Monday, May 4, 2009

Power of Observations

We have settled into our lives here in Japan. Michael is working and taking online classes. Bryan is going to school and making lots of friends. I am doing so much community service and joining associations and being a tourist that I sometimes wonder how I am going to do everything. Hubby has gotten comfortable with his new command and is quickly becoming an indespensible asset to them.

All of us are more at ease going out to explore Japan. We all know how to ride the train, order at restaurants, ask for directions and introduce ourselves. I am still finding new things everyday that we took for granted in the states. When EVERYTHING is in Kanji (Japanese characters), it is hard to figure out what some things are.

I have had several "A-HA!" moments lately. On the route from the base to our house, there are lots of big buildings. Last week I figured out that one of them was a newspaper printer. Today I saw bread trucks outside of a large building. They must leave very early in the morning to get the fresh bread to the stores.

Speaking of fresh bread---Remember when you were little and your Mom or Grandma made a loaf of fresh Homemade Bread? It was warm and soft and smelled so good? You can get that everyday here. Most of the train stations have a bread shop. They sell the bread in different thicknesses. What's really neat is that you can get small portions. If you want 3 THICK slices, it's already packaged for you. If you want 6 sandwich slices, you got it! It is fresh every single day. If you wait until the end of the day, about 7 p.m., you can go in and get them marked half price!

They also have yummy pastry type stuff like hot dogs wrapped in dough, or egg croissants. They also have more community type bakeries and patisseries. We have 5 within a 15 min. walk of our house. One sells traditional Japanese pastries and cookies. One sells apple pies and other pastries. The other three are sweets bakeries. But, they are all the gourmet, OH MY GOD IT'S SO YUMMY, type. A lot of the chefs studied in Paris and you just cannot imagine the beautiful treats.

The Japanese are a hard-working, hard-playing bunch. They exercise regularly. Lots of folks are always out jogging or running. The kids are always in a sport. Our friend's son, Nataku, does Kendo. Kendo is a form of martial art that you fight with sticks. It is more for show than hurting someone.

A lot of the Japanese younger working men or "salarymen" work very long hours. Think six days per week, 12 hours per day. So, when Sunday rolls around, they are either catching up on sleep or they take the family out. For the most part, the women do not work at all if they are pregnant. I think they see it as very bad for the baby. (Go figure...)

The children all wear uniforms for school here. The littlest ones are so cute in their little uniforms. They go to school almost year round. They get a break in March, then a small one for Golden Week. Golden Week is when most of Japan goes on vacation. For us here locally, we just avoid the highways. Traffic has been more tolerable on the side streets because everyone is out of town on vacation. There are several national holidays on this week, so they combined them all into "Golden Week". Very smart, because the weather has been perfect almost every day. Today is the first day it has been a little overcast.

I have noticed that the police have been cracking down on proper use and maintenance of bicycles. I have seen about four people being reprimanded by police officers. It's funny to see them pull a bike rider over. We were told that they do this one week every year. Normally, you don't see very many accidents or police giving tickets. The Japanese are a very orderly people. In their minds, you must obey the laws. If you jaywalk even once, you must do a lot of other things wrong too!

It is a very polite society that we live in here in Japan. I have yet to encounter anyone being RUDE. People in the United States could learn some very big lessons from the Japanese. Mean people suck. I'm glad that they don't live here!!

I wonder what I will learn today?

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