Misawa: Unique, Cold, Efficient

I haven’t been feeling too inspired to write anything lately… Maybe if I just do it, things will come to me.

I said I would talk more about Kumo and New Years Eve so here it is. It has taken some time, but Kumo has really started to warm up to us. Based on his and his sister’s behaviors, I think the previous owner kept them in cages. The breeder is a show dog guy, and I guess when he decided these two weren’t good enough, he didn’t pay much attention to them. Also, it is very obvious that he is more comfortable around other dogs than people. He likes me and Dan now, and I think he considers us part of his pack, but we introduced him to our friends and he became very timid again. He would not go near them, and bolted every time one of them made some movement. I feel really bad, and I hope him and Freiya (his sister) will be able to become more relaxed around people. Also, it turns out they are 8 months instead of 6 months. Two months isn’t that big of a difference, but when you are trying to train a pup, it seems that way. He is smart though, and hopefully will learn more. He is also very goofy and Dan and I love it. We also love his pretty face, the fact that he totally looks like a wolf, and how he has a black spot at the tip of his tail.


I got really homesick on New Years Eve because that is my family’s holiday. We don’t do anything for christmas, except exchange gifts. But New Years is where it’s at. Every year we have a big dinner, some company over, a little decoration and those things you blow into that make sound. I always looked forward to this night. Sometimes I didn’t though, because in the past, all of my friends would do something together and drink and have fun, and I would be stuck at my parent’s house. I guess I could have gone out, but it has been engrained in me that NYE is our family time. So, this was the first year I did not watch Dick Clark’s Rockin Eve on television. Instead, Dan and I watched a couple of silly shows, Brooklyn nine-nine and Bob’s Burgers. This was still nice. I just missed being with everyone. It was the first year that I didn’t do anything special for NYE. We were supposed to go to one of Dan’s coworker’s house, but we didn’t want to leave Kumo, and I didn’t feel like forcing myself to be social while I was feeling so sad. This picture was taken that night and Kumo had done his business for the first time outside:wp-1483756410635.jpg

More Japan adventures… I’m always freezing here. The temperature really doesn’t get that low, but it is always windy so it makes everything worse. My body runs cold to begin with, 12716815_1665127743740023_1956860753_nso I am the type of person who cannot tolerate weather that is not boiling my skin. I am exaggerating, but only slightly. I drink my tea, coffee, soup, etc. before it cools down, I shower with water that will burn your face off, and my damn nose and feet are always freezing. So whenever we go outside, I end up bundling up, meanwhile I see people only wearing sweatshirts. Fools. Speaking of freezing, I love Kumo, but I hate that he likes the cold. I can’t really keep the heat on in the house because it’s too hot for him. So I came up with the compromise of putting the heat on but keeping the balcony door open for him to come and go as he pleases. I just sit right under the heater while I wear sweatpants, a thermal shirt, a sweatshirt, thick socks, slippers, and a blanket to cover me. And a hot beverage. I think I need to purchase a face mask to keep my nose warm too. Oh, it snowed a bunch the other day!wp-1483764442568.jpg

Anyway, all of the roads are so narrow and all of the cars are so tiny. The majority of the cars have smooshed faces, like pugs! It is as though there used be a hood, but everyone decided to crash into a brick wall to make the front of their cars flat. I love it. Dan and I often say to each other, “Look at that one!” because they are all so different from what we are used to. Japan is very unique and efficient. My goodness, the efficiency of everything, just in the city of Misawa, blows my mind. Dan will say, “This is so smart. Why hasn’t America gotten to this level yet?” The other night I responded, “Because America already thinks it’s smart.” It kind of just came out, but I realize it is so true. What a cocky country America is. I’m not putting it down just because I live overseas now. I have always thought that the US generally sucks. It has its perks, and it is certainly better to live in than some other countries, but I would still rather live elsewhere. I just want to pick up everyone I love, and put them wherever I am. How selfish of me. I never said they couldn’t bring the people they love though. I completely went off track… Japan is efficient. For example, we went to the sushi place again, this time with Edison and Demi, and we noticed that each table has a thing the waitresses slide out, to put down a tray so they have more room to pick up the plates. And they take that tray and put it in a sort of swinging window that I guess leads to where they wash the dishes. It’s not like they carry the tray all the way over there. They just slip it into this window, and they’re good. No, this isn’t that mind blowing, but you must admit, it makes their lives a little easier.

The other day, Dan and I went to the supermarket off base called Universe. Before you walk in, there is a section with tiny little carts and a section with small mauve-colored baskets. The carts aren’t deep at all, they are more like a shelf. So you put the basket on the cart, and that is what actually holds your groceries. That, I didn’t understand. Minus 1 efficiency point until I discover why it is better than how we do it in the States.wp-1483760049875.jpg

Being at the supermarket put me into shock again. Damn, what is my problem? I immediately clammed up and acted like a small child clinging to their mom. Except it was Dan. I felt like I was always in peoples way, so as Dan looked at things, I walked off where there weren’t too many people. I am often afraid of being a nuisance. I think my biggest problem is that I don’t know how to communicate with people here. Like if I bump into somebody, I want to say sorry, but I don’t know it off the top of my head. So I kept looking at this little card that Dan had that has Japanese phrases on it, just in case I did bump into someone. I must have read it about five times, yet at this moment I have zero idea how to say excuse me or sorry. Turns out “konichiwa” is actually “good afternoon,” not just “hello.” I thought y’all should know. This makes me think of how my dad made me watch this Sesame Street movie where big bird went to Japan. I don’t mean he made me watch it when I was younger, I mean he made me watch it before I left for Japan. He remembered this song that two little Japanese girls sang to big bird. The things we retain are sometimes so interesting. In the movie, it was morning time and everyone on the street said “ohayou” (good morning) which sounds like Ohio, so big bird thought everyone was from Ohio. Silly.

Anyway, at the grocery store we got a bunch of food that we would have for dinner that night. And we bought special bowls to put our udon, or ramen, or whatever Japanesey thing we eat in. We had eel steak over rice, edamame, and little tuna sushi rolls. It was all very tasty.wp-1483413206059.jpg

It really sucks not having any friends here, not being sure of my surroundings, and not being able to drive. I hate it when Dan goes to work because I don’t know what to do. I spend my time watching TV shows, walking Kumo, blog sometimes, and color in an adult coloring book of elephants that Dan got me. There is a lot of detail in the pictures, and I have many many different colored pencils, so that takes up some time. It feels very therapeutic too. Like a sort of meditation. As great as coloring can be, I miss being in the same timezone as my friends and family. The majority of the time that I am awake, everyone else is sleeping. I miss being home where I always knew where I would be certain nights, where I would be able to text my best friend Jimmy and ask if he wants to hang out. For now I am isolated unless Dan is around. I can always run/walk to the gym, but Dan goes to the gym after work, eats, then goes to sleep, so I want to at least lift with him.

I’m sure things will get better. I will develop some routine, hopefully get a job, and meet people. It is expected to be lonely at first. I just need to become more motivated to do things on my own. In the meantime, every now and then I think about living in Japan for the next four years and start to panic. I reel it in very quickly though, and tell myself to take things one day at a time. It’s the only thing that keeps me going. Well that and the people I have been keeping in touch with.

There are things to look forward to. Tonight I’ll try to find a stream of the NCAA football championship game because JMU is playing! I went to college there, and the football team was never really good. Except for that time they beat Virginia Tech, my freshman year. I’ll probably fall asleep before the game ends, but it’s something I am looking forward to. Also, next week when Dan is off, he will teach me how to drive stick. I don’t think I will be able to do it, but let’s see. It just seems like there’s a lot to think about. After I take the driving course, and if I am capable of driving Cricket, I will have some sort of freedom from my fortress, the apartment. Another thing to look forward to, in February Dan and I will go on a trip to Lake Towada for a winter festival! So not everyday will feel like solitude.

More to come soon enough. Thanks for reading.

EDIT: I won’t be able to watch the JMU game, being that it will be 2am my time. Sigh… I’m disappointed. I wanted to be connected with my JMU peeps that way.



  1. An entire country full of pug cars! How perfect, Filiz!

    You paint such a good picture of life over there, I really feel like I’m getting to go there with you in a sense. The picture of the town covered in snow is beautiful. Not in a majestic or pronounced type of way, but in a simple, understated manner.

    Kumo sounds great, shy at first but goofy once comfortable. That is so sad that he was not treated lovingly by his previous owner. He is in for the biggest treat with you and Dan!

    Your dad is hilarious with the sesame street. Silly, big bird.

    I can’t wait to learn more about the other ways in which Japan in efficient.

    Your patience and understanding of your current situation and the emotional and social impact is has on you right now is really moving [fighting urge to send meaningless suggestions to “fix” your feelings o.0].

    I took the liberty of finding a word to help you in your grocery store bump ins, and potentially a lot more situations while over in Japan. The word is Yakkaina [yah-kai-nuh] and it means……. awkward…..

    Love you! Please keep writing ❤


  2. Big Bird goes to japan is literally the best ever. I kept saying we have to watch it again! And that show made me want to visit japan. That ohio thing cracked me up.



  3. Oh Filiz, thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughts. I enjoyed reading this. I echo all that Jaclyn said. I can’t imagine being so isolated in a foreign country, then again, I can relate to feeling utter isolation in my own country and company. Your outlook on the situation is certainly positive and healthy. I will pray all good things come to you just as perfectly as God is prearing you to receive these many blessings. Miss your smiling face at grapevine. Please do continue to share your Japan stories and keep being your fabulous self! 🙂


  4. Hi Filiz
    I know we never got to know each other too well, but I get what you’re going through. A little. When Don (my ex husband) and I met I was 18. He had just enlisted in the USMC. when I was 20, I decided to take a semester off from school and go live out where he was. Okay so it was only Southern California (not in fun San Diego though…in desolate 29 Palms, a marine town in the Mojave desert…not Japan. But still super far from CT.) I had no friends, no job, and don got deployed to mountain training for 8 weeks as soon as I got there. It was soooo hard. Turned out to be a real growing up experience for me, but none of it was easy. I did get a job on base while he was away. That saved me. That and my dog. And working out. But it was hard! Making friends with a few of the wives helped but I wasn’t close to anyone. At least you live on base. Lots of people in the same situation. Seek out clubs, groups, anything you can join. It’s hard to be isolated!


  5. Sweetie, you can message me anytime. We can FaceTime and I’ll teach you to knit. You can make a face warmer.
    I wish I could be there to help you. Let me know if you need me to send you anything. ❤😘


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