Foggy Park

This post is continued from yesterday. Such a foggy morning. This is at Momiji Park (about ten minute’s walk from my house.)

Sorry, horizon is not straight. I was concentrating on getting a photo of the path!!!!!!!!

This park’s name “Momiji” translates into “Autumn Leaves.”

That large building is Fukushima Prefecture’s Administration Building. (Sorry, I don’t know the official name of it. Fukushima City is the capitol city of Fukushima Prefecture, so it’s the governing building.) This used to be the location of Fukushima City’s castle, years and years and years ago.

(Few original Japanese castles still exist, for various reasons. War, fire, so on…)

The Shinto shrine in the park. I talked to a woman here quite a long time.

The river is right below…but in this photo, it can barely be seen due to the thick fog.

A heron. Swans live in these parts, too. Cranes, however, no longer live in Tohoku. The famous Red-Crowned Crane can only be found in Hokkaido (and then, only a small part of Hokkaido.)

A wild duck. This brown duck is called “kamo” in Japanese. The word for duck that we usually learn (as Japanese language learners) “ahiru” refers to a white duck like Donald Duck.

I zoomed in on the heron.

This is a crow. It had been in the tree, cawing, and I thought maybe it was jealous because I had been paying so much attention to the heron. But evidently not, because it flew off when I raised my camera to take its photo.

If you “COME!” to our fine city of Fukushima City, this area in the photos is extremely easy to walk to from the train station. It’s about ten minutes, probably, maybe fifteen.


Tomorrow I will post videos from this foggy morning.


Giraffey Day

Very early this morning, just as the sun was rising, I poked my head out our front door. Thick fog covered our neighborhood.

“There are giraffes outside!” I said to my husband.

I had mixed up the word kirin (giraffe) and fog (kiri.) My husband is clever and basically knew what I was trying to say.

Anyway, on my early morning walk, I took my camera along to take photos of this very foggy morning.


At this point, I had reached my destination. (Momiji Park) I will post those photos of the park tomorrow.

The banner says, “Kite.” It the command form of the verb “kuru” (to come.) So the banner reads simply,”Come.” It’s asking people to come to Fukushima Prefecture.

Mini-Japanese lesson: kuru (to come) is くる in hiragana. Using the Chinese character, however, it can be written 来る

They are the same word (both kuru, meaning “to come”) くる and 来る. These are two different ways to write the same word. So if the banner used only hiragana, it would be きて(Kite meaning “Come.”) The banner designer chose to use a kanji character, though, making it 来て(Kite meaning “Come.”)

Art Saori Plus (Weaving)

Close to the Fukushima train station, there’s a department story called DaiYu 8 Max. And on the fourth floor of that department store, there’s a whole floor devoted to study, exhibits and so on. This is where my Wednesday Japanese class is held. Well, last Wednesday, Fukushima’s Art Saori Plus was holding an exhibit of its store’s woven items.

I felt that the items were so gorgeous.

This area was very interesting to me. I could watch a professional weaver. Furthermore, I had the chance to sit down and try weaving for myself. It was interesting! I loved this opportunity. Arigatou, Art Saori Plus!

Elementary School Yomikikase–Eric Carle’s “Dream Snow”

The other elementary school library volunteers asked me to do a book for the first and second graders. Knowing that it would not be read to the older kids, I chose an Eric Carle book. Like most people, I love Carle’s books, but I have avoided them for yomikikase (reading aloud to students) because I feel their subject matter is usually too babyish for the fifth and sixth graders.

My mother had sent me his “Dream Snow” back when my own son was a toddler, so I chose it. The Japanese version is (as always) from our local library.

I know my illustration of a farm is impressive…but I copied it off an image I found on the internet. LOL, I enjoy drawing, but I’m certainly no professional.

This book was a huge hit, and I was requested to also read it to the special education class and to the kids at the public preschool next door. If you’re wondering–yes, Japan does Christmas. But it is the secular variety, not the religious variety.  Most people here are not Christian, but they’ve borrowed a lot from western culture in recent years, and traditions of Christmas is one cultural aspect that has been borrowed.

I enjoy books and I enjoy kids, so I enjoy being a library volunteer!

Friday Japanese Class End of the Year Party!

My Japanese teachers are so very kind to give their time to help us non-native Japanese speakers. They are all such very good people!!!! ❤ My Japanese level wouldn’t be as good as it is without them, and my knowledge of Japanese culture would not be as thorough, either. I owe so much to them!

The following photos are from today’s party.

My male Japanese teacher is a great cook. He attends cooking classes! His food was so popular.

I made a couscous pudding with a recipe that I got off the internet. The reason I chose this is because we have high school students who are living here to play basketball–and they are from North Africa. So I wanted to try to give them something that is common in their own country.

The wafers in the box were made by my husband. He makes these “cheese sembei” for me and my son, so I asked him to make them for the party. It’s a simple recipe!

A woman who works in a bookstore always goes all out! She’s a fantastic cook.

This squid and carrot dish is an extremely famous dish of our region (Fukushima.) The note reads that it is Fukushima Taste Made by a Real Fukushima Person. My male teacher made this (and yes, he is a born and bred Fukushimer!)

His wife made AmaZake. Literally, “sweet sake” but there’s no alcohol so kids can drink it.


Happy Holidays! A huge thank you to all the people who work so hard to help out us non-Japanese people in Japan.

My N1 Test is finished…!

I took the N1 Noryoku Shiken (It tests the abilities of foreigners in the Japanese language) on Sunday afternoon. It’s over! Yay! I won’t get the results until February of 2019.

These are the items I prepared prior to the test. I needed my test voucher, HB pencils, erasers. The eraser must be slipped out of its case.

I also brought a watch. The room has no clock. My phone is there–it must be turned off during the test.

Snacks for the breaktime, but I didn’t end up eating them.

N1 is the hardest of the five levels for the test. At this very high level, everybody in the room is very good at Japanese (if not–that person should not have chosen to take the test. Level N5 is for beginners in the Japanese language.) Many of the test takers are college students from various Asian countries. Everybody in the room was Asian, mostly Chinese and Vietnamese. I think the only other native English speaker besides me was a young man from New Zealand. (I talked to him briefly.)

I don’t think I passed, but I do think that with more study, I could eventually pass. That’s a nice feeling.

I don’t know if I’ll be posting a lot. I have avidly been working on my writing of manuscripts. I’d like to get them published.

So take care, everyone, and have a great December!

Exhibit of Art by famous Fukushimer (and extremely talented) Sato Gengen

I needed to return books I’ve used for my job and for my volunteer work. Also, I wanted to borrow books for research for the manuscript I am now working on.  In the photo, you can see Fukushima Prefectural Library.

My apologies for the slanted horizon. When I took the photo, I was concentrating on getting the front of the library plus the trees in the distance. You can see the leaves changing, although so far our weather has been very mild. (Too mild, in my opinion.)

See the front windows? During the Big Quake of 2011, they shattered completely. (I know this because the library has photos of the damage done by the quake.)

Because we are inland, though, Fukushima City’s buildings were NOT affected by the tsunami. The city is very far from the coast.

After the library, I headed next door to the Fukushima Prefectural Art Museum. I go to all its exhibits because I purchased a one-year pass. (A good deal!)

This exhibit was amazing! (I could not take photos inside the actual exhibit. In the photo, I am in the lobby.)

It was mostly statues and woodwork. The artist was born 130 years ago in what is now Fukushima Prefecture’s Soma Town. I asked if this artist is famous all over Japan, and was told that he is. After I saw his work, I definitely believed it. His work is fantastic!

I was told that though he grew up in Fukushima, he left for college in Tokyo. Then he studied in Paris. The first part of the exhibit appeared non-Japanese–it looked influenced by European and Egyptian art. But the end of the exhibit was definitely Japanese-influenced. I can’t describe it, but I loved it.

There was one section that had sculptures of animals—and I had flashbacks to a zoo when I looked at a lizard basking on wood in a glass case! That made me think that it would be interesting to sculpt small animals (lizards, snakes, frogs) and display them in cases–like an actual herpetarium. That would be fun.

Here’s more info about Sato Gengen. (If you are wondering, Gengen–a cool name–is not his birth name. Like many Japanese artists and writers, he changed his own name to a pen name.)