Kokusai Street and Mukishi Public Market

Today we took a trip to Kokusai street and walked through the Makishi Public Market. It was pretty much sensory overload with all of the colorful signs and people. I don't think my senses have caught up yet. It is a strange feeling to be in a place where I didn't understand any of the signs or what was being spoken around me, even simple things like saying "thank you" or "excuse me" are difficult. I am sure this is the honeymoon stage of culture shock, but I am rather enjoying it.

Here are some of the signs and colors in the marketplace: 20121226-185724.jpg

There were several large colorful statues all along Kokusai street ranging from animals to the person figure in the picture below:20121226-185445.jpg 20121226-185043.jpg

In the Mukishi Public Market we walked into a fish market. There were fish here that I have never seen before. There were also things that I could not even begin to tell you how to cook. 20121226-185216.jpg

There were also really strange things for sale, such as these frog purses. 20121226-185533.jpgThis trip has given me a new appreciation for people who come to the United States from other countries and the difficulties they face.

Christmas on the Beach

Our family has a tradition of going to the beach on Christmas day. After a morning spent opening gifts and drinking coffee, we pack up and head to the beaches of North Carolina. It is a tradition I do not plan on changing. This year was a little different, on Christmas we did the usual gifts and coffee, but instead of a beach in North Carolina we went to the beach on Ikei Island, Japan.

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Christmas in Okinawa

This Christmas we decided to change things up a bit. We typically spend our Christmases in North Carolina, but this time we all decided to make our way to Japan to visit my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. My wife and I started the trip Thursday morning, arriving at the airport at 4:00 a.m. Our flight was delayed for an hour, but we had a long layover so it was not a big deal. We grabbed coffee and some food to hold ourselves over. As it got closer to boarding time, I started to feel nauseous. Apparently, my breakfast sandwich was not agreeing with me. We bought a few rolls of the most expensive tums we could find and were on our way.

The first leg of the journey was a one and a half hour flight landing in Chicago. We were enjoying ourselves except for my stomach having a few bouts of uneasiness.

The second leg was the long haul. We were able to get seats together and boarded the largest plane we have ever been on. It was a 13 hour flight to Tokyo, Japan. It was the first time in my life I spent more of a day in the air than on the ground. I am so terribly thankful for travel pillows and my inexplicable ability to fall asleep in anything that moves. It was still a terribly long flight, but I passed the time watching movies, sleeping, and still had plenty of time to sit and sit some more.

When we landed in Tokyo we had to wait for our luggage before going through customs. My bag came out right away, but it was a good 20 minutes before my wife's bag came down onto the conveyer. We rushed through customs and re-checked our bags and got into the security line. It was slow going and got to the point that I showed my boarding pass to a security officer and they let us cut ahead in line to make our connecting flight. We were about 3 minutes away from spending the night in Tokyo.

We boarded our last connecting flight to Okinawa at 6:00 p.m. and were on our way. It was only a 3 hour flight, but after spending the last 13 hours on a plane, flying was the last thing we wanted to do. The cool thing about this flight was that there was a camera feed from the nose of the aircraft shown on a screen so we could see what was going on. It was the first time I had ever seen a plane with that setup. We got to see first hand landing and take off from the view of the front of the plane. I wish all planes had this set up.

I am glad to finally be on the ground and at least somewhat rested. My body is still trying to adjust to the 14 hour time difference. I guess that is what happens with time travel.

Any of you have tips for adjusting to time differences?