Cup Noodles and Hydrangeas

This past weekend was filled with Cup Noodles and Hydrangeas… as the title clearly suggests.
Saturday I went with two co-workers to Yokohama to visit the Cup Noodles museum.

I really enjoyed Yokohama. It was about a 50 minute train ride from Tokyo. Once you are there it feels much more “residential”. Everything is a little more spread out and roomy and the view from the bay isn’t too shabby either.
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Instant Ramen was invented in Japan in 1958 by a guy named Momofuko Ando, a cute old man. He spent months in his tiny shed trying to find a way to enjoy delicious ramen witout taking so much time. In preparation of the trip, I had Cup Noodles for dinner a few nights beforehand. I am completely serious when I say, I forgot how delicious it is! I have since had Cup Noodles for dinner on more than one occasion. I can’t get enough. And if you’re concerned about my salt intake, don’t worry – the trick is not to drink all the broth.

One of the best parts about the museum is the My Cup Noodles Factory  where you get to decorate your own bowl and choose your flavors. It was so much fun. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

This photo is all of the finished soups before being packaged and shrink wrapped. I chose kimchi (!), corn, green beans, and fish cakes with a seafood base.

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After they seal it, you get to put it in this weird blow-up packaging that you can then wear as a necklace. I’ve never felt so cool…

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On Sunday afternoon after church, I met up with a different co-worker to go to the Hakusan Shrine to catch the last day of the hydrangea festival. It was a warm one with the sun shining but the flowers were beautiful!

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There were so many varieties that I had never seen. There was also a jazz band playing in the garden and had there been a place to sit, I would have plopped down and just enjoyed the music the rest of the day.

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Time has been going by so fast and I now have less than 5 weeks left before I arrive back in Seattle and only 4 weeks until I leave Japan for Hong Kong.

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One Month Wrap-Up!

I can’t believe that I’ve been here 4 weeks already, it’s crazy! Time is going by so fast.

Last night, we had a going away party a co-worker who is going back to the UK. The night ended with epic karaoke. The first song I sang was with a Japanese co-worker, “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. Such a classic.

BUT can I just tell you… there really isn’t ANYTHING better than watching 2 Japanese guys belt out “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. They were so into it. Jumping up and down at the chorus, etc.. One of the best moments of my trip so far.

That was followed up by another lesser known 1D song that was selected by someone on accident. I may or may not have known all the words… by heart.


Today I went to the Ueno Zoo for 2 reasons: 1) Giant Pandas and 2) Giant Pandas. Actually, I do really enjoy going to the zoo. Just so happens it’s another beautiful day here so it was a great way to be out in the sunshine. While the Ueno Zoo is pretty much right smack dab in the middle of Tokyo (read: open land is limited), it felt quite spacious. Although, there were a few habitats that I thought could have used more space.

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Of course, the pandas are extremely popular at the zoo. It’s quite rare to have pandas anywhere. I guess that’s an obvious statement since they are a threatened species. Zoos around the world are working to conserve the giant panda. Who wouldn’t, they were just stinkin’ adorable!

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This image is the visual portrayal of contentedness. I feel like this also embodies what I feel like when I get home and get to change out of my professional clothes. Ahhhhhhhh. _DSC0770

There were a few other animals that I hadn’t really seen before including a stork and some other interesting birds.

Sadly, one of my favorite animals, the tapir, wasn’t out. I’ve grown to love the tapir from my visits to the Denver Zoo (shout out to Becky and Brent!) and the fact that they have the cutest.babies.ever. But even though there was no tapir today, there were appropriate warnings of both llama and tapir ‘abilities.’ I’m going to have a post one of these days of all the signage here, it’s pure genius.

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Whelp, with that…. hope you have a fantastic weekend!

xoxo

Starting to Settle In

The weather here has been out of this world awesome. 70 and Sunny. Pretty much my perfection. I know come early June, it gets quite humid so I am soaking up this spring time sunshine while I can. That being said, I have tried to be outside as much as possible this weekend. I’d say it was a success.

Saturday, I walked to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. It ended up being a little further than I had expected but with the sun shining, I couldn’t have been happier, although by the end of the day, my feet probably would have said otherwise!

The palace is amongst the high rises and skyscrapers. It’s quite the vivid dichotomy of the past and present.

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I spent an hour or so just laying on the lawn of the East Garden. It was glorious.

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The trees and plants here are such a vibrant shade of green, it almost doesn’t seem real.

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Really, ALL the plants and flowers have the most vibrant, saturated colors.  I should note although it may be obvious, I don’t really edit my photos because that would require a skill set I don’t have, so these colors aren’t enhanced. What you see here is pretty darn close to reality and it’s amazing.

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The walls of the palace are massive and quite a feat of engineering and architecture as they have been standing since the 1600’s.

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Today, I went around with a fellow trekker, who had just ended her rotation, to Gotokuji Temple, also known as the “cat temple.” It was obvious that I had to go. While it’s known for all the cat statues (see below), the grounds are equally impressive, so serene and expansive.

_DSC0564This cat, “Maneki Neko,” is said to bring luck. Really, I just think its cute.

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CATS! CATS! CATS!
_DSC0574From there we grabbed lunch in Omotesando with a beautiful view.

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The main street of Omotesando is often referred to as the Champ d’Elysees of Tokyo. This was the first time I felt crowded and slightly overwhelmed by the amount of people that live here. There were so. many. people.

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I ended today in Harajuku and walked down Yakeshita Street, also very crowded. It’s where a lot of the “eclectic” people shop BUT they have shops that only sell socks and for that, I’ll be going back.

IMG_1801I have a lot more to share but I’ve reached the limit of most attention spans with this long one so, I’ll try to share more tomorrow or Tuesday.

Tokyo Time!

As most of you know by now, I have just started a 3 month rotation to work out of our Tokyo office. It’s a program called “Tax Trek” and it sounds so nerdy but accountant folks think it sounds cool and adventurous and now we are all on the same page if I ever refer to this trip as a “trek.”

So here I am in Tokyo. Jet lag has been pretty exhausting, I thought I was doing pretty well after have a full first day, but now it’s 5:30 PM Monday as a I write this and I really want to go to bed now.

On Sunday, I was lucky enough to have one of my good friends from Seattle vacationing in Tokyo and we were able to spend the day together. It was so nice to see a familiar face on my first day out and about in Tokyo. We spent much of the day in the Ueno district and surrounding areas.

Yushima-Tenjin Shrine is located near the University of Tokyo. This is where many hopeful students go to write a prayer/wish that they will get into the university.

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You can make your prayer known through writing it on a wooden block that gets tied outside the shrine.

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I am amazed by the attention and exactness to every detail, even the light fixtures.

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Unbeknownst to me, the Japanese climate can grow outrageously beautiful and HUGE peonies. This one in particular is outside the Iwasaki’s (Mitsubishi’s founder) former residence.

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Akihabara is the electronics mecca with multiple stores at least 7 stories high and packed full. And of course, Anime.

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Today I ventured out on my own, after having a sushi lunch with a fellow ‘trekker’ and co-worker from the Tokyo office, I spent some time in Shinjuku, specifically the Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens that was once a Feudal Lord’s residence, transferred to the Imperial family in the early 1900’s, destroyed during WWII and rebuilt as a public park.

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The last of the cherry blossoms in the park. I wish I could have caught them in full bloom but was glad to have been able to experience them at least a little bit.

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First day in the office tomorrow, wish me luck!

California… Knows How to Party

California… Knows how to partaay. In the citaay of L.A.

Me and TuPac. Doin’ our thing in sunny CA…

Sometimes I drift into moments where I think I’m a hip-hop/rap mogul. Pardon me…

Leading up to my trip to Texas, I spent a few days in Southern California (LA, San Diego and La Jolla).

I went down with a good friend of mine who was also looking for a break from Seattle and an extra dose of vitamin D. It was only the second time I had ever planned a trip and travelled with someone besides my family. There is always risk involved when you surround yourself with the same people for an extended period of time AND you’re women…  but good news… we are still friends!!! We have some good stories together now too!

Here’s a few quick shots from the trip.

Nutella Crepe with Strawberries and Bananas from the Farmer’s market. Such good variety, prices and taste we had to go back twice. The first time I had Queso Fundido from Loteria Grill. Also to die for.

Griffith Park and Observatory. One of my favorite places in LA. I could have stayed there all day, above the city (and the smog), just hiking all over.

I don’t see my shadow very often. I had to take a photograph. This will probably be the last as it’s highly unflattering, Jessie and Kathy were meant for shadow photos… me? not so much…

I’m a museum nerd so Jessie appeased me and we went to the Getty Center. It was beautiful and so California. The grounds were as spectacular as the art.

Sprinkles cupcakes really are some of the best I have ever had. And you can buy a “shot” of frosting, the best and worst I have felt all in one day. One of those stomach to brain conversations “Brain, I know how sugar makes you happy but this is getting out of hand. XOXO, Stomach.” Needless to say we had a light dinner.

I love marine mammals, including these seals on Children’s Pool beach in La Jolla. They’re the grit your teeth and try not to run up and squeeze them, unbearable kind of cute.

The second day in LA we had one of Jessie’s (and now my :)) friends, Kathy, take us around the city. We made a pit stop in Chinatown where I was mesmerized by these HUGE cinnamon sticks at a grocery store. Can you believe it?!?

Venice Beach was beautiful and quite the experience. I passed on the multiple offers to have a “doctor” examine me for a medical marijuana license.

Sun + Sand = Perfection

It had been quite some time since I’d been to California and experiencing the culture at different stage of life was fun and exciting. We walked away with a light tan and the sun even warmly welcomed us back to the Emerald city.

Where Everything’s Bigger

It’s Wednesday evening and I just got home from my first day at work after a two week vacation. I had exactly 222 emails to greet me this morning.

I need to go back to my happy place so I just thought I would share some of it with you…

I’m exhausted, good exhausted. I think thats what usually happens on vacation.

I’m sunburnt, I mean ripe tomato sunburnt. Thank goodness I don’t see my dermatologist for a few weeks, she would KILL me. But I’m over-dosing on aloe, hoping for a nice tan in a few days.

I’m full of love. Sometimes I think I have to be one of the luckiest people alive. I’ve got family that isn’t just blood related. To feel unconditional love from so many people, its pretty legit. My love tank is far from “E”.

When most people think Texas, they think Hairspray, Humidity, Heat, and Howdy but for me, Texas is my motherland.

This is my Texas… and there’s always Shiner on tap.

We went down to Austin for a wedding. It just so happened to have some of the most beautiful wedding flowers I have ever seen. They scream Spring, right?!

Architecture in Fredericksburg, a quaint Hill Country town.

Rustic fence while hiking the Greenbelt in ATX. Very Texas, the only thing missing is a cowboy in Wranglers leaning against it.

The dirt and rocks above is supposed to be a river. Much of Texas is experiencing a major drought, again. Me? Well, I live in the rain and Seattle is in no drought. Admittedly, I’m selfish… I wanted nothing to do with rain. Now that I’ve left, lets pray for a good soaking.

A great winery in the Hill Country of Texas. Okay, I can’t really say great since I don’t drink wine, beautiful nonetheless.

It’s a beautiful place. My roots are there and always will be no matter where I go.