Monday, July 4, 2022

Monday Morning Star Count - Year Two Temperature Quilt Finish

I have been slowly quilting away on this one and am happy to show the finished quilt, front and back! Backing is made of leftover fabric from front.

Here is year one as comparison.

Side by side - -

Sunday, July 3, 2022

From Prison to Luxury Hotel


Japan's oldest prison, Nara Prison, is set to become a luxury hotel, opening in 2024. The facility was built in 1908 and was known as one of the Meiji Five Great Prisons. It was designed by Keijiro Yamashita and was one of the finest examples of modern architecture for its time. The prison was closed in 2017 due to structural integrity and not meeting earthquake standards. 

Luxury ryokan operator Hoshino Resorts is changing the prison to an upscale hotel and expects it to revitalise tourism in Nara.  The prison hotel site is close to Todaiji Temple, which houses the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. The new hotel will feature 48 guest rooms, and the guard quarters will become guest lounges. One of the buildings will become a museum to show guests what the original prison was like.  

I would like to stay at this hotel when it opens, but I am pretty sure it will be out of my price range!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Yukata Season

The rainy season is over where I live and the hot summer is now here. I've been noticing yukata and all the accessories on display these days. Yukata are the brightly colored, lightweight, unlined summer version of the traditional kimono. They are often worn at summer festivals and fireworks (hanabi). Wooden geta shoes or simpler flip flops are worn on the feet and some type of handbag or pouch is carried for the necessary belongings. Kanzashi hairpins are often worn in the hair.

Kimono are difficult (maybe impossible) to get dressed in by your self, but yukata are not so difficult. Here are some instructions from an onsen site.

Here are a couple of warnings about wearing a yukata:

I haven't heard anything yet about summer festivals in my area. I'm sure many people are hoping the festivals will resume safely.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Throwback Thursday - June 30

Sometimes I like to look back on my time in Japan. This is what I posted about on June 30th since moving here. (Click on the year to see the full post.) 

2021 Last year was a Work In Progress Wednesday post and I was working on three different projects that (surprise!) are all finished now.

2020 I reported that fire ants had been discovered in Tokyo.

2019 I wrote about Yoko Saito's exhibit at the Yokohama Quilt Show and posted photos of some of her work.

2018  I posted about four sampler pears I had finished.

2017 Was the June report for the 17 in 2017. One of my projects was the Blue Toolie set that I finished.

2016 June 30th was the day to post the Smalls SAL for that month and I finished a tiny fob.


2015 Take a Stitch Tuesday, I showed the Fern Stitch and the Beaded Fern Stitch. Links to all of my TAST stitches can be found here.

2014 Monday Morning Star Count - I was basting hexies for a bag.

2013 Watching and Waiting, and meeting people.

2012 I visited the Hokkaido University Botanic Gardens.

Sometimes I need to be reminded of the wonderful things I've been able to do in Japan.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Work In Progress Wednesday

This one needs more buttons.

The dogwood afghan second square progress

Starting a third beady triangle eyelet fob

The scarf progress

Mini Stitching Basket - Blue is my favorite color. I really like this Waterlillies thread.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Some People Are Allowed to Smile a Little

 The Police Departments are in charge of issuing driver's licenses in Japan. The National Police Agency asked local departments to take a look at their license photo regulations and let up on unnecessary restrictions. Osaka and Tokyo decided to drop their rules against smiling in the license pictures. 

I don't have a Japanese drivers license, but I looked at my now expired North Carolina (United States) license and I'm smiling. I read that the no-smiling rule was in place so that the person's face was in a natural, undistorted expression. So, even though drivers in Osaka and Tokyo can now smile for their license photo, they can't smile very big. Corners of the mouth are allowed to curve up, but lips must stay closed and eyes must remain open. 

I haven't heard about any changes in the photo requirements where I live, so maybe no little smiles here. I'll have to ask my students to see what they know about it.

Are there smile or no smile rules for driver's licenses where you live?

Monday, June 27, 2022

My New Favorite YouTube Channel

I don't have a television, but I do watch YouTube on my computer. Sometimes I watch too much "news" and current events and need to escape to something lighter.

I have recently discovered Griffin Frenchie -

The stars of the shows are two French bulldogs (real dogs) named Griffin and Haru, who live with their people in South Korea.  A baby joined the family a few months ago and these dogs are so good with the new baby. You can see the dogs, (that/who seem like little people) eating, playing, sleeping, going to the park or the vet or the shopping mall.

The language is English, but the pronunciation and grammar attributed to the dogs might not be easy to understand if English is not your first language. An example is - Heben hulp me (heaven help me).  For this reason, I haven't recommended this channel to my students, even though I have really enjoyed watching it. The videos are short and funny and just what we need these days.  Check it out!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Open to Tourists

Japan's borders were closed to tourists for almost two and a half years.  Since June 10th, Japan is allowing tourists to come into the country, sort of. Japan is still a little nervous about tourists coming into the country, even though the economy needs tourists.

International tourists, who are part of guided package tours from 98 low-risk countries (low levels of covid-19 positivity), are now allowed to enter the country. 

Visitors who are part of these guided tours must take measures to prevent infection. 

1. Tour guides must make sure visitors wear masks, disinfect their hands, and avoid the "Three C's" (confined and enclosed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings). 

2. Visitors must purchase medical insurace. 

3. Visitors must register in advance at the Visit Japan website.  

4. Visitors must agree that infractions may lead to them not being able to continue on the tour. 

5. In order to limit contacts, there must be a record of tour participant activities with fixed seating arrangements in restaurants and other places. 

6. Tour guides must have information about multilingual medical institutions and specialist medical interpreters. 

7. Tour participants who test positive should be promptly removed from the tour group and examined at a medical institution. Other participants who are not close contacts will be allowed to continue with the tour. 

8. As always, tourists need a tourist visa.

I haven't read anything about how the tour business is going or how long it is taking to secure tourist visas in order to sign up for the guided package tours. Currently, the Japanese yen is trading at a 24 year low ($1 USD = 135 JY), which is very good for foreign tourists coming to Japan. 

Personally, I would not like a guided tour and having to stay with the group. (Luckily for me, I live and work here). What do you think about this guided tour situation and the weak yen?  Would you come to Japan under these conditions?

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Tokyo Giant Panda Twins Turn One


At Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, the twin pandas are one year old!  Picutred are twins Xiao Xiao, right, Lei Lei, left and mom, Shin Shin, center. Happy Birthday to these babies!

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday Finish - Boro Zipper Pouch

Japanese fabrics and all hand sewn. The zipper came out really well being done by hand.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Yakuza Bosses Unable to Upgrade Flip Phones


The Yakuza (Japanese mafia) bosses are unable to upgrade from the old version flip phones. This is becoming a big problem, as the three big telecom companies in Japan (Au, Softbank, and DoCoMo) are ready to drop 3G service or already have. 

You might be wondering why they don't get newer versions with 4G capability. That's not an option because the Yakuza members have been unable to sign a new phone contract since 2011 when Organized Crime Exclusion Ordinances (Boryokudan Haijo Jorei) were passed across the country. This prevents companies from doing business with members of the Yakuza. Since the passage of these ordinances, mobile phone service providers' contracts require signees to swear they are not members of these organized crime groups in order to avoid liability in the event the customer turns out to be a crminal. 

My first thought is, if they are already criminals, why don't they just lie and sign the contract saying they are not Yakuza members. Apparently high ranking members are under increased scrutiny by the police who will arrest them for any legal infraction. A case of contract fraud would allow the police to investigate their business practices thoroughly. So how about getting someone else who is not involved with illegal activities to make the contract? That, too, is contract fraud, with the same results. 

Would the police really arrest a mobster for such a thing? Yes! In 2017, the head of the Kobe Yamaguchi-Gumi was arrested when he and a female accomplice conspired to get a new phone. The individual charges weren't so serious, but the charges allowed the Hyogo Prefectural Police to search the group's headquarters and to investigate other members of the group. Another incident involved a 46 year old Yakuza member who was arrested by the Hokkaido Prefectural Police in 2020 because he signed a fraudulent mobile phone contract in 2018. 

Younger members of these organizations could have smart phones as they may have signed their contracts before joining the Yakuza. As mobile phone technology continues to change, all of the Yakuza members could be unable to get new phones before long. There are still a few pay phones around.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Work in Progress Wednesday

 A little progress on this.

I started a second fob.

When I pulled this out to work on it, I noticed a major counting mistake, so I had to fix it. I'm back on track again.

It doesn't look like much this week.