Tag: My family

Our Christmas in Cambodia story

This is the story of our trip to Cambodia. It’s a bit long, but it’s an easy read. Grab a cup of coffee first (I did). If you contributed money for “Christmas in Cambodia,” you’ll find a description of how it went with photos below.

On December 15 we left Tokyo headed for Bangkok and then Phnom Penh. I was anxious. I’d been to Cambodia six times but never with my family. Would they like it? Would they connect well with the people there? Phnom Penh is not a great place for tourists, especially families. How would they react? At least the kids were eagerly anticipating lots of animals: dogs, chickens, geckos, and monkeys.

We flew to Bangkok first using frequent flyer miles and took a cheap flight to Cambodia the next day. Gani, a Cambodian friend-of-a-friend, picked us up at the airport. Cool and appraising, he had a large bass speaker filling up most of his trunk. I’m glad to know him now. He took us to the apartment where we planned to stay for our first five days. It was in a giant concrete block of a building. We walked down a narrow passage, climbed several steep flights …

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Traditional kimono pictures for Shichigosan (7-5-3)

Written by on November 20, 2009 in Life and Family, My Family Photos, Photo Posts with 4 Comments

In November of the year when daughters in Japan turn seven, it’s a tradition for their families to dress them in kimonos and take them to a shrine. The year of their third birthday is also marked, and boys are especially honored in the fifth year. The Japanese shorthand for the tradition is 753 (shichigosan).

Our twins turned seven this year. We didn’t take them to a shrine, although our friends invited us to bring them to a church service just for kids. Then we took  them to a photo studio that specializes in kimono pictures. This video documents that experience.

In recent years, the Japanese have added the tradition of dressing their daughters in “princess” dresses as well. Sure, it’s another Western incursion, but we went for the whole nine yards. We were there for three hours. I took 200+ pictures, more than one per minute. I edited those down to 45 for this video.

I recommend watching in HD, or download the video from YouTube for (by far) the best results. BTW, here is a photo I took of Reia on the same occasion two years ago.

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What kinds of experiences will our kids call normal?

Written by on September 30, 2009 in Life and Family, Notes By The Way with 5 Comments


Reia and the henna tattoo guy in Indonesia

This morning I stepped out of McDonalds next to our local train station and took a deep breath. It was raining lightly, and the air was crisp and fresh. For a moment,  I remembered the feeling of being at 10,000 feet at the crest of the Sandia Mountains outside Albuquerque. I remembered gathering with others on hard packed snow under perfectly blue sky waiting for a cross-country ski race to begin. The air up there on such a day is amazing.

Then I wondered if my kids are missing something growing up in Tokyo. They’ve never been at the top of such a high mountain. In my childhood we seemed to be on the move all the time, always enjoying the outdoors in new ways. What a rich life that was after all.

Later I realized, with some help from my wife, that our oldest daughter is only in the third grade. At that age, I had never been on top of a mountain. I had lived in three states, twice in small towns, and as a toddler I had lived on a military base in Japan. But overall life looked pretty …

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Reia, proud, nervous

Written by on July 31, 2009 in Notes By The Way with 3 Comments

I started blogging more than five years ago. It’s amazing how quickly time passes as you get older. Reia was just a baby back then, but now she’s standing so tall and strong. Last weekend we went to our 3rd “zenkokutakai” (national competition) for Japanese kayaking kids. It’s a flatwater racing event, which is really not what our kids train for, but Reia has done well each time. This year she made it to the final, even though she’s competing against older girls (she’s a 3rd grader and the race is for 2nd – 4th grade girls).  She made it to the semifinal, which was a run-off between all the girls who didn’t automatically advance. She had the fastest time going in, and when she won it was like a light came on. She’d never had that experience before — crossing the line first in a big event. It reminds me of the first time I won a race, which was a life altering moment, at least for that time.


Smiling after her win


Waiting for the final

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My daughter’s portrait of Angela Aki

Written by on January 27, 2009 in Life and Family, Notes By The Way with 6 Comments

I’d really like to post a recent photo, but I haven’t had time to go shoot any…

Reia is a bigtime fan of Angela Aki. All of my daughters can sing Tegami from start to finish (Aki’s hit song from last year). Now Reia is teaching herself how to play it on the piano. I’ll post a video when I have time to edit it.

If you don’t know who Angela Aki is, you can check her out on YouTube here.

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Mari Singing Ponyo with her Sock Monkey

Written by on January 18, 2009 in Life and Family, Notes By The Way with 5 Comments

Posting videos of my kids singing is pure self-indulgence. I’m hope you’ll enjoy it as least halff as much as I do. Anyone who lives in Japan doesn’t need an introduction. For everyone else, Ponyo is the hit song from the hit animated movie of the same name.

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