Hey friends! Here is a little bit about the beginning season of the transition, the GOOD and the HARD here!
For those of you who are new here, my name is I’m Katrina—a woman who is excited about almost anything art-related. I’m a huge fan of illustration, watercolor, graphic design, and interior decor. I love running Lindale Studios, and am so thankful for the of of creating hand-painted goods for brands and weddings. I am married to Chris, and we have three daughters, Sydney (9), Olivia (7), and Aubrey (5), and are currently in transition as we get settled in Japan after just moving from Spain. We are from the Virginia and Washington DC area! We can live overseas due to my husband’s job, and are so thankful for this season, even with all the good and the hard.
Oh man, I don’t know where to begin. Our last year in Spain was one of the hardest years of our life, 100% because of a job situation, not Spain itself. Our 3 years overseas in Spain were pretty great…we had an amazing community and got to travel a lot with our three kids and make some great memories. We also got to live by the ocean, one of the best gifts ever (in my opinion!)
However, it became clear in January 2023, that we needed to and had to leave, and we started to search for more options overseas because our kids are still young and we wanted to continue to see other cultures, and have more opportunities to travel and grow as a family. It can be amazing, but it’s also super uncomfortable. It isn’t living in a travel magazine 24/7 HAHA! We have grown a ton as a family, and people constantly comment that our kids are (hopefully) going to grow up with such a well-rounded view of the world, and are thankful and hard-working individuals, as they see how many different people live. It’s one thing to read about it in a book, but to see it up close is another.
LEAVING FOR JAPAN
Why did we choose Japan?
To be completely honest, it was the best option for my husband’s position in the government and our family as a whole! We have heard so many good things about Japan. I can’t begin to tell you how different it is.
When did we arrive in Japan?
We arrived in Sasebo, Japan on January 29, 2024. So basically by the time this blog post gets out, it will have been less than 2 weeks here in Japan! I can’t believe it has only been that long. It has felt so much longer!
REAL LIFE: ARRIVING IN JAPAN AFTER 24 HOURS OF TRAVEL
What have we been up to for our first 10 days?
We have been doing all the firsts, while managing expectations for everyone emotionally and physically, letting my brain go into overload while I’m walking, and just taking it all in…and doing the hardcore hotel living with 3 kids!
I haven’t taken a ton of pictures of where I live, because I’m just focusing on the kids settling in, and trying to make sure that there is room to talk with them about their new surroundings.
We figured out our health care options that are available with our position as guests in this country. This is always a big one!
We have found a car, a much smaller Nissan type of Japanese minivan, that we purchased quickly because those size cars go fast! We have to get a second car eventually for Chris, but he walks to work right now. We can use public transportation, but in the end, the cars will be beneficial for our time here as well. Cars are much less expensive if you are willing to go the used route (which we always do).
We started searching for a house!
We had to be briefed on the house renting process and then started searching. The homes are much smaller here, but much more functional. We can look at up to two homes a day and have to decide within 24 hours if we will take a house or not. If we don’t take it, it becomes available for others to view, and rent. We do have up to 90 days to find a place, but aren’t hoping to expect hotel people for that long :-/.
I can’t video the homes that we are viewing out of respect (and I don’t like constantly being on my phone), and yes, we do have to remove our shoes when even viewing a home! Some of the older homes have “Tatami mats” in one room or so, so if we end up with a house that has one of those rooms, we are trying to figure out what to use that for…another convo for another day!
We took a short class that helped us understand Japanese culture and were taught some basics on eating out, money, schools, etc. It was super helpful, and we also got to see some of the countryside outside Sasebo, Japan where we live. SO BEAUTIFUL….
How am I inspired by Japan so far?
It’s funny, because this is something I think about all the time, wherever and whenever we travel. My view of inspiration has gone far beyond just the visual aspect of a place, but also into how a place makes me feel, and how a cities or country’s priorities cares for its people.
Currently, I’m not inspired visually as much in the city area, as I was in Europe, however it’s only been 10 days. I am inspired by how separate the Japanese work portion of the day is from the rest of their life, and how functional everything is. Functionality takes priority over visual beauty here, as far as I can see… But that isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s just DIFFERENT. There is a DEEP beauty in aspects of life being functional to save time and energy for other things.
I am excited to take in another side of beauty and work this side of inspiration as I grow as an artist and business owner.
Do we have to speak or learn Japanese?
Short answer? No, but we have been introduced to some new Japanese phrases that will me things easier to do basic things. Things such as checking out at the grocery store, ordering food, and showing respect. In our area, about 50% of the people speak English, but are willing to try and understand you through Google Translate!
What are some things I love about Japan so far?
- It’s SUPER CLEAN AND SAFE! I asked a resident here why this was, and he told me that the Japanese just really love their country and want to care for it!
- The food is amazing, and haven’t tried anything I don’t like yet!
- I haven’t experienced a TON since we are trying to figure out the transportation stuff, but they are very healthy, kind, and polite people! If they don’t understand you, they try and are very kind regarding the situation.
- The indoor playgrounds are awesome!
What are the things I miss about Spain?
- I miss the cheese and the wine, hands down.
- I miss the cobblestone streets and the old buildings that (yes, are falling apart, and inconvenient at times) but oh so beautiful and close by! (Those always made my artist’s heart so happy!)
- I miss living within walking distance of the beach and listening to the ocean waves at night.
To sum it all up…
We are surviving, but not thriving yet, BUT OH SO THANKFUL to be here. I think its helpful that that because this is my second international move, I know to expect the unexpected, and to just be ok with not getting a lot done, and being tired most of the time, but still smiling when I see something familiar that reminds me of where I moved from (Spain), or reminds me of home (United States.)
Here are some of photos from the last 10 days, and I hope you will continue to follow along!