Category Archives: Japan

This time next week…..

The first thought that entered my head when I woke up this morning was
‘Oh, my God, why am I putting myself through this?’

I like to start every day with a talk with God, but today my mind flew straight to where I would be and what I would be doing next week, hence the question.

I will be waking up in a stranger’s house.
I will be in a country millions of miles away from home.
I will have to get ready for SCHOOL!
I will not be waking up to anything familiar.

….and the scariest of all, I will have caught three planes and a bus to get there!

Again I ask
‘Oh, my God, why am I putting myself through this?’

Peter says I can blame him, which I do anyway.
(Thanks for now giving me permission to do that, Honey)

So, I’m being pathetic today.

There are lots of reasons for ‘putting myself though this’
and every single one of them is good.

This is just the beginning of the adventure and whatever comes my way and however things turn out, I can handle it and I will be brave and I will not turn into that little eight year old, paralysed with fear at starting at a new school in a new town.

C’mon!
That was 38 years ago.

JAPAN
Here I come!

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Let the Countdown Begin!

I mentioned some time ago that we would be heading off to Japan again, for a trip with a ‘twist’.
Well since then, things have changed around a little.
A trip is still coming up.
But the difference now, is different from the original difference.

The big difference now is that Peter,
my travelling companion, husband and interpreter will not be accompanying me – not at all.
Not even later, as I had hoped would be the case.
Peter, who introduced me to Japan and who loves Japan almost as much as he loves me is going to miss out!

I don’t even know whether it is worth going into what our original plans were, because they are not going to come to fruition.
Suffice it to say, I was upset and more than a little furious that his work wouldn’t allow him nine days of annual leave, so that he could meet me over there and we could do a couple of important things before coming home.

So, what was to be a month long trip for me and a two week long trip for Peter, which included volunteer work and visiting friends is now a two week trip for me and Peter stays home.
Enough said!

So, onto the itinerary (the new itinerary).

Why am I going to Japan alone for two weeks?
Good question.
I ask myself the very same thing several times a day!

Well, at my husband’s suggestion, I applied through the Australia Japan Society to attend a two week language and culture course, being held at the Ishikawa Foundation for International Exchange.

My application was accepted and in just over two weeks I will be off, alone, without my interpreter/travel guide/friend/advisor to a Japanese language school, where an attempt will be made to learn how to speak for myself in Japanese.

OK, OK, I know that two weeks will not see me fluently chatting away with girls in shops/people on trains/at the bank/in the post office/on the streets/in cafes or restaurants/hairdressers,
as I regularly do here, in English.

I may, after two weeks, be able to have a gramatically correct conversation with a two or three year old (and create Kanji-like scribble like a three year old).
I’ll give it my best shot, that’s all I can do.

It’s been a long time since I have been formally taught anything, but Peter says I have a ‘gift’ for languages.
(My mum says that too, because I can imitate accents pretty impressively)
So we’ll see how far this ‘gift’ can get me.
I might be updating the blog in Kanji next time you see me!

I will be staying with a Japanese family.
My ‘family’ actually consists of a mother aged 38 and
her daughter, aged 11.
I guess she is more of my host ‘sister’, rather than my host ‘mother’, since she is younger than me (just ever so slightly).
I can’t wait to meet them.
This is going to be so interesting!

For the time being, I picture myself walking down the street to catch the bus to school.

That’s about as far as my imagination is allowed to stretch at this point.
Because if I let it run loose I picture myself all alone, scared and confused, missing planes and buses (and I’m such a wimp, I’m not even going to attempt train travel without my interpreter) and meetings and being late for school and getting lost on the way to the bus stop and and and………..

So I picture myself walking down the street (we’ve checked it out on Google Earth) to catch the bus to school.

And just occassionally I picture myself in a depāto, on my favourite floor, the basement, buying groceries and delightful tidbits to take home to my host ‘sister’ and her daughter.
Peter says I should offer to cook them a meal.
I can do that..

I need to stop for now.
My imagination runs riot and I begin to get excited and we can’t have that, can we?
Not yet, anyway.
Departure date is two weeks from Friday.
There’s plenty of time for all the excitement and the accompanying emotion about returning to our beloved Japan.

If only my beloved was coming with me…

Reposted from IDRO Japan

http://idrojapan.posterous.com/returning-the-dead-in-tohoku

Returning the Dead in Tohoku

Rather difficult to capture with an I-phone, but here in Ogatsu-cho it
is the final day of obon, the time when the dead return to visit the
living. Here they send the spirits off in floating lanterns, tonight
watched over by the just waning moon. They move so slowly , taken by
the tide, as if the spirits are asking for one more day…

What now?

The more I see of what happened in Japan and what is still happening, the more concerned I become.

It is true.
It’s easy for everyone who was not directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami to think and hear and believe that everything has improved and things are looking up.

But, do we really know what the situation is for all those people who lost homes, loved ones and livelihoods?

The more I read, the more I realise I know little and
the truth is not readily available.

For instance, I didn’t know that once people move from a shelter into the ‘temporary’ housing that is being provided, all aid is cut off – so no more food, clothing or other aid they had been receiving whilst in the evacuation centres.

Effectively, once they move to temporary housing they must
fend for themselves.

That would be fine, if they had a workplace to go to;
if their workplace was still in existence.
It would be fine, if the infrastructure still existed.

Think about all that it takes to ‘live’ in a house – food, electricity, water, transport, furniture, grocery items, heating, cooling, internet and lots of other things that we all ‘can’t live without’.

You need money to obtain these necessities.
You need a job to obtain money.
You need workplaces to obtain a job.

All of these things are gone.
Completely!
Washed away,
Flattened and destroyed.

From Socks for Japan Jason Kelly com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Rough-terrain-in-Ofunato-two.jpeg

They are still trying to clear up the rubble.
Thousands and thousands of missing people are still unaccounted for;
of every age.
Progress is tediously slow.

It is still NOT OK and it won’t be for years.

What would you do?

I try to imagine being faced with the choice.

It reminds me of a game we used to play.

‘Would you rather kiss a (germ ridden) boy or drink a cup of seawater?’
You know.
That game, where you had a choice of one completely revolting thing or
some other equally disgusting thing.
And you had to choose one.
And you just couldn’t make a choice because each option was so unappealing.

Anyway, I don’t know what I would do, if I was faced with the choice of continuing to live on the floor of a gymnasium, surrounded by boxes for my belongings; boxes representing the walls my ‘home’, separating me from my nearest neighbour, no more than a metre away from me.

The benefit of this ‘existence’ being that I had a food supply, that I had access to the bare necessities of life and that I didn’t need to earn money to live (because I couldn’t, because there was nothing left standing within cooee, because I had lost ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, because it was physically, emotionally and practically impossible).

Would I choose that over moving to a ‘temporary’ house where I had no means to earn a living, to put food on the table, pay the bills, wood in the fire?

I am not faced with that choice, but many of the people still living in shelters in the tsunami zone are.
I believe many are choosing to stay.
Do they really have any choice?
Is one option really more appealing than the other?

In my humble opinion, there’s something wrong here.;
very wrong….

In case you can’t tell,
my heart is breaking for these people.


Japan…. with a twist

Our next Japan trip is coming up!

But this is a trip with a bit of a twist.
I will tell you more in the coming months.

In the meantime, I would like to share links to updates on the situation in Japan.

I feel like it is important not to forget.
The links I post will be more for my own records than anything else, as we continue to watch and now, consider where we might be of help.

It is my hope that visitors to our blog might find the websites I mention worthy of attention, if nothing more.
We’re about to embark on a new chapter in our lives, which are inexplicably and inextricably linked to Japan.
And if you get sick of me going on and on about it, I’m sorry.
Feel free to tune out.
I’ll understand.

What is the internet, if it is not a tool?
How can I look and refuse to see?
How can I see and refuse to ‘do’?

Please don’t ever let me be a hypocrite..

Today’s link is to not just a website.
It is a link to courage, faith, inspiration and action. 
Kozmoz International

MY GIVEAWAY!

I’m having a giveaway as part of the Blogtoberfest festivities!
I announced it last week, but until now it’s been a bit obscure as to what exactly I am giving away. Well, as I said, souvenirs from our travels; a couple of cute things from Japan, a sarong from Bali and a souvenir from Western Australia, made right here in the West, by a company whose products I absolutely love! There may also be a couple of little extras – a friend is returning from Bali tomorrow and I did put in a small request.
So, here is a sneak peak.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s really simple to enter. I will be drawing the winner at the end of  Blogtoberfest. Everyone who has commented on my blog during the Blogtoberfestivities is automatically entered. If you comment more than once, you will have more than one entry.
There you go. I’ve made it easy for you.

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Time to move on to my AFFIRMATION A DAY!
This comes from Proverbs 4:6

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.

That’s another one I would do to meditate on for a while.

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It’s now 9.30pm and our blog is closing.
Please make your way to the exit.
We hope to see you again tomorrow.
Have an enjoyable evening.
Good Night!

QUICKIE and A TRICKY GIVEAWAY

This is gonna be my quickest blog entry ever, only because I’m trying to have dinner cooked before Peter arrives home. That, and wash a load of laundry, water the garden and wash dishes from this morning (before I can start the dinner). Oh, and put away last night’s dishes. Bad housewife!
I have about an hour. I’m trying to prioritise, not in order of like, but in order of need. I only need to do a short blog. You see now? It is already longer than I planned. I sure can talk (those are not my words!).

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For AN AFFIRMATION A DAY! I give you, from Proverbs 13:3

He who guards his lips guards his life,
but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

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Now, the GIVEAWAY I was talking about? Well I have a reward to give. As part of Blogtoberfest, lots of gorgeous, craft-able (didn’t think I should say ‘crafty’) girls run little giveaways on their blogs. You can check them all out over at CurlyPops blog here.

I thought I would run a giveaway that’s a little different. And do you know what? There are already 42 entries in the draw for my giveaway. I won’t reveal the prize just yet, because I haven’t put it all together (stay tuned though). But since you know I am not an artist or a crafter of even a blog-worthy cook, I won’t have any handmade ‘delights’ for you.
Sorry!
But, as our blog title says, we go to Japan and Bali and we stay home lots (almost as much as we go to work), so I will have a gorgeous little collection from our trips, and something I love to use at home. I love giving things to people and one lucky person is going to receive a reward/giveaway ‘parcel’ at the end of October.

All YOU have to do is work out what I need YOU to do to be in the running. I’m not going to tell you. Here’s a hint. You may already have unwittingly entered the draw. And you may not have yet, but it is easy to work out. Promise! As I said, there are already 42 tickets in the barrel. That’s how easy it is.

So go for it! Work it out and enter my giveaway! Entries close on 31st October. I will announce the winner on 1st of November, after our month of perseverance, trial, joy, laughter, sharing, dedication and whatever else Blogtoberfest means to you!
GOOD  LUCK!!

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By the way, I know this has tuned out not to be my quickest blog entry ever. I have had to go away and cook dinner, eat dinner with my husband and hang out the laundry. I think you could say my priorities are all over the place.


Ni night…