Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Run Around Rokko Island

Most people who live on Rokko Island have a love-hate relationship with it.

I love that my kids are safe and can move around pretty independently.  I love that we have used our bikes as our main mode of transportation for the past 7 years. I can get to the grocery store and to work within a 10 minute walk or 5 minute bike ride.

Rokko Island has seen our family grow.  Our babies have grown up here to be little people. At this point,  Rokko Island is home. We are closing a chapter on a big stage of our lives. A stage that wasn't always easy.  Raising two energetic kids as two full-time working parents is no short order, as many of you can attest to.

But, life "on-island" can be boring.  I can't easily get a gift or a new pair of shoes or buy a shirt a few hours before Maximo's concert because I realized he has outgrown everything since the last time he had to dress up. You often run into the same people on island and most days it doesn't feel very Japanese.

There are some decent restaurants on island.  But, we've eaten at all of them and you can only go back to Ritza so many times (their Salty Dogs will continue to draw me in with cool hand-chipped ice and fresh grapefruit juice).

When they were little, the kids were pretty happy just roaming to different playgrounds and hanging out at the River Mall.  While, they still are entertained with this, it's harder to fun tons of fun on island.

But, this post is about The Greenbelt. The greenbelt has been my unlikely oasis for the past 7 years. It often provides me with the only time I have for myself all week.  Sometimes it's only a 5k run once a week.  On a good week, in a good month, I'm lucky to double or triple my kilometers.

It's my sanity, my space, my time to meet with friends or rock out to my running mix and figure things out or just breathe.

I have made some of my best friends through running.  I am a much more consistent runner with a running buddy.  I love that so much can be shared on those runs or nothing at all.  I love that one of us could have the best run in years and the other maybe struggling to put one foot in front of the other, but we are all glad that we did it when we are done with our run and we are ready to start our day.

Today, I got out early for the first time in a long time, on a work day, which doesn't happen that much anymore.  I stopped to take pictures and enjoy my favorite views on my run because I will only run this loop a few more times. I may never run this path again after June 12th.

And I don't ever want to forget what it has given me.

Overgrown path - only scheduled mowings here, regardless of rain or season

Shipping cranes guarding the island

Palm trees!  Living somewhere with palm trees is always good for my soul.
Beautiful view of early morning on the South end of the Island

More Wild Cranes
Early Bird Bathroom Break
Our train stop (facing the opposite way due to the sun).
Usually my last sprint of my run.
Often the starting point to really fun nights out and adventures in Japan.

My cool down walk home
5K Greenbelt Loop on Rokko Island

So, I'll enjoy my last few runs on Rokko Island to keep my sanity and enjoy the beautiful weather over the next few weeks... And hope for a new running oasis in Beijing.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Respect Thy Neighbor

One of the things that I think I will miss most about Japan is respect.  In Japan, people are super respectful of space and others around them.

I love quiet!

I love considerate people!

A tradition in Japan is to bring neighbors gifts when you are moving into an apartment.  We were told this before we moved to Japan.  I got some cute little Peruvian knick-knack things to give to our future new neighbors in Japan.  Between the jetlag, starting a new job, trying to parent a crazy two year old and the massive language barrier, those little gifts remained in a closet for over a year and we never did formally introduce ourselves to our neighbors.

When we moved after about three years of living in Japan, I was more prepared and had a better understanding of the culture, so we brought cookies to our neighbor.  I wrangled the kids and sheepishly showed them a handwritten note (a friend graciously translated) to tell them who we were and to excuse our loud children.

Since then, we have had a few neighbors move in and out from around our apartment.  Tonight a new upstairs neighbor (note: we received a parting present from the neighbor who left a month ago) came by with her sons to deliver us a little gift with a note:
Between my broken Japanese and her broken English and with the help of introducing our similarly aged kids, we got through the formalities.

Unfortunately, I was unable to tell her we'll be moving out in a month... she'll figure it out when our shipping company commandeers the elevator or the teachers who are moving into our apartment in August awkwardly bring them a little gift.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

An Update to Our Photos

A photo posted by Julie (@loslemleys) on
Picasa is a thing of the past and all of our photos have been merged onto Google Photos, which I'm not so crazy about, so starting 2016, all our photos will be on Flickr (until that gets replaced by something).

We just finished Golden Week, and we traveled down to First Backpackers Inn to camp on Awaji Island.  It was a beautiful night on the beach with friends.

Now, we have four full weeks of school left and less than 6 weeks until we leave Japan.

Flickr Photostream