Our travels back to Japan were not without their own adventures, (all ten of our pieces of luggage were overweight, meaning we were frantically pulling things out and stuffing them into our already overstuffed carryons… the five of us were lugging all of our things plus 3 car seats after an arduous time going through security when we heard them paging the Takamoto family because our flight was leaving…. you get the picture)… and yet- it was amazingly smooth in terms of the real things we were concerned about. Our children did wonderful going through all 3 airports, each one carrying a small suitcase or large backpack — even Olivia. My arms were too loaded to get a good photo, but I did get one after we landed in Osaka as our family was waiting for the shuttle train to take us to immigration:
After picking up all of our luggage and traipsing out the door, we were greeted by a group of friends who had come to meet us: Wendi T., Mrs. Ishida, and the Sakamotos. It was a joyous reunion!
The kids were as thrilled as we were to see our friends here, and happily split up going back in the diferent cars with our Japanese friends (1 1/2 hours drive to sanda).
We walked in the door and immediately had several calls from friends and neighbors welcoming us back. After the commotion died a bit, I put the kids into the Japanese bath– we had been SO excited to take a REAL bath again! Just as we did so, two families came over with their children, wanting to greet our kids. We popped them out of the bath and into pajamas and went out to greet friends we hadn’t seen in eight months.
That night as our tired bodies finally curled up in a bed after a lot of hours of travel, I reflected on the cultural difference of our greeting… Americans would welcome us, but want to “give us space” to unwind. In some ways, that is what I was expecting. But it was wonderful to walk into Japan and feel such overwhelming love from the minute we hit the ground.
The next day was a holiday in japan, so we tried to unpack as much as we could and spend time with friends who came to visit. Our close neighbor friends the Ito family invited us for dinner. We haven’t seen our kids eat so much in a LONG LONG time– sushi and miso soup. We all loved it. The Itos thought it was funny to see this American family totally digging Japanese food!
Today (Thursday) we decided to have Owen and Annie start back into kindergarten here — it wasn’t going to get easier by waiting! They enjoyed getting dressed in their uniforms, and then all 3 of us loved our bike ride into school (I admit to being a little shaky and out of practice– we made sure they wore their helmets, just in case.)
They both did really well at school — Owen’s teacher said he was grinning from ear to ear all day. We were relieved to hear that. Annie was a bit more reticent, and it will take her more time to feel comfortable again in Japanese. But they seemed to come home with happy hearts and we are so thankful for that. As we were leaving the school, a group of Owen’s friends were walking out too. I heard one of the boys say to his mom, “You’ll never believe it! Owen became fluent in English!” We tried hard not to crack up. Now, we just have to help him become fluent in Japanese…
Here are some of the “comforts” of Japan that we have loved coming home to:
- –the deep, soothing Japanese baths
- –heated toilet seats in very cold bathrooms
- –our own home — remembering (mostly) where we put things and not needing to adjust to a new place again
- our Japanese dishwasher – the size of a microwave, but it does a great job of washing a meal full of dishes
- getting our car back — we love that our Japanese navigation system at the end of a short journey will say (in Japanese) – “Job well done!”
- seeing our neighbors and friends again.
Thanks for your prayers for us. There are still adjustments, but we are thankful to God for His amazing blessings to us.