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.



Space Exhibit (Temporary) at Comu Comu Building


Do you remember the Comu Comu Building? It’s the children’s center slightly south of the train station, east exit. The one that now has a huge statue.

In the photo, I am walking towards the building. Every school holiday, the building hosts a small temporary exhibit aimed to children. I enjoy these exhibits, and try to see them. Over the years, the themes of the temporary exhibits have been so very interesting: Balloon Art, Paper Robots, Haunted House, Stag Beetles, and so on. This summer the theme is “space.”

Upon entering the first floor of the building, I noticed an area that explained about the statue out front. There was information about its artist.

We were asked to think of a nickname for the new statue…..which felt rather macabre to me. Sometimes Japan goes overboard with its mascots.

I reached the science exhibition on the fourth floor!

The earth! Let’s take care of our home!

Actual meteorites. So cool. Very interesting.

I couldn’t think of a nickname for the new statue. I heard a dad telling his daughters it was a spaceman. Maybe we’ll just go with that.

Fukushima City’s new statue

I was reading twitter yesterday and saw an article posted by anti-nuclear campaigner Reinhold Uhrig. The article was about a new statue in Fukushima City.

The statue is located near the train station, and it is in front of the Comu Comu Building. (Comu Comu is a large center for kids’ activities: library, museum, play area, planetarium, science rooms)

I wanted to see the statue for myself so I headed there for my morning walk. (It is about fifteen minutes away on foot from my house.) The statue was MUCH larger than I expected!

Me in front of the statue early this morning.

Personally I like the statue. Why? It’s art. I asked my husband and he said the same thing, that he likes it because it is interesting art.

The news article I read said that lots of Fukushimers don’t like it because it makes Fukushima appear as if it is still unsafe to live in.

You can read the article:

I asked my husband and he said SOME people don’t like it. (Some people do.)

I respect both opinions and everything in between. I can see why people don’t like it. I can see why people do like it.

To tell the truth, though, am I only one who thinks it resembles Kip’s Big Boy?

Anyway, jokes aside, I am sort of conflicted, even thought I like the statue itself.

Conflict #1: It is place in front of a building that is devoted to fun activities for children who live here in Fukushima. This building had been newly built when I arrived in 2006, and I took my son there regularly. (It’s free.) First we went to the play area, then later to the kids’ computer lab and to the extremely wonderful science activities. (The center has a definite slant towards science.) It’s simply a wonderful, wonderful place for kids and their parents.  So what must kids think when they pass by? Does Fukushima’s Big Boy scare them? I don’t want it to scare wee little ones. The art is meant for adults, not children. Perhaps the Culture Center or the Fukushima Prefectural Art Museum would have been a better location for it.

Conflict #2: The statue strikes me as a little touristy. I don’t know that it is meant to bring hope to people here (it doesn’t bring me hope! It looks scary!) I think it is built for outsiders, for them to take photos of and pass around on the internet and write articles about. (Exactly what I am doing, although I don’t consider myself an outsider.) But maybe this is good because it gets outsiders talking about the situation here.

Anyway, those are my feelings.

In case you are wondering, the numbers on the statue represent the numbers on the radiation detectors that are dotted throughout our fine prefecture:

The radiation detector next to Comu Comu says .144 usv/h. The statue is misleading because the radiation level has never been .000 here, and from what I have researched, naturally, the radiation level is higher than .000 everywhere in the world. (There’s a small natural amount everywhere.) So the goal of getting it down to .000 in Fukushima is automatically unattainable. Currently the radiation is believed to be at a safe level in most parts of Fukushima Prefecture. (With the exception being the area around the nuclear power plant.)




Haneda Airport

I am now back in Fukushima City after visiting my parents’ home in Texas. It was a great trip! I am very indebted to my cousin’s wife who took my son to Houston for fun and adventure. She’s a sweetheart! Probably the nicest person I know.

Okay, anyway, we flew out of Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. But we flew back into a different airport when we returned!

So I’m warning you: Nowadays it seems that both Haneda Airport and Narita Airport are used for flights to the U.S. Your ticket may just say “Tokyo.” (Since Narita is assumed to be Tokyo’s airport, although it is actually outside of Tokyo.)

Haneda and Narita are VERY VERY different airports! There are in VERY VERY different locations. So this is something you need to double check when flying in and out of Tokyo.

This terminal of Haneda is wonderfully done in a reconstruction of old-fashioned Japan. Really nicely decorated!

Even the ceiling is stylish.

Son and I got lunch from this Turkish sandwich joint. They don’t have this chain in Fukushima city (or anything like it) so it was a nice treat.

Inside a souvenir shop. Souvenirs are a huge part of Japanese culture.

The Kit Kat section. I know flavored Kit Kats have become famous around the world (due to the internet), but this souvenir shop has WAY more available than I can buy in Fukushima City. I can get regular chocolate, dark chocolate, and maybe two other flavors here in Fukushima City. (The flavors change with the seasons. This seasonal change is very common in Japan. What’s available in spring will often not be available in autumn.)

On left: Sake (Japanese alcohol) flavor

On right: As you can read, wasabi flavor

Not for me, no thanks!

From left, green tea, Hokkaido melon, strawberry

(Actually it’s wa ichigo–Japanese strawberry. I think pretty much the same though as strawberries in other countries! LOL)

Oh jiminy. If my ten-year-old self could see the future, she would be very pleased.

I’d like a job thinking up flavors. That would be super cool.

more more more more

I bought the Koala March cookies in the photo for my son years ago. They are “Tokyo” themed which was neat. Each little cookie had a koala at some Tokyo landmark. I don’t personally like the taste of Koala March, though.

Yeah, keep it comin’

Strolling around. Haneda is a nice place–and it’s just an airport.

Eating areas.

Actually I saw some European people getting in trouble for filming (they were youtubers, maybe?)

The security was scolding them and the Europeans were apologizing.

(When I photographed inside the souvenir shop and the Turkish sandwich restaurant, I asked and received permission.)

You may not be aware, but a few months ago, an American youtuber named Pogan Laul visited Japan to film for his youtube channel and was VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY obnoxious as he filmed the videos, and extremely disrepectful. So I suspect that security in many places in Japan has clamped down on people who are filming.  Thanks Pogan Laul for ruining it for everybody.

I’ve heard people say they worry about visiting a country like Japan because they don’t want to be unintentionally disrepectful. If you behave in a nice manner, Japanese people will forgive you if you make a mistake. But if you have come to Japan to mistreat people intentionally, then no, nobody likes that and it is considered–by everybody in the world–to be very rude.