Our last Tuesday in Japan…

So, I have definitely made this place out to be an ideal living situation in a lot of ways, and shown a ton of its beauty and elegance. But now, I want to show some of the hilariousness that ensues when the people try to translate Japanese to English. But they DO try though! And that’s what counts, right?

 

Hilarious Japan… in English

 

Rappers. I think they meant “wrappers”? I hope?

Rappers. I think they meant “wrappers”? I hope?

(Blurry, sorry) How about a “plane” doughnut? Anyone?

(Blurry, sorry) How about a “plane” doughnut? Anyone?

Oh man, you had it right the first time!

Oh man, you had it right the first time!

“A drainer and a Kitchen.” Someone please tell me what they’re trying to say.

“A drainer and a Kitchen.” Someone please tell me what they’re trying to say.

This was taken at a local park while I was teaching one day, and my student felt the need to correct it. Good English lesson practice, though! He should just translate for them all the time.

This was taken at a local park while I was teaching one day, and my student felt the need to correct it. Good English lesson practice, though! He should just translate for them all the time.

They don't have articles (a, an, the) so give them a break! I mean “an break.”

They don’t have articles (a, an, the) so give them a break! I mean “an break.”

This has nothing to do with bad English but WTH!!

This has nothing to do with bad English but WTH!!

This is on the menu at our favorite ramen shop in Yokosuka. The “fride” chicken is great…

This is on the menu at our favorite ramen shop in Yokosuka. The “fride” chicken is great…

What. Just what. WHAT does any of this mean?!

What. Just what. WHAT does any of this mean?!

(from my friend Lydia- hilarious!)

(from my friend Lydia- hilarious!)

(from my friend Lydia- hilarious!)

(from my friend Lydia- hilarious!)

(from my friend Lydia- hilarious!)

(from my friend Lydia- hilarious!)

 

Its never a dull moment, I’m telling ya. I wish I had documented all of them, hilarious!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our last Monday in Japan…

Well, today is the pack out. It feels much more real now. So, in order to lighten the mood, I want to talk about my deepest emotionally connected aspect of Japan that I will miss…

 VENDING MACHINES.

Yes. I’m serious. These things should be the 8th wonder of the world. Let me just show you a couple pictures and list what they have:
(if you ever can’t see the pictures well, just click on them to enlarge. this blog isn’t designed for large pictures so much.)

This first picture is one of the more “minimal” machines, not as many options here. Yet- you still have sports drinks, 6 types of tea (some with fruit, some green, some wheat), plain coffee (in a can, mind you-and the cans are twice as thick, they can afford it because they recycle EVERYTHING), sweet coffee, café au lait, fruit juice… and one type of soda. Just one. Its not important, there are so many better things out there (for both our bodies and our taste buds) and they showcase that in their vending machines.

This first picture is one of the more “minimal” machines, not as many options here. Yet- you still have sports drinks, 6 types of tea (some with fruit, some green, some wheat), plain coffee (in a can, mind you-and the cans are twice as thick, they can afford it because they recycle EVERYTHING), sweet coffee, café au lait, fruit juice… and one type of soda. Just one. Its not important, there are so many better things out there (for both our bodies and our taste buds) and they showcase that in their vending machines.

*drum roll….. * Check it OUT! This one looks like a TV or something weird from Back to the Future right? Well, you’re half right because it is a TOUCH SCREEN VENDING MACHINE! I really hope everyone else is as excited as I am about these things. They’re from heaven. One more little thing… See the blue bars and red bars underneath the drink options? Yea. Blue=cold, red=hot. I kid you not. The vending machines give you cold or HOT drinks, anytime, anyplace. Oh my goodness.

*drum roll….. * Check it OUT! This one looks like a TV or something weird from Back to the Future right? Well, you’re half right because it is a TOUCH SCREEN VENDING MACHINE! I really hope everyone else is as excited as I am about these things. They’re from heaven. One more little thing… See the blue bars and red bars underneath the drink options? Yea. Blue=cold, red=hot. I kid you not. The vending machines give you cold or HOT drinks, anytime, anyplace. Oh my goodness.

Here’s my favorite- Emerald Mountain Blend. Mmmmm like a latte in a can, hot and ready for you to drink it. Did I mention vending machines are literally everywhere you go? Every train station has a few (every town in Japan with a couple exceptions is accessible by train-Japan is the size of the state of CA), the airports are swarming with them, every store, every street has multiple machines… anyway, to save time and breath just know that you are never out of sight of one of these bad boys.

Here’s my favorite- Emerald Mountain Blend. Mmmmm like a latte in a can, hot and ready for you to drink it. Did I mention vending machines are literally everywhere you go? Every train station has a few (every town in Japan with a couple exceptions is accessible by train-Japan is the size of the state of CA), the airports are swarming with them, every store, every street has multiple machines… anyway, to save time and breath just know that you are never out of sight of one of these bad boys.

Here’s an example of a weird one in Okinawa… it had stuffed animals inside to make it look cute, and it looks like it had a mystery drink? Who knows!

Here’s an example of a weird one in Okinawa… it had stuffed animals inside to make it look cute, and it looks like it had a mystery drink? Who knows!

That’s right, liquor and beer from the public vending machine! I don’t know how this is legal because they do ID check (or at least “age” check and make you press a button saying I’m 20) at stores, so this is just hilarious. Just a free for all I guess haha.

That’s right, liquor and beer from the public vending machine! I don’t know how this is legal because they do ID check (or at least “age” check and make you press a button saying I’m 20) at stores, so this is just hilarious. Just a free for all I guess haha.

Another touch screen!!! Looks like a big new TV right?

Another touch screen!!! Looks like a big new TV right?

Oh these beauties… that doesn’t even count the combini (コンビニ, convenience stores) that have everything you could ever need, on every street corner. Here’s a pic to show you (I didn’t take this one, though; if I'm able to today I'll get on and change it)

Oh these beauties… that doesn’t even count the combini (コンビニ, convenience stores) that have everything you could ever need, on every street corner. Here’s a pic to show you (I didn’t take this one, though; if I’m able to today I’ll get on and change it)

 

Needless to say, Japan is all about convenience but in a totally different way than us in the States. They use convenience to get what you need, not what you want. Never in excess, only a small enough can of coffee or serving of rice to fill you, not overfill you. I will surely miss it.

 

 

Our last Sunday in Japan…

During our last Sunday in Japan,  I wanted to tell everyone how much I will miss

 

Japan’s Sights

 

I’m not saying Japan has all of the best sights in the world, but it does have some! The variety here is incredible, both with natural beauty and man-made. This is one post where the pictures can speak much louder than my words.

Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto. A gold leaf plated temple built in 1397 and rebuilt in 1955 after a fire.  Each of the 3 floors was built with a different architectural design to pay homage to different points in history (Shinden, Samurai, and Zen).  The garden is specifically laid out to make the temple seem as magnificent as possible. And it WAS.

Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto. A gold leaf plated temple built in 1397 and rebuilt in 1955 after a fire. Each of the 3 floors was built with a different architectural design to pay homage to different points in history (Shinden, Samurai, and Zen). The garden is specifically laid out to make the temple seem as magnificent as possible. And it WAS.

Sapporo Snow Festival, Hokkaido. An entire street was laid out with the most elaborate snow sculptures found anywhere. This was one of the biggest, just incredible to see that much snow made into what looks like a real building!

Sapporo Snow Festival, Hokkaido. An entire street was laid out with the most elaborate snow sculptures found anywhere. This was one of the biggest; just incredible to see that much snow made into what looks like a real building!

Tokyo, a city of over 13 million people, all packed in as tightly as possible. It really is a sight to see from Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree (the world's tallest tower).

Tokyo, a city of over 13 million people, all packed in as tightly as possible. It really is a sight to see from Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree (the world’s tallest tower).

Another picture from Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari gates. This city is known for its hundreds of temples, shrines, and gates; and this was one of the most awe-inspiring places.; founded in 711 (no, I didn't miss a digit, its really as old as 711). Just hundreds of gates lined up leading to the large temple at the end. The purpose of the gates in the Shinto religion is to designate a sacred space leading to the temple at the end of the path. Each of these gates has been donated by a Japanese business to gain good fortune.

Another picture from Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari gates. This city is known for its hundreds of temples, shrines, and gates; and this was one of the most awe-inspiring places.; founded in 711 (no, I didn’t miss a digit, its really as old as 711). Just hundreds of gates lined up leading to the large temple at the end. The purpose of the gates in the Shinto religion is to designate a sacred space leading to the temple at the end of the path. Each of these gates has been donated by a Japanese business to gain good fortune.

This may seem like any ordinary firework display at first glance, but its actually an UNDERWATER fireworks (or “hanabi” はなび )show in Kamakura! They spend about ¥50,000,000 or $500,000 each year on this display where they shoot off the fireworks from boats speeding by and dropping them in the water. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Well, me, my friend Amanda, and about 300,000 other people sitting on the beach.

This may seem like any ordinary firework display at first glance, but its actually an UNDERWATER fireworks (or “hanabi” はなび )show in Kamakura! They spend about ¥50,000,000 or $500,000 each year on this display where they shoot off the fireworks from boats speeding by and dropping them in the water. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Well, me, my friend Amanda, and about 300,000 other people sitting on the beach.

Can’t forget about the Sumo tournament held in Tokyo. Its an incredible arena with so much tradition put into the games. (Notice the bottom few rows are “box seats” with only a square pad for you to sit on, “Japanese Styyyyle”)

Can’t forget about the Sumo tournament held in Tokyo. Its an incredible arena with so much tradition put into the games. (Notice the bottom few rows are “box seats” with only a square pad for you to sit on, “Japanese Styyyyle”)

Chinatown, Yokohama. It's Japan’s largest Chinatown (think about that for a second haha! Before I moved here I didn’t know the difference between the two countries at all). The structures here are so intricately designed. Not to mention there’s delicious food and fun souvenir shopping everywhere you turn. Super fun place.

Chinatown, Yokohama. It’s Japan’s largest Chinatown (think about that for a second haha! Before I moved here I didn’t know the difference between the two countries at all). The structures here are so intricately designed. Not to mention there’s delicious food and fun souvenir shopping everywhere you turn. Super fun place.

So this one I couldn’t find a good picture of (the website is here), being a hot spring and all, you can’t really take good pictures while you’re in the water all day. This is Yunnesun hot springs in Hakone, the hot spring (“onsen” おんせんor温泉) capital of Japan. Here we bathed in green tea, red wine, coffee, charcoal water, sake, orange peel water, and then water freshly pouring out of the rocks beneath us. It was incredible, you have to see it to believe it.

So this one I couldn’t find a good picture of (the website is here), being a hot spring and all, you can’t really take good pictures while you’re in the water all day. This is Yunnesun hot springs in Hakone, the hot spring (“onsen” おんせんor温泉) capital of Japan. Here we bathed in green tea, red wine, coffee, charcoal water, sake, orange peel water, and then water freshly pouring out of the rocks beneath us. It was incredible, you have to see it to believe it.

Ok, again with Kyoto.  Just LOOK at this! Its an overview of the city. Nestled in between the mountains they somehow manage to squeeze 1.5 million people in this small area. Just looking at how everything works together so well, I’m astonished. Not an inch of space is ever wasted, and yet while living in such close quarters (like in this picture) they still manage to keep a low crime rate and be ranked as the #1 safest country in the world to live (the U.S. is #88).

Ok, again with Kyoto. Just LOOK at this! Its an overview of the city. Nestled in between the mountains they somehow manage to squeeze 1.5 million people in this small area. Just looking at how everything works together so well, I’m astonished. Not an inch of space is ever wasted, and yet while living in such close quarters (like in this picture) they still manage to keep a low crime rate and be ranked as the #1 safest country in the world to live (the U.S. is #88).

Otaru, Hokkaido. You may not see much in this picture, but this town was one of the most beautiful and quaint I’ve ever visited here. It has a European feel to it because most of the buildings were built when trade with other countries became big in the local port. The snow was 10ft deep in some places, the food was delicious and always hot, the seafood was fresh out of the clean water, and talk about amazing desserts… don’t even get me started.

Otaru, Hokkaido. You may not see much in this picture, but this town was one of the most beautiful and quaint I’ve ever visited here. It has a European feel to it because most of the buildings were built when trade with other countries became big in the local port. The snow was 10ft deep in some places, the food was delicious and always hot, the seafood was fresh out of the clean water, and talk about amazing desserts… don’t even get me started.

One more in Tokyo… this is the famous crosswalk in Shibuya. Movies like Resident Evil, Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift, and the “Panic Station” music video by Muse (just to name a few) were all filmed and take place here. It is just about as thrilling as a roller coaster ride to see thousands of people all cross the world’s largest crosswalk at the same time. Every 5 minutes.

One more in Tokyo… this is the famous crosswalk in Shibuya. Movies like Resident Evil, Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift, and the “Panic Station” music video by Muse (just to name a few) were all filmed and take place here. It is just about as thrilling as a roller coaster ride to see thousands of people all cross the world’s largest crosswalk at the same time. Every 5 minutes.

Finally, the famous Cherry Blossoms, or sakura (さくら). This was taken at Odawara castle, a great place to see them, but really anywhere is great. This time of year they bloom out across Japan making an incredible sight and reminder of Japan's natural beauty.

Finally, the famous Cherry Blossoms, or sakura (さくら). This was taken at Odawara castle, a great place to see them, but really anywhere is great. This time of year they bloom out across Japan making an incredible sight and reminder of Japan’s natural beauty.

 

The list could go on and on and on…but these were some of our favorite places to see. I would definitely go back to all of them if given the chance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our last Saturday in Japan…

(I am a day late! Bear with me, I’ll do 2 posts today 🙂

On our last Saturday in Japan, I wanted to express how much I will miss

Japanese Presentation

Some of these things I’m writing about do exist in other countries, but really, Japan takes the cake on this one. Their care for detail in presentation is incredible. I have yet to eat a fast food burger or an expensive sit down meal that was not immaculately beautiful. The neat thing is, it doesn’t matter the person’s position or job title, in Japan they will always make sure to give you the best quality and presentation possible.

For example, one time a lady was handing me a soy sauce packet (they don’t ketchup with everything, its always soy sauce) for my to-go bag, and I accidentally dropped it on the floor. Instead of letting me pick it up and take it (I mean the sauce isn’t dirty, just the plastic!), she quickly grabbed it and handed me a fresh one. That may not be an example of presentation, but it definitely shows how much care they put into the details.

Because you just have to see it for yourself, here are a few examples that I documented (and I mean a very few, this is less than half that you see every day here).

Fake Food.

Ok. First before you even get to the real food, you have to understand Japan’s sampuru (サンプル), or “sample” food. Outside every restaurant there is perfectly constructed, VERY realistic, fake food on display. This is to show you exactly what to expect on your plate, and let me tell you, the plate always looks as good as the sampuru. Its hard to tell the difference sometimes, take a look:

This was one of the most beautiful ones. I mean, who would take that much time and effort on fake food!

This was one of the most beautiful ones. I mean, who would take that much time and effort on fake food!

Here's a really big display. It's a whole restaurants worth... every dish on the menu you can see here.

Here’s a really big display. It’s a whole restaurants worth… every dish on the menu you can see here.

This is a cute one either Mom or Granny J took a picture of. The display case is even decorated for the time of year.

This is a cute one either Mom or Granny J took a picture of. The display case is even decorated for the time of year.

Real Food.

Now, check out the real food examples (again, these are just very few that I happened to find in my photo album)

Oh coffee. You're so beautiful.

Oh coffee. You’re so beautiful.

Crab Pilaf. This, believe it or not, was at the Red Lobster, only about 900¥ or 9$. Looks like more right? ;)

Crab Pilaf. This, believe it or not, was at the Red Lobster, only about 900¥ or 9$. Looks like more right? 😉

SUSHI!!! This is found at any local grocery store, just as beautiful in each place. I don't even like all of those kinds, but this display makes me want to eat them.

SUSHI!!! This is found at any local grocery store, just as beautiful in each place. I don’t even like all of those kinds, but this display makes me want to eat them.

*angelic voices* This is the beer tower at the International Beer Museum and Restaurant near Tokyo Skytree. Super cool! They were real too haha.

*angelic voices* This is the beer tower at the International Beer Museum and Restaurant near Tokyo Skytree. Super cool! They were real too haha.

Everything else. (Literally, everything.)

Finally… I will just miss the beautiful presentation everywhere. Like,

Beautiful traditional lantern display, was almost surreal.

Beautiful traditional lantern display, was almost surreal.

Not sure if you can tell what this is, but its a claw machine that grabs perfectly crafted (real) desserts. A claw machine cafe, that looks like a museum display or something.

Not sure if you can tell what this is, but its a claw machine that grabs perfectly crafted (real) desserts. A claw machine cafe, that looks like a museum display or something.

I can’t even fathom all the effort that goes into their presentation daily. It truly does make a difference, though. Imagine if it didn’t exist, or their food was served half-heartedly? I think everyone has a lot to learn from them in this area, I know I do. If I would have put this much attention to detail and presentation into my work at any of my past customer service jobs, my tips would have been better and the customers would have been nicer. Just wanted to take some time out to truly appreciate their effort in this. I hope in the future I will remember these tiny detailed food displays and think, “you know, I could do better. I will do better.”

 

Our last Friday in Japan…

Can’t believe this is our last Friday here! UGH so sad!!!

Today, the thing I will miss most is

Japanese Hospitality

Listen. I’m from the South (the south part of the US), so I know alllll about Southern Hospitality. My granny would literally not let you leave her house unless you were STUFFED, even if it was the last bit of food she had prepared. In my experience though, going to someone’s house was the ultimate way to be shown hospitality; I mean, how else are you supposed to do it? Well, little did I know, the Japanese somehow have found a way to include hospitality into their everyday interactions. With everyone.

One of my closest friends here had a wonderful experience with Japanese Hospitality in an extreme way. She was out for an early morning run (as she does every day and I’m jealous of her ability to do so, every day), and came down with a terrible stomach ache. She could hardly walk. Little did she know, a older Japanese lady in her neighborhood saw her struggling and called out to her to come to her house. So, my friend walks over and the lady takes her into her home, lets her use her bathroom, and meanwhile makes a cot for her on the floor with hot tea, water, and a cool rag for her head. My friend had never even seen her before, but because the lady saw her struggling she went out of her way in the most extreme ways. (In return, its customary for the helped person to return the favor with a gift delivered to the helpers house…yet again hospitality.)

As for me, during my last week here, I have been given multiple goodbye (sayonara) gifts including Hello Kitty souvenirs, delicious chocolates, a kimono patterned picture frame, a beautiful picture of Mt. Fuji for our new home, and chopsticks made out of 300 year old wood from the nation’s previous capital. Noooone of this is at all necessary, but still means so much to me each time. Here are some pictures of other examples of hospitality I’ve experienced and will miss:

 

Origami cranes. These were found on our bed in a hotel Kristen and I stayed at in Tokyo. (Along with house robes, bedroom slippers, tea/instant coffee with a hot water pot, and cant forget the toothbrush/toothpaste/razors/shampoo/lotions in bathroom for free...in a low budget hotel. would love to see the higher budget ones.)

Origami cranes. These were found on our bed in a hotel Kristen and I stayed at in Tokyo. (Along with house robes, bedroom slippers, tea/instant coffee with a hot water pot, and cant forget the toothbrush/toothpaste/razors/shampoo/lotions in bathroom for free…in a low budget hotel. would love to see the higher budget ones.)

 

The "lunch box" made by my friend Amanda's neighbor (who I'd never met before) when they invited us to watch the fireworks with them on the beach in a spot they had reserved. The best. lunch box. EVER. (Included corn on the cob, soy beans, 2 kinds of rice balls, 2 kinds of grilled chicken, pickled veggies, and grilled squid)

The “lunch box” made by my friend Amanda’s neighbor (who I’d never met before) when they invited us to watch the fireworks with them on the beach in a spot they had reserved. The best. lunch box. EVER. (Included corn on the cob, soy beans, 2 kinds of rice balls, 2 kinds of grilled chicken, pickled veggies, and grilled squid)

Since you get a free drink at Starbucks in the States on your bday, I thought I would ask if they did that here. Well, found out they don't, but just because they heard it was my birthday they wrote me these messages and gave me this cake for FREE! They don't know me! (If you saw how many people go through a Starbucks here in one day, you would be shocked at how personable they still manage to be.)

Since you get a free drink at Starbucks in the States on your bday, I thought I would ask if they did that here. Well, found out they don’t, but just because they heard it was my birthday they wrote me these messages and gave me this cake for FREE! They don’t know me! (If you saw how many people go through a Starbucks here in one day, you would be shocked at how personable they still manage to be.)

These are just a very few of the examples I could find rummaging through my 3,000 pictures I took on my phone in the past couple of years. I truly hope and plan to continue this kind of kindness and generosity to others even when I leave. It really is incredible how much a non-religious population can model the nature of my God who I hope to be more like after living in this place. Now I’m gonna head to bed after my delicious soba dinner (paid for by a student) and my lunch earlier (paid for by a different student) with a happy heart and heavy eyes. ❤

 

 

Our last Thursday in Japan…

Sigh.

Well. In case you didn’t know, this is our last Thursday in Japan. We leave next Thursday to head back to the good ol’ US of A, and I don’t know if I could be any more sad, yet excited to see my loved ones at the same time.

When I first arrived in Japan (thanks to the Navy sending my husband where he was needed, not where he chose- for those of you who didn’t know), my last thought was that I would miss this place like it was my lifetime home. Honestly, I don’t even really know what my thoughts were other than “YES I finally get to see my husband!” What started as our only option for us to be together turned into my home, in more ways than one.

So, in honor of remembering all of my wonderful, happy, overwhelming, and precious times in Japan, I decided to write one aspect of this country that I will miss dearly, every day for the next 7 days. I could’ve made it a month, or heck even a year, but I will try to narrow it down to a week’s worth. So, here goes.

THE FOOD.

Thought I’d start with something not so emotional, even though this one gets me too! Thankfully I kept some delicious recipes, even though I can never imitate the real thing (neither can our “Japanese” restaurants in the states, just for the record.)

This first one. Just look at it. Even if you don’t know what it is you still know you want it cause its so beautiful.

IMG_8562

Just wow. So as delicious as that meal was… it can’t beat my favorite:
Ramen.

IMG_8538

My other favorite? Yakiniku, otherwise known as Korean BBQ.

An adventure with Kristen in Shinjuku

An adventure with Kristen in Shinjuku

This one is unique to Japan- Okonomiyaki. (say that 5 times fast)

A combination of grilled egg, ham/pork, cabbage, noodles, dried fish and onions, and can't forget the special sauce!

A combination of grilled egg, ham/pork, cabbage, noodles, dried fish and onions, and can’t forget the special sauce!

My husband’s personal favorite- SUSHI!

IMGP5354

“Sushi-go-round” or “conveyor belt sushi.” Exactly as the name suggests.

Japan also has some of the best Chinese food around. Maaaybe even better than China, but don’t tell them I said that.

Sweet chili shrimp with steamed chinese buns and rice. with some kind of soup, who knows...

Sweet chili shrimp with steamed chinese buns and rice. with some kind of soup, who knows…

Themed Food

I haven’t had as much experience with this as some people, but I’ve enjoyed some at least. Themed food is becoming almost tradition in Tokyo…Check out some of the weirdest I had:

This. is. French Fries. In a bedpan. (At Alcatraz E.R. with Beka and RJ)

This. is. French Fries. In a bedpan. (At Alcatraz E.R. with Beka and RJ)

Syringe medical drink at The Lock Up

Syringe medical drink at The Lock Up

For sake of saving space and your time, I’ll move on to the next…

Drinks.

Talk about diversity!

COOLEST FIRST! That's right, we drank HOT liquor...at an ICE BAR. Coolest and coldest night ever.

COOLEST FIRST! That’s right, we drank HOT liquor…at an ICE BAR. Coolest and coldest night ever.

Ume (plum) liquor, in a juice box! Oh yea.

Ume (plum) liquor, in a juice box! Oh yea.

Green tea in Kyoto, with real gold flakes!

Green tea in Kyoto, with real gold flakes!

Starbucks specials are always the best. This one is the most popular- Sakura latte! Only found in early spring, (and my tummy cause its delicious.)

Starbucks specials are always the best. This one is the most popular- Sakura latte! Only found in early spring, (and my tummy cause its delicious.)

I could go on and on with those. But I’ll digress and move onto

SWEETS!

They just don’t get any better. Here, nothings too sweet or too bitter… always juuuust right. Like

CREPES! Oh my goodness gracious. Has to be my FAVORITE sweet thing here.

CREPES! Oh my goodness gracious. Has to be my FAVORITE sweet thing here.

Themed donuts! Halloweeeeeen

Themed donuts! Halloweeeeeen

Chocolate. Covered. Potato chips. Need I say more?

Chocolate. Covered. Potato chips. Need I say more?

GREEN TEA GREEN TEA GREEN TEAAAAA

GREEN TEA GREEN TEA GREEN TEAAAAA

And finally, my most prized collection.... Kit kats.

And finally, my most prized collection…. KitKats.

So far I’ve had 21 flavors of KitKats, and counting!

Maybe I shouldn’t have started with this category, theres just so many! I narrowed it down from a lot, but I hope this gives you a taste of Japan and me a taste of home when I’m missing this great country. ❤

What it means to be “The Biggest Loser”

I’m laying in bed right now, supposed to be drifting off to sleep like my sweet husband, but I can’t get the latest episode of the Biggest Loser out of my head (if you haven’t seen it I suggest you turn back now). Apparently everyone is ranting and criticizing the show after this episode, but I wanted to share my thoughts and serious opinion. I realize no one asked me for my opinion, thus the blog post rather than a Facebook status. So here goes:

The Biggest Loser has changed my life. Period. No, I wasn’t obese and lost 150lbs. No I don’t currently have a personal trainer (or really even work out as much as I should). But I can honestly say that Jillian, Dolvett, and Bob truly inspire me every single week to be HEALTHY- physically, mentally, emotionally, and ultimately spiritually. As do the contestants! They reach new goals and see potential in themselves they never even dreamed of. It’s just amazing!! And never ONCE have I felt the Biggest Loser has a moment of focus on body image.

The great thing about the show is that everyone is so different, everyone has a unique story, and everyone loses different amounts of weight to put them at different sizes! Not every guy comes out a body builder, not every girl comes out a size 2 model, but they are each so incredibly beautiful in their own way. And I can not emphasize enough how time and time again Jill, Dolvett, and Bob have enforced the mentality that it’s what’s on the INSIDE that will change our lives, not what’s on the outside. Yes, it’s a physical journey, but more than anything it’s an emotional journey to a place I hope for every person (including myself) to be one day.

The neat thing about working out or being physically active is that you are not just moving your body and keeping your mind stationery- but your mind is moving too. Your incredibly vast emotional psyche is taken on a journey to one of the most freeing places, if you let it. And that’s most of our problem, or mine at least- I don’t let my mind be free. It weighs me down until I can’t move, sometimes physically. So, what the trainers do on the show is more than just tell people how to eat right and yell at them in the gym- they train the contestants’ minds to go to a new place as their body does the same. And what an incredible transformation it can be.

And, as we have unfortunately seen this week, is that transformation can sometimes go too far. I don’t know if Rachael did it for the money, I don’t know if she did it for an insatiable desire to be thin(such as with anorexia), but I do know she is unhealthily too small. Clearly, her mind took an even more extreme path where she seems to have lost control in a different way this time.

So, after seeing this happen, I think the Biggest Loser has been faced with a new problem- someone has lost too much weight in the 7 months given. I do NOT in any way think this is showing the “true colors” of the show, or the unhealthy image it portrays. This show has transformed thousands of lives, helping people around the world. We cannot let one anomaly dictate the past 15 or so years of changed lives. A wise man once said, “A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them. They’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.” And I definitely think this principle holds true for the show.

Now this will mean that the show is going to need to take a new route and set a standard of a “healthy weight” rather than most bodyweight percentage lost. They’ve never dealt with this before, and I trust that they will do something to encourage the right attitudes in the future (and if they don’t, I will not continue to be such a huge supporter… Only a slightly huge supporter;)

All in all, from the bottom of my heart, just want to strongly encourage anyone trying to lose weight or just be mentally and physically healthy to KEEP GOING. Don’t stop even when you’re mind says “no.” Don’t stop even when the news and Facebook and Twitter says “the Biggest Loser is hurting America, don’t listen to them!” Whether your encouragement comes from the Biggest Loser, your best friend, or from your relationship with God, don’t let one girl’s mistakes dictate how you live and what you think about yourself and your ambitions. Hype over a tv show will pass, but the lessons learned about life will be with you forever. Focus on those lessons and never let go.

God bless you on your journey, whatever it may be. I wish you the most healthy change possible in your life.

“Never. Never. Never give up.”
-Sir Winston Churchill