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Growing Up in Japan

Japan is a unique experience all its own, but what is it like for our international kids who are growing up here, going to the local Japanese schools and interacting in different languages and cultures, all while squishing into a small house? Well, as we see in this episode of Life in Japan, it can be quite an adventure!

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Big Family Shopping in Japan

In America, Costco (along with Sam’s Club and others) have been a staple for large families and small businesses to do affordable shopping in the quantity and quality they desire. I grew up in a large family and we often shopped at these stores, so now that I have my own large family, I am more than glad that we live somewhat close to a Costco here in Japan, and boy do we make use of it. How does it help us here? Take a look.

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A Dream Hike

When you think of Japan, what’s one of the first things you think about? For a lot of people, it’s the iconic mountain of Mt Fuji. Over the last seven years, we’ve seen it quite a bit, and it’s always exciting to see. But this year we wanted to try something new: an epic hike along a nearby mountain ridge at the height of Fall. We waited for the best weather when the fall colors were at their best, and we got it. This is a hike for the books, full of amazing views, friendship and humor. It was little taste of heaven.

For this video, I recommend the biggest screen you can find with the sound turned up! Enjoy!

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Little House in the Big City

For many people living in Japan, our YouTube channel is like a modern-day version of Little House on the Prairie. If you don’t know what that is, it is a defining part of American TV history that aired from 1974 to 1982 and was a huge success not only in America, but also (ironically) in Japan. The combination of the adventurous lifestyle of the historic American western frontier and the Ingells family with their blond-haired kids and (mostly) biblical family values somehow caught the attention of the Japanese and made big waves here.

So it’s almost comical that now, in 2021, our family of blond-haired kids is braving the wild frontier of life in the big city in Japan, with all of its’ challenges and adventures. It might not be Little House on the Prairie, but it’s certainly a Little House in the Big City!

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Family Takes Flight

Society today is doing its’ best to keep the family apart. Sure — you’ll see commercials showing families using certain products to be happy and pleasant, but the truth is that most homes are far from pleasant places to be.

The pressures to succeed and make money to afford a good life push many parents to sacrifice their time, energy and life working jobs which take them away from home for a majority of the week. Kids are seen as a nuisance and get in the way from attaining “true success”, so they are put into day care as soon as possible. The parent’s job of raising their kids often goes to others.

In Japan, the school hours are long and keep the kids as busy as possible, with terribly short spring, summer and winter breaks. People are expected to focus everywhere but the family, so when there is precious family time, those same people are too tired to give any quality energy toward their family or see it as a nuisance to do so. This is a downwards spiral where family members treat each other terribly, not even liking each other.

So what does it take for a family to fly above it all? Well I believe family must become priority again. More important than work and success, school and business; above fun and pleasure and individual pursuit is the value of the family as the true base unit of society. No government, program, school, club, business or institution can take the place of the family or the importance of the father and mother. Children are the greatest inheritance anyone could have — they aren’t a nuisance, they’re a reward!

When loving parents create a family culture that values each member of the family, the home becomes a place of heaven on earth. Dad can’t wait to get back at the end of the day. Mom is energized by being together. The kids feel loved, safe and secure at home. Their friends are welcomed. Even the pets love it there!

That’s why we make a point of doing things together as family. Not only our family, but with other families as well! When we go out on a day trip, it’s more than just something to do to kill the time, or another thing clogging up our schedule. This is what it’s all about! It’s about developing and maintaining loving relationships with others, most importantly the loving relationships we can enjoy with Creator God in Jesus Christ.

Our videos are often fun and playful, but there is a much deeper, hidden value behind each video we post. It’s the higher values of family and relationships which has been sorely neglected in society today. No one gets married and starts a family to have a loveless, miserable family. No! We want a happy family, so we strive to give our family the best.

But in the pursuit of the best jobs, the best schools, the safest cities, the best homes, the best _________, we sacrifice what really matters: our personal focus towards one another, attention and thoughtfulness. Your job title, position, salary, possessions, life-status, school, company and business have no overall bearing on your happiness. These things advertise happiness but only provide anxiety, stress, exhaustion and a life spent on chasing the wind. But a family built on loving relationships that value each other will be happy no matter the life circumstance, and that’s something money just can’t buy.

So what’s one of the best things you can do for your family? Take a day off when your kids have their next day off school, and do something, anything, together. Most of my friends (including myself) have more vacation days stored up that they never use! Go against the grain of society and take the day off! Give your attention to the other family members and not to your agenda, phone or to-do list. Yes, be a good, hard-working person, but when it’s time to be with family, do it all in. The rewards you reap will surprise you!