Archive for the ‘Daily Life’ Category

Kids in my area of Japan usually walk home from school alone or in groups. (I believe it is like this all over Japan….but I can’t say for sure….seems like it would be a long walk in the countryside.)

So this means they must cross streets alone.   There is concern that the kids will not be seen by drivers, since they are so small, after all.   Thus, various methods to make them more visible are employed.

One thing that kids learn, is to raise their arm/s straight up while crossing streets.  This makes them *taller* and thus, more visible.

Sometimes they wear yellow hats etc.


Another method is to tote a small yellow flag while crossing the street.


on either side of an intersection, you will sometimes find a flag holder attached to a pole, filled with many little yellow flags.   A child takes a flag, crosses the street, and leaves it in the flag holder on the other side of the intersection!

Sometimes my gaijin blood gets the best of me and it is hard to resist the urge to take just ONE little flag home with me in the wee hours when no one is watching…..but I always feel like I’m jeopardizing the safety of a little munchkin, so i never do…


Not to mention how it is tempting to snag one of these CUTE little kids long enough to cuddle them real good….but I never do that either……

But it is tempting….they are just so CUTE!!!!   >_< UGH!


Automatic Rice Shelling Machine

Posted: December 9, 2010 in Daily Life

Shelling Rice




We took mom with us when we got our rice shelled. She was very impressed with the machine, so I thought you guys might be interested too.




We buy our rice in huge brown bags weighing around sixty lbs. ive blogged about those before, a long time ago. It comes unshelled, which I prefer, but most people want white rice.




So, we take our rice to the local automated shelling machine.


Put our coin in, press a button, pour in the rice, and let it do its work.












The rice comes out this shoot shelled and very warm.


If you want to keep the husks, you can. They can be used to make Japanese pickles.




Afterwards, the rice will be hot for a long time, so I have to leave the bag open the rest of the day to prevent it from getting moisture inside.




So anyhow, this is a common chore for me!

Japanese Bathrooms

Posted: November 13, 2010 in Daily Life

Here’s one of the bathrooms we have used during our multiple apartment swapping adventures….it:s very old style….like around the 80s i think:

the gas is lit by opening the gas valve, holding down the switch, and  turning the crank.   the knobs control the temp and place the water comes out. Water is reheat-able, which is very nice,  and the flame is visible through a little window.

Now a more modern bathroom:
Perhaps 1990s?
All gas heating is done out of view in this bathroom and it is pretty much all automatic. all the controlling is done by using the electronic control box on the wall.

notice how the tub goes down into the floor, so it:s actually really deep.

All typical bathrooms have drains in the middle of the floor. This makes bathing and cleaning easy, since you can spray water anywhere in the room!!

Auld Lang Syne

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Daily Life, Tips

Auld Lang Syne
The new year song. We all know it well. But perhaps not as well as the japanese know it. Coz it is played by millions of stores daily in japan to let customers know the store is closing.
It is a kind way of saying *get out*.
When you hear the song, check out and get out. The store employees will often line up to tell you ‘thanks for shopping here’ as you walk through and out of the store. Don:t just sit there looking stupid and listening to the pretty music like i did so long ago.

Fears of Earthquakes

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Daily Life

One of the things i hate the most about Japan….the quakes. Actually i *would* really like them, if they never got over a 5.5 or so lol. And usually they don:t…..but if they do……yeah. that:s the fear. That:s what makes me hate them.
It has been a long time since we had a quake around here….. When i lived in Tokyo, there were 2 a week! now there hasn:t been one in months….not even tiny ones….and it makes me think the pressure is building up. haha. VS assures me that there are times when the quakes are dormant like this.
Vtec has said that lately, there has been a massive quake in N japan, and in S japan, but the middle (here) has not since that 1920s quake. It:s almost like…it:s time. *fear*
In the last major quake in this region, tons of folks died. It happened during a time when everyone was cooking lunch with gas, so it caused a lot of fires that swept the city. between 100 and 200 thousand people died.
Should that happen today (and it is due) i have to wonder how many people would die. The tall buildings have to follow a much tighter earthquake code than the smaller ones, and they usually don:t collapse. However, i can:t say the same thing about the smaller 1980s 2 story apartments…..and the long cracks in the walls and foundation and steps outside that i see make me wonder as well……those kinds of places are sorta risky-looking. But it:s the older homes, the tiny little eyesores, that are sure to collapse. The traditional japanese roof tiles are very heavy. They actually cause a home to be alot more dangerous than the modern western style shingles……
and are alot more likely to fall in.

and are alot more likely to fall in.
Being up on a hill offers some protection. The hill is composed of more packed, hard soil, and will absorb the vibrations better.
Also you can earthquake proof your house. one thing you learn not to do is put heavy, easy to spill, or fragile stuff up where it can fall easily. in other words, there are no shelves of glass knickknacks in our home lol. So you end up organizing everythign differently than you normally would if you lived in a non-earthquake region. You have to think about stuff coming down on your head. Invest in some earthquake poles for the larger items. They cost around 30 to 60 dollars for usual ones.
everyone uses them. If that closet of clothes came down on you at night…then you would be screwed. it weighs ALOT.
If there is a big earthquake, there are designated rescue areas that we are supposed to go. There is even a phone message service now, where you can leave messages for your loved ones when most phone connections don:t work. i have no idea how that works, but it is a 3 digit number to dial.
The gas lines are set up to cut off automatically should there be any large jolts. The trains are the same. They will stop under jolting.
It is said that you should stay near inside walls or under tables and such, and to avoid going outside. i suppose there is some good reasoning in this advice. during the last big Northern japan earthquake that happened a few months ago, one of the few deaths occured when a man became scared and ran outside his home, only to be hit by a car and die. now that is bad luck.
So, how much safer it is now compared to the 1920s is still a worrisome thing to ponder for me.
well….at least tornadoes never happen here.

Vegetable Vending Machine

Posted: November 5, 2010 in Daily Life, Foods

Well, basically. It:s actually a coin locker style vending….container….or something….
just look for yourself:

You put in the coin/s and turn the knob and the door opens and you take the veges! i buy stuff out of there off and on.
Japan used to have self service vege stands (actually a few still exist- one near my house), where the veges and prices were on a table with a wooden box with *put the money here* written on it. You paid by dropping the money in the box. Used to work out fine, but now adays farmers only make about 80% what they should be, coz of theft. 80% is still proof of the honest nature of the japanese. If that were in the USA, not only would there be no money in the box, but the box, the table, and the containers would all be stolen too.
Well, this is the modern method of unmanned vege selling. The rolled up tarps around it are for rain protection i:m assuming, and/or to *close it up* when there:s nothing inside.
the products seem to be mid/low quality but very natural and fairly priced. The products are not always bagged as they are in the pic. a lot of the veges i bought were just stuck in there. This machine actually gets alot of business.

Face Masks

Posted: November 4, 2010 in Daily Life, Products

Many people asked so here’s the answer!!

Why was i wearing a mask in the previous video?


Everyone wears masks here. you are required to in work or school if you are sick. you are socially expected to if you are sick and in public. and many people like to wear them for the following reasons:
To prevent catching sicknesses
to reduce effects of seasonal pollen allergies
to keep the face warm in the winter (we have to walk everywhere we go and it is cold!)
to hide themselves (shy folks-seriously people do this- u can hide pimples and such too)
to help if a tooth is sensitive to the temperature
to keep the throat from drying out when it is dry
to avoid giving sicknesses to others (even inside one’s own home to try to prevent giving it to family members-though obviously this usually is futile)

and probably other reasons….
i sleep with one when i have colds. They make a type that has a wet cloth type thing inside with a tad of menthol to sooth ur throat and keep it moist. I make my own version by putting a wet papertowel folded up inside the mask and using vaporrub in some strategic place….but I recommend buying the store bought….
Masks also tend to catch the nasal drippings that occur with colds when u sleep.

in the winter nearly 1/3 of the people wear them.
i am wearing one in the previous video because
1. i have fall allergies and my throat was itchy and drying out and
2. i was about to have to sing so i was protecting my voice. and
3. we have another live show sunday and i didn’t want to catch a cold that would ruin it!

i remember how weird it looks to americans now….i had forgotten about that!!! im very grateful for this custom on the trains when the person beside me is coughing like crazy but thank goodness, wearing a mask!!! We often have to get crammed right up beside these sick folks so it:s very easy to catch stuff..

I am also happy to have one in doctors offices coz I almost always catch something when I go…..

I think this is a great custom.

Still working on my videography skills. haha.  I will improve with time, hopefully.

It’s always time for a drink

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Daily Life, drinks
(One of my first blogs ever on!)
As quoted (roughly) from my japanese husband:
There’s always a reason to drink in Japan.
Fall-  the leaves are falling and colorful and food tastes the best in fall, so drink!
Winter-it:s cold and the snow is pretty, so drink!
Spring-everything is fresh and the cherry blossoms are out, so drink!
Summer- it:s hot, and everything is green and alive, so drink!
feel happy?  drink!  sad?  drink!  lonely or socializing?  drink!  sake on sale?  drink!  it:s a holiday? drink!  dinner is good tonight?  drink!
offdays are for drinking.  workdays, after work, are for drinking.  holidays are for drinking.  payday is for drinking.  hard days are for drinking.
yeah you get the idea.
Alcohol is the ultimate cure-all!
And it:s easy to get alcohol too.  any convenience store, some vending machines, the grocery store, the sake stores, the drug stores……what?  the drug stores?  oh yes.  don:t believe me?  here:s a couple pics of the drug store:s sake sections (the room temp and the chilled sections of the same store-Hac drugs).
My husband doesn:t drink much coz his liver is weak, but this is how he describes the general attitude of his friends/coworkers.   He was given alcohol in small quantities as a child however, and he often has to drink with coworkers….despite the liver problems.  But that:s another blog….