Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hasami Scarecrow Festival

I debated and debated joining the Officers Spouses Club, as I don't like being exclusive and I don't care wether or not someone's husband is enlisted or and officer. As long as we get along, I like you and you like me, we're good. However, I do like meeting people and I really wanted to explore Sasebo and the surrounding areas and I knew that OSC has outings every month and that I would enjoy my time spent doing things with the group. So, finally I decided I would join and I'm really glad I did!! Our first trip was to Hasami, a very small country town, known for it's pottery and also it's scarecrow festival every year. Josh came along with me, as he took some time off of work last week and hasn't been exploring much since arriving here in June. 
   Hasami was so beautiful! Tons of mountains, rice fields and beautiful japanese style homes. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trip there.

A tribute to the Japanese women's soccer team on their win. She is hunched over because after years of working in the rice fields,  many people's spines are permanently bent this way.
                                Tribute to the men who responded to the disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear plant.
                                                   Josh and we think Moammar Kadafi.

Working in the garden.
This house was so beautiful. It was built in the middle of rice fields. Such a peaceful view of the mountains and rice fields blowing in the fall breeze. Unbelievably beautiful!
We are pretty sure this is supposed to be President Obama.
A field worker using a make shift squatty potty. This one had us all laughing. While we were taking pictures of this a few Japanese women join us and started being silly with the "pee". A good time was had by all enjoying this kakashi (scarecrow).
The edge of a rice paddy. They are so beautiful blowing in the breeze. I took so many pictures of rice paddy's it's not funny, but I'll only post a few!


These red flowers are planted along the edges of the rice fields. When the flower blooms, that means it's about time to harvest the rice. These flowers were blooming!

A view down the road. I love how all of the rice paddy's are "stacked" all the way up the hill. 
  After we were done enjoying the Kakashi's and the unbelievable scenery, we drove down the road to a beautiful little restaurant that has been lovingly named Hasami Pizza, although I'm fairly certain that is not the actual name of this restaurant. The owners were very sweet and generous. This woman made all of us tea, a few cups at a time, with her tea pot. Isn't she beautiful?!?
(Photo courtesy of Michelle Brownlee)

Her husband made us many, many pizzas in an old pottery kiln. The pizzas weren't like american pizza, but rather like a burrito shell, with fresh veggies straight from their garden and some mozzarella cheese on top. Everything tasted wonderful and they were so great with us all. Smiling and laughing with us. It still amazes me how grateful they were to have us there. The Japanese are so opposite most people in America. Always thanking me for coming to their restaurant or shopping at their store. The other day a gardner in our neighborhood thanked me for saying hello to her. Strange to be thanked for just being nice to someone who works so hard to keep my neighborhood nice and neat. I should be thanking her, not the other way around. 

 (Photo courtesy of Colleen Rettig)
He also was kind enough to let me get back behind the pizza making station, so  could get a photo of him putting a pizza into the kiln. 

   All in all this was a GREAT day! I got to spend it with some lovely ladies and my fantastic husband. We saw some beautiful sights, ate some great food and had a lot of laughs on the way home with our good friend Michelle!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Things I miss and love about America and Japan

Well, I know that I didn't blog last week, but that's only because there wasn't really anything interesting to blog about. I'm sure that nobody wanted to read about the trouble I was having with my oldest trying to get the hang of 4th grade and how frustrated I was with her for being lazy. I had decided that I would wait and blog twice this week and next, because we are doing some really neat stuff this week and I knew I'd have a lot to write about. That will be coming soon, but I recently have been thinking about all the things that I miss about the States and things I love about Japan, so I thought I'd share them with you.

1. I miss Target! I miss the walking around the store, looking at all the cute dishes and clothing. Ok, yes and buying some of them too!

2. I miss fabric stores. I miss walking into a store and being able to browse the selection and pick just what I want for the project I'm working on.

3. I miss fresh vegetables! The commissary selection is not good and what they do have goes bad very quickly. The Japanese just grow different things here and I miss the things that are "normal" for me.

4. I also miss fresh chicken breast and ground turkey. Everything here is frozen and there's only 1 kind of ground turkey and it's not very good.

5. I miss my friends and family. I do have some great friends here, but there's nothing like long time friends and your family!

6. I miss my dogs!! I wish I could have them with me. I miss having them greet me at the door and knowing they are laying by my bedside at night.

7. I miss having my own house. I'm not loving the apartment idea. I do like that there are kids everywhere and always someone to play with, but I don't like how small my living space is. It's do-able but not something I want to do forever.

8. I miss having a deli and bakery! I miss not being able to walk up to the deli and get my favorite cracked pepper turkey and american  cheese. I'm no longer able to make my Mother's famous mac and cheese! :O(

What I love about Japan-

1. I love how happy everyone is. Today as I was driving through the toll booth, the toll worker hung his head outside the window to greet me with a smile. When I got to the window he said hello took my money, smiled and said good bye. Toll booth workers in the states rarely even look at you, nevermind hang their head out the window to greet you as you approach.

2. I love how safe it is here. I can let my kids play outside or walk to school with other friends without fear someone will bother them.  I couldn't do that in the states.

3. I love their lack of drive thru's. I know that may sound funny, but because there are none, I never feel the need to just " drive thru and get a coke or fries."

4. I love how beautiful it is here. The mountains and water are just amazing. I can't even explain how pretty it is.

5. I love how patient people are here. If someone is sitting at a green light, nobody starts blaring their horn at you. They just sit patiently and wait for you to notice it's green. Maybe by the time I leave, my California road rage will be gone?

6. I love their customer service. It's never a bother to help you. People will run to you to see what you need. In the states the associates are annoyed when you ask them to help you with something. Like how dare I ask them to do their job.

7. I love the 100 yen stores. Think Dollar Tree, but upscale. There are so many cool things to find at a 100 yen store and each store carries different things.

8. I love that we walk to and from school every day and that we can walk to the pool, commissary, mini mart, movie theater and to any friends house on base.

9. I love how wonderful our military community is here. The people I have met have been amazing wonderful people. You aren't on your own here, you've got a bunch of people to help you out when you need it.

Ok, so that's all I've got for now. I'm sure there are more things I miss and love, but that's all I can think of right now. All in all, we are happy and enjoying Japan. Nobody ever said that living overseas would be just like living in the States. If it was, then it wouldn't be as exciting to move here, now would it?!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Busy Week!!

Wow!! This last week has been busy! The girls started school again this past week and so far they really seem to like it! Hannah started 4th grade and Elliot started 1st. Both girls LOVE their teachers and have made some friends already. It's really nice that all of their friends live here on base with us, so it's easy to have play dates and such. Here are the girls all dressed up and ready for their first day.

Another big thing that happened last week, is that Josh got promoted from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander! His ceremony was September 1st and we enjoyed it very much. We started out with lunch with the rest of the wardroom and then proceeded to the conference room for the ceremony. We had our great friends the Bieszke's come show their support and also had the Chaplain and his wife come to say a prayer for Josh as he takes this next step. Friday evening we celebrated by going out for sushi!! Here are a few pictures of the ceremony.

Josh taking the oath to defend our country

Me pinning on his oak leaf
   We had a busy Labor day weekend as well. Friday night was spent out with the Bieszke's eating sushi, Saturday we played cards and ate appetizers with the Brownlee family and Sunday night we had over the Soria's, a new couple in town . We cooked out and played more cards!! Monday night we had an impromptu luau with the Stone family, who is from Hawaii. We grilled out on the habachi under the gazeebo, while some friends played the ukulele and sang some hawaiian songs. The girls and their friend, Trystan, got dressed up in hawaiian dresses and danced for us too! It was a great weekend and I'm happy we've made some new friends! 
  This week promises to be as busy as last week. Today I went to a conversational Japanese class in hopes to learn enough Japanese to speak to people out in town.  This is what I learned today. "Watashi wa Abbey desu." My name is Abbey. I also learned, "O-namae wa?" What is your name? This one cracks me up cause it's so long for three words... "Watashi wa anata wo aishite imasu." This means, "I love you."  I also learned that when you are meeting someone you should also be formal in addressing them. So, if I were to meet your mother for the first time  and her name was Judy, I would call her Judy sama, or Judy san. Sama is the utmost respectful, so maybe if I met the presidents wife, or a leader in the goverment and San is for greeting people older than you or your superior at work. They  are sort of like Mr or Mrs. For girls under 12, you would use chan after their first name. So, Elliot would be Elliot chan, which means, "little" Elliot. For boys under 12 you use kun. So Joshua Kun (little Joshua) and then Joshua Chan after he turns 12, until he reachs 18. There are A LOT of rules to follow in the Japanese language! 
   I'm also volunteering at Thrifty Treasures, which is a thrift store on Main Base. I will be sorting the donations and putting them out on racks and such. I went last week and had a blast working with the other volunteers. It's actually kinda fun to see what people have donated.. The funniest thing we found last week was a fleece Elmo vest! It was an adult sized fleece vest with a very large picture of Elmo on the back that said, "Me love Elmo." Yikes!! It's all good though, as all the money we make goes to scholarships for military families and for kids going off to college.
 So, that's it.. First week of school, promotion, great weekend, Japanese classes and volunteer work!! We're busy and we're loving Japan!