Monday, November 30, 2020

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 30

 Year Four of the temperature quilt  

Week 30 

November 22 - 28 

64, 70, 68, 70, 77, 77, 68

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Four temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Good Meat Day

I always enjoy word play (or number word play).  In Japan, there are faux holidays created because of the way numbers look or sound.    November is the 11th month and 11 looks like ii, which means good. The number 29 can be read as Ni Ku (niku) which means meat.  So, today is good meat day!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Sign Language Starbucks


There is not a Starbucks in the town I live in, but sometimes when I travel, I will get a Mocha Frappuccino at an airport or at a nearby train station.  It is a popular chain in Japan. I was interested in a story about a western Tokyo store staffed by hearing impaired workers.  It is raising public awareness of sign language after opening as the coffee chain's first signing store in Japan.  

When I watch a news conference on the internet, I am always interested in the signers who stand next to the speakers and translate.  I don't know or understand American sign language and I really don't know Japanese sign language, but still I am interested in seeing it.  

Customers at this Starbucks in Kunitachi don't need to use sign language to order, but if they want to, there are simple instructions on the shop's wall. Ayaka Yamada, a spokesperson for Starbucks Coffee Japan Ltd. said, "We hope to develop the coffeehouse into a place where staff and local people can make connections while making sign language familiar to everyone."  I think this is a great idea!  The store has 23 full and part time workers, with 19 of the 23 having hearing impairments. It opened in June and is the fifth outlet worldwide to operate using sign language as its main mode of communication. 

Do you know of any other chains offering a sign language shop? Have you ever visited one?

Friday, November 27, 2020

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Memories of Childhood Thanksgivings

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It's a national holiday and probably the biggest family holiday of the year. While the holiday is about being thankful, it is not a specific religious holiday.

If you aren't from the US, you might not know the history of the American Thanksgiving holiday. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn feast, which is thought of as the one of the first Thanksgiving dinners in the American colonies. For more than 200 years after that, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states.  Finally in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving holiday to be held each year in November.  At some point in history, it became commericialized as the lead in to Christmas shopping.  The day after Thanksgiving became Black Friday shopping day, but I'm getting sidetracked. 

As a child, my family spent the holiday at the home of my father's parents with the large extended family. My grandmother made the turkey and all of the other family members brought the other food. I don't remember specifically what other family members made, but my mother made pies, many pies, the day before.  She made the best crusts. If there was dough leftover, she sprinkled the rolled out dough with cinnamon and sugar, rolled it up, sliced it and baked it into cookies.  The other thing she made every year was called Jello Mold. I don't know why it was called mold because it was made in a large green crock bowl. It was lime jello, cottage cheese, crushed pineapple, and nuts. Maybe it had other things too.  I've never eaten it anywhere else and there was never a written recipe for it that I saw. 

We spent the entire day at my grandparents. I think our holiday was very traditional for that time. The children watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television or played outside. From what I remember, the women talked and got the food ready in the kitchen. The men sat out on the porch that wrapped around the front of the house, maybe smoking and talking, but not helping with the dinner.

The food was laid out on the kitchen table, the dining room sideboards, and ironing boards around the dining room. My grandparents had a huge set of matching green and white dishes that took up one wall of cabinets in the kitchen. We walked around and filled our green and white plates.  I remember my great grandmother, who lived across the street from my grandparents, asking my mother who made each item every year. The adults ate at the large dining room table.  The children and younger unmarried adults ate on card tables in the TV room and the living room. There was a lot of talking and laughing. All of the families lived nearby and saw each other often but we didn't all get together at the same time so much, so this was special. 

After the meal, the girls washed and dried  the dishes.  We weren't a football family, but that is a part of many families' holiday now.  The children played, the adults talked, and we ate pie for the rest of the day. When it was time to go home, everyone pulled out their Tupperware containers and took home leftovers. 

Now I live in Japan, where there are many national holidays. Some American holiday traditions are creeping into Japan, but American Thanksgiving is not one of them. It seems like Japanese holidays are for being thankful for everything - the children, the sea, the mountains, the elderly people, eveything. I'm thankful for childhood memories and thankful I now live in Japan.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Work In Progress Wednesday - Band Samplers

 I continued working on this linen band sampler with silk threads.

I also started this blackwork band sampler, with #8 perle cotton.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

New Baby Panda in Japan


Adventure World in Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture announced a male giant panda cub was born on Sunday.  The baby is 20.5 centimeters and weighs 157 grams.  The zoo said mother and cub are doing well.  I was surprised they could give so much information so quickly.  The National Zoo in Washington DC waited quite a while before examining the new cub or separating it from its mother. 

The cub's father is 28 year old Eimei, who is the oldest panda father in captivity.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 29

 Year Four of the temperature quilt  

Week 29 

November 8-14 

70, 63, 59, 59, 54, 64, 72

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Four temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Illumination in Japan

 In Japan, this is the season for illumination, or night time light displays. In the US, I would call this "Christmas Lights", but in Japan they are called Illuminations.

This year, I don't know if there will be illumination displays or not.  They often bring crowds of people to see them, so maybe they will not be held this year because of the spread of coronavirus in crowds.  I don't know.  I do know I'm not going to see any illuminations. I've taken a look back at a few I've seen in the past.  

Sapporo, Hokkaido


Shimizu, Shizuoka  

Kyoto, Kyoto

Kushiro, Hokkaido

Maybe next year...

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Japanese KitKats Getting Smaller


Oh No!  KitKats are shrinking in Japan. KitKats are commonly sold in multipacks, similar to bags of Halloween mini candy bars in the US.  It has recently come to light that even though the packaging is the same, the candy itself has gone from 12 grams each to 10 grams each. 

Why has this happened? A representative from Nestle was quoted as saying: “For some time, many consumers have said they are concerned about calories and want to hold back on their sugar intake. From September 2020, we adjusted the recipe to switch part of the sugar to soy milk okara (lees) powder etc., and changed each serving to be bite-sized so that people concerned about calories can easily enjoy it. ”

What?  Really?  Are people so concerned about calories that they really want smaller KitKats? Nestle's representative also said the company is aware of complaints, but the company maintains that the change was in response to consumer feedback that the "conventional product may be too large." 

Really? What KitKat consumer wants less chocolate?  What do you think? Do you want smaller candy bars? 

KitKat Japan has over 300 different flavors, some being regional or seasonal and only available in certain places or certain times.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday Finish - the Camera Ornament

 This cross stitch ornament is backed with felt which is attached with small blanket stitches.  The twisted cording is made from perle cotton.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Work in Progress Wednesday - a Tiny Rug and the Band Sampler

 I worked on this miniature rug one evening.

Most of my stitching time this week was spent on the band sampler. I love projects that I can make up as I go along.  There are no mistakes or unstitching, I can do whatever comes to mind.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Green Tea Experience Trip - Part 4

 After leaving Macha More, we headed to Gyokuro-no Sato for lunch and the Tea Experience. Lunch was delicious - green tea soba and tempura. There was a band playing outside.

After lunch we crossed the road and went to the place where the tea experience was held.  It was a gorgeous house with a gourd theme.

Yes, we had another sweet and more tea.

I learned that you pour a little into each cup several times so all cups have the same strength tea.

Macha Soft Serve Ice Cream

Next, we went to T's Green Omachi in Shizuoka City, for tea and sweets.  I had to draw the line.  I could not eat another sweet, let alone another tray of Japanese sweets.  This shop did make beautiful trays of sweets though.

Our final stop on the tea tour was Kinzaburo in Shizuoka City. The first floor is a tea shop.  

We went to the second floor for a lecture and demonstration and tasting of different teas.

This was the end of our two day tour.  A big thank you to everyone, especially our guide, Satoshi Nihonyanagi of Local Network Service. I had a wonderful trip and learned a lot!