Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Well, we've been in Japan for just short of two weeks! I'm exhilarated to finally be here and have been busy getting situated. Here's an abbreviated checklist of what we've accomplished:

1. Cell phones: Joe and I bought iPhone 4s on the first day we got here. I think most people who know me could have predicted that I'm obsessed. I've found a lot of really helpful apps for free or low cost, such as...
  • Textfree with Voice: WOW! It was so easy to set up. I can text and receive text messages from the USA for free (as the name implies) and make calls from my phone for a pretty low cost. I paid $9.99 for 500 minutes. I feel like these will last me a while as a supplement to free Skype chatting. Along with all these features, the app also gives you an American phone number, so I can receive phone calls too.
  • Google Latitude: My mom and sister invited me to start using this app. It is completely gratuitous stalking software but I had fun following my sister while she drove across the country from Detroit to Los Angeles for a new job. I also found my good friend Gloria in Cambodia. Ha!
  • World Nomads Japanese: This app falls short on volume of information but the quality is amazing. It shows a phrase or word in English and when you tap on it, it appears in English, phonetic Japanese, and Kanji (Japanese characters). The best part is that a real person, rather than a robotic voice, reads the word or phrase. I've been using this app like flash cards to learn important greetings in Japanese.
  • Hipstamatic: This app uses the iPhone 4 camera and adds filters to each image to give it vintage flair. I usually start feeling too touristy when I have my camera out, but this makes each picture a bit more fun. This wasn't a free app, but under $5 and totally worth the cost!
  • Sirius Internet Radio: This has been nothing short of a life saver. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but it's how I feel. I'm having a hard time surviving without my home media set-up, but now I can listen to my favorite indie rock, classic rock, pop, and news stations through my phone. Consider my mind blown. I will not mind spending money on Sirius as it is a luxury necessary for my sanity.
2. Lodging: We're staying in the temporary lodging facility (TLF) and it is pretty tight. Not in a slang way, but it is actually a pretty small place to live. It's basically a hotel room with a tiny kitchen. It's been recently renovated with some Japanese accents, dark wood furniture, and a huge TV mounted on the wall. We've been winding down at night watching Mad Men seasons 1-3 and are eagerly awaiting season 4 on DVD. As for the kitchen, during our "Welcome Aboard" brief, the personal finance specialist sang the praises of military coupons being valid for 6 months after expiration, so I picked up a bag of coupons and stocked our tiny little kitchen with oatmeal, turkey burgers, and some fresh veggies. Interesting to note: milk is ridiculously expensive even at the commissary here, and they only sell frozen chicken.

3. Actual Housing: We found a place in town pretty quickly! I'm very excited about it. We'll be the first tenants, as they are still building the townhomes right now. We chose one with a spiral staircase, a funky dark wood accent wall in the living room, dark wood floors throughout, and three bedrooms. It's close to the base, but also an easy walk to Japanese stores and the train station. We made room in our contract for the option to have a dog, so hopefully one wanders into our lives in about two months.

4. First Trip: Joe and I took a short trip with the relocation specialist and a group of about eight other people to Otake. The main purpose of the trip was to learn the bare minimum for getting tickets and learning the customs for riding three different kinds of public transportation. We ended up in a shopping area and found lots of different foods, clothing shops, and some electronics stores.

5. Meeting People: I was worried about being shy in a new country, but our sponsors have been great! They've showed us around town, introduced us to other Marine couples, and basically been our lifeline since arriving. We even went to the Sargeant Major's farewell party at Joe's boss' house. Everyone I've met has been really nice so far.

6. New Food: I love trying new food. We haven't been out much since the language barrier is so strong, but we've had Japanese curry (had no idea there was such a thing) with fried lotus root (!), Japanese-Italian fusion cuisine, and sushi at the sushi-go-round. I love sushi and really need to work on my language skills so I can go more often!

7. New Challenges: So we're here! Of course, that's not the end of it and we don't get to sit back and relax because we made it here. Joe will be leaving for a three-week exercise in Korea tomorrow and I've made plans to go to the Philippines to visit one of my best friends after Joe gets back!

If there's anything you'd like for me to clarify, just send me an email @

1 comment:

  1. Been back-reading all your posts (very excited you have a blog, btw!). Mostly I want to say that I am so jealous that you are going to have a spiral staircase! WANT. Glad things seem to be going well. The food sounds divine!