Wacky Japan

Mou-ichido Hokkaido

Omikuji!  Omikuji are fortune-telling strips of paper that can be found at temples and shrines throughout Japan.  Most of the time they’re only in Japanese so we just walk past them.  But when I was at Hokkaido Shrine last spring, my cousin said they have them in English and we should both get one.  In this photo I’ve paid my 100 yen “donation” and I’m picking out a fortune from the box.  The fortunes range from great blessing/luck to great curse.  Here’s what the website www.japan-talk.com says about omikuji: “The omikuji will go on to break down your fortune in health, love, marriage, business, childbirth, disputes, studies, travel, finding lost articles and achieving your desires.  These will generally follow the…

Osaka Earthquake

Today, Monday June 18, our house shook at 7:58 am.  It was quite a jolt.  The kids were getting ready for school and Avalon was finishing up some last minute homework at the table when the ground starting rumbling and the house started shaking and I started panicking.  It was the strongest, scariest earthquake I have ever felt.  That’s saying something because I’m from California and I’ve felt my share of earthquakes.  But as it turned out, we were one of three cities that felt it the strongest.  We live right next to the center!  That’s never happened. The epicenter was in Takatsuki where I work every Tuesday.  The neighboring city, Ibaraki, also got a lot of damage and that’s…

Japanese Winter

Subtitle:  This is no way to live. The average temperature over the past week has been around 4 degrees Celsius.  That’s 39 degrees F.  It was negative degrees C the other day.  I feel like I’m living inside an ice cube.  Finally it snowed today, Saturday, January 27.  If it’s going to be ice cold outside I prefer that it snows so at least it’s a beautiful sight and there’s the possibility of a snowball fight or snowman to be made.  Old timers at my kids’ school are telling me that this is the coldest winter in Osaka they’ve ever experienced.  Japan can be beautiful in winter but let’s be honest, my California self can’t take this cold.Japanese houses are…

Okinawa stories and photos

My prior post detailing my trip to Okinawa started to get a bit long and wordy so I had to cut it off.  Here are more sights and stories from Japan’s famous island to the south. I landed at Naha Airport in the early evening.  By the time I traveled from the airport to my Airbnb apartment and got settled in, it was dark.  On the main street, Kokusai-dori, brightly lit stores were crowded with high school students, marathon runners and foreign tourists.  It was raining lightly so everyone was trying to duck out of the drizzle.  Locals were everywhere, luring visitors to their stores, hawking t-shirts, keychains, Okinawa treats, restaurants menus, drinks and even two Owl Cafes along the…

Typhoon Lan Arrives

We arrived in Japan from sunny, coastal Southern California, where the weather is almost always perfect and the sun shines without humidity and the sky is blue and the air smells like the ocean.  We looked forward to experiencing four seasons in Japan.  My kids had never lived anywhere with real changing seasons and my husband who is from Chicago missed them. In the past year we’ve seen sights that we’ve never seen at our house in California.  Fire red autumn leaves on the trees, snow falling outside our front door, cherry blossoms bursting on branches like popcorn, and a whole lot of torrential rain and gusty wind.  I’ve never needed an umbrella so often in my life.  And that…

Toilets in Japan

I’m finally writing my toilet post.  We’ve been here a year now so I’ve been thinking about it that long. Gomen nasai (sorry), but I’ve got a year’s worth of thoughts to write about.  There’s just too much to say about toilets/sinks/bathrooms in Japan.  There are two kinds of toilets in the ladies room here:  Japanese toilets and Western toilets.  Maybe Asian toilets are not a surprise to some people.  But they were a surprise to me when we vacationed in Japan in 2013. A lot of people told me beforehand that I should always carry a pack of tissues with me just in case I needed them in the public bathrooms.  That advice was drilled into me as a…

Our 2nd Year House

Oh wow.  This microscopic kitchen looks like something out of House Hunters International on HGTV.  We have ARRIVED.  We even have a dishwasher, something that every international house hunter was predominately preoccupied with.  It seems that most people (who are featured on TV anyway) do not like to wash their dishes by hand anymore.  In my opinion, it’s much more important to have a reliable clothes dryer. Now we live in an area called Onoharahigashi (Oh-no-ha-ra-he-ga-she).  It’s actually Onohara and higashi means east.  We are just down the street aways from the kids’ school, which is in Onoharanishi (Oh-no-ha-ra-knee-she).  Nishi means west, so the school is in Onohara west.  Nearby there is also Onoharaminami (Oh-no-ha-ra-me-nah-me) and minami means south.  Kita…

Silly, Strange Japan in Photos

June 13, 2017 I’ve been collecting more interesting photos to share.   Some are hilarious and some are downright strange.  The featured photo above just about sums up my trash frustrations when in the great outdoors.  I don’t mean out on a nature walk.  I mean just after setting foot outside my front door.  One day I asked some people why there were no trash cans in public places.  We had some discussion about it, but the consensus was exactly like on this sign.  Everyone just carries their trash around with them and takes it home.  I guess I need a larger purse! On another day I was talking to an expat American teacher at school and I was telling…

Golden Week Guests

Saturday, May 6.  Two things are dictating our Saturday morning.  One, Avalon has to go see the doctor about her big toe that has been bothering her.  I may have already mentioned somewhere that she had an ingrown toenail on her other foot and she thinks it’s the same thing, different toe. Two, Jun has to catch a plane from Itami to Tokyo and on to Baltimore, Maryland later today.  We’ve been practicing how to say, “Hilton,” with him.  He said when he stayed at a Hilton in Australia, whenever he said to the taxi driver, or anyone else, that he was staying at the Hilton, no one could understand him.  It’s “hill-tuh-n” not “he-rue-toe-n.” While I’m at the doctor…

Japan’s Manhoru Art

Call it a treasure hunt or a scavenger hunt.  One of my favorite parts about wandering around Japan is looking for fancy manhole covers (manhoru in Japanese) in every new area of Japan that we visit.  The first intricate and brightly colored manhole cover I saw was in downtown Minoh.  The Minoh manhole features the red maple leaves and waterfall that this city is famous for.  It is a beautiful piece of public art!  Every time I step on them I am amazed all over again at how cool these things are. Up top, the featured manhole photo is also from Minoh.  Avalon just discovered this one recently.  It’s by the train station and I don’t know why we never…