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The Summertime Dilemma

Summer is the time for a break, for something outside of the normal. It’s the time for camps and retreats, for expeditions and travel, for festivals and celebrations, and that is certainly true in Japan. But all of this leads to a problem…

Western countries enjoy long vacations, even up to 3 months, but in Japan it’s 5 weeks for grade school and one week for regular salary men. This condensed vacation means that a lot of summer activities happen while people are still working and kids are still in school. When it is finally vacation time, all the major locations are PACKED with people. And the way that Western culture and Japanese culture deals with these two things is very different.

Many westerners (myself included) prefer taking their kids out of school in order to vacation when it’s not high vacation time, in order to avoid the crowds. However Japanese society highly values perfect attendance and not missing any work/school, so many people here would never even think of taking their kids out of school or missing work. They just plan ahead, pay the extra prices and book way in advance.

And we are stuck in the middle. In fact, living anywhere overseas you will always find yourself stuck in the middle. Inbetween two cultures. In-between value systems. In-between societal pressures, work pressures and family pressures. And if your family is multi-cultural, you have these pressures inside the family!

How you do with all of these things either builds a stronger family culture or crumbles it. We’ve done our best to walk a balanced line, but what is balanced to us may be way off to others. What seems proper for us would be improper for others. For example, we take our kids out of school if there’s a chance for a great vacation, or when it’s time to do a stint of work in the U.S. But we prefer not to do so much that our kids get behind, miss work or feel like they aren’t keeping up with school.

That’s just one aspect, but a proper balance will lead to a healthier family. Too much work and study is just as bad as not enough. Becoming a mature person means learning what is healthy for you as a person and as a family, and with God’s help walking that path. The Bible lays an incredible foundation for living in a healthy way. It shows us the way to walk, and as we walk it, we discover the healthiest way to live. What God has for each and everyone of us is as unique as we are, and what God has for one person is completely different from what He has for another. But each person is valuable and each journey unique.

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Lives

Japan’s 6th Grade Trip

Japan is a land of traditions that go back hundreds, even thousands of years. One of them is a trip that all 6th graders take to one of Japan’s historic sites. Becca and Anna recently went on their trip to the historic town of Nikko. Nikko is famous for its’ temple that’s over a thousand years old, tremendous waterfall and monkeys.

So when the Friday for the trip came, instead of heading to school they headed to the train station where a special train reserved just for them was waiting. This train carried them away to a bus that was waiting to take them on the rest of their trip.

When Saturday came, Ruth and I could hardly wait for them to get back and see how it went! We went to a park near the station to hang out and wait for them to get back. We were so excited to see them and get the scoop — how was Japan’s 6th grade trip to Nikko?!!!

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Lives

Japan’s Rainy Season

Growing up in the heart of America, we had 4 distinct seasons, and each one had their extremes. The heat of the Illinois summer really cooks, but on the opposite extreme the cold of the winter was enough to get frostbite if you weren’t careful. The weather in the prairies of America is volatile — you can get huge temperature swings in the same day, and the most ferocious thunderstorms in the summer.

Compare that to Brazil, when we lived there, and there were only two season. 6 months of rain broken with super humid heat and sunshine, followed by 6 hotter months of pure sunshine. That was a huge adjustment to make, but by the time I had lived there 7 years I was adapted.

Now Japan is different from all of those. We have 5 seasons in Japan! Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring and Rainy season. I guess officially it is only 4 seasons, and within those four seasons, the fall, winter and spring are much more mild then I was used to further north in Illinois.

But before you can get to the summer, you have to go through several weeks of constant rain. This rain is not like the thunderstorms of Illinois or the broken clouds and downpours of Brazil. It is typically days on end of endless rain, sometimes broken by a slight stop that then resumes again. It drags on and on and makes you wish for some sun. When the sun does come out, it blazes away before things cloud up again. Yes, this is Japan’s rainy season, and it’s in full swing.

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The Ikea Bed Construction Nightmare

We like IKEA. Most of our furniture comes from there. When we first moved to Japan, we spent over 3 days just assembling all of our Ikea furniture! For us, it was nice having an option to save some money and do the assembly ourselves.

Recently we wanted to update the kids’ room, and were shopping for a second bunk bed. That’s when it happened. Ruth came across a sale item at Ikea, a bunk bed at a great price. It looked perfect, so she bought it. Little did we know it would turn into the Ikea Bed Construction Nightmare.

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A Taste of Japan

One day we’d love to travel all around Japan and visit all the different prefectures. We could go to some by car, others by train, others by boat and others still by plane. But one thing for sure: with kids in school and daily lives well fixed here near Tokyo, it may be a while until we accomplish the whole thing.

Maybe we can’t travel to all those places in Japan yet, but recently we got an opportunity to get a taste of them all! Our new friends at Bokksu reached out to us to sponsor a video of us trying their hand-selected snacks and teas from all over Japan. Their subscription service sends you a box each month with different themes, snacks and tea pairings for you to try out even before you ever get to travel there in person. They even ship for free to many places, including the United States!

Whether you want a subscription or just one box to give as a great and unique gift from Japan, you can order your own Bokksu. Get 10% off (save up to $47!) your own authentic Japanese snack box from Bokksu using my link:  https://bit.ly/35eebtg and code LIFEINJAPAN10. Then enjoy!