Saturday, January 27, 2007

Asamushi Aquarium

We went to the aquarium in Asamushi on Wednesday, January 24.
We got to see fish, rays, eels, otters, dolphins and even some bonus ENGRISH!

Aquarium pictures on flickr!

Monday, January 22, 2007


Currently planning a long-weekend trip to Hakodate! We'll be going in February. We're planning to stay in a ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn. I'm really excited. At some point this winter/early spring, we also want to go to the OTHER end of Japan and visit Okinawa. There's a Club Med there, and maybe we'll try that, just to say we did. Of course, we just might stay at a ryokan there, too.

Friday, January 19, 2007


My husband owes the Japanese trash collector his life. Chris somehow managed to throw out our 500 dollar digital camera. The trash guy saw fit to leave it alone and Chris was able to retreive the camera from the bottom of the bin. The strap was a little wet, but the camera was undamaged.

For Susann--look! A knitting update! I finished a scarf and a hat. The hat only took me an hour and it came out very cute. Chris was supposed to bring the camera (before the whole trashbin fiasco) so I could take pictures of my kimono teacher wearing her hat, but after reading the above paragraph, you know what happened.

Knitting is not a fiber art that is native to Japan, however, like everything else, they improved and refined it and do it very well. I love Japanese yarn.

The hat is a fluffly, chunky yarn with some slubbing. I knit it on 15's, I think it would have been better on 13's. However, it made a darling hat that I completed in an HOUR! One ball made the hat and a monster pompom (not shown, I decided not to use it for this hat, I'll save it for something else). I have four balls of the yarn left. I may use it for the Around the World Scarf.
This is a scarf I made for Mr. Aizawa. It is burgundy with tweedy bits and is quite handsome. It's soft and warm, too. I made it a little bit too nagoi (long). Mr. Aizawa wrapped it around once and then said "Duburu Pray! (double play!) and wrapped it again. He wouldn't let Eiko help--Mr. Aizawa is very natty and he arranged the scarf just so. I hope he really likes it, and wasn't just being nice. I also ended up giving Eiko the hat and scarf (made from Artful Yarns) I was wearing, because she liked it so much. You can see the hat and scarf here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What Happened to Winter?

There's no snow. Seriously. It's cold, but there's no snow. How can I snowshoe without snow?!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Engrish: Low Cost Rog House

more of my engrish sightings at flickr.

Monday, January 01, 2007



akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!

Happy New Year!

2007 (or Heisei 19) is the year of the Boar. This happens to be my sign; in the European zodiac, I am Cancer. I can't win either way--either a pig or crab or an abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way . Hardly glamorous.

Here in Japan, the days of January 1st to 3rd are called shougatsu. January 1st is called gantan and is a national holiday. Shogatsu is the most important holiday in Japan. Everything shuts down from the 29th of December to the 3rd of January. People stay at home with their families, and eat and eat and eat! They may watch holiday TV programs or play cards or go or chess.

Tradtionally, a fancy bento (box meal) is served. This is called Osechi and is very pretty and very symbolic. It used to be the mommies and grandmommies spent the days running up to Shogatsu making Osechi (so they wouldn't have to cook during the three days) but now it is more popular to order Osechi ready-made. This means that the supermarkets are BUSY. Usually, I see Japanese shopping with one basket. When I went to the suupa a few days ago, not only was it a mad house at 9am on a Saturday morning, Japanese ladies were pulling TWO carts with two baskets each full of stuff. Some husbands had even been roped into helping.

It is traditional for Japanese people to visit to a shrine or a temple during New Year's Days. People pray for safety, health and good fortune, buy charms or blessings and drop off old charms or talismans to be burned by the priests. The first visit to a temple or shrine in a year is called hatsumoude. It is not a very religious event but rather a custom. Many well-known temples and shrines are extremely crowded. Not a good idea to go sightseeing at this time!

End-of-year gifts are exchanged (usually food items) as a way to say "Thanks for your kindness in the old year, please treat me well in the new." Everyone looks to the new year for a fresh start.

Many people put up a shimenawa and/or kadomatsu. We do, too! See (gimme a minute to link to my flickr pages)

This year, I managed to stay up until midnight. I was listening for the temple bell, as Buddhist temples toll their Okane (bell) 108 times at midnight, one ring for each of the 108 evils man must overcome. I thought I heard bells, but I also heard drums, whistles, cheering, drunking singing/hollering, canned music, dogs howling and maybe a firecracker or two. It was a beautiful, clear, cold and starry night, with Orion shining through the branches of the trees in my little yard. A nice image with which to begin The Year of the Boar.