There's an old line that goes "What's the difference between an American and yogurt?.......The yogurt has culture." Which is to say I am American and as I'm in my 50's, I do tell old jokes.
My wife Hiroko is slightly younger than me, but sh'es Japanese, so I have to admit she has more culture behind her. Her mother, Suzue, is pushing 90 and lovely, but having more difficulty remembering, etc.
I am active in sports (badminton, road biking, ice hockey) and in the community--set up a community strawberry patch here, and look to do a beautification project in Otaru. Hiroko teaches Japanese at universities in Sapporo and gets quite a lot of exercise walking/running with our papillon, Jimbei. Her mother generally goes to day service 3 days a week and has a sense of humor even as she becomes less active (lots of napping during the day). In short, a good chance to learn Japanese in a normal context, with help from someone who's a pro!
Hiroko really likes cultural exchange and languages and we've both lived abroad--me, UK, Israel, Germany, Denmark, Hungary and she's lived in the US, Hungary and the UK.
Help with Eco project
Help with Computers / internet
As my wife and MIL are both Japanese, obviously there is the opportunity to see a Japanese dynamic inside the home. But because of the nature of the new property, there will be a chance to interact with people in both neighborhoods, with quite different dynamics.
For the musically inclined, we happen to have a number of drums, Buddhist singing bowls, a shamisen, didgeridoos, etc., although no talent in using them!
In terms of the project:
On the face of it, the initial phase is mostly about helping us move, but it's a bit different from a normal move house to house in several ways:
1. Our new property has a fair amount of land with it, but it has been idling for quite awhile. As I want to develop the property with several small houses, I want to beautify the area so it will be attractive. I don't like using pesticides and chemical fertilizers, so this first year will involve the lasagna method--if you're interested in organic farming, nice!
By contrast, the current house has a nice garden that I want to tidy up a bit for the landlord before we move, as they are a bit older. Also, I work small field, so wish to transplant some perennials, such as artichoke, rhubarb, strawberries and flowers.
2. The former owner of the new property left behind a lot of things, many of which have enough value to put them online to sell. I could use some help with that.
3. The new house has an open floor plan, which is nice, but I need to make a room for my mother-in-law...so that will involve some light construction and interior design. I also need to redo the kitchen.
4. I'm also doing a feasibility study on developing a warm spring on the property into a community bath and/or distributing the heat to surrounding houses for heating and hot water. So, someone with engineering and numeric expertise would be helpful. So would help in finding funding.
I think that's about it...lots to do! So, help!
I have lived in Japan and been coming and going for some 25 years or so, and can discuss some aspects of the culture with not too high a degree of idioc. I'm not very good at categorical statements, though... As I speak Japanese well enough (I'm a translator), I am comfortable visiting places like Japanese-style pubs where everything is in Japanese--that may or not be of interest as you may feel left out if you don't speak any Japanese...or it could be a great opportunity if you do.
You will have your own room in both locations. In Sapporo, it is a Japanese-style room, which entails sleeping on a futon. In Otaru, it will be a Western-style bed or a Japanese futon. Breakfast tends to be Western-style, with bread, eggs, salad, etc., while dinner is usually Japanese-style, so miso-soup, fish, rice and side dishes.
Both cities offer plenty to do for sight-seeing and there are plenty of sources of information online about them. As we've been in the area for several years, we can give some good recommendations of things to do. Both locations offer easy access to nature as well. In terms of transport, I have several bikes and both locations are well-served by bus and then train/subway. You may also have access to our vehicles, depending on the situation.
Hokkaido is well-known for quality food and Otaru in particular for fish, so you can expect to eat some good sushi/sashimi. The property in Otaru is close to the ocean and a hiking trail up to a bluff overlooking it. As the port for this part of Hokkaido, Otaru has a relatively long history and is very popular for the architecture and small shops and walking street. Our property is right next to the largest private botanical garden in Japan.
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