December Challenge – 02 Tradition


Today is the second day of the December 31-day challenge and the theme is Tradition – so I selected Christmas decorations! There is nothing like Christmas decorations to bring out your Christmas spirit. The photo below is from the Hotel Del Coronado annual Christmas tree decorations, taken in 2012. Lights, Santa Claus, and snowmen all get me in the mood for Christmas, even if the hotel is right next to the sunny beach!


Aside from decorating Christmas trees and looking at Christmas lights, watching Christmas movies and spending time with family are some of my favorite Christmas traditions.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Friday: H2O / Koi


Koi - Japanese Friendship Garden

Photo Friday: H2O

Today’s theme is H2O – water. I enjoy water features in gardens, lakes, and of course the ocean. The elements of water included in Japanese gardens are always particularly beautiful, and the koi pond in the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, CA is no exception. I caught this group of koi swimming around on a sunny March afternoon, as they created ripples in their wake. The sun catching the ripples and reflecting on the dappled patterns of the koi created an interesting shot.

Do you find water features to be relaxing? What kind of water features are your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Friday: Curve / Balboa Park


Balboa Park

Photo Friday Challenge: Curve

For the Photo Friday challenge “Curve” I selected this photo of the California Bell Tower (left) and the San Diego Museum of Man (right) at Balboa Park in San Diego, California, in the US. The day was slightly cloudy, and the muted sun behind the buildings gives the photo an ethereal glow. The intricate curves of the painted roofs of the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture have always captured my interest since I explored the museums as a child.

What kind of curves do you see around you? Let me know in the comments!

S is for Sakura


S is for Sakura for this installment of the A to Z ChallengeSakura 桜 is the Japanese word for cherry blossom, the light pink flower that blooms for only a few weeks a year in the spring before falling to the ground in a flurry of blossoms. Cherry blossoms have fallen for the most part in mainland Japan, although Hokkaido is still due to be in full bloom next week. So I thought I would post about these beautiful flowers.

Sakura at Shiroyama

Sakura (cherry blossoms) in Yamanashi Prefecture – photo by kei

Japan has a whole flower-viewing culture 花見 based around cherry blossoms. When spring hits, sakura themed food, drink, and cute characters bloom like the flowers they represent. School ends during cherry blossom season, and many graduation songs reference cherry blossoms. School rejection letters have even been known to contain a metaphor that goes something like “the cherry blossoms are falling.” Continue reading

C is for Cabrillo National Monument


For C of the A to Z Challenge, we visit the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, California.

Cabrillo National Monument

This monument marks the arrival of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542 on the western coast of what is now the state of California in the US. In addition to the history of 16th century exploration, the local Kumeyaay culture is represented at the National Monument.

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo Statue – photo by kei

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Flower Viewing/花見


Writing a thesis for a Master’s degree is a very stressful pursuit. I’ve learned that it’s not for the faint of heart! Since it was Spring Break, I decided that I needed a change of scenery. So, I packed up my thesis and headed for cherry blossoms, or sakura! No, I didn’t go back to Japan (although that would have been nice). I decided to stay in the country instead. There are several places in the US where you can see cherry blossoms. The most popular city is Washington D.C., which is famous for its National Cherry Blossom Festival. There are also festivals on the east coast: Brooklyn, NY & Philadelphia, PA; in the south: Macon, GA & Nashville, TN; in the Rockies: Denver, CO; and on the west coast: San Francisco, CA & San Diego, CA.

Sakura along a garden path

Cherry blossoms – Sankeien Japanese Friendship Garden
photo by kei

Cherry blossom viewing, which is called 花見 or hanami (lit. flower-watching), is the thing to do in Japan during cherry blossom season. Cherry blossoms are white to pink flowers that bloom for a very short time (on the order of days to a little over a week) in the spring. When the cherry blossoms bloom, it means the coming of spring after winter. The trees burst into fluffy blooms of whites and pinks, and it’s very beautiful.

Sakura at a park in Japan

Cherry blossoms at Shiroyama in Yamanashi prefecture – children enjoying hanami
photo by kei

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