The ladies in my Relief Society
rescheduled their Sacrament Meeting performance
so I could sing this sacred song with them.
Because I'm flying back to America
in time to celebrate Christmas
with my loved ones.
Silent Night.

{MP3 Download Here}
{Image via Felicia}
{Instrumental via Liahona}

The Cosmos flower
unfolds its pink petals
when other blossoms succumb to the cold
and shrivel theirs.

It flourishes in the frosty air
stubborn, colorful,
and full of life.

Yoshimura-sensei said,
[nii shite kureru!]
"Smile big for me!"

The Cosmos flower teaches us
we can keep our faces upturned,
even when others wilt and die.

It's nearly upon us.
Can you feel it?
{"Once Upon A December" mp3 download}

After getting off of Skype with my grandmother today,
the lovely lady who gave my musical career a push
by forcing me into piano lessons at age 7
I felt the need to record something for her
in thanks for guiding me to the beautiful world that is music.
And I did the video for my own viewing pleasure.
Because Final Fantasy & Kingdom Hearts have pretty people.
Now it's off to bed with me.

Enjoy your Turkey Day, lovelies!

{Original song © Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty}
{Final Fantasy XII, XIII, Versus XIII © Square Enix}
{Kingdom Hearts II © Square Enix}
{Music Box via WeHeartIt}

"If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older."
-Tom Stoppard

Since moving to Japan
I've been chasing my childhood...

...snagging glimpses of it
hither and thither,
but never quite catching up.

But now I'm learning how to balance
childhood and adulthood;
I'm learning 
they can coexist.

Lauren took me on the Thunderbird train
to her hometown, Kanazawa {金沢 "marsh of gold"}.
We visited a mountain shrine
where the shishi {lion-dog statues} are famous.

And then it was time for a lunch
of iwana {sea salt fish}.

*om nom nom*

Cat hats.

People hats.

Samurai garden.
I could've meditated by the tranquil koi ponds
all day long.

Tonya has a cherubic smile.
{She and her husband housed Lauren and I so we wouldn't need to pay for a hotel.}

Watching the koi swim,
my thoughts a-swirl.

Refreshed from meditation.

A perfect landscape consists of
spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, waterways, panoramas.

And thus, the beautiful
the "Six Attributes Garden"
was named.

The famous stone lantern, Kotoji-toro
with legs that resemble
the bridge of a koto instrument.

Yamato no Takeru,
the legendary imperial prince
who founded the kingdom
that would eventually emerge as 

the castle of Kanazawa.

Ema, or prayer woods,
are hung at shrines.
The ones written by children are my favorites.
This one says:
"I want to win a duel."

And this one:
"Come home soon, Papa."

Colorful mountains of Ishikawa.

Natadera Temple,
home of the thousand-armed goddess, Kannon.

Trekking up the mountain.

A family of guardian shishi
sentry this shrine.
This is the open-mouthed papa.

And this is a baby.

A pluming swan.

We climbed to one of the many
cave shrines,

when it promptly began to rain.

Drip drop,
baby rain drops.

Gazing out from beneath the torii.

Somewhere up in the candlelit caves,

I found a piece of me.

Etched into the very wood and rock
of Ishikawa prefecture.

{Music: "You've Changed" - Sia}
{Music: "Minna no Yume" - Hattori Takayuki}
{Music: "Sora" - Yoko Kanno}
{All but one of the photos of me were taken by Lauren.}
Vast sky
vast earth
autumn passes, too.
-Kobayashi Issa

otherwise known as
leaf hunting.

Into northern Kyoto
we ventured,
climbing Kurama-Yama,
because the mountains' leaves change fastest.

Stopping at a traditional hotel,
we ate wonders.
Before my roast beef,
I braved a fish head.
{Another on my list of "eaten strange foods".}

Followed by mango sherbet
with pomegranate.

I always feel spirited away
when scaling the steps
of a Japanese shrine.

Reds, golds, greens, purples.

My camera only caught a breath
of the stunning beauty of the momiji.

{Music via Cecile Corbel}