Monday, June 29, 2009
Leif's Fifth Home - Sagamihara, Japan - Summer 1980 to Summer 1983
With all the photos I've posted of Leif in Japan and all I've written about life there with him, it's hard to believe that I can't find a single photo of the quarters we lived in there. There were so many fascinating things to photograph in Japan, and so many interesting people, but our quarters were pretty dull and apparently I didn't think they were worth a photo. This is the closest thing I've found and it only shows a little bit of the front of the building. I posted a cropped version of this photo when I was writing about Halloween, since this one was taken of the "ghost" that Peter A. and Leif were trying to scare people with on Halloween in 1982. Leif is on the roof over the front door area dangling the ghost over trick-or-treaters and he and Peter A. (wth their dad's help) were making plenty of scary noises. Of course, it was a lot darker than this photo shows.
The townhouse type quarters were in the Sagamihara Army Family Housing Area in Sagamihara, Japan. Our building was the last one, farthest away from the entry gate, all the way around by the back gate. There were three townhouse sets of quarters in a row and we were in the middle unit. The front door opened into the living room, with a stairway going up to the second floor right ahead of the doorway. We had a dining room and a kitchen also on the first floor, and four bedrooms on the second floor. One was very tiny, scarcely big enough for even a bed, and I had some things stored in there along with our digital keyboard that we would go in and play.
It was all very simply furnished with quartermaster furniture (belonged to the army, for you civilians) and we hadn't shipped much over to Japan as there is a weight limit that controls how much can be shipped. However, we had a great time acquiring things during our three years in Japan . . . all of us. The boys enjoyed the Japanese toys, our computer, which we got in 1982, and we got some lovely pieces of porcelain, prints, and rugs.
Our set of quarters faced a large grass area as we were set back off the street. There was another set of four quarters along on side, and the other side had a small wooded area, plenty of space for the neighborhood kids to play.
Behind our house was the fence dividing our American housing area from part of the Japanese residential area. We didn't have any way through the fence or know any of the Japanese on the other side, but there was one family named Tanaka who had two boys that were roughly the same ages as our sons. Once in awhile the Tanaka boys would climb over the fence and come to visit. It was always a challenge because they didn't speak English and our sons didn't speak Japanese, and my Japanese was extremely rudimentary, but they had fun. The older Tanaka boy could solve the Rubik's Cube amazingly fast, something we never learned.
The three years in Japan were a wonderful time for us, as a family, culturally, and in many other ways.
While we were there, Leif learned to ride a bike, played t-ball and soccer, completed kindergarten, first and second grade at the John O, Arnn Elementary School, was in his first stage production, went to Thailand and Hong Kong, did a lot of sightseeing and hiking, and was in his first earthquakes. His best friends were Anil and Atul Phull.
One thing that happened that showed me his truly amazing memory was then when he was in only first grade, his class took a field trip to a silk worm farm. It was a LONG trip with many, many turns on small Japanese roads. He memorized the entire route and was able to tell me exactly how to get there.
Life in Japan had a profound influence on both our sons which lasted all Leif's life.