Kajo Building (International Center)

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This is the first floor of the Kajo Building in Yamagata City.  Decorated for Christmas.   Doesn’t this look like a great place for Santa to sit and get his photo taken with children?  Unfortunately, this custom has never made it to Japan.  Shopping malls don’t have visits with Santa (that I know of.)

 

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Thi is the Kokusai Kouryuu Center for Yamagata City.  I have posted previously about these centers.  I think most cities in Japan have them.  They are places where a foreigner can go for information and help.   Minor stuff and major stuff both, this office will try to help you solve your problem, or point you in the direction of where to go to get it solved.

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Great little library here….books mostly in English, but in other languages, too.  Usually these books are any books that foreigners have left behind or donated.  So a pretty random selection.

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Kids’ books in various languages.  Neato.

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Various sister cities of Yamagata City

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Boulder, Colorado is its sister city in America.

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I had no idea Celestial Seasonings Tea comes from Boulder!

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Very pretty…

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Native American

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From Russia….

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More from America….

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The center can help with serious problems…divorce, legal issues… and so on…  Here is a table with info pertaining to the more serious problems.

Top of the Kajo Building in Yamagata City

When I first arrived in Yamagata City, it was slightly before nine.  In Japan, most shops and museums and so on open at ten a.m.  So I headed to the Kajo building which adjoins the train station because its observation area is open quite early.

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That sign says, “Kajo Central.”  It’s the tallest building in Yamagata Prefecture.  It has twenty-four floors, I believe.  I think it has a lot of offices inside.  It also has the main tourist information area for Yamagata Prefecture.

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This says, “Kousoukai Erebeetaa.”

Kousou 高層 means high altitude.

In this case, the meaning is the elevator for the high level floor, i.e. observation area.

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Here we are!  Yamagata City…….  That’s Kajo Park, where I will go later.

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Lots of mountains in the distance…

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The observation area is free and comfortable.  They also have a couple of restaurants where you can eat with a view.

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Beautiful sky!

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I enjoyed the observation area.  A nice thing to do before places in the city open up for business.

Goin’ to Yamagata City

We had a holiday get together for Tohoku AFWJ (Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese.)   It was held in Yamagata City, so I headed there last Thursday.  So much fun!

The place to go near Yamagata City is “Yamadera,” which is a bit separated from the city itself.  But I didn’t have time for that so I looked around downtown Yamagata City.  According to this totally random site I found on the internet, Yamagata City has a population of  253,267.  Whereas Fukushima City has a population of 293,186.  Yamagata’s downtown area felt more spread out and newer than Fukushima City (though as we shall see in the following days, Yamagata City does have older buildings that are of interest.)

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map of Tohoku……Bye Bye Fukushima!!!!  Going up north

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Yamagata’s name in kanji is 山形

山= yama=mountain

形=gata=shape

So I guess “Mountain shape”

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Yamagata City is indeed nestled among the mountains.  I think similar to Fukushima City, but the winter weather is more severe in Yamagata City.

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It was lovely weather that day.  Mostly blue sky, no wind, pleasantly chilly.

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Here I am at Yamagata City’s bullet train station!  A regular train (actually two–you need to transfer) takes a rather long time, but a bullet train took slightly less than an hour.

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Drying persimmon is a common autumn and winter site in the rural parts of this area.  My mother-in-law has loads of them.

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map of the downtown area.  Let’s explore!

Vocabulary Victory! (Again)

Recently we had another case of “Vocabulary Victory!”  (When we learn a word during our English lesson, and then see it later the same day in actual use.)

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I bought this book from a local bookstore.  It has recent CNN news as it originally appeared.  It is geared for learners of English.

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So we were looking at this word list for an article and learning the words. Usually what I do is I have my husband read the Japanese (from his spot on the kitchen table, where he is reading the morning newspaper) and help me explain the word, him using Japan, and me using English. So the word was tax haven.  It was kind of difficult for me to explain, since I am not very financial…..  (A lot of  “Well, you see, rich guys, they um… they hide their um, money…..”  I think my husband does a better job of explaining than me!)

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We finish up each English lesson with two “just for fun” (but also secretly educational) activities—reading from a comic or graphic novel and sticker time.  This particular comic was chosen at a bookstore in Sendai by my son.  So anyway….Whoo hoo!  There is the word “haven.”  I was so excited!   Haven by the way means a “safe place.”  It can be hard for me to accurately explain words.  I keep a dictionary (an actual dictionary, not online) next to us to make sure of a word’s meaning when I falter.

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.

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