Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Coming Home

Due to a lot of reasons but mainly health (both physical and mental), Archie and I have chosen to come home a year early from Japan. It's a mixed bag of emotions for me. There are so many wonderful things and places and people that I have experienced here that I wouldn't have experienced otherwise. I'm truly grateful for that. This was a chance of a lifetime and yet we are coming home early.

Japan is a beautiful country. We've seen so many places. Hiroshima has been an interesting place to live. I've met some great friends and I've tried and loved so many fun foods and drinks. Gabe has also enjoyed his time here. He's had fun at school and has learned to read. He's been swimming twice a week and has earned two badges. He can always say he's lived in Japan and experienced that. As he gets older, I'm hoping it'll be something he can draw on for inspiration and openness to new ideas and people.

So for me, I can walk away with a lot great experiences and memories.

But it's been tough on all of us with the nature of the work that Archie signed up for. It hasn't been a great work environment and that has taken its toll on all of us. Especially Archie.

We look forward to a healthier year as we come home. A little less stress all around will be wonderful.

With the time we have left we are really excited to see what we can and do what we can. We are planning on a trip to Okinawa next month. The cherry blossom season is right around the corner and Hiroshima will be beautiful. We are planning a small day trip to Kyoto as well as some more local weekend getaways. Golden Week is in a month and that is one of the biggest week-long festival/holiday in Japan. We weren't here for that last year and we are looking forward to experiencing that before we go home.

We hope to end on a bright note and we hope to take the good with us as we look back on our year in Japan. But we also know this is the best decision all around for our family.

I'm hoping to add some more detailed posts about the best spots and memories we've had here in Japan. I'll probably do that a bit more as it gets closer to leaving.

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But here are some place we've been to this past month. Last week was really fun with the "chicken shack" or properly knows as Sanzoko (bandit in Japanese). They are famous for their yakitori or chicken on a stick. The sauce is amazing! I tried a giant rice ball with seaweed, plum, and salmon in the middle. Gabe tried their udon bowl and Archie had their yakiniku or meat BBQ.

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Then it was off to Kimawa Valley for their underground mystery treasure hunt. We went with another family and enjoyed a small park afterward. It's an old gold mine that they converted with statues and mystery doors and places that are reminiscent of Indiana Jones.

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I've taken a few walks on my own now that it's getting warmer.

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The cherry blossom trees!

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This is my favorite!

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This was on a special walk of their famous shrines and temples. The last stop.

Friday, March 6, 2015

February Recap 2015

The highlight of February was going to Tokyo for Gabe's birthday. We got to ride the Shinkansen and see Tokyo Disney, Legoland, and Studio Ghibili.

I could only make it once on the teacups. Gabe loved them and forced Archie on them at least 3 times! They even talked me into going on Space Mountain...not a big fan. Gabe was unsure how to feel afterward. But I think he'd go on it again!

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Riding the bullet train is the way to go. I wish the States invested in America's infrastructure a bit more. Maybe we could get a couple of bullet trains--one for up north and one for the south! Sweet.

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Trains are great because you don't have to get felt up by the TSA and you can move around, no seatbelts, and the children (Gabe) can get up and walk around and look out the window and see stuff. They even have a trolley that comes around. It's not quite "Harry Potter" anything off the trolley, dears? but close enough.

The second coolest thing was going to the Akeyoshido caves. Beautiful. I really enjoy hitting the natural sites in Japan. Everywhere, obviously, but truly getting around to the natural sites is on my list.

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Gabe loved Legoland the best. It was full of Legos and more legos. A couple of rides and even a workshop. He raced Lego cars with Archie. They even sold a big bowl of spaghetti.

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Studio Ghibli Museum

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My favorite spot was the museum. I'm a big fan of Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro. We accidentally bought the tickets for the wrong day but they were nice enough to still let us in. It's small and really crowded so they are pretty strict about crowds and times.

It's an adorable museum that pays homage to all the wonderful movies for children that are made by the studio.

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Our spoils

The rest of the time we walked around a lot from place to place and train to train. So I took some pics!

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Here are my favorite shots from Akeyoshido...

Akeyoshido Caverns collage

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