We arrived, from New York City, in Japan in the Spring of 2010. We had tentative plans to stay a year, or longer, if things went well. But it was actually a very smooth transition for all of us; I was able to find a job teaching in Yoko's home city of Okayama. Yoko also managed to get a couple of photography jobs in Tokyo through her agent PHOTO FACTORY INC. which made her confident about being able to continue her career in Japan.
We also got really luck with an empty house that we could rent from Yoko's extended family in a small town about 30 minutes by train from Okayama station. The town is called Kumayama. It's quite rural but has a small town center with basic amenities. There is a really great Pre-school Toyota Hoikuen which Motoki joined and he quickly picked up Japanese and assimiliated himself into his new surroundings.
I mentioned the house that we were living in. It's a sprawling old place with three distinct parts from different eras. The section on the corner is the oldest and has a dirt floor, it's pretty much a barn filled with farming tools and implements.
The building including the garage is the newest addition, probably built in the 1980s, it includes two bedrooms above the garage. The main living area is between the two sections and is a typical Japanese style house with low ceilings sliding doors and tatami flooring. The kitchen, bathroom and lavatory were somewhat recent and offered some comfort from the rest of the house which was really old and completely un-insulated.
We really loved the neighborhood and quickly became happy with our surroundings and made friends with the neighbors who were all very welcoming.
We started to feel like Japan would be a long term home for us and began toying with the idea of finding a more long term and modern living situation.
We liked the feel of living in the country, we had a very quiet and surroundings and there was plenty for Motoki to enjoy doing in our neighborhood, he had friends, animals and a nearby river. We also enjoyed planting and tending a garden (even though we weren't very good at it). So we spent several months looking into buying property in Kumayama.