What do you imagine when you think about childbirth in Japan? Many of our impressions were wrong. For some reason, I thought that Japanese doctors would combine modern medical care with a more natural approach. We had much to learn, and I wrote this to share some of those lessons.
We moved to Japan in March, 2002, and confirmed one month later that we were pregnant. We already had a two year old daughter, so we had some idea what we were doing and what to expect. I want to be clear that our story is just ONE example. You can have a variety of birth experiences in Japan, and there are different kinds of doctors and hospitals. However, I will risk making some generalizations starting with this: If you want a particular type of birth experience in Japan, you may need to work hard to make it happen.
I’m writing this article because my wife, Hitomi, doesn’t have the time. Neither do I, but that’s life now. I wish you could see all of this through her eyes directly, but I’ll do my best to share our joint perspective.
You also should know that I arrived in Japan with zero language ability, but Hitomi is Japanese.… Keep Reading
Today was Seijin No Hi (Coming of Age Day). I headed to Meiji Jingu to take some photos. On Seijin No Hi, many twenty year old young women wear kimonos for the ceremony, and they typically go to a shrine or visit other public places. The result is a very good opportunity for photographers to capture a colorful, traditional side of Japan. But this year, I confess, I wasn’t that interested in kimonos. After some time wandering around Harajuku and feeling bored, I was glad for the distraction of Bob Sapp showing up. Judging by the movement of the crowd toward him, I wasn’t the only one.
Bob Sapp was a household name in Japan a few years ago — a K1 fighter and popular TV personality. I haven’t seen him on TV for awhile, but he did have a crew with cameras and handlers following him around.
I’ve heard before that he’s a “gentle giant,” and he seemed that way. He spoke softly, stopped to pose with fans, and hoisted up kids for happy parents.
Shichigosan (7-5-3) refers to certain ages when you stop and celebrate children. When girls turn 3 and 7, they dress up in kimonos and have their photos taken (and many visit a shrine, but we didn’t do that). Our girls had portraits done in a studio, but the owner is kind enough to allow parents to take their own shots during the breaks. I love this photo of the twins together. You can see more on my other blog at [Photosensibility.com](http://www.photosensibility.com/2009/11/20/shichigosan/).
After all these years in Japan, Harajuku is still my favorite place in Tokyo. I don’t often go to the downtown area, but if I’m in the neighborhood on a weekend I try to stop by. There’s always something to see. Honestly, I don’t shop there, except for food. My favorite spots are Jyangara Ramen (the Kakuni ramen leaves you feeling slightly queasy from all the oil, but it’s so good), Kebab Box J (near Starbucks, very tasty and fun), and the okonomiyaki restaurant behind Design Festa Gallery (Google it for info).
A Japanese volunteer plays with a Cambodian girl as two other volunteers and a staff from the orphanage are watch. Today I posted a special message giving readers here the opportunity to contribute and make a difference for the children living at this orphanage. Giving is just a step toward getting connected in this small world that we live in. Become a supporter of this orphanage, start learning the stories there, and your life will be impacted! Post a comment if you have any questions and I will respond.
If you are reading this in a RSS reader, please click through to get the message and links.
Our kids had their annual Sports Day at school last weekend. The running events are the highlights for many kids and parents. Our kids had fun in their events and smiled all day, but some of their friends felt serious pressure to win. Sports Day is mostly set up to avoid that pressure. The kids race four at a time, so there is no “champion.” Of course, all the kids know who is the fastest in their class anyway. Still one of my daughter’s friends went out every day for two weeks and sprinted up a nearby hill. She confided to my daughter that her mother really wanted her to win. The things we do to our kids…
I created a video showing some of the best footage from the hip-hop dance competition at the festival I stumbled into last weekend. I don’t know the right hip-hop vocabulary, but I would say it was a break dancing competition (but Wikipedia gave me lots of other terms that described what I saw, like “downrock, power moves, etc.” Visit the link, watch, and fill me in. I’ve posted the high definition video on my [other blog](http://www.photosensibility.com/blog/): [Hip-hop dancing in Japan, video](http://www.photosensibility.com/2009/08/28/hip-hop-dancing-japan-video/).
If you click through, please vote for it if you like it. I’ve seen lots of low quality hip-hop videos from Japan on YouTube, so it’d be nice to have this go around instead.
I stumbled into a big hip-hop dancing event/party in Yoyogi Park today. I’ve got tons of photos to share from the day, and I think I’ll post them here along with my other blog.
I think this is one of my best shots of the day. You can see how seriously they take the look. I’ll be posting video soon on my main blog (see link above), so you can see if the dancing measures up to the style.