The Freyder Five

Life is an Adventure
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Highlights In Japan

Leaving Our Comfort Zone

Re-Entry & Fun Photos

We’re back at home in California.  We were away in Osaka, Japan for two years, nearly to the day.  Is re-entry hard?  Yeah.  It is.  The kids miss their friends in Japan.  John is feeling some pressure to find a new job.  I am trying to unpack everything that was in storage and figure out where it all goes.  Even the cats are skittish.  We sold a bunch of our furniture so at the moment there’s only one La-Z-Boy recliner that we are all fighting over, and usually the cat is already curled up there. John is mad at rude drivers in California.  Driving here means you’ll be run over or run off the road if you don’t keep up…

Sayonara Japan!

The Crazy Last Day I woke up at 6am on Wednesday, August 1.  Today is departure day.  First thing is to feed the cats and hope they use the kitty litter box before we leave the house.  They get to fly in the cabin with us again so puh-leeeze kitties, no mess on the airplane!   Other last things on today’s to do list: Osaka Gas will come to shut off the gas and give us our final bill – between 9-10 am.  It’s a relief to close our account before we leave.   Our friend Chiharu will come at 9:15 am to pick up Halyard’s twin mattress so that it can be thrown away at her house – she has “big…

The Last Days

Aahhh Japan, we had so much fun.  It’s sad to leave.  My kids want to stay another year.  Avalon loves the school friends she made here.  Kaiyo loves having only 27 kids in his entire grade.  Halyard loves the freedom and independence that Japan’s safe living affords us.  And I love the ability to live without a car and instead walk, bike, bus and train everywhere.  It means the kids don’t rely on us to drive them somewhere and they don’t have to accommodate to my schedule.  I started teaching more English in the last year and I probably could have built that up more if we stayed. But here’s the thing.  I learned that the California public university system…

Okinawa Weekend

It’s the last few weeks left now.  We have one last free weekend that I’ve set aside.  Where can we go at the 11th hour on a “budget” budget? Peach Air is one of Japan’s discount airlines.  It’s like Southwest Airlines in the US.  I found flights for under $100 each way for each of us to fly to Okinawa.  Not too bad?  I booked our tickets for a Friday to Monday trip.  As I scoured the internet for a place to stay, I stumbled upon a newly built place that had not even had its grand opening yet.  It was advertising special, pre-opening rates and it came with the disclaimer that the landscaping and lobby were still under construction.  But…

The Last Weeks

We are scheduled to say farewell to Japan on August 1st.  During our very last weeks, I went to Tokyo for a weekend, we spent our last national holiday taking a day trip to a pottery town, we had good-bye dinners with friends, and we went to Okinawa for a long weekend.  In between all of that we listed our things on Craigslist, the Sayonara Sale website, and “Mottainai” Facebook page, and got our friends to help us take unwanted items to the recycle center and resale shops.  I went to Tokyo for my girls’ overnight trip from Saturday to Sunday, July 14-15.  My friend Satoko was going to take the midnight bus home (leave Tokyo at midnight, arrive Osaka at…

The Last Month

Our last month in Japan we really packed it in.  As soon as Osaka International School ended on Friday, June 29, Avalon went to our local public Japanese school for a couple of weeks.  I was so proud of her for trying it out.  Sometimes a public school will let international students join their classes if they are still in session.  I’ve heard of several families in the US that send their kids to Japan for a month of public Japanese school before the local kids start their summer break.  These are mostly Americans with a Japanese parent, but once we met some kids from Newport Coast that had no blood ties to Japan but still they wanted to enroll…

Mou-ichido Hokkaido

Omikuji!  Omikuji are fortune-telling strips of paper that can be found at temples and shrines throughout Japan.  Most of the time they’re only in Japanese so we just walk past them.  But when I was at Hokkaido Shrine last spring, my cousin said they have them in English and we should both get one.  In this photo I’ve paid my 100 yen “donation” and I’m picking out a fortune from the box.  The fortunes range from great blessing/luck to great curse.  Here’s what the website www.japan-talk.com says about omikuji: “The omikuji will go on to break down your fortune in health, love, marriage, business, childbirth, disputes, studies, travel, finding lost articles and achieving your desires.  These will generally follow the…

Suntory Yamazaki Distillery

I’m not a big whiskey fan.  But maybe that’s because I haven’t had a lot of experience with it.  But Japan is famous for its whiskey.  According to its own propaganda, it is one of five major producers of fine whiskey in the world.  The five are Scotland, Ireland, America, Canada and Japan. The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery is located in Shimamoto, in North Osaka, Japan.  It’s just north of Takatsuki, only a few stops further on the JR line.  Since they produce nice whiskey and I know nothing about it, I thought it would be fun to check it out.  And anyway, John enjoys whiskey.  I think his Irish/Polish grandmother used to give it to him when he was sick….

Tianmen Shan ZJJ

Our last day in Zhangjiajie (which I will now call ZJJ) is Monday, April 2.  Our flight out isn’t leaving until the evening so we have some time for one last adventure in China.  We decided to see Tianmen Shan.  It means Heaven’s Gate (Tianmen) Mountain (Shan).  Our hosts at the guesthouse encouraged us to go see it so we packed up our things and prepared to walk down their 500 steps for the last time.  They gave us a ride to the town of ZJJ after one last breakfast at their house. The summit of Tianmenshan is connected to the town of ZJJ below by a super-duper, incredibly long cable car.  There’s a luggage storage area at the cable…

Avatar Mountain & Walking on Glass

Saturday, March 31.  After our wonderful host from the guesthouse saved us by loaning me several hundred USD worth of Chinese Renminbi, we were able to enter Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.  It’s a massive park with some pretty cool natural wonders.  As far as natural landscape goes, China is an incredible place.  So if you go there be sure to get out of the cities.  Here is the underside of a beautiful natural bridge.We had a colorful map with little cartoon pictures all over it and details regarding every cable car, bus route, bathroom location and walking path.  We hiked around, rode a cable car up to Yuanjiajie, walked to see Avatar Mountain, and generally just covered a lot of ground…