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BLOG: KPRC 2′s team in Tokyo brings you their experiences at the Games

Senso-ji Temple
Senso-ji Temple (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Rose-Ann Aragon

Saturday, August 7, 9:45 p.m. (Houston Time) / Sunday, August 8, 11:45 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning from Tokyo!

Amazing headlines coming from Japan. The U.S. track teams win gold in both women’s and men’s 4x400m relays as Allyson Felix wins her 11th medal! The U.S. men’s basketball team beat France to win America’s fourth straight gold medal in this event. The U.S. women’s water polo beat Spain to win its third straight gold medal! In a heated rivalry though, Team USA took silver in baseball in a final game against host country Japan. Still, a SILVER medal is a HUGE accomplishment!

As the games wind down, there are still races we are watching. U.S. women’s basketball is going for a 7th straight medal against Japan. And US women’s volleyball is looking for its first-ever gold medal!

This is our last work day in Tokyo and it has been quite an amazing journey and experience. It’s been an honor being able to tell these stories from Japan and to be immersed in a new culture. It’s an unforgettable trip. Allen and I visited the beautiful Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, Japan. I loved Harajuku, but I would have to say this is now my favorite place to visit in Japan. The Senso-ji Temple is a place where people come to heal and find peace, solace and serenity. It is a place that welcomes everybody. The temple is a beautiful structure, vibrant red with the sounds of coins hitting a metal grate as a form of an offering. The smell of burning incense fills the air as people waft it closer to them. Beautiful colors, sights and the sound of water hits the stone of the koi fish pond. It’s a beautiful place.

Surrounding the temple is a vast market place with trinkets, souvenirs, bakeries and snack shops. There’s all kinds of foods and places to eat. It would take at least a day or two to explore everything. I loved meeting the local shop owners. Each of them tell me the same story... Covid has impacted their businesses very hard and they are thankful to have tourists come by.

I met a shop owner by the name of Akiko Suzuki and the shop worker Kaori who has worked at En-Kimono by the temple for more than three decades. They kindly fit different beautiful Kimonos on me. Their helpfulness and friendliness made the experience unforgettable. All of the Kimonos has such beautiful patterns. The patterns were meaningful. Cranes stood for longevity and luck. Cherry blossoms were the national flower. Each Kimono has a beautiful story. I ended up choosing this one! I loved how interesting and different it was and how it fit my personality.

Allen took these gorgeous shots of the temple:

Senso-ji Temple (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)
Senso-ji Temple (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

And this video can bring serenity to anyone’s day!

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Japan.mp4
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Japan.mp4

We are trying to see as many sights as possible and to share those stories with you all. This is Allen’s walk to Tokyo Tower if you happen to miss that story!

We also went to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. It is such a cool place to get a good feel for what Tokyo is all about.

Just a few more days in Tokyo. Going to miss it!


CHRISTINE NOËL

Friday, August 6, 11:00 p.m. (Houston Time) / Saturday, August 7, 1:00 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Oh, the places I’ll go.. In Tokyo!

What a breath of fresh air it is to be out of quarantine and free to move about the city. I absolutely love exploring every moment I can after our newscasts!

This week I was able to take my exploration to new heights at Tokyo SkyTree, the tallest building in Japan and the tallest freestanding building in the world! Standing 2,084 feet high, the view from the 350th floor is incredible, to say the least.

KPRC 2 Christine Noel spends a day exploring Tokyo (KPRC/Click2Houston.com)

Tokyo SkyTree is located on the ley line, a straight alignment passing through ancient sites and sacred places that connects Mt. Fuji, Meiji Shrine, the Imperial Palace and Kashima Jingu grand shrine. Because of this, SkyTree tower is known as a spot where positive energy comes in and is one of Tokyo’s leading spiritual sites.

Being this high above is definitely an out of body experience… as if I’m seeing all of Japan from the heavens.

While you certainly can’t see all of Japan from here, you *can see for miles in every direction. And on a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji… 100 miles away. Pretty incredible huh?

Located on the Tembo Deck, on the 350th floor is what appears to be a tree covered in brightly colored ribbons. I quickly learned that this is called the “Tree Of Hope,” a new monument that embodies the desire for Tokyo SkyTree to become a global symbol of hope that sends out wishes and dreams gathered from people all around the world. Looking up close, you can see wishes written in different languages. It’s beautiful.

KPRC 2 Christine Noel spends a day exploring Tokyo (KPRC/Click2Houston.com)

After taking several photos, Byron and I make our way up to the 450th floor (yes, it goes even higher!) And holy moly… from this vantage points, massive skyscrapers look like toothpicks.

Being up *SO high, and everything seeming so small.. is overwhelming. I stepped close to the railing and glass to take it all in. What a site to behold. Tokyo goes on forever and ever.

After about an hour of being up in the sky we made our way back to down to earth.

Head in the clouds, feet firmly planted on the ground… and feeling more free than ever here in Tokyo.

Can’t wait to see where my wanderlust takes me next! Stay tuned…


Rose-Ann Aragon

Thursday, August 5, 9:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Friday, August 6, 11:30 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning from Tokyo!

Our time in Japan is starting to feel like it’s coming to an end. The energy seems to be changing here in Tokyo as many athletes prepare to leave. Our hometown hero Simone Biles came back to Houston! I was watching from here in Tokyo and was overjoyed to see how warm of a welcome she received! That’s Houston for ya!

Allen and I are going to try to show our viewers as many places a possible! We’re also trying to soak up as much of Tokyo as much as we can!

The Tsukiji Fish Market is one of my favorite places to get a feel for every day life in Tokyo. While many tourists generally go there, it is a place to get THE freshest foods! We interviewed a man who said the fish comes straight from the sea and sent there!

I tasted a raw oyster... and boy did it taste different! I consider myself a brave one when it comes to trying foods. I’ll try everything-- puffer fish and all! I don’t know if we will have time for me to try it this go around but there are still a few days left! Anyone try it? Leave a comment at the bottom of our blog!

Yesterday, there was a beautiful sunset. We’re going to miss it!

Tokyo Sunset 8-5-21 (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Rose-Ann Aragon

Thursday, August 5, 12:15 a.m. (Houston Time) / Thursday, August 5, 2:15 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good afternoon from Tokyo!

Yesterday was a great day, Allen and I were able to interview the great Team USA wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock. She won gold in Women’s Freestyle Wrestling. She is the second American woman to win this title and the first African American ever according to Team USA. What’s most amazing about her is her love for people and her family is just so apparent. She has a great energy-- so fun to interview. You can see part of the interview here!

Allen and I also went to the Tsukiji Fish Market--a major attraction in Tokyo where you can get some of the freshest foods!

It was a bit odd to see not as many people out at a market, but considering the pandemic, it makes sense.

We enjoyed tasting a lot of different things and talking with shop owners about their stories. Even though we don’t speak the same language, we have a universal way of communicating: kindness and... pointing! Haha

Time to get back to work, so for now I’ll leave you with a photo of my Olympic TV partner Allen Reid who has had a camera in his hand at every stop because we are working on A LOT of stories.

KPRC 2 Photojournalist Allen Reid at Tokyo Fish Market (KPRC 2 / Click2Houston.com)

CHRISTINE NOËL

Wednesday, August 4, 6:00 a.m. (Houston Time) / Wednesday, August 4, 8:00 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Out of Quarantine and into Ginza and Harajuku! Shopping anyone?

The newfound freedom I feel in Tokyo is like a breath of fresh air. Now that we are out of our 2 week quarantine, the ability to move about the city freely is truly adding so much more excitement to an already jam-packed trip!

KPRC 2 anchor Christine Noel stops for a photo while shopping in Tokyo. (KPRC)

The food, the never-ending city skyline, the architecture, the cleanliness, the history, and the fashion… oh, the fashion!

I’ve been told the shopping scene in Tokyo is top notch! And one step into Ginza proves that. It’s like the Rodeo Drive of Tokyo: Dior, Zara, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Moncler, Hermès .. the list goes on.

Ginza is a bustling hot spot, with wonderful shopping options, tall beautiful buildings and a vibrant night scene. This area is Tokyo has some extra *sparkle* I’d say.

After walking into Zara, I’d have to say I like the fashion in Japan’s Zara over the Zara back in the states! I haven’t bought anything, not yet anyway!

I then made my way to Harajuku, another popular area of Tokyo. This also has a vibrant shopping scene, lots of restaurants and fun vibe. Contrary to Ginza though, Harajuku has more, what I’ll call, *flavor.

Back alleys are filled with cute little shops, hidden food spots and other interesting flare- I really like it here! And can’t wait to explore it during the daylight hours.

Tokyo really has a little something for everyone and I look forward to re-visiting both spots when I have more time. There’s truly so much experience!

It’s 8pm here and I’m headed back to my hotel. Alarm goes off at 1:30am! Hard to believe we are in the last week of the Tokyo Olympics. I have to say I am so glad to finally be out of quarantine and am soaking up as much of the city as I can!

More to come soon! Have a wonderful day!


Rose-Ann Aragon

Tuesday, August 3, 7:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Wednesday, August 4, 9:30 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

What an exciting last few days in Tokyo!

Our hometown hero, Simone Biles, has done it again! Warning a BRONZE on the beam!!! After everything she has been through, she had the courage and perseverance to keep going. One thing I loved was that she did not expect to medal but wanted to show herself she could do it. This has been an Olympic Games with a story of incredible growth and introspection.

Also notable, Team USA wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock took home GOLD! Watching her and learning more about her, her energy is so electric and she is such a sweet and fun lady! Make no mistake, she is a tough one on the mat! We watched it live and you could see in her face just how badly she wanted this. After she won, she cried. Tears of joy. After many years of training, this was it. Such a beautiful moment there. And of course her Morton Ranch coach Mark Balser held a watch party for her. We covered it live as it was happening in Katy from Tokyo!

Outside of the games, being out of quarantine is such a gift; you can’t help but feel like you’re experiencing everything again for the first time with a fresh set of eyes and a whole new environment to appreciate.

Allen and I have been trying our best to give you the flavor of this great city. It breathes of cuteness, respect, harmony and order but there is also a spunky and rebellious side to the people here. They may be extremely polite and dress very conservatively by American standards but their hair will be bright pink or purple! I so enjoy people-watching. Tokyo is probably one of my favorite places in the world. I’m writing this as I sit at a beautiful cafe in Harajuku. Allen and I are off but wanted to come back to get better and more specific shots and sounds for the story I put together. I jumped at the chance to come and help him.

In the meantime, we got a lot of great stuff coming your way. See you on TV!


Rose-Ann Aragon

Monday, August 2, 9:00 p.m. (Houston Time) / Tuesday, August 3, 11:00 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning from Tokyo!

It’s hard to believe that it is day 11 of the Olympic Games. It seems time has flew by.

Best headlines of the day: Team USA’s Jade Carey takes home GOLD in the women’s individual floor final! GO JADE!

AND (I’m sure you’ve heard by now) Simone Biles IS feeling well enough to compete in the individual balance beam final! Simone will be competing 3:50AM Houston Time//5:50PM Japan Time Tuesday.

On top of that, Houstonian Sarah Robles who trains in League City under Tim Swords took home a BRONZE in Olympic Weightlifting. She is the first Team USA weightlifter to take home two medals in Olympic weightlifting.

Team USA’s and Katy’s Tamyra Mensah-Stock won her wrestling matches against Japan, China and Ukraine. She is advancing to the finals!!

Today there are six medal events in track and field. Houstonian Raevyn Rogers is competing in the 800m final!

Our local athletes are crushing it in these games!

Meanwhile, Allen and I are having so much fun being immersed in the beautiful culture of Japan. There is truly so much to learn when you travel. Simply being in a new place and seeing how people live on the other side of the world can offer life-changing experiences. We are so grateful to have this opportunity and to be here.

I truly believe that knowledge = travel. The more you travel, the more you learn about people, places, culture and different ways of doing things; you have a fuller picture of what life is about. The more places, the more context. If life was a painting, every place and experience adds a few more brushstrokes to the vividness of it all. Reporting allows me to have many brushstrokes. We get access to some of the world’s greatest stories and hard to reach places. I love sharing it all. And, in context, at this era in history with the pandemic, Allen and I are lucky be here. We will savor every moment.

Statue of Liberty replica in Tokyo - photograph taken by KPRC 2 photojournalist Allen Reid (KPRC/Click2Houston.com)

All of these thoughts rushed to my head as I was on the bus this morning solo (Yes, Allen refuses to take any more buses now that he’s free! I like it because I can do work on the bus and write to you all! 🙂 ). I met a new friend who lived in Japan and was there to help translate for people. She explained to me the joys of living in Japan: harmony, cleanliness, sensible modest living. She also explained to me why she wanted to leave. She wanted to achieve higher than the opportunities that Japan could offer her. She believed there was a limit to what you could earn and how much you could stick out. She is an entrepreneur. Fascinating to hear her perspective. We exchanged contacts and I am sure this will not be our last conversation. Another beauty of travel! Meeting new people.

Of course, one person I met (finally!) in person was our lovely Hoda Kotb! She was so sweet to surprise our team with this shoutout:

That was one of two amazing shoutouts from Hoda in the last week! Hoda’s energy and love for people is refreshing. She is a ray of light when there is a lot of darkness in news. She is as genuine as she appears on TV! It was a memorable moment of this experience. I am glad to share a love of storytelling with a journalist like Hoda Kotb!

For now, I’ll leave you with another great shot that Allen took. Every day, he looks for photography opportunities. It’s been a lot of fun working with someone so passionate about what he does.

Tokyo Skyline - Picture courtesy Allen Reid (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

KEITH GARVIN

Sunday, August 1, 11:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Monday, August 2, 1:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

I ate sea urchin AND a quivering shrimp and lived to share this cool story with you!

We first went to a sushi restaurant named Tsukiji Sushi in the Chuo City section of Tokyo. When you walk in, the three chefs yell out guttural greetings from behind the counter as they work. The service is great & I ended up ordering some great food. I started with miso soup with clam and an order of skewered fried scallops. The scallops were so good I ordered a second round! As my main course I ordered the tuna with pickled daikon radish and then some salmon. Both were good but the tuna was so good I ordered a second round of that. I had the customary ginger leaf to cleanse the palate, as well as ginger ale, & Asahi Dry Zero beer which means it’s their dry flavor with zero alcohol. It was refreshing to know that it was fine to eat the sushi rolls with your hands. Most people in Tokyo only use chopsticks with sashimi or nigiri with rice.

While we were eating, a Japanese man sitting at the counter behind our table engaged us and asked where we were from. When he found out we were from America, he got pretty excited and started chatting us up. He had spent a lot of time in the U.S. so we were able to have a pretty fun conversation. He invited us to another sushi restaurant he also liked and he offered to make us reservations. We didn’t have anything else to do except go back to our hotel to rest up for the next work day so we took up Masato on his offer and that’s when the fun began!

We made our way to the next restaurant and our new friend Masato decided to join us. He took it upon himself to order for us and since he knows Tokyo and the restaurant better than we do, we allowed him to do so. Things started off pretty harmlessly with an order of tuna sashimi so no big deal. I’ve had that plenty of times before. Then next came eel with rice. It had a honey-like drizzle on top. I’ve had eel before as well so no surprises there. As I eyed the octopus and squid stored in a small glass cooler in front of me I began to have some concern. I actually love fried calamari (NOT sauteed) and I’m fairly adventurous when it comes to food but I have been successful in one of my life missions of never eating octopus. That was not going to happen even if I am in Japan but I was wondering exactly what Masato would order for us next.

Sea urchin. Never really opposed to sea urchin but it’s definitely not something I would ever order on my own. But when it was placed in front of me I decided to step up to the plate. I’m a big texture guy and the sea urchin in front of me just didn’t look very appealing. But I decided to eat what was in front of me with seemingly the entire restaurant watching. The first few chomps were not pleasant at all but by bite 4 or five it had a decent recognizable taste. It tasted like peanut butter. Yes to me sea urchin tastes a little like peanut butter. And it must’ve been very fresh because it also tasted like the ocean. I was hoping we would be done but Masato was not done with us yet.

Masato gave the chef instructions in Japanese and the chef reaches into the large fish tank in front of us and pulls out several large, bluish-looking shrimp. They were alive until the chef cutoff their heads. After cutting off their heads the chef places the shrimp neatly on our plates Chief photographer Byron Nichols was the first to go & let’s just say they didn’t go well. Byron took the shrimp and after his first couple of bites the shrimp JUMPED inside of his mouth! Yes…as he was eating the thing it jumped in his mouth causing Byron the spit it out on the counter in front of us. He was done.

Next up was photographer Adrian Crooks. Let’s call him Cool Crooks. Adrian firmly grabbed the shrimp in an effort to out muscle the poor, headless thing. Didn’t seem like he had any problems. Several bites and the shrimp was on its way. I was next.

The biggest problem I had was that there wasn’t anything to dip the shrimp in. Like…no soy sauce, no wasabi. Nothing. If I could add some kind of flavor I didn’t think it would be so bad. But Masato & chef both said it would be best to just eat the shrimp straight up. I’m thinking about all the things that can go wrong while trying not to look like a wimp in front of my Tokyo audience. So I try to be brave & channel my inner “Cool Crooks” by first grabbing the shrimp firmly. Great first step. Nothing happens. But as I pick up the creature and bring it to my mouth the doggone thing starts to wiggle and I have to drop it on the plate. Masato, Byron, Adrian, & the chef all start to laugh and I’m done with the shrimp. No way I’m going to pick that thing back up. But as they’re laughing at me, they tell me I have to continue. Like how can I let them down? And I’m thinking I would be letting myself down by eating a quivering shrimp. But my manhood is on the line. And when in the world am I ever going to get the chance to eat an almost-live shrimp in Tokyo??? So despite my better judgment I man up & pick the shrimp again. I squeezed pretty hard and had no idea if it was still moving because I wasn’t dare going to look. In it goes and I just start chewing as fast as I can and swallow. Surprisingly it didn’t have a “fishy” or “shrimpy” taste. It simply tasted like a shrimp that had just been pulled out of a fish tank.

Will I ever eat a shrimp that was just pulled out of a tank and is still moving moments after being beheaded? Ask me the next time I’m in Tokyo.

Sometimes you visit a city or country & they have a reputation for a particular item, food, or tradition. Sometimes you leave disappointed because it doesn’t live up to the reputation. When it comes to sushi, Tokyo is not that place.


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Sunday, August 1, 9:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Monday, August 2, 11:30 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning!

Allen and I had our first full day off yesterday and explored our hearts out (documenting everything of course)! So, this post will be dedicated to our observations of the beautiful Japanese culture and our time out of quarantine!

We started at Shibuya Crossing, a popular meeting place in Japan and one of if not the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world with as many as 3,000 people crossing at one time.

It was very beautiful, known for the three iconic TV screens and ads that line the crossing and all of the people who make their way through it. You see gorgeous ladies wearing these elegant long skirts and umbrellas. My colleague Christine Noël noted that observation. Beautiful photos!

You also can’t help but notice that everything...even the subway and train station are so clean! No trash or dirt in sight. It’s really incredible.

Allen and I then stopped off the next train stop to my favorite spot so far -- Harajuku! This area is so hip and cool; it breathes trend, edge and “Kawaii” which is the Japanese word for “cute,” but it’s really a culture. Harajuku is known for it’s fashion, eclectic and cute styles. We interviewed a woman who owned a fashion shop there as well as someone who worked in a souvenir shop.

Rose-Ann Aragon in a Tokyo gift shop (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

We then went to a local ramen shop called Afuri. This speaks for itself.

Yum! And eventually we made our way to the beautiful and breathtaking Meiji Jingu Shrine. I’ll write more on that another time. For now, got to get to work! Our days generally start at 10 a.m. and go until 11 p.m. Can’t wait to crank out these stories and get them on TV!

I’ll leave you with Allen’s daily walk around town. He was excited about this one:

Allen Reid continues to tour Tokyo
Allen Reid continues to tour Tokyo

KEITH GARVIN

Sunday, August 1, 7:00 p.m. (Houston Time) / Monday, August 2, 9:00 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Freedom! It has been so liberating having cleared quarantine here in Tokyo! We are no longer limited to 15-minute trips outside of our hotel. We can go outside whenever we want for as long as we want and whenever we want. You never realize how precious your freedom of movement is until it is limited. We will still have to adhere to COVID protocols such as wearing a mask at all times in public except when eating or drinking, washing our hands on a regular basis, and practicing social distancing. Restaurants also close at 8:00 p.m. but there is no curfew.

What’s the first thing I did with my newfound freedom? After our live shots for the early evening newscasts on Saturday morning Tokyo time (Friday evening Houston time) photographer Adrian Crooks & I simply went outside and walked to a nearby mall. The mall wasn’t open yet but there were some people milling around and there was activity on the street because the mixed triathlon event was taking place nearby. We walked, we laughed, we took pictures, and we had a relaxing walk, not encumbered by the burden of having to make it back to our hotel within 15 minutes. You know…taking a walk like normal people do lol.

The next day my co-anchor Christine Noel & I walked over to the mall again and went to Starbucks. Again…just being normal and man was it great!

So what does this mean for our coverage here in Tokyo? It means we will be able to bring you even richer coverage from these Olympic Games. That, after all, is a big part of why we cover the Games. Just as the competition draws together all the cultures of the world our job is to focus on the competition but also the culture of the host country. Now that we are freer to move about Tokyo and the outlying areas we will be able to do just that!


CHRISTINE NOËL

Sunday, August 1, 3:45 a.m. (Houston Time) / Sunday, August 1, 5:45 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

My “Meaningful 15”—Quarantine Life During the Tokyo Olympics

So often in our fast-paced lives, when we are racing from point A to Point B, checking things off our daily list as quickly and efficiently as possible, it can be easy to forget to just – take a *moment* to *breathe* - Am I right?

Or, we will spend hours scrolling through our phones, on social media, binging the next hit series, paying no attention to time, because, as far as we know - we have all the time in the world, or at least, we hope we do —to simply do things at our leisure.

Trust me, I can relate. And, it’s something that I’ve missed…

But the absence of that freedom to just “BE” also brought to light, for me, a reminder to be intentional with my time, and a renewed strive to be *present, something that has always been important to me.

These past two weeks in Tokyo, under the strict quarantine restrictions, have posed unique challenges. Ones that infringe on our ability, outside the confines of our little hotel room, to do anything on our own time, without being monitored by a chaperone.

The best way I can describe it.. is like being grounded when you were a kid, but as an adult. You can only come out of your room to go to work. When you’re done with work, you have return home and go straight to your room. (There’s no gathering area in our hotel, so there’s no option for the KPRC crew to get together.) You’re not allowed to go shopping, go out to eat, go to an outdoor market, temple, tourist attraction… basically, if it’s fun—you can’t do it.

Except… for 15 minutes a day.

Ahhhh, for 15 grand minutes.. 900 seconds—we’ve been given the opportunity to step outside into this beautiful city and take a few minutes to ourselves. Go for a walk, stop by the nearby 7/11, which so happened to be the source of all our snacks, and just explore. But only for 15 minutes, not a second more. This outing also didn’t happen on an honor system… if you know what I mean. This was closely and seriously tracked. At the entrance of our hotel sits a member of the National Police Agency here in Japan, and they sit at a table 24/7, around the clock- and if you leave your hotel, you must enter your Accreditation number and the time you are leaving, exactly. And then you are free to go, but only for 15 minutes, now 14:59, 14:58… better get going! Clock is ticking.

(Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

It wasn’t until a few days in, and a few failed hotel room exercises later (there’s no space to work out- I still have a bruise on my knee to prove it.) I finally realized that after being told we were *not allowed to exercise outside, that we *could…. So long as we wore a mask and didn’t exceed our 15 minutes.

(Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Green light! Yea, you better believe the moment I could, I laced up my shoes, put on my mask (even in 90 degrees because I had to), clocked out and started moving. I have never paid such close attention to my clock, and directions! Getting lost would NOT serve me well in this situation. Nor do I totally know what would happen if I violated protocol, but I wasn’t willing to find out!

KPRC 2's Christine Noel shares photos from Tokyo (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

After my first run, I laid out a short route that I would remember. And on the second run, I started really taking in the sights, sounds, and *feel of Tokyo in the late afternoon. By that time of day, I’m exhausted as my day starts at 2am here in order to appear on the 4,5,6, & 10pm shows in Houston. But once I am moving and outside the confines of the two hotels where we stay and work, I begin to feel something familiar… freedom.

(Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

The sound of the cicadas buzzing, the trees blowing in the breeze, the feel of the hot wind against my face.. and my feet pounding the pavement- a feeling that is so familiar to my body, even in unfamiliar territory.

Each day, I looked forward to my 15 minutes. I *needed those 15 minutes for my sanity. Running outside is as good for my physical health as it is my mental health and it’s a hug to my soul, especially on 14-15 hour work days during an exhausting albeit, AMAZING assignment like the Olympics.

(Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

As the minutes would tick by, I would do my best to be aware of the clock, but not allow it to damper my 15 minutes of freedom. I began to really open my eyes- everything I could see, I would let in. A few times, I stopped to take a photo of a scene so beautiful, I could hardly believe it was right in the middle of the largest city in the world. It was a tranquil garden, so serene as the sun began setting. I relished in the moment and felt grateful for it. So incredibly grateful.

I wonder, perhaps, if the same level of appreciation would have existed if not for the time constraints and limitations. My guess is… probably not. I probably would have whizzed right by it, just trying to get to my next Point C. always going… going going going..

(Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

The 15 minutes became so meaningful to me during the 2-week quarantine. The taste a freedom I was so used to having in abundance back home, never felt better than when I couldn’t come and go as I pleased. And I never took those 15 minutes for granted.

Now that I am in my first full day out of quarantine, I went for a nearly 2 hour run, stopping to take photos when I saw something unique, interesting or beautiful. Not counting the minutes, just existing and taking in all the sights, sounds, smells of Japanese culture. It’s such a vibrant city… the people, the places, the history- I feel so lucky to be able to experience it… and I look forward to soaking up as much as I can during my remaining time here in Tokyo.

Until this point, as difficult it was to get *only 15 minutes of outdoor “me-time” a day, I cherished my “Meaningful 15” and chose to truly make the most of them.

It’s a practice I plan to take with me moving forward.. as life will never slow down, but it is within our power to practice mindfulness, appreciate the moment-- and never take Me-time for granted…

(Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Even if it is-- for only 15 minutes.


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Friday, July 30, 7:00 p.m. (Houston Time) / Saturday, July 31 9:00 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Happy Saturday here in Tokyo!

Allen and I are just a day away from being officially cleared to roam about Tokyo (safely of course). For now, chasing buses it is! Many late ones and lots of running. Still, very happy to be in Tokyo. Great day yesterday, got to do stories in the incredible Suni Lee who won the Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Final in an awe-inspiring competition, forever changed because of Simone Biles’ absence. You can see one of my stories here.

Other than that we are continuing to watch our local athletes. Allen and I will be watching Sugar Land’s Simone Manual’s next 50m freestyle heat.

Olympic weightlifter Sarah Robles will compete August 2nd. She is gearing up for her moment to shine. We will be catching up with her coach.

Another busy day in Tokyo!

Here’s a snapshot of daily life in Tokyo:

Dark clouds over Tokyo (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Thursday, July 29, 10:00 p.m. (Houston Time) / Friday, July 30 8:00 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Ohayou-gozaimasu! That means “Good morning!” in Japanese! Waking up with an extra pep in my step knowing the Team USA gymnastics’ Sunisa Lee took GOLD in the women’s Individual All-Around Final competition. What an amazing feat.

Simone Biles showing her love for her teammate. Still in awe of Biles’ strength and courage. We certainly hope she is feeling better. USA Gymnastics continues to monitor her every day.

In other Olympic news, the second round of golf starts this morning. We caught up with Patrick Reed who stepped up to represent Team USA after Bryson Dechambeau tested positive for Covid-19. Reed is quite a trooper making very last minute plans to head to Tokyo. He got in Wednesday afternoon and competed Thursday morning local time! You can check out more about how he found out and what he did to prepare HERE.

And Raevyn Rogers is crushing it in Track & Field which started yesterday. This is such touching video of the Kinkaid School and her family watching from Houston.

For now, Allen and I continue to chase buses. The bus system here is unpredictable. His job is to figure out which one we can take. My job is to run for it. If you miss it -- you can easily wait an hour, making the commute a good three hours ! We are trying to manage our energy here.

We are also loving this Tokyo sky:

Tokyo Sunset Timelapse - July 29, 2021
Tokyo Sunset Timelapse - July 29, 2021

Yesterday, you got a pic of me. Here is one I took of Allen. Happy Friday!

KPRC 2 Photojournalist Allen Reid in Tokyo (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

CHRISTINE NOËL

Thursday, July 29, 1:00 a.m. (Houston Time) / Thursday, July 29, 3:00 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning from a Thursday afternoon here in Tokyo! Day 6 of the Olympic Games is about to wrap up here in Tokyo and BOY, it’s been a busy week! Hard to believe it was already one week ago these 2020 Tokyo Olympics got underway!

So far there have been some exciting competitions, some upsets, and some new stars emerging from these Olympics.

One being swimming sensation, Lydia Jacoby! She’s only 17 years old, not even out of high school yet, and she won GOLD in the women’s 100 meter breaststroke!

It was a thrill to watch because 1) the race was so close at the end! And 2) I was a year-round competitive swimmer from the age of 4 through high school... and you guessed it, 100 breaststroke was MY event! When I had a chance to interview Lydia right after her big victory I told her “You’re living OUR dream!” Ha. She laughed with me and was so sweet.

I asked her what advice she has to young swimmers who saw her Gold medal performance on their TV’s who now see her as an inspiration — and the small town Alaska-resident said “Go for it!” She said, don’t get discouraged if you live in a small town or go to a small school, if you put the work in, go after your dreams! My 10-year-old self was shrieking inside. Lydia Jacoby is a good one, for sure- and I can’t wait to watch her in future races and future Olympics to come! Did I mention she’s ONLY 17? So so talented. And, hey, after graduation next spring she will be making the move from Alaska to Austin where she plans to swim for UT! She said when she visited, she loved the coaches, the campus, Austin’s food and music scene (who doesn’t?!) and she’s looking forward to becoming a Longhorn! #HookEmHorns — I am sure she will crush records swimming at the collegiate level. In the meantime though, I know she’s just soaking in this Golden moment here in Tokyo! Congratulations to Lydia Jacoby!

Ok, back to work on a few other athlete profiles I am working on- All with Texas or Houston ties! More to come soon. Have a wonderful day. All my love from Tokyo!

Christine


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Wednesday, July 28, 8:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Thursday, July 29 10:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning from Tokyo!

The latest headlines from Tokyo - Simone Biles withdraws from the Individual All-Around Final competition; Katie Ledecky wins her first gold medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and U.S. woman win the inaugural gold medla in 3x3 Basketball! What an eventful day in Tokyo.

Back to Biles, this is obviously the biggest talker of the games. Yesterday we had spoken with a former sports psychologist consultant who talked about the connection between mental health and physical abilities. He said that sports performance is never just physical; it is emotional, mental and even spiritual. He helped Biles when she was just 16-years-old after her father called him to help her build her confidence in the sport. I think now more than ever the conversation about mental health and physical performance in sport is coming to the forefront. We wish Simone well and hope that she is well enough to compete safely in her four other individual events. From gathering information and interviews, it seems Simone is getting a lot of support.

Fore! Other than that, the Olympic Men’s Golf Tournament tee’ed off today at 7:30am Japan time which is 5:30pm Houston time. Patrick Reed, from Spring and the Woodlands, made an incredible effort to step in to compete after Bryson DeChambeau tested positive for Covid-19. We spoke with him earlier this week and he let us know just how much of a mad dash it had been in order to get himself to Japan in time for today’s tournament. Huge kudos to Reed for representing the United States on the world stage. He’s actually the only one representing Team USA that competed in Rio (finished T-11).

Team USA’s Boxing Captain -- our Ginny Fuchs will be fighting tonight (Japan time). She is a leader in the ring and out of it. She fights through her battle with OCD and tries to inspire the younger generation to channel negative energy into productive energy.

We worked on a story with her this week. Check it out to learn more about her!

The heat has also been a story in Tokyo (I almost wrote Houston!). Tennis matches today have been delayed because of it.

Allen and I are currently on the way to the IBC. We are now trying a new bus route to the IBC in hopes to increase our workflow efficiency. Finally figured out a system for laundry as we are now 12 days in and I have only packed so much!

Last night was great, we were able to have our team interview Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum and Cat Osterman in person!

We are also always enjoying the Tokyo sunsets. They are ever-glorious. Allen Reid took this time lapse and photo of me with a sky that looks like we’re in a whole other world.

Sunset Over Tokyo Bay, July 27, 2021
Sunset Over Tokyo Bay, July 27, 2021
KPRC 2 Rose-Ann Aragon enjoying a Tokyo sunset at the Olympic Games. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Hope you all have a restful evening!


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Tuesday, July 27, 10:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Wednesday, July 28 12:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Hi everyone! Since I’m joining you from the future it’s still not too late to say, “Happy Birthday!” to my incredible father who taught me the meaning of good work ethic and responsibility.

It has been a busy last few days in Tokyo with the latest developments of Team USA at the Tokyo Games. Watching Simone Biles leave the facility was devastating. I cannot imagine the pressure of representing Team USA on the world stage. Team USA Women’s gymnastics pulled through with Jordan Chiles, Suni Lee and Grace McCallum finishing the team final with SILVER! What an achievement.

This morning (Tokyo Time), I spoke with a sports psychologist who had worked with Simone Biles for years. He really puts context to the conversation about the science of psychology during competitions and how elements like pressure and stress can really translate to a physical reaction, sometimes debilitating. We had a very good conversation, and I will be putting it together for you all to watch and read. Interesting stuff.

Here is a Facebook live I did about what he said and also...Japan’s Domino’s pizza. I am all for exploring new foods. It’s been a busy week, so Domino’s will have to do and I’m pleasantly surprised.

Allen Reid has made it a point to walk every day and explore different areas by the hotel. This time he had a very special and fun guest: former KPRC2 reporter Daniella Guzman! She now works at NBC in LA. Her energy is great! We miss her.

Photojournalist Allen Reid continues to tour parts of Tokyo
Photojournalist Allen Reid continues to tour parts of Tokyo

Also another look behind the scenes -- TV is not always glamorous. Photojournalist Byron Nichols got this shot of me voicing. It ain’t pretty.

All our photogs find time to do what they love! Happy Wednesday (from Tokyo - 14 hours into the future!)!


KEITH GARVIN

Monday, July 26, 11:45 p.m. (Houston Time) / Tuesday, July 27 1:45 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

What a day it has been for Team USA, especially in the pool! Swimmers continue to rack up medals for USA Swimming . One of the most special moments came when 17 year old Lydia Jacoby won gold in the Women’s 100m breaststroke. This is the first Olympics for the incoming University of Texas freshman. Congrats to her! We will be interviewing Lydia later today and will bring you the interview in later newscasts. And BTW…my co-anchor Christine Noel can’t stop talking about how the 100m breaststroke was her event for 15 years 😊 😊 😊

Gold medalist Lydia Jacoby of the United States celebrates on the podium after the final of the women's 100-meter breaststroke at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

In other news the sky is blue again after some annoying rain from Tropical Storm Nepartak. The storm is still moving toward the Japanese coast & is expected to make landfall about 215 miles north of Tokyo early Wednesday Tokyo time. The rain here in Tokyo this morning was the first we had seen since we arrived. It was more of a nuisance though and did not cause any major issues for the Games. What was really cool was seeing two separate rainbows this morning, which hopefully were a sign of more gold for Team USA!


CHRISTINE NOËL

Monday, July 26, 2:30 a.m. (Houston Time) / Monday, July 26, 4:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Greetings from Tokyo!

It’s Christine here with a few thoughts from a Monday afternoon here in Japan. It is midday through the third day of the Olympics and competition is really ramping up! It’s exciting. While we are still under strict covid protocols for five more days limiting our movement around the city, we are hoping to make it to several of the competitions to interview our Houston-area athletes this week!

I’m curious-- What are your thoughts of the Games so far?

I have to tell you, watching Team USA softball led by Houston-native Olympian Cat Osterman win against Japan today.. was AMAZING!

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - JULY 26: Pitcher Catherine Osterman #38 of Team United States pitches in the sixth inning against Team Japan during softball opening round on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on July 26, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

A walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 7th securing the win for the US had me jumping around cheering in our work hotel room between our live newscasts. It WAS EPIC! And quite frankly, a long time coming.

Did you know that rivalry match-up was 13 years in the making?

After winning the Gold in 2004, Team USA Softball lost to Japan in 2008, earning the silver medal. After those Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee voted to drop Softball as an Olympic sport, essentially denying Osterman and Team USA the chance to reclaim that top podium spot.

BUT-- that all changed today!

Two things to note: First, before USA’s victory over Japan today, both teams were 4-0 here in Tokyo earning both teams a spot in the Gold Medal Game which will take place Tuesday morning in Houston. They were originally slated to play one another today, before the teams punched their ticket to the Gold Medal Game which is why they played today and will again tomorrow. So, I’d like to say this win by Team USA was not only a long time coming for Cat & crew, but also, perhaps a bit of a pre-show for the big show tomorrow! The one where TEAM USA *finally has the chance to reclaim global victory on the softball field. (Fingers crossed!)

I had a chance to chat one-on-one with the Longhorn Alum about Team USA’s temporary return to the global stage and what it would mean to her to win her second gold medal, You can watch that on KPRC 2 Monday afternoon!

Meanwhile, as the days tick closer and closer to our 2-week quarantine end-date, I can’t help but get more and more excited about freely moving about the city. There’s so much I want to do and see! Tokyo truly is so vibrant and full of beautiful, rich history and culture. It’s a remarkable place and I can’t wait to bring you more of my experiences in the coming days and weeks. So stay tuned!

As you read this, your work week is just getting started. Have a wonderful Monday-- and much more to come from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics!

Ta-Ta from Tokyo!

Christine


KEITH GARVIN

Sunday, July 25, 10:00 p.m. (Houston Time) / Monday, July 26 12:00 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Getting ready to go live from Tokyo soon for our 10:30 p.m. newscast and we just watched Team USA softball defeat Japan with a walk-off homerun. Both teams were undefeated and had secured their spots in the gold medal game but were required to play each other. So the gold medal match isn’t until Tuesday but it was still a thrilling game to watch. Houston’s Cat Osterman took the mound in the 6th inning followed by Monica Abbott in the 7th to help secure the win.

In other news the women’s gymnastics team finds itself in unfamiliar territory. They finished the qualifying round in 2nd place to the Russians, the first time Team USA has not finished the qualifying rounds in 1st place in a qualifying round in a world or Olympic competition since 2010. That’s how dominant they have been and that’s why 2nd place is such a shock right now. But not to fret. This was the qualifying round to make it to the finals…not the finals themselves. Team USA is still in great position to win gold in the team all-around later this week. They are truly the best in the world and I believe they will rally to take gold.

As far as Spring’s Simone Biles is concerned she was not her usual perfect self but she still sits in first place in the individual all-around. Even if the GOAT isn’t perfect she is still the best the world has ever seen. She is in position to win a total of 6 medals and I believe she will lead the charge to get the gold for the team all-around as well.

On another note…after our 10:30 live shot photographer Adrian Crooks & I are heading out on a really cool behind-the-scenes story we can hopefully show you on-air in the next couple of days. Can’t wait to get out on it!


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Sunday, July 25, 8:00 p.m. (Houston Time) / Monday, July 26 10:00 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning! It’s 10am here in Tokyo, and Photojournalist Allen and I are on the way to the International Broadcast Centre to grab some grub at the NBC’s commissary. We have a full day ahead: interview our rock star Olympic Boxer Ginny Fuchs, interview Olympic golfer Patrick Reed who will be stepping in to represent the United States and keeping an eye on our local competitions already underway.

Sunday Tokyo Time (14 hours ahead) was our day off. We were off on a very eventful first official day of the games! Team USA Swimming getting us started with 6 medals: Gold, Silver, 3 Bronze with Sugar Land’s Simone Manuel anchoring her team relay.

Spring’s Simone Biles made her Tokyo debut. We are ready to cheer her on!

US Softball clinches a spot in the Gold Medal Game! Cat Osterman is simply inspiring. Her determination and grit is awe-inspiring.

Allen and I were off but still watched the competitions because... how could you not! We also explored the Tokyo 2020 gift shop.

Meanwhile, KPRC 2 photog Allen took his daily walk, and this time around, he took a tour of the beautiful park by the hotel.

Tour of beautiful park by our hotel in Tokyo
Tour of beautiful park by our hotel in Tokyo

You can find event schedules, where to watch, and results every day of the Games on Click2Houston.com/Olympics.

For now, I’ll leave you with this breathtaking shot of the first cloudy evening we’ve seen here. Allen of course snapped this one!


KEITH GARVIN

Saturday, July 24, 7:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Sunday, July 25, 9:30 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Hello from Tokyo! We have now entered our second week in Japan to cover the 2020 Summer Olympics…in 2021.

First impression: Tokyo is hands down one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited! The country is also known for being extremely clean & we have seen that is very much the case. This is the largest city in the world and not a speck of trash on the ground!

We all know Japan has a reputation for being very orderly and very polite. I can verify the people here are so polite and gracious with quite a bit of warmth. I have visited a decent number of countries and I have to say that here I don’t feel as if I stick out as a foreigner. The Japanese people treat me well and are as kind to me as any other visitor.

While our athletes are busy competing in their events, we are navigating through the obstacle course of quarantine and 15-minute windows where we are allowed to be outside. We have one more week on our mandatory 14-day quarantine. The way it works is we can be gone for work at another location for as long as we need to be gone. But for every building we are in, whether it’s our hotel or workspace, once we are there we can only leave in 15-minute increments. The time is marked by individuals who sit at tables at the entrance/exit. They mark your time by hand. We haven’t tested the waters yet but if we are late we could be in jeopardy of losing our credentials to cover the Games, so risking that is not worth staying out past our 15 minutes. If you are wondering, we can leave our building more than once per day. At least I haven’t been stopped from doing so lol.

But I can tell you we cannot wait to be off quarantine next Saturday. Once that happens we will be able to venture into just about any part of Japan. We will have to continue to abide by protocols like wearing our masks fulltime and not eating in restaurants after the 8:00 p.m. curfew. I would like most to visit Mt. Fuji and the Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market. We really want to show our viewers not just the Olympic competition but all the amazing sights and culture that make Japan so amazing!


CHRISTINE NOËL

Saturday, July 24, 5:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Sunday, July 25, 7:30 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning from another beautiful day here in Tokyo! As I write this, I am sitting in our work station at the Hilton Odaiba prepping for my appearance alongside Keith in the Saturday 6 & 10pm shows. Did I mention it’s 6:30 in the morning here on SUNDAY? And a beautiful morning it is. The sun has just risen over Tokyo Bay and temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90′s today. The early morning here is my favorite time of the day because the air is still cool. And hey, I’m not going to lie... it’s still kind of crazy living in the future:) But really, the 14-hour time difference (Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of Houston) takes some getting used to!

We are now on day 8 on the ground here in Japan.. and boy, our first week flew by! We have been so incredibly busy not only getting acclimated to our new routine here in Tokyo, but also keeping up with all the latest headlines coming out of the Olympics as well as tracking our Texas and Houston athletes.

From where I’m sitting, the second full day of competition is about to begin following the opening ceremony on Friday. The Opening Ceremony was held at National Stadium here in Tokyo in front of nearly 10,000 people-- mainly officials, sponsors and foreign dignitaries but no fans. Very few members of the media were allowed inside due to the very strict covid protocols, so like you at home, I watched the ceremony on TV.

True to form for these Olympic Games, the Opening Ceremony was different than in previous years. The tone was somber, beginning with a moment of silence for all the lives lost during the pandemic. The ceremony also highlighted the beauty of Japanese arts and culture. The parade of countries took place afterwards with athletes waving to a nearly empty stadium.

As I was watching, I couldn’t help but feel such respect and happiness for all the athletes, including our Team USA. These athletes had to overcome the postponement of the games last summer due to the pandemic, and during that time, stay mentally and physically fit until this weekend when the Tokyo 2020 Games officially kicked off. And even as they were walking in the opening ceremony, just hours and days beforehand, word and worry was circulating as to whether these games should even go on.

So for me, seeing them get their long-awaited chance to show the world what they’ve got-- and have worked so hard for, for so long, made me happy and excited for these games! Then-- the competition kicked off in full force! It’s going to be an exciting couple of weeks!

As I’ve said before... It’s an honor to be here representing KPRC and I can’t wait to watch TEAM USA rack up some serious hardware! We will keep you posted every step of the way.

It’s almost time for the 6pm newscast, so I will say goodbye for now... I need to go make sure Keith has his shirt tucked in and shoes tied (Like any good TV wife would, haha:)!

Thanks for following along and have a wonderful rest of your weekend.

Cheers from Tokyo!

Christine


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Saturday, July 24, 12:30 a.m. (Houston Time) / Saturday, July 24 2:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning from Tokyo!

Stayed up late to watch the Opening Ceremony. I thought they were beautiful, meaningful and a testament to the resilience and strength of all of these athletes who have worked so hard to bring their best skills to the world stage. The purpose of the Olympic games is to bring the world together through sport, according to officials, and I feel that the tone portrayed just that. Many athletes have trained their whole lives and an extra year for this moment and the tone of the Opening Ceremony, I felt, was very appropriate, especially with everything going on in the world. There was a moment of silence for the lives lost to the pandemic.

I can tell you from first-hand experience the Covid safety protocol here is very robust and very strict. Each day we have to monitor our symptoms and record them on the Ocha App. We also have to provide saliva samples for PCR tests and are required to use hand sanitizer and gloves. We are also under a strict 2 week quarantine, only allowed to go to our work spaces. I cannot imagine how strict the protocol is for athletes, may of whom are training in their hotel rooms due to the protocol!

The program had meaningful performances and dances. I loved the colors and show of pride from many countries and to see the spirit and personality of all the teams. The athletes’ faces say it all. This is certainly a different kind of Olympic Games. The US team is the second largest team in Olympic history and when they all walked out, decked out in red, white and blue, it was a moment of incredible pride. Loved to see them showcasing their best.

Yesterday, we also covered a local coach, Coach Tim Swords, who owns a now iconic two-car garage gym in League City that is a treasured place for those who train there. Swords trains Olympic weightlifter Sarah Robles who took bronze in the Rio Olympics. The two are a dynamic duo! Robles said there is no other place she’d rather train. The place breathes character, filled with posters, memorabilia and equipment. There’s no air conditioning! Robles said that makes her even more prepared at competition. Best of all, Tim Swords has a heart of gold. He trains with people from all walks of life and all ages, and his goal is to help people overcome challenges. You can check out more about Tim Swords and his gym HERE.

Before work today, photojournalist Allen Reid took his 15 minutes outside to find something Tokyo has a lot of: vending machines. Check it out:

Photojournalist Allen Reid's nine minute walk in Tokyo
Photojournalist Allen Reid's nine minute walk in Tokyo

Meanwhile, I did Facebook live on some Japanese beauty products I ran across during this trip.

Today is going to be a busy one with fencing, table tennis, cycling, softball and soccer. We are going to start working on that coverage!


CHRISTINE NOËL (OPENING CEREMONY DAY!)

Friday, July 23, 5:30 a.m. (Houston Time) / Friday, July 23, 7:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Hey Houston! Christine here on what is now Day 5 on the ground here in Tokyo ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games! It’s hard to believe that after the postponement one year ago due to the pandemic that the Olympic Games here in Japan will finally begin in just a matter of hours.

I am so excited! These games have been a long time coming and we couldn’t be more excited for the many Houston-area athletes competing in these Olympics. Hometown athletes like cyclist Lawson Craddock, track star Raevyn Rogers, gymnastics star Simone Biles, and Softball Olympic gold medalist Cat Osterman (who I had a chance to talk to today! Can’t wait to bring you our interview.)— And that’s just to name a few! It is their time to shine on the global stage and we are here to bring all the action from Tokyo 2 Texas! (Or are we bringing Texas 2 Tokyo by being here?)

Speaking of… I am here with a fantastic crew from KPRC 2– the talented and spunky Rose-Ann Aragon, my co-anchor - aka my “TV-husband” Keith Garvin, and three fantastic photographers Byron Nichols, Adrian Crooks, and Allen Reid.

If you’ve been watching our coverage (and we hope you have!) You know by now there are strict Covid-19 protocols here in Japan right now. We have temporarily been confined to what we call the “NBC bubble,” where we are only allowed to shuttle back and forth from our hotel where we stay to the Hilton Odaiba, where we work. NBC has transformed hotel rooms on the 5th floor into TV studios, and that is where we are going LIVE from everyday. The view is absolutely spectacular! Right on Tokyo Bay with the Rainbow Bridge and Olympic Rings on a barge in the background. The view never gets old.

Christine snapped this photo of the Olympic rings over Tokyo Bay (KPRC/Click2Houston.com)
Christine in place for a live shot on KPRC 2 News (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

We are in now almost one week into our two week “soft quarantine.” We are allowed 15 minute unaccompanied outings… and honestly, it’s one of my favorites parts of the day. It’s a small window into the outside world in this absolutely beautiful country and city that we can’t wait to explore once out of quarantine confines. So stay tuned…

As I write this, the Opening Ceremony is set to begin shortly here at 8pm in Tokyo! Depending on when you read this Friday, you can watch them LIVE on KPRC early this Friday morning — or again at 6:30 p.m. on KPRC 2.

I am getting ready for bed… my alarm clock goes off at 2 a.m. each day— which is noon your time! You can watch over coverage on KPRC 2 News at 4, 5, 6, & 10 p.m.

Have a great morning! Cheers from Tokyo!


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Friday, July 23, 12:30 a.m. (Houston Time) / Friday, July 23 11:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good afternoon from Tokyo! This is Rose-Ann. Had a very good night’s sleep. My body is finally adjusting to the time here, and I am happy to wake up at a decent hour (not 4am!). Today is the big day: the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. There is definitely more of a buzz around our work spaces. Things are busy busy! Still...I fit in some time for a run. I posted some pictures of some of the sights on my run.

The Olympic Ceremony will take place at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo and will be broadcast live by NBC with coverage beginning at 7:55pm (Tokyo Time), which is 5:55am Houston Time. This Olympics is a bit special because it’s the network’s first ever live morning broadcast of an Olympic Opening Ceremony!

This year’s Opening Ceremony theme is “United by Emotion” which is inspired because these games took place during the Covid-19 pandemic. The theme aims to bring people together from all over the world--through sport!

Speaking of sports, can we talk about Simone Biles and her super cool Yurchenko Double Pike Vault at the first Olympic Podium Training?

If Biles nails this during the Olympic competition, the vault will be named after Biles.

You can read more about it HERE.

Something new this year, for the very first time each nation will be allowed to have two flag bearers: one man and one woman. This decision was announced last year in hopes to follow through with intentions to focus on gender equality. For the United States, New York basketball athlete Sue Bird and Miami’s baseball player Eddy Alvarez will be bearers for the Opening Ceremony. Interestingly, Ralph Lauren made their white jackets, which include a personal air conditioning system that disperses heat through a fan device at the back of the neck! Cool!

If you haven’t check it out yet, yesterday, we put together this beautiful story about the beauty of Japan including landmarks like the Shibuya Crossing, Sensoji Temple, Mount Fuji and more!

Photojournalist Allen and I are ready to bring these stories to you. Allen got creative and made a makeshift audio booth in our live location at the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba. You got to get creative to get it done sometimes! Allen is also a very talented photojournalist who puts together these gorgeous timelapses! That’s the view from his hotel room!

Tokyo time lapse
Tokyo time lapse

Can’t wait for Opening Ceremony! Our view from the balcony should allow us to see the glorious fireworks for an Olympics that almost never happened.


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Wednesday, July 22 9:30am (Houston Time) / Wednesday, July 22 11:30pm (Tokyo Time)

Hello from the future--14 hours ahead to be exact. I wish I could tell you that you’d be winning the lottery... but... how about I tell you about the Olympics in Tokyo? Fair trade, right? :)

Keith, Christine and I are so grateful for this opportunity and to be here in Tokyo to be able to share these stories with you.

KPRC 2's Rose-Ann Aragon in Tokyo for the Olympics
KPRC 2's Rose-Ann Aragon in Tokyo for the Olympics

We are finally starting to feel settled. This is now the fifth day in Japan. The journey to Tokyo had been a long one: a flight to San Francisco, then from San Francisco to Tokyo!

After more than 12+ hours on a plane, a six-hour process at the airport to abide by Covid-19 safety protocol and a 1.5 hour drive from the airport to the hotel, we were wiped!

KPRC 2 Reporter Rose-Ann Aragon setting up to cover the Olympics in Tokyo
KPRC 2 Reporter Rose-Ann Aragon setting up to cover the Olympics in Tokyo

We realized quickly that food was not readily available after a certain time. We got to our hotel in Tokyo very late and the restaurant apparently closed early, so one of the few choices that was very obviously walking distance nearby was a 7-11, which is not your first choice when thinking of dinner in Japan. However, despite having to take a saliva PCR test for 5 days, and having to quarantine at your hotel and work area for two weeks, you are allowed outside the hotel for 15 minutes. You have to sign out and a hotel staff member times you at the front of the hotel. With this glorious opportunity, photojournalist Allen Reid went to the 7-11 to do some shopping for groceries. Take a look!

See what snacks KPRC 2's Rose-Ann Aragon has picked up while in Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics
See what snacks KPRC 2's Rose-Ann Aragon has picked up while in Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics

Surprisingly good or decent food! Those are somethings I would NEVER order at a 7-11 in America. I did a test taste of some of the items after the show:

I would say that my favorites right now are the chocolate koala bears and what I’ve had for breakfast-- Japanese beef curry!

Overall, it has been such an amazing experience. As far as TEAM USA: With Team USA Softball defeating Canada with a final score of 1-0 and the GOAT Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles and the rest of the Team USA Women’s gymnastics team finishing their first day of Olympic podium training, where they can practice what skills they might use in the Olympics games, this trip has been a great one so far!


CHRISTINE NOËL

Wednesday, July 21, 3:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Thursday, July 22, 5:30 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Hello! This is Christine writing to you from Tokyo where anticipation is building for the opening ceremony of the long-awaited 2020 Olympics!

It’s already Thursday here so we’re down to just one day until the official start of the Games. I’m here in Japan with my colleagues Keith Garvin and Rose-Ann Aragon, along with three of the best photojournalists in Houston, Byron Nichols, Allen Reid, and Adrian Crooks.

More athletes test positive for COVID-19 before Tokyo Olympics
More athletes test positive for COVID-19 before Tokyo Olympics

We landed here on Saturday and hit the ground running. There’s a 14-hour time difference. While normally we’d try to shake the jet lag quickly, we’re going to be trying to keep Houston hours here so we are counting on caffeine and adrenaline to keep us going! It’s tiring, but this is the trip and assignment of a lifetime and we are all thrilled to be here.

It’s a bonus that Houston and Texas have SO MANY fantastic athletes to feature and celebrate.

Gymnasts Simone Biles & Jordan Chiles, swimmer Simone Manuel, and softball legend Cat Osterman are just a few. Cat threw nine strikeouts last night in Team USA’s opening game against Italy! While medal competition doesn’t start until after the opening ceremony, team events like softball and soccer are underway.

Team USA soccer fell to Sweden in their opener, but they’re still a favorite here and we expect them to turn their Olympic story around.

Tokyo Olympics preparing for opening ceremony
Tokyo Olympics preparing for opening ceremony

Be sure to follow Rose-Ann, Keith, and me on social media as well as here on Click2Houston.com because you never know when we’ll be up and showing you something cool we’ve discovered in Tokyo or delivering the biggest headlines of the Games.

Here’s a Facebook Live Keith and I did showing our workspace in Tokyo. (Ignore the fact that I almost walked into a sliding glass door. We hadn’t gotten our coffee yet!)

Below that, you’ll see a Facebook Live Rose-Ann did from the International Broadcast Center.

Before I go, I wanted to let you know we have a special one-hour program called “Texas 2 Tokyo” airing TONIGHT at 8 p.m. on KPRC 2 (That’s Wednesday evening in Houston).

Our Tokyo team will be joined by KPRC 2 Anchors Dominique Sachse and Kris Gutierrez as well as KPRC 2 Sports Director Randy McIlvoy for a primetime special highlighting many of the Houstonians competing for the red, white, and blue here in Japan. We hope you’ll tune in.

You can also get Olympic updates by subscribing to our Texas 2 Tokyo newsletter, which you can find by clicking HERE and by bookmarking this blog. We’ll all be adding to it throughout the Games.

I’ll be live this afternoon on KPRC 2. See you on the air soon!


About the Authors:

Emmy Award-winning anchor/reporter, husband, dad, German Shepherd owner, Crossfitter, Game of Thrones junkie, chupacabra hunter.

A small-town girl from West Michigan with a passion for storytelling, traveling the world and meeting remarkable people along with the way.