I asked the kids what the moral of the story was, and they all said something to the effect of making sure you’re careful when you go on a boat so you don’t drown.
While that is good information, I pointed out to them that the point of the story was that Crab had a good time when he left his comfort zone and had an adventure. We then had a class discussion about some of the amazing things they can do here that they won’t be able to do anywhere else. We talked about Japanese festivals and the cool restaurants they can eat at. They brought up how fun it is to talk with the locals here and how nice they are. They were excited about the salmon festival a few weeks back and Sapporo Ice Festival that is coming up in a few months. They were ecstatic to share some of the Japanese foods they have tried here that most American kids have never even heard of. It was a great conversation about stepping outside your comfort zone, and of course, being safe while doing so. We encouraged each other to go and try something new this week: whether it was something we had never done, a place to explore or an interesting food to try.
My new adventure was something that I had actually decided to do earlier that morning. On the way to work every day, we pass a mysterious bridge on the other side of the fence that marks where the Misawa Air Base land begins. This bridge is actually inside of two fences, belonging to some sort of “no man’s land” in between the main road on the base and the beach where military families can hang out and barbeque in the summer. Every day, we see cars driving on it and wonder how they got there, and where they are going. I told Ben that after school that day, we were going to find out.
When I got to school in the morning, I told one of our friends that we were going to explore the “mysterious road on the other side of the fence” and she let out a gasp, and then explained that she had always wanted to figure out how to get to that very same road. So a plan was set in motion to go on a courageous expedition (yes, we may have made it out to be a lot more exciting than it really was) to go find the road.
Two hours later, I read the fable to my kids, and was excited to be able to use a real-life example in our conversation. The kids were excited to hear about our findings, as most of them had seen the road and had never been on it.
School ended and we set out, with a vague google map and our iPhones to lead the way. I’m sure it would have been a lot more adventurous without the use of technology, but it gets dark here at 4:15 pm and we didn’t want to spend hours trying to figure out where it was and then not be able to see it because it was dark.
It took about 20 minutes to go around the base and the lake, and we started thinking that we must have gotten lost (which is very easy to do in a city with no street names and very little English) but we finally found a road that looked promising. As we drove over the mysterious bridge, we waved at all the cars on the base who were driving by on the other side of the fence. Then we took some pictures, admired the view of the lake, and then climbed back in the car to defrost and talk about how proud of ourselves we were for finding the mysterious road.
A little silly? Yes. But a great time was had by all. (And now, every time we pass the mysterious bridge, we know that we’ve been to the other side of the fence.)
(left) The mysterious bridge and (right) Lake Ogawara from the beach.