Okinawa’s Memorial Day

Okinawa has two more holidays than mainland Japan: obon, or the honoring of one’s ancestors, and Irei no Hi, the day to console the dead. This year’s Irei no Hi is today, June 23rd, and while mainland Japan and Hokkaido still commute to work, Okinawans get this extra day off.

It’s not like the Fourth of July or the American equivalent of Memorial Day where there are barbecues and fireworks. Irei no Hi is to remember the lives lost during the Battle of Okinawa during World War II when American forces attacked Okinawa and seized it under bloodshed. Over 240,000 people died in this battle, and Okinawa has been occupied by American bases since then.

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In 1995, a memorial sight in memory of the Battle of Okinawa was built to remember the deaths, pray for peace, pass on the lessons of war, and serve as a place for meditation and learning. The sight hosts the names of the dead facing the sea in Japanese burial fashion.

I’m Going Back to the 80’s and 90’s in the 2000’s

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1. Play The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers on a Nintendo console emulator.

2. Listen to Jessie J’s “Daydreamin'” (Alive album), Katy Perry’s “Birthday” (Prism album), and Angel’s “Us”.

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3. Marathon In Living ColorReading Rainbow, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

4. Pixelate all desktop pictures.

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5. Wear tight bright pants, a big men’s watch that matches any outfit, and a backwards hat with a Run DMC Domo-chan.

6. Make a mix CD and give it to a crush.

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7. Get a funky hairstyle…or one just like Mel Gibson’s hair in Lethal Weapon 1.

8. Copy the moves from MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” (Ninja Turtles‘ style).

9. Watch all four Lethal Weapon movies and A Goofy Movie.

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10. Put The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air‘s ringtone on my cell phone.

5 Things I Carry From Reading Rainbow

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I was humming in the copy room, and Reading Rainbow popped into my head. I couldn’t help but smile. I love Reading Rainbow! From the theme song (below) to LeVar Burton (Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation) to each book, I fell in love with the show. Reading Rainbow taught me many useful things, some things that I still carry into my adulthood.

 The theme song was inspirational. “I can go anywhere” and “I can be anything” inspired me to believe in myself, especially as someone who liked to read. When I was in fourth grade, I realized that most of my classmates hated reading, and if you read, you had a big “Pick on me” sign on your forehead. The first time I heard Reading Rainbow‘s theme song, I realized that it was OK to read. It was a catchy, cool theme song (up there with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Family Matters). I believed in it. I could go anywhere and I could be anything–as long as I was reading. Reading gave me the friends I didn’t have, took me places my family couldn’t go, taught me lessons that my parents couldn’t teach. To me, Reading Rainbow said, “It’s not only OK to read. It’s great to read!” As an English teacher, I encourage my students and colleagues to read books.

I’ve been using folded paper cups for over ten years. I learned how to fold paper cups when I was in fifth grade. My English teacher put on an episode of Reading Rainbow, LeVar folded a paper cup and put water in it, and we followed suit. When I got home that day, I showed my mom how to make a paper cup, and she commented, “Oh, this can hold more than water.” Eighteen years later in Japan, I use folded paper cups to hold game pieces, stickers, and laminated papers.

My mom is really a Chinese descendant or she knows the value of woks. My Filipino mom always used a big wok for making pancit (Filipino noodles), and I always wondered, “Why does Mom use that gigantic pot? Is she the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel?” When I watched an episode with LeVar in the Mandarin Inn Pell (above), I remembered my mother saying, “Oh, we’re Chinese descent,” before going on about her roots and Buddha. Now as an adult, I plan to use a wok because it heats the food evenly–and I get to say, “It woks!”

Mummies taught me to love mythology. Episodes about Egypt, like “Mummies Made in Egypt” (above), was a gateway into Egyptian mythology. By the time I hit seventh grade, I loved Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology, and my knowledge of them was vast for an eleven year old. When I was a sophomore in high school, I joined a quiz league (not Decathlon) as the mythology expert. Now that I’m a high school teacher, I don’t study mythology anymore, but it does influence the stories I write.

Cultures are awesome! Growing up in a homogeneous area (either black or white people), “culture” was a word that made people uncomfortable. My brothers and I were the only half-black, half-Filipino kids in our side of town, and for some reason, I always felt that my parents were trying to down-play our differences. We weren’t sure what to do about ourselves. It was important for me and my brothers to see LeVar–a black man–appreciating different cultures–Chinese, Japanese, Native American, you name it. I learned that it was OK to respect other cultures no matter what your skin color said.

Reading Rainbow isn’t on TV anymore, but it’s still around for the old and new generations of kids to love. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Rainbow Origami Slinky!

Wow! A throw-back with a creative spring!

Hiragana Mama

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I’ve made a lot of things out of origami in my lifetime, but I have never made something as fun as this! I was inspired by Kozue (of Kozue’s Show and Tell) to make a slinky out of origami paper (折り紙スリンキー). You guys, it is seriously so cool!

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The instructions for this slinky are pretty simple (video at the end of this post). BUT you have to fold 50+ pieces of paper so it takes quite a bit of patience. It took me about 2 hours to complete my slinky (while watching a movie with the kids), and mine used 64 pieces of origami. My 5-year old daughter attempted to help me, but she did not have the patience to make more than one ;). This would be a great little project for a child in elementary school, or really, anyone for the matter. It would be the perfect…

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