Moving yet again

Hello.

It has been a crazy 4 years since I went to visit Clara, Armistead, and Harrison in Japan.  I was just going over my posts about my Japan trip and I’m so happy I wrote about it!  There were some things that I had completely forgotten about.  I would love to go back to Japan sometime, but alas, they have moved twice since living in Japan and now live in the middle east.

In the time since I last posted, I too have moved twice: first to Virginia and then again within Virginia, and now I will be moving yet again.  I am graduating from medical school in less than a month (!) and will be staying in the midatlantic region for my internship/residency.  I plan to live/work here for at least the next 4 years.

Although moving isn’t my favorite, making a space my own has proven to be the most enjoyable part of the process, and I am really excited to settle into a new apartment and make myself a new home.  Here is a copy of my new floor plan:Floorplan Baltimore

*sigh* I know it doesn’t look like much, but it is in fact an upgrade from my most recent 2 living situations, and I think I will enjoy it a lot.  I sure wish it had a bedroom, but the dishwasher, disposal, and in-unit laundry will just have to do for now. :/  Also, my window is quite large, which is also great, and my ceilings are pretty high.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it is different, so that’s fun.

I would love to keep you updated on the progression of the apartment from generic “unit 924” to home, but I make no promises. :)

xoxo,

gigi

ps. Can I still be an adult, even though I’m going into my 5th year of studio living? eek and blah.

Emma Approved.

Hello.

Remember how I got excited about the “Welcome to Sanditon” series on YouTube?  Yeah.  That didn’t turn out so great.  Boo.  Honestly though?  I did watch the entire series…but mostly just to see if a plot ever developed.  *Spoiler Alert*: never happened.  A plot, that is.  It was disappointing.

But this new one looks different!  It is called Emma Approved, and it features Emma Woodhouse, who is a “life coach and matchmaker”.  I’m excited for this one, because it looks promising…mostly because it seems like a plot is guaranteed just because it is based on a story that already has a plot!  Yay!  Check out the first episode here:

 

 

The one downside to this series that I currently perceive: Emma’s personality.  She is a little bit too self-assured…in a bad way, that is.  Which I don’t really like.  In all fairness though, from what I understand this could just be an attempt at the modernization of Austen’s original character of Emma, about whom she herself wrote the following:

“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” – Jane Austen

And why would no one else like her?  Because, though time has certainly softened the perceived severity of Emma’s qualities, she was written as:

“…rather spoiled, headstrong, and self-satisfied; she greatly overestimates her own matchmaking abilities; she is blind to the dangers of meddling in other people’s lives; and her imagination and perceptions often lead her astray.” – Wikipedia, Emma

Of course, this is the wiki opinion on the topic, so take that as you may.  I have never disliked Emma (though I’ve known of Austen’s quote about her for some time).  In fact: I’ve always loved her character!  The Emma in this series though, is especially irritating.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be a great series though!  I’m very excited about it.  Posting of new videos will be Monday and Thursdays at 9am pacific time.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

xoxo,

 

gigi

ps. What did you think of “Sanditon”?  Did you stick it out to the end?

A Most Adorable Story

Hello.

I know it has been a while.  I am going to finish telling about my Japan trip someday, I promise!  (Maybe tomorrow?!)  I think I could finish the last days pretty quickly since I probably can’t remember them too well now (it has been a while!)…sad face.  Oh well.

I stumbled over this absolutely adorable story of an old man writing a love song for his recently deceased wife that I wanted to share with you.  It made my eyes water (a fairly rare and therefore significant experience).  So sweet.  It is always sad to think about growing old and leaving, but at the same time, so happy to consider the happy times he and his love had together.  I absolutely loved the pictures they showed and the simple purity of the song he wrote for her.  The song begins around 5:55, if you want to skip the (long-ish) background story.

In other news: I moved!  Over 2,000 miles away!  Of course, we had to complicate things and take the almost 3,000 mile route…but it was fun!  There will be more on that later…because it turns out to actually be a part of my New Year’s Resolutions (where did those go…?  I need to find a copy and have a follow-up post, I think! :)  I will fill everyone in once I finish up my Japan posts.  I would love to continue posting at least a couple times a month, even though I haven’t been very good lately.

What absolutely adorable stories have you encountered lately?

xoxo,

gigi

ps. Wait until you hear the news about Harrison I have to share!  I am so excited about recent developments in Japan!  :)

Japan Trip Day 12

Hello.

Um.  So, yeah.  It’s been a while.  Not to worry; I did, in fact, make it back to mainland Japan…and then I even made it back to the US!  Needless to say, things really picked up here (at home) kind of quickly, so I neglected the blog for a while.

“But why didn’t you blog from Kyoto, etc?” you ask.  I’ll tell you.

I was staying in an American hotel in Tokyo and then an American home in Okinawa.  I didn’t even realize I wouldn’t be able to charge the lappy when I got back to mainland and began staying in Japanese establishments.  So, I didn’t update the blog.  And then I just kept putting it off when I got back to the good ‘ole US of A.

Anyway.  The pictures have been ready and waiting on my desktop for a couple of weeks.  And since I am ready to clean them off of there, I thought I’d get going on blogging them.  I hope I remember everything that happened!

Here we go…Japan Trip Day 12!

Gigi saying goodbye to Harrison

Here I am saying “Goodbye” to the cutest little boy in the world.  It was so, so, so fun to meet Harrison, and I can’t wait until I can see him again!

Doors at Kobe Airport

Ok.  Is this not the cutest airport you’ve ever seen!?  Kobe was pretty cool because the city had like, a nautical theme.  There were anchors on all their signs.  Needless to say, I was impressed.  Seriously though, look at those little pictures!  There are little bunnies and birds and adorable humans!  And you can’t see this, but the other side of these doors are painted yellow.  Yellow!  So cheery!  I loved this place; it was just plain cute.

Kobe Train RideOk, so the train from the Kobe airport into Kobe central was completely independent…as in there were no humans running it.  We got to sit right in the front of the train, just like we were driving (we were right behind the windshield).  I liked Kobe because of the nice, green mountains right behind the city.  Beautiful!

Do Not Rush sign, JapanThere are a lot of signs in Japan warning people to not rush, especially in the train stations.  One of my favorite signs (which I didn’t get a picture of) was in Osaka, outside the Osaka Castle.  That sign requested people not rush, and then had the following explanation: “A calm mind is the first step towards world peace.”  Haha.  It made me giggle.  As did this sign:

Bowling Advert, Kobe, JapanWe saw this sign on a building near the train in Kobe.  I missed it (I had just put away my camera), so I actually went back on the train to snap a picture for posterity’s sake.  If you can’t read it, let me transcribe below.

“You Can Do it!!  Do you like bowling?  Let’s play bowling.  Breaking down the pins and get hot communication.”

What does it mean?  I don’t think anyone knows.  But that is what makes it so absolutely wonderful!

Japanese Sports DrinkHere is an ad for the sports drink Pocari Sweat.  It is like the cousin of Aquarius (which I discussed in this post), still a pretty light flavor, but a little more concentrated.  Not my favorite.  Not to mention the visual you get while you’re drinking “sweat,” which was a little too much for me to handle.

Stamp BookingHere I am in the Osaka (?) train station stamping my book.  This is a pretty big deal in Japan.  Lots of places (tourist attractions) have stamps that you can add to a book.  I bought my book at my first stop (Tokyo Tower) and continued to add stamps throughout my trip.  Maybe I’ll do a little overview of that later.  I also taped as many of my tickets in there as possible…so I have a little scrapbook of my trip now.  I asked my sister to take a picture of me stamping the book because it was such a big part of my trip.

Hostel EngrishIn Osaka, we stayed in a hostel called “Hotel Mikado.”  It was a pretty nice place (for my first hostel stay), and there was lots of Engrish around.  It was cool.  I really liked this sign about the free umbrellas.

Bikes in Osaka, JapanI took this picture of the bikes in Osaka because so many people, all over Japan travel by biking around.  There are always large banks of bikes near train stations, etc.  I also really like the visual effect of repetition…which is maybe one of the reasons I like Japan so much (there is lots of repetition).

Osaka Castle
Here is Osaka Castle, one of the first places we went in Osaka.  I liked the outside, but the inside was just a boring-ish museum.  I wish they had made some of the floors more like how they may have been when it was being used as a residence, but it was still cool.

Gigi in Front of Osaka CastleI like this picture because it has the entire castle in it; you can see the stone base really well (of which I have a close-up below).  Do you see the balcony at the top?  We climbed all the way up there and took some pictures (see below).

Stone base of Osaka CastleAgain, I like the repetition.  I think it is really pretty.

From the Top of Osaka CastleI really like the gold dragon things you can see at the top of the castle.  The building in the background is the Osaka Museum of History, which had an exhibit on “Japanese Ghosts and Eerie Creatures.”  It is an interesting building because it looks like there is a ball rolling between the two towers (which is the atrium).

Japanese Ghosts and Eerie Creatures at Osaka Museum of History Here is the poster for the Ghosts and Eerie Creatures exhibit.

Osaka Museum of Natural History…and here is the ball atrium between the two buildings.  Cool, huh?  We went there after we were done with castle, but they had already closed for the day. :(  But, it was interesting because there were a ton of people there dressed in matching shirts (it kind of looked like different teams)…like for a reality TV show or something?  We couldn’t figure out what was going on, but it looked interesting!

Okay.  Back to the castle.

Couple of Osaka Castle groundsHere is a garden at the Osaka Castle.  I thought it was pretty, and then I saw this absolutely adorable couple siting on the bench.  Had to take a picture.  Aws.

Gigi in front of large stone at Osaka CastleHere I am standing in front of a large stone that is part of the Osaka Castle walls.  There are many large stones like this.  They were simply enormous!  They aren’t very deep though, because then they wouldn’t have been able to get them up to the castle.

Osaka Castle Moat and Red BikeHere is a photograph of the Osaka Castle most (well, I should say one of the moats…for there are several…as in two).  I really liked the ride bike that added a pop of color to the picture.

Japanese CemetarySo, one of the problems with writing this so late is that I can’t remember everything!  I am pretty sure this was at the Shitenno-ji Shrine in Osaka.  It is a typical cemetery, where individuals are simply recognized with small posts.  The following pictures are also from this shrine:

Many statues at Shintenno-ji Shrine, Osaka, Japan

Laughing Buddha, Shitenno-ji Shrine, Osaka, Japan

Turtles at Shitenno-ji Shrine, Osaka, Japan

There were a ton, but a ton of turtles in a small pool there.  It was so strange.  Kind of cool though; I’ve never seen so many turtles before!

Pergola at Shitenno-ji Shrine, Osaka, Japan

Pathway at Shitenno-ji Shrine, Osaka, Japan

Hundreds of Small Buddha at Shitenno-ji Shrine, Osaka, Japan

When we got to Shitenno-ji Shrine, we got to see a concert going on (unfortunately this means we didn’t get to enter the main building, which is an awful shame).  It was an interesting concert though.  The group was called “Permanent Fish” (?), and as far as I can tell, is a Japanese version of N*Sync.  It was simply amazing.  Here are some photos of the concert:

Permanent Fish Concert Poster

Permanent Fish Concert, Shitenno-ji Shrine, Osaka, Japan

It was pretty amazing, to say the least.  Although, it seemed a rather odd choice of venue.  A rock concert in front of a Buddhist Temple.  Hmm.  Not sure.  The picture above was taken during a slow love song, and you can see everyone is sitting quietly and respectfully on the ground, listening to their talented voices.  Loved it.

We went to Dotonbori that night, which is kind of like Osaka’s version of Shinjuku (which I visited with Armistead in Tokyo).  We saw lots of interesting things there, and had some delicious food.

Welcome to Dotonbori!

Here is a Dotonbori sign.  There were so many lights and mechanical signs there it was almost overwhelming!  It was such a fun place though!

Elevator/Rock-climbing wall

I thought this looked pretty awesome.  If you can’t tell, it is a large building that has a rock-climbing wall on the front, and the wall is on a track so it can go up-and-down like an elevator.  Pretty awesome, huh?

Gigi in Dotonbori

Dotonbori MenuSo, I took a picture of this menu because I want to know if you all know the difference (taste-wise) between the 1st, 4th, and 3rd stomach?  I’m not really sure, but I just thought I’d throw that question out there).

So, I took a picture of this intersection because I’ve seen them all over, but I haven’t taken a picture yet.  There are many intersections that are just painted as a large crosswalk, so traffic will stop in both directions, and pedestrians can simply walk wherever they want in the road.  It seems like an intelligent solution to the street-crossing problem.

This is before:

Street Crossing, Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

And during:

Street Crossing, Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan

We went to a restaurant in Dotonbori where there is a grill in the middle of your table and then they bring you out raw meat and you simply grill it yourself.  It was a lot of fun (although I’m really not such a great griller…so I think mine didn’t turn out great…but it was still edible, at least).

Osaka RestaurantSo, the pictures on the top left and middle are to show how they have fairly private booths in which to dine.  The picture on the top right is me washing my hands with a moist wash cloth.  They have these at all the restaurants in Japan!  The nice ones will give you a cloth washcloth (like above) and the regular ones will give you moist towelettes (think KFC?).  It is really nice to be able to clean your hands off so well before eating.  Unfortunately, virtually no restaurants seem to provide napkins, so these kind of double as napkins.

Christian Rock Band Street Performance

We ran into a Christian Rock Band Performing on the streets of Dotonbori.  It was pretty interesting.  We talked to some people there…like one girl who was from Peru!  It was totally random, but enjoyable nonetheless.

We went to the 100 yen store next, which was totally awesome!  Seriously.  There was some good quality stuff there.  I got a bell for my bike and a great clip for my hair (which I still use), and a really cute pencil holder.  Each only cost 100 yen…which is approximately one dollar.  It was the most amazing dollar store I’ve ever been to.

Japanese Fabric

And one of the last stops of the evening was at a Japanese Fabric Store, where I found this treasure.  I should have purchased some, because I didn’t realize the power of simply cherishing the earth, grasses and flowers.  I need to teach this to my children.

That is about it for Osaka!  The next day we went on to Kyoto, which I absolutely loved!  Kyoto was an amazing place, and I feel like we didn’t have nearly enough time there.  I’ll share my adventures there with you later!

xoxo,

 

gigi

ps. Have you ever been to a rock concert that occurred in an unorthodox location, such as a street corner or a Buddhist Shrine?

 

 

 

Japan Trip Days 10 and 11

Hello.

So, something very interesting has happened, and I honestly don’t know what to make of it.  Yesterday, views of my blog exploded to over 2,000 a day.  Most of the hits are from Japan…and I even got a comment on “Japan Trip Day 2“.  It says:

今日、日本のニュースで、日本旅行をする人が世界的に見ても低いと言ってました。 遠いし、物価が高いのもあるようです。しかし、あなたの記事を数多くの人が見て 日本に旅行に来るか、または興味を持ってもらえるととても嬉しいです。 ありがとうございます.

Well, it turns out I don’t know that much (erm…any, I mean) Japanese…so with the help of Google Translate, I can see the comment says:

Today, the news of Japan, I was saying that low people to Japan travel even in the world. Far, and prices to be high seems to be. However, I am very happy and be of interest, or come on a trip to Japan a number of people to see your article. Thank you

Yeah.  Thanks Google Translate (please watch this video to see the googs in action…or if you really like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air)…I guess it is a little more intelligible…but still not perfectly clear.  At first, it kind of freaked me out, but I guess one of my pictures just went viral over here or something!  So weird!

Anyway.  Greetings to my friends from Japan!  I love your country and your culture!  I am having a blast exploring both and meeting lots and lots of Japanese friends!  Thank you so much for being so hospitable!

Now, back to my regularly scheduled update…

Day 10 was a very interesting day.  Again, it was very relaxed, but we also went to two museums about the history of Okinawa, but the day started with a trip to the beach.  As I have mentioned previously, it has been raining the entire time I’ve been here, but on Thursday morning it wasn’t raining, so we ran off to the beach.  It was of course sprinkling by the time we got there, and the water was cold, but I did it!  I got in the ocean (well…sea actually.  The East China Sea, to be exact.)!  Here are some shots of the beach:

Okinawa Swimming Beach

Gigi made it to the edge!

Exfoliating sand on Okinawa, Japan

Warning sign on Okinawa beach

The swimming area was completely blocked off.  Just as we were arriving, Clara was telling me how many Japanese seem very frightened of the ocean (and that is why it is blocked and netted off like that), and just talking about it kind of freaked me out a little…so it was a big deal when I made it all the way out to the edge of the net (second picture).  Also, this sand was super exfoliating!  And I found that what Daphne’s mother said in “What a Girl Wants” to be completely true:

“Mom says if you can walk on a beach and you have a steady hand with nail polish… there’s no reason to ever pay for a pedicure.” – Daphne Reynolds, What a Girl Wants

I really love that movie, by-the-way.  It is one of the only movies that makes me tear up at the end!  It is so amazing.  And yeah…my feet are so, so, so smooth now!  It was wonderful!

Anyway.  The last picture is just of a sign about how the police need to protect us foolish English-speaking-glass-carriers from our own stupidity.  I thought it was fairly amusing.  No Engrish,  just funny.

Japanese Stop Sign, Okinawa Japan

Did I mention that the stop signs here are triangular?  So cool!

The two museums we went to were:

  1. The Okinawa Prefectural Peace Museum
  2. Himeyuri Peace Museum

Thers were both amazing exhibits.  They talked about the experience of Okinawans during WWII.  Over 90,000 civilians were killed in the crossfire on Okinawa.  There were some amazing stories.  The parts that I most loved were testimony rooms near the end of the exhibits where there were real testimonies recorded by people who lived through the fighting.  There were obviously a lot of testimonies in Japanese, but there were two binders in each museum with some translated into English.  Some of the things these people endured were just unbelievable.

The second museum was about how two girls schools were essentially recruited into the Japanese army to serve as nurses during the war.  Interestingly, the field hospitals were typically housed in caves (apparently there are many, many, many caves on the island), so these students were essentially stuck indefinitely in the caves caring for wounded Japanese soldiers.

The story is especially tragic because Japan essentially sacrificed Okinawa to buy time to build up their defense on mainland Japan, because they assumed the US would be using Oki. as a jump off point to launch their attack on mainland.  They just tried to make the war last as long as possible on the island to buy more time.  I guess they weren’t planning on the atomic bombs….

In short, the museums were amazing.  I don’t know why we don’t get a lot of education in the states about the war in the Pacific (I didn’t, anyway), because there are some amazingly haunting stories about the war out here that I think could have just as much impact as learning about the holocaust does.

Anyway, here are some pictures from these two museums:

Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum

Beach at Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum

Memorial Monuments at Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum

Unexploded  bombs at Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum

Harrison at Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum

Beach at Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum

Cranes at Himeyuri Peace Museum

Cranes at Himeyuri Peace Museum

Cranes at Himeyuri Peace Museum

Flowers at Himeyuri Peace Museum

The museum was right on the coast, and there was some beautiful foliage just down the cliffs, so I took a couple pictures of that.  There were rows and rows and rows of names carved onto these monuments outside of the museum.  Obviously, I don’t know what the names are for (because I can’t read Japanese), but I imagine it has something to do with WWII.  The window I’m standing on has a number of unexploded bombs underneath (Armistead assures me they were probably deactivated…so don’t worry!  It isn’t dangerous!).

And look at that picture of the cute little family!  Harrison was getting very tired, so he was getting pretty silly…so he was all giggly.  They are looking out huge windows onto the beautiful coastline.  Harrison liked it!

The last photos are of thousands of cranes and lots of flowers at the Himeyuri Peace Museum.  The cranes were simply stunning, and I really couldn’t get a great picture, but they were totally awesome.  Both are in honor of the students and teachers who died in the war effort.

Bowing Construction sign Okinawa Japan

So, some of the construction signs here have a bowing stick figure, which I think is pretty funny!  The people here are so respectful!

On Thursday night, we watched “Memoirs of a Geisha,” because it takes place in Kyoto and we’re going there tomorrow!  The movie’s photography was simply stunning, and the acting was really quite excellent.  All-in-all, I liked it.

Gigi and Harrison hangin' out at home :)

Here I am just hangin’ out with Harrison.  This kid is so adorable!

And Day 11 was just boring.  I stayed home all day and hung out with Harrison while his parents went to meetings.  Once they came home, Armistead and I played “Pandemic” while Clara went and did business stuff.  We also ate some “crappy fast-food curry” (their words, not mine), which I actually thought was pretty good!

We then watched some of the final episodes of “The Office” (which I haven’t seen since season 4…so I didn’t know entirely what was going on…but Dwight and Angela are getting married!  Woohoo!  I’m happy for the crazy couple. :), even though the finale wasn’t up yet.  We went to “the best sushi restaurant ever” (according to Clara and Armistead) for dinner (it was indeed pretty delicious) and then came home and watched “Young Victoria” to wrap up the night.  It was a lot of fun.

I feel fully rested in preparation for our trip back up to mainland.  It’s going to be great!

Clara and Armistead fell asleep during the movie tonight, so I got to do Harrison’s 11pm feeding, and it was so sweet.  He doesn’t wake up…you just feed him while he is sleeping, and it was perhaps the sweetest thing ever.  He just cuddles right up to you and drinks that milk like there is no tomorrow.  I sure do love this kid, and I’m sure going to miss him so much when we leave!

xoxo,

gigi

ps. Have you seen “Memoirs?”  What did you think?  I am so, so, so excited to go to that temple where she is running through all the red arches…it actually exists!  Prepare yourselves for pictures!

Japan Day 9

Hello.

Today was a really chill day.  Clara had some stuff to do for her business in the morning, so Harrison and I hung out with the dogs.  I also spent a lot of time today working on some stuff for school (which let me tell ya…bundles of fun up in here).  I actually did not take one photo today!  I tried to get some of Harrison and the dogs together, but they didn’t turn out well.

We went shopping in the afternoon and I also was able to mail some postcards.  Other than that, it was a pretty chill day.  We booked all our travel and lodging for our trip back up to mainland for the end of this week, so that is all taken care of.  There are so many things to do in Kyoto!  I’m sad we only get to spend 2 1/2 days there!  But, I guess I’m just saving stuff to do on my next trip out! ;)

Hope you all have wonderful Wednesdays!  I’m off to bed now because I am tired after working on forms all day.

xoxo,

 

gigi

ps. Do you write postcards when you go on vacation?  I just love to send a little “thinking of you” note to people I know.  It is so fun for both me and the recipient!

First episode of “Sanditon”

Hello.

Double post day!  Just because there is a very exciting development from YouTube today.  Gigi (Darcy that is!) just posted her very first vlog for the new “Sanditon” series.  Here it is:

I can’t tell how it is going to be…but if it is anything like The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, it’ll be awesome!  I just thought I would let everyone know so you can check it out, if you’re interested.  I’m thinking that assistant to the mayor is looking pretty cute…and about Gigi’s age.  Hmm.  We’ll see how things pan out!

xoxo,

 

gigi

ps. Are you as big a fan of The Lizzie Bennett Diaries as I am?  I thought they were absolutely amazing!