Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Miyako and her Friend

We had the opportunity to watch a little boy Tuesday night while his parents went to see a movie. The babies are only one day apart and even though I am biased, they have to be two of the cutest little toddlers running around this grand city. I also cleaned my apartment today in ONE hour! There are definite benefits to downsizing to 90 square meters and not having our container full of "stuff" here yet. I dusted our one table, cleaned the bathroom, cleaned the windows, cleaned the kitchen and swept the floors all in one hour. Very very nice! Enjoy the photos of Miyako-chan and Nuno-kun.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spousal Visa

So I had a most interesting phone conversation today with the attorney who is preparing my spousal visa in Japan. I really felt like I was being questioned regarding the legitimacy of our marriage and it was quite interesting. She was very nice and I knew this was just part of the process. However, it did make me wonder how people can fake this kind of stuff to get visas into different countries. Here are some questions she asked -

When did you meet? (She actually wanted the exact date and I did not know it. I know...bad wife. But I did remember the date of our first date.)

How did you meet?

Who introduced you? What is her name, address, birthday, and phone number? Kristin, if you get a phone call from Japan, this is what it is about.

How long did you date? Boy was that a tough one to answer. I had to tell her, "We were on a break" from May of 2003 to May of 2004. Thankfully she did not ask specifics on the sabbatical we took. :)

Who was at your wedding? Seriously, if you were at our wedding you would know there is no way I could have answered that question, considering I think some people came in just for the reception post the UK football game. Thankfully I only had to answer immediate family members who were at the wedding. I did though have to tell her how many people were there and she responded with "wow" when I told her almost 400. Boy that was a fun night! Sigh, memories.

How many times have you been to Japan? Can you give me specific dates? Thank goodness for detailed passport stamps.

What language do you primarily speak in your marriage? HA! Definitely English. Is your husband's English fluent? How do I answer that? Deck the halls with boughs of holly...Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra! (That is for you Knoxville Fam:)

There were more but I will spare you the rest. Oh and for all of you bloggers out there, I just read a friend's blog who said on your 100th post you are supposed to post 100 things about yourself. Rather interesting. I would love to see those of you who have a 100 posts do that and learn more about you. I thought it was fun to read and I had no idea that is what you were encouraged to do by the blog world. Thankfully I have some time before I have to come up with 100 things.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lunch at the Country Western Bar

So another interesting experience here in Tokyo and I left my camera at home. Hopefully my word description will be enough for you to enjoy.

A friend of mine whom I have never met...I know, strange huh? We were connected via email through a mutual friend. Anyways, she lived in Tokyo and has been giving me TONS of insights into life here as a foreigner and fun things to do. She had told me about a Country Western Bar as a landmark in helping me get somewhere awhile back. I saw it only because there was a confederate flag hanging from the building, which is definitely not something you see every day in Tokyo. Because space is limited here in Tokyo you have to look for things vertically. This bar is on the second floor of a building, but the confederate flag hangs on the street level and is easily visible. I told Kan about it and he said at some point we need to check it out.

Well, his boss came to town this week and offered to take Miyako and I to lunch with them. Kan had told him about the country western bar and he wanted to try it. We did not even know if it would be open at lunch but we went to try it. Kan was hoping to get some fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. I was hoping for a big ole American cheeseburger that did not come from McD's. It was open for lunch and it was very tiny! We walked in and Kan read the menu outside the front door in burgers or fried chicken for us. It was a mix of Thai curry options or Japanese noodle options. Oh well. It was good and we listened to some Willy Nelson so all in all a good lunch.

If we ever do get back there to check out a band I will definitely take my camera and post pics. Now it is off to watch the second half of that KY game! I already checked out the score because I did not want to watch it if they lost. WOO HOO! Onto the Elite 8! And to top off the day, the sun is trying to peek out of the clouds here in Tokyo!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Disappointing News

Today my husband gave me some disappointing news. Our shipment has been delayed a week. It was supposed to arrive in Tokyo Bay March 30th and we would get it a few days later. Now it is not expected to arrive until April 5th. I do not know the Captain of the boat, but he sure better hurry it up. Saying that I was disappointed is quite an understatement. It did not help that the news came on the second day of cold, wet nasty weather here in Tokyo. You would not even know Mt. Fuji existed based on the thick clouds I look out upon from my balcony. How does a woman help these woes...I went to the international grocery store next door and bought some fabulous cookies that are like oreos only bigger, in the shape of a leaf, and have the double-stuffed size filling. Then I put Priss-Pooh down for a nap, made some tea with milk and sugar (something my Irish friend here introduced me to) and enjoyed a yummy treat on this cold dreary day. I do feel a bit better, but am really tired of wearing the same pair of jeans and five shirts I packed for our "one month" waiting period for our shipment. Once my clothes get here I may throw these jeans away.

I have learned a few things in this time of "waiting." I have learned that you really do not "need" a whole lot to survive. Miyako has been playing with the same ten little toys we brought on the plane with us and is doing just fine. In fact, her favorite toy is walking around our bed frame or hiding in the cabinets that are just her size. She also enjoys riding her box of wipes around the hard wood floor like you would ride a horse. And, although we do not have a ton of furniture, we have the basics. We eat at a table, we sit on one couch, and we have a mat for a bed that does just fine. God has shown me that I want all of these comforts and a "home" to be complete and secure here, when in reality He has made me secure and complete in His love. I have also learned that not having a lot to entertain yourself with forces you to talk with one another and be creative and find things to do. There is TONS to do in this very large city and I am enjoying the adventure of seeing what all there is to offer. The world is a very big place, much larger than you can think or imagine, and I am grateful for the opportunity to see a new piece of this world God has created. It is not always easy living in a foreign country, but God truly has blessed me and I am enjoying this ride He has me on.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Our internet came back on just in time for me to see those CATS slaughter Wake Forest. Funny thing though...setting up internet in Tokyo is not like setting it up in the US. In the US, you basically call the internet guy and say, "I need internet." They come to your house and set up internet. Saturday morning our "internet guy" came and set up our line. When my husband asked him to then connect the line to the internet we were told you had to have someone else do that. So, my smart husband asked for suggestions and he gave us two business cards, both of whom were for people who worked for his "sister" company. So, my husband asked, "well, can you just do it since you all work for the same company?" "Sorry," the man replied, "I am just the line guy. You have to contact these people for the provider service." Really?? I thought my husband was going to scream! Even though he is Japanese, he has not lived here in awhile so the little things like this that make things so hard can be a bit frustrating.

Today is a National Holiday. Rather than let people have vacation days and choose when they want off, Japan has holidays practically each month. I guess with the whole group society idea, they want their workers taking off at the same time. We do get some vacation time, but it is not like the US. Today's national holiday was established in 1948 as a day for the admiration of nature and the love of living things. Prior to 1948, the holiday was an imperial ancestor worship festival called Shunki kōrei-sai. We went to Yoyogi Park with some folks from church and had a picnic. It was a nice day outside...sunny, but a bit cool. Miyako enjoyed the open space and being able to run around.

I am glad to be back online. It is good to feel "connected" to people back home again. And yes, it was nice to watch the CATS game live yesterday morning. I am posting some pictures so I hope you enjoy. They are from our adventures at the park today, Miyako's favorite hiding place in our new apartment, Miyako showing off in sunglasses, and our view of Mt. Fuji this morning from our balcony.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

No Internet/Phone

Well, I wanted to let my faithful blog readers know we will be MIA from Tuesday to Saturday. We are moving on Tuesday but our internet and phone will not be up and running until Saturday. So we are taking a little internet rest. I must say it will be a bit refreshing for my weary soul. Both hubby and I were a bit weary on Sunday, both waking up this morning a bit dizzy from just non-stop running and eating random meals as we try to run from store to store to find things. Without having a car we are dependent to go shopping when friends offer to take us, so that is mainly on the weekends. After full work weeks, the last thing we want to do is shop on the weekends, but it is also the only time we have to do so. I think the forced internet fast is what the doctor upstairs ordered. It will force us to go to bed earlier, not work once hubby comes home, and it will force me to not watch silly DVRed shows during Miyako's nap. Instead I will be able to clean up a little bit and try to organize the chaos of our new apartment. However, I do not think UK basketball games or American Idol are "silly" per se, but they do keep me up a bit late at night. :)

We went to the Japanese version of Wal-mart on Sunday. It was crazy packed but we did get some cleaning supplies, paper supplies, and other goodies like clothing racks to hang out clothes at a discount price. We also bought a fridge, rice cooker, and water kettle at a recycle shop on Sunday. Our fridge is fairly large so I was happy about that. It is also silver which I love. Our apartment now has a dining room table with four chairs, a crib, and a couch thanks to my husband's hard work Saturday putting furniture together. Hopefully come April we will add a few more furniture items as well. But for now, this will do. No pictures of the apartment yet - it is a bit chaotic with empty furniture boxes everywhere and suitcases randomly thrown in one corner or the other. You will just have to enjoy the suspense and wait to see the three pieces of furniture we have added to our Tokyo collection.

I am super thankful for our friends who live near by. They offered to bring us a meal Tuesday night on our first night there. So thoughtful and so encouraging for us. And I must give out a big GO CATS! What a win over Miss. St. this past Sunday. However, I think they did get the snub in the NCAA tournament. With being the second best team in the country they sure did get a tough draw compared to other number one seeds. However, I know the NCAA does not pay me the big bucks to sit on the Selection Committee so the CATS will just have to prove how good they are by winning. My stomach turns just thinking about it. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Our First Play Group

So, a new friend I met invited me to join a play group she attends every Friday. They have been meeting for awhile now, ever since their little ones were itty bitty babies. In the winter months they rotate apartments and in the summer months they rotate parks. I gladly accepted the invitation and Miyako and I set off to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. First, I will comment on the play group - we had such a nice time. Well, I know I had a nice time. All of the children were within a couple months of each other in age. And what an eclectic group of children - we had a full Japanese child, an American-Japanese child, an Irish-Australian child, an American-Samoan child, and a British-Singaporean child. The children loved playing, maybe not so much together, but running around the green space. We all brought picnic lunches and sat around on blankets. It really was such a wonderful time for me socially to be with other moms and meet new friends. I was so grateful to be invited. So often as the newby in town, you do not want to invite yourself or call someone too much out of fear of being "annoying" to the other person. My friend who invited me has been in Japan for two years so she definitely has her life settled here and friends. As the new person, I do not want to impose. At the same time, I know you cannot be shy because the way to survive in a foreign country is to make friends, find a community, find your nitch. And these new friends encouraged me to not be shy because they all understand, they have all been new before and know how hard it is; because of their experiences they do not shun others but are rather very welcoming.

Now, let me say a few things about this park. We were there for about 2 hours and not one time did I hear a horn honk! It was amazing to have such solitude in such a densely populated city. This is a place I will definitely take visitors as you really would not believe it until you experience it that such a quiet and peaceful place exists in the largest city in the world. The park was completed in 1906 as an imperial garden. It has an English Landscape Garden, a French Formal Garden, and a Japanese Traditional Garden. The ladies mentioned how much they enjoy coming here in the spring time when the cherry blossoms are blooming as it is quite beautiful. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can show you pictures of that. I hear it is a wonderful site. It was also fun to see the Japanese school children in their cute uniforms enjoying some time at the park during school. Enjoy the pictures and before I forget...GO CATS!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Foundation

Well, we are building a house in Tokyo and here is the empty apartment. Little by little I will update the blog with more photos as we add furniture and "stuff" to make it "home." My goal is to have it a home by June. As you can see we are pretty high up in the sky. We are on the 48th floor and truly do have a tremendous view of the city. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Parking Garage and Ikea Adventure

So, this post would be so much better if my camera had been handy on Sunday afternoon, but I will do my best to describe the most amazing parking garage I have ever seen.

Sunday afternoon we met some friends at our new apartment. They were passing a washer and desk onto us. After wards another friend volunteered to take us to Ikea. We went to find his car in the parking garage of the mall next door to our building. We walked inside a waiting area that was divided into four sections. The sections were numbered and color coordinated. We sat down in our designated section and low and behold the car came to us across some moving belts. The door opened and we got in the car. We did not have to run around the parking garage looking for our car (does this remind anyone of the Seinfield episode where the entire episode was about all of them wandering around the parking garage?). We also did not have to get outside in the cold to get to our car. It really was quite amazing. I wish I had my camera to take a picture of the car coming. Honestly, even if I had my camera with me, I would not have known to take the picture. I had no idea what we were waiting on until the car magically appeared.

Kan's co-worker graciously offered to take us to Ikea. This was a very generous offer as it seemed all of Tokyo was at Ikea this day. Supposedly the worst time to go to Ikea is on the weekend afternoons! Well, I now agree. It was a zoo. We bought a couch, a crib for Miyako and a dining room table. By the time we shopped, decided (which for Kan and I to agree can take some time), found our furniture, paid, and arranged for delivery, we were there for almost four hours. Insane! My next adventure to Ikea will be more planned. I told Kan we will just look online, decide what we want, and go find it as soon as we get there. His friend also took us to a store like Target at home. We bought curtains and I found the comforter I would like to get for our bed. Overall, a good day. Thankful to be in a car since it was raining and cold yesterday.

How about those Lady Cats almost beating the Lady Vols? I am so proud of them for making it to the finals of the SEC! And, the Wild Cats doing a little Gator chomp on those Gators! WOO HOO! Even from afar, I am excited for March Madness. I am thinking of letting some of our friends randomly fill out brackets and see how well they do without knowing anything. :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Girls Day in Japan

It seems like every month there is a holiday in Japan. This past Wednesday, March 3rd, was Girls Day. Tradition has it that if you have a little girl in the home, you celebrate this day to ensure her future happiness by placing a set of dolls in the best room of the house. These dolls can cost up to $300 and often times are passed down from generation to generation. The ceremonial dolls are replicas of an ancient emperor and empress. The family displays the dolls in the best room of the house for a few days, and after the festival is over the dolls are put away until next year. Peach blossoms are used to decorate around the dolls because they represent a happy marriage and femininity. One set of dolls includes about 15 dolls and household items. Often times a party or cake is held in honor of the little girls in the home. I also read that if you leave the dolls up too long after Girls Day is over, then you will curse your little girl and she may not get married. Girls Day is an opportunity to celebrate your little girl, love her, and show her the joy and pride you have in her. We did not buy a set of $300 dolls! However, I did buy a small piece of the fruit cake for Miyako and I to share after dinner on March 3rd! If you would like to read more about Girl's Day or see pictures of some ornate dolls, check out the following website.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Finally some pictures

I hope you enjoy the pictures I finally posted from Bali and our first few weeks in Japan. There are a lot more pictures on my facebook page if you want to check out more. The only word to describe Bali is beautiful, as you will see from the photos. And, enjoy the picture of the monkey we fed when we went to an ancient Hindu temple. As for our first month in Japan, you can see the different parks we have found and yes, we have a lot of fun at the parks. You will also find Miyako getting into the toilet paper and smiling for the camera after breakfast one morning. Also, I hope you like the new background of the blog. My friend pointed me to for free backgrounds and I chose this one for the name. It is called "Anthropology" which is one of my favorite stores in the US. If I could afford to buy all my clothes from there, I would. Well, it is late and my bed and book are calling my name. Good night.