Happy 2018!

I took these photos last January. They are decorations around Fukushima City. The decorations are in honor of New Year’s Day, so they are only seen at this time.  (New Year’s Day is celebrated according to the western calendar in Japan, so it starts on January first.)

The decorations can be made by hand, but I think most people purchase them ready made. What do you think of them?

2018 is the year of the dog….so have a Bow Wow year!



New Year Decorations at my local supermarket…

Most people in Japan, I think, do not make their New Year decorations. Most people buy them ready-made. They are sold in many places, especially grocery stores.  I got permission to take photos at my local supermarket:

This is the section where the New Year decorations are sold. I saw many shoppers with these decorations in their baskets.

You can see different styles…..

This last photo shows very small decorations. 380 yen is, according to today’s exchange rate: Three American dollars and thirty-eight cents.

New Year’s Decorations……

The following photos are from a store that sells miscellaneous goods for the home: gardening suppllies, cleaning supplies, heaters, etc. etc. etc.

A person can buy plant leaves which can then be made into New Year’s decorations. (Unlike many other Asian countries, Japan celebrates New Year on January first nowadays. NOT in February.)

The decorations are not kept long after the New Year’s celebrations are over. They are usually brought to a shrine and burned, or in my Obaasan’s more traditional area, the neighborhood has a bonfire and people throw in the decorations, along with anything else of sentimental value they want to dispose of. (I know this because my MIL took a stuffed toy that the cat often chewed on. Because it was sentimental, she threw it in the bonfire, rather than the garbage.)

Swans seen from the train in Yamagata Prefecture

Continuing on our train journey to the west coast of Tohoku.

View at a small train station. (A very small train station.)

That’s my husband. He’s saying, “Hey, Amy, there are swans out there! Look! Look!”

Northern Japan is known for its swans in the winter months. (In summer they are in Siberia.)

I said, “Do you see any cranes?” (I was joking!) He said, “No, cranes are only in Hokkaido.”

I knew this from my research. Despite being a symbol of Japan, the crane now only lives in the area of Hokkaido, a large island in the north of Japan.

I took this photo of the swans from the train. While I was taking it, I said, “Stop, train, stop!” It’s not a tourist train, though, and did not stop so I could take a better photo.

In Sakata City–my husband’s hometown. It’s quite historic, but well off the beaten path for most foreign sightseers. Nevertheless, I recommend it.

Wind Turbines in Yamagata Prefecture

We travelled as a family to my husband’s hometown on the west coast of Yamagata Prefecture.  This is a view from the local train.

It was very misty.

Electricity from wind turbines

So pretty!

In case you are wondering: Why aren’t nuclear power plants replaced by these lovely wind turbines? The problem is that a nuclear power plant can produce much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, MUCH more electricity than wind turbines can.  We definitely do need to research various alternatives to nuclear power, though, in my opinion. The future depends on it!


Editted: I originally wrote “Windmills” My mom’s best friend Mary Sue informed me that the actual word is wind turbine. Thanks, Mrs. T!

Here is a link on the difference between a windmill and a wind turbine:


Quake predicted in Hokkaido area during next thirty years or so….

My husband spends part of his morning reading a newspaper, and on the TV in the background is Japanese news.  So sometimes I pay attention to the Japanese news on the TV, and sometimes I don’t.

Anyway, a couple days ago, the news was saying that experts are predicting a huge earthquake in the area of Hokkaido “soon.” (Soon means today in the afternoon or maybe hundreds of years from now. Nobody really knows. The news was saying thirty years.)

I’ll explain this. Hokkado is the northernmost part of Japan, one of its four main islands. It is north of where I live (Tohoku.) It is VERY north of cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. (Tokyo would not be directly affected by an earthquake in the Hokkaido area.)

Here is an article about it in English:


Another article:


The two biggest fears would be tsunami (which could kill many, many people). However, the first article focusses on the impact on nuclear power plants.

Look at this link to see a map of Japan’s nuclear power plants:


If you click on the map, you can see it up close. There is one nuclear power plant in Hokkaido. There is one very close to Hokkaido, on the northern tip of Tohoku.

Here is a different (old) map:

The link to the map above is:



There is controversy in Japan about nuclear power. Some people want it and some people don’t. The current leader, Abe, is in favor of nuclear power.

The two illustrations may be copied and used if the source is acknowledged. The source is:



Thank you, Irasutoya!


Boris Johnson thinks Fukushima Peach Juice is Yum


In the news recently, British foreign minister Boris Johnson drank from a can of peach juice from Fukushima to show that he believes it is safe.

An article about it is here:


I wanted to explain a little about the peach juice that he was drinking.

Before March 11, 2011, Fukushima Prefecture was known for its succulent fresh fruit. Of course, the nuclear meltdowns completely ruined the reputation here.

Is food grown in Fukushima safe? Fukushima food is checked to make sure it is safe before it is sold. (A sample is checked to make sure that any radiation amount is within safe limits, and the rest in the batch is presumed to be the same as the sample. Oh, and by the way, all food–not just food from Fukushima–contains amounts of radiation.  Radiation comes naturally from the sun.  So what they are checking for in Fukushima’s foood is EXCESS amounts of radiation, unsafe amounts.)  So we are told that it is safe.

Do I believe it? Actually, yes I do.  Playing the odds, maybe? Putting my trust in politicians? I feel it is a risk benefit situation, which we apply in virtually every thing we do, whether we realize it or not.  Is the benefit of riding in this car worth the risk of being killed in a car accident? Usually we will say, heck yes.

It’s the same for me with food. Is the risk high? I think that Fukushima food is safe, so I feel that the benefit is higher than the risk.  I wouldn’t pick wild mushrooms in the forbidden zone…..but I will eat a Fukushima peach.

After the earthquake, I stayed with my mother-in-law who is a farmer. She would avoid buying vegetable and fruit from China because China has laxer rules about pesticides than Japan.  So for her, as a farmer, the amount of pesticides were important. (And yes, she and her husband do use pesticides, they are not organic farmers.  But their vegetables are raised with a lot of love and care, so they don’t use excessive amounts of pesticides.)

Back to the Fukushima peach juice. The juice that Boris Johnson was drinking was a gourmet peach juice.

It can be bought at several places, but you won’t find it in a vending machine, or a discount store. I went to the station to purchase it. This is the lobby where one buys bullet train tickets. If you look to the very back, you can see a tiny shop which sells souvenir food products from Fukushima Prefecture.

Souvenir Shopping: Fukushima

I was given permission to photograph.  All the photos are Fukushima Prefecture products, so I won’t repeat myself by saying so with each photo.

Various peach juices. The prices are a little more than one U.S. dollar per can.  I think Boris Johnson was drinking from the pink can on the far left.

Some pricier juices.

Alcoholic drinks

photos of Fukushima

photo of Fukushima City’s famous sightseeing spot, Hanamiyama

Below that is a map of Fukushima Prefecture. (I live in the upper green part. The Pacific Ocean is to the east of the blue part.)

Expensive (gourmet, of course) jams

Ultraman (on left) is here because his creator is from southern Fukushima Pefecture.

Licca (a doll popular throughout Japan) is also from Fukushima

Since peaches are THE most famous fruit for Fukushima City, there are lots of peach products. Like peach cookies

More peach snacks–Everything you see is peachy

Not peachy, but I think this is cute

“Fukushima Premium Excellent Chocolat”

Where food items are grown. The nuclear power plant (now no longer functioning) is in the white part, on the coast.

A cute sign. The sales staff were very friendly and helpful. They were not aware of Boris Johnson consuming the peach juice, so I printed off some articles to bring to them and show them……  🙂

I rarely take selfies….but this is a photo of me with some Fukushima peach juice. (Specifically peach juice from a town called Date, just north of Fukushima city. ) It’s delicious, it really is!  However, I don’t drink it for two reasons: it is expensive, and I don’t drink fruit juices because they are high in calories (I drink tea or water.)

First (real) snow of the winter…

In Fukushima City, we had our first real snow this morning, or at least a bit of snow that sticks on the ground.

These photos are from my walk this morning.

When I first came to Japan, I was surprised by the number of palm trees (or palm-like trees.)

I was also surprised by the number of these pruned trees with interesting shapes.

Japan has lots of trees!

Mini-stop convenience store sign.  Convenience stores do not do gas for cars (like in the U.S.) A gas station is a separate store in Japan.

That blue color is common in Japan. I see it everywhere, on cheaply made roofs and walls.

Children playing in the snow

Doesn’t this make you want to scoop your mitten along it and brush off the snow?

A sunflower in winter.

political poster

A gate

A sign

more palm trees

SWEET LITTLE KITTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More palm trees

Amy (that’s me)

Today’s Radiation Detection results….

Hello, boys and girls. Are you enjoying learning about radiation? I know I am. It’s a lesson that started shortly after March 11, 2017. I am so very not a science and math kind of gal, so any mistakes are my own.

I was on Twitter and happened to see a post of a dosimeter in Tokyo with the high amount (and unsafe amount) of 2.2 usv/hour. So I checked our dosimeter here in our house.

Here is a photo of it (from the afternoon of December 16, 2017.)

It’s .12 usv/hour.  (Considered a safe amount.)  So I don’t know why there is a discrepancy.

And by the way—-every place has radiation.  Before the quake Fukushima’s was really really really low, now not so low, but still “safe.”