Monday, August 19, 2013

10, 000 Eisa and Obon Season

So I thought I posted this but never did!  This is the 10,000 Eisa Parade on Kokusai street in Naha.  Obon is the festival of the dead in Japan and is very focused on honoring the ancestors that have passed.  "Obon--or just bon: This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.
Besides singing and dancing and feasting on graves (sounds very Dia de Los Muertos no?) they also have parades and fireworks.  Here's a peak at the fun---TIP: parking is terrible so show up early and be prepared to walk.  also, hottest day of the year!!!!  Bring A LOT of Yen for cold drinks and tons of sun protection.  I need to start bringing an umbrella like the Japanese ladies do I think.

N chilling with traditional shave-ice (usually with bean paste) and a Shisa the traditional spirit-guardian of Okinawa.

Lovely Yukata (summer kimono) was all around)
His own little bon drum!
He is NOT sunburned...he is just THAT HOT and flushed.

Dad and cutie

Beating in time with the marchers.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The great housing wait--Houses and Hotels!

Okay. So we were offered 2 choices to live on Kadena Air Base.  We were "assigned" to live in Courtney--but that was 100% full---so the great housing shuffle began.   We refused the first offer (a quadplex with 2 floors) and accepted the second!  It's a stand-alone house and I'm quite pleased with it. If I can ever get into it! 

If you've been wondering where we have been, we have been forced to move out in town into a Japanese hotel.  It is awesome! (and expensive).  It has an ocean view from all sides, a pool, room service, a kitchen. The drawback is we are off base and its a pain to get over there sometimes with traffic.(think only place to get cash, gas, and groceries,  for a reasonable price) The reason all of this is happening is SUPPOSEDLY furloughs because of sequestration. We can't get into our house because of a combination of cut worker's hours in maintenance as well as the housing assignment office.  Really it's that plus they ARE HUGELY inefficient. (what?  a government office?  no...) We even asked when we got our first offer, "Is there a house available?"  The answer: "we're not sure, maybe, could you check tomorrow?"---  What?  Do these things just fall out of the sky?  Apparently they do.  Now we are waiting on "Something" but the housing lady isn't sure.  No I'm not joking.

  So here we sit a full three weeks after arrival with no end date in sight.  We are booked at the hotel for most of this month. Ouch.  The government is supposed to pay us back for the cash outlay....but...considering the nature of this post, I'm not gonna hold my breath on that one.

So here is a pic of the house we REFUSED.   I have NO INDOOR pics because I was never offered keys to either of them.  I was forced to choose by peering in windows.  (again the housing office didn't have time to find the keys which were with maintenance--which was supposed to working and let us in....but they weren't ;) It's attached to three other homes in a  row.

Here's the house we ACCEPTED: (living room shot)

View from the backyard (HUGE)
 Other side of backyard.  (Yes that's the ocean in the distance)
 Back of the house.
 Meanwhile, here's our awesome Japanese hotel. 
 It lacks some typical American comforts, 
but makes up for it in other ways!
Living room
Dining table and view

 The view from my
"ofuro" and Bedroom.

 As Homer Simpson said when visiting Japan and seeing this, "The Japanese really ARE more advanced than us;)"
Second shower, E calls dibs!
The pool and hermit crab farm in the lobby.

Living room view.

 Two things I "dislike": the do the math.  And the fact that instant coffee and a hot pot is considered adequate for morning.
Nathan doing homework on the deck.
Sunset off our other balcony.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Drinking and Driving

So we have been SUPER busy these past several days dealing with the housing office here on base (that is a post by itself--I'll post that later), as well as just daily life with the boys and Dad starting work.  This is just a collection of odds and ends of what we've been up to.  It just so happens to deal with "drinking" our favorite Japanese drinks out of the ever-present vending machines, and of course, driving in Japan!

 N prefers Shoyu-Ramen.
 Look what I found ma---a snake!!!!
 Habu-Sake, a famous drink from here in Okinawa specifically.  Yes you drink it. I, however, will not be trying it.
 Ben gets his tea, cold.  Because in Okinawa in July it is ALWAYS 85% humidity and 90 degrees.
 He seriously looks like a Japanese commercial right now.  This is totally what they do.
 Ben driving on the left for the first time!...on the RIGHT side of the car.  Confusing I know.
The boys doing what they do in the car. SOOOOO good to have a car again;)

 In case YOU would like to take the Japanese road test as we did, here are a few practice sheets of what we had to learn.;)
After Daddy got his car, I got mine.  It's a cute little cube that we got for 3,000Yen in cash.  Not bad since it has a child latch system, which is rare in Lemon lot cars on Kadena.

So far I have driven back and forth across the island(east to west) several times and---knock on wood---no accidents.  After driving in Japan years ago it's all coming back to me!