Acclimating

OC Connections & Japan Family Ties

TRICK-OR-TREAT.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN.  MISSING EVERYONE BACK HOME! Happy Halloween Eve!  It’s Sunday night, October 30 in Japan.  My kids are sincerely missing their American candy.  In fact, when asked by grandma what he wanted for his birthday, Halyard told her he wanted American candy.  Skittles and Mike-and-Ikes and Sweedish Fish… anything chewy that sticks in your teeth. The things at the forefront of my mind, and because it’s Halloween season I’m going to label them SPOOKY, are the constant Orange County references that I keep running into here in Japan.  I’m not talking about broad reminders, like someone knows someone whose cousin lives in Yorba Linda.  I’m talking about direct associations that have real relevance to me. This post is…

Dumb Dental Disaster

Ugh.  I had a dental accident today, Tuesday, October 18.  I was walking upstairs swinging a little, white, empty, hard, plastic laundry basket and suddenly I tripped on one of the stairs.  I fell forward and the laundry basket flew upward forcefully (Issac Newton’s third law of motion?  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction?  That basket hit me hard.) and it hit me square in the front tooth.  Maybe I was huffing and puffing from the steep stairs, making me breathe with my mouth open.  Anyway, the laundry basket hit my mouth at just the right angle and it broke my tooth.  A whole corner of my front tooth just cracked right off.  I couldn’t see…

Shoe Rules

In Japan, when you arrive at just about any house, apartment, some businesses, some schools, some restaurants and on and on… you will step into an area called the genkan.  The genkan is the entryway of a structure where you will take off your shoes and leave them before moving further into the house, building or wherever it is that you have arrived.  When it is required, taking your shoes off in the genkan is a pretty strict rule. Here is an explanation of genkan from Wikipedia: –The primary function of genkan is for the removal of shoes before entering the main part of the house or building. Genkan are often recessed into the floor, to contain any dirt that…

Suikyu (Water Polo)

Well we found it.  This past weekend, Saturday, October 8, Avalon and Halyard went to their second weekend of water polo practice.  A lot of advance and follow up work got us to the point of locating the Toyonaka Water Polo Club.  Water polo is called Suikyu (Sue-ee-que) in Japan. As with many challenges here, there were several people who were involved in this success.  Our friend Art is the one who first found the website back when we were still in the States.  But we couldn’t read it until our friend Hiroko, here in Japan, helped to translate the website and also contacted the coaches on our behalf.  The club arranged for an English speaking parent to come meet…

Appliances That Talk

Tuesday, October 4 My cousin wrote recently to say that she’s really enjoying the blog.  She and her family live on the US east coast and we don’t get to see them that often.  One of the best things about writing this blog for us is getting fun comments.  To everyone who has commented on our posts:  Thank you!  It is so fun for us to hear from you.  Please keep it up.  And if you haven’t commented, but have thought about it, please do!  Let us know that you are reading.  Thank you Val and Alisa for being our most prolific commentators.  We love to hear from you!  Also, thank you to Michael, Mayumi and Tipton who re-posted our…

Typhoon Malakas

8:30am There’s a typhoon arriving.  We received notice at 6:30am that school has been cancelled for today, Tuesday, September 20.  This is our first weather-related school closure ever.  While that’s very exciting I also wonder how bad the wind and rain is going to get.  The hourly weather report says that right now is the calm before the storm.  It is 8:30am and it’s already raining fairly hard by our California standards.  The real wind tunnel and downpour is forecast to start around noon. It’s a good thing I biked to the store last night (in light rain) and made 2 pots of beef and veggie curry.  We can have leftovers today.  I also have a big box of Swiss…

Catching up

This is the past week in review.  Just a snapshot of the kids’ second week of school and our 4th week here. On Monday, September 5th, we took Avalon back to the Gymnastics Club Minoo to try the intermediate class.  Much more Avalon’s speed, but a bit challenging and she complained about how long it was and it made her arms sore she said.  Biked home in the dark.  Late dinner. On Tuesday, September 6th, John and I had our first Japanese language class – reading and writing – at the community center called MAFGA.  We jumped right into it!  Learned a few kanji (Chinese characters) and the hiragana and katakana alphabet. Avalon went to a new friend’s birthday party…

The Game of LIFE

I’ve been looking forward to Friday, September 9 all week.  Today I have a Face Time call with my homies/besties/peeps in Newport Beach.  It will be 8pm Thursday night in California and 12 noon Friday afternoon in Japan.  They’re getting together for dinner for our annual back to school celebration (kid free days again) and commiseration (they’re growing too fast) combo.  It was great to chat and catch up in person.  I’m so glad they included me via 21st century technology.  Sandi had gone to Tokyo Central on Harbor Blvd. and bought all sorts of Japanese foods.  I think she needed some guidance since she didn’t buy the most gaijin friendly foods.  She had a lotus root, daikon, manju and…

Talking Trash

Let’s talk trash.  It’s Thursday, September 8 and I’ve been working on this post for a few days. It is possible that there is nothing more confusing or frustrating about Japan than the Japanese trash collection system.  From day 1, it’s just over my head.  I’m sure I’m super confused right now because we just arrived but I know I’m not the only one.  Both Japanese natives and foreigners have expressed confusion to me about this crazy trash scheme.  Andrew went over the trash with me several times when we arrived but I still get lost.  He said he doesn’t even deal with the trash, he gives his wife that dirty job. It is even hard to know where to begin. …

Scenes From Our Surroundings

Wednesday, September 7 Here are a few interesting comments about our blog: From my 100-year old Grandma:   RE: the Minoh waterfall post:  Taki-michi means waterfall road. — Winnowing rice is shaking rice to separate from straw. — Momoji means red leaf. — Hyaku-en is 100 yen. My friend Sandi says she is impressed by my new commitment to Costco. But here is a seriously impressive commitment to Costco… I met a mom today named Julie whose son is a high school senior at OIS.  She and her husband do not have a car.  They bike everywhere.  They say biking is cheaper than riding the train (and it is, but oh so much more work).  She and her husband ride their…