Archive for July, 2017

July 2, 2017 – A very long day

Today we left Japan to return home after 2 eventful weeks of vacation. Our route was from Tokyo Narita to Calgary, and then on to Winnipeg. We woke up at 7:30am on Sunday in Japan, which was still 5:30pm Saturday evening in Winnipeg. It was a very long day.

We somehow managed to get 4 adults, 1 kid, two large suitcases, and three backpacks into a Toyota Vitz (the Japanese version of the Echo) to get to Mishima station. The Penpal’s parents got platform tickets which allowed them to wait with us on the shinkansen platform. They looked a bit sad as we boarded the train, although I’m sure they will appreciate peace and quiet returning to their house after 2 weeks with an active, jetlagged 3 year old running around. As our train pulled away, Tiny Dog alternated between waving out the window and playing with the tray on the seat in front of us.

We took the shinkansen to Tokyo and then caught the Narita Express to the airport. We all enjoyed watching Tokyo fly by through the window. When we arrived at the airport, I briefly considered buying a cream puff beverage from a vending machine, before reminding myself that I was about to be in flight for a few hours and that might not be the best idea.

We checked our bags and the giant, horrible car seat of doom, then killed time in the airport looking at some of the cool stores. I got a new toy for Tiny Dog and managed to distract him long enough for The Penpal to get some clothes at Uniqlo. She hadn’t had any time for shopping on our entire vacation. We went through security without incident, and then learned that our departure was delayed. TD and I rode the walking escalators and played with his Ipad until we were finally able to board, almost 2 hours late.

The flight to Calgary went reasonably well – we watched Lego Batman about 4 more times, but I only managed about an hour of sleep. Tiny Dog and I both looked down as we flew over the majestic Canadian Rockies. Looks like I’m going to have to fight him for the window seat as he gets older.

When possible I prefer flying home through Calgary instead of Vancouver – its a smaller airport and a shorter trip, although depending on scheduling the layover could be longer. Our layover was supposed to be over 5 hours, but due to our delayed takeoff we “only” had 4 hours on the ground. After an hour The Penpal and I were both struggling to stay awake while TD wanted to run around and explore the entire airport. We took shifts, alternating napping and keeping the kid occupied.

Our flight to Winnipeg was short, uneventful, and totally vomit free, all of which are excellent features of a flight. My parents met us at the airport and returned us home. Before picking us up they had stocked up our fridge, because my parents are pretty great. We all crashed hard after they left.

This was my 4th trip to Japan since my English teaching days, but it was the first time traveling with our son. It was very different than our previous visits, but still a great experience. We are already talking about a return in 2019 to visit again, or waiting until 2020 and trying to catch the Tokyo Olympics. If we do that, I have already warned The Penpal that I will be wearing a Canadian flag as a cape for the entire time. We still have about 3 years to argue about which flag(s) Tiny Dog will be wearing.

Advertisements

, , ,

Leave a comment

July 1, 2017 part 2 – Beer and TV

Tonight was our last night in Japan on this visit. I ate dinner with the family, and after Tiny Dog went to sleep I went off to have a beer with my old roommate Azeroth.

Unlike a few days ago, we decided not to hit the town. Instead we had a night in, similar to many we had while we shared an apartment together. We picked up a variety of beer and snacks from the nearby 7-11, and watched episodes of Drawn Together, Rick and Morty, and Archer while laughing our asses off.

One sign of a good friend is when you can go for a few years without seeing each other and then pick exactly where you left off when you get a chance to meet. My life has changed a lot in the 11 years since I moved back to Canada: I got married, started a career, got a professional designation, and became a father. Even with all of those changes, hanging out while drinking beer and eating mysterious snacks still felt like home.

Happy Canada Day! I hope that I’m not going to be hungover tomorrow for my flight home!

, , , ,

Leave a comment

July 1, 2017 part 1 – Daddy, why is there a foreigner at the playground?

Today is our last day in Japan. We have some family coming to visit in the afternoon, but I wanted to get Tiny Dog out for some fun during the day. The Penpal’s father dropped off TD and I at a nearby playground.

The playground was near a large park, and had a big fun play structure that was full of kids. TD had been here before, and quickly started climbing and playing among the other kids. He kept trying to talk to the other kids in English, so I had to keep reminding him to speak Japanese.

At the playground there was one little girl who kept staring at me every time she walked by. Eventually her curiosity got the better of her, and she asked her father loudly in Japanese “Daddy, why is there a foreigner at the playground?”. Her father, embarrassed, tried to shush the little girl as I tried not to laugh. A few minutes later after I said something in Japanese to TD, she went back to her father and excitedly told him “Daddy! The foreigner is speaking Japanese!”, again followed by her father trying to get her to be quiet.

I find that in Japan, TD does a pretty good job of blending in with Japanese people. He has some Asian features to his face, although his hair is brown instead of black. When he speaks Japanese he sounds like almost any other 3 year old speaking Japanese. He doesn’t look completely Japanese, but he looks much more Japanese than I do. I have wavy blond hair, a large nose, a goatee (not common in Japan), and am usually wearing at least one item of clothing with Canadian flags on it. I am easy to notice in a crowd of Japanese people.

In my 3 years of teaching English in Japan, I got used to people staring at me because I was different. Adults would try to sneak a look, but kids, having no filters at all, would be happy to stare or say something to friends or family. This happens much more often the further you get away from major cities and into the smaller towns where it’s less common to see gaijins.

The whole experience was a funny reminder of my previous time in Japan. I’m curious to see how people react to TD and I as he grows up!

 

 

, , , ,

Leave a comment