Today was a milestone in our life here in Omihachiman. Today marked our one year anniversary here in Japan. It is amazing to think that we have been here in the land of the rising sun for a full year. It is equally amazing to think that in one year we will be winging our way back home to the states. Today being the anniversary of our arrival here, we decided that we would have to do something to celebrate the occasion. We thought long and hard about how to best celebrate the date of our arrival. Usually we get a pizza when we have a reason to celebrate or otherwise mark an occasion, but it just did not seem to be the right way to measure this date.
We decided that we would have to search out and do our best to find and visit the first restaurant that we went to on our first night here in Omihachiman. It was a long night that night, but it is one that I remember well. We stepped off the plane at Kansai International Airport after a long fourteen hour flight. We had to wait in the line for customs with all of worldly belongings strapped together, seven big suitcases, three big backpacks, a laptop computer,a child car seat, and one guitar. We struggled with keeping all of our belongings together and with keeping them from either falling over or falling off the trolley that we used to cart them around. We managed to make it out of customs with almost no hassles. We did have an issue with the paper work that we were supposed to fill out on the plane, but I think that when the customs inspectors saw us with all of our junk falling off our cart they took pity on us and let us through without too much hassle. We made it out of the customs area into the arrivals area looking for whomever would be picking us up and bringing us to Omihachiman, a twoish hour journey from the airport, which is located outside of Osaka. We were not sure what the people who would pick us up would look like. I also did not have any contact information for them other than an email address. It was a nerve-racking fifteen minute wait. Then I heard my name being called out in a very Japanese way, a high pitched, "Kebeen, Kebeen?" I turned and there were three people walking towards us, two women and a man. One of the women was my boss Ms. Morimoto, the other woman was a person who was to become a great friend to our family, Takami Yamanaka, and the man was from the board of Education and he had come to drive the van. They helped us to load all of our things into the back of the van, and we set off for the journey to Omihachiman. they brought us to our apartment where there were more people to welcome us and help us settle in a bit. then it was off again. This time we were off to get some food and other sundries at the super market. We managed to get some cereal, milk and fruit for breakfast in the morning, and some bowls, and cups to eat and drink from. It was then decided that we would go and get some sushi to eat, because we had not eaten in a long time. I think that at this point we would have been fine just going home and crashing, as it was now getting close to ten o'clock in the evening. But out for sushi we went. We seemed to ride in that car for what seemed like another hour going to the sushi restaurant. We got there and found the restaurant packed to the gills with people. I was shocked to see that there was a half hour wait to be seated. We finally were seated and we managed to eat a little bit of the delicious sushi that wandered its way around the restaurant on the conveyor belt. I think that i managed to eat about five plates, at two pieces of sushi per plate, and I left feeling very full. It was then that I was told that the average guy will eat at least ten plates of sushi. I looked over at the other men in the shop and saw the piles of plates stacked up next to them and I felt a little bit whimpy. We finally made it home around midnight and managed to fall asleep with no hesitation.
Today was the one year anniversary of that fateful day. We thought that it would be appropriate to visit that little sushi shop once again. Think needle in a haystack. I saw the restaurant about three months ago when riding on a bus, and we all know how good of a memory I have. I was sure of one thing. The general direction that we would have to walk. We set out around noon in order to find some sushi for lunch. The rain began falling in little sprinkles on our head as we walked out of town. The sprinkles faded as we walked out of town, and by the time we reached the shinkansen tracks the rain was falling in earnest on us. It is a good thing we brought our umbrellas with us. We reached route 8 after walking about a half hour. We had wandered the back country roads, through the rice fields, to avoid traffic on route 8 for most of our journey. I was pretty sure that our destination was located on this road, but which way? Jenny was for going right. I agreed and we started to walk up route 8. We walked a couple of blocks up the street and I began to think that maybe we were going the wrong way. We turned around and walked the other way. It lead to nothing. My hunch was wrong. We headed back in the direction we originally traveled. We walked and walked, I began to think that maybe I wasn't even close in my assumption that the place we were looking for was on this street. We were on the verge of turning around when we saw it up ahead on the other side of the street. We walked over and headed in. It was like a completely different place at two o'clock in the afternoon. There were empty booths, no one waiting on the benches, and we were able to sit down and eat right away. We began to eat. We grabbed plate after plate of our favorite sushi. I am partial to the tuna, Jenny likes the boiled shrimp with avacado, onion and mayonaise, and Logan ate some tuna salad sushi, which is the same kind that we make at home. We ate our fill, and yes this time I managed to eat a full ten plates worth of sushi. I was stuffed full. We then had the long walk home. The rain was gone, but it was replace with muggy heat. We made it home in time to watch one of Jenny's favorite sports on TV. Yes this month is a sumo month and the tournament started yesterday. Later in the evening we headed off to the cake shop to get some anniversary cake.
It is wild to think that we have been here for a year already. It is crazy to think that we will be here for another year. When I think of all the sights that we have seen and the events we have witnessed I am extremely grateful that we have had this opportunity to learn and experience this country and its culture. It is not always easy, at times it is taxing on the soul, simple things like trying to find shoes in your son's size can drive you batty. There are times however when I look out the window and see the mountains all shrouded in mist, or as we wander the streets of the city and see a shrine set along the side of the road that my soul stirs and I am filled with a sense of wonder and amazement. I know that this is an experience that we will never forget, and a journey we will savor in our memories until Alzheimer's claims them from us.