End of an Era

Not sure how often I’ll update this blog going forward. I’ve really enjoyed writing here, but it’s no longer as important to me as it once was.

I reached the goal I set out with: document my life in Japan, the strange things I saw, and things I learned so I could remember what those crazy first few years were like.

Going forward I might still update this blog with new experiences. Likely, though, I’ll be busy elsewhere finding meaning and enjoyment in other adventures so my once rigorous publishing schedule will be much tamer. Perhaps twice a month? Perhaps once a week? More, less? Who knows. But we’ll see how it plays out.

I’ll be getting a driver’s license this year — one of my goals. Still taking the JLPT to keep Japanese language learning in my sights (that’s not a goal that disappears simply because I pass that test). And I’m working on an updated version of my book and other projects. Life is going well.

Simple. Positive. Active.

Tax Tax Tax

Starting tomorrow, April 1st, Japan’s sales tax increases from the current 5% to 8%. Everything sold in Japan gets the tax added on (food, clothes, cars, houses, etc…). Tonight, when passing the local grocery store, it was clearly being overrun by tax-mad shoppers trying to buy up everything they needed before the new tax hits.

So, Q1 will look great, sales get a huge boost. Will Q2 suffer? Likely, yes, if it’s anything like the last tax hike it will.

Bad drivers in Japan

Japanese drivers tend to be patient, cautious, and slower than the Americans I’ve ridden with. But they also happen to be horrible at noticing objects in the way when backing up.

Last Fall I added these planters to the end of my car space to keep the surprisingly large number of people that wanted to turn around at my place from doing so. I was angered last year after watching a dozen different times when a driver went to the end of the street (one house past mine), determined the turn too sharp and narrow for their skills to handle, then proceed to backup into my front lawn, brick walkway, and paved parking spot in order to turn around.

After watching the grass near my walkway get flattened and a decorative brick in my walkway crack, along with narrow escape of my mailbox from destruction I was determined to do something.

My goal was simple, find a cheap but obvious way to point out “no trespassing”. Thus, enter the long, easy to see, planters.

It deterred a few, but not many, as I learned not 2 days later when I heard a loud “cracccck” while inside the house. Sure enough, someone backed into the planter while attempting to use my drive as their personal turnaround. The planter survived that time with naught but a chipped corner.

Other times were a bit more infuriating. Particularly the 3 or 4 times I came home from work to find my planters moved to the side and fresh tire marks on my drive. The jerks didn’t even have the courtesy to move them back after using my property.

Or that time I was in the house and heard a car outside, opened the door and saw a small vehicle attempting to just use the brick walkpath and small grass yard in lieu of my now blocked paved drive. When I stepped out and started to yell, the driver stopped and stepped out – a lady in her 40s – and said “sorry” in english, “the turn at the end of this road is too narrow, isn’t it?” in Japanese.

Well, yesterday I came home to see this… sigh. Well at least it wont be easy to move out of the way now

I need a mamachari

A mamachari, I need one. Mia is getting heavier to the point that I can’t carry her and 3 bags of groceries anymore.

We have a spot for a car, but I don’t need one yet, so we’ll wait on that for another year or two (I think).

But I do need a way to easily transport a kid and groceries. So, enter the “mamachari” as they call it in Japan. I recall taking a photo of all the bikes in Japan when I first got here. It was so alien to me to see the rows of unstylish bikes outside stores… now I’m about to join them :)