Travel and Transitions….

I just returned from almost a month of awesome family time! The photo above is my daughter’s back yard. They bought a beautiful home in the states. It’s situated in the deep countryside surrounded by forests, rivers, farms and lots of wildlife.

Deer were everywhere.

It was such a (reverse) culture shock for me to be in a home with such a huge front and back yard. It’s so big that they have created their own family campground down at the lower end of the property-complete with a pool, campfire pit, horseshoes and more! It was such an amazing time and actually quite unexpected time. My daughter surprised me with a round-trip ticket for Mother’s Day.

The trips back and forth to the states seem to be getting longer-either that or getting older makes the trips harder. For the most part the travel went well although I have to say that the “long-haul” between Korea and my first port of entry into the USA was hard–13 1/2 hours non-stop to Atlanta is a long time for me to try and keep relatively still. Thankful that my daughter booked me in isle seats the entire flight. Getting up often helps my leg cramps.

At any rate-I’m home and from the looks of it things as they were when I left are not what they are now.

I try not to reveal too many personal family issues on my blog because the privacy of my family matters to me and it matters to them so please bear with me as I attempt to reveal what the future holds without revealing too many details. I apologize ahead of time if you ask questions that I don’t fully answer-for the sake of privacy.

There have been times where I have blogged about the possibility of us moving from this lovely little cottage home at the foot of the mountains into what is actually our home located about thirty minutes away in a smallish “nothing really happens there” town-which is actually my husband’s hometown.

This little cottage home belongs to my brother in law’s wife-actually it belonged to her parents but they passed on several years ago. We knew when we first moved to Japan that this home was only transitional as eventually we’d have to move into our home in the little town of “nothing much happens”.

While I was in the states the pages of our lives seem to have flipped forward to the next chapter.

In short- both of my husband’s parents have had a sudden and rapid decline in health. So much so that at a family meeting it was decided that they can no longer care for themselves. Very soon they will be moved from their (our) home in the town of “nothing much happens” to a situation where they will be safe. That’s all I can really say about that for privacy’s sake.

So-that means the time has come where hubby and I need to start preparing to move into a very small home in a very small town.


Interesting because recently I have really become fascinated by “tiny homes” and sort of a hobby of mine is pouring over photos and videos of tiny home living. I’ve got lots of ideas floating around in my mind about how to make the most of a very small space.

And believe me, the home is very small. Like-really small. I’m guessing that it would be considered apartment sized in the USA. Small apartment. My kitchen here is large compared to the narrow little kitchenette in our home. My mother’s apartment in the senior apartment complex that she lives in has far more space than our tiny home has. The narrow little kitchenette in our home is SO small that if I am standing at the sink and my husband passed behind me our bodies would touch-and I’m not a very large person. It has just about zero work counter space. And I mean zero. There is a teeny little area-I’d say about a foot and a half square-next to the cook top that MIL used for prep work. Other than that-no counter space.

But….I have ideas. Thankful for all my tiny-home interest lately. Thankful for Pinterest too.

There is no garden either. At least not on the property. First of all- there is no space for a garden and the teeny-tiny bit of space that is around the house is concreted.

I do envision plants in pots though.

My father-in-law has a very large proper garden plot that I could easily access by jitensha -Japanese style bicycle. It would probably take me ten minutes to bike over there. He’s been wanting me to take over his garden for a while now anyhow.

Most of you that have been reading this blog for a while now know that my faith plays a major role in the way I view life and it’s changing situations. I have come to learn that it is best not to hold onto “things” tightly. You only end up miserable when your happiness and contentment centers around your “stuff” and having that perfect living space or awesome vehicle or hefty bank account.

Or whatever-fill in the blank.

Some of you probably don’t know that several times in my life I have literally lost or had to give up all my “stuff”. That’s just the way life was dealt to me. It wasn’t because I didn’t work, made bad decisions, had some sort of destructive addiction…nope. Every single time the loss was created by a situation that was totally out of my control. I look back now and I am humbly thankful for all the practice I’ve had in having to make major adjustments in life. I’m thankful that I was able to walk through fire and come out the other end not even smelling like smoke.

This situation we are heading into is going to be balanced with things that I like/love and things I don’t like and may hate.

I know though, in the end, it will all have been for my good so, keeping that in mind, I move forward with a positive attitude.

Yeah…I’ll miss my mountain view and garden and walks. On the other hand they might even be more special because I can take the trolley here and be walking around in my favorite places within 30 minutes. I can still have little “get-away” adventures and visit friends and such. It’s not a big deal and will actually make for a special adventure day away from the town of “nothing much happens”.

I will be further from friendsĀ  but…in our new town-to-be we have many connections because most all the family lives there. I already have many opportunities waiting for me and we don’t even live there yet. There will be colorful characters to write about and the every-day life of a small town where everyone knows everyone will make for some awesome blog posts!

You know that festival? We will literally be living in it when it happens. Some of those big “floats” will pass pretty much right in front of our house.

There are lots of kids in the neighborhood. I like kids. I miss having kids around.

We will never miss another rice planting or harvesting season again because the family rice fields are within walking distance.

I could have replaced everything I wrote above with something negative but, I ma making a decision to steer clear of any negative thinking. Life is change. Make the best of it. Nothing ever stays the same.

I will end this post with a short garden update. I left to a modest garden and came home to exploding growth!

The corn that I didn’t think would grow is still plugging along.

The tomatoes have gone bonkers. I really need to get in there this weekend and tie up some of those leggy arms, cut out some of foliage. The sunflower that the birds planted has shot straight up!

The cucumbers are doing well! I’ve got bell peppers over on the other side that are growing well too. Hubby did the best he could-he is NOT a gardener so the fact that everything is still alive and well is great. It’s a bit over grown but I’ll get it back into shape soon.

That was my little harvest from just the few minutes I spent out there. There were more tomatoes but they were really cracked open because they should have been harvested already.

The forecast calls for rain so I guess I’ll have to get out there in-between the showers.

Well…it’s now a little after 7am-been up since 4. Jet lag. Going to go see about getting another pot of coffee on and then get about my day.

peace all

The Local Matsuri

I finally had some time to download the few photos of the local festival that I had on my camera.

No matter how many times we go I always find the annual festival interesting. Every May on Mother’s Day weekend the Itoda Town festival is held with gusto! Itoda is a small town tucked into the Tagawa-gun area. One of those blink and you miss it kind of places. Nothing much really happens in Itoda so when the annual festival rolls around you better believe people get excited!

The “float” building starts about a month and a half ahead of time. Every night and on weekends the float builders get together to put these huge things together. There is a lot of creativity, manpower and I think beer and BBQ that goes into making these. I say beer and BBQ because the float-building process seems to be a festival in itself!

Some of them have wooden wheels on them and the float handlers pull and push the thing along the streets. Then there is the tough-guy group who omit the wheels and install huge logs that they actually carry this entire thing by. This is a photo from the last post but if you look carefully you can see the scratch marks on the road. You can also see that some of the men have triangle shaped pillows hanging cross ways on their bodies. These pillows are shoulder cushions. They put these pillows on their shoulder and then slide their shoulder under the carrying “log”. I wonder how much the cushion actually helps though. The yama in this photo is being carried.

The floats are built in various locations and then brought to the main festival grounds by either pushing and pulling them or carrying them.

You always know where the floats have been (actually called “yama” in this area) because the streets are all scraped up.

There are always a variety of interesting characters to see at the festival grounds. We like standing in one place and just watching everyone.

I love all the colorful costumes.

We have been coming to the festival for about 18 years now. Before we actually lived in Japan we would plan many trips to Japan around matsuri time. Generally the matsuri is peaceful and everyone behaves. Some get pretty drunk but even the drunks are mostly peaceful.

On occasion a fight breaks out but the local security force is always around to make short order of any trouble.

Last year there was a bit of excitement when a fight broke out but it was quelled by a few men that had witnessed the incident-my husband of course had to jump in and lend a hand to stopping things before they got out of hand. He was a “fighter” in his day and still thinks he can do what he used to do. Thankfully the younger guys watch out for him. šŸ™‚

At night is when the action starts. The yama are electrified and look beautiful when they are illuminated.

The yama musicians sit on board! Can you imagine carrying one of these PLUS the musicians? In the middle is a little space where the drummer sits.

Notice the little one sleeping on his granny’s lap? He must have been really tired because the event is pretty noisy.

These kids were excited to be on my blog!

It is a fun event. There are concession stands selling yakitori (BBQ sticks), cotton candy, Japanese sweets, roast corn and other typical Japanese festival foods. There is of course a beer tent. There are no open container laws here so walking around with an open alcohol container isn’t against the law – however public drunkenness is not ok- although I think they only arrest drunks who make trouble. Surprisingly most people behave.

We had a short but fun time. The folks tire quickly so we didn’t spend a lot of time here. But that’s ok…I’m so glad my MIL and FIL were able to get out a bit. We were surprised actually because it has been a while since they wanted to try and walk up to the festival. Years ago there was a terrible accident so my MIL doesn’t really like to attend.

As fun as it is, it is also a bit dangerous. At a certain time during the evening things start getting a little rowdy and the floats begin to “tease” each other. The float handlers on the wheeled floats begin to violently push and pull the floats back and forth and then rock them from side to side. After that they spin them crazily around in a circle.

I know- I can hear you thinking…what??? Yes- they do this and they compete with each other to see who can get the craziest. They line up on opposite ends of the street and charge towards each other stopping just inches away from one-another. All the while the musicians are sitting calmly on the sides playing their flutes and drums. When the accident happened things got out of hand. There was too much beer that had been consumed and instead of stopping they smashed right into each other. One of the float handlers slipped….and his head was crushed between the ends of the two logs.

They stopped the festival for three years after that. This was many years ago when my husband was a teen.

When I see them try to maneuver through the narrow streets I’m always amazed. Some of these yama are so tall that someone has to ride on the very top. The top-most rider has a rubber covered pole that he uses to carefully “lift” the power lines out of the way. Japan is a spaghetti of power lines. I always hope the top most man waits until AFTER the matsuri to enjoy his beer.

The streets are so narrow that they sometimes scrape house gates and such going by.

It is an interesting event to attend! Thankful that another year went by and there were no injuries.