Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sumo Tournament

Since Will had Monday off for MLK day, we got to go to Tokyo for a Sumo Wrestling Tournament! I knew this was an option once we lived here, but after we got our tickets I didn't realize just how excited I really was! We took the train with 5 other couples to Tokyo, and once you get outside the train station the Sumo arena is not hard to find at all. Just follow the crowds and the huge flags with large, diaper wearing men on them. 

Flags representing different wrestlers

Our seats were actually perfect because we were on the 2nd level and had no one sitting in front of us. I even took my zoom lens with my nice camera so you could get an up close and personal view of the wrestlers. Your welcome…

One of my BREAST shots...

Sumo wrestling is actually pretty intense and we all found ourselves getting really into it. I was so fascinated by it that I researched it once I was home.

Every wrestler belongs to something called a stable which is where they live while they are young. There are currently 54 stables and each one is managed by a stable master who was once a wrestler himself. The referees and hairdressers even live here with them. The wrestlers wake up very early to train in hopes they get better to move up in the rankings. They wear the 
thong-like uniforms called a Mawashi. It is made of silk and is about 30 feet long when unwrapped and can weigh anywhere from 8-11 pounds. They do not have any other jobs and their entire life is about the wrestling. 

We were there for most of the afternoon so Will went to grab us some food from the concessions. Most everyone knows I am somewhat of a picky eater so I told Will to buy something he thought I would like. Im thinking french fries, chicken fingers or even a bag of peanuts. My husband came back with this…

This is called Oden. I would describe it as noodles, fish patty and an esophagus floating in brown liquid but the correct description is a boiled egg, daikon (radish), konjac (plant) and processed fish patty in a soy broth. You can imagine my expression as Will kindly placed this in my lap. He told me the other lines were too long and this one had no lines at all….I wonder why. 

Overall we had such a fun afternoon. We still have 3 years left in Japan and I can see us going to a few more Sumo tournaments. 

Here are some more pictures from the day. 

Cue the fart noise 
Beer keg backpack girl…we called her Ghostbuster

Much love,

Caroline and Will 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 2

How have we only been here for 2 weeks? We have been so busy and doing so much that it honestly feels like its been months already! I've learned that while your husbands are home and not deployed, its best you try to travel and go places together while you can. Since Will and I knew a few couples before getting here, we have been spoiled with them taking us to cool cities and showing us all the good restaurants already!

Will has started to fly more and is usually gone the full day. I forgot that the real Navy means he works normal work hours…still getting used to that. So this week I walked around base some more and got a feel for where everything is like the commissary (grocery store), the NEX (navy exchange), the post office and the gym. 

My friend Liz took me to the Japanese market which has amazing produce and insane bakery items. My personal favorite fruit I have found out here is called a Nashi Pear. It is the texture of an apple but has the taste of a pear and is SO good. 

Also my friend Cait took me to the 100 yen store (dollar store) which is dangerous with all the fun and random things you can find! We are both pretty tall so as we walked around we had lots of stares and pictures taken of us. It happens pretty often too so now I have just learned to smile at the camera. 

Friday night a bunch of us went to the movie theatre on base to go see American Sniper. Something I can definitely get used to about living on base is that the movie tickets are only 3 dollars. The movie is amazing by the way if you haven't seen it yet. Highly recommend! 

Saturday morning was exciting because we went to something called a Shrine sale in the town of Yamato. It is like a flea market and only comes on the 3rd Saturday of the month. We had the best time walking around and trying to bargain…much harder to do when you don't speak japanese but we managed. We ended up buying an Obi, which is a japanese table runner, a japanese fruit bowl and some mini sake jars. I'm already waiting for next months Shrine sale because I'm addicted!

After the Shrine sale we went to eat at a fried rice place. It was so good and we knew it was only a matter of time until we had to sit on the floor mats instead of chairs. 

Fried rice with egg on the bottom that you mix all together

Saturday night we took the train to the town of Yokohama to eat at a BBQ place. We also heard they had really good craft beer so of course the boys were excited. Since there were 14 of us they put us in a room upstairs away from everyone else. The food was really good and its always fun finding new restaurants with different menus! 

Since we had a busy weekend, Sunday was pretty laid back. Will and I road our bikes off base to a nearby car lot to get an idea of which car we are going to buy once we get our license in a few weeks. We also road down the street and found a thrift store which ended up being a gold mine! We all know any child of Liz Branch is a thrift store pro, so I was in heaven. Our friends down the street ended the day with a cook out and bon fire which is just what we needed because we were exhausted. 

If these last 2 weeks are any indication of how busy we are going to be until Will deploys…we better get ready. There is SO much we have planned in January alone and we are so excited. Some of these include a Sumo wrestling tournament, a Squadron ski trip and a cabin weekend in the town of Yokota. Stay tuned…so much more to come! 

Love you all,

Caroline and Will 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Week 1 Update

I'm sure you have been waiting to hear how this week has been and what we have been up to! Now that we are adjusted to the time difference and aren't sleeping most of the days away, I wanted to update you on our whereabouts…

First off Japan is SO amazing. We have felt so welcomed by everyone and already have some new friends. Here are some things we have been up to this past week:

-We stayed at the Navy Lodge, which is a hotel, and where they put you on base until housing becomes available. 

-We had our first Japanese restaurant experiences. First was a Ramen noodle place which was so yummy and the second was called Sushi-go-round. Sushi came around on a conveyer belt and you chose which ones you wanted!

-We don't have our Japanese drivers licenses yet so Will has had to take a bike to work everyday…and I run after him taking pictures because I think the helmet is hilarious. 

-The Japanese words we have learned to use on a consistent basis are:
       *Konnichiwa- Hello
       *Arigatō (Ar-ee-gah-toe)- Thank you
       *Sumimasen (soo-me-mah-sin)- Excuse me
       *Sayōnara- Goodbye
       *Atsugi Kichi- Atsugi Base (mainly for taxis to take you back to base)

-Fun Fact: You don't tip anyone in Japan including waiters or taxis. 

-We finally got an apartment and the best part about it (other then being out of the hotel) is that it is right above some of our best friends Cait and Andrew! Our furniture won't be in for another few months, but we are so happy to be able to have our own place! It doesn't hurt that it resembles a pent house suite either...

-We had our first Japanese Karaoke Bar experience with some friends. You can find a Karaoke bar on most any street you drive down out here. The interesting part is that you don't perform in front of a huge room, you rent your own rooms and perform as a private group instead. It gets loud to say the least...

-I got to have my first girls night out with wives from our new squadron. We took a train to the town of Yokohama and had dinner on the 28th floor. The views were so amazing and the wives here are awesome. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such strong and encouraging women! 

-Will had his first flight! He said he got to fly right over Mount Fuji (Volcano) and could see inside of it since it was a clear day. He also told me the flying out here is so beautiful and there were some really cool islands he flew over as well. Lets be honest…he may have the coolest job in the world. 

-Will and I got real brave on Saturday and decided to take a day trip to Tokyo by ourselves. The trains here can be seriously stressful but we used a really helpful website that shows you train times in english. We made it to the area of Shibuya with no issues, which was a miracle, and it was incredible. If you think Will and I stick out on base in Japan…you should have seen us in this city. We got a lot of stares but everyone was SO sweet and helpful. Shibuya has the largest crosswalk in the world and when that light turns green to cross the street…it is a MADHOUSE! Being there in the midst of it was one of the coolest things we've ever done. 

Picture doesn't do it justice

For you ladies that shop online, you may be familiar with one of my favorite stores Zara. It was like Christmas when I turned the corner in Tokyo and saw the store right in front of me! It was probably the only store that had my sizes because as you can imagine Japan caters to more of the miniature humans…not my category. In the dressing room they make you put on a face mask so you don't get make up on the clothes, which is actually brilliant, but it is not the most comfortable addition...

After a few hours exploring and shopping we made it back safely and were exhausted. The crazy thing about Tokyo is that there are so many different areas to visit and we already can't wait to see more! After just one afternoon there, it definitely made its way to the top of my favorite cities list. 

So as you can see we have had a very busy week! We have so much more to learn and experience too. The fact that we live here now and it is our HOME is still mind blowing. I am so encouraged by the fact that it has only been one week living here and already I love it all. Please continue to pray for us because I'm sure the homesick feelings are creeping up and will hit at some point. Will and I are so grateful for all of you and can't wait to update you with more adventures!! Bring on week number 2! 

Aiwokomete (with love), 

Caroline and Will 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Next Stop…Tokyo!

As we drove to the airport at 4:30am, all I could think to myself was "Is this really happening?" All the preparation and stress was finally in the past and now it was go time. 

Isaiah 41:10 was constantly repeating in the back of mind, 

"Don't be afraid for I am with you.
Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you. 
I will hold you up with my victorious hand."

It is so easy to get wrapped up in worldly things and try to take control into your own hands. I am guilty of this everyday, but I know now more then ever I need to give complete control to God. This verse reminded me that there was no reason to be scared or anxious because I was, and never would be alone. Because of this, I felt an overwhelming feeling of peace and courage driving to the airport. With it all becoming more real with every second that passed, that was exactly the feeling I needed. 

After getting all checked in and through security we were finally at our gate. We were flying to Dallas first which was about a 3.5 hour flight. At this point I was on a mission to sit in First class because…why not? I could see the nerves in Wills face building knowing that his wife was possibly about to embarrass him by pulling the Military card. Of course my persistent personality succeeded and First class is absolutely the way to fly. (Still waiting for a thank you from my husband by the way…)

Our layover in Dallas was only about an hour so we loaded up on snacks, sleeping aides, magazines and a few phone calls to our families before boarding the flight to Tokyo. We also went to the currency exchange and got some Yen. We had a 14 hour flight ahead and sadly I couldn't swing getting us the First class seats again…but I definitely tried. 

Going to take some getting used to!
Here we go!!

To be honest the flight really wasn't as bad as I thought. Now, there was a time  that I saw we still had 9 hours left and I found myself looking for the emergency exit door to fling myself out of. But once I watched a few movies and dosed off a few times, the time seemed to go by faster. The weirdest part was that it never got dark outside since we continued to fly through time zones. We did however fly over some pretty amazing views, including my favorite the Utah mountains. 

We landed in Tokyo around 4:15pm and we could not be more ready or excited! A sweet Japanese man sitting next to Will on the plane gave us our first "Welcome to Japan" and then handed us our first Japanese snack. It looks like it may be Kale of some sort and has yet to be touched, but the gesture was so sweet.

Baggage claim and customs went really fast and our friends Liz and JP were waiting downstairs to help get us on the train and to base. Thank God for them because this is where the chaos began! The Japanese culture is so fast paced and with 6 bags and 2 carry ons we were definitely out of our element. We took the first train which was about 1.5 hours to the town of Yokohama. From there we took a local train that was only about 25 minutes to a parking lot that was just outside of the front gate at base. At this point it was about 7pm and Will and I both were walking zombies. Liz and JP fed us and took us to the Navy Lodge where we would be staying until we got a place of our own. 

It had been the longest few days of traveling and we were exhausted. Just being in Tokyo was so exciting but going to bed was at the top of our agenda. We knew Jet Lag was going to be a battle this next week so we knew rest was going to play a huge part in adjusting. 

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers for our safe travels! It could not have gone smoother and we are so grateful. This is it! We are here and there is so much more to come! I promise to keep you updated on everything and how we are doing. Love you all and thank you for being on this journey with us! 

Caroline, Will and Tubbs (who will join us shortly) 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014…Thats a Wrap!

Will and I headed back to Virginia Beach on Sunday, December 28. At this point we had plane tickets booked for New Years Eve but we were trying to get this changed so we could be at our house for the movers that were scheduled to come that same day. Jesus was watching out for us big time because last minute we got our tickets changed for Friday, January 2. I know that doesn't sound like a huge difference but this gave us an extra day in between moving and leaving that we were so grateful for. 

My sweet parents drove up on Wednesday to be with us before we left. The first night, we brought in the New Year at a hotel since we had zero furniture in our house. Let me rephrase that…I brought in the new year alone as my parents were asleep in the other room and Will was passed out starting at 10:30pm. Needless to say we were all physically and emotionally drained.

The next day we got some brunch at our favorite place called Hair of the Dog. Our sweet friends Anna and Jordan let us stay at their house that night so we didn't have to be in a hotel again. Jordan is deployed and Anna was home in Illinois visiting her family so sadly we weren't able to see them, but being able to spread out and sleep in a comfortable bed was just what we needed before flying out the next morning. We have the greatest friends…thank you Anna and Jordan we love you!

Mom and I tried to avoid eye contact most the night knowing we were ticking time bombs about to burst into tears at any moment. We all went to bed around 11pm and the dreaded alarm went of at 3:30am…

The car was packed and 4am came really fast. Mom and I couldn't hold it back any longer. 
Cue the tears.
Saying goodbye to parents is never easy no matter what the reason, but I am biased and feel that my parents (including my in-laws who I love dearly) are the best and being without them is going to be so hard. Having my parents there the last few days was so comforting and in a way made it slightly easier to be leaving…emphasis on the slightly. 

Love and miss you dad!

And just like that, it was time to head to the airport. Thank you mom and dad for being with us the last few days in America! We enjoyed every second and we know how blessed we are to have y'all! Love you SO much!

Tokyo…we're coming for you! 

The Greatest Christmas Gift

A few weeks into December Will and I received the greatest Christmas gift we could have asked for. We found out that Will was not needed in Japan until after Christmas and even possibly early January. The reason was because the Diamondbacks (Wills new squadron) were all coming back from deployment around Thanksgiving and really had no need for Will to get there right away. Up until this point we had fully prepared to be packed up and moved for our first Christmas in Japan. The joy we felt knowing we would be in Raleigh with family for our favorite holiday was indescribable. 

Christmas Eve, Will and I stayed with my family and spent Christmas morning with them. Liam, our nephew, was such a good age this year to watch open all his gifts. 

Bennett's first Christmas!

Liam loved his new slide we gave him
After all the fun of opening gifts, Will left to go to his parents house where we were going to do Christmas day lunch and spend the rest of the night with his family.

 Unfortunately this Christmas day was bittersweet for us as well because Elkie, Ben, Liam and Bennett were leaving to see Ben's family in the mountains until New Years day. This meant our goodbyes had to happen before they hit the road. This was the moment I had dreaded ever since we found out our orders. As you can imagine…I was an absolute wreck. 

Being an Aunt has been the most amazing and life changing experience. Being away from these two nuggets is going to be so hard for me! Even though this is not the ideal way to watch them grow, Will and I both feel so blessed that we have so much time with them already. Aunt CaCa and Uncle Wee Wee promise to FaceTime you as much as we can Liam and Bennett! We love you so much! 

Will and I said the rest of our goodbyes to friends and family, which almost killed me, and headed back to Virginia Beach so Will could check out on base and I could be there for our movers. It was really starting to hit us that within a week we would be living in Japan. Things were getting real…

Going Away Party

After finding out that we were heading to Japan, we were also told to expect to leave sometime in the beginning of December. Not knowing how much time we actually had, we decided it was probably best to have a going away party so we could see friends and family all at once to say some goodbyes.
My mom and sisters took the lead and booked a private room at the Players Retreat in downtown Raleigh on Saturday, November 22. We had the best time being surrounded by the ones we loved even though I fought back tears the entire night. 

Thank you to everyone who came and made our night so special. Seeing how many people support and love us was so overwhelming and makes it that much harder to leave! We love you all. 

Caroline, Will and Tubbs