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
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/).
The teachers at the preschool think kids should create art with as little direction as possible. I like the idea. Mari and Maika paint and draw some VERY bizarre pictures. Reia, who spent two years at another preschool, draws a horizontal line at the bottom (ground) and puts sky at the top. In between (as the teacher says) is like a stage where the picture is placed. But the twins tell stories as they work, and their perspective is somewhere inside the picture (rather than outside looking at a stage).
Oh, and I love this picture. The colors are great, and it truly draws me in. The teacher thinks the twins have potential as artists. Well, like all parents, I’m ready to believe anything (good) that you tell me about my kids. 🙂
Note: The twins also have the tendency to sometimes draw sideways or upside down. I believe this picture is sideways, but this is how Mari drew it. I was a bit worried about that, but a quick check on Google confirmed that it’s normal. Many kids invert drawings even up to the age of six.
Mari in a very dirty chair under blossoming plum trees…
We had a great afternoon. A couple from the preschool offered to watch our kids for a couple of hours, so Hitomi and I went to Tama Center (Minami Osawa). We ate Italian food then sat in Starbucks for awhile. Very nice. Before moving last year we had a friend who would babysit for us once a week, but we haven’t had such a person nearby since then. The concept of “babysitting” (having someone watch your kids while you go out) is not common in Japan, and it would be awkward to even suggest it unless you know someone pretty well. In this case, my wife had offered to trade babysitting with another couple weekly. As it turned out, we traded once each. Now they are withdrawing their little girl from the preschool, so it’s unlikely we’ll see much more of them from here on. It’s really too bad.
On a “happy” note, I’ve decided that I’m used to Japanese style Italian food and even able to enjoy it without comparing it to American-style Italian food. I used to think that Japanese style sauce tasted a bit like Heinz spagetti-o sauce — too strong of a tomato flavor.… Keep Reading
This past weekend we drove about forty minutes to a nearby camping and hot spring area. I’ll (learn and) post the name of the hot spring facility we visited next time. We really liked it. The price for adults was 600 yen and the kids were free. It’s a pretty new facility, so I don’t think the crowds have found it yet. Afterwards we ate soba. I should have taken a photo of all the people sleeping in the eating area. I shot some video though. I’ve been to other onsen (hot springs) and ofuro (public baths) before, but I’ve never seen so many people crashed out on the floor (with bare feet protruding everywhere). Mmmm. We also stopped at a nearby campground and saw fishermen catching nice, big trout right and left. Apparently, it was a once a year event. Lots of fish were released in the river in that place, and anyone could come and catch them. Too bad I didn’t bring my fishing pole. We may go back soon though. 🙂
I took this photo just outside the hot spring facility.
I mentioned buying Reia a camera and posting some of her photos here. Don’t worry, I’ll only post them if they’re really worth seeing. Personally, I love this shot of her sister getting a haircut at the local barber shop. You can see my wife with a concerned look in the background (in the mirror). What a moment!
This is the first photo by Reia to appear in this blog, and it’s probably not the last. I let her take a few shots with my camera the other day, and she really liked it. This is me, as the title says. I like how she composed the shot, and I liked some of her other shots, too. It’s hard to say whether she’s intentional about it, because the camera (being a bit heavy for her) gently and ever so slightly rocks back and forth in her hands as she prepares to shoot. Someday I predict her photography will surpass mine and keep going. Here’s hoping.
I’d like to give her a cheap, simple camera that she can carry around and use/abuse at will. Any suggestions?
Maika poses in sunglasses.
Again, nominations for the [2007 Photobloggies](http://2007.photobloggies.org/) are open. Please drop by and nominate your favorite photo blogs. There are many categories, but you can vote in as many or few categories as you like.
I was informed by my web host today that I’m exceeding my allowed CPU usage. They say I have to lower CPU usage or pay for a business level hosting plan (about 8 times what I’m paying now). I’m not going to pay more. Hopefully I can tweak some things and get back inside the limit. It may be caused by a technical glitch behind the scenes. I hope so. I’m getting close to 3000 visits per day recently, but a whole lot of them come through Google image search (not real blog readers). It’s great to have people coming and enjoying the photos, but at some point the blog may become to popular for me to afford in it’s current form.