From Toronto to Tokyo

Russell was offered a position in Tokyo we felt we couldn’t pass up and we’re very glad we didn’t. We’ve been enjoying this part of the world tremendously. I’d say the biggest adjustment for me has not been the Japanese culture, though that has taken getting used to, but the expat way of life. It’s grander than I’m used to and it has forced me to really consider what I want for my family and what I feel is most important. It’s been revelatory and I appreciate that.

Our first thoughts of Tokyo were of it’s vastness. The skyline is a never ending framework of building after building–quite beautiful and a little clausterphobic. We do a lot of walking, bike riding, and train riding. The subways can be packed, but are very quiet. No one talks on their phone on the subway as it’s considered rude. People put covers on their books so as not to offend anyone with what they’re reading and to maintain privacy–a big part of this culture. The streets are clean and safe–one of my favorite things about Tokyo. Everyone smokes though. Anti-smoking campaigns have just recently been popping up, but I imagine it will be a slow change.

It’s a hard city to maneuver with 4 kids. They really can’t accommodate us at most eateries. We usually squish into a four person table. The stores are packed from floor to ceiling with goods and the aisles are very narrow in order to fit everything they’re selling into the tiny spaces they have to sell them in. It can be crazy bringing the kids shopping or even just a backpack or purse that makes your person even a little bit bigger. We can express what we want and need mostly through hand signals and a lot of pointing, but occasionally we do walk away frustrated knowing the language barrier has won. We’re all learning Japanese so I hope that improves a bit.

Crystal came to visit us just after we arrived and I’m so grateful she did. It forced me to become proficient in the Subways, make friends with people and hear all their ideas about what to see and do while she was here, and see so many different parts of the city that I wouldn’t have felt motivated to do had it been just me and Lea. So, on to our adventures.

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