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LIJ Episode Lives Videos

Miraculous Change

Hope is essential to life. Hope pulls life forward and helps us move forward in face of adversity. Where there is hope, there is a way. Holding on to hope is imperative for a thriving life. And if you look for hope in nature, I believe you can find it perfectly represented by the Sakura (cherry blossom).

Every year these trees announce the arrival of Spring in a most spectacular way. As the brown cold of winter gives way to warmer temperatures, the Sakura coordinate its blooming to coincide with the greening of the grass and the sprouting of spring leaves. A seemingly dead landscape bursts to life in what is nothing short of a miraculous, seemingly overnight change. It is that miraculous change that we highlight in this episode of Life in Japan.

A Hope that Holds

The arrival of hope in our hearts is like the arrival of Spring. When hope comes, it flowers and the cold, dead corners of life suddenly burst to life. For this hope to hold, it must be anchored in something more permanent than the Sakura petals that come and soon go. Yes, hope must be anchored to a source that is constant. The better the source, the more lasting the hope.

For me, I have found no better hope than the hope I have in the love of God. This love is more than just a happy feeling or a positive thought. The extent of this great love was perfectly expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus shows the full extent of God’s love and is in fact the very embodiment of love. God’s love for people didn’t condemn people for their failures, but forgave them and healed them. God’s love in Jesus took our failures, our shame and our sickness on the cross and there were put to death with Jesus. And today, Good Friday, is a special day of remembrance for people all over the world of this great sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.

But the story didn’t end there, because God’s love was bigger than death itself and raised Jesus from the grave. Yes, only three days later came resurrection Sunday— EASTER— and that day is the day of Jesus’ ultimate triumph over sin, death and the grave.

Your story may seem over, that the best days of life seem to have come and gone. Maybe you find yourself in a place of little or no hope. I would love nothing more than for you to find the true source of hope in the love of God in Jesus that changes everything and can make even the darkest of winters bloom into a beautiful sakura spring of hope. This hope speaks to our hearts that the best is yet to come and that in any situation, no matter how bleak, there is a sakura spring just around the corner.

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LIJ Episode Lives Update

Celebrating 100 Episodes of LIJ

What a day! We are celebrating 100 episodes of Life in Japan! Life in Japan started on April 28, 2018 and was all in English, no Japanese subtitles from the start. In fact the Japanese subtitles didn’t start until episode 16, when we realized we could broaden our audience by doing so. Our 1st episode was none other than a simple tour through our house. Now, 100 episodes later, we’ve had over 12.3 million views in 138 different countries. I would have never imagined having such a big reach!

To celebrate our 100th episode, we wanted to have a big party, rent a movie theatre and invite all of our local friends to come and watch with us, but the logistics of doing so while still in an extended state of emergency here in Japan was too complicated. Not to worry though — we plan on doing something super special like that in the future! And fortunately everyone can still enjoy the 100th episode from wherever they are and learn along with us how to make the incredibly delicious Japanese pot soup called “Nabe.”

Life in Japan Online Shop

In honor of our 100th episode, the Life in Japan online shop is now open! You can purchase the fun hats and bags you’ve seen us use in our episodes. In the future we plan on adding more items such as clothing, mugs and apparel, so please check it out! Click here to go to the online shop.

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LIJ Episode Lives

Parenting and the Pandemic

Parenting has never been an easy job, but throw a pandemic into the mix, and things get hairy fast. The pandemic has been a recipe for disaster for many families, but it doesn’t have to be the story of your family. In this episode of Life in Japan we have an honest look at the things that have helped us manage our family during the pandemic, and even some discoveries that will help us stay strong long after the pandemic is gone. It’s parenting, Life in Japan style.

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LIJ Episode

Joshua Turns 5

It’s always a good idea to give credit to whom credit is due, and in the case of birthdays and parties around the Reutter household, Ruth (a.k.a. Momma-chan) is the reason they are so memorable! It all starts months before the birthday, when she asks the kids what type of birthday and birthday cake they want. They usually say something wild and crazy, and away she goes, imagining how to make it a reality.

She searches in stores and online for the best party supplies and tracks down the best presents for the occasion. Often the presents are a highlight for the other kids, who are quick to jump in and try them out. Ruth goes to awesome lengths to make snacks, cookies, birthday cakes and meals to make the whole thing special. She invites friends and family and for a great celebration.

We’ve had some big parties, having as many as 60 people in our modest little home! That’s unimaginable during this pandemic, so we had to do something much smaller this year. We like to do something fun for birthdays where the kids friends, family and classmates can come together. We’ve even had some parties at our Paz Coffee Shop.

Even though this year’s party was smaller, we can share it with you threw this video. Enjoy this warm, family-oriented episode of Life in Japan!

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LIJ Episode Videos

YOKOHAMA

Yokohama is the city next-door to us, Japan’s first modern International city. It’s called “Japan’s front door” and for good reason — it grew from a fishing village of 800 people to the second largest city in Japan in around 200 years because it became the international port for all of Kanto (a.k.a Greater Tokyo).

Yokohama was the acceptable place for foreigners to live, and as such it became Japan’s first truly international city. It is home to the largest Chinatown in all of Japan, and perhaps the world. On the bluffs of Yokohama are some truly western homes, schools, churches and communities.

Yokohama’s Minato Mirai area has a very similar feel to Chicago’s downtown to me — it is an open area along the waterfront full of towering skyscrapers, renovated districts for shopping, museums and attractions as well as tons of restaurants and dining. But if you move further away from there, you are greeted by a densely populated urban sprawl resembling many other parts of Japan. The city layout is in a more typical grid layout found in cities around the world.

This week’s episode of Life in Japan is focused on the city of Yokohama. There is so much in a city of this size that it’s just impossible to cover it all in one episode, let alone hundreds of episodes. But we hit some of the highlights on our family trip and I can’t get over how much it reminds me of Chicago! Please enjoy!

Chicago’s Sister City?

Officially Chicago’s sister city is Osaka, Japan, and I think that’s a good fit. But to me Yokohama is just as good of a fit, if not better. But that may be for personal reasons. You see, I went to college near Chicago, and the impressive city was just next door to me (about the same distance as Yokohama is to us in Kawasaki now). But I rarely went into downtown Chicago itself. It’s not that I didn’t like it or that it wasn’t fun — I liked it a lot and it was always fun! I just didn’t realize the uniqueness of what was right next to me until I lost it. Once I moved away, I found myself wishing I had taken more advantage of the fact that I lived right next to Chicago.

Too often we fantasize about what is out of reach instead of enjoying what is within our grasp. We dream about a life somewhere else (maybe you dream of a life in Japan!). We imagine what life would be like if we had a different family or other relationships. We can too easily overlook the huge blessings God has put in our lives, within our reach.

Yokohama could easily be that way here too. Especially in the Greater Tokyo area, there are so many amazing places to go and things to see that one could easily overlook that which is right under your nose. The pandemic has forced us to look locally for our fun, and that’s no bad thing, especially when there are amazing places like Yokohama right next to us.

What’s right next to you? Are you overlooking something that you may regret later? It may be a relationship. It could be a different way of life that is richer and more satisfying. Yes, it’s good to imagine a better life and make proactive steps towards it. But happiness is not found when you reach that location, but in healthy journey that gets you there. And in the weeks to come, we want to look more into what makes a healthy life journey.