Sunday, January 29, 2012

Japanniversary week: pictures from day 1 & contest winners!

What a year it has been! We have been blessed beyond measure, and are anxiously anticipating all that is in store for us in the future. Thank you for sharing in our lives and ministry!

Through reflecting this week, I realized I've never posted any of the pictures we took from our trip and first few days last year. (that can easily happen with no internet and lots of jet lag)

What better time than now. Better late than never, right? Here are a few pictures from traveling, arriving, and our first full day in Japan.

Enjoying a meal on a VERY long flight.

First shot of Hokkaido, our new home.

since we arrived late on the 30th,we crashed at the airport hotel before our first full day of paperwork and getting the lay of the land.

Taking a break from paperwork at the ward office to get some coffee. Our first Japanese vending machine.

Our first in-person-glimpse of our church.

Now on to the contest winners.

Congratulations to Dan and Denise!

Dan correctly answered the 3 questions in record time.

Q #1: What is the name of the traditional, yet disgusting, Japanese food Stephen had the misfortune of trying his first day in Japan?
A #1: Natto

Q #2: Learning Japanese is hard. Learning English words in Japanese is even harder. Kathryn spent a week or two guessing at the meaning of an English word pronounced in Japanese. What was the word in English, and how was it pronounced in Japanese?
A #2: Volunteer & Borantia

Q #3: After making Mexican Rice-Bowls for church, what did the church members do with the extra black beans?
Denise's comment was chosen at random. Both can be expecting a surprise in the mail in the next week or two.

We look forward to sharing more with you in the coming year!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Japanniversary week: Words I never thought I'd know (and use)

We're a day away from our 1st Japanniversay. If you haven't submitted your guesses for the contest, it's not too late. Click here for details. Also, you can still possibly win a prize if your comment on any post in the past 6 days is chosen at random, so get to commenting!


Learning language has been one of the biggest challenges about living in Japan. This is a challenge we anticipated of course. And over the past year, I can confidently say we've made great progress in our abilities to listen, speak, read and write.

Through out the year, we've learned many words through daily conversation, eaves-dropping, tv and fliers. Sometimes I learn a word that I think is soooo random, yet I find my self using it frequently.

I've made a list of some of our favorite random words in Japanese. I hope you get a kick out of them, like we have. If you're feeling adventurous, try them out for yourself.

かんそう kanso:
Dry air, as in "every problem you are experiencing from your runny nose to you dry skin is caused by kanso."

ふうふ fu-fu:
married couple. When we arrived I was curious about this word since people referred to us as Borba-fufu.

あみもの amimono:
knitting/crocheting. Not to be confused with aMAImono (あまいもの) which means sweets.

Sample sentence-
"Watashi wa amimono o shinagara, amaimono o tabemasu."
While I knit, I eat sweets."

にんしん ninshin:
Pregnancy. I actually had to search this one out, but since learning it I've used it on a daily basis!

Sample sentence-
"Ninshin shite imasu."
I'm pregnant (I am doing pregnancy).

Be careful not to say,
妊娠です。(ninshin desu) which means "I am pregnancy", or you'll get a lot of confused faces when you announce your big news. (Yes, I know this first hand.)

あぶない abunai:
Dangerous. I'm not sure why we love this word. probably because it can be used on it's own as a warning. It has become a daily expression in our home. We enjoy pointing our the dangerous things all around us like snow, ice, scissors on the couch, blowdryer near the sink.... you get the idea. :)

Sample sentences-
"Abunai desu yo ne!"
It's dangerous, huh?!

ストーブ sto-bu:
heater. I was surprised to learn sto-bu didn't mean stove, it means heater. I thought for sure ヒータ(hee-ta) would mean heater, but no. So don't tell people you cooked your dinner on the sto-bu. Okay?

イビベド beibeee-bedo:
crib. While teaching an English lesson, I learned this word. my students we're confused about the meaning of "crib" so I drew a picture.
"Oh.... "beibeee bedo"!"

I figured it would be a katakana English word (an english word pronounced like Japanese) but I assumed it would be クリブ (ku-ri-bu). But, I guess beibee-bedo works too, right?

Do you have a favorite word or phrase in Japanese?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Japanniversary week: Reflections on the March 11th Disasters

In honor of nearly 1 year in Japan, we are blogging all week, and hosting a contest for prizes. Click here to enter the contest, or leave a comment below to be entered for a prize.

When we arrived in Japan last January, we had no idea what would be in store for the country 5 weeks later.

The triple disasters of March 11th were shocking to say the least. The country was thrown for a loop, with people scrambling to make sense of what had happened, and eventually to put the pieces back together.

Here in Hokkaido, we have been relatively unaffected. Other than the initial earthquake (and a few days worth of aftershocks) we haven't personally experienced what many have lived with as a reality since March 11th. Those living in the main island dealt with MONTHS of aftershocks; those living in Tohoku have been slowly rebuilding.

Although we haven't personally been able to go to Tohoku to help the rebuilding process, we are connected with many who are. Last spring, I provided you with links to many who are in the trenches in Tohoku, sharing God's love in tangible ways.

Today, I'd like to leave you with a link to the Asian Access Blog Center. There you can find articles written by leaders, missionaries, and pastors about what is currently going on in Tohoku.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Japanniversary week: Biggest small differences

With our 1st Japanniversary on the horizon, we're spending this week thinking back and reflecting about the past year. We're also hosting a contest, If you'd like to try for 1 of 2 special prizes click here for details.

When we arrived last year, there were so many things we wanted to share. There were so many things that were so different than we were used to in the States. Our initial lack of internet put our blog on hold for a bit, and by the time we had it up and running, the triple disasters of March 11th were upon us and the silly little things we wanted to share became much less more important.

Since then, we've had a year to laugh and wonder and the "crazy" little things we notice all around us. Some of them have become so second nature, we forget it's not "normal" until a friend from America points them out to us.

What better time than Japanniversary week to share the top 3 biggest small differences about living in Japan!

#3 Sliced bread:
I spent a good portion of my life working my way from eating only white bread to loving whole wheat, only to move to Japan and be thrown back into my white bread only childhood. It's not that I wouldn't love a slice of wheat bread, it's just not an option in Japan.
For sliced bread, there is one option and it's thick, white, and only has 6 slices.

Yes, only 6 slices.
I guess it makes sense for a country that is known for it's rice obsession. But, for this sandwich loving girl, Japanese bread just doesn't cut it. On the other hand, it makes the best french toast I've ever eaten :)

#2 Heated toilet seats:
I had heard about this before coming to Japan, I just didn't know how awesome they are. I also didn't know they'd become my expectation in toilet seats.
These seats rock! They plug in and get nice an toasty. For a place where winters are stupidly cold, and central heating is not a thing, it is a welcome treat in a very cold toilet room.
After living here a year, these have become so second nature, that visiting a subway restroom, or the bathroom at Costco, I alway get quite a shock!

#1 Stop signs:
I know I should have realized the Japanese stop signs wouldn't have the word "STOP" written on them in English. I guess I just never thought that they'd also not be the red octagons I've grown up with.
Japanese stop signs are triangles! I know, an octagon isn't more intrinsically stoppy than any other shape, but it's a strange mental adjustment I didn't realize we were in store for.

If you've been to Japan (or have just been reading this blog) what are some of the differences that have stood out to you?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Japanniversary week: Fellowship ministries

Don't forget about our on going contest in celebration of Japanniversary week! Click here for details.


Saturdays around our apartment are a break from English classes, but not a break from ministry. We set this day aside for various fellowship and hospitality ministries. We've posted about different Second Saturday Friends parties here, and here, & about Let's make something parties here. Saturdays are one of our favorite times to hang out with Christians and non-Christians, share some food, and build relationships.

Last Saturday was especially fun because we had TWO events in one day.

In the morning 3 college aged students came over to make cinnamon rolls. We had a great time making the dough from scratch, filling it with cinnamon goodness, and of course eating our treats at the end.

It was lots of fun teaching the girls how to knead bread. While we were kneading, they asked if women in America make bread every day.
Ummm.... no, I think I maybe made bread once a year, if that. I think many people have never made a loaf in their lives.

Then one girl corrected the other, "no, they make pie."
Ummm, yes, we do, but.... still only once or twice a year.

I love getting windows into how my culture is seen through another culture's eyes.

In the evening, Stephen hosted the first meeting of the ramen club he has been organizing for the past month or two. Anyone who meets Stephen in Japan soon learns he loves miso ramen. It's been the joke around church since I've been showing, that Stephen is going to have a baby too: a ramen baby named Misoko. So, for Stephen to start a monthly ramen club was the most natural thing for him to do.

We went to a new ramen shop that opened up about 50 ft from the church. The shop was new, the service was great, but the ramen was just so-so. Luckily, the fun thing about ramen club is really the time spent with friends, good ramen is just a bonus.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Japanniversary week: Wordless Wednesday

In celebration of making it a year in Japan without getting too lost, or going too crazy, we're blogging all week, and hosting a contest for prizes! Check out yesterday's post for more details.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Japanniversary week: Contest!

We are quickly aproching our first Japanniversary. 1 year ago, January 30th, we arrived in Sapporo. Time has sure flown by. It seems there are so many things that have happened in the last year that we wanted to take the time to do some looking back this week.

Each day this week, we will be blogging about our past year in Japan; wrapping up the year so we can dive full force into the next one!

To make things extra festive, we're also holding a contest!

Be the first to correctly answer the three questions as a comment below to receive a special prize from Japan. All the questions come from past blogs, so get searching!

Another special prize will be given to a random commenter between now and the 30th. So, be sure to comment on the posts through out the week to up your chances of winning the door prize.

We'll announce the winners on the 30th of January. Thanks for sharing in our life and ministry this year!

Now, on to the questions!

#1 What is the name of the traditional, yet disgusting, Japanese food Stephen had the misfortune of trying his first day in Japan?

#2 Learning Japanese is hard. Learning English words in Japanese is even harder. Kathryn spent a week or two guessing at the meaning of an English word pronounced in Japanese. What was the word in English, and how was it pronounced in Japanese?

#3 After making Mexican Rice-Bowls for church, what did the church members do with the extra black beans?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Only in Japan: Pregnancy mark

An important part of being pregnant in Japan is registering with your local city/district office. When you do that, they give you a pile of paperwork, a mother-child handbook, and this wonderful little tag to place on your purse.

The Japanese says: Onaka ni akachan ga imasu
(In my stomach is a baby)
The paperwork and mother's notebook were the official reason I registered at the district office. This mark was my "real" reason.

Pregnant women display this mark on their purses to let others know their pregnant. In theory, other people are supposed to be extra helpful and considerate of them.

there are signs all around town giving special perks to women who bear the "ninshin ma-ku" (Pregnancy mark)

This is the most ubiquitous sign. It's found on all public transportation over the preferencial seating area. On subways, trains, and busses special seats must be left open for "the elderly, those with disabilities, those with infants, pregnant women, and those with health problems."

Since getting my pregnancy mark, I've been relieved to always have a seat on the subway or bus. Although, I always make sure to display my mark while I'm seated, so no one thinks I'm just a dumb foreigner who can't read the sign. (I have my suspicions some people think this anyways.)

The next sign is in front of the mall near our home. It reserves the handicapped parking spot for pregnant women as well as people with disabilities. Or maybe they consider pregnant women disabled, hard to say.

I've been told that the mark also allows you to cut in the line at the bathroom. I haven't had the nerve to try this out yet. But I'll let you know how it goes if I ever do.

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