Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Our new home - Japan

The house we live in was the Mayor's home 20 years ago. There are three bedrooms and an office, making it bigger than our place in Juneau. You can see our laundry line on the left side....One of my favorite things to do is hang laundry to dry. This is common practice.... the dryer sucks up a lot of electricity and takes for-EVER. I love the way the clothes smell when they come off the line. Every home, no matter how small, has a veggie garden, our little strip is out back.

Like all homes here, the toilet is in a seperate room from the sink and shower. If you look carefully you can see a faucet-like fixture on the back of the tank. When you flush, clean water comes out and goes into the tank. We think it might be for washing hands so I've put some soap and a towel in there but like the family before us, we've decided to wash down the hall in the sink room. There's just something about washing that close to the bowl. Please note our "bathroom shoes" just inside the door. Traditionally there are outdoor shoes, indoor shoes, and shoes exclusively used for in the bathroom. We put those there so our neighbor's aren't grossed out when they come over but we don't really wear them.

Loved our welcome sign which still hasn't come down three weeks later. Here is a view into our kitchen. We have a gas range but no oven. Instead, microwaves double as mini ovens..... it's like easy bake all over again! Since everything is in miniature, the fridge holds very little at a time. That's ok since portions are all individual. The only thing that comes in bulk here is rice as far as I can tell. I'm thinking this is because the majority of Japan's population lives in close quarters in cities? As a result I shop daily.

All the bedrooms have these beautiful tatami mats on the floors. They smell good, a little like sweetgrass. The doors between rooms slide and have beautiful murals of trees and cranes on the insides. Traditionally, the layers of futon would be folded up every morning and tucked away in these great closet spaces. We've converted Nova's futon closets into a little reading cubby and clothes space. The windows have 4 sliding layers, the screen, (imperative), the glass, a third frosted glass then drapes.

Nova and her band of street wise friends.... Sachi 3, Ryuya 7, and Wakava 5. (I hope I spelled everyone's names right). These three live on either side of our house and are Nova's best playmates.... mine too. :) I've said it before but I'm amazed at how well the children play together without common language. I guess play is a universal language in itself. It's really a lovely thing to see.

Shawn rides his bike to work on the first day of school. Book bag full and guitar case in hand. This was before he obtained his Japanese driver's license.... (I'm hoping he will post that story soon, it's a good one!) He teaches at the elementary and middle schools in Nishiokoppe and the school for all lower grades in Kamiokoppe..... a huge building where there are only 5 students and six teachers! These are small rural communities in dairy farming country but hiring an English teacher is still a huge priority to their school district. I wish we were so lucky in the states.

The middle school teachers put on an awesome BBQ for their beginning of the term party in Shawn's honor. Miso marinated Salmon, scallops, octopus, squid and cow's throat were among the tastier fare. Shawn has surprised us all with his new found love for raw seafood. I'm not quite there but if it's rolled in some rice, seaweed and fish eggs I'm more game. Nova seems to have mastered chopsticks and has traded pizzza for ramen as her favorite food. The fresh seafood here came from one teacher's father who is a fisherman. The coast is only 15 miles or so from Nishiokoppe.