Saty Shopping Center


My son and I rode our bicycles to Saty Shopping Center.  It takes approximately thirty minutes, I guess.  But it was a very pleasant ride–the sidewalks are very bicycle friendly, and the weather was perfect.

I don’t drive in Japan.  When I first arrived here, I was on the JET program, and the city I was with didn’t allow their JET teachers to drive.  (Too dangerous.)  So I just never got into the habit.

It has its plusses and minusses.  We live in downtown Fukushima City, so its easy for me to get around–by bike, on foot, by train.  Albeit constrained by the limitations of bikes, feet and train.  I feel like I rarely go out of my little “circle.”   I’d like to explore more.

But I can think of two huge benefits.  One is that biking is free.  I don’t spend money on gas.  Another benefit is that it forces me and my son to move.  For example, we wanted to go to Saty and hubby was working that day, so we got on our bikes and moved our bodies.  I think this is great for my son, to experience getting around as nature intended, with his own legs.

What’s weird though, is that even though if I want to get from point A to point B, I have to exercise to do it–yet I still still have problems with my weight!  I have learned that exercise doesn’t really do much to combat calories.  You have to walk a lot to work off one cookie.  But nevertheless, exercise still has great health benefits.  So that (sometimes) makes me glad I don’t have a car.

Oh, and when we got to Saty, look at I what I found.  Of course, I had to take photos.




I’m sorry to inflict these photos on you.  These mannequins are just plain scary!  (So that definitely means:  Watch out for them in future posts.  When you least expect it………they’ll be coming for you!)

100 Poets, 1 Poem Each


There is a list of poems.  It’s the “100 Poems”  (百人一首) hyaku nin isshyu  (Literally: 100 Poets, One Poem Each)  They were compiled by Fujiwara no Teika who was born in 1162.


They are famous, of course.  However, a totally random Japanese person declared to me, “I don’t know anything about those poems!”

Another totally random Japanese person did better.  She recited one of the poems to me from memory.

The above book is public domain, so it is available here: A better site is probably although this site does not contain the wood block prints, furthermore the translations are different.

Anyway, I first learned about the 100 Poems while looking at karuta cards in the bookstore.  Apparently it is common to play a karuta game with these poems:  A person reads the first half of the poem, the players compete to be the first to find the card with the second half of the same poem.

I have no desire to play the 100 Poem karuta game–it sounds way too lofty for me right now.  I am just trying to pass N2.  An example of the karuta set is here:


If you were to compile a list of 100 poems for your culture, what would you include?  I don’t think I could even begin!  It would require a lot of thought.  For America, let’s see. Some Emily Dickinson?  Edgar Allen Poe?  Langston Hughes?



I picked out some of my favorite poems of the Japanese one hundred:

Poem 40

ALAS! the blush upon my cheek,
Conceal it as I may,
Proclaims to all that I’m in love,
Till people smile and say—
‘Where are thy thoughts to-day?’


Poem 42

OUR sleeves, all wet with tears, attest
That you and I agree
That to each other we’ll be true,
Till Pine-tree Hill shall be
Sunk far beneath the sea.


Poem 50

DEATH had no terrors, Life no joys,
Before I met with thee;
But now I fear, however long
My life may chance to be,
’Twill be too short for me!


Poem 80

MY doubt about his constancy
Is difficult to bear;
Tangled this morning are my thoughts,
As is my long black hair.
I wonder—Does he care?





Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro


My son has a present!  My son has a present!  The anticipation is KILLING me!


Let’s see what is inside!


Oh my goodness!  It’s a “GeGeGe no Kitaro” comic book by Shigeru Mizuki!  Just what I wanted–I mean just what HE wanted!


When I first came to Japan, and all the years since then, I would occasionally see this little odd boy whose hair always covered one eye, yet had an eyeball on his shoulder–on candy packaging, books, whatever.  Not terribly often, but sometimes.  I didn’t know anything about him, but was found this little odd boy slightly mesmerizing.


Here are GeGeGe no Kitaro books from our library.  Maybe for a kid about seven or eight, I suppose?


Created in 1960, according to Wikipedia, the original title of the manga was “Hakaba no Kitaro” (Kitaro of the Graveyard).  Kitaro is a yokai boy (yokai is the term in Japan for a ghostly being.)  Plus you can see his father on his shoulder–his father takes the form of an eyeball.

I have to admit I am a little disappointed in the comic.  The reason is that the furigana is way, way, way too small for me to read, so I gave up reading it.  I know they have a larger version, but it was sold out.  Silly me forgot to consider whether the print was too small.  Shoot.

What’s more, when I first came to Japan, I bought a CD of children’s TV theme songs, and listened to it over and over.  What a wonderful investment in my time, I think now.  I learned ALL the classics–Rascal, Ultraman, GeGeGe no Kitaro, and so on.  It was a good deal for somebody living in Japan.

Anyway, like the comic illustrations, the theme song was also mesmerizing.  “Ge!  Ge!  GeGeGe no Geeeeee!”  It’s really easy to learn, so all you learners of Japanese, let’s study it together!

Ge Ge GeGeGe no Ge!                       Ge Ge GeGeGe no Ge!

Asa wa nedoko                                    Morning in bed

de gu gu gu                                           Snore Snore Snore

Tanoshii na Tanoshii na                    What fun!  What fun!

Obake nya Gakkou mo                       Ghost School

Shiken mo nani mo nai                      There are no tests

Ge Ge GeGeGe no Ge!                         Ge Ge GeGeGe no Ge!

Minna de utaou ge ge ge no ge          Let’s all sing ge ge ge no go

Ge Ge GeGeGe no Ge!                         Ge Ge GeGeGe no Ge!

Yoru wa hakaba de undoukai        Sports Day in the graveyard at night

Tanoshii na Tanoshii na                     What fun!  What fun!

Obake wa shinanai~~                          Ghosts don’t die.

Byouki mo nani mo nai                        Never any illnesses.

Ge Ge GeGeGe no Ge!                           Ge Ge GeGeGe no Ge!

Minna de utaou ge ge ge no ge            Let’s all sing!  ge ge ge no ge

Minna de utaou ge ge ge no ge            Let’s all sing!  ge ge ge no ge

I think one of my reasons for renewing my interest in Kitaro is that Yokai Watch has taken off BIG in Japan.  I went to Toys R Us to buy Pokemon stuff for a child overseas who is interested in Pokemon.  Well, Yokai Watch has almost completely usurped Pokemon.  But let’s face it, before there was cutesy Yokai Watch there was other famous yokai……like Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro!

Okay, Japanese learners, Japanese class is not over yet!  This is a episode that some wonderful person put up.  It’s from 1968, and it’s got English subtitles, and its marvelously creepy.


Stop the presses!  A Ge Ge Ge exhibit is coming to Fukushima City.  It will be at the Comu Comu building next to the train station, and is free!  I can’t wait.


Special Report from We Speak Japanese and English


Something has been depressing me recently.

I went to my Japanese class on Friday, smiled at people like I normally do, and started my lesson with my two teachers. About midway through, it changed course.

The female teacher said that they wanted to change me into “a Japanese woman” And that I need to learn bowing and such.

The male teacher went on about “In Rome do as the Romans do” and so on and on. I need to eat Japanese food like natto and konyaku. (Probably because I am overweight. Size 14, American.)

Anyway, I was just amazed. I always make an effort to be pleasant to be people, so I don’t see where this is coming from. I went home rather huffy, and called the big boss of the class, and cancelled for next week (this coming Friday.)

I’m not going back. Here it is, Tuesday, and I am STILL thinking about it. Luckily, I have Wednesday Japanese class, and those teachers are extremely nice.

So anyway, I have been depressed the past week. Plus I hurt my tailbone stupidly going down a slide while playing with my son. It’s not been my week.

Ah, the English memories



I was tidying up and organizing stuff.  I came across these old worksheets from my son’s younger years.  Much younger years.  I am guessing around age three?

I think a problem that people with young children often have is that their little ones can’t write yet, but their moms (or dads) are all ready for them to start their ABC’s.  Well, if the little isn’t ready yet, then he (or she) just isn’t ready.

My son was NOT an early bloomer with handwriting, just the opposite.  We did lots of drawing work.  I would write “Bear” on a piece of paper and draw a bear in front of my son.  He would then scribble on it.  So we did lots of scribbling and coloring and drawing practice.  (Though my son never enjoyed coloring books.)

The pages from the above photo are from a workbook called “I am Special.”  It’s a neat book.  I don’t think they make it anymore, but here is a similar book by the same publisher.   We have this one, too, and it is quite nice.

English morning time with Mommy (or English Evening Time with Daddy) should be fun and not a huge stress for the child or the adult.  So if your child isn’t ready for writing yet, work on something else.  And to be perfectly honest—if your child IS ready for writing, but has atrocious handwriting, don’t sweat it.  My son has atrocious writing at home, beautiful writing at junior high.  I didn’t sweat it.  When necessary, he can write clearly.

I think when your child is young, there is so much to worry about.  But if you take it one step at a time, day by day, you’ll eventually get to where you want to go!


They have other books available with drawing and writing, plus you can easily make your own, or find worksheets online.

For worksheets: is part of DLTK.  (I ADORE DLTK.  It is truly a wonderful site. And 100% free.) for worksheets funsheets  These worksheets can help fuel your imagination.

If you want to buy a cool coloring book:  Scribbles

Boys’ Doodle Book

Anti coloring Book

Month by Month Writing Prompts

There are more books that are similar, so look around.  Plus they look easy to make at home if you don’t want to purchase one.  I know money can be tight- I know!  I know! -and the whole point is ImAgInAtIoN!  Right?!!?  So sometimes a blank sketch book is all you need for an English lesson of fun and joy and frolic.


scribble : Scribble Background

I call it “Girl With a Pearl Necklace

Gazing over One Shoulder

And if you do want to purchase ABC toys for your little, here is a great list from a fellow blogger.  Personally, I would not invest too much money, though, on ABC toys.  ABC’s are easy to learn, and kids outgrow the basics very quickly.  (I own the TREND Bingo game shown in the list and I have used it way way way more with my English classes for Japanese kids than with my own son.)


Fun Shopping at this Little Shop!



This is such a charming little shop near my home.


It has lots and lots of western goods!


Those dolls would look perfect in my mom’s house.  She loves decorating.


Sock Monkey!


Lots of western stuff with an interesting mix of Japanese items.




Moomin!  Moomin is crazy popular in Japan.


This is next door.  Hmmmm……why am I not surprised that “Hot Vinyl Records” went out of business?





One of the books that I received from the very generous person who gave me used books was the book “Rascal.”  It’s a good book, set in 1918 about a boy who keeps a racoon as a pet.

I found it interesting because Japan has a tiny bit of a Rascal craze.  Or used to, I should say.  Years ago, there was a cartoon loosely based on the book.  And so now you can still see the racoon on items like notepads and folders, as evidenced by the picture below.


So yeah, I daresay Rascal the Racoon is more famous in Japan than in the United States.

And yes, maybe people who watch TV in America are aware of this, Japan now has a huge racoon problem due to the popularity of the cartoon.  Racoons are indigenous to North America, not Japan.  So when they were brought here as pets, and then released into the wild, they thrived and now wreak havoc on wooden structures like temples and shrines.  (I saw the racoon special with my dad!)

We also have a plate with the racoon Rascal on it!  That shows you the level of Rascal love in Japan.  Here is the Rascaly site.

Ready for some youtube?  The official name of the cartoon is Araiguma Rasukaru (Araiguma means “racoon” literally “washing bear”)  This is the theme song.  This is the cartoon.  The song has English in it, but the cartoon itself is only in Japanese.


And now for our next read-aloud!  “Shooting Kabul”  I love read-alouds.