Easter In Japan

Easter In Japan

WARNING: THERE ARE GOING TO BE WAY TOO MANY PHOTOS IN THIS POST. you have been warned. (Moms of the 70s-90s with buckets of photos prints & no where to put them, I GET IT. Oakie is lucky we married in a digital age…)

This Easter has brought us to such a different place than last Easter, but we still went to the same park to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead with our church family here in Japan.IMG_6047

We saw many of the same smiling faces that we saw a year ago, but this year they were nearer & dearer to us; true friends. We sat under the same tree, but this year it was warm & sunny. (I forgot sweaters for Skye & myself & didn’t once need them.) We heard the same glorious story, but this time hearing about how God did all of this to adopt us into His family moved me in a completely new way. We even had similar picnic food, but this time we shared it with a teething ten-month-old.IMG_6127

Easter in Kinuta Park with Tokyo Horizon Chapel for the second year was everything I expected a year ago & nothing I could’ve dreamed.
We even had something a little extra to celebrate because on April 13th, Skye officially became an Osborne!


This moves us one step closer to concluding the adoption, but in the moment, I can’t express how little that seemed to matter. We had given her our name, like Oakie gave me his, like Christ gave us His. Her identity was transformed, like mine was when I married Oakie, like each of ours was when Christ rescued us. What’s in a name? Maybe not much, but also…maybe everything. One day, she will say, “I am Skye Elizabeth Osborne” & with that she’ll be saying she belongs with us. It’s bittersweet & it’s beautiful & it’s big. One of the biggest things I’ve ever been a part of. There’s not much else more central to who we are than the name we call ourselves & now, this little girl, our daughter, will call herself an Osborne. Just like me. Just like Oakie.

Currently, she is sitting in the screened patio door watching Oakie mow the yard while she plays with her toys. Every once in a while, she spies him & yells DADA & squeals while waving her squeaking squid toy like a maniac. The truth is that she already knows who she is. No name change could tell her more than the grin on that man’s face when he silently waves like a maniac right back at her above the roar of the lawn mower; but as she grows into that identity as his daughter, it’ll be helpful for her to have something to call it. & for us, it’s called being an Osborne. For you, it’s Smith or Jones or Garcia or Hancock. It’s the name we give our legacy; our section of the story. I pray that we tell it well; that one day the echoes of the angels will reverberate with the sound of the chapters we added to The Story. & I can’t tell you how happy I am that we got Skye.

(Like all good things do, this made me think of a musical number that you should take a pause in your day to watch if you want to know what the inside of my heart looks like today)


Just when it feels like we’re saying goodbye to Japan, we find out we may have another few weeks here. So, a secondary announcement, for all those awaiting our return: We’ll be here through May, most likely. As my sister Lou said, “Waiting is hard.” She’s right. It’s also #worthit. We know what’s on the other side & we’re leaning forward while at the same time, keeping our feet grounded in the roots we’ve cultivated here.
Here’s a glimpse at some of those roots:
Top photos: The owner at our all time favorite Japanese Café, Fukurouza, near Sagami Depot where Oakie works. It’s the cutest, most hipster-ly adorable place ever & they often play The Sound of Music soundtrack & that is just fine with me.


Bottom photo: Me sharing the Easter story while my friend Nozomi translates to a group of her English students. She & I met through PWOC (Protestant Women Of the Chapel–a fancy name for the women’s Bible study on post) & she asked me to come & give a little gospel presentation last Christmas & again this Easter. Delays have their upsides 🙂


Lastly, one of the greatest gifts of this sojourn to Japan is the adventurer that I get to do it all with. Isn’t that photo on the right SMOKIN’? This man is everything I could ask for & more. Kind, selfless, hilarious, confident, fearless & so full of energy that he can keep going when I want to quit. I could wax poetic, but I’ll spare you. I mean, a picture is worth a thousand words & all that. I may have married him for his looks, but I really lucked out, didn’t I?


Love from Japan,
the Osborne family.

P.S. Feel free to share our news on your preferred social media! ❤

10 Months!

It’s that time again & Skye was super not ready for her photo shoot. There may or may not have been tears & 47 deleted images including a mix of blurred smiles, almost falling off the chair & a fair amount of breaks to wipe a running nose. Apparently “sit still” is not in her growing vocabulary. However, “dada,” “mama,” & a handful of sign language signs are! She also high fives, waves “bye bye” & smiles on command.

*One of those is not true.

Skye’s fifth tooth is breaking through on the bottom & she’s hover-standing, but she’s still certain that crawling is the fastest way to get where she wants to go so walking seems to be on hold for now.



Things are moving right along over here. The cherry blossoms still haven’t made their highly anticipated appearance, but who better to be fashionably late than them? We’re expecting them next week!

Our adoption process is coming to a close & we are so excited to see the day every little thing is completed! We’re hoping to hit the states sometime in late April & as our time here ends, we find ourselves overcome with the bittersweet emotions indicative of a blessed experience. We have made friends, met more of the family of God & seen some of the most beautiful things on earth in our year-&-a-half-long sojourn in the Far East. What a true gift it has been to live in Japan.


Until then,
love from Japan!

9 Months!

9 Months!


Well, she’s done it again. She’s gotten older & cuter at the same time.
She has two bottom teeth & the top two are breaking through!


Do y’all need a flashback? Because I kinda do…


Is this even the same BABY?!

And yes, busted, navy blue is a theme here AND I AM NOT ASHAMED. My children will wear fun & festive colors, but they will also wear a lot of navy blue. This will not make them sad. This will make them aware of the value of accent colors. This is science.

Things are getting ever so slightly warmer on this side of the world & those little cherry blossom buds are teasing me on my morning jogs. Come on, little guys! Make like Nike & just do it.

*Nike is a sponsored affiliate of this blog.
** No it isn’t.

Our adoption process is moving, but we have been informed that there are some unexpected delays which have pushed our re-entry timeline back. We hope to spend the majority of the spring/early summer in the states, but we really won’t know till we’re there. The good news is spring in Japan is glorious & I am SO excited that we get another one.

To all the concerned parties, I am tripping Skye every time she looks like she’s about to start walking so DON’T WORRY.

To all the parties that weren’t concerned until they read the last sentence, I’m kidding…basically.

God is good & we are grateful.
Love from Japan.

8 Months!

I’m awfully glad I don’t get grades on these blogs, because I believe I’d get quite a few points deducted for failing to post Skye’s 8 month photos until almost her 9th month. But HAHAHAHA, I’m an ADULT & I don’t GET grades anymore. Muahahahahaha. THE POWER!

That being said, thank you to the few of you who took on the professor role & reminded me that these were, in fact, due a few weeks ago. I could give you all the details about how the printer malfunctioned so I didn’t have my cute sign or how we had a friend in town for a couple of weeks & we travelled a lot, but that would sound a lot like excuses & I’m an ADULT & I don’t USE excuses anymore. Muahahahahaha. THE POWER.

Without further excuses ado, here are Skye’s 8 month snapshots:


I mean, the child is cute.
& she’s into topknots lately.
Totally her.
She insists.
She also wears shoes now, pulls up on everything, loves pulling books off the shelves (to read, obvs), hates that I use “obvs” ironically because “it isn’t ironic if you mean it”, eats rice crackers like it’s her job, babbles da-da & ma-ma with enough consistency that neither of us feels gypped (full-discloser: I’ve never spelled that word before, but I looked it up & that is correct. Not gipped or jipped…I checked), & grins a lot more readily for photos than she used to (for example, this photo shoot took a full 20 minutes less than previous ones).
She’s pretty much great & we adore her.

& for no reason at all & CERTAINLY not to offer up proof of our visitor, Meghan, &  our travels, here are some COMPLETELY RANDOM PHOTOS from the past few weeks:


For those in the states, Happy Valentine’s Day & for those elsewhere: Happy 15th of February!!

Today is the day…play responsibly!

Today is the day…play responsibly!

For those of you that get that reference, lay off on the lottery playing, fools.

MOVING ON: I just downloaded approximately 47 million photos off of Facebook in my year-end harvest of anything valuable I wanted to take with me. Part of me cringed at the photos I chose to post to the world–however small I thought it was when Facebook first started–but part of me thanked Past Caroline for diligently documenting her little life because seeing those old pictures of Theresa, Sarah Ann, Mary Lou, Jess, Joe, Katie & Ben was priceless. & now they’re all downloaded to my computer.

(prime blackmailing material available, fair price, inquire within)

The boxes are packed & we’re moving to Analog Land where you can best reach us by phone, email or smoke signal. Or letters…seriously. & of course this little corner of the web.

Where, by the way, I’ll be sharing monthly photos like THESE from now on:

You can always join by entering your email in the Follow box or keeping in touch in more interactive ways.

For what is a world without friends with whom to share it?

If you’re far away, share it with us here.
& if you’re ever close enough, come share it over dinner & a game of Yahtzee; we play every night.

Dimples & Hiccups

Life these days has pretty much been about those two things.
& it’s so good.

Skye is 6 months into stealing our hearts & shows no signs of slowing. We’re willing victims…obviously.

We went glam a few days ago & got a photo shoot from our sweet friend, Rachele.
(Japan friends, if you are here, get her to take your family’s photos. You won’t regret it. Just do it.)

Wanna see? I thought you might…

That little pink dress was mine as a baby. Seeing the full circle like that makes me happy in a way I couldn’t possibly describe with this mortal language.

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye6

We also got into the Christmas spirit & this child looked like a fairy-elf from the Christmasland of my dreams…

The white dress was a gift from her birth parents that she wore at her dedication when she was way too small for it, but now it’s perfect. Another full circle that fills me with a joy indescribable. This baby y’all…

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye6

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye6

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye6

This kid is too glam for me…

& now that I have you all here…lured in by cute pictures of Skye, I have something to tell you. It’s not a big deal (that’s why I’m tacking it to the end of the REAL big deal–see above image), but I figured if you’re reading this, you would want to know.

As of Jan. 1st, I will be leaving Facebook. My account will be deactivated & due to the fact that Oakie is not even on FB at all, the Osborne family will be off social media entirely. My Instagram still exists, but I haven’t used it in over a year & don’t plan to in the future. Now, wipe those beads of stress-sweat off your forehead brought on by the thought that Skye will have disappeared from the internet because I will be updating my blog (admittedly, a form of social media…sue me) with MUCH more regularity (similar to before we got her) & I have this old relic called an email address (caroline.ceg@gmail.com) that I will be checking, ya know, like every day. I also have an actual geographical address & ask my friends that like to write (looking at you, Emma), I’m a corresponder. WE CAN SO BE PEN-PALS.

PSC 704 Box 3638
APO, AP 96338-0017

Anyone who would like to drop us a note will be informed of our new addresses as we move around!

There’s just so many more wonderful things I could share, but suffice it to say, we are enjoying our 2nd Christmas in Japan & our 1st Christmas with Skye chan. Life is good & we are revelling in the joy of Jesus this year.

His name is Mr. Ron…

His name is Mr. Ron…

I’m not sure I can do this.
I’m not sure I want to.

Putting words to these thoughts & emotions & mental processes seems limiting & endless at the same time. But I think it’s time…

I lost someone two days ago. He was a mentor, a second dad, a friend. He was all of those things & a thousand more. He was the reason I chose to do theatre professionally. He gave me my first teaching job. He was a living legend who, unlike so many, was appreciated in his hometown…well, home-state anyway. His name is Mr. Ron.

He was a normal-looking guy, about 6’2″ with dark hair & prominent ears. But when he smiled, with that little head shake, he was a hero. He wasn’t perfect…I mean, he was missing a little piece of his middle finger on his right hand because he stuck it in a snowblower. What kind of moron sticks his hand in a SNOWBLOWER?! The best kind. His name is Mr. Ron.

I always thought I’d grow out of calling him Mr. Ron, but I never seemed to be able to. First of all, my mother would have written me out of the will, but secondly, when you’re little & you learn someone’s name, it’s hard to learn it another way. And he told me one day, that really, he kinda liked that I kept calling him that. You see, his name is Mr. Ron.

He had a whole history before he ever stepped into mine, but for me, it started when I was 9. I was enrolled in the Springer Theatre Academy summer camp against my will & I was doing my best to avoid eye contact with every human I encountered that first day. I was walking out of the Saloon, down the big ramp by the green room, when my ground-gazing eyes stopped on these giant tennis shoes. I looked up & he said, “Hi!” & waved with just one hand, fingers closed. I’m sure there was other conversation in there about how my first day was going & if I liked “chicken thangs,” but mostly I just remember not being able to believe that the big guy who ran everything had noticed me. And for the next 17 years, he just kept noticing me. His name is Mr. Ron.

I could keep writing. I could try to pen a tribute that fits him, but I know I will never be able to & that, in & of itself, is a testament to his magnitude in my life.

So, instead, I will just do what 12-year-old Caroline learned from Mr. Ron:
Do my job well & treat people nicely.

I love you, Mr. Ron.

Forecast: Sunny With A Clear Blue Skye

Forecast: Sunny With A Clear Blue Skye

Two weeks ago we got a phone call.
Phone calls have a way don’t they?
A way of changing your life forever.
You never know what you’re saying hello to.
We certainly didn’t.

We were asked one question:
If time weren’t an issue, if everything could be wrapped up by the end of year, would the two of you be open to adopting right now?

It was asked this way, because we’d thought about it; we’d prayed about it. The timing had been an issue before. We just didn’t have two years post-adoption to spend in Japan. We had seen the door close & we had made peace with the sweet window-view we got of others’ adoptions.

But then, you see, we got this phone call. We had 48 hours to decide what our answer would be. 48 hours to make a call on a re-opened door.
We said, “Yes.”
We walked right through.

Guys, I’m introducing you to our daughter, Skye Elizabeth Osborne.
I am doing this because we are adopting her.
We heard about her 2 weeks ago.
We met her & her birth parents 3 days ago.
We brought her home with us today.

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye

Every adoption story is unique & in that way they’re all alike.
Ours is no exception.
By God’s grace & the obedience of His people, she came straight to our door. She couldn’t knock for herself, but by the grace of God, someone knocked for her. We never opened our door to a cuter person. Sorry to all the cute people we’ve opened our door for…but come on:

We’ll never be able to fully explain how all of this happened this fast & in this way, but we know the One who can & we are just happy to be included in part of His plan. We are full of joy to give Skye Elizabeth Osborne a forever home & absolutely humbled that we get to be the ones to do that.

Praise to the One from Whom comes “every good gift and every perfect gift […], coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

He knew it all along, but we never saw her coming out of the clear blue Skye.

View More: http://rachelefrickeyphotography.pass.us/skye

P.S. All amazing photo creds go to our sweet friend, Rachele Huonker-Frickey! Thank you so much!!

Thailand is for Tigers

As many of you got a chance to see, tigers were unleashed into our story not too long ago in a little place called Thailand. But allow me to back up a bit…
We chose Thailand for our Spring Break trip after Cambodia fell through. We’ll get there one day, but today: Thailand.
We were there for one week & packed a lot in…our suitcases. jk. our trip.

To be honest, my knowledge of Thailand only extended to their food. I love me some good Thai food. This was enough to make me REALLY happy we were going, but what I found when we got there was so much more. I mean, THE FOOD. But also, EVERYTHING ELSE.

(& yes I’m talking about the tigers, but just HOLD YOUR HORSES…AND YOUR TIGERS!)

First off, we left 30 degree Japan & landed in 95 degree Thailand. It was glorious.IMG_2972

We landed right in the middle of Chiang Mai…& Thailand’s New Year celebration, called Songkran Festival. Translated directly to English, this means “nationwide water fight”. I’m not kidding. I mean I AM kidding about the translation, but NOT about the very serious business of hosting a water fight for THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. It was mayhem. And hilarious. And sopping, soaking, dripping wet with the barrels of canal water being sloshed on you at every street corner…& every street…& every tuk tuk ride. We purchased SuperSoakers at our earliest convenience & joined right in. I would love to say I got epic action shots of this water fight situation, but camera + water = insurance plan. No thanks. It will live on in my water-logged memory though.


Other than the water fight, Chiang Mai offered a host of enormously fun activities.
Like riding enormous elephants on a jungle trek, for one. This I have pictures of…


We also got to bamboo raft down a river and sunbathe, something the Thai people laughed at me for.
Beauty standards truly are arbitrary.
Tans are not desired in sunny Thailand & I was asked multiple times why I didn’t have an umbrella & did I want one to maintain my perfectly pale skin?
This (half) Mexican got a tan.
& a coconut with a straw in it.

We travelled for most of the trip with Jesse & Donnie, two friends we met in Japan who have cameo-ed on the blog before… Jesse’s the one squatting on the rock. Donnie was our raft-pole-user for a hot minute. (Does anyone say “hot minute” anymore?)

I feel like there was one other thing we did in Chiang Mai…what was it again?
Ugh, I’m totally blanking…
Oh yeah!
A cooking class! I know y’all wouldn’t want me to leave THAT out! My heart is pumping just REMEMBERING. Talk about thrills, ammirite? (alternate spellings include ammiright, am I right, & am I rite. I obviously chose the hippest. go & do likewise.)


We got to cook in an open air kitchen at the Baan Hongnual Cookery School. Our guide, Kuan, was so friendly & kitchen-savvy. She took us to the market & we got to buy all of our ingredients fresh from the vendors. That was a unique experience on its own, but chopping it up & cooking it was straight off of the Food Channel. I was living my Chopped dream.


Also, I got to use a wok & now I must have one.

Later that day we visited some ruins that have been discovered in Chiang Mai within the last decade! Some are over 700 years old! Plus Oakie tried on all the hats at the handmade goods & wares markets we went to…

We then moved on to Bangkok & got to visit an Elephant Park & the floating market. There were baby elephants so this chick was loving every second.


And on our last day in Bangkok, we made a special trip to see the largest reclining Buddha in the world, located at Wat Pho. “Wat Pho holds the distinction of having both Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha image and the largest number of Buddha images in Thailand.” We also found the original “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” monkeys at the Temple of the Dawn.

Definitely a highlight. And yes, we went to the Temple of the Dawn at dawn.
You should feel silly for asking.

Also, full disclosure, I just listened to Amarillo Sky by Jason Aldean while I typed because my sister, Sarah Ann, just planted a garden & now she thinks she’s a farmer & it seemed like the right thing to do.



Yes, there are 40 pictures here.
Yes, you can click on them to look at them all up close.
Yes, those are real tigers.
No, they were not drugged. Just hand-reared & well-fed.
Yes, 60% of my smiles have a hammering heart behind them & are masking real live fear.

In all seriousness, this was the most intense experience of my life.
And I’ve been sky-diving.
These animals are massive.
You think you can imagine the size of their heads, but you can’t imagine how you will feel when you’re sitting next to those heads and reaching out to pet them.
They were majestic, glorious, imposing.
They were precious in an over-sized kitty way, but entirely demanding of every ounce of respect you’ve ever had for nature.

They aren’t as soft as you might think.
Every second in their enclosure, their turf, was like borrowed time.
It felt like I was giving them access to my life & hoping they’d let me walk back out with it.
I would apologize for being slightly dramatic, but have YOU ever sat down next to a 200 hundred pound tiger & processed how that made you feel?

As we were standing outside the cages looking in at the next group we’d get to pet, Donnie said to me, “It’s like a small glimpse of how we should feel about God.”
C.S. Lewis was on to something when he made Aslan a lion.
I was terrified, awestruck & giving my absolute attention & respect to that creature when we were encountering each other.
It had the ability to crush me, to maul me, to utterly change my entire life in half a second. If it had really wanted to harm me, no guide with a 12-inch bamboo stick could’ve stopped it.

It reminds me of a story about Jesus in Mark 7:24-30. It’s the story of a Gentile woman, a Syrophoenician woman, approaching Jesus to be specific. Reminder: from the Old Testament we know that God chose a specific group of people through which to show the world who He was & His plan to rescue us all. They were the Israelites. The Jews. When Jesus shows up, He wants to give them an opportunity to be a part of the grand rescue of the world first; not exclusively, but first. Any Gentile would know this. The long-awaited Messiah was of the Jews & for the Jews, as far as they knew.
Ah, but that Syrophoeneician woman had a problem. Her daughter was ill. Her daughter was possessed by a demon & she needed help now. So when she hears that Jesus, that crazy Jewish guy who can heal anyone, is in town, she goes.
She walks straight into the cage with the tiger.
And she asks Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
And He tells her what might appear to be an insult on the outside, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread & throw it to the dogs.”
And she says right back to Him, “Yes Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.”

What is happening here? Tim Keller puts it this way:

“One key to understanding it is the very unusual word Jesus uses for “dogs” here. He uses a diminutive form, a word that really means “puppies.” […] Jesus is saying to her, ‘You know how families eat: First the children eat at the table, and afterward their pets eat too. It is not right to violate that order. The puppies must not eat food from the table before the children do. […] I was sent only to the lost lambs of Israel.’ […] He was sent to show Israel that He was the fulfillment of all Scripture’s promises […]. But after He was resurrected, He immediately said to the disciples, ‘Go to all the nations.’ His words, then, are not the insult they appear to be. What he’s saying […] is, ‘Please understand, there’s an order here. I’m going to Israel first, then the Gentiles (the other nations) later.’ However, she comes back with an astounding reply: […] ‘Okay, I understand. I am not from Israel, I do not worship the God that the Israelites worship. Therefore, I don’t have a place at the table. I accept that. […] But there’s more than enough on that table for everyone in the world, and I need mine now.’ She is wrestling with Jesus in the most respectful way and she will not take no for an answer.

In western culture, we don’t have anything like this kind of assertiveness. We only have assertion of our rights. […] But this woman is not doing that at all. This is rightless assertiveness, something we know nothing about. She’s not saying, ‘Lord, give me what I deserve on the basis of my goodness.’ She’s saying, ‘Give me what I DON’T deserve on the basis of YOUR goodness–and I need it now.'”

She walks right up to the tiger & asks Him to use His power to help her & not hurt her.
He is majestic, glorious, imposing.
He is precious in His gentleness, but entirely demanding of every ounce of respect she’d ever had for authority.
Every second in His presence is like borrowed time.
She gave Him access to her life & hoped He’d let her walk back out with her daughter’s.

He had the ability to crush her, to maul her, but instead He chose to utterly change her entire life in half a second.

Being beside those animals was the closest I’ve ever come to the kind of awestruck fear that the Bible talks about.
Real talk, there was a minute there where I had to walk out with tears in my eyes because it was all just a little too scary.
It was amazing.

And I get to know that the God who came up with the idea for tigers is on my side, a lion to my enemies: Fear, guilt, anxiety.
And a lamb to me.

I get to pet the Tiger.

When Family Comes To Town…

When Family Comes To Town…

This is me not apologising for taking two weeks off from blogging.
Mostly because, turns out, this big ol’ world keeps right on spinning without my weekly internet contributions and that’s a good reality check for me.
So live it, we have. With gusto, joy & a lot of travelling. And now, back home in my beloved sitting/setting/sewing/only room with our tiny box tv where I can hook up our iPhone to play Blacklist on Netflix while I sort through 1,000 photos, I’m back to the keyboard. It’s nice to see the world…and it’s also nice to sleep past 6am. OAKIE DON’T PLAN NO RELAXING VACAYS Y’ALL.

Ahem. Anyway, as the title alludes, my mother-in-love, Jill, came to visit April 2nd-11th & it did this heart good. Homesickness is a funny thing. I very much feel like we are home here, but I do so miss the comfort of familiarity, family & friends. Seeing Mama Jill took the edge off that pain and for that I am eternally grateful!
Mostly, we caught up and chatted about life and drank coffee together in the mornings. It was amazing. But per Oakie’s MO, we also planned some fun things to go see & do. Amazingly, she kicked the jet-lag like a pro & we were ready to hit the town just two days after she landed!

First off, a City-rama Tour of Tokyo (isn’t that a fun name? I want to use that suffix for so many things now: Dinner-rama, coffee-rama, puppy-rama, sleeping-rama. Don’t you?).
We went to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo, a Shinto shrine with beautiful grounds right in the middle of a huge city.

That large Tori gate in the top photo was made out of two humongous trees brought to Japan from Taiwan. Wowzers.

Pro-tip: If you ever want a closer look at any photos I post, simply clicking on them will bring up a slideshow version in a larger size & show any captions I might have attached.

Next up, we got to see the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. The Emperor was otherwise engaged, but his gardens were simply lovely.


And lastly, we went to the Sensō-ji Buddhist Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo; the oldest of the Buddhist temples in Tokyo. We were there at the height of cherry blossom season, so it was a treat to experience the festivities and scenery.

We covered a lot of Tokyo ground; I mean, we City-rama-ed that place.

The last weekend Mama Jill was visiting, Oakie planned a bullet train trip to Hiroshima! We had never been before so it was an exciting destination for all of us.
Also, bullet trains are the best. Better than planes as far as leg-room, open lavatories, and seeing the sites. Downside: No in-seat entertainment, but this girl was asleep the whole way there so whatevs.

We stayed at a beautiful hotel, the New Hiroden, in downtown Hiroshima, just a streetcar (named Desire, as Oakie kept saying) ride away from the Peace Memorial and A-Bomb Dome & Museum. It was charming and roomy. I especially loved how the in-house restaurant constantly had string instruments playing classic ’40s music. I felt like I should be wearing a dressing gown and commenting on the morning news to my husband. #moviestardreamsofthe1940s

Our first day we roamed a massive department store with shops like Chanel, Tiffany’s & Lacoste inside. It felt like you had to have a minimum $100 tag to get a spot in this place. Needless to say, this was mostly a window-shopping excursion, but I’m a window-shopper at heart so it was all good. I later found out, this was the department store in front of which Sadako Sasaki’s friends fund-raised for the present-day Children’s Peace Memorial at the Hiroshima Peace Park.

After that, we caught a ferry out to the famous Tori gate in the water on Miyajima Island. We explored the area, hiking the whole mountain (it felt like) & watched the sunset over the water. Probably my favourite part of the trip. Spring was in the air & being on that mountain was life-giving in a way nature hasn’t been for me before. Winter feels long in Japan. I heard that GA has already seen 80 degree weather, but here, we’re still waking up to 40 degree mornings IN APRIL. I know this is called “spring” in other places, but it is hard on this southern girl. Winter blues got me this year, but being in the sunshine with cherry blossoms & wild deer that let you feed them & warm air & wilderness was therapeutic.


We spent most of Saturday exploring the Peace Park area, but we started with a walk through the Shukkei-en Garden. This was originally a castle garden in the 1600s, but was destroyed in the A-bomb. It was reconstructed and donated to the city. It is an oasis in this city and we easily spent two hours just roaming the grounds and breathing in the peace & beauty we found there.

We then headed to the Peace Park area. We had been advised to save this for last & I’m glad we did.
We started with the A-bomb Dome, one of the only remaining structures after the explosion because it was detonated almost directly overhead. This caused all the force outward leaving what was directly underneath standing.
When I was about 11, I was cast in a production called A Thousand Cranes. It is the story of Sadako Sasaki who was 2 when the A-bomb decimated Hiroshima. She & her family survived and everyone seemed healthy afterwards, but by the time she was about 11, she was showing symptoms that led a doctor to diagnose her with Leukaemia. She was a brave, strong-spirited girl & she fought with hope and joy, folding 1000 cranes in the hopes that the old tale was true: That if one could fold 1000 paper cranes, their wish would be granted. She folded well over 1000 & by the end of her life was folding them so small she needed a needle to complete them. She died at 12 having folded about 1400 cranes. We told this story as children, for children & it has forever impacted my life.
On this day, I travelled to her town. I saw the damage. I saw the cranes she folded and the notebooks in which her doctors tracked her decline. But I also saw the hope & regrowth she inspired in an entire country & today people from around the world come to read her story and remember. This was a sobering day; the museum made me nauseous. But I read something I will never forget: Scientists thought nothing could ever grow from that shattered earth again, but within a few months new life was growing where old life was gone. It was considered a miracle. It gave the people of Hiroshima hope.
Sadako’s story has circled the world. It made its way into mine. It humbled me and chastised my selfish heart. The atrocity of war must never be forgotten. For that reason I am grateful for places like this that remain to remind.

On Sunday, we had a free day so we rented electric bicycles and rode around the city, stopping at a park for a hike, eating dinner at a riverside cafe & seeing parts of Hiroshima most tourists don’t see…ok we got lost, but it was so worth it! I mean, if you haven’t tried biking with a motor to help you, you haven’t biked the best. It was awesome.

Our last task was one I needed to do, so we found some origami paper and we biked back to the Peace Park and we each folded a paper crane for peace. The skill fell back into my hands more easily than I had imagined it could after so many years laying dormant & I taught my husband & mother-in-law and we put our cranes in the memorial basket where they collect them. IMG_2970We folded them for Sadako. We folded them for peace. We folded them in hope.
This side of heaven is broken and falling under the crushing weight of something gone wrong. It is awakening in us a homesickness for something we’ve never known, for a peace & wholeness that can’t be found here. But it exists. God tells us it’s written on our hearts. It’s the reason we don’t feel quite right here. Home is coming for us. His name is Jesus. He came once to show us the way & He is coming again to make everything right. 1000 cranes won’t fix your life, but the idea of striving daily, hourly, minutely to see the ground-roots of His kingdom on earth, the small foretastes of what is coming, the hope that gets us up in the morning? That’s a life I want to live & through it I hope others see the substance behind this shadow, the sun that causes these rays, the God-man that gives me life: Jesus.

He is coming to fulfil the hope these memorials speak.
The hope of peace, harmony, loving-kindness.
He is coming to make all things right.