It has been a whirlwind of a year. Sadly, it is our last full year in Japan. As we continue on the never-ending wheel of time (!), we wanted to reflect on some of our favorite adventures of 2013.
Dustin left us to attend training in Okinawa. I suffered in the snow while he had upper 70s every day.
I joined Dustin on a quick adventure in beautiful Okinawa. We explored the amazing Churaumi Aquarium and had the best food in Japan to date.
We attended the Iwakuni Wine Festival again and visitied our favorite okonomiyaki restaurant enough that they know our order. We spent a weekend hiking in the mountains surrounding Hiroshima and stumbled across the beautiful Peace Pagoda and Toshogu Shrine. Towards the end of the month we took the night bus up to Tokyo for the Anime Fair.
Warmer weather brought the beautiful, yet short-lived, cherry blossoms that are associated with a Japanese spring. We also participated in our first half marathon, an event that has changed my lifestyle in so many ways.
We spent another warm weekend in Hiroshima viewing the Confectionary Expo and tasting treats from various regions of Japan. On another weekend we cycled 70km (43 miles) on the famed Shimanami Kaido. Around Memorial Day we left our beloved host country and traveled to China. Our favorite stop on our whirlwind week tour was hiking through the Huangshan Mountains.
We relaxed in June. And by relax I mean the back-breaking work of rice planting. By hand.
My mother flew out for a quick visit. We spent a few days showing our local area before traveling to Tokyo and enjoying gardens, sightseeing, and Disney Sea. We also got to see Square Enix's new headquarters and have a few drinks at Artnia. Lastly, we also found time to finish our SCUBA certification and get a few open water dives under our belts. I can't wait for warmer weather so I can get back into the water!
My miserably hot birthday month did not keep us from exploring. And this time we had a bigger group! My family and grandparents made the journey to visit. We spent time in Iwakuni, Kyoto, and Tokyo. During their visit, Japan experienced the hottest day on record. It was a bit miserable but was so great to see my family and show them some of our favorite experiences in Japan.
After a busy spring and summer we were glad for a slower September. We escaped the heat and had our first Japanese movie theater experience.
I laced up my running shoes and got back on the road once the weather cooled a bit. Definitely glad I did because some friends introduced us to a make-your-own okonomiyaki restaurant in Iwakuni. We eat there more than we should. Like weekly. We also made a quick trip (I know, again!) to Tokyo for the Tokyo Game Show. It was worth every penny to experience a game convention and cosplay expo.
Fall means mikan season in Japan which resulted in high Vitamin C intake going into flu season. After eight years of hair tumbleweeds and please-throw-the-ball-one-more-time!'s our beloved Indiana went to a farm up north. We miss him but are reassured knowing he had a long life filled with lots of love. We capped the month with a delicious feast with friends and military family.
The close of the year has been quiet on the adventuring front. Dustin has worked every weekened since Veteran's Day so I've been making a mad dash to complete some reading for 2013. We did get some time together to celebrate our seventh anniversary.
Ready for 2014! Happy New Year!