Virginia days (16): Church Hill

Leaving Carytown, we headed toward Church Hill.

Heading toward Church Hill

However, we were kind of hungry, so we went to lunch first. Unfortunately, the restaurant we were going to was closed. The building where the restaurant was located was a restored power plant building, which used to provide electricity for trolley cars. Situated on the bank of the James River, it commands a fine view of downtown Richmond.



We went to another restaurant nearby, Conch Republic Rocketts. On the menu, everything looked delicious. I couldn’t decide which to order easily. However, I had eaten a lot of sandwiches until then, so I decided to try a salad this time. And I got this (in the picture below). To my surprise, it looked like another sandwich! It seems that salad has a broad meaning in the U.S. I understand that if the dish contains a lot of fresh vegetables, it is called salad. My salad WAS delicious! Consequently, I confirmed how much I loved American sandwiches regardless of the ingredients.


After lunch, we went back to our exploration. We saw several historic sites related to the American Revolution and the Civil War.

This is St. John’s Episcopal Church. It was built in 1741. On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered the famous “Liberty or Death” speech, calling for the independence of America.



Brick fence and wooden wall

In the graveyard, Edgar Allan Poe’s mother is buried.


During the Civil War, much of the city of Richmond was on fire, so there are not so many old buildings remaining in the city. However, away from the center, you can find some buildings that were used as hospitals during the Civil War here and there. The building in the first picture below used to be a tobacco factory, which was used as a civil war hospital called Third Alabama Hospital. The building in the second picture was also a civil war hospital, which is now an apartment building.



In this way, the old buildings have been restored and handed down up to now. I learned some history of Richmond and the U.S. It was brave, and it was sad.

I liked to see the buildings in the Church Hill area. You can see beautiful houses in a variety of styles.

Over 200-year-old building
Houses with lacy decorations



I liked the townscape. I noticed most of the utility poles were made of wood. They looked natural, blending with the surroundings.


We reached the top of the hill and saw a magnificent view of downtown Richmond. The tallest building is the James Monroe Building. The structure with a long black roof is Richmond Station. After breathing some fresh air, we went down the hill toward downtown Richmond.

Downtown Richmond

(To be continued…)

Virginia days (15): Carytown

My BFF’s husband, Mr. M drove me to downtown Richmond. He is a wonderful guide! Our first destination was Carytown. We walked along W Cary Street. There are unique businesses on the street, and their facades are colorful and amusing. We dropped by some specialty shops. We found a funny doll in a gift shop, and our favorite chocolates from Europe in a chocolate shop, which was full of mouth-watering smells. We visited a fair trade shop, too.

Colorful facades




Dress shop
Vintage clothing shop


I liked the humorous posters.


Graffiti on sidewalk
The Byrd Theatre, Richmond’s oldest movie theater built in 1928


I fully enjoyed exploring the charming neighborhood. It was a fabulous place to get to know old and contemporary American cultures.

(To be continued…)

Virginia days (14): Halloween decorations

My BFF took me to a restaurant called “SB’s Lakeside Love Shack”, which is located in Hub Shopping Center, the oldest shopping center in Henrico County. The shop was decorated with Halloween ornaments inside and out. The BLT sandwich I ordered was out-of-this-world delicious! I love American sandwiches! Gosh, how many sandwiches had I eaten since I arrived in the U.S.?

Hub shopping center
Popular restaurant Love Shack
Halloween decorations
Yummy BLT


After lunch, I went to a public library to do some research. I spent the whole afternoon there. There was also a fireplace in the room. It was a very comfortable place to study. My BFF picked me up at the library and went home.



In the evening, we had dinner and decorated the house with Halloween ornaments – a lot of pumpkins, not scary but cute ghosts, witches, spiders… We also put the pumpkins we had gotten at the pumpkin patch on the porch. The house looked very different from the day before!


I slept in next morning. I got up late and went to the kitchen to find a note on the kitchen counter. My BFF had already gone to work. I ate raspberry yogurt, corn grits and some fruit for breakfast. Now I was ready for a trip to downtown Richmond.

She knows my food preferences perfectly.

(To be continued…)

Virginia days (13): Back to botanical garden

The next morning began with a leisurely breakfast. My BFF and I talked about our old memories back in Europe 23 years ago and confirmed how the experiences we had there have influenced our careers and lives in each country. For both of us, the experiences have special importance. As for me, they not only made me what I am, but also brought me a great friendship with my BFF, which I have always treasured deep in my heart.


After breakfast, we went to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden again. I was introduced to some staff members. They were all kind and supportive. I had a chance to see the interior of a beautiful historic building, Bloemendaal House. I loved the architecture and decorations. I especially liked the warmth of wood.





Old record player





I liked the contrast between the light green walls and the white frameworks.


I also liked this room. It is used as a bride’s room at weddings.


What a fancy vanity table!
I was attracted to this corner. It looked like a good place to write.

You can learn the history of this botanical garden. The display is stylish and the English is beautiful.



That day in the conservatory, a TV show was being taped. It was about how to grow cacti. I really respect those who grow plants and keep them healthy. They must be patient and loving. After seeing the taping, I went back to the rose garden to take some photos myself. The morning roses looked different from those I had last seen. They looked fresh and still prettier.







I felt a bit chilly, so I went to the library in the garden. I sat in an armchair in front of the fireplace which was already on. I felt warm and cozy. I spent some time reading a book there.

(To be continued…)


Virginia days (12): At home and bookstores

After coming home from the garden, my BFF cooked a delicious dinner. She is really good at roasting and baking in the oven. What is more, she is well-organized and quick! I only helped with a salad.

Spicy pork
Freshly baked bread
Sweet potato with cinnamon
Salad, the only dish which I helped with

Next morning, I ate corn grits for breakfast. I loved them with cheese and pepper added.

Corn grits

That day, I spent a whole day at a bookstore, Barnes & Noble. I entered the store as soon as it opened. I spent a lot of time at the business, science and education sections. Luckily, I found some good books for my research and work. It was so exciting to see a whole bunch of books in the store that I totally forgot about the time. Before I knew it, it was mid-afternoon. I took a rest at Starbucks Coffee inside the bookstore. I enjoyed the snack while reading the books I had bought.

Bagel and chai tea

I left the bookstore early evening. My BFF picked me up. I showed her the books I had bought and explained excitedly how they were interesting to me.

After arriving home, I was with Miss Fairy and observed how a high school student studied at home. As a teacher, I was interested in school education in the U.S. She was studying world history, and it was definitely  in a Gen. Z way! She is tech-savvy. She showed how she used her computer to do and submit her homework and contact teachers. In addition, she kindly showed me how to create quizzes online so that I could make good educational materials.

Afterwards, we started cooking. My BFF cooked black beans, I cut vegetables, and my BFF’s husband grilled shrimp. The dinner was colorful and delicious!

Black beans
Grilled shrimp
Grilled shrimp tacos (if you wrap them up!)

There were two more exciting events that evening.

First, my BFF’s neighbor, Ms. L visited us along with her friend and dog. She gave me some pine cone flowers of her own making, which were very heart-warming and pretty. We sat in the living room and enjoyed talking. How nice it was being with such nice people and their sweet dog!

Second, my BFF’s family and I went to 2nd & Charles, which sells used books and other interesting items such as toys and old postcards. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find books I had wanted. However, it was intriguing to see American culture there.

What a fulfilling day it was!

(To be continued…)


Virginia Days (11): Botanical garden 2

In the botanical garden, I enjoyed a scenic walk on a winding path in lush woods. I saw some squirrels nimbly running around and woodpeckers busily pecking. There were benches here and there. How wonderful it would be if I read a book sitting on a bench under a tree!



The path led me to a pretty garden, where the garden staff were planting young pansies. Near this garden, I found an elegant hand-carved gazebo built as early as the 19th century.


Hand-carved gazebo

Around a carriage house, I saw autumn decorations made of natural materials. Last time I came in December 2017, it was freezing cold. I remember drinking hot chocolate and having a nice conversation with a staff member there, which warmed me up. In autumn, the atmosphere is very different with colorful foliage. The garden in autumn is warm, pleasant and graceful.



Cute graffiti

It was also nice to walk around the lake. The lake is picturesque anywhere, but I especially like the view with a tree house. There is also a Japanese garden by the lake. I imagined how wonderful it would be if my BFF visited Japan someday and we could explore Japanese gardens together.

Lake and tree house
Japanese garden

(To be continued…)


Virginia days (10): Botanical garden 1

That evening, my BFF and I visited her friend’s. She was very friendly and warm-hearted. I met her sweet children, too. While I was staying with them, I learned many important things, which would influence my way of life and career in the future. I will never forget her warm hospitality.

Next morning, I went to a grocery store Kroger and bought some stuff for my friends back in Japan. I enjoyed a shopping spree there. I bought some soap bars, wax melts, scent bags, as well as some Halloween and Thanksgiving cards. The soap smelled like shea butter and vanilla; and the wax melts and scent bags had vanilla and cinnamon scents. I really like American spicy fragrances, so I wanted to bring them back home. No wonder my suitcase was full of American fragrances!

Pumpkins on sale at a supermarket

After that, I went to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, which is voted America’s #4 public garden by USA Today. First, I had garden salad at Garden Cafe. The weather was nice and perfect for an outdoor lunch.

Visitors Center
Garden Cafe
Garden salad

I enjoyed walking around the garden, taking pictures of flowers. I had a map, so I explored the garden looking at it. I liked walking through the rose garden, serene woods, and along the lake. There were some schoolchildren led by their teachers around the conservatory. In some areas, I saw people once in a while and we said hello to each other. In other areas, I was alone. I sometimes felt as if I had the garden to myself. What a luxurious time it was!

Here are some other photos I took in the garden.

I like the faded colors.

The way to the conservatory was full of pink and purple flowers.





I came to the conservatory. At the entrance, there is a small lotus pond. Inside the building, you can see various cacti and orchids, which are all well maintained.





Out of the conservatory, I stepped onto a walkway where some inspiring words were engraved. I liked every word. These are words I really want to cherish in my life.


Now I came to a rose garden. It has more than 1,500 roses. They were just in full bloom!



(To be continued…)