Taking Leave: the Book!


TL-frontcoveronlyUPDATED.

Published through Perceptia Press (Nagoya), Taking Leave: An American on Paternity Leave in Japan is currently available through englishbooks.jp in paperback/soft cover format (retail price: 1500 yen plus tax).

I’d love to say the book is available through Amazon; however, it appears that because my publisher is a Japanese publisher, the book distribution laws currently state that publishers can use only one distributor at a time. Meaning that as long as the existing contract is with englishbooks.jp, Taking Leave cannot be sold through Amazon.

This seems a bit weird to me and I’m sure there must be a miscommunication somewhere between the publisher’s and the distributor’s interpretation of Japanese distribution laws.

At any rate, englishbooks.jp does ship worldwide via EMS (Japan Post), so please check out their website if you are interested.

There’s also nifty online preview of the first six pages. Enjoy!

Advertisements
Posted in book, book signing, party | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

First Year Wall (Part 2) – The (not-so voluntary) parent-teacher conference


jugyo sanken

In mid-April, I went to a parent-teacher conference. Actually, it was more like an enforced PTA committee, which one parent per kid had to attend. As a group. We sat at our kids’ desks (tiny!) and introduced ourselves.

This was after we watched our kids introduce themselves in front of their classmates (1stgraders) and learn how to use a Japanese dictionary (3rdgraders). But more on that later… Continue reading

Posted in education, Japan, Japanese, Japanese culture, Japanese law, Japanese society, parenting, school | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The First Year Wall (Part 1) – Gakudo and the Kid


IMG_0729.jpgThree weeks ago, our youngest daughter went to nursery school for the last time.

The following Monday, she started gakudo (学童, short for 学童教育 gakudokyouiku, which is usually translated as “after school program”). Since both my wife and I work full time, we were anxious about finding a safe place for our daughters after the elementary school day ends. This is part of the “first year wall” (小1の壁, shouichi no kabe) that is a huge obstacle for working parents to overcome. Continue reading

Posted in child safety, coming of age, education, Japan, Japanese, Japanese society, parenting, school | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

End of an Era: Goodbye, Nursery School


And so it begins. The end of the start of the rest of my children’s childhood.

By which I mean our youngest daughter graduated from nursery school / kindergarten.

Thinking back, we’ve been coming to our local nursery school every weekday (and many weekends) since April 2011. I still remember how thrilled and relieved we were to get the acceptance notice in the mail for our oldest, having been rejected the previous year. Continue reading

Posted in coming of age, day care, education, festivals, Japan, Japanese, Japanese society, nursery school, parenting, school, separation anxiety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death of a Cherry Tree


This past Monday, city workers came to cut down a cherry tree near our house. It had been there for years.

We found out later that a neighbor had complained that leaves falling in her backyard were a nuisance to clean. The fact that local children (and adults alike) treasured the cherry blossoms each spring seemed to escape her.

And cherry blossom viewing season is just around the corner. What a shame. A waste.

More’s the shame, I only have two pictures of the tree in full bloom.

Fleeting moments, lost in time and memory.

My children wrote a heartfelt letter to the tree, and I taped it as best I could to the stump:

“To the Cherry Tree,

For always showing your cherry blossoms to us until now, thank you.

We miss you, but we’ll never forget that this stump is the stump of a cherry tree.

If this stump ever grows, we want to see cherry blossoms again.”

Stories are made by fools like me…

IMG_0205

Posted in death, Japan, Japanese culture, nature, spring | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Do You Talk to Your Kids About Dying?


Last weekend we all had a great time. Swimming and piano lessons Saturday afternoon followed by dinner out, then all day Sunday at an amusement park/facility with another family, ending with an early supper and kids’ TV show before bed.

So when my youngest daughter, age 5, suddenly asked me at the Monday morning breakfast table, “Daddy, will I die?” I struggled for a response. What can a parent say to that? Continue reading

Posted in coming of age, death, depression, family outings, Japan, Japanese society, parenting | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Farewell, Nursery. Hello, Kindergarten


After turning five in January, our youngest daughter finally made to the end of nursery school (“nen-cho,” 年長). Or so we thought.

We had heard rumors in previous years that the system might change. It turns out that in this case the rumors were true.

The nursery school was becoming a kindergarten. Kind of.

Seemingly like everything else concerning children and education in Japan, it’s more complicated than needs be. Continue reading

Posted in day care, education, Japan, Japanese, Japanese culture, Japanese society, nursery school, school | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who was that Masked Flu Avenger?


IMG_6728Looking back now, I can laugh.

The first week of February was rough. My wife had to work both weekend days, at the end of an already exhausting end-of-semester work week.

I had also had little sleep. The previous month, my youngest daughter had come down with the mumps, then my oldest daughter and I both got it, too (neatly sandwiching Christmas and New Year’s).

That weekend was going well. Until Sunday around noon. It started with a brief chilling feeling. My kids complained the temperature of the living room was too high. To me it was like a walk-in freezer.

Twas the season. For flu. Continue reading

Posted in festivals, health care, Japan, Japanese, Japanese culture, Japanese society, parenting, school, sickness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment