Please allow me to take some time to introduce a bit about our daily lives and the city I call home, Yokohama. Yokohama is a large city made up of several wards (or ku in Japanese). The ku we live in is mostly residential with a few businesses and factories. They are building new apartment buildings and housing all the time.
Fun fact: Japanese borrows the word “mansion” to describe a new apartment building. So I can legitimately say I live in a mansion!
Although our area is not very inspiring, some of the best of what Japan has to offer is within an hour’s drive. I take buses and trains most of the time though, and it always seems to take me an hour to get anywhere, no matter where we are going.
The time spent travelling, and the stress of overcrowded public transport was really got to me when my son was smaller. But one of the big themes for me in the last year or so has been remembering to appreciate where I live. Euan will only be small once, and we live in a pretty awesome place. But I need to constantly remind myself to make the most of these early years. Early motherhood has given me the opportunity to take the time to enjoy where I live again.
Adding the extraordinary to the weekly routine
Most weeks we go to an International Playgroup. It’s a chance for us both to meet with other English speakers. We chat, sing nursery rhymes, do crafts and read books. Euan will probably attend Japanese kindergarten, so it's important to me to introduce him to English culture while he's small.
But for the longest time I would get on the bus, then the train that we take to get there, go to playgroup, have lunch with the other mums. And then go straight home. I'd feel tired, frazzled and drained.
Recently I’ve been making a point of enjoying that area instead. Within walking distance of the meeting place is Minato Mirai (literally translates of Port of the Future) with views like the one above.
Note: I tried to be all artistic and get my son in the foreground of this picture, but nearly 3-year-olds don’t always cooperate with their mother’s artistic aspirations. This is what I got instead.
If we walk back in the other direction, we reach the historic dock area. Yokohama was the first place in Japan which opened to the West around 150 years ago. Many of the buildings reflect the Western influence on the city.
This week we went down to the waterfront which overlooks the International Ferry Terminal. We got lucky because there was a ship in port. Perfect for showing off Mee a Bee’s Ships Ahoy bags!
We also spotted the Sky Duck in the water. It’s an amphibious bus which takes people on tours on land and in the water! They only introduced it at the end of the summer last year, so we haven’t been on one yet. I will report back on the experience if we have the chance!