Saturday, April 20, 2013

To love...To like...To hate...

One piece of advice we have heard since we arrived in Japan is, "There are people who love Japan and there are people who hate Japan.  Those who hate it never leave the base.  Those that love it EXPLORE! So, make sure you get off the base as often as you can."

Since we found out we were on our way to Japan we have heard many opinions of the time others have spent here.  Two amazing ladies that I worked with at CAFB could not say enough fabulous things about their time spent in this country.  Kris and I were already excited about the opportunity to show our children another culture and experience amazing things on our journey, but listening to people speak about being here just made it that much more exciting! 

So, we arrived mid-December...it was cold and windy, Kris was very busy getting settled into his new job, we were all working on the new time zone and sunrise/sunsets, and living life in the Lodge was quite an exhausting experience.  We were able to get out a little in the first 43 days, we visited Yokohama and Tokyo and we spent time with friends that lived across the street.  We didn't have too much interaction with others in the Lodge because everyone was in and out and very busy getting settled into their new assignments.  We were one of the first few families to move into our apartment building, so meeting friends at the park and seeing people in elevators didn't happen but, maybe once a week. 

Now, we were at about the three month mark and we weren't going out as much as we used to.  Kris' job has been pretty busy the past few weeks and when the weekend comes he is just too exhausted to go on the extensive adventures I've spent a week planning.  He was such a good sport most weekends and we made little trips around Yokosuka, but not too far.  Kris has said over and over, "Why don't you go out on your own during the week?  Why don't you make a trip out into town or get on the train and head off on your own?"  My response:  "Are you crazy?  Me?  Out in town by myself?  ON A TRAIN BY MYSELF??"  I thought it was total madness that he would even suggest something like that!  What if I got lost?  I only know how to say good morning, good afternoon, good evening, yes and excuse me, how was I supposed to communicate with the Japanese people off base???

Next, enter Kacee...we met Kacee and John at our Tower "get to know your neighbors" potluck last weekend.  Kacee has been all over the world, and has already toured the area around Tokyo (and beyond) extensively...without her husband, and with her children!! 

Last Monday, I headed off base without Kris for the first time.  Kacee took me out to show me a Japanese market where the veggies and meats are much fresher than what we can find at the Commissary...WOW!  It was great!  I have no idea what some of the stuff is, but I did see a lot of veggies that I need to find recipes for!  And the fish and shrimp selections...YAY!  When Morgan comes this summer she and I will be enjoying lots of yummy seafood!!!  Garytt had a blast exploring the seafood section as well...the many different creatures the Japanese eat was quite a sight for him and the Japanese ladies crowded around to giggle at his joy.  :)  On our way to the market we stopped off at a park for the kids to play.  It only took a few minutes and the little ones were playing with the Japanese kids....my kids only know a few Japanese words, and these little kids didn't know any English words...but, they made it work!  It was fun to watch!  And, the park was beautiful...not only the flowers, but just the fact that it was sooo clean, well, aside from the sand piles the kids rolled in.  We made it back to the house by mid-afternoon.  It was a great trip.  When Kris asked how our trip was my response:  "I feel so silly!"  Why didn't I try to go off base by myself?  If my kids can find a way to communicate with Japanese kids, it sure shouldn't be hard for me to figure a way as well. 

Since then, I've been off base with the kids one more time and then yesterday I even hit the train (with Kacee) and made it to Tokyo and back (more on that trip in the next post).  Now, I look back at what we were told when we first got here....the difference between loving it here or hating it here...makes so much more sense to me!  For the girl who lived most of her life in her mother's house in Felton, DE and then several years in Caledonia, MS, this trip to Japan is going to be the best that I can make it!  It would be a total disservice to our children for me to sit around all week and only go out on the weekends.  I didn't know it was possible, but I am even more excited about living here now than I was three months ago!!!