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The Word on: Japan

Posted by on August 21, 2011
Our next guest post is written by my dear friend, Nicki. Her family just moved over to Japan this summer. She is sharing some of her experiences.

Land of the Rising Sun, First Impressions


I really love this place. Now the 12 hour flight was fine (until the VERY bumpy last 40 minutes), and I have never been fed that much food on a plane! It was not as classy and tasty as the incredible flight to Quito, Ecuador to join my sister on one of her South American adventures, but it was really good stuff. The kids did not sleep really, maybe 2 hours for Hunter and 45 minutes for Shep, and they did not utilize my $152 array of travel toys, books and the like. They actually used the headrest screens and played games all the way to Japan;oh, and I let them run up and down the isles a few times.

Since it is Summer (and the Japanese are down a few power plants since the earthquake and tsunami) there is a huge push to conserve power. I completely agree with the idea, but an 83 degree customs area was a bit much. I still feel bad for that sweaty hug I gave the CO’s wife who graciously picked us up at the airport and has guided us on our way to settling in. What a giving gal!

Well the boys promptly crashed in the van, and I got to see and hear all about Japan. I was first struck by how much it resembles Western Virginia. It is hilly, lush and there are many beautiful agricultural valleys. I had never seen rice paddies, and the color is really a different shade of green than anything else in the world;sort of a neon, yellowish green, but so beautiful. The architecture is utility over beauty, yet I like it. To me, it is the world of Ayn Rand’s novels, that type of architecture I imagined while reading her books. The cars; well, I will reserve those comments for a later installment.

The base is small, neat and far more open than the surrounding cities. Our home is lovely, with hardwood floors, high ceilings and even good air conditioners. I appreciate their hum, as it is much like the white sound makers the boys are used to having in their rooms. Our shipment was never picked up from Colorado, so we will essentially camp out in the house (temporary furniture for beds, table and couch) for the next month. I am very disappointed, but I can do nothing about this. More on this in the next installment.

The folks here are amazing. I have never been with a military group that had this good of a morale (or vibe). We were told to expect this, but I did not until I saw the gifts on my table, and the door kept ringing with neighbors bringing muffins, toys and wine. These are good people, and the boys and I have many new friends. This will be an awesome tour for us, and it is HUGE blessing to be here. I would have gone anywhere, but to enjoy our new home so much, is amazing.

The Japanese are extraordinary people. The level of politeness and gentleness astounds me. If I had not gone through the Intercultural Relations Class; I would not have understood the averted yes and the lack of response to my loud greetings. The act of living in the tiny bubble around just your person so as not to intrude on anyone else, seems aloof and unkind to these American eyes, but it is really just overt concern for others; personal space. And in a place where space is at a premium, it is a gift to be lift alone, even if the man next to you on the train is practically in your lap. I hope to learn the language and make friends, so that I learn more about this rich culture.

As for the boys, I am trying to keep them busy, so they don’t realize they have nothing to play with. Shep is having a tough time, but a wise woman has shared with me that she thinks a little daddy time will fix his worried little heart. I pray she is correct. I have tried a few familiar things, like McDonald’s, Baskin Robbins and bowling and a couple of new ones like the trains and little adventuring just outside the base fences.

Ko Ban Wa, Good evening.


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