Friday, August 30, 2013

NAF Atsugi Bon Odori Festival 2013

I wrote about last year's Bon Odori festival here.  This year, I was excited to be taking part in the festival!  Our husbands were deployed, but the wives of 141 came out to support us!

141 Dancers!
Mrs. Bag-O, our XO's wife, me, CO's wife (COW)

Mrs. Bag-O + Me

141 Wives!

More 141 wives!

Me + Mrs. Bag-O

Our cute bows

NAF Atsugi Dancers doing a dance to Call Me Maybe

Other groups of Japanese Bon dancers were invited to participate in our festival

NAF Atsugi dancers on the stage

Mrs. Bag-O and I ... the photo is blurry but it makes me laugh!

Dancers ... you can see our obi bows and everyone's pretty updos!

Our friend Mrs. Handy

Action shots

More action shots!

Mrs. Bag-O and I

All in all, I am glad I participated in Bon Odori dancing this summer!  It was definitely out of my comfort zone - I am super uncoordinated and hate being in the limelight - but all of the festivals we participated in this summer were a lot of fun.  It was also a great opportunity to learn about a part of Japanese culture that I probably never would have known about had I not moved to Japan.  If you are over here and you have the opportunity to participate, I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Girls Trip to Tokyo!

Mrs. S., Mrs. Bag-O and I took a girls trip to Tokyo one Tuesday night in July.  It is extremely hard to get rooms at the DOD hotel in Tokyo (the New Sanno) so we had to go mid-week!

We spent our first day touring Sensoji Temple in Asakusa ...

Tokyo Skytree from Asakusa

The main gate into the temple grounds ...

The main gate opens into a shopping street which leads up to the main temple entrance ...

Main gate into the temple

Me, Mrs. Bag-O and Mrs. S.

Beautiful lanterns

The main temple building

Getting our fortunes

Mrs. Bag-O had a bad fortune so she tied it to the wires and left it at the shrine

Looking out over the temple grounds from the top of the temple steps

Five tiered pagoda

Tokyo Skytree

Another shot of the main shopping street on our way out

After we saw the temple, we headed over to Harajuku to visit 246 Commons and make a stop at one of my favorite places ... Garrett's Popcorn!


and ribbon fries ... YUM!

We had dinner that night at Cicada which I highly recommend next time you are in Tokyo!  Great food and very reasonable prices for the city.  Unfortunately, I did not take any photos!

It was raining the next morning and everything we wanted to do was outside, so we decided to get a Starbucks and find this cupcake shop we'd read about before heading back to Atsugi.

Mai's Cupcakes


My cute little package of cupcakes

and my Garrett's popcorn.

It was fun to get out of Atsugi for the night and I checked Sensoji Temple off my Japan Bucket List!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Yasukuni Shrine

On a hot Sunday in July, Mrs. Bag-O and I took the train into Tokyo to go to the Mitama Matsuri festival at Yasukuni Shrine.  The best thing about this shrine, is that it is located just blocks away from the apartment my grandparents lived in when they were in Tokyo in the early 1990's.  We planned to visit their apartment and then head to the festival.   

We had to change our plans though, when we arrived at Ichigaya Station and found that it was POURING rain.  It was so bad, that even the Japanese people (prepared with umbrellas) were waiting it out.  We decided to go back to Shinjuku and find somewhere to have dinner. 

It turned out to be a great side trip because we found that there are TONS of places to eat in Shinjuku without even having to leave the train station AND we discovered that my favorite Thai restaurant from Bangkok has a branch in Tokyo!

After we had stuffed ourselves full of Thai, we decided to try again.  Thankfully, when we reached the entrance to Ichigaya, the rain had stopped.  We made our way to Yasukuni and were not disappointed.  This festival is one of Tokyo's biggest Obon Festivals and is known for the 30,000 lanterns that light the path to the shrine.

Lanterns inside the shrine grounds

The main shrine building

The entrance leading out to the lantern lined path

Standing on the steps of the shrine's entrance, looking out at the lantern lined path

Looking back at the main entrance to the shrine

It was a gorgeous sight!  

I am so glad that the rain let up so we could attend this festival!  Afterwards, we made our way over to 20 Ichiban-cho to see my grandparents old stomping grounds.  It was dark, so I didn't get any good pictures but it was exciting to see that it was still there!  I plan to go back during the day before we leave Japan!

The business card, that opens into a map, for my grandparents