Japan: Tokyo

Our original plan was to spend our fourth and last day of vacation driving up to the Fifth Station of Fuji and doing a bit of hiking, but it was pouring rain and wind was shaking the car, so they weren’t letting people drive up. We were disappointed, but were glad we had at least found the musical road that plays music when you drive over it. So we drove into Tokyo instead.

S watching the wind from our Air BnB before the rain picked up.

Our first stop was the Imperial Palace. We had tried to go twice before, but once it was closed and another time the rain kept us inside. So we went not on a Friday (it’s always closed on Fridays) and thankfully the rain in Tokyo wasn’t as bad as it had been at Fuji.

Different kinds of bamboo

S brought me a flower!

Then we got back in the car and drove to Shibuya. We almost didn’t drive, but it was cheaper to drive than take the subway there and back and it was also faster… so there went my “I won’t drive downtown Tokyo and definitely not through Shibuya crossing” statement. It really wasn’t so bad. People are polite and follow rules in Japan, so even though it was crowded it wasn’t too nerve-wracking.

We walked through the crossing and took S to meet Hachiko.

And then we went to get sushi, since a sushi chef in San Diego said we had to get it in Shibuya and this was the best economical sushi I could find reviews of online.

Japan: Fuji Lakes

After our day in Shirakawa-go, we stayed the night in Takayama and in the morning drove to the Fuji Lakes – another gorgeous drive.

Our first stop was Iyashi no Sato, which was neat, but not as impressive (though the houses were quite different) than Shirakawa-go, and was mostly stores and not people demonstrating how to do the handicrafts as I had thought it would be. We were also a little sad because it was a cloudy day and we didn’t see Fuji at all.

But we still enjoyed walking around.

We got ice cream as we finally saw more flavors than matcha and vanilla. I had been wanting to try wasabi for a while and black sesame is one of our favorites, so those are the two we got!

Then we headed over to Lake Kawaguchiko and the Music Forest. S probably enjoyed it the most – I was a little disappointed as I was expecting it to have more outdoor hands-on musical activities and natural musical instruments.

We popped into the Herb Hall just to see what it was, since I had read about it.

Then we got udon and tempura at a place our Air BnB host had recommended.

Japan: Shirakawa-go

Because of some of Studio Ghibli’s movies, both of us really wanted to see the Japanese countryside. Unfortunately, nothing close to us was what we were looking for (you could find houses but not the fields), so we decided to make the drive across Japan. It was worth it! We went to Shirakawa-Go after staying the night in the mountains near Matsumoto.

Starting off our day with an open-air private hot spring.

We started with the museum so we could go into houses without having to pay for each one individually (more info on details here).

Then we went across the river to the village where people still live and work.

Before we left we went up to the overlook to get a view of the whole area.

Closer to Tokyo you can find places like Nihon Minka-En, Iyashi No Sato at Lake Saiko by Fuji, and this place in Tokyo. This is a little closer to Tokyo, being in Takayama instead of Shirakawa (about 45 minutes away). But in our opinion the drive is gorgeous – full of mountains, forests, and rice fields – and well worth it!

Japan: Road Trip & Matsumoto Castle

We debated for a while as to whether we should go to Kyoto and Hiroshima on Ezra’s time off or do Fuji and the countryside closer to the Western coast of Japan. Eventually we decided that we would be more sad to miss Fuji and the countryside than Kyoto and Hiroshima, so we chose that. Then as I was doing research we found that one of Japan’s best castles, Matsumoto castle, would be on our way across Japan, so we stopped for a bit there before heading into the mountains nearby for the night.
If you want to look for castles close to where you are already going in Japan, this is super helpful!

This trip was the most driving we’ve done with S since she started walking, so I was nervous about that. We weren’t on a really tight schedule, so that helped me relax about it a bit, and she did pretty well, sleeping a fair bit and also sitting peacefully or playing with toys. But she was always thrilled to get out of the car and her favorite thing to do once out was play with rocks.
We were also relieved to find that driving long distances in Japan is really not bad. Tolls can be pretty expensive, but the further away from the cities you get the fewer there are. The toll roads are so much easier to drive on than narrower streets shared with pedestrians and bicyclists, and there are frequent rest stops that are much cleaner and nicer than American ones.

We checked TripAdvisor for nearby restaurants and had some yummy soba and tempura as a result!

S loves the traditional low tables, and we loved the heating table! I found this place on Air BnB and it’s probably our favorite place we’ve stayed in Japan, especially for the price.

Food in Japan, Part 3

I apologize for the silence! I have a lot of posts coming but none of them were ready quite yet. :)

Japanese pizza

Hokkaido is famous for its dairy

Japanese bakeries.

This is our favorite kind of restaurant – you have your own little room, with a table that’s sunk into the ground, so you can dangle your legs but it’s still the height of traditional Japanese tables. Most of the dishes are small and meant to be shared around, so it’s great for taking guests who want to try a variety of foods all in one place.

I have no idea how ethical this is but it’s whale.

Not Japanese food, but definitely food in Japan: they LOVE Indian food here.

This was tasty! I don’t know what’s on the outside, but the inside was hot rice and meat.

yellow kiwi
I had heard about a hole-in-the-wall place that had udon and soba, so we went and ended up having the best curry ever.

Peace ice cream!

Ezra is much more daring than I am when it comes to food. He ordered this having no idea what it was… and it was good but we still have no idea what it was.

Black sesame ice cream on the left, wasabi ice cream on the right.

A sushi chef in San Diego said “get sushi in Shibuya!” Shibuya has tons of sushi places and food in general, but we still added it to our bucket list and I did some research and last time we were in Tokyo we went to a standing sushi bar in Shibuya that was definitely tasty! But ALL sushi in Japan is so much higher quality than what you get in the states, and it’s hard for us to tell much beyond that.


Started April off with the final youth orchestra concert
Eeyore, my family’s dog, and S became best buds. He slept in our room most of the time we were in Dubai and S was thrilled every morning to see him first thing. He normally stays away from small kids, but was very tolerant of all of S’s cuddles.

en route to Ras al Khaimah for the day

For our morning walk before breakfast we went up to get juice!

out to the desert for sunset and night air. And cheese and za’atar bread. S may hate the water, but she loves being in the sand.

The house cat is known as the ‘mean cat’ she’s not allowed to go near, but S adores the friendly neighbor kitty.

a casual country dancing ball the day before I left

So thankful for all the people that helped us on our trip back, from mom and dad taking us in at the airport, to the man that said we didn’t have to weigh our carry-on after the lady said we had to (God heard those prayers ;)), and for all the people that helped the short pregnant lady with a toddler get bags in and out of bins on the plane and on and off the conveyor and bus. And the 3 people that didn’t show up so the row next to us was open and we got 2 seats. And the people that offered us a ride home on our 10 minute walk back from the bus. And that there were no delays on the flight and that S slept and ate well.

We missed their peak, but there were still some cherry blossoms left!

Finishing up my IBCD Level 2 Exam… and finding places S had helped me study. ;)

S’s Dubai souvenir.

This is the first time in 10 years that I’ve had 4 seasons!

She loves to climb onto her stool and stand at the counter, which makes it so much easier to cook!

She finally decided yogurt was actually pretty good stuff.

I re-made this sweater, but checked my gauge this time and STILL made it bigger than the pattern and the 3T fits her now. Not sure what’s up with that but hopefully it will still fit when the smaller one fits her sister!

She loves bringing us clothes and asking to wear them. Here she had brought me one sock to wear with her footed PJs.
Made a ring sling for when baby gets here. It works to use with S but she’s not a fan.


S doesn’t like green kiwis but she loved this yellow one!

a friend let me test-drive her City Select. Not the top of our list, but it works.

I wasn’t craving them like I was with S, but had been having trouble meal planning and cinnamon rolls sounded good…

S rarely nurses in public any more, but when she does the summer infant swaddle blankets we had were just too small now so I splurged.

Ezra went to Korea and brought me this…

We got the best curry + udon from a hole in the wall.

She sometimes carries shirts around with her all day as a lovey.

Finally got our hands on Ponyo!

favorite recipes// Creamy Pesto Mac // vegan carrot soup with caramelized onion // bacon chicken caesar casserole // unbaked brownies // no sugar added banana nut granola // nori rolls

best of online//  Syria and My Prayerlessness // frozen foods // breaking down the “other” // daily routine fitness tips from fit2be // 31 Days to a Stronger Tummy {thankful that because of my sister I was aware of diastasis recti and have been able to prevent it with these exercises during pregnancy!} // porch preaching // comparison of Jesus Storybook Bible & Big Picture Storybook Bible // interview with Michael Card // Wiegenlied – Strauss // prevent tearing during birth // Yemen after a year of airstrikes // electric shock drowning // 10 Lessons from a Mom of Many // Secret life of Babies // Why do people join Boko Haram? // DIY Magnesium Oil

reading of late// a booklet of Spurgeon nuggets // A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War (Joseph Loconte

the Munchkins// S is saying so many new words and jabbering almost all the time. She loves books, drinking water, and going to the playground (and eating).
Akachan is a GIRL and is more active than S was!

writing// finished my editing of Love Victorious!