8.29.2011

Living in Japan Series - The Basics

Happy Monday ladies! Hope everyone had a great weekend. As I mentioned last week I will be doing a living in Japan series since I lived there, actually was born there and lived there until I was three and then my family moved back at the start of my freshman year of high school. I spent all four years of high school there and my family still lived there while I was in college until the end of my junior year. Growing up, my siblings always teased me that we wouldn't go back to the country of my birth, lo and behold the joke was on them! We lived in Japan because my dad was in the Air Force, served 24 years. Specifically we live in Tokyo, not on a military base outside of Tokyo but we lived in the heart of Tokyo. 

I think the best way to talk about Japan is through my favorite things, the food, the customs, the seasons and the people. I hope that I do you readers justice in sharing my life when I lived in Japan and helping you to understand another culture and people better!

I have great memories of living in Japan, it was such a unique experience and I feel it has helped shaped some of the person I am today because of those experiences.

 I'll start with the basics, where we lived. Our address in Japan was written like this
3-21-21- Kamimeguro, Nakameguro
Tokyo, Japan 153-0051
 The train station that we lived closest was was called Nakameguro and the word for train station in Japanese is eki so I lived near Nakameguro-eki. This is how it is written in Japanese.

中目黒

When you told your friends where you lived, you usually referred to the train station nearest you.
We did have a car but we rarely used it when driving in Tokyo, public transportation whether it be the subway, train or bus was always on time, always convenient and easier than driving. Learning to take the public transportation and travel by myself whenever I wanted helped instill in me independence and not having a car to rely to go everywhere helped me to value public transportation. Here is a map of the Tokyo subway system, and let me remind you this is the subway system only, it doesn't include the above ground train system.
See that green circle in the middle of the map? That circle represents the Imperial Palace, where the current Emperor and his family live. While the Emperor is more of a title now than an actual ruler, he definitely has not lost the importance of the position as a whole.

Our house in Japan was considered Western style, and that usually mean anything non-Japanese but not always American. So an American house we had a washer and dryer in our house, typical Japanese homes only have a washer and hang their clothes out to dry. Our Western house had carpet, linoleum and other Western amenities like a full shower and bathroom. The usual flooring in a Japanese house is tatami mats, which is rice straw tightly sown together. In the US, we asked how the square footage is in a house, in Japan, you ask how many tatami mats does each room have, that is how someone knows how large the space is. This is what a Japanese room looks like with tatami mats.

The typical Japanese house has one room that is used as the living and dining room.
Our house separated these two rooms. My family was blessed to find a house that allowed myself, each of my two siblings and of course my parents our own bedrooms. Usual Japanese homes do not have that many bedrooms. We rented our house from a Japanese older lady whose house was right next door to ours. It was a quiet neighborhood and near an elementary school. Japan as you may have heard it a very safe country, and I had no problem walking from the train station to my house which was about 10 minutes by myself at night.
Sometimes the noise we would hear would be the roasted sweet potato seller who roasted the sweet potatoes or called yakimo from the back of his truck and there was the same song always played alerting everyone to come buy his sweet potatoes. Here is a youtube video of the song played from the truck.



We also would sometimes hear the tofu man blowing on his torn and he was selling tofu from the back of his motorcycle.

The school that I went to was an international school, was girls-only and had grade K-12 and had only 650 students. My graduating class was only 24 girl and we came from all over. Most of the girls were part Japanese, part American, full Japanese, from other Asian countries or Europe. Overall, there was only myself and one other girl who was just American. The name of my school was Seisen International School and was run by an order of Spanish nuns. Most of the international schools in Tokyo were religiously-based. Here is a photo of my school.

I'll leave you with a few photos of Nakameguro the area I lived in. These are not my photos, any photos of Japan I have are at my parents house so I found all of these online. Hope you enjoyed today, come back tomorrow and I'll be talking about Japanese food, yum! Also please feel free to ask any questions you may have, I would love to do a post comprised entirely by your questions about Japan so ask away!

This is the actual Nakameguro station

There was a river running through the area Nakameguro and a lot of people would walk along the river which had a lot of trees
The largest street in the Nakameguro area called Yamate-dori, Dori means street in Japanese.
Yes that BR in the photo stands for Baskin-Robbins :-)
Another view of Yamate-dori

46 comments:

CALLIE said...

This is so neat!! I can't wait to read more. Little me from Mississippi hasn't seen a lot of the world, so I'm super excited :)

Jenna said...

Oh my gosh Meg! How incredible that you lived in Japan. I really enjoyed reading this post, especially because I do not know much about Japan or its culture.

How did you communicate while living there? Are you fluent in Japanese or do most people there know English?

I am really looking forward to reading all about your life in Japan! Thanks so much for sharing these experiences!

Ruthie Hart said...

ooh I cant wait to keep up with these posts! I have traveled to Asia once but only hung out in the Toyko airport for a couple hours. I have a sorority sister who moved to Japan right after graduation with her Air Force hubby and her house looks a lot similar!! What an experience!

Camylla Leonardi said...

I'm loving this!! I think its so interesting to read about new cultures. I think by the end of the week, I'll be wanting to go to tokyo! heheh

ashley said...

this is so neat, meg. i can't wait to hear more! I've never been to that part of the world, so i can't wait to hear more of your experiences...

Kathleen said...

How cool this that! I cannot imagine living in a whole other country for that long!! So since I work for the Disney company I have to ask, did you're family visit Tokyo Disney at all? It is so different from Disney here i the states (better actually). i have a few friends who are living and working there right now and their pictures are AMAZING! :) Can't wait to hear more about your experiences there!

Christina said...

I can't wait to hear more!

How was is growing up in Japan as an American?

What was your biggest adjustment when moving to the US?

Jenny in Ohio said...

wow! How fun to have lived there. Thanks for telling about it- can't wait to hear more!

Hilliary@ Happily Ever Healthy said...

This is so cool! Thanks for sharing, I cannot wait to read more about your time in japan!

amy b.s. said...

what an amazing experience!

Alexis @bloomedinjune said...

i love reading this! learning about other cultures is so fun, and i'm defintely really enjoying this series.

siddathornton said...

thank you so much for the comment on my first ever friday's fancies! i LOVED the ring you featured in yours - so pretty.

and this entry is so cool!

hope you have a good week :)

Elizabeth Ann (Elizabeth Ann's Recipe Box said...

This is awesome! :-) Can't wait to hear more!

katie [the bright life] said...

How awesome that you lived in Japan for so long...had no idea! Seems like a beautiful and unique culture, thanks for sharing it here! Xo, Katie

Ashley Slater said...

Wow, I didn't know that about you! That is so interesting....I love hearing things from an "insider"...someone who hasn't just vacationed there but actually LIVED in it. SO COOL!

AND, I am also (shamelessly) plugging a giveaway on my blog. But it is for a really cool vintage t-shirt (winner gets to choose their design from the website) so I don't feel too guilty about it ;) The Mitten State Vintage T-Shirt Giveaway!

xo,
ashley
The Mitten State Vintage T-Shirt Giveaway!

Laura said...

How amazing!! Love seeing the pics!

And I am totally craving In-n-Out now!!! :)

Erika Lee Sears said...

I went to Asia for the first time a few months ago and I kept thinking why have I never been here before :)

Can't wait to see the whole series. We totally want to go back and spend some time in Japan- my hubs is a little addicted to ramen :) (the good kind)

Rebekah said...

I love this. I can't imagine living somewhere like that but how neat. My husband and I have talked about him possibly getting stationed overseas, and he specifically would LOVE to go to Japan. I don't know if it will ever happen, but he would love it!

Simply LKJ said...

Can't wait to read more! Such interesting facts and tidbits. My brother did two tours in Japan (he is a Marine).

Ashley said...

How awesome that you lived in Japan! I can't wait to read more about it. Sounds awesome!

Sincerely, Kylee said...

I loved reading this post. I can't wait to hear more of your perspective of living in a foreign country.

My questions:
-Were you treated differently from the natives?
-What were the differences in the school you went to in Japan and the high school in the states?
-What was your favorite thing to do for fun??

Have an awesome Monday!
Kylee

BeckyJo606 said...

I love this post! I really enjoy reading about your life in Japan. I'd love to know about the classes you took in school and if there were any language requirements. I'd also like to know about churches in Japan and what your family did on the weekends! OH and I'd love to know about your clothes!! :)

Stephanie said...

How fun is that?!?! What a great experience for you and your family!

Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

How cool to read! I lived in Hong Kong for several years, so I can understand what living in Asia is like. I have only been to Japan briefly though, so I'm looking forward to more posts about it.
Did you have any friends that weren't expats/internationals? Local japanese?
:)

Alexa said...

So interesting about the layout of the houses. I've heard the showers in Japan are really nice...but maybe it was just the house that a friend of mine rented. They said it was like a spa experience.
xo
Alexa
www.theshortandthesweetofit.com

HazelandMare said...

This is so interesting! I have always wanted to go to Japan! Wow, that's so cool that you lived there! I have been trying to learn some japanese words (I have those language cds!). So far the only real sentence I can say is "I would like one ticket please" which is useful if I decide to go to the movies I suppose :) Yay, thanks for this awesome post! I look forward to reading more!

Lauren said...

What an incredible experience...I'm going to love this series!

Megan said...

Oh my gosh, I love this series!! It's so neat reading about how different it is. I've never been! How neat that they say a room is so big based on the mats!

Sundresses and Smiles said...

Meg! What a great post and neat life you've lived! So glad I tuned in today!

Life With Lauren said...

Sounds amazing can't wait to read more!

Sarah@totalbassetcase said...

This is so interesting!
Thanks for sharing all these fun facts. What a great experience!

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

What a cool experience. You must be more rounded. cultured person thanks to this unique experience. I know nothing about Japan so thanks for the lessons :)

Allison said...

Wow so cool! I had no idea you lived in Japan. I love this series and can't wait to see/hear more about it!

Jess said...

What an awesome post! I just learned so much and can't wait to read more!

REBrown said...

So neat!

I've never been to Japan but it looks really neat.

Allison said...

Wow, what an experience! I am looking forward to your future post!

What do you miss most about Japan? Would you ever move back to Japan if given the chance?

Meggan of Lila Grace said...

Love this series idea Meg! I enjoyed reading about your experiences in Japan! I'm excited to read your food post tomorrow!

Becca {A Blonde's Logic} said...

Very interesting Meg! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to hear more about it!

Becca
http://blondeslogic.blogspot.com

Brandi @ Home Team Dreams said...

Wow Meg! This was an awesome post! Thanks for giving us a tour of your past! So cool! You've thought me a lot about Japan that I didn't know. I very much enjoyed reading :)

Laura Elizabeth said...

What an amazing experience, I bet it shaped you as a person. I don't know too much about Japan so I loved this post & look forward to hearing more about it.

Val said...

What a fabulous and informative post!!

Elle Sees said...

Truly fascinating! I am really enjoying this. More!

sherri lynn said...

I love this post! I lived in China with my family when I was young so I am loving hearing about Japan! Can't wait for most posts in this series :)

Nikki said...

The food, oh the food. Roasted sweet potatoes sound amazing!

Heather said...

i seriously cannont believe those pictures of TUNA! Seriously! I CANNOT! I'll never look at tuna the same!

-Heather

Holly said...

This is so awesome, Meg!! I am so excited to read the rest of this series! I was wondering if one of your parents was in the military when you mentioned you lived in Japan. Air Force is great, my cousin is a lifer in the AF and he's currently based out of Enid, OK but he was in Dayton, OH for a while and they have a house there that they'll come back to in a few years.