Finding parks in Japan where kids will have fun

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Japan has a love affair with playgrounds. Playground equipment scattered throughout Japan seems to date from the 80’s to the modern era and delights millions of children every year. I get a nostalgic rush with many of the playgrounds I’ve encountered around Japan. Seeing my kids exploring and playing on these classics is both exciting and nerve racking. The prolific use of concrete and steel does nothing to set a parent’s mind at ease, but children find creative ways of hurting themselves no matter the environment. Just give them some pillows and a bedroom and I’m sure they’ll end up with bruises. Heck, one of my sons needed five stitches… Continue reading Finding parks in Japan where kids will have fun

Categorized as Day to Day

The big effort

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Seeing anyone punch above their weight is a thrilling experience. Seeing my middle son do it made it special for me. He started kendo almost a year ago and has been growing into it ever since. He’s the smallest of anyone in the group but doesn’t let his height affect his approach one bit. He goes at it with great determination and effort when his turn comes around and jokes, laughs, and chats when it’s not. This hard working clown is growing on the sensei I think. The sensei asked if anyone wanted to take the 100 challenge. A single voice shouted “hai”. It wasn’t until later that I found… Continue reading The big effort

Categorized as Day to Day

Rage against the dad

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Perhaps a tiny crack in the wall? Just the other day, I was picking up my son from daycare and one of the moms hailed me over and commented that I was looking a little tired. It was a welcome gesture and uplifted my spirits instantly. It felt like a small step from the outer circle to the inner one. Rewind 24 hours and I was with two elder sons at the park. When we arrived, the middle one dashed off to the slides and jungle gyms with his friends from daycare. We often visit the park with his friends as we get out of daycare at the same time… Continue reading Rage against the dad

A day of firsts

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Do you remember your first homework assignment? Was it in the first grade? I’m trying to think back and cannot remember what was the first thing I brought home to do. I’m guessing some alphabet practice. That’s roughly where we are at with my eldest son. His first assignment was to practice writing the letter “い” a few times. Dutifully tracing an initial couple of examples and then filling in the remaining boxes on his own. So begins a long process of repetition to get one’s head wrapped around the hiragana character set and then a set of 80 simple kanji. The daily drill will be critical to master the… Continue reading A day of firsts

A new hope

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I’ve been second-guessing my approach to getting my kids comfortable with English for some time. They are growing up in Japan with Japanese daycare, Japanese-speaking friends, and a Japanese mother. The real kicker, they known I know Japanese as well. So where’s the motivation for them to speak in English? Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope. Enter Star Wars stage left and it’s like we’ve just hit the jump to lightspeed. I put episode 4 on the TV several weeks ago in a spur-of-the-moment decision and everything has snowballed since then. My eldest is now peppering me with questions around Darth Vadar’s extended family tree and the differences between a… Continue reading A new hope


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Pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, paper cups, construction paper. All staples of the American arts and crafts scene when I was growing up. In our daycare in Japan, the kids have a very different set of supplies. Packaging is an art in Japan. From paper to plastic, how something is wrapped in Japan carries a certain gravity. The simple act of unwrapping something from a Japanese department store or a gift from a neighbor feels like a whole experience and sets the tone for the item within, even if you are getting another necktie or some dried squid. This leaves a lot of empty boxes and containers in Japan that make… Continue reading Repackaged

Safety city

We called it safety city at my elementary school growing up. A grid of lines in the elementary school parking lot would undergo a metamorphosis at summer’s end. The police department would set up a fake town with tiny stop signs, buildings, and other miniaturized town stuff. On our bikes or big wheels, we’d inch along those painted lines now as glamorous and captivating as a 5th avenue or Broadway to our 4-year-old mind. Abiding by all traffic laws, of course. It was a rite of passage in those early years. Many townsfolk will get a nostalgic look in their eye if you mention safety city to them to this… Continue reading Safety city

Two Weeks In

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I just started reading The Martian by Andy Weir and the journal entries are always count the sols. 5 sols, 23 sols, 100 sols since the protagonist lands on Mars. When I wrapped up work a coworker sent me the exact years, weeks, and days until I’m expected back on April 1st, 2022. From Mar 1st ’21 to April 1st ’22, that ends up being 396 days. So here I am at 12 sols into the full-time parenting thing. That’s a whole lot of numbers and I’m sounding very much like the grown-up that the little prince had some critical words for, Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about… Continue reading Two Weeks In

Buying beer

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“Let me get the beer!” says my 4 year old. Not sure if I’m doing this dad thing right. When we visit the local grocery store, there is a modest selection of beers that I’ve plundering more frequently over the past couple of years. My kids will often be with me when shopping and it has now become a routine where they b-line it straight to the cold brews as soon as we come in the door. It’s the first section you come across when you enter the store. On one hand, it gives me pause, guilt(?), that the first thing they do when flying through the sliding doors is… Continue reading Buying beer

Odd man out

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Sitting in one of my last phone calls at work last night, I looked around the participant list and saw I was the only man. Looking forward to the next year, it won’t be so different. Or will it? I have a hunch that the all-virtual environment of work gives us a wonderful anonymity where our emails, tone of voice, and use of emoji’s shapes us much more than our gender. It gives me great hope for the year ahead, in that I’m moving from one industry to another where I’ll be the minority once again. Perhaps the shift won’t be as big as I thought. The topics of conversation… Continue reading Odd man out

Bystander and origins of boujin

The online handle name I’ve gone with for some time is boujin. I started using it back in college many eons ago and have stuck with it. I can’t say that I ever had a an extreme interest in Japanese culture or language, but my wife and I were dating back in college and I started thumbing through the Japanese language dictionary. Remember those? I gravitated towards the word boujin as it encapsulated a feeling at the time that I was a bit of an bystander. In the dictionary you’ll see a couple of meanings for boujin depending on the kanji. You either get bystander (傍人) or dust filter (防塵).… Continue reading Bystander and origins of boujin

The Talk

Sat down on the couch after a peaceful day at home. Had just gotten up after getting the two older kids to bed. Dove into my book, the third installment in The Expanse, “Abaddon’s Gate”. I’m nearly through the book at this point and the minutes are flying by as I get to the climax of the story. My wife sits down on the couch next to me and casually says, “you have a few minutes?”. I’m torn, probably shouldn’t be. End of the book is within reach and the clock has just passed midnight. A few minutes is probably going to be a talk. It’s not really a debate… Continue reading The Talk

Baby steps

I’ve lived in the marketing world for the past 10 years. This March, I’ll embark on a new journey. I’ll become a stay-at-home dad for the next year. In Japan. While you may be fascinated to read about baby feedings, house cleanings, and meal preps, I’m looking more to chronical my adventures in the land of Japan as a father in social circles primarily occupied by mothers. Toss is a dash of Covid just to ratchet up the challenge here. Covid isn’t raging in Japan like it is in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, the social isolation is real and the hardest part for the next few months is… Continue reading Baby steps

The Silver Lining On My Silver Week

Silver week in Japan is in full swing. Hisako and I celebrated the extended weekend by dividing our days into three distinct themes. Day 1: Apartment huntingDay 2: Sight SeeingDay 3: Shopping Silver week varies from year to year, but the Japanese government has done its best to bunch together a number of Japanese holidays near the weekends to give workers an extended period of time off. The combination of Respect for the Aged Day and the Autumnal Equinox give the worker with 3 well placed paid leave days a full week off from work. And a guaranteed ticket to sky-high travel prices and crowds to make Shibuya crossing look tame.… Continue reading The Silver Lining On My Silver Week

Curse of #1 Rankings

As a long term addict to suffering, i.e. a Cleveland Indians (Cleveland sports in general) fan, I can’t help but feel a little superstitious about the fact that the turning point in Cleveland’s season this year just so happened to correspond with the exact week they got a #1 ranking on ESPN’s power rankings… After an amazing start to the season and blowing everyone’s socks off (except the White Sox’s), they get ranked #1 in the league. It took them 7 weeks to get there and then 7 weeks later after that #1 ranking to reverse the trend completely. First 7 weeks: 29 and 15 (Power ranking #1)Next 7 weeks:… Continue reading Curse of #1 Rankings

Sweaty GPS?

Very strange data from my run today. Somehow my phone was out of sync with the satellites and gave me bogus data for the run. The sun was pretty intense and I was sweating a lot, so thought maybe the water was messing with the device in some way it shouldn’t be. When I finished and looked down at the display, it showed some staggering results. I was thinking, “Awesome! A day or two off from running, come back and look what I can do!” In reality, I didn’t just run nearly 8k’s or average a blistering 12km / hr. The top speed stat, which is always funky to begin… Continue reading Sweaty GPS?

The Sengawa Trail (仙川遊歩道)

By far my most meandering run to date, but found some hidden gems along the way. Found a great little path called 仙川遊歩道 (Sengawa Trail) that starts just down the road from where we live. This trail appears to be part of a much larger network of trails that follows the Sengawa river. Would love to explore this a bit more to see how far I could get. Maybe take the train back if I get to far? View To The Highway – Kyorin – Sengawa : 4.9 km, 9.4 km / hr, 00:31:09 in a larger map Here’s a preview of the entire trail running along the Sengawa river.… Continue reading The Sengawa Trail (仙川遊歩道)

Close to Pukey Time

Maybe it was the hard push that I did at the end of the run or my higher pace overall today, but I was awfully close to what Bode Miller so elegantly phrased Pukey Time. Enjoy. And of course the run that did it. View Kyorin – Sengawa : 5.4 km, 10.3 km / hr, 00:31:39 in a larger map

South Side Run

Today’s run :4.7 km, 9.3 km / hr, 00:30:15 A typhoon is approaching today, so some strong  head / tail winds during the run. The route today hit too many stop lights / railroad crossings. Often found myself jogging in place or standing around. Need to figure out a better route if going to the south side. View South Side : 4.7 km, 9.3 km / hr, 00:30:15 in a larger map

Currency Online versus PayPal

Following up on an earlier post on international money transfers to Japan, I’ve now decided on the best method to get money to Japan from the US. For transfers for more than 40,000 JPY, use Currency Online. If the amount is less than 40,000 JPY, you’re better off using PayPal. Currency Online would win out in all cases, except that they use an intermediate bank to get the funds from the Bank of New Zealand to any bank account in Japan. I asked COL if they had any accounts in Japan and they told me no. They said their Japanese customers always eat this fee. So no matter which bank you… Continue reading Currency Online versus PayPal