THE THINGS I MISS...

So, it’s been about 5 months since I left Japan and moved back home to LA. Crazy! It feels like wayyyyyyy longer than 5 months and at times, it feels like I never left the states. Was Japan all a dream? But then, certain moments of nostalgia hit me and I am suddenly swept back to the tiny details of my life in Japan and every feeling comes right back. Weird how our memory works, right?

Anyway, after this time away, I have come to a conclusion of a few specific things that I absolutely miss from Japan.

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COFFEE SHOPS//喫茶店
Of course, there are amazing coffee shops stateside. But honestly, nothing can beat the charm of a Japanese “kisaten” - coffee shop. There is a certain aesthetic and magic to it, and if you’ve been to one, you know what I mean. Simple menu, tiny dishware, amazing coffee, dainty pastries, minimalistic decor, and an overall 10/10 coffee shop experience.

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WALKING AROUND TOKYO//東京を歩く
Ahhhh…putting on your favorite shoes, throwing all your stuff in your best handbag, taking the train into the city, blasting your favorite album through your headphones and walking around the streets you have slowly began to memorize…that is the charm of the city. So much of Tokyo captivated me. The culture to be experienced at Meijijingu and Asakusa, the high end lifestyles in Ginza and Omotesando, the insane crowds in Shinjuku and Shibuya, and the trendiest of trendies in Daikanyama and Aoyama… Tokyo will forever be my favorite city in the world.

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RIDING THE TRAINS//電車に乗る
This is a funny thing to miss, isn’t it? But almost more than anything else about my life in Japan, I miss taking the train. And the bus for that matter too! Why? Man, driving in the states in A PAIN!!! When I drive I constantly have to feel worried about every lane I merge into, every freeway I take, other cars on the road, and the enemy of us all - PARKINGGGGGG. UGHHHHH. I miss just walking freely to a train station and going anywhere I please without worrying about any of that…and on top of it all…BEING ABLE TO SLEEP!!!! Train culture in Japan 100% spoiled me because the trains are always on time, always clean and always safe. I am ruined for life.

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CONVENIECE STORES!//コンビニ!
This is easily the thing I miss most about Japan. “Konbini” … Convenience stores…specifically the 7-11 and Family Mart (famima) by my apartment in Kita-Kashiwa. I went to Famima almost every single morning and I went to 7-11 almost every single night. This is not as exaggeration haha. I went so frequently that I knew the workers at both stores…and the lady at famima even tried to set met up with a guy who also frequented the store. HAHHA. Konbinis have everything and anything you could want and I miss them so much.

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NAIL ART//ネイルアート
OK…I know this seems like a ridiculous addition to this post BUT I AM SERIOUS! Dang. Japanese nail art is next level and YES…those are both my nails up there HAHAHA. For any and every girl going to Japan, I highly recommend you getting your nails done there. I will be expensive (anywhere from ($60-$100) but it will be unlike anything you could get elsewhere. I am not one to get my nails done a lot…but every once in a while I did it just for fun and I loved it. Especially those crazy ones on the left :) from the one and only MAIKO at NEURON NAILS in Omotesando!!!!

Well…of course there are many more things I miss about Japan (TOKYU HANDS, LOFT, DONKI, etc etc). But, there are also a lot of things I am glad to have now that I am back stateside…legit mexican food, target, trader joes, acai bowls…and most of all my friends and family te he he <3

Needless to say, my heart is in two places…and will always be.

2019, A GOOD START

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Hello 2019! Here’s what has happened so far…

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I spent my first weekend of the new year camping Carlsbad with my high school besties. We all met up Saturday afternoon and set up camp, ate hotdogs and burgers, made smores and listened to throwback hip hop songs as the sun went down. The friendship I share with my high school besties (and now their bfs!) is one of my life’s greatest treasures and starting the year off with them was the best way to begin.

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I carved out some time while camping to head down to the water to do some journaling. I always love sitting by the sea and writing to God. It’s the best thing for my soul and the most peaceful place I can be.

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Over the second weekend of the new year, I had a very special reunion. Back in 2011-2012 I was a Resident Advisor at APU and was on staff with these fine human beings right here. We worked together all year ensuring out living area (UP) ran smoothly and safely. Our Resident Director, Kelly, now runs a camp in Idylwilde (Idylwilde Pines Camp) so we all headed up there for a reunion. Some of these folks I havent seen since graduation in 2013!!

We spent all weekend catching up, cooking together, and playing board games HAHA. (we all got hooked on the game CODE NAMES). It was refreshing to be back around these people and it reminded me that no matter how many years pass between seeings someone, if your love for them is sincere, you can pick up right where you left off.

Starting off this year with a bunch of people I love…nothing better than that!

2018 : 18

2018 was a memorable year for me in many ways. The biggest thing being, the end of my time living in Japan. Due to this big life change, it was a year I will never forget. It holds a lot of memories for me…so here are 18 of my favorite photos from 2018 and the stories behind them.
(check out my fav photos from
2017 and 2016)

1. GOOD MORNING GRAND CANYON.  I spent New Year’s day with my good friends Abbie and Jake at the Grand Canyon. We woke up early to drive into the park and spend as much time staring out in the grandeur of it all. Towards the end of our day, we drove a little higher up to catch some views. We pulled off to the side of the road and walked over to see this view. I snapped this photo right as Abbie and Jake peered over the edge to see God’s amazing creation.

1. GOOD MORNING GRAND CANYON.
I spent New Year’s day with my good friends Abbie and Jake at the Grand Canyon. We woke up early to drive into the park and spend as much time staring out in the grandeur of it all. Towards the end of our day, we drove a little higher up to catch some views. We pulled off to the side of the road and walked over to see this view. I snapped this photo right as Abbie and Jake peered over the edge to see God’s amazing creation.

2. FAM IN JAPAN The biggest highlight of 2018 was having my family in Japan. This shot is particularly important since it was taken right in my neighborhood, across the street from the 7-11 I went to every day. I had lived in this area for two years before my family got to come see it with their own eyes. Having them in my hometown in Japan meant the world to me. This morning in particular, is a moment I will never forget.

2. FAM IN JAPAN
The biggest highlight of 2018 was having my family in Japan. This shot is particularly important since it was taken right in my neighborhood, across the street from the 7-11 I went to every day. I had lived in this area for two years before my family got to come see it with their own eyes. Having them in my hometown in Japan meant the world to me. This morning in particular, is a moment I will never forget.

3. ARASHIYAMA TAYAH Tayas was just 8 months old when she traveled all the way to Japan with the fam. She was in her chubby baby faze and we all loved it. When we went to Arashiyama, she happily sat in the stroller or ergo, bouncing along with the rest of us to enjoy the views.

3. ARASHIYAMA TAYAH
Tayas was just 8 months old when she traveled all the way to Japan with the fam. She was in her chubby baby faze and we all loved it. When we went to Arashiyama, she happily sat in the stroller or ergo, bouncing along with the rest of us to enjoy the views.

4. DOUBLE GOLD This was my first time to see The Golden Temple (aka Kinkakuji) and we happened to be there at the most perfect time of day, when everything was reflecting off the water below. I couldn’t have timed it out better if I wanted to. It was just one of those moments of pure magic.

4. DOUBLE GOLD
This was my first time to see The Golden Temple (aka Kinkakuji) and we happened to be there at the most perfect time of day, when everything was reflecting off the water below. I couldn’t have timed it out better if I wanted to. It was just one of those moments of pure magic.

5. NARA EDEN While in Kyoto with my fam, we took the trek out to Nara to show the kids the deer. I loved this moment when Eden was just standing there…staring at the deer in awe. She wasn’t showing any fear, or shock, or concern…just that pure innocent curiosity. During our trip, she mastered the “peace” sign and would do it anytime I took a photo. precious!

5. NARA EDEN
While in Kyoto with my fam, we took the trek out to Nara to show the kids the deer. I loved this moment when Eden was just standing there…staring at the deer in awe. She wasn’t showing any fear, or shock, or concern…just that pure innocent curiosity. During our trip, she mastered the “peace” sign and would do it anytime I took a photo. precious!

6. SAKURA BRIDE While in Kyoto, my family and I walked around Nara park for a while and stumbled upon a wedding photo shoot happening. I decided to just swoop in real quick and snap a shot of the bride and ended up taking one of my favorite photos all year. I love her gorgeous kimono and the perfectly blooming sakura behind her.

6. SAKURA BRIDE
While in Kyoto, my family and I walked around Nara park for a while and stumbled upon a wedding photo shoot happening. I decided to just swoop in real quick and snap a shot of the bride and ended up taking one of my favorite photos all year. I love her gorgeous kimono and the perfectly blooming sakura behind her.

17. HAPPIEST EVER To me, this photos represents the purest form of childhood joy. We were walking around Osaka as a family and right when Hunter saw an arcade center he screamed with joy and ran straight in! We knew we had to take a moment to let him enjoy the glories of a Japanese arcade…and I ran after him just in time to snap this shot of him. pure joy and the happiest I have ever seen him.

17. HAPPIEST EVER
To me, this photos represents the purest form of childhood joy. We were walking around Osaka as a family and right when Hunter saw an arcade center he screamed with joy and ran straight in! We knew we had to take a moment to let him enjoy the glories of a Japanese arcade…and I ran after him just in time to snap this shot of him. pure joy and the happiest I have ever seen him.

8. FUJI’S REFLECTION FROM FUJI One of my biggest accomplishments of life came in 2018 - summiting Mt. Fuji. I was lucky enough to hike up with my dear friend Naomi and we reached the summit at 3am on July 27th. While we were sitting there, freezing cold waiting for the sun to rise, I looked out into the darkness and saw what looked like a giant shadow. I couldn’t tell if my mind was foggy from exhaustion and my eyes blurry from the cold…but I tapped Naomi and said, “wait, is that the shadow of Fuji?” Sure enough, from the top of Mt. Fuji we were able to see the shadow of Mt. Fuji. This is a moment I will never forget and a photo I am very proud of.

8. FUJI’S REFLECTION FROM FUJI
One of my biggest accomplishments of life came in 2018 - summiting Mt. Fuji. I was lucky enough to hike up with my dear friend Naomi and we reached the summit at 3am on July 27th. While we were sitting there, freezing cold waiting for the sun to rise, I looked out into the darkness and saw what looked like a giant shadow. I couldn’t tell if my mind was foggy from exhaustion and my eyes blurry from the cold…but I tapped Naomi and said, “wait, is that the shadow of Fuji?” Sure enough, from the top of Mt. Fuji we were able to see the shadow of Mt. Fuji. This is a moment I will never forget and a photo I am very proud of.

9. THE DESCENT After watching the sunrise atop Fuji, we headed 4 hours back down to civilization. Funny enough, this was the most stunning part of the whole hike (and ironically the most painful). I had to stop every 2 minutes or so to just take it all in and stare in glory at all the clouds. Naomi and I were fortunate enough to hike Fuji on a pristinely beautiful day, and on our descent it really felt like we were walking on clouds.

9. THE DESCENT
After watching the sunrise atop Fuji, we headed 4 hours back down to civilization. Funny enough, this was the most stunning part of the whole hike (and ironically the most painful). I had to stop every 2 minutes or so to just take it all in and stare in glory at all the clouds. Naomi and I were fortunate enough to hike Fuji on a pristinely beautiful day, and on our descent it really felt like we were walking on clouds.

10. TOP OF THE ROCK In December of 2018 I was able to visit New York City for the first time in my life! This trip was long overdue and I was lucky enough to be there with some of my best friends. One morning, Emiko, Taryn and I went to the top of the Rockefeller center to see the view of the city. I snapped this shot as they were peering out into the skyline, and I love their winter coats and hats which will always reminds me of how cold it was there!

10. TOP OF THE ROCK
In December of 2018 I was able to visit New York City for the first time in my life! This trip was long overdue and I was lucky enough to be there with some of my best friends. One morning, Emiko, Taryn and I went to the top of the Rockefeller center to see the view of the city. I snapped this shot as they were peering out into the skyline, and I love their winter coats and hats which will always reminds me of how cold it was there!

11. MORNING FUJI This shot is really special to me. I remember the morning vividly. My friends, the Lims, and I were driving to go see the snow near Fuji. As we got closer and closer to the mountain, the views just kept getting better and better. We decided to pull off to a lake and see if it was a good view, and when we got there my jaw dropped. It was by far the clearest view of Fuji I had ever seen. I quickly got out of the car and walked down to the water when I saw and old man. He turned to me and started rambling off in Japanese telling me I needed to hurry it. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but once I got past the reeds of the water I immediately knew. The reflection. He was telling me to hurry, because the reflection on the water was absolutely spectacular. I snapped a few photos, this being one of them. About 5 minutes later, I looked back at the water and noticed the water was murky, the reflection gone, and a thick layer of clouds covering Fuji. I then realized just how lucky I was.

11. MORNING FUJI
This shot is really special to me. I remember the morning vividly. My friends, the Lims, and I were driving to go see the snow near Fuji. As we got closer and closer to the mountain, the views just kept getting better and better. We decided to pull off to a lake and see if it was a good view, and when we got there my jaw dropped. It was by far the clearest view of Fuji I had ever seen. I quickly got out of the car and walked down to the water when I saw and old man. He turned to me and started rambling off in Japanese telling me I needed to hurry it. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but once I got past the reeds of the water I immediately knew. The reflection. He was telling me to hurry, because the reflection on the water was absolutely spectacular. I snapped a few photos, this being one of them. About 5 minutes later, I looked back at the water and noticed the water was murky, the reflection gone, and a thick layer of clouds covering Fuji. I then realized just how lucky I was.

12. SENSEI I took this photo in early 2018, on graduation day. This photo is special to me for so many reasons. For one, that is Mashiko sensei there in the front. He was the homeroom teacher of 3A this year and a father figure to me. He drove a yellow car to school that appropriately matched the yellow tennis balls that he threw as tennis coach every day. He led his class with grace and poise, and he shed a few tears as he sent his students off to the real world. This photo is also special to me because of the students here. 3A of this year was the class that I saw go the entirely of their high school life. From first year, to third. I cried as I hugged them all one last time. This is a group of kids and a teacher I will never forget.

12. SENSEI
I took this photo in early 2018, on graduation day. This photo is special to me for so many reasons. For one, that is Mashiko sensei there in the front. He was the homeroom teacher of 3A this year and a father figure to me. He drove a yellow car to school that appropriately matched the yellow tennis balls that he threw as tennis coach every day. He led his class with grace and poise, and he shed a few tears as he sent his students off to the real world. This photo is also special to me because of the students here. 3A of this year was the class that I saw go the entirely of their high school life. From first year, to third. I cried as I hugged them all one last time. This is a group of kids and a teacher I will never forget.

13. SELF PORTRAIT One random day I decided to go into Tokyo solo and take a bunch of photos. I don’t even remember what time of year it was, but judging from my outfit, maybe March? All I remember is I went to my favorite place in all of Tokoy, Omotesando, and wandered the streets. I ended up in a mall and saw this giant mirror between two stores. I don’t often take self portraits, but this space was just asking for it. So I snapped this shot. Which is now my favorite self portrait to date.

13. SELF PORTRAIT
One random day I decided to go into Tokyo solo and take a bunch of photos. I don’t even remember what time of year it was, but judging from my outfit, maybe March? All I remember is I went to my favorite place in all of Tokoy, Omotesando, and wandered the streets. I ended up in a mall and saw this giant mirror between two stores. I don’t often take self portraits, but this space was just asking for it. So I snapped this shot. Which is now my favorite self portrait to date.

14. SEOUL NIGHT In the summer I was able to take a trip to Seoul with my good friend Miri. She had a childhood friend who lived in the city and took us around. One night, she took us down to the river to eat dinner and embrace the summer atmosphere. It was my favorite night all trip. We stayed out til the sun set and we were getting tired - but it seemed as if life in Seoul was just getting started. I snapped this photo as people were hanging out at around 11pm, that humidity made it feel as if the day would never end.

14. SEOUL NIGHT
In the summer I was able to take a trip to Seoul with my good friend Miri. She had a childhood friend who lived in the city and took us around. One night, she took us down to the river to eat dinner and embrace the summer atmosphere. It was my favorite night all trip. We stayed out til the sun set and we were getting tired - but it seemed as if life in Seoul was just getting started. I snapped this photo as people were hanging out at around 11pm, that humidity made it feel as if the day would never end.

15. SUMMER NIGHTS This was also from that same night in Seoul, on the river. There were so many couples around, which I soon learned was a very south korean thing. I thought it was so cute how this couple was right by the river, snacking on fried chicken and noodles, enjoying eachother’s company, and taking in the views. This made me feel that summer time magic.

15. SUMMER NIGHTS
This was also from that same night in Seoul, on the river. There were so many couples around, which I soon learned was a very south korean thing. I thought it was so cute how this couple was right by the river, snacking on fried chicken and noodles, enjoying eachother’s company, and taking in the views. This made me feel that summer time magic.

16. THIRD BOY! Right when I came home from Japan, my siblings decided to reveal the sex of their third baby! Since my brother loves to golf, they decided to pass the doctors note to my cousin who handed them the appropriate colored ball to hit. We all gathered outside on the lawn and my bro smacked the ball with one big swing and…BLUE!!! A third boy!!!

16. THIRD BOY!
Right when I came home from Japan, my siblings decided to reveal the sex of their third baby! Since my brother loves to golf, they decided to pass the doctors note to my cousin who handed them the appropriate colored ball to hit. We all gathered outside on the lawn and my bro smacked the ball with one big swing and…BLUE!!! A third boy!!!

17. BROOKYLN BRIDGE One of my favorite things about traveling to big cities is seeing iconic landmarks in person. I have seen many photos of the Brooklyn bridge before, so being able to see it with my own eyes was a treat! It’s a beautiful structure, with old wooden boards on your feet and massive arches up above. Emiko and I walked across it to Brooklyn in the crisp winter air..ahhhh New York City.

17. BROOKYLN BRIDGE
One of my favorite things about traveling to big cities is seeing iconic landmarks in person. I have seen many photos of the Brooklyn bridge before, so being able to see it with my own eyes was a treat! It’s a beautiful structure, with old wooden boards on your feet and massive arches up above. Emiko and I walked across it to Brooklyn in the crisp winter air..ahhhh New York City.

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18. IPHONE
My last post is dedicated to my iphone, since a lot of my favorite shots this year were taken on my phone. Mostly, I try to choose photos only from my camera, but this year I realized how I often left my camera at home and just took my phone out for adventures. These are three of my favorite ihpone photo I took this year…Alison in the snow at school - empty fushimi inari - and D. T. Suzuki museum in Kanazawa.

M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S <3


KOMAE CHRISTMAS.

KOMAE CHRISTMAS.

HIRANO CHRISTMAS.

HIRANO CHRISTMAS.

This Christmas felt different for a few reasons. For one, I was back in the states to experience the FULL Christmas season. This filled me with a sense of ease - knowing I didn’t have to squeeze everything in a two week frame, like I had done the previous three years.

During Komae Christmas this year (dad’s side), my cousin Aaron gave a toast honoring our grandparents, Ryo and Jean. This being our first Christmas without either of them, it was a solemn moment; the end of an era. Just as poetically as one era closes, another has opened. My cousin, Colin, announced at the “amen” of our dinner prayer that him and his wife are pregnant! That was incredible.

At Hirano Christmas, we made sure to skype the Hans who are in CO to include them in the kids performances. Camden, Lenya and Eden sang “Armor of God”, Hunter recited the ABC’s of faith, and Danielle performed a song on the Ukulele and also a worship song on her guitar. These are the moment that no gift can beat.

I realize this year, more than ever, what a blessing family is. My dad’s side, my mom’s side, all my aunties, uncles and cousins…all together, healthy, happy…thank you Jesus.

I am going into 2019 with a grateful heart, reminding myself to keep my hands open to receive the goodness and promises of God. amen.

NYC : DAY IV/ V ...THE END.

Saturday and Sunday in New York City…what a D R E A M.

So, I knew we had to dedicate a whole day to The Brooklyn/Williamsburg area because every cute/hip/trendy shop or restaurant that I had bookmarked was here! We woke up, grabbed a quick coffee near Cam’s place and hopped on the train.

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First stop LIEF…possibly the cutest store in all of Williamsburg. Whoever curates this store is a genius and a collector of everything perfect.

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Next up - PACKAGE FREE SHOP. This store intrigued us from the outside, since we saw this big staircase that went down to some type of basement. We walked in and soon learned the concept - a store with no plastic waste. A store focused on products sustainable for our planet. UHHH MAZING.

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Cam in awe of this reusable metal straw. I believe in this pic she was saying, “omg is this a boba straw?!”

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Bravo PACKAGE FREE SHOP. You’re amazing.

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And how could we spend a weekend in this area without brunch at SUNDAYS IN BROOKLYN…aka the trendiest brunch spot in all the land. So we arrived around 11:30 ish, a party of 4, and they told us it would be a 40 minute wait. DANG! Luckily they’re cool and let you put your name and number down and come back when you’re tables ready. I love places that do that. So we walked to a bunch of nearby shops in the meantime…and then came back to eat around 12:15ish. It was worth it though…for the ambiance and the free pastries our waitress gave us since we were celebrating a lot of birthdays! *also…the avocado toast was amazing.

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You know you’re in NYC when brunch places have fancy cocktails. Cam and T both got holiday drinks that were so cute.

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My favorite thing was the grains bowl…so flavorful! And Cam got biscuits and gravy yumm!!!

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After brunch we cruised around the streets of Williamsburg which was so fun. I have known T, Cam and Emiko basically my whole life…so being able to spend a day with them in the city was so much fun!

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Cam took us to ARTISTS AND FLEA, a really cool modern flea market where local artists sell their creations. Super cool place.

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We went to go see the view of Manhattan and took some fun pics. Cam just got engaged recently (not to Taryn lol) so we were all celebrating her and her pretty ring!

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We stumbled upon THE WILLIAMSBURG HOTEL and walked into a magical place…

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This amazing craft/flea market!! WOW. So many cool vendors selling vintage clothes, stationary, jewelry, candles, bags, etc.

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After our afternoon cruising all the cool shops, we hit up TOBY’S ESTATE for coffee and a bit of chill time before we all headed off to our separate plans for the night.

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Cam, Emi and I took an Uber to JAPAN VILLAGE, this amazing place built into a giant warehouse that serves up Japanese food and has a Japanese market inside.

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After stopping by the JAPAN VILLAGE, Emi and I headed to see KIMBRA in concert!! She is an amazing singer (from NZ) and we were able to see her in concert at this super cool venue in Brooklyn.

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On our walk back to Camryn’s place after the concert, Emi and I were hungry for a snack so when we saw this deli on the corner, we stopped by. Turns out it was the most legit deli ever that served up what seemed like a hundred sandwiches of every kind.


LAST DAY IN NYC :(

On Sunday, Emi and I were both flying out later in the day so we knew we had to wake up and make the most of it!

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Nothing like waking up to those city views. *Shout out to my friends Camryn and Aaron who let us stay at their place. So much love for those two!!!

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First stop of Sunday…LEVAIN!!! We all know they hype around these cookies and they did not disappoint.

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Although they are worth $4 a pop…they are the most incredible cookies EVER!!! TOTALLY WORTH IT. I bought a dozen to take home lol…no shame in spending $50 on cookies right? haha.

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One place I knew I had to see before I went back home was THE MET! We didn’t have time to do THE MET justice, so this time we just saw the steps, and went into the lobby. But next time i’m back in the city…i’m going to dedicate a whole day to wandering the exhibits here!

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Cam looks like a true New Yorker now!

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Up next was 5th AVE!!
This part of New York reminded me 100% of GINZA. The fanciest stores and the most over-the-top building designs.

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Had to stop by our favorite store: UNIQLO!

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And it wouldn’t be 5th av without a look at TIFFANY & CO.

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They were showcasing some of their craftsmen inside the store and it was really cool to see these guys in white coats making jewelry! The guy on the right was wearing this crazy magnifying glass contraption on his head and engraving the inside of a bracelet. majorly impressive.

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And our last top of the day was BERGDORF GOODMAN. We had to go here to pretend like we could afford things HAHA. It was the fanciest department store i’ve ever seen in the states.

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Well, that’s it folks!

That’s 5 days in NYC for ya. It was such a fun trip and I really feel so blessed to have spent it with my dear friends Emiko, Camryn, Taryn and Kristen!

On to the next.. :) !

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