Journey to Japan: the aftermath

Hi, everybody! Sorry for the long gaps between installments, but we don’t have internet access in our building. I end up going to a computer lab across the way about once a week…which is really limiting.

When we finally made it here there were two huge things that we had to adjust to almost immediately. One was the time change: you can’t go from Texas to Japan in one fell swoop without getting your times all mixed up. We pushed hard for a quick adjustment (we had an easy start because we didn’t get to our hotel in Tokyo until about 6pm and crashed almost immediately) but it’s really hard to convince a one year old and a three year old that they need to try and sleep a little longer because while it may feel like late morning, it’s ‘really’ 2 am. It’s also a bit of a drag when none of the restaurants open until 5:30 and you really want some breakfast – or something…they had spaghetti and corn soup on the breakfast bar – at 4. We were mostly over the jetlag after the first week, through rigid scheduling and merciless nap regulation. No biggie.

The second was the weather. The moment we stepped off the plane we could smell the snow on the air and felt the real, winter cold that we haven’t had for years. We weren’t quite as prepared as we thought we had been (gloves would have been nice while we were waiting on the taxi at the curb), but we did all right. The boys, of course, were distressed by the cold winds and interested by the white stuff all over. At first, Max insisted it was ice cream. Now he’s just afraid of it.

Yes, you read that correctly: my three year old is afraid of snow. He likes to look at it out the window, and he says he wants to play in it, and he speaks excitedly about ‘snowmans,’ but get him up close to it and he’s petrified. I don’t think he was at first, but after a few times walking in it (getting it stuck to his shoes, and on his pants) and feeling how cold it really is outside, he started crying when we made him walk on it. Trying to get him out of the car into a snowy parking lot is like trying to get a cat into a bathtub. It’s even more fun when we have to walk outside while it’s snowing. He fusses, and stalls, and tries to keep the snowflakes off of him, all while crying because he’s getting cold. He prefers ice, actually: it doesn’t get stuck to him. His rehabilitation is a gradual process, but he’s making small steps and I feel confident that by next winter he’ll be playing in the snow with everybody else.

You may be surprised that I didn’t mention culture shock as one of the immediate adjustments we had to make. Certainly it was in evidence; the minute we stepped onto the plane for our transcontinental flight we were immersed in a sea of Japanese and Japanese people – they even gave us sushi with our dinner – but to be honest, it didn’t affect us that much. That was the one aspect of our trip that we had prepared most for! We expected and welcomed the experiences, even going so far as to try to get something out of JapanTV (which was also playing) when we got sick of Bee Movie.

It took a little longer for the cultural disorientation to set in; it didn’t really start until we began establishing normal daily routines (as normal as they can be in this transition…we are in temporary lodging, after all). So far, we’re enjoying Japan and its people very much: it’s only every once in a while that we really feel how displaced we are.


  1. bezzie says:

    How much longer are you guys in billeting? Ugh!

    Oh man, it didn’t even occur to me that your boys have never really seen snow! That blows my mind!

    (But on the other hand, my kid couldn’t understand why it was still hot out at Christmas two xmases ago–ha ha!)

  2. Dad says:

    Your post says 1 AM – but I guessing more like 4 PM your time which has not happened here yet but was yesterday for you. BTW – we start daylight savings time Sunday – which is tomorrow here and you are about to see the sunrise of there.

  3. Susan says:

    Dear Melissa,
    I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning, Too Many Hooks). So needless to say I’ve been following your life. You are a wonderful person and I admire all the things you do. It takes a lot to move to another country with two young boys. I’m glad your back to blogging because I missed you and your stories. Also , I love the hat that was inspired by the ocean. The directions didn’t print out though with microsoft word so I’m going to try to use the chart alone. YIKES! That pattern and many of your other patterns should be submitted to magazines!!! You’ve got to keep persuing that. Stay sane!
    Susan from Sullivan

  4. Laura says:

    Your move reminds me a lot of when I was eleven and my family moved from CA to Australia. Our plane got in at 6am and after being up for 20 hrs straight we all collapsed at the hotel. Took forever to get used to the time difference.
    What an adventure being in Japan, though! I can’t wait to read more about it!

  5. Abi says:

    It’s so funny and sad that Max is afraid of snow. It’s like when my 2-year-old gets sticky, she tries to get it off but can’t. When are you going to be able to get into a place of your own?

  6. Rita says:

    Hi Melissa. I know exactly how you feel. We moved from a tiny house into our new spacious home with a fantastic garden 8 years ago. It was such hard work, but at the same time truly exciting. Enjoy your new home!
    Ciao. Rita.

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