WeCareJapan: Light / Cotton Blanket x 10000 !

Posted July 5th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

A volunteer group in To-hoku area, Japan, is seeking for help in order to support the victims in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi prefecture.

With the rise of temperature, people are suffering from a heavy infestation of mosquitoes and flies – Pesticide, Mosquito Coils, Insect Sprayers are urgently required.

Light / Cotton blankets x 10000 are also required ; The light blankets are required for people in evacuation centres, temporary housing and people staying at their own houses. They have enough warm/wool blankets but they are too hot for summer.

If anyone is interested in sending blankets for those people, please pack them in a box and send to the address below:

東京都港区赤坂7-4-7 Chez Ireneビル2階


Chez Irene Building 2F
7-4-7 Akasaka, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, JAPAN  〒107-0052
“Rescue Japan”
Taki Ideguchi
phone# 080-3343-8806

They said that there’s no specific rule for the items: e.x. the blankets can be used ones, but I’d recommend to send new ones…  If the box is more likely to be bigger than a normal sized cardboard box, you’d better sending it to their warehouse rather than their office.  Please contact Taki-san at ” taki.ideguchi@rescuejapan.asia “

Socks for Japan

Posted July 2nd, 2011 in Japan | 4 Comments »

One of Umeboss viewer gave me a link to this website and I just wanted to show it here… (thanks Achan!!)

This website shows a way you could help Japan, directly and meaningfully.  Many of the survivors ended up barefoot after fleeing in a hurry.  Socks aren’t primary support, but a token of care that will last beyond their small mid-crisis comfort.

They have stopped accepting the donation already, thanks to the people outside Japan who have participated in this.  Still, there should be other ways to get involved in volunteering without actually going there.  Any info are welcome…


Posted July 1st, 2011 in Japan | 6 Comments »

It’s been almost 4 months since Japan’s huge earthquake which happened on March this year, and people in other countries may think that things in Japan are back to normal already, but actually they aren’t.

People at damaged area (To-hoku area) are still suffering from hunger – I heard some people get only 2 rice balls a day.  There’s not much protein foods supplied to the area.

There was another big earthquake in Nagano prefecture yesterday.  There’re quite big damages over there, and people are obviously frightened: thinking when the next earthquake will be.

My friend in Tokyo told me this morning that her company banned using air-con in the office.  It’s summer in Japan now, and it’s been over 35℃ everyday, plus very humid.  My friend said people may get heat stroke!

Japan gets lots of earthquakes, but it’s been having way too many recently.  I’m worried Japan island may sink… I hope it doesn’t happen!!

We got our tickets!

Posted June 15th, 2011 in Japan | 4 Comments »

We got out tickets… finally.

First, we were thinking to fly with Malaysian Air as I found a very good price at H.I.S. Travel.  It was $210~ + tax ($780) return!  Less than $1000 from Perth to Osaka is very very cheap.  Besides, Nov ~ Jan is high season.  I called them up to ask the details such as transit hours.  The flight time is good too – leave Perth afternoon, and arrive Osaka in the morning.  Transit hour was just 1~3 hours, so it’s good too.  But, the thing is that the ticket was open for only 35 days, which means we have to come back to Perth within 35 days.  I wanted to stay in Japan longer, so I didn’t take it.

Next, I again found a good deal at H.I.S Travel.  It’s JAL (Japan AirLine) flight, and is $235~ + tax ($804) return.  It’s just above $1000 so it’s not bad at all.  And, it’s JAL so I thought it flies direct to Osaka.  I called them up to check what the deal is.  Then, I found out that it wasn’t a direct flight – there’re actually 2 transits and we need to catch 4 planes…  Fly domestic from Perth to Sydney, then move to international terminal, fly from Sydney to Narita, then take domestic flight from Narita to Osaka.  Hmmm, even though Australia and Japan are familiar places for us and we won’t worry about what to do at the airport, but again, we have Hiro and I don’t think transiting 2 times is going to be a comfortable flight. So, I didn’t take it either.

And, as I said on earlier post, my sister-in-law offered her mileage at Garuda to us.  Why she doesn’t use the mileage is because she can’t use it for the flight from/to Australia (for some reason).  So, we can’t use the mileage for the flight from/to Australia either.  We could buy 2 tickets separately – a flight from Perth to Bali, and from Bali to Osaka, using the mileage on the flight between Bali and Osaka.  But, there’re some concerns…  Firstly, we don’t trust Garuda because it delays often.  Secondly, we didn’t really like Bali airport from our terrible experience (post), and I thought there’s no space to relax with Hiro.  Toilet was dirty too…  Thirdly, we will have to fly with Garuda between Perth and Bali too, otherwise our luggages won’t directly go to Osaka/Perth.  I checked Garuda flight details between Perth and Bali, and found out that the connection to the flight to and from Osaka is really bad.  We could pay and use the lounge at the airport, but we’re not sure if it’s really a good plan.  Sister-in-law asked us to fly from Perth to Jakarta, then stay at either airport hotel or her house, and on the next day we fly from Jakarta to Bali, then Bali to Osaka.  I didn’t like it because there’re so many flights, and we will need to buy 3 tickets!  And, I wasn’t 100% comfortable with using her mileage too. So, although it was a very generous offer, we didn’t take it.

Then, we thought why not buy that Malaysian Air cheap 35days open ticket from H.I.S for D (as he can only stay in Japan for 1 month anyway), and buy a standard fare tickets for me and Hiro. The standard ticket wasn’t so expensive considering it’s high season.  We called up H.I.S to reserve our seats first. Then we were really going to go with it.  But, D wasn’t actually 100% happy with the flight schedule… The cheap ticket only applies for the flight departing Perth before Nov 23 (or around there), which means D will have to head back here before his birthday (as this ticket is only open for 35 days). And, he will also miss spending Hiro’s first Christmas and New Year’s Day together.  Hmm… now what?

Then, D found that Cathay is not that expensive either. He checked the fare on the dates he wanted to fly, and it turned out that total for three of us is actually about same as the one with Malaysian Air. Most of all, with Cathay he gets to stay his birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s Day in Japan with us 🙂 . The flight time and transit are good too, arriving Osaka in early afternoon. Flight between Perth and HK is around 7.5 hours, and between HK and KIX is around 4 hours.  So, in the end, we decided to fly with Cathay and reserved our seats. 🙂

Now, thinking that we will be in Japan in 4 months, my head is busy planning our homecoming trip!

It’s winter, so seafood is its season!

And, I’m definitely eating one of my favorite food – Japanese omu-rice with demi glace sauce!

And, we will probably take break a lot at Misdo, McDonald’s, Mos Burger, and other fast food chains between shopping….  Can’t wait!

Japan Trip

Posted June 12th, 2011 in Japan | 4 Comments »

Hmmm… my head has been so busy thinking about the flight to Japan.  I was originally thinking to fly with Hiro and D, three of us all together and come back to Perth all together, but now I’m kind of thinking to stay in Japan little longer with Hiro.  D has to come back to Perth after 4 weeks or so due to his work.  D and I always flew together all the time when we went to Japan, or anywhere, but I think just 1 month is bit too short for me this time.  Besides, I’m not working now so I can basically go anywhere outside Australia for as much as I want!

The biggest concern is, this time we have Hiro.  I have no idea how it’s going to be…  If he stays quiet or sleeps on the plane all through the flight, it’d be great.  But, what if he keeps crying…?! 🙁  And, if I stay in Japan longer, I have to fly with Hiro by myself on the way back…!  ….. I already feel tired by just thinking about it.

It might be much easier if there’re direct flights from Perth to Osaka, but there is not, so we have to transit somewhere:  we fly to another state in Australia and fly directly to Osaka, fly from Perth and transit at another country, or fly from Perth and transit at Narita then take shinkansen (bullet train) to my hometown.  Thinking about a transit with Hiro is already a big headache to me, but I have to think which method is the easiest for us.  Oh, and, the cost also matters.

Then, D’s sister offered us to use her mileage at Garuda.  I wouldn’t think about flying with Garuda with Hiro because of our terrible experience (post), but she told us to fly with business class.  We still have to pay the difference, but after getting the quotation from her travel agent it’s actually cheaper than paying economy flights.  I’ve never flew with business class before!

We are still thinking about it though…

There’re more concerns and things I keep thinking about, like, what if Hiro gets sick in Japan, etc etc…   but who knows?  Maybe nothing bad will happen and everything may go smoothly. 🙂  Now I will just think about good stuff, like , what we do in Japan,  what to buy in Japan, what to eat in Japan, etc etc!   The damage from the earthquake (post & post) is not fully recovered yet, but I hear things are getting well, so I hope I can enjoy delicious seafoods there too.


Model House

Posted June 4th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

I remember visiting model houses with him many times when I was little – even though he had no plan buying it. He just wanted to have a look at the design and the interior. It was kind of his hobby.

Last time I was in Japan, my dad took me to model houses in Otsu (capital city of Shiga). It was like a model house fair or festival near a big hotel, and was only for 1 week. (I don’t know what they did with the house they built afterwards…) There’re many model houses from different housing companies, and all of them looked so nice!   I wished I could live in a house like that, and I’m sure my dad did too. Very expensive, though.

In Japan, you can actually experience “life” in a new house by staying overnight at a model house. The house is fully furnished and equipped with basic and some special facilities, such as IH cooking top, automatic toilet, computerized bathroom, and floor heating. It could be a fun one-night experience.

You know, the traditional Japanese houses were made with wood, and only had tatami flooring.  But nowadays, new houses are more Westernised – there are lots of wooden floored rooms and it has some special rooms such as theatre room (surprising!) .  There is at least one tatami floored room in a house though (called wa-shitsu) to remain the Japanese tradition.   Unlike houses here, Japanese houses are usually 2 stories.  There are more 3-stories-houses nowadays due to the limited land.

As I’ve always wanted my own space, looking at them makes me think about my dream house.  If I had a chance and money (most importantly!), I want to design my own house :).  In my head, it has a genkan where people take-off their shoes before entering the house, and a tatami room where gives me a quiet and peaceful mind.  Hmmm… lotto?a

It’s Winter… Two More Seasons to Go

Posted May 31st, 2011 in Ume and Baby | 2 Comments »

Hmmm … Hiro doesn’t drink much milk at night these days, and sometimes keeps waking up.  During the day is ok, he drinks around 150ml – 180ml per feed.  At night, just 60ml per feed.  He doesn’t take long nap during the day, and we do play-time at least once a day, so he should be tired, sleepy, and hungry at night.  And, he is happy during and after bath time, but once I finish dressing him he starts crying – every night.  Is there any reason?  Too tired? Or he know he’s going to be put to sleep?

I go out with Hiro very often now.  Just two of us.  Bit boring to stay at home all day… and I keep eating something if I’m at home. 🙁  But, I ‘m still not 100% comfortable about going shopping with Hiro.  How people go shopping with babies??  I mean, I can’t push a stroller and a shopping trolly at a same time.  Just carry a baby on shoulder?  Using a baby sling or a carrier?  Or just put him/her on the shopping trolly?  Every time I go shopping I can’t buy big stuff, as I push Hiro in a stroller.

It’s been raining since yesterday, as forecast predicted.  Outside is still dark around 6:30 am.  I feel that there is no “autumn” in Perth.  It’s hot in summer, then suddenly the air becomes very cold.  In Japan, autumn is very distinguished.  The sky is high, the air is cool down, less humidity, dragon flies everywhere, rice fields turns brown colour, and mountains start to change their colours to yellow, orange and red.

In Perth it’s winter now (It should be.  It’s almost June), and it’s the middle of rainy season in Japan.  Very humid season….

Two more seasons, then we are all in Japan 😀


Ozoni – mochi soup –

Posted May 29th, 2011 in Food | 2 Comments »

Ozoni, or mochi soup, is a Japanese holiday meal traditionally prepared on New Year’s Day.  The type of ozoni is different in different area in Japan – some area use round mochi while other use square mochi, some people bake mochi before adding to the soup while other people simply soften the mochi in hot water, and the soup is just seasoned with soy sauce and salt in some area while some people in different area add miso to the soup.

In my house, we normally add miso to the soup.  The mochi is sometimes baked before adding to the soup, but not always.  I’m not sure adding miso to the ozoni is Shiga thing, but I remember eating ozoni in miso soup at my brother’s karate party when we were kids. The party was at Biwa Lake bank in winter, after kangeiko (mid-winter training).  All kids in karate uniform went inside the lake and do some work-out in the freezing water.  Watching it made me wonder how they could survive in the water in such a cold day.  Karate uniform is not water proof!  After a hour of training, we all ate ozoni near the fire.  It was so delicious!

I  used mochi I bought from an Asian grocery shop.  This mochi is cut into portions and individually wrapped.

You can add any ingredients to the soup – more you add it develops more flavour.  This time I only used simple ingredients : burdock roots, carrots and spring onions.  I didn’t bother baking mochi, but it will give delicious nutty flavour if you do.

<ozoni> serves 4

  • 4 mochi cakes
  • 1 cup frozen burdock roots, shredded
  • 1/2 carrot, jullienne
  • 2 tbs chopped spring onions
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp dashi stock powder
  • 2.5 ~ 3 tbs miso paste
  • 1 tbs mirin
  • 1 tsp roasted white sesame seeds


  1. Place water into a pot, and bring to the boil.  Add dashi stock to dissolve.
  2. Add burdock roots and carrot to the pot.  Simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat, and add miso paste.  Mix well.  Add spring onions.
  4. Turn on the heat to low, and gently simmer for another few minutes.  Add mirin, and then turn off the heat.
  5. Add  mochi to the soup to warm up, or bake in an oven toaster.
  6. Place one mochi in a serving bowl, and pour the soup.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.


May 5, Children’s Day

Posted May 7th, 2011 in Ume and Baby | No Comments »

I have a photo of 2-weeks-old Hiro in the room, and the photo makes me realize how small he was once and how big he has grown in the last 2 months. In this photo he is sooo tiny!

Look at him now!  Is this a same baby??  He is wearing the same clothes.  His face, arms and legs are round and chunky!  My mum calls him “little piggy”.
He now wears the size 000, and newborn nappies are getting tight. You know, he was too small for size 0000 clothes and newborn nappies were too big for him when he was born.  In-laws bought him lots of clothes at size 000 – 00, and I used to think “when will he be able to fit in these huge outfits?!” Now he wears infant size nappies, and those huge-used-to-be clothes are just right size for him. Looking at the size0000 clothes made me miss the tiny legs and arms…  Baby grows so fast! (><)

Now I’m looking at size 0 clothes and thinking when he will be able to fit in these huge T-shirt. The day might Not be too far away.
5th of May is Children’s Day in Japan, and is part of the Golden Week (national long weekend). It is a day set aside to respect children’s personalities and to celebrate their happiness.
The day was originally called Tango no Sekku, and traditionally families with boys celebrate this day by displaying kabuto (traditional Japanese armour as worn by samurai) and raising koinobori (carp-shaped flags).

It was Hiro’s first Tango no Sekku. Although I didn’t have koinobori or kabuto to display, I made a little one just to celebrate this day.

Be a strong, healthy boy, Hiro!

Coral Moon

Posted April 28th, 2011 in Japan, Ume and Baby | No Comments »

The other day we went out to get passport photo taken.  He (no, I) chose to wear the  UNIQLO suit we got from Hokkaido friend.  It was still little too big for Hiro, but it could fit.

Oh my gosh, I should have called up the photo place beforehand so that they could have prepared for the photo shoot for a newborn…. There’s only one staff there, and she took about 20 minutes to look for a white cloth and decide where to take photos.  Anyway, after several tries and milk spitting up, we could manage to take one ok photo.

As Hokkaido friend’s son(my former student)’s birthday is coming up, I have been searching for a nice gift – a birthday present, and also to say thanks for the gift for Hiro. The last email I received from her said that she uses Australian brand cosmetic called “Coral Moon”.  I’ve never heard the brand before, but after searching online I found that this brand is pretty famous in Japan (more search results in Japanese than in English).

Coral Moon is operated in Noosa, Queensland, producing the natural skin care and aromatherapy products.  I wonder if there is any shop selling Coral Moon products in Perth.  Their products looks good, I may want to try one. 🙂

I’m pretty sure I’ll buy one or two Coral Moon items for my friend, but I’ve gotta think about the gift for her son too.  He is turning 12 (I believe) this year….  Wow I can’t believe it.  He was so little when I was teaching English to him in Japan!

I think I will look for something Australian or English related item.  I wonder how good his English is… I know it’s very hard to keep track of other languages if you don’t use them.  But, Hakodate is a famous city in Hokkaido and I’m sure there’re many foreign people living/traveling around the area.  Maybe he’s got one or two English-speaking friend? 🙂  Hope to see them in Hokkaido or Perth sometime in near future.

Sakura Blossom

Posted April 19th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

A photo from my friend.  She said that sakura is at its peak in Shiga now.  This is taken around Hikone castle (near my house).  I remember going there every spring to enjoy hanami (sakura viewing)

Sakura blossom is one of the most beautiful things in the world!  I really like watching sakura in Hikone castle – the view is amazing.  (my another post about Hikore is here)

Did you know that there’re about 340 species of sakura trees in the world?  In Japan, the major one is “somei yoshino“, but there are many many other kinds of sakura.  And, cherry trees display various growing habits and come in different shapes and forms.  Some of them are called “shidare-zakura” (weeping cherry trees) – they have drooping branches because of the soft branches.

“Shidare-zakura” is my favourite one.  So beautiful…  Especially, in the light-up at night.

Hitori Cafe Time

Posted April 12th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

3 am – outside is, of course, dark and quiet, and the air is nice and cool.  It’s been almost 6 weeks since I started being awake this early, and I’m used to it already.

After feeding and putting Hiro back to sleep, I sometimes sit on the cozy sofa in the living room and take a nap, or stay awake until his next feed.  After awhile I start to feel hungry and make myself breakfast.

This morning I felt like toasted ham, cheese and salad sandwich.  With black coffee (decaf), of course.  And, smelling the toasted bread reminded me of “morning” (= breakfast).  In Japan, cafes offer cheap breakfast and it’s called “morning”.

Going to a neighbouring cafe with my dad to have “morning” on weekend morning has been a ritual for a long time.  That’s what we do every weekend morning while I’m back in Japan.  The “morning” starts from 8am and finishes around 10am.  I’m normally awake before 8am, and when dad wakes up we head to a cafe together.

The “morning” is not a special food, really.  It’s just a set of salad, a hard boiled egg, toast (thick slice!) and drink. (depends on the cafe)  It costs just few hundreds yen and is nothing special to talk about, but I just love having this “morning” in a cafe with my dad (and sometimes with mum and bro).  It reminds me “oh, I’m in Japan with my family now.”

Now I’m here in Perth enjoying the “morning” time alone, and I miss the family “morning”.


Posted April 6th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Just received a package from my friend in Hokkaido – UNIQLO clothes and a book for Hiro.

What a wonderful gift!  Things must be still not as same as they used to be over there, but she did find the time to go shopping for my little boy…  Thanks!

She said that she heard on the news saying UNIQLO is getting popular in Australia, and that’s why she went to UNIQLO to buy some baby clothes.  Then I thought “Ok, there is no UNIQLO in Perth, but there must be few in Eastern states.  Actually, according to UNIQLO website, there is no UNIQLO shop in Australia.  (@_@)

The Japanese retailer UNIQLO is expanding worldwide now.  Personally I love UNIQLO too.  That’s one of the shop I go to every time I go back to Japan.  I love the simple design, and most of all, the price.  Reasonable pricing, basic and simple design, and wide variety.

When UNIQLO first opened in Japan, the image of the brand was just “cheap”  around me and friends.  So, sometimes we felt little embarrassed when someone said “hey, isn’t it UNIQLO you’re wearing?”  But now, UNIQLO is one of the biggest brand in Japan and very popular in other countries too.

I think, what changed the image of UNIQLO in us was when they did collaboration with famous artists and anime characters.  When I first saw the  tv ads of UNIQLO T-shirts designed by famous artists, my image for UNIQLO brand was 180° changed and it suddenly seemed to be very stylish.  Since then, they do many collaborations with famous brands and anime characters such as Disney, Dragon Ball, etc.

They sell many products, from panties to jackets, but my favourites are jeans and pants.  They hem the pants when you buy them for free, and give you a little card showing the name of the person (staff) who did it, so you can bring them back to the shop anytime if the size wasn’t right or there’s any problem.   Located in almost each city in Japan is the another reason why I go there too.

Tatami or Bed

Posted April 3rd, 2011 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

Hiro will be 1 month old tomorrow!  … Still 1 month?  I feel like it’s been months.  He is now very chubby and much heavier than few weeks ago.  The face is getting really round!

One of my friend in Japan is having a baby boy soon, and I was chatting with her on the phone the other night.  She said that she’s decided to give birth in a tatami room in the hospital.  I didn’t know there is an option of tatami delivery room in Japan.  It sounds really … Japanese, isn’t it?

The tatami room in the hospital is really like a room in ryokan (Japanese style hotel).  There’ll be a set of white futon on tatami, and that’s where my friend is pushing her baby out!  Tatami is cushiony, and you can move around freely, so I guess it’s pretty comfortable for mothers.

My another friend told me that her sister gave birth in a tatami room too.  She said it was just like giving birth at your own home.  Besides, there’s no lock on the door in tatami room, so her aunt and father just opened (slid) the door and walked in while sister was pushing the baby – saying “hey, how are you doing?” :p  No privacy!

Nice and Easy

Posted March 29th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

It was such a beautiful morning!  I mean, I was awake from 3am trying to put Hiro to sleep, and after the sunrise I stepped outside to hang laundry then I noticed the air was pretty cold and the sky was blue.  I love this moment!  I’m excited to know that autumn is just around the corner 🙂  (Or maybe it will be hot again during the day?)

Yesterday evening my friend called me and we chatted for about 1 hour on the phone.  She was asking me how the things were, and talking about her workplace etc.  Then we started talking about Japan as she is flying back there next month for holiday for 3 weeks.  She said that she may spend lots of money in Japan, as usual…  Going out with friends, going shopping, eating out, travelling to sister’s house by shinkansen… I know what it is, because I’m like her.  We don’t spend much money in Perth (no shopping, not much eat-out), so when we go back to Japan we spend a lot.

I told her I’m thinking to have my hair cut sometime soon, and still can’t decide if I should get hair permed only, or get coloured too.  Then, she told me about “hair-clouring shampoo”.

There seems to be few brands of “colouring shampoo” sold in Japan that colour your hair as you wash…   Is there anything Japan doesn’t have?  There is a colouring shampoo for pets as well (*_*)

End of March Already!

Posted March 27th, 2011 in Ume's Thought | No Comments »

Today is my dad’s 61st birthday 🙂  I just sent an email saying “happy birthday” and told him to eat something special tonight followed by a big birthday cake.  I was in Japan on dad’s birthday last year and remember eating cake with family.  I can’t believe it was just 1 year ago!  I feel like I haven’t been to Japan for a long time.

Things are still the same around me…  Still bit depressed by the news from Japan, and wearing PJ all day at home. I really need to refresh up!  I don’t normally spend lots of money on clothes and bags, but I feel like doing it right now.  I want to wear nice clothes and make-up, and go shopping and eat something nice!  I also want to have my hair cut too.  Should I keep it long or make it short?

It should be autumn by now, and according to the news, Eastern states are much cooler than Perth (around 22 degrees?)  Yet, it was another hot day with strong sunlight yesterday.  The iPad2 was released on Friday at 5PM, and D headed to the nearest JB HiFi to get few (for his dad, himself and friends), but there’s so many people queueing by the time we arrived and he couldn’t get what he wanted.  I overheard that there’re 1000’s people at the apple store in the city at that time.  1000’s…

Now, I’m spending the most of my free time thinking and planning what to do and where to go in Japan in autumn (autumn in Japan – around Sep ~ Nov).  Planning a trip is the most fun part, isn’t it. 🙂  We probably won’t be able to go out much as Hiro will be there too, but I think we’re going to stay with my family (mostly with my grandparents) as much as we can.  One of my grandma can’t hear me every time I call her, so we need to be there to talk to her.  We’re also going to eat lots of autumn foods, such as matsutake! 😀

The Fukushima Fifty

Posted March 25th, 2011 in Japan | 2 Comments »

Did you know that there were 50 people left at the Fukushima nuclear plant who have battled to cool down the overheating reactors since the disaster on March 11?  They are a band of lower and mid-level managers at the plant, and they were, of course, aware of the danger and the outcome of being exposed to radiation – death.

Although the heat from the damaged reactors were sweltering, they had to wear protective bodysuits to protect their skin from the poisonous radioactive particles – … but radiation seeped into the atmosphere minute by minute.  They did this, sacrificing themselves, because someone had to.  They left families behind… telling them that they won’t be home for a while.  One girl tweeted in a message translated by ABC: “My dad went to the nuclear plant, I’ve never seen my mother cry so hard. People at the plant are struggling, sacrificing themselves to protect you. Please dad come back alive.”

Later, 150 colleagues joined the original 50 and rotated in teams to limit their exposure to the radiation.  But by now, 5 out of 50 are believed to have already died and 15 are injured while others have said they know the radiation will kill them.

Tokyo Water Bureau officials said levels of radioactive iodine in some city tap water contained two times the recommended limit for infants, and the government have issued a warning to all mothers urging them not to let babies drink the tap water.   The U.S. have halted all dairy imports from Japan and will screen all other foods before allowing entry.


Voices from Tokyo (East) and Shiga (West)

Posted March 17th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

“Some medical supplies doesn’t arrive due to the earthquake.”

“Try to go grocery shopping after work, but all the foods were sold-out at the supermarkets.  No rice, bread, noodle.  I decided to go to parents’ house to get some food, but they couldn’t buy much food either.”

“Only 2 rolls of toilet paper left…  Are we going to use newspapers after finishing these 2 rolls?!!”

“Controlled Black Out to save energy.  Including traffic lights.  People are recommended to take public transport or bicycle.”

“Big demand on blood donation”

“Manufactures and factories shut down due to the black out.  It affects other businesses and things are very quiet…  I work at a factory for Seven Eleven’s bento boxes and onigiri, but we don’t get much ingredients from suppliers now.”

“Batteries are all gone in Shiga too.  Some people think about themselves only!”

People in Japan seem to be in panic and rushing to the supermarkets to buy as many things as they can for themselves… even in the areas which aren’t affected by the earthquake.  Why?  Some people say that they can’t believe what government and the leader of Fukushima nuclear plant say on tv.  “it is safe…” “nothing to worry about…”  Some people are frustrated by others who buy food more than they need.  Please think about others, it’s not only you who are anxious and scared…

Biggest Damage Ever, Possibly

Posted March 14th, 2011 in Japan | 5 Comments »

As I mentioned before, this is the biggest earthquake happened in Japan and I can’t imagine the damage on eastern coast of Japan.  I saw video of huge tsunami swallowing houses, cars, and people who were running away from the wave.  Thinking about people who lost their family in this disaster, I just can’t think it to be the other people’s affairs.

The earthquake is still happening right now over there.  Many people have lost their houses .. and everything.  I could finally contact my friend who lives in Hokkaido – she said that all the mail delivery service has been stopped, and all the transportation, including freeway, ferry and train, are disconnected between Hokkaido island and Honshu (main) island.  People are afraid that they may run out of provisions.  My friends in Tokyo also told me that on the day earthquake hit Tokyo, they couldn’t go back home until midnight.

Two days ago, my mum told me that she had lost contact with her friend who went back to Fukushima to see his family one day before the earthquake.  As you know, Fukushima has the nuclear plant and is one of the most affected area.  My mum thought he was involved in this disaster, but he contacted her yesterday saying that he is ok as well as his family.

I hear that Japanese government had asked residents in Tohoku area (東北地方)to evacuate from the house, but most of the people who couldn’t make it or were still in their houses were elderlies.  Watching the news of rescuing elderlies from the crushed houses is devastating…

Yes, Japan is one of the richest and highly industrialised country, but this earthquake has caused a huge financial cost to the Japanese government, businesses and individuals.  And, Japan had sent earthquake experts to New Zealand to help victims over there few weeks ago.  I hope those experts were already in Japan or on the way back there.

If someone would like to make a donation, here are some websites :

The World Vision Japan Disaster Appeal

Save the Children Australia Japan Earthquake Appeal

Redcross Australia

(photos from CNN News & GlobalGiving)

The Biggest Earthquake in Japan

Posted March 11th, 2011 in Japan | 2 Comments »

Today, just 2 hours ago, huge earthquakes hit northern Japan island.  The magnitude is 8.8 – which is much bigger than Kobe Hanshin Earthquake in 1995.

As soon as I heard the news from D, I contacted my families to check if they are ok.  They all live in Shiga (some of my relatives live in the prefectures near Nagano), so they said the damage is not that big.  Luckily there is no ocean around Shiga (just a big lake) so no tsunami will attack there.  My grandma said it was shaking for quite long time though.

I have friends who live in Hokkaido and eastern side of Japan.  I hope they and their families are ok too…

There are so many natural disasters happened around the world lately…  Brisbane’s flood and cyclone, earthquake in New Zealand, and now Japan is the victim.  What’s going on?   Tsunami, fire, flood and landslide…  There’ll be so many side effects.  I hope the damage of this earthquake to be as minimum as possible.

Upcoming Japanese Movie

Posted February 25th, 2011 in Ume's Interests | 4 Comments »

Grave of the Fireflies, one of my favorite Ghibli movie, will be on tv again!

Tune in to the SBS TWO channel, on Monday, February 28th at 10:30 PM WST 🙂

This movie always makes me cry… and remind me of the terror of war.

It’s very hot in Perth. How is your place?

Posted January 12th, 2011 in Perth WA | No Comments »

It’s another hot day….  I can’t sleep without air-con now.  Apparently Perth was the hottest city in Australia yesterday (Darwin and Cairns were around 27~33°).  Today is going to be around 37° again here!

The flood in Brisbane looks terrible…  I’ve never experienced flood in my life, but watching the flood swallowing many cars on the street tells me how awful it is for people living there and I feel sorry for their loss.

This is one of the most amazing photo…..  9 News shows a green frog hitching a ride on the back of a brown snake.

I remember the terrible hail storm Perth got last summer. Although I wasn’t in Perth during the hail storm by the way, but my husband was right there and showed me what was happening.  Sometimes we can’t avoid natural disaster and it tells us how powerless we are against the big nature.

On the other side of the world it seems to be all white and cold.  Well, that’s the normal January I know, but I can’t imagine the cold snow and eating mandarins in kotatsu from here.


Posted December 10th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

The new INSIGHT,another HONDA’s hybrid car, has been on sale overseas for over a year now and will be hitting Australian dealerships from December 2010.   INSIGHT is not available to purchase in Perth WA yet, but demonstration is available at HONDA dealers.  My sister-in-law is interested in buying this car, and she told me she was going to test-drive this car soon.

The top reason why this car has been very popular overseas is its price – a list price of just under AU$30K for the base model (depends on the area in Australia).  In Perth, $32737 for the base VTi model and AU$36536 for the higher-spec VTi-L. (metallic paint: about $500 plus)  It’s the cheapest hybrid vehicle in Australia.

Besides the low price tag and the Toyota Prius-like outlook, INSIGHT has an interesting feature.  Driving this car is like a game!  Called “Eco Assist”, a part system and part game, there is a digital speedometer changes colours as you drive. Green means you’re being good, and blue means you could be doing better. Drive greenly for long enough and you’ll also start earning leaves on your dashboard. 🙂  You can do the simulation of INSIGHT driving experience here.  The lovely pink bird will tell you how you are doing as you proceed.

Furthermore, when you’re done, Eco Assist will let you know how you’re going with your overall, long-term, fuel-efficient driving, giving you an Eco score by growing a flower on the screen! 

HONDA tried to make this car lighter and cheaper.  The engine is 4 cylinder and Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) for both models.  Yes, the interior may look cheap, but the specs are pretty good.  Even base model has Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, Auxillary jack, and alloy wheels. 

One Hour Work at Domino Pizza Japan AUD$31K

Posted November 15th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Domino Pizza Japan is hiring a lucky person for an hourly wage of AUD$31K.

No, this is not a joke.  It is REAL.  Domino is celebrating its 25th birthday in Japan by offering ¥2500,000 (just under AUD$31,000.00) for 1 hour work at a Domino Pizza shop in Japan.  Yes, the job is just for 1 hour (super short work), and the wage is $31K.

They haven’t revealed all the details in the public yet, but the person has to be over 18 years old who lives in Japan and can work in December 2010.  No experience/education is needed.

The applicants have to apply by writing first: with the details of their profile, interests and the reason why they want to work at Domino Pizza.  The successful applicants will receive further details about this job and then proceed to the interview with 4 judges.

The 4 judges are actually Japanese celebrities (2 of them are comedians) whom I often see on tv.  So, the lucky person who is chosen will go on tv, magazine and newspaper (I assume).

The normal wage at Domino Pizza Japan is ¥950 ~ ¥1150, and this is just for 1 hour work!  I’m sure many people is applying for the position right now.

The name of the department where you send an application to is “Please, Please Let Me Do The Casual Job”.



Posted November 3rd, 2010 in Eat out in Japan | No Comments »


Again, about Mister Donut… Mos Burger. Mos + Misdo = Mosdo!

Their first collaborated item was sold in 2008 : Mos Burger sold “hot chicken burger” and Mister Donut sold “hot chicken pie”.  In 2009, as their second collaborated items, “donut burger” donut patty and wasabi sauce, and “petit burger” the smallest burger in the world (possibly) were sold. 

And, this year, they actually opened up a shop which sells both burgers and donuts!  



You can actually purchase/dine-in Mos burgers and Mister Donut donuts in one shop.  

Their set menu looks awesome!  Mosdo Set comes with one choice of Mos burger (or soup or salad) and 1 choice of donut and one choice of drink. (¥580)  Tea Time Set comes with a choice of donut parfait and a drink (¥390).  I’m curious to try their “okonomiyaki-style salad”.  Does it taste like okonomiyaki?

Ahhhh, I miss Mos Teriyaki Burger!!! (>口<)/


Free Service – Go to Mister Donut!

Posted November 2nd, 2010 in Eat out in Japan | No Comments »

Mister Donut is giving away 1 free NEW donut for the first 300 customers between 01 and 03/November at the shops across Japan!

The new flavor donut is made with rice flour (chewy texture mochi-mochi) coated with kinako, sweet soybean flour.  This donut will be sold from 04/Nov at shops after the campaign.


Yoshinoya, the largest chain of beef bowl restaurants in Japan, is also giving away 1 free egg for the customer who orders the new menu kimuchi kuppa. (until 08/Nov)  So cheap… 280 yen!  

onaka suita~… (I’m hungry~)

Ghost Street, Kyoto Japan

Posted October 7th, 2010 in Japan, Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

This is one of my favorite Japanese old story.  In Heian era, there were many reports of ghost appearances, especially in Kyoto.  (Kyoto used to be the capital city of Japan that time)  

Some people saw ghosts and monsters walking on the street at night, and there are many drawing of these scenes still remain in Japan.  So, in Heian era, people were scared to walk outside at night, especially on this day called “yakou-bi 夜行日”.  This day is considered to be the day ghosts comes out from their world.  When people had to travel at night, they talked to On-myoji 陰陽師 (person with gift) to get advice and a protection (a piece of paper filled with spell written by On-myoji 陰陽師).  There are few Japanese films about On-myoji 陰陽師, if you are interested in.  They are very interesting.

Why I’m writing this is because, there is a street called “Ghost Street” in Kyoto.  

In 2005, a small shopping square in Kyoto started this project to get more customers to this area, and named ichijo-dori street as “Ghost Street”.  This area of Kyoto still remains its historical image of ancient Japan, and the Japanese ghost stories and this area are a great match, I think.  In fact, this area really used to be capital area in Heian era.

This street is now a famous tourist attraction.  There’re not only those scary (and interesting) events all year around, but also many shops selling Japanese ghosts-related products.  

Food, clothes, accessories, and fashion goods…

This Yokai Croquette (ghost croquette) looks like ugly monster or ghost, but is made from Maccha green tea for the inside and bamboo charcoal powder for the coating – very healthy.  Yokai ramen also looks interesting too.  Purple noodle and black soup!!

If you have the guts, or like this type of things, or even, just have a plan to travel to Kyoto sometime soon, why not step into this ” “Japanese ghost” town in Kyoto?  

I’m sure you will enjoy the experience…


Cool Music Video from Japan

Posted September 30th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Genki Sudo was a Japanese mixed martial artist and a kickboxer in Tokyo, Japan.  After his retirement in December 2006 he proceeded his career to the music industry.  Below are some of his works – the song, the music, and the calligraphy are created by him.  There’s some weird movement and dancing, but I think they are really cool!

Showcasing Japan’s Freshest Anime  

Posted September 14th, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

Luna Palace in Leederville is screening 5 Japanese anime films for a limited 2 week season from 16/Sep/10 (Thu) ~ 29/Sep/10 (Wed).

“Reel Anime” is a anime festival held in Australia and New Zealand.  All the fils will be screening in the original Japanese with English subtitles.

These 5 films are:

Reel Anime 2010 has something for new and old fans of anime alike!
Luna Palace Leederville website / Coming Soon Films 
Reel Anime 2010 website

Car, Storm and Summer

Posted July 17th, 2010 in Japan | 4 Comments »
It’s been a rather stressful three weeks…  I was trying to sell my car privately, and all the games between buyers and me were… crazy (><)  I mean, I understand that they want to buy the car cheaper, but I want to sell it more expensive.
Although my car had no major problem I had to accept the negotiation and reduce the price, but I think it’s fare.   If I were looking to buy an used car, I would also want to make sure if nothing is wrong with the car.
And, there is something else happened around me recently.  I will write about it some other time 🙂
The storm has gone, and I feel the sunny days are back.  The forecast says that we are having another cold morning starting from this Sunday, but I always thought the mornings are always cold in winter. My hometown, Shiga had a strong rain for the last few days, and I contacted my dad to see if everything was ok.
It must be hot and humid over there.  Normally the rainy season in Japan is around June, but this year things started slower than usual.
While staying in Perth I sometimes forget that summer is the rainy season in Japan.  In Perth, we hardly get any rain in summer.
I haven’t been back to Japan in summer for 7 years now.  It’s because I’ve been avoiding this season, as I don’t like the humid climate.  Almost every shops and buildings are air conditioned, but because of the temperature difference on outside and inside the buildings many people get summer cold in Japan this time of the year.
There are things that I miss about Japan’s summer, such as fireworks, summer festivals, summer food and dessert, going swimming (well, I can do it here in Perth)…  Fireworks is the biggest event in summer.
Many people wear yukata on this day and gather around the shore to enjoy the beautiful sky entertainment and the delicious food from the stalls.
Summer festivals are held at many places across Japan, almost at every suburb.  In my town, we have a small festival at the beginning of August every year, and we enjoy the food, games (eg: kingyo-sukui = goldfish scooping), and bon fire and dancing!  I have a friend who is learning Yosakoi dance, and she is always excited about this festival each year.  Just let you know, Yosakoi is not like other dancing you see on tv (hip-hop, jazz, etc)  The style of Yosakoi dance is highly energetic, combining traditional Japanese dance movements with modern music.
I used to go to the festivals in the neighboring towns (just 10 minutes by bicycle) too, and they have different theme and sometimes karaoke.  But, there are always delicious food (I love stall food) and that’s the biggest reason I enjoy the festivals so much.