Thursday, March 19, 2015


**A little over a week left until we're back in the Tsurumai apartment and our internet is restored to full strength!  Thank you for your patience!**

Before The Mister and I moved out here, we jumped on a bandwagon.  A FITBIT bandwagon.  
To be fair, The Mister’s been all about FitBit for a few years.  For the uninitiated, a FitBit is more or less a souped up pedometer that can sync with the internet. The Mister’s very fancy FitBit will also tell him how many stairs he’s climbed, how many miles he’s gone, how many calories he’s burned, how well he slept he night before, and also his heart rate.  Mine does a little less, because I don’t feel like I need to know just how close I am to a heart attack at every moment of my life.  Long story short, it’s an easy way to help you keep track of your life.

I got a FitBit prior to our move, knowing that we were about to go from a convenience-based society to a very pedestrian-based society.  I was curious to know just how much of a change that is.  

For the curious - FitBit tells you a person with a desk job (or in my case, a couch job), 10,000 steps per day is a recommended goal to maintain a decent level of activity.  In fact, this little bracelet of doom actually vibrates and displays tiny pixel balloons on the screen when you reach that number.  I was instantly addicted to the idea that I MUST see that little bracelet-party celebrating me not being as much of a tub of lard as I could’ve been. Every. Darn. Day.
wrist party!
In the states, this was admittedly difficult some days.  There were honestly nights where I would find myself at 9PM with only 6,000 steps, and I would spend an hour power-walking in circles around the house.  I looked like a SIMs reenactment.
less slapping, more running in circles, but this gif took hours to find.

I’d venture a big part of my laziness in the states - I need to have a purpose. I struggle to bother exercising if it’s just for the sake of exercising.  The wrist party was *just* enough to tip that scale into “get ‘er done” territory, but it’s nicer to have a legit reason for the activity.

What does 10K steps look like here?  It looks like sometime around noon every day.  That’s me having to walk to the grocery store daily so that we can have dinner, because our fridge is too tiny to stock-pile food like one might during a U.S. bender at your local Costco.  And of course, there’s walkies with Mac.  I try to get him out for a few miles a day because our living space is small and the big goof has got to get some opportunities for leg-stretching here and there.  And then there’s walking to the local 7-11 to pay our bills (that is in fact, how it works here), walking to the mall to pick up a few odds and ends, walking to the train station to meet up with The Mister for whatever social function we have signed ourselves up for that evening.

Said social functions are almost always dinners where the main course consist of delicious things, and sometimes things that might be delicious but I just haven’t quite gotten myself to that level yet.  Like these adorable, entire, squid babies.  Also note to self - you can spend an hour styling yourself to fit into Japanese culture, but when you get to the restaurant, you will ruin all that effort in an instant because YOUR SOCKS DON’T MATCH.  Ugh.

Tangent.  Reel that back in, Kipper.  Walkies.  Talking about walkies.  I’ve learned a few things about walkies in my time here that seem like common sense, but I didn’t pick up on until now.  Allow me to share them, won’t you?

Expect the unexpected.  I stumbled upon this lovely gent while on my way to the large mall the other day.  The mall, which is located in the middle of a busy city, on a busy road, near a large casino.  This was a weird place to just randomly meet a Rooster, is what I’m saying.  

Learn some basic language tid-bits that might help you in your journey through a foreign country.  The word for cute -“kawaii,” and frightening-“kowai” are REALLY similar in sound.  Pairing that with the Japanese style of stifling out body language, I get a lot of walk-time with Mac where someone will either call my dog terrifying or adorable, and because they always just stand with their hands at their sides as they say it, I’m never really sure if they want me to walk toward them so they can pet Mac, or away from them so they can stop crapping their pants.  I have been trying to remember to respond in this scenario with “he’s big, but he’s friendly."  Sometimes I forget to say that in the heat of the moment, and instead respond with “thanks!”  It would work if they said cute… but these almost always turn out to be the times when they said he was scary, and then I get REAL weird looks.

In addition to the above, I’ve learned that kids tend to unabashedly love big dogs, and adults tent to be very cautious around big dogs.  The other day at the park, a bus from a near-by preschool showed up, and as the kids filed off the bus, almost all of them pointed and shouted “wan wan!” at Mac (“wan-wan / わんわん” is both the sound that dogs make in Japanese, and the way that small children refer to dogs.  Like little English-speaking kids might point to a dog and say “woof-woof!”)  I had Mac sit and wave hello to the kids, and the terrified teachers then tepidly allowed their tiny charges to approach Mac.  We only stayed with the kids for a few moments before Mac was starting to get overwhelmed with little hands, and then we went on our way.   Which is not to say we didn’t make an impression on their itty-bitty minds.
Yesterday, I was out on my grocery run (so, sans dog), and stopped at a crosswalk to wait with a mother and her child.  Said child happened to be wearing the uniform of the preschool from the park, and the little dude apparently remembered the weird American lady and her dog very fondly.  He looked up at me, made the connection, and then pointed at me shouting “wan-wan!  wan-wan!
The best part of this whole story is that I do not have the language skills to explain context to the mother of why her son was pointing at a stranger screaming “dog!  dog!”  She was horrified, and before I could even say a meek “It’s okay, I have a dog”  she had shuffled him off across the street while chastising him in hushed tones.  Whoops.  Sorry little dude.

Lastly, check the weather.  In particular, check the weather BEFORE you say the word “walkies” out loud in a house that contains a dog.  Because the dog will insist you go for that walkie.  And so you will spend 5 miles of your life in a downpour.  Your dog won’t regret this until about 3 miles in.  And then you’ll spend the rest of your day in a house permeated with wet-dog smell.  Today is a good example.  It’s gonna rain all day today.  So my first walk will be to the convenience store to buy a cheap poncho, which I will rig to fit the dog, and THEN.  Then there can be walkies.
the beginning of the walk
the middle of the walk
the moment he regretted insisting on the walk
the aftermath of said walk.

What are your tips for enjoyable walks?  
How do you make yourself be active?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
inu wa ooki desu, demo shinsetsu desu!
the dog is big, but he’s friendly!

1 comment:

Dana Jansma said...

Kristin- I am so glad to see you are able to post again. I love hearing about your adventures and miss you here in Kalamazoo! I agree about the walks- you can never say the word around a dog and not follow through! Beverly even knows about the time that I take her for a walk every morning and will stand by the door and look at me like, "let's get a move on lady." Mac looks adorable wrapped up in the towel. Dana