Happy in Fukushima, Happy in Texas….

Hello, everybody!   I will not be posting for a while.  This is because my son’s spring vacation is starting and we will go to Texas in the United States during the vacation.  He needs to see his American gramps and grannie!  Yee haw and Howdy!

Normally we go to the U.S. during his summer vacation (which is much longer than spring vacation.)  However, my husband insists that darling son needs to study this summer.  Why?  He will be heading to high school in a year…and Japan has a different system than the U.S.

In the U.S. most kids go to whatever high school is closest (if they go to a public school.)  However, in Japan, kids take tests and try to get into a good high school.  So they need to study for the tests.  Of course, the high schools look at other factors like school grades and so on.  So it’s a little like getting into college in the United States.  You want only the very best!

High school isn’t mandatory in Japan, but I think most kids go.  (Though not all.)  Of course, my son will go.  My husband is a Tiger Dad.   Do you know that expression?  It has become popular in recent years.  However, when I first came to Japan, I learned the equivalent:  “Kyou Iku Mama.”  (Education Mama)  It has the same meaning as Tiger Mom (a parent who zealously oversees her or his child’s education.)   That was twenty years ago when I learned it…….Education is important in Japan, definitely!

Here are some photos I took a year ago.  Happy?  Yes!  Happy in Fukushima!



Fukushima literally means “Blessed Island” but the exact meaning is rather ambiguous and can not be exactly translated.  So it often gets translated into “Happy Island.”

Have a great day!

3/11 Anniversary Candles–In front of the train station (East Exit)

This was March 11th, 2017, and as I took this photo I was heading toward the train station.  You can see it in the background.

This clock is always decorated in some way, year round.

The candles…  This is in the evening, obviously.

And here is the same photo much earlier, during the daytime:

Thoughts of that terrible day…

This candle holder was constructed by local high school students.

I love Fukushima!

That one of the left (above ) has a swan.  This area (and I think Tohoku in general) is a stopping point for swans in winter.  In summer, they fly to Siberia.

That’s the train station, but SPAL is a shopping center adjacent to the station.  Like many large stations in Japan, the Fukushima City train station is a place for shopping.

And the moon watches us and wonders why….


3/11 Anniversary Candles–Machi Hiroba

The earthquake itself was on a Friday afternoon.  Six years later, its anniversary fell on a Saturday.  So that means that darling husband was home instead of at work (as he usually is on a weekday.)   At the time of the earthquake, Japan held a minute of silence.  My husband and I prayed at home during that time.

Later, I went out to see the memorial candles.  I went to two areas:  Machi Hiroba and the area in front of the train station (east exit.)   I took a lot of photos, so I will do each place in a separate post.

This is Machi Hiroba.  Basically the town square.  It’s down the street from the east exit of the station, and also very close to my house.  I come here every year on March eleventh.  This photo says ふくしま3.11 That means “Fukushima 3.11”

Reporters interviewing a girl

Last year, I was able to decorate a candle.  This year I got there too late for that.  This man is decorating his candle.

The sign says, “Candle Night.”

I will show some of the individual candles.  Most have Japanese written on them, but I am assuming most readers of this blog don’t kow any Japanese so I purposely chose mostly the candles with English on them for these photos.

Pray for Happiness

Japanese flag

I ❤ Fukushima

Let’s believe in nature (below that is written in Japanese:  Fukushima 福島)


This is the view in the direction of the station.

And looking back in the other direction, away from the city center.

It was very peaceful.  There were not a lot of people, actually not as many as previous years.  Each year the numbers seem to dwindle.

My son was seven when the earthquake happens, so he remembers it.  (He’s fourteen now.)  However, kids just a little younger than him won’t have any memory of it.  I think it’s important to pass on these memories to the younger generation.

Photos of the 3/11 disaster on display currently at the Fukushima Prefectural library

Today is Thursday.  It’s March 9, 2017, which means that in two days it will be the anniversary of the huge earthquake.  Today I went to the Fukushima Prefectural Library and looked at a little exhibit on the disaster.  Photography was allowed.

This is in the lobby of the library.

I am not sure what all these photos signify, so I will just post them for you to look at….


After I looked at these photos, I was told there was more of the exhibit on the second floor of the library.  So I went upstairs.

Behind the library…Mt. Shinobu.

The second floor exhibit.

The nuclear power plant is the red dot.

This is Fukushima Prefecture.  The colors signify the magnitude of the earthquake for that area.   Fukushima City, my city, is in a pink area, so second highest for the prefecture.

A photo of a clock that stopped due to the tsunami.  When the earthquake occured, it was a Friday afternoon.  A very lovely day.  Most kids were in school, almost ready to leave for the day.   I personally had finished working and had come home to relax.  At the time of the earthquake, I was on my sofa reading a book by Octavia Butler.

Photo of an armed forces truck.  I feel that the Japanese military helped a lot in this time of need.

My blog is mostly about the nuclear situation, but let’s not forget that many, many people lost their lives that day, mostly due to the tsunami.  It was much stronger and went further than people predicted any potential tsunami would come, so many people who felt that they were in a safe area were actually not in a safe area.  (They had no way of knowing so soon after the earthquake struck that this earthquake was actually one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, and thus produced an extra EXTRA powerful tsunami.  This would only be known later.  Since the tsunami reached the coast about forty minutes or so after the shaking, this did not give many people time to figure out exactly what was going on and the danger they were in.)

I’m praying for and thinking of the people who lost their lives that day.  And for their loved ones who must go on without them…..


Tohoku’s most famous toy: Kokeshi


Do you know what “kokeshi” are?  They are a traditional Japanese toy that originated long ago in the Tohoku region.  Nowadays they are not actually played with by children, but are instead a decoration in the home.  (Tohoku is where I live.  It’s the northern part of the island of Honshu.)

I have always been enchanted by kokeshi.  These wooden dolls are so simple, yet eye-catching.   There are different regions that make kokeshi, and each region has its own style.


This was a present for my mom last summer.   Cute, don’t you think?


This is at the Fukushima City train station, in the bullet train section.  We Tohokuites are proud of the craft of kokeshi, rightfully so.


Kokeshi are said to have develped originally at onsen (hot springs.)   When one goes to an onsen in Fukushima Prefecture, one might bring home a kokeshi doll as a souvenir of the trip.


These were given to me by my fellow foreign Tohoku American wife, Laurel Kamada.  She was cleaning her home and couldn’t keep everything.  Very sad for her, but lucky for me.  Thank you, Laurel San!


Notice the design of its face.  Each doll is constructed and painted by hand.  Its personality really shines through, don’t you think?

If you ever come to the Tohoku region, a kokeshi is something you might want to buy!  By the way, nowadays, other areas in Japan sell their own versions of kokeshi.  But these are not the REAL kokeshi!   But Kyoto kokeshi or Osaka kokeshi are still cute.  I won’t be snobby about it.

(But we all know Tohoku kokeshi are the best.)