Thursday, February 28, 2013



I learned today that the traditional dress for ladies in Japan is the "kimono".  Most ladies only wear kimonos to parties and special events, but traditionally they were worn all the time. 

When girls turn ages 3, 5, and 7 they usually go to the temple to celebrate.  The girls will wear kimonos to celebrate their birthday.

These are so cute!

These are the shoes worn with the kimono.

Your friend,

Flat Sarah

Ume Blossoms

Hi Ainsley,

"Ume" is plum in Japanese.  At the end of February the plum trees begin to blossom.  It is a sign that the weather is getting warmer.  The Japanese love to view flowers and so the blossoms bring lots of people to the park. 

This is me holding a plum blossom in my left hand.

At the beginning of April the cherry blossoms come out.  This is the Japanese favorite time of the year.  Cherry blossoms are called "sakura" and cherry blossom viewing is called "hanami".  The Japanese sit under the trees, have a picnic and enjoy the beautiful pink flowers.  I will miss this season but my host showed me a picture from last year.  Aren't the flowers breathtaking?

Your friend,

Flat Sarah

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My New Friends

Hi Ainsley,

Today I got to meet 9 very nice Japanese ladies who come to my host family's house twice a month for a two hour English lesson.

After the lesson we went for lunch to a "soba" restaurant.  Soba is a noodle made from buckwheat and it is made into a soup.  You can eat the soba cold or hot.   I tried some and it was very tasty. 

My new friends and I have sent you a video message. 

My new Japanese word is "oishi" (oi-shee)= delicious

Your friend, 

Flat Sarah

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hinamatsuri- Doll Festival

Dear Ainsley,

On March 3rd Japan celebrates "Hinamatsuri".  Hinamatsuri is "Doll Festival" or "Girls' Day" and it is a time to celebrate the important girls in one's life.

Traditionally, dolls were sent floating down the river as a way to send the bad spirits away.

Today, Japanese celebrate by putting out a special display of dolls.  The dolls are always on raised stairs and the stairs are covered with red carpet.

This is a picture of a doll display in The American School in Japan.  Below this picture is an explanation of some of the dolls and a video link if you would like to watch.


Setsuban Festival

Hi Ainsley,

On February 3, a few weeks before I arrived, Japan celebrated a festival called "Setsubun".  Setsubun is a celebration to welcome spring (although spring weather does not come until the end of March). People throw roasted soybeans out the door or at a person wearing an ogre mask.  Ogre in Japanese is "oni".  When you throw the beans you are supposed to say:  "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!"
This means, "Bad luck out, good luck in".  By throwing the beans you are symbolically telling the bad luck to go away.  To ensure good luck, it is customary to eat the number of beans of your age.  

Even though the festival has past, my host family and I celebrated Setsuban by throwing beans at an oni mask.  You can see me throwing the beans below.  Since I am 8, I ate 8 beans.  Yummy!  I will bring some beans and a mask home with me.  If anyone wants to try to throw and/or eat beans I can lead the celebration!

Word of the day: arrigato (are-ee-ga-toe)= thank you

Your friend,

Flat Sarah

Friday, February 22, 2013

Skiing in Japan

Hello Ainsley,

I just got back from a 3 day ski trip near Mount Fuji.  Mount Fuji is 100km South-West of Tokyo.  It is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 meters high.  Mount Fuji is also a volcano.  It last erupted in 1707.  My host family tells me that it will erupt again some day.

The picture above is with me and  Mount Fuji in the background.  It was so cool to see.

My host family and I stayed in a traditional style Japanese room called a TATAMI ROOM.  A tatami is a mat made out of rice straw.  The entire floor is covered in these mats.  I learned that the Japanese do not sleep in beds like we do.  They sleep on the floor on mats called "futons'.  Since most Japanese houses are so small, the living room and bedroom are the same room.  During the day the futons are stored in a special closet and at night they are brought out to sleep on.  The Japanese sit on the floor around a small table so there is no need for a couch. 

In the picture below you can see me in a tatami room and then sitting on a pile of futons.  (I felt like Princess and the Pea).

 On my ski trip I learned my first Japanese word.  I hope I can teach you some words too.

Konichiwa (ko-nee-chee-wa): good afternoon

Your friend,

Flat Sarah    

Arrived in Tokyo

Hello Ainsley,

I arrived in Tokyo on February 19th, 2013.  The flight from Calgary took 10 hours.  I was pretty tired when I arrived and quickly learned what "jet lag" was.  Can you believe that Japan is 16 hours ahead of your time in Rimbey?

I am staying 20km outside of Tokyo in an area called Fuchu.  It is not nearly as busy as Tokyo, but still much busier than Rimbey. 

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and has about 13 million people living in the city.  If you count the people in Tokyo and its surrounding area, there are 32 million people.  That is the population of Canada!

Tokyo is about 2,000 square kilometers and has about 14,000 people living in each kilometer.   I think Rimbey has about 200 people per square kilometer.  I cannot believe how many people live here!

This is a picture of Tokyo.  In the background you can see the famous Mount Fuji.  I just got back from a ski trip near this famous volcano.  I will tell you more about it in my next post.

Your friend,

Flat Sarah