July 30, 2007

Five Black Grain Cookies

This brand of cookies may be familiar to some of you, but have you ever seen black cookies? Now that I think about it, there is a black cookie in The States. We can also get those here.

These cookies, though, are made from five black grains; black sesame seeds, black rice, black beans, black Chinese quince, and black pine nuts (the tree's name must be "black pine" because the nuts don't look black.)These cookies are not very sweet, but they're good.

July 29, 2007

Raindrops on Taro

There were thunderstorms this afternoon, but then the sun came out at sunset. Click to enlarge to see the big raindrop. Raindrops pool in the center of some of the the taro leaves to form big raindrops. It is a common sight around here.

Some leaves aren't turned up enough for a big drop to form.

There was only sunlight on these. There were thunderstorms again in the evening.

High School English

Big Sister is in high school. This is one of several books that she has to read this summer. Japanese students at every level have summer homework!

You may have seen this at your school. It's an elementary school book. Remember, English is taught here as a foreign language from junior high school. This book is easy for Big Sister because she is bilingual and bi-literate, but it's hard for the other Japanese students.

July 28, 2007

Electric Shutters

Our shutters were posted a week or so ago, but here they are again. I didn't say much about them last time. Here, Baba is opening them. They are electric. She can push a button and lower or raise them. Our shutters on the second floor have to be closed and opened manually by sliding them. Most people have manual shutters.

See the basketball hoop? That's a picture of Michael Jordan. We got it at TOYS "R" US many years ago.

There are shutters on the sliding doors to the garden. Those are great grandfather's ume (plum) bonsai trees in front of the door. As you can see the morning glories aren't doing so well.

July 26, 2007

Garbage Bin

This is an old garbage bin. I have seen only three in our neighborhood. The top lifts up to throw something away. The wooden side slides up for the garbage to be taken out. The bins are on private property so they weren't for public use. In fact, there aren't any garbage bins on the street here. You can find public garbage bins near stores, public rest rooms, and in parks and rest areas.

Nowadays in our area, garbage has to be put in color coded bags (for recycling). They must be left in front of the house or gate. Click on the labels below for more information about recycling and garbage.

July 25, 2007

Bat House


We think this is where the bats live. We'll go down at dusk someday to see. Click to enlarge.

July 24, 2007

What Are These?

They're straw pillows! Nice and cool for summer.

July 23, 2007

Summer Floor Coverings

Stores sell rugs and floor coverings throughout the year. During the summer months, they sell floor coverings that are made of woven straw. These are not tatami, the traditional straw mats. These rugs would be used on a wooden floor or even in a washitsu, a room with traditional tatami built into the floor. We have used straw rugs to protect the tatami from summer sweat. The rugs can easily be taken outside and aired out in the sun in the garden or on the balcony.

Most of these straw floor coverings or rugs are plain. Some have designs. This one has dragonflies on it. Dragonflies are a summery motif that is used on fans, handkerchiefs and yukata, etc.

Do a blog search for pictures of yukata, dragonflies, etc. or go to the archives and click on June, July, or August 2006 to see more summer pictures. The label below will show a few of the posts as well.

July 21, 2007


I have heard nashi called Japanese pear-apples in the United States. You've probably seen the plastic web blanket that they sometimes come in to protect them from bruising.

But look at the presentation of this one. This nashi came wrapped in a nice Japanese paper, too.

Click here to read a post about apple protection.

July 20, 2007

Bicycle Dog Carrier


These were outside a pet shop. Click to enlarge.

July 19, 2007

Sakura Medal Winners

I posted about the Sakura Medal on April 25, 2007. Some of the international schools here in Japan award the medal to some of the students' favorite books. I wrote an article about the award. It is on pages 11-12 of the spring SCBWI newsletter, Carp Tales. Thanks go to Linda Hayakawa, Wouter Laleman, Anna Fernicola, and Rose Hoger for their input. And especially thank you, Ruth Bender, for setting up the pictures that appeared in the April 25th post.

Here are the lists of the 2006 and 2007 winners:

2007 Sakura Medal

Picture Book
Dougal the Garbage Dump Bear, Matt Dray, Kane/Miller

Chapter Book
Cryptid Hunters, Roland Smith, Hyperion

Middle School Book
The Recruit, Robert Muchamore, Simon Pulse

High School Book
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, Knopf Books for Young Readers

High School Japanese Book
Saga No Gabai Baachan, Youshichi Shimada, Tokuma Shoten

2006 Sakura Medal

Picture Book
Mystery at the Club Sandwich, Doug Cushman, Clarion

Chapter Book
Dragon Rider, Cornelia Funke, The Chicken House/Scholastic

MS/HS Book
Ark Angel, Anthony Horowitz, Walker Books, Ltd.

MS/HS Japanese Book
Koufuku na shokutaku, Maiko Seo, Kodansha

July 15, 2007

Typhoon Man Yi

A big typhoon has hit Japan. There has been damage in areas outside Tokyo. In west Tokyo where we live, there has been some rain and a little wind. The skies cleared a little at sunset. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

There was sun for a short time.

There really hasn't been much rain in our area. There was enough to leave some standing between the rows of corn in the field behind our house.

Click to enlarge to see the raindrops in the puddle. Click on the label "rain" to see the summer raindrop design used for cloth and paper.

During typhoons, we close the shutters, drink tea, and watch the weather channel. (We close shutters at night, too.) The biggest danger of typhoons in Tokyo is wind. Things take flight.

Kids Web Japan--typhoon

July 14, 2007

Drink Pack

A typhoon is coming our way. It rained all day, so there will be no pictures from the streets or the garden today. This is a drink pack. It is a blueberry, raspberry, cassis and yogurt drink.

It is made by a company that you may know.

July 13, 2007

In Honor of Lady Bird Johnson

I have posted this picture in honor of Lady Bird Johnson, who passed away on Wednesday afternoon, June 11th, Texas time. Our rose bushes didn't do very well this year. This rose bush is still blooming. Lady Bird Johnson has a bright orange rose named for her. There are yellow tulips planted at the White House that bear her name.

I was in elementary school when she and her husband were in the White House. She is best known for her work in planting and preserving species of wildflowers in Texas. I remember vast expanses of wildflowers and bluebonnets, our state flower, along the highways.

I'd always wanted to have a field of wildflowers in my hometown. I've ended up in Tokyo taking care of the garden work I inherited from great-grandfather and grandfather. I've heard that my hometown in Texas has fields of wildflowers in the spring. We always miss the blooms because we only visit in the summer.

Lady Bird Johnson will be missed by many. Hopefully, her work and inspiration will live on. It has in me. In my children, too.

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How A First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt

July 12, 2007

Huge Spider

This spider was bigger than an American quarter! At least 3 cm in diameter. Glad it was on the other side of the fence!

07-13-07 Today the spider was gone! Only two threads were dangling in the breeze. I wonder what happened. He was a sitting duck for any bird that flew by.

July 11, 2007

Bat at Sunset

This isn't a very good picture, but bats are too fast! This picture was taken from the roof garden. So far there aren't as many bats as there were last year. Check last year's posts.

The Vegetable Stand at Sunset

Click to enlarge. Can you see the slant of light?

July 10, 2007

Money Machine (ATM)

I took this picture while standing outside the money machine at the station. The machine had its own little room. Those marks on the floor tell you where to stand in line. It was pretty small in there, so we all stood outside in a line.

Can you see that there are several languages on the "Frequently Patrolled By Police" sign? Do you know what they are? The one at the top is Japanese, then English, then Chinese, then Korean.

The "No Smoking" sign is universal, isn't it? See the blue sign? It says "Welcome hojoken". "Welcome helper dogs". Seeing eye dogs are called moudouken. What other kind of helper dogs are there?

July 09, 2007

Silk Cocoon

Here is Big Sister's silk cocoon. After the silk worm spun its cocoon, she had to put it in the refrigerator for several weeks so the moth wouldn't mature and break out. The teacher wanted them to measure the length of the silk thread. It is one long thread! She placed it in a plastic bag and then in a pet bottle with its top cut off. She put it in the vegetable bin. She took the cocoon to school today in a box. I'll post later what they did with the cocoons.

Click on the label below to see other posts about the silk worms.

July 07, 2007

Tanabata Decorations

Today was the Earth Live concerts. There were concerts all over the world to call attention to taking care of the earth. Concerts were held on every continent. A concert was held in Japan, too.

Today was also tanabata in Japan. It is a day when wishes are hung on branches of bamboo. Eyes turn to the skies at night to see two bright stars. Click on the link below for the story at Kids Web Japan. To see last year's tanabata decorations, click on the label below.

Usually, the decorations are made of paper. Aunt chose shiny paper this year. Fortunately, we recycle almost everything.

Kids Web Japan--info. about tanabata

Kids Web Japan--story of tanabata

July 06, 2007

Cement Mixer

Cement mixers here look the same as the ones in the U.S., don't you think? The cement vat spins.

July 05, 2007


Here is the last of the fruit on great grandfather's ume bonsai trees. We don't eat or use the plums. We let the birds get them. Some people make plum wine or dried plums.

Banana Bug

This bug looks like it's smiling.

Don't you think so?

I'll have to look up this bug's real name. Big Sister said its nickname is banana bug.

Same Cornfield, Something New Added

The farmer added netting between two rows of his corn.

July 04, 2007

Dog Sign on Gate

The sign on this gate above the mail slot says "dog" in kanji. All dogs must be registered. The dog owner is given a sign to put on the gate to tell visitors or delivery people that there is a dog in the house or in the garden. Dogs are supposed to be on a leash even in their own garden.

More Gates

See the small side gate on the right?

July 03, 2007

Under the Neighbor's Gate

July 02, 2007

Small Forklift


Restaurant Delivery Truck