Friday, June 05, 2015

American Embassy in Tokyo, Kua'Aina Burger and Krispy Kreme donuts at Ikspiari...

Tuesday, June 2nd was the day to get ourselves to the American Embassy in Tokyo. The US Embassy alots/allows 30 US passport applicants each day. No more than that number. You can book your appointment on the website, which I booked the boys appointments for June 2nd, last month. The appointments fill up really quickly. And I needed 2 appointments, since both the boys were applicants. Both parents need to be there, unless you sign an affidavit or something because they worry about parental child abduction and whatnot. Perhaps 1 parent doesn't know the plans for the child to travel. Type thing. So, we both went and have both always went to these, together. American adults passports last 10 years. But for American children, our child passports only last for 5 years because kids just look and change a lot, in a 5 year span. Which is understandable. The passport cost $105 US each. $210 US for both and with the exchange rate the passports were 26,000 yen. Yep, super expensive for passports, however our kids need them, so it's just an expense we expect. Noah will be 10 this July so naturally his passport time is up. Branden will be 14 this October. So, I would imagine his passport would be good until *next* year however...he had needed a replacement passport once and so that's why his timing is super off on his passport, hahaha. No worries though.   

Many different countries Embassy's and Consulates are very close in proximity to one another. Same part of Tokyo. However I would have to say the United States Embassy is the largest area wise/land wise of the Embassy's. The American Embassy also has the *most* security and protection, out of the ones we drove by/passed. See this huge white wall? Behind that wall, is where Caroline Kennedy lives, etc. You may *not* walk along the street where the American Embassy is. See this white barrier between the sidewalk and street pictured here? Nobody is allowed to walk down that specific sidewalk. There's a guard standing on all corners. And the sidewalk is sealed off. The other country embassy's are not like this. 
See this Japanese police man standing and guarding the US Embassy here? They protect all sides of the US Embassy this way And see the sidewalk...see the cones, see the walkway near the policeman has a white fence blocking/sealing it off essentially? Yes, totally not allowed on the street of the US Embassy. My thoughts? Well for me being American, it honestly gives me huge peace of mind knowing our Embassy is so well protected. I recall hearing on the news about a few US Embassy's abroad years ago, in different countries were targets or attacked or bombed, so yes it does give me peace of mind especially when my 2 baby's will be inside that day. You may be asking yourself, how can we get in. hahaha That would be a very fair question too. : ) Well... see across the street? See those 2 people walking? Like they can't go across the street any closer to the US Embassy at all, unless they can show proof that they are indeed US citizens or have a reason why they need to be allowed on that side of the street. We walked on the same side of the street where those people were and as we got closer... I had to flash our 3 US passports and Noboru's Japanese passport and tell him (the policeman), I just spoke in English because they're used to it, the cops who protect the area. I said politely...while showing my passport. "Hi, we have appointments, I'm American." He shook his head and let the people know across the street, on the side of the American Embassy side... 4 people were crossing the street. Us. Hahaha. : ) Otherwise you will not even be allowed to get close enough. But, we had an appointment. And had actual reasons to be there. 

Big giant trucks and of course more guards...these are also protection for the American Embassy. Anyway, so our appointment was at 2pm for Bran and 2:30pm for Noah. Considering how far we live away...an afternoon appointment worked best for us. If you want to now... enter the US Embassy you must show you have an appointment and paper proof of said appointment. I know this already so I had my 2 print outs. Everyone had to show theirs. And then you go through a door which weighs about 5 billion pounds this door. And you put all your belongings through an x-ray machine. No phones or cameras are allowed in the US Embassy. Again a safety issue, which is understandable. And again, I knew this already... which is why we both left our phones and camera in my car. Which was parked about 2 blocks away. These pics were taken while we were in the car driving to the parking garage. After we put our stuff in the x ray machine we were cleared to go inside. Keep in mind, there are about a billion cops and police. Then we enter the actual Embassy and are now in the 2nd screening area... we are were in the genkan or entry way of the US Embassy. Another guard goes through our bags 1 more time. There is now 1 US military man in bullet proof glass in uniform watching as everyone enters. Now we just finished our final bag check and walked through the last set of metal detectors. Also...baby strollers are not allowed in the US Embassy they must stay outside the building in Tokyo. It sorta drove me nuts this rule... when the boys were little. But, now that they're older it's fine, but again..it's for safety. I know these rules are just in place to keep our American Embassy safe and us American citizens safe. So that should be the priority and focus. So...all in all, I do not mind all the extra security checks at all. : ) 
The Bran-meister! : ) 

Noah-chan. We went directly in the area for American citizen services. Which is an area that just deals with services for Americans (file a marriage, need a passport, had a baby). There is another area for folks trying to get a visa into the US and whatnot (like students, etc). But that's a different area altogether. There's a spot, that says place your appointment sheets here. I placed both in there. And we just waited to be called. It's nice being in there. There was 1 African American man with a Japanese spouse wanting to do 2 things, register his baby's birth abroad and get a passport for his new baby. They were a really nice couple (he was military, however he's leaving Japan so he needed the passports and whatnot, to be mailed elsewhere, they told him absolutely no problem : ). A few white/western guys with Japanese wives. 1 Chinese American girl in a high school uniform with her parents she needed a new passport. The last name was Chinese. And 1 older western woman with a Japanese spouse/hubby and a high school aged hafu son, she smiled at me and I smiled at her. And us/our family. We all smiled at one another, all of us, we said hi, hello or whatnot. I like being in there. I feel a sense of camaraderie. We're all in a sense, the same. There was also 1 very older white/western man alone and he struck up a conversation in there with another old guy. I'd say one was late 50's and the other was early 50's. Anyway the older one said..."This place is harder to get into than Fort Knox!" We all had to laugh! Then he said..."I remember 20 years ago...this place had no security...I suppose in those days, we didn't need it...but you could just waltz right in. Sad to say...that's not the case anymore" He then added..."boy has the American citizens services area gotten smaller, over 20 years ago, it was twice this size!"...I did not know that part, that it used to be a bigger area, the citizen services area! Hmm. : ) The lady called us to come to our window, she said she could handle both boys paperwork at the same time and she went through all the paperwork, she talked to both the boys a lot and joked with them... we then paid the cashier and then came back and showed proof that we just paid. Then she called us over 1 last time, so the kids and us... as parents raised our right hands... took the oath, that all our paperwork and information provided was true and blah blah blah. And she said all was fine. She was awesome the lady who handled us. Although I personally find all the people working there super nice. I walked out of the American services area thinking...be well my fellow countrymen/country people...brothers and sisters, in a sense. : ) And we all left. The kids and Noboru went to pee real quick before we left. We walked down the road and to our car.  
We were all super starving and more than ready for dinner, by the time we got to Ikspiari for some delicious Kua "Aina Burger. We even ordered 2 sets of chicken strips as appetizers, while waiting for our main meals. 

Chicken teriyaki sandwich, and onions rings for me and 1 extra grilled onion that I ate. Noboru really dislikes onions, so he just marvels in disbelief, while I munch my delicious grilled onion. He's like...super yikes @_@  I'm like..super yummm. : ) Hahaha. Sorry. : )

Noah sat to my right and Bran sat next to Noboru.

All four of our meals in 1 picture. Dinner was lovely. The staff working there, know us already, not sure how they can remember us, but they always say...the grilled onion is for you, right? And they remember small things always.. from the last visit. : ) Those ladies working there rock!: ) After we ate, we debated if we should get donuts for the next day for breakfast. We took a vote and went and got some. : ) It's in the same mall as the burger place. Then we with donuts in hand,we went to the car and hopped on the highway and went home. It was a long day and a very long drive. But worth it, because now...as soon as the boys passports get here, they're good for 5 years. So that's the bright side.

A nice rare treat.

A dozen donuts and there's 4 of us, so we each picked 3 donuts. We each had 1 at home for dessert and the other 2, we all had for breakfast the next morning. Anyway, that is the day we went to the US Embassy. Now we just have to wait and see when both the boys passports get here. : )