Thursday, January 31, 2013


It is the last day in January. I can't believe that since we celebrated the new year, one month has already passed.
For these two days I have no lessons, because I have being changed TATAMI mats. so I can't use my lesson room. Yesterday at 7 o'clock, a man came to take out TATAMI-mats. And now I'm waiting for him with new TATAMI mats.

I sent this photo to my friend living in America. She asked some questions to me.

>  How often do you change the mats in the rooms?
Though depends on the people, my mother changed the mats once ten years. In our case, it is the first time to change them since we bought this house about 28 years ago.

>  How many rooms did you change?
We have two TATAMI rooms. but because of the budget, and thinking of the troublesome (there is a bed, closet, and other stuffs etc., in the other room.) we changed only one room.

>I seem to recall that one of my hosts mentioned the mats are expensive. Have you ever considered doing something else, like the flooring in your kitchen, for example?
Actually we changed kitchen floor two years ago.

> The other thing that was somewhat surprising to me in your photo was the board floor rather than using plywood (large sheets of composition wood that is smoother and stronger...also more insulated).
I think in usual wooden Japanese houses such boards are laid. Anyway our house is not new in a Japanese thinking way, so I don't know how current new houses are built.

 > Does your house have a "crawl space?"
Yes, it does. In Japan it is really humid. So most Japanese house have such a crawl space. I think.
Actually Yuki and I are thinking to seal the back side of  the board floor again against coldness. 28 years have passed since this house was built, so the sealing seems not to work well, though it's really expensive.

 >   What is directly under your boards?
It's ground.

 Later I'll re- update this blog with new TATAMI's room.

PS it's finished. The smell is nice.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Now it's past one p.m. What did you eat for lunch. I ate the rest of our breakfast.
In one hour a little girl will come to take my lesson.

According to the weather report today, it would have snowed. Actually early in the morning it snowed a little, but all of snowflakes melted. It's sunny again.

Last Tuesday my friend and I drove to NIKKO to a log house used as a cafe. My friend, Eiko-san is really interested in log houses. She lives in a good house, but she seems to build a log house or have a log house built, of course with a wood stove. The live with a wood stove is a good example to have "slow life" in Japan.

And the cafe opened last year, a senior couple (I think they are still in their 50's) started to enjoy? their retired life. Putting on a fire in a wood stove in early morning is the husband's job. Baking bread in early morning is the wife's job. Sometimes I think if I could run own own cafe with a mustic studio. But looking at real jobs, it feels to be difficult.

Eiko-san and I are the same age. She is the first friend since I came to Utsunomiya, it means We have know each other more than 25 years.
Last year she took early retirement. So we can meet often, at least these days once or twice a month we meet each other. What we talk about is always our "senior" life. I'm happy to have such a friend to talk our life.

Well, at the first lesson, we'll practice an English play. It's time to prepare for the lesson.

Monday, January 21, 2013

It was sunny

Since last snow, one week has passed. Today it was sunny though it was cold. (And at night it got colder.)
Last week the Donto-yaki festivals at shrines finished. Last year's good luck charms and talismans  were burnt at the event. It was the final event of new year's ceremonies.
I changed the  entrance hall decoration from the New Year's one into the Valentine's day.

In Japan, most Japanese think " we are in the middle class". I think in Japan there is not such a clear difference between rich and poor, though it seems to be getting clearer.
But sometimes I feel a slight difference.
This weekend we had  lunch at a good restaurant. Most of the  people who were there were groups of women or middle aged couples. It is a kind of gourmet restaurant.  

We didn't have coffee there, but we wanted to have coffee, so after that we went to a bakery where they serve coffee for free and they have an eat-in corner.. The bakery was crowded with lots of families.
We bought some bread for the next day's breakfast, and had coffee.
After that we went to listen to a string quartet.
The concert hall is a private concert hall. Most of  the audience were in their 50's, 60's, or 70's.
After that we bought some cuisine  at an Italian restaurant which was crowded with  middle aged couples.

Each place seems to have suitable for a particular generation, or kind of   customers. I'm not sure which class we are in, anyway sometimes we enjoy expensive things and sometimes we have to save. It's difficult to juggle it.


Monday, January 14, 2013

It's snowing

Now it's already evening, but it's still snowing. I'm eating hot sweet red beans soup for a snack.(I know some foreigner don't like it.)


Well, we have consecutive holidays, unfortunately today's weather is really bad.
Yuki went to work, his car has snow tires, so it's OK.
My car doesn't have snow tires yet,  but I had to out to work in the morning. The road was like sherbet, fortunately it didn't freeze, so I managed to come back here safely.

Tomorrow in the morning a meeting is going to be held, but --- I don't know whether I'll go out. Do I need to call a taxi? Or the meeting may be cancelled because it's not a job meeting.

Last Friday my friend and I went to HATSUICHI which means literally the first fair. There were many food stalls, flower stalls and DARUMA stalls. At HATSUICHI , DARUMA is sold, so the another name of HATSUICHI is DARUMA-ichi.

DARUMA is a doll made of paper and usually painted red. (These days there are various color's DARUMA.) It is a roly-poly, and is said to invite fortune.
We went there at lunch time, so we ate hot SENBEI-soup.
Anyway today's weather is really bad. Yuki called me a few minutes ago saying "I'll try to go home as fast as I possible". But I don't know whether he'll come back earlier than usual. Anyway I'll cook something for dinner of two of us.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Since usual days started, four days has alreday passed.
Today at noon I'm going to go to a small festival near the station. It is called "HATSUICHI", that means the first festival. Actually it is the first festival in this year. There are many or some stalls along the street. There flowers and DARUMA which is a kind of lucky doll are sold.

This Monday I went to a post office to save money with this can. ( In Japan post offices also have a role as a bank.)

Can you guess how much is it in the can? I'll tell you later.
I usually keep our household accounts once a week. At that time I also check my purse.(Here in Japan coins are more common than credit cards.) And I put all coins into the can, though I keep bills.
This year I saved 38010yen (currently 1$ costs 80 yen.)

Yuki and I had counted them before I went there. It was 38000yen.
According automatic counting machine in the post office, it was 38010 yen, Lucky me.
I save half of them ,and we'll go to a fancy restaurant using the rest of them.

Do you do such a miserly saving? ( Is it a right way to use a word miserly?)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

A usual Sunday afternoon

My younger daughter M came back to Tokyo this morning. Yuki went to play golf.  I finished washing all bed clothing. I'm spending a quiet usual Sunday.
During this winter vacation I met my mother who is 76 years old, and my mother-in-law who is 84 years old. I'm happy both of them are fine. But I felt a little change on both of them.

My mother, Hiroko-san, seems to be worse at communication in a group. She usually has breakfast, lunch and dinner by herself. Fortunately someone such as her friends, neighbors and her four grand daughters often visit her, but usually it is one-on-one communication. and someone comes to  her house, so she doesn't need to care for surroundings. To tell the truth, I already noticed her change, so I would take her somewhere to enjoy her and went on a trip this fall. I want her to keep concern for the good of the community  being a part of a group,  though it might be difficult considering her circumstance.

On the other hand my mother-in-law Kazuyo-san seemed to change. Since my  father-in-law passed away she had lived alone. Now she is living in a senior center by herself. There she is not the eldest person. Though she has her own room, she usually has breakfast, lunch and dinner at a big dinning room with members in neat clothing. She needs to have concern for the good of the community.

In many foreign countries people seem to enjoy party with "neighbors", "friends", not only with their family. I think having a party is a kind of culture. Here in Japan such culture is not so popular. But having party keep us communication skill, sociability. To tell the truth, I don't like such a party culture very much, or I'm not used to it. But considering the two elderly women, I started to think about the benefit of the party culture.

It might be a good opportunity to build a base of party culture for me in my 50's.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Yuki and I visited a shrine in NIKKO. The first visit a shrine of a new year is called "HATSUMOUDE". NIKKO is one of famous touring spots in Japan, so many people visited there. It takes about 50 minutes by car from Utsunomiya. Though I don't like too much crowded place, visiting busy place with people and stalls  made us fun.
How are you enjoying or did you enjoy the New Year's Day? You may have watched foot ball game on TV.

On New Year's Eve, we could have dinner with all members of my family, two daughters, and my mother Hiroko-san at home. Hiroko-san and I went to "the" department store to buy beef of good quality. (In Utsunomiya, there is only one big department store, though we have two big malls.)

We bought four kinds of beef by 200g each.
And of course we had SUKIYAKI.
On the New Year's Day we went to TOKYO with five members, and had a Yuki's family reunion.  And, Yuki and I came back to Utsunomiya.
We celebrated our New Year with two of us again quietly.

Well, for a while I skip cooking breakfast, just grill MOCHI (rice cake).