Friday, December 23, 2011

Japan - the details.

Most of you reading this have probably already seen the many photos Aaron and I uploaded to Facebook, so I'll go ahead and use this post for what's it's meant for - the details.

It just so happened that I had off Thanksgiving day and the day after. I knew I was up to a 4 day weekend so I went ahead and took off the Monday too. That gave me 5 whole days to make a trip. Aaron has been wanting to go back to Japan for years. He served as a missionary there from '01-'03 and hadn't been back. Since Hawaiian flies to Japan we figured we should go! Why wait? One of Aaron's friends lives in Tokyo, so we gave him a call to see if we'd be able to hang out. He told us that he was already planning on taking off of work that week, so it'd be a perfect time to visit! We were sooo excited. (I later found out that his birthday was during that week).

I became obsessed with checking the flight loads. There's an online system that tells me how many open seats there are on every Hawaiian flight. Employees fly standby, so your chances of getting on the flight (for free) depend on whether or not there are open seats. I could also view the standby list, which showed me where I fell according to priority (employees board first by seniority, then family, then buddy passes of active employees, then retired employees/buddy passes). Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday there weren't too many people traveling to Japan. Aaron and I got on the flight, and sat next to each other (which isn't always the case when you fly standby - since you're last to board the plane). Hawaiian is one of the few airlines that still gives you pillows and blankets (and not just for international travel).

We got to Japan at night. Aaron's friend Tim picked us up in his cool race car. We got in the opposite side of the car and went down the opposite side of the street (like most of the world). The next morning we went out determined to tour Tokyo for all it's worth. It wasn't really cold... but colder than Hawaii (high 50s). We got to the train station and Aaron bought me a drink from the vending machine (which are on every corner). He handed me the can and I almost dropped it - it was hot! Not super hot, but it was very warm on cold hands, especially when you aren't expecting it. I'm telling you... warm hot chocolate cans from vending machines would do awesome in DC and NYC... why are they just in Japan??? I have no idea. But I freaking loved it!! And, to top it off, Japanese phones can be scanned at vending machines to purchase stuff. Pretty cool.
 The train was an experience of its own. There are lots of little ads everywhere, mostly of girls with dyed light brown hair, fake light brown contacts, and fake upper and lower lashes holding the product near their face - either smiling or winking. It was pretty funny. The rings that are attached to the ceiling on the train are quite small - they're good for Japanese hands but really wouldn't work too well in America.
 We got off the train and went straight to Asakusa - a Japanese temple. We walked by the street vendors admiring the different types of nick-knacks and snacks. We came upon the incense and the shrines. Really cool to see in person in the heart of Tokyo.
We walked around Tokyo and I noticed that some cars, mostly taxis, had their side view mirrors of their cars on the hoods of the car! So funky looking. We went to the imperial palace and saw some cool gardens. There were some gorgeous lime and lemon colored leaves on the trees. We even saw some dignitaries arrive at the palace in a horse and carriage - now that's not something you see every day.
We ate an amazing birthday dinner with Tim and his family (wife+3 kids). We had Shabu Shabu - thinly sliced meat cooked on the table in hot broth. The pot was split into 2 sections, one for the broth and one was a miso flavor for vegetables. We also got odon noodles to cook. We had an all-you-can-eat special and loved every bite!!!!!!! Seriously can't get that taste/quality anywhere else. The booth was really cool too, it was private and the table was set into the floor w/space for your legs. The kids loved feeding the fish that were swimming under the clear floor near the entrance. It was a super cool place that we'd definitely go back to.

Now this is getting really long... so I'm going to start listing off some other stuff we did/I noticed.
    •  There are french bakeries in Japan, which seems odd. But the pastries are more Japanese than French.. but there's definitely the influence.  
    • Most homes have heated toilet seats- awesome if you live in a cold place. Also, they have two different types of flushes depending on... well you know.
    • Tim and his family have a Honda "Odyssey," however they should have a completely different name for it because it's not an American Honda Odyssey at all! Its like a sedan in size, but it looks super sporty. The back seats can fold down into a trunk - its really cool b/c you can have the extra seats or space when you want it. The cars in Japan are totally different from the ones in America.
    • When you pay for something you put your money/card into a small dish. You don't hand it directly to the cashier. And when they hand you something it is always with two hands, and of course they bow.
    • FYI Tim and his wife Hikari both speak English. Tim is actually from Australia and Hikari is from Japan. Their kids are ages 7?, 4?, and 2? (I think). The oldest one could speak a little bit of English, and understood the fact that I didn't know Japanese. The younger two, forget it! They were talking up a storm to me in Japanese, and I just smiled and nodded. Haha. Despite the language barrier the kids and I got along great. You can play with kids without speaking :) The funny thing was, that since I didn't understand what they were saying, somehow I though they were saying intelligent things. But when the others translated for me I figured out that I wasn't missing too much by not understanding since it was just jibber jabber anyway. Hah. The English words the little ones would say - me, no, bye, and good morning!
    • We went to an onsen - pretty much a public Japanese bath. A place with a bunch of different types of hot tubs and a space to shower and everything. It was a memorable cultural experience... I'll leave it at that.

    • We went to the best ramen noodle house in Japan (well technically it's rated the #2 one in all of Japan). It was freaking awesome! Made from scratch with so much flavor. Seriously it tasted nothing like the ramen noodles you by for 20 cents here. Soooo good. Definitely going back there.      
    • All the girls were wearing tights/leggings under shorts. That was the fashion thing. Along with bows, lots of bows...
    • After you buy something they will tape your bag shut so nothing falls out.

    • If you are feeling sick in Japan you wear a hospital mask in public. Period.
    •  I discovered Japanglish! It's what happens when you translate Japanese literally into English. And it's pretty hilarious. (i.e. Honey Wedding)
    •  We got purikura! It's a high tech photobooth that can fit a lot of people, it prints a bunch of images you can exchange with friends. And I guess the people there go kinda crazy and add tons of stamps and stuff to the images before they get them printed. There was this weird setting that enlarged our eyes and smoothed our skin. It was fun to do w/everyone :)
    You know, we did more stuff, but this was the stuff that stuck out most in my mind. We had 4 whole days there. We are so grateful for Tim & Hikari's generous hospitality. It was an awesome trip. And we're already planning on going back!

    P.S. For bragging rights I just have to say that we got to sit in first class on our way back and we paid a total of $86 for two round trip tickets to Japan ;)

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Private Airplane Ride - 1920s model!

    Working for Hawaiian Airlines has its perks. Besides free travel, employees can sign up for a free hour long flight on the plane that started Hawaiian Airlines. It was called Inter-Island Airways at the time, and they flew a 1920s Bellanca plane. It's fully restored and flies weekly.

     It was just me, Aaron, and the pilot. Aaron sat in the back to balance out the weight. The engine had a little pump that you had to push to prime the engine before it would start!

    We were only going about 100 mph
     Did you know you can't drive around the entire island of Oahu? Kaena point is the reason why. Not many people get to see this view:
    Kaena Point
    Kaena Point
    Honestly we were a little scared when the plane ride began... the plane is so small! But after a few minutes we got used to it and just marveled at the gorgeous views.

    That's all for now. Aloha!!

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    We Made It!

    Sorry for the week and a half long delay... but we made it to Hawaii! You might have seen some of these updates on my Facebook, but here's a little summary of what we've done so far...

    We left Salt Lake on September 11th, which felt weird. And ironically the security didn't make Aaron take his external hard drives out of his backpack like they usually do.

    We made it to Honolulu around 5:30 pm, Aaron's mom and sister picked us up from the airport. We went to his sister's house and her husband made the whole group (11 adults) some yummy alfredo pasta. We took the picture below after:
    I'm home with my family!
    From left to right: Ammon (youngest Eskaran - 16), Jerrol (married Diane), Diane (Aaron's younger sister), Dad (aka Kawika), Mom (aka Terry), Jessie Ahuna (David's fiance), David (Aaron's younger brother), Kristen (married Adam), Baby Noah, Adam (Aaron's twin), Me, Aaron, Ava!

    The next day we were off to pick up our car! We then came to our new apartment to get the keys.  Then... off to the beach! We went to Aaron's beloved Pounders:
    We played in the ocean (Diane, Adam, and Ammon too). It was fun :)

    On Tuesday we got the new title/registration/plates for the car, followed by some shopping for household items.
    Wednesday was my first day at work!!

    Today actually marked my first completed work at Hawaiian Airlines. I'm really starting to understand the position now (account executive over the sky miles partners). I'm really happy and excited about it!

    Pretty much every night we've done something with someone in the family. We have a lot of catching up to do! I'll have to get a little better about taking more interesting photos...

    Our household items that we shipped should arrive next week! Yay! We're almost moved in :)

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Honolulu Address!

    Yay!!! I'm so excited that we have a place to live in Hawaii. Things are starting to come together... movers are coming next week, our car will be in Honolulu by the time we get there, we have a place to live, and our big stuff will show up a week or two later.


    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Rewind: 1 Year Wedding Anniversary

    Aaron and I celebrated our first year of marriage on August 13th. Time is such a funny thing... sometimes you count the seconds and other times you feel like you missed an entire year! I know the first year of marriage can be very difficult for some couples, but I am happy to report that ours wasn't! I'm not one to be too lovey dovey with my writing, but I have to say that I'm very blessed to have Aaron as my husband, he is hardworking, sweet, and supportive.

    It was fun to have our anniversary on a Saturday - we got to spend the whole day together. The highlight was going to Ruth's Chris steak house for dinner in Salt Lake. Here are some pictures from my phone:

    They surprised us with red rose petals and an anniversary sign .
    Newlyweds (can we still say that after a year?)
    My steak! mmmmmmm
    Aaron agrees: This was the best steak he's ever had.
    Really good mashed potatoes... a must!

    Chocolate writing just warms my heart, haha.

    And in typical Johanna fashion, our entire meal was about 1/2 off due to a coupon I snagged from travelzoo :)

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Moving to Hawaii: details.

    Moving is a very bittersweet concept to Aaron and I. We have some great friends in Utah who will be greatly missed (understatement!).

    Let me give you curious folks some background on how this decision came to fruition. 

    A few months ago I was talking to Aaron about how we'd live in Hawaii sometime in the future. I told him that I wouldn't want to live in Hawaii and never see my family because it'd be too expensive for either party to pay for travel every year. I have to work for an airline, I thought. That led me to, I figured their corporate office was in Honolulu, Hawaii, and I was right! I started looking at job openings and thought I saw some I might be qualified for.

    I started filling out an application on their website, but realized that this huge company (4000+) probably wouldn't pay much attention to a random girl living in Utah who may not be the most qualified applicant. I needed an in!! 

    I searched "Hawaiian Airlines" on Linkedin - seriously, if you don't use this website you should - and found that one of Aaron's friends is friends w/a guy who now works for Hawaiian. I got introduced via Linkedin! This guy was gracious enough to pass my resume around to people in the marketing department. One of his friends graciously called me and told me about a position she thought I'd be good in. She passed my resume to her boss.

    I did a couple of phone interviews in June w/Hawaiian. I was super excited! But I didn't hear back from them in July, so I figured they had filled the position. I called and left a few messages asking for an update with no response. A few days later my future boss calls me and asks if I can fill out some answers to a quiz, that basically asks how I would handle certain situations at work. I sent my answers in the next day, and then had another phone interview with my boss' boss.

    The next thing I knew they wanted to FLY ME TO HAWAII for an on-site interview!!!!! That kicked things up a few notches. I was so excited to have a free flight to Hawaii for the weekend. I read a 400 page book about interviewing and slept about 3 hours before having 4 different interviews within 24 hours of leaving Salt Lake. I had a verbal offer that day and a written one on Monday morning. I accepted it on Tuesday and I'll start work on September 14th!!! I'll be working as an account executive over Hawaiian Airlines' partners for their HawaiianMiles rewards program - which I could have an entire post about.


    We are excited to live around Aaron's family, enjoy the most beautiful scenery we could ever imagine, FLY FOR FREE/CHEAP, and most of all -- go to the beach! 

    (and spend time with this little monster)
    We're sad to leave our friends and family members. We have siblings, study abroad friends, college friends, mission friends, friends from back home, coworkers,  band members, and just cool people who we love here in Utah. We will miss them dearly and encourage all of them to visit!! (And stay tuned for good-bye party details).

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Choreographed Song and Dance at Liz's Wedding

    Liz's friends surprised her big time at her reception! Though she's trying to hide it, Liz was definitely shedding some tears from feeling all this love. It makes me smile just to watch it. Enjoy!

    Batter Blaster

    It was Liz's 20th bday yesterday so we went to hang out with her and Steve yesterday! It was good to see them (for the first time since their wedding since they just got back from their honeymoon!)

    Since we were in Salt Lake we went to Whole Foods and picked up some yummy food. I actually saw this product on my friend's sister's blog and showed it to Aaron the other day. We saw it in the store and he really wanted to try it. See our experience below:

    It was a fun activity. Though I have to say, the home-made pancakes we usually make are still 100 times better! :)

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    An English "High Tea" themed Bridal Shower

    I helped my mom and our friend Trisha put together Liz's fourth bridal shower. (I threw the first one with her friends in Utah, the Dent girls threw one in UT, some of Steve's friends threw a couple's shower in UT, and we had one in Maryland!!) Talk about a loved bride!

    3 Tea cup sets

    Liz and her best friends from High School

    Mom and Trisha went to a special tea shop and bought the dry flavors and made tea bags :)

    the sandwiches were so simple and surprisingly delicious! (egg salad, cucumber, water cress, and tuna)

    3 sisters!

    HOMEMADE amazing wedding themed chocolate strawberries by Trisha!!

    Liz in her hat of ribbons after opening gifts :)   

    Photos not included: delicious homemade English trifle by Mom, homemade scones w/jams and clotted cream by Trisha, lemon tea cookies by Mom, cream cheese stuffed strawberries by Trisha