hikers note: When you go up to the pillboxes go to the 2nd or 3rd one...because the 1st one (picture above) is always jam packed and too crowded.

Love this pic of D. 

and this one of Kris too!

 

After the hike...it was still only 7am HAHA so we had the whole day ahead of us which I will write about in my next post. 

 

I am so thankful that everyone had the time and finances to make a trip like this happen...and on my end I am just grateful that I was able to take the time off work! Shout out to my vice principals for letting me go haha!

I LOVE MY FAM. HAWAII IS BEAUTIFUL. GOD IS GOOD.

 

more soon... 

SO MUCH TO BLOG...SO LITTLE TIME

Last week I returned (Thursday) from an awesome vacay in Hawaii with my fam. I hit the ground running by going back to work the next day (Friday) and then spending the weekend cruising all over Japan with my cousin Kristi and good friend Melissa who are in town for the week. Needless to say...it's been busy and so much fun!! 

When I flew back in to Narita after my time in Hawaii, this surreal feeling sweep over me. I was walking through customs, to baggage claim, out to the train lines...and it all felt so familiar. I've done this many times before. And I paused there for a moment and just thought to myself, How many times in my life will I say I am coming home to Japan? Craaaaazyyyyyy. I just feel so blessed to have had an amazing week in paradise with my fam, and now get to show Kris and Mel around Japan...truly too good to be true! Thank you Lord!

So many photos coming up...but for now let's all just stare at the insanely beautiful blue waters of Kailua beach and wish we were there...

GOLDEN WEEK - SCENES FROM MY IPHONE

One of the biggest holiday in Japan is Golden Week...a string of a few holidays in a row that give everyone an excuse to PAARRTAYYY! Last year, during Golden Week, I flew home for my dear friend Lexi's wedding so technically this is my first year experiencing this holiday in Japan! 

 

MAY 3rd - 憲法記念日ーConstitution day

I had to work Monday and Tuesday, but on Wednesday I was off so I made plans with my good friend Mina and her mom Yoko to go see the famous Shibazakura flowers in Chichibu! Lucky for us, Mina's coworker and friend Haruka is from Chichibu and always hosts us when we visit (I went last year for the night festival). We took the Red Arrow express train from Ikebukuro station early Wednesday morning and arrived a little under 1.5hrs to the tiny cozy town of Chichibu! Haruka met us at the station and we walked over the Hitsujiyama park (literally means Sheep Mountain) to see the incredible display of flowers. I can't get over how amazing the flowers in Japan are!!! We spent all morning walking around, enjoying the fresh air, and then relaxed at Haruaks house before heading home! I definitely recommend this place to anyone visiting during this season. It's so accessible from Ikebukuro station and only 1400yen roundtrip!  

 

MAY 4th - みどりの日ーGREENERY DAY

Here begins my fun roadtrip with the Lim family! The Lims decided to travel up north during Golden Week to avoid the crowds going down south to Kyoto or Osaka...so I took the shinkansen up to meet them on Thursday may 4th aka my brothers birthday aka my college roommate Katelyn bday aka greenery day aka the day I graduated college 4 years ago HAHA!!!  

I met the Lims up by Bandai Mountain...look at that beauty!! The shinkansen ride was chill, 1.5 hours or so and then I took a local train another 40 minutes. It was straight INAKA (countryside) and SO refreshing!!!! I loved looking out the window and seeing all this nature, all these cozy little neighborhoods, and all this open space!! 

So the Lims (Nathalie, Tony and their two kiddos) picked me up from the station and we drove down to Ouchi-juku, a post station from the Edo period in Fukushima prefecture. The nature leading up to the little old town was stunning!!! 

Real talk: the line to get into this place was INSANE. The tiny town is located up in the mountains so there is only one road up...and the 4km to get to the parking from the base of the mountain took almost 2 hours. NOOOOOO. It was so crazy that Nathalie and I decided to walk the 1.5km we had remaining and we beat Tony and the kids there by a good 30 minutes. I guess we couldn't avoid all of the Golden Week traffic entirely. 

When we got there we soon realized how magical this little place is! It's like a living time capsule with thatched roofs, farmland, traditional snacks, and ramune cooling in the water outside the houses! 

This particular house jumped out at me and I immediately was like, " I want to live there!" So much character, history, and style...ahhhhh! dream. 

For as many cars that were lining up to get it, the place didn't feel crowded at all. It was so nice and warm out, peaceful, scentic, and the perfect spot for an afternoon ice cream cone! 

Very thankful for this fun family who let me join in their family trip haha! 

One of the best parts of hanging out with the Lims is I get to be an auntie again! I miss my nieces and nephews all the time...so hanging out with kids who feel like family is so good for my soul. Little Poiema is about the age of my newphew Hunter, and I love her funny personality and curious spirit. Nathalie is Filipino so the kiddos say "tita" instead of "auntie" and all week Poiema would say funny things like, "tita amie why is mount Fuji so tall?" "tita amie why is there lava in the mountain?" "tita amie do you know poppy (from trolls)?" haha! love it! 

 

MAY 5th- こどもの日ーChildrens day!

On Friday we all woke up and headed to Aizu Wakamatsu castle...but not before stopping by McDolands to get breakfast! haha. It was such a nice day so we all applied our sunscreen and put our sunglasses on. We had a little picnic before heading in to check out the museum inside the castle and the view from the top. May 5th is Children's Day so Nathalie gave the kids special candy and we took a bunch of photos of them and their koinobori (koi fish flags). We went to a little matsuri (festival) to eat lunch and then headed to our next spot...a Samurai house! 

Aizu Wakamatsu is a famous place for Samurai so we went to this awesome Samurai house. It was legit...but also kind of sad because a lot of the stories surrounding the family that lived here were about death and the brutality of the samurai life. It had an eerie feeling to it because of that, like the story of the wife who killed her children and herself because her husband went to war and she didn't know if he would come back...yikes. But we didn't let it get us down too much and tried to appreciate the history in it! They make you exit through the gift shop (Bansky film anyone!??) and they got me on the apple flavored Horoyoi which is a popular sweet alcohol beverage. It basically tastes like juice so I can drink it...and this flavor was so amazing. Funny thing is, Horoyoi in Japanese literally means "buzzed" or "slightly drunk" 

 

MAY 6th - Saturday! 

Last day of this jam packed roadtrip...

hahaa...I think at this point I was pretending to be a worm chasing the kids or something. They are so fun to be around! I love how Khiro is standing in this photo like a little man...haha too cute. 

Thank you Japan for your entertaining roadway designs. 

Poiema and I happened to be matching on this day! Her facial expressions are amazing. Also, how amazing is this random area of shibazakura on the side of the road? We stumbled upon it and it made for the most epic photo spot! 

Ok our last stop on our awesome golden week road trip was Yamadera in Yamagata Prefecture. Yamadera literally means "mountain temple" and it lived up to it's name.

This place was so EPIC!!! Truly truly one of the coolest spots I've seen in all of Japan. It was not even crowded...and it was this epic set of 30 temples tucked back in the forest. They say the course was built to rid people of their pride and burdens as they walk the 1,000 steps up to the top...releasing any negativity as they pass by each temple. Although this was built as a place to worship Buddha and various gods, I couldn't help but sense the presence of the Lord there! The one true King and Father of all! I knew withouth hestiation that God had created those mountain and each of those trees. It was so refreshing to be up there staring out in God's vast creation. 

The kids did amazing hiking up all those stairs and we made it to this specific view point. This photo is actually crazy because there were at least 15 people in this building at all times, but for some reason, when Nathalie took this shot of me, no one was in the frame! No idea how that happened. 

Phew...what a week...or rather 4 day trip..that was! I finally got back home late Saturday night and as I was walking home to my apartment, I had this moment with the Lord when I realized how many amazing things He had shown me just over the course of a few days. Being up in that mountain looking out on the rolling hills and tiny towns of the Japanese countryside, I felt the presence of God and the assurance that He will continue to take me to places greater than anything I could imagine on my own. I love the Lord for His never ceasing faithfulness, His relentless love and pursuit of us, His creativity and beauty in creation, and His undeniable, incredible way in fulfilling His promises! 

"THIS PLACE CAN'T BE REAL"...HITACHI SEASIDE PARK

This past Saturday I visited Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture to see the "Blue Field of Nemophila." I had seen advertisements for this place last year but didn't get a chance to go. So when a day opened up on the calendar, my friends the Lims (plus their two kiddos) and my friend Sarah all jumped in a car and drove 2 hours north to see this insane place in person. 

The tiny blue flowers are called "Nemophila" which is such a strange word to me..but basically means "baby blue eyes" which makes sense once you see them. But all day I kept wanting to say "NemoFEEELia" ! 

The drive was longer than expected (a few accidents + insane traffic on the offramps) but once we got there we payed $5 for parking and $4 for an entrance ticket and headed in. Our first task was getting food, since at this point it was 2pm and we were starving. Luckily they had a few good, cheap cafes and a coffee stand where we got some strong black coffee and strawberry smoothies...yummmm.

I guess out here in the countryside people really take advantage of the open space and get extremely large dogs. HAHA! I think I saw at least 5 of these size dogs walking in the park, and its a shock to my system since I am used to the thousands of tiny chihuahuas and wiener dogs in Tokyo.

The park is huge...so we didn't even have time to see the Tulips or the small amusement park out front. But we did follow the crowds to the hill of baby blue eyes....

drumroll...

Even from a distance I was already freaking out!

WOWOWOWOWOWOOWOWWWOWOWOW

This was a highlight of the day...this lady had posed her FOUR dachshunds (who are wearing dresses mind you) for photos. I even saw another lady carrying her cat...ohhhh Japan

My beautiful friend, Sarah, from New Zealand! Not only is Sarah an awesome a chill person with a cool kiwi accent, but she is also a sister-in-Christ, a world traveler and a teacher! It is a blessing to have a friend like her in Tokyo!  

Love this one of Nathalie! 

I had to get the "blue" icecream that was actually RAMUNE flavor!! (for those who don't know, RAMUNE...not to be mistaken for RAMEN... is a famous soda that most Japanese American kids grew up on). This icecream even had little pieces of the sour ramune candy inside that took me immediately back to my childhood. Blue flowers with blue icecream..epic. 

Okay I'll admit...this photo was totally set up by the professional photographer right outside the frame. But I'd like to imagine I miraculously captured this proposal just at the right time! 

It was twilight at this point and the fields were covered in the most gentle and beautiful light that almost brought me to tears!! 

Next time I go, I'm taking a hint from this cute chicka and dressing to match the flowers! 

Ok one more of this cute couple who somehow mananged to find a spot with zero people around! Is it creepy that I have an engagement photo of random people on my blog? maybe. 

more of those golden hour vibes.

The perfect Japanese phrase to describe this places is 信じられない which is used when you wanna say, "NO WAY" or "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT" which is exactly what I kept saying over...and over...and over...all day...

Love the Lims and their playful hearts and gracious attitude to drive us all the way out there and just enjoy the simple fun of admiring God's creation and taking photos! 

And...just as the park was closing at 5pm and the security guards were shooing us away (we could have stayed forever) heavy rain clouds rolled in creating this very other-worldly feel to the place. We sprinted back to the car and made it just in time before the downpour!! Thank you Jesus!! 

 

What an incredible day. For anyone traveling to Japan during this time of year I HIGHLY recommend this place. It's a bit of a trek from Tokyo but so worth it to see these magical hills of blue flowers. It's definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to! I think the thing that got me was the color of these flowers...this specific shade of blue that is hard to describe and so magical...especially when there are millions of them! This verse becomes all the more real when I think about these fields...

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown in the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "what shall we eat?" or "what shall we drink?" or "what shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 
Matthew 6:28-33

YOKOHAMA- 2nd YEAR CLASS FIELDTRIP

(**See last years YOKOHAMA post HERE)

Every year, at the beginning of the school term, the students all have a class field trip! 

1st year students - Overnight camping trip in Nagano
2nd year students- Day trip to Yokohama
3rd year students- Univeristy campus tours

Lucky for me, every year I get to tag along with the 2nd year students to Yokohama for a fun day! The homeroom teachers stay with their class all throughout high school, meaning the group of homeroom teachers who planned this year's trip is different from the last...so even though we had the same exact schedule and procedure as last year, the vibe felt different. This group of teachers has a very relaxed, go with the flow vibe and it made the day so chill that I kept having to ask myself, "wait, am I working right now?"

First order of business...everyone (300+ students and teachers) met at Haneda airport at 8:45am sharp! The main purpose of this field trip is for the students to practice getting to the airport from Kashiwa (over an hour by train) for their upcoming trip to Okinawa. Haneda is conveniently on the way to Yokohama so after meeting at the airport, students are given a free day to explore around the city before they have to meet back at Yokohama stadium at 3pm! 

Our job, as teachers, is to check off all the students when they get to the airport and then spend the day cruising around the various areas to loosely keep an eye on our students. The group of teachers I was with went straight to China town for hot soup dumplings!!! YES YES YES PLSSSSS.

We cruised around ...the weather was amazing...we grubbed on some chinese food...Midorikawa kept us all laughing with his legit oldschool camera and fashionable hats...and this groups of old grandpas was too cute not to take a photo of. 

I spent the day with Steph, Midorikawa (Music teacher), Yano (Japanese teacher), Tamaoki (English teacher), and Iizuka (IT teacher) and we had such a fun time together. Yano and Iizuka are new to the school this year so it was a fun chance to get to know them.

This is one of my favorite spots in Yokohama...a cool shop called Blue next to the cutest coffee shop called Lotus. 

Yamashita Park and the area right outside Yokohama baseball stadium are famous for having incredible displays of flowers around this time of year. They had perfectly lined tulips in the most amazing colors!! 

We took this funny family photos to cap off our day...and waited back at the stadium for all the students to return by 3:00p.m

Once all 300 students were successfully back at the stadium, we sent them all off their separate ways and then had a teachers meeting to coordinate our next stop. We all took the train 1.5hr back to Chiba to go to Tamaoki's family restaurant for a dinner party!!

Tamaoki's family runs a Nepali restaurant in Chiba (Makuhari) and they were kind enough to host a dinner party for all the 2nd year teachers. We grubbed on some amazing curry, fresh made bread, chicken, beef, all you can drink mango lassis (amazing), and just had a blast all night. After dinner, there was this moment when Tama's mom pulled three of us ladies aside and had us dress in Sarees and come out dancing with her. Nothing like dancing with your corowkers mom while wearing a blue saree at a Nepai restaurant in the middle of Chiba Japan!!

Yanagibashi, head of the 2nd year class, gave a lovely toast...made Steph and I give a speech in Japanese...and we all chatted and enjoyed our evening until 10pm or so! What a day!!

Truly truly blessed to call this my job and to have the chance to work along side these awesome people. Yokohama 2nd year trip 2017 in the books!