October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Look at the broom! It is nothing out of the ordinary here in Japan. Workers use them on the streets here. This one is huge. It is as tall as I am. I am 5'6". The bristles are as high as my waist. Actually, this one is extraordinarily large. It must be industrial size!

We had a party in our garden last weekend. Twelve children came. They bobbed for apples. They dressed up in costumes from our costume chest, and they hit a pinata. They also ate a lot.

I had bought this pumpkin a few days before. At the party, I cut open the top of the pumpkin. I asked, "Who wants to pull the top off?" Everyone wanted to! They did junken, or rock, scissors, paper to decide who would get to do it. Then they each wanted to scoop out the seeds from inside. They lined up and took turns. They washed their hands at the garden sink afterwards. They each carved one or two parts of a jack o' lantern's face. This pumpkin ended up with four faces!

They went to a nearby park to play dodgebee (with a soft frisbee). It was getting dark (around 5:00) so I went down to give them glowing bracelets. I had bought them for the kids to wear home. Everyone had fun. Three kids had never been to a Halloween party.

October 30, 2006

Junior High Fall Festival

Junior high schools have fall festivals to show their work. Parents visit. It is like an "open
house. " Sixth graders from elementary schools and their parents visit the festivals, too. After elementary school, students must choose a junior high school. They visit during festival time to see if they like the school.

Here is the shoe cabinet at the entrance. (You may remember seeing the photo of the shoe shelves at the elementary school.) These shelves are filled with students' street shoes. They put on sneakers that are worn only inside the school. Sorry, this is not a very good picture!

Visitors must take off their shoes and put on slippers that they have brought from home. Usually visitors carry their street shoes in a plastic bag at crowded events. There's not much shelf room for visitors' street shoes.

This is a sink in the courtyard outside the entrance. Students can wash their hands here.

Outside the office, there was this metal box with a sign that read "AED Automatic External Defibrillator". It is a device to help people who are having a heart attack. I have posted a picture of one in a train station and one at a highway rest stop. Putting these devices in public places is new. Over the 18 years I have been here, ambulances didn't have these devices.

The wooden and glass case is a "lost and found" on one of the floors of the school. It looks like there are a couple of bags and some clothes in it.

Rooms were set up with students' work. This is the art room.

I went to the music room to listen to the choir. They sang several songs. They sang one in English that you may know, "Hail Holy Queen." You may have sung it or heard it at church or heard it in a movie called "Sister Act." I was surprised the teacher chose this song. Papa told me the song is very popular with choirs and singing groups. It is often sung in school choir performances. These junior high students did a really good job. They had good pronunciation and were very lively.

October 29, 2006

Japan's Book Week

Recognize these English books in Japanese? Picture books open the same way that English books do (with the spine of the book on the left.) Other books don't. I'll show you later.
This year, from the 28th of October to the 7th of November is Japan's Book Week. Of course, that's a little over a week, isn't it?

October 28, 2006

Street Workers' Carts

No one was in sight. This cart was on the side of the street. There were tools on the cart. There were also traffic cones. There was a twig broom, too. It looks like a witch's broom, doesn't it? We'll use one for a Halloween decoration.

October 27, 2006


You have probably seen dehumidifiers like the one on the left. This one was from a Pokemon cake.

This is a close-up of the one on the right. This picture shows the inside of a bottle cap. This cap was on a bottle of vitamins. Inside the cap is a plastic case that has holes in it. In the plastic case, there is a tablet that will absorb moisture from the bottle.

Fire Station

This is a fire station.

This is next to the fire station. See the windows on the first and second floor of this structure. I have never seen them do drills, but I think they use this to practice rescues.

It looks like the firemen changed clothes outside here. There are three pairs of boots with trousers pulled down over them. I saw this on the other side of the fire station near the trucks. I could see this from the busy street.

October 26, 2006

Fire Trucks

I took this picture the other day. This fire truck was slowly going back to the station. Today there were several fire trucks rushing down the streets. As I turned the corner, there were two fire trucks on our street. Neighbors gathered. I didn't take pictures of the trucks or the firemen. I didn't see or smell smoke. Later I found out it was a false alarm.

October 25, 2006

On the Streets Where I Live

These are clam shells. They are lined up in a flower bed. Maybe it's feng shui. This flower bed faces a busy street. Maybe the shells were put there to prevent slugs or bugs from entering and eating their plants. I'm not sure why.

This is a balcony of an apartment building. Those are washing machines. Some people don't have room in their apartment or house for a washing machine. They don't have garages so if they are lucky, they put them on balconies. This balcony was built with spaces to put washing machines. The machines are right in front of the front doors.

This second floor apartment has a big garden on its veranda. At first, I thought the third floor apartment had a washing machine on its balcony. It was a big water tank.

October 24, 2006

Umbrella Stand

It was a dark and rainy day. And it was cold, too. So, no pictures outside. Click on this one to get a better look.

I took this picture the other day. This umbrella stand was at a small station. It looks like a rocket, doesn't it? The umbrellas were 500 yen. Shopkeepers put these cheap umbrellas in a bin outside their shops when it starts to rain. They usually sell them for 300 yen. I guess this Space Age display was expensive.

Pet Dishes and Another Japanese Halloween Store Display

These are pet dishes.

This is a Halloween display at another hardware store. There are more Halloween displays in my area this year. They are getting bigger, too. There are more Halloween items for sale now.

October 23, 2006

Japanese Dried Snacks

No, it's not a fossil. It's a snack! It's a crispy rice cracker with a small dried squid pressed inside.

Here's a close-up of the squid. Little Brother's friend brought a box of these crackers back from summer vacation for us. We still have some left.

Peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried berries, and black soybeans make up this snack.

Small dried fish. These were Big Sister's favorite when she was a toddler. She wouldn't eat them without their heads. I think it was because Baba told her that "fish heads are good for your head" (brain).

October 22, 2006

Train Station: Waiting Room

Most of the train stations on the Keio line are open to the outside. That means the stations are wet and cold when it is rainy and windy. They can also be hot. In recent years, waiting rooms have been built on the platforms. They are heated and air-conditioned. There is now a dry place to wait in the rainy season and a warm place to sit in winter. There is a cool place to wat in the summer.

There are some rules, however. You can tell by the pictures what is prohibited. Notice the sign says "Prohibition" in English.

Why do you think this sign was put here?

The blue sign is pretty low to the ground.

October 21, 2006

Taro and Potatoes

I've posted pictures of taro. These are yatsugashira. Their stems are red and their leaves are different.

I have waited to get a picture of them during harvest. Here they are as they are harvested. They are dug up. The stalks are cut. The taro is then placed in a tub and made ready for sale.

Here they are at a vegetable stand. These are rather clean. I have seen them in plastic bags in stores with dirt still on them. I will try to get a picture of them cooked and prepared to eat. They are not our favorite. They are sticky and slimy. We rarely eat them, but Baba and Aunt do. They share.

This is the vegetable stand where I found the box of clean taro. It is near a small station.

Here is the box of taro along with other vegetables and potatoes. Do you see the box of big Japanese radishes or daikon?

These are satsumaimo or sweet potatoes. They are not orange inside like American sweet potatoes. We eat a lot of these through the winter. I will show you later.

These are regular potatoes or jagaimo. They are smaller and have thinner skins than Idaho potatoes.

October 20, 2006

Tree Support on the Streets of Tokyo

Young trees need support. Especially on the streets of Tokyo. Here are two types of supports. I have often seen bamboo and wooden supports. Straw is usually used to cushion the tree against the wood and twine.

This is the first metal support I have seen. There could be advantages and disadvantages to this type of support.

Parking Tickets

This picture was taken in a shopping area near the station. It is prohibited to park bicycles along this sidewalk next to the street. There is a parking lot for bicycles along the sides of the buildings on the left.

All of the bicycles on the right in the picture were illegally parked. All of them had tickets stapled on the handlebars. Until recently, a plastic and metal device was fastened onto bicycles and cars that were parked in the wrong place. The owner had to go to the police station to have it removed. This probably kept Tokyo policemen very busy. The system has changed. Now the tickets are paper. People can go to the post office to pay the fines.

October 19, 2006

Two Little Houses

There are houses and apartments and even a fire station along the street where the Platanus orientalis are planted. Here is one little house. There is always something blooming in their street garden.

Here is the front door of the house in the picture above. There is not much distance from its threshold to the sidewalk. It's so sunny that the train in the background of the picture is barely visible.

This little house is down the street. It is closer to the train tracks. Its front door is on the other side. The people who live here hang their beds out on the bars in front of the sliding door. Click on each picture so you can see details.

Kids Web Japan--houses

Street Trees

The trees along the street were recently pruned.

They were full like the ones on the opposite side of the street during the summer.

This tree has a name plate. These trees are suzukakenoki in Japanese. The name plate also gives the Latin name Platanus orientalis. I looked it up. It is the Asian sycamore or plane tree.

This tree is the same kind of tree. It has a number plate.

I have been passing these kinds of trees for many years along the streets of Tokyo. I have always liked them.

When I was kid I used to go to a farm on weekends. The last time we went back to Texas, we visited it. All of the apple trees in the front yard were gone. But there, near the place we always parked our car, was a tree like these. I remembered it! It was now as big as these. It reminded me of Tokyo. Now as I pass these trees I remember my old tree in Texas.