Krogers Grocery Store

And still more shopping with my mom…

Just going to the grocery store is a treat!

When I was in college, we had a French exchange student at our house for one month. She said that in France they don’t have flags everywhere. Japan is the same–you don’t walk into a store and see a lot of Japanese flags.

America displays its flag more than other countries, I think.

As you know, I did not think Isle of Dogs was a good representation of Japan. You’re better off watching a Ghibli movie for a realistic representation. (Totoro is a good representation of Japan from maybe sixties years ago, countryside. Your Name–though not Ghibli–is a good representation of modern day Japan.)

I have no opinion about Super Troopers 2 and its representation of Canada. 😉 Never seen it.

Of course, I gotta look at the books.

Girl’s Day Out with my Mom

You’ll probably think all I did in the U.S. was shop. And you would be right.

Department store…

I actually bought some Clinique thinking I’d get the free gift….but it wasn’t available yet!

Next stop, lunch.

At the Beacon Cafe

Mom got meatloaf.

I got tortilla soup and salad.

I’ve watched “The Big Bang Theory” and in the first season, Rajesh (who is from India) says that he doesn’t even like Indian food. He likes hamburgers. (????!!!???) I think this is supposed to be humorous, but obviously the writers don’t realize that no immigrant in the world has ever said this (that they don’t like their food from their own country.)

My parents’ home in Texas

My parents are both from Texas and I was born in Texas. However, I consider myself from Kansas because that’s where I was mostly raised. After my dad retired, they moved back to a suburb of my mom’s hometown of Fort Worth. (Also a suburb of of Dallas.)

My boss asked me today, “Did you enjoy your stay in Canada?” I forget that some people have issues with geography! Okay, here’s a map of the Dallas/Fort Worth area:

FORTH WORTH  lots of little suburbs DALLAS

(Did you like my map?)

So even though my parents don’t live in the true Texas countryside, their home feels sort of rural.

Their house

This is NOT my parents’ horse. (My parents don’t own a horse.) Behind and next to their house is a horse boarding place.

Sweet horses

I’ve made a new friend!

And so has my son! This is my parents’ cat that was rescued (when he was a kitten) by my niece. (Actually it is my niece’s cat, but lives at my parents’ house. Neither of my parents are cat lovers. I know, right???!!!!??????)

He is a very sweet cat. He’s one of the purr-baby cats (purrs a lot.) He’s still VERY independent though. He stays outside the whole summer. I learned in a past summer not to take him inside because after I did that, he ran away from me every time I approached.

But you can see by his body language that he enjoys attention…on HIS terms!!!!!! LOL

Car illustration from (free images available but you must give the image’s source)

My current MG manuscript is set in Texas, and I set it in a fictionalized suburb based on my parents’ town. One difference is that my protagonists live in a housing community, and obviously my parents do not. I wanted the houses to be relatively close together in my manuscript and this is a major reason why I did make it a housing community.

When I was in Texas last month, I paid attention to the housing communities—there are MANY of them. (Although also many free standing houses like my parents’.) I saw that each housing community has a fancy name written on the entrance, usually on the wall that surrounds the community.  OAK ESTATES, LAKELY FIELDS, CANYON MEADOWS, JUNIPER VILLAGE

So when I returned to Japan, I revised my manuscript and gave their community a name. RIVER VILLAGE

How did I choose “RIVER VILLAGE?” Well, I was thinking and thinking and thinking, trying to hit upon something good….couldn’t really come up with anything.

So I used my husband’s family name, Kawamura which literally means “River Village.”

Stickers bought in Walmart

After Sam’s, we went to Walmart. (Again, my mom needed to pick something up. Walmart and Sam’s don’t sell the same things.)

My own son has never, ever liked stickers, much to my dismay. It’s weird because I had assumed everybody liked stickers. But no, he didn’t like them at age three or eight or twelve or now at fifteen. (He doesn’t hate them. He just has no interest.)

So that means nowadays I buy stickers for my little English students. (And yes, the boys are WAY less interested in them than the girls. I have one boy student who even refuses to take one, shrugging them off.)

Japanese stickers are super duper cute. But they have a different vibe than American stickers, so I wanted American stickers for my classroom.

What I purchased.  It ended up costing way more than I expected. (And no, I didn’t just put them in my mom’s cart and let her buy them! After I saw how much they cost, I was glad I didn’t do that.)

Harry Potter. LOVE

These sorts of stickers with pictures of everyday objects are incredibly useful for my class. For example, I can give the students paper and tell them to create a meal on it, using the stickers. Then they have to come to me and say, “I’d like the cookie, please.” “I’d like the apple, please.”

In real life, children will say, “Mama, can I have a cookie?” “I want an apple. Please?” But our class is an artificial environment and I like to use props to get the student to be forced to say the same sorts of things they would say in a natural environment.

Nice. It has words like “April Showers.” Japanese goods OFTEN have English words on them. But Japanese goods rarely have natural sounding English. When I buy something in the U.S., I automatically know the English will be correct and natural, whereas in Japan I examine the merchandise for spelling errors, odd English and so on to decide if it is worth purchasing.


Sam’s Warehouse

The first thing my mom and I did in America was head to Sam’s. She had to pick some things up, so I tagged along.

Costco exists in Japan, and my parents are also members of Costco.

Sam’s is the Walmart version of Costco.

I’m always interested in the books there. I actually considered buying the “Good Night Dallas/Fort Worth” and “Good Night Texas” but I didn’t because my son is fifteen. See, I am not a true book addict. I can stop any time.

I checked out their bestseller books. Did not buy anything. See, I’ve got it under

control. Can stop any time. Yep.

Omigosh!!!! Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cereal, soda and a couple of Dog Mans.


United Nations’ experts criticize Japan about its treatment of workers in the Exclusion Zone

It’s a lazy Sunday here in Fukushima City in mid-August 2018. I just stepped out to our corner grocery store and came across two of my neighbors. They were both: “Oh, the weather has sure cooled down, hasn’t it!” When I left for America in July, Japan was having a horrible heatwave that continued until just before I arrived back in Japan. Oddly, the weather in Texas (which is normally blazing hot during the summer peak) was slightly cooler than usual (meaning it was hot rather than blazing hot.) So I’ve lucked out this summer weather-wise.

Anyway, I wanted to draw attention to this article (and other articles like it. All reputable news sources will have this sort of article.)

A while back, some Vietnamese workers complained about unknowingly being sent to dangerous conditions with high radiation. (Near the Exclusion Zone, or in the Exclusion Zone, I presume.) Futhermore, according to what I have read, their pay was a pittance and there were language issues. I don’t really know myself the exact facts. But anyway, perhaps in response, the United Nations has looked into the conditions of the workers in general. According to the article, three U.N. experts have criticized Japan for exploiting workers and putting them at risk.

Let me say, the workers who are doing tasks near or in the exclusion zone are both Japanese people and foreigners (from less economically advanced countries.)  The Japanese workers are mostly those who could not find work elsewhere, and thus they can easily taken be advantage of because they are probably desperate for an income.

I have not been keeping up adequately with these continuing stories about the workers, not due to lack of interest or due to unconcern for their well-being, but more because there is only so much I can keep up with. Even though I have not blogged about these stories, they’ve been written up in newspaper and so forth and I’ve been aware of them, although not as well as I would have liked.

Flight to the U.S.A.

Our flight left from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. (This is from back in July.)

We took American Airlines….Getting into line.

Okay. Now I need to explain something. With the American Express card that my husband and I each have, we are allowed inside an airport lounge. However, your American Express MUST be Japanese! 😦 I know, that’s sad. This is a view from the lounge.

It’s funny though when I enter the lounge. Seeing a foreign woman, the staff assumes: Oh no, we don’t accept foreign cards! But my card is Japanese….so they let me and my son in.

My son LOVES the lounge. Two lounges were available for us, but we went to the one close to our gate. It was the larger one. It was very spacious, very quiet. They have a beautiful view, comfortable seats, plug-in spots at every seat for your devices, free drinks (tea, juice, soda, alchohol) It’s so relaxing.

This is inside the plane. This flight was completely full. (On the way, back it was not full, and we had four seats for the two of us. My six-foot (182 cm) son, who is only fifteen, stretched out on three seats and napped. By the way, it’s getting weird now that he is six-foot but only fifteen years old. People think he is older than he is. No, no, everybody. He’s still my sweet baby.)

This is the sun outside the window. It was bright red and then turned this purplish color. We had a new plane with tinted windows. (The tint level is controlled.) On flights like this, the windows are kept closed (or in the case of tinted windows, they are kept dark.) I believe one reason that windows are kept closed is that a lot of radiation enters the cabin from the sun. A lot! For a casual traveller, the amount is still okay, but it is something flight attendants have to be aware of since they are often exposed to the high level radiation in the plane’s cabin.

The radiation in the cabin is something I learned about when reading and researching the situation in Fukushima.

If you’ve never flown on an international flight, even economy seats have great little TV’s! I frequently look at our flight path. Great for the map lover in me.

There are movies, TV shows, video games.

Even high quality movies!

My son and I each bring our own headphones from home because the free airplane headphones in economy are quite bad. (This was suggested to me by my dad after his trip to Nicaragua.)

You can think about what you want to drink while waiting for the flight attendant to arrive. You don’t have to ask “Um, what do you have?” Making her/his job go more smoothly.

Arriving into L.A.! After a layover, we headed to Dallas.

That’s Lost Angeles below. Very pretty. Oops. I accidentally typed Lost Angeles. I bet Californians just hate that.