Kawaii ka Kowai? (Cute or Scary?)

After “konnichiwa,” my first Japanese word was “kawaii,” meaning cute. It refers to adorable puppies or playful children, adults dressed in anime costumes, and anything else that is quirky or fun. As I quickly learned, it’s an essential word here in Japan. Our fluffy white dog, Hercules, receives this accolade on a daily basis, which might explain the swing in his step as he proudly … Continue reading Kawaii ka Kowai? (Cute or Scary?)

Allowed to be an American

Eight months after moving to Japan, I’ve made a monumental decision: it is okay to be an American. I’m allowed to put sushi and ramen on-hold once in a while and enjoy a nice burger instead. I don’t have to wear heavy sweaters in the heat of summer or exclusively drink matcha. My shopping needn’t be restricted to Japanese brands that don’t fit my hips, … Continue reading Allowed to be an American

The Fuji Experience: 10 Things to Know Before the Climb

Walking Stick You start the climb at the 5th Station, where you will find restaurants, souvenir shops, and bathrooms. Generally things here are over-priced and cheesy. But I urge you to stop in and buy a traditional walking stick. Not only will you be glad you have it for the climb, but you will love it as a souvenir. Every station features one or more … Continue reading The Fuji Experience: 10 Things to Know Before the Climb

“Hostess with the Mostess”

After moving to Japan, I stepped into a new role: hostess. For months, we’ve had a never-ending parade of visitors. I’m not complaining. I love to host guests and share our newfound country with others. And while it’s a lot of work, I find the satisfaction of happy friends and family is well-worth a few days of prep. And it’s the perfect excuse to act … Continue reading “Hostess with the Mostess”

I am Ninja…Eat my Food?

We didn’t know what to expect. Navigating our way through the Akasaka district of Tokyo, we nearly missed the entrance, as it was nothing more than a small black door against a large black façade. Our only clue was the elegantly dressed man standing out front, clipboard in hand. Nervously I approached and attempted my best Japanese greeting: “Konbanwa.” Good evening.  Maybe it was my … Continue reading I am Ninja…Eat my Food?

The Tokyo Layover: 48 Hours to See it All

Alex and I are overjoyed that just a few months after moving to Japan we already have a line of guests coming to stay. But with these visits, come responsibilities. Sure, we need to clean the house and change the bed linens. But beyond that, we have an obligation to make sure that our friends and family see as much as they can during their … Continue reading The Tokyo Layover: 48 Hours to See it All

Kyoto: Keeping History Alive

Well, we finally made it to Kyoto. I’ve been waiting since the day we arrived in Japan to experience this magnificent city. The capital for almost a thousand years, Kyoto is brimming with Shinto shrines, obsessively manicured gardens, and traditional teahouses… not to mention the elusive geisha. Spared the bombings of World War II, Kyoto boasts prewar architecture, which makes it both culturally significant and … Continue reading Kyoto: Keeping History Alive

The Chrysanthemum Throne

Like many Americans, I love all things royal, however un-American that may seem.Whether I’m reading about Henry VIII’s doomed wives, Juana la Loca’s heartbreaking spiral toward insanity, or Kate Middleton’s latest fashion faux pas (of which there are few), I am hooked. Monarchies, past or present, captivate me. They act as rare links to bygone days, while posing the difficult question of what’s to come … Continue reading The Chrysanthemum Throne