Japan Life · Misawa Guides

Japan Post Domestic Shipping for Home Based Businesses

Recently I released my blog post on International Shipping Through Japan Post in hopes of making it easier for home based businesses to know how to ship back to the states without using our APO system, which is not allowed. Today I want to help explain the process of shipping anywhere IN Japan, in hopes that military home based businesses throughout Japan will be able to start shipping to the various bases and areas in the country.

Side note, if you are a military member, dependent, or contractor stationed in Japan currently, please join our business network on Facebook here!


There are several awesome and affordable options for shipping your goods anywhere within the county (Mainland and Okinawa.) And the best part? With Japan being such a small country geographically speaking, the shipping is usually FAST, FAST, FAST.

Some options will allow you to do all of the shipping 100% from your home until the moment you drop it into a collection box, and others will still require a trip to the Japan Post office.

Before I dive into the different methods, I should also mention that while our base offers Japan Post shipping directly to your door, some bases will still take the Japan Post mail to your BASE post office. If you have tracking on your package, you should be able to see which place it is delivered to. At Misawa, Japan Post delivers direct to your HOME.

Again, thank you SO much to my sweet friend Saaya for helping me understand all of this!

First, here is a list of things you will need for shipping domestic within Japan, especially if you want to do your label printing or even just price estimating at home.

  1. A postage scale that weighs in GRAMS/KG.
    This is the one that I have been using since 2017 for any sort of package mailing even in the states, and it has always been accurate for me. I will be purchasing this slightly bigger option (for wider packages) this week though.
  2. Regular packaging/mailing supplies for securely sending your products. (Some shipping methods require using Japan Post materials, others will require you to use your own.)
  3. A printer or access to somewhere that you are able to print your customs forms or labels.
  4. Click Post will require an Amazon Japan or Yahoo Japan account that can link to your account as a payment method if you choose to send items this way.
  5. Measuring tool from Daiso or Seria for measuring package thickness (Japan Post is EXTREMELY strict on package sizes, so I highly recommend buying one of these.)

And that’s basically it! Now let’s dive into the ways you can send mail domestically.

Lastly before I go into shipping methods, I want to send a quick reminder to make sure you are charging sales tax/VAT taxes as they are required.

I personally am using the ETSY platform for my selling and shipping online. Etsy collects the correct necessary taxes based on the buyer’s location (including overseas VAT taxes) and remits them to the correct jurisdictions on your behalf. I visited the legal office at Misawa to ensure that my using of the off base post office would be legal if I were to open an Etsy shop for my hair bows and other creations, and that SOFA would not be violated somehow. I was given the go-ahead by legal. I believe that Shopify functions similarly, and other platforms may as well. Be aware that when selling to an international address, often VAT taxes need to be charged and sent to the correct jurisdictions. Because of this, I would recommend against selling independently, and would lean towards using a platform like Etsy.

If you’d like to open an Etsy for the first time, clicking on my referral link here will give you your first 40 listings for free!

ALL OF THIS TO SAY, I CANNOT GIVE YOU LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE AND THIS BLOG POST IS NOT MEANT TO BE SUCH. If you are concerned about your own business and the legalities behind it, PLEASE visit your legal office or consult a tax professional.


Click Post:
Includes tracking | One Flat Rate | Inexpensive

Click Post is arguably the best option for domestic shipping, especially for smaller and lighter items. At the very least, it is the most convenient. Click Post will allow you to ship anywhere within Japan for 198 yen, and will include tracking for your package at the same rate! Even better yet, Click Post allows you to pack your own items, print your own label, and drop your package off at any collection box. (If you are located in Misawa, there is a collection box outside of our own APO post office, which is collected from daily.) I.e. if you don’t want to visit a post office, you don’t have to!

For this shipping type, your packages will fall under these restrictions:

Length should be no less than 14cm, and no more than 34cm.
Width should be no less than 9cm, and no more than 25cm.
The thickness of your package cannot surpass 3cm.
The weight should be under 1kg.

If you send a package bigger than any of these measurements, it will be returned to the sender, so be sure to use your measuring tool from Daiso, as mentioned earlier.

Much like ClickNShip in the states, you will create an account here in order to begin making labels on your online account for printing out at home.
When signing up for a new account, the personal information entry page will ask for your name (frigana), meaning your Japanese pronunciation of your name. You can use this link to enter your name and get the Japanese kanji for that box. The rest of the boxes are fairly self explanatory, just enter your Japanese address vs your American address. Your on-base Japanese address (for Misawa Air Base residents) will read as follows:

House #, Street name
Misawa Air Base
Misawa-Shi Aomori-Ken

Of course other bases will have similar addresses, just swap out your zip code, prefecture, city, chome (base), and actual house # and street name. Sometimes it takes a small amount of trial and error to make sure you get every part of your address in the form.

Everything on the ClickPost site will be in Japanese-even Chrome does not translate all of it. Unfortunately there is no way to turn this part into English without completely leaving the ClickPost part of the site. Do all of your registration on Chrome, and choose to automatically translate, and most will translate for you. For those parts that don’t, I used my Google translating app on my phone and simply pointed it at the screen, and it is fairly easily navigated that way.

After entering your own shipping address, you will hook up your Amazon account or Yahoo account to your Click Post account in order for Amazon/Yahoo Pay to function as your payment method! I feel that Amazon Japan is the easiest option to hook up. If you need an Amazon Japan account, it is super easy to make one. Click this link here to begin the process- you should also get a free trial of Amazon Japan Prime if you would like it. (Prime is an awesome way to order your HBB supplies within Japan and have them delivered straight to your door.) Once you link your account, you will begin signing in via either your Amazon or Yahoo account.

Create your account, confirm your email address, and then you may begin creating your labels for shipping!

When printing labels, if your printer messes up and does not print correctly, you will have only 30 minutes to print the label correctly. After this amount of time, the reprint option will no longer be available, and you will have to cancel the label and start over. Labels can be printed in either black and white or color. Also good news-if your label messes up, no worries, Japan Post does not charge your account until the package is actually scanned in at the Post Office!

Once you have printed your label and stuck it to your package, you may drop your package off at any collection box!

The website states that most packages will arrive the next day, sometimes the day after that. The only time it should take longer than 2 days would be if you are shipping to the islands instead of mainland. In which case it will add only a day or two more to the delivery time.

While there aren’t many downsides to ClickPost, unfortunately you are not able to add any “extras” to this shipping method, including express shipping or insurance. If you absolutely need insurance, I would recommend shipping your item via Yu Pack/Yu Mail.

Letter Pack:
Includes tracking | Two Flat Rates | Relatively Inexpensive

Letter packs are decent sized envelopes that are postage prepaid upon purchase, and ready to ship the moment you purchase them and fill them out. Letter packs may be purchased directly at the post office, or at some convenience stores. They come in two types: letter pack plus, and letter pack light. Letter packs unfortunately do not include insurance.

You will be allowed to fill the pack with as much as you would like, as long as you are able to seal the envelope, the thickness is under 3cm without needing to be squished, and the weight is under 4kg. Tracking is included with the letter pack- before you send the package, you will simply have to peel off your part of the tracking number. Letter packs can also be totally packed and shipped without stepping foot in a Post Office. Just seal it, and drop it in a collection box. The same price applies to these envelopes, no matter where you are shipping from or to. Essentially, it functions like a flat rate envelope does in the states- but instead of paying when you send the package, you are paying for your postage when you purchase the envelope itself.

The difference between a letter pack light and a letter pack plus is only a few key points. 370 yen is the price for letter pack lights, which are delivered to mailboxes and may be left. 520yen is the price for the letter pack plus, which will be delivered in-person to the recipient. If the recipient misses attempted delivery, they will have to pick up the item from their local post office. Letter pack plus will also allow you to go over the 3cm limit, as long as the envelope is able to be sealed.

You can buy these envelopes at the post office and most convenience stores. Letter packs are also available at the “stamp shop” which is JP’s online site for purchasing different shipping materials. if purchasing online, you must purchase the packs in sets of 20 though, so unless you are doing some serious shipping, purchasing in person is likely your best bet.

(If you are located in Misawa and have had a newborn on base, the “letter pack” is the way you send all of your documents to the Embassy, and it is the way they send your passport back to you! This is why they have you purchase two envelopes- you are sending them a prepaid letter pack inside of the letter pack you send them in order for them to be able to ship your documents back to you.)

Yu Pack Parcel:
Includes Tracking | Insured

Yu Pack is another great option for domestic shipping, though it is somewhat trickier to do than Click Post. While a little pricier, the dimensions of acceptable packages are also larger than the Click Post option, it will allow for heavier packages, and will also include insurance. Expect to spend at bare minimum around 800 yen within your own prefecture, usually around 1200-1500 yen for shipping to other prefectures. Prices will vary based on shipping destination and package size.
There are 7 sizes for Yu Pack, all determined by the total added cm of the package. See the diagram below for how the package size is added in order to decide which category your package falls into. If a package is heavier than 25kg, you may choose to send it via “weighted Yu Pack.”

Yu Pack parcels must be sent from a certified Yu Pack counter, which can be found at the post office, or at some convenience stores. Your first few times sending this way, I would HIGHLY recommend using the Post Office vs the scanning system at the convenience store.

Yu Pack also does has its own app that you may download for shipping discounts. Unlike the ClickPost process though, you will ONLY be printing a label, not paying for postage. This means that your package still must be taken to a certified Yu Pack location after printing your label. It cannot be dropped into a collection receptacle.

(Also, the app is fully in Japanese, so you will have to have a way to translate it the whole time you are using it. Once you accept the terms and click “new registration” there is a button at the top to switch to English, though not everything in the app will translate. It’s probably a personal preference on whether or not the hassle is worth it for the discounts.)
Once you have registered and entered all of your information including your Japanese address, you will have to confirm your account via your email for your registration to be final.
Several discounts are available for the Yu Pack service. A few include: using the app to register your packages (-180yen) or taking the package directly to the post office instead of another counter (-100 yen.) If shipping multiple items, thresholds also exist for discounts on multiple packages sent at once.

Yu Pack parcel offers a long list of specialized shipping services, including services for airport luggage, golf equipment, snowboarding/skiing, and baggage delivery. (We also commonly use Black Cat for larger packages or luggage like these, but that’s another story for another post.)

Refrigerated Yu Packs are also available for a very small added fee on top of the regular shipping fee.

You may visit this page to get a charge estimate on the type and size of Yu Pack you are looking into sending.

Yu Mail:
Inexpensive | Add-ons Available

While this method is the one that I probably understand the least, to my understanding, Yu Mail is the basic (very small package) shipping option you will get if you simply bring your package into the post office to hand write your label. Using this method you will be allowed to ship items up to 1kg.

Sizing for packages will be as follows: A = 34 cm, within B = 3 cm, within C = 25 cm

Fares will be the same nationwide, just based on weight. Remember to always weigh your packages once fully packed. Leave your package unsealed upon bringing it to the post office, or bring in a sample of what you are sending with you.

Basic Yu Mail will also allow for express sending, registered mail, and proof of delivery. For these added services, you can calculate your cost here.


And that is pretty much it! Personally, I will likely never use a method other than ClickPost, because it is just SO dang easy, but Japan Post really does offer a long list of affordable options for their domestic shipping.

Please of course feel free to message me if you ever have any questions- and if I don’t know the answer, I will try to find you somebody who does!

Happy shipping!

Japan Life · Misawa Guides

Japan Post International Shipping for Home Based Businesses

Holy moly, it took me a while to figure all of this out, but I am so excited to share and hopefully help other makers who are serving tours in Japan help their businesses thrive.

Below I will share the shipping process for the off base Japanese Post Office, because it is really the only way we as business owners stationed in Japan, are able to ship things back to the states or internationally. The use of the APO system for business purposes is not allowed, but thankfully there is another option!

I will preface all of this by saying that I am using the ETSY platform for my selling and shipping online. Etsy collects the correct necessary taxes based on the buyer’s location (including overseas VAT taxes) and remits them to the correct jurisdictions on your behalf. I visited the legal office at Misawa to ensure that my using of the off base post office would be legal if I were to open an Etsy shop for my hair bows and other creations, and that SOFA would not be violated somehow. I was given the go-ahead by legal. I believe that Shopify functions similarly, and other platforms may as well. Be aware that when selling to an international address, often VAT taxes need to be charged and sent to the correct jurisdictions. Because of this, I would recommend against selling independently, and would lean towards using a platform like Etsy.

If you’d like to open an Etsy for the first time, clicking on my referral link here will give you your first 40 listings for free!

ALL OF THIS TO SAY, I CANNOT GIVE YOU LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE AND THIS BLOG POST IS NOT MEANT TO BE SUCH. If you are concerned about your own business and the legalities behind it, PLEASE visit your legal office or consult a tax professional.

**Do be aware that the options as of writing this in February 2021 are limited due to Covid-19. When options change again, I will update this post.**

***Prices are due to change April 1, 2021 for most packages sent to the USA through this system***


The cheapest and easiest route I have found so far, at least for smaller and easily packed items?
International Mail My Page Service.

Basically, Japan Post has several options for sending smaller, lighter packages internationally for a discounted rate, and they have an online system in place for printing out your customs labels. I was actually fairly surprised at how big of packages they allowed to be shipped this way, and the speeds at which they can reach the US if you are willing to pay a little more.

In order to use their online shipping options, you will need a few basic things:

  1. A postage scale that weighs in GRAMS/KG.
    This is the one that I have been using since 2017 for any sort of package mailing even in the states, and it has always been accurate for me. I will be purchasing this slightly bigger option (for wider packages) this week though.
  2. Regular packaging/mailing supplies for securely sending your products.
  3. A printer or access to somewhere that you are able to print your customs forms.
  4. The “pouches” that Japan Post requires that you use for this kind of shipment.
  5. Yen for the post office for when you send your item. (Still unsure if Japan Post in Misawa takes card, every time I have sent a package it has been a small enough fee for me to just use yen. Next time when I have a bigger group of packages to be sent all at once, I will confirm if they will accept American credit cards or not.)

Here is the process for the Japan Post online shipping account, in a nutshell.

You will create an online profile on the JP website that will be your “shipping profile.” You can save addresses here and enter recipients’ addresses. For your own address, you will use your “Japanese” address instead of your APO box. Thus, anything you have sent to this address will come straight to your door, NOT the base post office.
Your online account simply serves as a way to pre-estimate your shipping costs and create the customs forms for your package.
Once you create your account, you will order the “pouches” that Japan Post requires for this type of shipping. These are free, and are delivered right to your door as well. The pouches simply serve as a waterproof barrier on the outside of your package in which you will place your customs forms.
Once you have created your account and have ordered and received these adhesive pouches, you are ready to begin shipping!


Now I will go into the super duper detailed version of the process, along with the tips I have found useful in the few times I have shipped. My apologies for the length of this post, there’s just SO much information in regards to how this process works if you have never dealt with any of it before!


First, you will need to create an account through Japan Post online.
Japan Post has an option for translating everything into English. Find that, and select it.

(Scroll to the bottom of the home page. Click “About using this site.”

Then, click the far right option on the top of the next page that says “English.”)

There you go, everything is now in English.

The page you will land on after clicking the English option is the main index page for sending domestic (in Japan) as well as international options.
I’ll link it here in case it doesn’t automatically pull up for you.
This page will give you links to ALL of the available services (and most of the pricing) through Japan Post.

To create an online account, next click on Express Mail Service under the “Sending Overseas” column.

Here you will find the main page for EMS shipping. The main page looks like this, you will see in the upper right hand corner an option to “log in here.” Click this, you will come to a page where you can create your own account.

The next page will give you the option to create an account as an individual or a corporation. I chose to create a corporate customer account. (The difference between individual accounts and corporate accounts is simply how many addresses you can store! I chose the corporate account, because I have repeat customers I ship to, and it is nice to not have to re-enter their addresses every time.)

Next, you will fill out the form that appears.
To help,
Misawa Air Base has a Japanese postal code of 033-0012
Your prefecture is Aomori, which is the SECOND option on the drop-down list (match the kanji to the image below to be sure.)
Your city/town/village will be Misawa-Shi
Your street number is the actual street on base that you live on (i.e. Yellowstone, Thunderjet, etc.) AND Misawa Air Base
(Sometimes on the website there is an “address line 2” available, if so, place Misawa Air Base in this line. You MUST include Misawa Air Base in your address somewhere, as this part of your address somewhat functions as your “chome” or the district of the city in which you live.)
The floor of condo/etc. is your building number and house letter (i.e. tower 117, 9B or 321A)
If you ever need to know Aomori in kanji, it looks like this:

I entered our old address on base to show you the tricky parts of the address entry:

On the lines below these, I only entered my email address. (I did not fill out the “email address of a cellular phone” lines.)
Next, it will ask you to create a password and fill in your secret questions.

Then, you will fill out a brief survey regarding what you intend to use Japan Post for. Do your best to answer the questions to the best of your knowledge. These are my answers, which may or may not be different from yours.

When you have finished, click “accept.” You will then be emailed a “pre-registration link.” You will not be able to use your account until you confirm your account through email. Go to your email, click the link.
Bam, you are now the proud owner of a Japan Post shipping account.

Your home page will look like this once you have logged in.
Your next step will be to click “order pouch.”
These are the little customs document holders that are adhesive and have to be stuck to the outside of your packages.

The next page that comes up will be your request for pouches. To start off with, I requested 20. Use your “Japanese address” as listed in your account from what we entered above.

Press confirm, then confirm one more time, and your pouches will be shipped directly to your door on base. It took around two business days for mine to arrive each time. I happened to be home both times that mine were delivered, but I am assuming they will leave them in a bag on your doorknob if you are not home as well.

Once you receive your pouches, you are ready to ship!


To ship a package, on the main menu, click “create labels.”
The process of creating a label is much like USPS in the states, and is fairly self-explanatory. I will go step by step with you.


You will select your sender information, which should be saved in your account as your Japanese address.
If your sender address does not automatically pull up, enter it manually. You will enter the various pieces of your “Japanese address” as follows, if the sender entry does not pull up automatically:


Then, you will enter the address of your recipient.

I won’t include a screenshot for this one, because USA addresses will be entered exactly as you would for any USPS package in the states. Easy peasy!
If you are not shipping to a company and only an individual customer, on the required “company” slot, just click on the line and hit the spacebar to leave it blank.

Address 1 will be the house number, address 2 will be the street name, and address 3 will be the city that you are shipping to. Click register once you have filled out the full address.

The next page will be your actual contents page for customs. Here is where you will choose the speed/type of delivery you’d like, as well as enter the contents of the package and the weight. Package contents and the weight/value of each item is the same concept as a USPS customs form. Each slot will tell you if it wants the value in USD or JPY.

Now, for a brief explanation of the shipping types as shown above.
***CURRENTLY BECAUSE OF COVID-19, OVER HALF OF THE REGULAR OPTIONS ARE UNAVAILABLE. You will only have the options of International ePacket, Postal Parcel, Small Packet, and Printer Matter. For sending packages, your only options currently will be International ePacket and Small Packet.***

Click on the little question mark for a detailed explanation of each, along with the minimum and max sizes/weights allowed for each shipping type.


Thank you to my friend Saaya for helping understand the differences between shipping types!

Postal parcels are regular mail like letters, bills, or cards. This will not be an option you select if you are shipping an actual package. Even if you choose to use this option for small letters/postcards, tracking will not be available.

EMS (Goods) will usually be your fastest option for sending items to the states, and is typically used to send larger items. This option is the most like “priority express” in the states. EMS mail will come with tracking as well as insurance. This will also be very pricey, but has the ability to deliver items overseas in a matter of days instead of weeks. At a bare minimum for the smallest package, expect to spend around $20 for this option, with prices increasing as packages get larger.

International EPacket and International EPacket light are one of the best options for small packages. EPacket will be sent by “air” and will come with up to 6000yen insurance. EPacket light is by SAL (slow air mail) with NO insurance, but does include tracking.

Small Packet shipping will be one of the most cost effective options, but it will also be one of the slowest, and will not include tracking (to my understanding. I will update if this is untrue, but the “tracking number” I received has not updated at all.) You may also customize this shipping type by choosing to add tracking or insurance for an additional fee. These will be chosen AT the post office, not online though, so you will have to be able to communicate that you would like to add these.
So far, I have used chosen to only use Small Packet shipping for my packages of hair bows. I click the regular “small packet” option, then click “air.”
Small packet shipping is available in 3 speeds- AIR, SAL, and SURFACE. They are pretty much exactly how they sound- air mail, slow air mail, and surface (boat) mail, respectively. The difference on price is honestly quite tiny, so I have always gone with air mail.

(Currently it sounds like air mail is the only option due to Covid-19, for both ePacket and Small Packet shipping.)
You can use this tool to estimate your shipping costs for the various types of mailing.
When using the tool, if you are in Misawa you will be shipping from “Aomori.”
Calculate your package weight (after completely packed, remember that packaging materials will always add weight) in GRAMS, then select which country and state you will be shipping to. You will then see an estimate for all of the available shipping types. If you click on the question marks beside shipping types, you can also see the limits for package sizes. Note that there are both maximum AND minimum sizes for shipping.


Next, you will enter your content descriptions. I took a package to the post office last week with a simple description in English of “hair bows” but it caused a bit of headache for the postal worker, as she was unable to read the English had to translate it and key it in manually. If sending to the USA, you MUST have your contents listed in English, though!
If you write your contents only in English with no code added, I would recommend bringing in a translated sticky note of what your contents are.
There is a line for the harmonized system (HS) code- filling this in may make the process easier too.
Here is the HS code list for customs forms if you would like to look up your own code. You can also search for the code on Google.
For example, my hair bows have a HS code of 9615900.

Be sure to accurately describe the quantity, estimated value, and description of all of your items in the customs form.
When you have finished adding items, hit register and certify that you are not sending hazardous materials.

Enter your shipping date. Be sure to pick the day you will actually be shipping the items out from the Post Office, not just the day you print your customs form.

Next, enter your gross weight. This will be the total weight of the package after all packaging materials have been added. I don’t typically weigh the package until it is sealed and the adhesive pouch is added to the outside. I typically add about 8 grams to this total for what the customs forms themself will weigh.

Once you add your gross weight, you will see the shipping cost. This row will also tell you if your package has insurance automatically via the shipping method you selected. If no insurance is listed, and the option is not available to add online, you can ask for insurance at the post office counter if you would like to add it.

Next, you will select if you want an invoice printed or not.

Then you will declare whether your products have commercial value or not. I am still somewhat unclear on the process of tarriffs in regards to us being USA citizens sending to the US. If you have questions about this one, I won’t give you a recommendation either way- contact a tax professional so I don’t mess up your business haha.

After this, you will select how often you want to be notified of the progress of your package, and how often your customer wants to be notified.

When you are finished with all of this, hit submit.

Hit “register shipment” and BAM. You have created your first shipping label.

IMPORTANT: YOU MAY ONLY PRINT YOUR CUSTOMS FORMS FOR SHIPPING ONCE. Make sure your printer is turned on and ready to print before you actually hit print. If your ink messes up or the page refreshes before printing, you will have to cancel your shipment and redo it. The “reprint” option is only for your own records, it does not work for shipping at the post office once your initial forms have been printed. Be sure that a bar code has printed on your document. If there is no bar code present, you likely have printed a copy, and not the original.

Print all your required documents, and you are ready to head to the post office!

Do NOT put the forms in the pouch yet, and DO NOT seal the pouch. You will present your forms and your package to the postal worker, and they will put them inside the pouch for you. You will likely have to fill out one more certification form at the post office stating that you are not sending hazardous materials, and will have to sign and date 1-2 forms at the time of sending.

Once you present your package and documents, they will scan the package into the system, and you may pay for your package.

Viola! You have shipped internationally through Japan Post.


Tracking can be found on your main menu under “shipping history.” Select the shipment you are looking for, and click “track and trace.” You will then be able to see any updated tracking information for your package, if the package comes with tracking!

I hope this has helped you better understand how to begin shipping through the off base post office. It is a process to figure out via trail and error, so you will likely have to do a little of your own research to figure out which shipping method works best for what you are looking for!

If you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Instagram @joyfulcrew! I am a little slow to respond to messages sometimes (three kid problems, right?) but I will always help however I can!

Happy shipping!

Japan Life · Japan Life Updates · Our Life in Japan · Travel Guides

Blueberry Picking |Misawa, Aomori

Here are the basics:

• stroller friendly, though I would recommend wearing babies instead • I would not bring pets to this particular farm • awesome for even young kids- no thorns on the fruit plants, so even our 11 month old picked her own berries •

Hours: I will update the hours once I find my photo of the sign, sorry! We usually go around 2-3pm.
Usually berries are the ripest during the last week of July.
Directly from base, only about a 20 min drive.

40.783798, 141.363129

Our second year to visit this farm, and I am finally confident enough that y’all need to visit to release the pin. This may be a commonly visited farm, but we stumbled upon it without a pin, and I LOVE the owners. So kind, always so good to our kids, and their berries are amazing.

Entry fees are 500¥ per person, and both of our kids were free. To take out blueberries, you will pay 120¥/100 grams, which is DIRT CHEAP compared to ANY blueberry prices at local grocery stores. If I remember correctly, children under age 7 eat for free.

In total, we paid exactly 2000¥ for all-you-can-eat blueberries, and an additional gallon sized ziplock full of blueberries. The owners of this farm always encourage us to eat, eat, eat- especially towards the end of the season. They provide buckets to pick with, and even have small baskets for children.

This particular farm has always been extremely quiet, with lots of options as to areas that you can pick from. We have never even felt like we were picking around other people. 

Park directly in front of the greenhouse, when you drive in you will see the family’s house to the left, and the greenhouse to the right. There is a small parking area between the two.
As is often customary in Japan, this is both the family’s home, and their business. Make sure you are respectful, as this is where they live.

Blueberry and mud face

I would recommend wearing/bringing bug spray- the mosquitoes aren’t bad here, but the ants are. Honestly they weren’t pesky enough to pose a problem this year, but I remember they were THICK last year.

If you want to know what life with Henry is like right now, this is it. Constantly shaking a stick or toy at you saying “pew pew pew pew pew!”

This family is extremely gracious, and almost always gives us a “free gift” or knocks down the price a little bit. Last year at the end of the season, when the berries were ripe, ripe, ripe, we took home almost 4lbs of berries for around $9.90.

Last year: This was the first bag we picked, we went home with around 4x this many berries.

If you’re new to Misawa, make sure you also check out my post on cherry picking. We are planning to hit the apple farms, strawberry farms, and maybe even pick some raspberries this year too.

Enjoy! The berries are delicious!



Japan Life · Japan Life Updates · Misawa Guides · Our Life in Japan · Travel Guides

Cherry Picking- June 29

Oh my goodness was this a short, fun little day trip. All you can eat fresh cherries for 40 minutes on a warm June day. Can you beat that? 

Here are the coordinates directly to the parking lot- it is a very small shop with a couple vending machines on the side. It is right on the corner of several streets. The owners were super friendly, despite our inability to understand how the process worked. Ha.

40.405600, 141.325477

Disclaimer: Like I said, we didn’t realize how this process worked, so we unfortunately did not realize that you are not supposed to bring a container inside the picking area with you. This is an all-you-can-eat-only kind of deal, then you can purchase cherries in boxes afterwards. When they didn’t hand us any baskets, we assumed we were just supposed to bring our own, and grabbed a Daiso basket from the car.

Thankfully Henry didn’t pick MANY cherries, but we still felt so bad bringing a bucket to the front when they didn’t charge us for them.

The Japanese hosts were so kind to us when we brought out a small container of cherries that Henry had picked, but we felt SO bad that we didn’t realize that we were only supposed to eat freely while in there. With our blueberry picking experience last year, you could pay for the weight of whatever you carried out, so we assumed we could do the same here.
Don’t be us. There are flats of cherries that you can buy afterwards- don’t carry any out on your own!Entry fee is 1000 yen per person for 40 minutes. It is somewhat unclear from the signs/what they charged us on exactly how much kiddos cost, but they are CHEAP either way. They were kind enough to allow our babes in for free.
During those 40 minutes, you may eat as many cherries as you would like.The cherries are THICK right now, as of the last week of June. You will leave that area with a stomach ache if you eat the entire time- I promise. And they are SO good. I took photos most of the time, and still ended up feeling full when it was time to leave. 

Let me say it again, the cherries are SO good. Like, can I say it 4 times? I was shocked to even see some dark, rich bing cherries on a few trees. Do y’all realize how much those babies cost at the grocery store in Japan?!
The branches hang LOW, so even a kiddo as little as around 1.5 years old could easily reach the branches.

AND… the best part?

It’s all COVERED by greenhouses! It started absolutely pouring while we were picking, and all of us stayed nice and dry.

If you look closely, you can see the pouring rain in the background. SO nice that the trees in the picking area were covered, so the kids stayed totally dry.

Basically NO bugs. Grass is very short. Seriously the easiest place for a fun day trip with even very young kiddos. Vending machines are also located to the side if you end up going on a hot day. I would highly recommend this for ANY age.The drive from base is about 57 minutes without tolls, but it is a BEAUTIFUL drive. I am not sure if a toll route would change this, but I HIGHLY recommend the route that Google Maps took us while avoiding tolls. 

The Japanese asked us to come back as we left today, only after taking photos of our kids and gifting us a small bag of cherries for free. We will absolutely return. I’m tempted to go back again tomorrow, honestly.Make sure you check them out too, you won’t be disappointed.

Japan Life · Travel Guides

14 Reasons Japan is the Best For Kids & Families

Looking for somewhere overseas to take a vacation with a toddler or baby? Moving to Japan soon? Just generally interested in one of the coolest countries on earth?
If you have kids, and especially if they are infants or toddlers, I am confident you will find Japan to be one of the easiest places to raise your little babes.

Don’t believe me?
Read on.

Why is Japan the best for kids?

1. Public nursery/breastfeeding locations

These are everywhere. The mall, the airport, train stations, airports. Anywhere that you might be caught needing to tend to a baby, there is likely a free-to-use nursery nearby.
These rooms boast: purified hot water access for preparing formula, privacy for breastfeeding, changing tables, and a ban on both smoking and electronic device use- making for a clean and quiet space for little ones.

In addition, these rooms are often sectioned off so that men can enter too! HOW COOL IS THAT?! One half of the space is for anyone caring for a baby, and one half for women only, so you can openly breastfeed here if you do not feel comfortable doing so in public.

Furthermore, Japan is incredibly accepting of breastfeeding in all the experiences I have had while feeding two babes over here, and while I choose to cover- I have never got a bad look if I chose to use the two-shirt method without my nursing cover.

2. Chaos does not exist

The Japanese people lined up at each train car, single-file and quietly waiting to board their train.

Everything has order.
Everything has an unspoken rule about waiting your turn.
And when you have chaos holding on to each of your hands in the form of a small and loud child you are trying to drag onto public transit, more chaos is the last thing you need. We were terrified initially to use public transit with a language barrier, but it has proven to be one of the most stress-free things we have done since moving here.

When boarding a train that just entered your terminal, there is an unspoken rule that those exiting the train will do so before those boarding ever step foot on it. There is no pushing, no squeezing past somebody in the aisle- everything happens in order, everything runs on time, and it is glorious.

And finally, everyone is always willing to help you find your way. Whether they speak ANY English or not, they will do their best to help you. Chaos doesn’t happen here.

3. Kids meals are delivered first

Almost anywhere you go in Japan, children will be served first. Small plates, bowls, and spoons are also almost always brought to tables. Water is always offered to kids immediately. Japan seriously takes care of kiddos.

4. Kids meals are HUGE

Kids meals aren’t just one chicken strip and three soggy fries thrown in a cardboard box here. Seriously, everywhere you go- your kids will leave full.

Meals here almost always come with: a scoop of rice, a main dish, a side dish, some sort of juice or milk, and often even a toy or treat afterwards. If your kids love rice (which I guarantee they will after a few months in Japan) you can basically ALWAYS request a side of rice at a restaurant. This is our favorite trick with Henry, who is the pickiest eater in the world at times.

Best part? Most kids meals like this cost like $1.50-$3.50 max.

5. Baby Holders

Um, so, this is probably in my top 3 favorite things about Japan.
Who wants to poop while holding a child? Who wants to let their toddler crawl on the bathroom floor? Not you, eh? Need I say more?

6. Priority parking for pregnant mothers

Yep, Japan considers you handicapped while you are pregnant, and it’s the most genius thing I have ever seen. Most parking spots like these are DIRECTLY in front of an establishment. During the time that I was pregnant and had a toddler, this fact about Japan was 100% a lifesaver.

The Japanese will also refuse to let you carry ANYTHING heavy if they notice you are pregnant. I can’t tell you how many times a Japanese man carried a watermelon or even just a small bag of groceries to my car while I was pregnant.

7. Priority seating

Elderly? Pregnant? Injured? HAVE KIDS?

Yes? Then not only is there designated priority seating for you on public transit, but the Japanese people are ATTENTIVE to it. Last week on a train, an elderly man stood up for ME and said “please, please” gesturing to his seat so that I could sit with my 9 month old, who was already sleeping happily in my arms.

The Japanese are intentional, they notice, and they are SO kind.

8. The Japanese are so kind to children

At a ski resort, where the Japanese ski class had just let out. Henry collected candy piece after candy piece from these kiddos. One of them even bought him a hot chocolate from the vending machine behind them.

If you spend 10 minutes in the midst of the Japanese people and your child makes eye contact with somebody, chances are you will be coming home with some sort of treat or toy. We have had elderly couples walk us over to cookie/candy stores specifically to buy Henry a treat in front of us. We hear the term “kawaii” (cute) about our babies all the time, and it is our favorite to tell Japanese families that their babies are kawaii, too.

Children here also LOVE American kids. Because they often are learning English in school, you may even be stopped so they can practice their English with someone who is fluent. When you respond to their “hellos” you may be met with the sweetest giggles in the world.

One of my favorite things to do since moving to Japan is to take our kids to local playgrounds or play places. If there is anything that will teach you about inclusion, it is seeing toddlers of two different cultures, who don’t even speak the same language, playing flawlessly and happily together.

Henry, watching a Japanese show on this little girl’s phone while we ate yakiniku at the table next to them.

9. Arcades, parks, playgrounds GALORE

The entire country of Japan is basically one giant playground for kids and adults alike. You can’t enter a city without finding an accessible place for a kid of any age to play. There are 7 story arcades, huge playgrounds, massive activity centers… and the best part? We have yet to find somewhere that isn’t totally affordable for a day of fun.

And can we talk about how cute the entire country is? For goodness sake, the traffic cones are made to look like cute little animals here!

Any time Henry passes a booth that is giving away some sort of balloon animal, he ALWAYS ends up leaving with one for free.

All playground equipment is so intentionally constructed here, as well. This incredibly tall slide is fully enclosed at the top to keep kids from falling off.

10. Japan is CLEAN

I mean, you will see people picking weeds or cigarette droppings out of the cracks on their sidewalks. It is clean here, it is tidy here, and it is orderly here.
We never buy train tickets for our toddler and infant (mainly because kids under 6 are free,) but also because we feel comfortable letting them sit at our feet on the train. That’s how clean everything in this country is.

You will never find dirty tables, dirty floors, and it is incredibly rare to find a dirty restroom. This would probably make you think that they are uptight about kiddos making messes- but again, Japan will shock you on that. I always try to crawl under tables to clean up the messes our kids make- and the servers always gesture for me to not worry about it.
Poor Henry even had an accident in a booth once at a restaurant, and the kind waiter just nodded, smiled, and told me “Hai, hai, it okay, it okay!”

11. Shopping is EASY with kids

For instance, shopping carts with the little cars or characters on the front? FREE. You know? The ones that are usually like $5 to rent at malls in the states? Yep, totally free. They also have infant carts that recline perfectly for your baby to sleep when they are little.

This seems like a silly point, but my kids LOVE the mall because of this. Most shopping malls also host grocery stores- which makes this an even bigger point for our family personally. Happy kids while grocery shopping= happy mom all day.

In addition, refrigerated lockers are available at lots of malls and shopping centers, so if you purchase your groceries first but need to do other things, you have a cold place to store them so you don’t have to lug them around with you.

12. Restrooms are catered to children & families

This was one of my favorite things to find upon entering a restroom in Japan for the first time. There will almost always be a tiny toilet sitting next to the regular sized toilet in the family/handicapped stall. Toilets here are ultra interesting to kids, with all their buttons and strange sounds, so potty training is usually a little more interesting if you are out and about in Japan.

Changing tables are available everywhere, including in men’s rooms, and even on the Shinkansen train, which has airport sized bathrooms. Everywhere you go, you will find a family restroom, equipped with a changing table, a baby holder, and often a small toilet or tiny urinal.

Uh… what?

Yeah, that was my reaction the first time I walked into a women’s restroom in Japan and noticed the 1/2 size urinal on the ground before the stalls.

Well, because women have sons, and sometimes sons have to pee too.

Brilliant, no?!

13. It’s always easy to find food and snacks

Can you say, “the land of vending machines?”

Because they have EVERY kind here, and they are on every street. Hot drinks, cold drinks, soups, snacks, ramen, ice cream, full fledged meals… even cigarettes can be found in vending machines. They are at every building, on every floor, even on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. You will see residential homes with vending machines attached to the side of their garage if they reside on a main street. Your kids will NEVER go thirsty, because you are always 130¥ away from an apple or grape juice.

Red colors indicate hot drinks, blue indicate chilled ones.

You can guarantee that any time that ramen is sold from a vending machine, there will be a hot water dispenser nearby for free.

14. Japan is SAFE.

Let me just say this- I would take my two kids off base and explore just about anywhere in Japan without fear and without my husband, and I am a CAUTIOUS human. I can’t say that about many places in the world, to be honest- and definitely not about many places in America. Nearly every Japanese person you come in contact with is more than willing to help, and even with the language barrier, I feel the safest I have felt in my life since moving to this country.
The Japanese police rarely have to intervene with regular life, but when they do, they mean BUSINESS. Crime is not taken lightly here, and you never see crimes happen.

If you are looking for somewhere to raise kiddos where you can likely go without locking your door, Japan is your place.

I sincerely hope you find the same incredible pro-kid factors if you visit Japan someday, too. Was there anything I missed? Be sure to tell me below, or head over to my Instagram and be sure to use the hashtag #takeyourbabieseverywhere if you post photos of your adventures so I can see your kiddos loving Japan as much as we do.

Happy exploring with your babies!


DIY · Home · Japan Life · Rental Decorating

Tiny Pantry Renovation |Rental Friendly Decorating

We have had small pantries before, but man, this one in Japan takes the cake for BY FAR the smallest. We have tons of drawers that we can pile stuff in, but honestly it’s just so hard to find what we need when things aren’t sorted and organized.

I have found a bit of a love for open shelving, especially when items are displayed in beautiful jars and are so easily accessible. That being said, I also have a deep-seated hate for paying a lot for my home decor. (Hence my DIY hacks that are almost always under $20.)

So of course, I turned to my trusted Japanese Dollar stores for help.


So, I made a trip to both Daiso and Seria (the dollar stores here in Japan) and I got to work. In all reality, most dollar stores will have containers similar to the ones that I bought here. I decided to only stick with glass, simply because I knew it would probably withstand future moves better. (Fingers crossed for smart packers, right?)

I do recommend ONLY buying jars that are airtight for storing food, though. I purchased ones that were airtight, but also totally dishwasher safe.


Daiso flowers displayed in a Daiso feed sack

All jars from Daiso. Top jars were 250 yen each, and the bottom ones were 100 yen each.

The hooks installed on my wall are also from Seria, and are the same hooks I used to make my DIY coat rack. I have not yet gone over the screws with my iron paint to make them not a super glaring silver- oops. 😉 The two small grey baskets can be found at Daiso, and come with the lids. They are also stackable! Jars with the white handle lids come from Seria. These are the BEST with our toddler, because he picks up what he wants and carries it to us.

First, I removed the doors and hardware from the main pantry cabinet in our house. Read below for some tips on successfully removing hardware in rentals.

My white bowls are from Target YEARS ago, unfortunately they no longer carry them, but I am waiting to find some similar to link for you. The regular mason sized jars on the bottom come from Daiso.

Next, I removed the hardware and doors from above the sink, just to give an accent cabinet to the room.

300 yen jars from Daiso- these hold our entire supply of rice, pasta, and several boxes of our cereal. Get rid of ugly boxes, and you can see EXACTLY how much you have. Win-win.


Take off hardware, and store them in a plastic baggy.

I mentioned this in my past post about how to convert a small closet to a mudroom, but here is the information again!
So, yes. Take off all of the hardware, and store them in a plastic baggy. Or, simply leave it attached to the doors! We take all the screws and pieces that don’t remain attached to the doors, and store them in a plastic baggy, then tape it with painter’s tape to the door. This way the tape doesn’t damage the door, but we are able to know for SURE that the hardware stays put with the door. When moving out, we just place the door with the taped hardware beside the closet for our housing inspection. (Or if you are required to replace the doors where you live, all the hardware is right there, and you don’t have to go searching for it!)

Store your doors under a couch or bed.

This way kids, pets, or adults don’t damage them in any way, and they are totally out of the way! We store ours underneath our king size bed, so they are totally hidden under there. (Thanks to our sweet friend Sierra, for the idea of storing things under couches or beds. This works so well for us.)

The largest 300 yen storage containers.

These are 100 yen containers that I believe that have BOTH at Seria and Daiso. If I remember correctly, these came from Daiso. It was just big enough to hold our bag of granola and our bag of quinoa.

All of the above are from Daiso. The cross hatch storage baskets are my FAVORITES too. I have these in our closet upstairs, and you can also purchase lids that allow them to be fully stackable.

I keep my non-refridgerated pantry items in small crates from Daiso (100 yen) that allow air to flow through them.

Very top containers are from Seria, and 100 yen each. I use these for my granola and overnight oats. The beige containers are from Daiso (100¥ each!) Unfortunately my flour and sugar jars (the four across with the pattern) are SUPER old and from Target. I will link some if I find them!

Happy hunting for those dollar store bargains, and be sure to share your pantries on Pinterest with me! (Here is a link to the board this is pinned to.) If you redo yours, I would LOVE to see the results on the “try it” section of my pin!



Japan Life · Travel Guides

Tenno Shrine | Azalea Festival – May 12

This was our second year visiting the azalea festival, and again, it didn’t disappoint. We even went before the azaleas were in full bloom this year, and it is SO worth the short trip from base. Located maybe 3 minutes from Namiki gelato, it really makes for a great day trip for families or even single service members.

Here is the pin directly to the parking lot: 40.697251, 141.151309
(If you go on the weekends, typically there will be city workers directing traffic.)

Here is the pin directly to the main shrine:
12ー1 Tenno, Shichinohe, Kamikita District, Aomori 039-2525

Here is the pin to the small park with playground equipment & other couple shrines:
30 Shichinohe, Kamikita-gun, Aomori 039-2525

There is LOTS of open space for kids to run, just please be respectful as the shrines are a place of worship. We brought our two year old and 8 month old, no problem. But we do make sure to keep them quiet and not let them run right next to the shrines.

The azaleas bloom in mid to late May, and usually there is a pretty good update on when they are fully flowered posted on Out the Gate. Most of these photos from this past weekend are when the blooms are only around 50-60% bloomed. Last year we went at full bloom- both trips were absolutely beautiful.

From Spring 2018, when the azaleas were at full bloom.

The shrines right around the big hill of azaleas are absolutely beautiful too, and it is worth climbing the HUGE hill to the left of the main hill to see a couple different shrines.


Even at partial bloom, the flowers are gorgeous!

After parking, there will be a small walk to the hill that the majority of the azaleas are planted on. Before you reach this, there is a small road to your left that will lead to a couple other shrines- this is where the tiny azalea trees are sold, as well. If you go under the big arch and up the big hill, there is also a small playground area for the kids. There are water fountains, porta-potties, and plenty of room to sit out if you decided to have a picnic as well. I recommend you wear bug spray though, because last year the mosquitos were pretty bad. This year we didn’t notice them.

Nothing better than good friends that will wrangle your toddler.

Would be a very pretty place for a picnic, but this area is PRISTINE, so PLEASE make sure to clean up after yourself!

We kept Henry (2.5) to the smaller wooden playground, but there are a couple pieces of equipment for bigger kids, too.

From 2018, at full bloom.

From 2018, at full bloom.

Definitely a must-see during the Spring. We always hit up Namiki afterwards, and did this day too- but I have SO many photos from this day, that I will save that for another post. Stay tuned.

azalea pin.jpg


Japan Life · Japan Life Updates · Misawa Guides · Our Life in Japan · Travel Guides

Cherry Blossom Guide – Misawa City, Aomori

My first cherry blossom season in Misawa was spent wandering about pretty aimlessly, trying to figure out where the best places to view cherry blossoms were. I stuck mostly to base, because I was really afraid of accidentally wandering somewhere that I wasn’t necessarily welcome. And don’t get me wrong there- the blossoms on base are totally worth driving around to see. They are so beautifully and strategically planted, and they are some of the trees that seem to bloom the soonest. As I have explored more of Misawa, I have found that very few places seem to be unwelcome to Americans, as long as you are respectful, clean up after yourself, and don’t let your kids run completely wild. On the contrary, the Japanese at the parks seem to absolutely adore respectful American kiddos.

Icho park last year, mid-week. (If you go on a weekday, or early in the morning, it is beautifully quiet here.)

Last year, I thought the only place to really see blooms was at the Statue of Liberty (Icho) Park. I missed out on some of the most gorgeous blooms, because I spent ALL my time there (also because I had mini sessions nonstop, which was AMAZING, but also so draining.) It definitely is one of the best. But I wish I would have known about all the available parks for blossom viewing within like 20 minutes of base, where to park, and where was the most kid-friendly.

My kiddos were sick this week, so I will be updating this post in the next couple days with more photos and more information about each park.
For now, here are some photos of VERY early blooms that I saw at a couple parks I have visited this week- which will be updated soon! (April 24 update.)

 Also, here are a few reminders for you about being kind to our Japanese hosts, please don’t take these tips lightly! They may be common sense to most, but I have seen them all happen, which is why I include them.

• Please don’t let your kids pick cherry blossoms or any flowers, for that matter (and don’t pick them yourself.) If you want ONE blossom for a photo or something, that is one thing. But these gorgeous blooms don’t last long, and it’s incredibly sad for me as a photographer to watch other kids stripping entire branches to throw them in the air for one photo, you know? Be smart, and realize that there are a lot of people trying to view these trees in a very tiny amount of time, and half the time a giant rain or winds will strip the branches, anyway. If you want blooms, pick up ones that have already fallen!

• If you go to a dog-friendly park, PICK UP AFTER THEM. Keep your dogs on a tight/close leash, don’t let them jump all over people. I’m a dog lover, but I am absolutely a supporter of keeping your dogs at home if they growl at people or easily escape a leash.

• Try to keep your kiddos under control. Parks are obviously for running and fun (I have a toddler, trust me, I get it,) but I have seen people be drilled in the head with soccer balls by American children at these parks. Realize that these are THE ONLY parks for local Japanese families, and we are visitors in THEIR country.

Komaki and Tateno are VERY close together and could easily be hit in the same day.
Swan and Icho Parks are also VERY close together.

Also, as a disclaimer- these are all Google Maps pins. I know sometimes the difference between Google Maps and Apple Maps can be huge.

1. Statue of Liberty Park (Icho/Oicho Park)

(40.610026, 141.439702)
TONS of blooms here. The entire park is covered. 

If you go early in the day, you can park in this lot that the pin takes you directly to. I have always been routed through a very tightly-packed residential area to find the park- it will seem like you are going the wrong way if you are routed this way too. This lot does fill up quickly though, so if it is filled, you will have to take a right out of the parking lot, and drive until you see a one-way street. This will take you to a loop that drives directly above the park (directly above the playgrounds.) When the actual parking lots are filled, overflow parking has always parked on the grass above the park on this loop. I personally do not park here unless I see a JN (non-Y plate) car already parked there, just to be sure it is okay.

• stroller friendly almost completely through, almost all of it is paved walkways
• great place for a picnic when it is not insanely busy
• HUGE State of Liberty
• playgrounds, swings
• completely open areas for kids to run
• giant roller slide
• dog friendly
• large and beautiful lake
• fishing friendly
• has restrooms

This is one of the very best parks to visit for lots and lots of cherry blossoms. There are even a few different kinds of blooms here.
That being said, it gets BUSY towards the end of the day, and especially towards the afternoon on the weekends. During full bloom, the place is sometimes PACKED. It’s sometimes hard to find a parking spot, and the parking in this park is a little squirrely sometimes. I recommend visiting Icho for SURE, but recommend going during the early morning, or on a weekday. (Sunrise in Icho is spectacular, you NEED to see it.)

2. Swan Park (Hachinohekitakyuryoshimoda Park)

(40.611883, 141.401523)
TONS of blooms here. The entire park is pretty much covered.

This is the one park I have not visited yet- I will update this description in a little more detail in the next few days. You can Google images, or search Misawa Asks for more info on this one. (Swans come out in the winter, so don’t expect to see them in the spring haha.)

• large and beautiful lake
• playgrounds
• has restrooms

3. Train park (Central Park)

(40.683702, 141.370212)
Lots of blooms, small park but pretty heavy cherry blossom coverage 

This is a very small parking lot, and make sure that you do not park in the Library parking lot on the other side of the building. They are pretty clearly marked.
This one is a family favorite of ours- it has a huge stationary train that our toddler LOVES to walk through. Lots of playground equipment- but it does get relatively busy because it is such a small park, and it is right in the middle of town. The blossoms are gorgeous here, though! Great 5-10 min walk, or like a 1 minute drive from base.

• stroller friendly on the outside perimeter, but this one is so small you probably won’t need to bring strollers
• playground
•  walk-through train

4. Tateno Park

Main parking lot by scenic area- (40.6155691, 141.3323448)
Dirt lot by the playground side of the park-
(40.611648, 141.330215)
TONS of blooms here, and lots of different kinds of cherry blossoms. Do be aware that some trees bloom at different times, though- so all trees may not be in bloom at the same time

I personally park in the dirt lot by the lake (it is located directly next to a huge and beautiful shrine tucked into some pines. I am not 100% sure this is parking for the park, but it was closest to the park that I wanted to explore, and was not full- so I considered it safe to park there.)

• stroller friendly for the most part, some paths are not paved, but are smooth enough to navigate a stroller over
• playgrounds/play equipment, swings
• large and beautiful lake
• tons of picnic areas/ grills available
• fishing friendly
• has restrooms

Lots of lower hanging branches here, and a VERY pretty picnic area in several places in the park.

I could be wrong about this park NOT being dog friendly, but I am almost certain I saw signs posted saying pets were not allowed. I will update if I find this to be incorrect.

I have only visited this park once, and have not gone to the half that is not right around the lake.
It was BEAUTIFUL when we visited, and would be perfect for a picnic. There are several tables, lots of places to sit down for a snack, and LOTS of places for kids to run. The place is absolutely huge, and if you have loud and crazy kids- I would say this or Train Park would be your best bet.

This park has 2-3 different areas to it, and it is the PERFECT spot for a picnic.

5. Komaki (Komakionsen Shibusawa Park / Hoshino Resort )

Train station side parking: (40.667054, 141.353918)
Hotel side parking:  (40.663124, 141.354045)
(I usually park at the hotel, then walk down to the other area near the train station.)
Less cherry blossoms, but enough to make it worth visiting- beautiful during literally any season/any month

• completely stroller friendly
• dog friendly
• foot onsen
• big red Japanese style bridge
• lots of Japanese style buildings & shrines
• large and beautiful lake

Buildings on the hotel’s side. The umbrellas were set up for a festival of some sort. There are often festivals held right on the lake.

Train station side, these gorgeous and HUGE white blooms appear before cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Komaki is a little less kid-friendly in the fact that it is usually VERY quiet, and there aren’t open spaces for kids to run. When festivals are going on here, I would say it is much less quiet, though.
Komaki area has two small parks- one right by the train station, and one by the hotel and onsen. (The onsen is no longer open to non-hotel guests.)
The train station side of the park has a lot more open space, but is much smaller- if that makes sense- and generally has less people occupying it. There are also FAR less cherry blossoms on this side- if any. (I will update this with certainty when I return after full bloom in Misawa.)

Hotel side-
When you park in the parking lot that the pin takes you to, it is REALLY confusing the first time that you try to find the scenic area. You will park in the lot, and see a bunch of hotels & buildings. (If you pull up Google Maps, you will see a lake. If you simply navigate yourself to the lake, you will find the loop easily.)
If you don’t have Maps readily available, walk into the building area. You will take a right before the main building, and will walk past a couple parking lots on your right. Once you go under the arch, you have found the scenic loop, and the foot onsen is directly to your right, overlooking the lake.
Our kids love this park because they are pretty quiet and calm kiddos, and like to just take stroller walks. If you have children that are excessively rambunctious or like to run, I actually don’t recommend walking the loop with them, simply because Komaki isn’t a park, just a gorgeous paved loop around the hotel. The hotel is just kind enough to allow non-hotel guests in.
That being said, there are miniature ponies and horses that are very friendly, and the entire place is gorgeous and interesting for kids- just maybe not the best for toddlers or kiddos that can’t be relatively calm while outside.

The foot onsen is open to the public, but please be respectful and quiet when using it.

I would consider Komaki more of a scenic walk/ cultural experience vs. a park. Cherry blossoms are supposed to be gorgeous here when in full bloom, though.

There is also a small bamboo forest on the train station side. And there is always BBQ sauce on Henry’s shirt. Haha

I hope these recommendations help you some! Even if you don’t visit during cherry blossom season, these parks are our absolute favorites to spend time at in Misawa, and are the best to get your family outside of the gate for a day. Hope you enjoy them as much as we have!


Japan Life · Japan Life Updates · Travel Guides

Hakkoda Mountain Snow Wall- April 14

This is just a super quick photo dump, and a super quick recommendation that you should GO SEE THIS SNOW WALL. Seriously, if you’re in Northern Japan, this is a must-see during the early Spring. I believe it usually opens around April 1st. I mean when else are you going to get to see like 20ft of snow on either side of your car?

Drew also loves the skiing on this mountain, but says he doesn’t recommend it for beginners, as there are tons of sulfur pits hidden in the mountain. (Had I known that I would have totally worried about him more while skiing- haha.)

We made it a fun day and just took the road all the way up to Aomori after seeing the wall. Got some ramen at a tiny ramen shop, and turned around to go home, all in one day. Around $30 for gas, and $10 for food, and it was a great and super cheap day date with the kids!
We stopped in Towada City for gas, as it has one of the only self-service pumps that I know of on the way. We also made sure to bring the kids lots to play with and stay occupied with, since the total drive time there and back was probably 4-5 hours after factoring in the fact that we went all the way up to Aomori.

We chose not to do the snow walk because we have an infant and a toddler, and it was still worth the drive to see. You are actually only supposed to do the walk if you are with a tour group, anyway.

We stopped at the rest area to take a couple photos and use the bathroom, shown on the right.

Busses from some of the tours. We didn’t bother doing the tour this year since the kids are young, but likely will next year when they are both bigger and walking.

The snow by the rest area was actually the tallest we saw anywhere.

Not a sight you see every day, haha.

On the way home from Aomori. We saw the wall, ate, and turned around back home all while it was still light outside. One of the easiest day trips we have done, and also one of the coolest.

Let it be known that Google Maps will immediately try to route you down back roads- most of which are still partially snow-covered. I know we saw several posts about getting turned around on various roads while trying to go here.
We tried to take highway 394, but were turned around about 25 minutes down it.

Instead, we took highway 4 to Towada, and then took highway 102 all the way around. It was a longer drive, but it was worth it to not get turned around a zillion times. It’s also a really pretty drive, so that’s a plus.

Then, as mentioned, we drove up to Aomori after stopping at the rest stop. Hit up a small ramen shop on the main retail strip, and headed back home. The ramen was excellent, and the husband-wife pair that hosted us were so incredibly kind. They catered to our silly, little kiddos so well. even giving Henry a HUGE brownie free of charge.

Definitely a trip worth taking, and a great one-day adventure.

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One Japanese Custom Americans Should Adopt | Why You Should Take Your Shoes Off in Your Home

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If you know me, you know that there are so many things I love about Japan. Just the other day, I was telling Drew that I am beginning to ache for the place, and we still have a little over a year left in the country. I could go on and on about the kindness of the Japanese, the beautiful rural countryside, and all of the customary Japanese things that I love here.
One of the things that I love most about the Japanese people, is that they are very conscious about cleanliness.

I’m telling you, I am going to cry when I return to American gas station bathrooms. There’s nothing like walking into a FamilyMart and using an absolutely spotless bathroom ANYWHERE that you stop on a road trip.

Being in Japan, there are several roles on our base that are filled by the Japanese nationals vs the US military. In particular, most of our housing maintenance department is managed by the Japanese people. This means, when your toilet breaks, they are the kind ones to come fix it.

Do babes ever chew on anything SAFE for them?

And because toddlers seem to have a life goal of flushing things that shouldn’t be flushed during the fifteen seconds that you decide to look away to load the dishwasher… in a nutshell, we see maintenance a lot in our home.
One of the things that I was most startled by when welcoming the Japanese into our home for the first time, was the fact that they carried two sets of shoes with them. Without asking, they removed the shoes that they were wearing outside our front door, and they immediately stepped into house shoes to wear within our home.

As we have integrated into life in Japan, we have quickly realized that this practice is not just isolated to homes.

You go to the doctor, you will put on slippers.
You go to the hospital for a procedure, you will put on slippers.
You stay at a hotel, you will put on slippers.
You go to the onsen, you will put on slippers.
You go out to eat, you will put on slippers.
Even if you go to the bathroom, sometimes, you will put on slippers.

At first, I just didn’t really get it. To be honest, when we came to Japan, we were not big on the “no shoes in the house” rule. After the first week of culture shock from constantly taking off my shoes and replacing them with house shoes everywhere, I finally decided to do some reading on WHY I was constantly swapping shoes as I entered these various buildings. I was disgusted with my own ignorance, because the reasons are numerous, and they are pretty monumental.

This post is sponsored by Dearfoams, but the content was researched and written 100% by me, and all opinions are 100% my own. I agreed to work with Dearfoams because I genuinely love their company, and I will never speak highly about a brand that I don’t sincerely love.

4 Reasons You Should Remove Your Shoes at the Door | Why Everyone Needs House Shoes


“What did you say is on your shoes?!”

1. Outside shoes are GROSS

Did you know that almost ALL shoes that are worn outside of the home for at least one month carry fecal matter on them? Yep. Your outside, everyday shoes are covered in poop. A study from the University of Arizona on this particular topic says that up to 93 percent test positive, in fact.¹ When I first read this little bit of information, I was absolutely horrified.
In homes with children, this is obviously an even bigger deal, too.
Think about it this way: right now, Ellie spends 95% of her day on the floor. She touches it with her hands, then chews on her fingers. She rolls all around, and sometimes even falls asleep with her face smashed against it. Wearing house shoes or slippers that NEVER leave our home insures a clean environment for her to explore, drool, and chew happily (and safely.)

2. It keeps your house clean

I mean, this is kind of a given, right? This is probably the main reason that most people choose to remove their shoes at the door.
We live in the snowiest city in the world presently.  And what happens when snow melts?
Our porch is constantly covered in dirt, mud, and water, and during the early spring, everything in sight is covered in pollen from the cherry blossoms. Being able to swap out our muddy/dirty shoes at the door, and put our feet into nice, clean soles, keeps our house so much cleaner. I mean, anything that makes my mopping/vacuuming schedule much easier to handle is a must- do for me.

Heck, you can even wash house shoes in order to help keep your floors that much more clean. Did you know that Dearfoams created the very first washable slipper with comfortable foam padding in it? Even all the way back in 1948, they were committed to creating a product that was safe and easy to keep clean for your family. To this day, most Dearfoams slippers are machine washable, meaning even your house shoes can be cleaned periodically- keeping your home as clean and safe for your little ones as possible.

3. It is so much more comfortable

You might be asking, “why wear shoes at home at all?”
If you are asking this question, I venture to say: you clearly do not have a toddler.

Legos. One word. One scary, painful word.

But in all seriousness, it is incredibly convenient to own a pair of shoes that are comfortable enough to wear all day inside of your home, yet protective enough to shield you from the plethora of sinister little bottom-of-the-foot hazards that are children’s toys.
Perfect trade off. Your feet remain protected, and you remain comfy.

4. It is polite

This is HUGE in Japan, and I wish it was something that was better practiced in the states. While I don’t think America will necessarily begin carrying a pair of house shoes with them when going to visit friends, I do wish that it would become customary to remove shoes at the door.
It is respectful to the family that is hosting you, it is cleanly, and it is so so easy to do. In our experience in Japan, hosts customarily actually provide YOU with house shoes upon entering their home. Talk about a way to personify “Mi casa es su casa,” right?


There are so many huge reasons to begin building the habit of wearing ONLY house shoes in the home. Mum Ana Lucia Komori puts it best in my opinion:

“When we take our shoes off we are free from all the things that happened to us during the day but that don’t belong to our intimacy and spirit at home.”³

I LOVE that concept. As you shed your dirty daytime shoes, and put on your cozy house shoes, you are leaving the heavy parts of your day behind. You are settling into your own home for the night, and allowing your burdens to stay at the door, where you can pick them up to deal with the following day.

So I challenge you, start taking off  your shoes immediately upon entering the home. If you’re like us and like to wear shoes anyway, buy yourself a pair of house shoes. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Dearfoams are absolutely our favorite.
Cozy up, leave your burdens behind, and keep your floors clean for the tiny hands and feet that are exploring their little world.



  1. https://www.today.com/home/health-reasons-why-you-shouldn-t-wear-shoes-house-t129820
  2. http://alt.npo-glad.org/taking-off-shoes-japan/
  3. http://www.essentialkids.com.au/health/health-wellbeing/should-you-take-your-shoes-off-before-entering-your-home-20180723-h1316l
  4. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2001.html