We are SO excited to introduce our wonderful friend, Stephanie, who will be guest posting on a regular basis here on Her Late Night Cravings. We mentioned her recently on a post and we are just delighted to welcome her to HLNC. She currently resides in Tokyo, Japan with her amazing husband and three beautiful children. Her posts will be called "Tune In Tokyo" and she will cover a wide array of topics that will be sure to educate and excite.
|Stephanie at home in Tokyo with her three children Charlie, Lily & Ben|
OK Steph...take it away!
Sayonara America & Konnichiwa Tokyo!
It has been a very hectic and emotionally draining four months for me and my family... As you know, on March 11th (my 36th birthday) Japan was struck by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. This in turn created a powerful tsunami which demolished a nuclear reactor site and has been one of the most devastating disasters to affect any country. The earthquake shook the ground for six minutes and changed the lives of so many forever. My family and I were physically fine ~ just shaken up and scared. It puts things into perspective quickly thinking about all of those that didn't survive or have food, water and shelter. We had each other where so many others were not as lucky.
In the days following, we evacuated back to our home base in Orlando, FL after the earthquake to let things settle down. We were set to return within one month, however, my 5 year old son broke his femur after being home two weeks and has been in recovery since. I guess the trauma of going through the earthquake wasn't enough! It's character building, right?!
Here is a little bit about me: I am a wife and mother of three young children (twin 5 year olds and a 3 year old) who lives in Orlando, FL. In February 2010, my husband accepted a three-year international assignment in Tokyo and we officially moved here in April 2010. Now it is time for us to return for "Year Two" of our three-year adventure.
With three children and a husband, you can imagine how much luggage we had to make the trip back, with the final count being: Nine suitcases, three car seats, three pillow pets, and two bottles of Hidden Valley Ranch! Since I have yet to find ranch dressing, or "dip dip" as my kids affectionately call it, in the international grocery stores, we covet "dip dip" in our house.
|5am at the airport in Orlando|
|In Chicago, waiting in line for our flight to Tokyo|
|As you can see, I am very comfortable during our 12.5 hour flight|
|We FINALLY arrived in Tokyo! Nine bags and three car seats...VERY American!! I look pretty scary with no makeup and I know I am breaking all the HLNC rules! Sorry Jayme & Mendi!|
|This is what jet lag looks like: all three kids watching a movie at 2am. My three-year-old woke me up wanting me to put him in his bunny costume...have to love that quirky kid!|
Being back in Tokyo is wonderful and exciting, but with that comes the emotional distance you feel with loved ones back in the States. I have made a conscious decision this year to manage my homesickness better and make it the best year of my life filled with more of what I enjoy: travel, sightseeing, exercising, cooking, photography, learning, reading, meeting new friends, and spending time with the good friends I have made already. I feel energized and ready to live life to the fullest and take this opportunity we have been given to grow and learn.
Now, Tokyo is a very exciting and large city with very modern/technological advancements and history spanning thousands of years. The greater Tokyo area has over 35 million people with the city itself having 13 million. New York City has 8 million people, so 13 million is a lot of people! Tokyo's subway system is one of the busiest public transportation systems in the world and it's the primary (in addition to cabs and buses) means of transportation. Like most metropolitan areas, you can get almost anything you want within a close proximity to your apartment and the food/nightlife is unparalleled. We live near Azabu Juban, Hiroo and Roppongi Hills where I do most of my shopping and eating out. The Michelin Guide estimates that Tokyo has over 160,000 restaurants compared to New York City's 25,000 and Paris's 13,000.
Over the next two years, I will be making contributions to HLNC's blog with posts on many different topics that will span from cultural experiences, food/dining, health and beauty, and anything you want me to talk about! But I'll start with a teaser of a few of my "favorites" in Tokyo so far:
- Japanese Professional Swallows baseball games
- Vending machines with everything from beer, coffee drinks, umbrellas to fruit and vegetables
- Best customer service
- Beautiful Japanese gardens and parks
- Shopping in Azabu Juban, Ginza and Jiyugaoka
- French fries dipped in sour cream and drinking beer at “August Beer Club” which is a local restaurant about a 5 minute walk from our apartment
- Swimming with the kids at the “Tokyo American Club”
- Taking the kids to the 100 Yen Shop (Dollar Store in the U.S.)
- No tipping ~ EVER!
- Clean cabs
I will go into more detail on some of these favorites in blogs to come! I am so honored Jayme and Mendi have asked me to be a guest contributor to HLNC and I hope you find my adventures in Tokyo interesting enough to keep reading more.