Gonna Take Hardest Level of Japanese Language Proficiency Test

I received my test voucher yesterday so I’m all set!

Luckily, the testing venue is just down the street from my home.

It’s a test for foreigners to gauge their Japanese ability. It’s basically reading, grammar and listening skills.  (I don’t have to write or speak.)

I don’t know many people who have passed it. It’s very difficult for a non-native speaker of Japanese.

I’ve passed N2 (the second hardest level.) N2 is generally what is required to get a job in the field of Japanese.

This is my first time taking N1 and I don’t expect to pass it. My knowledge just isn’t there. I’m taking it more to go through the motions and get a good feel for the test.

School Book Reading….

As a library volunteer, I go to the classrooms and read picture books to the students. But once a year, all the volunteers get together and we read a picture book together to all the students in the school.

The library volunteer leader chose Leo Lionni’s “Little Blue and Little Yellow.” I read it in English, alternating page by page with volunteers who read it in Japanese.

I did not make the blue and yellow circles! The leader made them.

It’s held in the gym, and kids watch the story on a screen as we read it.

My reward afterwards….Snack Time!!!!!!!!!

recent article about Fukushima tourism

This article is in a non-Japanese newspaper:



My quick thoughts:

1.) “Turning to” is not the right word. Pre-accident, Fukushima was a very popular place for Japanese people to go. It’s got history, onsen, beauty….What this article is talking about foreign tourists, who were very much unaware of Fukushima before the accident. Fukushima is not trying to “turn to,” rather, we are trying to get back to how we used to be (a relaxing getaway.)

2.)  “Fukushima Brand”??? Ugh…  Fukushima is not a “brand.” It’s a place.

Taking a blogging break….

My husband and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary in September of 2018. We were married (first) in Kansas on a hot September day, then we had a second ceremony in October for his parents’ side.

He’s an extremely good person, and a great husband. ❤

I signed up to take the highest level Japanese Proficiency Language Test (in December, 2018.) So I am going to stop blogging for a while to concentrate on studying for that. I might pop in every so often for urgent news reports, but basically I’ll be Nihongo-ing.

And as always, I’m writing jotting down penning  banging out my work-in-progress. It’s terces pot, which in Backwards Language means…. Well, we need a Backwards Language Dictionary to correctly translate it. It’s difficult to define.

Okay, signing off for the next three months……….

Have a great autumn! (or spring, for those below the equator)

Library Volunteer-Everyone Poops

In the 1990’s, I was in my college town of Lawrence, Kansas (home of the University of Kansas.) I entered a bookstore to look around. A picture book called “Everyone Poops” was on display. It surprised me (but in a pleasant way,) because I had never ever seen “poop” mentioned or illustrated in a picture book before. Wow! 

“Everyone Poops” was/is a Japanese picture book for kids by the ultra-famous Taro Gomi (Gomi Taro in Japanese.This is more about his books.) When I arrived in Japan in 1995, I noticed that poop drawings were common here. My junior high students might doodle poop for fun (always in the shape of the top of a soft-serve ice cream cone) and poop was frequent in manga (Japanese comics.) Poop drawings were absolutely no big deal, although I hadn’t seen them at all in the U.S. (I think poop has recently reached America’s shores and the country is now excrement friendly in illustrations.)

When I was in the U.S. during the past summer, I saw the English version of Gomi’s “Everyone Poops” in a used book store and purchased it. I thought it would be perfect for my library volunteer activity of reading aloud to kids at my son’s former elementary school.

Once in Japan, I borrowed the same book in Japanese from our public library. I also prepared eight flashcards to teach words from the book. I thought certain words are very useful, but they won’t get taught in regular English classes that the students will attend. Yet, aren’t poop and flush useful words to know if one finds oneself constipated while travelling abroad?

I was slightly worried because this book is about poop… But not too worried because Japanese parents and teachers, etc. are much more open to these kinds of books than American parents and teachers.

Despite “Everyone Poops” being virtually the only Taro Gomi book that Americans know, this book isn’t especially famous among today’s Japanese children. A few of the kids I read to knew it, but not all. (It’s an old book.) Taro Gomi, on the other hand, is an author that all the kids recognize. He’s both prolific (tons of his books are not published in English) and extremely famous.

So basically, the book was a success. The English and Japanese are written at the level of a toddler’s understanding–which is about right for the elementary school students who don’t know any English at all. And isn’t it cute? And teaches a great lesson. 🙂

Mass Hysteria…………………..No, thank you. All the facts are needed before panicking.

This post (and the headline) above is in reference to the mutated flower photos that went viral a few years ago.

I’ve just listen to one of Malcom Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcasts–it’s about mass hysteria. So as I finish my year-long “Flowers in Fukushima City” project, I want to say that we must not look at one photo on the internet, jump to (often faulty) conclusions, and freak the heck out.

As you have seen in my posts during the past twelve days, Fukushima City is NOT a place of mutated flowers and butterflies.  (I repeat: During the past year, I looked for mutated flowers and NEVER saw a single one.)

The flowers in and around Fukushima City appear normal, as shown in the photo I took about a week ago (in September of 2018.)

What’s interesting is that around 2015, my husband was shucking an ear of corn. He discovered that there were “twin” corn cobs…similar to the ones shown in the photo in the following news article, but not nearly as separated.


Was a the corn a Fukushima mutant? NO! Absolutely not. How do I know this?

I know this because the corn was grown in Hokkaido, and shipped to us here at our home. (It’s common in Japan to ship fruits and vegetables around the country like this. Japan is a country of foodies.) Hokkaido is far north of the power plant and the corn was unlikely affected by radiation from the meltdowns.

This brochure is from that company in Hokkaido. It’s gourmet!

So what do I personally think happened? Well, gosh, I don’t know. My mom’s an identical twin. So maybe what happened to her (and her sister) is exactly what happened to that corn.

Or maybe…the twinned corn is a result of super farming? Breeding corn to produce superior (high yielding) strains of corn to feed more people? I don’t know, but the corn my husband found resembled the corn on the far right in the photo of the following news article:


So what I am saying is this. Don’t give in to irrational thinking. If it’s a field you are not personally an expert in (Hey, any floriculturists out there?), then realize there may be different possiblities as to why a flower looks different. It may not be (or it may) be due to radiation.

Don’t give in to mass hysteria. Let’s use our brains, that’s why we have them.