The Advent of Spring

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The cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom! Just yesterday I saw a tinge of color from afar, and as of this morning the branches were already aloft with fluffy pink clouds! The bike ride to work has become even more pleasant than usual as the nearby river is now entirely lined with luminous flowers. I’m looking forward to the community Sakura Matsuri coming up this weekend- last time we were out of town, so we missed catching up with our neighbors and joining in all the festivities!

At home, Josh and I have been having fun with our Nintendo Switch. He’s currently playing through the afterstory of Disgaea 5, while I’m enjoying the relaxing and laidback new-release Sparkle. Sparkle is an evolutionary protozoan type of game where you leisurely eat algae until you grow into new organisms. So far it’s pretty nice.

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~Good Morning Boujyou~

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Yesterday my friend Akiko and I found a new hidden gem in Kashihara – Good Morning Boujyou! We wanted a good place to get brunch, and this nostalgic cafe was definitely it. A morning set plus unlimited drink bar was only 750 yen, but I highly recommend adding on the homemade jam for just 50 yen! We conveniently placed our orders with a vending machine at the entrance, and then chose our breakfast options using a small slip of paper at our table. I decided on buttered “Bambi Toast” with a big side salad, an orange slice, and a hard-boiled egg. Once we were ready, we hit a small buzzer and our orders were placed.

The interior was beautifully traditional with an artistic flair. I didn’t want to disturb other guests with my pictures, but there was a beautiful antique clock display in one corner and several intricate carvings along the wall. English cover songs played softly on the audio system, and tatami mats lined the floors. Despite the ornate decorations, the cafe felt like a very kid-friendly environment and there was an open area in the front for future play equipment as well.

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Along with our delicious meals, the drink bar was fantastic. I could choose between several different types of coffee and hot tea as well as orange juice and an herbal beverage. Included in the drink bar was a tasty porridge station with different pickles to add in.
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After our meal we had the pleasure of talking with the friendly owner, who showed us his some of his antique collection. I was mystified by the treasure trove of beautiful items!

I highly recommend Good Morning Boujyou to any brunchy nostalgia lovers out there. It’s only a short walk from Bojo Station in Kashihara city.

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A Crab Feast for the New Year with Yuta

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During the week of the New Year holiday, Josh and I traveled over to Osaka and met our old friend Yuta! If you remember, we first met back in Tennessee so it’s always fun and a little surreal to see each other again in Japan. We had a great time in Dotonburi and we were able to reserve a spot at the coveted Kani Doraku! You remember that scene in Forest Gump where they were listing all the ways in which you could cook shrimp? Well, replace shrimp with crab and you have this gem of a restaurant.

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There was an hour and a half wait, but fortunately (and conveniently) they gave us a little slip of paper and told us to return before a certain time to get our table. That gave us free reign to continue exploring and even get a quick hatsumode (first shrine visit of the year) in! We went to a very unique shrine in the heart of the city that I (sadly) don’t remember the name of. The big feature of this place was a huge Oni head coming out of the ground! I stomped my foot a litle when I realized I could have gotten a rare ink signature in my goshuinchou shrine book there too (I left it at home without anticipating a shrine visit).
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In no time it seemed we were being seated at the restaurant. The decor was delightfully crab themed without being too over the top. In fact, the whole establishment had quite the elegant air to it. This elegance matched the prices, but in hindsight the food was so delicious it was indeed worth it!
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We chose our own individual courses and proceeded to be served like kings and queens with dish upon dish of crab delicacies (even hot crab sake!). The meat was sweet, savory, and oh so delectable. We ate and drank to our heart’s content and enjoyed sharing stories about our recent lives. At the end of our meal, we were pleased to recieve a special New Year gift from the restaurant! The ceramic year of the dog ornament (with a little bell inside) was something I was considering purchasing already, so it was perfect for me!
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After our meal, with stopped by the famous Rikuro’s Cheesecake depot with Yuta to pick up a souvenir cake. I love watching the soft and fluffy cakes arrive fresh from the oven! They looked so delicious.
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From there we returned to the station and wished Yuta safe travels home. I’m looking forward to the next time we can meet again!

Congratulations on your recent marriage, Yuta!!

Shawn’s Worldwide Adventure

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In September, our friend Shawn visited from Tennessee! This was his first time to leave the country, so we knew he would be in for a treat with Japan. We visited all the best places Kansai had to offer- and Shawn took some amazing photos and 360-video footage along the way!

I won’t post them all here, because he’s crafted a sleek website where you can browse them by category and location!

By all means, please visit http://shawnshank.com/japn_2017/ as soon as possible! You can easily view it on your cellphone, too. There are so many great shots in here.

Here’s a great group photo of the three of us along with a photo summary of the places we experienced together. Don’t forget to check Shawn’s site for even more photos!

Full speed ahead on the limited express!

Full speed ahead on the limited express!


9/17/2017 – Exploring the neighborhood, Kume-dera Temple, and Kashihara Shrine

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9/18/2017 – Osaka Castle

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Checking out the pics at Osaka Castle

Checking out the pics at Osaka Castle

9/20/2017 – Arashiyama & Monkey Park, Fushimi-Inari Shrine, and Kyoto Sky Tree

A monkey and his treasure

A monkey and his treasure

The highest shrine in Japan, haha

The highest shrine in Japan, haha

Kyoto Skytree Mascot and...Baby?!

Kyoto Skytree Mascot and…Baby?!


9/21/2017 – Kyoto’s Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji

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The ethereal beauty of Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion


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Admiring Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion

Admiring Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion

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9/24/2017 – Nara City

 

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Holding the 360-camera torch alongside Josh as he snaps a picture of Shawn. He snapped one of us first!

Holding the 360-camera torch alongside Josh as he snaps a picture of Shawn. He snapped one of us first!

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9/27/2017 – Imai-cho, Kashihara

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9/28/2017 – Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (view site for a 360 video experience!)

10/1/2017 – Kashihara Cat Cafe (view site for a 360 video experience!)

Basara Matsuri 2017

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I got to dance again at the Basara Matsuri in Nara city <3 Basara Matsuri is an annual event that encourages dancing, high energy, and all around celebration! Unfortunately, it seemed like the hottest point of the summer that day, so I had to leave a little early to avoid heat exhaustion. I had a blast performing with my friends and the Nara community.

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