Archive for March, 2011

A Young Japanese Offfice Worker –

When he first started working for one of Japan’s major companies, he was sent to work in its Osaka branch office.
He worked from 9:00 until mid night almost 6 days a week.
Additional 2 hours he spent to and fro on commuter trains.

He got stressed up and wanted to quit.
He blamed his boss who’ wasn’t smart enough’ to set a clear goal and decide the quantity and quality of work required of his subordinates.
–instead he let them do everything and anything ” just in case”.

His father encouraged him to take the issue to the labor union or a relevant government office that deals in these matters.
But fortunately, soon the guy got transferred to another section, and he had a smarter boss and the problem was solved.

He got married to his girlfriend from college.
His wife started an on-line clothing company.

She was very successful and earned much more than her husband.
Their house wasn’t big enough, so she bought a condominium near her parents’ house in Nagano and eventually moved in with her parents.
They started to live seperately. It took 5 hours for him to visit her new place on weekends.
Soon her parents started helping their prosperous daughter and her business.

In the meantime, the young office worker passed a in-house test and started to receive a Chinese language training course at his company’s dorm IN Kamakura.
The training lasted for almost a year.
Then he was sent to the company’s Hongkong Office as a trainee.
His wife didn’t go.
After one year, he came back to Japan.
He went back to his old office and was often sent to China on business.
He enjoyed the new position.

But his wife, after living seperately for 6 years, now wanted him to work for her because of his Chinese fluency.
She wanted to do more business with China.
She told him to quit or she will divorce him.
So he gave in and moved to Nagano and began living with her and her parents.

It didn’t take long before the things turned sour.
Nobody was happy to live together and work for the same company.
Their ideas about doing business were too different.
He and his wife were like strangers after so many years living apart.
So the young former office worker got a job as a database programmer at a National University located close to his wife’s house.
But it didn’t work out, things didn’t turn better.
He moved out and rented a room near the university.

Then eventually they got divorced.

Now the office worker-turned -data base programer is living alone in a city he never dreamed about finding himself in.
He has been working on creating a website that has all the historical findings about the human societies that existed in the prefecture around 10,000 years ago.
Surprizinglly and fortunatelly, he likes what he does better than what he used to do.
Though he makes less than before he finds himself much happier and less stressed.
More free time outside work, relaxed work schedule, no competition, more travel on holidays.

Things happen for reasons.

It’s a story about my son, Tsuyoshi.


tofu sweet cake, cake sweet tofu

Japanese are good at introducing ideas/products/technologies from overseas and come up with a range of Japanized products.(yes, mainly products. Japanese are practical?)

I found this today.

On the box, it says tofu cake (soy beancurd cake)

Inside, there are six muffins.

This is what the muffin looks like.
Toppings are pieces of small diced tofu! Great idea,isn’t it?

Full of isoflavones?

Ramen vs. Ramen

Look what I ate for lunch today!

This is Okinawa ramen noodle.
I guess dried bonito flakes are used to make this clear soup and…..
… yes! salt.
The noodle is thick and strait.

As toppings, three different kinds of pork meat are used.
Tebichi-: pig’s foot
and two types of pork meat called sanmainiku and soki

But this is not one of the regular local ramen dishes but it’s an Okinawan local dish.
Okinawa is the prefecture that includes the southrenmost islands of Japan.

Yesterday for lunch, I had a typical type of local noodle dish. miso ramen at Ginparo restaurant, one of the popular restaurants in Sapporo.
This is miso (fermented soybean paste flavored) ramen.
Curly thin noodle with the toppings of bamboo shoots, roast pork and bean sprouts…

Okinawa ramen and Hokkaido ramen are really very different.

See the difference?

Yes they are different yet they are both really good.

Marukoma Onsen at Lake Shikotsu

We think we are very fortunate because we live very close to all what we want.

parks, field, hills, ski areas, rivers, ponds, lakes and HOT SPRINGS! and lots of them.

Amaon all the hot spings nearby Marukoma Hot spring is definitely our favorite.

It is about 30-4o minutes drive from home so when we have no urgent business t attend, we just drive and soak in its hot relaxing water.

This is the beach on Poropinai. We used to come here for camping with our kids.

Marukoma hot sspring hotel stands on the shore of the lake.


To the women’s open air bath, we have to walk 30 meter long path.

Then go up and go down staris.

Oh, there’s nobody else.

I took put my camera and took some photos.

The spring flows out into the lake.

The water levels of the hot spring bath and the Lake are always the same.

It is very relaxing to sit in the water overlooking the lake and feel the breezw.

The hop spring water comes out from among the rocks on the  floor of the bath.

Hokkaido Shrine

Hokkaido Shrine was built in 1869, when the development of Hokakido first started.

At first three deities—Ōkunitama, Ōkuninushi, and Sukunahikona—were enshrined there, and it was called Sapporo Jinja.

 Later, in 1964, when the soul of Emperor Meiji was enshrined, its name was changed to Hokkaido Shrine.

This is the torii gate to the Shrine.

Beyond this gate is the precinct of Hokkaido Shrine.

Once in the  Shrine compound, first wash your hands and gurgle your mouth to purify yourself.

This is how:

* first put water in the cradle you hold in your right hand and wash your left hand

* and then hold the cradle in your left hand and wash your right hand.

*Next, hold the cradle in your right hand again and fill the water is your cupped left palm and gurgle your mouth.

*Finally wash the cladle.

Ha ha ha confused?

I don’t blame you.


Now you are ready to get close to the main buildnig.

The Shrine has an area of 180,000 square meters and is adjacent to Maruyama Park.

There are 1,500 cherry trees, and when they are in full bloom, many people enjoy blossom viewing parties.

People also visit the shrine on celebratory occasions such as weddings and Japanese New Year.

People also come here to receive blessings when they or their children reach certain ages.

When they have bought a new car, they bring it to get a blessing for its safety.

Modern technology versus an ancient ritual?

Or modern techonology along with an ancient ritual?


 From June 14 to 16 every year, the main festival of Hokkaido Shrine is held, and a line of people bearing a portable shrine parades down the streets in Sapporo.

Summer Village- Shakotan

Shakotan Penisula is my favorite desitination.

It is just a1.5 hours drive from Sapporo where I live..

The place name Shakotan derives from the Ainu language, meaning

shako-summer, tan-village= Shakotan meaning summer village

Yes, it is wonderful to drive along the coast.

There are beautiful coves, beaches, and small fishing villages.

The colors of sea are the gradation of blues and greens.

There are some caves along the coast.

Shimamui beach is my family’s favorite place to visit.

Always the sea off this beach, once an old herring fishing port, is calm and very blue.

My 20 something kids got excited and became competitive about catching crabs

At Kamui Cape, blue colored ice cream is a must!

We took a long walk all the way to the end of the cape.

After walking so much, and it was almost 2 o’clock, everydoby was very hungry.

On the way back to Otaru, we had very delicious sushi lunch in Shakotan town.

A good day trip.

easy easy Ainu paper craft

This is how you can make a beautiful Ainu paper craft.

  You need a colored origami paper, yes,

a square paper in your favorite color.


 I don’t know why I chose Japanese skin color????

  Anyway, this is how to make it. 

 very simple…

   Fold the paper in half , making a triangular shape.

   One more time.

  And one last time.

  In total, three times you fold the paper, making a triangular shape.

  And get your pensil and draw a  pattern like the one I did.

And cut the paper along the lines.


 Then open it.

Here it is!

The typical Ainu patters are thrones (to prevent evel spirits from entering into a person’s body)

and swirling patterns (this represnts a watchful eye)

As I enjoyed making this paper craft and I ended up making 70 of them.

Would you like to have one?