Friday, June 14, 2013

Saying Goodbye...

It is incredibly sad for me to say, our family's time in Japan has come to an end.  It was a delightful stay, but military orders can change on a moment's notice.  Luckily we knew a few months in advance, but definitely not soon enough to finish seeing everything we wanted to see.  We will treasure the time we spent here and friends we made.

I keep getting asked what I'll miss most.  Honestly, I miss the friends I made!  But we're already sending out postcards, and here's what I really miss about Japan...

#1 SAFETY!  We have never had anything stolen or had a single concern for our safety from the Japanese.  (Foreigners excluded).

#2.  Ziplines, roller-slides and other awesomely creative (and slightly dangerous) parks for kids...

#3.  Treats.  Yes, there are some delicious things you just can't find in the US.  My favorite was the custards with fruit, then their wonderful pastries.

#4. Unique architecture, primarily tori gates, beautiful bridges, and Asian rooftops.

#5. Variety of seafood options.  (This would likely be #1 on the kids' lists, but I'm still not as giddy about squid and octopus as they are.)

#6.  Uncrowded beaches.  This could be arguable because some beaches do get fairly crowded in the summer... though usually only one day a week because kids are in school 6 days/week most of the year, and many adults work 6 days/week.  Still nothing like a popular American beach.

#7.  Bamboo.  The bamboo forests here have become so comforting.  With their rapidly growing stalks they are so environmentally friendly.  Plus its always so fun to walk through and play in.  We hope to someday plant some of our own.
Note: the kids are wearing Chinese costumes, not Japanese, but in Japan

#8.  Lotus fields...

#9.  Japanese races, particularly the warm-ups...

#10. This may sound silly, but segregated garbage pick-up!  In Japan garbage is separated into combustables and non-combustables including separated cans, bottles, and plastics.  I am a big fan of recycling, and get quite irritated when people throw everything in one can.  The brave Japanese garbage workers sort the mistakes as they're taking the garbage away.  If it isn't sorted at all, they just won't pick up the trash!

I will admit it is nice being able to find whatever we need in a grocery store, but I already miss Japan!  Hopefully we will be able to come back some day and finish the things we really wanted to do like climb Mt.Fuji.  Perhaps when our children are old enough to enjoy it too.

Thank you for reading!  I will keep this post up as long as there are page-views.  Sayonara!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Onsen is the Japanese term for hot spring.  Though it also includes man-made hot tub like facilities that people soak in without clothing.  Public onsens are located all over Japan, and generally easy to find and low cost.  For most Westerners, visiting an onsen is a bit of an awkward experience as we're not usually used to completely exposing ourselves in public.  Clothing is not optional, it is not allowed.  My very last night in Japan, a few of my friends asked if I'd like to join them at an onsen before leaving.  I decided I must!  We chose the most familiar onsen nearby, the Kintaikyo Onsen at Iwakuni Kokusai Kanko Hotel.  Definitely a great experience with good friends...

I say if you've got the chance, don't worry what you look like, go experience this different cultural opportunity.