January 31, 2007

New Beginnings

When new shops or restaurants open, big flower arrangements are sent to the owners. They are set outside. There are white signs on them that tell who sent them. This is a small neighborhood restuarant. There isn't a sign for the restaurant yet. There are small apartments above the shops.

January 30, 2007

Street Shrine

It is not unusual to see shrines on the street. I thought this was a strange sight. That is a toilet next to the shrine. A house is being built and the workers need a toilet. I thought the location was unfortunate!

Different Kinds of Mochi

Mochi, glutinous rice, on a stick is called dango. These are bigger and are flatter than usual. Dango are usually small round balls of mochi. There is no adzuki bean paste in them.

These were toasted next to charcoal. Click to enlarge the picture and you may be able to see the flame.

This was at Jindai Botanical Gardens.

This looks like bars of soap, but they are bars of mochi. This kind of mochi is available by the bag at the grocery store. It is put in azuki beans to make oshiruko. Click on the "snacks" label to see a picture of that. This mochi can also be grilled on the stove. Little Brother likes to put it in the microwave. It puffs up. He eats it with soy sauce and nori, sheets of dried seaweed.

This is sweet potato mochi. Before it is cooked, it looks like the mochi in the picture above. Mochi is really gummy and sticky. Children and old people are warned to be careful while eating it. It can be a choking hazard.

January 29, 2007


This is a snack called dorayaki.

It is filled with azuki (sometimes spelled adzuki) beans.

Check out Kids Web Japan-- sweets and cakes

January 28, 2007

School Health Card

What an awful picture! This is the top part of a health form for elementary school children. It is a graph for height and a graph for weight. Students are weighed and measured three times every school year. The teacher fills in the information at the bottom of the page. Parents sign beside the measurements. Then they have to graph the information. Click on the picture to enlarge. Ranges of height and weight are given. An equation to figure out the ratio of weight and height is also given. (Though Little Brother has had a healthy growth pattern, he didn't want his graph photographed.)

Students have their eyes, ears, teeth and hearts checked at school, too. At the beginning of the year, they also have a urine and worm check.

Note: At school, students sometimes have to line up for things. In Japan, there is a line for girls and a line for boys. Student lines are made according to height. The tallest children are in the back of the line. The shortest children are in the front. Whenever students grow out of their place in line, they are moved further back in the line.

January 27, 2007

Manga Rental

These signs line the sidewalk near a video rental shop. They are taken down at night. (The pole fits down into that concrete block.) The sign says "comic rental" in English and in katakana, the script for foreign words.

The shop also sells video games, and a few Some manga stories have weekly installments. That means the story can stretch over many books and many weeks. Each book can cost around 400 yen, more or less. Some people prefer to rent them in order to keep up with the story.

The Naruto manga that I posted yesterday was all one complete story. It was more expensive. Big Sister can't remember how much it was and there were none left. I'll post the price later.

Kids Web Japan--manga

January 26, 2007


You may call them graphic novels or even comic books. Here, they are called manga. They have been a part of Japanese pop culture since the 1950s. I was surprised to see businessmen reading them on the subway when I first came to Japan. There is manga written for adults. There is manga written for kids. Naruto seems to be for everyone.

Look how thick this is! It's 730 pages. There are some that are even longer. It is 4 cm thick. Some are thicker than a telephone book. Surprisingly, they are not very heavy.

For more links for manga, do a search of Kids Web Japan. Look under manga. Kids Web Japan-- manga

January 25, 2007

Recycling Bicycles

The blue bike is Little Brother's new bike. His old bike needs to be given away.

This is the old bike on our front porch. (Note we have two entrances. One for Baba's section of the house and the other for ours.)

When you want to get rid of a bike, you can give it away, sell it to a recycle shop or call the city to come get it. They recycle them, too.

We called the city and made a reservation for them to come get it. To pay for it, we bought a special sticker at a convenience store. It cost 600 yen. We will have to put the bicycle outside our gate for them to get it.

January 24, 2007

Envelop Counter

This device was sitting on a counter at a post office in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Customers who have a lot of envelopes can use it before they go to the counter to buy stamps. It's bright and shiny, but it looks a little old-fashioned, don't you think?

January 23, 2007

Mekabu and Natto

I was walking through Shinjuku station and saw this in a shop. From a distance, it looked like green tea. It's mekabu, a part of wakame (kelp). The sign suggests two ways of eating it:

1) soak it in water for 10 minutes and serve with vinegar, grated daikon or natto.

2) use it as it is in miso soup, udon, soba, or clear broth.

Bigger pieces of mekabu. Mekabu is supposed to be good for the immune system.

This is natto. It's fermented soybeans. It is really sticky and stinky. It's good for your health, though. Papa stirs in a raw egg before he eats it.

January 22, 2007


A man was sitting on a roof. He was replacing tiles. This is a traditional roof.

He's holding cement in one hand and spreading it on the roof with the other. Click to enlarge the pictures. There is a loose tile near the edge.

January 21, 2007

Cracker Shop

The shop with the orange awning sells crackers and snacks. It sells Japanese crackers called osembe.

It also sells Ritz Crackers! You can see them from almost every angle. I spotted them from the car, so we stopped. I took pictures from different angles. Click on the photos to see details. There is a jar of snacks sitting on an ice cream case.

I saw the shopkeeper sitting behind a sliding door. She was eating lunch and watching TV. I didn't ask to take her picture. I didn't want to disturb her.

Shelled peanuts and other snacks.

There is a tin box of osembe on the shelf next to the Ritz Crackers. Cans of potato chips.

There are jars of candy, too.

This shop is completely open to the sidewalk. Note the plant on the table. It is actually outside the shop. At night, the plant and another display table will be pulled inside. A metal sliding door will be rolled down to close the shop.

Barber Shop

This barber shop called "hair saloon joyful" was next door.

I have posted barber poles earlier. They are basically the same everywhere in the world. Well, at least the places I have visited. I thought this one was interesting. Click on the picture and you can read their slogan at the top of the pole.

They still had New Year's decorations in the window.

Dried Persimmons and Fruit

These pictures were taken earlier in the January. These are bags of dried persimmons. Some come in boxes. These cost 2500 yen per bag. How much is that?

They were in a fruit section at the grocery store. The melons next to the bags of persimmons were 45oo yen a piece. The melons next to those were cheaper.

More dried persimmons. There were also blueberries and raspberries. And pears (in the green plastic blanket) for 200 yen a piece.

A box of dried persimmons. Why would anyone want them in a box? To send as a gift.

January 20, 2007

Street Camera

I noticed this camera as we were waiting at an intersection. Click to enlarge.

Neighborhood Streets

Click to enlarge. These pictures were taken through the car's windshield so they're a little blurry.

This is a garage under someone's house.

The red thing on the right is a fire extinguisher.

House Painting

This is a house painting business. The owners most likely live upstairs. The spider painted on the wall is part of their advertisement.

January 19, 2007

Bus Driver Wearing Gloves

Not all bus drivers wear gloves.

Shop Cats

We saw these cats as we passed by in the car. They were sitting on the sidewalk outside this shop. They are money cats. The arm that is raised is raking in money. Shopkeepers put small money cats in their shop windows.

There were even more cats on the outside of this shop. The whole store was full of cats. It was a lucky cat shop! They must make lots of money!

Winter Bonsai

These bonsai trees were on display at our city office. It's nice that the bare trees are appreciated.

This is a pine tree, matsu.

Favorite Bonsai There


This was our favorite.

January 18, 2007

Kid Alarm

Most kids in Japan walk to school or to a station or bus stop. Our local schools sold these kid alarms several years ago. Students attach them to their randoseru , school bag, or pants loop. (Click on the label "school" to see the April posting and picture of the school bag.)

When needed, the kid grabs the alarm and pulls. A very loud alarm sounds.