3:55 PM

Pet Lost In Japan

We recently had our hearts ripped out our chest... & put back in, when our precious Molly went missing... in JAPAN! We were so lost with the language & cultural barriers (which is our fault) that I was just certain that we had lost Molly forever. She did find her a nice older single lady who did keep her safe & returned her home!

The postman accidentally, in a hurry, left our gate unlocked, so when the wind blew, it just opened up to a world beyond the fence... our Molly took off without even a warning. Being we had (notice the past-tense there) a doggie door, she easily went in & out all day on her own... so when she saw the world beyond the fence, she had to take advantage.

Well, like silly Americans who have an indoor dog, we took her collar off because 1- she was micro-chipped & 2- the constant scratching, thus ringing of the collar was pretty annoying at 3 am. So she set off to see what she could find without a care in the world & without any visible identification!

HOW DID WE GET HER BACK? Well, we weren't sure where to start, so we called the realtor, who's our go-between with the landlord up in Tokyo & he made some calls.

Then after hours of no Molly, & the sun was setting, we went to the city police station to report her missing. We had to use the Yokosuka Police because our "koban" was closed & they spoke no English. They took the report & sent out FYI's to all our local police departments. What we learned was:

1. Though it is required to import your pet to Japan & has to be compatible to their standards, they don't have the ability to scan your pet's microchip! A vet might, but the local authorities do not (as least not in Yokosuka... which is predominately where Americans are in this area).

2. Even if you have their ID tag on them, or a vet scans your pet's microchip, it is a stateside programed chip, so they would have to call America to get your contact information... which we were told they would NOT call... they might call the base to ask if they knew...

3. So because of #2, you need to call the military vet to report your lost pet, who then notifies base security. If you notify base security first, they don't contact the vet...

4. And you need to call the microchip company (Home Again in our case) and let them know so they have an FYI in case someone does call... the part that sucks here is that since we are overseas, they can't help us find our lost pet like they could in the states.

5. There are NO shelters or kennels for the homeless pets.

6. If your pet is reported & have no one (founding civilian) willing to keep your pet until your are notified, they have 3 days & then they are put "to sleep". They kill your lost pet if they can't find you & no one willing to take them in!!!! And this was expressed to us very strongly more than once & with "very strict law in Japan".

As with most individuals who meet & know Molly, our little neighbor lady who found Molly was more than willing to keep Molly if we couldn't be found :D I am glad to know that my Grands (God Rest Her Soul) was watching over Molly & kept her safe.

3:39 PM

Sagami-gawa River Koi Nobori Festival

This is an adventure! If you are not able to travel past your comfort levels, it is not recommended. The Koi Nobori Festival held annually at the Sagami-gawa River in Sagami is a local festival that is gradually gaining popularity throughout the region...into globally. (Kanagawa being the region & Yokosuka being the not so local.)

They string about 1,200 carp fish flags over the river in celebration of children! The koi (carp) & nobori (flag) was introduced to Japan was originally for Boys' Day or "Tango No Sekku", encouraging them to grow up brave, strong, & successful, which many Japanese still hold true to this tradition. Today (since 1948) it is now a representation of Children's Day, May 5th, to represent "energy, strength, & perseverance." Adding children's day into the "Golden Week" allowed the Japan by law to have an entire week of vacation! Many corporations extend this into two weeks...

I am personally obsessed with these flags & the little representation of them in other forms. Maybe because I am a new mom to a miracle: a son, maybe because I love gold fish or koi, or maybe it is both! Seeing them flowing in the breeze makes my heart lighten up just as much as seeing big white sails on open water! For me, this was a trip that was worth a little effort.

The traditional order of hanging is: Black = father, red = mother, & then one additional smaller carp for each child. Red & white ribbons are often added to symbolize the water. The Chinese legend says that is a carp swam up river he would transform into a dragon that went to heaven.



You don't realize how globally these string of fish are until you see them on a DIY site! http://www.diylife.com/2008/05/05/fish-kites-for-childrens-day/

*Note: there is no English out this way, maybe a number or a hello, but that is it. If you are going, take your notes with you, written in print so that they can help.
  • Go to the Sagamihara Station
  • Take bus #17 from bus pole #5... bus pole will be in the middle right by the stairs. (There are other buses that go that way, but 17 will be the least "rural" in transit).
  • 30 minute ride to last stop, you will know it is the last stop when the bus pulls into a small rural semi-circle area with stone sign & parks (there may or may not be other buses or people). If you feel like you are getting off in the middle of nowhere, yet a nice neighborhood, you are at the right spot. 310 yen you pay on your way off...
  • Leave the bus parking & go LEFT up the road
  • Take the FIRST RIGHT only a few yards up...
  • Take the FIRST LEFT again, it will have a double mirror pole in the corner... the road you turn onto will be windy &/or curvy looking
  • Turn RIGHT at the Yamasaki store or the red & yellow "Y" store.
  • Walk straight on that road, no turns...
  • Pass a tori gate on your right
  • Up the little hill
  • POOF! You are there!
With no more than 3 strollers per bus you can do this. Also, though there may be stops closer to the park, it will be very hard or impossible to load & unload with the strollers, so be sure to use the stop listed above both ways.

When you get to the park, you will need to walk along the top ridge to your right, all the way down until you get to the ramp that then brings you down to the lower level or the actual "park". You will find restrooms this way too... not baby friendly.

3:33 PM

Camera Armor

OK, I am the biggest klutz. An expensive camera is truly the last thing I should be allowed to carry, yet I have a nice one... add the lenses & I have an overly retarded expensive one!

The other day I had to toss my camera down to catch my infant son who was falling from a rock into some rocks (he just learned he could semi-crawl that morning)! I was certain it was all over. The camera was now broke &/or the lens was damaged for good. I didn't care at the moment, ... however once we both stopped crying, I found it hard to keep clicking away knowing it was pointless.

Then I got home, plugged it in to review the damage, & it was perfect! Nothing was broke! Not even a scratch or a blurry image (well besides those from my son being tied to me & kicking)! WHY?

Camera Armor! I had gotten this a few years back as more of an extra grip for my clumsy hands...kind of like a grip for a gun. I never even thought about the product past that point. I have had a few bumps here & there, but this was the first actual test of the armor.

I am now a believer & wanted to share this with everyone! If you have a camera worth protecting, especially you professionals, check this out! You definitely need it in your equipment bag!

3:45 PM

Ofunakannon-ji Temple

A newer temple devoted to the events of the Atomic Bomb, nestled away in Ofuna, Kamakura, Japan, right outside the Ofuna Train Station.

This beautiful white lady Buddha is made from concrete completely poured by hand... no trucks. Some of the stones are remains from Hiroshima & Nagasaki. An eternal flame continues to burn here, just as it does in Hiroshima, until all nuclear war weapons are abolished. The symbolism of peace are throughout the entire temple & grounds... though small, well worth a day of just a visit, picnic & reflection.

This temple is not an easy little "just get off the train & follow the crowds" like many temples are in Kamakura... this one actually takes a little thought & some help from the locals, iPhone google maps, or someone else who has been. Once you leave Ofuna Station via the South Gate (not the North Gate which many Yokosuka people will come up at), you cross the canal, take a left to the end of the sidewalk, then a right & an immediate right ... along a very exclusive looking alley way. A few yards in you will see two stone lanterns with a sign in kanji & 300 yen (adults), 100 yen (children). That is all the signing you will find on your way.

As you stand at the base of the hill in front of you wondering if this is possibly the right place... take a deep breath & bite down hard... it is a steep hike up & back down... and not with stairs! I kind of was reminded of Mt. Fuji... straight up!

I highly recommend that you pack a lunch to take with you & spend the day. You can get cold beverages at the temple. Once you are up, it is beautiful!


  • Take the train to Ofuna Station
  • When you arrive at Ofuna you will come up at the North Gate (for most all my fellow Japan dwellers) DO NOT EXIT
  • Walk down the big center hall way past a lot of yummy little bakeries! Yummm...
  • You will now be at the South Gate... EXIT
  • Then go to your right towards what looks like the back of the station (STROLLERS) You will find a small hallway to an elevator... it is large enough for 4 adults with 4 single large strollers easily... take it down
  • You will come out at an small intersection. You will need to cross the canal (over the bridge)
  • Once all the way across take a left down the sidewalk to the first road,
  • Turn right at that road/end of sidewalk (you will be looking at a hill & currently construction at that little intersection)
  • Then take the next immediate right (before the hill) down what looks like an exclusive alley... remember to be quieter & respectful
  • Walk a few yards in & you will see 2 stone lanterns... a sign with kanji with 300 yen (adults), 100 yen (children).
  • You will be at the base of a rather steep hill, with determination, strollers can go up! They will guide you at the top where to park them.

STROLLERS, you will want to either have a child that walks or a carrier to switch over to for the grounds.

8:13 AM

Just in Time for Christmas!

Thanks to my wonderful friend Missy, I have found a new site that I am too addicted to! Thanks! Like I really needed more help in the shopping department or in the "Oh, I can make that" hobby world. LOL!!

Etsy is an online shopping mall for all of these wonderfully talented individuals who make their own products. It is all homemade. Everything! And I do mean everything; from purses & bags to shirts, to baby stuff, to collection pieces, to home decor! I have yet to see it all! Many will customize this & that with your preferences too. It is amazing! For someone like me who knows what she wants, this site is perfect.

I have now ordered a few things from there & the personal contact I get with the vendor is well worth a little extra change here in & there. If you are looking for something a little different, like you were shopping in a boutique without the boutique prices...

With the holidays coming, you really need to check out Etsy for yourself!

10:57 AM

No Twinkies?!!

I am curious...who was the moronic person (i.e. doctor, nutritionalist, etc) that came out & said that in order to eat healthy you have to also cut out all of the "good crap"?

Someone explain to me how a "healthy" diet excludes all psychology, common sense, & rationale? Sure we all think of eating healthy as the green stuff, along with a good portion of lean protein. Cut out the sugars, the sodas, the ingredients you can't pronounce, the salt, etc.

Great! You will be a green lean cutting machine! Right? And your body will be so happy.

But how will you feel?

Seriously?! If you are going to go "healthy" there is no need to cut the sugars, just make it real natural sugar in which your body will digest easily unlike the "fake" sugars. I can go on for days about how skim milk is worse for you due to the process in which to cut our fat & then re-add the nutrients that the fat took with it.

By cutting out the twinkies, the sodas, the "good crap" you are setting yourself up for failure. Your expectations are too high. Sure we all want kids who want to eat the yogurt over the oatmeal cream pie. But what happens when the do get to finally eat an oatmeal cream pie? Binge! Just like you! You will binge.

And just like binge drinking is more deadly than daily drinking, so is binge eating. It does more harm to your body & your psyche than just having a soda a day, a twinkie, or even potato chips in your daily diet. That is the healthy choice!

6:10 PM

Proof You Can Learn Anything On YouTube!

Being stationed in Japan comes with its many advantages, but it also comes with many drawbacks...like finding a good dog groomer. I wasn't about to submit my little Molly back to that on base kennel lady, even if for just a day! Plus apparently, she does a poodle shave/cut on any & all dogs. Gross!

Finding one in the area that I live has proven even harder since I can't read half the signs & we are so rural that no one really speaks English.

So I resulted in a hunt to try & do this myself. Thanks YouTube! I was able to go from this:

To this:

All I needed was a little instruction & a lot of patience. Thankfully my Molly has been trained by going to the groomers regularly that she kind of helped guide me along the way with lifting the next paw or turning a certain way, etc.

I just couldn't stand it any longer. Our Lhasapoo had gone from a non-shedding mix to a shedding demon since we arrive in Japan. After 5 years of no hair in the bed...I just couldn't take it anymore, especially with baby due any day!

It turns out that the lightening of her coat each visit to the groomer wasn't her coat but her undercoat. You aren't suppose to shave Lhasa Apsos so short, but we have always had her in the "puppy dog" cut. Hence, the reason I never had a shedding dog! LOL!

She is much happier to say the least, & so are we!