Thursday, October 5, 2023

Animals Found Only In Japan

Did you know there are species of animals that cannot be found outside of Japan? It makes sense, being that Japan is an island nation, but I hadn't given it much thought before.

Japanese Macaque

The Japanese Macaque is the only monkey species in Japan.  They are often referred to as snow monkeys because they can be found in snowy places. They can be found throughout Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. The most famous place to see them is in the Snow Monkey Park in Jigokudani in Nagano Prefecture. I visited this Monkey Park in December 2017.

Another place I saw monkeys in Japan was when I was hiking in Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine on the island of Yakushima, Kyushu Prefecture.

Monkeys are not my favorite animals.  I think they are a little scary. 

Shima Enaga 

These small birds are found only in Hokkaido. Even though I lived there for several years, I don't think I saw any living birds, but I may have seen them in a zoo or stuffed ones in a museum. One of the places they are known to be is in Maruyama Park in Sapporo.


The tanuki look similar to the raccoon, but are not close relatives. Tanuki are in the animal family related to wolves, foxes, and domestic dogs, while the common raccoon found in the US, is in the animal family with weasels, badgers, and otters. Tanuki statues, as well as the animal itself, can be found all over Japan.

I have seen the live animals in the Asahiyama Zoo in Hokkaido.

And I see statues and signs of them pretty much everywhere.

Japanese Serow

This animal was almost hunted to extinction before it was declared a Special National Monument in 1955.  The population of the Japanese serow has increased dramatically since then is and now designated "least concern". I read that this goat-antelope animal is considered a symbol of Japan. It is native to central and northern Honshu and small areas of Skikou and Kyushu, living in mountainous and subalpine forests and grasslands. 

Iromote Cat

The Iromote Cat is a subspecies of leopard and is found exclusively on the island of Iriomote in the Yaeyama Islands of Okinawa Prefecture. It is said to be a little larger than a pet cat, with mostly dark grey or light brown fur, and amber eyes. It is critically endangered with only about 100 remaining in the wild. Since its official discovery in 1967, it has been protected. It has been designated a national living discovery and is the mascot of Iriomote Island. While it is rare to see one, there are stone statues of them on Iriomote Island.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Work In Progress Wednesday

I finished the stitching on these four little snowmen that will later be finished into ornaments.

I worked a little more on the Just Nan Ice Moth.

New Start - This is a 12"x12" pillow kit from Designs For The Needle, Inc. Years ago, I stitched the matching bell pull, but never started the pillow, until this week.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Oldest Female McDonald's Worker


Recently Japan has been encouraging older people to re-enter the work force to make up for worker shortages. Legislation that came into effect in April 2021 allows companies to abolish their previous mandatory retirement age (typically at 60 years old) and raise the age of retirement to 70, or allow a subcontracting type of agreement. 

The latest government report shows the current number of Japanese people aged 65 and older working is the highest number ever, with 9.27 million people or 13.4 % of the labor force employed. 

McDonald's employee Tamiko Honda, age 90, has recently been featured in the news. She was born in 1933 in Kumamoto Prefecture and spent the majority of her career working in the nursing field until she reached the mandatory retirement age of 61.  After that she work as cleaning staff at a university until she was 67, which was the mandatory retirement age in that field. In 2000, she applied for a position at McDonald's after her only daughter told her McDonald's had no retirement age. Unfortunately, her daughter died of cancer at age 58, twelve years ago. Ms. Honda's longtime hobby of sewing is difficult do to her declining sight and many of her friends have passed away or are dealing with dementia, so her job at McDonald's is a welcome distraction. 

She travels 20 minutes by bus from her home to the McDonald's where she works, five days a week to work three hours a day, sweeping the interior of the store. She is adored by her co-workers and customers.  The store manager, at age 51, is the same generation as Ms. Honda's grandchildren. 

According to McDonald's Japan, while she is the oldest female employee in Japan's 3,000 restaurant location, she is not the oldest employee.  A 95 year old man is employed at a branch in Toyama Prefecture. Ms. Honda started work as an employee at McDonald's in 2000, so she has been working longer than Mr. Yabuta, who started in 2019.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Another Crazy Crime Story


I never get tired of the crazy crime cases that make the national news here.

So, here's what happened. At 4 am on the 8th of September in Ishigaki City, a completely naked man walked into a convenience store and bought a pair of underwear and put them on. (Convenience stores really are convenient!) After that, he walked to a nearby bicycle parking lot and stole a scooter and a helmet.  

About half an hour later, he retured to the same convenience store, wearing the new underwear and riding the stolen scooter. The police arrested him for driving under the influence. In Japan, drivers cannot legally have any alcohol when driving.

This same man was arrested again on September 20th for public nudity and theft.  He denies both charges, claiming he doesn't remember because he was drunk. 

What I want to know is, where did he keep the money he used to buy the new underwear?

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Smalls SAL for September - 2023

Thank You, Mary (at Mary's Thread) for hosting this link up. If you also want to join, check out this page on Mary's blog to find out how. 

This month, I finished the Lizzie Kate freebie called Moon Over Blackbird.  The chart can be found here.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Friday Finish - The Mt. Oyama Adventure Wall Hanging

Tuesday, I posted about the Mt. Oyama Adventure with Alice Gordenker and the stitching class with  Quilt Sensei Yawatagaki. This is my finished project. The size is 37"x15". (I see I should have pressed it before hanging it on my laundry pole!) I plan to hang it in my entry way later. I chose this panel because of Mt. Fuji and Miho no Matsubara in the picture.

I really enjoyed this class and the whole day. The stitch group is planning to make our own version of this for our next project.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Stitch Group Sunday

It was great to get together with my friends for an afternoon of stitching on Sunday. 

First a little show and tell. Three more stitchers finished their pin cushions. The green one with the multicolored leaf has a bell inside. They are so creative!  

The stitcher who had finished her two pincushions last time, brought her crazy quilt stitch kit progress to show.

The current project is the drawn thread and chicken scratch on gingham. You can find out how to do this with a wonderful tutorial on Mary Corbet's blog.

If you look closely at the black and white blouse, you can see chicken scratch from an earlier time. You can see a close up of the blouse on  this post.

Chicken scratch patterns have to be decided on, in addition to the drawn thread.

Tea Time

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Work In Progress Wednesday

New start - Lizzie Kate freebie called Moon over Blackbird.  The chart can be found here.

New Start - Just Nan's Ice Moth

New Start - Warm Wishes by Val's Little Stuff

Old Start - I came across this that I started long ago and put it away when there was a counting mistake. I unstitched everything but the brown border and began again. Something to feel good about.

Sneek Sampler - I completed page 8 of the pattern.  There was a lot of backstitching.

Gingham Drawn Thread and Chicken Scratch

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Mt. Oyama Adventure

About a month ago, I saw this post on Alice Gordenker's blog. The whole day looked interesting, but I was especially interested in the Quilting with Kimono Workshop in the afternoon. I immediately signed up, as it was limited to 12 and I was sure it would be popular. It was an absolutely fabulous day! I had to wake up at 4 am and leave home at 5 am to walk to the local JR train station. I changed trains in Atami and Odawara. Using the great directions on Alice's blog, I was able to buy the Tanzawa-Oyama Free Pass that covered the train from Odawara to Isehara, the local bus, and the cable car all day. 

After I got off the bus, I wandered around a bit before meeting up with the rest of the group. It was nice to see both English and Japanese on the signs.

From here, we walked about 15 minutes uphill to get to the cable car.

You can also walk up to the shrine, if you choose, but we took the cable car. The cable car was only about 5 minutes and an easy way to get up the steep slope to the shrine.

Alice gave us a brief orientation to the area, then we headed up more steps to the shrine.

It was a bit rainy off and on, but rain is what this shrine is known for so it is to be expected.

Next was a coffee and macha tiramisu break at the Teahouse Sekison, which is part of the Oyama Afuri Shrine and designed by Yasushi Horibe. You can see pictures of the teahouse at this link. The dessert is served in sake cups.

Next, we saw the beautiful Oyama Pilgrimage Quilt, designed by Mutsuko Yawatagaki, who is one of Japan's most famous quilters and the founder of the Izumo Museum of Quilt Art, as well as the sensei for our afternoon class! The blocks that make up the mountain are made from the shirts that the pilgrims wear. Alice had one of the shirts to show us.

Next, we were able to go into the inner part of the shrine, where Shinto priest Kunihiko Meguro told us about the Oyama pilgrimage traditions and conducted a seishiki sanpai Shinto ceremony to ensure we had the gods' blessings for the rest of the day and success in our afternoon project. After the ceremony, we were able to take photographs.

The ceiling

Looking out the glassed front of the shrine

It was interesting to find out that there are only two universities in Japan for Shinto priest education, so all the priests know each other. The father of "our" priest Kunihiko Meguro is the head priest of this shrine. 

After our ceremony, we went under the shrine and on the other side saw the gate to the mountain trail that the pilgrims and hikers take to the top of the mountain. Originally, the gate was closed except for three weeks in the year when pilgrims from all over came for the pilgrimage with their groups from home, wearing the white pilgrim shirts that the quilt was made from.

Now the gate is half closed to show it is still sacred beyond the gate, even though it can be accessed more than just the three weeks of earlier times.

What a great morning! We next headed back down the stairs and down the cable car to go to the Meguro (priest) family's ryokan for a fabulous vegan lunch, followed by our needlework adventure with famous quilter and teacher Ms. Yawatagaki. 

The wife and mother of the two priests was in charge of the lunch preparation, the teahouse tiramisu, and the beautiful shiny floors. Oyama area is famous for tofu, which was featured in our lunch.

I should have taken more photos of the class, but I was so busy with my own project, that I forgot to do it! Our teacher and her daughter were so patient and the project is gorgeous. I love the technique I learned for getting the perfect corner!  I will have a post with my finished wall hanging on Friday.

I thought I was signing up because of the afternoon class, but the whole day was so fantastic! A big thank you to Alice Gordenker, Sensei Yawatagaki and her daughter, the Meguro family, and our entire group.