Saturday, September 29, 2007

Spiders anyone?

Today, we went for a walk. It was a cloudy day, and the spiders were out. We live among fields of rice, which is a popular area for the large joro-gumo, the Queen of Japanese Spiders. Their webs are between lampposts, in the irrigation ditches, between trees, and in our bushes. Looking up, you will see webs across phone wires, but it looks as if there are spiders dangling in the air. The webs are huge and super reinforced. We touched the edge of one, and it was like touching starched, steel fishing wire. The scary part is that there is usually a huge female in the center of the web, and then several "smaller" males lurking on the outside waiting to mate. These spiders are everywhere, and I get shivers just thinking about them. I feel like I'm in Arachnophobia!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Things that go bump...

Things that go bump in the middle of the night are usually Fox's head or nose against the doorframes of our house. We have a sliding partition to separate our kitchen and living room, and that's low as well. He's been a good sport about it so far, but hopefully he doesn't get back problems from constantly stooping down.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Japanese Italian Food

Today was a national holiday to celebrate the autumnal equinox. Since they had the day off, the Morimuras took us to lunch at an Italian restaurant down the street. Fox chose Italian, thinking he might get some chicken parmesan. Well, the waitress had never heard of chicken parmesan. In fact, the restaurant didn't even have chicken. Instead, you could order spaghetti and shrimp, spaghetti and crab, pizza with tuna, mayo, and shrimp, pizza with eggs and bacon, or potato gratin with egg and barbecue sauce. Now, Fox doesn't eat shrimp or eggs--so he settled on pizza with corn, ham, and pepperoni. I got a salad with shrimp, potatoes, lettuce, and seaweed--and ate my salad with chopsticks. It was actually really good. I also had some delicious mango juice--Yum!
At lunch, Fumi and I were talking and she asked me what an American does if they can't find a spouse. She asked incredulously, "You mean they just live alone for the rest of their lives?" I said yes, what do they do in Japan? "They find another person who is looking for a spouse through a matchmaker! If they are LDS, then they meet up at a Conference. There is a long list of names of who there is looking to get married, so they take down phone numbers, talk long distance, and get married." She thought it was amazing that America doesn't have matchmakers and people actually remain single their whole lives! I was equally astonished that Japan still has matchmakers! It's kind of funny to find out little quirks about this culture.

After lunch, we went to a gym where your outside shoes couldn't touch the inside of the gym. You either had to wash your shoes or change into another pair of gym shoes before you set foot in the gym. Or you could shuffle around the hallways in some issued slippers, like I did. After the gym, I took Fox to a store I found that has cheap peanut butter! Hooray! So now you don't have to send the gallons we requested. (No, I'm not a gigantic fan of peanut butter. That's Fox. But I make a really yummy peanut sauce that is peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar that is great on the TONS of noodles and rice we eat!)
Stay tuned for pictures of Kiwi-flavored KitKats! ~Amy

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Strange Sort of Feeling

Amy and I have noticed something about Japan while we've been here. Nearly everywhere you look, you can find English words. They're on buildings, advertisements, magazines, product packaging, and corporate names. Sometimes the English is good; other times it's not. It is very weird to be half way around the world and still have so much familiar stuff from your own culture all around you.

Amy mentioned it the other day in the context of coming home. The way it feels right now is that we never even left America. We seriously feel like we're in a very large Japanese version of Chinatown. It's like being in an unfamiliar place that still feels recognizably like home.

I wonder what this feeling means about us as Americans. To see the adoration and accommodations that the wonderful people of Japan have and make for Americans is somewhat embarrassing. I would never expect to see a foreign language used in America the way that English is thrown around here. In fact, I even remember (shamefully) seeing signs in America that were entirely in Spanish and thinking, "Why couldn't they just learn English and put their signs up in that?!?!?!" Whereas here, people see the signs in the foreign language (English) and actually slow down to try and read it. They love it. This has really opened my eyes to the fact that this is a ridiculously small planet which we all share.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Around the House

We are continuing to explore our house and the neighborhood around it. Last night, we discovered that the control panel outside our shower room turns the vent in the shower into a dryer. That explains the hangers in the bathroom! We also recently went to an electronics store and were surprised to find $600 rice cookers and countertop dishwashers. It's always fun to find new stores and then it's not so fun when you look at the prices! Anyways, here are a few more pictures for you.
Cash likes his girly high chair:

When we turn the kitchen light on at night, it attracts bugs to the window, which attracts some geckos. We usually have two on the window, but sometimes there are four--and they really enjoy their dinner. They also enjoy our front garden!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Marugame Castle

Here are some pictures from our trip to Marugame Castle yesterday. It's quite a steep hike to the tower, but the view is beautiful. The castle is about twenty minutes away from our house, in the center of downtown Marugame.
Cash is excited!

There is a moat surrounding the castle, filled with swans, fish, turtles, and the occasional crane.

Getting ready to hike up:

The view from the top:

The castle tower:

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Food Finds

My one concern about moving to Japan was the food. Would I be able to find anything to eat that was not fish flavored? What about baby food...and pizza...and ice cream? Well, my one concern has been my least worry out here. The food is amazing! That's not to say it's not strange. You can't buy tortillas or cheddar cheese. Bread is a dessert and comes in huge white slices, already loaded with butter and sugar. The baby food is fish flavored--codfish to be exact--but I did find sweet potato and pumpkin and apple flavor. Yes, the cantaloupes are $16, but the pineapple, honeydew, and bananas are regular price. Grocery shopping is a great adventure, especially because I can't read the label. Is it bad for me? I have no idea! I can't read the ingredients! Maybe that's why I'm enjoying the food so much. Is this flour or tempura flakes? Is it barbecue sauce or plum sauce? Who knows? It's just great fun for me to go grocery shopping on a budget when I can't read what I'm buying. Luckily, I can recognize soymilk, eggs, and noodles. Hooray!
One thing that's especially fun is the pastries here. Japanese people love fancy desserts with their tea. Every grocery store has a bakery with huge cream filled croissants, sponge cake, chocolate mousse, mochi...yummy. Mochi is my new favorite dessert, made from gelatinous rice flour. A popular cartoon character here is anpan man. Anpan is a roll filled with red bean paste that is very popular here. I love it. You can also find pizza in the bakery. Pizza here has a ton of different toppings. We saw one with bacon, weanies, and ketchup the other day. Sweets are also huge here. I got a white chocolate lemon aero bar the other day. We did find peanut butter--$2.50 for a small jar--but it was whipped and so worth it. Fox and I are just so overjoyed that we have loved everything we've tried..and everything I've experimented with cooking. I could devote a whole blog to Japanese food...maybe I will.

This "pizza" is a slice of bread with a smattering of cheese and corn kernels. Very popular.

Below is a box of mochi ice cream I bought. It's so yummy. The mochi are tiny, though.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Funny English

People in Japan are obsessed with American culture. Everywhere you go, you hear American music playing (complete with swear words, since they don't translate here), and there is some English on almost every single building, package, and product. The fun part is that most of the English isn't translated correctly. A Japanese man explained to us that it's kind of like how in America, people got really obsessed with Chinese characters for tattoos and stuff, but the characters always meant something completely off base. In our case, we get a huge laugh out of it---in fact, I'm sure you'll all be getting souvenirs with funny English. Here are a couple of examples from our stay in Osaka on our way to Marugame. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Our House

Cash and I are standing behind our house. The mountain in the background is "Little Fuji". We don't actually have a backyard--it is a huge rice field, as you can see. In fact, no one here has a backyard. Our neighborhood is close groups of houses and businesses built together on concrete.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Nicholas Cage is really an Oscar Winner?!?!?

We've only been here a week, but we're already in love with all of the corny commercials that air in Japan. The best are when you get an A-list celebrity selling something goofy. They think that no one will ever see them, so they do really bizarre stuff and collect huge paychecks for it because they're such big stars here. Cameron Diaz does poster spots for a cell phone called Soft Bank. Soft Bank, really... what does that have to do with cell phones? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that cell minutes here are charged in 9-second increments... 6 yen for 9 seconds; that's roughly 30 cents per minute. Maybe the cost just rips you bank account apart, so they call it "Soft" as in "flimsy bank account." Anywhoooo... Orlando Bloom does a really funky TV spot for a hair gel. The whole commercial looks like a car chase that happens at night and has absolutely nothing to do with hair gel at any point. Anne Hatheway, Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, and Liv Tyler all do TV spots for a shampoo called LUX. But the best commercials by far are Nichols Cage's. He does pachinko ads (pachinko is like a sort of gambling akin to slot machines) where he's just talking to the camera about something weird and then ties it into pachinko somehow. He does like four or five. Here is the url to one of them that I got off the web here:'s soooooo weird. I can't believe that he's an Oscar winner.
Oh, here's one for Joan:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Teaching in Japan

Most of the teaching that we do here is with kindergarten-aged children. On Tuesdays, I teach at a Kindergarten name Aoyama. The parents of the students wants their children to know English, so they contract with my boss to have a native speaker come out to their children's kindergarten to teach the kids. The kindergarten isn't necessarily in on the agreement, so they make my boss pay rent for using their large music room and their teachers do not sit in on the lessons with me to help. It can be a little frightening. I have anywhere from six to eight three or four-year-olds in each class. Corralling them is a little tricky because I don't know how to tell them to stop what they're doing and come sit down in Japanese, and that's really the only way they'll listen to you.
Wednesdays I teach three classes at another kindergarten called Kogaku. Kogaku kindergarten actually contracts with my boss, so they don't charge us rent and their teachers do sit in with me and help keep the kids focused. I ended up about ten minutes late on Wednesday morning because I got lost (again), but they were very kind and sympathetic to me. They even invited me (formally, with a personally-addressed written invitation and everything) to their sports day at the end of the month. That is sort of like Field Day in American Elementary Schools. I am very excited to work with them.
I basically recycle the same lesson for each of the kindergartens that I drive around to on different days. This week, we learned about parts of the body and sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." Next week, I plan to work on Colors and read some children's books to them.
Last night, I taught three small group classes for six to eight-year-olds. I went over some first words using flashcards. I set the flashcards down in piles of Toys, Animals, and Foods, asking the kids which pile each card went into. It took some of them a little longer to figure out than others, but eventually they all got it. After all the cards were sorted, I had them pick out their favorite one from each category and then practiced writing the words on the chalkboard. Next week, I plan to really focus on favorite things; I hope to find that song from Sound of Music to sing with them. During the last class in which I tried this technique, I kind of got the impression that half the class was bored out of their minds. I didn't want to get complicated because I want a sort of baseline for how to gauge my teaching; the problem is that I couldn't think of how to explain that to them. I will work on ideas of how to make these classes both educational and fun at the same time.
Today, I actually taught some adult classes. I loved the first two. My students all seemed well-versed enough that I actually had a fun time teaching them. I taught about the good, better, best heirarchy in English and when to use which word.
Hopefully things will keep improving. Amy keeps looking at online teaching resources for me. She is a great help. Now if I can only figure out how to print these things she's giving me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cash likes his new pad!

Here are a few pictures of Cash enjoying his new play areas:

What is Skype?

For those of you wondering what Skype is and why I keep mentioning it, let me tell ya. Skype is a free phone service through the internet. So, if you have Skype, you can talk to us and anyone else who has Skype for free. You just need a microphone on your computer (and a webcam if you want us to see you!). We have a webcam, which pops up on your computer whenever you call you can see Cash's first little tooth coming in or whatever else you'd like to see. So far, we've been able to have a conference call with Doug and Sheelah and Larissa, and we've been able to see Doug and Sheelah, since they have a webcam. Sooooo....get on Skype--it's free-- (, get a microphone, and a webcam...and everyone will be much happier (Mom and Dad)!

Man, what a commercial. I hope someone pays me for this!


Monday, September 3, 2007

The "Fox Got Lost" Story

The evening that we arrived in Japan, Fumi Morimura and her husband came to pick us up at the bus station where we had gotten (incorrectly) off our bus. They came in a large, white minivan that Fumi uses daily and a tiny shell of a black car that looks like an infant minivan and only seats four. Bro. Morimura drove me and our luggage in the small black car, which I learned was our car to use while in Japan, while Fumi drove Amy and Cash in her minivan.

Our first stop was at Marugame International Academy, or MIA as everyone calls it. Amy and Cash stayed in Fumi's minivan while the Morimuras showed me around the school. Afterwards, Bro. Morimura got into his own car and left for work. He told me that it would be very easy to get home; just follow Fumi.

Here I think it is important to break into the story with a little information about Japanese roads. First of all, none but the biggest roads have names. The named roads are about as wide as most of the streets in America's residential areas. However, people only use these roads when they are traveling from one city to another. Secondly, the roads that are used are a little more like alleys than roads. They are very often only wide enough for one Japanese car and could certainly never fit an American car. These alley roads are two-way streets. It is entirely common to have to stop and back into a driveway or parking lot because another car is coming in your direction. Thirdly, people walk on the tiny roads whether they are big enough for one car or two cars to travel at the same time, and the people walking or riding their bikes in traffic do not care that you are coming. You either stop and putter along behind them or go around them (which is usually pretty tricky to time correctly. And Finally, the roads in our neighborhood that are wide enough for two cars to travel at the same time in opposite directions are wide enough ONLY for two cars AND there is a straight vertical two-foot drop separating the road and the rice fields on the outside of your lane, so don't stray out of your lane!!!

Now back to the story:

I followed Fumi out of the school parking lot and into an alley just big enough for a single lane of travel (even though it was two-way). She zipped down the lane and made turns suddenly and quickly. The first thing that became tricky was the fact that I had never driven on the left side of the road. It's confusing. The next tricky part was that I was trying to think about how many miles per hour I was going even though everything was in kilometers per hour. In hindsight, I shouldn't have been bothering with math while trying to follow my boss's car. I could have simply just matched my speed to the road signs (which are painted on the road and rarely posted as signs since there is no "side of the road" big enough for a signpost). Fumi kept shooting along, and I stayed behind her for a while pretty well.

When we got to the main road that our house is near, the road widened enough for a second lane of traffic to travel alongside us in the opposite direction. However, it was still uncomfortably tight for me, so I would come to a nearly-complete stop each time a car was coming at me (this is actually not all that uncommon here). I figured that I couldn't really be faulted if I was coming to a stop in my lane and got clipped by someone in the other lane. The problem with this technique is that I quickly built up a line of cars behind me. They started realizing what I was doing so they started shooting past me when I would slow down and then cut me off as they got back into the lane to avoid the other cars coming right at them in the oncoming lane. The scary/funny/I-need-new-undershorts thing about it is that they would all speed up to do this... even the oncoming traffic.

Throughout all of this, I soon realized a horrifying fact: I could no longer see Fumi.

I kept going for a few minutes before realizing that she had in fact completely disappeared. She had to have turned off of this road at some point. I decided to turn back and go back to a point in the road where I new we had been together (I won't go into how frustrating that process was). I decided to go back a ways where the road had actually widened enough for me to pull over and still allow both "lanes" of traffic to move around me at the same time. I pulled over and sat. And sat. And sat. And sang as I sat, and sat, and sat, aaaaaannnnd saaaaaaaaat.

I kept thinking, "this is what you do when you're lost. YOu sit and wait, and eventually someone will come and find you." So I pulled out a Japanese textbook and started reading while I waited. The sun started going down, so I turned on my hazard lights so that passing cars would see me and avoid me. After fifteen minutes I decided to get out of the car and stand in front of it so that I was clearly visible when Fumi and Amy would come back by.

So while I was lost, alone, hungry, and tired on my first night in a foreign country where I could sorta almost barely communicate Amy and Fumi decided to go shopping.

I ended up waiting for thirty-five minute before deciding that they weren't looking for me. After all, we had only been driving for eight minutes when I got lost. I got back into the car, turned it around again, and headed down the road in the direction we had originally been traveling. After about four minutes of navigating the narrow Japanese roads alone, I came to a T-intersection. Crap! I looked left and discovered a gas station that was brightly lit. I made for it.

Pulling into the gas station, a young boy around fifteen came out to pump my gas, but since I wasn't getting gas I steered for the office rather than the pump. He frantically started dancing around waving his arms in the direction of the pumps and trying to slap the car towards them as though it were a wayward hefer. "Sorry, I'm a stupid American." I stopped the car, got out, and explained to him in broken Japanese that I had gotten lost and needed a phone to call my boss. "Juusyo wa nan desu ka," he asked. What is the address. I explained that I didn't have the address. This was my first night in Marugame; all I had was the phone number. He stared at me trying not to smile. Then he went over to two middle-aged men and spoke quickly to them. I picked out that he was telling them that I was lost and didn't have a phone. They all laughed. A lot. Then one of the middle-aged men went inside the office (holding his arms straight out at me and not breaking eye contact "Stay there stupid. Don't spread your idiocy around our gas station"). He brought out a very old man in the same uniforms they were all wearing. The very old man asked for the address again. I again explained that all I had was the phone number. I asked if I could use a cell phone or the station phone. He shook his head. But he took the paper that the number was written on and went inside. He picked up the phone, punched in some numbers, and then hung up. When he came out again, the very old man explained that the phone number didn't work. I asked if I could try using his phone. He told me "no." Then in very slow polite Japanese, he explained that I should get back in my car and go back to where I had be waiting. Then he said, "Komarimasu ne?" It's a problem isn't it? I repeated, "Komarimasu." He couldn't help. It was time to leave.

So I drove back to the place where I had waited before and pulled over again, narrowly missing being hit by a metallic pink four-seater. I flipped on the hazards and turned off the car. This time I got right out of the car. I paced back and forth along the road in front of the car, being careful to avoid the continuing traffic in the dark. I said a quick prayer, explaining to my Father in Heaven that I had done everything that I could and needed his help if I was going to get back to my family before the next morning when the police came along to see why a car was parked on the side of the road all night. Immediately after the short prayer, I got a feeling that I hadn't really done everything that I could. I was turning to my Father in Heaven and expecting him to solve my problem before I had exhausted every possibility. I hadn't tried to stop any cars and ask them to help.

I wondered what would be the best way. Jump out and try to scare them into stopping? No, they might swerve off the road and make a bigger mess. Lie down in the street when no one was coming and hope that they see me and think something is really wrong and they have to stop? No, they might not stop. THUMP-THUMP. I decided to just start yelling as they drove by. Yes, that is exactly what every Ugly American should do. Yell at the locals as they speed by you.

My best bet was to yell something nice so that I didn't seem like a complete jerk. I decided on "Taskute Kudasai!!" Please give me helping!!!(yes this is correct grammar). I yelled this at several cars as they passed. They didn't even slow down. I called it out to one man as he passed on foot. He pretended not to hear. I started yelling it to cars only if they had their windows open, that way they would certainly hear me. No response. I called out to a teenage girl on a bicycle. She stopped. She Stopped!!! She approached nervously. "Ketai Denwa ga arimasu ka?" I asked. Do you have a cell phone? "Arimasen." She didn't. I apologized for disturbing her, and she went on her way.

This went on for about twenty more minutes. Finally I called out to another teenage girl on a bicycle. She stopped. She had a cell phone! SHE WOULD LET ME USE IT!!!! HOOORAAAAY!! She actually decided that she should use it to call my boss. I showed her the piece of paper with Fumi's number on it. Then something curious happened. "Fumi?" she asked. "Hai, Fumiyo Morimura San." I replied. "Sirimasu!" she said. She knew Fumi. Fumi had been her teacher. I couldn't believe the coincidence. No literally, I couldn't. I had prayed for help. I was prompted to start flagging down people. And I found a person that was friends with my only contact in Japan.

She talked with Fumi over the phone. They laughed and she smiled. I could tell that Fumi asked if the girl had been talking to me in English because the girl responded "Iye Nihongo de" No Japanese. She laughed and gave Fumi directions to where we were. Fumi started out.

This teenage girl in the customary Japanese High School uniform hung up and explained that Fumi was on her way. I thanked her heartily and told her that she could go ifshe had better things to do. Then she told me that she would wait with me until Fumi arrived. WE made chit chat for about ten minutes. I tried unsuccessfully to tell her that she was very brave to approach a strange giant white man. She didn't understand, and I couldn't think of the right words. I settled for telling her that she was a very kind person. Fumi finally arrived and clapped me on the back. She was apparently very impressed that I could get myself out of such a pinch. I immediately knew that it was not me that got me out of the pinch.

The young girl rode off. Fumi explained that we were very near home. She had just turned off a little way down the road from where I was. We got back into the cars and she drove very slowly to our house where Amy was waiting patiently in the kitchen.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Church in Japan

Today was our first Sunday in Japan, and it was such a busy day. Our branch building is in downtown Marugame, about ten minutes from our house. It's a very old building with contaminated water that the church has been renting for 35 years. The Marugame branch has been put on the list for a new ward building, but it needs to consistently have 80 members in attendance--and this past year it has only hit 80 once. Usually, attendance is around 60 or 70. There are, including us, twelve English teachers, all of them BYU or BYU-I graduates. We have a translator for sacrament and relief society, but Sunday school is English. After church, we went to have lunch with at the Jensen's apartment. This is the third time the Jensen's have taught in Japan. Sis. Jensen had her first baby here, who is now 2, and will have her second baby here in December. It was fun visiting with them. They made us curry (just the way I make it!) and gave us the scoop on living here.

After visiting with them, we got home and then had a welcoming dinner at the Morimura's, along with the missionaries. We had--I don't know what it's called! Basically a bunch of meat and veggies thrown on a grill that you eat right off the grill--is that tepanyaki? Afterwards, the missionaries gave us a lesson and a sheet to refer our friends to church, and Bro. Morimura shared his conversion story. He got baptized six years after Fumi did and told us of how Fumi would put her three boys on her bike with her to ride to church while he went gambling. He realized that was terrible and started driving them to church and then ended up staying with them. Did I mention the Morimuras have three sons, one of which is a cell phone music composer in Tokyo and another is the branch president? After dinner, we all crashed--we were so tired! We did figure out how to use some of the appliances in our house--including our toilet with bidet, heated seat, and remote control--it's almost too much to handle for a toilet! Tomorrow we'll need to figure out how to use our tiny tiny washing machine. I will post pictures as soon as I can find the camera cord.
If you are reading this, set up Skype! ~Amy

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Airport Lessons

We have arrived safely in Marugame! We got here Saturday afternoon, and our boss, Fumi, picked us up at the bus station and took us to our home, which is across the street from her house. We live in a pretty rural area with rice fields all around, although there is a Baskin Robbins around the corner! I had my first experience with grocery shopping last night, and that was very interesting. The store we went to did indeed have 1 pound bags of rice for $10! Yikes! I will post more about our area and house later. Before I forget, I want to just make a list of lessons we learned quickly in our first experience with international travel.

1.) Apparently, if you are traveling to Japan on a tourist visa, you need a return ticket. I had called the Japanese consulate earlier and he had told me the same thing, but then I found a website for English teachers in Japan which told me that no one cares about a return ticket. Desperately, Fox and I racked our brains as to how to come up with the means to get return tickets. Luckily, the airline rep told us the loophole in the system--buy a ridiculously expensive return ticket that is fully refundable so that we could be let on the airplane and have proof of plans to return and then get our ticket refunded after we went through customs. We frantically called my sister to do just that, which she did quickly and willingly, (thanks, you're a lifesaver!) and we were able to board our plane with no problems. The funny thing is that when we went through customs in Japan, they didn't care about a return ticket or why we were even there in the first place. Sheesh!

2.) Check your reservations well! What I thought was a ticket from LAX to Kansai International Airport, which has free shuttle buses to hotels and a bus station in the airport, turned out to be a ticket from LAX to Tokyo-Narita. From Narita, after going through a priority line at customs since we have a baby (so it literally took less than 10 minutes) , we had to take a 1 hour shuttle to the Haneda airport, which gave us approximately 45 minutes to check our bags, go through security, and get to the gate--somehow we miraculously did it! We then got on a plane to Osaka, which took 1 hour, and then found out that there are no train or bus stations in Osaka airport. We had to take a shuttle to a train station and from the station, take a taxi to a hotel, where we stayed. The next morning, we lugged all 8 pieces of luggage (our large one's wheel broke!) down to a bus station about ten minutes away. From the bus station, we took a bus to Marugame and were dropped off at the wrong stop! Luckily, our boss had her cell phone on her, so we were able to get to our home with no problems (except for Fox, who was following Fumi's car in our new car, getting incredibly lost on the way back--but that's another story).

3.) Do not ask for water from the flight attendant on a Japanese airplane. Water isn't an option! However, she did make a special trip to find me some water.

4.) American babies are irresistable. Even the most serious looking businessmen drop their work to comment on how cute and chubby Cash is. Cash was an angel on the plane and bus. So far, he's been waking an hour earlier, but that's the only difference. Yay!

5.) Never switch seats if you are sitting next to someone who might possibly speak your language, even if they are eating raw fish and drinking a huge beer. Fox ended up learning a lot about Japan, practiced his Japanese, and got to speak English for a few hours to a very nice man on the bus.

Possible visitors please note: Do not let our misadventures dissuade you from visiting! It really was not that bad, and I can't believe how smoothly it went compared to my predictions. Okay, I love you all and don't forget to set up Skype! ~Amy