Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Konnichiwa! Greetings From Japan

Good Day Everyone,

My oh my, it has been a while hasn't it?! Typing this does feel a little strange, I'll admit. I am very sorry for the long absence. Life can be pretty unpredictable and our lives have changed a lot recently, plus I've not been in the best of health. Even though I've been absent from my blog, I do tend to be active on Instagram and Facebook on almost a daily basis so that's the place to find me when I'm not on here :o)
Bay Bridge (Yokohama) in the distant

If you follow me on Instagram and/or the Glistening Sheen Facebook page then you will know this already but if not, here goes.... We've left Singapore and we moved to Japan! O.M.G! Never in a million years did I imagine that I would end up living in Japan. In fact, when my hubby and I visited earlier this year, we had no idea that in just a few months we'd end up moving here. It all happened rather quickly. The move itself has been driven by my husband's job and to be honest we've no idea how long we will be here for.
Love British summers

As you may know, I've been very sick this summer and was diagnosed as being dangerously anaemic. After a couple of stays in hospital, some surgery and a blood transfusion later, I finally started to get better. Towards the end of July, as my haemoglobin levels started to rise, the doctors gave me the all clear to travel and that's when all the wheels were put into motion for our move. End of July we went back to England to visit our families and friends before our move to Japan.
Onions from my parent's garden
Love picking blueberries from my parent's garden
As usual, it was a whirlwind of a trip but it was wonderful to be back home when there was actually some sun. I loved spending time with my mum in my parent's garden as they're big advocates of growing their own food, and had planted some fruit trees since I was last there. Sadly the cherries were all gone and the apples weren't ripe enough, but I did get to pick fresh blueberries, green beans, onions and herbs from the garden. My hubby and I also had a great time catching up with friends over afternoon tea (our favourite meal of the day), as well as indulging in some good old fashioned British fish 'n' chips ;o)
Afternoon Tea at Tea 42 in Manchester
Piano garden in Manchester city centre

I'd started to sell our Singapore furniture before we went home and upon our return we spent a good few weeks packing up our belongings and lives. We moved out of our apartment a couple of weeks before we left Singapore, and then stayed at a friend's place whilst they were back in England, before moving into a hotel for our last few nights. We left Singapore with mixed feelings. Singapore is a great country and an easy stepping stone into Asia. It has been our home for 3.5 years and we've made some good friends there so we left with a bit of a heavy heart. However, at the same time we were super excited about Japan. After sweating constantly for over three years (I'm referring to myself only as my hubby copes with heat and humidity freakishly well, better than most Singaporeans!), I was looking forward to experiencing seasons again, and being able to wear makeup without it melting off my face ;o)

We arrived in Japan early September and stayed in a serviced apartment for the first few weeks whilst we looked for our own place. Within our first month, we experienced an earthquake and two typhoons! There's actually been more than one earthquake but I've only physically felt one and it was noticeable. It was around lunchtime, when all of a sudden it felt like the sofa I was sat on was swaying. I looked up and saw that the balcony doors were starting to rattle and the whole room was swaying side to side. Even though it felt like it lasted a really long time, in reality it was only about 10 seconds. Things didn't fall of shelves/tables, the tea on the coffee table didn't spill and neither my hubby nor I ran to get under a desk or something equivalent. We just stared at each other with a, "Is this really happening?" kind of expression on our faces. Luckily the typhoons were not full on, we just caught the fringes of them but the rain and wind was so severe that we couldn't go outside. Umbrellas offer no protection against the rain whatsoever, so we were stuck indoors for two days!
Shinjuku (Tokyo) at night

We are living in Yokohama, which is Japan's second largest city after Tokyo. Its just south of Tokyo, 30mins on the train. When we first moved here we did contemplate living in Tokyo and my hubby commuting into Yokohama for work, but we quickly realised that that was not going to work. The trains here are really expensive (as is everything) plus they're very crowded too and with colder weather just round the corner, we knew it wasn't going to be practical. Whilst there is a significant expat community in Tokyo, the expat community is much smaller in Yokohama. Now, in Singapore I wasn't too bothered about living near an expat community because everyone speaks English (in fact it's one of the four national languages), but Japan is not like that. Whilst the Japanese are incredibly friendly and polite, English is not commonly spoken so day to day life can be somewhat challenging with the language barrier. I've learnt a fair few basic words and phrases so far and with a bit of hand gesturing I can get by ;o), but it is nice to have met a couple of fellow expats where conversing is just that bit easier. Plus its always nice to share any learnings or tips from each others experiences.
Landmark tower, the tallest building in Yokohama

We were lucky enough to arrive towards the end of summer and have had some beautiful weather. Now we are in the middle of autumn and the weather is still reasonably warm most days but the nights are starting to get cold. I'm really excited about spending our first Christmas since 2010, in the cold. Even though the Christmas decorations were incredibly amazing in Singapore, it just never felt Christmas-sy in the heat. I'm also looking forward to staying put for a while. The last few months of our lives have been so hectic that I just do not want to pack another suitcase for at least six months! I calculated that over the last few months I've actually gone to bed in at least seven different places, from hospital beds, to my parent's house to a friend's place and hotels and serviced apartments. Now, I just want to stay at home.
Loving our new home in the land of the rising sun

On the health front, my arthritis has been flaring up and even my psoriasis has started to get active again over the past few months. I feel like my body and mind are craving routine, just the normality of everyday life. Packing up lives and moving countries is not easy, and when you suffer from chronic illness, all that stress and change can really take a toll.

I still have sooo much more that I want to share with you from our first few months but I fear that this blog post is going to become ridiculously long! So I will break it down over the next few weeks, from the twinkly train station music, to interesting shopping trips and not to mention all the colourful things I've seen :o)

I still intend on completing my Japan Journals blog posts as I have Kyoto and Tokyo to write about. However, I'm going to start mixing things up a bit on here. My arthritis has spread to my right wrist and most of my fingers so typing is proving to be extremely challenging (and very painful). Plus I'll be the first to admit that I am not a concise writer by any means. Consequently, I am going to have intermittent posts that are more photos and less words. They say a picture paints a thousand words and so I'll just let my photos do the talking (aka writing).

I hope life has treated all of you Gorgeous Glisteners well over the past few months. Hopefully, we can now pick up where we left off and I look forward to interacting with you all, once again :o)

Have a great weekend all!

Love Sheen xxx

P.S. As I completed writing this I ended up having to fly back home to England for a few weeks... So much for staying put?! Life never really goes as planned ;o)

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