January 10, 2011

the best stationery itemsI used in 2010

There are several things in this world that help me release stress.
One of them is buying stationery.

Stationery can be divided into various types…today I would like to focus on paperclips and notebooks.

For work and for my “research” I think I have settled on the Cornell Method Note that can be bought in Japan through Gakken.

Kokuyo, the largest stationery/office equipment company
(, has many notebooks that I have been using for my book diaries for the past 10 years or so.

(By the way, if you understand Japanese, the Kokuyo website currently has videos of Ryuichi Sakamoto talking about Ecology and Creativity. From the second video, Everett Kennedy Brown appears to talk about his experience in Japan etc.  and what people can learn from Nature.  His website is here:

This year, my schedule book is from Muji ( and I just found out that they have apps for the iPad and iPhone too.
The scheduler comes with a canvas type cover that I am thinking about dressing up with iron-ons later.

I added a trim with decorative masking tape as well as ribbon bookmarks.
The checkbook-like notebook on the right is for the months and the notebook on the left is for the weeks.

I think this will be very easy for me to use this year and I am looking forward to filling it up with fun events!

More notebooks that I really liked last year and kept buying for various reasons were:
The one on the left is from Midori (
The pink one in the middle is one that I found in a store in Kyoto called karankoron (  My favorite from last year is on the right.
It is from Tsubame Note and this series comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes ( and the pages are perforated but sturdy so they don't fall apart.

Now, for paper clips...
My favorite elephant shaped ones and fruit shaped ones are not here but this is to give you an idea of what is out there and what I actually use. 

I use these kinds of paperclips as often as I can because I read somewhere that the most circulative stationery is the paperclip.  

This means that more than any other stationery, the paper clip is the least likely to stay in one place.  It is reused and passed on to people so you never know where your paperclip is going to end up!  I figure if that is the case, why not send around a bit of happiness and excitement too?!

And last but not least one of my most favorite items carries my paperclips and post-its...

It is an amazing piece of vinyl that I bought at the Nagasaki Museum a while ago and it is awesome.  I bought a larger one for my receipts too.

Have a nice day!

January 7, 2011

Japanese songs that topped the charts in 2010

The song that made many people cry last year was "Toile no Kamisama" (The Toilet Goddess).

There are many different gods in Japan and apparently there is one for the restroom! My mother use to tell me that if I cleaned the toilet my children would grow up to be beautiful. This made me think she was lying... o_O

The singer/songwriter of The Toilet Goddess, Kana Uemura was told by her grandmother that SHE would grow up to be beautiful if she made sure that the toilet was clean. So it seems there are different versions of the Toilet Goddess story!

The song is a true story written by Kana who use to live with her grandmother. They were like best friends until Kana started to grow up and grow apart from her family. After she leaves her home to go to Tokyo and become a singer, she gets called back one day because her grandmother is in the hospital. She rushes back to see her grandmother...The songs is a long song (about 8minutes) but it got lots of attention on the radio here in Japan.

Another song that got a lot of attention is "I Wish For You"by the group EXILE. They are a singing and dancing troupe that have doing in very well with CD sales and national tours. They also have their own TV show.

And, the third song that I would like to introduce today is by a trio called IKIMONO GAKARI (those in charge of the animals).

It is a song that doesn't not need any translation, at least the title doesn't (I think) is called "Arigato".

(They also have an "interesting" song called "Joyful"...

As for who I look forward to doing well in 2011...?!

I will be rooting for Monkey Majik...they have a new song out called "Sunshine" but for first time listeners, I think the following video will give you a better idea as to "what" they are.

By the way, their Japanese is REALLY good.

Their official is website is here.

I hope you finds lots of great music this year!

January 3, 2011

meditating and multi tasking

Last year I learned a lot about myself.  It was not my intention but it turned out that way.

I was trying (and still am) to learn more about meditation, and this is what I found out.

Meditation is a way to listen to yourself.  Many people try to focus on clearing their minds but we know that the more we try to "not think" the more we end up doing just that.  

So, you sit with yourself.  If you don't listen to yourself then why should others listen?

Sit in a quiet place.  If you start to think about something in particular, notice the way you breath and the different places in your body that is tense.  Why do you feel the way you do? 

Why are you hunched forward?  Why is your head cocked to the right? Are you gritting your teeth?
Why does it feel like you haven't been reaching for the last 15 seconds?
Don't try to answer the question, just notice how you react to certain sounds, thoughts and smells.  

When you feel how you breath in a relaxed mood then you know what you can try to "imitate" when you are having a stressed day. 

These moments of stress free meditation have helped me focus on what my real needs and desires are.
I am not good at meditating for a long time yet, but being able to sit with myself for 5, then 10 and now 20 minutes has been a very interesting journey.

As for multi-tasking, please be careful of the types of tasks you put together.  TV can be destructive because of the signals that it sends.  If you are watching a program that makes you tense or angry, be aware that whatever you are doing while watching TV can be affected by the tension.

I think religious rituals are interesting because they make you focus on one thing at a time.  Being able to focus on one thing will be more productive and you will probably have better quality.
It becomes a form of meditation as well. Aaaah, a good form of multi-tasking!

Karesansui...dry landscapes or "Japanese rock gardens".... They are often called "zen gardens" in English because the making of the garden is part of the meditating process for zen monks.

Sometimes the different designs made in the gravel (with rakes) represent ponds and flowing water.
The above picture was taken at Tofukuji in Kyoto and it looked like a giant chess board.
How the monks make these designs without leaving a single footprint anywhere is beyond me, but I am pretty sure they were not texting and raking at the same time!

I hope this year is filled with fabulous journeys for you!

January 1, 2011

Good-bye Tiger, hello Rabbit! 2011 resolutions.

Happy New Year!!!!!

After the Tiger comes the Rabbit!

My brand new Rabbit (Usagi) ornament that will be displayed in our front hallway throughout the year 2011.

(In some countries it is the year of the Cat...but in Japan there is no year of the Cat because as the story goes...god was going to give away a year to each animal that came to him on a certain day. The Mouse told the Cat when that day would be but he lied. The Cat showed up on the next day after all of the years had been assigned to each animal...thus in Japan, there is no year of the Cat. Oooh, but the Mouse became number 1 because he hopped onto the back of the Cow (number 2) and got off at the right moment so that he could be at the very front of the line!

The Rabbit came in 4th place. Since they like to hop around it is said to be a "hoppin' year" whatever that means...

What kind of year did you have? I hope it was a good one!

My 2010 was a year of self exploration!

Now that I know more about who I am and what I want from life, I think 2011 will be filled with exciting experiences. Why? Because I have a clearer focus on what I want to learn from the world.

One of the many things I have started to study is religion and faith especially Japanese Buddhism and Shinto (I was brought up in a Protestant family). I am finding many similarities with western culture and paganism. It is all fascinating and (funnily) Dan Brown-ish... :-)

Recently, I have found someone of similar mind but of amazing talent. Cristy Burne.
I have not read her book yet but it is the first book I will order in the New Year!
Cristy is the author of a story (series) that seems to have a whole lot to do with Japanese ghost stories and mythology. For more information please check out her website here:

This whole year the universe has been practically throwing people at me. People that I should learn from. It is amazing. I got what I asked for this year but it has been so overwhelming that I am not caught up. I have met a spiritual teacher, a westerner on a Buddhist journey and amazing teachers and colleagues from around the world.

All that has happened to me this year brings a whole new meaning to "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!"

So, for me 2011 will be the year of connecting dots...
...and like a good friend recently advised 2011 I am going to "just do it".

1. Write my book (by the end of December 2011).
2. Visit the UK (this is happening in July, it has been scheduled!)
3. Listen, read and learn as if the world is my grad school.

bit of a rant:
Number 3 comes from what I have seen this past year. So many students pay so much money to universities but they don't do their homework, they sometimes cheat and they often complain. I have been wanting to go back to school but instead of spending the money that goes straight into new buildings and technology that ends up not getting used, I think I will BUY books and LISTEN to people instead. I am sure there are similarities all over the world among college students but in Japan it is tragic... Students study SO HARD to pass their entrance exams only so that they can enter university to start having all night binges and sleep during classes (if attending at all) for 4 years.

4. Write, write, write and write some more...


I hope that whatever you decide to do in 2011, that you will go out there and do it too!
May your new year be filled with happiness and abundance of the best kind!