I’m pretty busy and fallen behind on my blogging.  I like to write the post ahead of time and later revise it and check for any errors.  Usually I have had a few posts saved, which meant I always had a new one for every day of the week.  But like I have said, I’ve fallen behind…

I’ll leave you with the very first post I ever wrote.  It’s not on this blog, it’s on a now defunct blog.

December 11, 2008

My son’s hangout is a nerdy trading card shop. It is about a two minute walk from our home and it is a little hole in the wall. The owner is very young and handsome–one of the few good-looking nerds in this world. Pretty much the main business of this shop is selling trading cards. Is there really such a market for them? I have no idea how it makes a profit, or even if it makes a profit. I’m thinking it may just be a hobby for the owner.
In addition to my five year old nerdlet, several teenage nerds hang out there, playing card games with each other or playing with the shop’s Wii. One play on the shop’s Wii is an astoundingly cheap 20 yen. (Regardless of the exchange rate, I tend to think of 100 yen as similar to an American dollar. A play at a regular video game at an arcarde costs at least 100 yen, so that gives you an idea how cheap 20 yen is for a game.)
I give my son 100 yen and let him play on the shop’s Wii five times, which is just the right length of time. Long enough to make him extremely happy, but not so long that it turns him into a hunched-over glazed-eyed zombie.
My husband suggested buying a Wii for Christmas. (He only wants it because of Wii Fit.) However, I told him we didn’t need it. It is so much fun to get out into the open air and walk to this little shop and hang out. The young and handsome owner is very nice to my son, telling him things about the video game, which is this computerized day and age is akin to teaching him how to be a man!

LOL…..If I had only known that son would become the computer and vide game maniac that he now is!!!!

That shop is no longer there.  It didn’t make any money, I’m sure.  I wish it was still there.  It was a neat place.  It wasn’t really my son’s hangout, I was kind of exaggerating!!!!!!  LOL  He was only six years old.  I was working at that time doing my own English class in a computer center, and he had to go with me (being only six years old.)  As a treat for being well-behaved, I would take him to this shop on the way home.




“Princess of the Gourd” (Book Thirteen of the Big Kid Picture Book Battle)

Today’s book is a traditional Japanese fairy tale, although I must admit it was one that I was unfamiliar with.  It’s called “Urikohime”


Hime= a word for princess


I thought the illustrations in this book were lovely.  The story itself was difficult for me.  There were lots of words I couldn’t find in my dictionary.  I think they were often dialect words.  For example, the demon is the story is really know as Amanojaku, but in this story it was written Amanjaku.  Even when I asked my husband, he said, “No, that’s not correct.”  So basically…this was hard for me to read….


If you want to read a version of this fairy tale in English, click here.

If you are familiar with the most famous Japanese fairy tale “Momotaro,” you will know these old stories love gifting elderly couples with babies.   And like Momotaro, the baby pops out of food (peach, gourd.)  Hmmm…  I imagine living way back then, eating peaches and melons, letting one’s imagination run wild and….these stories coming about.



Owl Cafe in Sendai City

I have been busy working on my manuscript and (and life in general, of course) so my creative energy has been flowing in a different direction than this blog.

It’s not the same manuscript as before.  It’s completely new.  I am excited about it.  Completely unbiased opinions (my mom and dad🙂 ) have said they like this manuscript better than the other one.  Although my dad said it needs to start off with a gun fight.  Okay, dad!  Got it!  lol

My husband said he was going to take us to Sendai City for a “surprise.”  What could it be? WHAT COULD IT BE?


It was an owl cafe!  Okay, let me explain. First, cat cafes were in the news here in Japan, and then came owl cafes.  I have been on the fence about visiting an owl cafe….it didn’t seem very kind to have this sort of establishment for a wild animal.  However, I never told this to darling husband, so he didn’t know my feelings.   And this once we were there, I didn’t want to say, “Honey…..I don’t think owl cafes are a good idea!”  So I just simply went and enjoyed myself.


Photos were allowed, without flash.  It was one thousand yen per hour per adult.  Our son (a jhs student) was seven hundred yen per hour.


My thoughts after visiting this owl cafe?  It was very clean and well-run.  The young woman working there OBVIOUSLY loved animals.  You could just feel her love for them.  So in reality, I don’t think this is all that different from a zoo.

Still I don’t one hundred percent love it.  Owls are nocturnal, and they don’t have any room here to move around.  Nevertheless…. really not much different than a typical zoo.  (Or the way lots of animals are treated world-wide.)


We were told this is the same type of owl as the Harry Potter owl from the movies.


Something I found interesting….All the breeds of owls had completely different faces and appearances.  I had always sort of thought all owls were the same (or similar) but they were all very different.  Fascinating!


We were allowed to touch the owls on the tops of their head and backs.  Not other parts of the body.


There were other small animals, similar to a petting zoo.  These are porcupines, and we were able to hold them.  They are so sweet!  I never realized that porcupines are so adorable.


A very loving and friendly rabbit.  I think always I have been at petting zoos overrun with kids and the animals hate human contact.  But the birds and rabbit here at this owl cafe loved human contact!  It made me realize why people keep these animals as pets.  I never realized they were so affectionate.


A chameleon



Sorry no post today!!!!!

Busy, busy, busy!

Eki Ben Festival at Fukushima City’s train station

While at the train station a couple weeks ago, I saw a poster advertising an upcoming “ekiben” festival.  I was pretty excited and wanted to join in!


Here’s the festival.  Lots of “ekiben” from different parts of Japan.

Eki=Train station

Ben=short for “bento” which is a prepared lunch, very common in Japan.  I don’t think all Americans know what bento are, but I think a few do–especially the foodie type people.   They are becoming embraced outside of Japan I think largely because they tend to be healthier than the traditional American sack lunch of a sandwich, banana and cookie.


Of course, these are very fancy bentos.  Ekiben tend to be expensive and gourmet.  They are for special occasions.


The one on the far left is from the Mount Fuji train station.  Lots of distant stations represented.


These are for kids.


Really cute.


I didn’t get one for my son because he was at home ill that day with quite a bad cold.


He loved trains though when he was a toddler and if he were three years old, I may have perhaps bought this!


You can see that the food is really elegant.


Crab.  One of the more expensive ekibens for sale that day.


This is the one I ended up getting…an ekiben based on a popular manga.  Perhaps from the train station near where the manga’s creator grew up?  I know his area is really touristy with statues and so on related to this manga.


Bon appetit!


I didn’t realize it when I purchased it, but I got this keepsake ceramic bowl.  Awesome!

“Straw Hats for the Jizo” (Book Thirteen of the Big Kid Picture Book Battle)

The next book on the list is one of the most famous and beloved Japanese fairy tales.  “Straw Hats for the Jizo.”


This is the story of an impoverished man who provides hats to Jizo statues to protect them from the snow.  Later, they reward him and his wife with gifts.


You can see the Jizo statues in the above photo.

You may be wondering:  What is a Jizo statue?

Well, it’s a god that one sees fairly often in statue form in Japan.  These statues are often dressed in red, and I remember being entranced by them when I first came to Japan.  I had never seen anything like them.

According to Marie Mutsuki Mocket, the author of “Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese say Goodbye.”

“The Jizo is a particularly compassionate character in the Buddhist pantheon that is greatly loved by the Japanese.  While he has the ability to transcend reality and become enlightened like the buddha, the Jizo stays behind to help humans who are suffereing.  He is often depicted with slightly childlike features and a warm smile; the Jizo is a figure of serenity and warmth in an otherwise frightening world.”


This morning I went out to an historical and religious section of Mt. Shinobu looking for a Jizo statue to show you.  I found this one in the above photo.

(By the way….if you are not familiar with Japanese culture–the bottles are NOT litter.  The water in them is for purification.)


I am guessing by its appearance that it is very old, perhaps ancient.  Like I said, they are often dressed in red.

If you watch this video, you can see both the fairy tale from the book, and the red-dressed Jizo.


Octopus Playground Equipment

When we first moved to Fukushima City, my son was three years old.  Of course, I didn’t know anything about the city or about our neighborhood, so our first day my husband pointed me in the direction of the nearby local park.  It’s very close to our house and it is a wonderful park.

Well, one attraction of the park (called Shinhama Park) is this fun and enjoyable playground equipment.


See?  Fun and enjoyable.  I was always so worried my son, or another kid, would fall off it…but that hasn’t happened (yet.)  It’s made entirely of concrete.

I once saw an older boy go head first down the slide (on purpse–dumb kid) and wham his head on the concrete.  He was dazed and I think he was hurt, but he shook it off and I think was all right.  But let’s just say he will never again go down headfirst on a structure made of concrete.


There are metal steps in the back so kids can climb up.

Anyway, I have always wondered about this playground equipment.  Is it common in Japan?  What’s the deal?  Then I saw this in the kids’ newspaper recently.


Apparently octopus shaped concret play structures are a thing in Japan.


Different ones in different parts of Japan.


Here’s another one in Fukushima City.  This is a park at Mount Shinbu, about a twenty minute walk from my house.


My son actually did hurt himself on this one!  He went down it wrong while a toddler and ended up bleeding.  But he was okay.

This one is smaller than the white one, but you can definitely see its octopus shape.


So what do you think?  Would you like one of those octopus cement things in your local park?


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