CKU Japan (the highlights)

OK. The first thing you need to know is that this trip was ONE GIANT highlight. I’m serious. So, when I say ‘highlights’, I am simply attempting to communicate a FEW of the wonderful people + places + things that Geoff and I experienced. There is a short list of people that will be required to sit through all 378 edited photos that I’ve uploaded for printing. I’m going to assume you are glad you are not on this list.

So, let’s start at the beginning. Several years ago when I spoke at CKU-T (teachers) in Provo, I was introduced to Naoya and Megumi, from Sun-K publishing, who were in the process of licensing the content of Creating Keepsakes & Simple Scrapbooks magazine. I remember thinking how cool it was that the content we were creating in Utah would be translated and used to inform and grow the hobby of scrapbooking in Japan. I also remember thinking, I hope I get to go to a CKU-J someday.

Margie and  Naoya’s brother (the official CKU photographer)


Megumi is the editor of CK/SS in Japan.

this is a fun and familiar sight after teaching for years at CKUs in the states!

Nicky Biwaki, my A+ translator (and now friend)
Finally, late summer 2008, I received an invitation–absolutely I’ll come to Japan. They even offered to bring my husband too. This was my first time teaching in a country where I didn’t speak the language, so that barrier was my obvious concern. My classes are primarily lecture-based, in other words, I talk a lot. The answer to my worries was Nicky Biwaki, my interpreter. She rocked. Nicky, originally from Scotland is married to a Japanese man and lives in Hiroshima. By the end of the two days teaching my Finish Line class, Nicky was reminding me to say certain things and automatically filling in the blanks — she did an amazing job. She even translated a 90 minute keynote lecture, which from my perspective came off remarkably well. Aside from her skilled translation, Nicky is a wonderful teacher and a budding designer. She has begun creating her own line of products — I’m just so proud of her.
She gave me an adorable mini-book that she designed and created with her own paper. My camera cannot do it justice — it’s all full of folds and fun!

Scrapbookers are the same the world over — OK, except in Japan they make the “peace” sign in almost all of their photos!

While I couldn’t understand the casual conversation or chatter among attendees of this event, I loved teaching these women. They were so gracious and eager to learn. So willing to follow instructions and so grateful for everything they were taught. I was blessed to have two fantastic teacher assistants, Rika and Keiko, who again not only helped, but anticipated my needs and worked tirelessly to keep the flow of a very fast-paced class moving smoothly.

Rika, Nicky and Keiko (above) and the entire group of teachers, translators and TAs (below)

Our closing night sushi party. Noaya is sitting next to me and Megumi and Raiko are across from us.
I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the other teachers and those involved with the event. I even got to take a hands-on class from Tim Holz. He is a dynamic and gifted artist and it was so fun to just sit in the back of his class and play. Several of us wrapped up our time together with an authentic meal of sushi (which as mentioned in an earlier post I tried and loved.)

I loved visiting a camera/photography store and finding two aisles dedicated to scrapbooking. This presentation and the relationship that it suggests just makes sense to me and I wish it were more prevalent here in the states.
One of the absolute highlights for me was getting to know these three women [from left to right.] I met Nienke in my very first class. She is from Germany, speaks english and has taken Library of Memories. Next up are Tracey and Dee from 37 Frames photography, who took Geoff and I out one day at lunch and again that evening to take some photos. These women are not only a great team for photography, they are warm and friendly and great story-tellers. They’ve posted a few of the pictures on their blog. and I’ll post additional pics as soon as we get to see them. Believe it or not, Dee, originally from Australia was an exchange student her senior year, in Kettle Falls, WA about 90 minute from Spokane. We made a deal with Dee and Tracey that they are going to come stay at our house and attend Dee’s 20th high school reunion next summer.


I met Kayoko in my second class, she works for an American company in Tokyo, so her english is exceptionally good–and she too has taken Library of Memories. Anyway, she and her friends walked in wearing the most adorable knitted camera case ( point-n-shoot size.) I said, “Why that is the MOST adorable camera case I’ve ever seen! It would be perfect for my new camera, where do you get it?”  Within minutes, Kayoko had given hers to me. Wow. Did I mention how gracious, kind and generous these people are? I learned after that to be a bit more careful with my compliments. I received such wonderful emails this week one of which was from Kayoko –  I can’t even articulate how awesome it is to get to travel and meet other scrapbookers the world over.

the very large yellow duck and shooting dragon boat


colorful windmills and amazing displays of recycled art

cool paintings and meticulous sandcastles all on display along the riverwalk.
We had a view out our hotel window that included a large, yellow duck and the chance to view other interesting boats and people. Geoff observed a dragon boat apparently cooling off tourists in an adjacent boat. We took a walk one morning along the river and came upon some kind of an ecological exhibit that was AMAZING — colorful windmills, recycled toys, sandcastles and much more. It was so inspiring that I’m going to share additional photos in a future post.

Buddist temple and one of the guards set out to scare of evil spirits.

The several days we were in Osaka was a holiday dedicated to honoring the aging members of society. There were dozens of people gathering in and around a Buddist temple. When the event and the holiday was over, I joined Geoff and Catherine (Brittney’s translator) in experiencing the sights and culture of Osaka.

flower shops everywhere.

delicious (and beautiful) food

lots and lots and lots of people


interesting gas stations (no pumps)


lots and lots and lots of bicycles (for all the people)

beautiful, gracious, helpful people in uniforms (love this.)
On our last full day there, we took the bullet train to Kyoto and spend the entire day on bicycles. This is by far the best way to see a city. We rode to the Golden Temple and all around town. Our map wasn’t the most detailed, so we made frequent stops to discuss our whereabouts.
The bullet train and the high school students that wanted their photo taken with us!


I wish bikes were a more acceptable means of transportation in the states — this was so fun!


The Golden Temple in Kyoto.


Geoff and Catherine with map open (frequent sight) in Kyoto. Catherine was our voluntary tour guide — Lisa Bearnson told me to find her and get to know her. This proved to be great advice.

Our last day consisted of Geoff and I packing up, taking a quick trip to Osaka-jo (Osaka’s castle) some last minute shopping and a train ride back to the airport — I tried to board the wrong train, but luckily someone stopped us.


I can’t sign off without showing you the green public phones. I’d definitely bring one back if I could.

If you want to read more about our trip to Japan, both  Margie and Tim have shared highlights as well.



  1. looks like you had a ball. thanks for sharing.

  2. What a wonderful trip! Your pictures are beautiful and make me want to visit Japan1

  3. Stacy, what an amazing journey. Love the pictures and thanks for sharing them.


  4. Looks like so much fun! I love that little camera bag – do you have a link? And that polka dot sweater – enable me please! :)

  5. M aka meadow says:

    Kettle Falls! I am guessing she worked for the Nat’l Park Service or Forestry Service up there??? How coincidental since exactly 20 years ago I spent the summer in KETTLE FALLS WASH working as a resource assistant at the Coulee Dam National Recreation Area, Kettle Falls Station! Ha! Kettle Falls at that time was a town of “1000 happy residents and ONE GROUCH” and the Official Grouch was elected or proclaimed at the annual festival Kettle Falls Days which was happening the same day I arrived! My memories from that summer are in one of the very first scrapbooks I ever created. Someday I’d love to go back and see how its changed. I was not a scrapbooker yet but I did bring a borrowed BROWNIE camera with me and the I bought a 110 camera (!) while there to take all the pics I had missed all summer like me in my uniform and the park sign. Sadly that camera went AWOL on my loooong drive back to Chciago and I also lost all my pics of the time I spent in Spokane, touring Gonzaga U with my friend Trisa who lived in Spokane. waaaa!

  6. Nicky Brown says:

    I would love one of those knit camera cases, as well. Tell her to open an Etsy shop!!1

  7. Lynn Hamm says:

    Thank you for posting about your trip to Japan. I currently live in Japan in the Yokohama area. Where was the store you posted about? I have found some scrapbooking supplies here but not much. I want to make sure I know about this one.

  8. Hey Stace! Thanks for the link. Loved reading your week in highlights. Just organising your gorgeous photos in a slideshow. Still love that giant rubber ducky! Have a fab week. Dee & Tee xxx37

  9. Hi Stacy! What a wonderful highlights of your trip. Thanks for sharing.I sent the link to my friends to share the fun time altogether at CKU-J and they are SO happy to see your post and happy to know that you enjoyed your trip!!! Very nice to meet you and would love you to come back with your entire family! You can stop over here on your way back from Korea if you have a chance to go there,too! I am trying to find a colorful (actually there were green/yellow and pick bags) camera bag manufacturor. Love, Kay

  10. I noticed your adorable camera case in the first photo and loved reading the story about it later in the post. Whoever makes them definitely needs Etsy shop. I suspect we will buy them as fast as she can make them.

  11. Chika Iribe says:

    Hi Stacy!

    Thank you SOOOOO much for the fabulous time with you at CKU Japan!! I really enjoyed your class and was pretty much impressed with your speech. I just found the photo of me and my friends posted on your blog. Look at our happy faces! The girl wearing a black T-shirt with a big smile and peace sign on the left is me! I don’t think I can scrap anything without music after I took your class. I look forward to meeting you again in the future. I’m sure I will!

    Thanks again!

Speak Your Mind


What's New at BPC
Big Picture Classes
Big Picture Classes
Big Picture Classes
Big Picture Classes