Its Festival Time in Nothern Japan!

July and August are the summer festival months in Northern Japan. Every weekend there are multiple festivals nearby making it difficult to choose which one to attend! If you are in the area, here is a list of upcoming festivals

We attended the Neputa festival in Hirosaki last weekend. The parade of floats lasted for three hours while the crowd cheered them on. The floats are pulled by groups of men and women. Each float had drummers and flute players accompanied by groups of children carrying lanterns. The festival was truly a joyous celebration!


On a sad note, my Sony Cybershot DSC W-150 died 30 minutes before the parade ended. As you can see, the camera was taking fantastic night shots right up until the last. R.I.P. my dear little Sony Cybershot. You will be mourned…



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Rice field art near Hirosaki, Japan

Tony and I recently headed to Hirosaki for the Neputa festival and decided that we would stop in Inakadate and see the famous rice art recently featured on CNN. From a ground level view it is nearly impossible to determine the artwork. In order to view the subject depicted, you must view the field from atop a four-storied building across the street.

Amazing! I never knew there were so many color variations among rice plants!

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Wild Horses at Cape Shiriya

This weekend, we drove up to Cape Shiriya to view the wild horses.

“Crossbred with the Tanabu and the French Breton breed, Kandachime horses are tolerant of northern Japan’s brutal winters, have great stamina and exist on a simple diet.”

“In 1970, a local elementary school principal composed a tanka, a 31-syllable Japanese poem, that gave the Kandachime their name — literally “to stand in the cold.””

“On clear days, the northernmost Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido can be seen to the north across the Tsugaru Strait.” Well, it wasn’t a clear day….

You can read the full article from stars and stripes at:

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35 Things I Have Learned in Thirty-Five Years

My thirty-fifth birthday is just around the bend. Or over the hill. It’s all a matter of perspective. To celebrate this day and to commemorate the last thirty-five years, I want to share a few things I have learned.

1. Never turn down chocolate.

2. Loneliness is not unbearable, but friends are a gift from God.

3. Olive oil is good. Mrs  Tuckers lard is not.

4. Dirt roads can often lead to exciting destinations.

5. Always wash your hands.

6. When you think that you cannot find the strength to go on, you just do.

7. Spending everyday with your best friend is the best part of marriage.

8. Gravity always wins.

9. The toilet paper should go over, not under.

10. Little old ladies tell the ranchiest jokes! Total shocker.

11. Always carry your camera. You never know what moments you may want to capture.

12. Never judge packages by the outside wrapper.

13. Fireflies are magical.

14. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches are delicious. Elvis was right.

15. Nobody can give a hug like your grandmother.

16. It’s a bad thing to put salt on a slug. Or hurt any defenseless thing.

17. Black and white movies are the best.

18. How a guy relates to his Mom is how he will relate to you.

19. Models are photoshopped.

20. Men and women really aren’t that different. Ok, maybe that one is false…

21. Don’t take family for granted.

22. The older I get, the less I remember….start a journal.

23. Travel is the best education.

24. Education is overrated, but not travel.

25. Get a written copy of your granny’s recipes!

26. Spooning is the second best part of marriage.

27. Don’t judge.

28. Do something every so often that scares you!

29. Bowling is not a sport.

30. Listen more, talk less.

31. Art is priceless.

32. Everyone has a story.

33. Grey hair is sexy.

34. The Star Spangled Banner is hard to sing, however, it always gives me goosebumps.

35. Never “kill time”. It is the stuff life is made of.


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Shutter Island? Northern Japan!


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What a Big Buddha!

On a recent road trip to Amori, Tony and I took a side trip to view the thrid largest Buddha in Japan. Yes, it is big, really, really big!

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Jizo Statues in Nikko

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The Ever Elegant Kimono

Yes, fashionable japanese ladies still wear kimonos. Usually they are worn on special occasions, such as a wedding or some other milestone event. The quality of the silk and the elegant color combinations, which are intended to reflect the four different seasons are awe-inspiring. I wish my camera could pick up the color nuisances!


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America Day: Red, White, and Blue!

Every year during the first week of june, Misawa AB coordinates with Misawa City to host a festival called “America Day”.  Local japanese folks can enjoy live music, carnival food, and photo opportunities just as if they were at a typical festival in the U.S. This year there were many live country western bands and a special performance from the Pacific Air Force Band. The weather was sunny and the turnout was spectacular.

Uncle Sam even made an appearance!

Across the street are the food booths set up by the local Japanese vendors. This is where most of the Americans were heading. Wait until you see the treats!

From the back: fried sweet potatoes, french fries, french fries with hot dogs, and cheese rolls!

 My latest food obsession, crepes, fruit and whipped creme!

 My husband’s latest food obsession: marinated, grilled steak on a stick, of course.

America Day was a welcome reminder of the sounds and tastes of home, whether that home be the U.S. or Japan. Sharing food and creating new memories reminds us of how much we really have in common. Enjoying a sunny day. Savoring a hot, fresh funnel cake. Tapping your foot to “Sweet Home Alabama”. These are the simple moments that make life so sweet.

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Baked Donuts

This weekend we stopped in Sendai on our way home from Nikko. If you are a shopper Sendai is paradise, more on that later. While we were wondering through the outdoor mall, I noticed a vendor selling baked donuts. I was intrigued so I began to look for recipes so that I could make my own donuts as soon as we arrived home.

This recipe is quick and easy. You can bake your donut in a this donut pan made by Wilson and available at Sur La Table. Or if you want, you can make your donuts in a muffin pan, as I did.

For this recipe, courtesy of Mrs. Fields Secrets, you will need:

1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons butter, melted (for sugared donuts)
1/2 cup super fine sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup jelly (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat sugar and egg together until creamy and light-colored. Add oil, milk, and vanilla and mix well. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Slowly add flour mixture into egg mixture until well combined. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. These would also work great in miniature muffin tins with a reduced cooking time of 8-10 minutes. Do not overcook! You want a nice, dense, moist cake.

For powdered donuts: While donuts are still warm to the touch, remove from tins and immediately roll the crust with powdered sugar, until it is well coated. Dust the tops with sugar as well.

For sugared donuts: Using a pastry brush, coat each donut with a thin layer of melted butter. Roll each buttered donut in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

 Yummy! I hope you enjoy your donuts!


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