On Saturday, I asked June if she would like to go on a date - anywhere she wanted! I told her we could take the train to a nearby mall, walk to a pastry shop, drive to a Daiso, or pretty much anything she desired. She chose to walk to Taco Bell (which is about two blocks from our house and is the solitary restaurant on base) and eat burritos. After much coaxing, she consented to also go to the library and get books. June is so funny to me and so, so pleasant. As I was tucking her in, I put my cheek on hers and softly told her how much fun I had had with her on our date. She gently held my head and said “Taco Bell was awesome. The food was amazing.” It wasn’t. But she is.
Anyways, during that library trip I got a travel guide for Tokyo with kids. It’s a bit dated, but it served us well for Monday! It outlines several day trips and we chose to go to Yokohama Bay and catch a shuttle boat to Yamashita Park and the stroll around Chinatown for a bit.
We decided to drive to Yokohama, which is a bit more expensive when you factor in tolls and parking, but so much less of the “crazy Americans with four tiny kids on absolutely silent trains.”
The shuttle was fun and cheap! It seems that 6 years old is the age of financial significance here in Japan as many places we go seem to view our entire offspring as monetarily negligible. It’s wonderful - we are truly getting our moneys worth, unlike most Japanese people who only have one or two children. They just don’t know the value of a good bargain, I guess ;)
It was a fun little boat ride, always nice to be out in the “real, live ocean” as Ivy calls it. June had her salty sea air experience, and then decided to Roomba herself around the cabin, much to the disgust of our fellow passengers. Japanese people are much more invested in the limitation of germs and grossness from the floor spreading around. Which is totally awesome. But little things like your kid standing up on the seat of the train can cause gasps of horror or even a mild scolding and the dreaded X arms🙅♀️= - absolutely a thing that has been done to me many times.
Anyways, we disembarked and headed to Yamashita Park (which you should not pronounce Ya-ma-she-ta or you will get mocked by your husband because it is Ya-mash-ta). But it wasn’t much to see so don’t trouble yourself with the pronunciation. We hadn’t walked far before I could see the large red gate in the traditional style looming high over the walkway. Incense and the warm scent of steamed buns and fried bread greeted us and we were in Chinatown.
It was just beautiful - cool and sunny, not too crowded, but just enough to feel energized. We stopped to take come pictures in front of a lion, which Ivy was quick to point out was not a REAL lion, much to William's disappointment. The kids noticed a small park behind the statue and before we knew it, Ivy was swinging, June was sitting in the dirt, and William was chasing pigeons. It was probably my favorite moment of the day.
William was chasing pigeons, which is what he was born to do - random violence just for the sake of itself - when an old man started to gently scold him. When I walked over, I could hear that the man was saying "Injad, injad." I realized he was telling William that the bird he was currently pursuing was hurt - missing a foot to be exact. I explained this to William, and he examined the bird with morbid curiosity before moving on to a more worthy opponent. A while later, Ivy approached the man and he shared a handful of breadcrumbs with her to feed the birds. He was so sweet and good - the kind of person I love my kids to meet and the kind I hope to be when I am old.
I fed Ruby under a lovely pavilion and watched Ivy, June, and William feed the birds gleefully. In that moment, I felt sorry for anyone who wasn't me. For all the hard work that comes with having so many small ones and living in a foreign country, there are so many moments of joy.
We all got to pick a treat from the 7/11 before heading back to our car.
Some days I love it here. Some days I would give my right arm for a Chick fil a drive-thru and the ability to talk to my sisters in at least the same general time zone. It's always going to be a experience that gives as it takes, but I am hoping we will end up in the black. Days like today go a long way to that end.