As a multicultural family, there are all sorts of cultural habits and holidays to adjust to create our own family culture.
My husband Masashi is native Japanese and also lived in Uganda, while I am from America. Our family is a unique blending of cultures and languages. His mother cannot speak English. My parents cannot speak Japanese (though my mom is learning it).. and at our home in rural Japan, we often speak a mix of Japanese, English, and “Japanglish“.
Beyond the background of where we grew up, we have multiple other differences, such as related to our educational upbringings.. and we’ve spent time living in both the Kanto and Kansai regions of Japan (which are different culturally, even within the relatively compact island country).
Some of my family members were also more recent emigrants from Europe (not hundreds of years ago as is the case with many American-European “mutts”, but within the last century), and bilingual. This means my family heritage is not fully diluted.
And it creates a lot of questions.. (more…)
(Pictured: a Mr. Lincoln rose in our garden)
I grew up surrounded by roses, and when my husband and I moved to the country, I knew that I wanted to grow them. Roses are my favorite flower because of their beauty, scent, and symbolism.
I love watching roses bloom, and appreciate that they are a very hardy plant. Even in Japan’s climate of sometimes extreme weather, our roses have continued to be healthy and bloom continuously throughout the months.
Yet, it seems wasteful that occasionally the heavy rain causes blooms to wilt. After this happened a few times, I began to think about ways that I could make the most of these favored flowers, even if preserving them indefinitely is impossible.
Living in a different country from the one where I was born means I cannot visit my family or old friends as frequently as I would like. So, I truly appreciate the ability to stay connected using the internet.. can you imagine waiting for handwritten letters to arrive by ship overseas, like in centuries past?
Having the ability to keep updated with family and friends is a blessing.
On the other hand, the internet has a dark side that I’m sure I don’t need to explain. Even within the nearly 10 years that I have used social media, its usage has evolved. Social media, instant messaging, e-mail, and the internet in general has changed the way that we communicate. (more…)
During the summer, our house is surrounded by frogs of all shapes and sizes.
There is the lone, fat frog dubbed the “guard frog”, who hides in leaves by day, and chills alone in the pond by night.. and there are dark green, neon lime, brown, and other small frogs that rest on the top of rose blooms, or climb up to greet me at the second-story windows.
Once I switched the window screen in our bedroom from one side to the other, only to find that I had accidentally let a frog indoors! (more…)
It is nearly time for the Obon festival (お盆), or Festival of the Dead. Obon is a holiday season in Japan that began as a Buddhist tradition of honoring one’s family ancestors.
My husband and I do not practice Buddhist customs or believe in the spiritualism of Obon. However, the festival is a time of reunion, as it is one of the few times a year when family can take off time from work. This year, our aunt, uncle, and sister on Masashi’s side will travel to visit. (more…)
We are ever-so-slowly learning how to garden, and began our first garden this summer. I’m still in awe that we’ve managed to grow anything! Even though I had experience gardening as a kid, it still feels different to take full ownership of one.
I decided to start small, by filling in a raised garden bed of stone at the front of the house. My mind was still full of the gardens in Ireland and the UK, and I imagined creating a cottage-garden style bed full of flowers of all different shapes, sizes and colors.
However, it was not that easy. (more…)