FAM IN JAPAN - PART VII- TOKYO

After exploring my hometown of Kashiwa, living it up in Kyoto, and seeing some good friends in Osaka...we finally made it to Tokyo! It was my sisters first time in the city, and my other siblings first time in a while! So we were all so excited to be back in T O K Y O!!!!!

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First stop in Tokyo : Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. We were in Tokyo at the PEAK of Sakura season and had planned a photoshoot with my good friend Nathalie! It worked out really well to do the photos on Friday after arriving from Osaka...and although the park was PACKED with people, it is so big that it wasn't to big of a deal. We payed our 200 yen fee to enter and were immediately greeted by the incredibly full and beautiful trees! 

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STUNNING!

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We made sure to bring plenty of snacks for the kiddos so they would be happy during the photoshoot! I love this one of Lenny and Eden in their cute pink puffy jackets. There was still a bit of chill in the air so the kids were sure to stay cozy. 

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As we were exiting the park, the sakura petals were falling so magically!!!! It was incredible. 

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The park closes at 5pm or so...and we were some of the last ones out. I love how even in one of the biggest cities in the world, there is a wide open space to roam! When I look at this pic it makes me miss my sibs! I love them so much.

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Check out this MASSIVE sakura tree. WOW. 

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The boys of course found some frisbee to throw around! And I captured this cute moment of Cam and Russ as we were walking out. 

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Since the kids did so well on the photoshoot, I promised to buy each of them a toy. We went to KiddyLand in Omotesando and I let them buy anything that was $10 or under! They were SO happy to pick out a toy....and seeing their precious smiling faces was a really fun memory for me. 

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After our photoshoot, it was time for dinner. Russ and Jen headed out to their sushi dinner date, so Stac, Ant, D and I took the kids out to eat. It's pretty hard to find a place for 4 adults and 5 kids in Tokyo...so I convinced them to go to Dennys! This may seem lame to some...but Denny's in Japan is actually completely different from Denny's stateside...and I knew it would be a great experience for all of us! 

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This little smile is the cutest little thing ever!!!!!

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The kids got pasta, happy meals with ketchup smiles, and the adults grubbed on hambagu and set meals. So yum!!! And the best part was we could be as loud and messy and we wanted. Also, if you're wondering where Cam was in this photo...he was knocked out on the extra chairs we had around our table. The kids were still adjusting to the time difference, and occasionally a few of them would fall asleep FOR THE NIGHT at 6pm or so haha!  

After dinner we headed down the street to dessert...

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My brothers are huge sneaker heads and follow all the hyped brands...so of course they knew what KITH was and that it was LITERALLY down the street from the Dennys we were at! KITH is a dope sneaker and street wear brand that opened, get this, an ICE CREAM shop that really bomb dessert. This was the perfect end to our first day in Tokyo. 

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YUMMMMMMMMMM. The coolest aesthetic. The best icecream. In the greatest city in the world. YEAHHHHH.

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We headed home after that...the kids were so tired. I loved these city shots of them. Having them in Tokyo was seriously a dream come true. 

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GOOD NIGHT, TOKYO.

 

REUNITED

 I love this photo of my grandparents. I found it last year when I was digging through old photos. I had never seen it before. It stuck out to me for two reasons : 1. They're in Japan. I never knew much about their travels here...but when I see photos like this now, I instantly connect with them. I can feel the Japanese culture and I feel this deep deep bond to them...to our heritage...to our story.  2. That look of pure joy on their faces. It's so genuine. And was exactly how I always knew these two. Full of love. Full of love. The greatest couple I ever knew. 

I love this photo of my grandparents. I found it last year when I was digging through old photos. I had never seen it before. It stuck out to me for two reasons :
1. They're in Japan. I never knew much about their travels here...but when I see photos like this now, I instantly connect with them. I can feel the Japanese culture and I feel this deep deep bond to them...to our heritage...to our story. 
2. That look of pure joy on their faces. It's so genuine. And was exactly how I always knew these two. Full of love. Full of love. The greatest couple I ever knew. 

 

This morning my dad called to tell me my beautiful grandma Jean had passed.

She had been in hospice at my parent's house since February, so we all knew it was coming. But hearing my dad's voice on the other end of the line made me suddenly feel the distance. I felt so far away. I wanted to walk outside, across the street, and be back at my parent's house with everyone. But there I was. In the office at work. With a class schedule ahead of me and a world of people around me who's days went on per usual. 

So I did the only thing I knew to do. Pray. Write. Read. And this is what I penned in my notebook...


She is with you, Lord. 
She has now entered the gates of heaven, your arms are wide open, "welcome home Jeanie."
Such victory and joy in this passing, Lord, a woman who lived an honorable life, a woman who loved and cared for her children and grandchildren, a woman with a legacy. Amen. 

Lord, our humanity hurts when we think of death. Our flesh cringes at it, we don't like to look at it, not at all, but our souls know different. Our souls know that death is natural, our souls know we were not made for here. Isn't that wild? Doesn't that change everything? That flips it all on it's head. That flips it all around. Life...what is it? What is it about? My grandparents, Jean and Ryo, Sumio and Kathy, they lived so well. Long lives. Beautiful marriages. A lineage of Godly children and grandchildren. And they passed gracefully. And they arrived at their destiny. The gates of heaven.

I've experienced this moment two very distinct times before. When Gpa Sumio passed away when I was in college, and when Gpa Ryo passed away in 2016 when I was here at school. I remember this overwhelming feeling that death brings : urgency. Suddenly, nothing really matters anymore besides you, Lord. Besides truth. Besides heaven. Besides salvation and eternity. Suddenly...urgency floods me. And I know truth...reality...the end for us all : heaven's gates. So everything is thrown off balance, and nothing really matters anymore. And i'm flooded with that now, Lord. Urgency is flooding me now! What do I do with it. I can feel my head pounding. It aches because it is flooded...flooded with memories, flooded with urgency, flooded with emotion. I don't want to do anything but dwell on this. But, I have class in 25 minutes. I have 31 students to look at in the face and talk to. I have a job to do, and the world swirling around me. Life goes on, and toady will pass. 

All flesh is like grass, and all it's glory like the flowers of grass.
The grass withers, and the flowers fall off, but the word of the Lord endures forever. 
1 peter 1:24-25


FAM IN JAPAN - PART VI - OSAKA

The fam in Japan posts keep coming! 

Now up...our time in Osaka!! My brother, Russ, has friends who live in Osaka so we made it a point to go visit them in their city after our time in Kyoto. I had never been to Osaka before so I was so curious to finally see it all!!

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Here was our Airbnb in Kyoto. It was so cozy and really fun to all stay at together. 

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REAL LIFE: waiting for the shinkansen with 6 adults, 5 kids and a LOT OF BAGS. hahaa...my siblings are all so chill though so it made traversing the public transit quite fun! Plus the kids are all amazing and the most fun travel buddies. 

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On the short shinkansen ride from KYOTO to OSAKA...we had the whole car basically to ourselves and Eden was really letting her personality shine! 

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Cam too! He has the sweetest smile.

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I love this picture It is so real...and so US!! I love being with my family so much...this makes me really miss them!

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My sissy and her three girls <3

 

After a short train ride...we arrived in OSAKA and were immediately greeted by the most amazing Osaka friends PLUS... sakura trees!!!!!!

 

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We headed to a big park to meet up with my brother's friends to have enjoy HANAMI (sakura viewing!!) and I have to say...we were there on the most perfect day!

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My brother Russ and his amazing friends Ai, Keiko and Mako!! He met them all over a decade ago when he came to Japan on a missions trip. They all attend a church in Osaka and are really the coolest, sweetest, friendliest ladies! 

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Shout out to my amazing sister-in-law and brother-in-law for being amazing parents! 

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I love these kids of sakura blooms...they are so delicate looking! 

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Off to our next destination...a boat ride to see more sakura! 

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This is just the best photo ever!!! Our kiddos plus Ai's two adorable boys...all hanging out in Osaka under the sakura trees!!! AHHHHHH....I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!!!!!

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OKAY OSAKA....YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. 

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Ai and Mako gave my sisters and I the cutest little gifts. There is nothing like Japanese hospitality. 

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I told Lenny here..."funny face!!" HAHAA..oh man, she is too cute. 

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HAHAHA I love this pic of Cam. I don't even know what he was doing... but I happened to snap this pic while we were on the boat! hahahaaa makes me laugh. 

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Hunter is really growing up so fast!! Love that kid. 

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Sweet father son hugs in Dotonbori...the most famous spot in Osaka. 

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Dotonbori is really a craaaazy place!! It has a totally different vibe from Tokyo, which is why most Tokyo and Osaka people really like to differentiate themselves. It's loud, fun, wild, humorous, and lively. WOW

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While we were cruising the streets at night, I stopped when I saw this group of men standing outside this restaurant. To me, they really represent the quintessential Japanese business man lifestyle. The suits, the bags, the group mentality, the drinking parties...so Japan! 

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For dessert we stumbled upon a CREMIA bar to get the best icecream ever!! BUT...what was even more impressive was piece of paper the man was using to record his icecream sales. It was so oldschool and I absolutely loved it!

 

Our next day in OSAKA...

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This was the view from out airbnb...can you believe it!!???? This is precisely why I am in love with Japan. The tiniest little street down a random alleyway in Osaka has THIS VIEW. 

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first stop...cruising the streets to Kuromon market. The kids are all at a perfect age to be carried on the shoulders of any willing (and gracious) adult. I love this picture because it is a moment in time I want to freeze forever! Cam, Eden and Lenny all being this size...with my brothers...on a street in Osaka...ahhhhhhh **tears**

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First purchase at the market...these crazy "white strawberries" that were actually so sweet! 

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madness at the market. 

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I absolutely love this photo of Hunter. It might be one of my favorite shots of him. We were at ROUNDONE (arcade center) and he really wanted to play games. He was running around and saw this game and turned around right as I snapped this photo of him in pure 6-year-old excitement!! I love him. 

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It was really cool to spend some time with my bro D. Him and I share a love for fashion and style, so we got some creative shots while we were killing time waiting for the others. 

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This was inside our airbnb...and staying here really made me fall in love with a house with a city view. It is pretty magical. This place had floor to ceiling windows that offered views all around...amazing! 

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I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT. 

Looking back at all these photos makes me even more thankful for the time I had with my siblings and their kiddos in Japan. What a crazy blessed life we get to live!