JLPT info


Well, I got my card and I’m taking jlpt N2 on December 7th. I’m pretty excited. I’ve been studying a lot and getting better and better. Although I still get very frustrated because it seems I forget as much as I remember. Japanese is a really hard language with lots of new vocabulary.

The above link explains the changes to the jlpt that occurred a few years ago. I know I personally was confused about those changes and it took me a while to figure it all out.


Library Volunteer


This is the school “bazaar.”   Items are donated to the school and sold at cheap prices to raise money.  As a library volunteer, I worked selling the used books.  That was easy, so it was fine by me.  Another library mom is talented at balloon art (balloons twisted into swords and flowers) and it was more popular than the books.  The kids all wanted balloons shaped into swords and flowers.

Today, the leader of the group said that during January through March, she wants me to do English yomikikase (reading aloud to a class) every single week.  I may not be here next year, she said, so she wanted to do as much English as possible and use my “eigo chikara”  (English power).   I said I wanted to do yomikikase at the junior high and they said, “Oh, yes, you should tell them!”  But not to be negative or anything—–the junior high has a lot of kids and it is just little me.  Kind of overpowering and too much for me.  So I don’t know if I want to do it. Show me the money.

Here are the books I have chosen so far.  Hopefully the list will help anybody else who may also do yomikikase in Japan.  I generally try to use one book several times.

Skeleton Hiccups

It’s Christmas, David!  (There’s no Japanese text available currently, so I translated it to Japanese.)

The Foggy Foggy Forest

Go Away Big Green Monsters (No Japanese–I translated it into Japanese)

The Three Robbers (No English available–I copied the English text from Youtube)  (The English in the book turned out to be too difficult so I only did it once.)

Snow (the one by Uri Shulevitz)

Chugging All the Way

The Very Busy Spider (the one by Eric Carle)

No, David!

Where the Wild Things Are (Throwaway Book–We all had to choose one book for storytime at the school bazaar.  I knew the number of students listening would be very small and their attention spans short.  I was correct.)

This Is Not My Hat (I haven’t actually done this book yet. It’s my plan for January.)


I personally like books that are either deep like “Snow” (excuse the pun) or funny and interesting like “No, David.”  With really easy English.  Although honestly, even the easiest books are too difficult for them.  I make my own flashcards and teach them words and phrases from each book, so hopefully they learn something.




Okay, if you’ve always wanted to know what the infamous Fukushima City looks like, this is an interesting house on my son’s walk to school.


Two sites




Yesterday, I went to Nakago, the fancy department store here in town for calendar shopping. I’m pretty picky about my calendars.
I have an American one ready for next year–it’s Norman Rockwell and I got it online. I want an easy reference for American holidays.

(Oh, today is Labor Day in the States! That’s why everybody is off.)

Plus, I hang a Japanese one with the Japanese holidays. I wanted the holidays in English–this is important. I try to make our house as bilingual friendly as possible, so this includes calendars. So I found the perfect calendar. It’s Peter Rabbit with the Japanese holidays in both English and Japanese. Plus each month there is a quote with the illustration. So adorable.
I got my mom a Moomin picture frame and a Moomin calendar. I really like the Moomin calendar because the holidays are printed only in English. None of that squiggly Oriental writing to distract her from the important stuff. Also, I think my family likes having a reference to when MY FAMILY here in Japan has days off.

(Oh, this National Foundation Day in Japan! Whatever the hell that means!)

Nobody knows what Moomin are in America, but it’s high time they learned, doncha think?


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I’m not quite sure what they are either actually.  However, everybody here lives in Japan knows that these plump Finnish creatures are a true Japanese experience.

Where was I?  Oh, shopping!  And there was an earthquake!!!!!!!!  While I was shopping!!!!!!!!!!!

Actually, I didn’t notice it but the salesladies said, “Stop what you are doing!  Don’t go anywhere!  It’s shaking! ゆれている!”


That’s where the above websites come in.  I can check the first one–Japan Meteoroligical (ologolgical…whatever.) Agency in english.


OR I can go straight to the source and use the second site.  What you do is, you go to ANY JAPANESE WEBSITE and save the URL, then click it into Yomo Yomo’s little box.  Then you can read and listen to the Japanese website!!!!!!!  Isn’t that so cool?  So I did that with the Japanese news and discovered that it was a Magnitude 3 earthquake in our area.  Just as I figured.


Also, if anyone is interested, I know there is an app for early detection of earthquakes.  It has long been available in Japanese and recently in English.  Here is some sort of link:  http://newscanada-plus.com/earthquake-detection-app-smartphones-remarkable-invention-scientists-37192/57105  I don’t have it because I don’t have, um, a , uh, a smartphone.  I did see how it worked though.  It went beep beep beep!  Oh and an earthquake is coming!  And sure enough about a minute or so later, it came.  So it is probably a nice thing to have to give you that extra minute to worry prepare.






Video Cassette Give Away


Black Thunder is our new favorite candy bar.  My son loves it.


Parent Observation Day…Playing their recorders.  Also we watched a science class in the science lab.  I l always watch my son closely in these sample lessons to see how he behaves and interacts, and so on.


Okay, does anybody STILL have a VCR?  I know that they aren’t used much anymore……

When my son was born, DVD’s were just starting up.  So it was a transition period–video cassettes going out and DVD’s coming in.  So anyway, I have some free American video cassettes to anybody with a small child who is learning English.  The only thing necessary for you to have is a Japanese address that I can send it to.

Here are the video cassettes:

Maisy’s Colors and Shapes

Bob the Builder Scoop’s Favorite Adventures

Curious George Comes to America

Veggietales The Ballad of Little Joe

Little People Vol. 4 Discovering Things that Go

Sesame Street A Musical Celebration

Barney’s ABCs and 123s

Walt Disney Here’s Mickey

First Impressions Opposites

Bee Smart Baby Action Words

Bob the Builder The Big Game

Thomas the Tank Engine Percy’s Ghostly Trick and other Thomas Stories

Baby Knowitall Animals and ABCs

The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny

Leap Frog Letter Factory

The first person who responds and who has a Japanese address can have the box of them!



Japanese traditional game greeting card

My aunt asked me to buy some presents for the three kids in a family that she knows. I was kind of like…..uh……Not wanting to do it. Mainly because my suitcases have limited capacity. However, I found what I personally thought were great gifts.


These are some greeting cards that I found at our Itoyokado department store.  They are actually traditional Japanese games made of paper.  Cool, huh?  Okay, at 400 yen each I thought they were a little pricey, but there were several things I liked about them.

  • Traditional!  Japanese!  Games!
  • The instructions are both in English and Japanese.  It’s such a pain in Japan to see a cool present and want to buy it for somebody in America–but the instructions are all Japanese and you know it will be hopeless for them to figure it out.  It’s not even like German where they can figure it out out, sort of.  With Japanese, if you can’t read it, then YOU CAN NOT READ IT.
  • They are made of paper.  That way when the attraction (of about two and a half minutes, given the attention span of today’s kids) wears off, they can degrade back into dust, unlike certain plastic toys currently cluttering my house.
  • Light weight.  Takes up virtually no room in my overburdened suitcase.
  • Did I say Traditional Japanese Games???????



Okay, if you’ve always wanted to know what infamous Fukushima City looks like, this is a view of our local river.  Isn’t it lovely?



Gravity Falls

Ah, I can remember the very first time we saw Gravity Falls.  Dipper and Mabel were on the sofa, throwing up at each other–only to reveal the vomit was actually silly string!  Gross,  thought.  Nevertheless…..an obsession was born.

My son loves Gravity Falls with his whole heart and his entire being.  Almost as much as he loves Mario Brothers.  Anyway, he insisted that I watch–I generally regulated all the Disney cartoons into the category of “dumb” and watch bits of pieces of them as I clean and cook–he insisted that I watch and indeed I too fell into deep infatuation with the animated comedy that is like no other.  I quote my son:

Funny and creepy

It’s a complex show, and obviously well thought out with bits that you are led to believe are “nothing” developing into something much more mysterious and strange.  Here’s a clip:  Well actually here’s a full episode:  Gravity Falls Douple Dipper episode.  Youtube has quite a few full episodes.

And what’s more, I thought that Dipper was voiced by John Ritter, but he passed away, so how could it be voiced by him?  It turns out to be voiced by his son Jason Ritter.

Okay.  Where was I.  We bought the handbook for Gravity Falls in English and it was worth buying.  It’s a neat book. Gravity Falls Handbook



Picture Time!


This artist creates Maneki Neko (Beckoning Cats)  I bought a cat from him.  I try to support local stores and so on.


Pie Shop!  My son has been wanting to try this pie shop.  I got him Halloween pie!


Okay, if you’ve always want to know what infamous Fukushima City looks like, this is the downtown area all decorated for Halloween.




Walking to the local public junior high school


My husband and son walking to the local public junior high.  It’s on the side of that hill and up quite a slope.

Next year, my son will be going to junior high.  There are two choices:  public or private.  It’s so incredibly difficult to decide which school to send him to.  Both have positives and negatives.

Public Bad:  Not as rigorous academically.  More likely to have (IMO) doofus teachers who are just coasting.  More likely to have idiot mean kids, and thus more bullying.  Plus probably a school that does not take a hard stand against bullying.  English class will be way to easy for my son.

Good:  Easier academically and therefore less stress.  Summers off for vacation.  School lunch provided.  Kids from all walks of life will attend.  Most importantly, this is the school where my son wants to go.  He will be with his elementary school friends instead of separated from them.


Private Bad:  Academically rigorous and therefore stressful.  No summer vacation.  (School is in session during summer.)  No lunch provided, must bring bento every day.

Good:  Academically rigorous and therefore prepares my son for the real world.  English is divided into low level class and high level, therefor a hope of actually challenging my son.  Probably a firmer stance against bullying and other naughty behavior.  Probably better teachers, perhaps.

So it is a hard choice.  Very hard.  The clincher is that my son badly wants to attend public, which means he will likely go there.

I don’t like making decisions! 


Cute little shrine next to the junior high school.  There is some sort of temple or shrine up those steps, but it is a tiring walk up, so we didn’t go.