Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Although we wanted to head back to the states for Christmas, time for traveling and money kind of demanded that we spend it here. But we decided one Christmas with the two of us might be nice. We assumed we'd only have a few presents but ended up with a good pile of them. To start celebrating we went to Sendai, which is the big city of Northern Japan, for some Christmas light viewing and spend time with some BYUH friends. Christmas eve day we went to church, had some ward members come carol and then had another turkey dinner (with sushi as well) with our neighbors. Christmas day we slept in until 8:30 and then opened presents that we were grateful to have. Although there had been snow almost all month, it all but melted by the 25th and turned into the nicest day in months so we went for a walk and relaxed the rest of the day.


We were lucky enough to be able to do a somewhat traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year, though it was a few days late. We had to special order a lot of the food, but it all came together in the end. We had the meal with our neighbors the Yaguchis who were skeptical about eating turkey and how good it would be, as it was their first time eating turkey. So the following are pics of the meal. Note the use of chopsticks by our friends.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Patrick Santa

Believe it or not, this is Patrick dressed as Santa at the Kindergartener's culture festival. Neither of us knew what the santa costume looked like beforehand, and when I saw him come out dressed like that I couldn't stop laughing. It was really the funniest santa costume I have ever seen. The head was enormous! Patrick said he couldn't really hear or see out of it either, so it made for an interesting and funny experience.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


After visiting Tokyo we spent several days in Kyoto which the "real" Japan. It is their cultural center and it was the one major city that was spared bombing in WWII. It was everything we were expecting and more. The timing for fall colors was perfect. Our only problems were lack of time and crowds. But we were able to see most of the places we wanted to (and even found some more US food spots too). So here are some of the highlight pictures and details:

This first picture is of Fushimi Inari Temple. These gates have appeared in many movies about/in Japan. We've both always wanted to see them in person so it was our first stop. They were more orange than we thought they would be, usually they are more red in the movies. But it was still very neat to see except for the advertisements of who sponsored each one written on them.

These two pictures are at the famous Golden Temple called Kinkakuji. There is a suprisingly little amount of security there, but it made it more enjoyable. We were impressed by how big the temple really is and again the color of nature was perfect then. Although there were many people there, it wasn't as crowded as other places so we could enjoy it a little more.

These are from an old fortress in Kyoto. The walls, moats and some of the buildings still remain. The buildings were designed for security as the leaders of the country used to meet there. The floors all creak intentionally so its impossible to sneak around on them and there are hidden rooms and hallways.
The area is filled with gardens and groves of different types of trees. Trees that blossom in different seasons were brought in so that no matter what time of year you stroll around something is blossoming. It was very peaceful there, which is odd since it was designed for war.

Our last night in Kyoto we just went out walking around and came across a temple that was lit up for the weekend. There were a ridiculous amount of people and none of the photos turned out very well, but these were two of the better ones. It turned out that this was the temple of the family we stayed with while in Kyoto so they thought it was fun that we got to see it in such a unique manner. After that temple we went looking for geisha in the famous district where they can most often be seen. But the area was more crowded with people that anything I've seen in Japan before so I think all the geisha stayed inside and out of sight for the evening. So we to settle on dressing ourselves up at our hosts house.


This past week we went and spent two days in Tokyo. Our main reasons for going there were friends, food, temple. We took the shinkansen train which took about 4 hours to Tokyo. We ate out at several American restaraunts including Kua aina burger and Cold stone, which Crystal loved. We met up with several of my mission friends that I enjoyed a lot. Together we went to where the imperial family lives and that is where these photos were taken. Also we went and did our first temple session since coming to Japan. It was very nice to go after so long we the Tokyo temple is very nice, I was worried it would be loud inside b/c its in the middle of the city, but everything went well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Ikebana is a type of Japanese flower arrangement. The idea is not to just make the flowers look pretty, but the person arranging the flowers is supposed to give each one a meaning and arrange them in personally meaningful way, while still creating a pleasing arrangement. Ikebana actually means "living flowers" and the living not only means that the flowers are alive, but that they tell a story of the person's life who created it. Patrick was able to do this one at one of his work retreats last week. The pink flowers represent us. There are two blooming flowers and one that is hard to see that hasn't quite blossomed yet. The ones that have bloomed are him and I and the one that still has yet to bloom is our baby. The orchids represent our family. They are pointed away from us becuase we are far away from family right now, but they are still close to us in our hearts. The leaves represent new friends we are making here, and are spread out in front of us to symbolize moving forward. The long willow sticking straight up is God, always watching over us, and the baby's breath above and all around represents our blessings. When he brought it home and explained the meanings of all the flowers to me I of course started crying. It is so sweet and such a beautiful way to express our lives right now. Unfortunately, the flowers won't last forever, but the things that the flowers represent will last much longer. Patrick is so sweet. He really can be sentimental when he wants to be:)

Baby Photo

This is our little one at 17 weeks. I think it's so neat to see the bone sructure in his little arm. We went again to the doctor (I'm 19 weeks right now), but we didn't get a photo this time. We're thinking of switching doctors too, so we're not sure we'll get as many photos from now on. We still don't know the baby's sex, so we are holding off on the shopping a little bit longer. But everything still seems to be going well.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sakegawa waterfall trail

This is our most recent outing. It is a very pretty hike through the mountains along a small river with many streams running into it. We picked almost the perfect time to go because the colors were so nice. However most Japanese now think we will have an overenergetic baby because crystal did a 40 min forest walk while pregnant. The first picture is just at the trail head. There was no one else there and apparently there are a lot of bears around here so we were always afraid we'd run into one. When we got in the car to leave and started driving out the dirt road, 2 Japanese girls in their 20s saw the our car coming around a corner and screamed and ran away. We talked to them and they said they were scared of bears too and thought we were a bear when they first saw it. So it was pretty fun for us. The second picture actually at the waterfall. Unfortunately we positioned ourselves wrong and blocked the waterfall. But its not that great of a waterfall and we thought it was a good picture of us so we'll put it up anyway.

Friday, November 03, 2006


One of the hardest parts of being away from home is missing out on the holidays that we love so much. We did our best to do Halloween and our neighbors were really supporitive and helpful, in fact they got this pumpkin for us. its hard to see b/c of the dark, but its a pretty big one. The rind/skin was a lot thicker than US pumpkins but a lot less guts inside so we cleaned in just a few minutes. We decided to go with a traditional face and this is what came out (the horns and knife in the picture are just a coincidence).

Some of the neighborhood kids stopped by for trick or treating. we had a ghost set in up the garage that would swing out at them when they came inside. This is a photo of that moment. It was pretty fun and they were all mad about it so it worked out perfect. The last photo is the main group of kids that came. I have no idea what most of them were supposed to be. The whole thing was odd though b/c they waited outside our house and kept asking if it was time yet. But I think most people enjoyed it overall and I heard people around town telling their friends so I guess they enjoyed it.

Sakegawa Sunset

Obviously not a Hawaiian sunset, but not too bad. This is about 5 min from where we live, where they had the Salmon Festival mentioned a few blogs ago. For seem reason we seem to pass this spot often close to sunset so we thought we should get a picture of it atleast once.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Ginzan is the name of a an old area where they use to do silver mining. Its kind of Like Virginia City in that its now a neat little tourist spot with good food and fun shops. One big differene, as you can tell from the photo, is how pretty it is there especially in fall. We went on about an hour hike up through mountians and into one mine shaft. This picture of the waterfall is actually taken down at the base of the trail, but it seemed like a very Japanesey photo to us.

This photo is in the actual little town itself. Japan is famous for its onesens (hot springs), but this town has little one that is the middle of it you can put your feet into after walking around. It was super hot so we ended up a the little kid one that was a little cooler. You can see all the steam in the area from the heat. It felt very good though. The onsen water feels slippery because of all the minerals in it and different areas in Japan have different minerals so they encourage you to try them all.

Sake Festival

This is Sake as in salmon, not as in the alcohol. At the Sake Festival people (mostly kids) pay for the opportunity to catch a fish. They fill up a fish pond and dump a bunch of salmon in it, and then those who have paid get in the pond and try to catch a fish... with their bare hands. It was quite funny to witness. A lot of kids fell into the water a few times and were soaked. Most people, even the kids, caught one on their own but those who couldn't were helped out with nets. It was so funny to watch some of the kids try to catch a fish that was nearly as big as they were. But it was even better to see their happy faces when they actually caught one. They also had food booths and traditional music and dances between the fish catching. This dragon guy came out during one of the performances. Apparently, if he bites your head it's good luck. But when he came at me with his jaws snapping I didn't know that, so I just backed away and snapped the photo. But other people were excited about it and freely gave their heads to be bitten. It was pretty interesting.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Buddhist Day

Over the weekend we visited Mount Haguro which is part of the Dewa Sanzan, or three sacred mountains, where there were shrines and temples and a 5 story Pagoda. It was so beautiful everywhere we looked. There were trees everywhere, a river, and a waterfall. The steps were stone and covered with moss and it looked like a postcard. We went with our Buddhist neighbors and they were able to tell us some of the significance of things, so it was a really neat experience.

This was looking down onto the little village of shrines.

Our neighbor Akari, who is four, went up the stairs on each shrine, tossed a coin into the box in front of the little door, rang the bell, and then moved on to the next. Apparently, one is supposed to say a prayer after ringing the bell, but I think she was too excited.

This is inside one of the shrines.

This was a little altar right at the base of the waterfall.

Here is the five story Pagoda. It was amazing to see. Apparently it's about 1000 years old and was built without a single nail. No one goes inside it anymore, but it used to be a place of worship for Samurai.

At the top of the mountain (we drove up instead of hiking the stairs) there was more, including this Buddhist monk. Our neighbors saw him and asked if we could take a picture with him. I thought it was just a guy walking around in costume, and when Patrick told our neighbor that he said "This isn't Disneyland". I thought it was pretty funny. The monks live up there and train. He blew the conch shell as he walked away from us. They said we were so lucky to see one of them becuase they don't usually come out when the tourists are there.

The graveyard with the stone statues is for babies who were stillborn or who died in the womb and the one made of wood is names of people who have died. I thought that they were so sad. Our neighbor Sumie said that they put clothes on the statues so that the deceased children don't get cold in the winter.

Overall, it was an amazing cultural experience to witness the traditions that have been in place for so many years. It was such a beautiful place and we hope to take anyone who comes to visit us here. We hope you enjoyed the pictures!!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

14 weeks and counting

We went to the doctor again on Saturday and had another ultrasound so we got to see the baby. They let Patrick in this time too so he was able to watch it. It was pretty short this time, just a quick measurement, so we didn't get to see the little guy squirming around like before. But it's always fun to see him/her. The baby is about 3 inches long now, so he's getting big! He's almost doubling in length every time we go in. I wondered if he thinks his home is just getting smaller all the time though. Patrick said he probably doesn't really 'think' anything yet. I guess we'll never know. The doctor said all the blood work from last time came back normal, so we were happy about that too. And we must be doing well becuase now we are to come in every 3 weeks instead of every 2. So overall it was a good appointment!

Our Car

This is our Subaru Vivio. I am pretty sure they don't have a car this small in America, but it's comparable to the Geo, just a little smaller. When Patrick is driving he can put his arm out and touch the passenger side window without leaning over at all. But it works for us right now at least. We just hope we will be able to fit the baby in it too!


Here it is, the thing we have been anxiously awaiting for weeks. It's not really that comfortable by American standards, but after sitting and sleeping on the floor for two months it feels pretty good to us. It folds down for sleeping, and although patrick is a little to tall for it, we've figured out a way for us to be comfortable (after much trial and error). So we are pretty excited about having at least one of the comforts of home here in Japan.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Candy and toilets

The first picture is one we just took the other day at the construction of a new house. Our next door neighbor is in the realestate line and apparently this is a ceremenony they do when the frame work of a house has been completed. The neighborhood kids (plus any localAmericans in this case) are invited to stand outside of the house. The carpenters and owners do a small prayer and toast and then throw candy, money, radish slices, and mochi (pounded rice) outside for the kids to gather. I dont remember what each symolizes but things like life, wealth, health, etc. It was pretty short but fun overall and the kids loved it. Kind of like Halloween, a parade and a new house all in one.

So this next one is one of the marvels of Japan. We all know of their cell phones, TVs, cars, etc., but who knew they still used a ceramic hole in the ground? This is why Crystal is ready to head home already and she looks for the handicap toilets b/c they are 'western,' in other words, regular. Luckily, this isn't what we have in the house, but its what is in most puplic restrooms especially in more country areas. I consider myself a miracle in that after spending over two years in Japan now I have still never used one of these, and it's a streak I intend on keeping for another 9 months or so.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Roses and Oceans

Last week after shopping for a sofa we stopped at a rose garden in Yamagata City. It was so beautiful and much bigger than we had expected. As you can probably imagine, there were flowers everywhere and so many different types of roses. They told us that there weren't as many as there are earlier in the year, so we hope to go back next spring to see more. Over the weekend we also saw the Japanese ocean finally. It is a short trip from the town where we attend church. Coming from Hawaii, it wasn't the most beautiful beach we had seen, but it was fun to walk on it and collect seashells.

Newest baby picture

We had another doctor appointment last week and got to see the baby again. This time he was kicking and punching and wiggling all over the place. He looked like a boxer. And don't be alarmed, we're definitely not having twins; it's just two different views of the baby. So far everything is still going great and I've been feeling tons better too, so we're happy!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

We're expecting!!

It's true; we're going to have our first baby in Japan. We are both so excited to be adding on to our family. So far I have been pretty sick, and the foreign food doesn't help, but the first trimester is almost over so there are better days ahead. The baby will probably make its entrance around the middle of April, so we'll have a Spring baby! So far, everything is going well with the baby, so we feel truly blessed. This is the baby's second picture and it's already growing so fast! We can't wait to put more pictures of him/her up and belly pictures too:)We're so happy to share the news with everyone!