- Jellyfish, a sandcastle competition, a BBQ, OCD lifeguards, beer, and sea spirits
- We’re planning to go to Okinawa in 2 days, for the boys’ Fall break… that might not be happening http://t.co/k7yPD4av5U 20:12:38, 2014-10-08
- .@speno After my tweet I decided to write a little about the Super Typhoon http://t.co/98uTbFHAhk in reply to speno 22:58:11, 2014-10-08
- @dremeda @williamsba @webdevstudios @maintainn So when will you be acquiring http://t.co/vOvanAR4Zi? in reply to dremeda 23:00:43, 2014-10-08
- RT @ignu: The longer I write software the more amazed I am that anything ever works ever. 01:14:20, 2014-10-10
- You have to watch out for the cops here in Fukuoka. Some of them are tough characters. http://t.co/KBrp34sp8R 21:51:06, 2014-10-10
- A great photojournalism piece on some beautiful traditions in northern Japan that are all but lost http://t.co/MU5Z3i6Sjb 18:33:19, 2014-10-12
- Fukuoka festival fail: fireworks, tainted chicken, huge crowds, and an awesome motorcycle… New blog post: http://t.co/4A1lXJEgjg 07:04:58, 2014-10-02
- My new best friend http://t.co/x6ropdFxNF 05:05:26, 2014-10-03
- @hiteak It’s a person in a costume. There was someone to help guide him (or her) around. I don’t think they could see much. in reply to hiteak 08:54:27, 2014-10-03
- Here’s a video I recorded, walking from our place in Daimyo to Tenjin station, during the Music City Tenjin Festival http://t.co/5LmBfli4MI 02:01:42, 2014-10-05
- This blog post has a bunch of pictures to go with the video in my last tweet. Walking through Music City Tenjin:
http://t.co/luT8OwzOXH 06:10:07, 2014-10-05
- A troupe of Marios at yesterday’s race in Ohori Park (they don’t have numbers, so they’re just there for fun) http://t.co/rPfby5nZts 06:04:28, 2014-10-06
- RT @solveigo: QA Engineer walks into a bar. Orders a beer. Orders 0 beers. Orders 999999 beers. Orders a lizard. Orders -1 beers. Orders a … 20:09:30, 2014-09-24
- @FukuokaNow do you know what happened with tonight’s planned Muromi River Tomyo Watching? I went, and there was nothing going on. 07:52:58, 2014-09-27
- @FukuokaNow I think I figured it out. The map location on the event web site is wrong. It’s further north than the written directions say. 08:04:37, 2014-09-27
- "Food Holes” may not be the best slogan for your grocery store… New blog post: http://t.co/EmJBWzvdwJ 05:49:08, 2014-09-28
- Here are some pictures from today and yesterday, to give you a sense of typical days for us here in Fukuoka http://t.co/1POUzrO0Ce 08:46:16, 2014-09-17
- Only a few people at #fukuokarb tonight. Everyone is at #rubykaigi in Tokyo. I didn’t know about it! The talks look great. Wish I was there 06:08:01, 2014-09-18
- RT @mikewcohn: Fascinating article on the history of the 40-hour work week: http://t.co/rc1ATzizF1 09:43:30, 2014-09-18
- This Japanese flutist is unfazed by a butterfly landing, and staying, on her face in the Int'l Flute competition http://t.co/5tsFgso9np 02:45:08, 2014-09-19
- Pictures from the scene at the Fukuoka Apple store yesterday
- RT @jbrains: If you are near Philadelphia on September 30, then you will go to this meetup event. http://t.co/bwmt4mMfYq 06:01:35, 2014-09-21
- The toilet at the Hakata station mall said to me: “while your honorable ass is on the seat, I will play soothing sounds of rushing water” 08:02:54, 2014-09-21
- Beer and airplanes at Fukuoka Airport: what could go wrong?
- Fukuoka City Hall, Part 2: why fight city hall when they have good beer? Visiting the Kyushu Beer Festival.
http://t.co/bzshbCk1xF #kbf2014 06:18:57, 2014-09-10
- Guardians of the Galaxy finally opens here in Japan tomorrow. The Japanese trailer is especially silly, in a good way http://t.co/GAmBou8tFJ 05:00:18, 2014-09-12
- @Jtsternberg Good luck! What topic? in reply to Jtsternberg 21:07:29, 2014-09-12
- Assigned seats, and trying our luck seeing a Japanese movie. New blog post: Going to the movies in Fukuoka
http://t.co/vzQ4TiLjsZ 01:29:41, 2014-09-13
- Here’s a video I made showing the main road near our apartment in Fukuoka and a couple sidestreets on a busy night http://t.co/r6L48tPQij 23:24:12, 2014-09-14
- Wow, ordered from Amazon Japan yesterday (Sun) with regular shipping, and got it today (Mon, a holiday). Go @AmazonJP, and Japan’s takkyubin 01:38:36, 2014-09-15
- New blog post: Japan’s Respect for the Aged Day, and demographic collapse http://t.co/AtyoH2vwVY 06:24:21, 2014-09-15
- @speno You’re welcome. It was fun to do. I may do a tour of our microscopic apartment next, which should take about 5 seconds in reply to speno 09:11:01, 2014-09-15
- @speno Sure! I’ll try to do a round-trip, so you can see the above-ground route and the underground route, which has a shopping complex in reply to speno 09:34:15, 2014-09-15
- .@speno It’s not common to see overweight Japanese people here. This is a big part of why: http://t.co/1w7SjbZ7Hl in reply to speno 01:41:09, 2014-09-16
- @mgyura Bets now being taken on all the possible ways Microsoft can ruin Minecraft as they bureaucratically "improve" it in future releases in reply to mgyura 02:20:59, 2014-09-16
We’ve been to the movies a few times since we arrived here this summer. There are a couple cinemas within a 10 minute walk of our apartment, which makes it easy. But what makes it hard, of course, is the language barrier. A few weeks ago I took the boys to see the Japanese movie Eight Rangers 2, which is a sort of comedy version of Power Rangers. It was a gamble: there were no English subtitles, but the comedy seemed broad enough in the trailer that I thought we might enjoy it anyway. Unfortunately it turned out to be a dialog driven film, and mostly incomprehensible to me and the boys. Kai and I both fell asleep, but Eidan said he enjoyed it.
At any given time, about a quarter of the movies being shown here are Hollywood films. They usually open here a few months after their release in the US. You have to pay attention when buying tickets, as you sometimes can have up to 4 options: 2D or 3D, and subtitled or dubbed. Today we saw Guardians of the Galaxy on its opening day here (2D and subtitled, meaning that it has the original English dialog and Japanese subtitles). We all enjoyed it, but I felt the intensity of some of the violence made it hard to sit back and enjoy the comedy of the film (go ahead, call me old).
The theaters here are nicer than your average theater in the US, mainly because they don’t have to worry about people breaking stuff. So Eidan had a nice soft booster seat instead of a hard plastic one, and the seat arms each have an extension that swings, which can hold your popcorn and drink. Perhaps the best feature is that all the seats are assigned (and people actually sit where they’re supposed to), so you don’t have to worry getting there early to find seats together.
There are some really posh theaters in Japan too, although I don’t know if Fukuoka has any. Here are some pictures of the sleek and immaculate Toyosu theater that Maria and I went to in Tokyo, back in 2007.
The movie trailers also show more variety in how they’re put together than the strict formula followed by US movie trailers. Here’s one of the ads for Guardians of the Galaxy (there are actually 3 in this clip – I’ve set it to start on the most interesting one). The narrator’s saying something along these lines at the beginning: “Has life got you down? Are your daily life and chores becoming painful? Have you fallen out of your groove at work? Then you’re in need of a little break…”
- Fukuoka's future skyline in the latest "Ghost in the Shell: Arise” movie & Fukuoka vs Hakata friction. New blog post: http://t.co/MJUSjCcR67 03:32:59, 2014-09-03
- @dhh There was a good article in MIT’s Technology review a couple years ago, making the same point http://t.co/XfmcebDP9Q in reply to dhh 05:19:29, 2014-09-03
- @DavidAKennedy Congratulations! in reply to DavidAKennedy 07:55:20, 2014-09-03
- RT @CatWarr: Here is a lovely rant about stupid questions and student helplessness. It's SO TRUE. Dear God, it's true. http://t.co/iofT8L9H… 22:36:05, 2014-09-03
- RT @phillyrb: Talk solidified for the next meeting. Simplify Your Rails Controllers With a Vengeance RSVP here http://t.co/zZMgY1raI2 22:50:06, 2014-09-03
- The boys have started school, & not a moment too soon! But Kai’s been interrogated by old ladies on the way. New post http://t.co/7h2jX2xHwR 06:46:40, 2014-09-05
- RT @jbrains: How I plan to write commit comments from now on: http://t.co/QO4Us0dOSm 00:53:42, 2014-09-08
- New blog post: Fukuoka City Hall, Part 1: why fight city hall when they have water slides? http://t.co/pbOwRG58dz 08:25:29, 2014-09-08
“Everyone on the internet – they’re not having as great a time as you think they are.”
While we are definitely enjoying our time in Fukuoka, our first couple months here were very challenging in some ways. The boys were out of school, but they didn’t know anyone here to spend time with, and Maria and I are both working full time. Japanese public schools don’t have a long summer break like US schools, so there aren’t the same options for summer camps here. Given that we’re in Japan, and far from Tokyo (which is where most Western expats are), there also isn’t much in the way of kids activities that are available in English. So Maria and I have been juggling taking the kids out and squeezing in our work hours. Nonetheless, the boys logged many hours of video gaming this summer, cooped up in our tiny apartment alongside Maria and I while we worked.
So when school started for the boys last week, it wasn’t a moment too soon. They are attending the Fukuoka International School (FIS), which is a K-12 school, with instruction in English. This is the first time they’ve attended the same school, at the same time. To get there, the boys have a 7 or so minute walk to the nearest subway stop, then they ride for 4 stations, and then ride bikes for about 5 minutes to the school, as it’s too far to walk from the station every day. We bought them a couple of cheap bikes, which they keep near the station.
Like everyone else in Japan, they leave their bikes unlocked, because petty crime here is very rare (most bikes here have a built-in lock that prevents the rear wheel from moving, but it’s actually not permitted to lock your bike to anything). Eidan was very unhappy with his bike at first: he was unsteady on it, and it wasn’t sufficiently masculine for his tastes (it’s robin’s egg blue). So I went to school with the boys for the first couple of days, to make sure they knew the route, and to help Eidan keep his bike steady while he got used to it (I jogged alongside with one hand on the bike). After a couple days, they knew the way, and Eidan was comfortable on his bike. So they go back and forth to school on their own now.
When we lived in Tokyo 2007, Kai attended 1st grade in our neighborhood’s public school, and walked there every morning on his own. This is not only allowed, but is actively encouraged: back then we got a letter from the school, telling us we would only embarrass him if we went to school with him. Even though I understand this is how things are done here, as an American, I instinctively still find it worrying to see little elementary school kids routinely walking down the sidewalks of a busy city, all by themselves.
A price of this safety is a more intrusive society. In 2007, we had to invite Kai’s kindergarten teacher over to our apartment for tea, so she could ask us about his home life, and see for herself what our home was like. We don’t have to do that now with FIS, since it’s a private school, but Kai told me that once they started going to school without me, they were stopped and peppered with questions multiple times by crossing guards and old ladies: What’s your name? What school do you go to? Do you know the way? Is that your brother? (that’s Kai’s best guess at what they were asking him anyway, since they were speaking Japanese).
Maria came home with them at the end of their first day, and when I asked Eidan how his first day went, he proclaimed it was “AWESOME.” Kai said it was “ok” in the way that teens do, when something is great but it wouldn’t be cool to admit to your parents how great it was. We’re now at the end of the second week, and they both have a circle of friends already. Eidan even went to a classmate’s birthday party after the second day of school, and had a playdate today.
The boys are the only Americans in their classes. The school seems to be about one-third Japanese students, one-third Korean, and the rest are mostly a mix of Indians, Australians, and New Zealanders. At the birthday party Eidan went to, I got into a conversation with some of the moms about schools in their countries, and how they compared to FIS (there were no dads at the party besides me, but that’s another story…). I told them my initial impression was that FIS is academically about the same as the Haverford public schools, where the boys were before we arrived, which I think are pretty good. The Japanese and Korean moms said that for their kids, attending FIS feels like being on vacation, compared to the public schools they attended previously. So there’s a telling comparison for you (but, of course, an anecdotal one).
The school has a great location, right next to the Muromi river. The school has a decent sized indoor gym, but very little outdoor space, so when the weather is good, they have gym class on the beach.
As for me, I’m thrilled I can now have a regular workday. Most days now I can finish my work by the time they get home from school, instead of often having to work late a night like I was this summer. So, we are all happy school has started
- 3 days with Sandi Metz RT @ignu: "Duplication Is Better Than The Wrong Abstraction”
- Costco in Japan: I’ve never been so happy to be surrounded by Kirkland products. New blog post: Costco pilgrimage http://t.co/JNdX7WcbPU 02:26:34, 2014-08-28
- Shoe nerds lined up at the Nike store across the street from our apartment. There must be something new on sale today http://t.co/X91si0YFb9 21:52:29, 2014-08-29
- "Hey Kai, what's that?"
- New blog post: The Nagoshi-sai (Summer passage rite) festival at Hakozaki shrine http://t.co/srEDuaQfCE 06:40:24, 2014-08-30
- Pastry bears, named Kuma-san. So cute that even I will submit to their cuteness. かわいいですね http://t.co/IpG1LRmT6H 23:21:02, 2014-09-01
- From the new Ghost in the Shell movie RT @FukuokaNow: Fukuoka – Japan’s Capital City In 2027? http://t.co/TsBrv7Vz4u http://t.co/8BOezqXn4j 22:45:53, 2014-09-02
- This is the closest actual photo I could find, to compare to the futuristic image in my last tweet http://t.co/GS0hmEUICb 22:58:57, 2014-09-02
- With its hook based architecture, in a different world, WordPress would have been written in Ruby, because *blocks* http://t.co/vBrINj0jc2 06:29:29, 2014-08-20
- Going to fukuoka.rb for the first time tonight. Ruby and Japanese: one language I know well, the other, not so much. Wish me luck @phillyrb 23:08:18, 2014-08-20
- RT @PromptWorks: We're excited to host our first Code and Coffee tomorrow morning!
- This was last year, but it’s still awesome: All The Cool Japanese Schoolgirls Are Recreating The Kamehameha Attack http://t.co/pPgOH5gmMT 21:52:27, 2014-08-21
- @udzura Thanks! I’ll be there. in reply to udzura 21:58:44, 2014-08-21
- A slide I understood (not in Japanese) at the Fukuoka.rb meet up last night: using Docker with drone.io #fukuokarb http://t.co/kQpThh9uXM 08:14:37, 2014-08-22
- When you gaze too long into a giant pile of whip cream, the giant pile of whip cream gazes back into you http://t.co/Cy4Ihd7NjJ 08:19:46, 2014-08-22
- Adventures in Japanese gov’t bureaucracy, in which Maria turns down free money. Would you have taken it? New post: http://t.co/8LzxefjfQq 19:35:51, 2014-08-23
- Happy, Fukuoka version (it gets better as it goes) http://t.co/2lDkN7fH0H 09:27:48, 2014-08-25