Once Upon a Tanbo

Niigata Trip 2008

Posted on: August 18, 2008

Well I’ve been back from Niigata for 3 days now. It’s time that I sat down and wrote about my vacation. If I wait any longer than this I’m going to start forgetting. Not that my trip was anything to stop the presses about. In fact this post may end up being a bit of yawn. Well, except for the fighting towards the end. I may put up pictures but honestly… the part of Niigata where Ryohei is from is very beautiful but its not very “happening” or “exciting.” Anyways here I go.

Friday (night) – Left for Niigata from Kobe by special Obon period bus. Bus ride was ok but the driver kept flipping on the lights in the middle of the night. Uggggg… Anyways we arrived in one piece.

Saturday – Oto-san (Dad) picked us up and took us to the house. We were both really tired so after eating a little breakfast we went upstairs and slept for another 3-4 hours. We didn’t really do much that day, just kind of hang out and watch the Olympics. We ended up taking a walk at night for about an hour. It was really beautiful. And dark. There are very few streetlamps and very few people. Peaceful and quite which was nice. Ryohei lives near a 7-11 about a 10 minute walk so on the way home we stopped there and bought ice cream. They had really yummy ice cream parfaits which I probably had 3-4 through out the week. Yikes! Despite my ice cream feasting I actually lost weight while there because mainly the diet consists of veggies. Ryoheis family eats a lot of fish and pickled veggies so I felt ok about eating all the ice cream haha.

Sunday – Ryohei’s mom had to work so his dad took us out to a fish market that was about 2 hours away. Unfortunately this trip was mostly winding mountain roads and I ended up being very car sick. So to counter it I tried to sleep in the car as much as possible. I missed out on a lot of the scenery but at least I didn’t throw up. The fish market was crowded and loud. Lots of people, it was my second time there so it didn’t have as much exciting appeal as last time, but since it was by the sea, there was a nice breeze and it wasn’t as hot. Actually on the whole Niigata was far less hot and humid than the Kansai area, but I guess that is a given. On the way back we stopped by an area that was hit hard by the 2004 Niigata quake and has all these houses buried in the mud. I of course was car sick again so I didn’t really enjoy it, but Ryohei took lots of pictures. After that we stopped by Nagaoka for ramen. Ok.. I am going to make a confession.. I don’t really like eating ramen. Especially not in the summer. I don’t know what it is but it always makes me feel really sick. Ryohei’s family loves it though, so I think we had it three times or so during the week. Anyways, not wanting to be the killjoy daughter in law, I ate as much as I could and let Ryohei eat whatever I couldn’t finish. Sunday ended with a trip to Ryohei’s grandmas. Which must not have been of too much excitement because I’ve completely forgotten about it!

Monday – Ryohei’s friend from his days in the international dorm, Mark (Australian) came up from Tokyo for the next two days. So pretty much we “toured” Niigata. This means driving up in to the mountains and looking at scenery. It wasn’t bad, but I’ve seen it every time I’ve gone so it was kind of boring. After the mountains we went to the excitement center of Uonuma. The Jusco shopping center complete with Book Off, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, and karaoke. Yes, the place to be! Anyways we had ice cream which was yummy. After that I was feeling tired, and was feeling a little out of place with all the boy talk so I decided to go home early while Ryohei and Mark went to the dam. That night, Ryohei’s little brother Ken joined us for dinner. It was pretty fun, but nothing super exciting.

Tuesday – Mark was still there, but he had to go home in the early afternoon so we did karaoke for two hours. After Mark went home I don’t really remember what happened. But that was the day Ryohei got his notice that he passed the Uonuma city hall test. He was pretty happy, and I was happy for him. Little did we know just how much drama this was going to cause for us later. (See Friday)

Wednesday – This was the day that I heard from the publishers so I was in a great mood all day. That afternoon we went out with Ryohei’s friend Shohei. I really liked him, he was a nice guy and we had a lot to talk about. Sometimes Ryohei’s friends seem intimidated or uninterested in me. But I guess Shohei’s aunt married an American and they live in California so he’s pretty used to foreigners and he had just recently gone to visit so we talked about Applebees and In and Out Burger, which made me soooo hungry. We went to a foot springs and had a nice talk with a couple of grandparents and their 7 year old grandson. After that we got ready for Ohaka Maeri or going around to the ancestors graves and greeting them and giving them candy. For that we had to go to Ryohei’s grandma’s again. We did Ohaka Maeri and then had a big sashimi dinner. We also found out that Ryohei’s little brother will be getting married to his girlfriend (who was also there) next spring. So yay, I’m going to have my first Sister (in law). To be honest we haven’t ever talked that much, but she seems like a typical, early twenties Japanese girl.

Thursday – Doomsday part 1. Ryohei’s test results. I don’t think that either of us slept very well the night before. And things weren’t too great from the beginning. For some reason that morning Ryohei’s parents inaka internet wouldn’t work so we had to go all the way to his dads work to check the results. We were there for about an hour and the waiting was torturous. When the results were posted, full of hope that our lives would be changing forever we looked for Ryohei’s number. But… it wasn’t there. I think that both of us were absolutely in shock. Ryohei had told me he though he did really well on this interview so both of us were expecting a good score. Although I was severely rattled, I did a good job of controlling how upset I was and both of us just sat there and hugged. I think if the rest of the day had been lowkey things would have been better. But the night before Oto-san had asked me to come meet his older brother and do Ohaka Maeri for his dads side of the family. So… about 30 minutes after we learned of Ryohei’s failing we were shuffled off to meet more relatives and sit around making small talk. So anyways, let me just say at this point the mood was incredibly gloomy. Ryohei and I didn’t talk at all in the car. It was all I could do just to stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. Either way we arrived ok and greeted my Uncle in law. He gave us some watermelon which was good, I ended up dribbling a little on my black skirt but figured I would wash it off later. This proved to be my undoing. So after eating the watermelon, we set out to walk to the cemetery. It was about a 10 minute walk and when we were almost there, Asami, Ken’s girlfriend kept shrieking my name. Apparently a huge wasp was on my skirt trying to get at the watermelon juice that had dried on it. They swatted it away but it kept on coming after me. Now, as I have mentioned many times, I HATE bugs. Especially anything that bites or stings and normally I wouldn’t have broken down but the stress from the morning was too great. I just burst into tears and couldn’t move, I couldn’t take another step forward. All I could do was tell Ryohei, “I can’t go, I’m sorry.” We were going to head back to the car and wait but then the wasp still kept coming after me so I broke out running and top speed, spewing tears as I ran about half a kilometer back to the car. Ryohei came running after me and opened the car and we got in locking out the wasp, which I think had given up chase a while back and I just cried in the car. We must have been there for about an hour before everyone came back. And then, my parents in law suggest we go for ramen. I’m still a complete wreck… so yay ramen but whatever. I don’t want to be the killjoy daughter in law who already ruined the Ohaka Maeri so I said nothing and just ate my bowl of mini ramen while rain clouds poured in my head. When we got back a group of Ryohei’s friends had invited him out and at first I declined to go, but then I realized I didn’t want to be sitting around the house all miserable so we went out for dinner and then to a game center. It was actually more fun that is sounds. We ended up playing this trivia game all together and we did really well. There some questions about English and USA state capitals so I was able to help out and felt better. That night I had cried so much that I feel asleep immediately (After eating another sinful 7/11 parfait)

Friday – Doomsday part 2. So you know how grief has quite a few stages. Well I woke up Friday feeling very angry. Angry at Ryohei and angry at myself for being angry. I was annoyed that Ryohei had failed his test. The test for the job that we both agreed to be perfect. No over time, maybe a chance to live in Saitama or Gunma where I could be closer to friends in the Tokyo/Chiba area before moving to Niigata and building our house. But now, all those dreams were smashed. Everything we had been planning for the last 6 months was ruined. Another thing… since Ryohei had passed the Uonuma test a trickle of DREAD had been seeping into my stomach. I believe that he would have a very good chance of making it past the interview. But as I looked at the sprawling rice fields and nothingness in front of me, my heart fell. I can not start living here now I thought. And honestly I can’t. I know that if we moved to the middle of the Niigata inaka next spring I would be so lonely and depressed. It was not at all what we planned. I told Ryohei that I don’t mind living closer to his family home after another 7-10 years when our kids will be starting elementary school, but at this point I can not do it. I brought this point up. Huge fight erupts.
“Why do you want me to not take this job?” “Why don’t you want us to have stability?” etc etc… “I don’t want to study for another year, if I have a chance.” All arguments that I know are true… but I don’t want to be 25 and stuck in the inaka of Japan for the rest of my life. Especially with a husband working at city hall which means so-so pay and some overtime. It was just too different from what we planned. So we struck a deal. Uonuma and Nagaoka, the second biggest city in Niigata are about 35 minutes apart. If we do have to live here, you will be commuting to work for the first 4-5 years I say. Please give me time to make friends in Nagaoka (where there are more people, ahem more young people, and maybe even a couple other foreigners so I can speak English once in a while) and get my drivers license, and let me be able to go to Starbucks every once in a while. I’ve never lived in the countryside before, and I need to adjust myself. Ryohei agreed to this (although perhaps reluctantly, but if I have to gaman being stuck in the inaka forever then he can gaman a 40 minute commute for a few years), and while I do think commuting would be annoying for him, his company will pay for it and I will not go crazy.

So after this talk… we went back to his home. And I left his phone on our room. When we went to check it later he had two missed calls. They were from the tax bureau, which as you may recall was the other test that he had passed. Apparently they call you about 2 weeks before the results are posted to see if you are still interested in joining. I don’t think everyone gets a call, but those who do aren’t 100% in. But, it is a good sign and you can make a last minute appeal. To be honest, until that point I hadn’t even thought that tax bureau was an option. We’d never really talked about it, focusing more on the courts, and Ryohei hadn’t expressed that much interest leading me to believe he didn’t think his chances were that great. But maybe things are changing? We were most surprised that the call came from his first choice of agency despite the fact he tested in Osaka.

The results are on Friday August 29th… so maybe I won’t have to worry about moving to the inaka right away? I’m keeping my fingers crossed. If he passes he will have a 4 month orientation in Saitama and will have to live in dorm for that time so I’m not sure what I will do. I don’t know if they have married people dorms or if I will have to rent a room somewhere or what. We will see…

Oh and before I finish up with Friday. I have one last story. Before we left Ryohei’s parents sat him down for a “chat.” Where pretty much they told him that he should give up on being a komuin because it was too hard and he had too much confidence. And that he was a huge burden on me and that if I was a Japanese girl I never would have stood for it. I was actually pretty annoyed just hearing it. I really wish his parents would support him more. He was also livid. Not to their faces, but on the bus back to Kobe he was telling me he didn’t want to go back to Niigata for a while, and that all he really has there is his grandma.

So yah… not the most relaxing fun filled vacation ever. And still more waiting… there were a few good things like the publishing agency calling me… but I have the feeling it will be quite a few months before I hear anything definitive. So pretty much we are right back to where we were a few months ago. Just with one less hope. Despite Ryohei’s promise we can live in a big city for a few years if he gets the small city hall I am praying that he gets the tax bureau job. We’ll know in another 10 days… let the countdown begin. (again) *sigh*

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16 Responses to "Niigata Trip 2008"

(((BIG hugs))).What a stressful few days you had and what a disappointment with the job. It must be so frustrating for you both right now .The lack of support from Ryoohei’s parents must have been a kick in the teeth as well.Thinking of you both and know that things will turn out OK in the long run.

PS At least the ice-cream was good ,and I agree about the ramne;)

Big hugs from me too!!!

You know I am just on the otherside of the internet if you need to have a rant!

Im thinking of you and I hope that things all fall into place soon!

Add me into the group hug… I wish I could do something more to support you both through this. I read your blog entry and I never know what to say to make any of this easier for either of you – so normally it takes me a while to comment because I’m worrying here in Oz along side the both of you.

And I know that you said you won’t live in the ‘inaka’, but if you need any advice let me know. I guess you could say I live in the ‘inaka’. I need a car to get anywhere, although the closest big sister is either 1 hour away to the left, or 1.5 hours away to the right!!

Another Hug from me- sorry to hear about the hard few days and the disappointment. On the optimistic side- Nagoaka is really quite close and the Shinkansen has cheap tickets to Niigata City (about 2000yen return). I also have to work in Nagaoka occasionally so if he takes the inaka job u r not totally alone.

You also r in contact with a lovely woman I know in Shibata- so at worst- if you guys except the inaka job, it isn’t so bad because you already have 2 friends nearby 🙂

I know how you feel about the countryside Sarah. Whenever we visit my DH’s fam (and trust me, you haven’t even seen inaka till you’ve seen Chinese inaka … I’m sure it’d make small town niigata look like freaking Tokyo in comparison! Let’s just say his family home still has a nasty ol dirt outhouse. Ick?) I get sick of it very quickly — luckily living there is soooo not an option, even though we actually own land there (and to be fair, like niigata, it is very beautiful, and I think it would be ok if I didn’t have a kid or a life)! While I hate big cities, the countryside is a whole nother ballgame, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all for you to prefer the relative civilization of a medium sized city. It’s called compromise! Our DHs need to realize that it’s hard enough being foreign wives, that agreeing to stay in their country forever and ever is a huge sacrifice already, and do what they can to make things easier. You’re lucky, there are options like commuting, which is a small price to pay compared to the rather large price of you having to live someplace where you obviously don’t feel you’d be happy. So you can tell Ryohei your internet buddies agree with you. No inaka for now. 😛

I hope things start looking up for you soon though Sarah … I have a feeling everything will be turning around for you soon. Like I said before, good news wins over bad news. 😉

Marianne – Argg… honestly I like his parents, I do. But they have a looot of negativity. Even though I’m not close to my parents they have been some what supportive and believing in me. I just feel bad for him… thanks for the hug. I need them!

Lulu – I know you are there for me and I really appreciate it. I guess the reason I haven’t really sat down and wrote you a huge long email is because theres not really much to be done. 解決できない問題は待つしかないって感じ
Thank you for you support. If Ryohei does get a job and I can leave mine I am going to try my uptmost to come out for your wedding yay!

Nay – Don’t worry about saying the right thing. You don’t know how happy I am just to get comments at all and know that my crazy screaming at the world is being heard by someone. lol. Yah I guess we’d be in a similar situation to you… just I guess the main kicker is I don’t have a license in my own country either. Thats one of the huge issues at this point… *sigh*

Lily – Yay! Niigata friends. Yah, I can see myself pre-kids coming out to Niigata city quite a bit, not sure how hard it will be to manage with a baby/toddler. Once again.. I really need to get my license but with working full-time I can’t go to drives school, not to mention the cost of it here! I need to get back to the lady in Shibata… I should email her from the email that I usually check so I remember to do it. Believe me I am so so so happy to “know” people at least in the same prefecture. I hope to be joining you at either the Nagaoka or Niigata starbucks in a few months 🙂 (if we get inaka job) And even if not, I know we’ll be visiting the PiL so maybe we can arrange to meet up on one of those occasions.

Jess – Gah… yah. I was actually thinking about you when I was in the inaka. Not that you lived there, but I could imagine its a lot more “behind the times” at least my husbands father is a water applicance guy.. so he installs all these toliets with the bidet and bum-dryer etc. I left it out of my post but I did have to go pee outside at one point cause the outhouse was filled with bugs. I figured I didn’t want to gross anyone out though. lol I will tell DH that the internet is on my side. He’s really not giving me too much trouble. I just hope we can avoid the whole situation in the first place.

THANKS EVERYONE!! your comments really do make a difference. Its so easy to feel isolated… maybe something we all know. I appreciate it so much! Just a another month or two…

Unconditional support coming from me too! Though like Nay said, I too, don’t know what to say. Don’t wanna say the wrong thing and you know what I mean! : ) But, anyways….you do got me in your corner girl…anytime! Don’t ever forget that! : )

I hope things work out. And OMG, that blasted wasp chasing you down for the watermelon scent/juice on your skirt. *faints* : )

Wow, what a trip- and bookended with a tiring bustrip to boot!

On the negativity thing- I don’t know whether it’s Tohoku making people tough or just a lot of miserly people enjoying not enjoying anything at all and ever who happen to live in Tohoku but all my DHs rellies are like that and it really is wearing. It starts even before we arrive- ‘I don’t think you should come tomorrow, they’re predicting snow, your cars so small and you’re not a great driver and etc etc etc’. I think your fiance has the right idea of giving them some space. I bet the minute he gets a job they’ll be all ‘well, of course we knew all along you’d get it, but isn’t it too far/ too inka/ too city/ low pay/ high tax etc etc’

Oh and if you do end up in the ど田舎 splitting firewood is great stress release. 🙂

Gina – Thank you so much *hugs!* Yah… seriously it would have actually been pretty funny if it hadn’t been a real wasp.. and it hadn’t been me as the unfortunate victim. lol

thefukases – You make a really good point about the “hardened” countryfolk. It was actually something that I was thinking myself. Wow… yah I think that he’s kind of gotten the short end of the stick. Oh and by the way when I was being attacked by the wasp my FiL made a comment like “If you don’t like bugs you shouldn’t come live here.” ARGGGGGGGGGGG (maybe being trapped in the snow makes people go slightly loony.. even in the summer)

I need some firewood to split now!!!!!!!!!!!!

Does your husband want to work for the local/national Gov? = ) Did you say split firewood?

Girl Japan –

Yah he does. Thats his dream lol. He wanted to work for the court system but he failed so now its either the tax bureau or the local govt.

The firewood is in reference to thefukases comment where she meantions its a good stress release!

Sara, humble apologies for making it over a bit late.. had my drama and crisis to deal with myself- so it sounds like August is not a fantastic month for many of us…

You being by him and supporting your husband is the best you can do, and I understand how frustrated you may feel. My husband works for the Ministry of Justice but he also works for the local Gov as well- he has been with them since he was 23 (now LATE, LATE 30's) 39 and hold back on 40 but and I know and understand how difficult this test is- like sitting for the CPA or BAR. Keep an open mind with the local GOV, if your husband gets a few credentials under his belt like my husband did he started off at local but entered up being transferred between both and working for the National but going to private sectors– keep an open mind and I know it all boils down to the score one got to where what sector he may or may not be in but once he is IN, he's in- and if it is not practical for him to get an accounting license or for example labor law license now, he can once he's in- they have their yearly reviews National and Local and all this comes into play with moving up the Pole so-to-speak so don't worry, he will be making some serious loot in no time (and the bonuses are GREAT) and you will have your dream home/condo house a place you can call your own.

Just give him all the confidence he may need now because according to my husband he studied for more than a year to pass it..its not easy by any means… The clouds will soon fly away = ) Hugs & Air kisses!!!

Sara, humble apologies for making it over a bit late.. had my drama and crisis to deal with myself- so it sounds like August is not a fantastic month for many of us…

You being by him and supporting your husband is the best you can do, and I understand how frustrated you may feel. My husband works for the Ministry of Justice but he also works for the local Gov as well- he has been with them since he was 23 (now LATE, LATE 30's) 39 and hold back on 40 but and I know and understand how difficult this test is- like sitting for the CPA or BAR. Keep an open mind with the local GOV, if your husband gets a few credentials under his belt like my husband did he started off at local but entered up being transferred between both and working for the National but going to private sectors– keep an open mind and I know it all boils down to the score one got to where what sector he may or may not be in but once he is IN, he's in- and if it is not practical for him to get an accounting license or for example labor law license now, he can once he's in- they have their yearly reviews National and Local and all this comes into play with moving up the Pole so-to-speak so don't worry, he will be making some serious loot in no time (and the bonuses are GREAT) and you will have your dream home/condo house a place you can call your own.

Just give him all the confidence he may need now because according to my husband he studied for more than a year to pass it..its not easy by any means… The clouds will soon fly away = ) Hugs & Air kisses!!!

The firewood comment so.. flew over my head and way between my knee’s!!! DERR

The firewood comment so.. flew over my head and way between my knee’s!!! DERR

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