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Kaleidoscope Gallery MISEGURA in Nagareyama, Chiba

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 金曜日, 8月 26, 2011

Kaleidoscope Gallery MISEGURA

Since the Kaleidoscope Gallery MISEGURA opened in August 2010 in Nagareyama-city, Chiba, many people have visited it and appreciated the beauty of various kaleidoscopes. Its old Japanese-style building, which was built in 1889, came to be registered as a tangible cultural asset on July 25th, 2011.

Nagareyama Dentetsu

My sons and I had a chance to visit this gallery this month. Nagareyama Dentetsu (local train running only 5.7 km) took us to the Nagareyama station, from which we took a 5-minute walk to the gallery.

Kaleidoscopes are called MANGEKYO in Japanese. When we looked into the various MANGEKYO, we forgot the high temperature and felt refreshed. I heard that some MANGEKYO there were the winners of the world MANGEKYO contest.

The staff introduced the big mirror, which was set at one end of a trianglular tube. It was not just a normal mirror. When my elder son looked into the mirror, I took a picture of my kaleidoscoped-son at the other end of the tube. The picture came out like this;

You can purchase small Mangekyo, kaleidoscopes. Also, the “Mangekyo handmade kit” is popular as a souvenir.

Kaleidoscope Gallery MISEGURA (TEL  04-7103-2817)

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By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 土曜日, 7月 30, 2011

    Here is another Dino exhibition in Tochigi – DINO PARTS LABO at SAKURA CITY MUSEUM. Rather than exhibiting life-size models and skeletical preparations, the exhibition focuses on the details of various parts of dinosaurs, such as heads, bodies, legs, tails, and so on. The scale of the exhibition is not big as size goes, but deep in quality.

the hand of a therizinosaurus

         The high light is the skeletical preparations of the hand of a therizinosaurus and the head of an allosaurus.

     What amazed my elder son, who is a kind of a young dino-geek, was the brain of an allosaurus and the head of an oviraptor. Also, he was happy to have my husband make an Origami allosaurus. The instruction of how to make Origami dinosaurs was handed out to visitors.

Katsuyama park is located near the Kinugawa river.

     After appreciating every part of dinosaurs, you can enjoy walking around the park, named Katsuyama park, which is next to the museum. Look at the beautiful greens in the park!

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Welcome Hayabusa to Tochigi!

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 日曜日, 7月 24, 2011

Hayabusa (c)JAXA

You must remember the news about the Asteroid Explorer HAYABUSA, which returned to the Earth on June 13, 2010. Hayabusa had stayed in space for seven years, and after overcomimg various difficulties, it had come back home – to the Earth!
Hayabusa’s reentry capsule is now exhibited at WAKUWAKU Grandy Science Land in Tochigi. (July 21st to 25th only) It’s the first time for the real Hayabusa capsule to be shown in Tochigi prefecture.

My husband and my elder son visited there to appreciate Hayabusa. They were so excited to see and study about the story of Hayabusa. My elder son held up the reentry capsule replica, which weighed about 2 kg. Also, he got interested in a spacesuit and waited for 10 minutes in a line to take a picture with the spacesuit exhibited there.
Here are what they bought there as a souvenir.

A plastic folder which the picure of Hayabusa is printed on(210 yen), and a miniature Hayabusa (950 yen)

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Dino World – Welcome to Dinosaur Laboratory

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 水曜日, 7月 20, 2011

T-REX welcome you!

Tochigi Prefectural Museum now holds the special exhibition called “Dino World – Welcome to Dinosaur Laboratory.” Various dinosaurs are collected from different parts of the world at the museum!
The skeletal preparations of a tyrannosaurus and an allosaurus are huge and impressive. The high light is the skeletal preparations of a rhabdodon, which is being exhibited for the first time in Japan.
Life-sized models of dinosaurs such as a deinonychus, a velociraptor, a pteranodon also attract dinosaur-lovers.
    Besides the daytime exhibition, the nighttime exhibition along with some music concerts is held on Saturdays, and August 12th to 14th. The Dino night must be exciting, too.

A flesh-eating allosaurus is another fierce dinosaur.

   My sons have been crazy about dinosaurs these days, so my sons and I visited the Dino World a few days ago. What attracted my elder son most were a tyrannosaurus and a deinonychus. What interested me was the introduction of how a fossil is excavated and delivered, and how it is studied.
We are coming back for the Dino night in August. We are also planning to visit other dinosaur exhibitions, which are held at some museums in the Kanto region this summer.

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SHICHIGOSAN – early birds’special campaign starts!

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 土曜日, 6月 18, 2011

5-year-old boys wear a kimono like this on SHICHIGOSAN.

SHICHIGOSAN is the Japanese traditional event on November 15th for parents to celebrate a child’s growth.  It literally stands for 7, 5, and 3 and it’s an annual celebration for three- and seven- year-old girls and three- and five-year-old boys.  It is common to make children in those ages wear Japanese traditional kimonos and visit a shrine.  Also, many families take this occasion to have their picture taken at a photo studio as memory.

You can easily imagine that November is the SHICHIGOSAN high season for kimono rental shops and photo studios and they are terribly busy.  Therefore,  it’s getting popular for many photo studios, which also provide kimono rental service, to hold a special campaign for the early birds, which starts in May in many cases.  The campaign includes not only special discount.  But also, for example, you can get a key holder the child’s picture is printed on, a special designed picture frame, and so on.

All of us wore kimonos on this occasion, just for a photo.

My elder son is turning to be five this fall.  My family and I decided to be one of the early birds! During the Golden week in May, all of our family wore kimono and had our family picture taken at a photo studio.  We appreciated the early bird’s discount as well as other special service.  We received the album of my son’s picture and of our family this month.

This is a key holder my sons are printed on.

Some children wear kimono again in November to visit a shrine and pray.  My elder son is not going to wear a kimono this fall.  Instead, we are going to a Christian church to thank God for my son’s growth.  Notably, many Christian churches (both of Catholic and Protestant) in Japan have some kind of celebration for children during SHICHIGOSAN season in November.

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Jazz Performance by the Watarase river

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 木曜日, 6月 9, 2011

 Fumio Itabash, a 62-year-old jazz pianist, who was born in Ashikaga-city, TOCHIGI, held a performance on the dry riverbed of the Watarase river on June 8th.
The grand piano, which a closed elementary school had owned, was set on widespread grass,  surrounded by the mountains, the wind, the birds’songs, the sound of trains, etc.  He played some numbers, including his original tune “the Watarase”.
Fumio Itabashi debuted as a member of Sadao Watanabe jazz quintet in 1971. This is his 40th anniversary as a professional jazz pianist. The DVD of this performance by the Watarase will be on sale this fall.
This performance was organized by Minoru Wakasugi, a music journalist in Ashikaga. He said, “I hope the performance will cheer up and activate the city, my hometown.”

Click here to see the movie ↓

 The performance by Fumio Itabashi by the Watarase river

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Gunma Children’s Land – Kanayama General Park

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 火曜日, 5月 31, 2011

The kindergarten, which my elder son attends, took one-day trip to Gunma Children’s Land (Kanayama General Park).  Thanks to the Kita-Kanto Expressway, which construction was completed this March, it took only an hour from Utsunomiya to the park in Ota-city, Gunma. One day is not enough to fully appreciate the nature and adventure in the park. See the overall view of the park;

Let me introduce some of the most popular outdoor play equipments among the kindergarten kids.
(1) Wooden jungle gym with a tubular slide
Even adults enjoyed climbing the gym and going down the slide. The kids, including my son, went up and down the slide. We all breathed the fresh air. I felt like the negative ions in the air improved blood circulation and reduced stress!

(2) FUWA FUWA DOME (membranal trampoline)

Do you know what FUWA FUWA DOME is? These days FUWA FUWA DOME is equipped with some other parks around Japan. See the following site as well;

FUWA FUWA DOME from Manno park

There are many other play equipments to try.
My family and I are willing to visit the park again!!

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GOPAN, a rice bread maker, came to my house!

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 金曜日, 5月 20, 2011

As I wrote in this site before(, the world first rice bread maker GOPAN had been in short supply since last year.  On April 27th, the time came when SANYO had restarted accepting advance orders of GOPAN. 

I ordered a GOPAN at an electronics store two weeks ago and GOPAN came to my house yesterday.

Rice Bread baked by GOPAN

Here is the first rice bread I baked at home.  Rice grains were really made into bread!! But I have to add that the sound of the cutting edge technology called the “rice paste method” was so big.  It was like a concrete mixer truck was working at home!! (30 seconds each, 10 times in total)

How was the taste of the rice bread??  “Yummy yummy!!” my boys shouted! My family and I really loved that sticky bread.  When we chewed it well, we could taste the rice itself. 

I think the technology has widened our view of what is “bread”!

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S.O.S from Food Allergy Sufferers

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 木曜日, 4月 28, 2011

     Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, some products have disappeared and other products have been in short supply at supermarkets in many parts of Japan. When I found two days after the quake that the supermarket near my house had no stock of rice grains, I felt a kind of panicked all the more because my younger son has food allergy to some ingredients, such as flour, eggs, milk, and kiwi. When he took a bit of these allergens, he could have anaphylactic shock, which may threaten life. Even if I could buy bread or noodles at supermarkets, I couldn’t feed them to him. Could you imagine how relieved I was when the supermarket had started to sell rice grains again in a week after the quake?

     That was what I had experienced in Utsunomiya, Tochigi. The situation in more damaged area must be much worse. I have been worried about those who stay in shelters and suffer from food allergy. Is allergy-free food distributed to them?

Some allergy-free food not distributed properly to those in need

     According to Mainichi Newspaper, the sufferers from food allergy have had trouble getting allergy-free food and some life has been threatened in the devastated area. The reason is not only that local governments have very little reserve of allergy-free food, but also that the situation for receiving supplies has been unsatisfactory.
     But the situation seemed to turn a little better at the end of March. The activity of Morioka Allergic Kids Circle: MILK(盛岡アレルギッ子サークル・ミルク), which organization consists of allergy sufferers, was introduced in the Mainichi news.   Let me summarize the story as follows;

    The voice of the circle staff spread around shelters one day: “Does anyone here have food allergy?” The staff visited shelters one by one to ask if there were any having allergy problem and bring allergy-free food to each sufferer.
     There was one allergy patient at the age of 17, staying at one shelter in Rikuzentakata-city, Iwate. She has strong allergy to flour and shells. Her house was destroyed by the tsunami, and her mother and she had stayed at the shelter. Though she had been waiting for something she could eat to be delivered, all available at the shelter were bread and noodles. She had decided her mind to try some bread. She thought that it was not time to say, “I can’t take this and that because of my allergy.” Then an itchy rash came out all over her body. She couldn’t sleep and her sheet was stained with blood.
     The nightmare had continued until the support from Morioka Allergic Kids Circle arrived. Since then, her condition has gotten better thanks to the allergy-free food the circle handed her. Now her mother and she live in a temporary housing. She hopes that the public administration will consider the problem of allergy and take action.

     The following is the blog of Morioka Allergic Kids Circle: MILK(盛岡アレルギッ子サークル・ミルク) (Japanese only)

     I’m going to donate some money for those who have food allergy. I strongly hope that the allergy-free food will continue to be distributed properly to each patient in shelters.

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Charity Concert held by Theater Nordhausen, Germany

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 木曜日, 4月 21, 2011

    Fumiko Okusawa is a 33 year old Japanese ballet dancer, who is a member of Theater Nordhausen in Thuringen, Germany. She has lived in Germany for 9 years, while her parents in Otawara-city, Tochigi, Japan. She heard a shocking news of East Japan Earthquake in Nordhausen, Germany, which is 9,000km away from where her parents live. Since then, she had been eager to give a concert to support her home country, Japan. When she talked directly to the manager of Theater Nordhausen, not only the manager, but also its orchestra members, chorus members, and ballet dancers agreed to organize a charity concert.
On April 2nd, the concert was held and a large audience of 451 appreciated its ballet and chorus performances for 2 and a half hours. Some Japanese songs were introduced to the audience as well. The total amount of donation was 10,000 euro (about 1.2 million yen). It will get to the devastated area via the Red Cross. Ms. Okusawa was moved to find that so many people had offered their condolences and support.

Nordhausen in Thuringen is not a big city, located in the center of Germany. The state of Thuringen is known as the “green heart of Germany”, full of nature. I was really encouraged to know that the people there, including the mayer and the state minister had prayed and supported for Japan.

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How can each household reduce its use of electricity in summer time?

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 土曜日, 4月 9, 2011

   The rolling blackouts had been implemented in Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Chiba, Kanagawa, Tokyo, Saitama, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka by TEPCO since March 14th.

   On April 8th, TEPCO made an announcement that in principle they have decided to cease the rolling blackouts because the supply-demand balance has improved significantly thanks to our cooperation to save electricity. 

 (Check )

Still, just as the government said, each household is expected to reduce its use of electricity by 15 to 20 percent during peak hours in summer time.

   The neighborhood I live in had experienced the scheduled blackouts a few times.  In order to stop the rolling blackouts, it’s our pleasure to do our best to conserve electricity!  We have to think of how to manage it. 

How can we reduce electricity consumption? 

How can we sleep in a non-air-conditioned room during piping hot summer? 

This is what I bought – QUICKCOOL.

I hope this will be a great help.  Its secret of cooling is the evaporating action of the fan and mist. 

Do you have any other good ideas to reduce the use of electricity?

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Study Room at the evacuation center in Tochigi

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 火曜日, 4月 5, 2011

    New school term in Japan starts in April.  But after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, many kids cannot go back to school and they spend their whole time at evacuation centers. They must have many worries about their school and studying.

   The study room can support the kids mentally.Shimotsuke newspaper introduced the story that Oyama volunteer support center had opened the study room for the evacuees, who ranged from elementary school pupils to junior and senior high school students at Oyama Kennan Gymnasium, one of the evacuation centers in Tochigi. Some university students and former teachers volunteered to teach. They study for 3 hours in the morning (from Monday through Saturday). They made it a rule to fully concentrate on studying.

   One of the girls (age 11) said with smile, “What I have been doing at the evacuation center is just sleeping and playing… The teachers at the study room are very kind.” Many kids seem to enjoy committing themselves to studying.

   One of the volunteer teachers (age 21) said, “I’d like to go back to Fukushima and become an elementary school teacher in the future. The kids here and myself will work together to reconstruct our hometown – that’s what I have in mind.”

   The organizer said that the study room can help regulate the kids’ daily life. Besides, it can support kids’ mental health.

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Hina Matsuri

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 木曜日, 3月 3, 2011

Here is one type of Hina Dolls.  There are many kinds.

March 3 is Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival or Girls’ Festival), when people pray for the happiness and healthy growth of girls. Most families with young daughters display beautiful dolls called hina dolls at home.  Hina dolls wear ancient court costumes from Heian period (794-1192) and they are arranged on a tiered stand covered with red felt.

It’s customary to eat Chirashi-zushi (scattered sushi) and Hamaguri Ushiojiru (clear clam soup) on this day.

Just as other homes, my mother used to make Chirashi-zushi and Hamaguri Ushio-jiru when I was a girl. But it was like a long time ago…

Hina doll paper ornament (by my son)

Since I became a mother of two boys, my family and I hadn’t celebrated Hina Matsuri because this festival is basically just for girls. But the paper ornament of Hina dolls, which my elder son made at the kindergarten, suddenly reminded me of the taste of Hina Matsuri meal.

Why don’t my family and I  celebrate this day for a used-to-be girl (= me) as well as girls in the world?

Here are Chirashi-zushi and Hamaguri Ushio-jiru, which I cooked today.

Chirashi-zushi & Hamaguri Ushio-jiru

Let me tell you this;

Some of my female friends, who have sons not girls, also celebrate Hina Matsuri for themselves.   We, mothers, are forever girls, aren’t we!?

Happy Hina Matsuri!!

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ookina ookina oimo (the big, big sweet potato) 

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 月曜日, 2月 28, 2011

Let me introduce one of the longest-selling picture books in Japan – Ookina Ookina Oimo (The Big, Big, Sweet Potato) by Suekichi Akaba.  It was first published in 1972, and the story was based on the educational practice by Hisako Ichimura.
Many kindergartens organize “sweet potato picking” as a school outing in autumn.
In this story, an event of sweet potato picking is postponed because of heavy rain.  Kids are just so sad and upset…
The teacher say, “Sweet potatoes grow bigger over night.”
The kids say, “How big will potatoes be??”  “This big?” “This big??”  “This big???”
They start drawing a big, big sweet potato all together.  They put many pieces of paper together, and keep on drawing a big, big sweet potato.

-How do you pick up such a big, big potato?

-How do you wash such a big, big potato?

-What do you do with such a big, big potato afterward?

-Let’s have a big potato party!!

At the end, they hear popping sounds… and they start flying one by one!!

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Utsunomiya Pleasant Commercial Award

By Gloria Y. - Last updated: 水曜日, 2月 9, 2011
Two university students won the award.

Two university students won the award.

Utsunomiya Pleasant Commercial Contest was held by Utsunomiya Brand Promotion Conference.  The winner was chosen out of 56 applications.  The awarding ceremony was held at Utsunomiya bicycle racetrack theater hall on February 6th.

The winner described Utsunomiya’s charm through Gyoza, using a clay animation.   The commercial was made by two university students.


WATCH: Lost Item

The story goes on like this (in 15 seconds);

A girl came to “lost and found” at a police box.

She said, “Excuse me, I found someone had dropped Gyoza on the street.”

The officer responded to her.

It’s such a jolly Utsunomiya life.(Sumeba Yukaida Utsunomiya with music)

A man came to the “lost and found” and asked if Gyoza had been reported, saying,

“Ah, I dropped Gyoza and …”



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