Hello Kitty Japan card

These types of greeting cards have been around for years, and every so often I see a new one. It’s an adorable map of Japan with each prefecture represented by something it is famous for.

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This photo just shows northern Japan….but the greeting card has all of Japan on it.

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If you lift the flap, cute little picture!  How adorable AND educational!  Love this card.

“The Elves and the Shoemaker” Book Twenty-three of the Big Kid Picture Book Battle

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Today’s book is (I believe) possibly a German book translated to Japanese.  The book jacket gives the original title as “Die Wichtelmanner.”

In Japanese, it is “Kobito to Kutsuya.”

Kobito=Elf

Kutsu=Shoe

Ya usually denotes a store, but my dictionary says Kutsuya can mean either “Shoe Store” or “Shoemaker.”

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Love the cute little tushies!!!!!

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When I was at Fukushima University’s library on Sunday, I saw it there among the foreign picture books.

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A little sad they didn’t have the original German.  One thing that it is very obvious is that English is THE foreign language in Japan.  (Much like Spanish is the foreign language of America, in terms of representation among books–only more so.)  I feel immense English privilege….very lucky for me, but sadly unfortunate for those whose native language is not English.

Christmas is coming! Squee!

And so is Hanukkah!

Today’s post is in honor of three women I admire very much.  Three western women who are married to Japan men.  They all wrote books, and wouldn’t those books make great presents for the holidays?

So in alphabetical order…..

First is Suzanne Kamata.   She’s quite prolific.  My favorite of hers is a YA book called “Gadget Girl” about a girl and her mom.  I can’t wait for her new book to come out “The Mermaids of Michigan Lake.”

Next is Leza Lowitz.  She’s also quite prolific.  She wrote a nifty book about being married to a Japanese man (and also adopting her son.)  What I thought is interesting is that even though we are both happily married, my J Man is completely different from her J Man!  (But both are great.  No two J Men are alike.)  My favorite books of hers is a YA book about the 3/11 tsunami “Up from the Sea.”

Last, Rebecca Otowa.  You think I know a lot about Japan?  I don’t hold a candle to this woman.  She knows A LOT.  Both her books are great.  One is for adults, one for kids.  She writes with such beauty.

So please explore!

JLPT N2…hopefully for the last time.

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Well, last Sunday was the big day at good ole Fukushima University.  I took my Japanese Language Proficiency Test. N2 last week.  (N2 is the second highest level.  There are five levels.)  I’ll post my thoughts after the photos.

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Poster about Fukushima University students volunteering.

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After the test, walking home from the train station.

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Pretty Fukushima City

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My husband’s reward after the test…Pistachio Berry

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Yummers!

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The top is not ice…it’s some sort of sugar.  Yeah, this is luxury ice cream


The Test.

Okay, well, you are not supposed to drive there, and anyway there are no parking spaces.  I took the train there, two stops from Fukushima City.  Fukushima University is sort of out in the country.  There is really not much there at all.

Remembering last time (and everybody waiting outside for the test doors to open), I head straight to the library.  On its first story, it has a place to study and snack, so I ate my bento there.  Then I looked around the library for a few minutes because I have not been there in a long time. They have lots of new English books concerning the 3/11 earthquake.   Unfortunately, I had forgotten my library card, so I didn’t check any out.

So at exactly 11:59, I walked over to the test building, which was the next building over.  At 12:00 exactly, they let us into the building and I sat down and relaxed and so on.  The guy on my left was from Nepal.  The gal on my right was from Vietnam.  Like last time, the test room was uncomfortably crowded.

So how was the test?  I actually finished it.  Of course, I was going through it as quickly as possibly, not leisurely like I would like, but yes I finished it.  Such a change from last time where I got hung up on an essay and spent way too long on it and didn’t finish at all.

Surprisingly, I thought the hardest part was kanji and vocabulary.  When I first started taking the test about three years ago, I felt this was one of the easier sections, but I think they have made it harder over the years.  Same with the listening. It was easier, I believe, three years ago but has gotten harder.

Grammar was surprisingly okay.  And reading–the most difficult subject for me–was surprisingly okay for me. I am not saying it was easy, but I felt like I got some of the answers correct and all you need is “some.”

My testing skills are improving, and let’s face it my ability is improving.  Frustrating though was the kanji and vocab. I feel like if I failed, it was this section’s fault.  Just so many words I didn’t recognize.

There you have it!

I will get my results early next year, so stay tuned!!!!!

New Years cards in Japan

Two days ago, I wrote a little post about a Christmas card I found, and explained that Japanese people are more into New Year’s cards than Christmas cards.  (Which makes sense, since this is not a Christian nation.)

Okay, so I snapped the following photo in my local grocery store:

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Various New Year’s Cards. Since 2017 is the year of the rooster, they have lots of roosters.   They are postcards, not elaborate greeting cards.  (Almost all New Year cards are postcards.)  In this display, you get three cards for about four dollars–and that includes postage for domestic (within Japan) delivery.  So MUCH cheaper than Christmas cards.

You can get New Year’s cards at this time of year at many, many places in Japan.  We go to a shop and get like a hundred done at one time, with a photo of my husband’s choosing.  They’re personalized with our address and so forth.  Many people also make them on their computers nowadays and print them at home.

These New Year cards are pretty much obligatory in Japan, UNLESS there has been a death in one’s family during the course of the year, in which case they are not sent out.  (A notice of the death is sent out though.)    I was confused on this point many years ago when my husband’ grandmother died….I couldn’t understand why we were not sending out the New Year cards.

The cards all arrive at one’s home on New Year’s day as a bundle.  It’s a special thing for the post office.   They love it, trust me.

Level Up

This post is being written after 8:30 at night and my mental facilities shut down at seven, so all that’s left in my brain right now is a crotchety little janitor sweeping up the day’s thoughts.   His name is Bob.   So this post may not make a lot of sense seeing as I am a morning person, not a night person.

Okay.  My son likes gamers on youtube…….  A lot of them are real Japanophiles.   They like Japan.  I am not sure why.  I think it has something to do with Nintendo and Pokemon?

Anyway…. these American gamers on youtube were using the term “Level Up.”  So I inform my son, “That’s not really English.”  He’s like “Yes, it is.”  (If PBG uses it, it must be really English.)

So I explain to him, “The actual expression is ‘reach the next level.’  But Japanese video gamers transformed this English into ‘Level Up.’  And so then American gamers have obviously taken this back from Japanese and are using it as a verb.  To level up.  Are you listening to me? Are you listening to your mom?  I am telling you something important here.”

He was mesmerized by my knowledge, like always.  And oh look, it’s 8:54……six minutes until my bedtime.  Good night, Bob.

Nativity scene Christmas card

I was at a stationery store near my house…and I found a religious Christmas card.  Highly unusual in a typical Japanese store.

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You can see it there on the top right.

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I thought it was really cute.  I bought it for my parents.  It was really expensive…about five U.S. dollars.

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Christmas cards are usually quite expensive in Japan.  (Actually, greeting cards of any sort.)  They don’t usually sell them in packs of ten like in the U.S.  You buy them individually.   But to tell the truth…the thing here is New Year’s cards (not Christmas cards.)  New Year’s cards are what people send to everybody they know, with updates on their families.  (And thus can be bought in bulk.)  Whereas a Christmas card is more for a special friend…that sort of thing.

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