Fall at Tianping Mountain

I absolutely adore fall. It’s beautiful. It’s romantic. It feels full of endless possibility. The air is cool, the sweaters are soft, and everything tastes like pumpkin or cinnamon.

Unfortunately, China doesn’t have quite as many places to see fall as Japan. But fortunately for me, one of the top 4 places in all of China to see fall leaves is about an hour from our town: Tianping Mountain.

dsc_0044 We arrived around 9:30am and already there was a line of cars and hundreds of people queuing up to enter. Most were large tour groups who had traveled from other parts of China just to see these leaves!

dsc_0087Many of the hiking trails with the best views of leaves were packed with tourists. It was interesting to watch. Like ants going up a hill.

dsc_0050We chose a more quiet path away from the big crowds. It was beautiful and scenic. I liked that there were many different options in hiking paths. There’s stone pathways, more rocky climbs, and a paved road that loops around the grounds if you’re not big on hiking.


At the bottom of the mountain was a temple, food vendors, a clown show, and small games you can play to win stuffed animals. I got my Katniss on and shot some arrows for 20 RMB.

Mid-November is one of the best times to see fall leaves at Tianping Mountain so if you live nearby, this weekend is a great time to go. The entrance fee is 30 RMB for adults and they’re open from 7:30am – 5:00pm.


Random tibdit – while we were in Suzhou, we went to see a movie and by random coincidence, we ended up finding the Guinness World Record Largest Permanent 35mm screen. It measures 34.6 m (113.5 ft) in length and 26.8 m (87.9 ft) in height.

suzhou_guinness_movie_theaterWhile it’s grandeur can’t be denied, it doesn’t seem very useful. The screen is extremely tall but since most films are shot in a 16×9 aspect ratio, most of the screen isn’t utilized.

Still, as a film nerd, it was exciting to see in person.

I’m sitting here in my brand new Uniqlo sweatpants, purchased on Chinese Black Friday. I was so surprised that some of our orders came in THE NEXT DAY. Our apartment’s mail room was a hot mess of boxes. I can only imagine how busy they’ve been since 11.11.





Hiroshima – Part 2

Part 2 of my Hiroshima trip. My visit to the Peace Museum was such an emotional experience, I felt it deserved it’s own post. Now here’s photos from the more silly & outdoors-y portion of the trip.

First off- SUMO! Yes! Sumo!

DSC_0013DSC_0006 DSC_0008 It did feel a little like watching big babies in nappies slap each other around. But holy cow these guys are FLEXIBLE and NIMBLE. And not just for their size.

Which is what you probably imagined… they’re big dudes.

DSC_0034DSC_0038We spent about 5000 yen for seats on the upper floor, which we preferred because we had actual seats. I’m still working on my Japanese “sitting for long periods without losing feeling in my legs” skills. The tournament started at 8am with the rookies and wrapped up at 3pm with the big kahunas battling last. Each fighter only fights once. Each match lasts about 1 minute with the actual fighting portion lasting around 10 seconds. The rest of the time is filled with preparation & ceremony. Japanese people sure love traditions & routines.

Champion being presented with his white champion belt.

Champion being presented with his white champion belt.

Next up- Miyajima!


People place coin offerings at the base of gate during low tide. When the tide comes in, the coins are swept into the water & sand.

There are many deer on the island. They’re mostly friendly but the will poke their nose in your bag looking for food. This adorable little boy is feeding them boiled chestnuts. 


A beautiful island near Hiroshima. We took the JR Sanyo line to Miyajimaguchi Station which took about 25 min and cost around 410 yen one way. From there we hopped on a 10 min ferry ride which cost 360 yen roundtrip.


And last but not least- FOOD!

We had some amazing street foods while on Miyajima and had some DELICIOUS Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, a kind of fried Japanese pancake which had soba noodles, veggies, seafood, and pork.

DSC_0312 DSC_0119

Really been making the most of my weekends here in Japan. It’s amazing all you can accomplish in a day if you go for it.

Can’t wait for Halloween this weekend. I’ve been doing Halloween lessons in my ES classes where I show up wearing a witch hat and the kids go bananas. Fighting off another cold but they keep me in good spirits.

Hope everyone is having a good week. Start making some fun plans for this weekend :)


Hiroshima – Peace Museum

This weekend I traveled to Hiroshima, a place I’ve always wanted to visit for it’s history with my country. I’ve never seen the good in sweeping the ugly past under the rug. History has the ability to teach us. Our generation specifically has thousands of years of history at our fingertips. That gives us a huge advantage to learn from other’s mistakes.


The Peace Museum, found in Peace Park, is an emotional experience, right up there with my visit to the Holocaust museum.

DSC_0108 I can’t imagine going about my daily morning routine, on my way to school, when in a flash, everything around me is engulfed in flames and you feel like you’ve entered some horrible dream, only you’re awake. I kept picturing the dream sequence in Terminator 2, when Sarah Conner is at the playground. Suddenly there’s a big flash of light and everything is on fire. I know that scene is nothing compared to the actual horrors of that day, but I remember how much it scared me… The small children, laughing and smiling on the playground, completely unaware of what was coming.

The museum had so many tattered school uniforms. One of the most heart wrenching items I saw was a burnt tricycle… DSC_0109

Back in 4th grade, my class read the story “Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes”. It’s a historical fictional children’s book, based on the life of a young girl named Sadako who lived in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing. When she turned 12, she developed symptoms of leukemia. As her sickness progressed, Sadako began to fold 1000 paper cranes, hoping that they would grant a single wish. These are paper cranes from the real Sadako’s funeral.

Since I’ve been been living here, I’ve been trying to trace back my earliest connection & interest to Japanese culture. I always thought it started in 6th grade when I was obsessed with Pokemon and Sailor Moon. I had completely forgotten about that lesson but it all came flooding back when I saw Sadako’s cranes. Our teacher brought us origami paper and taught us to make cranes after we finished the story. I remember thinking how beautiful the paper was. It was such a special moment to be here nearly 15 years later, seeing these in person.



While the museum brought me to tears, I was uplifted thinking of humanity’s power to persevere. Hiroshima is such a beautiful city, you would never know such a devastating event occurred less than 100 years ago.

I feel very blessed to be an American living in Japan. I am so thankful to have been welcomed by the Japanese people. I have been met with nothing but kindness and have never once felt any animosity for being American. It gives me hope knowing people can heal, forgive, and love one another. I hope one day our great grandchildren will freely travel to places like the middle east, learning from our mistakes, and be met with kindness and understanding.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our Hiroshima trip, the less serious half.

With love,