About japanmama

I am thirty-something British mother of two pre-schoolers, and am living in rural Japan. I have been here for over ten years. These are my diaries :)

Just an average morning in small town Japan?

My 10 year old daughter was in a flap this morning because she has to do some rice planting at school today along with a dentist check, and has a long list of things to prepare. She knew about this last Friday, and remembered again last night. I guess she couldn’t be bothered to sort it out then. She put her phone on charge (forgot to do it last night) then flapped around because she doesn’t have a hand mirror (for the dentist check). “I don’t either, you will have to go without,” I said. Then she needed two laundry pegs and I only have one. Cursing her un-girl guide-like mother, she huffed around at the speed of a snail (hard to imagine, eh?).  

Luka decided he would fill his flask from the spout without taking the top off first. Our whole kitchen, and some of the dining room, got a good shower.
They left for school. Ten minutes later, I got a unknown call to my phone. I rejected it. When they rang again a few seconds later, I decided to answer it. It was Hannah. “Mummy, I forgot my sandals” (for the rice planting)
“Oh, did you?” I replied.

“Can you bring them?”

“No, I don’t think so,” I replied.

Big huff and she HUNG UP on me…it begins. Right, definitely not taking them now.  She won’t be able to do the rice planting, that’s kind of a shame…maybe I should take them.  NO, stand firm.  It was only last week I took her flask when she forgot it AGAIN, and that was only because they cut off the water and otherwise there might be health implications.  Besides, she HUNG UP on me!!!  Looked around the room briefly and realised she had also forgotten her phone (hence the pay phone call), and her lunch set.  There is no hope.  

Took Freyja to nursery.  There was some huffing and puffing when I said we weren’t going by bike today because I’m tired and I have some errands to run and it’s like 6,000 degrees outside already.  Small tantrum outside when I took a bigger bite than she would have liked of the only strawberry we could pick today (for the record, she still got at least two thirds of it).  Successfully dropped her off at school, realised I’d left my bank books at home and was thankful that I’d come by car so I could whizz back and pick them up.  Then I whizzed to the post office to withdraw some money.  Post office car park was full (easy because there are only 6 spaces.  Had to screw myself into the end space anticipating about 10 manoeuvres.  Man came out of post office and started hammering the horn while I was reversing.  I think when he started, I was about a metre away from his farm truck.  I have a rear camera, so I can tell how close I am to what’s behind me.  I know his truck is there, and I’m slowly reversing.  The closest I would have been is about 30cm, which I understand probably looks a bit scary from the car behind, but I didn’t touch his truck.  Pulled forward to do my second manoeuvre.  Queue non-stop horn-blowing and Elmer Fudd in my wing mirror.  I opened my window, smiled my sweetest smile and said,

“大丈夫ですよ。” (“It’s ok.”)

To which he replied, “大丈夫じゃねいよ” (“It’s not ok” in a rather confrontational tone) and walked back to his truck.

Ok, he’s pissed off, and he’s not going to be reasonable.  I rolled up the window, locked my door and continued to park.  The whole time, he’s going apeshit on the horn, and at one point, he comes over to the window and starts hammering on it.  This is the point where I started to feel a bit scared, but I calmly managed to continue and park my car.  I didn’t hit his car, I wasn’t rude to him (unless ignoring him at the window it considered rude), I didn’t do anything wrong.  As soon as I had parked up, he drove off.  I noticed that my hands were shaking and I was on the verge of getting upset, but then I remembered my favourite quote, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”, and I really didn’t want this deranged old man to ruin my day.  The more I calmed down, the more ridiculous it all was.  What a sad little man.

Right, that over with, off to pick up some stationery for work, then withdraw cash from the bank, off to the conveni to deposit other cash (this three bank business drives me nuts), and home by 10a.m.  Now to start on the housework and lesson prep.  Already thinking about counting down the hours until beer time.

Konmari – SEWING!

Now you would think this one would be hard for me, but it was surprisingly easy.  I think partly because of doing this process and partly because I had bought a lot of fabric on special, and more than I really needed, so it was easy to see what I would use and what I wouldn’t.  For example, the ribbed jersey that I bought in three different colours of 2m each since it was sold as a lot.  Considering that would only be used for collars and cuffs, that was waaaay too much.  The fabric especially took up two full Japanese cupboard style long plastic drawers, and several big boxes that occupied my bedroom closet, the playroom closet and L’s room shelf.  Kondo recommends gettin rid of all spare buttons.  I have a small tin of buttons and I love them.  I have very fond memories of playing with my Grandma’s button tin as a child and I suppose that has stayed with me.  I think when you love sewing, then spare buttons have a whole new meaning.  I cut buttons off clothing I no longer need too.  Buttons are staying 😉  I think F would agree:

imageimageimage

And, maybe the most dramatic change…after:

image.jpeg

Literally ALL of my sewing things.  Fabric, wadding and interfacing, elastic, needles, thread and tools, books and patterns.  This was a BIG relief and such a massive footprint!  I got to throw out the two drawers too, so loads of space in our cupboard!

 

Konmari – Household Equipment

This was tricky..the categories are getting less specific.  Household equipment could be pretty much anything that you use in your house..right?!  I decided to tackle boring stuff..sewing equipment is supposed to be part of it, but you know, I love sewing, so to me, I only felt it right that sewing be placed in it’s own category.

On this day, I sorted stationery, and then went on to treat sewing as a seperate thing.  Stationery was easy.  I had sorted this out not so long ago, so there wasn’t much to go through.  I still threw stuff away though, that goes without saying.  But it was easy.  No attachment.

image.jpeg

Aaaand after:

image

The main offenders here (apart from the random rubbers) were postcards.  I used to have a whole load of postcards on my wall when I was at uni., and so I kept these as you would a piece of artwork.  As much as I still appreciate these, I don’t really want them in my home anymore, so I sent them on their way.  A week later, Y had messed up this drawer already.  I could strangle him.

Konmari – Electrical

OMG, I. HATE. ELECTRONICS!  Except for this iPad, sorry IPad..but for the love of all things that are battery and mainline powered, HOW MANY CABLES DOES ONE FAMILY NEED?!?!

Marie Kondo recommends throwing out all cables that are unidentified.  Hey Marie, I agree!  But my husband would have a massive fit if I threw away something that he needed..or at least thought he needed..ok, this is where I’m allowed to be angry at my husband again, because these things are communal and he is the master at keeping unnecessary cables.  Because all homes need 5 metre cables.  This is Japan..If I could swing a cat, it would hit the walls at all corners.  We certainly don’t need 5 metre cables..

Here is the before:

image

Now I think about it, I hadn’t got everything electrical here.  No alarm clocks, no computer, t.v. DVD player, etc.  I thought that was ok, since I know we will keep those things and the thought of unplugging them made my head hurt.  Actually, the electronics literally made my head hurt.  I could have done with a lie down afterwards.  Thankfully, it was a weekend, and although Y was out overnight for a work drinks thing, thankfully he came home happy enough to give the ok to throw out the things that weren’t necessary anymore.  It always takes longer when I have to involve him though.  Living with someone is kind of rubbish in that respect.

I have no after pic for this for some reason.  Probably because I was just so bloody annoyed with the whole thing.  The big stuff is all gone though, apart from the futon dryer which was vetoed by Y (if it were up to me it would be gone too).  All duplicate cables were thrown out and the torches..only two of those got kept.  Who needs so many torches anyways?!?  So glad this section is over..truly energy zapping.

Konmari – Valuables

This was fairly easy, as I generally kept my valuable stuff in two places, so it was easy to find everything.  I got rid of old passports – not sure why I kept these, although I did ask Y if he wanted his and he said he did, so that he could remember where he’d been to.  I don’t think I need to worry about forgetting where I’ve been, at least not yet, but I’m not really worried if I do.  He has a terrible memory, so maybe he’s just worried about forgetting.  I know for a fact that he’s never got his old passport out to look at it, but this isn’t his journey, it’s mine, so back his old passport goes.

Before:

image.jpeg

And After:

image.jpeg

I got rid of old boarding passes, which I have to admit, I always used to hold onto.  I have foreign currency, some which I’m doubtful I’ll use (Malaysian ringits and the odd Deutschmark). I got rid of the currency no longer in circulation and held onto the pounds, dollars and ringits.  Putting them in this little plastic box is much better than the covered box they were in.  A lot neater and easier to manage now.

And this whole time, F has been with me and has been very gracious.  I’ve been going through things non-stop and she’s not moaned at all.  There have been times where she’s wanted my attention so I’ve had to stop off a few times, but mostly she’s been busying herself too.

image.jpeg

Konmari -Accessories

This was another hard one for me.  I had quite a bit of sentimental jewellery.  Most of my jewellery is not very expensive, but I had some pieces from my early 20s..eek..plus some things that had been given to me.  This was the second part of facing my past through “things”.  Such a weird thing to think that memories live in inanimate objects.

Before:

image

I had these all put away in baskets/boxes apart from the necklaces, which were hanging on hooks in my bathroom cupboard.

image

image

Oops…I missed a box of memories..

And after:

image

image

The necklaces went back in the bathroom, but when I cleared out that cupboard and decided to throw it out, the necklaces got upgraded to my underwear drawer.  This makes a lot of sense really.  Why shouldn’t I decide what jewellery to wear when I’m deciding what clothes to wear?  And I think it’s kinder to the chains to lay them flat anyway.

image.jpeg

Another successful mission!  I think subconsciously, I put the ones I don’t care about so much in the left tray..they might be going after all.

 

Konmari – Skin Care Products and Make up

Now anyone who knows me well will guess that this was easy peasy.  I don’t do much to my skin apart from the basics, so it was.  But I was still surprised to see how much stuff I had.  Afterwards I found several bits and bobs scattered around that also went in the bin.

So the before:

 

 

image

And the after:

image.jpeg

I forced myself to use the face masks..the children didn’t like that much.  F wanted to know where her Mummy had gone..

So seeing as that was so easy, I moved on to the next category.  By the way, from CDs/DVDs, the categories are all sub-categories of Komono, which means “small things” in Japanese.  I really don’t think CDs should be classed as small things, but then I suppose it really depends on your outlook.  Anyway..next was Make up.  Also pretty easy!  When I worked my last full-time job, I wore make up every day.  Now I’d rather spend that time eating breakfast, so I rarely wear much make up these days.  Since I can’t find a foundation that doesn’t flake on my skin, I tend to stick to concealer and eye make up, and then only if I have time.

Before:

image

A lot of this was pretty old, and yet again, scattered around in random places.

After:

image

This is way better, because I can just put it all in my make-up bag.  This is definitely the best part of this process.  I can find everything without having to think about it.