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Showing posts from 2018

Mountaintop Leaf Peeping

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Although I wish I could be back Stateside, celebrating with family and friends and generally overeating on pumpkin bread, frozen fruit salad (it's a family thing, don't ask), and pie, I know I have plenty to be thankful about here in Tokyo.

Tokyo hasn't gotten snow at all, unlike most of Chicago or the East Coast, from what I've been told. In fact, it's not even peak fall leaves season yet, which remains mind-boggling to me on many levels. It's too warm. It's weird. Anyways. One popular fall activity is to head out of the city and into nature for some good ol' leaf peeping, so that's just what Troy and I decided to do this past weekend.

Our destination of choice was Mount Takao, a small 599-meter mountain that's easily accessible from Tokyo and a popular day trip getaway. In fact, Takao is the last stop on my usual train line -- yet I'd never been.

The climb is neither technically difficult nor overly strenuous.…


The best part about having friends and family visit me here in Japan is that I get to play tour guide and show off my city--in this case Tokyo--and my obviously extensive and amazing knowledge about it. Every so often, however, having friends and family visit means I get the opportunity to visit someplace I've never been before, in which case the trip means I get to show off how well I can use Google and read signs in train stations (both of which, I would argue, are valuable skills).

My mom, who came out for a long weekend, and I decided to spend a few days in Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido. We found some fairly inexpensive flights, booked a hotel, and thought the matter done and dusted. But only a few days after making all our arrangements, Hokkaido was rocked by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake that left at least 30 people dead and the entire island without power or water for several days. But after carefully monitoring the situation, and checking-in with the local U.S. consu…

Hiking Mount Mitake

The nice thing about having friends with diverse interests is that they often prompt you to try different things. So when my friend, who is also named Claire, suggested a group hike out of the city this Saturday I was excited to do something a little out of my normal weekend routine.

So perhaps a little earlier than I would have liked for a Saturday morning, I took a rather convoluted series of trains from my apartment to Mitake Station, just past the city of Ome in the western edge of Tokyo prefecture (yes, "Tokyo" is technically more than the metropolis proper).

Eschewing the cable car, we then began a rather misty hike up Mount Mitake, generally relishing in the cooler temperatures and the pervading scent of petrichor. There's nothing like some good ol' shinrin-yoku (lit. "forest bathing," it's a widely accepted form of nature therapy).

Once we crested the top of the mountain, we took a quick peek at Musashi-Mitake Shrine which, dating back to about …