Once Upon a Tanbo

Archive for the ‘japan’ Category

Funny how quick the week passes by when you don’t really have in particular to look forward to… and how completely and utterly slow it is when you have something you want to get done. How unfair…

This weekend is start of the “big move” as well as life away from PIL, away from rice paddies (ok I lie, there are a few about 3km from our aparment – but better than right out the fricken window), end of not eating anything except cereal for breakfast and a slice of bread, cheese, and ham for lunch since my MIL doesn’t know what else to leave for me, the end of not being able to go anywhere except the “local” 20 minute away conbini, and the end of being completely and utterly friendless (or so I hope)

PLUS – in my own way I am looking forward to getting the apartment set up and especially looking forward to cooking. I finally purchased my new oven!! It is a Hitachi Healthy Chef 33L one so I should even be able to get a roasting chicken or baby turkey in there should I feel inclined to try and do some sort of Thanksgiving cooking this year. I can’t wait to actually be able to bake again and am on the look out for tried and true yummy Japan friendly (ie don’t have to go on a mad goose chase to find the ingrediants) recipes if anyone wants to volunteer!

We pretty much have all the “big” items for the apartment now – and now need to fill up the cupboards with 100 yen plates, cups, and silverware as well as get a few food prep items from the home center. After that it will just be unpacking and then waiting for BG to choose her birthday. I guess I should give myself a pat on the back for making it to Full Term Day. I am exactly 37 weeks which means that within 4 or so the baby should be here… my clinic induces at between 5-9 days overdue so the lastest she will be here is a month from today although with the doctor being as alarmed about her size as he is it will probably be sooner than that. (which is ok – as much as I’d like to go in to labor naturally – I am MORE than happy to not be pregnant by the end of the month)

So.. this is the beginning of the beginning? Absolutely no signs of anything happening soon which is good since we still have a lot to do – but I can bet as soon as I hit about a week after moving I will be a walking, spicy food eating, other old wives tales trying mess.

But.. despite all this fun stuff thre are still 3 (and a bit) more boring weekdays… aggravated by the fact that Ryohei will be super late tonight (past 10pm), semi-late tmw night, and ANOTHER drinking party on Friday… (sigh) which means he won’t be home until Saturday morning. I guess he is starting to get really busy, he’s had more zangyo in the past few days than he has the whole first 3 months of his job and he has to work the whole weekend July 25th and 26th so lets hope the baby is here and I am in the clinic and thus not feeling lonely on a weekend at home waiting for something to happen.

I really wish babies came with an egg timer as at this point there is a lot I would like to plan for but not knowing when I will be taking my “week long vacation” throws a wrench into most of it and then I’m sure that the first couple weeks with a newborn are going to be a huge adjustment and I’ll be lucky if I can feed us and take a shower.

So yah… thats it really. I wish Ryohei wasn’t going to be late tonight – the only times I feel like I can relax here is when he is around and I really hate when it is just the 3 of us (me, MIL, and FIL) having dinner… Ryohei is like my barrier and I can deflect annoying questions to him. But in true hero style – I get to deal with 2 me and the PIL dinners this week… ugggggggggggggg.

Anyways trying to stay upbeat and positive but still very tired from lack of sleep and lack of (interesting) food. Also not a huge fan of the sudden heatwave which has made my walking very very tiring and uncomfortable. Summer is not the smartest time to have a baby esp. not in this oven box of a country


There are lots of fun reasons why tomorrow is going to suck – in particular – suck for me. I can imagine it would be minorly sucky and annoying for other people but with all the things that I have “going” for me it is going to be a world of suck, suck, suck, and crap. And yes – there is going to be inaka bitching in this post so if you want out here is your chance.

So Ryohei and I are in the process of getting all our “utilities” set up. Gas, water, electric etc,etc. Water and electric were easy – fill in a form send it in – watch and wait. Gas we have to call them, Ryohei gets the pleasure of doing that on his lunch break, I don’t care how fluent I am in Japanese talking on the phone to the “keigo freaks” as I like to call anyone in the “business sector” who speak to you in massive keigo despite the fact that you make it clear that you are foreign and that perhaps a little more “rude” language would get the message across. But no – rudeness is saved for when an 8 month woman is standing in front of you on the train and you pretend to fall asleep as to not have to give up your specially procured seat especially in the “handicapped” section. Silly pregnant woman – if she wanted to sit on the train she should have gotten on before you did right? (opps sorry already ranting and I haven’t gotten to the meat of the post yet)

Anyways – the last “important” utility is the internet. Now if you live in Japan you know the fun of waiting the 10 days – 2 weeks waiting for them to hook the damn thing up. In America, you call the company and they have a guy in your house within 2-3 days at the latest. But whatever… thats just how its done here I guess. (sigh sigh) Anyways considering I have no “attachment” to the real world besides the ‘net at this point we were hoping to sign up ASAP and then have it good to by the end of the month.

So tonight we looked at providers, chose one that seemed decent and not too expensive, and tried to sign up. Then we hit a road block… they want proof of address aka one of Ryohei’s items needs to be officially registered to our new address. Funny… I had mentioned that maybe we do that when we were in Nagaoka for the birth class but, no no… there was no need to do it then. (insert some cussing here) Anyways – lucky for us (me) since Ryohei and I are married I can change his address for him… or something. But that means I get to go to both the local city hall here AND the Nagaoka City Hall tomorrow to do it. This is not some walk in the park like it would be in oh… a non-rural area.

Ryohei’s mom has tomorrow off so she will drive me to the local city hall but then she has “plans” so I get to take the 1 hour and about 1000 yen (one way) train to Nagaoka and then take a bus to the local city hall, wait while they do both my gaikokujin torokusho AND Ryohei’s jyuminhyo (different departments of course) and then another bus back to the station and then waiting for train back to inaka then another 1000 yen hour long train ride home.

Now.. add the fact that I am 9 months pregnant and being in a non-prone position for long periods of time puts me in a world of pain and you see my issues here.

If I wasn’t pregnant this would be a nuisance but at least I could just chalk it up to going into the city – walking around and having fun.

If I had a drivers licence I could cut out all the train waiting time and bus waiting time and the 2000+ yen it is going to cost me could be put to something nice like cheese and starbucks as a reward.

But nope – nothing fun like that for me. Then again… 2 weeks without the internet isn’t fun either. So yup… this rant combines pregnancy, inaka, and Japan fun. I am trying to be positive – I am TRYING TRYING TRYING to not go crazy. But I really think tomorrow is going to be physically hard on me and so wishing that there was something, anything I could do to get out of it

Well looks like the rice gods were smiling on Princess Sara today and my FIL has agreed to drive me up to Nagaoka this afternoon instead of all the train and bus catching goodness! Yay!! Sort of happy to catch a break every now and then. I think Ryohei sort of pleaded my case this morning. We already did the local city hall and that went as smoothly as getting paperwork done in a Japanese office can. I got the same lady who messed up my gaijin card when I went to get my address changed… she smeared the ink on my changes and took up about 2/3rds of the card with her “edits”- all the while talking to me like I was an idiot… but sorry thats branching off again. Anyways I’m getting some major crampies today – but don’t think they will be sending me to the clinic to deliver a pre-term baby anytime soon. BG had another dance competition like thing in my tummy this morning and she’s still way high up… so I think we are good to go for at least a few more weeks.

Anyways just wanted to update you all. I lucked out this time – thanks to all of you who commented and esp. to Lily who offered to come down to Nagaoka to help out (HUGS!)

I was too tired to write about this earlier today but now that its past midnight and BG is currently on Act 1 of ‘Riverdance’ I am plenty awake enough to give you the details.

Let me just say that there is no exaggeration to this story. And its probably not as embarrasing and horrible as it was for me – but I think I can say with acertainity that this WOULD NOT have happened in a western country.

So anyways on Tuesday, Ryohei took the day off as planned (yay) and we drove up to my clinic for the compulsary birth class – 2nd half. I didn’t have the pleasure of attending the 1st once since I was in Kobe during weeks 20-24 of pregnancy. Quite a shame..

The highlight was that we got to walk by the nursery on the way to the class and admire the 3-4 newborns sitting in the window. So small and cute… I can’t believe I will have one. They made me all mushy and goo-ey inside.

Anyways the class started out normal enough… one of the hospitals midwifes had us watch a movie with the expected lady giving birth – just questions for those who have already had that pleasure… are midwifes in Japan usually that noisy?! Can I yell shut up at some point and stop the incessent “ganbare!” and “kuru na” (don’t come?!) that it sounds like they were saying. The last thing I want while I sacrifice my lady bits for BG’s sake is that… so please tell me that the off switch is an option. I’m not trying to pull a Katie Holmes silent birth but I would prefer a single “ganbatte” or “mou sukoshi” to a constant stream of high pitched chipmunk chatter.

Anyways sorry – side tracked… so we saw the video. Of course I cried when the baby was actually born, I looked around the room to see if anyone else was… (there were maybe 8 women in attendence, 2 besides me that had husbands with them) but no.. just me the silly gaijin was sitting there desperately trying to wipe up her tears before the lights came back up and I was exposed to all.

So after the video we had a talk explaining the hospitals procedures… fairly standard from what I’ve heard. Don’t think I get a choice whether to tear natural or be gone at with the scissors (sorry tmi) since it seems that 99% of first time births get the as the lovely Gaijin Wife says “choki choki.” 😦 Baby does get to stay with me after the first night though which is nice.

After the talk we had a break and then the second half… AKA hell started. We had a nutrionist “aka baba from the forumla/maternity suppliments company that the clinic uses” come in to harass us. I am not a huge fan of the “skinny culture” in Japan. Partly because I am not a part of it… even in my smallest days I would be nowhere close to the average 45-55 kilo flat shaped Japanese woman. And lets just say my smallest days have been behind me for quite a while now.. and with pregnancy weight I am entering the danger zone of apprx two Japanese women stacked together. (Please forget that now)

Anyways the nutritionist.. or “baba” as I will now refer to her. Gave us this “holy health survey” where we were to be told if our eating habits were up to par or not. Questions included things like

“How often do you eat liver?” – Never

“Do you think about the combinations of food you are eating?” – Umm… nope

“Do you drink milk” – Yes quite a bit, oh yay 2 points!

“How often do you eat snacks” – 1 a day… (Ryohei laughs at me…)

So in the end we had to tally our points. I had 10 out of 20 and the survey deemed me as “sukoshi warui” – needs a bit of work. Try and gabaru a bit more… sure whatever. I looked at the girl next to me.. she had 15 points – goody goody.

But no that wasn’t the end of it… I wish it was. Baba decides to call on each of us in turn to ask how many points we got and where we lacking. Oh yes.. after that my favorite question of the day “How many kilos have you gained while pregnant?” I was the second in line… the (tiny spout like Japanese) girl before me.

“I’ve only gained 3 kilos and I’m 34 weeks.” “Oh great job!! You are in excellent health”

Baba turns her eyes to me with glee

“And you Ms. Sara…” (and I directly quote) “How much fatter have you gotten… I mean, how many kilos have you gained?” In Japanese “Dore gurai futtota… aah.. nan kilo fueta?” Me: A lot. Baba: Yappari Me: But I lost a kilo recently and the Dr. said that was good… *rest of class laughs* Ryohei can barely contain himself with glee at my misfortune.

Anyways everyone else answered happily 4 kilos, 7 kilos, 10 kilos… uh oh… please watch yourself, 5 kilos… At least I prayed that it was over and Baba brushed into her lecture on how nutrtion was impotant and how we should all be drinking her companies maternity suppliment. Yawn yawn boring.

The came “Lets all calculate our BMI together – Get out your cellphone and then follow the simple math equation below and we can share them.” When she came towards me to get my score I used my JHS teaching experience perfected “DAME” (NO) and made the huge “X” symbol with my hands crossed in front of my chest.


Oh… and as the last hurrah… after the class we were given tea and Baba watching me eat asks Ryohei. “So where is she from?” “America” “And what does she speak?” “Japanese…” Umm… hello lady I was just talking to you and obviously understanding your pathetic attempt at trying to sell us manufactured  health goods…

Anyways that is the OMFG Japan birth class story. I hope its as amusing and shocking as I found it as the experiencee. I had a bit of a “I miss home” day after that… not to the point of tears but to the point of… why the hell is there no such thing as privacy here. It didn’t help when we got home and Ryohei’s mom had made whole roasted fish – the kind with eyes still attached and everything and some… soup with big chunks of chopped up onion (my biggest pregnancy related turnoff)

Looks like I may be well on my way to losing more weight at the next appt! If I had some access to cheese I could turn it around fast though…


Posted on: April 6, 2009

Warm and fuzzys only lasted about 24 hours… now I’m back to frumpy, grumpy, and annoyed that my man is off hanging out with friends while I sit here counting down the minutes until its time for bed.

I can’t sleep until 11 so we’re in for an hour and a half or so of fun… wish I had nice a big ofuro so that I could take a relaxing bath to waste the night away. Maybe I’ll just try and squish my 25 week pregnant body into the plastic bin.. er bath (if thats what you can call it)

Oh and the cherry on top – mail from Ryohei earlier.

Subject: I love you! (oh this is gonna be good…)

Guess what! It looked like I was going to have to work during Golden Week [instead of come help you move from Kobe] but my sempai said he would switch with me, isn’t that great?!

Stupid f***** Japan.

Ok get your cheese ready because I have a ton of “whine” to with it. Bare with me I just need to vent : (

Today was a Very Frappachino Morning. This is a special category of morning because it means it was very bad and that I can only gain a glimmer of happiness from an overpriced sugary iced coffee beverage. There’s a Starbucks on the way to my work but because of the price and the fact that I’m usually running late anyways I usually only get one on Fridays… sort of like an “otsukare-sama!” for the week. However – some days I am in such a foul mood that without a little bit of a pick me up I feel about ready to bite the head of anyone who so much as looks at me.

“But Sarah?” you may ask… “Whatever has made you feel like this?” My answer: nothing and everything all at once.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that Ryohei left for his new job on Monday which would make it Day 4 of being a “single pregnant woman in Japan.” In other words – not fun. I think most of it is the loneliness – for better or worst Ryohei and I had been living together for over a year and despite the fact we did 9 months of long distance before it feels so painful and sad to come back to an empty and cold house. As easy as it is to “cook and eat” for one now… I miss talking and especially HATE sleeping alone at night. I get spooked really easily and since I get up to pee at least 2 times a night its very unnerving to go back to a completely dark and empty bed. I haven’t been sleeping well at all and have been getting up more than ever (I think 6 times last night) and then realizing I’m all alone. Its so depressing.

I’m not going to even get into everyday chores. Lets just say that everything I used to get done through out the week is being allotted to Saturdays.

Work is work… the only person that I really like from my department was transferred out yesterday. He was a nice guy and now the only people left just annoy the crap out of me and grate on every nerve. I’m so sick of hearing Japanese everywhere I go and the stupid “polite” crap which is just a façade anyways. I’m just angry and hormonal and just want to be left alone. Sitting at work doing nothing for 7 hours a day 5 days a week is not helping the time go by.
Oh but theres more as well… you didn’t think I was going to be done so quickly. I’m really annoyed with Ryohei as well. Maybe not for a just reason – but still annoyed. Yes – rational Sarah knows he is starting his new job (yesterday) and getting settled in, but rational Sarah sort of left the building about 24 weeks ago and in her place hormonal and somewhat bitchy Sarah is temping. I am just getting so annoyed with him and his lack of contact… and when he does he seems so distracted and I hate it. I’m pissed because while I am all alone he is at least with his parents and doesn’t have to worry about not talking to anyone else or washing his own socks or whatever. He has his stupid new car and his mommys handmade bento and all he has to do is drive to his stupid new job and do the same crap that everyone in my office does. Oh and the kicker to this… he casually mentions to me yesterday that he may have to work some weekends in his department but “promised” to take some weekdays off to make up for it. (We all know this is Japan and that isn’t happening so I should pretty much resign myself to raising BG all alone while her daddy turns right back into the work-a-holic he promised would never exist again when he quit his job in Tokyo.)

Also – my hating the inaka and not wanting to go there is in full bloom again. Maybe because its actually so close to happening now (a month.) I think it so unfair I have to leave all my friends and comforts of the big city to move to a place full of baa-chans and jii-chans and nothing but rice paddies. Yah – I have a baby on the way to keep me busy – but shes not going to always be a baby. I’m bitter about it.

So… I’ve gotten that all off my chest but I still don’t feel better. In fact I feel like breaking down and crying – but I can’t because I’m at work. And *gasp* who could be so rude to actually cry at the wonderful Japanese institution of the holy office place. So I will sit here for the next 6 hours… stewing on the inside and probably poisoning poor BG with my thoughts of malice directed at my job, her father and her country of birth.

Most of you have probably run of screaming by now which is fine… I realize that I’m being a bit over dramatic… but the truth is I really feel crappy and alone and its not ending anytime soon. I guess the hormones aren’t helping either… and I need another 10 Frappachinos or so…

Maybe at lunch…

In less than 12 hours we will be off to the airport for our flight back to Japan. The week and a half here was too too short. I absolutely do NOT want to be going back to Japan right now. The only thing that makes it bearable is knowing that I will be seeing my very very good friend next weekend. But we have been having temps in the high teens and of course sunny so the thought of going back to cold and rainy weather already has me experiencing sad.

Also… I feel like a house. I truly, honestly, feel so disgusted with how I look right now. Yes I’m sure much of it is related to my present condition, but its still very disheartening to see pictures of yourself and feel absolutely shocked at what is reflected back there. I’m sure the “fat gaijin” stares will be in full effect as soon as we get out of Kansai Airport. Ryohei of course had horrible digestive issues and lost weight while here. Go figure…

We did manage to get all our shopping done so that is good but mentally I am not ready to go back to the land of “constrictions.” I’ve gotten used to the friendly and casual manner of Americans and now I have to go back to being an outsider who is to be feared for my “lack” of Japanese. I think that this visit has confirmed that one day we will have to leave Japan even if it means I have to pull Ryohei kicking and screaming from Niigata. (Actually he likes it here esp. the huge Japanese food market and the constant sunshine)

So anyways… I should be happy and refreshed… and I am. But I know that I still have 7 weeks of work left – 5 of those with Ryohei in Niigata, as well as a move and total apartment cleanout to orchestrate…

I think Ryohei is happy to be returning but I will probably start the countdown until my Christmas visit as soon as we get back.

Lately I feel like my blog has just been radiating negativity. So today I am planning to make a different kind of post. It seems that rather than posting about my situation, it would be better to post something more from the heart.

So I am going to post about Japan and living here. Of my almost 25 years, I have now been living here about 3. A very shallow amount in the bucket of life, but despite minor annoyances which occasionally balloon into major annoyances, I am pretty happy about living here. I’m not sure what about Japan captivated me in the first place. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and thought “Golly gee, I’m gonna go live in Japan.” I think perhaps it was the language. I would like to say I have been blessed with fairly linguistic genes. My mother and father were both world travelers, my mom was an English teacher who spend most of her 20s and early 30s in Europe mainly Greece and Germany, and my dad was in the British Navy and thus sailed around the world in many places. My parents (now divorced) actually met in Greece and lived there and ran a water skiing business before getting married. They both speak a number of languages to varying degrees. My Aunt on my fathers side is fluent in French and is a University professor in England. So I know that a love for travel and speaking other languages comes from both sides of my family. Interestingly enough neither of my little brothers seem to have a flair for it through.

I think I made my first international travel at the ripe old age of 1 or 2 when my parents took me to England and Greece. And we went to Europe several times until my parents got divorced when I was in junior high school. I really think that those experiences helped to set me as how I am now. Although I’m pretty much stuck working now, I’d like to think that in the future I will be able to see more of Asia and of course go back to Europe. As I mentioned before Ryohei and I would love to go to London and see my family living there for the 2012 Olympics. It would also be the year of our 1st Anniversary (remember we got married on February 29th) so it would be an excellent anniversary present for the both of us. I don’t doubt that we will have at least one child by then (fertility willing) and I look forward to introducing him/her to great Aunts and Uncles as well as friend “Aunties.” We do have to start putting aside funds though once Ryohei starts working. Still a lot of time though and its nice to have a goal to work towards! We’ve decided to each pick on event that we want to see. I really want to see either the artistic gymnastics or a diving competition and Ryohei wants to see swimming. (I suppose he’s into the Kitajima movement… personally I’m happy he didn’t pick Judo)

So theres a little bit of happiness for my blog! Does anyone else have any big plans that they are saving up for? Anyone ever been to an Olympics event? Share your stories if you have them in the comments section.