One Hundred

Today is a special day for Reiko's grandmother, though she probably doesn't realise it. One century ago today, in a very different sort of Japan, Reiko's grandmother was born at a Shinto temple in Kyoto. The world was a very different place in 1920. Japan was a very different place. Few people had electricity or telephones. Fewer still had ever left their hometowns. The Japanese empire was expanding across the Pacific islands and into China and its emperor was squirrelled away from the public to hide his various neurological issues.

A great deal of change occurred in the 100 years that followed. The nation burned and then calmed down. Abject poverty, once the norm, was almost completely eradicated by the 1960s. Education was granted to anyone and everyone who wanted it, to whatever level of knowledge they sought, regardless of their family connections. Medical knowledge jumped ahead by centuries in the span of decades with the imported knowledge from specialists and universities around the world. The nation rebuilt itself almost completely from the ground up over a quarter century after World War II, channelling traditional Japanese determination and imagination to create something that many tourists today still consider to be a nation living in the future.

And Reiko's grandmother had the opportunity to see all of this happen. She had the opportunity to participate in making it happen. Her children grew up and contributed to the development of the country and have lived just and meaningful lives. Her grandchildren grew up and have done just the same, typically entering into careers centred on nursing or education. Her great-grandchildren will hopefully carry the torch further still, accomplishing worthwhile goals while raising their own families and bringing humanity forward one person at a time.

When I think about how much has changed not only in Japan but around the world over the last 100 years, I can't help but think about what the world might look like in another six decades if I hit triple digits. Will the problems of today be remembered as a turning point to something greater or a temporary blip? Will humanity really peak at about 9-billion before worldwide poverty is eliminated enough to offer every person the opportunity to seek out an education, medical attention, and a fulfilling mission in life1? Will commercial interplanetary travel go from being science fiction to something resembling today's ocean-hopping flights? There are a thousand questions or more that I have about what the near future has in store for us and, if I treat my body just right, there might be a thousand answers revealed.

Reiko's grandmother has had the opportunity to see 36,525 days. Her memory is not what it used to be, and she often believes she's still living at the temple where she was born2, but she's still going strong. Hopefully she can enjoy many more sunrises, creative afternoons3, and moments with family.

  1. Careers may not be in many people's future by the 2070s if current trends continue.

  2. This would be impossible, as it burned down in a fire almost 85 years ago.

  3. She's quite good at making traditional masks. It takes time, but they're exquisite.


Earlier today my sister sent me a photo that, while undated, would have been taken in 1985. Based on all the things that happened that year, the photo may have been taken in late August or early September, shortly after my father collected Christine and I from the foster home where we were staying after our mother left. My youngest sister at the time is not in this photo as she would have either still been staying with an aunt or had just recently been retrieved by my mum1.

My father, sister, and I in 1985

What immediately strikes me about this photo, aside from how thin we all are, is that only my father is looking at the camera. Christine and I are looking off to the side at someone else. I know it has to be a person we're looking at because the photo was taken in the 3-bedroom apartment we moved into shortly before I started attending elementary school2. The person who took the photo would have been standing directly in front of the table where we had a 12" black and white TV3. Whoever we were looking at would have been sitting at the dining room table, as that would have been the only other furniture in the apartment at that time. Judging from the grin on my face and Christine's exuberance, I have a feeling it was either my mother — who my father always allowed to visit us despite whatever feelings he may have harboured — or her brother Leo. Unfortunately, my memory of that day is practically non-existent.

Photos were not all that common in my family before the advent of the "camera phone"4 so, for this picture to exist, there must have been some occasion to celebrate. My son hasn't gone a day in his life (outside the womb) without at least one photo being taken. Will he one day look back at these digital memories and remember a simpler time? Will he wonder why there are so few pictures of him and I together but thousands of him with his mother?5

The boy and I Looking at Cherry Blossoms in Kasugai Alongside the Hatta River

There's no way to foresee the future and how the boy will remember his early years, but I do hope that if he looks at these pictures, he sees that I'm just as invested in him as my father was in his children.

  1. My youngest sister was just a few months old when Mum left all three of us with a babysitter and a note to give our father after he returned from work. Because she was so young, my Aunt Vicky stepped up to take care of her rather than send her off to foster care. I never learned why Christine and I weren't picked up by other aunts and uncles, but then I never really asked. My father doesn't really talk much about this time in his life aside from how hard it was to climb out from under all the debt.

  2. Not just any elementary school, but an English-speaking elementary school! Prior to this, I attended French schools as that is my mother's first language.

  3. It was this 12" TV where I watched a whole lot of Star Trek and Saturday morning cartoons. This was also the TV where my father and I would play the Atari for hours on end. I didn't realize just how strange it was for people to have a 12" black and white TV as their living room TV until the early 90s, when my father finally paid off the last of the debt from the divorce and received a tax refund. We went out that weekend and bought a 26" colour TV with a remote and a VCR. So much luxury. TV shows had colour!

  4. Flip phones with a really awful camera completely changed the way my family approached photography. Once they saw the advantages of digital pictures, they took dozens of photos every day.

  5. The answer is pretty simple: I'm the family photographer.

Five Things (My Mother Gave Me)

Mothers — even the really bad ones — give their kids a lot of things that are often taken for granted. Aside from the obvious gift of life itself, we're usually bestowed with a plethora of memories that fossilize early and go on to have a noticeable impact on the rest of our lives. I've not seen my mother in almost 20 years1, but there's a lot of her that is visible in me. I look far more like her than I do my father. I think more like her, too. Heck, my lack of receding hairline is also thanks to her more dominant genetics2. More than all of this, though, there are five things that she gave me, intentionally or otherwise, that play a role in my life even today.

She Taught Me How to Cook

Before I moved to life with my mother from the age of 13, the only thing I ever "cooked" was toast. This was primarily because I was living the life of an only child between the ages of 8 and 123. My father would cook the meals and I would set the table. When living with my mother, though, I had to very quickly go from being a "distant brother" to "the eldest child", which meant taking on a lot of responsibility very quickly.

Mum being Mum, she enjoyed having long conversations while doing things around the house. Her reasoning was that a good discussion fostered closer relationships and made the time pass faster. By the time I was 13 my mother had 5 children, plus the occasional responsibility of my step-father's daughter. Four girls and two boys, with me being the oldest. Add in two adults and there are a minimum of 7 people to cook for come dinner time, and being in a large family in rural Canada meant that there would often be guests at the house in the evening, so dinner could easily have 10 people in attendance4. Cooking "enough food to feed an army" would take time, and I was drafted into the kitchen to help make this happen.

Washing vegetables, peeling potatoes, preparing broths and soups, boiling, frying, baking, and just about every other gerund associated with kitchens was done as a team for almost two years. She taught me how to identify the best vegetables by touch and smell, how to make tomato sauce and ketchup my hand, how to turn fruits into jam, and how to bake delicious treats. When I think about the times we used to make peanut butter cookies together, I still get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. This is a core memory, so to speak.

From the age of 15, she started working full time and I had to take on the role of primary caretaker at home. On school days I would prepare everyone's breakfast and lunch. After school I would cook dinner then, when my siblings were done, I'd wash the dishes. My parents would often come home late and either eat the plate of food that was set aside, or make something for themselves. It was, for me, a necessary responsibility of being born first. My youngest sister was 5, so she couldn't fend for herself. My other sisters were 10 and 12, so could help, but weren't strong enough to lift the heavy pots and pans from the stove5. I cooked a lot of meals, and I eventually learned to enjoy it when I started cooking for people who were not family.

To this day I continue to cook and prepare food the same way as Mum taught me. This morning I made Reiko and the boy some French Toast the same way my mother liked to have it. A recipe that has been passed down at least three generations.

She Taught Me to Observe My Body Language

During one of our "weekends in the kitchen" conversations, Mum told me flat out that she didn't like my body language that day, then went on to list all the things I was doing to send her various signals. The way I slouched showed a lack of interest, the way I crossed my arms showed I was being defensive, the way I sat showed I wanted to leave, and so on. So precise were her criticisms that I thought a lot about them in the weeks, months, and years that followed. As a result, the way I hold my body when speaking to people is still something I pay very close attention to today, and I watch the body language of others to get more clues about how they feel. Doing this has undoubtedly reduced a lot of misunderstandings and made it much easier to identify when someone is being less-than-accurate with their statements.

It's a good thing my mother didn't put up with very much teenage sass. A very good thing.

She Got Me My First Real Gig (as an Artist)

Before computers, I was very much into creative arts. I would spend almost every spare minute up in my room, sitting at my home-made desk6, drawing anime-style characters, two-point perspective cityscapes, views from nation-sized parks, futuristic cars, X-Men, scenes from Star Trek, and just about anything else that could be expressed with Staedtler 3H pencils and a 24-pack of Laurentien pencil crayons. One day my mother came home from work and asked if I'd like to earn a little money by painting a map of Canada on a wall at her office. I jumped at the chance and, for the next two weeks, I would spend a number of hours every day at her work first drawing the provinces and time zones on the wall, marking the major cities, and outlining the major northern islands, then later painting them different shades of teal7. When everything was said and done, I was paid $800 for my efforts and I was incredibly happy8.

She Expected Better From Me

Raising kids is not at all easy and what works with one child will not necessarily work with another. My mother has known me longer than I've known myself, and she has always been very aware that I am self-driven and determined to accomplish something I've set my mind to. She also knows that I've operated within a very defined, yet ever evolving, set of ethics and morals since before I could even express the ideas coherently9. My sisters are not at all like me in this regard, nor are either of my brothers. Perhaps it's because of this that my Mum would pull me aside when I was being stupid and tell me point blank that I was wrong. She'd say why something needed to be corrected and not put up with repeat offences. She would occasionally do this with my siblings, but rarely with the same intensity. Later on, after she left my step-father, she explained why she was more strict with me than anyone else. While it's most certainly unfair to my siblings, I can look back and appreciate the additional scolding.

She Always Answered the Phone

After finishing my post secondary education, I worked at an appliance repair company in town. Every day people would call to complain about their broken washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, air conditioners, and just about anything else that might have been classified as an appliance in the late 90s. I very quickly learned to hate the sound of a ringing telephone and, to this day, I will generally not answer a call if it is not from a very select group of people or otherwise planned in advance via a text-based means of communication. That said, when someone wants to talk, regardless of how busy I might be at that moment, I am always available. Some things are more important than whatever priorities or deadlines we might be tackling. Of the many things my mother taught me, this might be the most important.

There's no denying that I'm not very good at maintaining relationships. I can often go weeks, months, or years without talking to a person, then send an email (or hand-written letter) as though we had just spoken the weekend before. This happens without me even realizing the passage of time10, which has resulted in some lost friendships and misunderstandings with family. That said, I've never — to the best of my knowledge — pushed a person away who needed to chat. We are all on this world so briefly that it's important to make time when it seems that none exists. Very rarely is the thing we're working on right now a matter of life and death. The tasks can wait for a bit while we "answer the phone".

  1. Living on the other side of the planet from the nearest family member means there are a lot of people that I haven't seen in well over a decade. While I've never been subject to missing people, there are times I think about bringing the whole family to Canada for a month just to see what's going on and how people have grown.

  2. My father started going bald in his late 20s. By the time he was my age, half his head was bare and he never went anywhere without a hat on. While my hair has certainly thinned over the years, there is no sign of balding just yet.

  3. My two "full" sisters lived with my mother. For five years it was just my father and I living together in a 2-bedroom apartment.

  4. How my parents managed to afford this lifestyle on a single income where 40% was dedicated to the mortgage is beyond me. That said, we did eat a lot of Kraft Dinner when guests were not expected. In the 90s a box of this pseudo-pasta meal could be had for as little as 29¢. My mother would often stock up on "KD" — as it was called — by the case when the sale price dipped below 35¢ per box. Suffice it to say that after moving into my own apartment, I vowed to never eat the stuff ever again. So far so good, and given that a box of Kraft Dinner is about $3.25 USD here in Japan, there's absolutely no chance of me breaking this vow.

  5. Also, I was 15. If there are no adults at the house and someone injures themselves, an ambulance would have to drive 30 minutes to the house, then 45 minutes to the nearest hospital. A 15 year old cannot legally drive in Ontario, though exceptions can be made in dire circumstances. My parents would have still killed me had I taken a vehicle to drive an injured sibling to a hospital, no matter how well-intentioned the act would have been.

  6. Funny fact about that desk; I made it. Originally it was a 4'x8' sheet of particle board for a train set but, due to a lack of funds when you're 14, I decided to turn it into a really big desk. I cut the board into 4'x6' and 2'x4' pieces, then used the large piece as the desk, and the smaller piece as a shelf underneath. The legs were from a dismantled bunk bed. A lot of creativity was explored at that desk, and it's where I put the first computer I received, an IBM 8088.

  7. This was the one stipulation. Every province and territory had to be in the company colours, which were teal and dark teal. I did manage to suggest having four shades and one hue of teal so that there would be enough contrast on the wall that people wouldn't be overwhelmed with a two-storey, monochromatic map of the country.

  8. My parents thought I was being ripped off given the amount of effort that was put into the artwork, but I was too young and foolish to see it that way. $800 was a lot of money back then, and it's still more than I get paid for a lot of the freelance jobs I take on.

  9. One might argue that I still can't express some of my ethical or moral stances coherently.

  10. This is, in my mind, absolutely bizarre given how preoccupied I am with the whole concept of time and mortality. Is everyone a walking and talking self-contradiction, or is it just me?


Nozomi on the Bench

My puppy dog turns nine today and doesn't look a day over five. Silly as it may seem, I want her to receive a present with every birthday. She was given a new sleeping cushion when she turned three. Two years ago, because she was feeling a little left out after the boy arrived, I brought her for a walk to her favourite park, surprised her with some nice treats, and didn't bother her too much with photo requests. This year … she'll likely be bored as I'm in Tokyo for the day. All is not lost, though. Nozomi always gets her walks so long as there isn't any rain and I'll see that she gets some cucumber with dinner as it seems to be her favourite vegetable by a wide margin.

This weekend she goes to the groomers for a bit of a trim and I'll see to it that she gets a nice treat afterwards.

Hekinan's "Private" Akashi Park

Today was the last Saturday of Golden Week, which meant a lot of people are wrapping up their vacation and making the return trip home. Monday is still classified as a national holiday to mark Children's Day, but this will not stop many large organizations from resuming normal office hours to recover from a full week of downtime. So with a lot of travel-weary people on the roads and trains, it seemed natural to wake up early and take the family 90 minutes south to the tiny city of Hekinan to enjoy playing around in a "private" amusement park.

The Park Train

明石公園 (Akashi Park) calls itself a "private" amusement park because the only way people learn about it is through word of mouth. It will not be found in any travel magazines, nor are there any advertisements at train stations or other places where people might congregate. The park's website is even comically bereft of information. Reiko learned about the place completely by accident by reading a blog post on page 4 or 5 of a Google search while looking for some activities that the boy might enjoy. The pictures looked nice, the weather forecast seemed almost too good to be true, and we were all up to visit a new place to have a little more fun before the crushing summer humidity blankets the country in an inhospitable sweltering heat for a third of the year. Armed with the boy's stroller, some bottles of water and tea, a handful of onigiri, and our cameras, we hopped from train to train in the morning to get down to Hekinan City with enough time to enjoy the activities before "nap time".

The trip was oddly uneventful in a relaxing sort of way.

Once we got to the park we were struck by the lack of people. Typically there would be thousands of people crammed into an amusement park like Akashi. We saw maybe a few hundred. Lines for the various rides were all under 10 minutes in waiting time, and most were letting people on almost as quickly as they walked up to the gates. This isn't to say the park was empty or that rides were half-full, because they weren't. The park staff were just really efficient at ensuring people didn't wait very long.

The Ferris Wheel

The first trip of the day was on the park's mini steam engine, which followed a loop around the east side of the park. The boy generally enjoys trains, so jumping in line to ride yet another train after 90 minutes of full-sized trains made perfect sense. Afterwards we made our way to the Ferris Wheel, some mini-bumper cars, the carousel, and the pedal-powered monorail. Our favourite ride, though, was the airport tower.

The Airport Tower

For this one we had to wait about 15 minutes as the line was rather long, but it was worth the idle time. After getting strapped into the planes, the boy was more than happy to push the buttons that would raise and lower the faux aircraft via hydraulics.

Between rides we stopped for lunch, had some ice cream, and even changed a diaper. All in all, this was the most enjoyable excursion the family has had this past week and it didn't cost us an arm and a leg. Public transit for Reiko and I came out to about $30. Lunch consisted mostly of food we brought from home plus some onigiri and drinks that came out to $8. The ice cream cones worked out to $6 together. The rides cost a grand total of $12.

An entire day of fun for about $561. And to think that before we learned aboutt his place we had considered going to LegoLand where three people just entering the park would have cost about $100!

Hekinan is not a place that most people would think of when looking for a place to bring a 2 year old child, but Akashi Park is worth the look. When the boy is a couple of years older, we'll likely go back to enjoy some go-carting; the one thing we did not do today.

  1. The total cost was close to 6,000円, which works out to about $56 USD

At the Zoo

Before today, the last time I was at a zoo would have been at some point before 1991. The exact date is long forgotten, as school trips tend to be about experiences more than anything else, but I do remember the smell of the school bus and the ceaseless noise of classmates who were way too happy to be on a field trip. This changed today when Reiko and I decided to bring the boy to the Higashiyama Zoo in Nagoya, where he would get to see a bunch of animals up close for the very first time.

Nagoya's Higashiyama Zoo - East Gate

This spring has seen the boy get quite a bit of exposure to crowded places, which he's long been uncomfortable with. At first it was weekly trips to the mall, where he would get to eat in a busy place with an endless number of distractions. Later we brought him to busy park grounds where he'd get to share space and toys with others. Last weekend we brought him to the アンパンマンミュージアム1 in the next prefecture over, where he seemed to enjoy himself thoroughly. Today's visit to the zoo was going to be a continuation of the boy's introduction to life in Japan, and it couldn't have gone better.

A lot of young kids can be quite quiet and shy when out and about. This has certainly been true with the boy, who is unrestrained and loud at home or in the car but silent and reserved when in public. However, over the last couple of day trips, he's been able to loosen up and enjoy himself while visiting new places. He loves to dance and sing, so seeing him do this outside is a good sign.

One of the other benefits of having him explore a crowd is seeing just how different he is from other kids. I sometimes get frustrated with his desire to touch darn near everything he sees, but the fact that he doesn't throw objects, (intentionally) spill food on the floor, or cause trouble is a great thing. He sees other kids jumping off chairs and fighting over some small object and tells them -- to no effect -- to stop. At some point he'll likely start testing the boundaries of what he can get away with while outside, just as he does at home. Until then, I'll enjoy his good behaviour and look forward to bringing him to more places.

  1. The Anpanman Kid's Museum, which is more a place for parents to spend money than for kids to learn anything.


The last few days have been pretty rough for the body. Not only is there a lack of recovery time when playing with the boy1, but the effort put into pushing the Mazda a few days ago has resulted in a rather sore lower back. This isn't quite at hernia levels of pain, but the discomfort is letting me know that I'll need to be a little careful over the coming days. As one would expect, the boy has no concept of long-lasting pain and believes I'm ready for another round of abuse after just a couple of minutes on the sofa.

A common theme in many of my posts involves my current state of health, be it a lack of sleep, a spate of anxiety, allergies, or simply the process of ageing. While I understand that this body is no longer the same as it was 20 years ago, it's hard to let go of the idea that if I need to do a thing, then I will do that thing. Pushing the car to the nearby gas station was a necessity, so I did it. Lifting and carrying the boy when we're in crowded places or areas where food is in the open is a necessity, so I do it. Cleaning the house is a necessity -- and therapeutic --, so I will regularly do so. The question I often ponder is when this sort of reckless decision-making will not be possible. At what point will I need to weigh the benefits of doing something myself because "it must be done" with asking someone for help?

There is grey in my hair. There are lines on my face. There are aches in my joints2. The time for reality to set in is not that far away … so I'm told.

Both of my grandfathers were fiercely independent to their last breath. They would work in their sheds, taking pieces of lumber or a fallen branch, and creating something that did not exist earlier that day. It might be an intricately carved relief. Perhaps it would be a music box for a granddaughter. Sometimes it would be just something they needed in the kitchen to solve a problem3 When they asked someone to "come help them in the shed", it wasn't because they needed help4. Interestingly, none of my uncles were like this. Most seemed to complain about some sort of pain, then delegate physical tasks to their kids as soon as it was feasible. From the standard "Go fetch me a beer" to "Go shovel the snow from the driveway" to "Grab that sledge hammer and break up the old concrete foundation"5. The contrast between the generations was night and day, and it was primarily this reason that I made the decision before leaving high school that I would rather emulate my grandfathers than parents, uncles, or aunts6.

The boy is still two years old, so cannot do much in terms of physical labour. As he gets older, I'll certainly include him in the myriad of tasks that are generally handed down from father to son. He'll learn how to wash the car and trim the lawn. He'll get to experience the joys of cleaning drainage, unclogging toilets, and replacing plumbing. He might even get to help with some emergency repairs in the middle of bad weather7. One of the things that I hope to impress upon him, though, is the importance of getting things done. We can all recognize that something is important and should be done sooner rather than later, but it can be genuinely hard to avoid procrastinating or giving up altogether. So while my body might be showing signs of its age and reminding me with greater alacrity8 that it might be time to slow down just a little bit, I plan on being an active and independent problem solver for as long as possible. There's no shame in asking for help, just as there's also no shame in doing something unaided.

  1. I generally view sitting at the work desk and doing day-job tasks as "rest" now ….

  2. Not many, mind you. My ankles and knees do protest more than any other part of the body, though.

  3. My mother's father once created a wooden spoon with a notch that could be used to guide cooking oil into a collection tin. To this day I've never seen any kitchen tool like it.

  4. My grandfather could soliloquy like a tenured professor. His idea of help was saying something like "Hand me that mitre saw back there" while deftly measuring where a piece of wood needed to be cut and talking about why the Canadian government at the time was "ruining the country". It's probably a good thing he can't see what the current clowns in Ottawa have gotten up to.

  5. I did all of these things. There's nothing like four solid days of working a sledge hammer to seriously rough-up a person's hands.

  6. The criteria that went into the decision were much more complex than this, of course, and (most of) the adults around me were not lazy slave drivers. They had a work ethic as well. I just very much preferred how my grandfathers approached a problem.

  7. I remember climbing onto the roof of a house in the middle of a rainstorm to help cover a hole just enough so that the rain wouldn't get in the house. Afterwards I was called on to climb onto the roof again and learn how to strip shingles, replace water-damaged panelling, then re-shingle … all in a 12-hour period between storms.

  8. I understand that alacrity is generally used to describe positive and cheerful verbs. I just wanted to use the word.

Mornings in the Park

Warmer temperatures have made the mornings a lot more enjoyable over the last two weeks and this has resulted in longer walks with the boy and, more often than not, Reiko as well. In addition to the fresh air and exercise, these walks are an excellent opportunity to explore the neighbourhood together. The boy is as curious as anyone his age would be, which means there are new discoveries and a barrage of questions every couple of minutes … or seconds. Fortunately he does stop for air every once in a while, which allows me to make use of the nice Canon camera.

The Boy Surveys the Park

As one would expect, Nozomi is also enjoying the springtime weather. Over the next few weeks her winter coat will begin to shed, which will make her appear younger, thinner, and much cooler. Time permitting, she'll also get a proper trim.

Nozomi in the Park

With two days of idyllic weather forecasted for the weekend, Reiko and I have made some tentative plans for a pair of picnics. One day we'll go to a nearby park with a large number of cherry trees and ample space for the boy to run. The other day we'll make the trip up to Inuyama to enjoy the park surrounding the castle with the in-laws. Camera batteries will be charged. Memory cards will be prepped and ready to go.

This weekend is going to be fun.

The First Night

My memory of this morning is a little fuzzy for the lack of sleep these last two weeks, but one thing I can safely say is that a pair of movers were able to put the contents of our house into their truck, move everything 6.4km down the road to our new house, then unload our possessions in the span of four hours. Colour me impressed.

With the family safely ensconced in the new house, Nozomi and I took to the park nearest our home to stretch our legs and — for Nozomi — some other activities. One of the many things that we appreciate about this move is how quiet the neighbourhood is. At the previous home we could always hear the thrum of machinery from one of the many factories that operated all hours of the night. These factories were all generally more than 400m from the home, but the noise they put out was ever-present. On top of this was the fact that the apartment was along the flight path of an airport a few kilometres away. Planes and helicopters generally flew during the day, but we could hear them every so often at night. A pair of nearby busy roads rounded off the general atmosphere of noise that permeated the neighbourhood. After living in this environment for almost seven years, a person becomes deaf to the annoyances.

This new neighbourhood, though, is quite different. It's not just quiet; but silent. I could hear every sniff Nozomi took while walking in the park. The lack of noise pollution is nice. Really, really nice.

The First Night

There's a lot to like about this new home, from the creature comforts to the area it's part of. What I really like about it, though, is that it's a larger space for the family. Hopefully we will not need to move for at least a couple of decades.

Finally a Home Owner

Today, after just over a year of research, discussions, planning, paperwork, and visitations, the family and I took possession of our very own home. At two stories and three bedrooms, it's quite the upgrade from the 1-bedroom apartment Reiko, Nozomi, and I have lived in for 7 years, and the boy for just over one. Its proximity to schools, parks, and other families are great. The lack of industrial factories in the neighbourhood is welcome. And the relative quiet from the lack of planes and helicopters flying overhead will be a welcome change after almost a decade of living along the flight path of a military airport … in three different cities.

The Exterior

There's a lot to like about this place that will soon become our home. In addition to the extra interior space and neighbourhood pleasantries, the home was custom designed to suit a number of very specific needs for both Reiko and I. As we're both quite tall by Japanese standards, the kitchen counter is 10cm higher than in most homes. This will save us from bending slightly while working in the kitchen or washing dishes. Of course, we've also gone and had a dishwasher installed — our first — which will really come in handy on those days when we just can't be bothered to try and save water or electricity. As one would expect from a modern building, the home is very ecologically friendly in terms of water, power, and gas consumption.

The Living Room and Kitchen

Other niceties of the home are the working spaces. There's one downstairs next to the kitchen as well as one upstairs in the master bedroom. Both workspaces have a network port in the wall for computing devices, and the one upstairs has some extra considerations to make it better suited to podcasting.

Looking Up at the Boy's Room

What's particularly nice about this house is the size of the bedrooms. The stereotype for Japanese homes is that everything is small. This isn't always the case, but it certainly is for bedrooms. Fortunately, the boy has a room 50% larger than the average child's room, and there's an extra one open in the event he has a brother or sister in the near future. This spare room can also act as a guest room for when people come from out of town.

There's still quite a bit left to be done, such as building the rear fence and getting the landscaping constructed, but everything is scheduled to be complete before the summer heat hits.

Buying a home has required a decade of savings, a great deal of patience, and a pair of contracts that obligate me to paying an amount of money I've never thought possible to mortgage. The reality of the situation has still not completely set in.