It seems like a lot of cities have mascots now.  I don’t remember this in the nineties, when I first arrived in Japan.  I wonder if it is a new thing.

This is Momorin, the very uncharismatic mascot of Fukushima City. He has no personality, but we luvs him anyway.


I bought a Momorin doll.  I have big plans for you, little buddy!


Momorin goods for sale.  I’d rather a big FUKUSHIMA!  on the items in English (or Romaji, to be exact. :-) If I buy souvenirs for Americans, they won’t know who the bunny is.  It doesn’t mean anything to them.


Momorin bags.  I think they do say Fukushima in small print.  I don’t think they are particularly attractive though. (Picky Picky)


Funashi!  He is Momorin’s more popular, more interesting, and better looking cousin.  He is energetic and funny, whereas Momorin silently lumbers around like Frankenstein.  (Sorry, Momorin!  I have to say it because it’s true!)

Bicycle Ride


Sometimes it is nice to just get on your bike and ride.


We rode to one of Fukushima City’s rivers.


The Matsukawa River.  Since “Kawa” means “River”,  my son said, “That’s like saying Matsukawa Kawa.”  (Pine River River)


Let’s get back on our bikes and ride.


This big sign says “Books” (Hon=本) and under that it says in smaller letters, “Video”.  So we headed to this bookstore, only to enter and discover……that it is a dirty video shop!  I told my son that it probably used to be a regular bookshop, but went out of business.


The day we went bicycling was a national holiday–Showa Day.  So that’s probably why this flag is being displayed.  You definitely don’t see flags on display in Japan as often as in America.  To tell the truth, when I see a flag on display it makes me feel almost uncomfortable, like perhaps the person displaying the flag is ultra-right wing.  I wonder if foreigners in America feel the same way when they see the American flag on display?


Interesting Buddha here right in the middle of the sidewalk on a busy street.  They must have developed the area around it.


This is another day, another bicycle ride.  We rode to the main river of Fukushima City, the Abukuma River.


There it is!  The Abukuma!  It runs from south to north in Fukushima Prefecture, exiting at the Pacific Ocean.

Here is an extremely easy Japanese song.  It’s based on a famous Japanese poem, I think.

Big Boy Picture Books


In the interest of full disclosure……when my son was an elementary school student, I would lie down with him at night and read him a book.  Yes, even in sixth grade!  And talk and tell stories and so on.

However, once he started JHS, my husband asked that we no longer do this.  I guess my little boy is growing up.

I still try to fit in bedtime storytime, but it is a lot harder.  Anyway, my husband saw me reading my son a book that was a bit young for him.  So my husband said, “You shouldn’t read him Babu Babu Baby books.  Read him Big Boy books.”

So I headed to the local library.  They have a lot of books in their stockroom, so I requested ten random books.  I got several Big Boy books.

How about this?


The Highway Man.  It’s a famous poem by Alfred Noyes.

Perhaps you have heard it?

And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the olyd inn-door.


Big Boy book enough, you think?  LOL  This is a British book, winner of the prestigious Kate Greenaway medal in 1981.  Here is a full list of winners.  Wonderful books.


Moving on.  A big boy Christmas book.  Hey, it’s not Christmas.  But I asked for random books, so I gets what I gets.


This is an Australian book, finalist in 1983 for Australian Book of the Year.  Winners can be found here.


The Bible is always Big Boy:

There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:

The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.



Very first winner of the American Caldecott in 1938.  Here is a list of winners.

So those are some of the Big Boy Picture Books.  I sure would like to buy loads and loads of them, but I don’t think we need to do that now, do we.  Not yet.  Not just yet.

Christianity in Japan



Can you read this sign?  It says “Christ is coming soon”  Christ (Kirisuto) is printed in yellow.

I came home and told my husband about this sign, but he couldn’t understand me.  I was saying “Kurisuto”

Christ=kiristo キリスト

Christmas=kurisumasu クリスマス

Be careful!  It’s obvious to us that “Christ” is in Christmas, but it’s not the same in Japanese.  I wonder if that is why some Japanese don’t realize that Christmas is Christ’s birth?

My husband overheard two young women:  “Did you know that Christmas is when Jesus was born?”  “Really?  What a coincidence!”  LOL


As far as the numbers of Christians in Japan, I can’t really say.  Japanese people seem quite close-lipped about religion.

It’s kind of nice, actually.  One gets tired of the noisy people in the news killing others who don’t believe the same thing.  Japanese people are quietly accepting of others as far as religion goes, generally.


This is the statue in front of my church.  The Catholic church experience is very different in Japan than in America, IMO.  Churchgoers in Japan are usually (always?) VERY religious.  Whereas in America, some of the people are VERY religious and other people go just because it’s the thing to do.

They are stricter in Japan as far as clothes goes.  Some women still wear a veil to mass.  Once we accidentally entered the church and my son was wearing his cap, and he got in trouble.  Immediately after he stepped in the door.  Japanese Catholic churches seem to be strict, in my experience.   :-(

Masses in Japan are VERY long.  Most of the churchgoers are elderly.  Very few young people.  Catholicism in Japan seems less politicized than in America, where it is staunchly Republican.

What else?  I can’t say much because I don’t want to get too personal, so I’ll leave it at that.


English homework



I saw this on my son’s desk and snapped a photo of it.  English homework.  For SCHOOl.  Yes, way too easy.  But he is enjoying English class (so far.)  So that’s good.

I get the feeling though that the Japanese teacher is not doing anything to make it fun.  They learned the days of the week, and I asked “Did you sing the song?”  “No, she just said them.”

How boring!  I thought.  I  know jhs isn’t all fun and games, but surely there is place in the middle where seriousness and frivolty can meet.  I think we need to look at how a language is really learned.

Language is primarily learned from loved ones.

Mom and dad are the first ones to teach a baby how to speak.  So I think a language teacher needs to be gentle and playful like a mom and dad.

I used to be a JET teacher, and the foreigners who were English teachers tended to be much more playful and game oriented than regular Japanese teachers.   Japanese teachers are teaching for the test.  The foreign teachers are teaching for communication.

Let me tell you a bit about my JET teaching.  I was in a rural town located near Narita airport.  I taught at the town’s jhs school, plus the elementary school clubs.  It was a great way to see firsthand how Japanese jhs school are run!

When I was a JET, the other JET teachers would often complain that the Japanese schools were too formal.   I never really felt that way.   I was raised Catholic!!!!!!   Hello, is there anything more formal than Catholic mass?  A Japanese assembly was just another Sunday morning for me.  :-)

As a JET, some of the Japanese teachers I taught with were  marvelous, some were pitiful.   One would hit the students until I asked him not to.  (Hitting occasionally still happens in Japanese classrooms.)

Okay, here’s some more of my son’s English stuff.


“I saw it”


100% on this assignment except the romaji!


Site of the Castle–Fukushima Prefectural Building


Walking with my son.  We do this almost every day that there is no school.  I recommend it.  We can chat about things.  Although usually nothing too deep.

“How do you feel about–“


Feelings discussions are not allowed!


Fukushima City is the capitol city of Fukushima Prefecture.  This is is the Fukushima Prefecture goverment building.   It’s on the site of the old Fukushima Castle.


This sign tells a bit about the old castle.  I really don’t know about the history of this.


This says, “Utsukushima, Fukushima.”  It’s a slogan we sometimes see around here.  It popped up after the earthquake.

“Utsukushii” is the word for “Beautiful.”  So this slogan (I think) is basically “Beautiful Fukushima.”

I realize that the vast majority of you will never visit Fukushima.  So sit back and enjoy your virtual visit.

If the word “Fukushima” makes you freak out (although if you regularly read this blog, you’re probably past that), remember that it was a place of great beauty before the earthquake….and still is.



Japanese Class Neighborhood


I wrote a few months ago about how my Friday Japanese class is moving location.  It changed from a building near my home to a learning center (Shimizu Learning Center) on the other side of Shinobu Mountain.

I normally NEVER go to the other side of the mountain.  Not very adventurous, am I.  I come to the other side of the world just to putter around in my tiny little neighborhood.   So to get to my Japanese class, I rode my bike through a tunnel in the mountain to the other side.

And what did I find?

The Japanese suburbs.

It is very residential, and dare I say it, boring.  Just very normal and monotonous.  So yeah, I have to explore and see what is there.


Lots and lots of lots of houses in this neighborhood.  This is a photo of a pretty (although tiny) backyard.


Shimizu Learning Center has a library!  How did this escape my notice!?  It’s smallish, but quite nice.  There was a tiny selection of books in English.


Obviously, I was out and about taking photos just before Children’s Day.  This is a preschool.


A park in the area. Something about this park reminded me of America.  The fact that it was quite large and open, I guess.  That’s Mt. Shinobu in the distance.


This is a funny story.  I was in Japanese class and a classmate from Nepal told me about a new Nepalese restaurant and gave directions.  I have never had Nepalese food and wanted to try something exotice.  Japanese food is no longer exotic to me!

So I found what I thought was perhaps the restaurant.  I said, “Neparu no resutaran desuka?”  The staff–three people, to be exact–was totally confused.  They did not understand my question and said, “Nippon no resutoran?”  (Nippon means Japan….so they thought I was trying to say that.)  I looked at the food in the glass case and realized that it was just a very typical Japanese restaurant!  Nothing special for me.

However….there were no customers.  And the staff had looked overjoyed when I walked in.  I just couldn’t turn around and leave.  So I sat down and had 800 yen curry and rice (shown above.)  That is an expensive price to me–I can just run home and find something in my kitchen much cheaper.  Plus curry and rice is a completely normal food in Japan.   We eat it all the time.  So I was disappointed.

The next day, the big earthquake in Nepal occurred….so I was quite disappointed I never found the Nepalese restaurant!


This is heading back home.  That is Shinobu Mountain and beyond it is my home.  So I have to ride my bike about five minutes through its dark and narrow pedestrian tunnel.  Not exactly for somebody who is fearful of enclosed places or fearful of heaps of soil and rock breaking loose and landing on your head.  Not that I think about those sorts of things…