Almost everyone I know has a Beatles' memory. Even people like me who were born long after the Beatles members went on their own ways. The song Hey Jude takes me back to 8th-grade band class where we learned how to play it while our teacher, Judy Hoell, danced around the room. Let It Be immediately brings up memories of sitting on the dock in Beaufort, North Carolina drunkenly singing with Heather in the middle of the night while watching dolphins and otters swim by. In fact, there is a movie coming out soon called Yesterday that touches on the power of the Beatles' music.
The Christmas festivities are starting to wind down. Mom headed back to North Carolina yesterday. She had been here for a week. I'm really happy she was able to come up for Christmas. I've missed spending the holidays with her. The week leading up to Christmas has been a crazy, busy, fun week. The day after Mom drove up from North Carolina, we drove down to Springfield, Illinois to explore new areas with Avery and her kids. We first went to a great little restaurant called Anchors Away. We chose this restaurant because we heard that it was haunted. Thankfully our waiter, Brock, was able to confirm this quickly for us.
About half an hour from Fukuoka is Nanzo-in Temple. Nanzo-in Temple is the home of the reclining Buddha. I've been wanting to see it in person for a while and figured since we were in Fukuoka we should take the detour to go visit it. Even though I had looked online about this temple often, I didn't know there was more to it than just the reclining Buddha. I also didn't know it was halfway up a mountain. We had quite a few surprises waiting for us.
After all the chaos from the Balls was over and done with, Jeremy and I escaped the base and traveled south to Fukuoka. Ever since we arrived in Iwakuni, I had wanted to go see the German Christmas Markets in Fukuoka but never had the chance to see it the previous Christmases. There are two Christmas Markets in Fukuoka, one at Hakata Station and one at Tenjin Station. Since the one at Hakata Station was bigger we decided to go to that one. Jeremy and I like to travel cheap so we took the back roads from Iwakuni to Fukuoka and it took 8 hours to get to Fukuoka. Had we taken the Sanyo Expressway, it would have only taken 3.5 hours but it would have cost us $60 one way. The drive was nice though and we only got stuck in traffic once.
Last week my friend, Julie, helped me arrange an amazing opportunity. I had found out that one of her friends dresses people in gorgeous kimonos. I asked Julie if she could ask her friend would let me take pictures next time she was dressing someone. Julie messaged me back saying that her friend, Kazue, was going to be dressing some people for a performance that weekend and that I was invited to come take pictures.
One of the things I miss most about being in the States is the big holiday celebrations with friends and families. On Thanksgiving we always went to one of my aunts' houses in High Point or Mebane to celebrate with my mom's family. We were home the previous year for it because of Dad's funeral but last year was the first time that we would be celebrating Thanksgiving on our own. Since I was coming in so late the day before Thanksgiving, Jeremy and I decided that for Thanksgiving we would order a meal from JD's (a restaurant here on base). It had a turkey, some sides, and pie already cooked and ready to go. It was nice to sleep in and not have to worry about cooking a lot of food.