Vegan Parents Charged in Death of Baby

Posted March 31st, 2011 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

There’s a shocking news about two vegan parents in France : their 11-month-old daughter died for being fed only breast milk.  They are now facing up to 30 years in prison.

An autopsy showed that the baby was suffering from a vitamin A and B12 deficiency, which experts say increases a child’s sensitivity to infections.  The baby was underweight and deathly pale according to French media.

I don’t know why the parents didn’t notice the baby wasn’t gaining sufficient weight over the last 11 months, and didn’t consult with doctor or anyone for an advice.  And, why they fed only breast milk for 11 months?  They didn’t introduce any solid foods to supplement nutritions to the baby?

Anyway, it’s a devastating news,, but I was surprised to hear the “30 years in prison” part.  And, the fact that the ambulance workers called the polices instead of
consoling the parents, when they arrived and found the baby dead, because the parents were vegans.

I actually have a French friend who is vegan, but I didn’t know that it is not easy being vegetarian in France.  That’s why the parents are facing the 30 years in prison?  Ummm… now I understand what my vegan friend was talking about – her father was really upset when she decided to be a vegan.  Besides, her father is a butcher! (maybe that’s the reason why she became a vegan?)

Anyway, giving enough nutritions is the most important thing when rising a baby, and I think I should try to have more balanced diet.

Have You Been to Toraja, Indonesia?

Posted October 5th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | 4 Comments »

If you know a lot about Indonesia,

……………… Is this true???

” In some parts of Indonesia, a corpse is usually being carried up to the grave, but in Toraja, the corpse is woken up letting it to walk to its grave (is rarely performed anymore)

The corpse is woken up using black magic. This is done because in Toraja the graves/cemetries is placed above limestones mountains.

The corpse walks by itself, and its guided by an expert in black magic behind it. But there is one prohibition, the corpse shouldn’t be appointed, once pointed, the corpse falls down and isn’t able to walk again. ”



Terrible Accident Happened to A Japanese Restaurant in Perth

Posted July 8th, 2010 in Perth WA | 2 Comments »

It was a tanabata day yesterday, and I was just thinking if I should be making a tanabata cake when I received a phone call from my friend.

“Matsuri Japanese restaurant in the city will be closed for awhile!”

Apparently there was a terrible accident happened yesterday at Matsuri Restaurant.  A car has crashed into a CAT bus before ploughing into the restaurant, sending diners running for cover.

At first I couldn’t believe the story, but the news was everywhere on tv, radio and internet. It was real!  Fortunately no one had serious injury, but it must have had been a shocking accident!

There were three customers sitting near the window and they had minor injuries.  I wonder how it’d be if it happened during the busy lunch time.

You can find out the full story about it at

(photos from

By the way, this morning I was told that the restaurant will still open.  They covered up the damaged window side with timbers and all the broken glasses were tidied up already.  There must be many people around Matsuri today who are curious to see what the restaurant looks like.

Oh, different subject, but a storm is going to hit Perth from today.  I REALLY REALLY hope there is no more hailing this time…  I mean, I wasn’t here last time when a huge hail storm attacked Perth, but if it happens again… IT IS NO GOOD.

At the moment it is 7:30, and the sky looks… ok.  Cloudy, but I can see the blue sky.  BUT, I remember people were saying that when last hail storm hit Perth the weather was fine too.  …Cross fingers..

Natto – One of the Healthy Food in Japan

Posted June 23rd, 2010 in Food | 4 Comments »

This could be one of the weird food you can find around the world…  Natto, fermented soy beans, is a traditional Japanese staple for more than 1,000 years.  Non Japanese people may think it’s a gross-looking food as it has a strong smell, flavor and slippery texture.  But, it is an ultimate health food as its medical benefits are widely recognized recently : some of its beneficial effects are prevention of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and intestinal disease caused by pathogens.

How did Japan discover this food??  I remember reading a story of it when I was little.  Long time ago, when samurais are still rolling Japan, a group of samurais were travelling quite a long distance.  They brought some food for the journey, and one of the food was soy beans.  The soy beans were carried in a bag made of some kind of plant.  As it was summer and the climate was pretty hot and humid, the soy beans started to ferment in the bag.  Around lunch time, samurais decided to take a break and they all opened up the food to enjoy.  Then they found out the all soy beans looked strange – smelly, and slimy!  They were so disappointed, but one samurai pinched one bean and put in his mouth.  It turned out to be edible.  “Oh well, we might not be able to make to the destination in this climate and not enough water.  We may die soon…  may as well eat these rotten soy beans.”  They ate up the rotten soy beans.  But, strangely, after eating the beans they felt their body full of energy and strong again.

That was the origin of natto, according to my memory 😀  Now we normally eat natto with tare (sauce), and dress up with Japanese mustard, bonito flakes, mayonnaise, seaweed etc etc.

I like eating natto in the morning – just with freshly cooked steamed rice and miso soup.  This morning I made colourful miso soup with few ingredients including carrot, wakame, konnyaku and tofu.  Can any other food beat this healthy combination?

Hearty Tofu Dish (Tofu An-kake)

Posted May 11th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Tofu has been one of my favorite food since I was little.  I remember my 10th birthday, my grandma was asking me

“ume, what do you want to eat today?”

then I answered “tofu miso soup!  I want to pour it over steamed rice!”

Everyone was shocked and laughed, as they were expecting to hear some food that kids normally like, such as sushi or ebi-fry (prawn katsu).

“Tofu miso soup is so easy and cheap to make.  Don’t you want something special today?” My mum said.  But the tofu miso soup was what I wanted to eat that day 😀

I make tofu dish quite often here in Perth too.  The simple one is miso soup.  It’s easy to make and very hearty.  In summer I make tofu salad and hiya-yakko (chilled silken tofu eaten with some condiments and soy sauce/ponzu sauce) very often.  Low in calories, high in protein, and it contains some nutritious stuff such as isoflavone : which can act as estrogens in the body and have protective functions.  Good for women!

Yesterday I had a craving for the warm tofu dish that I ate at a sushi bar back in Japan.  This sushi bar is owned by my friend’s mother, and she knows me very well since I was a baby 🙂  At the sushi bar, they have different menus everyday.  All the menus are decided depending on what items they got from the fish market on each morning.  Other than sushi, they also serve some izakaya type of menu.

She served me this warm hearty tofu dish with ginger-sauce.  I loved it!  The crunchy texture of diced carrots and broccoli matched with silky tofu.  I think some people wouldn’t like this as its taste is little bold, but I don’t mind eating this everyday.  A nice supper dish.

< recipe > serves 4

  • 600g silken tofu
  • 100g broccoli florets (about 6 pieces)
  • 1 carrot, small
  • 100g chicken mince
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs sake
  • 5 g ginger
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 tsp corn flour + water
  1. Dice carrot into small pieces.  Chop ginger.  Cut broccoli florets into pieces.
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat sesame oil and stir-fry chicken mince.  Add ginger, carrot and broccoli and saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add water and sake, and bring to the gentle boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Season with salt (and 1 tsp of soy sauce if needed), and bring to the boil again.  Pour the corn flour + water mixture, stirring, and keep the gentle simmer until the soup thickens.

By the way, I read an article about tofu sold in Perth.  The person who wrote the article (Japanese) used to live in Perth with his wife, and the wife started to have a heavy allergy reaction each time she eats tofu here.  It never happened to her back in Japan, he wrote.  I don’t know what is the reason: maybe the tofu here is made in different way from what they do in Japan, or there is some additional ingredient in the tofu she ate…  but what they assumed is that there may be genetically modified soybeans used in the tofu.

Most of soybean products sold in Japan, including miso paste, abura-age, natto and soy milk, state “genetically modified soybeans are not used in this products” on their packages.  I’m not sure if it is all true (I hope so) as 85% of soybean products around the world seem to be actually using genetically modified soybeans.  Anyway, thinking that the tofu I eat here may contain genetically modified beans makes me feel not good, but I have no problem with the tofu in Perth so far and I will probably continue eating them as usual.

『How Could You?』 by Jim Wills

Posted January 19th, 2010 in にほんご, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh.  You called me your child and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” – but then you’d relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.


My housetraining took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed, listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs,” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

あなたがとても忙しかったので、私の破壊癖は思ったより長く続きましたが、 それはお互い時間をかけて解決しましたね。 あなたに寄り添い、あなたの信念や、誰にも秘密にしている将来の夢に聞き入った夜のことを 私は今でも覚えています。 あのとき私は、これ以上幸せな人生はないと、固く信じていました。私たちはたくさん散歩をし、公園で走り、ドライブし、途中でソフトクリームを食べました。 (あなたは「アイスクリームは犬の体に悪いから」と言って、私にはコーンしかくれませんでしたがてん) 私はいつも陽だまりでうたた寝をしながら、あなたが一日の仕事を終えて家に帰ってくるのを待ちました。

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.


She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.”

彼女−今はあなたの奥さんですが−は、「イヌ好き」な人ではありませんでしたが、 それでも私は彼女を受け入れ、愛情を示し、彼女の言うことを聞きました。あなたが幸せだったから、私も幸せだったのです…やがて人間の赤ちゃんが産まれてきて、私も一緒に、その興奮を味わいました。赤ちゃんたちの、そのピンク色の肌に、またその香りに、私は魅了されました。 私も、赤ちゃんたちを可愛がりたかったのです。しかしあなたたちは、私が赤ちゃんを傷つけるのではないかと心配し、私は一日の大半を他の部屋やケージに閉じ込められて過しました。私がどれほど赤ちゃんたちを愛したいと思ったことか。でも私は「愛の囚人」でした。

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them, especially their touch – because your touch was now so infrequent – and I would have defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams. Together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being your dog to “just a dog,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.



Now you have a new career opportunity in another city and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family.  I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog or cat, even one with “papers.”

You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.


あなたは、「パパやめて、ボクの犬を連れて行かせないで!」と叫ぶ息子の指を 一本一本、私の首輪から引き離さなければなりませんでした。私はあなたの子供のことを心配しました。何故なら、あなたはたった今、このことを通して 友情、誠実さ、愛、責任、そしてすべての生命への尊重の意味を、彼に教えたのです。あなたは私の頭を軽くたたき「さよなら」と言いました。あなたは私から目をそらし、首輪とリードを持ち帰ることさえ、丁重に断りました。あなたにとって守るべき期日があったように、今度は私にも期日がやってきました。

After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked “How could you?”  They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you – that you had changed your mind – that this was all a bad dream…or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

あなたが去った後、やさしい女性係員が二人やってきて言いました。「何ヶ月も前からこの引越しのことを知っていたはずなのに、里親を探す努力もしなかったのね・・・」と。彼女たちは首を振りながらつぶやきました。「どうして・・・?」保健所の人たちは、忙しさの合間に、とても親切にしてくれました。もちろんゴハンはくれました。でも、私の食欲はもう何日も前からなくなっていました。最初は誰かが私のケージの前を通るたびに、走り寄りました。 あなたが考えを変えて私を迎えに来てくれたのだと願いました。今回のことが全部、悪夢であってほしいと願いました。 そうでなければ、せめて私を気に留め、ここから助け出してくれる誰かが来てくれればと…。しかし、幼い子犬たちの愛情を求める可愛らしい仕草には敵わないと悟った年老いた私は、子犬たちの明るい運命を脇目に、ケージの隅に引っ込み、ひたすら待ちました。

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table, rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured “How could you?”

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself – a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. With my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not meant for her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.

ある日の夜、係員の女性の足音が近づいてきました。私は彼女の後に続いて通路をとぼとぼ歩き、別の部屋に行きました。しんと静まり返った部屋でした。彼女は私を台の上に乗せ、私の耳を撫で、心配しないで、と言いました。私の心臓が、今まさに起きようとしている事実を予期し、ドキドキと鼓動しました。しかし同時に、安心感のようなものも感じました。かつての愛の囚人には、もう時は残されていませんでした。生まれついての性格からか、私は自分のことより、係員の彼女のことを心配しました。彼女が今果たそうとしている責務が、彼女に耐え難い重荷となってのしかかっていることを、 私は知っていたからです・・・かつて私があなたの気持ちをすべて感じ取ったように−。






A Touching heartwarming Japanese Song

Posted November 27th, 2009 in Ume's Interests | 2 Comments »

I was in a souvenir shop in Yufuin the first time I heard this song.  I straight away fell in love with the depth of emotion in her voice, Angela Aki.  After I came back to Perth I noticed that my husband had downloaded the song to his iMac and listens to it when he works.  

  The title of this song is “手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~” (A letter to me at 15 years old).  The song (lyrics) brings out the pain of a 15-year-old student struggling with life who writes a letter to his/her future self to ask for guidance.  In this lyrics there’s a letter written from a 15-year-old, and  letter written back from the future him/herself.  And, at the end of the song wishes everyone happiness.

  She wrote a letter to herself in twenty years when she was 15 years old, so this song is based on her true story.  Angela spent her teen years with an inferiority complex for being a mix of Japanese and Italian-American.  This song (and her character) captures hearts of teenagers in Japan, and gives courage and dream to the kids.

  This song heals my stress away.


 “手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~”  (A letter to me at 15 years old).  

Dear you,

I wonder where you are and what you do at the time you read this letter.  As I’m just a 15-year-old I am anxious about lots of things in my life and future, but I can’t talk about it with anyone.  I’m writing this letter to myself in future because that’s the only person I could tell everything and can trust.  I feel like crying, I feel like I’m a looser, I don’t know who I should believe and trust to move on with my life.  My heart is broken and hurt, but I’m still living.

Dear you,

Thank you for your letter.  I have something that I want to tell you, a 15-year-old.   You will start to see what you are and where you should be going if you continue asking to yourself.  The seas of youth may be rough, but keep rowing your boat of dream towards the shores of tomorrow.  Don’t cry, don’t lose yourself, even when you are seemingly about to disappear. Just believe in your own voice.  Even as an adult I get hurt sometimes and have sleepless nights, but I’m still living this sweet/bitter life.

Everything you do and see, there is a meaning.  That creates your life.  So, please don’t be afraid, don’t cry, and grow your dream.  Keep on believing.

Everyone experiences sadness in their life, and you can’t avoid that.  So, keep smiling and keep going.  

Dear you,

Whoever reading this letter, I wish you are happy.

“Death Note”

Posted September 24th, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

On the plane from Singapore to Osaka, I was watching this Japanese movie “Death Note” and “Death Note ~The Last Name~”.  This movie was made in 2006, 3 years ago, but I never had a chance to watch it although it sounded interesting to me.

“Death Note” is a Japanese manga (comics) series which had been serialized in a popular Japanese manga magazine “Weekly Shonen Jump” for almost 3 years.  The movie, in my opinion, really followed the original comic well.  I enjoyed watching it!

A brief description of the story is … The series centers on Light Yagami, a university student who discovers a supernatural notebood, the “Death Note”, dropped on Earth by a death god.  The Death Note grants its user the ability to kill anyone whose face they have seen, by writing the victim’s name in the notebook.  The story follows Light’s attempt to create and rule a world cleansed of evil using the notebook, and the complex conflict between him, his opponents and a mysterious detective known to the world only as L.  (from wikipedia

Together “Death Note” and “Death Note ~The Last Name~” and the third film “Death Note ~L; change the worLd”, the movies earned over $80 million in Japan and stayed at #1 at the box office not only in Japan, but also in Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. The cult hit broke into the Asian mainstream and almost got banned in China as a smattering of copycat true crimes became associated with the movie.

The actor who played Light Yagami is Tatsuya Fujiwara.  He’s been on many films, plays and tv series drama etc, but I never had any interest on him… until now!  After watching this movie I realized how cool he is :p  And, the scene where both Light and L believe themselves to be on the side of justice and the two match wits in an intricate game of cat-and-mouse is very interesting.  If you like watching Japanese films I recommend this.  Guess which one, either Light or “L”, wins in the end. 🙂

Haunted House in Japan

Posted September 1st, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Some people love listening to scary stories and going to hunted houses… well, I don’t mind doing that occasionally to have some excitement and thrills, but not everyday. 🙁 I mean, Japanese horror is really really scary! I read an article about UK film board – Britain’s film board banned the sale of a Japanese horror DVD due to its extreme violence which could cause psychological harm to audiences.

I had many chances of going to hunted houses in Japan before. When I went to Ise (an famous city for Ise Ebi <a kind of prawn> and Ise Jingu <Ise shrine> in Mie prefecture) on a school trip in year 6, my teacher insisted us to go inside of a hunted house. Even though the hunted house was just a typical small one, I screamed saying “noooo!!” to the teacher :p In the end I was the only one who didn’t go inside, and stayed outside waiting for all my classmates coming out from the horror house.
When I was around 17 years old, I went to Osaka Expoland with my friends. This place is like an amusement park, and there’re many rides and games that you can play and spend a time with.
At the expoland, they had few kinds of new hunted houses that they’d been advertising on tv. I remember one of them was “Biohazard”, and another one was “Bancho Sarayashiki”. “Banchō Sarayashiki” is a Japanese ghost story of Okiku who died and comes out every night counting nine plates with terrible howling and sobbing. You can read the story from here. (apparently this story has alternate endings)
Anyway, as the names indicate, “Biohazard” is Western style hunted house and “Banchō Sarayashiki” was Japanese style one. I didn’t really want to go inside, but it was a very hot summer day and my friends kind of forced me to go inside. :p We could imagine that “Biohazard” there would be lots of zombies and they chase down people who go inside. After a short discussion we decided to go for “Banchō Sarayashiki”.
… I can’t describe here how scary it was! Seriously, I almost had a heart attack :p All the ghosts there were actors, so they really really ACTed as if they’re real ghost. The inside of the hunted house was amazing though. There was a river, an old Japanese-looking bridge, trees, houses… it looked like a really “old town in Japan”. As I walked down the “old Japan town” with friends, I was holding my friends’ arms all the time because I didn’t want to be left behind. I walked really really slowly, but once a ghost came out I screamed and pushed my friends toward the ghost, and I run away by myself :p ….. yes, my friends complained me about it afterwards but I really wanted to save myself (lol)
I think it was my last experience of going inside of a horror house. Since then I never go to horror house / hunted house .. anywhere!
If you like to have scary experience, however, I recommend you to try going to a hunted house in Japan !

Who have you adopted?

Posted July 8th, 2009 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Here are the stories from PetRescue about unwanted pets finding new home…

<Buzz’s Story>

Buzz was always smiling. That’s why he stood out to Pam who had a big empty space in her family and was looking for a new friend for her Golden Retriever, Tyson.

Although Buzz was once unwanted, after having his profile on PetRescue everyone wanted to take him home! And when Tyson met Pam he knew he’d found his perfect person…

<Cherub’s Story>


Cherub had been waiting patiently for someone to take her home but kept being overlooked. So when Sarah and Rajiv fell in love with her the first time they looked online, it was obviously meant to be!   

This gentle smoocher is now keeping their feet warm at night. Cherub’s sparkle is now so bright you might actually need your sunglasses…





<Matisse’s Story>

Matisse and her siblings came to stay with their foster carer Rebecca until they were big and strong enough to find new homes.

“I’m what you call a ‘failed foster carer!” says Rebecca. 

“Matisse captured my heart and we bonded instantly. She has the most amazing, easy going nature.”

What a clever puss to find the perfect forever home without even leaving her rescuer!

<Bindi’s Story>

Bindi and her brothers and sisters were found dumped in bushland and caring rescuers saved their lives and nursed them back to health.

When it came time to find the perfect forever families for them, PetRescue was the place! Within a few days all of the litter had fantastic new homes and Bindi was matched with the Cloustons who gave her a great new name after their hero, Steve Irwin. Bindi has proven to be a real ‘Aussie dog’ with a big heart. She is now looking forward to a happy future with her people.


If you are thinking to have a pet, why don’t you go to animal shelters.  Those animals are once unwanted, but looking for loving new owners and warm home.


Posted July 7th, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Today is 07 July… it’s Tanabata in Japan!  Tanabata is Japanese star festival, takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the milky way, are able to meet.  

Tanabata story is very romantic.  According to those separated stars, the story is about two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, are allowed to meet only once a year on this day.  The river separates these lovers is Milky Way, called “Amano-gawa” in Japan.  Amano-gawa means “river in Heaven”.  

Here is the story ..

Orihime (織姫 Weaving Princess), daughter of the Tentei (天帝 Sky King, or the universe itself), wove beautiful clothes by the bank of the Amanogawa (天の川Milky Way, lit. “heavenly river). Her father loved the cloth that she wove and so she worked very hard every day to weave it. However, Orihime was sad that because of her hard work she could never meet and fall in love with anyone. Concerned about his daughter, Tentei arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (彦星 Cow Herder Starwho lived and worked on the other side of the Amanogawa. When the two met, they fell instantly in love with each other and married shortly thereafter. However, once married, Orihime no longer would weave cloth for Tentei and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over Heaven. In anger, Tentei separated the two lovers across the Amanogawa and forbade them to meet. Orihime became despondent at the loss of her husband and asked her father to let them meet again. Tentei was moved by his daughter’s tears and allowed the two to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month if Orihime worked hard and finished her weaving. The first time they tried to meet, however, they found that they could not cross the river because there was no bridge. Orihime cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river. It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait until another year to meet. (wikipedia)

In Japanese custom, we celebrate this day by writing wishes on Tanzaku (small pieces of paper) and hung them on bamboo tree.  With Tanzaku and other decoration, the bamboo is set afloat on a river in the night time.  

Many areas in Japan have their own Tanabata customs, but this is what I did when I was a child.  Besides, there is a river named “Amano-gawa” near my house and this is the place my family and I set the bamboo tree afloat every year on this day.

Now, still, I write a wish on Tanzaku and hung on a tree in the garden although we don’t set the tree afloat in a river.  Just keeping up one of Japanese custom here :p

Some photos from Japan ↓↓↓


Japanese Tale

Posted June 15th, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests | 3 Comments »

I was told lots of Japanese old tales from my grand parents when I was little.  Some of them are famous stories like “Momo Taro” “Saru Kani Gassen” “Kachi Kachi  Yama” etc, but also they told me about “hell” quite often.

In Japan we say that liars will go to hell after death and get their tongues taken away by Enma as punishment.  We also say that people who go to hell will have to take bath in a pool filled with blood, have to walk on burning stones, and will be slaves of devils for ever.

I don’t remember all the stories that my grand parents told me, but here is one of them …

In hell, hungry people are sit in front of a big table.  There are lots of food on the table and everything looks so delicious.  Now, they can eat all the food as much as they want, but the rule is that they have to use the chopsticks that is 5 metres long.
People try to eat some food using the chopsticks, but they can’t pick up anything because the chopsticks are too long.  They are so hungry, they want to eat!  Everyone looks so furious and crazy; with anger, sadness, grudge and vexation…
One of them cries “There are delicious food in front of me, but I can’t eat.  ‘m so starving…  it is hell, indeed.”

At the same time, there is a same situation going on in heaven.  People are sit before lots of delicious food.  The rule is same: they can eat as much food as they want, but have to use 5 metres long chopsticks.
In haven, however, people start enjoying the food immediately without any troubles.  Their face is so peaceful and happy.  They are actually using the long chopsticks to feed each other!
One of them says, “There are delicious food in front of me, and people help each other to feed.  The food is so delicious, I’m so happy.  It is heaven, indeed.”

The circumstance for both is exactly same.  The difference is the way people think.

Summary: If you change a way of thinking , it can be heaven and hell.

Life is tough and we experience lots of bitter things, but we can at least try finding the way to change what we think of it, and enjoy everyday.  Life is short!  🙂
By the way if you want to tell some of famous Japanese tales, you can find them from here.

Fox Wedding

Posted May 22nd, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests | No Comments »

It’s been raining last couple of days…  Rainy season has came :p

In winter in Perth it rains almost everyday…  We don’t get any snow, but cold weather + rain.  I don’t mind raining days, but I really hate huge snails moving around my house! (><)  Not only my house but everywhere…  I can’t go outside for walking because I know I will definitely step on huge snails on the road…

This morning was raining, but the sun was out.  In Japan we call this weather (sunny and raining at the same time) “Fox Wedding”.  The origin for this, I think, is because of a Japanese old tale.  In Japan, foxes and raccoons are depicted as the epitome of deception, able to transform into any shape or form it strategically desires.  There are many tales about foxes/raccoons tricking people in Japan.  So, if it rain while sun is out, it’s obviously strange and people thought “ah, foxes are trying to trick us again!”.

By the way, the weather “snowing and raining at the same time” is called “raccoon’s wedding”.

Fox Wedding Tale (by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford)

Another fox related tales…

The Grateful Foxes

How a Man Was Bewitched and Had His Head Shaved by the foxes

(by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford)

The Fox and the Tanuki

(by Lafcadio Hearn)

Read more Japanese stories