Friday, March 1, 2024

February 2024 recap - Karuizawa weekend, Inter Miami game, Hokkaido Snow Festivals & Kansai trip, HAIR CHOP

We headed straight into February with lots of packed weekends and things going on. Despite the shorter month, we had something of note pretty much every single week and barely slowed down. This is our last winter, so we tried to take advantage of things we wouldn't do in Hawaii!

Weekend in Karuizawa
For this snowboarding trip, we went with my husband's childhood friend and his gf who also live in Japan (he ran the Yokohama Marathon and climbed Fuji with us), and this was our first time snowboarding/skiing with them!
My husband and I had never heard of or been to this area before, but it has easy access from the train station and isn't too far from Tokyo. 
My husband's friend and his gf were catching the train in, but we drove, so we got there nice and early and were able to be among the first on the Intermediate run at the edge of the resort. It's all articifial snow here, so it has a much different feel than I'm used to!
It ended up being really crowded with tons of beginners, so lots of waiting at the lifts. With the snow quality only being so-so (or even a bit junk in some areas), we stayed just for a bit after lunch. 

The highlight of the weekend was absolutely the hotel we stayed at thanks to our friend's gf who works for the hotel group. Indigo Hotel Karuizawa was leaps and bounds nicer than anything we've stayed at in a while, especially for snowboarding and it made for a nice relaxing stay in the area. 
We didn't end up going back to the Prince Karuizawa for snowboarding the second day (like the initial plan) and instead had a leisurely breakfast buffet at the hotel and some shopping at the outlet mall next to the resort instead! Not the snowboarding trip we had envisioned, but a much better chill weekend with friends and great food instead. 

Inter Miami vs Vissel Kobe soccer game
This wasn't on my radar, but my husband invited me to join, so let's go! The Inter Miami team feat. Lionel Messi was playing an exhibition game in Tokyo at the Japan National Stadium, and it wasn't impossible to get tickets. The game was on a Wednesday, so we headed into Tokyo after work. 
Most of the merchandise was already sold out by the time we got there, but at least we didn't have to wait in the monster line lol. Our seats were pretty high up but still had a decent view and was on the Miami players side so we could see the subs warm up - including Messi who didn't start but did get onto the field in the second half! The hype in the crowd was real whenever he got the ball lol. 
Super shitty phone pictures, but it was really great in person. The game was tied at the end, so they even did PKs (although Messi didn't participate). Lots of fun and a good experience with friends. 

Hokkaido Snow Festival - Sapporo, Asahikawa, Otaru
We were in Hokkaido in February last year with friends for snowboarding, but one week after the Snow Festival, so we missed it. This year, my parents planned a trip specifically for it and invited us to join them! 
My dad planned the whole trip, and we got to check out the festivals in Sapporo (Odori Park and Susukino areas), Asahikawa and Otaru while spending time with our family and even included some hands on experiences as well. Sapporo blog post is here. Asahikawa blog post is here. Otaru blog post is here!

Kansai WIDE Area Pass weekend trip
4 days after coming back from Hokkaido, I had planned a 3-day trip to the Kansai area because we had a long weekend I wanted to take advantage of! There is as JR pass that all foreign residents are eligible to use called the Kansai WIDE Area Pass which includes unlimited JR trains in the regional area for 3 days. (This is different from the 5 day JR West All Area Pass that is only available for tourists.)
We flew into KIX, made a stop in Wakayama and spent the night in Kyoto. 
The next day, we made our way over to Amanohashidate and then ended the day with a Kobe beef dinner!
For the third day, we visited Himeji Castle and caught the shinkansen to Okayama, where we spent a few hours before flying back to Tokyo. 
It was a very quick trip with lots of transit, but we were able to cover a lot of ground thanks to the rail pass! Full blog posts for each day here [Day 1 - Wakayama] [Day 2 - Amanohashidate] [Day 3 - Himeji]

Kawazuzakura in Miura
Weekend 1
We still had a day off after returning from our 3-day Kansai trip, and I knew what I wanted to do with it. HEAD TO MIURA AND SEE THE KAWAZUZAKURA. Kawazuzakura is an early blooming cherry blossom. I learned about it for the first time last year but we were traveling in Hokkaido during the best peak bloom and was only able to see it as the sun was setting a bit later. This year, I was determined to go during the day. 
We decided to drive down to the area this time instead of catch the train and found some parking not too far, probably because it was a Monday. PINK FLOWERS IN FULL EFFECT. It was wonderful and everything I wanted it to be. The only bummer (if you would even consider it that) is that we came to run, and I'm wearing a running outfit with a cobalt blue hydration vest instead of a cute sakura-themed girly coordinate lol. 
Running did mean we got to the trees lining the road much faster and also traveled through to Misakiguchi station as well (hadn't done that before). 
We did a loop long run in the Miura area to help prep for our half marathon next month and then stopped by the trees near MiuraKaigan station before heading home. 
I loved it! It's so fun running under the trees and being surrounded by bright, fun pink color. The rest of the run was a bit grey and monotonous in contrast, but the beginning and end were perfect. IG reels of our run through the flowers can be found here (week 1) and here (week 2). I'm rewatching them over and over again myself hahaha.

Weekend 2
I couldn't resist going back one more time during this full bloom period. This time I went by myself and started my long run just along the main road with the trees, down and back. I also made a short stop at the park to see the trees along the pond. 
Lots and lots of petals on the ground from the three straight days of heavy rain that preceded this, but I was lucky to have blue skies this day (and a lot of wind though lol). 
Not as many photos or picturesque moments, but it was a fun way to start my day and I'm glad I did it! It was worth it to see something that's so seasonal that we won't be able to get in Hawaii.

Haircut at ASSORT Tokyo
I've been wanting to do something different with my hair for a while. My haircut last August was nice, but very much in the same vein that I've already been doing. This time, after lots of reels coming up on my IG explore page, I decided to try ASSORT Tokyo, especially because a number of their stylists are very proficient in English. I booked with Canon for a hair cut + one-process color (no bleach). 
I don't have that many pictures and the salon is QUITE busy. I think Canon might have been working on 3 clients (including me) at the same time, if not more. I did go in with my hair curled from the day before so I'm not confident with how much was cut, but I would estimate somewhere around 10-11 inches. It's now just below shoulder length! I also asked for the color to be blended with my roots a bit more.
Before and after
I'll be honest - I don't love it like I thought I would. But it's different and it's what I asked for (although maybe I would have preferred the color be a little darker). I think I need to get used to styling it, especially with different genres of clothing and I'd prefer for the bangs to be a little longer (but I knew the haircut should be to this length). So far I think it'll make me look a bit more matronly with a more modest feminine otona outfit but has more potential to be younger-feeling with a girlier and shorter hemline. I do really enjoy the little bouncy ponytail when I run now compared to the long horse tail I had swinging around before. Stay tuned :)

What we ate
Ala carte dinner selections at KAGARIBI, Indigo Hotel (Karuizawa)

Breakfast buffet at KAGARIBI, Indigo Hotel (Karuizawa)

Rairai tei 

CoCo Ichibanya

Ramen Kz

Marugame Udon 

Krispy Kreme (chocolate ones are Valentines Day special)

Soup Curry Shabazo スープカレー しゃば蔵 (Sapporo, Hokkaido Day 1)

Kumachan Onsen くまちゃん温泉 札幌本館 (Sapporo, Hokkaido Day 1)

Krispy Kreme donuts (top one is Valentines Day special, middle one is Hokkaido-limited)

Palemta (Asahikawa, Hokkaido Day 2)

Ramen Santouka (Sapporo, Hokkaido Day 2)

Waraku Kaiten Sushi 和楽 小樽店 (Otaru, Hokkaido Day 3)

New Chitose Airport snacks


Ramen Hasegawa

Mama Bhanja


Gokoku Hojo Kuraichi (Haneda Airport T1)

Ide Shoten 井出商店 (Wakayama, Kansai Day 1)

天空の雫 (Wakayama, Kansai Day 1)

Yakitori Ichiban やきとり一番 京都駅八条口店 (Kyoto, Kansai Day 1)

Yoshinoya よし乃や (Amanohashidate, Kansai Day 2)

Biftek Kawamura Sannomiya ビフテキのカワムラ 三宮本店 (Kobe, Kansai Day 2)

Croissant Taiyaki (Kobe, Kansai Day 2)

Yamasa Kamaboko (Himeji, Kansai Day 3)

Tsurukameya 鶴亀家 (Himeji, Kansai Day 3)

Gozasoro Factory Shop 御座候 工場ショップ (Himeji, Kansai Day 3)

Coco Ichibanya

Afuri Ramen

Kappa Sushi


Personal life/Miscellaneous
Outfits this month are posted here. Not the best showing for this month (I missed a handful of outfits that I should have captured but didn't get a chance), but the quantity is not that bad even if the lighting and layout of some suck lol. 
We had a lot going on in February which meant lots of different coordinates for different occasions which is kind of fun. Especially with the varying weather/temperature.

Work also picked up this month with a team member leaving, but I'm not mad about it. I'm happy to be executing at a decent pace while I'm doing some reachback work from a different area. It'll likely continue to be that way until we leave, so this month was a good starting off point. 

We have a half marathon coming up right at the beginning of next month, so I'm really looking forward to that and hope we get some clear skies and moderate temperatures (crossing my fingers hard for a nice view of Mt Fuji because I always love that). 
I've also been loving posting on my running IG account, so if you're at all interested in that type of content or just want to see more consistency from me, please consider giving me a follow! (Meanwhile I'm still trying to clear out my two month backlog on my @_emiii_chan main.)

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