We’ve come full circle! Nara Tokae was one of the first festivals Josh and I attended in Japan last year. In fact, Josh had just gotten off the plane from America the day before so he was super jet lagged. This year was much better for the both of us since we’ve enjoyed a whole year of life in Japan together. It was an anniversary of sorts, and quite the romantic date!
During Tokae, the whole of Nara Park is lit up with lanterns to commemorate Obon, the festival of honoring the dead. The many lights are meant to guide the spirits from heaven back home so that they can mingle with the living for a short time until their return to the spirit world.
It was such a beautiful and breathtaking experience, especially with a loved one by your side. Here’s to another fantastic year together in Japan.
I felt like my great grandmother Margaret in this pretty garden hat.
While looking through Josh’s camera for my opcoming post on Tokae, I recently uncovered some extra photos from the tail end of our Johnston family trip this past spring as well as our time with Margaux. He got some great shots! I’ll be posting them here along with a little commentary. We visited Nagai Botanical Garden in Osaka, Osaka Castle, as well as the enormous Osaka Aquarium! I miss them and can’t wait to see them this Christmas in America.
The Osaka Aquarium was gigantic and beautiful- my favorite moment (besides seeing my absolute favorite spirit animal dolphins!) was seeing the majestic whale shark up close. Josh got some really dreamy shots of the whale shark that I would love to do something with in Photoshop soon.
A capybara! So adorable!
The happiest lil’ seal ever! He sat here grinning for nearly ten minutes looking down at all of us from the ceiling.
Sweet pengie love! <3 They were “kissing” each other while mum was warming the nest egg.
I would love to visit the Osaka Aquarium again. It was a nice family outing, and we got to pet a stingray too (they were surprisingly velvety).
Until next time, Team Johnston’s blasting off agaaaain! *sparkle in the sky*
At the end of July my childhood friend and Josh’s high school friend Margaux came to visit us in Japan!
This is something we’ve talked about since middle school- us exploring Japan together. I always swore I would live in Japan one day, right?! Some days I still can’t believe I actually did it. We started our adventures in Nara City and from there we went to Osaka, Ise (for a wonderful time at the beach and an astounding fireworks show), Asuka, and Kyoto!
Margaux and I bought some kick-a matching Yatagarasu (the three legged crow) charms from Kashihara Shrine that you can only get there! She got this blue/yellow one, and I got yellow/blue.
Margaux and I in Osaka!
Margaux appears to be holding in her laughter at how crazy I was getting over the beach. Haha. Many thanks to Kelly for the photo!
Bethany and I ready to jump on the beach! Many thanks to Kelly for the photo!
Josh being a lil’ cutie. Many thanks to Kelly for the photo!
Female form of Jizo with infant.
A female Jizo statue at the base of Inari Mountain. I was shocked by how much this resembled mother Mary with an infant Jesus.
Look what Margaux and I found in Asuka!
Making the long trip towards the Kitora Tumulus in Asuka with Margaux
Ofusa Kannon Temple
Admiring the roses and windchimes <3
They had Memphis barbecue!!! xD Oh what a meal that was.
Hard Rock Cafe Osaka! I was surprised to hear a new song by Madonna here.
A breathtaking view of Asuka city from the top of Oka-dera Temple.
A zen garden at the top of Oka-dera Temple
My first time wearing a yukata! You might laugh, but I felt like a princess. It was a very special day for me indeed and I can’t wait to wear it again to Nara Tokae.
Hmm…are these three Eastern philosophers? I want to say it’s Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Siddharta Gautama (Buddha) here, but I guess I would need investigate more closely to find out.
A little flower brooch to match my yukata.
Bethany and I after a fun filled day at the beach in Ise!
The many beautiful windchimes at Ofusa Kannon Temple.
Josh and Margaux at the exit of Kasuga Taisha Shrine.
Some interesting frogs near a golden female Jizo statue. I’d like to know what this symbolism is all about. It’s so interesting!
The pagoda at Oka-dera Temple. We saw this structure from way far away on the side of a mountain and still somehow decided we wanted to see it up close. It ended up being a pilgrimage site, which would explain the grueling nearly hour long uphill journey. Even so, I highly recommend it because the Temple was fantastic! It houses the largest clay Buddha in the world, and is said the be the “lid” of an ancient dragon sealed away beneath it.
Margaux and I are excited to begin our Nara adventure
Small Hachiman shrine in Asuka.
An interesting shrine at the base of Inari Mountain. What’s it all about? I want to know!
A small Hachiman Shrine in Asuka
Matsuri (Festival) Pikachus! The summer festing season is upon us!
Bethany and I at Ofusa Kannon Temple’s Windchime Festival