Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy 28th Birthday, Jacob! お誕生日おめでとうございます!

To the best travel buddy, personal chef, laughing coach, and fun-loving hubby there is! I always love celebrating birthdays with you!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lake Toya Marathon

This weekend we took a little journey to the gorgeous Lake Toya area, about 3 hours south of Sapporo. It wasn't for camping or boating or swimming, however, but instead to do a little running:

I participated in the Lake Toya 10K run, and Jacob came to complete the full marathon, his first, which he had been training for during the last couple of months!

Turns out, it was a perfect time to be in Toya...the cherry blossoms were still in full bloom, the sun was brilliant, and there was plenty abuzz with preparations for the races:

I've written about Lake Toya before as it is such a beautiful volcanic caldera lake with crystal-clear waters. This weekend was no exception to how wonderful a place it is:


The marathon start...

...and Jacob's off! Good thing he's easy to spot!

After our races (which I think I actually got my best 10K run time yet!), there was plenty to hold us over while Jacob made his way around the lake, including plenty of photo opps...

...walking amidst all of the yummy "festival" food scents wafting through the air...

...hunting for some crazy runner get-ups (not nearly as many as back home, but there's still hope for the Japanese)...

...and a mochi (sticky rice substance) pounding ceremony:

Finally, the last leg of a long day of running for Jacob:

The happy marathon finishers: Jake and Takada san (who works in our school office):

And, we all know the marathon isn't truly completed until there's a cold, frosty, post-race beer in hand:

The awesomeness that is Lake Toya's many area onsens (hot springs) ensured that every runner of the day got to partake in a free hot onsen-outing, so after redeeming ours in a lovely cave onsen, it was back to Sapporo for us (visions of hearty Indian food and realities of achy joints and muscles abound)!

Jacob kicked butt. The weather kicked butt. All around, it was an amazing time, once again, down in Toya! Can't wait to get back there for some (less painful?) camping this summer!

Friday, May 21, 2010

札幌の桜 Sapporo's Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)

Sapporo's magnificent cherry blossoms were finally in full bloom last weekend, prompting lots of hanami BBQ parties, strolls in the parks, and photos!

Even though there is still a slight chill in the air, I actually feel as if Spring has officially decided to come for a visit! Welcome, ol' buddy! It's been a long, long time...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rob and Minami's New Baby Boy, Kai! おめでとうございます!

It seems like not to long ago, I was photographing our friends, Rob and Minami's wedding. Now, they have a brand new baby boy (as of last week) who is even more photo-worthy:

My friend, Steph, and I went to visit the new, happy family in the hospital this past weekend:

Of course, we know that any good newborn gift should properly consist of chocolate and donuts:

Congratulations you guys and all the best! Can't wait to photograph Kai as he grows a ton this year!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Golden Week Part IV: Sapporo (and the end)

If you missed Part I (Tokyo), Part II (Nikko), and Part III (Hakodate) of our Golden Week adventure, you can check them out here, here, and here!

The final leg of Mom's vacation (or high-impact adventure) to Japan took place in our home city of Sapporo. Turns out, she made the perfect show-and-tell to take to school, and I think that she, my students, and my co-workers really enjoyed her visits:

Our school's Tea Ceremony Club even invited us to a special private performance of an Ryurei-style tea ceremony. If you're not familiar with the Japanese tea ceremony, it's quite an elegant and ritualistic affair. Besides that, you get to eat delicious sweets and drink thick, green matcha tea:

For Mother's Day, we headed down to Maruyama Park to partake in hanami, which is basically a huge BBQ picnic under the cherry blossoms (which the Japanese have turned into almost a religious affair, and I rather like it!). While the cursed cold ensured that the blossoms still weren't completely full bloom, we had quite the fun, international affair (our little group consisted of peeps from America, South Africa, Scotland, New Zeland, and Japan):

There are ALWAYS to friends to be made at each and every hanami:

Besides all of the other cool parts about Mom coming to stay with us, I also got a new flower and veggie garden out of the deal! Thanks, Mom!

Saying goodbye:

So two weeks came and totally flew by, and I learned just how much fun it can be traveling with my mom! Don't know why we didn't think of that earlier, but I hope this is just the beginning of a new travel partnership (what do you think about Europe now, Mom?)!

As for the real world, it's back to it for all of us! Oh Golden Week, you ruin me every year...