New Japanese Textbook from Hubby



My husband went to Tokyo and brought me back these two books.  When he handed me the Japanese studying book (which prepares you for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test) he said, “Now, you don’t have to study with that stupid Japanese Pod!”

He hates Japanese Pod.  Have I mentioned that before on this blog?  It’s a bone of contention between us.   He feels that the Japanese in it is too casual.  I admit that Japanese Pod does have an areas in which it could be improved (for example, sometimes an “advanced” lesson may be easier than some “intermediate” lessons, so I study both).  However, I find Japanese Pod fun.  I learn a lot about Japanese culture.

The book in the picture is great at preparing for the test, but it is not at all exciting and does NOT teach about Japanese culture at all.   It is just exercises.  That’s all.  No fairy tales or explanations of famous comedians like Jpod.

But it’s a nice little book and it serves its purpose for test preparation.  Not much more than that!

Update:  I was studying a book of essays I got from Fukushima University’s library.  I was so proud of a word in it that I announced: ” Kyou no tenki wa shigure desu!”

Shigure  時雨≒=Shower in late autumn or early winter

My husband was all, “That word is NOT going to be on your test!”  (How does he know?  Does he have SPECIAL INSIGHT into the test makers’ minds?)

Anyway, I picked up the N2 book and will study that until my test on December sixth.

My husband is like my trainer for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test:

“Focus, Rocky, Focus!   You’re gonna roll over it like a bulldozer!  Like an American bulldozer!   I’m gonna stay alive and watch you make good!  I’ll never leave you!  And when I leave you, you’ll not only know how to fight, you’ll be able to take care of yourself out of the ring!  Like an angel on your shoulder, if you’re ever going down, this angel will yell at you, Get up, you son of a bitch!”

And that’s why we have such a happy marriage.


Cloth Picture Books Hand-Crafted by Fukushima Volunteers



I went to an exhibit of something very unusual.  Those of you who sew can appreciate today’s post!


Touchable Picture Books Made Entirely Out of Cloth!


There are three hundred of these picture books made out of fabric.  It takes one year for a Fukushima volunteer to complete one book.  The organization has been doing this for thirty years.


They are SO BEAUTIFUL!   All made lovingly out of fabric.


The Little Prince


The Sun and the Cloud






Just gorgeous.


Story Aprons. The wearer uses the puppets to tell a story.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar


Eating his way through the pages.


Except for the words, the version at the top is all sewn on!!!!!!  Amazing!!!!!!!


The Emperor’s New Clothes


The Pied Piper of Hamelin


The Wolf and the Seven Kids


Little Red Riding Hood


The Three Robbers


A hiragana book.  かmakes the “ka” sound which begins the word kame (turtle)


Book of months:  4 gatsu is April  (the fourth month…Japanese months are extremely easy!)  4 gatsu is pronounced “Shi Gatsu” because shi means four.


I felt really fortunate to see this exhibit because I love picture books so much.  The makers of these books are really proud of them, and they should be!  They are wonderful!

Coffee Refills on the Denny’s Menu in Japan


When my family was visiting Japan, one thing they complained about was free drink refills of soda.  In America, free refills of your cola is expected.  Not in Japan!   Fast food restaurant don’t have self service sodas like in America.  Sometimes, in family style restaurants, they have what are called “drink bars”–all you can drink soda, tea and coffee.

Some restaurants (especially Chinese or Japanese) will serve free unlimited tea.

You don’t usually get free refills with coffee, either.  I know!  Sad!

So I thought I would explore the world of coffee refills at one of our favorite restaurants, Denny’s!


This is at Denny’s.  Most of the coffee selection is not free refills.

Only their plain regular hot coffee has unlimited refills.  You can tell by the message on the menu above.  Here it is, translated:

お代わり自由   okawari jiyuu           “Free refills”

ドリップ珈琲    dorippu kouhii          “Drip coffee”

ダブル焙煎     daburu baisen           “Double roasted”

I think this Japanese is rather tricky for us foreigners because it uses the kanji for “coffee”.  Usually coffee (kouhii) is written in katakana.  But you need to know the kanji because you may see it on menus.



The regular drip coffee has different prices depending on whether you order it with a meal, or alone.

The photo above says:


Oryouri to setto no gochumon de

“When ordering with food or a meal”

So this is the price for a drink when ordering additional food.  It is 172 yen, and with tax, 185 yen. You MUST order that additional food or you won’t get this price.




tanpin de gochumon itadakuto

“When purchasing alone”

So if you purchase only the regular coffee (without food), its price is 218, or with tax, 235 yen.

“Tanpin” is a useful word that means you are purchasing only that item alone, not together with other items.


If you want to buy the scrumptious cafe latte, you will be charged for any refills. That’s what it says here.   (It’s not regular coffee.)


spesharu kafe no okawari wa, tanpin kakaku to narimasu.

“If you get a refill of the special coffee, you will be charged for it at the regular price.

And you can see the price is 334 or with tax, 360 yen.


So there you go!  Have fun ordering at Denny’s.  After all, nobody wants to cook the day after Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, My Fellow Americans!



I took this photo of a house (of some sort) here in town, but this photo is VERY unfair because the vast, vast, vast majority of Japanese housing is strong and sturdy.   Nevertheless, I am so glad that if I have to live in a country with the most earthquakes in the world, I am thankful that it is a country with (for the most part) sturdy housing.

I know in many countries, housing is not built to withstand earthquakes.  When a powerful (or sometimes even a weak) earthquake strikes, people are killed due to poor construction.  So I am so thankful that my house, my son’s school and my husband’s lab stood up on 3/11.

It’s a day to be thankful for all the blessings we have been given!  I’m going to try to carry this feeling with me all year long.   I’m really lucky and I often forget that.

Christmas Cards


Over the summer I bought Thank You cards at the store.  My dad said, “Why did you buy those thank you cards? You can write your own. When I was a kid we used our best handwriting and wrote long letters.”
“Did you use nice paper?” I asked.
“We used regular paper,” he said.  “We had nothing. We bought nothing except gas and oil and some spices and yeast and sugar….Now you spend a dollar on a card that is already made.”
“Um….these cards cost more than a dollar!” I said.

Okay, well.  I bought our Christmas cards rather than making them at home using my best handwriting.  Sorry, Dad!


I bought them at our church’s annual bazaar.  They are religious cards.  Japanese stores don’t sell religious Christmas cards. (Except maybe a few stores in Tokyo or Osaka…and even then, not common.)


These cards are typical of what you’ll find for sale in a Japanese store.  This is in a department store.  A little on the tacky side for my taste.


Ever since I moved to Japan twenty years ago, Christmas has been quite a big deal in Japan, although in a secular way.



These are quite pretty.  They are from a stationery store, which tend to have quite nice things.


Halloween is getting strong, Thanksgiving (being an American holiday, of course) is nonexistent and Easter is almost nonexistent.  Fourth of July (naturally) is also nonexistent.  I mean, honestly, I don’t expect Thanksgiving and Fourth of July to be celebrated in Japan–that would be weird.

What would YOU do?



Nuclear meltdown.

What would YOU do if it happened to you?

To your community?

Would you up and leave?

Or stay?

What if leaving means breaking up your family?  (This has happened to many families, one of the many tragedies.)

I’m asking this hypothetically.  I don’t expect people to answer in the comments, nor do I particularly want you to.  Just think about yourself and if it happened to you. Imagine it is the only place that you and your family have ever lived.  Imagine that you have no other place you call home.  That’s the case for a lot of Fukushimers. So imagine if that were your situation. Imagine if leaving meant leaving your spouse, or even possibly your kids. Imagine that it meant that your kids moved away to a boarding school or relative’s house and you stayed and earned money.  Or that your spouse moved away.

Some guy wrote a whole book on the people who stay at Chernobyl or Fukushima.

“Would you stay?” is the title.  As if it is a choice for some people.  A lot of people don’t really have a choice.  I’m waiting for my free copy.  I don’t need to buy a book to see photos of my neighbors living their lives just like everybody else.

They have that wildly successful “Humans of New York”.  I’ve thought about snapping photos of people in Fukushima and asking random questions like “So tell me, what dream did have when you were a child?” and calling it “Faces of Fukushima”.  But I don’t like the idea of including photos of people’s faces in this blog.  I don’t want to profit off other people.  (Not that this blog is for profit.  But you know what I mean.)



free images taken from


Assumptions People Make When They Hear Your Husband is Japanese


I was reading a blog written by an American woman who is married to a Moroccan.  She wrote about the assumptions that people make upon learning her husband is Arab.  I thought that was brilliant and made my own list of what I believe are people’s assumptions.

1. He is short.

FALSE!   My husband is about six foot.  Not exactly a sumo wrestler, but not a shrimp, either.  Before coming to the U.S. he had believed the stereotype that Japanese are short and Americans are tall, but was surprised at how many short Americans there are.   I think that long ago, probably due to poor nutrition, Japanese people were shorter, but definitely getting taller.  (Japanese older people are typically much shorter than the modern young people.)

2.   He has a small penis.

FALSE!    And that’s all I’m saying.

3.  He has no body hair.

FALSE!    He has hair on his chest….and other places.  If he doesn’t shave, his face gets scratchy in a day.

4.    He expects his wife to serve him and be subservient.

FALSE!    No.  I’m a lazy bitch.

5.      He will work all the time.

TRUE!  He does work all the time. So did my dad.  Oh well.

6.      He will prefer having a son.

FALSE!   He did not care and would have been happy with a girl!

7.      You are allowed to have only one child.

FALSE!  Japan’s one child policy went into effect…….never.

8.       He’s a Momma’s Boy.  (Or expects you to live with his parents.)

FALSE!   My husband is so not a momma’s boy.  He’s very independent of his parents.

9.      He expects his wife to take care of his aging parents.

FALSE!   He does not expect this.  However, this is a hard one for me, because I would like to do what I can.  Plus his parents took care of me and my son after 3/11.  So I really do not know the future here.   I am hoping something happens like his parents stay healthy forever.