Children’s Day

May is here!   The beginning of May means Golden Week in Japan.  That’s many holidays in a row.

Children’s Day used to be known as Boy’s Day, but the name was changed in 1948.  I was complaining to my husband about how it used to be known as Boy’s Day, and he said it was fair because there is a Girl’s Day.

Children’s Day, however, is a national holiday and Girl’s Day is not!  That means no work or school on Children’s Day, but Girl’s Day is a regular day for work and school.

One symbol of Children’s Day is the carp.  The idea is that a child (originally—the boy) is supposed to be strong and fight against the current of the water.

This is the shrine down the street from my home.  A banner of carp fly here.  They represent the members of the family.

When I first came to Japan, I was impressed with the flying fish I would see here and there in Japan.  (Usually at places like schools, parks, etc.)  I am still impressed!  They are simply beautiful.  Since Children’s Day is early May, you can only see them this time of year.

Here they are in a park in Koriyama City.  (This photo was taken about a year ago…on a very rainy day!)

Paseo Dori Street is my favorite street in Fukushima City, and you can see the carp here, too.

Let’s give a big thanks to the moms and dads out there raising the youngsters of the world!  Mother’s and Father’s Day will be here soon….  (And my birthday!!!!!!!)  May is a wonderful month.

This blog is meant for children (although anybody may read it.  Including my mom’s best friend Mary Sue ❤ and my ever lovely Japanese teacher Ms. Sagi!  ❤ )   It’s all my own opinions.  It’s meant to represent Fukushima (although mostly Fukushima City because that is where I live!)   There’s not a lot out there about the tragedy for kids.  There’s not even a whole lot available for adults!   If anything looks like fake news, well, it probably is!   Your best bet is reading the literature available because it’s been carefully researched.  One of the best books is “Strong in the Rain.”   Wow, I got off topic here, didn’t I?  I’ll provide a better list of books at a later date.

Anyway, what I meant to say, is hooray for you, kids!   Kids are some of my favorite people!  You guys and gals are the future and, yeah, it looks like we adults are sure messing things up big time, but hopefully we can get back on track to a more healthy and environmentally conscious world……….   Sending lots of love to you kiddos this Children’s Day!


Sakura Zensen

Cherry blossoms are a long tradition in Japan.  Long, long ago and nowadays, Japanese people like to visit areas with lots of sakura trees and relax, or party…or whatever.

You may be wondering:  How do people know when cherry blossoms will be blooming in the area in which they live?  Japan is a long and thin country, stretching mostly from south to north.   So each year, there is a map that predicts when the blossoms will be blooming.  It’s the cherry blossom front, in Japanese:  sakura zensen.


It’s the end of April here in Fukushima, so for me the cherry blossoms are long gone.  However, I’ll show some photos I took on the way home from Mochizuri Kannon (which I visited in my last post.)  What’s interesting is that on the SAME DAY that it was too early for cherry blossoms at Mochizuri Kannon, the blossoms were already blooming in Fukushima City.  A slight change of temperature changes when the blossoms bloom.  It can be really tricky then to plan one’s cherry blossom party at the right time.  A little early, a little late… just right!

Heading back towards the city.  This is inside Fukushima City limits, but it’s not the downtown area.  I don’t usually go to this area–there’s nothing out here for me.

Now we are very close to downtown Fukushima City.  This is Mount Shinobu (Shinobuyama).  I love this mountain!  A little mountain near my home.

This is the Fukushima City’s culture center.  (Bunka Sentaa)  Often, if there is a live performance, this is where it will be held.    That’s still Mount Shinobu in the background.  It’s a low mountain, but quite long.

Again, still Mount Shinobu.  (I had been biking alongside it.)  This is a park…and if you climb up at this point you will find the mountain’s famous cherry blossom spot.   I’m quite close to home at this point.

Down the street to my house.  This is a local high school.   What’s interesting here is that you can see two different types of cherry blossom trees in this photo.  One at the left (purplish) and one on the right (whitish.)

So I made it home safe and sound!  Every year, it feels that cherry blossom season comes and goes so quickly.  It’s a lovely time when the weather is so comfortable.    After May, we will enter the rainy season….and then a horribly humid and hot summer!  Can’t wait to be sweltering!  Well, for now, I will appreciate warm breezes and gentle sunshine.





Mochizuri Kannon Temple



It seems that in Japan, every place of importance has at least one cherry blossom tree.  Parks, schools, temples, shrines….

So I rode my bicycle out to Mochizuri Kannon with the hope of seeing the cherry blossoms there in full bloom.  Unfortunately, the temple has only one cherry blossom tree.  (It is more famous for its autumn leaves.)  And also, it was too early–it wasn’t blooming yet!

Mochizuri Kannon is about a forty minute bike ride from downtown Fukushima City.  It’s kind of out in the countryside, away from the city.  I have been told it is the largest temple in Fukushima in terms of land area.

These are “Omamori.”  As you can see on the sign, each one costs five hundred yen.  (Approximately five U.S. dollars.)  Omamori is often translated as amulet.

Believers purchase the amulets and keep them as charms.  So as you can see on the amulets in the photos, some have pencils on them.  Students might buy those in hopes of doing well in school, and then attach them to their school bags.

Mochizuri Kannon is most famous because it was visited by Matsuo Basho.  He was the most famous poet of the Edo Era.  He was born in 1644 near Ueno.


Basho visited this rock and wrote a haiku here.

sanae toru temoto ya mukashi shinobuzuri

planting seedlings
with the hands—ancient patterns
from the fern of longing

A different view…

Walking on the grounds…  I have lots of photos so I will just show them from here on out and not say anything.

Imagine yourself on a spring day, a slight breeze, exploring a temple in Tohoku….

Pardon me for interrupting your meditation, but I want to say that this structure was damaged in the earthquake of 2011.  When I visited a couple years ago, it was being repaired.  The repairs seem to be finished now.

This is a box where one can donate money if one so wishes.  Usually a person throws in some coins (or bills) and prays.  The slats prevent theft.

These are “Omikuji.”  You donate money (usually 100 yen) and pull out a piece of paper.  It tells you if your luck will be good or bad.

If a person recieves a fortune with bad luck, he or she will leave the bad luck behind at the temple.

Nobody wants bad luck!

This is the temple’s one and only cherry blossom tree….I arrived MUCH too early!

Here it is on the map!  Easy to ride a bike to, so I recommend it!

Haneda Airport

Tokyo has two main aiports.  They are Haneda and Narita.  (Narita’s official name is “New Tokyo International Airport.)

Haneda is an older airport, and is supposed to be for domestic flights (within Japan.)  Narita is a newer airport and is supposed to be for international flights.  However, many people in Tokyo do not like the Narita airport because is rather far away for them.  (At least an hour by train.)  So there is a lot of controversy that goes on concerning these airports.

Every single international flight that I have taken has departed from and arrived in Narita.

Until now.

Our flight from Los Angeles arrived in the Haneda Airport.  This is so unusual for flights from the U.S. that the flight attendant kept saying “When we arrive in Narita…”  This made me nervous, because I was hoping that the pilot wasn’t making the same mistake!  Luckily the pilot did a good job and we arrived safely in Haneda Airport.


Pulling into our gate…

After we deplane, we must go to the area of customs and immigrations (if we are entering Japan.)

It’s kind of a long walk, but both Haneda and Narita have moving sidewalks to quicken the trip.

If a person is NOT entering Japan (instead they are flying on to another country), they will not need to proceed to customs and immigrations.  Instead, they head to this area and then wait for their plane to the Philippines or China or wherever they happen to be going.  It’s a very long trip for these people!

However, my son and I must go through immigration control.  I show our passports and  pick up our luggage.  Then I either declare something or don’t declare anything and pass through customs.

There are signs in the customs and immigrations area that say “No Photos” so of course I have no photos to show you of that area.

This is Haneda Airport, our terminal.

This is the area where people check in their luggage and receive their boarding passes.  However, if you look towards the top of the photo, you can see a touristy area up on the upper levels.  Let’s go up there.


Shopping in stores that have been recreated to look like “Old Japan.”

Both Haneda and Narita airports have observation decks.  So much fun to watch the planes take off and land!

A flight similator.  (It costs money, like a video game.)

So you can see that even at the airports, there is stuff for tourists to see and do.  We used to live in Narita City, and people there would just go to the airport for shopping and enjoyment….without even taking a flight!

Have you ever been to an airport?  Next time you are at an airport, please look around and notice how it is run!  Every airport is different….

Flight from the U.S.A. to Japan

One of the most common questions I get is:  “How long does it take to fly to Japan (or the U.S.)?”

I usually give the answer, “About twelve hours.”  But truthfully, it depends.

First, it depends on which direction you are travelling.  Flying towards Japan over the Pacific takes a little longer than flying toward the United States.  It usually adds at least an hour to my flight (a very uncomfortable hour, in which one is thinking, “Aren’t we there YET?!!?”)

Second, it depends on where one is travelling to in the U.S.  A trip to the west coast will take less time than a trip to the east coast.   It takes less time to reach the northern part of the U.S. than the southern part.  Also, you have to take layovers into account.  It might take twelve hours to fly to an international airport–then you wait for another two hours for your next flight (which takes two hours) to your final destination.

I consider myself lucky, though.  Many, MANY people make the U.S. to Japan trip but also may have been coming originally from Brazil.  Or heading to Thailand.  Their flight time (in total) is excruciatingly long.

I have some photos from our trip from the U.S. to Japan.  We travelled on American Airlines from Dallas to Los Angeles, then switched to a flight which headed to Tokyo (Haneda Airport.)

Here we are waiting for our flight at the Los Angeles International Airport. My son is used to these trips, since we take one yearly.  He just sort of goes into hibernation mode.

Looks like it is on time!  Hooray!  This flight is unusual in that it lands in Haneda Airport.  (Tokyo has two main airports–Haneda and Narita.)  Usually Narita Airport is reserved for mostly international flights, so that is the airport we had always used previously.

I see the west coast of the U.S…..we are on our way!

We sit in economy class (third class, coach class.  The other classes are first and business.)  Years ago everybody had to watch the same exact movie on a screen in the front.  But then around 2000, economy class started getting better in-flight entertainment–screens in the seats so each person can choose what he or she wants to watch.

This flight had many TV shows and movies to choose from.  This is a documentary about Warren Buffet.

After we take off, we first get a drink and some small snack like pretzels.

Then there is a “dinner.”   Basically, a passenger has two choices (like beef or chicken)  but one can order a special meal prior to the flight if one’s diet is more specific.  (Like a vegetarian meal or a kids’ meal.)

There were so many choices in movies–both current and classic–that I felt I could not complain.  If I can’t sleep, I just spend my time watching the TV.  (Which is what the majority of people do.  The lights dim after the dinner and it’s hard to do anything else, really.)

I had never seen “The Last Samurai” but I remember when it came to Japan.  I decided to watch it.  I enjoyed it, despite it starring that unloveable varmint Tom Cruise.


Inside the flight, midway.  You can see that it’s really dim.    Midflight we got a small snack–a sandwich and ice cream.


I watched the movie “Loving” which had not come out in Japan yet.  (I think soon…?  April?  May?)  This was a slow moving movie, but I really liked it.  I liked it even better after I googled it (later on) and found that a lot of the dialogue was taken from documentary footage.  I think the filmmakers tried to be accurate.


“Breakfast” is served about an hour before we land.  It usually feels like in the middle of the night (because it is, time-wise, for us) so I’m not very hungry.  But I’m happy because the arrival of this last meal means we are almost there!

Here we are at Haneda Airport!  Tokyo!

As you are aware, we live in Fukushima–which is not exactly close to Tokyo.  So the plan was to stay in a hotel in Tokyo and leave the next day for Fukushima.   Dividing up the trip like this is so nice!  It’s a long journey….

What did I do while in America?

I had fun!  And relaxed….

I am back in Fukushima City now, so I will start with my regular posts soon.  However, as a special post today, I will show you what I did in America.  My parents’ dog Ellie May held a doggy fashion show for me.

Ellie May is a special dog because she is truly a rags to riches story.   She came to my parents’ house as a rescue dog (thanks to my sister, a true animal lover.)  And now she has risen to the top as a one of the doggy icons of northern Texas.

Ellie May……..Lookin’ good, hon.  Why don’t you wear some of your pretty dresses and model for us?

A real Southern belle.  Sweet iced tea, anyone?

Ellie May says, “No cameras, please.


“Is that Britney over there?  Hey, Britney!”

“Britney’s wearing my outfit! Probably got it a Walmart!”

“Mine is an original Vera Wang!”

“This is my classic preppy look, circa 1982. Tennis, anyone?”

“And this is my Valley Girl look, circa 1983. Granddaddy Lange doesn’t like me to wear such short skirts, but shhh…he’s not here, so we won’t tell him.”

“Stunning, dahling. Positively stunning,” says the cat, the only one in the audience. He’s the only one who truly cares.