Earthquake damage still remaining in our neighborhood, four years later


I feel really lucky that our area did not have very much earthquake damage to buildings from the Big One.  There was a bit.  Not a whole bunch.  I want to show you, however, what’s still there currently in my immediate neighborhood after four years.



This stone wall collapsed in the earthquake.  It’s never been rebuilt.


The front of the house.


Okay moving on to a different street, but still really close to my home.  This is a regular, nice residence.  I show this to you so you can see what a regular (albeit nice and expensive) home looks like.  See that blue tarp in the background?  Can you make it out?


That’s this building.  Now let me explain about this building.  Even before the earthquake, this was THE BUILDING in the neighborhood.  You know what I am talking about.  The building with junk in its (teeny tiny) yard, a million cats that live here.  Rundown way before the earthquake.  An old man lived here.


Okay, well, it has never been rebuilt, of course.  I assumed that, like many residents of Fukushima, he evacuated, probably to public shelter.  However, I was told by his neighbor that he still lives.  Just in the back part of the house.


I guess he is a real “ganbaru” (persevering) type of guy.  The cats still live here, too.  I saw a kitty recently sleeping on the tarp, but did not have my camera.  Oh, well, at least the place doesn’t have rats!

Hello, Kitty!


I was asked about Hello Kitty.  I guess I post lots of photos of Japan, but no Hello Kitty, and everybody know that kitty is a true symbol of Japan.  The truth is that I see Hello Kitty here and there, but not truly everywhere.  Ya know?  For Japanese people, Hello Kitty is just another cute character like Anpanman, Snoopy, or Moomin (all common in Japan.)

For a true Hello Kitty experience, I visited the Sanrio store at our local department store.  (Sanrio makes Hello Kitty.)


Sanrio store on left.  On right, seasonal merchandise for Children’s Day in May.



As all of who live in Japan know, Hello Kitty is known here as Kitty Chan.  Literally, Miss Kitty.  (“Chan” comes after the names of children, especially girls.  “Kun” is for boys.  “San” is for adults.)


Here are various Sanrio characters.  As you can see, it is very feminine.  Also,  even the boy characters are quite babyish.  We never got into Sanrio in our family.  We had to stop when he could say, “No, Mommy.”

No, mom, I don’t want the totally uncool Little Twins Stars.  I want to Ultraman action figure!


One thing I always have like about Sanrio merchandise is that its English is always grammatically correct and spelled correctly, albeit very plain.  “How do you do?  Friends call me Hello Kitty.  Say hello to me when you see me!”  Cute, lol.

Sanrio does not do the Engrish so popular with a lot of Japanese companies:  “Happy Life Enjoy Beatiful Girls Time”  If you live in Japan, you know what I mean!  Or if you have even logged onto




Hello Kitty Popcorn!!!!!!  Cute Cute Cute

Yes, Hello Kitty is mega adorable, but as the mother of a boy, I have had to sacrifice my love of pink hearts and sparkles.   But I’m fine with it.  My son is pretty cool and he is a lot of fun, even if he does like the BOY stuff.


Peaceful Weekend



Plum Blossoms in Fukushima!  The weather is getting warmer!


My son and I went bike riding to the river.  There is a charming cafe there, and we had dango.


There were lots of older women there.  To tell the truth, charming cafes aren’t exactly my son’s “thing”.  I sort of had to force him to go.  But that’s better than lazing around the house playing video games!


Comu Comu from the front.  We wanted to go to its children’s library.


I discovered this neato book.  It is on the list of “best” children’s books.  (On poster….see the same book right below it?)

This book’s text is EXTREMELY simple.  I can easily translate it to English.  “Chugga Chugga.  Get on the train.  Get off the train.  Chugga Chugga.”  That sort of thing.

It widens the number of books we can do as part of our English storybook time to be able to find books with simple Japanese.  (Difficult Japanese requires me to get a notebook and pencil to translate accurately.)


All by same illustrator.   From left:  “Bug Train” This book also has VERY simple text.  “Night Train” This is a wordless book.  I LOVE wordless books for English storytime!  “Chugga Chugga”

“Chugga Chugga” is a train traversing the countryside stopping at interesting stops like this:


Spirit Station!  Can you imagine your two year old turning the page and seeing this?  He’ll either giggle or wet his pants.

Visually, it’s such an interesting page.  And so traditional…..kappa, rokurokubi…..and other stuff.  So even for an older child–Heck! even for an adult!–there is plenty to think about in such a fascinatingly illustrated page.


We stopped by the bookstore.  My son pointed out these children’s books to me.  Do you know who wrote them?  Can you guess?

Mr. Kenji Goto wrote them.  (He was beheaded by ISIS.)  The topics are AIDS, Rwanda, and so on.  He seems like such a caring man.    What a loss!   ISIS is despicable.

My new Eco bag!


When I shop, I prefer to buy things made in Japan if possible.  You can look on the label for 日本製.nihonsei

Nihon=Japan (of course)

sei=made in

Sometimes it’ll be in English, but not always so it is handy to know in Japanese.


Anyhoo…..I have recently been wanting a bit of a bag to stick in my purse.  An eco bag.  Is that Japanese or English?  I think it is actually Japanese.  But it’s a pretty good term.  So I will adopt it and use it.

Okay.  Where was I.   I have been wanting an eco bag because I  forget my regular grocery bag quite often (or actually, more likely, go grocery shopping when I didn’t plan to.)

I checked the 100 yen shop and they had some EXTREMELY ugly eco bags.  I found some cuter ones for 1,000.  But I found one that I loved on the internet from a blogger here in Japan.  She blogs about sewing here and she obviously sews with love.  This is her site.


I was excited when my package arrived!  Cute stamps!


Cute eco bag!!!!!!!!!


So Japanese.  I see a fukuwarai, hina dolls, kingyo, koi…………


I’ll pass as a native with this bag!

Okay, chocolate Easter eggs photos.  From Ginza, Tokyo.

DSCF4156 DSCF4157

To the far right, there’s a chocolate bunny.  It’s hard to make out.


The above photo is at Fujiya Sweet Shop.  There’s a bit of Easter stuff in there.  The pastel sweets.


Easter Basket!  I couldn’t resist.  I bought this.  How adorable.

Despite Eastery snacks arriving in Japan, the typical Japanese kid doesn’t know what Easter is.  I asked in a juku yesterday, and the kids were clueless.



Candles for 3/11


So continuing on with the 3/11 commemoration.  Late in the afternoon–around five-ish, I guess–I headed back to the town square.  Since it is so incredibly close to our home, it was no big deal.  My son was home, but he did not want to go.  He’s been in school all day, so I can understand his reluctance.  He just wants to veg after a long day.

The weather reminded those of us here in Tohoku of That Day.  That Day was sunny bright blue all day.  Then about an hour after the earthquake, it began to snow.  Very eery and still.




So anyway, at the Machi Hiroba Town Square here in Fukushima City, they had candles in memory.  The whole atmosphere was sudbued, but also a bit of a party atmosphere.  Kind of fun to see other people and be together.


This tree has the hopes and dreams of kids written on it. “I want to be a video game programmer when I grow up.”  sort of stuff.



I met this man Tom Gill.  He said that he has been doing research on the effects of the radiation.  He seemed very optimistic.  Whew.  What a relief.  I’m always hearing that the radiation is not as bad as the hype makes it seems.


This says FUKUSHIMA in Japanese.  Oh, how I wish I had me a little helicopter which I could zoom up and take a photo.  Like George Jetson.


This photo was an accident, but it looks kind of artsy, doesn’t it.


The stage with lit candles.  We were allowed to paint the candle holders.  They asked me if I wanted to do so, but I declined.  To tell the truth, I was pretty busy all day long with various things and did not have time.


Like I said, sort of a party atmosphere.  In a subdued, thoughtful sort of way.


I’m too lazy to read this sign.   It’s been there forever.  Looks to me like ‡Ωß∂⊂®«.   I know.  I’m a bad immigrant.


I thought this was pretty!




Close up of some of the candle holders.  Lovely artwork!  I’m finding myself wondering what was done with them after the event.


Bye!  My son was waiting at home, so I didn’t dawdle.  It would have been nice if he had come, but this isn’t his thing exactly.  And plus, like pretty much everybody in Fukushima, he is SICK of the WHOLE EARTHQUAKE THING.

Hate you.  Hate your upheaval.  Hate your whole stinking catastrophe.


When I got home, I watched a bit of the coverage on regular TV.


Hey, look, it’s Fukushima!   We’re famous!

Moment of Prayer for 3/11


A big topic of conversation in these here parts are, “Where were YOU during The Earthquake?”  (It is always just “The Earthquake” “jishin no toki”)

I was exactly where I am now!  In our living room!  Slightly different location.  At that time, I was on our sofa.  Now I am in front of our desktop computer.

So today I will talk a bit about the moment of silence this year on March 11, 2015.  The moment when The Earthquake took place four years previously.




This is a poster from the school where I work at.  It told of the upcoming events commemorating 3/11.


A piggy bank for donations for evacuees


This year, on the day of March 11, I didn’t want to spend 2:46 at my house alone, so I went downtown, just a couple minutes away.  There were lots of people on the town square.


This was right after the moment of prayer.  (黙祷 ”mokutou” to pray silently)

See that empty spot?  There were clowns standing there in full clown costume.  I wanted to take their photo so bad……..but I’m not the type of photographer to take photos of people, especially when they are praying!   The clowns left immediately after the moment of silence, so I never got a chance to ask them if I could get their photo.

Where did the clowns go?  I found myself wondering that.  Back to the clown office?