Brand New Hello Kitty Cafe In Kanagawa

Here’s a video on my visit to the cafe:

This was my first time going to a Hello Kitty Cafe.  I went on a rainy day because I knew few people go to Enoshima Island during bad weather and I wanted to take pictures.  dsc07396

I was right.  It was pretty empty when I got there.

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Top Five Enoshima Sights | My video

Whew, it’s a good thing I enjoy editing, because this took forever to make.  It’s my lists of the best things about Enoshima Island which is a Tokyo Getaway spot that takes an hour and a half to reach by train from Tokyo station.

It’s best stuff is in the summer (beaches, swimming hole) and the winter (illumination and the clear skies for gorgeous sunsets)..

My list is:

5.)  Shrines and Shopping

4.) Winter Illumination at the Sea Candle

3.) Iwaya Caves

2.)  Enoshima Shoals

1.)  Enoshima Sunsets

Check out the video if you’d like to see more.

The Number One Thing To Do On Enoshima Island in Kanagawa Prefecture

Shh…. I’ll tell you a secret. This is the hidden experience of Enoshima Island. Most tourists don’t know about this and miss it.

Enoshima Island lies off the coast of Kanagawa Prefecture.  If you want to hear about the legend and history of the island here’s a video I made on the subject:

Legend of Enoshima Island

It is well known among tourists in Japan, and even from China and other parts of Asian. However, western tourists don’t seem very familiar with it. They also don’t seem to know what’s so special about this island on Japan, a place with lots of islands. Continue reading

The Kawaii Monster Cafe and Shamisen

A friend invited me to join them for a Shamisen demonstration in Asakusa. It was dripping with rain and bitter cold.  A great day to be indoors. On the other hand, I found a place where you can snap a photo of a bird’s eye view of Sensoji temple in Asakusa


The Shamisen demonstration was sponsored by the Japanese government and featured some of Japan’s top shamisen artists. The lady in glasses has directed a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York, one that received a standing ovations.  They were amazing.  I took lots of video (I asked first and they said it was no problem and to ‘please film’)  I’ll post the video of the amazing performance on another day.

(Video editing takes lots of time).

They even let us play.  Shamisen is so much fun to try out.  My friend has skills playing the guitar so he took the Shamisen fast.  I was worried because I can’t keep a beat (I always fall out of rhythm), but it’s surprising easy to play it.

It’s both string and a percussion instrument that was brought from china over a thousand years ago. However, the Japanese had to invent their own unique style of playing.

Afterwards, we headed to Harajuku to eat the Kawaii Monster Cafe.  I had heard lots about this cafe, but had never eaten here before. Continue reading

Top Ten Fictional Stories that influenced my childhood

When I was young (staring around five) I wanted to read everything my dad read. My father relaxes by reading fantasy and scifi. He has boxes and boxes full of books. The covers were all fascinating.

As a child, I would ask him about the stories he read and he would fold and ear into the book and start telling me about the story he had read so far. Through him I was transported into the worlds of Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein, and countless others.

It frustrated me that I couldn’t read like he could.  My schools wanted to assign me children’s book — children’s books!  The nerve!  I wanted to read like my daddy.  His stories sounded cool.

Instead I got stories about kids going about their day to day life at school.  Boring!

I tried and tried to read way beyond my level and couldn’t.  My first attempt to read Frank Herbert’s Dune went down in flames — I was seven and only got through the first paragraph after an hour of reading and using a dictionary.

My father and I have always been close. As a child, he was my hero. No matter how busy he was assembling some shelf my mother had assigned to him, he would talk to me and listen.

Eventually, hearing his stories created a burning desire inside myself to write my own stories. Never once was I discouraged, he would just ask for more and offer suggestions.  My father loved science, and hard science fiction more than anything.

So I came to as well. That was why I studied biochemistry in college.  Still my love of fantasy burned just as strong.

Some of my fondest memories are sitting by my dad while he built or repaired a piece of furniture and I told him of the latest story I had come up with. Sometimes I told about starship captains or quests to destroy the Great Evil.  Often my main characters were female — simply because I was probably inserting myself into the stories — and he would eagerly listen and ask me to finish the story.

When I was a teenager I discovered Japanese anime and Sailor Moon and DBZ.  These were the stories and shows that influenced me as a child and a teenager and even into my college years:

12. Gary Gigax


11.  The Simpsons


10. The Shining


9.  The Foundation

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Natural IVF in Japan

Did you know that Japan is at the forefront of infertility treatments?

Mini-IVF was invented in Japan. (See here)

The Japanese also found away to awaken dormant follicles in women whose ovaries stopped working.  (See here)

They are pioneers in the industry. Even all these breakthroughs don’t guarantee a live birth. Every women is different. And what works for one, may not work for another.

In our case, Natural IVF was the best option.

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Receiving A Gift In Japan

It’s New Years Day here in Japan.

My husband’s aunt and uncle always create calendar cards that are beautiful and feature everyone’s birthdays. She even has my parents, brothers, and relatives’ birthdays included. (A couple years ago she asked for their information).

We finally remembered when our anniversary was thanks to her including it on her calendar.  She is a very sweet woman. Each photo of flowers she took herself from 2016. It is a hobby she puts great effort into.

One thing I have noticed is when you receive gifts like that in Japan (maybe this is true anywhere), you must take them out and look through them carefully, admiring the work and heart that went into it.  You don’t just go “Thanks” and toss it in your bag.

Whenever I receive a gift in Japan, I will admire it for a few minutes after opening it and ask questions about the material and how they got it. It makes a big impression and seems pretty expected.

I’m now so accustomed to this “gift-giving” manner than when I go back to the States and others don’t do it, I find myself a little taken aback.  The nerve! Continue reading

The Japanese In-Laws (the good and the bad)

We’ve made our annual visit to the Japanese In-laws for the New Year. Since I live in Japan I always celebrate in Japan. I’ve not been home (to Texas) for Christmas in a long time.  If we ever have kids, maybe that will change.

We are eating Nabe, clinking our glass in a call of “Kanpai”, and celebrating the end of 2016.

I feel like I won the lottery of in-laws. Mine are very open-minded and understanding.

When my husband told his father of my infertility, my father-in-law immediately said that it was okay if we never had kids. He was worried about me. While he would love grandkids, he wants his family to be happy more.  My own father has been equally understanding and said a similar thing, “Plenty are happy without children.  I just want you to be happy.”

No one is pressuring me. There is no blame or recrimination.  This is opposite of the horror stories I’ve heard or read about from many others going through infertility who have been made to feel “broken” (biologically) because of it. Or that it’s somehow their fault.

It’s just one of the many things that is wonderful about my in-laws.

I remember when, three months into dating, my boyfriend (who became the hubby) asked if I would meet his parents. This blew me away at the time because all the other foreign women said that Japanese men wait at least a year to do that.  I expected the same, but I was wrong.

From the moment we met, despite the awkwardness and language barrier, they have always been kind and humble.

Before I met them I was anxious. I heard countless in-law horror stories from other foreigners.

One American woman with three kids by her Japanese husband told about how she no longer met with her in-laws. Her husband refused to let them near her after they continued to ask her “Why are you a fat American pig?” and then refused to apologize or acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Now they only drop off their grandchildren on the New Year to see their grandparents. However, even the grandkids didn’t want to meet them as they only say things like “How is your fat mother doing?” or “Why did your mother steal our son?” or “He could have done so much better.”

Then there was the Haitian woman’s story of her mother-in-law from hell.  She met and married a Japanese man in Haiti. Eventually they moved to Japan and had a baby together. Around this time the mother-in-law asked to move in with them. The Haitian woman desperately wanted to be a good daughter-in-law and, despite reservations, agreed.

It quickly became apparent she had made a terrible mistake when her MIL ran her finger across the top of the TV and held out her dirty finger pad like an indictment and said, “A Japanese wife would never allow this.”

The abuse grew worse and worse. Every mistake in childcare or housework was met with an emphatic, “A Japanese housewife would never do this. Are all woman lazy in Haiti? Hmm?”

Finally, the Haitian woman delivered an ultimatum to her husband: either the MIL leaves or she would go back to Haiti with their child.

He made the smart choice and kicked his mother out to a nearby a apartment he set up for her. She could come visit, but would need to mind her manners. The MIL seemed aghast and sputtered, “But I did nothing wrong. I was only joking around. She is too sensitive.”

These stories made me nervous, but my in-laws were nothing like that. They are sweet hearts who have always welcomed me into their home.

They have a thirteen year old, diabetic Scottish fold who comes and snuggles up to me now as I write this. I’m surprised he hasn’t hopped onto my keyboard yet. Wait… he’s looking at it.

Okay, he sauntered off to my husband.

I’m grateful to have such a great place to spend my New Years.

I hope everyone has such places.

Have a happy 2017.