Ka-ru Chips

Potato chips?  Corn chips?  Tortilla chips?  Cow chips?

Do you take your salty snack food seriously?

Apparently, eastern Japan does.

Earlier this week in a breaking news report that pushed aside Trump’s visit to Saudia Arabia and kicked North Korea’s missile launch out of the way, it was announced that


Evidently, Uncle Karl chips have long been beloved in Japan, but consumers are no longer purchasing them.

Here’s a child-friendly link to the chips’ website.  It’s cute, and plus it has old commercials from way back when.


Of course, once I learned that Karl Chips were no longer going to be sold in my part of Japan, I had to go and buy some.

Alas!   No longer in stock at this grocery store.

Alack!  Not here, either.

But then………  When the chips are down, I know I can depend on my husband.

Surprise!  My darling husband found some and we shared them as a family.

I asked, “Did you buy them on the internet?”

He said, “No, they’re expensive on the internet!”

Apparently he found a regular store that still had them.

This particular package was curry-flavored.  How did they taste?  Um, so-so.  (I’m not crazy about curry flavored snacks.)

So anyway, you probably came to this site to learn about the radioactive wild boars rampaging through Fukushima…..   Sorry to disappoint you.

Anyway, I am not really a salty food kind of gal, so um anyway…….Bye Bye Uncle Karl Chips.


(And let the chips fall where they may.)

AEON Cinema in Fukushima City

I went to the movie theater near our house today.  I did not go there to watch a movie–I went to buy something called a “Mae Uri Ken”   前売り券




Can you guess what I was buying?

(Answer later in the post!)

We have two movie theaters in Fukushima City, both near my home.  This one, however, seems to me be very much American in style (whereas the other one is less so.)

Ahh…popcorn, dim lighting with bright neon piping, movie posters!    Smells like America…!

Here is the concession stand–perhaps the only place in Fukushima City where one can purchase nachos.

Where one watches the movies…..

That movie poster in the photo is for the recent movie King Arthur:  Legend of the Sword.

It opened in America on May 12, 2017 and in the U.K. May 19, 2017.  As you can see on the poster, it won’t open in Japan until June 17 of 2017.

Most foreign movies in Japan open after they originally opened in their native countries.  Not always, but usually.  So that means that people in the States will already have seen an American movie, whereas I may have to wait a few months to see the same movie in Japan.

Not all movies are foreign, though–of course!  Japan makes a lot of movies…most of which never make it to other countries.

Looks so Japanese to me!  (And you can see “Mae Uri Ken” in kanji on this poster.)

This is an upcoming movie made by former Ghibli people.  It looks good!

A movie about a mermaid–it is currently playing.  I really wanted to see this, but it is already out and almost completing its run so I won’t have time.  (Oh heck, I’ll just see it on DVD later on in the year.)

This Pocket Monster movie was the reason I came……It does not open until July…..Hmmmmmmmmmm…….so have you guessed what a Mae Uri Ken is?

“Before Sell Ticket” is a ticket that one can buy before the movie opens.  Movies in Japan at theaters are terribly expensive, but if you buy a mae uri ken, the price will be discounted.  I supposed this is to ensure that people will buy the ticket in anticipation of the movie, rather than getting too busy later on and saying “Oh heck, I’ll just see it on DVD later on in the year.”  (And never purchasing a ticket.)

Not all movies have the Mae Uri Ken available, but many do.  I try to buy them if I am absolutely sure we want to see the movie.  My son had asked me to purchase the ticket for the upcoming Pokemon movie.

You can look at the available mae uri kens available and decide which to buy.  I also bought a Gru movie ticket…but my son does not know that!  (And sorry about poor picture quality–this was behind glass.  Plus, I am a lousy photographer.)

You can see the Gru movie mae uri ken closer up.   I don’t know this movie’s official name.   Remember, I am over thirty years old.  So bear with me.  My awesomeness has long faded.

Here we are!!!!!  The POKEMON MAE URI KEN!!!!!!!  One for mommy, one my sweet darling boy.  And you get a free gift!!!!!!!!

Not only mae uri ken are sold in this area of the theater.  A lot of trinkets from current movies are also sold.

From the Conan movie…..  The items sold are really cute, but they are expensive so I pretty much never buy any.  I do think they make good souvenirs and gifts though, because they are items you can’t find elsewhere.

I guess there is a Marvel movie out….Wait, isn’t there ALWAYS a Marvel movie out?

(((Sigh)))    My son did not want to see this.

Crayon Shinchan is HILARIOUS….but he has slightly risque humor.  Sort of like a Japanese Bart Simpson, so some parents don’t allow their kids to watch his TV show or movies.  It never bothered me, though, but my only criteria is “Is it funny?”  “Yes.”  “Okay, let’s watch it.”

Well, that’s all my May movie photos……….

Can you tell I like this movie theater?  We moved here when my son was three, and it was so close I would take him here.  He was too young to watch movies…so I just simply bought popcorn for him and we looked at the pretty lights.   Nice way to keep him happy for thirty minutes!

After the March eleventh earthquake, kids were not supposed to play outside for several months due to radiation.  And they also could not go to this movie theater, either, because the building was shut down to business to confirm that it was safe for people.    (It ended up being declared safe.)    Since my son and I left for another part of Japan to live during those months after the earthquake, it didn’t affect us….but I felt sorry for the kids of Fukushima City.    They couldn’t play outside!  They couldn’t go to the movies!  It seemed all they were allowed to do that summer vacation was to stay home and worry.

Ikebana Exhibit

There are many traditional forms of art in Japan.   They are all wonderful, and many have long, long histories.   Centuries of perfection.

One traditional art form is flower arranging.   (Ikebana)  Recently I went to an ikebana exhibit that was for the twenty-first century, for the millennium generation, for the avant-garde and the risk-takers among us.   Yeah, it was cool.

And it was ikebana!!!!!!!

I never knew flowers could be so awesome.


This exhbit was held last month in Nakago Department Store in downtown Fukushima City.

By the way,

calligraphy–shyuuji 習字               (literally “learn character”)

tea ceremony–sadou 茶道                    (literally “tea road/way”)

flower arranging–ikebana 生け花   (literally “living flower”)


“Muse” Exhibit at Fukushima City Art Museum

Last Wednesday I went to the Fukushima City Art Museum to see its current exhibit.  I have a membership to this museum, so I like to go alone, and then go back if I wish–with my son or husband, or just plain alone again.  It’s an easy bike ride from my home.   If you arrive by train, it’s an extremeley short train ride (but you have to change to a small, slight hidden station that is next door to the regular station.  It’s easy, but you may have to ask somebody for help.)  Or you can rent a bike–a ten minute bike ride!  For directions to the art museum, check their website.  (It has English information.)  If you walk, it’ll take about twenty or thirty minutes.

This is me in the lobby of the museum.  The travelling exhibit is “Muse: Women before the Artists’ Eyes
from the Collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo.”

There were many famous European artists represented.  However, the signs inside the exhibit only listed their names in katakana.  So Monet looks like this: モネ.

If you can’t read katakana Japanese, you won’t be able to read Monet’s name.   And even though I can read katakana, I was unable to decipher it for artists that I am unfamiliar with.  Since the artists were all European, I felt that signs should have included the names of the artists using the Roman alphabet.

Earlier in the week I had asked my son to go with me, and he said, “Is it famous?  Will there be lots and lots of people there like at the Dutch Masters exhibit?  And the Jyakuchu exhibit?”

Both of those travelling exhibits were EXTREMELY crowded.

However the Muse exhibit—despite having equally famous artists–was not crowded at all.  I think the reason is that the Dutch Masters was on loan from a European museum and the Jyakuchu (despite being Japanese art) was on loan from an American museum.  That meant they can’t be normally viewed in Japan, and lots of Tokyites came up to Fukushima’s art museum especially to see those exhibits.  However, the Muse exhibit is from a Tokyo museum–and therefore Tokyoites don’t need to make a trip up here to see it.

Actually, the Jyakuchu paintings were loaned to Fukushima especially to promote revitalization of the area and get tourists coming here.

But anyway….enough of that!  Let’s go outside and explore the grounds of the museum…….


The premises of the museum and the adjoining library are so pleasant.  You can play on the grass, walk around.  It’s a wonderful place for kids!

Cultured museum goers stroll down a path.

On a day with nice weather, you should come here.  There’s also Mount Shinobu right next to this area if you like hiking.

Fukushima’s art museum does not always have a travelling exhibit, but they do always have a permanent exhibit (that I have been to many times, and thus never go to anymore!)  The permanent exhibit is upstairs.

Let’s just stay here all day and read books and enjoy the May weather!  Pretty soon it will get uncomfortably hot, so I am taking advantage of these spring temperatures.

That’s the art museum building…and in the far distance is the prefectural library.  Check that out too, if you are a book lover!

If you are in Fukushima City during the next year, here are the upcoming exhibits!  Please come and visit!

Muse: Women before the Artists’ Eyes
from the Collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo
April 22 – July 2, 2017
Jacques Henri Lartigue : Photographs  May 28 – July 3, 2017
Message from SAITO Kiyoshi October 7 – December 10, 2017
Gallery F 2018  February 3 – March 4, 2018
 HASEKAWA Toshiyuki Retrospective March 24 – April 22, 2018

Spring Parade of Fukushima City Elementary School Students

Hey! Hey!  What’s the event?!  Why are so many people gathered at the street near my home?!?!

It’s a parade!  Every spring, the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade elementary school students of Fukushima City march and perform.

Here they come!  They are divided up by schools.  Each school marches down the street, playing drums, waving flags, and so on.  They’ve been practicing for this day for a long time!

Since it goes school by school, that means that it takes about three hours for the entire parade to finish.  On a warm day like today, that feels like a long time!  (By the way the bucket truck has a cameraperson inside it.)

Congratulations, kids!  You did a good job!

The kids who are now in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades (in the year 2017) were born in the years 2005, 2006, and 2007.  The Tohoku Earthquake (the big one!) happened in the year 2011.   That means those kids were ages six, five and four, and three at that time.  (Depending on their birthdays.)  So while some of them remember the earthquake, probably some of them don’t.

What’s the first really big event YOU can remember?  For me, probably I remember the ruckus of Watergate and how Nixon was a bad guy.   I remember that the war of the United States and Vietnam was over, and that was a good thing.   I remember how 1976 was the bicentennial year for the United States, and everything was red, white, and blue!  Yes, I was a seventies child….  (Did you guess?)

Tohoku de, yokatta.

This is old news, about one or two months old.   What happened is that the reconstruction minister responsible for rebuilding Tohoku said something that got him fired.

He said, “Tohoku de, yokatta.”

What does this mean?

It’s hard for me to translate, but literally, “It was good that it (meaning, the earthquake) was in Tohoku.”  Obviously his meaning is “It was good it was in Tohoku because if it had been in Tokyo, that would REALLY have been bad.”

This minister, Masahiro Imamura, is NOT a native of the Tohoku region.  He is a native of Saga, a prefecture way way way down south on the island of Kyushu–very far away from the Tohoku region.  (I personally think of Kyushu as just a totally different world.)    He will be replaced by a native of Fukushima Prefecture, thank goodness.

This is ostensibly a blog for children, so I don’t like to post links.  However, for the first time ever, I will post English links to this news story.  If you’re a kid on the internet, you can probably handle a few links, I suppose!  Just don’t go crazy, kids, and go to weird sites that’ll corrupt your sweet little innocent minds.

These two links are to the Japan Times (an English language paper for news in Japan.)

This first link is about the scandal itself.


This second link is how people from Tohoku are embracing the use of the word “Yokatta” on Twitter, saying (basically) “Tohoku is good. It’s the most beautiful place evah.”



What do I think of Imamura’s “gaffe?”

Well, I do he’s an idiot.   I guess I know what he possibly means…..better sparsely populated Tohoku than densely populated Tokyo!  But considering that thousands of people died in the disaster, it’s not really something anybody can ever be happy about, or appreciative of.  Lots and lots of people live in Tohoku.  It’s not exactly a barren wasteland up here.

So many people died all along the east coast of Tohoku, so many communities were destroyed.  I don’t know how that can ever be considered “good.”   Sad is all it will ever be.  I personally don’t live on the coast, so I can’t report on news from there very well….but hearing the stories from those regions breaks my heart.



Residents Gradually Returning to “Forbidden Zone.”

There is an area around the nuclear power plant where residents have not been allowed to live since March of 2011, due to high radiation levels.  Indeed, people are not allowed to visit there without getting a permit.   This area is comprised of small towns.  It’s a rural area.   Gradually people have been allowed to return as their areas have been deemed safe.  Some residents want to return.  Some don’t.

Here is an article from the junior high newspaper I read weekly.  I’m sorry, it’s at least a month old.  (I have been busy!)   The news is continually relevant though.

In the map in the article, the tiny black ringed circle is the location of the stricken power plant.  (Fukushima Dai Ichi Nuclear Power Plant)  If you look at the green areas, those are areas where people are allowed to return.  The blue and white areas are places where people have already returned.

In other news, recently I went to a meeting in which a researcher explained about the situation on the decommissioning of the power plant, and listened to the viewpoints of us foreign residents of Fukushima.   (He has held other groups, listening to other residents’ opinions–like students, housewives, etc.)  My husband said he is a famous researcher.

Anyhoo…..he told us that the biggest problem currently is the groundwater that is CONSTANTLY being radiated by the power plant.  When I say constantly, I mean on a daily basis.   They are attempting to rectify this problem by building ice walls.  Will this solve the problem?  Gosh, I certainly hope so.  It’s really a worrisome dilemma.   Keeping my fingers crossed…..

Something we foreigners discussed is the lack of trustworthy news about the situation.   News is either nonexistent, or (often on the internet) it’s provocative and exaggerated and often untrue.

I know people who don’t live in Fukushima frequently tell me that it’s as though Fukushima has just dropped off the radar…  Trust me, we’re still here.  The power plant’s still there.   It’s a situation that’s not going away for a LONG time.

Fukushima City…….Trains in Love!

Early in May, there are several consecutive holidays in Japan (known as “Golden Week”) and many people go on mini-vacations during this time.  I myself always go to my husband’s parents’ house in nearby Yamagata Prefecture.  A lot of people drive to their destinations, but my husband doesn’t really like going by car–so we take the trains.

Here are the tickets (for one person.)

Can you find the word “Fukushima”?  In Japanese it is 福島  (Hint:  It is written on each ticket.)

The ticket on the left is a bullet train ticket.  The ticket on the right is for the regular train that we take after the bullet train.

These tickets have only Japanese on them, so I thought these tickets may be confusing for people who don’t read Japanese.  However, my friend Helen said that one can request tickets that use romaji (the Roman alphabet system.)

Once you enter the bullet train area at the train station, there is a little shop where you can buy drinks, food, newspapers, and so on.

This shop has a lot of “only in Fukushima” items.  Japanese love to give souvenirs that were made in the region that they visited.  There is a HUGE market for these specialty items.   When I say HUGE, I mean GINORMOUSSSSSS!!!!!!

Possibly Fukushima’s number one snack “Mamadoru.”  Filled with your mother’s love!!!!!

The commercial on TV says (In Japanese):

Mama!  Mama!  Mamadoru

Filled with milk

Taste of Mother

Mama! Mama!  Mamadoru

Fukushima is famous for peach orchards, so peach-flavored goodies are popular.  The sign at the top 福島のもも says “Fukushima’s Peaches.”

もも Momo =Peach

Fun Tohoku trinkets

And plus, regular chocolate (for those of us who get the munchies on the train….)

Hmmmmmm….which should I choose…………..

Here’s the train….the BULLET TRAIN!

What??!!??  Are they going to collide?   Are we witnessing the first head-on bullet train collision ever?

No, of course not, silly.  Everybody knows the bullet train never has collisions.

What is happening here is that two bullet trains are connecting together.  This makes the train longer so it can accommodate more passengers.

Why?  Well, these two different trains came from northwest Tohoku and northeast Tohoku.  Tohoku (comparatively) is sparsely populated, so the trains didn’t have to be so very long.  In Fukushima city, the tracks converge, so they join up to go to Tokyo together.

I always tell my son the trains are kissing.  It’s true love, railway style.

Ah, so romantic!   The man in the black uniform is saying “I now pronounce you man and wife!”

“Oh, I’m so happy!  We met online!  They say commuter dating doesn’t work, but we are really attached and plan to spend the next two and a half hours together!”

Congrats to the happy couple!