What We Learned In Our Second Year Of Marriage

We did a lot of amazing things during our second year of marriage, we had some hard times and some wonderful times, lots of laughter and so many amazing adventures.
The past year was hard for us, we had a lot of decisions and sleepless nights, I spent a lot of time leaning on Randy and he was my rock the entire time. 
One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is our second year of marriage compared to our first. I hear so many people say their first year of marriage is just bliss and wonderful, and while our first year of marriage was great, it was SO HARD. Especially compared to the second year! Randy and I had known each other for ages, so there wasn’t a romantic and honeymoon phase of getting to know each other, it was figuring out how to live with someone that we already knew super well. Some of the quirks and things were endearing, but a lot of them we already knew about each other and they were magnified by living together! We were learning an entirely new aspect, we had a past that integrated into our daily lives, and it was a lot of work. 
The biggest thing I have learned in our second year of marriage is to LET THINGS GO. We don’t fight about petty little things, we’ve worked on being slow to anger and quick to forgive, we try to make each other laugh to cool off tempers, and it’s better to walk away and let it settle down instead of hashing and re-hashing things out.
The most important thing I learned is that I need Randy like I need air. He is my absolute best friend and the one person that I completely and totally rely on, and he completely and totally relies on me. And that’s a perfect balance that we love. 
Marriage is work, but it’s the best kind of work. Work that I wouldn’t trade or give away for anything in the world. I absolutely adore Randy and wouldn’t change a single thing about our marriage, our love, or our eternity.
This second year has been absolutely beautiful. Randy and I have spent countless nights laughing our heads off, singing and dancing in the car, and I’ve discovered a piece of myself, a confidence and a love that I didn’t realize I was missing. 
Randy is my forever and my fling, my shelter and my storm, the air I need and the reason I can’t breathe, all rolled up into one perfect husband. 
One of my very favorite poems by ee cummings describes it better than I can:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Happy 2 years, love. 

Leaving Japan

We slept in a little bit on the day we were supposed to leave Japan. We’d been planning to go do a few things, but we looked outside and it was POURING rain. Seriously, floods pouring from the sky. We got ready still intending to go out, but we watched one family set foot outside and they came running back in ten seconds later, utterly soaked. It looked like they had just stepped out of a shower. So we went back upstairs and just packed up our bags, and had the front desk call us a cab. We weren’t even going to try to get to the train station. In our five second walk from the hotel to the cab, we were completely soaked. Not super exciting when you have 18 hours of flying ahead of you.
We got to the airport and grabbed some Okinawa Soba for lunch – I LOVED it and it was a perfect last meal. We were so bummed to be at the airport and leaving, we just talked to our families briefly and moped around, reminiscing on how much fun the trip had been.
We got our tickets, got through security where Randy had to throw away his cologne 😦 and then we were on the plane. It was about a 4.5 hour flight to get to Beijing so we pulled out our computer and watched James Bond and slept. 
Then, we got to Beijing. And let me tell you, we really don’t like that airport, or Air China, or any of it. It was HORRIBLE.
We got off the plane and again had to go through really scary and not fun security, they were yelling at us and everyone had to get extra searched for one reason or another. We went to this American restaurant and had tacos and burgers for a quick bite to eat. We had a long layover so we just walked around the airport, it’s eerily quiet except for when you see other people, mostly those people are yelling at each other and it’s not fun.
We didn’t get our gate information for a long time, so we seriously just sat and were praying everything would go ok.
We got our gate info and went there to wait. We finally saw a plane come in about 1 hour before our flight was supposed to leave, only 20 minutes before we were supposed to board. We kept asking the people at the desk if there were any delays and they kept assuring us there weren’t.
We didn’t board the plane until almost an hour after we were supposed to.
We had a connecting flight in LA to Utah that was set to take off two hours after we arrived, it was the only flight that night and our only option when we had booked it.
We finally got on the plane and were assured again and again that the plane would be landing on time. Randy and I slept as much as we could, alternated with watching movies and snacking on the little snacks we brought on the plane. We didn’t eat either of the meals, the smell was just making us sick. It was a pretty uncomfortable flight, and we asked the flight attendants when we would be landing a bunch of times. Finally when on the screen it told us we would be landing an hour late, we asked and they told us that we would be an hour late. We started freaking out, wondering if we would make our flight in LA.
We asked the flight attendants if we could move further forward so we could get off the plane more quickly, and they were nice and let us. 
We were in agony for that last hour wondering how we would make our flight. We hadn’t event checked into our flight because we didn’t have access to printers on our trip. We landed and it took FOREVER to get off the plane, we got off and were RUNNING off the plane, we rushed to get through customs and show our passports and everything. Every time we had to wait in line it was AGONY. 
We found out we had to leave the international terminal and go all the way down to terminal six, which was the FURTHEST terminal from us. We had to leave the airport by the baggage claim and we were outside, SPRINTING around the outside of the airport. It had to have been at least a mile that we ran the whole thing. We got into the terminal and ran to the counter to get our tickets. We had 30 minutes before I plane was going to take off, and they stop boarding at 20 minutes or so. They told us it was too late to check in and we were FREAKING out and begged them to help us figure it out. They called the gate and they told them they had seats left, but they wouldn’t hold the plane for us. So if we got there before they closed the doors, we could go.
We got our tickets and were frantically going up the escalator, we were so lucky that there wasn’t a line for security and we were whipping our shoes off and throwing our backpacks and suitcases on the thing so we could get through.
We got through quickly thank HEAVENS, and then had to sprint to our gate. We were sweating and SO disgusting at this point, and of course our gate was the furthest one away. We ran and ran and almost mowed people over, and finally got to our gate seconds before they closed the door. I swear, it was like a movie how we barely got on. We were walking up the aisles of the plane panting like CRAZY and I’m sure people thought we were insane.
We sat down and took off to Salt Lake and that flight was perfect.
The moral of the story is that we HATE Air China and we will NEVER fly them again. It was inexpensive, but for us it wasn’t worth it at all. We almost missed our flight and we couldn’t stop saying silent prayers of gratitude that Heavenly Father helped us end our trip OK, and that we got home.
Visiting Japan was absolutely amazing and we made memories there that I will cherish for as long as I live. Getting to see where Randy and his family are from, learn more about his culture, and see the places where he lived while he was there absolutely strengthened our bond and helped me fall even more in love with him (if that was possible!) 

Visiting Randy’s Mission – Okinawa Day 1

We woke up at about 4 AM and got all packed, then got on the shuttle from our hotel to the airport about 5 AM. Our flight left at 6:30, so we got through security quickly (you don’t have to take your shoes off there which is amazing!) 
We got on the plane and almost instantly fell asleep! A quick two hours later, I woke up and we were flying right over the island, it was SO beautiful and I was so excited to get there!
We landed and walked off the plane, the hallways of the airport were filled with beautiful orchids and everything outside looked green and gorgeous. 
Randy spent so much time in the airport there, picking up and dropping off missionaries, so he had SO many stories there. We stopped and got some ice cream in honor of one of his stories about wanting ice cream and then seeing an entire family that had some! It’s called Blue Seal ice cream and it’s only on Okinawa, and it was SO good.
We got out of the airport and bought a monorail pass to use for the few days we were there, and took off for our hotel. We rode by apartments that Randy had investigators in and he knew the music that played with each stop.
We got off the monorail and walked by Naha Main Place that Randy talked about all the time. We walked around the block to our hotel and dropped off our luggage.
I was SHOCKED with how hot Naha was! It was probably only 80 degrees, but it was 50000000% humidity and it was crazy how hot it was. I have been in Arizona in the middle of July, I’ve been in Utah during 115 degree heat, but Naha was probably the hottest place I’ve ever been because of that stinking humidity. We walked for five minutes and we were both drenched in sweat. I tied my hair up because all the curl was gone and it was making me too hot. 
We walked from our hotel to Naha Main Place and Randy had a million stories about each little shop and spot on the walk, it was sooo cool. We grabbed a donut from Mister Donuts (a pretty well known donut spot) and a drink, and some ice cream. We wanted to go to the missionary apartment so I could see where Randy lived and say hello to the Elders, and take them a treat! 
We went to Randy’s old apartment and both of us were just in awe with how surreal it was to be there together on this island that meant so much to Randy. We got to Randy’s old apartment and he was just going crazy! Unfortunately, the Elders weren’t home! So we snapped some pictures and decided they probably were at the church if they weren’t at their apartment at that time. We walked to the church and of course Randy was telling me stories about things that happened on every part of the sidewalk. Some of the places even looked familiar from videos he had sent me which was really coo.
We got to the church and saw a bunch of bikes and we knew the missionaries must be there! We snapped a few pictures and went inside to leave the ice cream, so we wouldn’t disturb their meeting. It was SO crazy to be in the church building and we were sad we wouldn’t be able to come to English class or church while we were there.
We left a note and the ice cream and headed back out. We walked to the most popular street in Naha called Kokusai Dori. It was SO busy and loud and super fun, we made a lunch reservation and walked around and shopped and Randy reminisced. We went to the bus station to make sure our plans for the next day were set, and went back to eat yakiniku. You walk in and get a plate and fill it with raw meat, and you get other plates and bowls with rice and curry and soup and other sides. Then you go to your table which has a huge grill inside of it. You just pop the meat on and cook it, then eat! It was SO delicious, I loved it!
We ate and ate until our time was up (you have a time limit since it’s all you can eat) and then we were back in the city. It was SO hot and we went and saw a bunch of Randy’s favorite places and people watched. 
We went back to Naha Main Place for some shopping and then went to check into our hotel. It was SO hot we sat in the air conditioning for a bit to cool down.
We decided to walk to the beach after that. Randy told stories about how Okinawa came to be and why it has Chinese influence on the way, and we passed this beautiful wall and peeked inside and saw a gorgeous garden. We decided to stop in. It was SO insanely beautiful, it was a garden built to show the uniting of Chinese and Japanese style and architecture and to be an oasis in the busy concrete city. After WWII and the Battle of Okinawa, the city was left desolate, so the US came in and helped the infrastructure but because of the distance and cost, the city is a bit of a concrete jungle. The garden is a beautiful piece of nature in all the city.
We fed coy and turtles and there was this little teeny turtle that was about 1/4 the size of the others that I was trying to feed, but the big turtles kept picking on it and literally shoving it under water and out of their way! It was so funny and sad.
There was also this beautiful waterfall you can walk under and then on top of and it was so awesome.
We kept walking to the beach and we saw feral cats EVERYWHERE.
The beach was so beautiful and we waded in a bit, the sand was warm and beautiful and the water is INSANELY blue and warm. It was just gorgeous.
After we talked and took pictures at the beach, we went back to Kokusai Dori for dinner. We went to one of Randy’s favorite ramen shops where you select your ramen out of this cool vending machine thing, then order your extras with it. It was amazing ramen and it’s safe to say ramen is ruined for me now!
It was finally cooling down so we walked the streets some more, stopped and got more Blue Seal ice cream which was SO good. Randy got Okinawa Salt Cookie which is DELICIOUS and I got a chocolate cookie swirl which was amazing.
We slowly walked back to our hotel, just reveling in the fact that we were there.
We got back to our room and blasted the air, and went right to sleep! 
I can’t even explain how amazing it was to get to be in the places where Randy served as a missionary. I imagined those places for 2 years while he was gone, I prayed for people there and loved them and the places, and to actually get to see them was something I will never forget. It was so beautiful to see the places that play such a huge part in Randy’s testimony, to see where he became the person that he is, and to get to walk with him on those streets. This is really sappy, but I feel like being there, seeing the places I’d only read about, was just too good to be true. I’m still pinching myself that I got to see a country and cities that are so important to him! It was really a dream come true. 

Okinawa Day 2!


Our last full day in Japan was SO fun. We woke up around 5 and were out the door at 6 to get on the monorail. We got on a bus and were off to the aquarium!

We bought some little rice crackers in the airport the day before and we brought those with us to snack on. We drove past little towns and then WHAM it was like we were in the jungle! The forests were crazy dense and there were mountains and it seemed like we were in a tropical jungle! It was mind blowing. Randy told me that nobody goes into the forests and mountain areas there because there are super poisonous snakes and such.

We had a pit stop just past Ishigaki (a little city that Randy did splits in while he was a missionary. He even sent me a video from there saying he couldn’t wait for me to see it one day! HEART EYES). There we found a vending machine (they are ALL over Japan and filled with the most delicious snacks) and we found one that had Blue Seal Choco Drink that Randy loves. It was SO delicious, I was obsessed with it. The drink is SO cold when it comes out of the machine and it was so tasty.

We got back on the bus and kept driving through.

We drove through Nago, where Randy served the first 6 months of his mission! The water there is GORGEOUS, even more beautiful than the water in Naha. We drove past Randy’s apartment, the places where so many people lived that he taught, and he told me stories about each area as we drove by.

We even saw the spot where Randy sent one of my favorite pictures from his mission! It was so amazing to see another city and area that was so important to Randy.

A few minutes later we arrived at the aquarium! We went right in and got a fun picture where they told us to ROAR like the shisa (these little dog statues that are ALL OVER Okinawa! It’s a good luck thing to have them protect your home.)

We went into the aquarium and saw a bunch of beautiful fish, all tropical that I had never seen before! There were a bunch of lobsters and crabs, weird little snake and eels things and I just loved it! We walked around a corner and suddenly saw a HUGE tank! It had 3 whale sharks in it, a bunch of other sharks and a ton of manta rays! It was AMAZING – I still can’t stop thinking about it!

We decided to get real breakfast and I got pasta, Randy got some rice, and we got to sit right next to the tank and eat. We stayed there forever just watching the giant fish. They fed the manta rays and it was SO cool to see them swim up to the surface and swoop fish into their mouth.

We walked into the next room and saw the jaw of a great white shark, which is RIDICULOUS and huge. It was crazy! We also saw a great white shark fetus, which was as big as me. It was NUTS.

Next we got to see how thick the tank glass actually is, and it blew my mind! It seems like it would be from Randy’s finger to his elbow, but you keep reaching around and it goes all the way to his shoulder! It was just really mind blowing, sorry it’s hard to explain!

We finished walking through and saw a bunch of really creepy deep sea fish and a ton of tropical fish, some sea turtles, and then we got to go down to the beach. We had a small photo shoot because we couldn’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful water! It is indescribably gorgeous. I haven’t ever been to a tropical island, but I’m pretty sure all of them will be ruined now because of how gorgeous and wonderful Okinawa is.

We got back on the bus and slept the whole way back, we arrived back in Naha and went back to our hotel to rest up.

When we had cooled off a bit from the heat, we went back to Kokusai Dori for some shabu-shabu. They bring you trays and trays of meat and veggies and you cook it in a boiling broth pot on your table (there is a stove right in your table, so cool!) I LOVED it and thought it was so delicious. We thought we were in trouble, because they charge you for all the meat you don’t eat. They brought out like 12 trays of meat with at least 6 pieces on them, we thought we were toast! But we managed to eat the meat and it was delicious!

We looked out the window and watched the CUTEST little girl dancing in front of a jumbotron in the city, it has a camera and broadcasts you next to under the sea creatures or battle bots, and she was just dancing and dancing and wouldn’t stop! She was out there for at least 40 minutes just dancing and going crazy. It was too cute!

We into Heiwa Dori which is like an indoor market of the city that lets you get out of the heat, to buy the rest of our souvenirs. We decided we had to get matching Okinawa shirts, and found this cool shop that had the coolest guy working there. We talked to him about the church and he told us all about how much he loved beer hahaha, it cracked us up! He was really cool though, and took pictures of us to put on his social media pages!

After that we took a train to this beautiful castle called Shurijo. It was a bit of a walk up but we had a great time chatting. The castle was beautiful, it’s from the 1400’s and was where the leadership lived, then when the Japanese took over they moved in, it was the site of a lot of contention and was actually destroyed during the War of Okinawa, but was rebuilt. We took our shoes off to walk around inside, they had completely redesigned it to look exactly like it would have back then. They had a few paintings and artifacts, but a lot of stuff had been destroyed during WWII. But we got to see the throne room where the Shogun would receive his people and that was amazing!

We also learned that there are a bunch of tunnels under the castle and the city that were built during WWII, which is crazy!

It was SO hot and we still needed one more souvenir so we went to one shop, the lady was SO nice but she was SO particular, she kept wrapping and rewrapping our purchase. Her English was perfect and she was sweet but so interesting.

We walked around Naha more, and decided to have some Japanese McDonalds for dinner, which was yummy! They had wasabi sauce which was tasty, and it was funny to try something familiar but new!

We bought some donuts for the missionaries and some ice cream for us, and then walked to the missionary apartment to try and catch them as they got home.

We were lucky and caught them and chatted, took some pictures with them and they were SO sweet. Randy found out about some of his favorite members and gave them some advice, they were just so sweet! We walked to our hotel and went to sleep, so sad that our adventure was going to be ending the next day.

Kichijoji With Grandma!

We woke up in the morning of our second day staying with Keiko, and it was POURING rain. We were so bummed, we were supposed to go meet Keiko’s friends at an outdoor tai-chi type class but the class got canceled with the rain! 
We slept in a bit and then had breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa!
We had Nato (fermented soybeans and one of Randy’s FAVORITE things) yogurt and apples, pickled salad, smoked ham, and bread and cheese. It was all so amazingly delicious!
Randy’s cousin Reina came back to say goodbye, and we snapped a few pictures with her and Grandpa. We said goodbye to her and to Grandpa for the trip, and then went off to the bus stop in the rain with Keiko.
We got to the station and went on a train to Kichijoji, chatting and laughing with Keiko on the way. I looked over at her while we were on the train, she had a hat and her umbrella, a scarf and her handbag, and I couldn’t help but think she looked exactly like Mary Poppins! She’s an incredibly elegant and wonderful lady, and in just the few short days I spent with her I came to absolutely adore her. She’s just amazing.
We got to our destination and put our luggage in a locker, then we were off. We got out in the city and walked through this big beautiful park. Keiko had grown up right there and went to that park many times as a girl, and it was so fun to hear stories. She told us how she and Grandpa had met and about her childhood. We saw a beautiful memorial for a teacher who had died saving some students there, and walked past the Ghibli museum which was so cool even from the outside! Keiko asked us if we knew the story of the Tower of Babel and told us all about how she knew Bible stories from her time at Catholic school, which was so sweet.
We passed this beautiful shrine where you wash your money and it helps you become prosperous. Keiko told us stories about when Sam and Clint had visited Japan and the things they had done there.
We kept walking and talking and went through the zoo. It was a pretty sad thing to be called a zoo, we mainly saw rabbits and chickens, guinea pigs and regular pigs. There were some monkeys that made us laugh, and we walked through a squirrel area where there were dozens of squirrels running around all around us, which freaked me out.
We ended up at this sculpture museum with work by Seibou Kitamura, the sculptor who designed the big gorgeous piece for the Nagasaki Peace Park. There is a replica of that statue in the garden, and it’s absolutely amazing. We got to get SO close and see just how magnificent the piece is, I loved every second of it. We saw lots of other art there too and it was all so beautiful. 
We finished walking through the zoo and the park and got back near the station. Keiko wanted to show us the Catholic church where she had gone to school and technically been baptized. She laughed and told us she hadn’t been there in years and didn’t really practice Catholicism, but that it was a special church. On our way to that church, who should we run into…but the missionaries! It was so fun to bump into them, we snapped a couple pictures to send to their moms (and their moms were SO happy to see pictures) and chatted for a minute with them. We then went to see Keiko’s church and it was absolutely beautiful. She told us a few stories about the nice nuns that taught her and what she remembered learning about Catholicism.
We decided to have sushi for lunch and we went to this amazing place Keiko liked. You don’t order specific sushi most of the time, you just tell them to bring sushi and they bring it, and it’s SO good. I had the best sushi of my life there! We had fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel, uni, fish roe and a BIG shrimp covered with caviar. It was amazing and we loved chatting with Keiko.

After lunch we went to Uniqlo, this awesome story that Randy loves there, and I spotted a skirt for 5 dollars. I decided to try it on and get it, and when I came back from trying it on, Keiko was in line buying the same skirt! She was so excited we would get to match which made me SO happy!

We got back on the train and just had an awesome time chatting with Keiko, we got back to the station and had to say goodbye, which was so sad. Randy and I both almost started crying having to say goodbye. Keiko went back home, and we headed off to Harajuku.
We got to Harajuku and instantly could hear the crazy anime music and EVERYTHING was pink! We just walked around and took it all in, it was still raining so there weren’t as many cosplayers as normal but we still saw some crazy stuff!
We walked down Takeshita Street which was NUTS and SO overwhelming! 
We went to the Meji Shrine and it was absolutely beautiful, the path and the forest right next to the busy city blew me away.
We got on the train and went back to Shibuya for dinner. We passed this dog statue there to memorialize this incredibly loyal dog who kept going back to the station to wait for his master years after his master had died. There was a cat asleep under the statue which was cracking everyone up.
We went to have one of Randy’s favorite things from his mission, chicken nanban. It was SO good! It’s fried chicken with this amazing sauce and I was obsessed with it!
We got back on a train after dinner and headed back to the hotel near the Haneda airport, so we’d be ready for our early flight the next day. We saw the CUTEST little girl while we were waiting to check in, who waved and waved and waved at me. I thought she was the cutest thing ever.
We got up to our room, and fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow! 

Kamakura With Grandma – Japan Day 9

We woke up a bit later than we had been the next day and got ready. We went out into the kitchen and Grandma had made us an amazing breakfast! There was soy spinach and rice, pickled salad, cucumbers, an apple salad and ham.

Randy played a game of Japanese chess (I can’t spell the real name) with Grandpa while Keiko and I talked and she went to get ready.

We left with Grandma to go to the bus station right outside their house, which took us to the Machida train station. Then, we got on a train for Kamakura.

We stopped at this sweet and peaceful temple in the most quiet and quaint little town. There was nobody at the temple and it was just beautiful and peaceful, I loved it! We got back on the train and kept going, after Keiko gave us some yummy lemon and honey candy.

We got off the station as Keiko was telling us about her favorite sweet potato ice cream that they had in Kamakura. We walked off the train and there was an ice cream shop, so we had to stop! Keiko got sweet potato, and Randy and I got a sweet potato and a mint chocolate chip cone each. The sweet potato ice cream was SO GOOD. It blew my mind how much I loved it! I’m normally a chocolate girl through and through, but I loved that ice cream cone so much!

We went to see the giant Buddha statue which is called the Daibutsu. It is overwhelming to walk up to it and see how gigantic it is. There is a beautiful garden and shrine behind the statue, and there were a million school kids there on vacation. A few came up to me and said “Hello!” in their practiced English, and when I would respond “Oh hello, how are you?” They would run away because they didn’t know what I was saying!

I need to talk about Randy’s grandma Keiko for a minute. She is the sweetest lady in the world. She was so fun and would laugh and tell us hilarious stories. She speaks really good English that she learned when she went to Catholic school in Tokyo. She would speak to Randy in Japanese a lot but would translate for me immediately and would talk to me in English a bunch. She would ask me questions and we got used to speaking slowly and gesturing to each other so we could understand each other perfectly. She is so fun and loves to laugh and isn’t afraid to speak her mind at all. I absolutely adore her and meeting her gave me so much insight into Randy and his family, and the reasons why he is the way that he is. Keiko would pause all the time and say “How you say that in English…” then she would say a word in Japanese to Randy and they would try to figure out the best English word. “Ahh yes” she would say after they decided on the right word. She would laugh and bump my arm and squeeze my shoulder. She is almost 80 but she is insanely healthy and walked all around, navigated busy stations for us, and seemed more energetic than we were!

After we saw the statue we went to a noodle shop Keiko loves and I had duck soba, and Randy had Oyacodon which is chicken and egg rice.

We got back on the train and went a little further into Kamakura, and walked up this beautiful lane that during the cherry blossom season, is just unreal. We saw a wedding party leaving the temple and it was amazing to see the dresses and hair and makeup, I loved it so much. Randy and I went up the steep stairs to the top of the shrine, then we came back down and wandered the town with Keiko, shopping and chatting about what she loved about America and about Randy’s time in Okinawa. Keiko wanted to get some tea and we explained we would go with her but wouldn’t drink tea, then we saw a jinriksha, which is a carriage pulled by a person, and before I knew what was happening, Keiko had arranged for Randy and I to get a tour of the city while she would go to a nearby cafe and we would be dropped off there later. They were all speaking Japanese so quickly and I was SO confused, it was kind of hilarious!

We got on the cart, he kept telling Randy he had to get in first so he could help me into the cart, it was sweet! And then, we were off! He would walk and run and then slow down the cart with us in the back and I was floored! He had to be SO in shape to be able to do it! He was really nice and spoke pretty rough English. Randy asked “Where did you learn to speak English” and he replied, “Uhhhhhh recently!” It was kind of hilarious! He showed us a museum and this beautiful temple called the Temple of Love. It was built after the first Shogun died and his wife built it for him, in his honor. The guy pulled out his notes to tell us the story and was SO animated and acted the story out for us, going “He died…BLEH” and then closed his eyes as if he died, or “His wife was so sad…BOOOHOOO” and pretended like he was sobbing. It cracked us up!

We finished running through the town making jokes about the cars and how his cart was “eco-friendly” and then we were back to the tea house where Keiko was. It was called the Milk Tea House and it was DARLING. Antique and beautiful, playing jazz music. We had hot chocolate with Keiko and laughed and talked. We left and kept walking around Kamakura, we went to this “Bean Store” where they had beans and nuts of all kinds of crazy flavors to sample, we tried curry, squid ink, green apple, raspberry, and a million more. It was so fun!

We got back on the train and laughed and talked the whole way back to Machida.

Keiko was ready to go home, so she told us to stay and play in Machida city while she took the bus home. We went around the city and people-watched and shopped and had a fun time just the two of us.

We decided to take the train to Naruse and then walk back, since the walk was short and it was fun to see the neighborhood.

When we got back, Keiko had made chicken and salad and tofu and rice, and we had this amazing oily bread from the bakery which was to DIE for.

Keiko pulled out the nuts and beans from the store that she had bought and we chatted to Grandpa about what we had done that day and told more stories. Randy’s cousin Reina came to visit and it was so awesome to meet her. She doesn’t speak a lot of English so Randy and Grandma had to translate a lot for both of us! We just talked and folded magazine paper into little trash bins for tissues and wrappers, which was super fun.

We kept talking for a bit, and then Reina went home, and we went to sleep after a crazy busy day!

Tokyo Disneyland Adventures – 5.8.17

The second day of our Disney adventure we got to sleep in a little since Disneyland didn’t open until 9! We got a little lost trying to find Disneyland since Disneyland and Disney Sea aren’t right next to each other. I we called our parents and chatted for a bit while we waited in a SUPER short line. The park was EMPTY since the holiday week was over, and it was awesome.
We put our luggage in a locker so that after we were done at the park, we could just grab our stuff and head to Randy’s grandparents house.
We got into Disneyland and it was AWESOME. Instead of Main Street, they have the World Bazaar which is super awesome, it has a glass ceiling and a dozen shops and restaurants like Main Street does. You walk through, and BAM there’s the castle! It was amazing and I loved the feeling of seeing the Disney castle.
We ran and grabbed a fast pass for the Monster’s Inc ride (which by the way, is inside a building that looks EXACTLY like the Monster’s Inc. building in the movie) and then ran to the Winnie the Pooh ride. Now in California, the Winnie the Pooh ride is one that many people skip. In Tokyo, it’s THE ride. It is SO fun. There’s no track so you just move all around, and the graphics are amazing! There’s a honey room that smells AWESOME, it’s a really great ride! 
We wandered over to the Haunted Mansion and rode it (it’s even scarier in Japanese) and then went to Pirates of the Caribbean. We walked over to the Blue Bayou and got a lunch reservation, and grabbed some churros and milk chocolate popcorn for our breakfast (healthy, I know.)
We had a little bit of time before our Fast Pass so we decided to just ride one or two things, and we found Stitch Encounter. We weren’t sure what it was, but we decided to go in anyway! It was like Turtle Talk with Crush, with Stitch talking to members of the audience and singing songs. It was kinda for little kids, but I loved it! I didn’t understand ANYTHING and Randy was trying to translate Stitch’s weird accented, slang words. It was hilarious, we were struggling! Everyone in Japan is CRAZY about Stitch, so everyone loved the show. 
We rode Star Tours and got a new scenario! We had Finn tell us that I WAS THE SPY (so cool) and then we ended up on Jakkou, the new planet from the 7th movie.
We then went on Monsters Inc. which is like Buzz or Toy Story Mania where you are using a flashlight to spot Boo, the graphics were cool and I loved it!
We walked over to the Blue Bayou and went in to have lunch. The ambiance of the Blue Bayou is so cool, and the food here was out of this world!
Randy and I both started with a medley of hors devours (the spoons below) and we had jellied beef consume, a salmon roll, Cajun shrimp, scallops with hearts of palm and beans, and Randy’s favorite was mashed avocado and crab.
For our meals, Randy had roast beef and gravy, and I had a lobster tail and seafood gumbo. 
Dessert was chocolate bread pudding with a strawberry drizzle shaped like a music note (because the Blue Bayou is supposed to be in New Orlean’s Square) and a strawberry sundae. It was DELICIOUS food and we had a great time chatting and watching the ride.
We decided to go see Mickey’s Philharmagic show and it was SO good. It’s one of Randy’s very favorite things and I loved seeing it in Japanese! The show is in 3D and the kids next to us were SO cute, they were out of their seats trying to grab the 3D objects, I loved watching them as much as the show!
It was hot at that point, so we went over to ride Splash Mountain and cool off. Splash Mountain in Japan is AWESOME. It is SO clean and they do everything they can to make sure you don’t get wet. They even wipe off the seats before loading new riders. 
We went and rode Thunder Mountain next, then it was time for some ice cream! 
We took some pictures, went and rode Winnie the Pooh and Star Tours again, and then got caught in the UsaTama parade. In Japan they’ve named these weird little egg-creatures that are there for Easter, Usatamas. They had this whole Easter parade where they just sang repeatedly “LA LA LA LA LA LA, OOSA-TAMA” and had this choreography. I was DYING because every, single adult watching the parade knew every move of the choreography and they were all dancing. It was CRAZY and I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes.
We walked through the World Bazaar and shopped, and made reservations and the restaurant Hoksuai, a Japanese food place in Disneyland. it was SO yummy and very traditional. The sweet waitress went to bring us tea and Randy felt SO bad but politely told her that we didn’t drink tea for religious reasons, and asked if we could have water instead.
She brought it and then we ordered, Randy ordered pork katsu which is like a breaded and fried pork cutlet, and the waitress was soooo concerned she was like “oh you know the katsu has pork, can your religion eat that??” It was so sweet.
So Randy had katsu with a delicious sauce and pickled veggies (a ton of dishes come with a bunch of little sides like pickled veggies and miso soup and such) and rice.
I had tempura and rice and udon soup. It was all sooo good.
After dinner we decided it was time to head to Machida, where Randy’s grandparents live. We got our luggage and started to walk to the train station. We hopped on the train and sped off. Machida isn’t too far but we slept a little bit once we could sit down.
We arrived in the Naruse station and once we walked outside, Randy was flooded with memories and told me so many stories about kids playing soccer in the park and the restaurant his grandpa took him to when he was sick. Randy spent a summer living there when he was 12, so he had so many memories and knew exactly where we should go. He was just so happy to be there and to see the neighborhood. 
We rang the bell at the house and Randy’s grandma Keiko came RUNNING out. There were so many hugs and we were ushered inside. Randy’s grandpa Shigeo (they call him grandpa Pepopa) came out and welcomed us. We went into the kitchen and drank mugicha and chatted with them about all the members of the family and what they were up to, what we had done so far in Japan, and we made plans for the next day. They were SO sweet and wonderful and I just loved them. 
Their house is a two story house that’s really tall with a small yard, like most houses in Japan (I have some photos and videos of it for later)
You walk in and take your shoes off immediately, go up the step to the inside of the house, and go through a hallway to the kitchen. There are just two other rooms, a tatami room where Randy’s grandparents sleep, and the room where we slept which used to be a store and is now Keiko’s fun room where she does crafts and watches her soap opera shows. 
Keiko’s fun room and the hall bathroom that we used are SO sweet and decked out with beautiful perfume bottles and cute sayings on pillows, I just adored it!
After we talked we laid out our futons with Keiko’s help, and decided to call it a night!

I was obsessed with ice cream during this trip


These bags were EVERYWHERE

Tokyo Disney Sea!

Day seven in Japan we woke up at 4:00 AM (again!) and checked out of our hotel. We went to the convenience store and bought some chocolate chip bread and a drink, then back on the train to Chiba! We were on the train with some girls who were going to Tokyo Disney Sea and they were all matchy matchy, laughing and taking selfies the ENTIRE time. It was hilarious and so sweet!
We got to Chiba and walked quickly to our hotel to drop off our bags, then ran back to the park! The second we walked on the property I was overwhelmed because it feels like HOME. Disney property is Disney property and it was amazing, the music was playing and everyone was so happy.
Let’s take a second and talk about the amazing people at Disney Sea. These people go ALL OUT when it comes to Disney Sea and Disneyland. They were all wearing Disney themed outfits, some of them completely dressed up as characters, and EVERYONE was matching. Groups that came together, matched. Down to their socks and shoes. It was INSANE. I felt incredibly underdressed the entire time, and sheepish for not having a Mickey Mouse shaped hamburger bag hanging from my backpack (yes it’s a thing). And this isn’t children that are dressed up. Oh no, no no no no no. This is full on ADULTS who are decked out as Alice in Wonderland or as Stitch. 
In Tokyo Disney Sea there’s another set of characters that are important. The story is that Minnie gave Mickey a teddy bear when he went overseas, and that teddy bear is Duffy. Then, Duffy needed a girlfriend, so Shelli May was born. Then their friends Stella Lou and Gellatoni came around, and that crew RUNS Tokyo Disney Sea. They are EVERYWHERE. But the best part, is that adults carry around life-size Duffy and Shellie May teddy bears like children on their hips. I can’t even describe it, but it’s just crazy. 
People were sometimes sassy when we said we were going to the Disney properties, but I swear I saw and understood SO much of the culture there. It was truly wonderful. 
After we bought our tickets, we walked through the gates and it was pure magic! Everyone was saying hello and waving, and I even got a “high-five!” from one of the workers who was so excited to speak English to me! we ran through the gates and saw the giant volcano Prometheus.
We went right to the Tower of Terror (passing the 2 hour line for ToyStory Mania, because it just opened) and walked right on. The Japanese version is AMAZING, I won’t spoil it for you but will just tell you to go!
We got off the ride and were STARVING since it had been like 4 hours since our breakfast. We grabbed a shell ice cream treat on our way to explore the harbor. We passed the curry popcorn truck and HAD to stop. I think this blog post should really be titled “all the things we ate at Tokyo Disney Sea” because the food was one of my favorite parts. But the curry popcorn was unreal, and I still dream about it. 
We grabbed a fast pass for Indiana Jones and headed over to the Sinbad ride. It was such a cute ride and Randy was translating all the singing, I loved it. We walked over to the show “Out Of Shadowland” that we had been told was awesome, and walked right into the show! We absolutely LOVED this show, it was all in Japanese so Randy had to translate, but it wasn’t at all hard to understand. The singers were absolutely amazing, the dancers were SO talented, I was incredibly impressed. There were amazing parts when the stage moved and these acrobatic dancers and a cool puppet that just made it amazing. I loved it! There was the SWEETEST little boy sitting next to us who was BAWLING during the scary parts, but also during some of the not scary parts. I felt so bad but it was also kind of hilarious.
We loved the show and would recommend it!
We rode Journey to the Center of the Earth next which is a really awesome ride. 
So back story. Randy and I had been trying to get reservations at this amazing restaurant in the park called Magellans for weeks. We would call and they would tell us to go to the website, we would go to the all Japanese website and would have to input our Japanese address to be able to make an order, or it would tell us our IP address wouldn’t allow us to reserve a table. It was SO frustrating, but once the restaurant opened at 10:00 AM, we were out front of the restaurant. Randy was talking to the girl and asked if we could make a reservation. She told us that we couldn’t and that they were full. She told us to try the website, and when we explained the problem with the website, she apologized SO politely and told us there was nothing she could do. We were SO frustrated and after a while of trying to call again, we just accepted defeat.
We walked back over to the Arabian Coast and went to the Magic Carpet Curry restaurant. We had a bit of a funny situation there, Randy went and ordered a curry sampler plate, and the sweet girl at the register was trying to explain something to Randy in English. There were SO many people behind us and we were trying to be quick, and she just couldn’t get the words out! Randy eventually had to say “you can just tell me in Japanese” to her in Japanese, then she quickly explained what she wanted to explain and we weren’t holding up the line anymore! It was such a funny little experience.
We people watched for a minute after eating, then it was over to Indian Jones! I LOVED it, and it was so funny that the premise of the ride is that they are in Mexico or Peru or something, and they are all yelling “adios!” all over the ride. It was so funny! 
We then rode 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea which made us sick, and a few other things. We walked past a Happy Easter parade which cracked me up! They don’t celebrate Easter, and Easter had actually happened about a month before…but they’re still going strong there. The parade was a rock guitar and crazy drums with a “HAPPY EASTER” thrown in here and there, I could not stop laughing! 
We then went to the Little Mermaid area of the park and I was in absolute heaven. You walk down a long spiral ramp and you go “underwater” and it’s BEAUTIFUL. It really felt like it was underwater, there are bubble sounds and wave sounds and everything around you makes you feel like you’ve gone under the sea! We went and saw King Triton’s Concert where Ariel is suspended from the ceiling so she can “swim” the entire time, which was magical. There’s a little kid area where you can go into the room that looks exactly like the scene where Ariel sings “Part Of Your World” with a life size statue of Eric and everything! I couldn’t get enough of it, it was just too perfect! 
After we played around in the playground for a while, we went back to the surface and rode Aquatopia which are these bumper boat things which was fun. We were talking in the line about how lucky we felt to be there and about the future, and we both almost started crying we just felt so happy and lucky! It was a pretty special moment.
We then went to ride Indiana Jones and Journey to the Center of the Earth again. On our way back from the ride, we passed Magellan’s and saw waitresses standing outside, trying to get people to come in! We were so confused, so Randy walked up there and asked if they had spots for tonight “Oh yes,” they told him “You can come at 7:10!” We were a little bit frustrated with that, but we took it! 
We walked around the rest of the park and rode some things here and there, and got a hot shrimp bun which was delicious, took pictures and watched people taking pictures of their Duffy teddy bears. We rode Tower of Terror again, and grabbed those DARLING mochi custard desserts which were DELICIOUS. 
We took more pictures and walked through the Venice area of the park, and some girls who took our pictures were going on about how cute we were and how much we loved each other, it was so funny!
Then, it was time to eat.
We walked into Magellan’s and it was absolutely breathtaking. A giant globe in the middle and bookshelves decorate the restaurant, we went down this beautiful red-carpeted spiral staircase. We sat down at the table which was just amazing, and the waitresses were SO kind and sweet. 
Randy ate scallops, beef consume, and then a beef cheek entree. He finished with a creme bruelle was really amazing.
I had scallops, shrimp and beans, a potato soup that was the MOST creamy thing I have ever eaten in my life, pesto fish, and a cheesecake. All of it was absolutely delicious and SO romantic. It was just so dreamy and we had the best time talking about our adventures and how much we were loving Japan. 
As we walked out of the restaurant we caught the end of Fantasmic and the fireworks which was beautiful. We got a little lost on the way home, but we eventually got back to our hotel and crashed. Randy wasn’t feeling well at all so he took some Tylenol PM and bundled up to try and kick his cold.
It was an amazing day and I feel so lucky that we got to go to Tokyo Disney Sea! 

Feeding DEER in NARA

Our next day in Japan involved getting up early (again)
We knocked out early the day before so we were ready to wake up and get going! We packed up and checked out, but had the hotel hold on to our luggage. We walked next door to the pastry shop and got a pan au chocolat, melonpan, and a jam roll! All were excellent. We also grabbed a chocolate drink which was SO delicious, and walked to the train station.
We got on a train to Nara and passed through some more beautiful Japanese towns and cities. The girls on the train were practicing their English and Randy and I were dying with laughter, they were so cute! 
When we got off the train there was an English speaking station so Randy and I went up there to talk to them, and give them a chance to talk to someone! They were SO happy we had come to speak English to them! We got on a bus to the Nara deer park and BAM. Deer were EVERYWHERE! 
We ran off the bus and went to buy the little biscuit cracker pancake things everyone was selling for us to feed to the deer. We started feeding the deer and honestly had SO much fun feeding them. There were SO many so if a few were sleeping or weren’t hungry, there were dozens more that were starving. Once you fed one it would follow you around and four or five others would join until you had a swarm. Deer would cross the streets when the lights changed and many deer would bow to us before we fed them. We fed the deer for ages, then decided to walk around Nara more. We went to the Todaiji temple, which is the largest wooden structure still standing, and it was UNREAL. We saw the giant Buddha in the Buddha hall, saw tons of statues and a beautiful grounds. In all the shrines and temples there is an area for you to cleanse your hands before you go in which is beautiful and fun. The stairs at the temple were INSANELY steep, we were practically doing high-knees to get up there. We walked around the Todaiji temple grounds and then kept walking around the rest of Nara park. 
My mom was asking me to write down what all the shrines and temples mean or were used for, so Todaiji was one of the Seven Great Temples of Japan, and was a place for Buddhist worship, and still is today.
As we were walking through the park we came upon a little home ramen shop, and decided to head in! It was delicious food, great ramen and rice and randy had this weird mochi and sesame jello thing. We ordered a combo which we didn’t realize came with tea! Randy was worried it would be rude to just leave the tea, so after we finished our ramen, we poured the tea into the broth, we were giggling the whole way out! We saw these giant bells, and kept walking and saw a bunch more shrines. We even saw a family doing a baby blessing type thing in one of them. There were just a bunch of places for Buddhist worship and they were all beautiful.
We ended up spending more money on the crackers for the deer (we may have spent like $30 on crackers alone.) but it was too fun not to! 
After we’d been in Nara for hours we decided to get back on the train and head back to Kyoto. We grabbed our luggage, said goodbye to Inari, and then got on another train back to Tokyo!
We loved our time in Kyoto and were sad we couldn’t stay for longer.
We got back to the hotel near Bakurocho station, grabbed some curry for dinner, and went to sleep! 

5.5.17 – Kyoto, Japan

Our second full day in Japan was SO fun! It started by waking up early (4 AM) to get check out of our hotel and get to the Tokyo station. From there we got on the Shinkansen (bullet train) and were off to Kyoto. At the station we bought a bento box with rice and katsu pork, and some chocolate treats. We ate those on the train and we were off. The Shinkansen is one of the fastest trains in the world and it was amazing to see so much of Japan. We passed Nagoya, Mt. Fuji, rural farm areas, the ocean, bays, mountains, and more. We saw rice fields and apartment buildings, big and small cities, it was all so wonderful. 
We got to Kyoto about 9:00 AM and the second we got off the train WHAM it was packed. We got on another train to Inari, and we stood the way there. We got off the station at Inari and it was even MORE packed. We literally couldn’t walk because there were so many people. We got a bit lost and walked and walked and walked to our hotel, finally got there and dropped off our stuff, then headed back to the Inari Shrine.
On our way to the shrine, we passed a cool parade with drummers and horses and all kinds of things, all for Golden Week. It was really awesome, I loved it! There were tons and tons of people there for Golden Week, but a bit of hiking and we were pretty alone. The shrine is absolutely amazing, I was astounded by it. So many tori (or gates) all going up the mountain for miles and miles. It’s beautiful and peaceful and it took my breath away.
We passed little shrine areas with incense and prayers tied to trees. We bought some souvenirs and chatted with family, then hiked allll the way back down.
We saw tons of kimonos and spent SO much time trying to get good pictures, and just had a blast at the shrine. 
We stopped and got some ice cream bars from the convenience store, then hopped back on a train to Kyoto. At the station we switched from a train to a bus which drove us around the city of Kyoto on the way to Kinkaku-ji. We saw all these beautiful thousand year old houses, shrines, temples, and castles. So much of Kyoto is preserved and it’s just beautiful to see some new buildings right next door to a thousand year old house and garden. I wish we’d had a little bit more time in Kyoto, it was just amazing!
We got to Kinkaku-ji and it was also insanely busy! It was also SO HOT there, so everyone seemed to be eating green tea ice cream which made me laugh. We got into the Golden Temple area and it blew me away! It’s crazy how old it is, and how beautiful the gold on the building is. I was just blown away with how long it’s been there and how beautiful it still looks! The temple sites on the most beautiful “pure” land which just adds to how amazing it is there. 
We spent some time there taking pictures and marveling, then it was back on the bus to pass some more castles, shrines, and homes. 
We got back to the station and were starving, so we decided to find a place for lunch. Randy spotted a place that had okonomiyaki, and we had to stop! It’s like a veggie and meat pancake which sounds gross, but it was SO good. The sauce is SO amazing and I was just obsessed with it. We also got a yakisoba which was amazing, and it was all cooked on this grill right in our table.
We got back on a train for Inari and walked around the city, and happened to catch another parade with the CUTEST little kids chanting and amazing drums! 
We checked into our hotel and said we’d rest for a bit, it was about 5:00 so we watched a little Netflix and then somehow, we fell asleep. We didn’t wake back up until 8:00 when we debated going to get dinner. While we were talking about it…we fell back asleep! We woke up again at 9:30 just barely, and managed to brush our teeth and crawl back into bed! The jet lag had caught up with us and we were DYING! I was a little sad we slept so long, but it was SO worth it the next day because we were so rested.