Japan Honeymoon: Relaxing in Hakone

[All smiles at our kaiseki dinner at Setsugetsuka]

After four days in Tokyo, I was ready to get out of the city. The funny thing is that I grew up in a rural town always yearning for "anywhere but here". I always wanted to leave and would drive my puttering mint green Honda hatchback (r.i.p.) out of town. But now that I'm older, I yearn for the country and wide open spaces.

[Top: Fisherman on Lake Ashi. Bottom: Cedar Lane]

Hakone was next on our trip, and it was beautiful. It is just about an hour outside Tokyo, clothed in cedar trees, fog, and dotted with hot springs, or onsen. We stayed at the very romantic Setsugetsuka, a ryokan, which is like a Japanese bed and breakfast. We chose it because of its onsen, its extremely close proximity to the train station (we walked maybe 50 steps and we were at the front entrance,) and the staff's ability to speak English. I'm so glad we chose it, as this was my favorite part of our honeymoon.

Upon arrival, we were pleasantly surprised that we were given a top floor room with a fantastic view. On the table, we found this card next to a pot of green tea:

["Congaldlations!! I hope you'll have a good time in Hakone, to your marriage."--not bad! I thought it was really sweet they wrote it in English. We were also assigned a special server at dinner who could speak English to us. They took one look at the way I wrote my name on the reservation card, and then looked up and said "please, right this way."]

[The view from our room's patio]

[Our patio had a small tub we could fill with bath water. There was also an outdoor shower so you could clean yourself before entering the room again.]

[We're lucky we're the size of the average Japanese person, because the tub was just big enough for the two of us!]

The ryokan also had several options to enjoy the hot springs on the grounds. There were two public bath houses, one for men and one for women, and three private onsen. We tried one of the private onsen, and I was surprised by how hot the water was. I had read about it beforehand, but I wasn't really prepared by how difficult it was for me to soak--this water was HOT.

Nevertheless, it was quite beautiful to be soaking in the tub, surrounded by trees, underneath a bed of stars with only the sound of crickets in the background.

Some onsen guidelines:
+The hot springs are not meant to be for cleaning, therefore bathers should shower and be clean before entering.
+Bathing suits are generally not allowed, so strip down!
+Like I said, it's HOT! To help transition your body, pour some of the water on yourself before very slowly entering.
+Lie back and relax.

[Little baskets with towels and socks for any onsen excursions]

[Each private onsen had a lock, and once one was occupied, a little light would go in the corresponding bird house.]

[The private onsen we soaked in was surrounded by cedar trees and had a small changing area with a table and hooks. There was also a wooden bench for resting.]

[Our stay included a kaiseki dinner at night, and this gargantuan breakfast in the morning, so not only were we super clean from all the bathing, we were also properly fed!]

[The grounds also had these two rabbits. I don't know what the sign says (anyone read Japanese?) but this is a popular honeymoon resort so my guess is that they symbolize good fortune for baby making, seeing as how they are rabbits and all.]

Hakone and Setsugetsuka exceeded my expectations and I was sad to leave. If you're planning your honeymoon to Japan, you must come here. Please say hi to the bunnies for me.


Mo+Boy Tie the Knot: The First Dance

We did not choreograph anything. We definitely did a lot of swaying. We managed one turn, which I think is pretty good considering we have two left feet.

And there were no maracas and no Celine Dion. [Thank goodness]

Since we have no song to call our own, it was actually a pretty un-romantic process of listening to a bunch of songs that we thought we could easily sway to. The boy really likes Frank Sinatra, so my first thought was to go with something more classic. Also, I was told "nothing weird" so that already ruled out a bunch of songs.

The Very Thought of You played as our family walked down the aisle, so I thought it would be nice to dance to it as well.

La Vie en Rose was also considered, as was I Could Have Danced All Night because once upon a time in 2003 I put it on a mixed CD for him and he still listens to it. In the end, we danced to I Wished For You by Jasmine Ash, which if you watch Ugly Betty [SPOILER!] is the song played when Bobby proposes to Hilda. It got the seal of approval from the boy, the sister, and the friend, because it sounded very sweet, and for its excellent swaying possibilities.

[One of my favorites, this is what Tyra would call 'smiling with your eyes']

I'm not even sure he remembers what song we danced to, but I saw a few tears well up in his eyes while we did the middle school shuffle. I'm pretty sure he's glad we didn't end up playing air maracas.

Do you have a song? What did you dance to at your wedding?



Mo+Boy Tie the Knot: Toasts and Thank Yous

The tent at night? Absolutely gorgeous. Perfect backdrop for our toasts to start off the party.

[My sister and cousin introduce us and the family members, in English and Cantonese!]

It was really important to me that people close to us did the introductions. I thought it would be much more personal, more familial, and I'm thankful that my sister and cousin did such a great job!

I originally didn't want to be introduced. At all. But it seemed like it would lend some energy, so I decided it wasn't too bad after all. And it wasn't! Completely painless and not at all cheesy like I imagined.

(If you'd like to reenact it, click play on the YouTube video while reading.)

[I loved our sweetheart table. We weren't sitting there very much, but I still loved it.]

We asked our close friends to do the toasts for us. My adorable girl pals you've seen in previous posts took the mic and wished us well. While looking at photos after the wedding, I realized that they were the few friends there who knew me before I met the boy, and it was very special to have them toast us.

Next up was the boy's buddies from high school, who get props because they gave me credit for moving to San Diego and remembered that he wrote me a poem for our one month anniversary. I didn't even remember he wrote that poem.
...I should really fish it out from my shoe boxes!

[The boy looks slightly traumatized and happy at the same time in this photo. I love it.]


Finally, it was our turn to say thank you to our guests. Although our DJ did a great job introducing our friends and playing music everyone liked, there was one part we forgot to go over: how to pronounce my name. Whoops. My whole life my name has been mispronounced (you've probably guessed it isn't 'Mo' in reality) and it would have been nice to have it pronounced correctly at my wedding. Not the end of the world, just slightly annoying. After the one incident, the boy insisted on telling him how to say it correctly in case he had to introduce us again, which he did, for the first dance. Good save boy.

So, if you have a notoriously hard to pronounce name, make sure your DJ knows how to say it!

I'm really glad we did a thank you speech, and if you don't totally puke from public speaking, I recommend doing so. We took turns thanking people close to us, and it was a nice way to end the toasts, and for me, have some closure to the wedding planning.

Surprisingly I could have talked longer (I despise public speaking and blush at the drop of a pin,) but we were running slightly behind schedule and I wanted to get dancing. So I wrapped things up, just as our first dance song started playing.

Thanks so much for coming, we hope you have a wonderful night.



Things I Don't Need But Want

This coat is currently on the list, but at $745, I'll be cruising Forever 21 for its cheaper twin. Aaaand I also live in San Diego. Typically the most I need is a heavy sweater. But oh, the ruffles! And the jewel button! And the color! All it needs is a beret and some ankle boots...and a colder environment.
What's on your need but want list?



Mo+Boy Tie the Knot: Photo Station Advice

[We have really cute friends.]

While I'm on the topic of regrets, I regret not publicizing the photo station enough. There was a sign, and a large fabric backdrop that was visible, but guests later told me that they thought the area was reserved for only close friends and family. Whoops, my bad. (See, that bull horn would have come in handy here too!)

In any case, I love the photos that we did get from the few guests that found the photo station.

They give me the warm fuzzies.

[I actually don't know what their message says. You would think that I would have asked one of them by now, but then what would be the fun in that? Can you read it?]

[It was hard to pick a favorite shot from these two. I'm impressed they stayed in the frame while jumping. And I couldn't agree more, tennis pretty much sucks with a bad partner!]

[Awwwww. This huggable man is also a talented illustrator. Need a project? Find him here!]

[No freakin' way, we wish we were as cute as you two!]

[I'm glad we agree, owls DO rock.]

[My cousin is going to have a super cute wedding too!]

[My old roomies! Apartment 118 was so much fun, I'm still trying to convince the boy to put purple in our bathroom and add some stuffed animals to the bed.]

[One of my favorites.]

[Thanks for reading!]

If I had to give advice to someone having a photo station/booth...

1. Make an announcement and have your friends/bridal party remind people that there is a photo station where they can take as many photos as they want.

2. Looking for color in your backdrop? Choose one with a large, vibrant pattern. Ours had polka dots, but they aren't very visible and I would have liked something more bold that would have popped.

Did you have a photo station? Any tips on how to spread the word or make it a hit?

Fabric from Heather Bailey, photo station set up by Jessamyn Harris Photography


Japan Honeymoon: Getting Lost in Tokyo

[The boy on Center Gai in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo]

Traveling, a mighty good test for any relationship. Multiple heavy suitcases, a cross-Pacific flight, hours of layover in LAX, connecting to trains, connecting to buses...and then add on the 85-95 degree weather plus humidity and an inability to speak Japanese, and sometimes I wonder how we managed to not drive each other crazy.

But what I think was really nice in helping us bond is that Japan was completely foreign to us both. Experiencing everything new together was fun, and I'm glad we got to share this mini-adventure.

For those of you planning a honeymoon/trip to Japan, this was our itinerary.
10 days, including travel time:
Flew into Narita
4 days in Tokyo
1 day in Hakone
3 days in Kyoto
1 night stay in Narita before flying home

I basically lived on tripadvisor for a few months planning, but I also consulted Mrs. Ant's posts on Weddingbee, because she had a very similar itinerary to us back in 2007, including the same hotel in Tokyo! I think her posts on Weddingbee are a great place to start for anyone planning a Japan honeymoon.

And now, for the first leg of our trip...TOKYO!
Upon arrival, we thought we had been transported to the future, complete with glittering skyscrapers, trains going here and there, and people dressed up in clothes that made our clothes look super.duper.boring. We stayed at the Park Hotel Tokyo (which was fantastic!) and crammed our four days with food, shopping, and sightseeing. One place we went to twice was the Tsukiji Fish Market, where we had sushi we could never get in San Diego. In fact one sushi stall just had a random fish on its doorstep--good sign that it's fresh!

[Sushi from Daiwa Sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market]

We also took advantage of department store basements which had all the food you could possibly dream of, all on display and ready to eat. Our favorites were the basements at Isetan and Tokyu Department Store.

[Green tea gelato from Tokyu Food Show]

We had an interesting day navigating Akihabara, known for selling electronics, anime, gadgets, toys, and home to a myriad of maid cafes. I surprisingly came out of there with no shopping bags, despite all of the stuffed animals and cute toys available to buy.

[Domo-kun wind-up toys]

[Gloomy bear stuffed animals in an arcade game]

[Akihabara, Tokyo]

[Ueno Park]

We spent a much quieter day in Ueno Park, which had these amazing lily pads, and visited Asakusa to see the Kaminarimon. I had written a paper in college about Hiroshige's print, so I was especially excited to see it!

[Asakusa, "Thunder Gate"]

And, like any other time or place, I was always on the look-out for sweets! Here are a few of my finds.

[Mochi donuts]


[Bunny mochi]

Up next...we recover from Tokyo at our first ryokan in Hakone!

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