homeland.

This time, one year ago, I was home.

 Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

I think I was most excited to introduce Sammy to Japan. But it had been five years since I had returned home, and as the island came into view from the plane, I felt my heart beat a little stronger, with the joy of being home again.

At the time Sammy and I were boyfriend and girlfriend. Now, we are engaged. He asked my parents for their blessing one of our first evenings with them. They asked him to wait a couple of days before they could give their answer.

 Photo: by me, using Sammy's camera

Photo: by me, using Sammy's camera

We went off on a journey to explore Japan and visit Japanese Whisky distilleries.

It was extraordinary to revisit the place I grew up and to go to cities I had never been before. It truly was like seeing everything with new eyes.

To stand in a rickhouse amongst barrels and barrels of whisky ageing quietly under the watchful care of passionate workers, gave me goosebumps, and makes each pour of whisky from those distilleries that much more meaningful to me.

 Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

Upon our return to my parent's house, while I must have been asleep, Sammy sat with my parents into the wee hours of the night, and they gave us their blessing. He told me this story as we were leaving Japan to return to Chicago, but the actual marriage proposal didn't come until we were truly ready ourselves. I suppose that is a story for another time.

Until then, here are some gorgeous photos of my homeland, the food, and the people. Have a dram of Japanese whisky as you look over these if you can. I think it would be quite perfect.

 Photo: Sammy Faze Photography

Photo: Sammy Faze Photography