Sunday, March 29, 2009

Does the Tooth Fairy Come to Japan?

The Tooth Fairy visited our house Thursday night! Keanna lost her first tooth, and lucky for her the Tooth Fairy visited, because she doesn't normally come to Japan. I didn't know that, did you? In Japan when a child looses his/her tooth they throw it up or down, not under their pillow like we do in the United States. In Japan, kids throw the tooth in the air (on the roof of their house) or at the ground, and they throw it straight up or straight down so the adult tooth will come in straight. So if an upper tooth falls out throw it straight down, and if it's a lower tooth throw it up.

Keanna was left ¥500, about $5 USD. She loves this melon drink that I've only seen in vending machines, so now she can afford to get about four cans! Actually, she said she wants to save it and Bob and I are fine with that! And as for the tooth, it was on the bottom, and she didn't throw it on the roof, the Tooth Fairy kept it for now.

I wanted something for her to put the tooth in and started thinking about what to buy as soon as it was loose at the end of January. I thought maybe something Japanese would be neat, but after learning about the Tooth Fairy not coming here I started looking online. I saw a bunch on Etsy and Ebay and thought, "That doesn't look too complicated, I think I can do it." After making her popcorn costume for Halloween I had a renewed faith in myself. Mind you, I'm much better with a glue gun, but wanted to give this a shot. One morning Sandy and I were looking at tooth patterns online. She's thousands of miles away in the D.C. area, but we were chatting on one of the instant messaging programs and exchanging links back and forth.

Here's how I made the Tooth Fairy pillow. It wasn't complicated, but I did call my friend, Shari in Virginia to help me. I had no idea how to do the mouth so she suggested a backstitch. Mahalo Shari! I did the same thing for the eyes. I cut a circle out of the dark pink then bunched it together to make the flower; held it while stitching the green thread in there to not only hold it down but make it look like petals. There's a heart on the back to hold the tooth and money too. I stuffed it with some toilet paper believe it or not, and it makes it soft enough for a little cushion. The supplies cost $1.90 at the Community Center on base and for the amount I actually used (out of the embroidery thread and felt) it actually cost less than $1.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Twilight" Comes to Japan...and My Living Room

I was up in Tokyo last weekend with some friends and our kids and on our way back from Tokyo Tower decided to stop at a book store in Roppongi. I've seen the Twilight book split into two with the picture that lines up, but last Saturday I found New Moon along with the 11 Manga-style books with illustrations; they are not Manga though. I knew they existed, but hadn't found them. So I took about 15 minutes looking for them, and when I couldn't find them I asked at the register, "Twilight wa doko desu ka?" As you'll see, they're split into 11 smaller books, not four thick ones so they fit in bags and/or read on the trains.

Well ask and yee shall find! I bought the first book of 11 for Shari's daughter per her request. Shari sent me the first book for Christmas, and after a couple of days I finished that and within 10 days finished all four...and then Midnight Sun too. I was hooked. Before that I had never heard of the series, Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson. Each book has one or two illustrations....Keanna and Sydney were beyond borrowed time so I didn't take pictures of all drawings inside every book. Each book costs ¥1000, so a little more than $10 USD because of the exchange rate. I emailed my friend Mayumi to ask her to translate the covers for me. Mayumi married Dave, another submariner and Bob's roommate during Prototype. I met Dave in winter of 2000 and Mayumi in 2006 right after Sydney was born. Anyway, getting back to it, she was kind enough to take the time and email me back. Domo arigatou gozaimasu Mayumi-san, and Dave for assisting!

We get maybe eight or nine Japanese channels with our cable (not digital), and while flipping through tonight I saw what I assumed was coverage of the premiere in Tokyo from February 28th. I was wrong, it was the "Twilight" trailer! It made me wonder if the movie will be dubbed over or subtitled in Japanese when it opens here on April 4th. It arrived on base for us Americans to see it in January. We were in Singapore on February 28th, otherwise I would have taken the 1-hour train ride up to Tokyo and braved the rain to go to the Japan premiere.

The One I Loved is a Vampire & The Blood that Tastes Sorrow

The Dark Vampire Clan & The Fang that Whispers is Fascinating

The Moon of Wolf & The Fallen Angel that Laments

The Red Mark & A Cold Kiss for Myself

Twilight is the Time for an Evil Demon & A Bride of a Vampire

God of Dawn

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How it Works - Liquor Shop Vending Machine

Remember my "Best Vending Machine...Ever" post last month? A few readers filled out the "Contact Katie" section on the right side of the page asking about people under age purchasing from it. I asked my Japanese sensei and she replied back with some answers. Domo arigatou gazaimasu Mizuha sensei for the answers and to my readers for your questions!


Regarding the first slot of the vending machine, people are supposed to insert the driver’s license in order to identify their age.

Second one, you are supposed to insert the ‘Sake card’ You can buy the ‘Sake Card’---at convenience store. Whenever you want to get the sake card issued, you need to bring your ID in order to identify your age.

After inserting the Sake Card enter their personal identification number (PIN).

After the identification, people insert money and buy liquor.

Usually many Japanese people buy liquor at convenience store, or super market and do not buy liquor from the vending machine. It is easier for us to buy it at the supermarket.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Money Laundering...Japanese Style in laundry. If you have dirty money and you want to clean and even double the quantity, stop by Zeniarai Benten Shrine in Kamakura. It's known as the "Money Washing Shrine," and as you'll see in the pictures, the money, both bills and coins, are soaked in water. The point isn't to clean the money, it's to double it. I've added pictures to a Shutterfly album and if you'd like to see them click here.

There's a sign outside the entrance that reads, "It is believed that if you spend the money that has been washed in the spring's water, it will increase many times and come back to you. The spring is one of Kamakura's five famous water." The money has to dry naturally though, and has to be spent in order for it to least that's the belief.

The entrance is up a small hill and through a cave. Once you walk through the cave there's a tunnel of wood torii gates and it opens up to the shrine. There's another cave, waterfalls, shrine buildings, candles and koi. Calling it unique is an understatement! Once you get into the center area you can buy an incense stick and candle. You'll also get the basket for your money. After you wash the money you'll see a stack of baskets...add yours to it when you're done. Julie and I weren't sure what to do and in which order, so she asked (her Japanese is pretty good!) and we also watched what others were doing.

Inside the cave where you wash your money are strands of origami cranes hanging. The pictures don't do them justice. Click on the picture to see it at full size and you'll notice how many cranes there really are. There's a very pretty area off to the side with a small waterfall and bridge that was so pretty and perfect for pictures. There were a lot of orange and blue koi swimming in there too. See them?

If you've got a Japanese Shrine Book make sure to bring it with you. We both got our books stamped. We visited another shrine that day and I took video of the man writing in my book (at the second shrine). I love watching it because it seems so simple and effortless, but when it's done it looks beautiful! I've included a video of it below. Those who subscribe via email may need to go to the main website ( in order to view it.


Back Home in Japan

What an amazing trip seeing Southeast Asia! We took a cruise from Shanghai to Singapore and stopped at nearly every country in between. I've got some catching up to do before I post about the cruise and since they'll be fairly short posts my plan is to get them done first. So hopefully within the next week everything will be posted and then I can write about Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and more....

Stay tuned!