Abukuma Kyuko Line’s “Masamune” wrapping train!

After I finished visiting the park and the Kameoka House in Date City, I headed back to the Abukuma Kyuko train station. It’s not much of a station, just a platform next to the track. There’s not even a staff person manning it.

I was surprised when a special train pulled up to take me back to Fukushima City. I’d seen this train before, but never ridden in it.

It’s decorated with images from the train line, and also from a comic called “Masamune Kun’s Revenge.”

That’s me in the photo above, so excited to be riding in this “wrapped” train.

(Meaning of “wrapped”: A wrapped train, car, plane, truck, etc has decorations on it.)

Even on the ceilings!

This train only has two cars. One staff person is inside–the driver of the train. He also takes tickets and so forth.

Me and Fukushima City……..

At the Fukushima City station, departing the train.



Wow, that was fun!

I may look like a tourist, but that’s my alter ego. And my altar ego is a priest. And my alter nator is Generator of Words. That’s right. I’m a paperback rider.

(image of origami crane from irasutoya website—free images if credit is given)

Abukuma Kyuko Train Line

You might be thinking, “Amy! You don’t drive a car in Japan! How did you get up to Date City?”

Well,  I took a train.

I personally find the whole train system in Japan confusing. The main train company is Japan Railway. That’s the Biggie. But there’s also private small train companies.

When we lived in Chiba Prefecture, the private train line we used was Keisei.

And if you arrive in Narita Airport, you may see that there is JR and Keisei and you may be confused as to which one you want use. My advice is to play Rock, Scissors, Paper.



Paper-Sit in the nearby Starbucks for an hour and take photos of your Japanese Frappucino.

Here in Fukushima City, the biggie is still JR, but we also have a private train company that operates a line that goes from Fukushima City up into Miyagi Prefecture, and back again. This train is what I used to go up to Date City (in Fukushima Prefecture,) so I could visit the park and the Kameoka House.

It’s the Abukuma Kyuko Train Line. You can board it on the east side (NOT THE WEST SIDE, OH GOSH NO, NOT THERE!) of Fukushima JR train station. It’s hidden away, much like Hogwarts hidden in some train station in London, I forget which one, pardon me, I’m a Muggle, I don’t really know how these things work.

Above is the Abukuma Kyuko train line. The yellow side is Fukushima Prefecture. The green side is Miyagi Prefecture. It’s actually going north but just like the novel by Ken Liu that I am currently reading, north is to the east. But hey, Japan is just like a book, so it all works.

And this is where I got off. By the way, this is REAL JAPAN. No English!

Signs in English are Wimp Signs.

Abukuma Kyuko Train Line is Off The Beaten Track and does not tolerate wimps. Although it tolerated me just fine. Scratching my head on this one.



Just making sure everybody knows….

I previously posted about the trial of the three executives and the judge’s ruling of “non guilty.”

My post was as long-winded as an autumn day on the Kansas prairie.~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~∼∼∼∼

My important point was hidden in those tumblin’ tumbleweeds of words.

So let me repeat:

I think the three men definitely should have been found “GUILTY.”

Life without electricity. An photostravaganza

Yesterday, I posted about the Kameoka House here in northern Fukushima Prefecture. It was built in 1904. At that time, the Kameoka family would not have had electricity.

***Electricity was being developed during the 1800’s. I think it started becoming mainstream in the United States around the turn of the century (that is, around the year 1900.) But of course, that would have depended on where one was in the United States. Electric city lights were introduced to the northeast city areas at the end of the 1800’s, but I think it was a long and slow process for electricity to reach the rest of the United States.

***Japan received electricity later than the United States. And, of course, the rural areas received it later than the city areas. My ninety-five year old teacher was born in the 1920’s, and in a small town. He said they had no electricity. (I asked him, “Which is better, electricity or no electricity?” He emphatically said that life with electricity is better, no doubt about it. So if any of you are romanticizing the olden days, well, maybe you better turn off your internet. And your washing machine And your freezer. And your phone. And your lights. Well, you could still use lights, but they might be fueled by kerosene or–in Japan, fueled by whale blubber.)

My ninety-five year old teacher said that the first time electricity came to his town was when the street lights became powered with electricity. He says he remembers that.

Japan was quite poor until after World War 2 and thus electrical devices were slow in coming to Japanese families (compared to families in the United States.)

Hey, hey! It’s Photostravaganza Time!

What would one have used if one had lived in the days before electricity?

Paper Lanterns. Paper and bamboo umbrellas.

The open cabinet? Do you know what it is? Can you guess? (No fair if you are older and recognize this from your childhood! I know my mother and father also used this in their family.)

It’s an icebox. Without electricity, ice was put into the top and it kept food cold. Not frozen, so no ice cream or slightly slushy sodas.

My mom has told me how in Fort Worth, TX, ice was chunked off the lake in winter and then kept in blocks and sold through summer.

Actually, I don’t know if my dad’s family had an icebox. He lived in the Hill Country, further south than my mom, and his home was a farm, and much more rustic than her home.

I knew what this is because my parents-in-law also have one in their home. (It’s old and never used.)

It’s a fireplace called an irori. It was used for cooking.

I’ve always been curious as to where the smoke goes (for my mansucript.) I’ve read that straw roofs were used.

However, this house does not have a straw roof–its roof is wooden.

I asked my tour guide about the smoke. He said that the smoke would not leave the room. I said that sounded very uncomfortable. He said, though, that the smoke was useful in summer for killing the insects.

These “irori” were not safe—the famed physician from Fukushima, Noguchi, was lame in one hand due to falling into his family’s irori when he was young!

(Life in the olden days is starting to sound less and less fun????)

A loom would have been how certain materials were created.

Straw baskets. No metal or plastic containers at that time.

A very, very, very old mirror.

Kids are protesting now about the state of the world’s climate and environmental issues, and rightfully so.

One of the goals of my blog is to encourage kids to think. I hope it helps all of you to think about environmental issues, where we get our electricity. What would we do without electricity?

I’d like to encourage children to learn more about it all. None of it is an easy subject. I wish adults were more active when it comes to helping kids navigate these issues, but unfortunately, I think most adults are dropping the ball on this one.

I’m also learning, too, as I didn’t start seriously thinking about where electricity comes from until the meltdowns of 2011. Yay to people like Greta Thurnberg who are leading others in using their brain, instead of taking this world and its resources for granted. Thank you, Greta!



Kameoka House in Hobara Park in Date City in Fukushima Prefecture

I went to Hobara Park mainly because I wanted to see the old Kameoka House, which was built in 1904. I was told by my tour guide that it is a farmhouse, but instantly I could tell that it was no ordinary farmhouse. Its owner must have been extremely wealthy.

My husband’s parents are farmers and they also live in an old farmhouse. Their farmhouse is much, much smaller than Kameoka House. (His parents added a new section to their house in the 1960’s, doubling its size. Yet, it’s still not nearly as large as Kameoka House.)

Kameoka House is huge. HUGE! Honestly, I’ve never seen such a huge home in Japan. Not only were there many rooms, but the rooms were large.

The rooms above and below are just a mere small part of the house.

The tour guide pointed out some engravings in the wood (photo below.) What are they?


The name “Kameoka” means “Turtle Hill.” (Literally.)

Hello, Mr. Turtle Hill!

Why, hello, Amy Lange River Village!

I know that turtles and cranes often accompany one another in Japanese art, so I asked if there were any cranes. He pointed this one out:

Okay, gorgeous! Am I right? AM I RIGHT?

Lovely touches of artwork decorated this house, here and there.

Now let’s go up to the second floor, shall we? (I said this house was big!!!!)

Here on the second floor, I wanted to run gleefully down the halls, slipping and sliding. I didn’t, of course. (But I bet the six children of the house did!!!)

Shall we open secret doors?


The orginal glass was imported from Italy. (Some have been replaced, but some of the original glass still remains.)

Stairs up to the attic…

The roof is tiled with shingles typical of old homes in Japan.

The shingles are VERY heavy. In earthquake safety information, we are warned to not dash out of the building during an earthquake. The reason for this is because one may be hit with falling objects outside (tree limbs, concrete walls, power lines)

Shingles often fall from roofs during large quakes, thus it can be deadly if they drop onto a person’s head.

Above is a photo of Mr. Kameoka, the one who had this farmhouse built and lived in it with his family.

His descendants no longer live in Fukushima Prefecture and the house was donated so that it could be taken care of properly. They scattered to other parts of Japan…and to the United States! So do you know any Americans by the name of “Kameoka?” This could be their ancestors’ home!

My opinions regarding the acquittal of the three TEPCO officials

Please note. Any and all of my opinions are entitled to change at any time and without notice beause I am a very wish-washy person!

I’d like to tell my own feelings about yesterday’s post about the acquittal of the three TEPCO officials:

First, I was confused about the trial itself. What exactly were they being being acquitted of?

Well, two AFWJ members and fellow Japan experts, Cheryl M. and Beverly F. K., as well as my former elementary school mate and now a practicing lawyer, Kellie H. gave me some very helpful information. It seems that the three men were were being tried criminally for professional negligence.

If convicted, they could have gone to prison for up to five years each, according to one of the news articles.

Having established that, do I think the men (meaning “whoever was in charge of TEPCO in 2011 and made the really big decisions”) are guilty of professional negligence? YES, DEFINITELY. I actually give one of the reasons during the climax of one of my MG manuscripts. It’s called Rambling Sakura Rose and I’ve sent it out to umpteen agents, but none of them want to represent it. Poor Sakura Rose. First she had to flee her home and now literary agents don’t even have faith in her!

Do I want these three men to go to prison for five years each as payment for their professional negligence? No, I don’t. (But what about if it’s a really posh prison with nice food and no violence and good wi-fi? Well, that might be different. I am so not a Japanese minimum security prison expert.)

I think they should have been found guility of professional negligence, and had to pay a fine.

When it comes to negligence of this sort, I suspect these three men are living with the agony of regret every day. And that’s a punishment of its own sort. I don’t know what would be accomplished by screwing in the bolts and and throwing away the screwdriver for five years. Would it deter other nuclear plant managers? Would it?

If the three men are not sorry for their negligence, then sure–lock them up.

I believe this acquittal raises other issues.

One is that because the men were acquitted of professional negligence and yet the nuclear meltdowns occured anyway, this tells us that NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS CAN NOT BE 100% SAFE.

If everything is done that could possibly be done is done, but a plant still has meltdowns, then we have to expect more meltdowns in the future. The message of the acquittal is: If all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed, then the owner/manager of a nuclear power plant can sit back and relax. He/she/they’s done everything that can be done…….

The court said that the HUGE TSUNAMI could not have been foreseen and thus the three officials were not liable of negligence. So a nuclear power plant doesn’t have to worry itself about all the problems that can’t be foreseen.

Mag 9 quake? Sorry, nope, can’t foresee it.

Biggest tsunami than has ever hit Japan in modern times? Nope, that would never probably happen. Can’t foresee it.

Airplanes flying into a plant? No, not likely. Can’t foresee it.

Somebody on the inside intentionally creating a meltdown? No way. Why would somebody do that? Can’t foresee it.

A new experiment going wrong? Uh-uh. We know our stuff. Can’t foresee it.


There’s always going to be some danger out there that “can’t be foreseen.” But of course those are the dangers that will cause the most havoc.

If a nuclear power plant is running smoothly, then it doesn’t pose danger, right? But when it doesn’t run smoothly–when an experiment has gone wrong (Chernobyl) or an enormous quake causes an enormous tsunami to flood the plant (Fukushima Dai-ichi)–that’s when we get the meltdowns.

I predict in another twenty/thirty/forty/fifty years another “unforeseen” event will happen to a different nuclear power plant somewhere in the world and cause yet another meltdown.


TEPCO officials found innocent of criminal responsibility (or negligence?) for the meltdowns at Dai-Ichi Power Plant

Yesterday, three TEPCO officials were found innocent of “ of criminal responsibility” for the nuclear meltdowns that happened after a huge tsunami hit their nuclear power plant located in Fukushima Prefecture on March 11, 2011. (The tsunami was caused by an earthquake on the floor bed of the Pacific Ocean.)

Here’s a link to an article from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/japan-court-set-rule-fukushima-disaster-trial-190919000654856.html

From the Daily Mainichi:https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190919/p2g/00m/0dm/061000c

from the BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-49750180

Keep in mind that TEPCO owns the plant. TEPCO is a Tokyo company that supplies electricity to the Tokyo area. (The plant was located in Fukushima but did not supply electricity to us. It supplied electricity to Tokyo.)


However, some articles in English are not saying that the official were acquitted of criminal responsiblity, but rather of negligence. For example, this CNN article:



Here is another Mainichi article giving the reaction of people regarding the verdict: https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190920/p2a/00m/0na/007000c?fbclid=IwAR0LBcDWBx_44PDdIB9FBROJWthwt-syREhd6uTdY9L9ZQ6pYMGtLOARuSk

I strive to keep this website unbiased. So what do YOU think of this verdict?

I’ll give my thoughts tomorrow in a post. But to tell the truth, I’m still making sense of it all in my head.

Date City’s Hobara Park

I took a train on the Abukuma Kyuko train line north to Date City. (pronounced Dah-tay)

Leaving Fukushima City….view from the train (above)

I got off at Date City’s Ooizumi Station.

I first heard about this magnificent playground back when my son was in preschool. He came home from preschool and he told me that he went down a really long slide. So I asked his teachers where they went, and they told me how to get to this park. After that, I took my son here.

The slide is REALLY long. (Japan loves long slides.)

In my opinion, these long slides are less fun than they look. The long slides have rollers that roll you down and after seven minutes of that (with a three-year-old on your lap) your butt starts to burn. I’ve seen some people sit on newspapers to avoid that slow burn.

The teeny tiny kiddy section…The theme is fruits.

Why fruits?

Fukushima Prefecture is famous for its fruit orchards.

See the fruit theme?

A grape picnic table.

Like all parks in Fukushima Prefecture nowadays, this park has has a machine which detects the amount of radiation that hits the panels. .172 microsieverts. It’s the same as the amount of radiation detected in a lot of places around the world, and considered to be a safe amount.

Power outage in Chiba Prefecture continues…

When I first came to Japan in the nineties, I taught English through a governnment program called the JET Programme. The JET Programme sends foreigners to public schools all over Japan. I was placed in a public junior high school in the countryside of Chiba Prefecture.


Where is Tokyo Disney Resort (Disneyland/Disneysea) located?


It is actually located in Chiba Prefecture.

(Chiba Prefecture is east of Tokyo. It’s home to Disneyland and Disneysea. It’s also home to what was officially named New Tokyo International Airport, but nobody called it that because it’s in Narita, which is in Chiba Prefecture.)

Below is a photo of me with some of my students. I didn’t usually wear a suit, but it was the day of graduation.

Chiba Prefecture is a peninsula. There was one small town between my home and the coast. Chiba Prefecture has a lot of coastline.

My home there was also under the flight path for Narita Airport. If you’re flying from the east to Narita Airport and you look down and see the coast, that’s Chiba Prefecture. And as you descend to the airport, you can see the buildings, fields, roads below. That’s where I lived. Like I said, it’s a rural area. But it’s a great location: near Tokyo, near Disneyland, near the airport, near the beach!

Looking out at the sea from Chiba Prefecture.

My beautiful boss!

Today it is Sunday afternoon, September 14, 2019. A week ago, a typhoon hit Chiba (and Tokyo and Yokohama. But sticking out into the ocean the way it does, I think Chiba may have gotten the worst of the storm.)

The storm caused many trees to fall in that rural area. Those heavy trees hit power lines and caused severe power outages in many parts of Chiba Prefecture.

My boss (above photo) still lives in that same spot. Worried about her, I tried to call her on Wednesday, but couldn’t get through. I called her on Friday, and she answered and said she was fine, but did not have electricity until Thursday afternoon. (So she did not have electricity for about four days.) She also did not have water.

She said parts of our town still did not have electricity. That was Thursday. Today, the Japanese news reports that parts of Chiba Prefecture STILL does not have electricity! 😦

Tokyo Electric Power Company (the same company that owns the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, but doesn’t provide electricity to us here in Fukushima. We get it from Tohoku Electric Power Company) is the company that provides electricity to Chiba Prefecture. They, and along with the Japanese military, have been clearing the trees and repairing the power lines.

And still today, Sunday and also a full week after the storm, electricity is out in parts of Chiba Prefecture. The two above photos are taken off my TV (Japanese news.) The bottom shows a business. Not only is it hard to live daily life without electricity, but businesses can’t run, either.

It’s been hard for these poor people!

I hope things get back on track for Chiba Prefecture soon. (Meaning: Immediately!)

I know the island countries near Florida also were hit by a hurricane, and have it much worse than Chiba Precture. Many people have been killed due to Hurricane Dorian.

Hurricanes and typhoons existed when I was young, of course, but I don’t think they were as severe in intensitiy. Global warming seems to be making temperatures rise, thus causing the hurricanes and typhoons to be stronger than they once were.