Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hanako, Dead at Age 69

Hanako, the oldest elephant in Japan, died Thursday at age 69 of unknown causes.  An autopsy is scheduled. (I can't imagine how that is done.)  

She came to Japan in 1949 as a gift from Thailand and lived in Ueno Zoo for five years, before moving to Inokashira Park Zoo.  Her 69th birthday party, scheduled for March 21st, was canceled because of her poor health.  

I didn't know how long elephants usually live, so I googled it.  I found out Asian elephants have a usual lifespan of about 48 years and African elephants typicaly live 60-70 years, with elephants in the wild living longer than zoo animals. I don't now what kind of elephant Hanako was, but coming from Thailand and living in Japan, maybe she was an Asian elephant.  It sounds like she lived a long time.

Hanako in 2015

Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday Morning Star Count - Beginning to Quilt

I've added some thin batting and the lining fabric to the hexagons and have begun some quilting, using two strands of Bravo and running or herringbone stitches to sandwich it together.  The outer hexagons still have the paper templates.

We'll see how this goes.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

How Much is Too Much?

I recently read a post on Heather's Stitching Lotus blog about a woman in the US who died, leaving her family with 15,000 yards of fabric to deal with. It wouldn't all fit in her house, so she had rented a storage space.  If you are wondering how much 15,000 yards is, the news story says it will stretch across about eight miles!  You can read the news story here.  

I'm guilty of buying fabric or threads or beads or other stitching items just because they appeal to me, with no plan of how I'll use them.  

I bought these three fabrics several months ago and have yet to do anything with them.  Sometimes I have a plan for my stash items but not enough time to start or finish the project.  Even though I'm a little more mindful of what I buy now that I am in Japan, with less space to store it and less available money to buy with, I still add more things.  When we moved here from the US, I had to get rid of a lot and I only brought the things I liked best.  After being here four and a half years and finishing many things, I still have many unfinished and unstarted projects.  

The American woman in the news story had four children to deal with her stash after her death.  Who will deal with my stuff?  What about you? Do you have more than you can use in a lifetime?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Youngest Japanese Person to Climb Mt. Everest

This week, 19 year old woman, Marin Minamiya became the youngest Japanese person to climb to the top of 8,848 meter Mt. Everest.  She was part of an 18 member group organized by US based International Mountain Guides. 

Last October she became the youngest woman to climb  Mt. Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world. Next week she will be on her way to Alaska in the United States to climb Denali.

The youngest woman of any nationality to reach the top of Everest is Malavath Purna, who climbed it in 2014 at the age of 13. 

This is the end of this year's Everest season, with over 400 climbers making it to the top since the season began on May 11th. Three climbers died and two others are missing in the last week.  Avalanches and earthquakes cancelled the last two climbing seasons.  

When I was younger, I might have wanted to climb Everest.  I've read many accounts of Everest climbers, especially those from the disasterous 1996 season.  Now I see it as dangerous and painful. Even if I were young enought to do it, I wouldn't.  What about you?  Would you attempt something like this?  You could be famous if you succeed or dead if you don't.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Gomi is Gomi Here

Everywhere else I've been in Japan, the gomi (trash) had to be minutely separated. Here, the plastic and food and paper and all kinds of stuff goes out together on Mondays and Thursdays.  I feel really weird putting it all together.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

2016 Smalls Stitch A Long - Cupid's Heart

I found this free chart online and used fabric and threads I had on hand, not the ones called for in the directions.  If you are interested, you can find the pattern here.  The designer is Thea Dueck at Victoria Sampler.  I've done the stitching, but still need to make it into a heart shaped ornament. Can you imagine the size and shape from this paper?  I hope to finish finish it very soon!

I'm linking up with Heather at Stitching Lotus, the hostess of this stitch a long. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Work in Progress Wednesday - Pink Block

I came across this project when I was unpacking and I remembered how much I like working on crazy quilt.  Originally this was to be for my TAST stitches.  I worked on the pink block the last few days.  

Here are all four blocks so far.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Living Near the Water

I live very near the water - just a couple of blocks away.  My first floor apartment is probably about two meters above sea level.  People here are very aware of the possibility of an earthquake and tsumani. One of my students told me they've been waiting a long time for it to happen.  

I took a little walk and saw some fishermen and boaters enjoying a sunny day.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Imperial Visit to Kumamoto

I am fascinated with the Japanese Imperial Family, especially the Emperor and Emperess, who are in their 80's.  On Thursday, they visited the area of the recent earthquake disaster in Kumamoto.  I'm sure the people affected by the disaster appreciated the visit and concern.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My New Home and Job

I've been very busy this first week and haven't had a chance to take photos, but I want to give a little report.  

My new apartment is small, but it is fairly new and very clean.  Clean is the important thing for me.  I have a fair amount of storage space and have been unpacking a little each day, trying to find convenient places for my things.  I think this will be very comfortable when I get everything put away. My apartment is just a ten minute walk to my office. 

I arrived Sunday afternoon and began work Monday morning. My job is teaching business English and my students are the upper management and senior engineers at a company.  This is a division of a larger organization and this division merged with an American company about six months ago, so all of senior management people are required to learn English.  My students are at all different skill levels, but my classes are one to one classes, so I can plan individual lessons to work with each person where they are. Most of my students have worked here between 25 and 30 years and a good number of them have not studied English since high school. All of my students are men; there doesn't seem to be any women at the top.  The women I've seen and met here work in the HR or finance departments.  The factory workers all seem to be men.  There are about 12,000 people working at this location.

The company grounds are so large that they remind me of a college campus. I was given a badge with my name on it to show when I enter or leave, but the gate keepers just wave me through now.  They know who I am. There is a cafeteria (where I've eaten three times now) with very inexpensive choices and a convenience store that sells bento lunches in a building about a five minute walk from my building. A woman in the HR department, who speaks English very well, has been very helpful to me.  I am very thankful for her.

I think this situation fits me and I am glad I made the move here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fewer Children, More Elderly

For the 35th year in a row, Japan's population has declined, with fewer children and more elderly, according to information released
this month by the Japanese government.  The overall population of Japan decreased by 150,000 people in the year from 2015 to 2016, but the number of people in the 65 and older category, rose by 810,000 people.

I didn't know what percentage of the U.S. population is over the age of 65, so I googled it and found this website, which says people age 65 and older now make up 13% of the U.S. population.   The percentage of older people in the U.S. is also rising, but the overall population is rising in the U.S. 

In Japan, the overall population is decreasing, putting a greater burden on the working aged people.With fewer children being born every year, there will be an even greater burden put on these people when they get to be of working age. This is a very complex situation.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

McDonald's Memories

McDonald's doesn't seem to have the same appeal here in Japan as it does in the US.  One of my high school age English students once told me to look at the parking lot - empty.  

Ted and I ate breakfast at a McDonald's in Okinawa and I sometimes bought a cup of (cheap) coffee at McDonald's when I was in Sapporo, but because I don't eat meat, I don't care so much about eating there. 

My first evening here in my new place, I was walking around looking for a grocery store and not finding one, so I decided to eat at McDonald's.  I ordered a fish sandwich meal (sandwich, fries, drink) and it was 610 yen.   

Eating the fish sandwich brought back memories from a long time ago. In the mid-90's, I lived in Indiana and volunteered with Senior Services in the Friendly Visitor program.  I was matched up with an elderly woman in my area.  We became good friends and did many things together - going to museums, taking a senior exercise class twice a week, going on bus trips to other areas in Indiana, eating out, etc.  We sometimes went to a McDonald's mid-afternoon, after the lunch rush.  She would order a fish sandwich and get a free senior citizen drink.  I would order the fish meal and we would share the fries.  We always ordered no tartar sauce so we would get a freshly  made sandwich, not one that had been sitting there (her idea).  Her hearing was not good and as a result she often spoke louder than necessary, without knowing how loud she was speaking.  One afternoon, we were the only people in the dining area and there were a lot of fries on the floor under our table.  My friend was commenting loudly about how messy the place was and about the fries sticking to her shoes.  A teenage employee suddenly appeared with a broom and cleaned up under our table.  When she was gone, my friend said, you know, it was almost like they heard us.  I just smiled, thinking I'm sure they heard us!  

My friend and I did many things together over the years before she moved to the nursing home, where she died.  My meal the other day was just so-so, but it brought back memories of my friend Lula, so that was good!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Work In Progress Wednesday - More Little Stitches

With the move and everything I've had to do lately, I haven't worked on anything big.  I haven't even unpacked my stitching yet. All I've done is more of the little fob stitching that I showed last week.  

I hope to get things upacked and into something a a normal routine soon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cat Cafes

I've never been to a cat cafe, but I've heard of them in Japan.  I like cats and have been somewhat interested in the idea. In Japan, there are about 150 cat cafes, where customers can drink coffee and eat snacks in the company of cats.  (There are also owl, rabbit, and hedgehog cafes in Japan).  

Recently the Neko no Te (Cat's Paw) Cafe in Tokyo has been in the news and not for a nice reason. Neko no Te is said to have violated regulations requiring cats to be kept in cages when not with customers.  This is alleged to have resulted in uncontrolled breeding and diseases spreading among the cats. The cafe had permission to keep 10 cats and 62 were found living in the 30 square meter cafe, with more than half of the cats showing symptoms of illness.  

The cafe has been ordered to close for 30 days.  This is the first time this has happened in Japan. I've decided I'm no longer interested in going to a cat cafe.  What do you think - would you go to a cat (or other animal) cafe?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Kinryo-no-Sato Sake Museum

Sake is referred to as the national beverage in Japan.  I've tried it and don't care for it, but I did want to visit the sake museum before leaving Kagawa.

After the tour, I was offered two types of citrus flavored sake to taste.  I was very surprised that they were both delicious!  I ended up buying a bottle of yuzu flavored sake to take home.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A New Place!

Two weeks ago I was offered a new position in another prefecture, on another island in Japan. I accepted the offer, gave my two weeks notice to the school I was then working, and today I will be on the train to my new place.  

I will be teaching business English at a corporation - all adult students, and almost all one to one lessons.  I have two classes with two students each.  I think this will suit me better than teaching/playing with children.  

So, do you want to know where I am moving to today? 


I'm going to be in the red area on the largest island.  The big island in the north is Hokkaido, where I lived for four years.  The island in the southwest is where the recent earthquakes were/are.  The smaller island to the east of that island is where I have been living for the last couple of months. 

I'm thinking of the time spent on Shikoku as a working vacation.  I was fortunate to see and participate in many things in the area.  I've met and made friends with some wonderful people.  Thank you! 

I will try to continue to post every day, but I don't know what is to come next and what my time will be like. Off on another big adventure.....

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Soba Lunch

Udon is the official noodle of Kagawa, but I really like soba!  This is the cold soba meal I had in a restaurant at the train station in Takamatsu.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

NHK Partnership Quilt Project for 2017

This year's theme has been announced and QueeniePatch has all the details on her blog, plus she has already finished her block! You really need to check out her blog, but here are some basics, including a few changes from the past (size and date mainly) --- 

For anyone who wants to send in and donate a block to this charity quilt project, here are the rules:

  • one block per person
  • 15 cm x 15 cm for the motif, add a seam allowance of 1-2 cm on all sides
  • flimsy block, i.e. no wadding, no quilting
  • your name should be written with pen in the seam allowance of the lower right hand corner
  • your block should have reached NHK by 31st July, 2016
  • enclose a note with your name, address, tel no, email address
  • send to:
Partnership Quilt
NHK Sutekini Handmade
2-2-1 Jinnan
Tokyo 150-8001

You can get information on this project and see all of the lovely blocks she has made over the years on her NHK page. Yes, I plan to make a block this year.  How about you?  Let's make this festival more international with all of our blocks!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kotohira Shrine

Kotohira-gu, also known as Konpira-san or Kotohira Shrine, is located at 1700 ft or half-way to the top of Mt. Zozu.  This shrine is at the end of a long path, with 785 steps to the main shrine and 1368 steps to the inner shrine. It was a beautiful day for a hike and the view was gorgeous!