2017 : 17

17 of my favorite photos from 2017 and the stories behind them.
(check out my fav photos from 2016)

  OBAASAN  HAMARIKYU GARDENS - CHUO, TOKYO. I took this pic at the beginning of spring, when the yellow "nanohana" were in full bloom. I went to the gardens on my day off and wandered around for a few hours. There were a lot of people there snapping their pic of the massive bloom, but I got lucky when this obaachan stepped into my frame. This pic symoolizes a lot for me...mostly the incredible enthusiasm and activeness of the elderly generation here in Japan. Everywhere you go you will see groups of Ojiisans and Obaasans (Grandpas and Grandmas) taking photos and enjoying life just like the rest of us. Maybe it's the memories I grew up making with my own grandparents that makes a photo like this all the more special. My grandpa Ryo would always take 2 or 3 photos at our holiday parties with his old film camera...and my grandpa Sumio even had an iphone and used the computer every day. I miss them. I love them. They inspire me.

OBAASAN
HAMARIKYU GARDENS - CHUO, TOKYO.
I took this pic at the beginning of spring, when the yellow "nanohana" were in full bloom. I went to the gardens on my day off and wandered around for a few hours. There were a lot of people there snapping their pic of the massive bloom, but I got lucky when this obaachan stepped into my frame. This pic symoolizes a lot for me...mostly the incredible enthusiasm and activeness of the elderly generation here in Japan. Everywhere you go you will see groups of Ojiisans and Obaasans (Grandpas and Grandmas) taking photos and enjoying life just like the rest of us. Maybe it's the memories I grew up making with my own grandparents that makes a photo like this all the more special. My grandpa Ryo would always take 2 or 3 photos at our holiday parties with his old film camera...and my grandpa Sumio even had an iphone and used the computer every day. I miss them. I love them. They inspire me.

 LIL FISHIES HANAUMA BAY - OAHU, HAWAII. The time i've spent living abroad becomes obvious when I reunite with my nieces and nephews and see how much they've grown. In May I was able to spend a week in Hawaii with my family and it was something i'll treasure forever. We all stayed at a big house with a huge wooden staircase that wrapped around to the front door. We went to Hanauma bay twice, both times at 7am, and the kiddos loved the sand and sea. This was a shot my mom conjured up and it worked out well with the adults standing out of frame holding tic tacs as motivation to walk in a straight line! haha. This is my OHANA.

LIL FISHIES
HANAUMA BAY - OAHU, HAWAII.
The time i've spent living abroad becomes obvious when I reunite with my nieces and nephews and see how much they've grown. In May I was able to spend a week in Hawaii with my family and it was something i'll treasure forever. We all stayed at a big house with a huge wooden staircase that wrapped around to the front door. We went to Hanauma bay twice, both times at 7am, and the kiddos loved the sand and sea. This was a shot my mom conjured up and it worked out well with the adults standing out of frame holding tic tacs as motivation to walk in a straight line! haha. This is my OHANA.

  NATIONS BEST  ICHIKASHI- KASHIWA, CHIBA. The high school I work at has the best brass band in the nation. Every morning when I walk into school at 7:30am, they are already hard at work. In this pic, they were performing at our school's Bunkasai (cultural festival) and I happened to peek out the 3rd floor window and snap this shot. I wish everyone could hear them perform. I aspire to have even an ounce of their dedication, dilligence and focus. 

NATIONS BEST
ICHIKASHI- KASHIWA, CHIBA.
The high school I work at has the best brass band in the nation. Every morning when I walk into school at 7:30am, they are already hard at work. In this pic, they were performing at our school's Bunkasai (cultural festival) and I happened to peek out the 3rd floor window and snap this shot. I wish everyone could hear them perform. I aspire to have even an ounce of their dedication, dilligence and focus. 

  HISTORY REPEATS  OMOTESANDO, TOKYO Snapped this shot on the corner between Omotesando and Harajuku. A man was selling hundreds of old Kimonos and tourists were eating them up. I took a closer look at these beauties and saw that most of them were clearly vintage pieces, having been worn decades ago by beautiful Japanese women...and now here they are booming back into style. The Kimono is the quintessential Japanese fashion pieces and paradoxically one that many American teenagers wear over their summer tank tops or to music festivals. It speaks a lot about the messages that get passed down through the generations and how often times the images of history repeat themselves, while the stories behind them get lost.   

HISTORY REPEATS
OMOTESANDO, TOKYO
Snapped this shot on the corner between Omotesando and Harajuku. A man was selling hundreds of old Kimonos and tourists were eating them up. I took a closer look at these beauties and saw that most of them were clearly vintage pieces, having been worn decades ago by beautiful Japanese women...and now here they are booming back into style. The Kimono is the quintessential Japanese fashion pieces and paradoxically one that many American teenagers wear over their summer tank tops or to music festivals. It speaks a lot about the messages that get passed down through the generations and how often times the images of history repeat themselves, while the stories behind them get lost. 
 

  ASIA  HARAJUKU STATION- HARAJUKU, TOKYO. This is one of my students Asia, or Ajia as he sometimes spells it. I took this photo when I led a group of about 20 kids around Tokyo for our English Club Scavenger Hunt. Asia is a cool kid with intelligence and humor far beyond his years. He rocks our school uniform (blue shirt, blue striped tie, grey pants) with ease and is always telling me detailed facts about biology, dinosaurs, physics, etc.  This pic reminds me of the incredible students I get the honor to work with...these kids who are teaching me more about life than I could ever teach them. 

ASIA
HARAJUKU STATION- HARAJUKU, TOKYO.
This is one of my students Asia, or Ajia as he sometimes spells it. I took this photo when I led a group of about 20 kids around Tokyo for our English Club Scavenger Hunt. Asia is a cool kid with intelligence and humor far beyond his years. He rocks our school uniform (blue shirt, blue striped tie, grey pants) with ease and is always telling me detailed facts about biology, dinosaurs, physics, etc.  This pic reminds me of the incredible students I get the honor to work with...these kids who are teaching me more about life than I could ever teach them. 

  MAMA MONKEY  JIGOKUDANI, NAGANO An iconic place to visit is this monkey onsen in Nagano. I'm sure most of us have seen photos of it in national geographic or some travel website. Seeing it in person was a treat. Growing up in CA, I never got used to the snow, so throw some monkeys bathing in a bath into that frame and I was just in awe the whole time. It's almost as if the monkeys are Japanese themselves, adopting this lifestyle of public bathing with friends and family...haha. 

MAMA MONKEY
JIGOKUDANI, NAGANO
An iconic place to visit is this monkey onsen in Nagano. I'm sure most of us have seen photos of it in national geographic or some travel website. Seeing it in person was a treat. Growing up in CA, I never got used to the snow, so throw some monkeys bathing in a bath into that frame and I was just in awe the whole time. It's almost as if the monkeys are Japanese themselves, adopting this lifestyle of public bathing with friends and family...haha. 

  OLD MAN AND THE SEA  ENOSHIMA- ENOSHIMA, KANAGAWA. I went to Enoshima with my two good friends, Steph and Ayaka, and as soon as my eyes met the ocean I felt at home. I love the water. Always have, always will. We were walking to the main shrine and I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this man. He was sitting there, the most peaceful I have ever seen anyone, and he was simply gazing out into the sea. I imagined he was a fisherman in his youth, or grew up on the coast of Japan, so his memories are soaked in salt water and sea breeze. This is one of those pics that will forever be my favorite...the timing, the framing, the colors...nothing in which I did on my own...everything which was meant to be. 

OLD MAN AND THE SEA
ENOSHIMA- ENOSHIMA, KANAGAWA.
I went to Enoshima with my two good friends, Steph and Ayaka, and as soon as my eyes met the ocean I felt at home. I love the water. Always have, always will. We were walking to the main shrine and I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this man. He was sitting there, the most peaceful I have ever seen anyone, and he was simply gazing out into the sea. I imagined he was a fisherman in his youth, or grew up on the coast of Japan, so his memories are soaked in salt water and sea breeze. This is one of those pics that will forever be my favorite...the timing, the framing, the colors...nothing in which I did on my own...everything which was meant to be. 

  OFIE RAINBOW  HOME- TORRANCE, CA. I was home in August for a few days and spent as much of it as I could with my nieces and nephews. I had just woken Eden up from her nap, with the help of Hunter. As we were walking down the stairs, Eden stopped and stared at the wall. I wondered what she was doing, until I saw a tiny rainbow shining there. She sat down and the rainbow fell on her shirt...her eyes widened with amazement at where it was coming from (the glass on our front door) and she kept trying to grab it. She even lifted up her shirt in attempt to find the sources of the color...and I was lucky enough to freeze that moment in a frame. Little Eden Ophelia, or as I call her - "Ofie", showed me the beauty of childlike innocence and curiosity. 

OFIE RAINBOW
HOME- TORRANCE, CA.
I was home in August for a few days and spent as much of it as I could with my nieces and nephews. I had just woken Eden up from her nap, with the help of Hunter. As we were walking down the stairs, Eden stopped and stared at the wall. I wondered what she was doing, until I saw a tiny rainbow shining there. She sat down and the rainbow fell on her shirt...her eyes widened with amazement at where it was coming from (the glass on our front door) and she kept trying to grab it. She even lifted up her shirt in attempt to find the sources of the color...and I was lucky enough to freeze that moment in a frame. Little Eden Ophelia, or as I call her - "Ofie", showed me the beauty of childlike innocence and curiosity. 

  KOCHO SENSEI  ICHIKASHI- KASHIWA, CHIBA. The principal at my school is a tall, jolly fellow. He sits on the train for an hour every morning and tells me he listens to English radio to help him improve his speaking skills. Here he is at our schools Taiikusai, Sports Festival, giving the opening greetings. There is a proper way to do just about everything here in Japan...and we couldn't start our full day of sporting events without an encouraging word from our Kocho sensei. 

KOCHO SENSEI
ICHIKASHI- KASHIWA, CHIBA.
The principal at my school is a tall, jolly fellow. He sits on the train for an hour every morning and tells me he listens to English radio to help him improve his speaking skills. Here he is at our schools Taiikusai, Sports Festival, giving the opening greetings. There is a proper way to do just about everything here in Japan...and we couldn't start our full day of sporting events without an encouraging word from our Kocho sensei. 

  DREAMLAND  MAIDREAMIN- AKIHABARA, TOKYO. If I was ever given the chance to write an article for the Japan Times, I would choose this photo as the cover. The moment the shutter went off, I knew I would like this pic. This is my coworker, the head of the International department, who has helped me with so many things at school. He is often times the most serious out of everyone in the office, so detailed, hardworking, and a true perfectionist.  A group of 10 of us went to the maid cafe in Akiba and he was laughing out of embarrassment and entertainment the entire time. That spoke something to me, that what often times is given off on the exterior... is just a fraction of a person. There's so much more behind the scenes, so much joy wanting to come out, and this pic reminds me of that. 

DREAMLAND
MAIDREAMIN- AKIHABARA, TOKYO.
If I was ever given the chance to write an article for the Japan Times, I would choose this photo as the cover. The moment the shutter went off, I knew I would like this pic. This is my coworker, the head of the International department, who has helped me with so many things at school. He is often times the most serious out of everyone in the office, so detailed, hardworking, and a true perfectionist.  A group of 10 of us went to the maid cafe in Akiba and he was laughing out of embarrassment and entertainment the entire time. That spoke something to me, that what often times is given off on the exterior... is just a fraction of a person. There's so much more behind the scenes, so much joy wanting to come out, and this pic reminds me of that. 

  SAKURA BABY  MEGURO RIVER - NAKAMEGURO, TOKYO. Nakameguro, the first week of April, is the most magical place. It's hard to describe. You just have to come see it. I went on the most crowded day of the year when the sakura trees were in full bloom and I squeezed in along packs of people all aiming to get the same pic. So I took a step back, to the other side of the road, and noticed this tiny cute kid sticking out amongst the crowd. His chubby cheeks turned in my direction and I got this photo. I love it. This place, during this season, will always carry a sense of magic unlike anywhere else. 

SAKURA BABY
MEGURO RIVER - NAKAMEGURO, TOKYO.
Nakameguro, the first week of April, is the most magical place. It's hard to describe. You just have to come see it. I went on the most crowded day of the year when the sakura trees were in full bloom and I squeezed in along packs of people all aiming to get the same pic. So I took a step back, to the other side of the road, and noticed this tiny cute kid sticking out amongst the crowd. His chubby cheeks turned in my direction and I got this photo. I love it. This place, during this season, will always carry a sense of magic unlike anywhere else. 

  CLOUD HILL  HITACHI SEASIDE PARK, IBARAKI The nemophelia bloom at Hitachi seaside park might be one of the most insane things I have ever seen. The color of blue is just unbelievable. There was this one hill where a bunch of people were gathered to take a pic of the sea of blue below and as I was rushing up there to see what their view was...I realized that they made a good photo themselves. It looked like the blue hill was lifting them up to the clouds...and it turned out to be one of my favorite photos of the day. 

CLOUD HILL
HITACHI SEASIDE PARK, IBARAKI
The nemophelia bloom at Hitachi seaside park might be one of the most insane things I have ever seen. The color of blue is just unbelievable. There was this one hill where a bunch of people were gathered to take a pic of the sea of blue below and as I was rushing up there to see what their view was...I realized that they made a good photo themselves. It looked like the blue hill was lifting them up to the clouds...and it turned out to be one of my favorite photos of the day. 

  HOMEROOM  ICHIKASHI - KASHIWA, TOKYO. Every year, for the school festival, students are in charge of designing their class t-shirt. This class chose to draw a picture of their homeroom teacher and blow it up huge on the back of their pink T's. When I first saw it...I could not stop laughing. The picture looks exactly like their homeroom teacher HAHA!! Incredible. Here in Japan, homeroom teachers are more like parent's than anything. They walk the kids through all three years of high school and help them through emotional problems, financial crisis, job application, and college entrance exams. I thought it was so cute that they made an ode to their father figure, their homeroom teacher. 

HOMEROOM
ICHIKASHI - KASHIWA, TOKYO.
Every year, for the school festival, students are in charge of designing their class t-shirt. This class chose to draw a picture of their homeroom teacher and blow it up huge on the back of their pink T's. When I first saw it...I could not stop laughing. The picture looks exactly like their homeroom teacher HAHA!! Incredible. Here in Japan, homeroom teachers are more like parent's than anything. They walk the kids through all three years of high school and help them through emotional problems, financial crisis, job application, and college entrance exams. I thought it was so cute that they made an ode to their father figure, their homeroom teacher. 

  FOREST OF COLOR  NATIONAL ART CENTER - ROPPONGI, TOKYO. What Tokyo has given me is a chance to experience art and culture in a way I never could have in the states. Museums and exhibits are so accessible here...and there is something going on every single weekend. On this day, I went to the National Art Center (one of the coolest buildings in Tokyo) to check out this paper exhibit...WOW. Mind blown. I couldn't believe the colors. The precision in how they were displayed and the time it must have took to set this up was really inspiring. I am grateful to this city for all it teaches me!

FOREST OF COLOR
NATIONAL ART CENTER - ROPPONGI, TOKYO.
What Tokyo has given me is a chance to experience art and culture in a way I never could have in the states. Museums and exhibits are so accessible here...and there is something going on every single weekend. On this day, I went to the National Art Center (one of the coolest buildings in Tokyo) to check out this paper exhibit...WOW. Mind blown. I couldn't believe the colors. The precision in how they were displayed and the time it must have took to set this up was really inspiring. I am grateful to this city for all it teaches me!

  PINK CARPET  CHICHIBU, SAITAMA To add to the list of incredible flowers to see in Japan: the shibazakura flowers in Chichibu! These flowers are grown in patterns that form a swirly, beautiful, carpet-like design. I went with my good friend Mina and her mom to meet up with Mina's friend Haruka and her mom as well. Haruka's family is from Chichibu so they really shared with us the hometown experience...which was the best part! I am thankful for the friends here and the memories i've been able to make with them. 

PINK CARPET
CHICHIBU, SAITAMA
To add to the list of incredible flowers to see in Japan: the shibazakura flowers in Chichibu! These flowers are grown in patterns that form a swirly, beautiful, carpet-like design. I went with my good friend Mina and her mom to meet up with Mina's friend Haruka and her mom as well. Haruka's family is from Chichibu so they really shared with us the hometown experience...which was the best part! I am thankful for the friends here and the memories i've been able to make with them. 

  LANIKAI D  PILLBOX HIKE, LANIKAI, OAHU On our first day in Hawaii, my brother, cousins and I decided to go on a sunrise hike in Lanikai. The pillboxes are super popular, so the best time to go and beat the crowds is bright and early. My bro and cousins are super athletic so I was panting trying to keep up with them haha...so we reached the top quickly and got to take in this view...dang. The best part was being up there with them. I've always been so lucky to have siblings and cousins that are not only family, but my friends as well. 

LANIKAI D
PILLBOX HIKE, LANIKAI, OAHU
On our first day in Hawaii, my brother, cousins and I decided to go on a sunrise hike in Lanikai. The pillboxes are super popular, so the best time to go and beat the crowds is bright and early. My bro and cousins are super athletic so I was panting trying to keep up with them haha...so we reached the top quickly and got to take in this view...dang. The best part was being up there with them. I've always been so lucky to have siblings and cousins that are not only family, but my friends as well. 

  CRYING CASTLE  ODAWARA CASTLE, KANAGAWA Earlier this year, my good friend Kelcie came to Japan with her friend Shimmy (who is now my friend!) and we went on an adventure. The night before we went we literally pulled out our laptops and googled a place to visit. Within 20 minutes we decided on odawara and booked our airbnb right then. It was the type of spontaneity I love! We had a blast touring a new place and staying at a cute hostel. We went to Odawara castle in the pouring rain which felt like a bummer, but then I looked through my umbrella and realized the castle looked amazing in the rain. After looking at this photo...it might be one of my favorite photos I have ever taken. 

CRYING CASTLE
ODAWARA CASTLE, KANAGAWA
Earlier this year, my good friend Kelcie came to Japan with her friend Shimmy (who is now my friend!) and we went on an adventure. The night before we went we literally pulled out our laptops and googled a place to visit. Within 20 minutes we decided on odawara and booked our airbnb right then. It was the type of spontaneity I love! We had a blast touring a new place and staying at a cute hostel. We went to Odawara castle in the pouring rain which felt like a bummer, but then I looked through my umbrella and realized the castle looked amazing in the rain. After looking at this photo...it might be one of my favorite photos I have ever taken. 

 

2017..what a year of  flower fields, family time, old friends, new friends, museums, city street, school moments...and memories I will treasure forever. This year was epic...on to the next!!!