JAPAN: Too Soon (Robot Dog)

I had really hoped this year would be the year.

The year I could put the Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Day) dolls out in the living room where we could enjoy them. It’s such a nice tradition: displaying beautifully intricate (and sickeningly expensive) dolls in traditional seven-layered kimonos for the weeks leading up to Girls’ Day on March 3rd, when the whole family pauses to pray for the health and well-being of daughters before feasting on feminine, cutesy foods, like tiny sushi and soup with delicate candy colored balls, followed by pink and green omochi (sticky, sweet rice cakes) for desert.  Ladies magazines are full of hina (imperial princess) themed recipes. This year I think we’ll try the “parfait sushi,” which is sushi rice layered with eggs and other colorful ingredients in a glass so it looks like a parfait. I’m also thinking of ordering a Hina Matsuri themed ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins (known here as 31 Ice.)

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and moms often go awry. Or something like that. (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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