My dad and a few of his buddies committed to a 160 km ride around the island of Okinawa. They were so easily persuaded to go for the 160 verses 100. Go big or go home, right? So the guys brought along their families as well. The weather forecast for the day of their race was predicted to be thunderstorms, heavy rain, and extreme winds. The morning of the ride the weather looked good enough, God was looking out for them surely. However, they weren’t so lucky. They started with five minutes of great weather until the rain started. And that rain came down, and down, and down. It didn’t stop. While the boys were out getting completely soaked, the ladies of the trip were also getting soaked but under different circumstances. The women went whale watching in the craziest weather, probably the craziest weather possible to still take a boat of people out to sea. Rain + gigantic waves = a very wet group of whale watchers.
By far the best year of my life as of now. Most of it took place in Japan but also the U.S., Australia, Thailand, India, and Bhutan. 2015 was hectic but rewarding.
Before Australia, Brendan came to Tokyo for a few weeks to visit us and after school let out the whole family flew to Cairns. It was late when we arrived and the sun was already down but we rented a car immediately and drove to Port Douglas where we stayed for a week– going to the beach, sight-seeing and playing tourist. We did all of the tourist check list things: rented stand-up paddle boards, visited the islands, saw all of the animals , spent one afternoon in the animal enclosures of kangaroos and wallabies, hand fed them and pet them, held a koala, went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. All amazing things. Then at the end of the week, packed up again and got on another flight- this time to Sydney. For more tourist activities like seeing the opera house and visiting old friends. Australia has some of the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen, the best one came when my dad and I went to Manly Wharf and took the ferry to and from the Opera side of the city.
- Butler Visit:
Butler wasn’t memorable for the school itself. Although, there were many cute college boys around that’s not why it made this list. The Uni visit is on here because Dani came with me. She was one of my first really really great friends in Tokyo and is such a sweetheart. I couldn’t have brought along anyone better.
- Seton Fest:
Seton Fest is insanely overrated. It is essentially a huge hang out for all the middle schoolers from the Hamilton county area with crappy rides and long lines. But the company made all of the difference. During my short time back in the U.S. these two were some of the best company to have.
- Misterwives Concert:
Seeing this band perform live was incredible. I’m honestly surprised we even made it to the concert. We bought the tickets the week before just for kicks and giggles. Plus who wouldn’t buy concert tickets for $20? And both of us already knew their music. Right before the concert a huge storm came through and flooded the roads, she was late to pick me up for a billion reasons, our dinner was ordered at the wrong restaurant. Everything that could have delayed us did. Even parking took time. Celia had to parallel park in the street. Really it took a solid 10 minutes of me laughing at her frustration from outside of the car but also “attempting” to help her out.
In a smaller room where every single person knows the words, Misterwives is amazing to see in concert.
- Summer Sonic:
Misterwives. Walk the Moon. Bleachers. Best Coast. Smallpools. Sheppard. BTS. Imagine Dragons.
8 concerts attended in one day, every music fans dream.
Summer Sonic Video here.
- Shibs Flash Mob:
Free to be _________. Free to be flash mob was about equality. Which is a great cause but really I was there for the experience. In the middle of Shibuya Crossing where millions of people on foot travel through everyday, in the pouring rain, that is where we danced. Every time the light changes about 2500 people cross.
This one and the next get into my Junior year.
Prom is a huge part of the high school experience and I spent mine at the ANA Intercontinental in Roppongi. I went with a really good friend of mine, Alex, and then with some other friends.
Thailand post here.
- The Big Yellow Birds//After School Adventures:
I started off my Senior year determined not to let it go to waste, it is my last year in Japan after-all. I wanted to make it all count. I made it count by exploring everything that was around me. The tiny hole in the wall restaurants, strange statues, buying 100 yen junk for about a dozen people on my bus, everything. For a straight week I didn’t come home after school, and if I did I dropped my bag and headed out.
- Meeting Linda Purl:
Linda Purl: actress and ASIJ Alumni. But my favorite fact about her: Pam Beesley’s mom of the American version of The Office.
2/2 for spending Thanksgiving with Julie in Japan. 3/3 if you count our Japan Thanksgiving and our Bhutan Thanksgiving in the same year. This one was our three family Sunday Thanksgiving combo dinner. Julie, Kate, and I were in Bhutan over Thanksgiving so this was our Thanksgiving with our families. And I am incredibly thankful for all of them.
(I was especially proud of my hair that day.)
Bhutan post here.
- Pray for Paris:
This one is especially close to me because it is a direct result of the 2015 attacks in Paris. I got a call from my embassy friends right after I had gotten back from Tokyo Tower that was lit up in the colors of the French flag. My friends told me they had written letters to the people of Paris and wanted to get flowers to put outside of the embassy. I had just taken my shoes off and I immediately put them back on and sprinted down the hill to meet them. What happened in Paris that night was devastating and terrible but it also united the world some. By the time we arrived outside of the French Embassy with a dozen bouquets, there were already three rows deep of other bouquets lining the outskirts. Flowers, candles, and notes– I teared up just at the sight of it. It was heart warming to see all the love and support. Such a small and maybe insignificant act made a huge difference in my mind.
Immediate reaction from that night here.
- Vegan Ramen:
Vegan ramen makes the list because it changed my life. If I could go vegan and only eat this dish for the rest of my life, I would. It tastes as good as it looks.
Roppongi Halloween parade, Senior Spoil, and Most Creative Costume winners: Yochien Class of 2020 (Japanese kindergarten class). In Japan the little kids all walk to school, they all have matching hats, big backpacks, and walk in a line holding onto a rope.
- Okutama Mountain Hike:
This hike was 50% hell and 50% stunning. I was in Okutama last year for JUMP going canyoning, white water rafting, and rock climbing. This was my first time back since then. It was my dad, myself, Karin, and Rene (my parent’s (Swiss) friends). So when I used one of my two German words on the mountain. They totally understood that I just swore in German. Karin thought it was so funny that she named part of the mountain the swear word.
- ASIJ Football Game:
Really this was the only game I watched all year. We were playing one of the base schools and won. Most of my friend group (minus Kate) went to support Jonas.
- Tokyo Disneyland:
I could include going to Disney Sea in with this but when Annie and I went to DisneyLand later in the year we came prepared. We both subtly dressed like Snow White, ate all of the food we could around the park, and rode just about every ride. For someone who has grown up with a Disney oriented family, Annie knows how to go around a Disney park.
- Fashion Night Out:
FNO: Tokyo’s Fashion Night Out. Our parent’s left us alone that night for some sort of dinner, and I as the big sister watching my younger sister knew about FNO and wasn’t about to miss it for the second year in a row. Totally worth going to.
- Tsukiji//Trip to Nowhere:
That day Hunter, Julie, and I went to Tsukiji. We had no intention of actually going there. We wanted to go somewhere we just didn’t know where. It was a happy accident. Tsukiji is just where we ended up. All three of us just got on a train and got off when we felt like getting off, and that stop was Tsukiji station.
Tsukiji is actually the biggest fish market in the world. Tsukiji is also surrounded by cramped alleyways filled with small shops and sushi restaurants.
Thank you 2015, you’ve been the best year yet.
Can’t wait for what is to come in 2016. Happy New Year!