Watership Down

Reading “Watership Down” upside down.


This story is from a few months ago.  I was working on Book Three of my trilogy.  I wasn’t finished yet, but I sent it to my mother and father for any advice they may have.

My mother: “I love it.  You are the best writer ever.”

My father: “It needs to be more like Watership Down.”

My dad is the kind of dad who doesn’t sugarcoat, who tells it like it is.  (Although neither of my parents ever read middle grade.  My mom likes adult cozy mysteries. My dad likes books about the genocide that occured in Rwanda during the nineties, and that ilk.)

I told him I tried to read Watership Down when I was about ten years old, and didn’t finish it. He said he also tried to read it, but didn’t finish it. But then my sister (the family book expert) borrowed it from the library and he listened to it during his drive from northern Texas to southern Texas.  “It was mesmerizing,” he said. “So write Watership Down.  That’s what you should do.”

Based on his advice, I was planning to buy it and listen to it as an audiobook, but then I found it in English at my library.  It had been there the whole time, I had just overlooked it.  So I borrowed it and read it. And yeah, I liked it. Can I write Watership Down? Can I write Harry Potter?  Can I write Romeo and Juliet? Can I write The Hunger Games?


But I can read them, and hopefully improve my writing based on them. It’s a goal of mine, anyway, to write a mash-up.  The Epic Adventures of the Harry Games, or How Juliet Waters Got Down and Hip.  ha ha

Anyway, my dad’s advice was to read Watership Down. It’s great advice.  It’s a wonderful book. I recommend it!


Missile Warning for Japan……(what happened this morning)

This is a blog for kids, so let me start off by saying that Japan is near South Korea and North Korea.  The only thing that separates from the Koreas from Japan is a sea.  (It’s called The Sea of Japan in Japan.  I don’t know what the Koreans call it.)

North Korea is ruled by Kim Jong-un.  He is an inexperienced and young dictator who took over the position from his father, also a dictator.  (And who had taken the position from HIS father, also a dictator.)

For years now, North Korea has been setting off missiles that go down into the sea.  Every time this happens, it worries Japan. The North Korea government hates Japan, but it ESPECIALLY hates the United States.

So having explained that, let me tell you what happened this morning.

My son always wakes at six a.m.  We do English together on the sofa and my husband sits at the table and reads the newspaper.  (The kind that has pages made of paper!  Not the internet kind.)  Meanwhile the TV is always on to the morning news, but we don’t pay much attention to it.

So shortly after six, the TV screen went black with white lettering.  It was a warning.  At first, I wasn’t too concerned.  I assumed it was an earthquake warning. We get those fairly frequently, often enough that they don’t worry me a whole lot.

But my husband said that it was a missile warning. North Korea had launched a missile.  “People in Tohoku and Hokkaido take cover!  Immediately!” And it listed the prefectures that were in danger.  (Basically all of northern Japan.)

I said, “This is a drill, right?”

Husband said, “No, it’s real.”

I got very nervous. Truth be told, the TV made it sound like North Korea had aimed it missile at Japan and it would hit somewhere in Japan. Even if it didn’t hit my home, I don’t want to see ANY of Japan attacked!

Well, several minutes later, it turned out that it passed over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean. What were the North Koreans aiming at?  I have no idea.  Maybe it was just a stupid test of theirs and they never planned to hit a target other than the ocean.

Lots of people in Japan were woken up by the phone apps alerting them of the danger, by the way.  Meanwhile, at the time, American news showed nothing about the story, and still isn’t showing much.  (I do realize there is huge hurrican destruction, and that is being focused on.)

By the way, this is not the first time that North Korean missiles have soared over Japan. It happened in 1998 and 2009. I wasn’t worried then because the TV warning didn’t scare the jiminy crickets out of me!

I have no idea what the world’s response will be….

This is the path of the North Korean missile.  It was launched at 5:58 a.m. It flew over the sea at a high altitude. It passed over Hokkaido in Japan.  It landed in the ocean (the red spot) at 6:12 a.m.


My thoughts are with the people on the coast of Texas.  I was born in Texas, and with the exception of my brother, my entire family lives there.  (They are in the center towards the north, so it is far from the hurricane.)

So far, there have been two deaths. 😦 And it looks like the damage has been horrible.  I sincerely hope that the people of Texas can recover.

I was looking at twitter this morning.  Somebody said that this hurricane, and Hurricane Katrina AND THE JAPANESE TSUNAMI were all predicted. I think what was meant was long-term prediction (years in advance.)  I stated that I  thought that this was wrong. The tsunami was not predicted, not with any sort of accuracy.  And anyway, hurricanes and tsunamis that result from an earthquake are completely different.  As far as predicting goes, you can NOT group them together.

First, let’s talk about short-term prediction.  NOBODY knows in the short-term when the next earthquake will be, or where, or how strong.  We do not have that technology.  At most, we have a few seconds of warning. (The first waves come and set off alarms.  Then the stronger waves come a few seconds later.)

The tsunami on March 11?  When the actual earthquake hit, the tsunami hit the coast about forty minutes to a couple hours later.  So imagine yourself sitting there on the sofa.  A huge earthquake hits.  You don’t know where its epicenter is.  So you check your phone or your emergency radio and there is a tsunami warning. So at THAT point you have about an hour.  What if you don’t have a car?  What if you are elderly and can barely walk?  What if your children are at school and you have no idea if they are safe?  What if your mother is out at the beach taking a walk? What if your grandfather is working at his store in another part of town, and HE has no car?  Remember, you only have an hour.

What if you don’t live so very close to the coast, and assume your home won’t get hit by the tsunami—so you don’t leave?  But your house DOES get hit by the tsunami, and with great force?  (This is what happened to many people.)

I didn’t live on the coast, so these are all my imaginations of what went on that day.  I know that people did NOT anticipate a tsunami that was as huge as the one that came.

Second, let’s talk about long-term prediction. Yes, there are long-term predictions of earthquakes. Ever since I came to Japan in the nineteen nineties, a major earthquake has been due to hit Tokyo.  It has not hit yet.  It is still due to hit, though.  When? We. Don’t. Know. Exactly.  We just know that it’s coming any minute now (or any decade now) like a bus that is quite late.

When we first moved to Tohoku, my husband told me Tohoku was due to have an earthquake.  He meant one with an epicenter on land, a less major one that actually occurred.  He didn’t know that in 2011 a 9.1 megaquake would occur on the ocean floor.  NOBODY KNEW.

I just read in the newspaper the other day that a megaquake is now predicted for the Tokyo region and for the southern Japan (Kyushu) region.  If you want to read the long-term predictions for Japan in detail click here and scroll down to page fifteen.

Living in a country like Japan, it’s not so much, “Oh, an earthquake will occur next Tuesday.  Better be ready.” It’s more that everybody knows that at any point an earthquake and/or a tsunami can occur.  So the government needs to consider this when making tsunami walls along the sea, when using nuclear power for energy, when creating reclaimed land, and so on.  (I have heard that the towns with higher tsunami walls fared better than the towns with lower tsunami walls, a reasonable expectation.)  September first is Disaster Preparedness Day in Japan. We all need to be ready!


Aquamarine Fukushima book about sealife

I went to Book Off, a used bookstore.  I was actually dropping off something and received two hundred yen. Then I took a look at their children’s picture books, and ended up buying the book in the above photo.  I was interested in it for research for my trilogy.

It’s nice because it focuses on Fukushima’s sealife and it has English. This sort of book is not normally sold in a regular bookstore. Originally, it would have been sold by the tourist aquarium (Aquamarine Fukushima) in Iwaki City (on the southern coast of Fukushima Prefecture.)  My family went to that aquarium several years ago when my son was five years old. It’s wonderful.  I really recommend it.

I can’t help but wonder why the book doesn’t include mermaids. I’d like to think that the book is well-researched, but obviously it doesn’t include ALL marine life in the area. Oh well. It’s still a great reference manual for me.

This book was published in 2001, ten years before the Big Earthquake. Therefore it doesn’t mention that.  It does say that our future can be seen by the health of the seas.  Scary when you consider that the nuclear meltdowns has released radiation into the ocean near the power plant.

Nakago..Fukushima City’s Department Store

Fukushima City’s old department store…..  It is currently composed of two buildings, but one of the buildings will shut down on August 31st, 2017.  Not sure the real reasons why.

Malls were once a big deal in the United States, but in Japan (where land is expensive) department stores were the big deal.  Department stores in Japan tend to be several floors high, and often have gourmet food in the basement.

I personally don’t shop at department stores for clothes, finding them very expensive.  Also, departments stores are old-fashioned and do not make shoes and clothes above a certain size.  (I can hardly ever find a shoe for my size eight and a half foot.  Any bigger than that, it is IMPOSSIBLE to find a woman’s shoe.  As far as clothes go……clothes for overweight people don’t really exist in Japan, except on the internet.)


These clothes are “Made in Japan.” I do try to buy made in Japan when possible.

cute ties!  Again “Made in Japan.”

These photos are over a month old.  Now this whole area is almost gone, the remaining items seventy percent off!

Fukushima items

cute cuter and cutest

Bookstore.  Actually, one of my favorite places in Nakago, even if there are VERY few books in English.  I look more at the Japanese books to see what is out. I don’t use this store for buying books in English.

Somebody buy me this globe.  ‘Kay?

This shop has beads…I bet it will be gone after the transformation!  I am not sure what stores will be left and what stores will be gone.  They will move some of the stores to the other building.

Fortuneteller.  I went to this fortuneteller and she looked at my palm and said, “I can see you have written an amazing manuscript. I can’t wait until it gets published so I can purchase it and read it.  And then it will be made into a movie. And then you will win Lotto.  And you won’t even care about winning Lotto because you got your manuscript published and that was all that mattered.”

The grocery store.  I rarely shop here!

Traditional Japanese candy. This grocery store has a nice selection of traditional candy.  I am talking about the kind that elderly Japanese people ate when they were kids—-before chocolate came to Japan and food coloring and so on.  So you can see that there are no bright colors like a lot of modern candy.


Did you enjoy shopping with me? What did you buy?????  If you are in Japan, be sure and go to a real department store.  They are so much fun.  It feels like a trip back to the old days in America when ladies wore hats and gloves and girls wore bobby socks and boys wore coon skin caps and men got worn out with spending the exorbitant sum of five dollars on a new dress for the wife, plus a whole two and a half dollars for matching shoes.



World War II in Fukushima City

I was posting photos of Niece In Japan 2017 and I wanted to get through that, but here are some photos I took from about a week ago.

Every August, Japan remembers the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  And they also remember the day the war ended.  On that day, the emperor announced Japan’s defeat on the radio for all Japanese people to hear.  (And famously, it was the first time the common Japanese people had heard his voice.  And also in that same broadcast, he announced that he the emperor was not a god–a stipulation was set by the Americans that he announce this.)

The photos I took are from an exhibit in Fukushima City. I asked permission to take the photos. Not only was I given permission, I was encouraged to take photos–to spread the word about how horrible war is.

Part of a bomb that landed in Fukushima City. (Not a nuclear bomb, of course!!!!!!)

Clock that stopped when Fukushima City was bombed.

Replica of one of the nuclear bombs.

a Friendship Doll.  (Her name is Mary.)

Books about the Friendship Doll from the U.S.

The book on the left says: “Aoi me no ningyou meriichan”




Chan=term of endearment

I’ll translate it as “Little Blue-eyed Mary” or “Blue-eyed Miss Mary”

The book on the right is called “The Doll with the Blue Eyes”

photos taken by Japanese people in China, I believe

photos taken by Japanese people in China, I believe.  (I am not sure if one photographer took all the photos, or if it was several photographers.

This is the small mountain near my home.  It’s called Mt. Shinobu.  I didn’t understand this completely, but it seems there was a secret place located in the mountain for storing airplanes.

This is the location of the secret warehouse, but now it is closed off.  So no entry allowed!


It’s interesting for me to see how World War II affected my own city of Fukushima City. I once asked my elderly neighbor which was worse, the war or the nuclear meltdowns. She said, “Without a doubt, the war.”

THE ICE WALL at the power plant will be completed in a couple months.

No more fun and frivolity on this blog.

Back to “Fukushima Issues.”

There’s something I want to talk about today.  (It’s not a subject I one hundred percent understand myself, so I am relying on news articles.  I tried to get reputable news sources, as opposed to dodgy ones.)

Radiated water is leaking from the nuclear power plant on the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.  Radiated water is leaking EVERY SINGLE DAY!   Workers have been storing it up, but because the water is ground water, its endless.  This has to be stopped.

So a few years ago, the government decided to build an icewall at the plant in an effort to stop the water.  A news article from 2016: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/science/fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-plant-cleanup-ice-wall.html

Here’s an article from 2013 explaining how the Icewall works.  The article is old, though so some of the information might be out of date:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2013/08/130819-japan-ice-wall-for-fukushima-radioactive-leaks/

Here is a detailed BBC article from a few years ago:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27669393

Well, today yahoo news says that the ICEWALL is almost finished.  I don’t like yahoo news much because its so sensationalistic, but of course I wanted to take a look at other news sources about the matter.

Japan Times: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/08/22/national/tepco-begins-extending-ice-wall-reduce-tainted-water-fukushima-plant/#.WZy-3LpuJhE

Mainichi  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170816/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

The ice wall is to prevent the ground water from entering the power plant.  Let’s hope this ice wall works, everybody.  I don’t know what will happen if the water situation can’t be gotten under control……..


Hidetomo Kimura’s “Art Aquarium” Exhibition in Tokyo

Online, my niece discovered a truly amazing exhibit.  It’s a temporary exhibit and it is famous, but I hadn’t heard of it.

It’s “Art Aquarium.”  Art composed of living goldfish in luxurious tanks of water.

Here is a news link that tells about the exhibit:  http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-art-aquarium-idUSKBN19V0S0


This was a weekday afternoon.  As you can see, it was very crowded.

It cost 1,00 yen, I think, for each adult to enter.



Well, these are the last of the photos from “Niece’s Visit 2017.”  She is safely back in Texas now. I hope you enjoyed the photos!



Mukkoujima Hyakkaen Gardens in Tokyo

My niece wanted to see a Japanese garden.  So she chose this garden from the internet and we headed there!  Small entry fee.

The Skytree can be seen from the garden.

This is a replica, I believe.  It looked too new.

She loved it.

I am being totally stupid. And yes I know my shorts don’t match my shirt. This sort of thing is why my enemies say that I am matchless when it comes to fashion.  They are all jealous.

One nice thing was that we were the ONLY PEOPLE THERE.  (Except for the man and woman who took our tickets and seemed very proud of the garden.)

Tunnel of greenery.

Akihabara (Electric Town!) in Tokyo

My son is a gamer, so he wanted to go to Akihabara and look around at the computer stuff.  If you don’t know, the Akihabara part of Tokyo is famous for its electronics stores.  Years ago, it was the cheapest place to get the newest technology, but recently it has more competition with the internet and so on. However, it is still a mecca for people who are into technology.

(cough cough) Some people who are into technology are also into cafes with waitresses who dress like the girls in the advertisement.

She is a cafe employee handing out advertisements.  You have to pay a fee to get in, then pay for food.  Food is served by cute young women in cute outfits.  No, we did not go!

AKB48 is a popular group of teenage girl singers.  The group has over forty-eight singers! It’s not a real group like The Beatles. The girls are carefully selected for their cuteness and so on……

It is popular with certain types of men, but neither my husband nor my son like AKB48 at all.  (Thank goodness.)