Keiko departed on June 19 for Tokyo to start her accounting management position with a subsidiary of AXA, a French multinational insurance firm that engages in global insurance, investment management, and other financial services. She quickly handled her return registration and applied for my Japanese Certificate of Eligibility so that I could receive a resident visa. She also began to search for an affordable Tokyo condo that was convenient for her daily commute and met other requirements we had developed. She located and rented a wonderful condo that exceeded our expectations.
With her handling the Tokyo end of our relocation, I focused on the details of leaving the USA. The separation and delay reflected the time needed to complete Japan’s pet importation protocol for Toma, our loving Shih-Tzu, who would make the journey with us.
After 3 months of seemingly endless days spent dealing with the downsizing process and a long list of things to do, time is suddenly moving at warp speed in the final 10 day countdown to departure day, Monday, September 30 from Boston Logan Airport. I am flying JAL direct to Japan while Toma is traveling on Lufthansa via Frankfort Germany. Pet Express, a highly regarded international pet transportation company, is handling Toma’s travel arrangements, care, custom’s entry and safe delivery to our Tokyo condo.
Shipment of our personal goods using a 20’ container is being handled by Schumacher Logistics, providing us with very professional door-to-door service. Today they have started the packing, returning next Wednesday to complete the task and load the shipment that will soon sail to the port of Yokohama Japan. On arrival, a Japanese firm will handle customs clearance and deliver everything to our Tokyo condo. Expensive but a worry-free way to handle our relocation.
The packing process is quite involved as Japan requires a detailed shipment inventory and has many restrictions on what can be imported. One interesting example is that I am not allowed to bring my Samurai sword collection purchased in Tokyo back to Japan! Also, since Keiko and I had packed many things when we sold our Crystal Lake home and moved into the Falmouth condo, the movers must open and inspect the contents and repack as necessary. A notation of “PBO” (packed by owner) would likely cause a considerable delay in clearing Japan customs! No batteries or liquids along with a long list of “dangerous” and other restricted items and products can be included.
So everything begins to fall into place. Here are some highlights on the road to Japan:
- We have successfully “downsized,” disposing of personal property no longer critical to our coming more minimalist lifestyle in Japan through sale, donation and sending stuff to recycle or trash. It was a difficult and stressful emotional and physical process. However, now completed I can honestly say that in the end it was a liberating and rewarding experience. Bottom-line, we earned sufficient funds through sales to pay for the move and settle debts.
- We had signed a year-long lease for the Falmouth condo through November 30. With a September 30 departure, we were obligated for two months rent. Fortunately, the owner-landlord quickly advertised the unit and rented the unit thus enabling us to terminate the lease. While I am headed to Japan, the new renter is coming from Shanghai China moving here on a three-year assignment with Idexx. They move in on September 27.
- I received a three-year renewable Resident Visa from Japan. This allows me to not only permanently reside in Japan but as the spouse of a Japanese national I am immediately enrolled in Japan’s national health insurance program (under a special program for 75+ seniors) and also allowed to work. I will be applying for a part-time position in an innovative Temple University program in Tokyo that works with Japanese entrepreneurs and business firms seeking to be more effective in global marketing and sales.
- Both the 2016 Subaru Cross-Trek and the 1973 FJ40 LandCruiser were sold this week. I had previously sold my 2003 Audi TT Quattro roadster. Needing the Subaru to drive, Keiko and I decided to sell it through CarMax as the departure date neared. They offered a fair price and it was a hassle-free process. Parting with my FJ40 was a very painful experience but I am pleased that it has ended up in good hands. Now “car-less” for the first time, I look back upon 26 different vehicles I have owned. With a few exceptions, they were all wonderful but the FJ40 was very special.
- Toma has his final health exam tomorrow morning and we send off an application to the US Department of Agriculture regional office in Albany, NY for his export permit. I will rest easy when that document is returned before we leave Portland for Boston next week.
- While I have spent nearly all of my time with Toma, I am deeply indebted to some close friends and helpful neighbors who have helped me cope with being separated from Keiko. I want to specifically thank Karou Phillips, Derek and Naoka Jaskulski, Ron and Yumi Dearth, Yoko Murphy, Mike and Mika Yellen, Stephen Houser, Nicole Gogan and Luke Thomas for the time they spent with me.
- In Maine we have had the good fortune to have wonderful neighbors. I will never forget the Sawyers on Crystal Lake who made Keiko and I feel like a member of their loving family. Now in Falmouth, the friendship and assistance of our neighbors Betsy Olsen and Nancy Hinkle was very helpful during my transition.
September 20, 2019 – Falmouth, Maine