Japan Insights

Last week I wrote about our time in Japan and some things I learned. I wanted to continue with that thought and some additional insights I gained.

Different is good. There were so many new sights and tastes that I was overwhelmed for the first two days. With pictures, miming, and a little bit of English sprinkled throughout the country, you learn to communicate. There were many food items I could not even fashion a guess, but I did try some pretty yummy dishes (while navigating chopsticks!) including Japanese beef, vegetarian Raman, and soba noodles.

The Japanese drive and walk on the opposite side of what we do, so this took some getting used to at first. After a while, you become a pro and walk on the left-hand side of the escalator to allow others to pass. Take away: Appreciate the differences of others; I am glad God didn’t create us all the same.  Life would be boring.


Be patient. While walking the busy and crowded streets of Tokyo I only heard one car honk its horn. Pedestrians cross the streets without fear of being run over and people wait at corners for the lights to turn green.  People wait in long lines for food, but I never sensed anyone to be grumpy or complaining. Take away: In this “instant society”, may I take the time to let others go before me, may I wait in line patiently and dwell on all the good things of life. Who cares if I have to wait for a minute or longer than I thought I should?

Be respectful. My daughter-in-law has told me that the Japanese culture treats their teachers with great respect and elders are given preferential treatment. I like that on both accounts since I am a teacher, and well, I am getting older. lol Take away:”Do unto as others as you would have them do unto you.”  May I always treat others better than I want to be treated.

Remember my past.  While in Toko, I saw several older women walking to the market who were bent at 90-degree angles. They had worked in the rice fields all their lives and were now living in the city, being taken care of by their children and grandchildren. Japanese families make sure the elderly are cared for during their golden years. Take away: May I take care to tell my grandchildren stories of their great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. I want to leave a legacy for them to remember and uphold.


Diet and exercise. I ate a lot of rice while in Japan, but the biggest thing I did was walk 100 miles in 12 days! It’s a good thing I enjoy walking. Most of the time you come home from vacation and wish you had eaten less because now you have gained a few pounds, right? This was quite the opposite! I lost weight and now have to maintain that weight, or lose even more. lol It is a rare sight to see in Japan is an overweight person.  Small quantities are eaten and you don’t see super-size portions. People walk everywhere too! I didn’t see any Fit Bits because they don’t need them. Take away: I will continue to eat small portions and exercise more. However, I probably won’t be able to maintain that walking pace. 😦  Picture below: Kyoto where we walked over 10 miles that day!


I have made a word find for you to download for your children. Happy searching!

Japan Word Find

Have a great week!

~ Lisa ~



Japan: The Land of the Rising Sun

This week’s post was delayed because I have been in Japan for two weeks visiting my oldest son. I have some takeaways and lessons that I have learned while being there that I would like to share today. (There are more to follow next week.)

It is crowded in the cities! Our daughter-in-law had us take the subway car during rush hour down to the busiest part of Tokyo. There is NO personal space and all you can hope for is that you arrive at your destination quickly and safely. If you can imagine a train car that is so packed that they have attendants whose job is to push people into the subway cars. I am thankful that I am tall because no one was in my face.  The top two pictures that are below are Shibuya crossing close to where my son works. This intersection is the busiest in the world and is known as the Scramble Crossing. During rush hour, this pedestrian crossing could fill a football stadium with all of the people that cross. The Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo has as many as 2,500 pedestrians crossing every time the signal changes. Lesson learned: I will not complain about things being too crowded here anymore!





Don’t pollute! I have told my sons for years, “The world is not your trash can.” The Japanse people believe that. There are very few public trash cans out on the streets. You carry your garbage with you and throw it away at a convenience store where there are designated recycling bins or take it home! People do not litter as a rule and the streets are clean and swept daily by those who live in the neighborhoods. Lesson learned: Even if I didn’t make the mess I will stop and pick up the trash I see.


People are helpful and polite. I don’t know about you, but I rarely stop and ask someone if they need help. When we arrived in Tokyo we had to navigate the subway and also the bullet train (picture below). I know we looked like deer in the headlights as we gaped at the Japanese names of cities and tried to figure out where we needed to go.  No less than four men at different times helped us while we were there. One gentleman even walked us to a different part of the building and delivered us right to the place we needed. Lesson learned: Help others when you can. Kindness and politeness go a long way!




Create beauty. Living in a large city such as Tokyo doesn’t afford for you to have a yard so people put pots of plants out near their apartment buildings and houses. I love pansies and this is one of the most common plants I saw while we were there. Lesson learned: Making things pretty not only brings enjoyment to those who live there, but also to others. I am going to plant pansies every year to remind me of my time in Tokyo and my family living there.


Kit Kats are a favorite candy with over 200 varieties to choose from throughout the year! Since we were there in the spring, matcha is a popular flavor right now along with strawberry. Our daughter-in-law took us to a candy store that was 6 floors! It had other snacks, but candy was the main item sold in this store.  さようなら approximates to “kitto katsu” – a Japanese expression meaning good luck. (Literally: “surely win.”)  Lesson learned: Try different flavors of candy and enjoy the sweetness of life.


That’s it for now! Have a great week.

Sayōnara さようなら



My Intrepid Son

Ian and AllisonI always had a feeling that my oldest son, Ian, would live in another country. I breathed I sigh of relief when he married Allison, a wonderful local young lady, five years ago. I thought that feeling was unfounded as they both had jobs and were enjoying city life here.

All of that changed last spring when they announced they were seriously considering moving to Japan. I can tell you that while I was smiling and telling them I would support their decision, my heart was heavy and sad because I just wanted them to stay close. Isn’t that what every mama wants? But, I didn’t feel that I could be selfish and pout and carry on because either way they were going for it.

Allison ended up getting a job first as an elementary teacher in an international school in Tokyo and they left in early August. That first day was awful as I was thinking about how far away they were going to be from us. The clincher was when my husband said, “I see that their plane is over Russia now. ”

“Russia? Really?That’s so far and they aren’t even there yet!” I burst into tears and ran out of the room after Dale made that announcement. It really helped that I had made plans for us to go see a fabulous homeschool drama production to pass the time away. But, as things would happen that day, I sat next to a woman with whom I struck up a conversation and I shared with her what had happened that day.

“They are living in Japan? Oh, I lived there for six years and loved it. I didn’t want to come back home.” I wanted to jump up right then and run away from her as it was not what I wanted to hear. But, that also brought comfort knowing that she enjoyed it that much.

So, fast forward a couple of months and you can see by the picture taken at the Imperial Palace that they are enjoying themselves and adjusting to life in the Far East. Ian has a job teaching English to adults and shares funny and interesting stories with me as he navigates the culture and language. By the way, neither of them speak Japanese! I know this is the best way to learn the language, but I am not sure I could have gone somewhere so totally different from where I had lived. I think that is the advantage to being young, you just do it. lol

So, as you homeschool, prepare your child to take risks, make mistakes, and give lots of encouragement to your sweet student. Our world is shrinking and you never know that perhaps your child will be like Ian and live abroad. I am glad he and Allison are intrepid, taking chances, and are living their lives as they feel called to do. I guess Dale and I will stay here at the homefront so they feel secure in knowing they can always come home. (And for me, that can never be too soon!) I am working and saving money so we can make the trek over to see them in the future. 🙂

Have a great week!


Keep On Pedaling

This week as I was riding my bike along the Little Maimi Scenic Trail and I stopped to look at a large map of the spur that I had just ridden to see if it will be expanded any further. Because, at this point, the path just ends. Not that I am complaining because it was a good time to turn around and head back to the car anyway. 🙂


As I was retracing my route on the map board, I happened to see an older couple on bikes close by and realized they were Amish. The man was wearing overalls, a straw hat, and the woman was attired in a blue dress, black stockings, and a white hat. She had a three-wheeled bike with heavy plastic saddle buckets on the back which I thought was a great idea if you were going on a long day trip or want to carry some water and a lunch. It was filled with items and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to strick up a conversation with them.  I found out they were intending on going into Cincinnati and were just reading the map to see which direction was needed to be taken in order to get there.

“Oh, where did you start your trip?” I inquired.

“Do you know where Wooster, Ohio is?” asked the gentleman. “That’s where we began yesterday.”

“Sure.” I answered, “That is quite a distance from here. Will you be headed back home after you visit Cincinnati?”

The man laughed and said, “No, we are on our way to Sarasota, Florida!”

With that, he and his wife pedaled away southward on their bikes and waved to me as I stood there gawking at them. I wanted to ride after them; I wanted to take their picture; I wanted to ask them a couple of dozen questions. My 15-mile bike ride seemed so meager compared to the journey they were facing. I had quite a lot to think about on my way back to my car.

This week I wanted to encourage you because you may feel that you are on a long journey with a bicycle, or maybe even a scooter or skateboard, and feel that the school year is as far away as Sarasota. I promise you, you are going to make it, and it’s going to be a great journey.

Will you have obstacles, will you be tired and think you can’t go on some days? Yes, but it will be worth all you will go through because your children will be learning academic and life lessons from you. I believe you are best suited and called for this. You are lovingly guiding them and teaching them valuable and precious things that only you as their mom can do. You have an awesome opportunity and yes, responsibility with homeschooling. I know you can do it. Because if I did it, you can too. lol The joy that I have, when I see my sons becoming such great young men, makes me glad I chose to invest my time and talents into their lives. It made the journey and all of the bumps that came with it so worth it.  Keep on pedaling!


While I did not get a picture of the Amish couple, I did get a great picture of the scenery.



Enjoy the journey






Things to Consider

The week has been rather busy with upcoming parent-teacher conferences and lesson planning and organizing. While rifling through papers in the several binders that I keep for my classes, I came across a page of quotes that I’d like to share with you. My hope is that one or more of these will encourage you this week as you consider your school week ahead.

You are doing a great job! Your children are doing well because of the great love and care you have for them and their education.

~ Lisa