First month in JAPAN!!! School starts, ice hockey starts, household goods arrive, and Alli finds a horse!
1 First day of school at Sullivans for Ben! This is the largest DoDEA school at 1200 students!
2 Doing some yoga out by the water behind the hotel. This is my view.
3 Early morning - before kids go to school.
4 Some finds... ;)
5 Off to school!
6 About a 10 min walk from the hotel.
7 We're in area orientation briefs all week (AOB training). Today we're on a field trip to Kamakura, and having lunch together at a place that serves cold soba noodles. Very very good!
8 Funny lens on my camera for these sorts of shots!
9 Watching soba noodle pasta being made.
10 The view down toward the shrine at Kamakura.
11 Very very, very hot. And humid. Nearly oppressive. Kumiko was right!
12 These gates indicate a shrine is just beyond.
14 Walking back to base from the train station.
16 One of Sam's teachers.
17 This is "Dave" in Japanese.
18 Yay! I finished!
19 These are VERY good. From the vending machines all over Japan. The vending machines serve cold coffee in summer and hot tea and coffee in the winter. Unbelievable. The boys LOVE the vending machines ;)
21 View from one of my jogs around base.
22 The massive Olympic pool at the gym.
23 The kids LOVE spending time at the pool.
24 Mom, you'll be happy to know Ben is now a real fish in the deep end. He loves it! Sleeps with his swim license band on ;)
26 Vending machine scores for everyone!
27 Sushi-go-round - not sure if this is the name of the restaurant or not, but sushi arrives on a conveyor belt.
28 Ben watching the USS Ronald Reagan head out to sea.
30 Down at Miurakaigan beach.
32 Still wide, warm and sandy!
35 Driving around is an adventure!
36 Looking for a horse to ride. No easy feat! Or feet? This one is not very big!
37 But the barn is pleasantly tucked in a very urban setting. They do horse trekking - on the beach and even to Mongolia.
39 Farm land on the Miura Peninsula.
40 Now down on Jogashima Island.
41 A beautiful and quiet fishing village.
46 Neat coastline.
56 Very large butterfly - size of a bat!
57 And beetles in the bathroom!
58 This is how we finished our day - a double rainbow.
60 Thanks to Angela for driving us all over to test out her new car!
61 The hotel room loungers.
62 This is the creepiest staircase on the planet! Steep, slippery, and spidery!
65 View from up top...
66 Music over my shoulder coming from Mikasa Park.
67 A tour of the hotel room :)
68 Sock mace wars!
70 Evening lights while waiting to get some dinner.
71 Hi, buddy!
72 This was SO funny. I guess we all needed to laugh because this just cracked us up. Suck-chin (get it? suction?)...
74 Sam can hold up an entire glass filled with water!
76 Yearbook photo???
77 Good code to live by. We spent an entire walk (about 30 min) across base just focusing on how one can show respect to others. The culture here is very different, both on and off base. Probably worth a whole post on the topic.
78 Riding the train to Yokohama!
80 Visiting the Ramen Museum. Very hot!
81 But cool inside, and many ramen stores to try. Only the best in Japan are invited to showcase their wares in mini-restaurants.
82 We picked Samure for the Hokkaido-style miso-ramen.
83 Very rich and yummy.
85 Ben slurping...this is HOW you eat it!
87 Ok this is totally nuts See the car in the distance? This is basically a 60KPH road, the fastest legal speed limit on roads in Japan (unless posted otherwise, a rare few) and cars just STOP on the side, put flashers on, and do what they need to do. Like place a call, or comb hair, or text. It's unreal.
88 The Nissan Arena has a waterpark below...
89 Now we're at Shin-Yokohama ice rink!
90 This is where the ice hockey club plays. We'll be meeting the team on 9/17!
91 Many figure skaters on the ice! Trying not to create an international incident. No sounds of hockey stopping out there, no sprayed "snow" on the boards...
93 The lobby
94 The street corner by the rink. Many food options right by the rink.
95 Walking to the train station.
96 Inside...people queue up for trains and buses. No clumping and pushing.
97 Yakitori stand. You eat what you like on sticks, then they count sticks and you pay.
98 Ben trying intestines! The boys are both very adventurous eaters!
99 The options for internet...
100 And this is where the internet/cable office is located. Pretty nondescript!
101 Me walking with my boys :)
102 Ben's swim license!
103 Me also walking at night with boys - but they jumped before I could snap a shot of their shadows :)
104 Nice sunset on a Friday evening, shot from the Purdy Gym after swimming.
105 Ben after school.
106 He earned this eraser for math participation.
107 He loves it!
108 Open house at Ben's class. We are so pleased with the kids' teachers.
112 This is hanging on the wall. K is what you KNOW, W is what you WANT to know, and L is what you LEARNED.
113 Ben's desk is in the front row, in the center. With a bit of a moat around it. Guess why!?
114 Sam lifting weights in the gym. We are having a nice time working out together.
116 Dave driving our new car!
117 Mommy driving!
118 Boys LOVE the van! Reclining seats!
119 I continue to be fascinated by plumbing here.
120 Treat in a box for after dinner!
121 This looked interesting...very subtle taste.
122 Ben really loves filling the ice bucket :)
124 Driving to check out a horse barn with a new friend!
125 Wibit course at the pool
126 This is a riot - this bridge part is very slippery!
128 We all loved it!
130 I made it!
133 Out with the family off base. This is Starbuck's in the background with an upper patio deck, and a Japanese submarine moored at the base in the background.
134 We HAVE to try this sometime!
135 This is an area called the Honch. It's full of sailors at night, but peaceful and lots of good eats and stores by day.
137 Nice sentiment...not sure about the make me part?
138 Womble Gate - one of three entrances to base.
139 Mikasa Park water fountain and music
141 Found some nice whiskey!
142 Ben wrote this bio poem...enjoy!
143 At the gym with Sam.
144 Waiting for Dave...and Sam having fun with selfies. Pardon the indulgence here but grandparents will enjoy seeing this seldom-photographed boy!
146 He's getting really big and expressive, isn't he?
148 I'm off on an adventure to the barn by bus. Oh my...
149 NOTHING in English on bus signage.
150 One must be very good at maps and intuitive regarding routes. Google doesn't really know times...but bus numbers are pretty accurate.
151 I'm nearly there! See the horse statue? The entrance is just ahead. I took a 30 min bus ride then walked 2K.
152 Garden on the side of the road.
153 Entrance just past blue metal thing.
154 And here I am with Bina after a ride!
155 I got to help the stable owner muck and scrub buckets, then took a ride.
156 Such joy to be back on horseback. This girl is young but very willing.
157 The wash stalls.
158 And on the left a little stove they use to burn cedar shavings to keep the flies down. I really want one of hese.
159 The only carrots at the commissary were these massive ones! And peeled, too!
160 She likes them :)
161 Her stall...
162 And I heard someone crowing! I ran all over trying to find the source of the familiar sound and finally found him! A little old rooster!
163 Neat, huh? Water fills up top to wash your hands, then fills the back tank to be used in the next flush.
164 Tomoe and I!
165 Tomoe gonig out to cut hay and haul it back to feed the horses.
166 And the arena - has good footing even after a rain.
167 Tomoe plants all kinds of planters around the barn.
168 And this is the entrance to the barn.
169 What is that van doing up there? I am walking back now, trying to find the return bus. Had some fun with young Japanese students playing a game of non-verbal chase with me as we jogged down the road. I'd stop jogging, look back, and catch them smiling and jogging to keep up with me. It was very cute! Kids are kids everywhere. They helped me find the right bus.
170 I made it back to base and picked up Ben. Then we enjoyed this artist - it is mesmerizing (Ben's apt description) watching him paint in layers.
172 My lunch from 7/11 off base. Very inexpensive. 300 yen for this and some sparkling lemon water. It's always a joy to get a beverage, not really knowing what you're getting, and finding out you hit the jackpot - you got exactly what you were hoping for after being exhausted and starving from lots of barn work!
173 Dave driving up!
174 Household goods (HHG) have started to arrive!
175 First dinner in the kitchen!
176 Goodie boxes for friends being assembled!
177 Walking to school - Ben is messing with me :)
178 Crates are arriving! We moved into the house on Sept 12, and our belongings started arriving on the 13th.
179 Meeting Ben at the library. He is beginning to find his way around base on his own as well.
180 They love the patio for weight lifting.
181 Yes, we need to watch Ben carefully because he'll try to lift too much!
182 This cat wandered in while we were taking delivery of our belongings. I have seen so many wild cats on base I figured this was one of them - a friendly one!
183 Turns out she is a neighborhood cat :)
184 The mover really had a fun time putting these cheap Craigslist shelves back together ;)
185 The net and shooting pad are up!
186 Walking to base up and over "weather hill" road.
188 Figured this was milk, but there was no English anywhere on it. I told the kids that whatever it is, it's going on the cereal! Let's hope!
189 Some pictures of the chaos...
190 We had fun with the movers. Here is one putting the states puzzle together. I can't believe what DIDN'T get lost - not one piece of the puzzle is missing, and the ONE feather that Sparrow (the adopted rooster) left behind in his wild jaunt through the woods I just found this morning. I keep many special "artifacts" in a little cubby and this was one I managed to find in the woods. A memory of him and his gallant self. I am glad it's still with me.
192 This is how a computer was packed...it's a wonder it is fine!
193 Downstairs bath...one piece of decor was placed there for Dave. It has since moved back to my artifacts shelf ;)
194 This artist is mesmerizing to watch.
195 Sam really enjoyed watching this painting come together. It is the gate to a shrine. The male dragon on the right has its mouth open to keep bad things out. The female on the right has her mouth closed. These are by all shrine gates. Shrines are places where Japanese people commune with Shinto gods.
196 Back home...spotting each other...
198 The kitchen is done! Got this done on the 15th, the day the movers finished unboxing everything.
199 Friday, 9/16 - out on a jog off base down the waterfront.
200 This is a neat fort in Umikaze Park.
201 Right across the street is HOMES. It has EVERYTHING. I purchased some net and carried it back hobo-style to protect against rogue pucks.
202 In the Port Market you can find all kinds of fresh food. These eggs tell me chickens are around somewhere...
203 Produce section.
204 Camo pound cake?
206 Homework tracking station...
207 The house at night under a full moon. It's really pretty here.
208 Now it's our first Saturday in the house and we're headed up to the ice rink in Yokohama to check out ice hockey, Japanese style!
209 First some gear...
210 And dinner at 7/11. You would NOT believe the food selection at 7/11s in Japan. Unreal.
211 So they don't use locker rooms - the club just gears up on the side of the rink. This is the upper grades (4,5,6). Sam and his friend Tyler (also from Bremerton ice hockey) are meeting the club director (orange shirt) and head coach Issei.
212 This is the lower grades (1, 2, 3). Jake's mom helping him with his helmet. Jake and Tyler are Sam and Ben's age! So 4 crazy Americans are joining the club this fall. Jesse (Elizabeth's husband) coached red team for Squirts two years ago.
213 At the bench ready to go on the ice.
216 On the ice! 20 players in each age division.
217 The lower grades coaches gave about 10 min talk - these kids (Mites ages) paid focused attention the whole time, even after a 90 min practice! I'm pretty impressed with the level of play and ability to focus on drills.
218 The coaches introduced Jake and Ben. It was very nice.
219 Here are some clips of practice. Ben is in a black helmet on the left side of the rink, blue jersey.
220 Sam is in a white USA jersey on the right side.
223 We met a really nice man who spent a couple years working at the SUNY tech park in Albany! That is where his son picked up ice hockey. He is the captain of the lower grades team.
226 Tyler, Sam and Issei after practice!
227 Sam and Tyler share their thoughts on the first practice. This is worth watching if you only have time for one movie. Sam is really happy to be on the ice and having a serious practice that keeps you moving the whole time and at a fast pace.
228 Dave ran to 7/11 to get breakfast makings this morning so we can keep moving in before driving up for hockey again. I have work this weekend as well as moving in...it is very busy. I feel like I have been run over by a bus ;)
229 Dry land before Sunday practice. This is Ben's team doing some jumping and sprinting.
230 Sam's team did about 5 laps around the block then stretched. As I jogged around with them, not understanding anything they were saying and having no idea how far we were going, it reminded me of jogging in Everett with the Squirts team. I had a clear memory of running behind Carver, Max, Eli and Zack as they laughed and jostled each other. Different language but same smiles and horsing around!
231 The Mites-age kids doing warmup (ages 6, 7, 8).
232 Out on the ice - Sam and Tyler chatting after a battle for the puck.
233 Here is that puck battle...
234 Sam and Ben do this drill at the same time. Sam on bottom and Ben on top of screen.
235 My new friends Misaki and Minoko helping me figure out what a signal means! Red light OVER green arrow? HUH?
236 This is what I need to make ramen. Beautiful!
237 Watching our team (yellow) take on their biggest rival, the Tokyo Seibu Bears. I think you'll be impressed with the level of play. All kids are U12.
238 Down by the glass. Just after this play they scored. When I left the home team was up 3:1!
240 Monday night I made an unremarkable ramen from packets. Edible but not worth a photo. Kumiko - help!!! Tonight I made the infallible ribollita. It felt so good to cook in the only room fully functional. I was able to monitor homework while cooking - also very nice. I get to be productive while ensuring others are as well!
241 Ben and I had some more energy to get out so we went onto the patio and pumped some weights after dinner. Crazies! He is very funny, and getting very very strong. Likes to tell me how to lift, new routines to do, how to hold the weights just so, to work out ones wrists...
242 Just found my alarm clock, at my lucky time! I still have it set to Washington time, as with our land line phones (well, not land line - VOIP to be precise - but they feel like land lines given that we use cell almost exclusively). The phones and alarms set to WA time remind us of "home" far away.
243 On a walkabout Yokosuka with the boys we found this lady making plastic models of Gundam. An action figure. How interesting! I wonder if you'll see this on Amazon???
244 Ben showing us his most efficient walking style, by a good Pokemon lure spot at a skate park. Sam is on the hunt!
245 Trying to catch a picture of Ben is like trying to catch a Pikachu! He darts! But I got 'im!
246 Out on an urban jog, on Autumn Equinox day. It's a Japanese holiday, a day to celebrate a good harvest, and those who have passed. I ended up at a shrine by a cemetery and paid my respects by picking up trash debris.
247 The cemetery is tucked in a hillside just above the Honch.
249 Entrance to the cemetery. Men were out laughing, talking and cleaning at the entrance, early in the morning. This was maybe around 9am. It was raining.
250 I used my phone to scan signs to see if I shouldn't enter certain places. You can take a picture with Google translate and scan the text for a translation. Pretty cool. I stayed away from the OFF LIMITS places for sure...
251 These are SUPER cute, aren't they? Manhole covers over fire hydrant hose things...
252 Continuing on my urban jog, this is a Katsura katsura tree, known for its heart-shaped leaves.
253 Sure enough!
254 This jog had a theme - I wanted to get up into the hills and foliage. So I just kept going up provided nothing said I shouldn't.
255 Don't eat these, though :)
257 Many of them by this tree...odd!
258 I'm tucked up in a hillside taking cover from the pouring rain, wondering what I'll do next. It's not cold, though, so exploring must go on.
259 I couldn't translate this monument - camera lens way too wet by now.
260 But look at these little sidewalks? By houses. No road. This must be how they get home. I don't know where they park. Maybe no car? These little paths go on and on, winding around the hillside.
261 How could you NOT jog along this, to see where it went?
263 Arlo - here's some land! It might - MIGHT - be 14x20 ;)
265 In the distance you can see this sidewalk continue downhill and connect with the next one.
268 But still can't resist tiny homes, tiny streets, and pops of color. Plus, I'm exploring. Not done yet.
270 Since 1990? Wish the garage door popped open and revealed an occupant to ask.
271 It's still the Autumn Equinox and I'm in a bit of a funk. Not sure why, but adventure usually kills it. I think we are all actually still adjusting, even though on the surface the house is nearly put together and all are doing very well, enjoying the adventure into hockey, horses and life on base. If you take a close examination, you realize that honestly, just living life in a new place takes much more out of you than you realize. Nothing is on autopilot, not even putting gas in the van. Signage is not friendly, hills are not familiar, clouds are new acquaintances. You just keep going, because that is what you do, but after a while you just get bone-tired. But the minutes don't slow down...you don't quite catch up with sleep. So I did what usually works for a funk - work the land. Here are piles of leaves picked up so when the grass dries I can mow.
272 And if that doesn't work? FIRE. FIAH baby, FIAH. I am burning some sticks I picked up, using a lattice-work design to get my tiny flame going and keep the rain out.
273 My little fire grew. Not by a lot, but enough. I stood by it, drew warmth from it, and let my mind stew a bit. Nothing clarified. But, here I was in a distant land, in a new home, and yet still building fires with wet wood. Some things never change, and that's good. (Hey! Is that a song?)
274 It's Friday now, and I'm on my way out to the barn to see my new friends, shovel some muck, and ride Bina. I'm so happy to be in the inaka - countryside. This is a neat collection of weathered wood.
275 This will be a good place to visit on my way back from the barn some day. Fresh eggs and produce.
276 Uma - all cross-tied so their uma goya can be cleaned.
277 This place is so beautiful in the sun. There is a small stove in the middle of this aisleway which is used to keep the flies at bay by burning wood and shavings all day. The smoke is pretty effective and has a distinctive smell I don't like to wash out of my hair.
279 My new friend Tomoe cuts her own hay for over 20 horses! I don't know how she does it all.
280 This is the countryside - on the side of the road on my way to the barn. I take a bus about 30 min then get off and walk 2K because there are only 2 buses an hour going the last leg of the trip.
281 THIS is still a mystery to me. I have caught a bus going back twice at 1:15 which puts me back on base just in time to get Ben. But I can't read the schedule! Many buses go to Yokosuka, I can tell that much (3,4,5,6,7,8)...but when?
282 Dave has been a hanging fiend - hanging everything up. So nice to see this up again.
283 Dave's ramen - very very good! One of the boys on Ben's team, his mom Minako gave us a tip on which noodles to get.
284 This is dry land for the upper grade kids over at Nissan Stadium. They run the stadium, then do these, and also do stairs, frontwards, backwards, wheelbarrow...serious workout. Sam likes it, though, strangely enough. He likes being outside.
286 Ben is leaning on the boards, ready to hit the ice.
287 Finally looking at me :)
289 Water fight in the culdesac with all the neighbor kids -no guns needed, just large cups :)
290 I labeled Sam's helmet with his name. SA MU ("muh") is what those two katakana characters sound like. Together they approximate SAM.
291 Same here...
292 Ben picked this up from a buddy. He likes to do this now.
293 A treat from one of the parents after practice. So nice! I was thinking about doing that, too. Just was happy to arrive in Yokohama in one piece, though. I'll be able to do creative and nice things eventually...giving myself a little reprieve while I learn to drive here ;)
294 Nice office! This is on base, on a jog.
295 I decided to jog along this seawall, which is technically off base. I had my ID...there were tiny wooden steps...no sign saying DON'T DO THIS...so I went.
296 Here I am...going ok! This is HOT though...at 8am.
297 Our home at night. We both love this house. It's remarkably private, has a lot of trees, and is beautiful, really. Plenty of space for people to spread out. Can't wait to have some visitors. When can you come???
298 This is again the inaka - countryside - on my way to the barn. I love it.
299 This is the little seating area inside the barn - wood stove, chairs, microwave tucked up high. We sit here for lunch after mucking and riding. Around noonish. I have to figure out my schedule so I can have time with the two ladies. They are a delight - the owner and one of the ladies who rides there. She is 41 and has a 7 yr old boy.
300 Tomoe is helping me understand Katakana. I've since decided to learn Hiragana first, which I am sure Kumiko recommended long ago...but I'm just now figuring out how. I have an app that is very helpful...
301 Laughing, and erasing...
302 My name! "A" then "L" then "ee" sound.
304 This says I'm 45 years old and have two children.
305 Tomoe gave us some of her favorite chocolate to try. We all love it!
308 This fire started out as just me trying to get charcoal going so Dave could grill chicken. The charcoal was the kind you have to douse in lighter fluid. So I did. I also had my stick collection in there from my Autumn Equinox fire (the one I lit to push out a bit of a funk at not being able to chop wood or be in the woods at my home). So after a bit, after the chicken was cooked (on the "one decent hot area" Dave complained), this thing really took off. It's so hot now with my wormwood, or whatever it is, that you couldn't bear to hold your hand over it for more than 2 seconds, 4 feet up! I decided to bring my laptop out and work to babysit it, because I hate putting fires out. I really do.
309 Molten metal below. So I thought. Was really just dust glowing ;)
310 Me working :)
311 Seawall jog again...now I'm not so afraid. The last time I really wondered how I was going to get back in, and if a tsunami came, how would I scale the wall and barbed wire. This time I knew there was another opening I could get through...so I just went for it.
312 See that wire? Kinda scary!
313 It gets narrower...
315 My ID is in here, and this sign is kind of intimidating.
316 Huge spider. Need to figure out if it is venomous. This is in the spider staircase (my words for it) on a run...after the seawall adventure.
317 See all these flights of stairs? Very narrow treads. And you can't hold onto the railings because there are webs all around. And you wonder if the big spider decided to swing on down onto you as you went under. Very spooky! I am planning a haunted Halloween hike - through the Gridley tunnel then up the hill, then down the stairs, and back to our house.
318 View from a gypsy jog today. I decided to run off base, down to Maborikaigan as far as I wanted to go, then hop a bus or train back. It was overcast, so the perfect day to explore along the coast where there are no trees to provide cover.
319 Looking back along the coast. In the far distance is base. Lots of fishing between here and there. Two fish markets, too. One of them I knew about, the other I smelled on my run. Will check it out on the way back.
320 This is about 9K from base.
321 Found a cute French pastry shop. Not open yet :(
322 Here it is. Worth all the exploring just to find this! I decided to find a bus in Hashirimizu Beach, a very cute and small coastal fishing town. I found a Family Mart and charged my card, having been told 10 min to the bus' arrival by people waiting at the stop (ALWAYS a good sign seeing people queue up because buses are not all that frequent). I booked it into the shop, got some Pokari Sweat (like Gatorade, because in this humidity you literally lose POUNDS of water on a jog - 4 pounds is not unusual for me to lose) and shot back out of the store only to find the bus PULLING UP TO THE STOP! I high-tailed it and jumped on, then got off a few stops later so I could find the fish market and jog back. Cost me 100 yen to shave a few K off my jog back.
323 This is the fish market I explored.
324 Good deals? Not sure. Also not sure what to do with all this stuff. I am not an Asian foodie yet.
326 I think those red and white areas might be where the fish will be for sale. Jogged back, total 12K gypsy exploration. Raked leaves, unpacked the last box, did laundry, and had breakfast at noon. I have been working my tail off at home and in work for the past week so it is very nice to have some time to explore and catch up on the minutiae of moving in, like filing claims for missing/broken things, and property management for our house back on BI. Must run! Thanks for checking in here...love to all of you.