Cherry blossoms

I think one of the first things I think about when I think about Japan are cherry blossoms. Japan doesn’t disappoint on this front; there are cherry trees everywhere here.

The fleeting season is happening now, with bursts of pink decorating the otherwise everyday scenery. I think a lot of anime and Japanese movies have scenes of cherry blossoms floating from the sky like rain, and I have to say that actually does happen. The streets are currently covered in pink petals as a slight breeze knocks more and more to the ground.

I’m a huge fan of cherry blossoms, like so many people here seem to be, too. I think what I like best is that everyone here knows when cherry blossom season happens – we know it happens every year – but we still go out and take a thousand photos of the cherry blossoms.

I think it has a lot to do with them being so brief. A row of cherry trees nearby started blooming a few days ago, and already tufts of green are showing where the leaves have taken over the flowers.

I’m still learning about all the varieties of cherry trees Japan has to offer. Some blossoms even look like cherry trees, but they’re actually plum trees. They’re still beautiful anyway.

Waffles + Mochi

My kids and I have been loving this show on Netflix. I really hope it sparks a deeper interest in cooking for them.

For those of you who might not know, Waffles + Mochi is about a half-Yeti, half-waffle creature who lived in a frozen world eating only ice cubes with her best friend, Mochi, until they get the chance to visit a city and the local grocery store. They find Mrs. Obama on the roof of the grocery store, which has been turned into a paradise of a garden, and she agrees to let them work at the store.

Every episode they travel the world on a magical shopping cart and learn about one kind of food, such as tomatoes or mushrooms. Living in Japan, I’m secretly happy there are so many episodes that take the duo to Japan, especially the rice episode, where they learn about Mochi’s origins.

I have to say it’s one of those shows where adults can actually enjoy watching it, too. It’s an overall uplifting, upbeat and friendly show that just explores the glory of food. You can see the official trailer for it below.

Behind the scenes of a photo

Dark clouds looming

You can see details of the actual photo at:

Back in the summer, my family and I decided to go hiking in Shirakoma Forest, which is famous for the moss covering the ground. The forest also boasts a beautiful lake, and you can rent row boats.

We saw these clouds that you can see in the photo, and we still thought it’d be ok to row around for a little bit before the storm hit.

Right around the middle of the lake, we realized the storm was coming on fast. Neither I nor my husband are rowing experts in any sense, so we gave the storm plenty of time to cover us in sheets of rain while we floundered around trying to get back to shore.

We finally made it, at least, and the rowboat rental people helped us anchor the boat again. They even lent us umbrellas as we ran through uneven terrain to the nearby shop from which we had rented out the boats.

The shopkeepers took pity on us as we shivered and waited out the downpour, and they lent us some towels we could use to dry off. We bought some snacks from them and thanked them for their hospitality.

Looking back at this photo, part of me wonders what possessed me to think we could beat a storm, but another part treasures the memory of laughing in the rain as we tried to row back to shore.


I have to say I am a tremendous fan of Marvel right now. While I have never read the comics, the films and TV shows so far have been impressive enough that I try to watch all of them.

I think one of the main hurdles filmmakers of such fantasy face when trying to reach a greater audience is the sheer volume of information the comic book series have and deciding how much to convey on screen. The film creators have to work hard balancing the needs of the avid fans with the needs of people who just stepped into the world.

As such, WandaVision definitely had its moments where I had no idea what was significant about certain parts of it. The ending gave me more questions and more confusion than any sort of satisfaction, which I know Marvel enjoys doing.

However, the series still sang through as the story of a person who lost everything and who grieved. I think what makes so many Marvel movies and shows work is their adept skills at giving us the hero’s humanity. I can’t understand Wanda’s powers, but I can understand she is in a dark mental space.

I really appreciate that I got to know Wanda more. After the events of Infinity Wars, I thought this kind of show that takes the time to go through how she feels was so desperately needed.

Also, a shoutout to the Youtube channel ScreenCrush, which helped me navigate all the comic-book details the TV show threw in that I didn’t catch. It was such a nice complement to each episode.

Hina Matsuri

A completely over-the-top Hina Matsuri display at a train station. Photo taken about 8 years ago.

March 3rd this year is an event called “Hina Matsuri.” “Hina” means doll and “matsuri” means festival.

This is an event only for little girls, and it’s where your parents set up an elaborate display of dolls sitting on cascading platforms. At the top should be a woman and man in a kimono, and beneath them should be some servants and such. Each doll has its own meaning, but the two most important ones are the man and the woman at the top.

From what I understand of this event (I don’t have a daughter), you set up this elaborate doll display somewhere in your house, and on Hina Matsuri you eat some sweets with your daughter. You are then apparently supposed to quickly take down the decorations. The saying goes that the later you are taking down the decorations, the later on in life your daughter will marry.

To say this event is archaic is an understatement, but some families I know simply enjoy the excuse to put pretty dolls out and have some nice desserts with their daughter.

My main drawback for this event is the sheer price of these dolls. I see them for sale at shopping centers, and the average price for the two main dolls and a couple of servants is 1,500 dollars. That is an insane amount of money to be spending, in my humble opinion.

Of course there are cheaper options – I like that my kid once brought home two Hina Matsuri dolls he’d made at school out of origami paper.