Intentionally Observant

There are things about every new place that are different, cool, crazy etc. Soon after you begin to settle the uniqueness wears off and becomes part of normal life. Over the past few weeks we have made an intentional effort to notice the novelty of Nagoya and appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of this city. Here are some things we’ve noticed so you can get a better window into our daily lives.


Children travel in packs. It is not unique to see several kids under the age of 10 out together (even on trains) without adult supervision – due to the safety in Japan. All schools have different uniforms and even different required backpacks.


Trash is separated into “burnable” and “recyclable” here. They are bagged separately and picked up on different days. When we set our labeled trashbags out we put them in a cage outside our apartment to “protect” them from rats and cats. That one in there is a tricky little sucker.
The trash that’s not burnable or recyclable must be taken to a facility where you pay the government to dispose of your trash for you. We do live on an island(s) afterall. Notice the gigantic claw that comes down, picks up the trash, and deposits it on the conveyor belt. It’s like the adult version of the arcade game I can never win. Can you imagine operating that thing for a living? #dreamjob

Hyper-politeness/awareness of others:

Construction workers put out mats to make sure your bike tires don’t slip in the rain. At each construction site, there is usually at least one person directing traffic (often unnecessarily).
Almost every sidewalk and crosswalk has a yellow line going down the middle with ridges. When you approach a curb or turn these ridges turn to dots. They are for the blind to lead themselves with their canes.

Talented Bicycling:

It is not an uncommon sight to see a woman bicycling through the city with one or two children on her bike. This woman has child strapped to her front with her toddler riding in the back seat (wearing a helmet).
The rain doesn’t keep people indoors – they just pull out their umbrellas and keep on biking (which is much harder than it seems!) We also just recently found out it’s illegal.


It seems like everyone here has a dog and even many who don’t like to stop and talk to bear.

Restaurant Fun:

Apparently the Japanese are realists… Most restaurants display plastic food to lure hungry patrons. Why settle for pictures after all?
Welcome to the dollar sushi place near our church. Sushi comes by on a conveyor belt and you choose what you’d like. Once you’re done eating, simply deposit your plate into the handy dandy slot at the end of your table and you’ve got nothing to clean up! For every 5 plates eaten and deposited, you earn a chance to win a prize.  Just watch the anime on the screen to find out if you’re a winner.Image

Very Few Churches:

You will see almost no churches like this in Japan. Buildings like this are usually wedding venues built to look like a church, but not meant for worship. They simply host western style weddings.

Beautiful, large structures everywhere:

Meet Nana Chan. She is a huge statue that various companies use to advertise. Usually, she wears a shirt with a company logo or something on it. This time, she was stripped and given a gaping mouth made of plaster to advertise a major clearance sale. In her spare time, she serves as a popular meeting spot at Nagoya Station.
This is the bus station as seen from atop Nagoya TV Tower.
Nagoya TV Tower
A beautiful view of downtown from the roof of our ministry building.
As far as the eye can see, only 2 out of every 1,000 people claim to follow Jesus. We never want to get used to that.

9 thoughts on “Intentionally Observant

  1. these are awesome observations. and why i love living overseas! i can’t imagine how good the sushi is. i so want to visit you all! thanks for sharing.

  2. Brooks and Riva,

    Thanks so much for the good, visual pictures of living in this culture. It does make me think of my time there when I was 12-14 years old. We’re excited to have you in the APC Missions family.


  3. Greetings Riva & Brooks!

    Art & I are enjoying looking at your pictures…they are neat! And Art says, “It is neat that they are recording their first impressions!” We are both trying to figure out what the oval shaped structure is in the bus station picture? Is the whole block the bus station? Is that some type of pool under the oval shaped structure and are those solar panels on top of the structure?

    It is good to receive updates from you guys!


    Art & Elizabeth

  4. You make my wife, Susan, very happy with these observations. She remembers much of what you see…in time lapse.


  5. Riva and Brooks,

    Thanks for the mission update. We pray for you everytime we get another email from you.

    God bless.

    Jann and Fred Swartzendruber


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