Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting ready for the first day of 2011

The last several days before the New Year in Japan is super busy, non-stop and restless for every housewife to get prepared for the New Year's celebration. Every man, no matter what position he's in in his business world, is happy to help his wife at home, as far as I know.
Hope every one has a happy and peaceful New Year Eve tonight.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Wishing you all the best and joy for Christmas!

It's the busiest season of the year
but once I sit at the computer, I see my friends and share our daily life together over this screen.
It makes me feel so happy.

(Our favorite Christmas plate from Rosenthal 1981)

Friday, December 10, 2010

One of the Japanese popular sweets

(click each for larger images)

Look! This is called "Peco-chan Yaki". I went to this shop when I visited Tokyo last month. Peco-chan is a popular girl character from a famous confectionery called Fujiya with a long history in Japan. "Yaki" literally means "bake". It originally comes from a traditional Japanese cake with sweet beans filling called in general "dora-yaki".

Many confectioneries from fancy to local ones throughout the country make their own with a little bit of modifications in their ingredients and shapes. 
Try it when you had a chance to visit Japan. You'll find it almost any cities and towns. You won't miss it at any food floors of the department stores. Some times you are supposed to join the line to get this sweet. When you see the line, it is a "delicious" sign!


Like this "Peco-chan Yaki". They have several different fillings of the season besides sweet beans such as custard cream, cheese cream, green tea cream, mushed sweet potato,mushed pumpkin and several more. 

There is one Japanese traditional confectionery on the Fifth Ave. New York and I heard not only the Japanese living there but also other local residents love this "dora-yaki". I didn't expect that people besides the Japanese love this sweet beans paste. I think sweet beans paste is rather authentic and unique that I thought sweet beans filling just don't appeal to their taste. But it's fun to see on TV some fans of Japanese sweets enjoy eating "dora-yaki" while walking along the New York streets after they get them from the shop. Just like they eat burgers!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Autumn color Kyoto

The city of 1.5 million residents called Kyoto is now as busy as it is in spring.
Many visitors from abroad and home come and visit to see the dramatic changing colors of the outdoor scenery in and around the city. The maple trees are just amazing and so impressive. Kyoto is just like the city sitting at the bottom of the big valley surrounded by moderately high mountains.

More than anything else, it used to be the imperial city for more than 1,000 years and people has been blessed with its rich culture. It was quite natural that Kyoto being the center of the county, has a great number of Buddhism temples and Shinto shrines all over the city. (approximately 1,600temples and 400 shrines)
What is more amazing is that most temples and shrines have their own gardens of small and huge, surrounded by tidy hedges or simply walls or some are just surrounded by the low hills, which add a unique beauty to each ancient heritage.

Now I'm so lucky to live close to this marvelous city, just 30-minute-train ride distance.
Yet, it is not a local train but a super express train called a "bullet train". Fare-wise, it is not a frequent choice to make a visit. But why not in this season. I can't miss it especially since my daughter lives there and it would be the last school year for her in Kyoto.
I rented a bicycle and we enjoyed the warm autumn air without being annoyed with the traffic jams everywhere inside the city.

We visited one shrine near her university and two temples. The scenery was just charming and breathtaking. By the time we headed for the last temple, the day turned into the night. While the colorful leaves of all kinds are at their best, several temples open the gates to the visitors by spot-lightening the gardens of moss and colorful trees. The reflection gives us some fantastic and different images from the daytime faces. Kyoto is always busy with tourists but it never makes us disappointed. We can feel with all our senses the wonderful heritage of the long history on every corner of this city.

We enjoyed a girls talk as usual during the dinner, then we left each other and I hopped on the late train back to Nagoya. The cars for non-reserved seats were almost full with tourists and businessmen heading back to Tokyo, the terminal stop next Nagoya.

Here are some more images.

Monday, November 15, 2010

the reason why I expose myself into English

Owing to the Blogger, the Twitter, the Face Book, I get the chances to expose myself into the English language world. There I have time to think, make an outline of an idea, search vocabularies, type out my idea into words and finally let it out in the Internet.
I do enjoy every step to express myself outward world. Since I hardly have a chance to talk face to face and exchange ideas with native speakers unless I go to the language school, writing English means a lot to me in terms of keeping up with it. More than anything else, it's so exciting to communicate my friends in the world with English. If I don't manage the English language, there would have been no other door open to the new world of friendship.
Language is amazing.

Today I’d like to talk about some twitter friends who are generous enough to help out the Japanese twitters tweeting in English. Language-wise, they tell us many good advice, instruction and some cultural background information which is useful in learning the foreign language. Some kindly correct my sentences if I ask to. Mostly they are the language experts whose majors at colleges were the teaching English as a second language or the linguistic or the literature and some of course with their unique backgrounds. There are some Japanese with the similar backgrounds as well. It's good that I
can have both of native speaker and the Japanese.

@phrasemix introduces us with lots of useful vocabularies, phrases and is kind enough to check our English sentences very systematically. @sawage runs his private language school in Japan and gives us kind instruction as a teacher. @zen_to_satori is a Japanese and has a good command of English. He knows what mistakes the Japanese learners often make and kindly shows the right sentences. @CaroneeSan is an English author, entrepreneur and more. She is always so carefree to talk of the cultural background from the woman's point of view. @nyeigo is a language tutor who lives in NY. He talks about some popular idioms and vocabularies often used by the native speakers.

There are many opinions on what the best way to learn English. Some say "Why don't you get some native speakers and just talk to them. It's the faster way to learn how to speak." I'm not sure about it. My favorite way to study it for the moment is “writing”. By way of writing, I’ve got to think and make my idea clear. When I know what I want to talk, then it is way easier for me to speak up. That way I believe writing is a very important exercise in order to speak as well. I love to learn new phrases and vocabularies and once my thought are put into letters, they will stay in my memories as my own words.

How can I write the good sentences? What else I should do for writing better English? I've been always looking for the answer these days.

What language do you speak besides your mother tongue? How did you study it? Do you have any suggestions for me?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Gilrs Get Together

Three of ex-high school classmates got together in Tokyo and walked, walked and walked and gosh we talked, talked and talked.

Two of us left Nagoya Station at7:20 am and got to Tokyo at 8:40 and met our friend in Tokyo.

Sorry, it was too late when we realized that we didn't take any pictures before we started our lunch. We were so busy talking and eating.

This casual restaurant named "Canal Cafe" is really comfortable on such a warm fall day. You can see the open cafe in the far distance at your right hand as well. It is right in the middle of Tokyo downtown along the river.

It's so fortunate that we could make this trip possible. Our husbands are happy to see us having fun, we believe! Our railway company is so kind to provide us a very very reasonable round tickets fare unless we don't care about the set schedule of trains departure on both ways. It's just the half fare of the regular tickets. Amazing!
But this ticket is just available for men and women over ------oops, if you please excuse us, over XX years old.

I know men aren't so excited about this ticket just like my husband. But for women, hurray! it's such a treat. You'll get a free tea time coupone at one of the fancy hotel cafe as well.
The home bound train left 6:20pm and got home 8:00pm. "I'm home!" I met my husband before 8:30!

Perfect! Why not we should take advantage of this trip ! We'll come back again!

Animal celebrities on Ginza Street, Tokyo

I ran into two fabulous sites when I was walking down the street of Ginza, Tokyo.
The cat was sitting on a narrow street sign board and taking a nap ignoring all the human crowds with their cameras and videos. In fact, there should be two more cats who often appear on this stage. They got so famous once they made their debut on the blog world.

Another star is this white poodle. Isn't she gorgeous! And look at how she looks so elegant just as her lady owner behind her. That day was the national holiday and the main Ginza street was open to the pedestrians only.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Volunteers also worked hard

Opening Ceremony-79 (Oct. 11, 2010)
COP10, the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties on Biological Diversity, Nagoya, Aichi was closed on early Saturday reaching to the agreement through the long and tough meetings in a row by the representatives from the 192 countries and the European Union.

Unlike the World Expos which is held every four year, the Conference is not open to the public. Yet during the Conference, there were more than 10,000 people coming in and out from home and abroad. They are delegates, representatives from governments levels, NPO, scientists, researchers, native people and not to mention the press.

During the 17 days, there are more than 1,200 volunteers also were completing their missions at the huge conference venue or at the important spots of the every transportation systems such as the airport, subway/train stations in and around the city to help participants.

Besides them, many volunteers who speak the foreign languages were stationed at each of 200 exhibition booths adjacent to the main conference venue. I was appointed at the booth which the city of Nagoya produced the exhibition on the history of biodiversity in Nagoya and we provided the short guided tour in the huge tent during the period.
It was really fun when I have many visitors and explained our panels in English. Visitors were mostly Japanese citizens or the conference participants from abroad who walked in in between the sessions. We both enjoy exchanging our ideas on what we can do for the preservation of the rich natural environment.

Click here. You can have a glance at what the COP10 were all alike.Photos are just beautiful.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lovely needle felting

These are the felt broaches my daughter brought home from Talin, Estonia. The deep green one is for her grandmother, the blue/pink one for her mother and the white/orange one is for herself. A center metal makes a good accent on a fabric.

When I was small, I loved to see my mother make some cute little felt fabric items such as pin cushions, purses, dolls and bags as the Christmas bazaar got closer. I remember how I was so thrilled when she'd finally finished all of them. I knew it was my turn that she would take my hands and make some simple one together.

And here is another lady whose website is full of her handcraft. My blog friend in Germany, Jeany is a very talented handcraft loving woman and I should say she is very very creative. When I first encountered her blog, I was so impressed with her beautiful boxes made of her well-selected materials. She is an artist in many ways. Now she is so absorbed in felting and she really enjoys making her original felt out of wool as the very first step before she makes her beautiful works.

I always respect people who are skilled in handcrafts. I've been always making an excuse saying "If only I had enough time, I'd like to try-----." Nope, it's not true. I don't have enough patience to take all the steps one by one until I accomplish my goal for myself.  Any advice for this clumsy novice to turn to be a happy beginner of handcraft?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The way we celebrate

Today it was my husband's birthday. We've been celebrating birthdays for 27 years together.
I didn't get any birthday present for him this year because we'd been exchanging many presents besides on birthdays such as on anniversaries and many other celebrations.
I'd rather enjoy cooking something special what he likes such as Chinese, Indians and Japanese on his birthday. While I am busy cooking, he enjoys picking up a bottle of wine out of our collections, which goes well with dish for the day.
But today he suggested that we should try the Chinese restaurant in Marriott Hotel. Oh what a surprise. I wonder who is going to celebrate whose birthday! Whatever it is, that's how we went out. I should have brought a camera with me. Every dish was just beautiful and delicious. Since he basically doesn't have a sweet tooth, we skipped the desserts. Instead, after we came home, I opened a new tin of blended tea named "Happy Birthday" for him and served it along with some chocolate which our daughter brought back home from Finland for us. The "Happy Birthday" tea from TWG of Singapore is just perfect to celebrate his birthday. It has a good flavor of sweet red berries and vanilla blended with mild black tea. Happy Birthday, darling. We had a good time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wow, it's been more than a month !

Um, I didn't intend to be away from the blog for such a long time.
Things just made me a bit reluctant to write a story especially when I become busier than before. I wish I could have more than 24 hours a day.
Where shall I start then??? I tried to catch up things accordingly on time-line but it is hardly possible for me to do so after I neglected writing more than a month. Wow!

Writing a blog in English is not a piece of cake for me as you might know it is not my mother tongue and in Japan we don't necessarily need it in our daily life. But thanks to my childhood circumstances, I had always been absorbed in learning English as a door to learn something different, something new and to meet people from different cultures.

While I was away from the blog, I've been often twitting in the Twitter. I thought it was easier for me to keep writing since I only have to write in 140 letters. It was fun to talk mostly with English learning friends. Yet, I've realized that I'm not always contetded with it. I've got to express my idea regardless of 140 words. I missed my blog. So, here I am again to talk to you although I won't be a good blogger from time to time.
I'd really appreciate Dionne, who is such a charming woman and is always generous. She gives me an encouraging push to come back to this blogosphere whenever I am almost out of sight :) Thank you, Dionne.

Writing is another way for me to keep up with my English since I hardly have chances to speak up. So let's get started again.
Thanks everyone to read my awkward sentences.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I love vending machines!

You will see several kinds of vending machines along the streets or at any stations----almost any place. Well sometimes I feel annoying to see colorful vending machines even at very classical, historical sites in towns. Yet, we're counting on these machines. Vending machines for drinking are most popular and you'll be stunned to hear some new machines can speak when you insert coins and get your drink saying "Thank you"or"Come back again" or even" Take it easy". It's really funny.
See this video of three minutes on this topic.

And one of the main railway companies, which covers Tokyo area has recently set their high tech beverages vending machine at Shinagawa Station. This machines has a big display screen and when a customer steps close to it, it automatically shows a display of selling products in bottles and cans. What's more in surprise, it recommends a product judging from a customer's face, gender, age with its built-in face recognition camera! All you have to do is insert coins and touch the image you want.
Amazing! I love to "meet" this high tech vending machine and to get my drink hopefully sometime next month when I go to see my friends in Tokyo. Can't wait to see what kind of beverage this robot like machine will recommend to me.
The first day when this machine was set, many twitters uploaded pictures of this first machine which turned out be the focus of passers-by.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Different world of hobbies

a helicopter!

This is the world of Gundam, they say.


"Gundam" is a popular hero from a TV animated series.
It was first televised almost 30 years ago
and has been one of the greatest heroes among children since then.

Take a look what is going on.
It's only Japanese but you can get some hints from the images.

by the way, for me Astro Boy is still my childhood hero!

Who is your favorite hero?

(photo by my son)

Friday, August 20, 2010

coming-home presents from India

Here are the short kurtas my husband picked up for me and my daughter from the shop "Fabindia". The bed spread in the picture is also from Fabindia.
This time he was kind enough to get something else besides tea from this country :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wagashi pleases our eyes

Here are the sweets I got from my favorite confectionery at the airport shopping mall yesterday.

Wagashi(Japanese small sweets) are formed into shapes to express the images of different four seasons. During the summer, every confectionery has their own way to express some faces of the hottest season using kudzu powder or agar powder. These ingredients create a transparent layer which adds some cool images of water and breeze which we admires in summer.

Just imagine what these three wagashi express the faces of the summer.
Since each wagashi is titled after some images of the season by the confectionery, here are the answers.
From the left to right:" physalis alkekengi fruit with the red husk","summer evening" and "the moon reflecting on a lacquer tray." Well what do you think? Before putting them into a mouth, they certainly please our eyes.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I'm here @ the airport to see my husband from India.So crowded.This time my daughter is here with me, blogging froma mobile phone,

Let me try out

At last here I am !
It's been almost a month since my past blogging.
I was once so busy, lazy, and sometimes not in a mood to update my blog.
All these reasons were true for my absence.
While I was away from it, I still wanted to inform my friends of myself.
Twitter might be, then, easier for me to keep uploading since all I have to do is to write within 140 letters. As a matter of fact, I'm not quite sure what twitter makes a sense when I have my blog at the same time. But never mind, at least, you will "hear" my occasional tweets and know what I'm doing even when I don't update my blog.
So here in the side bar, you will see my twitter widget. Just let me try out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Where have you been for two months???

So, my friends, this is another story of swapping with Jeany from Germany.

It's such a nice story. I eventually received two packages from her.
Why?------- It's because the first one got lost on the way and Jeany was generous enough to send me another one although I told her I could be patient for the sake of our friendship.
She was so quick to make a decision about the second one. She didn't want me to wait for a missing package when no one knows whether or not it would be picked up and put it back on the right way. So this way, I received her second swapping package as a result. 
(See the previous blog)

And just about when we both have already given up the missing one, the postman rang the door bell and I saw him standing at the door with a package in his arm! What a welcoming surprise!!!
I checked the package on the spot to see if it got any damages. It was all right! It was really thrilling to open the box to find these lovely gifts she packed in almost two months ago-----tiny lovely all different tags, nice sensed soaps, a beautiful cartonnage and more. Some look familiar to me since she introduced some of her works in her blog and now these beautiful objects are here with me after they made a long journey. Isn't this exciting! I especially love her tag book with accordion pockets. Aren't they so neat!

I'm not a crafty type of person but I'm sure I'll try when I have more time to spare. It's really nice to get inspired by my blogger friends here. Every one I meet here has such a unique talent. They give me an inspiration and an excitement of creativeness.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Package across the sky

Here are the gift items Jeany has sent for me all the way from Germany.
How gorgeous! I'm so thankful and happy that she made every single goody by herself and was generous enough to send them to me in Japan.
She is such a talented woman who enjoys varieties of crafts especially her cartonnage are breathtaking. When I first saw her blog, I was just carried away to know how she made every part so carefully and patiently and finally so beautifully while it requires time and concentration before she completes.
Just coming across with her on the web is a great pleasure. Isn't it miracle that our paths crossed each other one day in the Internet world and now we are friends! This is something great about the blogosphere.
I love the sewing box. It's like a magic box. When you open it, you'll find a small one inside and it has many pockets as well on each four sides. How amazing and how delicately and carefully she went through all the steps. I love every item you sent to me. Look at the lovely European doll. She's so cute. You definitely showed me the excitements of handcrafting.
Oh, my, how can I be deserved with those presents. Thank you, Jeany. I do keep them for long.

Well, my friends, it's not the end of the story. There is more to say. I'll come back soon.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Yay, TGIF!

(by photojoy)

It was an exhausting week! So I'm deserved to have some sweets! This is a bowl of shaved ice with green tea syrup. Now it's getting hotter and damper as the summer is getting close to us. It's the season of shaved ice with syrup and ice cream. What do you think ? I love Japanese sweets. By the way I was visiting Kyoto last Saturday and had a chance to eat in at this sweet shop. It's a very popular tea house run by a famous Japanese tea company in Kyoto especially among females of all ages.

(image from google images)
There are always a long line to get in. Girls are often so patience when it comes to having something delicious. We can't miss it. Thanks God, that afternoon we didn't have to wait in line. How lucky!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Lazy Dessert

Remember? I went to pick up strawberries at my friend's last month. I made bottles of jams and syrups out of them and there were still lots of fresh ones left -----mostly they were small. What I did was I kept them in the freezer so that we could enjoy them anytime after the season.

So just put some in a glass, pour a strawberry sauce and add mint leaves. Here you are!
Lazy Frozen Strawberries Dessert!
By the time you finish the meal, frozen strawberries are just about ready. There is no way I spoil dessert. Lazy indeed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My favorite place to stop by

Today I left home at 8:45 in the morning to attend a computer lesson as an observer. Guess what? I'm supposed to give a class to 20 senior people for basic Microsoft Excel in July. This is what I used to do as my job but due to my mother-in-law's physical condition, I had to leave a regular job. I'm so excited about going back to this field as well as feel so responsible. The world of IT is growing so fast every minute and yet there are lots of elder people who have left behind though they're so much interested in this world. I feel so happy to help them go into this exciting world of web.
Anyway, after sitting a class for two hours even as an observer, I was just tired and didn't feel like moving forward to the next schedule of the day. I thought I needed some time to sit and cool my brain down. When you feel this way, do you have any place like a nice coffee shop or restaurant where you'd feel free to stop by all by yourself? I don't go so often but I have one very nice coffee shop full of fresh flowers where I have a favorite table for one. They serve good coffee along with nuts on a tiny plate and I feel just great to be left alone in comfortable noises of people and surrounding sounds.

(above two images are from

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Come, come!

On Monday I drove to the airport to pick up my husband on his way home wards from Delhi, India.
To go into to the airport building from the parking I walk across the airport station. It was one of the busiest time in the morning.
Now when I got to the arrival lobby, I found the cutest display of ceramic collections all lined up , which I haven't expected to see them at the airport. 

It's "Maneki-neko" which literally means a beckoning cat. 

(Click for a larger image)

It is one of the popular good luck charms in Japan which every one knows. Ceramic cat-figures in various sizes with their right or left paws raised, sometimes both. Japanese people, when they want people to come here or come closer , just turn the palm downward overtimes. So these beckoning cats are also welcoming good fortune to come in. Usually you'll find one or two welcoming cat-figures at ordinary home but you'll find more at the entrance of most local shops and restaurants of which owners wish more profits to be brought about.
There are beckoning cats figures with their right paws raised and some with left raised and some both! One with a right paw is welcoming money, one with a left paw is welcoming people and as you guess one with both paws raised is wishing both to come in. Isn't this adorable? This is originally based on the ancient story that once a cat scrubbing his face with a paw brought about happiness in his owner's house and as always there are some more different legends as well.
Do you have any good charms in your culture to welcome people or good fortune?

Well, while I was busy taking pictures of them, it didn't take long before my husband showed up at the gate! "Welcome home!"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How we wrap a gift

My daughter sent me a small box of assorted "wagashi" Japanese sweets from Kyoto on Mother's Day. When I opened the brown mail box, I found this pretty box of sweets. I could tell instantly from its outer wrapping paper this was from one of the prestigious old confectioneries in Kyoto called "Kame-sue-hiro". Three Chinese characters are used for "Kamesuehiro" and it consists of "turtle" "forever" "widespread" ---- all indicate good fortune.

A box wrapped in a white "Noshi" with a red line
Today a custom of Noshi is modified in a simple style.
In stead of attaching a dried abalone, modified red letters "noshi"on the right corner was designed.

This brown one is added by a confectionery to explain the history of this Japanese sweets.
In this small box, you certainly find an essence of each season.

This small box is arranged with "Chiyogami" paper of printed patterns and what's more it was wrapped with a white sash-like paper called "Noshi". This is a kind of formal manner for us to hand out someone a gift. The origin of this manner of attaching "Noshi" on a gift was dated way back in Japanese early history. At that time, a stretched, dried, thin sliced abalone wrapped in a white paper was attached on a gift because ancient people believed that abalone carried away bad evil. So it was a token of good fortune. This might be one of the reasons why we use so much attention to wrap a gift today.
Today when you buy a present at any department stores, they never fail to ask you if you 'd like to attach a paper of "Noshi" or not. Well, we prefer having them attach it when we certainly want it make very formal or when we just add a bit of Japanese way of etiquette.
I would say that wrapping is not only a matter of covering something or decorating but of adding good wishes from a sender to a receiver.

Here are some more images of gift-wrapping with "noshi".

(above five images are from Google)

information website of "Kamesuehiro"