JAPAN:  Cherry Blossoms and Backpacks

JAPAN: Cherry Blossoms and Backpacks


Handmade shoe and apron bags made by the author.

April in Japan brings with it warmer temperatures, cherry blossoms, and the beginning of a new school year.

Children who are entering first grade, which is the first year of elementary school here, have a lot to prepare. Many of the items are the same as what school children in the rest of the world need: pencils, erasers, a pencil box, notebooks. But some are peculiar, if not to Japan, than at least to earthquake prone regions. (more…)

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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