Monday, February 16, 2015

Greetings from Japan

Last Thursday I arrived in Japan.. The flight was 12 hours and 20 minutes. I sat next to a delightful Chinese couple who now live in Rochester and I learned they attend the same church as my brother. Years ago their parents escaped from mainland China to Taiwan. They were on their way there to visit family. They made the time on the plane go quickly.

After getting off the plane and going through Immigration and baggage claim, I made it to Customs and then hurried to find the train station in the lower level of the airport. I had my destination written on a slip of paper and showed it to the ticket agent. After paying, I hurried to the track and when the Express arrived, I boarded – in car 12. After stowing my luggage, I found a seat and sat down. One of the first announcements was that cars 1 - 6 would be traveling to my destination; cars 7 - 12 would be separating at a certain point. So, while the train was moving, I made my way through all of the cars until I got to car 6. Again, I sat down, only to learn that seats were assigned and I was to be in car 4, seat 3C. Again, I moved my luggage and self to the correct spot. Mind you, my ticket was written in nearly all Japanese.

The Express Train
I had now been awake about 23 hours, and I'm still not to Yokosuka. The ticket I have takes me as far as Ofona, so at that point, I exit the train. Now to find my next train. After trucking my luggage (43 pounds) up a tall flight of stairs, I found the ticket agent. I showed her my note. Unfortunately, the woman spoke NO English. She wrote an "8" on my slip of paper and pointed to the stairs. Now I have to trudge down the stairs with my luggage. I spotted a couple of school girls and asked them if the train on track 8 was going to go to Yokosuka. They smiled and spoke Japanese back to me, nodding affirmatively with their heads. When the train came, I got on with them. I looked up to the map above the doors and asked them once again if I was on the correct train. A woman intervened and used the word "transfer." "Do I need to get on another train?" She was confused and again said, "Transfer." At that moment, another woman came up next to me and in a kindly way, spoke some English. She had me get off the train at the next stop and helped me walk to the car behind us that had just been detached from the car I had been in. She told a conductor where I was going and thankfully, a passenger in that car indicated he was going to Yokosuka and helped me get my baggage off the train when we had reached the destination.

Hans drove up to the station just as I was coming out of the building. What a relief to see him! I had now been awake 25 hours and was glad to be off the train.

The next day, Friday, Rachel and I took the train to Yokohama to shop at a beautiful department store, Sogo. I just loved looking around at everything. Here are some of the things we saw:


Fish (click to enlarge any photo)


Orchids in the floral department

Baked goods

Manikins with interesting fashions

Kimono (these were not cheap!)
Saturday we went to see all three kids play basketball in a gymnasium on the base. For some reason, I didn't get any photos of Annika and William in their uniforms.

Josiah in his basketball uniform
Seeing the kids play basketball was a lot of fun! Following the games we all had lunch at the McDonald's on the base. Later in the afternoon Hans gave me a tour of his newly renovated ship.  I blogged about this in a separate entry.

Sunday, Annika's 9th Birthday

Early Sunday morning we took 3 trains to Tokyo to celebrate Annika's 9th birthday at KidZania. This is a large space within a mall wherein the children can go to different establishments to get a job, work, and make some money. The (play) money can be used to buy things in the KidZania store. Annika chose to work in an ice cream shop. Once her reserved time came up, a hairnet, cap and apron were put on her and she and three other little girls were shown what to do. Afterwards she got to eat her ice cream cone. She also performed in a magic show and worked at a veterinary clinic. Josiah worked at a gas station, worked at a newspaper (wrote copy), and drove the fire truck, plus put out a fire. William worked at the gas station, performed in the magic show, helped drive the fire truck and put a fire, and marched in the parade. We were there a good part of the day and "camped out" in a lunch area where we saw a lot of action. I met a nice Japanese woman who wanted to use her English. I learned her husband (who was also very friendly) is a general practitioner in his own clinic. They were very nice people.

Annika ready to make an ice cream cone

Ice cream coming out of the machine into her cone

The finished cone (she got to eat it)

William, waiting for his designated time in the magic show

Veterinarian Annika

Annika and 2 other little girls helped treat this dog

Both Josiah and William got to drive the fire truck and put out the fire

After our time was up at KidZania, we boarded the trains to Yokohama to a Hard Rock Café to celebrate Annika's birthday. After our dinner, the wait staff brought Annika a large, hot fudge sundae complete with a lit sparkler and they sang "Happy Birthday" to her, followed by handing her a blue guitar for pictures.

Annika with her birthday cake at home

Tuesday we shopped in the Livin' store in Yokosuka plus the NEX on the base. I have enjoyed walking Annika and William to and from the school bus each day (about 3 blocks).

Annika in her Friday school uniform

William in his uniform and playing his toy horn for show and tell

At the bus stop

In the bus, ready to depart

Today, after they departed, I took the base bus around the area to see all there is to see.

Hans' ship as seen from the moving bus
This year Rachel is homeschooling Josiah and it is going very well. It was very interesting for me to sit at the table while she gave him his lessons. This keeps her very busy.

On my last full day in Japan, Rachel drove me out to the private school where Annika and William attend.

Annika in her classroom

William in his classroom

A shrine a few hundred feet from the school

1 comment:

Pat said...

Great pictures! I can't help but think that I would have been somewhat scared on the train ride. I mean trying to figure it out, not understanding the language. You are brave.