One of our neighbors is in his 90’s, and he continues to surprise us. Sometimes we see him walking around on his roof (doing repairs?), or sweeping leaves off the street that were blown in from a storm. His garden thrives. Certainly there are secrets to be learned from such a man?
In Japan, the elderly outnumber the young, and there are opportunities to soak up wisdom and experience that go largely overlooked. There are stories to be heard, too. (more…)
This morning was the first day of the season that felt quite cold. I spent most of the day shivering, until I finally put on leggings and a sweater in the afternoon. The chilliness made holding a cup of steaming coffee after breakfast seem all the more enjoyable, and the sun streaming through the windows brought the slightest bit of warmth to the otherwise crisp air.
Second to spring, autumn is my absolute favorite season.
I like wearing loose sweaters, feeling the sharp air on my face, and baking pies. I like eating steaming nabe (Japanese hot pot dishes, such as boiled cabbage with mushrooms and chicken), and wrapping myself in a soft, warm scarf (マフラー in Japanese).
Living in Japan means that the feeling of fall is also just a bit different from what I grew up with..
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…)
When I came to Osaka six years ago in June of 2012, I experienced my first Kansai summer. At the time, it was also my first encounter with heavy humidity. It seemed novel then (rain.. in summer?!), but later after making the move to Japan, I would discover the ills that a humid summer can bring.. including heat rash, swollen mosquito bites, and typhoons.
Summer has never been a particularly favorite season of mine, especially when it means staying indoors due to heat, rain, or both. Yet, despite the downsides of a wet and sticky season, there is something about summer that is both drowsy and electric, punctuated by the popping of 花火 (hanabi: fireworks) and the buzz of insects.
It seems fitting that as I write this blog post, the rain streams sideways against the window glass, and my ears are full of the sounds of overflowing gutters.
However, it was 3 years ago, while living in Asakusa in Tokyo, that I first began to describe the feeling of an island summer, as sampled below.
So you’ve already set a budget or had the time-off approved for your dream trip.. but what about saving on all of the “smaller” expenses that add up while traveling?
Masashi and I are looking forward to our “bucket-list” trip (see here: how to plan a budget trip).. but this is not our first adventure, and we’ve both picked up some saving-money skills. We thought we would share these to help make your next trip cost a little bit less jaw-dropping.. (more…)
When my husband and I married, we did so on a creatively low budget, which meant foregoing an adventurous, out-of-country honeymoon. We took a few days off before jumping immediately into our new life, as well as moving into our new apartment, and a new job (in my case). We hit the ground running – and while that may not work for everyone, it suited us well!
While some might think that an elaborate honeymoon trip is a “necessity”, we feel that starting our lives with normal life was an excellent way to get to know each together. All too often, couples start out with the fantasy of an extended and expensive honeymoon, only to have the dream come crashing down later.. but, since we started out with the reverse, every adventure since has only been twice as enjoyable (and better financially prepared for!).
The average couple spends 4,000-5,000$ on a honeymoon, which only lasts a little over a week.
That’s a lot to be spending at the beginning of marriage! We do not mean to say that honeymoons are a bad thing (if you have the chance, by all means take it if it’s right for your family!), but that elaborate ones may be neither economically savvy, nor the only option out there.
However, that doesn’t mean that adventuring should be out of the question! (more…)
I remember hearing once in a movie a reference that unlike Japan, Ireland is not far from America.
This line made me laugh. Although the movie was referencing the east coast of America, which is in fact nearer to Ireland than Japan, I think that many people (especially Americans) have the sense that Japan is very far and inaccessible compared to European countries.. even though for those on the west coast, it may be easier to reach.
Other misconceptions I’ve encountered include that Japanese people eat teriyaki chicken all the time, or Panda Express-like dishes. Many people also confuse Chinese (or even Korean) culture and customs with Japanese, or think that it must be hard to get around in Japan because of the language barrier.
Before coming to Japan and later moving here, I was guilty of similar assumptions! So, I would like to share a few common misconceptions about Japan, and some insight into what Japan is really like. (more…)
**Warning: the following post includes discussion of pregnancy and miscarriage in Japan. Please do not read if it makes you uncomfortable.**
Does it seem strange to talk about miscarriage at the beginning of a blog about our family? While it is tough to share about this part of our lives, we believe that loss is also a part of life that ought to be recognized.. and it’s sometimes from the ashes that come beauty and joy.
We we were expecting our first child on July 29th, 2018, but I miscarried in the 3rd month of pregnancy.
While we believe that everything that happened is a part of God’s plan and trust His future for us, the following is an honest look at what it is like to experience both early pregnancy and miscarriage in Japan.. I hope it is helpful women who might experience a similar situation, to answer your questions, or to offer comfort through knowing that someone else has been through the same situation.
Please note that I am NOT a doctor, so please do not take any of the following as medical advice, and also note that every woman and every pregnancy and miscarriage are different. (more…)
Hello, and thank you for visiting our site!
Nice to meet you! We are the Haruna family. (more…)