準備 junbi—preparations

This is our home. That’s our car parked in the driveway, our bicycles parked outside, our tanuki figurine beside the door, our tulips flowering and our futon mattresses hanging on the front balcony railing.

Our House

And in just 11 days, we will leave this lovely home forever and return to Ireland. The car and the bicycles and the flowers and the tanuki and our dogs and all our possessions will be gone, and the house will be once again an empty and echoing shell, ready for someone else to make their own home here.

We’ve lived here for a little over a year. You may wonder whether that is really enough time to have such a feeling of “home”. It certainly is.

When we moved in here, it was completely unfurnished, as is the way in Japan. By completely unfurnished, I mean not only that there was no furniture, but that there were no curtains, no light fittings, no appliances, no air-conditioning or heating. Over time we acquired everything we needed to have a comfortable life here, some items kindly lent to us by Yuko’s dad, some things we bought either second-hand or new.

We gradually inhabited the whole space and made it our own, buying and fitting furniture and lights and curtains and an air conditioner, cultivating the garden and growing food, storing our empty boxes and dog travel-crates in the attic, cooking and eating and studying and thinking and writing blog posts and working and relaxing and sleeping and generally living a happy life.

Now it is time to leave, and the next 10 days or so will be a process of progressive withdrawal. The attic is first – the boxes and suitcases and dog crates all come down. I’ve cleared and tidied up the garden – all that is left is a solitary cabbage (which will be harvested tomorrow) and some strawberries which I doubt will ripen in time for us to enjoy them.



I was in Kohnan (hardware store) 2 days ago to buy a drill, and they had a lot of food plants for sale. Tomatoes and cucumbers. It was a bit sad to be reminded that we won’t be planting anything this season and enjoying the riotous profusion of green that took over our garden in the heat of last summer (not to mention the sound of the frogs on hot summer nights).


Some of the things in the house we will give (or give back) to Yuko’s dad. Some things will be scrapped. A pity, in the case of appliances such as the fridge, washing machine and vacuum cleaner which work perfectly well. But they are old, and nobody wants old appliances. And some items will be shipped back to Ireland, arriving there about 5-6 weeks after we do, at a new home which we don’t yet know.

We’ve recently started packing, and honestly have no idea at this stage how many boxes we will fill. For packing clothes and bedding efficiently, we use “space bags”; airtight bags with a valve that allows you to suck air out with a vacuum cleaner, greatly reducing the volume.

The house is a bit chaotic as closets get emptied out and everything gets sorted by destination (suitcase, shipping, discard…).


Aside from that, the most complicated (and expensive) aspect of the move has been the dogs. Shipping 2 dogs from Japan to Ireland involves a great deal of planning and form-filling, and quite a lot of money. Quite a lot more than it cost to bring them from Ireland to Japan, because of an Irish government requirement that dogs arrive in Ireland as cargo (rather than as luggage).

Finally we have to unwind various aspects of our lives here – internet and mobile phone contracts, electricity connections, car deregistration, insurance, and so on, and try to do so in such a way as to still be able to live here until it’s time to leave for the airport. The remaining days of April on our wall calendar are marked with important words like “VET”, “CAR”, “Removal”, “VET” (again), and “Departure”.

It’s an interesting project and is keeping us very busy. But hopefully not too busy to be able to enjoy our last days in Japan!


10 thoughts on “準備 junbi—preparations

    1. Packing hasn’t been very stressful so far. Partly because we have time to devote to it (I finished working a few weeks ago) and partly because it’s not our first time. But I remember it was very stressful when we were leaving Ireland, and combining our move with selling a house!

  1. Hi Dara and Yuko

    I have no idea how I came across it but I have been following your blog for the last few months. Fascinating information and great photos.

    God knows why you want to come back to Ireland !!

    Best of luck with the move – especially the pups


    1. Hi Noel, thank you very much for your good luck wishes. I am very glad you took the time to comment and reveal yourself as a habitual reader! It is very nice for me to hear from people who are reading and enjoying the blog.

      As for coming back to Ireland, I don’t think I would want to leave Ireland behind for ever, even though life as a foreigner in Japan is endlessly fascinating.


  2. I too will miss your wonderful observations of Japan. Any chance that you may continue blogging once you are back in Ireland, perhaps? We thoroughly enjoyed our bicycle adventure to the Bay Area. I know you will be busy before you go but would love to catch up with you again before you leave if at all possible. Please email me.
    All the best

    1. Some people have asked me whether the blog will continue. Japan (and my experience of Japan) has been the main inspiration and source of interesting material for my blog posts. After my return to Ireland, that source will of course dry up.

      In the short term, there will possibly be some “left-over” posts about Japan, then about the move itself and our experiences finding accommodation and getting our new life set up in Ireland. After that, who knows. It really depends on whether I have anything to write about that I feel would be of interest to anyone else.

    1. Not easy, it’s true. Every day seems to throw up new and unwelcome complications. But I’m not working these days, so I can devote all my time to it if necessary. And it is undoubtedly easier the second time, not least because we are dealing with one year’s worth of life and accumulated possessions rather than 10!

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