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Just hanging around.

March 13, 2012

Last Saturday,a sports trainer, all the way Shiga(next to Kyoto and Osaka,) came to our daycare centre to teach the children and us parents,how to use the new and existing equippment.It was a very interesting and informative few hours,and the children had a blast.I managed to get a bit of footage of Emilie finishing her turn on the bars,and sent to family in the UK who couldn’t access the file,so decided to post it here.A little indulgent,but well,let Emilie show her Oma what she can do,and she was so proud of herself!

*Can’t seem to get the clip to turn,so if you know how,please do let me know,lol.And oh,what a low voice mummy had that day.

Without further ado.

February 25, 2012

This post has been a long time in coming but priorities have been with resting,spending time with the family and just settling in.I am feeling a lot better now,have had my medications halved and am due back at work in April.Hooray!We  have had problems with our PC and after a several attempts,Kenichi managed to download photos from  our camera this morning so at last I am ready to unveil the obvious!

So,the house.We love it,adore it,worship it.To be honest,we were not expecting to be as happy as we are with it all, as we presumed that there would be a number of things we wished we had or had not done.However,apart from a very few little quips,we are satisfied.My quips are (1) could have done with an electric socket on the upstairs landing,(2) don’t like the curtain material we have in the living room and tatami room that much, and (3)should have put a light in the cupboard under the stairs.And that is it.Another suprise for me ,were my feelings  when I left the hospital at the end of December.I came home to the new house which I had only seen on 4 or 5 occasions.But I felt totally at ease and content and well,”at home”,from the second I walked through the front door;it was all very familiar and even using the new IH stove seemed second-nature.During my hospital stay,I spent so much time looking at the plans and at photographs ,that I become familiar with almost every detail, and most of the decisions about the interior, were made in bed with a pile of catalogues.So,it was very easy to adapt,but saying that,I still have don’t know what all the buttons to do with the bath mean,have the odd  problem using the new phone, and the Interphone is a bit of a mystery to me, but I am getting there! If it was all written English,I’d been fine of course;).

The girls have also settled extremely well and for the first time have their own room(s) and their own beds.Emilie will still come into our bedroom once in a while during the night, and it so happened that I missed co-sleeping with the children so much,that Friday has been designated “Girl’s Night”  ; us three girls sleep together in the master bedroom and Kenichi sleeps in the girls room.It’s  lovely!At the moment,the girls’ beds are next to each other but in years to come,they can have a room each and we can close the dividing door that remains open at the moment.

We wanted the house to have as much storage space as possible and one thing that my father always said,was to have as much storage space as possible,so we did just that.We have a loft which is easily accessible via a pull-down ladder,and it has a window,light and lovely floor so easy to use and clean.And a lot of stuff can be stored up there!The only furniture we took from our old house was our sofa,2 chests of drawers( gifts from K’s parents when the girls were born),our beds,the living room table ,the kitchen table and the TV stand.The latter two were replaced weeks later with smaller versions though.As we have a walk-in-closet next to our bedroom,we didn’t need any extra wardrobes etc ,and the girls only needed bedside tables with their new beds ,as they have built-in closets.Annie doesn’t have a desk as yet as she still does her homework on the kitchen table so I can keep an eye on her!We will get her one when she is older and can either get a smaller one for her room,or use our spare room upstairs as a study.

There are still things to do,of course,but interior wise,apart from more pictures,paintings and photos to hang,we are pretty much done.We like things kept simple,so that helps!Outside,the driveway will be concreted over and gravel put down.The back garden will be levelled out and then we can start on the garden itself.The  work will be done in March or April,so not long to wait before we are busy outside!We also want a garage but will have to wait for that.Kenichi planted a hedge all around the outside and staked each little sapling,so in about 5 years time,we will not see the road.We have been given permission to use the woodland beyond the garden,so already,the girls have a secret hideout(thanks to K) and plans for a swing and other amusements are in progress.There is also a park leading to a little park,so they have a lot of land to explore.

So,I suppose you want to the house,Lol!Not the best set of photos as I did them rather quickly without thinking a month or so ago, and it was a rainy and dull day.There is a video that was much better as I explained a few things and made some fantastically inane comments.However,cannot download the damn thing.Shame;).Also,I totally forgot to take a photo of all the house from the front and back.Next time!

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Progress.

September 19, 2011

The mune-age ceremony took place on September 7th as scheduled and all went extremely well,with a head count of over 80,including a lot of children,perfect weather,and best of all,nobody fell off the roof.I was not able to attend but received numerous reports and photos.Also,one of the carpenters videoed the ceremony from the roof,and I have to say that the view from up there is stunning;views of the coastline,the town and of Mt.Unzen,an active volcano over in Nagasaki prefecture.Shame we cant live on the damn roof!

In my previous post,I made a couple of mistakes in regards to the proceedings;Kenichi made a speech in front of the building team and about fifteen relatives who all sat and had a bento lunch earlier in the day,not later on before throwing mochi,as I previously stated.Also,the “little plaque” that Kenichi had to write and then was attached to the rafters in the roof,was not so little as you can see by the photo below(and this is only one side of it) .Emilie was not impressed by Kenichi’s valiant attempt,as is very obvious!

Since the ceremony,the team of carpenters has been working all day everyday,and the windows and exterior doors,as well as the walls,are complete.On Saturday,I was able to attend Emilies sports day,and afterwards,we went to see the house,the first time for me.And I was blown away!We could go inside and walk arouund.The stairs havent been built as yet but I didnt trust myself on the ladder,so have yet to see upstairs.The wiring was being done and electricity will be connected tommorow.As houses are built from the outside-in,from now onwards,work will progress regardless of bad weather.The
completion date is for sometime in November.

Finally,some photos.The ones taken from a distance were taken by my friend who works at the home opposite.You can see the full scale of the land,and the area in front of the house where we will have garage.It was also reasurring to see that the garden at the back cannot be overlooked at all.As for the style of the exterior,we went with a western look to the disappoimtment of those not living in Japan,lol! I dont want to defend our choice,but we had a limited range of exterior colours that we could have(no light colours due to the proximity of trees leading to a moss problem.) Also,we are a mixed race and bilingual family which reflects in our daily lives and our style.I miss England,and by having a western style house,I feel closer to my roots and a feeling of familiarity and security.Kenichi always wanted a western-style house to be unique,although they are pretty common now!But the interior will be unique to us,that I can assure you!To be continued…

Foundations.

September 3, 2011

The house is starting to take shape.Obviously I am unable to see for myself and have to rely on Kenichi to document it all with photographs.He says he is keeping a record but keeps forgetting to bring the camera to the hospital when he visits!

Next Wednesday,the wooden frame or skeleton of the house and the roof will be complete, and yes,the roof goes up fast when houses are built in Japan.The completion of the roof is an important part of the house building process,and here in the countryside it is celebrated with a simple ceremony known as “mune-age” when the house owners(traditionally men only,thank god) climb to the roof with the carpenters who are building the house.There,a handwritten wooden plaque with the name of the family and date,is placed in the roof and nailed to the rafters where it will stay as a record of the occasion.There are some offerings made at the same time and the men drink a toast of sake.Below,neighbours,friends,relatives and people passing who see the colourful flags attached to the roof annnouncing the mune-age,will congregate.After the toast on the roof,the man of the house will make a s
hort speech to officially announce the family’s intention to settle here and ask for support and protection.Finally comes the part that everyone is waiting for;the throwing of the mochi.Mochi,or cakes of pounded rice,are traditionally eaten at times of celebration.For Mune-age,the family will prepare(buy nowadays) fresh mochi.The mochi,sealed in small plastic bags,are thrown down to the people waiting below,who scramble to get as many as they can.Inside some of the mochi,it is also traditional to place a coin,the highest valued coin being 500 yen,hence it can become quite a frenzy below!Recently,it is popular to throw down bags of sweets,some containing coins,for the children present.After the mochi have been distributed,the crowd disperses,and the house-owners provide a meal for the carpenters to show appreciation for their work.

Mune-age is a dying tradition even in rural Japan.It costs money and many people are not willing to part with money or have no time,so forgo this tradition.We were initially in two minds if to have the ceremony so soon after the death of Hi-baa,but it is such an important part of the house building process in our eyes,that we decided to do it.The date was choisen with care and is a “lucky day”and next Wednesday,September the seventh at around five-thirty in the evening,is the mune-age for our house.From earlyin the morning,the flags will be flying to tell of the event.All the mochi have been ordered and Kenichi and the girls will prepare the bags of sweets for the children,tomorrow.Bento meals have also been ordered for our team of carpenters.I am hoping to get permission to leave the hospital for a couple of hours to attend,but wont know until the day if I can go.So watch th
is space and hopefully next week I will be able to report,in person,how our mune-age went.And more importantly,how are mune-age went without a hitch,but with our track record,I suppore we should be ready for anything!

*Attached is a photo taken by Kenichi with his phone this afternoon,of the girls in the kitchen!

Now.

August 28, 2011

Instead of having to repeat things,I decided to do a blog post about what is going on.Terribly public,but it is my only way of being able to reach my friends and family,as rumour has it,that there are some people around who dont use facebook.Can you imagine that?!

So,from the begining.I caught a slight cold from Emile,so have a scapegoat,lol!Three days later,I was rather wheezy and short of breath,and put it down to asthma.Didnt think it was bad,so decided to wait for a Monday to get some medication.So,Monday morning,on the fifteenth of the month,saw me swaying into the lobby of our local hospital.I was seen within minutes and told that I needed an IV,which I was expecting,as with rather bad asthma attacks,this is the fastest way to get relief.So,on the doctors orders,I lay down for a two hour IV.But thinking back,have no memory at all of being there.
After the IV,I do remember being ushured,albeit slowly,to see the doctor expecting to get a prescription and go home.Instead,he handed a bright yellow piece of paper,on which he had written beautifully in English “Acute bronchitis”and“Bronchial asthma”.So thats what I had and I waited for the damn prescription,that never came,lol! Within the hour I had all the pre-hospital admittion checks(blood,urine,chest x-ray,heart etc) and was taken to my room at the quieter end of the corridor.I was delighted that I had my own room and presummed that it was temporary.It was over a week later that I was told that I am in the high-dependency area and would be staying.

From then onwards is a blur.I was given an intense course of powerful anti-biotics,via IV, with two shots of steriods twice daily for the first twelve days. They managed to get a great IV line,so I just needed to be plugged into the drugs.I also had(have) sixteen tablets to be taken each day,and three times a day I have medicine in the form of mist that is inhaled.And after that,another inhalent which is the most foul tasting thing ever,and should be banned or used in warfare.

Each day of the first ten days just drifted by as I just lay back,tried not to talk as I started coughing,and taking ten minutes to go to and from the loo,which is meteres away,At the time,it didnt seem strange that I couldnt even stand up without losing my breath.How funny the mind is.My mobile phone was my only way to communicate,and still is,and I clung to it,texting and PMing and taking over Facebook.I just needed something to do and the security that I was not alone at any time.For the first ten days I couldnt sleep except for an hour at the longest and nights were long.But I was able to be in touch with a friend somewhere in the world at any given time and it was extraordinary to witness such a network of events;from births,marriages,deaths,it all happened plus plenty more during those ten or so days.

After around the tenth day,I had a shock to realise that I had been here so long.Despite all my texting and FBing,it didnt seem real and it dawned on me that the drugs were pretty powerful and making me feel totally out of it.It was a little bit similar to the feeling when you suddenly realise that you have a raging fever,hence you are whoozy,and you give into the fever.And it was a very strange feeling as I felt lousy.Best way to describe it,is as if you have had way too much to drink,cant talk or move in fear of vomiting,are very aware of your surroundings and want to go home,but you dont know if your legs can get you anywhere.Not that I have ever experienced anything like that.Hear say…

Not obviously enjoying this feeling at all,I had a bad couple of days and started worrying aboutthe effect of the medication on me.And it was after the course of steriods,then anti-biotics ended, that a fresh new penny dropped(and this one makes me feel like such an idiot but I have no pride);the drugs are(were) not making me feel ill.What is making me feel ill is my body being ill. Doh! But Ive never been really ill before so had no idea about what happens,lol. You get flu,you feel lousy where you should,then you get better.And my lungs werent doing well but now they work again so I get better? Seems not.

So today,and I am still here.Still in my tequila world.But able to talk and wobble around.Oh and blog,so aint that grand! The lowdown is that my asthma was severe and took far too long to get under control.Hopefully blood tests in the morning will have positive results(ho ho) and my body will start to mend.And then I can think about going home and recuperating there.I was due back at work on September the first,but work is on hold for the time being.

Each day still drifts by and the hospital routine is gentle.I am still not able to sleep for long periods of time,and eating just a little fruit and other bits each day.I am happy to just lie in bed and listen to the sounds of the hospital.Friends pop in,but visits have been limited now.Kenichi brings the girls when he can but I had to say no a couple of times as I didnt feel well and didnt want them to see me so out of it.I feel terribly lucky to remain in mx own room and am coming to terms with the fact that I dont know how long I will be here and my body is calling the stops now,however much I sulk.

I have been overwhelmed by love and support during the last weeks.On a local scale,friends rallied around and made sure that the girls were OK.Kenichi has help from my MIL,goes without saying,but she is also coping with my FIL,who refuses to go into hospital,stubborn old goat.And I have been visited bx the elders of the Tokita clan(6.30am visit,lol!)and I have had such a boost from friends and family;a parcel full of goodies and interior magazines,literally hundreds of texts(and mostly from one amazing person),PMs,messages on Facebook,links to songs,comedy sketches,articles.Friends just writing to tell me about their day,their plans and what they have been up to.And everyone who humoured me on my FB page,and provided me with a place to escape from reality,and to laugh,not wallow,worry cry.Offers to send books,DVDs,kindles…you name it.Amazing.Here I am,stuck in a hospital bed
in the middle of a remote part of Japan,surrounded by all my friends and family.Arent I the lucky one!

Before this becomes even more over the top and overdramatic so I shall stop,and save that for my deathbed.But thanks is due and thanks is being given,believe me!

From a normal hectic daily life packed with schedules and deadlines,to suddenly being forced to stop and live a while without knowing what will happen and when…its a very humbling experience,you know.

And I have a new,albeit familiar,mantra ;
This too shall pass…. but if you could keep holding my hand for the time being,that would be grand!

The Rather Quiet Start.

August 23, 2011

I often ponder that that Kenichi and I lead a life of unexpected circumstances. The well laid plans of mice and men would not be the way to describe it.From meeting 19 years ago,we have somehow stumbled through just to be together and now settle as a family.But along each step of the way,we have encountered difficulties and obstacles.We have floundered,got lost, hurt and sat down.But despite that,we somehow brushed ourselves off and plodded on,because what else can you do?

The first real joy came after more than seven years of waiting.Annie.But we still had a hard struggle ahead with personal crisis,deaths and mourning,ill health and injury.But later,we had the amazing gift of Emilie in our lives to strengthen us.And things were coming together,slowly but together.

When we were married over fourteen years ago,we dreamt of building our own house.We made plans and were bitterly disappointed when our plans were rejected on numerous occasions.

In a matter of hours,after a nearly fifteen year wait,the machines will be moving in to start building our house.Im stuck in a hospital bed and Kenichi has been called out on the biggest flood-related work emergency to date,so neither of us will be there to witness the beginging of our biggest family dream.But,you know? Fuck it,because in true Tokita Style,WE DID IT OUR WAY…!

Annie’s first exhibition.

August 9, 2011

Annie will be gutted that I post this but I had to as it amused me and Kenichi so much.Back in June,Annie started going to shuji(Japanese calligraphy ) classes with the woman next door who happens to be our landlord’s wife.She does the classes for love of calligraphy rather than the money and lets the children just get used to holding the brush.She is always very effusive with her compliments and always very encouraging but doesn’t really offer much instruction.Annie loves going.

At her 2nd or 3rd group lesson,Annie was asked to write the word “kaze” ,meaning “the wind”,on her paper.I was a bit surprised as usually they spend the first weeks writing the simple stroke meaning “one” in kanji(it is a horizontal stroke and gets them use to the brush and where and where not to use more pressure).But Annie was already writing a word.

Then a few weeks back,Nanami,Sensei,her teacher,popped round to say that Annie’s work  had received a little prize at a local calligraphy contest and her work was to be displayed in our local “city”.So off we trotted and there we saw Annie’s work ;the same one she had done during her first few lessons.It is all squiggly and not in a straight line and  Annie was not a happy bunny when she saw her work on display as it was,in her own words, “horrible”.

However,Annie was quite excited about the thought of a prize,until she received it last week from her teacher; a tiny glue stick! We couldn’t stop laughing(but obviously not in front of Annie,no no!).But she did get a pretty nice certificate as well,and well,certificates always look cool,don’t they!