Where Have We Been?

Hiroshima!!

On Thursday Alix and the kids and I took the Shinkansen to Hiroshima.

After we had Mister Donuts of course.

We started our visit with ramen at Ippudo which is a famous ramen chain.

Then we went to the Hiroshima Peace Museum.

I'll spare you more pictures because if you're a regular reader than you've already seen them. However, I find it pertinent to tell you that each time we go I am deeply moved by it. It hasn't lost its feeling for me.

Then we took a stroll through the park. They are gearing up for the 70th annual Peace Ceremony which is dedicated to the victims of the A bomb and sends the message "No More Hiroshimas".

Friday evening we found a hole in the wall oknomiyaki joint and introduced Alix to the Hiroshima specialty.

I wish I could have gotten a video of their automatic beer dispenser thingie. It was so cool. Also our waiter complimented me on my Japanese. BOOM.

On Friday we revisited Pain D'ior which is the bakery we stayed near last time. The kids and I wanted Tanti to eat some delicious baked goods too!

Then we took the street car out to the Miyajima ferry and then took the ferry onto the island.

We spent the early part of the day seeing the town and the shrine.

Ok. Mostly we saw deers.

And a corgi who was carted from photo op to photo op and posed like one would a child.

We loved him.

And this deer, who "can't even"

For lunch we had more oknomiyaki because Alix needs to figure out how to make it.

And then took the rope way up and down again to see the mountain.

We checked into the Kikugawa Guest House which is a traditional Japanese ryokan. It was lovely and if you get the chance to stay overnight on the island I highly recommend. The island empties by 7 when the last ferry leaves and its quiet and peaceful. I let the kids pick our dinner and they chose our favorite bar on the island. What? Your 8 year old and 10 year old don't have a favorite bar???

And I'm glad they picked because Alix and I both enjoyed their special for summer.

There was 3 different kinds of SUPER FRESH sashimi, a kebab with beef and chicken, a pickle plate and rice with anoga (Conger eel) and broth. So amazing.

I also ordered us a sake flight.

Which reaffirmed that I don't like sake.
So I had beer.

The kiss each got a special Miyajima made ginger ale.

And we shared a Miyajima pudding which was custard with Blueberry preserves.

It's a traditional Japanese bar, but we were treated very nicely by the whitest of white guy servers. It was pretty entertaining.

It poured after dinner, so we dashed back to the inn and dropped the children off and picked up umbrellas and headed out to low tide.

On our way back we kissed deer.

And visited the hole of doom.

And saw the largest rice paddle by night.

After a lovey night, we came downstairs and enjoyed breakfast.

Then we came home and met Nathaniel at the train station for lunch and shopping. Tonight we'll eat more. I promise.

SEESTER TIME 

Basically, the kids and I are in heaven because my sister is here.   It's hard to sit down and write a blog that describes how much it means to me to have my sister here.   My mom used to say to us when we were trying to kill each other "she's the ONLY sister you're going to have"  and I'm so lucky she's the only one!!!

Yesterday we started off the day with conveyor belt sushi.  Alix got to experience the magic is our old ass navigation in our car not knowing how to get where I needed to go and then google maps being all "uh.  I dunno.  You're in Japan dude"


After lunch Rosie, Alix and I headed to Arimatsu to do shirbori hankerchiefs.   It was a blast.  Alix was super fast at it.  Rosie was slow but got part of it done on her own, and then the old lady who was helping fell in love with her and helped her out. 

Yes, Rosie wore giraffe ears and horns all day.  

After shirbori, we drove through a typhoon and met Isaac at the Aeon.   He got himself all the way from the house, to the train station, 3 stops down and to the mall!!!!   Go Isaac!!!!   I'm so proud of him.  
We had a snack and shopped. 

Some of us were more worn out than others. 

We left the children at home and Alix and I headed out the rain for girls' night out. 

To yamachan!

And then karaoke. 

This morning Tantil, Rosie and I headed to a friend's house to make hair accessories.   Alix was again super fast and super good, but the surprise was how amazing Rosie did on her own for the most part!!!

The finished product. 

Again, some of us are more worn out than others. 

Today's afternoon was a visit to Otsukaya which is 5 floors of fabric and craft items!  Thanks Danielle for the recommendation!

Tanti was in heaven.  
Then we visited Osu Kannon for some kimono shopping.  But we got really hit.  Real feel today was 112.  So we had ice cream on the train like true gaijin. 

We opted for pizza and Moana tonight.  And snuggles.  


So that's what is happening over here.  Basically everyone is Super happy to have Alix here.  Nathaniel is happy too but he is at work.  :(

Tanti is HERE!!!!

FINALLY!!!!

 

 

After a flight delay, and lots and lots of waiting, my fabulous older sister is FIANLLY here!!

 

 

 

 

I picked her up yesterday afternoon and we were home around 5! We had Cup of Noodles and Grocery Store Sushi for dinner and spent the evening catching up and laughing! It was great!

 

We have lots more planned for the next week or so, so stay tuned!  I cannot tell you how happy having guests makes me! Especially my sister!

Yesterday

Was tough you guys.  The hardest thing about being in Japan is NOT being there for people when they need you in the states.

 

I woke to the news yesterday that my dear kitty, Emily, the first pet I ever had on my own, had to be put to sleep. She was 14 and led a great life (most of it at my parents’ place after Nathaniel and I married) and she let go before she was in much pain. It was the right thing to do for Emily, but it. . . SUCKS that I’m here and the last time I saw her was months ago.  It sucks that I can’t be with my parents while they process this too.

 

Yesterday morning I also heard that a friend in the states was given some pretty bad news.  It sucks that I can’t give her a hug.  It sucks that I can’t offer my shoulder to lean on, or a cup of coffee to catch her tears.  IT SUCKS TO BE FAR AWAY.

 

But, I know. Such is life. It’s just how things are.  And I have to suck it up for my sake, and for the sake of my friends and family.  So onward we went.

 

We headed to iHana cafe which offers amazing French Toast.

 

 

 

And a small coffee.

 

 

 

After a nap, we played Yahtzee as a family which was definitely a good pick-me-up for me.  And then we headed out to Oktoberfest.

 

Yes, I said Oktoberfest.

 

 

It was a blast. We drank (lots) of beer and hung out with our friends.

 

 

 

After we went back to our friends’ home and played a game until the wee hours of the night.

 

Which we paid for dearly this morning because some small little girl was not in the best mood.

 

Nathaniel and the kids headed out to a pretty fun looking festival explained here:

http://kikuko-nagoya.com/html/tai-matsuri.html

 

 

And here are their photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I, on the other hand, stayed home and cleaned in preparation for my sister who arrives in 19 hours!!!!!!!!!

 

 

(see why I needed a little time to catch up?)

 

Luckily we stocked the fridge yesterday.

 

 

 

Then I went and got a pedicure.  It was. . .different.  Sort of silly, but the end result was great!

 

 

 

So that’s where we are. I’m working really hard on just breathing through my feelings.  I know I’m going to SOB when my sister gets here. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing her (or my parents) ever.  So tomorrow will be a great day! See you then!

Not a Whole Lot

Happening here folks.  It’s so humid out, it’s like walking through a sauna all the time.   It’s hard to convince ourselves to do much of anything.  

Tuesday we had a toddler friend over for dinner which was a blast!!

Wednesday we had lunch at our favorite Chinese place. 

Then the kiddos went to a friends house while I ran errands. 

Yesterday I went to Costco. 

And today I scrubbed the house and did 4 loads of laundry (which is basically 14 hours of laundry!) in preparation for my sister to get here on Monday!!

We did manage to escape for a little bit to try out an adorable diner.  

It was tasty and a nice escape from all the kabi killer (mildew cleaner) I had going on in the house.   Because it’s so humid and there is no relief from it at night or from AC in a lot of the house, you have to take a lot of precautions to keep mildew from growing.  Turns out I’m getting pretty good at it because when I pulled the icky panel out of the tub to rinse it and soak it, it want all that icky!  Go me!  But once a month (at a minimum) I have to put little tablets down all the drains and toilets in the house to keep the mildew at bay.  That’s in addition to regular scrubbing with vinegar and once a month with chemicals.  Who knew mildew prevention was a full time job?

The humidity is stifling guys.   Cleaning the non air conditioned parts of our house makes it hard to breathe because it’s just so wet.  My lungs are all “hey lady! You’re underwater!”   Apparently it has something to do with our dew point being higher here than it is in Michigan.  Here is a Wikipedia article that explains it.  Halfway down the article you’ll see a chart that describes dew point versus comfort level. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dew_point#

Our dew point is currently 75 degrees Fahrenheit which the table tells me is “extremely uncomfortable/fairly oppressive”.   So yeah, that’s a thing.    But we’re making it through. 

How are things in your part of the work????

Multi-Cultural LIving

Molly from The Little Seedling asks:

 

What is one cultural thing that you have experienced in Japan that you wish you could magically make happen in the USA?

Kindness. With little exception, people in Japan are so friendly.  I’ve had people who I don’t know help me with directions, translate at the doctor for me when Isaac was sick, help at the vet with Baxter’s records, translate menus for me and even buy Nathaniel and I dinner.

 

The kindness here comes across in so many ways. People here take great pride in what they do, so you very, very rarely get poor customer service. My most favorite example is that there can be a line of 50 people at Starbucks and it is TAKING FOREVER, but when you get to the counter you realize that is takes so long because each person receives the same, amazing customer service as if they were the ONLY person in that line.  Now in Starbucks in the States, I have received GREAT customer service too, however if there is a line behind me, they cut the “chit chat” and are pleasant but quick. Not here in Japan.

We always have amazing food because people take care to make the best food they possibly can.  Even at Mos Burger which is a fast food joint, you get great food and great service.  It’s pretty remarkable. I don’t think you can possibly understand it until you’ve experienced it because it’s SO unAmerican.

 

 

 

 

And which one would you never like to experience again?

I’m going to say it: Racism.  I thought I had a grasp on my White Privilege until my White Privilege wasn’t there.  I have literally walked into places where they look at me and say “NO!” or “JAPANESE ONLY”.  It’s a horrible feeling and I’ve had it happen maybe 5 times total in my entire life. I cannot imagine living in fear of that or worse every day.  I don’t know how to change it, except to start with me and my children but when I’m back in the states I vow to really work hard to make every person feel loved and appreciated regardless of. . . .anything really.

 

 

Also, squat potties.  I’m just not that coordinated you guys.

 

 

And what is one thing about the USA that you wish you could make happen in Japan?

You know that amazing customer service I just boasted about? I wouldn’t mind a little giddy up in their step sometimes.   I love the care and passion behind each persons work, however sometimes I want a cup of coffee without standing in line for 15 minutes.  I mean, I love that you wrote “Thank you lady!” on my cup, but also. . . could we hurry up? I know, that’s not fair to say that I love it and I hate it, but seriously.   Sometimes you’re in a hurry.

 

Other things I love:

A lot of restaurants give you a basket to put your purse in so it doesn’t sit on the floor.

 

Men carry their own bags here. I don’t have to carry Nathaniel’s crap anymore at all. I’m bringing that back to the states.

 

Bathroom Stalls actually CLOSE instead of having a weird gap where you can make eye contact with the people waiting. Even if you have to squat.

 

My Bathtub.  If I could send that home with me, I would.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Seriously, I can go a week without driving. I love it. I walk to the grocery and take the train or the bus everywhere else.

 

Canned Cocktails. WHAT?  DON’T JUDGE ME.

 

 

There are so many things that are here that are AWESOME and very few things that are bad.  I mean, things are sometimes difficult but I don’t think that’s Japan’s fault! Overall, I’d say we love it here.

Annnnnnnnddddd We’re Back!

Woo!  Sorry to be absent so long. It’s been sort of a crazy week.  Or 3 days, but it feels like a week.  
First of all, on Friday Nathaniel surprised me with a nice, point and shoot camera that is waterproof!  So we practiced with it. 

I even showed the kids what an old fashioned selfie looked like!

Saturday, Nathaniel made all my wishes and dreams come true by taking my darling, dear, adorable children away for the WHOLE DAY.    I  spent the day cleaning the house, ironing the clothes, walking our furry houseguest and watching my tv shows with NO ONE talking to me.  It was GLORIOUS. 

They even brought me back a new towel for the beach and baguettes for dinner!

Sunday was. . . Well.   Sunday was eventful.   We packed Zuki up so he could go home and we got ourselves packed up for a trip to Kyoto.  We were off to the Gino festival which is in the top 3 largest festivals in Japan.   And it did not disappoint.  

Our first stop was a conveyor belt sushi place, which is Rosie’s favorite.   We really know how to put it away. 

After lunch we headed off to find the Airbnb the kids and I were staying it.  That’s where the day took a turn. An illegal turn. As in: Nathaniel made an illegal (albeit confusing) turn and got pulled over.  Luckily they let him off with a warning and instructions to enjoy the festival!!   I asked him if they apologized for pulling him over.  (He said he was pretty sure they didn’t but it was sort of hard to understand!)
Onward to the Airbnb.  Or not.  I had emailed the host on Saturday for check-in instructions and never heard back.  Sunday morning I texted her.  We drove to the area and called her.  No answer.  Finally 39 minutes AFTER we were supposed to have checked in, she messaged me that the room had “become unavailable”.     
Let me be honest.  I get travel anxiety and things like getting pulled over and the getting the wool pulled over your eyes are things that give me even worse anxiety.  By this point, I wanted to just go see the festival at night and go home.  I was OVER IT.   Nathaniel insisted we press on though and paid some crazy amount of money for us to stay at a beautiful home.   We unpacked the car and headed to the floats!

Now for picture overload:



The floats are all handmade without the use of nails or screws.  They use wood and rope to hold everything together. 

This link describes the festival.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gion_Matsuri

Also, remember how I said it was a big festival?   Yeah, we couldn’t walk. 


However, in true Japanese form, it was very well organized.    They had directions marked for walking once they closed the streets and police directing foot traffic. 

We paid to go inside of the floats and it was amazing!!!


The kids spotted a Mexican restaurant  early on in our adventure and insisted we have dinner there.  Mexican food is very uncommon here, so we obliged.  Although it’s not cheap like it is in the states!


That’s a $7 margarita.   Not very big.  But very good. 

Then we bid adieu to Nathaniel and turned in for the night while he headed back to Nagoya. 

  

This morning we packed our bags and then the car and headed down to the parade.  We were on the move by 7:20.  I was pretty proud.  
And now for the Parade!

Check out the shoes they wear while pulling these floats for miles

And of course, an actual video of them pulling the floats!

​ 

After he parade the kids and I headed home to see Mrs. Biscuits who was very glad to see us!

Also I enjoy using my new camera.  Can you tell?

Tomorrow!

I’ll tell you all about it.  Spotty wifi.  
I’ll write something Monday evening Japan time for you. 

Feelings Friday (19)

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but I have a lot of feelings!

 

I LOVE MY CHILDREN. I really do.  They are the reason I get out of bed every morning. They’re amazing.  But heres the thing: This is the first time since Isaac was 6 months old that I’ve been a full-time stay at home parent.  And you guys, IT’S HARD.  My kids are here ALL. THE. TIME.   and it’s totally different.

 

I aim to not let them sit on electronics all day, every day, but that wears me out too! I had gotten really used to having some alone time during the week and I really enjoyed my downtime where *I* sat on electronics for a couple of hours. It’s a big adjustment.

 

Add to that the fact that there are no expats in our neighborhood (Which for the most part I LOVE!) and that most of the expats apparently go back to their passport country for the Summer because it’s hot and humid here and the fact that it’s HOT AND HUMID here and it makes it really hard to entertain the kidlets.  It’s too hot for the kids to be out for long periods during the day and we don’t have a yard. I do send them to the park a couple times a week but they can really only be out for 1/2 an hour or so.  And of course we got FRIED on Wednesday so they can’t really be outside for a while now.

 

The kids have been doing really well at playing board games, writing letters and doing chores and Isaac will read for HOURS on end which is great. However, Rosie isn’t so great at entertaining herself, so she is near me all the time and it’s exhausting. I mean, I love her and she is so smart and so funny and so sweet, but she’s still a kid.  She’s on top of me and she talks and she touches and she just is. . .Rosie.  Rosie and I are very much alike, so we butt heads more than Isaac and I do and sometimes I just need a break.

 

Also, Nathaniel is not home. He’s just not here. I cannot count on him being here at all during the week for help with parenting and that is so different for our family. I’m so used to co-parenting with Nathaniel and him not being here is HARD. I am the sole disciplinarian. I’m the only one who tells the kids to do chores. I’m the only one saying “turn off electronics” . I feed the breakfast, I make them lunch, I cook dinner, I do the dishes, I sweep the floors.

 

IT’S ME. ALL ME. ALL THE TIME.

 

Parents who do this and LOVE this and are awesome at it: My hat is off to you!  This is a tough job.  I know my kids will remember these memories (like karaoke, and getting so sunburned we’re all in pain) and I will cherish the time I spent with them but I also just really want a break.

This Girl is on FIIIRRREEEEEE

The kids and I are super duper sunburned.  I suck at being a parent.  Sometimes I MOM really hard and win, and sometimes I fall short.  Yesterday, I fell short and now we’re all super pink.

 

We did have a really good time, but I didn’t take any pictures because phones and wet don’t mix.

 

 
(These were watermelon flavored popsicles but the “seeds” were chocolate.  It was. . . Odd) 

AND I set up the tent AND took it down.

 

And of course we have a bunch of sand now at our house. YAY!  (That’s sarcasm)

 

 

This morning we went to Starbucks.

 

 

Then lunch at Aloha Table.

 

 

OMG YUM.

Of course klutzy Torey managed to burn my finger on the EXACT spot where I sliced it open a few weeks ago.

Then we hit Karaoke with some friends.

 

 

 

After that, I wanted a nap, but I couldn’t fall asleep.  When I stood up to go back downstairs, I stepped on my FAVORITE GLASSES AND BROKE THEM.  Pretty much over the day.

 

 

Luckily we have a house guest for the weekend who has picked me up!

 

 

However, someone else is super crabby.

We’ve heard lots of feet stamping from thumper.  Don’t worry, pretty soon they’ll be boyfriend and girlfriend.  

Here is a flashback to last night when Baxter demanded I hold a popsicle stick for her.