Harajuku, Tokyo!

This blog is supposed to be about Fukushima, so I wasn’t sure if I should put in photos from our time in Tokyo this summer.  But then I thought, This is more a blog from a person who LIVES in Fukushima.  So not absolutely all the posts have to be Fukushima related.  And besides, people might enjoy seeing some Tokyo pics!

This is the Tokyo hotel that my husband reserved for me, my niece, and my son to stay in for a couple days before my niece departed to America.

We decided to go to Harajuku.  That’s it in the photo.  Harajuku is famous for young people who dress in fun and frilly fashion, but we didn’t really see that much of that at all while we were there. Everybody was dressed normally, except maybe two young woman (who I did not take photos of.)

A cell phone shop in Harajuku.  My niece and my son were both interested in the robots!

Harajuku train station.  It’s pretty, isn’t it?

My niece’s birthday meal

My niece’s birthday was during her stay in Japan.  So my husband and I (and our son) took her to a fancy Japanese restaurant near our house.  There were multiple courses, and it was really delicious.


I was so excited when I saw this spectacular plate!

This is the dessert.

frothy macha tea

“Coffee Gourmet” Coffee Shop in Downtown Fukushima City

During my niece’s last afternoon in Fukushima City, I wanted to take her to some sort of coffee shop. I debated between an old independent coffee shop called “Coffee Gourmet” and a chain called Mister Donuts.  Mister Donuts has some lovely shaved ice in the summer, and my son and I have been wanting to try them!  However, we finally decided on Coffee Gourmet since it is an only-in-Fukushima City sort of thing.

My niece ordered this traditional Japanese desert.  It was a good choice, because I am quite sure this can not be found in Texas.

Taking a photo of it.  (Photography is allowed in this coffee shop.)

My son ordered this ice creamy.

My capuccino

Bon Appetit!

Coffee Gourmet is easy to walk to from the east side of the station (just a one minute walk.) But it is hard to find for a non-Japanese reader because its name is in Japanese!  So you may want to ask a local for directions.

Fruitea train ride with niece

Here we are back at the AizuWakamatsu train station.

Going back home on a train…..but with special service!

We are going in the Fruitea car.  My husband surprised me with this for my birthday in 2016, and he wanted to do it for my niece, too.

All aboard!  Fukushima is famous for its fruit, which is why it is called Fruitea.  You have to reserve seats three days in advance.

And what nice seats they are!  I am always reminded of an Agatha Christie novel when on the Fruitea.  Hercule Poirot? Oh, there he is.  Over in the next seat.

The view.  The Fruitea only travels from AizuWakamatsu City to Koriyama City.  And back.

What’s INSIDE!!!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!

Peach pie!

Fukushima Prefecture is famous for peaches, and now it is prime peach season….thus the peach pie.  The fruit in the pie is seasonal.

Pretty face

Silly face.  Although I didn’t get the memo to do a silly face, obviously.

“Why, yes, Monsieur Poirot.  I did notice that he was a bit nervous during the evening meal….but I never expected him to end up murdered by his own pen knife!”

After her trip to Fukushima City, I asked my niece, “What was your favorite thing that you did?” She said the Fruitea train ride.  It was fun.  Japan has different trains like this, called the Joyful Trains.

See this link for a peek at the trains which bring joy:  https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/joyful/index.html



Hideyo Noguchi–prominent scientist from Fukushima Prefecture

After shopping we went to a coffee shop.  This coffee shop housed the doctor’s office where a famous Fukushima scientist worked.  (That’s his picture on the sign in the photo above.)

Hideyo Noguchi is easily the most famous person from Fukushima Prefecture.


The coffee shop.

My niee and I.  I don’t think we look much alike.  Maybe a little.

Above the coffee shop, there is a small (one room) museum about Hideyo Noguchi.  It charges a slight fee.

Up the stairs to the museum….


Dr. Hideyo Noguchi was born in Fukushima in the Aizu area in 1876.   His parents were poor farmers.  When he was one year old, he fell into the fireplace and severely burned his hand, thus having a crippled hand for the rest of his life.

An excellent student, he eventually studied medicine in Tokyo. In 1900, he travelled to the United States, where he studied snake venom.  Then he studied serology (the study of blood serum especially in regard to its immunological reactions) in Denmark.  Next, he returned to the U.S. where he studied bacteriology.  He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for his work with syphilis.

Next he began to fight against yellow fever and went to Ecuador to study it.  The death of a colleague in Africa from yellow fever prompted him to go to Africa to study it there.  At the same time that treatments for yellow fever were almost in sight, Noguchi himself contracted the disease.  He received treatment in Accra, but he ended up dying from yellow fever himself in 1928 at the age of fifty-one.

His face is currently on the 1,000 bill in Japan.  So look at it next time you see it!

The information about his life was taken from this site:  http://www.cao.go.jp/noguchisho/english/about/lifetimedrnoguchi.html  Go there for more complete information.


Antique Shop in AizuWakamatsu City


My husband suggested shopping in the cute downtown district of AizuWakamatsu.  It’s REALLY quiet and slow-paced compared to anywhere in Tokyo.  Don’t think it’s going to be just like Harajuku!

This is an antique store we popped into.  I asked permission to take photos, and so these photos are allowed by the owner.

My parents love antique stores in the U.S.  However, a Japanese antique store is naturally very different than an American one.  So I find it interesting to look around in a place like this.

By the way, do you ever watch a show like Antique Roadshow (A British show where people bring their antiques in to be evaluated?)

Japan has the same sort of show on TV.  People bring in things from their home.  After talking about the item at length, and after doing a professional examination of the item, the MC says (in English), “OPEN THE PRICE!”

Then the value of the pottery, or the record album collection, or the painting, or whatever it is, is revealed.

Sometimes it is BIG BUCKS!

And sometimes…it is nothing!  (Because the item is a fake.)

It’s a neat show, one I recommend watching if you happen to be in Japan.

Japanese dolls.  Some of my manuscripts have dolls in them, old dolls. So I like to examine dolls like these when I have a chance.  Most of my research about antique items comes from books in the library, since I don’t usually have the opportunity to examine the actual item.

I included this kind of traditional Japanese stove in the manuscript of the third book in my trilogy.  Actually, my in-laws have one in the old part of their home.

City folks don’t see these much (if ever.)  Nowadays they are only in old houses.  My in-laws NEVER use theirs.

traditional garden

Notice the American flag.

A card game that is no longer known very well by Japanese youth.  This game is played by the characters in the first book of my trilogy.

As you can see, there are pictures on the cards.  While researching, I spent a lot of time looking at these in library books, and also ordered some off the internet.  (I have never seen them sold here in Fukushima City.)  The pictures can be any theme imaginable–whatever would have appealed to kids a hundred or so years ago.   Kind of like today’s Pokemon cards, and so on.

Macha on the Castle Grounds in AizuWakamatsu City

These are the grounds of the castle in AizuWakamatsu.  Where royal people would have walked along as the military and the servants.  (Presumably.  I am certainly no expert on castle life in old Japan!)

There is a the area where the royal family took their tea, held their tea ceremonies.  Nowadays (for a price) you can sit and drink macha at the same spot.

The macha, which is different than the regular green tea one drinks in Japan, was delicious.  I only drink macha during special occasions (like this) and always feel very peaceful and satisfied when drinking it.  It’s a drink you savor, not gulp down.

Usually it is hot tea, but since it is now summer, it was prepared for us with ice in it.  I can’t help but wonder if the samurai would have drunk it this way?  My instinct tells me no.  (Surely ice would be difficult to keep in the summer months.)

Looking out at the serenee garden.  Listening to the cicadas.  Feel the humidity in the air. Life in Japan in late June.

My niece loved it, and I am glad she got to experience this important part of Japanese culture.  It wasn’t an actual tea ceremony.  But I don’t think she had ever drunk macha, and certainly not in such elegant surroundings.

The Souvenir Shop in the Castle at AizuWakamatsu

We were on the grounds of the castle, so we went into its gift shop for AizuWakamatsu souvenirs.  I got permission from the staff to take photos.

Symbols of Fukushima

Symbols of Fukushima

Husband and son seem to have found the samurai swords….er, I mean the umbrellas.

I have no idea what she has there.  I think pickles?  She’s just being silly.

In truth, she is wonderful (better than me) about trying new Japanese foods.  Before she came, she said all she wanted to do was eat Japanese food.  She got her wish!  We tried to eat as little western food as possible during her stay.

Yesterday my dry cleaning lady asked me if my niece could eat the food.  I said Yes!  She was surprised.  Japanese food is so delicious, though.

She’s found the umbrellas!  Now she’s a happy girl.


The sentry which guards the castle

Here we are, heading up to the famous castle of AizuWakamatsu.  That’s the moat.  Any vicious animals guarding the castle?

One Samurai Snake on duty.

My niece was born in the year of the snake.

Son, husband and niece.  They liked seeing the snake.  It’s like when you go to the White House but don’t bother trying to see the president because you are just so happy to see the squirrels on the White House lawn.

Niece, Son, Husband

Okay, off we go.  What we came for!!!!!  The CASTLE OF AIZUWAKAMATSU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!