Jes Lee

1/1/15 – Toguchi beach

From my journal:

Today was the first day that the weather was crummy enough that I didn’t mind spending much of the day inside.

We did spend the  morning out exploring one of the local beaches – Toguchi. It had caves to climb around, and at low tide you could walk out pretty far on the rocks. Even though it was cold and windy, it was still great to be out there.

After lunch, John and I went shopping with Julie. We found a set of pots that I fell in love with, and after some research and realizing they aren’t sold in the US, we bought them. We also did a bit of clothes shopping at UniQlo. I am not ashamed to admit that I am kind-of in love with that store!

We made fried rice for dinner. Eric and Julie have been cooking for us multiple night, and we thought it was definitely time for us to make something!

Back to more adventuring tomorrow!

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Film photos from that day:

12/31/14 – Yomitan Pottery Village

From my journal:

Today we went to the Yomitan pottery village. It is close to where Julie lives, and different from the pottery village we visited the last time we were here…this seemed somehow less geared towards tourists, and more local. It was beautiful! We bought quite a few pretty pieces! The little independent shops were adorable.

This village has the largest outdoor kilns on all of Okinawa. They are built into the sides of the hills and the doors are bricked up each time they do a firing, and broken down again when the firing is done.

There were not too many people around as New Year’s is a huge holiday here and many places close down. There was still plenty to see, and plenty of little shops open. It was such a lovely walk today, with lots of sunshine!

IMG_0636An outdoor pottery workshop

IMG_0647The doors to the giant outdoor kiln that are used to load and unload pottery. There was a pile of bricks at each one.


One of the large outdoor kilns – this one was right in the middle of the village.


This is where they would have lit the fire for this kiln. I’m not sure if this one is used anymore, or if it is just kept there to show. There were four other kilns just like this near the edge of the village. They looked much the same, but the other four had more modern roofs on them.




Many of the little pottery shops had displays set up outside and on the porches. Each shop was basically just a house with a large display room in the front. They were all packed full with shelves and as much pottery as they could fit on display.

Film photos from that day:


12/30/14 – Nakakazuku

From my journal:

Another day of exploring! After the day at the crowded aquarium, it was nice to go somewhere a little more quiet. We went to the Nakakazuku castle ruins today and spent almost 3 hours exploring and taking photos. The grounds were beautiful, and filled with flowers and green grass.

On the way we stopped at a small local shrine that was in the middle of getting ready for the New Years celebrations. The shrine was pretty high up the mountain, and the view from the parking lot was quite incredible!


When we got to the castle, and looked out from the highest parts you could walk to, we could see the temple out on the hillside. We could see a lot from the top of the ruins!

We could also see a large abandoned hotel. The story goes that it has been abandoned for many years because the site is very haunted. The builder went crazy while constructing the hotel, building uneven walls and hallways. The hotel did eventually open, but closed as many patrons were dying because of the spirits that haunted the place. You can go on a “haunted island” tour and go through the inside of this hotel…but we opted just to look at it from a distance.


Many places in Japan have special stamps that you can get for being a visitor. They are meant to go in a passport type book that kids can have fun filling up. I put my stamps from the castle in my journal.

I was having fun making panoramic photos with my iPhone while we were there standing on the top of the castle walls.

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Different parts of the castle area are roped off as they are still being excavated and preserved.

I took a lot of film photos…the most I have so far on this trip. Here they are:

12/29/14 – Okinawa Aquarium

From my journal:

Today we made the trek to the aquarium. It is around 66.2km from where we stayed, but factoring in traffic, road construction, stop lights, a break for lunch, and a packed parking lot, it took us almost 3 hours to get there. The scenery was awesome though!

The aquarium was pretty spectacular with a giant 4 story aquarium view at the end with 3 huge whale sharks, many different rays, and two dolphins – one that kept swimming behind one of the sharks, trying to bite his tail, and one that kept sneaking up behind fish and goosing them.

At the very bottom, the glass from the observatory sloped into the tank so you can look up at fish swimming above you. One of the rays would swim to the top of the curved glass and slide back down.

We spent over 3 hours walking around there!

The views outside were beautiful. You could look out over the ocean from where you entered. There were so many little gardens planted around, it seemed like there were flowers everywhere.

On the way home we took a back road that cut across and took us through part of the mountains. We drove through tiny farming villages with houses that looked like they were close to falling down, packed together in some areas along the mountain side.

There were little roadside shops set up along the road selling fresh oranges. We stopped and bought a bag from a woman. She kept giving us samples as we decided what variety to buy. 1000 yen for a huge bag of the sweetest oranges I have had in a long time…less than $10.

We eventually got back to the road we had come in on, and decided to take the expressway the rest of the way to save a bit of time. Julie said something in Japanese that made the man working the toll booth giggle…we laughed the rest of the night about that!

So many adventures!

This is why we always take the back roads.  You never know what you’ll find a long the way.

iPhone photos of the day:

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Film photos:

12/28/14 – Sea Glass Beach




The drive to Sea Glass Beach – through sugar cane fields!


Julie took this photo of us…






Bee hives behind the honey shop!


American Village at night…

American Village is odd – I believe it is basically what they think America is like, which just ends up in this surreal mash-up of touristy Okinawa and American things. But, it is pretty at night. And we found a little art gallery displaying wood block prints by many local artists. The work was beautiful!

Sea Glass Beach was beautiful, and much how I remembered the beach we found on Zamami Island the last time we visited. I have never seen the smooth glass pieces like we did there. That was almost magical the way it added pops of bright color to the sand! We drove through at least two sugar cane fields on the way there. There was actually a drink vending machine in one of the fields! I swear they have those everywhere in Japan!

Here are the film photos I took of that day…

12/26/14 – 12/27/14 Traveling to Okinawa!

This year, John and I decided to head out on an adventure. Our adventure began on Christmas Day. The next bunch of blog posts will be quite photo heavy…but I’m excited to share this little adventure of ours! If you don’t want to see photos of the beach, pottery villages, caves, and castle ruins, well, wait about a week and I’m sure I’ll have something else to blog about! For those of you sticking around, enjoy!

Somehow, Jeremy Messersmith knew that we would be heading out on this adventure, and wrote a travel song just for us!


We had a fun breakfast at the airport with some other traveling friends, saw Santa Clause directing airplanes…

….took one 12 hour flight up above the clouds…


….landed, took a taxi bus full of people out to the runway, walked up to our plane and up the stairs…I thought they only did this in the movies!


Ok – enough with the crappy airport cell phone photos!

After another 2 1/2 hours we landed in Okinawa. It was pretty late on December 26th by the time we got there. It was awesome to see a familiar face at the airport, and have a home to stay at after all the traveling.

The next day we finally got to say hi to the rest of the family (Eric, Millie, Evie, and Clara) before we headed out on our first adventure.

I journaled quite a bit on this trip. Some of those pages I will include for you in my posts, so you can read more about the day, or just skip to more photos if you like!

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Being out by the sea wall was amazing. I love visiting the ocean…something I don’t get to do nearly often enough.

I brought my Hasselblad 501c/m with me on this trip, and a lot of film. Below is a little slide show of photos I took our first full day there. If you would rather just sort through them yourself, the gallery is here.


There are days, when time really is a gift.

Normally, I work 8 hours on Saturday, beginning at a very, very early time for me. And while we still have plenty of fun after I get home from work, it isn’t always the best situation.

But, this Saturday, I was granted an unexpected day off. And I did not let it go to waste!

Friday night ended with a semi-date-night with John at our favorite brew pub, a long night of sleep, that restored me more than I could have hoped for, a day of yoga, and moving furniture from my parent’s house, and a super fun evening of dinner and the roller derby with a friend.

I truly couldn’t have asked for more fun in one day!

I hope anyone that is reading this is having a wonderful little weekend as well!





A New Year

I have started, and deleted this blog post three times already.

This year has already had so many ups and downs, it hardly seems like a new year anymore! But it is, and like every other year, standing at the top of it, I do think back on how many things have changed, how I have changed, and look forward to the shiny new year to come.

What do I wish for this year?

For more peace and goodness in this world.

To survive my job and the challenges it brings.

To learn what I really love, try new things, and know it is ok if I don’t love/choose to do/enjoy all the same things the other people I enjoy being with do. I know that seems simple, but it was a big revelation for me last week.

There are a few people who have already made a huge difference in my little world this year, more than I can ever tell them.

My goal: to live with more gratitude, not that I was living without it or unable to express it before, I am just feeling today like there can never be too much. The more, the better.

This year, John and I ended and started 2014 and 2015 in one of our favorite countries, visiting some amazing and very generous friends. I am very lucky! There will be photos and posts about that trip very soon.

In fact, one other thing I realized already this year, is that I like this little blog, and even though I have made many resolutions to post more, I believe I actually will this time.



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