12 January, 2018

Memory lane

Yesterday I took a different destination for a long ride. I had a language exchange meeting at our usual spot, but instead of taking the train two stops, I rode my bike. A 5.5k ride that took 24 minutes. It was a chilly start, but a beautiful blue-sky day with little wind.

After we chatted in Japanese and English for two hours we parted. I bought some lunch at a local convenience store (truly convenient and cheap—I spent less than AU$5) and rode to a place I used to know well: our old neighbourhood. We lived only 1.6k from the station, but I remember it was a long trek with three little boys.

You see we lived here from 2005 for four years, our youngest spent his babyhood and toddler years here. Our eldest finished kindergarten, started Japanese school, and transitioned to CAJ when we lived here. Our middle son completed all three years of Japanese kindergarten while living here. 
You can see our old house in the centre of the photo, the first place we lived in Tokyo. 
When we first moved here all the newer houses in the foreground (and another 30+ besides) weren't there. This was all a mini forest that we loved looking out upon. All our five main rooms looked out on green and we couldn't believe that this was Tokyo.

That all changed within a year when the owner of the "forest" died and his family redeveloped the land to build many houses. It was very sad, and a story that remains dear to our hearts.

But yesterday I took time to sit in a tiny park created in the middle of that "new" development as I ate my lunch and pondered those years.

They were crazy years, we had a baby, 2 y.o. and 6 y.o. when we moved there. We knew almost no one in Tokyo and jumped straight into the Japanese schooling system without any foreigners nearby. CAJ, where my husband began working less than a month after we moved in, was a 6 km ride or 20 minutes drive away. We knew almost no one there too, and it took a long time for me to get to know people at CAJ because I got over there only infrequently.

As I mentioned above, our eldest son had a lot of change during those four years and it wasn't pretty. Getting to and from the kindergarten one kilometre away twice a day wasn't pretty, as I tried to walk at least once a day, but, well, I didn't have the most cooperative kids (and they were heavy, so I didn't try to ride or put them all in one stroller). Parenting wasn't pretty.

This is the place where I learned that I didn't really like teaching English, and none of us liked home schooling. It's where we battled through a singularly nasty gastro bug that took down not just all of us, but David's sister and new husband, all within 36 hours! Where I accepted the gift of a pack of toilet paper from a kindergarten mum who was concerned for us.

But there are many good memories from this time too. My best Japanese friend (who, incidentally, I'd just had coffee with that morning) I met at the kindergarten on our middle son's first day. She's been a gift from God!

During the four years of living here God took me from a place of not knowing why he called me to Japan, to seeing a light at the end of the tunnel (in the shape of writing and editing). This is the house where I started writing this blog.

And of course, we've got good memories of our kids from those four years. This is where two of them learned to ride bikes without trainer wheels. Where my eldest son said, "I love your costume," when I came down in a skirt after a long, cold winter. It's the place where we used to talk about "Guruguru Yama" (round and round mountain), a man-made hill in the nearby former leprosy colony where the local kids would play.

This is where we learnt so much about Japanese culture. And where I learnt more about depending on God when my human resources had petered out.

All these, and more, were the thoughts that I pondered yesterday as I sat and ate my lunch. It was a pleasant journey down memory lane. A thankful time. A time to remember what God has brought us through and how he shaped us for the next part of the journey.

This is a nearby baseball field. We used to go and play here when being inside
got to be too much. It is part of a much larger fenced-area that used to be a leprosy colony.
A few times we played cricket here, sometimes while baseball practise was going on at the
other end of the field, much to the bewilderment of the baseball players!

1 comment:

-J said...

Oh, I love this post! (And the hope it gives to a mom of littles, too.) :) The costume comment is a cute one!