Things I’m Loving – June 2014

I know that at the end of each month when I prepare my Things I’m Loving post, I look back and cannot believe how quickly the month passed. This time around was the worst yet. I literally did not believe June was over…until I looked at my calendar and saw it’s July 2nd! How can someone miss the start of a new month, you ask? The beginning of June saw us traveling to the Okinawan Islands to explore Shurijo Castle, Kabira Bay, Fusaki Beach, Taketomi Island, and Iriomote Island. (And I actually still have more to share, I just haven’t had any downtime!) Soon after we returned to Tokyo, my mother-in-law visited for 10 days which meant lots of sightseeing every day. And just a few days after she left, a couple of friends came to stay with us for a week. I didn’t look at the calendar until they left this morning and only then did I realize…it’s July! So before I get any further behind, here are some of the things I enjoyed in June. (more…)


Japan Winter Illuminations

This is my second year living in Japan and one of my favorite Japanese winter traditions is the viewing of winter illuminations. Businesses and cities put out their own displays that range from simple lights outlining store windows to showcases that turn plazas and park areas into winter wonderlands. These illuminations generally seem to be displayed from early December through either December 25th or January 1st but some last until February. Last year when I discovered these illuminations, it was a wonderful surprise. As soon as the temperatures began to drop here this year, I looked forward to the reappearance of those twinkling lights. Here are some of my favorite illuminations from the past two years.

You can walk from one illumination to the next in downtown Tokyo and occasionally find a hidden treasure you did not expect.


This Marunouchi Illumination with trees dressed in sparkling white lights is simple but impressive and adds a festive holiday feel to the downtown central Tokyo district.


One tree along the street had a charming surprise…Mickey Mouse-shaped lights!


The Yurakucho Station gets into the holiday spirit with their own green-themed illumination.

The Ginza district in Tokyo is perhaps best known as a major shopping district, especially for upscale and luxury retailers. The displays there have an appropriately luxurious flare.


The Cartier store itself was wrapped up like a sparkling present.


The impressive Bulgari display was dazzling at night.


Turning a corner, I came upon an unexpected Winnie the Pooh Christmas display!

Displays also abound within businesses and range from traditional Christmas trees to some rather creative alternatives.


The 2013 Imperial Hotel Christmas tree in Tokyo.


The 2012 Lumine department store Christmas Forest display.

The Kyoto Station has a grand display that I caught a glimpse of in 2012 the day after Christmas. The station is so huge that only a huge display would be fitting.


Not only did Kyoto Station have huge Christmas trees, they also had this beautiful light display.

And last but certainly not least, the Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa, Tokyo, has a fabulous display of lights, trees, and even fireworks!


The lights adorning the trees and illuminating the fountains were picture perfect.


This light display blinked and changed in tune to songs selected by bystanders. Here I managed to catch the entire display lit at once.


The grand finale for the Showa Kinen Park Illumination was a beautiful fireworks display.