Happy New Year!

Today was the first day of 2007, and it was quite an enjoyable day.

As you can see, Reiko wore a kimono for the new year and we enjoyed breakfast with her family as well as made a trip to a shrine in Inuyama. We didn't do any of the Shinto prayers (since neither of us are Shintoist), but it was enjoyable to visit the temple and see all the people. I can see that this is one of the few times of year that temples make the largest amount of money. Everything cost some amount of money. The only things that were free was the air and the pictures we could take.

After all was said and done, Reiko was happy to exchange the kimono for some regular clothes. While women look great wearing the robes, they're really very tight. I was able to see this first hand, and unfortunately, Reiko had to cut her breakfast short. I think we made it up with dinner, though.

I'll be posting the pictures from today in the gallery (New Year 2007), so feel free to look.

There are only a few days left until I must return to Canada. So I'll be enjoying the rest of this time as much as possible. Tomorrow I get to meet Reiko's eldest sister as well as the rest of her family. It should be fun :)

New Year's Eve

I wonder if I should change the name of my categories....

For the moment, "at Home" means in Vancouver, while "in Japan" is just that. However, as more time passes, I find that Japan feels just like home. So many things here are familiar to me, and I've even been accepted into Reiko's family. How could I think of the place I stay in Vancouver as a home when I'm the only one that lives there?

Well, perhaps this is just another sign that I'll really enjoy all the time I'll spend in Japan over the next few years. This is, after all, where I plan on spending most of my adult life.

Today (being New Year's Eve in Japan) Reiko and I spent some time at her home preparing some foods for the family dinner we'll be having January 1. Reiko and I baked a great cake with lots of cream and some fruit. It looks soooo good, and hopefully the rest of the family will think so as well. There's quite a bit of cream on that cake, so it's almost like it was made in Canada :P

Afterwards we looked at some of Reiko's photobooks. It's pretty amazing how little I know about her past, considering how we've spoken so much about so many different things. This is, of course, a positive thing as it means that there will be many things that we can learn about each other over the next few years. She was very attractive from a young age ... I don't know how I was lucky enough to find her.

Of course, I'm not complaining in the least.

I should go. We're right now watching some New Year's shows and afterwards we'll do the countdown. This is one of the first times I've ever stayed awake to midnight on New Year's, and I'm sure it will always be one of the best.

See you next year!

11 Months

Today marks the 11th month since Reiko and I started talking.

This relationship has moved pretty quickly at some points, and a few times I was even wondering whether I was getting in over my head. As with all relationships, I've made my share of mistakes. The thing I try for the most is to ensure the same mistakes are never repeated.

Reiko and I knew that this long-distance relationship would not be an easy thing to deal with sometimes. The time differences means that we might not always be able to talk to each other, and the costs to visit from one country to another makes regular visits quite cost prohibitive. Through all this, she and I have perservered. Because of our will, we are now planning a marriage.

I feel really lucky to have met someone like Reiko. I know that sometimes we'll have different opinions about certain subjects and matters, and this will (hopefully) allow us to find a balance and build a common ground. One of the things I'm going to work really hard to prevent is a lack of communication because of differing opinions on matters.

Today has been pretty good, for the most part. For the last several hours, Reiko and I have been at her parents home preparing foods for the New Year celebrations. Some of the foods remind me of things that I used to eat at family gatherings, and others are quite new to me. I know it's been said many times before, but I really enjoy the food in Japan. It's even been said that I've lost weight in the last few days (w00t!)

Since I currently have some down-time, I think I'll upload some more pictures to the gallery. Be sure to check out the "New Years 2006" album.

Yay! I'm Approved!

Today was the day that I offically asked Reiko's parents permission to marry her. We had a great conversation, and after it was all said and done, my request to marry was okayed!

I knew that I would be meeting Reiko's parents this trip, as it's been planned for months. For the most part I was pretty cool and collected, until we started talking about it here. I don't think I've been that nervous about anything before.

Afterwards I tried to help Reiko and her mom with the cooking, though I think I made matters worse. So, after everything, it's been a great day. I'll be posting lots of pictures where Reiko's making some California rolls, as well as some from around the area.

Once again, my mind is wandering and this entry is likely not going to make any sense whatsoever. So on that note, I'll head off. Right now I'm at Reiko's parent's place and dinner is almost ready. Can't be too late for this first dinner :)

Snow!!!

It's almost January, so I guess that means it's time to get some winter weather.

This morning the sun was shining and the wind was strong as Reiko and I enjoyed our breakfast. The thing I really like about the weather in Japan is that there's not wishy-washy attitude from Mother Nature. If it's raining, there's no mistake. If there's wind, there's lots of it. Today's weather was mostly wind, but as Reiko made her way home she sent an email saying that it had started to snow. So I guess her father was right this morning, as usual.

This afternoon, Reiko and I travelled to Nagoya to look at another possible location for our wedding. This was located in the suburbs of Nagoya and the area was incredibly clean. As we travelled from the subway to the Marriyell building it was hard to spot litter or even normal weather marks on some of the buildings. We also managed to spot a few houses that had a very Canadian look and feel to them, as they were huge in comparison to their neighbours.

I'm really going to miss this country when I go back to Canada in a week. I know that one of the reasons I enjoy things so much here is the different atmosphere, but more than that, I'll miss many of the little things that make Japan so enjoyable. From the friendly greetings when you enter a store to the stares Reiko and I get sometimes out in public, I've become really attached to many aspects of this country. Of course I'll still need to find my place in this society when Reiko and I make a home here, but for the most part I couldn't imagine a better place to live.

Tomorrow I'll be spending some time at Reiko's home with her family. We'll have a great dinner and maybe even watch one of the Harry Potter movies. Of course, there are other reasons for this dinner, but I'll talk about those later.

I'm still uploading pictures to the galleries when I have an hour or two to spare, and I'll be sure to post more tomorrow. Right now I need to get some sleep.

Oyasumi nasai.

Why I've Never Tried for Canadian Idol

Most of us enjoy singing, even if it's in the privacy of our showers.

Today, Reiko and I spent over three hours at a local karaoke place and we had a great time. I thought that maybe after my last performance in April that she might not want to hear me try to sing in tune, or see me dance like a white guy, but this was not the case. One positive note was that I could finally sing one of Reiko's favourite Disney songs: "Under the Sea".

For many good reasons, we didn't record any of our performances, but it was still fun to choose the different songs and let loose for a few hours. I think the only song I did even remotely well was Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon". It's just not the same when you're singing along with a CD or radio because you can hear the actual artist and so a poor personal performance is partially masked :-P

I'm sure this won't be the last time that Reiko and I karaoke together, and that's great news ... for me. One of the things I might enjoy trying is the public karaoke. This way I can terrorize a broader audience.

I'll add more to this in a bit. Dinner's ready, and it looks like Reiko made some great omlettes.

Ja ne,

Singin' In The Rain

It's raining in Southern Japan today.

One of the things I like about the rain in Japan is the smell of the air, and the type of rainfall. The air becomes much more dense with humidity and fog, and carries with it a clean smell that's devoid of pollution. The rainfall is consistent and very relaxing.

Reiko and I travelled south to Toyohashi (about 50 km south of Nagoya) early this morning, and the view from the train was pretty spectacular. People were coming and going, kids were on their way to school, people were running for the train, and in all this activity there was an order. This order has to be one of my favourite aspects of Japan.

On the way back, the train was less full as most people were still at work. The rain had started while Reiko and I were busy with appointments in Toyohashi, and the sound it made while hitting the roof was so relaxing that both Reiko and I fell asleep for most of the trip. All in all, I think that the nap with Reiko was the best rest I've had in the last four months. It's a shame the train ride wasn't longer :P

Later today I'll be meeting some of Reiko's students, as well as some more of her co-workers. Perhaps we'll all go out for dinner afterwards. If we do, I'll be sure to post the pictures.

Anyways, I think I need another short nap. I'll update this entry later, since I don't think it makes much sense.

Christmas in Japan

What a great Christmas, so far.

While my blog might show today as the 24th (at 7 PM), it's noon here in Japan. Reiko has to work today, but she came over early so that we could have breakfast together and open gifts. Reiko-chan makes great food, I don't know why she thinks otherwise.

Breakfast was eggs, salad and toast with syrup, followed by some apple yogurt. After this was done and put away, we brought out the Christmas gifts, and it looked like all the planning and worry earlier had paid off. Reiko really enjoyed her gifts, especially the complete collection of Mozart (170 CDs worth of music!).

It won't be easy to beat next year, so maybe Reiko and I can spend Christmas in Austria ....

I've started posting some pictures from my trip here. It'll be slow going, though. Unfortunately, my web server at home is decent for a few things, but doing the work of importing images and resizing for thumbnails is not very quick. Either way, I'll keep at it. Once I get home, the higher resolution images will be uploaded to replace the smaller pics.

Later today I'll head over to Reiko's work to meet her for lunch, and afterwards I'll get the opportunity to meet a few of her new co-workers.

I love this country.

Lots of Travel, Lots of Food, and a Little Sleep, Too!

I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed all the little things in Japan. That's not to say that everything in Japan is smaller than it is in Canada, but it's the many little details that people don't really think about until they're either gone or seen again.

Reiko and I visited two possible locations for our upcoming wedding in Nagoya. The first was a full service host, complete with a church, several different reception areas, translation services for my friends and family, and a whole plethora of other offerings. Add to this the attitude of the consultant, and everything seemed perfect. Afterwards, we went to another place at the Little Italy located not too far from the Nagoya Public Aquarium. Unfortunately, neither Reiko or I were 'wowed' with the ultra-Catholic half-latin ceremony, or the general feel of the place.

So far, the first place is ahead by leaps and bounds.

Today we'll be checking out another place to see what they can offer, but it looks like it will be a tough sell to appear better than the first place we checked out. I'll be posting some pictures in the image gallery tonight or tomorrow.

On a scale of one to ten, this trip has been l33t. The weather is great (feels like Southern Ontario in the fall), the food has been awesome, and the people seem to be fascinated every time I pick up a pair of chop sticks. This is a great country to visit, and I think I'll really enjoy living here. That said, I have vowed that by the time I make my next visit to Japan, I'll have a much better grasp of the language.

Making my way from Narita to Tokyo was relatively easy. From Tokyo to Narita I ran into some communication problems. But at Narita I couldn't put together the simplest requests into a sentence. Luckily I managed to get close enough to where I was supposed to be for Reiko to still meet me. If anything, this trip has reinforced the idea that I can't just study this language passively.

On The Ground in Japan!

Alrighty, this is just a short message to say that I've landed in Japan after a very long and painful plane ride, and the subsequent getting lost on the Japanese rail system.

I'll write more about it in about two days, when I have internet from my apartment. In the meantime, this is where I am in Japan (within' a few km error margin).

Enjoy,

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