Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving marks the last, of our "first" holidays in Japan.  I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but time has just gone by so quickly since we came here.  Its hard to believe we're approaching our 1 year Anniversary in just three short weeks! 

I was mulling over what to do for Thanksgiving given I only have a small convection oven to work with.  I thought about getting an already prepared meal from base, cooking some turkey breasts, or getting together with friends to share Thanksgiving with.  Well, as it turns out, we were invited to our friends house for dinner.  I am going to be bringing some of the sides, a dessert, drinks, and our friends will be preparing both a turkey and ham and some of the other fixins!

I'm thoroughly grateful this holiday season.  While we will be missing our friends and family back home, I'm grateful for the new friendships we have formed, and most of all for all of the experiences our family continues to have. 

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it 
is like wrapping 
a present and not giving it 
--William Arthur Ward--

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rush Hour

Since last week, I've had to schlep the family to base during morning rush hour traffic.  Hopefully, our second car will be fixed soon, so I can send the boys on their way without me.  Our commute is generally 15 minutes depending on the timing of lights, the amount of cars on the road, and so on.  While it is a pretty typical commute, it got me thinking about how driving really is different here.

Here are some of my observations:

Mopeds & Motorcycles - are everywhere.  I know I've probably mentioned them before, but I cannot get used to how many are on the road.  They dart in and out of cars, drive between cars, and do not limit themselves to just one lane.  The other day I had one moped pass me on the right, and another moped pass me on the left...almost in unison. 

Yellow Lights - Usually a yellow light means that you slow down.  Here, it means you keep driving. Sometimes, even if the yellow light becomes just run it.  

Changing Lanes -  You have to edge your way into the lane you want to change into.  While I love Japanese people, I've noticed that they have a mission on the road, and that's to not let you in even if you have your blinker on.  This isn't a bad thing, its just teaching us to be a little more assertive on the road.

Turn Lanes - I've never really edged out into a turn lane back home, like I have here.  Its really okay to block the intersection when you are waiting to turn into a lane.  Even if the light changes, and you are blocking the intersection, cars will make an effort to go around you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mikoshi Parade

The CFAY Mikoshi.
Many commands participated in the Yokosuka Mikoshi parade last month.  Mikoshi are portable (and can be very heavy) Shinto Shrines that are mounted on a wooden frame and paraded typically to and from a shrine. In Yokosuka, the Mikoshi Parade doesn't start at a shrine, but in town, and ends on the base.  The parade is followed by a large friendship festival with a ton of food, music, and another opportunity to unite American and Japanese cultures together.

Dressed and ready to carry the Mikoshi.
Ladies help too.

A friend in front of a fancy Mikoshi.
 Here's a video of the Mikoshi Parade in Yokosuka:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Yokosuka Sushi Rollers

The two teams....The Mummies vs. The Witches.
Roller derby is on the rise in Japan.  At this time, there are two teams on the Kanto Plain:  The Scary Blossoms out of Yokota Airforce Base and The Yokosuka Sushi Rollers.  In Okinawa, they currently have two teams.  I joined the Yokosuka Sushi Rollers this past summer.  A friend back in Bremerton had told me that her friend formed a derby team in Japan, and that I should check it out.  After months of running into people that were on the team, I finally caved in and ordered my "new skater" package.  I was quite nervous to try this new endeavor, but figured I'd skated in the 70's and 80's, so I knew I could at least stand up on skates.  While I may have had a taste of skating in my past, learning roller derby has been a whole different ballgame.  There are so many things to learn such as:  form, stopping, the correct way to fall, hits, speed, jumps, and of course.....knowing the rules helps.

Last month our team hosted skaters "Ref Handsome" and "Kat-atomic" from Aloha Ciy Rollers in Hawaii to do a two-day skating Boot camp.  The day after Boot Camp was over we had our first bout.  The Boot camp was very intense.  I've never skated so much in my life.  Handsome and Kat were great teachers, and taught us so much in such a short amount of time.  The skills we learned, and the bonding our team did during that weekend was a very memorable experience.  Also joining Boot Camp, and participating in the bout, were some skaters from The Scary Blossoms.  What a great bunch of ladies!  They fit right it, had great spirit, and kicked some booty.

After day 2 of Boot Camp!
The bout was a great learning experience.  Bouts are 1 hour in length.  The jams are 2 minutes long with 30 seconds in between each jam.  Luckily, we had an intermission featuring famed Japanese skater Hiroshi Koizumi and his skaters performing some dare-devil moves.   Although my team didn't win the bout, hopefully with more people joining derby, we'll be able to do more bouts in the near future.

It takes a village for a bout to happen!

Here's a link to videos of our first bout (type in Yokosuka Sushi Rollers in search):

For ladies interested in joining The Yokosuka Sushi Rollers:

For additional information on derby rules:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Halloween ハッピーハロウィン

The boys and their friends trick-o-treating.
This week we experienced our first Halloween in Japan. We weren't completely into the Halloween spirit this year, but did buy some pumpkins, went to a haunted house (or two), and wore costumes.  I normally love Halloween....not just the candy, but any opportunity to dress up and buy a new wig. I wasn't able to pick up a new wig this year, but I brought 4 with me when we moved.  Next year, I'll just have to splurge on 2.

There were Halloween decorations around my neighborhood, and in some stores. The Japanese have adopted some American holidays and customs. It's usually on a much smaller scale, although the local mall already has Christmas decorations on display.

Halloween display at mall.
Some kids in my neighborhood went trick-o-treating last weekend to their friends' homes, and I saw something organized at one of the area parks on Halloween.  I wanted to check out the happenings at the park but we were on our way to base.  The boys, along with hundreds of Japanese came onto base for trick-o-treating.  I've never seen so many cute costumes, candy and people out and about on Halloween.  It looked like everyone was enjoying themselves.  My kids had a great time with their friends and got a ton of candy...which is the most important thing of all!!