September 14th marks the 2 year anniversary of our move to Japan. The week before we left the U.S. in 2018, Typhoon Jebi came through western Japan and damaged the bridge to Kansai Airport in Osaka, which meant our flight was diverted to Chubu Nagoya Centrair Airport. Looking back at photos and the blog post from that day brings up many emotions. First, the kids were so little back then! The left picture is at Honolulu airport, checking in for the flight and the right is us taking the train from Chubu airport to Nagoya to then catch the shinkansen to Osaka.
It also makes us acutely aware of the many milestones we have achieved. The boys are fluent in Japanese. Zachary’s teacher comments that his penmanship, particularly kanji, is superb. Friends have said that Jack sounds like a native Osakan. I’ve joined a conversation class and have hired a tutor. Michael has a language exchange partner. Not really a language exchange, since Maa-kun doesn’t speak any English. I guess it’s more like immersion, but without any support. Let me take a step back. Due to the pandemic, Michael’s company agreed to reimburse taxi fare to and from work. One of Jack’s former classmate’s dad is a taxi driver, so through our good friend Taichi-san, we got in touch with Maa-kun. Michael should write a post about this, so I will just say that after 3 months of riding Maa-kun’s taxi, his Japanese has improved a lot. Or not? Michael will say, “Maa-kun says our apartment building used to be lotus root fields back in the day.” “Really?” I reply. “Well, at least I think that’s what he said. Or maybe he said he eats lotus root in a field near our apartment? Or maybe lotus root is in season? I know for sure lotus root was involved, somehow.” Joking aside, it’s quite a feat learning a new language from scratch and it’s neat to hear Michael make conversation with neighbors and local shop owners.
Knowing that our 2 year anniversary was coming up and also feeling weary of the constant polarizing headlines about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, we decided to rent a car and drive to a seaside town for some rest and relaxation. We needed to take a break, so we decided to head to….Obama! Yes, the same name as our 44th president. The name isn’t lost on the town either: There’s even a bust with the likeness of President Obama.
It was a scorcher of a day, but we enjoyed spending time with Obama…I mean IN the city of Obama.
We then drove along the coast to Amanohashidate, one of the top 3 most scenic spots in Japan. A sandbar connects one end of Miyazu Bay to the other. The boys loved splashing in the water and skipping rocks.
Our sun-filled, beautiful and socially distanced respite had to come to an end. We headed back to Osaka with Michael driving for the first time in Japan! Watch out for that car!
We also received a timely anniversary present from the Japanese government. It was a postcard from Immigration saying that instead of limiting our stay to 3 more years, they would extend it indefinitely. It’s good to know that we have plenty of time to explore not only Japan, but surrounding countries as well. Who knows, maybe next year you’ll read a blog post about our vacation in Australia and New Zealand?