Here and There Japan

by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

July 8, 2016
by anniedc
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Our House

SA our old house image0-005

We lived in one and half rooms on the second story of the house on the left. A multi-purpose room and a kitchen were upstairs, the bathroom and laundry were downstairs. Grandfather, Grandmother, and Aunt lived downstairs.

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Our old wooden gate and our old house.

We finally were able to build a new house in its place. Big Sister and Little Brother each got a room of their own. They started to sleep in an “up-bed” (what they called a bed with feet). We built a roof garden to sit out at night to view the stars.

Our obaachan did not want to build a new house. I cannot imagine living in one room with big kids! Some people may have to, but most people don’t.

July 7, 2016
by anniedc
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Tanabata 2016

I didn’t see many bamboo branches outside of homes and businesses this year. Our neighborhood has changed a lot over the past years. There are many apartment houses. Most of the family-owned “Mom and Pop” shops are gone.

The weekend of the 2nd, I saw families with children on the street carrying small decorated bamboo branches. The children looked like they were in kindergarten. So maybe they were coming from school festivals.

Here is a link to Kids Web Japan page on Tanabata.  And their Tanabata story.

Here are the photos I took on July 7. Sorry they are not so good, but the sun was too bright or the rooms (or shade) were too dim!

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I went to Okunitama Shrine in Fuchu. There was no bamboo branch. However, the frames for ema were crowded with wishes and requests.

 

ema closeupIMG_2688

These are ema. They are not tanabata decorations. Tou can see them at shrines year round.

 

Bamboo, wishes and lotus at Fudatenjin Shrine in Chofu-shi, Tokyo.

Bamboo, wishes and lotus at Fudatenjin Shrine in Chofu-shi, Tokyo.

 

Behind the scene, you can see the bamboo isstrapped to a pole to help it stand tall.

I stepped behind the scene and saw more clearly that the bamboo was strapped to a pole to help it stand tall.

 

school branch IMG_2643

Outside the teachers’ room at a local school.

 

At a flower shop.

At a flower shop.

 

At a sweets shop.

At a sweets shop.

 

At a "mall."

At a “mall.”

 

At a department store.

At a department store.

We didn’t have a bamboo branch this year. Big Sister and Little Brother are all grown-up and living in the United States. It’s just me, Papa and Aunt now. And the dog and cats.

I found this wish from last year. It was asking for good health for the dog and cats.

I found this wish from last year. It was asking for good health for the dog and cats.

June 8, 2016
by anniedc
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Summer Reading: SOMEWHERE AMONG

Spring 2016

If you are interested in Japan, you may like to read my new book Somewhere Among.

The story takes place in Japan 2001. It is about Ema, an 11-year-old American-Japanese girl. She has a white American mom and a Japanese father like my children. She lives in Japan but visits America. Like my children (when they were younger.)

Unlike my children, Ema and her mom have to move in with her Japanese grandparents. Her mom has a difficult pregnancy and needs help. They will stay there until after the baby is born. Ema has to finish the summer semester of fifth grade at the dining table in front of the TV. She will enter the fall semester at a neighborhood school.

Obaachan, her Japanese grandmother, thinks Ema needs extra instruction in Japanese culture and manners. She controls everything in the household and stresses everyone out. Ema misses her August trip to visit her American grandparents. She misses her school friends and dreads going to a different school even for a few months. A bully at that school makes things even worse.

The story weaves many aspects of home life and school life in Japan. It is not the story of our family life. Our obaachan was sweet like our jiichan. And my children never had any problem with their studies.

History and anniversaries that Japan and America share are also woven into the story. They were enemies in the past but have been friends for many decades.

If you want to know more, check out my author’s website www.anniedonwerth-chikamatsu.com for the resources I used as research.

October 31, 2014
by anniedc
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Halloween Treats 2014

Halloween has grown here in Tokyo (at least) ! When Big Sister and Little Brother were in elementary school in the 2000s,  very few Halloween things could be found.

IMG_9892 Halloween cookies,

IMG_0109cheese cakes,

IMG_0007-001cup cakes, pudding cups,

IMG_0101-001rice crackers,

IMG_0104-001nerikiri made with bean paste,

Halloween goodies iphone 2014 001-001and dorayaki, pancakes filled with azuki bean paste, were just a few of the goodies available in my neighborhood this year.

July 16, 2014
by anniedc
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The Gift of Taro

IMG_1792We bought vegetables from the same farmer for over 20 years. Before he retired a few months ago, his wife came by our house with a big bag of taro as a gift to us. We ate most of it, but I planted one near the angel on the balcony and some in pots in the roof garden. Here’s what greeted me on the roof this morning:

IMG_1717-001Jewels. I have always tried to photograph raindrops on the taro in his fields. It was not easy. Today I had my own. What a prize!

IMG_1723-005Look at those gold sparkles on this young taro leaf! (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

IMG_1760This baby taro, planted at the same time, is way behind the others. Let’s see how it grows.

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