Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ohayou gozaimasu!

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.


Ang said...

Oh I am so happy you all made it safe and sound..It almost brought tears to my eyes seeing the last picture of the US you took but in the same token such excitement feels me also for you all!!! Keep us posted...I know this will be such a wonderful experience for your family!! ((hugs))

Anuan1671 said...

Welcome to Japan Jacobs family. Living in Japan is truly an adventure enjoy it to the max.

Jill said...

This sounds so exciting. Have a wonderful three-year adventure!!

Colleen said...

Mushi Mushi!! Glad to hear you all made it in safe and sound:) Its wonderful you are getting out and about and the kids are meeting other kids!

It brought back memories when you talked about the grocery store:) The fruits and veggies are awesome..sometimes pricey, but worth it! I remember seeing cantelopes individually wrapped in little foam mesh holders. I never once got a piece of fruit that was bumped or bruised;)

Glad to hear you are catching up on the time...It will be a few more days until you adjust to the time.

For some reason that pic you took when you were on the runway made me tear up...maybe because I know exactly how you were feeling at that moment. It was just about 5 years ago I made that journey to Japan.

Take care...can't wait to hear more experiences! :)

Susan said...

It looks like you guys are settling in nicely. The fruit in Russia was to die for as well. It was the best kiwi I've ever had. The fruit in UAE is good as well, better than the US, but not as good as Russia.

I look forward to more pictures about Japan.

Jennifer said...

I don't know why but I started crying reading your post.....anyhow I was so glad to hear Emily made a friend next door....I'm just so happy to know your somewhat getting settled. Can't wait to hear all about your adventures in the month to come. Very exciting!!

I'll continue to keep you all in our thought and prayers!

Becki said...

I am so glad you have made it and are settling in. What an amazing adventure you have not begun. You will be creating a lifetime of memories over the next few years and a lot of firsts. I am so excited for you all. I cannot wait to hear about the adventures and new things you will get to experience daily while settling in to your new home.

mama2dibs said...

I have to tell you that my favorite picture is of Sami on Matt's lap. That has to be such a great feeling being back with daddy (and hubby)! I'll be praying for you as you move forward in this journey!

fern said...

I'm SO excited for you! Can't wait to read more.

dannie1978 said...

I'm glad to hear you all made it safely and the kids are doing well. This is going to be an extraordinary experience for them.
You are in our thoughts! New adventures are always fun!!! I am so jealous !! LOL

Louise said...

Thanks for the update!
SO happy to hear that the long trip went well, that is such a blessing.
Enjoy your new home.
Loved the pictures!

BTW-what kind of job is your hubby doing there, you may have mentioned it earlier but I forget.

Carey said...

Im so glad to hear you made it there safely. Ive been thinking/praying for you all. Enjoy the experience.

Erin said...

Wow...I can imagine everything is an adventure! How exciting. Glad to hear you got there safe and it was uneventful. :) xoxo

Kimmber said...

I love the photo of you guys beginning your journey. Wishing you much fun and happiness!!! And much writing, as I'll be reading!

Aimee said...

Oh My!! What a journey! I'm glad to hear that you are safe and sound in Japan, and look forward to all of the stories! :)

Terri said...

awesome peak into your arrival. Darn, I really wish I'd have known you were stopping over in Detroit, I live 20 mins from the airport, we could have met!!