2015.. Just a few days ago I was so excited to say good bye to you. But today, I am already missing you. We made so many happy memories together; faced a lot of challenges; and met a lot of nice people along the way. As I try to figure out what I should do with 2016, let me first look back to some of our fun memories.

1. A Glimpse of Mt. Fuji in Pink

Despite staying late on New Year's Day, my husband and I managed to go to Kasai Rinkai Park at 6:00 am to welcome the first sunrise in 2015. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy that day. We were not able to get a full view of the sunrise. But we were so lucky to see Mt. Fuji in pink! Read our story New Year.. Something Old and New.

Mt. Fuji 2015
A Spectacular View of Mt. Fuji on New Year's Day

 

 

2. More Japanese Traditions in 2015

2015 marked my third  year here in Edogawa. Since then, my husband and I have learned a lot about Japan, its culture and traditions. Most of which we learned from our neighbors and friends.

Although Sakura came early this year and very rainy during spring, we were able to enjoy a Hanami-Barbecue Party in April.

Tokyo 2015
Enjoying the Barbecue and Sakura with Friends and Family

 

In May, we went for Shiohigari or Clam Digging during Golden Week with our neighbors.

Tokyo 2015
Shiohigari or Clam Digging is a Japanese Tradition especially during Golden Week

 

We also enjoyed folk music and dancing during the Bon Odori Festival in August.

Tokyo 2015
Bon Odori: Japanese Way of Honoring their Departed Ancestors

 

And finally, I was able to see the Hanabi or fireworks display near our house.

koto fireworks
Hanabi or Fireworks Festival is a Much-Awaited Summer Tradition in Japan

 

 

3. Reunited with Old Friends

It was a special year for me and husband because we got reunited with friends whom we have not met for quite a long time.

Tokyo 2015
Welcoming Kath Back in Tokyo

 

Tokyo 2015
Okonomiyaki Dinner with Pio and Fatima After 13 Years

 

Tokyo 2015
Julia and Vitaly Back in Tokyo for a Visit After 3 Years

 

Aside from the dinners, I also made some day trips with them. Kath and I explored the streets of Chinatown in Yokohama. Julia and I, on the other hand, spent a great day in Ikspiari in Tokyo.

 

4. Establishment of KIDS Club

Together with some friends in Manila, we were able to establish KIDS (Keen Individuals for Development and Service) Club, a voluntary organization focused on creating better and safer communities for the children in the Philippines. In 2015, we were able to give basic school supplies to 100 students of Kasiglahan Village Elementary School, Rodriguez, Rizal; build two KIDS Toy Libraries in the same school; conduct three Christmas Community Gift-Giving in Tarlac, Laguna, and Makati; a Passion Test Workshop and a Field Visit for our members. To know more about the club and our projects, please visit KIDS Club's website.

KIDS Club
Members of KIDS Club with the Learners during the Opening of Silid Aralan's KIDS Toy Libraries

 

5. New Places Explored

Aside from going to our favorite places on weekends and holidays, my husband and I were fortunate to explore new places here and outside Japan.

We both enjoyed the island vibe, sand, and shrines in Enoshima.

Enoshima 2015
Admiring the Ladies Dance in Enoshima

 

I got lost in Tokyo and discovered the beauty of Zojoji Temple and the Lily Pond in Ikebukuro.

Zojoji Temple
Zojoji Temple Near Tokyo Tower

 

Lily Pond in Tokyo
Recreating Monet's Lily Pond in Ikebukuro Rooftop Garden

 

We also discovered hidden treasures in Kamakura together with my English students.

Kamakura Bamboo Temple
The Bamboo Forest Inside Houkokuji Temple in Kamakura

 

Had a great Halloween weekend in Vancouver.

Vancouver Totempoles
The Ancient Totempoles at Stanley Park, Vancouver

 

And enjoyed the night watching the spectacular Christmas illuminations in Tokyo.

Christmas 2015
The Daiba Memorial Tree Lighted Up with Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower as Background

 

6. Advancing in Ikebana

It has been a great 2015 for me as some of my Ikebana arrangements received recognitions not only from my family and friends but most especially from esteemed professionals.

Florint
One of My Ikebana Arrangement Featured in International Florist Organisation's Page, Europe

 

Ikebana Gallery
So Stoked to Receive the 2015 People's Choice Award from Ikebana Gallery, Australia

 

My arrangement for our 2015 Autumn Exhibition in Seishincho Community Center was also a special one for me because it confirms my degree as a Fourth Level (Yonkyu Shihan) Ikebana sensei.

 

2015 exhibition piece
My 2015 Exhibition Ikebana Arrangement

 

And this Christmas, I received my certificate! With it is my kanji flower name "an" which means apricot.

Tokyo 2015
My Certificate as Yonkyu Shihan Ikebana Sensei

 

I now also offer Ikebana classes online and face-to-face for those who are interested to learn the Japanese flower art.

Learn Ikebana