COOKIES!!!!! from all over the world

On the east side of the train station, we have a little international store (“Jupiter”) tucked away.  I went cookie shopping and took photos of cookies from around the world.

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Canadian cookies……so delicious.

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Australian cookies.  When I worked in Narita, the teachers from Down Under raved about Tim Tams.

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American cookies.

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English cookies.

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Swedish cookies.

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Italian cookies.

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French cookies.

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Danish cookies.

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Scottish cookies.

 

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And to be fair, at a regular supermarket, Japanese cookies.  This is probably the most common supermarket cookie, “County Ma’am.”  It’s a soft cookie.


I’ll honest….I often prefer to buy Japanese cookies because it is common in Japan to individually wrap the cookies.  I’ll eat fewer if they are individually wrapped.  Whereas western cookies are not individually wrapped…and it is so hard to stop at just one!  You wanna eat them all!  And it’s so easy because you have already opened the package and they are right there, begging to be eaten.

This tendency to individually wrap foods occurs in lots of products and I think is one of the many reasons Japanese people eat far less than Americans.

“Tickle Tickle Tickle” (Book Five of the Toddle Wobble Picture Book Battle)

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Today’s book is “Kochyo Kochyo Kochyo.”  That’s the sound you make when you are tickling somebody.    This is a wonderfully imaginative book.  Love it.

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She starts off tickling animals.  All is well and good.  But what does she do when the animal is a porcupine…..?

And then….is it possible to tickle a car?  A building?  I didn’t think so until I read this book.

It is available here.

Japanese History (with Cats)

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Look at the manga my son has been reading recently.  Two of my favorite things:  History and Cats!

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Kitties represent historical figures, and this manga tells the history of Japan.

I asked my son, “How do you know which cat is which?”  He said by their clothes and facial expressions.

Samurai kitties!  I have always wanted to see a cat with a sword.

Oh, and by the way….that kitty above is putting his whole paw in his mouth.  “Why?” you ask.   There was a famous real-life samurai from Aizu in Fukushima Prefecture who could put his whole hand in his own mouth….and you thought samurais were famous only for their swordplay.

 

“Hey, Wait, Wait!” (Book Four of the Toddle Wobble Picture Book Battle)

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This sweet book is called “Korya matemate.”  Hey, Wait Wait!

Korya is a word I don’t use. It’s very slangy.  But I suppose it is sort of like the English word “Hey!”

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A little boy or girl is exploring the park while her father says, “Hey, wait wait!”  In the last page, the father and child are seen going off together.

No text except “Hey wait wait” and sounds.  In the photo above, the text reads simply Hira Hira Hira–the sound of a butterfly fluttering its wings.

This book can be found here.

Byakkotai in Aizu-Wakamatsu City

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Back to Aizu-Wakamatsu City.  The above vending machines show a scene from our next sightseeing spot.

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Back in the 1800’s, Byakkotai was a group of teenage boys who were fighting in a civil war in Aizu-Wakamatsu City.  They thought they were losing (even though they weren’t) and so they chose to commit suicide.  Of the twenty boys who killed themselves, one survived to tell their tale.

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We walked up to the area where they died.  We took the stairs, but to the right of us is an escalator.

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Nice view.

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Where the boys are buried.

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Moving on the actual spot where they killed themselves.

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A statue commemorates the spot of their suicides.

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What the boys saw before they died…..

 

Japan has, unfortunately, a long history of suicide when the going gets tough.   Not sure if these boys should be recognized as heros or not.   Anyway, it is a very sad story.

“Miffy at the Seaside” (Book Three of the Toddle Wobble Picture Book Battle)

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Today we have one of the many Miffy books!   In English it is called “Miffy at the Seaside.”  Its original Dutch title is “Nijntje aan zee” and of course it is by Dick Bruna.  The Japanese title is “Usakochan to Umi.”

Umi=Sea

I know that I have often seen Miffy’s name here in Japan as ミッフィー.  (Miffy, basically.)  But in this book it is “Usakochan.”  Usagi means rabbit, so Usakochan is like saying Little Rabbit.

It turns out that Miffy’s name in Dutch also means Little Rabbit, according to Wikipedia.  Nijntje is a diminutive of the Dutch word for rabbit.

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Wikipedia also has something interesting to say: Miffy is sometimes assumed to be a Japanese character, because Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, introduced in 1974, is rendered using a similar line style. The Miffy brand is popular in Japan, with strong sales of Japanese-made Miffy merchandise. In an interview for The Daily Telegraph, Bruna expressed his dislike for Hello Kitty. “‘That,’ he says darkly, ‘is a copy [of Miffy], I think. I don’t like that at all. I always think, “No, don’t do that. Try to make something that you think of yourself”.

So is Hello Kitty (known in Japan as Kitty Chan) a copy of Miffy?  Hmmm…………  Never thought of this before, but I can see it.

Miffy has a HUGE following in Japan.  Her own personal website is in English, Dutch, and Japanese.  http://www.miffy.com/

The Japanese version can be found here.

The English version can be found here.

The Dutch version can be found here.

Aizu-Wakamatsu’s Castle

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For Mother’s Day, my family went to the sightseeing city of Aizu-Wakamatsu.  This is a map.

I had been in the Aizu area long, long ago when the school I was working at went on a school trip there.  The school was in Chiba (near Tokyo.)  So if people in the Tokyo region are choosing it as their destination, you know it has got to be good!  I remember the school trip focussed on nature–we visited volcanoes and lakes.

This Mother’s Day trip was a daytrip to the city itself.  I had heard a lot about Aizu-Wakamatsu and really wanted to go.  When we got there, I discovered that of all the cities I have visited in Fukushima Prefecture, this was the most tourist friendly as far as maps, guidebooks, information, etc, go.  (And I have been to all the major cities, so that means most likely Aizu-Wakamatsu is THE most tourist friendly.)

The power plant was on the east coast, and the Aizu area is in the west part of Fukushima Prefecture. So if you are “disaster” sightseeing, this is not the place for you.  But it’s a great place with lots of history, so I definitely recommend it.

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That is the castle in Aizu-Wakamatsu City.  The castle’s name is Tsuruga-jo.  The original castle was torn down in the 1800’s so this is a replica. Inside there is a museum.  At the top, you have a great view.

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This is a poster from one of the recent NHK dramas, Yae no Sakura.  She is supposed to be Niijima Yae, a fearless warrior from the Aizu area.  You can read more about Niijima Yae here.

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Here is a gift shop near the castle.

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This is sort of funny.  If you follow my blog, you may remember I mentioned that the newspaper said that Japanese toe nail clippers make great gifts.   And I was sort of joking, saying that they need to have Hello Kitty on them before I buy them as a souvenir. Well, here we are!  Souvenir nail clippers!  They are cute, aren’t they.

 

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