December 31, 2010

what did I see this autumn?

Nagasaki was beautiful in the autumn.
The bay of Nagasaki was peaceful this day.

One of the most unlikely places to see a gigantic Christmas tree might be Kyoto. But it was pretty.

I went to Inari Shrine (Kyoto, Fushimi) with some friends.

We also visited Tofukuji in Kyoto. I enjoyed Momijigari...looking at the beautiful autumn leaves.

It has been a long time since I have taken pictures of flowers...
Another post about my New Years resolutions will be posted in a few hours! I hope you are having a wonderful OMISOKA (last day of the year) today!

October 17, 2010

Where have I been?

Hi! Long time no see!

Where have I been?
Last month I was in Langkawi, Malaysia!
There were monkeys...

and of course a beautiful beach...which I did not get to swim in...

but I did get to stay in a very nice hotel in the middle of a rain forest...

and I did get to enjoy a night on the town with colleagues...

where there was food from around the world...

and after Malaysia I came back to Japan and visited the zoo.
Something I have not done in a long time.

This guy reminds me of someone...

compare the facial expressions with the monkey at the top of this blog it just me or does this dude look bored?

These two were kinda sweet...

The busiest time of the year for people in my industry has arrived... I was really worn out last week but am feeling much better now. Autumn in Japan is my favorite time of the year.
The scent of fragrant olive blossoms, the cool and light breeze, autumn leaves...

August 11, 2010

I'm sorry for not checking in sooner...I keep falling off the band wagon...

I need to join a "can't stay consistent/procrastinating bloggers anonymous" club

if there is one out there.

It is hot and humid and there are typhoons forming and evaporating along the coasts of Japan.

In other words, a rather normal Japanese summer. However it feels hotter than it used to, not because of global warming, but because I have gained 5 kilos in the past year!

Right now the obon vacation is underway, which means the souls of our ancestors will be visiting us...I'll post more about this and the memorial services for WW2 etc that have taken place recently here in Japan.

Please take fluids and try to stay cool if you are having summer, and if you are enjoying winter now I hope you can stay warm!

Thank you to e everyone who commented and sent me messages about the pics in my last post! Here are two of them that I took with my phone and can repost now!

July 25, 2010

unbelievably, reading books about Japan

Good heavens…you may or may not be wondering what I have been up to lately…

I have been traveling around Japan in my “areas” as a sales representative.  On my days off I have finally gotten back “my groove” and am reading, listening to music and watching movies again…
So, what have I been reading?  Well, I finished reading Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s “Picking Ash From Bones”.  In a nutshell: it was great!

I usually freak out when someone writes about Japan in English. There are often quite a few errors.  Names are irritably non-Japanese, foods are mixed up with other Asian countries and the Japanese tendencies are nothing but stale stereotypes.

However, Marie’s book gives you a REAL sense of time and space in Japan, both old and new.  Her mother is Japanese and father is American, just like me so it is not too much of a wonder that she gets everything right;-)

The story starts with a mother and daughter and how their lives are constricted because they are a family of two. Japan still holds a bit of prejudice towards single parent families, although not as harsh as in the 1950s, when the story begins.
 (You can get a short synopsis of the book here:
As time goes by the story gets passed on to the next generation.  The new central figure Rumi, is raised in the US and has a chance to visit present time Japan.  The reason Rumi flies to Japan is unique from a western point of view.  Maybe even mystical since it has to do with a ghost, but being half Japanese myself, it actually seemed natural. 
Along with snapshots of homes, schools and society you will learn a bit about the Japanese version of Buddhism and the indigenous religion of Shintoism as well.

For someone who know Japan the way I do (because I live here and like the author am half Japanese) it made me want to give my mom a big hug for raising me up in two cultures.

So what am I going to read next???  Marie seems to have unlocked my ability to read about Japan in English so I think I will follow up with the following titles: 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (because one of the characters has the same first name as I do!) and…
 the new book by David Mitchell “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet (my husband is from Nagasaki, which is the stage for this novel)…so many coincidences….
I am almost finished with “At Home in Japan” a non-fiction by Rebecca Otowa.

This book also is a lovely one to flip through in between stuff as I sip tea and fan myself on the hot summer nights…
“Shojo no Tomo” (the girls’ friend) a magazine for girls that is no longer in print but was loved by girls in Japan during the 1950s…right around the same time Marie’s novel starts off!

Ooooh, look at the hairstyles!

June 21, 2010


I love my i-phone, don't get me wrong but you get so use to having technology at your fingertips that it gets irritating when you can't get good Internet access or if have too much info that it doesn't fit into the mobile blog format...argh! And did I mention that I now also own a Blackberry? Seinfeld would get a kick out of watching me!

Anyway, here are the pictures I wanted to post earlier!

Purple, pancakes and presentations...

I am on the train again, this time headed to south western Japan to " do what I do" - talk to teachers about books.

The past month was again filled with rediculous words that start with "p".

I made a blueberry soy milk shake that turned out the same color as the book I had been reading.

A pancake I made on the weekend looked so much like a face, I had to take a picture.

Last but not least I made a presentation in front of about 30 teachers and nearly puked (another p word!). The picture ( if it shows up all right) is of the building I presented at, in the background you can see the Osaka castle! If it doesn't show up I promise to repost soon from my computer as this is being done via i-phone.)

Have a nice week!

May 21, 2010

Passport, pins, pigeon eggs pina colladas and a little bit of pressure...

I finally got my new passport...thank goodness it went smoothly!

I found cute pins that can be used to bunch up chords or anything with holes!

Pigeon eggs suddenly appeared on our balconey but I am sad to say that their parents have not returned...

I finally had my first ever pi a colladas!

I finished my first job appraisal and am now feeling a bit stressed as I feel the pressure of this lovely job that I have...

I have also started an online corse in writing and because of my appraisal stress have failed to turn in two assignments.
I will turn in the last two that are coming up if I have to stay up all night to do it!

So...that is what I have been up to. I hope to visit my favorite blogs over the weekend.
If you tweet, please follow me on Twitter as that has been a helpful tool for me these days when I can't blog!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

April 10, 2010

My Friday....
Started off visiting clients to say thank you.
Lots of schools in Japan have beautiful cherry trees to brighten the mood for freshmen... School starts in April in Japan.
After work I hit the town with some colleagues...
Today I am planning on having dinner with friends in Kobe and will try to write a new post about other adventures I have been having!
I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

April 3, 2010

My little spring day.

These flowers were blooming at the foot of a tree in front of the office... What are they?

Spring at last! So, I decided to go see the cherry blossoms!

I went to a place called Sakura Shuku Gawa in Hyogo Prefecture. There were a bunch of people eating rice balls, drinking beer and playing cards under the blooming cherry trees.

I picked a tree, spread out a plastic sheet to sit on, opened up a bottle of spring water and some snacks and started to read with the sounds of laughing children and quite a few tipsy adults as BGM.

I wanted to read a book that would fit with my I chose:
Those are not my hands, by the way.

I took more pictures of the cherry blossoms. Today I have only posted the ones I took from my i-phone because I have misplaced my camera cord thingy... argh.

Tomorrow I am off to Tokyo for meetings. Will be spending half my day in a hotel room getting ready for the meeting and doing an online crash course on how to use PowerPoint.

I also need to get my picture taken somewhere because I have forgotten (yet again) to renew my passport. Yikes!

Happy Easter, happy spring and happy reading!

March 21, 2010

hiding from a magical flying carpet of desert

I have just returned from 3 days in Tokyo. I visited clients with a senior colleague to learn more of "the ropes". Then we had some meetings... Then I stayed an extra night so that I could see a friend who lives in Tokyo. I had lots of fun and did a whole lot of learning but it does feel good to be home!

However, terribly strong winds kept me from having a deep sleep last night.

Those howling winds did not come empty handed. They brought along the Gobi Desert.
What I thought was fog and clouds turned out to be a trillion specks of sand.

I didn't take pictures but you can see a news clip about the yellow sand we had today( click HERE).
The sand has made cars and windows dirty and it has given me a sore throat too!

The dust that covers Japan and Korea (and of course the sandstorms in Mongolia and China) have been growing in proportion these past few years.

Today's blanket carpet of yellow sand was extra harsh....

If you are thinking "well it's just sand!" then please know that it is not only messy but it is also unhealthy.

If you have hay fever, then a spell of a runny nose and watery eyes is "normal". The real danger is in the toxins that attach themselves to the sand as they "fly" over China's industrial zones... of course Japan has industrial zones too, but the chemicals found in the sand are said to be quite toxic and have matched with the chemicals China has been founds to use.... thus the sore throat?
this is a picture I took in Kitakyushu, Japan (2010 March)

So...I have had to hang my wash "out to dry" in the house instead of outside as it is usually done.
socks and shawls
Since I did not want to go outside and get wrapped up in a veil of sand, I decide to clean my room...which ended up being a mini treasure hunt instead.

I found out that I must be liking the colors blue and green since that seems to be my latest buying trend:
blue wrapping paper, green envelopes, blue and green tape, blue bird clothes pin, a blue silver button and
in the very back...a four-leaf-clover tin box

Even a book that I have been meaning to read has a beautiful blue on the cover...
I have not been deliberately looking for authors with an "Asian background"... but one book has led to another...
bought this one by Jamie Ford last week
which led to this one
The Asian American Superhero Anthology "Secret Identities"
which led to this one...
a graphic biography of the mathematician/philosopher Bertrand Russell

Oh dear...the top layer of things on my desk are what I bought last week....what will I find if I dig any deeper?

March 7, 2010

My 103rd post!

I started this blog on the 19th of January in 2009.
My first "real post" was on the following day...a post about the new years celebrations here in Japan.
It was the year of the cow... Now it is the year of the tiger...and I didn't even blog about it because I thought I was so busy...too busy to write...

Here is a picture of my tiger that we have had on display in our house since January....this tiger will stay on display till the end of the year...

For a person that has started many "projects"most of which are left to be finished, I never thought that 100 blog posts would be possible. LOL I didn't even notice my 100th post...

With hopes of improving my writing skills AND hopes to take my mind off of a few unhappy moments ...I tried to comb through my life and find interesting bits and pieces that would remind me of why I chose to live in Japan. I used to think it was my mother's "fault" for dragging me back and forth between the US and Japan. However, now I know that once you become an "adult", you really can't blame your parents for is your life to live and your thoughts only that can control what you do.

I do not know how to express my thanks (yet) for the many people who have taken the time to read my posts, comment, given me advice and support and have been great friends even though we may not have met in person....right now just allow me to say "arigato" (thank YOU).

I will continue to blog because I hope to improve my writing skills, continue friendships, make new ones, learn more about Japan (and of course share what I learn) and most important of all... to be happy.

Although he is not one of my favorite presidents...I do think this quote is rather appropriate to explain how I feel:
"Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement; in the thrill of creative effort." Franklin D. Roosevelt is a bit of happiness that I found the other day while waiting in line with my number in hand...

I look forward to my 777th blog post! Have a happy lucky day!

March 1, 2010

mama's got a brand new bag....

One of my nice bloggy friends that has a great blog about life in the city (NY), has tagged me for an interesting post about what is carried around in can check out Frances' blog here.
Thank you so much Frances for giving me this chance to actually blog from computer and not from i-phone...AND clean out my bags while I am at it! LOL

...and now...the moment you have all been waiting for...
my bags!
That is one of my latest favorite bags that I use on my day offs. It is one of Porter Japan's new line of bags for us gals who like their bags cute but sturdy (Porter Girls) click here for their website, in Japanese...)

Usually in this bag there will be my Muji ( for more on Muji check out this) mini bag that holds all of the stuff that becomes my; concealer, mascara, lip stick, blush...etc.)

My Paul Smith wallet (also rather new to commemorate my new job...)
and finally, my Franklin Covey scheduler....that looks sturdy but is actually falling apart...LOL

Then I have my bags for work....
One holds things that I need to pull out really quickly like catalogues, my train pass and name card holder. I also include a bag that zips up and is see through so that I can see the "innards" at first glance:
The "innards" are: funky looking paper clips, mini-mini clothespins (that I use like paper clips), my "hanko" (rubber stamp that we use in Japan like signatures), stickers, thank you cards, scissors, stapler etc...
This bag is also from Muji and is reaaaaalllyyy nice because the zipper is very sturdy and slides real easy.

Wow...this is kinda making me look organized....which is not as true as I would hope for it to be...YET!

I often find myself fumbling for my name card holder...and digging around in that little suitcase with wheels that carries all of the books that I want to show my clients. It can be rather embarrassing and I have had a good laugh with some people about it too.

I will be taking those two bags to work tomorrow too since we will be headed to the northern part of Kyushu.

AND NOW....for something completely different...and random....

I was at the local Seven-Eleven today and found a most interesting bottle of soda... I didn't really want to drink it but how can I call myself courageous, adventurous and curious...if I passed up this chance to have a swig of...CHOCOLATE SPARKLING (soda not alcohol)!!!

sweet dreams...

February 23, 2010

A chair made of cardboard and beer with foam so thick you could eat it with a spoon!

Just a few random things that I saw within the last few days...

The chair was one of many stools that was at a small organic yogurt shop in Kyoto. The yogurt was great but I forgot to take a picture of it because the chairs were so neat! They were very sturdy!

The beer was one of many that my colleagues were enjoying after a long day in Osaka. The foam was amazingly thick and everyone said it was delicious. I did not have the pleasure because I chose to drink Ginger ale instead.... I have not been able to drink a whole lot these days because I get drunk easily when I am tired.... so sad!

I wonder if this has to do with my age too. I'll be 39 in a few months... which means this will be my last year of being in my 30s.... yikes!

In Japan right now, people in my age group are called "Arafo". This is actually taken from the English "around forty". Women in this age group are hard working career women and do not seem to be marrying as much as other older generations used to. It seems we have more freedom these days and some people chose not to marry. So now there are a lot of dating companies trying to help women find a partner, there are also lots of companies targeting their sales toward this age group of unmarroed but fairly well off women.

Around forty... I could never imagine myself in this age before but now that it is here I .... Well... I still feel like I'm 19!