Sunday, June 28, 2009

Moving to the Base

What a crazy time for us this month. We were notified that we are moving to the base. Great time to move; it is rainy season, my husband is at sea, Michael has to have his gall bladder surgery soon, etc., etc., etc. Needless to say, it has been slightly stressful this month. But, we have had some good times too. We went to see Transformers before it even came out in America at the Japanese Movie theater at Vina Walk in Ebina. Toho Cinemas is a really nice theater. All the amenities of a good theater back home with a really large viewing screen. Of course, we enjoyed the movie!!! I'm not allowed to say more except that it "exceeded my expectations." (Brian is on the ship and unable to watch it yet.)

This week we have been very busy packing, cleaning, packing, cleaning, making arrangements, packing and cleaning. Because I have a dog, we could not move into the Towers on base (I didn't want to anyway!). Once you deny a tower, you get put on a waiting list for a garden apt. or a townhouse depending on your choice. We wanted a townhouse because they have been newly renovated and have a nice fenced yard. If you choose a garden apt., you can be on the first floor or second and that wouldn't have been very convenient either. So, we have a nice, newly re-done townhouse that you would feel like you were in a townhouse in the states (minus the fireplace). I will write more about that later.

Because we turned down the tower and waited on the townhouse, we have to PAY FOR THE MOVE TO BASE OURSELVES. Not only that, but the base doesn't help with the move AT ALL. I had to call movers myself. Only one replied. It is extremely expensive to get a moving company. We are only going to have them move the heavy furniture. Michael and I are going to move everything else in a van I rented for two days from the base. There is no sign of the rain letting up anytime soon. So, this should be lots and lots of fun.

I have practically put myself into bed cleaning like a maniac. I probably didn't need to go to the lengths that I did because I have a very kind landlord and the place wasn't this clean when I moved in, but.... I had heard some horror stories about people getting charged lots of money for cleaning fees because the owner couldn't smell the cleaning supplies in the air. Also, I have heard that they sometimes try to blame you for things prior tenants have done. So, of course, I have worried and went overboard to make sure we aren't charged anything else. Now I have told myself, if they charge me anything, that's just the way it goes, because I honestly couldn't get it any cleaner than it is. (I have become intimate with the toilet, and I don't like him very much.)

Everything else about moving from off base to on base goes pretty smoothly. The landlord is responsible for turning off the utilities (except the internet and that was an easy phonecall). Also, he will give me any of my deposit and remaining rent back on the day of the inspection which I think is really cool. So, I should walk away with at least $2K or more on that day.

We will miss our little Japanese house. I will really miss my quiet neighbors and the anonymity of living in a foreign neighborhood. On the base, you can't go anywhere without running into at least 2 or more people you know. At least off base, even if they know who the blonde is, they only smile quietly. I will also really miss the little bakery down the street with its sweet clerk who sang me a song from the Sound of Music and the 7-11 across the block. I am very honored that I had this experience and will remember it always.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kakegawa Castle

Bryan and I took another tour. This one was all day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The really great thing about it was our friends, The Takanami's came with us. There is Shigeru-san, the Father, Akemi-San, the Mother, and two sons, Nataku who's 12 and Yakimo who's 3. Although there was 3 parts to the tour, I will post a separate blog on each. The last part of the tour was to Kakegawa Castle. This is from the tour program: "Plans for Kakegawa Castle were first laid during the Muromachi Period, when the famous Suruga Daimyo Road Imagawa was aiming to move into Toutoumi region. To accomplish this, he ordered his retainer, Asahina to build the castle. During the period of the Warring States, Yamanouchi Kazutoyo, famous for the episode of his supporting wife, was in charge of the castle for 10 years. Even while organizing the area around the castle and undertaking major repairs of the damage the castle suffered during the violence of the conflict, he followed through on the construction of Tenshukaku Donjon. During the Edo period, eleven families for 26 generations, including the Ota family, descendents of the builder of Edo Castle, Ota Dokan, flourished as the occupants of Kakegawa Castle. The beauty of Tenshukaku mad the place famous as the best castle in the Tokai area. Kakegawa Castle reflects that original beauty, as the first fully restored wood construction of its kind in Japan. Tanshukaku was re0pened in April of 1994. The Tehshudai, which overlooks the city of Kakegawa, stands 56 meters above sea level. It offers a great view of the city streets surrounded by natural beauty and greenery." Whew! That was a mouthful! What that implies is that the castle was destroyed. There was a very rich lady that lived in Kakegawa City who wanted it to be rebuilt as it was before it was destroyed. She, alone, donated ONE HALF of the money to rebuild the castle, the rest was donated by ALL the citizens of Kakegawa. So, the each have ownership and responsibility of the castle.
It was our first tour to a castle and it was really beautiful. There were LOTS OF STEPS leading up to it!! Inside the castle, it had really steep stairs. And actually what we think of as the "castle" is actually the "Keep" or the place that people went when the castle grounds were under siege. Thus the reason for the VERY steep stairs inside. The living quarters are actually in another building entirely. When the paragraph above mentions Yamanouchi Kazutoyo's Wife, it refers to his smart wife. She had a lot of money from her Dowry. She took the money and purchased her husband a magnificent horse. Her husband became well known because of this majestic horse and they give her the credit for being wise to help her husband.