Different Country, Different Candy

The wonderful world of Japanese candy includes a lot of Western candy, but the flavors are different. This Kit-Kat bar is a strawberry shortcake flavor bar, a flavor I have yet to see in the U.S. Even though strawberry shortcakes are notorious for their high sugar content, this Japanese spin on an old favorite concentrates on the taste, not the amount of sugar.

Architecture Doesn’t Have Feelings

Though most foreigners think that Japan only has pagodas and deep-red architecture, the building landscape is different than what you see in anime (manga is a little more realistic but only by a slight margin). Actually,pagodas are influences from China.
Many buildings are really old and damaged-looking. They are built to last for a long time. Some apartments are built with the ground floor as the parking lot while the rest of the building is supported only by pillars or columns. I suspect that these kind of buildings are remnants of Japan’s earlier days when the nomads began to settle and more permanent settlements began. The buildings were similar, except the purpose: to protect food stores. But it’s funny to see these things still around after several hundreds of years.
I live in Okinawa, so you are more likely to find some non-Japanese architecture, like the old house in the picture.

Art Helps More than Science

I graduated school as a double-major in art and sports medicine. Even though I spent most of my time doing my science work while art took a backseat, I don’t use science in the real world. As an English teacher, I don’t even need science-but I use my art training every day.
It’s not the ability to draw, as shown below, that makes art an asset in my life. Art goes beyond skill and touches the mind or the heart. In the mind, you learn how to create, dismantle, and improve all aspects of creativity within nature. It doesn’t have to be drawing, painting or sculpting, because creativity and creation don’t come from those skills. They’re a result, a way to combine two ideas together.
I use this kind of creativity to include culture and art into the lessons I help teach in Japan. The visual element peaks students’ interest and the characters become a reference point for students.
The images below are pieces I drew for one lesson, but I ended up drawing four more images for another lesson. “Are you a rabbit?”
“No, I am not.”
Being able to use art to teach “Are you…” makes me happy that I majored in something other than science.

Hello, Mr. Shisa. Thanks for being a Guardian

In Okinawa, there are these lion-dog looking beasts on every building. These are shisas, the guardians of Okinawa. Supposedly, they come from China, like many foods here.
The male shisas have their big jaws open, their teeth showing as in a half-growl to scare evil from the building. The female shisas have closed mouths, keeping all the good things from escaping the building. Everywhere, one male shisa and one female shisa work in unison to maintain peace and harmony in the home.
Of course, I don’t know how much of it is true. A local told me this with a strong sense of pride for the Okinawa lifestyle.

Gloomy Day, Sunny Plants

It’s raining pretty badly here in Okinawa. Much like San Diego, Okinawa’s rainy season hits around April or May, so the umbrellas have to come out. It gets pretty muggy (but if you say that to an Okinawan, magi (マギ) means “big” in Okinawan dialect). The dark clouds roll around and the gloom just settles into each class. But when I see flowers as beautiful as the one in the picture, I feel a little more happy. Though places as warm and tropical as Okinawa exist, when their brightness is lacking, a small piece of sun is all you need to warm up.