Good morning! (Actually good evening for most of my readers here) We made it to Japan, safe and sound, and surprisingly without any issues. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to believe that I am actually living in Japan, as it has not completely sunk in. I think once our own belongings make it here (hopefully only one more week) and we start to turn this house into "ours" things will seem much more real.
Monday morning the kids, myself and 10 pieces of luggage left for the airport at 6:45 am. The first leg of the trip was smooth sailing and we had a few hours to play around in the Detroit airport.
We asked one of the few Americans waiting at the gate to take our picture. He had a bit of trouble trying to figure my camera out, but at least I have the moment captured.
Our flight was delayed about 30 minutes due to the cleaning crew taking their sweet time, but soon enough we boarded the airplane for Japan.
The girls sat together and Chris and I sat behind them. Initially the kids were going to switch back and forth, but in the end none of them switched seats. As the plane turned to head down the final runway I snapped a picture of my final look as a US resident for the next 3 years. As much as my stomach was turning in anticipation, I also felt excitement and a peace at the adventure we were about to embark on.
The kids did amazing on the plane. They had the flight crew wrapped around their fingers, so much that they came off the plane with a ton of free NWA items. I had to check once we landed to make sure these were really my kids and not some switch made back in Detroit.
It was so neat watching the kids press their faces against the window as they got their first glimpse of their home for the next 3 years. As Chris put it "Wow. This is nothing like I thought."
We are still adjusting to the time difference. We are 14 hours ahead of EST. It is a big adjustment, but I think we are almost there. I managed to sleep until 4 am today, Sami until 6 am, Chris until 7 am and Emily is still sleeping.
Our few days here have been full of getting the kids established for school, unpacking suitcases, getting forms filled out and slowly meeting people. Our neighbors two doors down brought us brownies and we went to dinner with the neighbors next door last night. Tonight we are going to dinner with someone from Matt's work.
The kids are loving the train and are slowly getting used to walking everywhere. Eventually we will have a car, but still the train will be the primary source for transportation.
Wednesday we had to go into Osaka to get some forms notarized at the American Consulate. Afterwards, we walked around and took in the sites and treated the kids to a Japanese lunch.
The one big adjustment and intriguing part of the culture is the food. Grocery stores are always packed. Packaging is much smaller than in the US. People tend to go to the store everyday or every other day rather than stocking up for a week. The exception is going to Costco. Yesterday Matt's boss took me to get a membership and to help stock up our freezer. Apparently chicken breast is not popular with Japanese due to it's lack of grease, so we can buy 4 lbs for $8!
Food overall tends to be more expensive than in the US, but I have already figured out some tricks (like Costco). The produce here is amazing. The fruit is so good it melts in your mouth. It is more than worth the extra few pennies we spend on them. I am sure I will be blogging alot about the food here as it is a whole adventure itself.
I did manage to cook lo mein one night. It turned out pretty good.
Drinking is pretty big here. While beer tends to be expensive, spirits are much cheaper. For example, a bottle of Absolute is $12. Many of the Japanese men like to drink and smoke. In fact in some places they have "shot bars." I am not totally sure how they work, but it was interesting seeing one in the middle of a shopping center.
The kids start school on Monday. It will be good for them to get established and start making friends. Emily already has met our neighbor, who is the same grade as her and they hit it off really well. We visited the school on Thursday and they finished some final testing and got a tour and met some of the teachers. I can't even begin to say what an awesome experience this school is going to be for them.
So there is our last few days in a nutshell. Nothing real exciting, but yet it is all exciting at the same time. Everything we do is a new experience. Now that we are here and I am able to see how the kids react to Japan, I think the Jacobs' will be just fine here.