Monday, May 31, 2021

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 3

Year five of the temperature quilt 

Week 3 

May 16 - 22 

70, 79, 72, 64, 70, 77, 68

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Five temperature/color scheme remains the same as previous years: 

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 

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Questions Answered

Queenie, who posts at Queenie's Needlework has challenged me from her blog to answer some questions. Here goes - - -

What would my perfect holiday be?

This is a difficult question.  I love to travel and see new things.  I haven't been anywhere since the start of the pandemic and I do look forward to getting out and about again. I would like to take a Japanese castle tour by train and see more of the history and culture of Japan. Train travel is very easy in Japan and I always meet new people along the way. 

Osaka Castle

Where is my favorite place to walk?

I've taken some interesting walks. In 2019, I walked the Portuguese Coastal Camino de Santiago From Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain, and in 2016, I walked the Kumano Kodo in Japan. Near my home, I can walk along the beach in Miho or to nearby shrines and temples to see interesting things.

Camino de Santiago

What inspired me to start a blog?

Simple answer, moving to Japan. I wanted a record of my life here. I moved to Japan in December 2011 and have posted every day since. I write about my experiences in Japan, my stitching, other interesting things about Japan and stitching, my travels, and other things as they come up.

What did I miss most during lockdown? 

Japanese law does not allow for lockdowns. Some prefectures are under a "State of Emergency" meaning the number of covid cases are rising or the hospital space is limited. My prefecture has so far done pretty well and we are not under a state of emergency.  The government of Japan asks people to stay home, and that's the SOE, no lockdown.  We don't have a major city, which is probably part of our good fortune. While things are open and people are not limited, I do limit myself.  I go to work and the grocery. While I look forward to traveling again, I am otherwise happy to stay home and stitch in order to be safe.

What was the last book I read?

Climb by Susan Spann.  It is the story of an American woman and recent cancer survior who moves to Japan to reach 100 mountain summits, called the Hyakumeizan, in one year. Great book!

Thank you, for the invitation to answer these questions.  You can read Queenie's responses here. Feel free to join the conversation with your responses.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Maya Hotel


The Maya Hotel was once beautiful, but now abandoned and in ruins. It was built in 1929 by the Maya Cablecar Company on the side of Mount Maya, during Japan's pre-World War II craze for Western Art Deco Architecture. The four story hotel offer beautiful views of the city and bay. During the second World War it was equipped with anti-aircraft guns and used to defend the city of Kobe. After the war, the city sold it to a private owner who repaired it and reopened in 1961 after a remodeling project which included adding a fifth floor.  Unfortunately, a typhoon and mudslide damaged the building, closing it in 1967. It was repaired again and opened as the Maya Student Center in 1974, but it never really took off. The Great Awaji Earthquake in 1995 closed the once extravagant hotel for good.  

Now the Maya Hotel is one of Japan's most famous haikyo (abandoned place). It has been used as a filming location for TV episodes, movies, and music videos. There is an unmarked trail leading from Nadamaruyama Park (ten minute walk from Hankyu Rokko station), but it is difficult to find. The Osaka real estate firm, Nihon Service currently owns the property. I read that the owner, a non-profit organization, and an architectureal group banded together to start the application process to have the property listed as a Tangible Cultural Property.

I don't think I would make a trip especially to visit this abandoned hotel, but if I were in the area already and could find the trail, maybe I would take a hike up to see it. If there was a tour or guided hiking trip, I would sign up.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Finish Friday - Miniature Rug and Foot Stool

I finished the stitching on the small rug and backed the finished rug with a piece of felt.  It is a Janet Granger kit and measures about 2.5 by 4 inches.

After finishing the small rug, I decided to finish the tiny piece that I stitched a while back into the wood foot stool (also a JG kit).

I previously stitched the matching cushion.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Disposable Mask Problem

Since the beginning, I have only used cloth masks that can be washed and worn again, and again. In the first place, I am incredibly frugal (some say cheap, but I say frugal). I don't want to pay for something that gets thrown away.  (Same goes for paper plates and such.)

In the second place, and even more important, is the mountains of trash that are created every day with so many people world wide wearing disposable masks and protective gear. This is not about medical workers, this is about everyday people trying to protect themselves and others. 

I read an article on Japan Today about what is happening with all these disposable masks. According to the American Chemical Society, around 129 billion disposable masks are being used every month around the world. Masks are made of polypropylene plastic material, elastic, and metal and are heading for the landfills, in addition to littering streets, rivers, and oceans where they can harm wildlife. 

Researchers and companies are looking for ways to put used masks to good use. The problem is that so far it is not profitable. It's difficult to disinfect and remove the plastic from the other parts of the mask. There are some companies working to give new life to what is now trash. In Australia, researchers want to transform single use masks into road material. In the US, they are being recycled into benches. In France they are being turned into floor carpet in cars.

I haven't heard of anything being done here in Japan. What do you know or have you heard about all these disposable masks where you live? 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Work In Progress Wednesday

 Miniature Rug


Part 25

Sneek Sampler (Yes, there was more unstitching on this one.)


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Fuhin the Panda


Giant Panda cub Fuhin, who resides with her mother Rauhin, at Adventure World in Wakayama Prefecture, is now six months old. Isn't she cute? Due to the pandemic, the zoo only allows 25 people to see the the zoo's giant pandas at a time, every four minutes.

The names of all of the pandas at Adventure World seem to end in -hin.

On another animal topic, the Yokohama python has finally been caught. It was found by reptile specialists in the owner's attic, coiled around a steel frame. Although it was calm, it took two adults to pull it off from the frame. The owner said he was sorry for having caused inconvenience to his neighbors. He has given up the snake to the Yokohama city authorities.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 2

Year five of the temperature quilt 

Week 2

May 9 - 15 

82, 73, 66, 69, 61, 81, 79

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Five temperature/color scheme remains the same as previous years: 

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 

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Umi-Shibaura Station


This station, like the Koboro Station, is a secluded station which is not accessible by car or foot.  In addition, no other train station in Japan is built this close to the sea. The single platform has spectacular views of Tokyo Bay. Train riders can get off the train and walk along the platform, but are forbidden to go outside the station. The area around the station is the private property of Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation and only company personnel are allowed to enter.  Photos are allowed on the seaside, but forbidden on the company side.

The only way to get to the station is by taking the Tsurumi Line train bound for Uni-Shibaura, which is a ten minute ride from Tsurumi Station. Riders are warned not to confuse it with an Ogimachi bound train. There is one train per hour, except during morning and evening semi-rush hours. The station is unattended, so IC cards like Suica and PASMO are recommended. 

When I am able to travel again, I want to go here.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Cancer Survival Rate Rises in Japan

I saw an interesting (to me) headline on the May 17, 2021 about cancer survival rates in Japan - "Japan's 10 Year Cancer Survival Rate Rises to 59.4%". Having had cancer twice in Japan (stage 1 uterine in 2014 and stage 3 colon in 2016), of course I am happy to see these statistics. It was just a short blurb, but it said the rise is attributed to early detection. My doctors were and are the best, so I have to give the medical professionals in Japan credit. I don't know how this compares with the survival rates in other countries. What do you think about survival rates where you live?

Friday, May 21, 2021

Friday Finish - Little Toolies and Bag

 I made a little zipper bag and matching toolie set to go inside.

I made a pin cushion, a scissor fob, and a needle case with pockets inside, on each side of the grey felt for needles.

The back of the pin cushion matches the bag and needlebook fabric.

The cross stitch needlecase ties closed with gross grain ribbon. The cross stitch pattern is a freebie at

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Throwback Thursday - May 20th

The rainy season has come to my area of Japan - about three weeks earlier than last year! Walking to work in the rain is no fun. 

On to my look back on what I posted about on May 20th the last nine years, which is kind of fun for me.  (click on the year to see the full post)


Was a WIPWednesday, and one of the things I was working on was the rhodes stitch bag.


I was starting a new temperature year and posted this block.


I went to Guam over Golden Week that year and this was a post about the fishing culture there.


The stitch group was making beaded earrings.


This was a post about Japan's changing population - fewer children, more elderly.


In 2015 I wrote about the Quilt Week classes I attended with my friend Vicky.


In 2014, I was participating in Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) and that week the stitch was the zig zag coral stitch.


I attended the Hokkaido Quilt Show and posted some photos of quilts, the classes I took, and flowers in Sapporo that year.


I wrote about my first time eating at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. I've missed doing this the last year.

It's good to look back from time to time and reflect on how good my time in Japan is and has been.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Work In Progress Wednesday

Is it Wednesday again already? 

The miniature rug is coming along.  I don't know if I will ever have a doll house again, but it doesn't matter, I guess.  


A few more stitches on the Sneek Sampler

I've done quite a bit on the scarf.  I like projects like this, where I can use any color or stitch and there are no mistakes.

I last posted about this, the NYE SAL in March when I left off on part 21 of 32, and picked it up again this week. 

Part 22

Part 23

Part 24

Eight more parts to go.  This is a mystery stitch a long and I haven't looked at the final version.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021


Have you ever heard of SSAWS? It's official name was LaLaport Skidome SSAWS (which is an acronym for Spring Summer Autumn Winter Snow). I hadn't heard of it until last week, when one of my students talked about it. 

The indoor ski slope opened in July 1993, constructed by Mitsui and costing US$400 million. The plan was for the ski area to break even by 2018 by attracting 1.3 million visitors a year, who would pay 4,300 yen each for two hours of lift time. This was overly optimistic, with the number of visitors being only one million the first year, dropping to 700,000 the second. It closed in September 2002 and was demolished the next year.  The space was turned into Japan's first big IKEA store in 2006. 

The structure was ten stories high and built in an earthquake zone in Tokyo Harbor. It was specially built to make it earthquake proof to prevent collapse. There were three courses for advanced, intermediate, and beginner skiers, with two ski lifts. 

I hadn't heard of it before, and it was long gone before I came to Japan. My student said it was amazing. What a novelty to ski in Tokyo in the middle of summer (and all year round).  Have you ever seen or skied in anything like this?

Monday, May 17, 2021

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 1

Year five of the temperature quilt 

Week 1 

May 2 - 8 

70, 68, 75, 70, 75, 66, 77

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Five temperature/color scheme remains the same as previous years: 

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 

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Few Updates

Missing snake in Yokohama

The big snake I wrote about last week is still missing.  The police and fire departments used an infrared camera to scan the building and checked sewers and crevices with fiber optic cameras. The police gave up on the search Friday, but fear not, YouTubers are continuing the search for the giant snake. You can read more about the brave YouTubers here

Vaccine Roll Out

The vaccine roll out that I first wrote about here is slow, but moving ahead.  In my area, residents who are 85 and older are receiving their vaccine tickets by mail and are able to make appointments for the first shot, which will begin later in May. Appointments can be made online or by phone.  Guess which method most people over 85 are using? This is the message on the city website.



There are many mistakes in calling.
When calling the new Corona Vaccine Call Center, please check the phone number carefully before sending it.

I've heard the vaccine tickets will be sent out in five year increments as each age group is nearly finished being vaccinated. In Japan, only doctors and nurses under the supervision of doctors can give vaccines, not pharmacists or trained volunteers as in other countries.  The government is trying to enlist dentists and retired doctors to help with the vaccinations. 


There have been earthquakes in other areas of Japan, but none recently around where I live. 

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics 

Officially, they are still scheduled to happen beginning in late July this year. 

Currently, Tokyo and seven other prefectures are under a state of emergency and several other prefectures are under a quasi-state of emergency. I don't know what the quasi-soe is about.  Even the SOE isn't a lock down or anything harsh.  It's more like the government asking people to stay home if they can and to wash their hands. Restaurants are asked to close earlier and not to sell alcohol, but... People in Japan are just supposed to do the right thing without being punished if they don't.   Really.  

A petition signed by over 350,000 people, calling for the Olympics to be canceled was submitted Friday. It was previously decided that no overseas spectators will be allowed and the decision on whether spectators from Japan are allowed will be made in June. Olympic sponsor Toyota claims to be "conflicted" about whether the games should be held. Time will tell, but it seems like they will be held. 


My town usually has quite a few summer festivals and fireworks.  Last year they were all canceled.  I can't find any information online so I don't know if they are canceled or will be canceled again this year. Last February, a quilt festival was scheduled in Shizuoka City but it was canceled at the very last minute.  It was rescheduled for this month and is being held. Many of my friends and students have contacted me about it.  I enjoy going to quilt shows, but I don't feel safe going this time. Some people might say I am overly cautious because there aren't so many confirmed cases where I live. I think there will be other shows and festivals in the future.  I can't control how close people get to me or if they wear their masks properly or if they are infected but asymptomatic.   For now I am staying home. 

Well, I guess that's all for now.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Koboro Station in Hokkaido

In Japan, there are a number of secluded train stations, known as hikyo-eki. The term became popular in the 1990's by Takanobu Ushiyama, a railfan who wrote many books about his train travels. The most famous/popular of these stations is the Koboro Station in Hokkaido.  

The station is located in an 87 yard-long space between two tunnels. It is not accessible by foot or car, and there is no road nearby.  The only way to get to it is by train. The Koboro Station first opened September 30, 1943, during the Pacific War as a signal station.  October 1, 1967, it was upgraded to a provisional stop. The station was officially designated as a railroad station on April 1, 1987. 

In 2015, the Hokkaido Railway Company considered closing Kobaro Station, but the town of Toyoura, which Koboro Station belongs, agreed to fund the maintenance of the station in order to keep it as a tourist attraction. The station has only about five passengers a day today, mostly train enthusiasts or fishmen. The station is accessible by the Mororan Main Line, but the train only stops six times a day. 

I'm not traveling anywhere these days, but I do read about places to go and think about when I will be able to travel and where I will go.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Friday Finish - Two Ornaments

Two cross stitch ornaments finished!  I made the cording from perle cotton 5. You can find these free patterns here.