Monday, May 2, 2022

April 2022 recap - sakura season & a (virtual) half marathon

I haven't used this monthly recap format since I was re-evaluating what I wanted to post here a few years ago, but since I will be living in Japan for a limited time and wanted to keep this blog as a bit of a diary, I thought it might be nice to try it again! It will also be a good way to include smaller activities that we do throughout the month that I don't feel like can stand alone as their own post. I likely won't have something super exciting every month, but that's just how life is and at least that's honest. Let's give it try!

This is the recap for my first full month living and working in Japan! 

Sakura season
Even though I was reluctant to come, I did feel lucky that I arrived in time for sakura season and I think the first full week/end I was here was the estimated full bloom. I wouldn't really consider myself a flower person and wouldn't travel to Japan specifically for sakura, but while we are here, no reason to ignore it! We were recommended to check out Odawara Castle and Oooka River for good spots in the area and ended up going to both on the same day!
Husband and I headed to Odawara Castle almost on a whim. Caught the train about 90 minutes over there, walked around the castle grounds, took pictures got a snack and then headed back to Yokohama. 

We met up with our friends and then headed over to Oooka River area, intending to get to the food booths. We were on almost the opposite end of the river from the food, so we walked a LOT and saw a lot of trees before giving up and catching the train the last couple of stops. 

There was also just some sakura trees scattered throughout the neighborhood and other areas where we would frequent without being specifically a landmark area, so here's a few more pictures!
A lot of it was better in person or I didn't get a good chance to get a photo, but I'm sure I'll be more prepared next year, haha. 

We also went to the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Flower Garden event which was after the couple weeks of sakura but honestly it was as amazing as the ads made it seem lol.
Got a couple cute photos out of it but it wasn't much of an illumination and actually not as many flowers as I thought and we only stayed for maybe 15 minutes and even walked elsewhere to eat dinner haha.

Virtual half marathon
I had signed up to run the 2020 Hapalua, which is a half marathon on Oahu, back in 2019. It was originally scheduled for April 2020, but as you can guess, it did not happen that year. It was postponed twice since then before finally having the full event in 2022. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to run it in person, but they allowed for "virtual" entries. I signed up my husband for his own virtual entry and we ran the 13.1 mile distance together! 
The weather had really warmed up this day which was a little unfortunate, but we were still able to complete it close to our expected time. My husband routed the whole thing, and there was a lot of different scenery which was really nice!
Supposedly we will eventually get the Hapalua's finishers shirt and medal in the mail at the end of May. 

A few other silly pictures of us warming up to go running from this month :)

Firsts/new things
I drove for the first time in Japan, including a couple of times by myself. In past trips, I've never rented a car in Japan and never had any desire to drive tbh. However, driving is the most convenient way to get to work, so it is good for me to be able to do this on my own, and luckily we do not live too far (about 10-13 minutes depending on how many lights we catch). I just have to make sure I keep a pair of flats or sneakers in the car because we were told that you're not allowed to wear slippers or high heels when driving! 
(unmasked bc it's just me and my husband in the car / same household)

My husband has an established group of friends (mainly other people from Hawaii who are living and working in the area), so we will often see at least once or twice a week in varying numbers. This is something different than what we would do on Oahu - partially because we didn't live in that close proximity to people and also just...I'm not sure? lol. But I'm not opposed to it, and it's fun to have other people to play board games, trivia nights or just go out to lunch or dinner with. We hosted or had people over to the house a few times so far, and it's really casual which makes it fun without being too stressful.
Even though regularly hanging out with friends isn't specifically a Japan-only experience, it kind of is a new thing for me and just something nice to fill the days since we often see them twice a week if not more. I'm looking forward to doing a lot more of this!

What we're eating
This month, we ate a lot of ramen! There are about 5-6 ramen places within decent walking distance from our house but we have a favorite that has a stamp card and doesn't close between lunch and dinner which is a huge plus. 

Kura Sushi and also Kappa Sushi more than once

at home hot pot (x2) with just the things we like to eat, haha

Kushi-yo (all you can eat)

Yakiniku King (all you can eat)

Tonkatsu Wako (a chain that one of my favorites, often found in shopping malls)

kawara CAFE & DINING


Mendokoro Shinya Ramen (we went here 3-4x this month lol. They have a loyalty stamp card!)

Hayama Torigin which we only went to bc the brunch place nearby was full but it was very nice!

I would like this to be a repeat section every month to keep track of places we tried and especially liked, or even ones we didn't!  I'm familiar with a number of chain restaurants from my past trips and because those are familiar and easy, we sometimes gravitate to eating at those places repeatedly, especially because I'm a picky eater. This is not necessarily something that happens specific to Japan, but while we're here, I want to encourage us to keep trying, even when the menu looks daunting!

Work & misc life updates
I am working full time in the office which is a bit of an adjustment compared to working full time from home back in Hawaii. I have a pretty reasonable cubicle - it's at the end of an aisle and even though it's near the paper shredder, the walls are decently high. It is smaller than my old desk so not all of my stuff fits(!) but a portion of it is a standing desk with a manual crank - an upgrade from not having a standing desk at all! I probably crank it up and down a few times a day lol. Still trying to figure out if I want to get a leaning chair but the space is comfy enough for now. 
First day after I moved the desk a little :)
Standing desk side
Stationary desk with lots of photos of my old coworkers!
I had a bit of a rough time at the Admin Day luncheon. I was feeling a bit shy, already have a lot of insecurities about eating in front of people, and unintentionally ended up  having lunch while sitting in a corner by myself with two full tables a few feet away. It was basically like that stereotypical high school movie scene where the new kid has their lunch tray and looks out at all the cafeteria tables and then ends up eating in a bathroom stall. I don't really want to expand on that too much, but it just felt awful and not something that I feel like would have happened with my old group...

Another thing that's quite different from HI is that I feel compelled/want(?) to do outfit posts again since I'm dressing for work and to go out much more regularly - I mean, pretty much everyday that I leave the house just based on what our lifestyle is like here lol. 
There's quite a few that I captured this month, so I put them all in another post! I hope I can keep it up throughout our time here, even if things get a little repetitive eventually. 

I didn't have as much time for blogging and editing some of the content as I had anticipated (I still have 4-5 backlogged posts and this post is a few days late as well), but I think that's not a problem! My husband and I are spending time together or with friends and that seems very worthwhile to me, even if I only end up with a (late) monthly recap for a post every month. I am trying to keep up with Instagram the most (typically outfit/fashion related posts at least 5 times a week while I have content to post), so please consider checking me out there if that's the kind of content you want :)

I have also started a list of things for us to consider doing while in Japan. If you have any suggestions, especially for activities/experiences outside of Tokyo, please let me know and I will add it to our list! I know we will probably not get to everything, but at least we can look at it for reference if we want to plan something for a long weekend :)


  1. the food pics!! definitely support having this section. everything looks so good.

    I don't know if this is something you'd be interesting but it would be cool to see what kind of non-japanese food is available in the area and what it's like.

    1. If we go to a non-Japanese restaurant, I will definitely include it here! We've done take out from a few places so far (which isn't as nice to photograph lol) but haven't eaten in yet. I think there's a few on the list, so hopefully you'll see at least one or two next month as we continue to branch out! (Although I also want to get into the habit of making our own food too, haha.)

  2. I can understand why you didn't want to leave your home in Hawaii, but you seem to have a nice life in Japan too now, which is good!
    I'd recommend the Izu peninsula. It has a lot of great nature spots. I just went there in April and would love to go again. The only thing is that you need a car and there are many winding and steep mountain roads. It can definitely take a full day or more.

    1. I am trying to make a conscious effort to post about the good things on the blog specifically (my husband doesn't get the same courtesy so he is always hearing my complaints lol), but I do know that it could be much worse.
      Thank you for the recommendation! I've been to Izu once before for the cactus park and Mt Omuro and my husband recently went once while I wasn't here as well but I know there is much more. I'm sure we will visit again - next time hopefully together haha!

    2. I see! I guess that's something to keep in mind when someone's life seems ideal online.
      I'm not sure where else you've been, but other day trips (or a bit longer) from Tokyo include Matsumoto Castle, Nikko Toshogu, Kamakura, or perhaps even Shizuoka. Places I haven't made it to yet include Kawagoe, Enoshima, and Hakone, which I've heard good things about.