We’re Moving To Japan!

Hello friends, family and anyone else who happens to stumble upon our little travel blog. Welcome to our little corner of the internet! It’s been over five months since we’ve left the US and began the process of moving to Japan with our toddler and I think it’s about time we start updating you of our whereabouts. So here we go!

moving to japan

Biwa Waterfall in Iya Valley

Kevin and I have been very busy juggling living abroad, parenting a very active toddler and working remotely, factor in the extreme time difference and it’s almost impossible for us to keep in touch with our loved ones. We’re sorry, we know we’ve been a bit distant. I promise, we’re trying to change! We decided we need a way to keep in touch, so this is what you get, some sort of family travel blog and wellness blog hybrid. We started working on Mother Fern almost exactly 1 year ago and basically abandoned it until recently (umm.. yesterday), apparently we underestimated the depths of our baby induced sleep deprivation and dramatically overestimated our abilities to cope. But now we are back at it and (mostly) much better rested than this time last year.

Milo enjoying a traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.

Enjoying a Traditional Japanese Breakfast

What We’ve Been Up To:

We’ve spent most of our time divided between rural Japan and Chiang Mai, Thailand. We’ve had many ups (lots of baby milestones, beautiful natural surroundings) and several downs (pneumonia, missing loved ones..) during our short stint out of the US, but as a whole the experience has been more positive than anything else.

Some highlights include:

  • Almost buying a house in Japan, not once but twice! We had our hearts set on purchasing an old kimono shop but sadly, it isn’t going to work out for us at this time. We will keep trying though!
  • Exploring Iya Valley, the one of the least explored areas in all of Japan. We spent one glorious evening at The Iya Valley Onsen, experienced a delicious kaiseki meal and Milo experienced his first onsen. We also learned a bit about the local yokai scene and drank all of the banana milk!
  • FOOD!!! (When will Chiang Mai based Rustic & Blue expand to Japan???)
  • Watching our wonderful baby boy grow into a toddler. He was only 16 months when we left. Now he’s almost 2, starting to talk in short sentences and also saying a few words in Japanese and Thai!
  • Finally getting to the root of my mysterious longterm illnesses and starting treatments with an integrative doctor in Thailand. I spent over 7 years in the U.S. trying to figure out what was going on with me and not a single doctor even came close, after just one visit to Absolute Health in Chiang Mai, they pinpointed exactly what is going on and came up with a very helpful plan of action.
  • We’ve been learning little bits of Japanese as we continue to explore this mysterious country. Currently my favorite word is “ベビーカー” or “bebiikaa” which literally translates to “baby car” or stroller.
  • We’ve connected with many wonderful souls and made new lifelong friends.
  • After two months in Thailand, we find ourselves back in Japan. We had plans to continue living in the mountains but after the offer on the house was denied for a second time, we’ve decided that living in rural Japan is a bit too difficult for us at this point in our lives. At least until we have our visas worked out and my health issues are sorted, we’ve decided try our hand at living in the ancient city of Kyoto. We would love to move back to our sleepy mountain town but it is not in the cards for us at the moment.
Moving to japan with a toddler

Celebrating Koinobori (Children’s Day) in Iya Valley, Japan.

chiang mai with a toddler

Little Sweeties in Chiang Mai

Why We Left The U.S. And Decided To Move To Japan?

They are probably 1000 reasons we decided to leave The United States and search for a better life elsewhere, but here are just a few of the top ones on our list.

  • We have been dreaming of this since the very first time we visited Japan, this exact week in 2013. We made a promise to each other during our first trip to Japan that we would find a way to live here.
  • Skyrocketing prices in Portland. In the quarter that Kevin and I moved to Portland, rent prices increased by 40% (GASP!) and during our nearly 5 years there, our personal rent had increased another 25%. Thanks, Portlandia.
  • I’m pretty sure Kevin and I have exhausted all of the livable cities for us in the States. We’ve lived all up and down the West Coast and Florida. I grew up near Baltimore and could not imagine returning the the North East, I’m almost positive we aren’t cut out for Middle America, so jumping the Pacific seems like the only reasonable next step.
  • I was deeply inspired by many of the friends I made while attending the first MMT in Toronto in 2013, just before deciding to venture to Japan for the first time and strive towards working remote fulltime. (I’m looking at you, Chris!)
  • The typical digital nomad answer: Sometime in early 2009 I read The Four Hour Work Week and because of this, Kevin and I been driven to design our lives in a dramatically alternative fashion.
  • We desire to raise our child in a safe environment. Obviously, Japan has its own issues but statistically, we are much safer here than in the US.
  • Kyoto is magic. Just visit, you’ll see!
  • I’m officially fed up with the United States health care system. Enough said.
moving to japan with a toddler

Exactly 3 Years Ago Yesterday

What’s Next?

  • We need to decide on a visa path. We’re currently looking for the path of the least resistance and it looks like we have a few options. Kevin and I could start a shoegaze band and apply for Entertainment Visas, I could go the Student visa route and enroll in college here or we could start a company and get Investor Visas. If anyone reading has experience with any of these visa options and successfully moving to Japan, I’d love to here about your journey through Japan’s Immigration Bureau. We are definitely not interested in becoming English teachers in order to stay here.
  • Under our current tourist visa (exemption) we can only stay in the country until the beginning of November. We plan to apply for our long term visas during that time and then do some slow travel throughout the rest of Asia this winter, while we wait for an answer from Immigration.
  • Hopefully we will be able to return to Japan in early Spring 2017.
  • We plan to become better storytellers during this transitional time. We want to share our story in hopes to start connected with loved ones, stay motivated to continue pursuing our dreams and maybe even inspire other families to take a chance.
moving to japan with a toddler

Our Wonderful Neighbors in Shikoku.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions about this process or words of encouragement. Moving to Japan with a toddler is not an easy task and can often feel very isolating. We’d love to stay better connected to you!