Moving to Japan: An Assistant English Teacher’s Life In a Small Town

If you want to teach English in Japan, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take the plunge. That’s just what I did back in ’97 and I’m still here, with no plans to go back to Los Angeles.

I can personally attest that Japan offers many opportunities to native English speakers to live in the countryside as well as cities of various sizes and teach English, whether it’s at private English language schools or as an Assistant English Teacher (AET) on the state-sponsored JET program or similar private programs.

And if you have an advanced university degree and want to stay awhile, it’s always possible that you’ll be able to make the jump to university teaching if that’s something that appeals to you.

There are also jobs in Japan for English speakers besides teaching, but they are obviously less plentiful, and it often takes an entrepreneurial spirit to create work for yourself. This website is in fact one such example-I retired from teaching almost ten years ago, and I now make my living dealing in new and vintage Japanese textiles, indulging my interest in traditional culture.

This post is a general primer on what life can be like in small town Japan, with some basic tips on how to get the most out of your experience. In future pieces I’ll write about specific experiences that I’ve had in different locales and at different types of schools, as I’ve sampled various teaching and living scenarios in my decades here.

JapanesePod101.com – The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed

Before you actually visit the country your image of Japan may be influenced by popular media, which tends to focus on such aspects of Japanese culture as Lolita girls, surprising vending machines, manga and animé, pop stars and game shows. The more traditional side of Japan, such as its temples, its geisha, and its Shinto shrines tend to be portrayed in the west as somehow otherworldly and static, as if they belong to a different time.

Real Japan

The real Japan defies these stereotypes, especially in small towns and rural areas. Like any other country, Japan mixes its traditional culture with modern life and its alternative scenes with mainstream pop culture. It is also surprisingly cosmopolitan in terms of food, music and entertainment.

You don’t need to be in the big cities to find excellent quality Italian food alongside the regular restaurants and ramen diners, and small towns will often have interesting venues for small bands and performers as well as traditional festivals and craft fairs. Small-town Japan is a vibrant place to live if you’re open-minded and willing to spend a little time getting to know it.

The Japanese countryside is strikingly beautiful. Forests cover about 67% of the land in Japan, so the mountains spend most of the year looking lush and green. Roads wind through the valleys beside rocky rivers of beautifully clear water.

This is the kind of countryside in which you may well find yourself as an AET in a Japanese school or district. It can be tough to find your bearings if you don’t read Japanese, since English is used less outside of the cities. It’s far from impossible, though, and in fact, with the right approach, small-town Japanese life is very rewarding.

Life in Japan for Foreigners

The first thing you’ll realize is that, if you don’t look Japanese, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Don’t be surprised if neighbors and co-workers seem to know more about you than you might expect.

Looking different means that people notice you, and naturally people like to talk about the new person in town. This can seem invasive to non-Japanese people, so it’s important to bear in mind that talking to you about things you’ve been doing is often a Japanese person’s way of striking up a conversation and being friendly. Bear in mind that you’re noticeable, avoid doing anything you don’t want to be seen doing, and you’ll find in time that no one cares what you bought at the supermarket anymore.

Because Japan is often affected by earthquakes, its buildings must be earthquake proof. That means that Japanese houses and apartments tend not to have central heating systems to avoid the danger of fire in the case of earthquake damage. Of course the cities feel the cold, but in rural areas and small towns it will be colder.

Electric or paraffin heaters are usually used to heat apartments and houses. You will probably also use a kotatsu, which is a wonderful Japanese solution to cold weather. A kotatsu is a low table with a heater. Under the top of the table, you lay a quilt, so you have formed a quilted tent over the heater for your feet and legs. With a kotatsu to keep you warm, the winter may seem too hot instead of too cold.

It may also be necessary to have an all-night electric blanket to keep you warm at night, especially higher in the mountains. There are stories of AETs in particularly mountainous areas who have to keep their toothpaste from freezing overnight by putting it in the fridge. With those kind of temperatures inside, you need a little extra help to keep you warm at night.

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

Curiously, Japanese toilets seem to vary from the very high-tech, with rows of buttons and a multitude of functions, to the very low-tech, being little more than a pit in the ground. Rural Japan still has a significant proportion of pit toilets. If you find yourself living in a house with such a toilet, you may have to get used to treating it with certain chemicals and scheduling a waste removal service.

If you’re living in a small town or a rural area, owning a car is pretty much essential. Even simple things like shopping for groceries or meeting up with friends will be a challenge without a car.

The good news is, used cars are very affordable in Japan. Your co-workers can advise you on where to find a good deal and the dealership will help you with tax and insurance.

One major advantage of living in or near the mountains is that you’re never far from a hike in the summer or a ski-slope in the winter.

Japan has been host to the Winter Olympics, which took place in Nagano-ken in 1998.Winter sports are very popular and snowfall is usually heavy enough to allow a reasonably long skiing season.

The season is longer in Hokkaido, where snowfall is usually significantly heavier than on the other islands.

Make the Most of Your Time in Japan: It Starts Before You Go!

As soon as you can after you’ve moved to Japan—or even before you’ve arrived, if possible—join any online groups that will keep you informed of events and activities in your area. AET networks are very helpful both for sharing professional resources and introducing newcomers  to a ready-made social circle. It often takes some time to make Japanese friends, since Japanese people are typically reserved at first. In the meantime, other AET’s or English teachers will provide a good support network while you settle in and will be able to give you any advice you need.

The stereotype of westerners making noisy neighbors is one that endures in Japan, so if you’re living in an apartment or if your house is close to others, be aware of the noise you make during the day and even more so in the evenings. Walls can be thin! And many Japanese people in rural areas go to sleep early and get up early. This is especially true of farming families. Being a thoughtful and considerate neighbor is the very best way of fitting in with your Japanese community.

Above all, learn Japanese. Even if you never hope to be capable of reading the newspaper or a Japanese novel, a little conversational Japanese will go a long way. Not only is it extremely useful, since most Japanese people outside of the large urban centers don’t speak English, but it’s also a sign to the people around you that you want to become part of the community.

Getting familiar with katakana is a great place to start, and you can make considerable headway with this in a matter of a couple weeks. Start before you go and you’ll hit the ground running! Katakana is used for foreign words, including names, so it’s incredibly useful.

You can learn to write your name in katakana with very little effort, and you’ll get a great feeling from being able this.  I wish I had done it before I arrived here, it’s incredibly motivating to have this basic system down, or at least be familiar with it. This self-study workbook is an engaging and efficient way to begin your journey.

Go With the Flow and Embrace the Challenges

Japan has a reputation for being alien and bizarre, and some aspects of its culture seem so to outsiders. Those things make up only a fraction of Japan’s culture, however, as you will find when you live in the country day to day.

There are challenges to life in Japan—as a gaijin, you will never entirely fit in—but it’s perfectly possible to find your own niche, even in the smallest of towns. Take things as they come, be open to new experiences, ask for help when you need it, and soon you’ll be right at home.

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

Originally posted 2018-12-17 23:15:28.

Japanese Cat Names List, Tips and Culture Notes!

Popular pet names in Japan in general are an interesting window onto the culture, and Japanese cat names are certainly no exception!

Are you looking for a cute Japanese cat name for your kitten?(kitten in Japanese is koneko, literally ‘child cat’).  Or maybe you’ve seen a famous cat or two in manga or anime and are curious about what sort of names Japanese people choose for their feline friends.

Whatever the basis for your curiosity, I’ll do my best to share what I’ve learned as an animal lover living in Japan since 1997. I’ve enlisted the help of Japanese friends in this pursuit, to be sure that my understanding squares with theirs, and ended up learning a lot about what great cat names are made of in the process!

Let’s look at some Japanese pet names for cats, both male and female. More than just giving a name with a translation,  I want to pass along some related information that will give you a better idea of naming conventions in Japan so that if you’re looking for a name, you’ll have more confidence in going with your inspiration and choosing something whether it’s on a list or not.  We’ll look at some of the most popular cat names in Japan as well as creative choices that follow certain tried and true principles.

I also want to introduce you to katakana, the relatively simple Japanese syllabary that’s most often used to write pet names.  And I’ll mention a point that’s often overlooked, natural intonation. With some points in mind about this,  you’ll feel confident that when you call to your cat, it sounds pretty much the same as it would if the owner were a native Japanese speaker. We’ll also take a look at an important aspect of names in general in Japan, suffixes that add warmth and familiarity when used.

Foreign pet names-It goes both ways

So let’s dive into our search for some great cat names in Japanese. First off, it’s worth noting that In Japan, pet owners sometimes choose a western name over a Japanese one for the same reason you might be considering something Japanese-it’s a novel way to express your interest in a culture outside your own and to be a bit different.

And when Japanese people choose a western name for a pet, it’s often a person’s name.  A Japanese friend once had a dog named John, for example.  I never asked her why she it, but I’d bet she liked an actor or singer by that name.  The most famous Japanese cat with a western name is probably Michael of ‘What’s Michael?‘ fame. The manga was such a hit that it spawned a long running animated TV series in the 80’s.

Japanese people sometimes choose the names of Japanese celebrities for their pets as well.  So if there’s a Japanese actor or musician you like, you might consider using a version of their name.  Ichiro isn’t likely to be offended if you’re a baseball fan and name your cat after him!
Speaking of stars, Leo the Lion isn’t just a constellation, he’s also one one reason why there are so many cats in Japan with the name, pronounced ‘Lay-Oh.’

In similar fashion, the Japanese word for tiger, Tora, works quite well as a name because it’s short and it’s no stretch to imagine most cats as mini tigers, especially if they have stripes. Most cat names in Japan seem to be two syllables, with some three-syllable monikers in the mix.  Keeping it short and sweet is a good angle to approach things from, it seems.

Cute Japanese girl cat names from flowers and plants

Flowers and plants are another source of inspiration. Japanese girls are often named after flowers and cats are, too. The Japanese word for flower is hana, and Hana is a very popular girl cat name.

You might well already know some Japanese plant names like Sakura (cherry) and Ume(plum).  Momo(peach) and Sakura are also among the most popular female cat names in Japan.  But don’t stop there-other flowers such as Kiku(chrysanthemum) are also prime candidates! Mums have a rich, regal history in Japan and are associated with the Imperial family. Good girl cat names abound.

Don’t forget to play with fruit names for cats. I thought up some names of fruits in Japanese and ran them by some Japanese friends, wondering if they would work as cat names. These are the ones that passed muster as cute, easy to say possibilities for female cats-Ichigo(strawberry), Suika(watermelon), Anzu(apricot), and Mikan(mandarin orange.)

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

Think of various aspects of these names and others. If for example, you got your cat in summer or she was born then or just strikes you as having a summery personality, referring to her as the Japanese word for watermelon might hit just the right note.

Another fruit name that got the thumb’s up from Japanese friends was Ringo(apple), but I nixed it because though it’s indeed catchy, a die-hard Beatles fan might mistakenly assume they’ve found kindred spirits in you and your cat. And while this is certainly not a bad thing, you might soon get fed up with explaining the real meaning behind the choice.

On the other hand, if you are a Beatles fan with an interest in Japan, perhaps you could name your cat Yoko, which is in fact a very common name for Japanese ladies of a certain age, as it was once near the top of popular names for girls in Japan. Then again, if you blame Yoko for the band’s breakup, just keep on reading.

Great names for cats in Japanese: Use your kitty’s appearance as inspiration

When it comes to considering what makes for a good cat name in Japanese, another fertile field to plow when it comes to names is your cat’s coloring.  Not a big surprise, really, as this is a universally popular source of inspiration when it comes to this pleasant but often perplexing task!

In Japan, the words for black(kuro) and white(shiro) are both standard choices for cats and dogs of both sexes.

Neko is the Japanese word for cat. So black cat in Japanese is kuro neko.  These two words are uttered together countless times across Japan each and every day, because they also happen to be the name of one of the country’s top two parcel delivery companies!

black cat silhouette return address label

And if you’re on the prowl for a Japanese white cat name, Shiro is a safe bet and a good name to start your list of possibilities with.

If you happen to have a calico cat, you might consider the name Mi-ke. I added the hyphen to try and differentiate it from the common western name Mike, as it’s pronounced Mee-kay.  It literally means ‘three-hair’ and refers to the three colors of fur that calicoes sport.

Japanese calicoes are usually predominantly white along with two other colors, and are a very popular breed in Japan and abroad. Many Japanese cat owners in fact name their calico Mi-ke, just as countless western dog lovers over the decades have named their pooches Spot.

JapanesePod101.com – The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed

Is your cat small?  Then maybe something like ‘Mame (Mah-may) would be just right.  Mame means bean in Japanese, and has a cute, diminutive sound to it.  You might know this word already, as it’s part of the word for soy beans, edamame(literally, branch bean). In a similar way, the name Mikan mentioned above has an endearing connotation, as it brings to mind something small and round.
Speaking of beans, the most popular female cat name in Japan taken from something edible might be ‘Azuki.’  Azuki is a type of bean that’s often used in Japanese cuisine, especially in making traditional sweets.  The notion of eating beans in sweets seems odd to many westerners, but take my word for it, bean based sweets are delicious and you shouldn’t come to Japan without trying some!

So naming your female cat Azuki, pronounced ‘Ah-zu-key, would be a great choice if you’re looking for a name that is ‘authentic’ in the sense that Japanese cat owners favor it.  And as with Mame, being a type of bean it carries with it the same cute, petite connotation, which makes these top choices for the most adorable cat names in Japan. Since azuki beans are reddish brown, this name would work especially well if your cat has similar coloring. Do a net search for ‘azuki’ and you’ll find photos of this culinary staple.

Traditional seafood and sweet names add a wealth of possibilities!

All this talk about food is getting me hungry, so let’s brainstorm with some words from Japanese cuisine that might strike your fancy.  Japanese food names for cats are fun to brainstorm.

Wasabi anyone?  How about Matcha(green tea)? Or Toro(fatty tuna, a delicacy)?  Then there’s Wakame(a variety of seaweed), Ikura(salmon eggs), Saba(mackerel), Awabi(abalone), and the list goes on. In a similar way, many Japanese dog and cat owners choose names like ‘Latte’ and Mocha’ these days. I think that names taken from seafood cuisine can be especially good fits with cat names, since they seem to enjoy such delicacies at least as much as we do!

A case in point is this extra large bag of dried bonito flakes. The word for bonito in Japanese is Katsuo, and so these flakes are known as katsuobushi in Japanese. They are addictive, and people like them at least as much as their feline friends, which is really saying something, because I’ve seen friends’ cats here in Japan devour them. I’ve had bonito flakes many times myself, as they’re served with takoyaki octopus dumplings and as a key ingredient in many Japanese soup stocks and a staple in Japanese cuisine.

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

Whether you choose a Japanese name or not, if your cat is at all typical, she will love these. They keep for a long time are are very lightweight, with a smokey scent that will always be connected to Japan in my mind and palate. Though they are referred to as bonito flakes in English, they are thinner and wispier than cereal flakes, more like shavings. Are they as addictive as Cat Crack Catnip!? I dare say they are, but having never tried the latter, I can’t honestly venture an opinion.  Maybe your cat would be willing to do a taste test and enlighten us.

Let’s shift from savory to sweet. I have a sweet tooth, so I’m partial to Mochi(pounded rice cake) sweets of all kinds. I also have a weakness for Dango(usually 3-4 small balls of mochi pounded rice on a stick).  We could go on and on brainstorming with foods, and I encourage you to have some fun with this. But with foods and with this process in general, take care not to get too esoteric, because you might well come to regret choosing a name that only you and a friend or two can remember and understand.

Japanese culture is finely tuned to the seasons and the natural world, and the cuisine reflects that.  You’ll see ample evidence of this focus on nature in names like Sora, the word for sky. It’s a staple on recent ranking lists for popular Japanese cat names and can be used for both males and females.  Note that the ‘r’ in sora is pronounced a bit differently than in English.

Famous Japanese cats

I’ve already mentioned a famous cat, Michael, though he only exists in the world of comics and animation.  Ask about the most famous Japanese cat who’s ever lived, and the name Tama is bound to come up. Perhaps because she gained fame so recently. In any case, she was certainly a phenomenon!

Tama was a female calico who died in 2015 after going viral as the station master at Kishi Station in western Japan.  She gained an international following and was responsible for a huge surge in tourism to the area.  The name Tama is a cat name with a long history in Japan, much as the name Socks is thought of as a traditional cat name in some English speaking countries.  As a name it doesn’t carry any special meaning, its popularity is mainly due to the way it sounds-short, easy to say and somehow endearing.


Sometimes a good name for a cat can boil down simply that.  And having such a common name certainly never held Tama back!  If anything, it made her even more memorable.  Of course the little station master’s cap she wore at a jaunty angle also made her hard to forget!

If you happen to be a fan of the perennially popular manga Sazae-san about a family and their foibles that was first published in the 40’s, you’ll also know that the family’s male cat was called Tama.

japanese cat namesAnd more recently, a traditional Kyoto furoshiki wrapping cloth company named Maeda created a series of furoshiki showing a cat named Tama strolling through various seasonal scenes.

The sakura cherry blossom furoshiki depicting Tama walking up a long flight of stone steps that’s part of that selection is shown on the left.  Click on the photo to see it and other cat furoshiki on amazon.

Japanese Anime cat names

When new pet owners wonder about anime names for cats, they’re almost inevitably hoping for something Japanese.  And though Michael might well be the most well known anime cat, calling your own cat Michael clearly won’t fill the bill.

Another very famous feline with a long history in Japan does have such a name, and it is none other than………Tama. Yes, this name is that popular. It seems to turn up again and again when cats of note are mentioned among Japanese people, attesting to just how well loved this moniker is.

The Tama in question this time is the star of a classic anime called Sanchome no Tama, also sometimes known as Tama and Friends or Uchi no Tama Shirimasenka?(Do you know my cat Tama?) Sanchome is a well known area in Tokyo in Shinjuku that the Tama in question calls home.  My Tokyoite wife knows that area well and though she didn’t watch the show much growing up in the 80’s, she spent a good portion of her allowance on Tama stationary goods.

So it seems that if you call your cat Tama, you can reference the name in various ways depending on who you’re talking to and what they’re interested in, which could well lead to some interesting conversations.
Another Japanese anime cat name possibility lies in referencing a naughty yellow feline called Oyo Neko Bunyan, who also has quite a track record in Japan.  But it seems to me that the name doesn’t really roll off the tongue, at least not this western one. And Bunyan is not exactly a term of endearment, so it might be best to look elsewhere when shopping for a name for your kitty.

Other key cultural notes-pronunciation and suffixes

Now let’s move to some general points about Japanese cat names.

First, intonation for names is basically flat. So all syllables get similar stress. It’s common for native English speakers to pronounce the names of Japanese people as well as pets as they would in English, which often results in unnatural pronunciation. This often happens with three syllable words, as the middle syllable often gets stressed when it shouldn’t get such special attention.  I have a Japanese friend named Yumiko who lives in the states, for example, who is often called ‘Yu-MI-ko with the middle part stressed.  Similarly, Yukiko is known as ‘Yu-KI-ko.’

This tendency doesn’t manifest much in two syllable words, and since most common pet names are short, like Tama, they end up being pronounced pretty much as they should be, with equal stress given to both syllables. But others, like Azuki that we looked at above, can become ‘Ah-ZU-ki’ if you’re not aware of this aspect of Japanese language.

Then there’s the custom of adding suffixes to names.  This is a key point to keep in mind, as it might steer you toward choosing one cat name over another, depending on how the name sounds in this form.
If you’re an anime or manga fan, you’re probably already well aware of the propensity to add ‘chan’ and ‘kun’ to the end of names.  Kun is basically used for boys and men, and like chan, conveys a familiarity and warmth.  Chan can be used for young boys as well as for girls and women. Adults can use these honorific suffixes with friends to show affection, though it’s rude to use these suffixes to address a superior.  The first three letters of ‘chan’ are pronounced as in the name of the Cuban dance known as the Cha-Cha.

When we consider pet names, chan is the one to focus on, because it covers both sexes when it comes to animals. And since pets are more often than not seen as cute and endearing, it’s very natural to add chan to the end of their names. So, Sora becomes Sora-chan.  Tama is Tama-chan.  Presto! What was a standout among cute cat names to start with gets even more so.

Some Japanese names for cats lend themselves better to the ‘chan’ treatment, in terms of how easily it all rolls off your tongue. Take for instance the sweets mochi and dango I mentioned above as possibilities.  ‘Mochi-chan’  is a bit harder to say than ‘dango-chan’ so based strictly on that, the latter would win out.

One thing to keep in mind with this-chan is usually something you use to refer to someone else’s child or pet, not your own.  It’s not rude or inappropriate to use it for your own pet, but it’s most often a way for others to express a sense of affection and closeness for someone outside their own immediate family. So if you choose a Japanese name for your cat, informing those around you of this ‘chan’ add-on will pay dividends!

Japanese cat names list

Finally, I’d like to make a list of all the names we’ve covered here, it includes my brainstorms and some names that are among the most popular Japanese cat names.

Some work best as female cat names, and others work well as male cat names as well. Just one on the list below is best as a male cat name, and that’s Ichiro. This name is not only the name of a famous baseball player, but Ichiro is a name in Japan that’s almost always reserved for a first born son.

When there’s a meaning, I’ll include that, and I’ll also add the name as it’s written in the katakana alphabet.  Often there is a kanji character for a name, but even then, the katakana is preferred when its used as a pet’s name. I’ve included the kanji characters mainly to illustrate just how simple the katakana is by comparison!
So if you have an interest in what a name looks like when written, don’t make it unnecessarily hard by considering kanji characters.  Katakana characters are not only simple in their minimal number of angular strokes, but they’re also preferred according to convention in this context. Knowing a bit more about Japanese cat names, including not only their meanings but how they’re used can be a great way to delve more deeply into the culture in general. If you’re interested in learning katakana and hiragana quickly and efficiently, I recommend this self-study workbook.

Name
Katakana/Kanji
sex
meaning/reference
Ichiro
イチロー
M
Baseball player
Tora
トラ          虎
M/F
tiger
Hana
ハナ          花
F
flower
Sakura
サクラ      桜
F
cherry, cherry blossom
Ume
ウメ          梅
F
plum, plum blossom
Momo
モモ     桃
F
peach, peach blossom
Ichigo
イチゴ       苺
F
strawberry
Suika
スイカ     西瓜
F
watermelon
Anzu
アンズ
F
apricot
Mikan
ミカン
F
mandarin orange
Kuro
クロ         黒
M/F
black
Shiro
シロ         白
M/F
white
Mi-ke
ミケ        三毛
M/F
calico
Mame
マメ        豆
M/F
bean
Wasabi
ワサビ
M/F
Japanese horseradish
Matcha
マッチャ 抹茶
M/F
Japanese green tea
Toro
トロ
M/F
high grade cut of tuna
Ikura
イクラ
M/F
salmon eggs
Saba
サバ       鯖
M/F
mackerel
Wakame
ワカメ    若布
M/F
seaweed
Awabi
アワビ
M/F
abalone
Mochi
モチ          餅
M/F
pounded rice cakes
Dango
ダンゴ    団子
M/F
skewered pounded rice cakes
Sora
ソラ         空
M/F
sky
Tama
タマ
M/F
——
Kiku
キク         菊
F
chrysanthemum

Main photo of cat with bamboo by Manja Vitolic on Unsplash

Kyoto Collection is part of the Amazon Associates program, which means I earn a small amount of money every time you click on a link I provide and purchase something on Amazon. It will be put to very good use the next time I take my family to the neighborhood revolving sushi joint, and we thank you!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

Originally posted 2017-05-31 14:26:25.

Japanese Cat Fabric Furoshiki Cloths

Japan is crazy about its cats, so it will come as no surprise that cat fabric can be found is a wide array of cute designs.

There are cat cafes, various ‘cat islands’ with large numbers of ‘neko’ as they are known in Japanese. And one cat named Tama was even elevated to the position of station master at a Wakayama Prefecture train station, where she attracted thousands of fans and lots of merchandise sales.

Tama is also the name of the cat featured on a series of twelve furoshiki made by a Kyoto company. But this is just coincidence, as Tama is among the most popular and well known names for cats in Japan.

Tama also happens to mean ‘ball’ in Japanese, but the name doesn’t carry that meaning-it’s simply made up of sounds that are pleasing to the ear and have come to have an endearing ring to them.

The cotton fabric pictured below is from the Tama the cat furoshiki series and is one of my favorites because it includes various aspects of the culture that I know well from many winter days spent indoors in old, drafty houses without central heating.

This Tama is a native breed called a Japanese Bobtail. They come in various colors, but the calico(mi-ke) variety is the most well known abroad and also has wide popularity in Japan. As such, it’s a good bet that if you see cat fabric that comes from Japan, it could well feature this beloved breed.

Though Tama is snoozing in this scene, as Japanese Bobtails are naturally active and playful, she can be seen out and about among some vivid seasonal scenery in the other designs in the series. The Tama furoshiki featuring her out for a stroll under cherry blossoms shows her in fine, active form.

But while she’s dozing in the design below, you really can’t blame her. ‘Kotatsu’ low tables with heating elements and blankets to retain the heat like the one depicted on the fabric cloth below are indeed magnets for not only cats but also their owners!

And the ‘mikan’ mandarin oranges in the bowl are also fixtures of the season. It’s a good thing they’re so easy to peel, because a little time spent with your legs under a table like this will make anything that takes more than a modicum of effort seem like its just not worth the bother!

japanese cat fabricDepictions of cats in Japanese art have a long history, including the work of noted masters of ‘Ukiyo-e’ woodblock prints.

Paramount among them is Utagawa Kuniyoshi, who created numerous works featuring cats in the 19th century. His inspiration was never far away-it’s said that his studio was full of his feline muses!

Recently, in recognition of this, another Japanese furoshiki cloth maker has produced cat fabric that is sure to please cat lovers in and outside of Japan. It incorporates a multitude of cats in fanciful poses taken from his works.

Have a look below and you’ll be hard pressed not to get a sense of just how devoted he was to his models! Click on either of the photos to see it on amazon.

kuniyoshi catsWhether you find it as furoshiki squares as above or as yardage or in another form, Japanese cat fabric has a spirit and a flair all its own.

Look carefully and you’ll see that like Japanese textiles in general, many interesting aspects of this fascinating culture are also illuminated, and the longer you look, the more you’ll find to enjoy!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

Originally posted 2017-04-11 18:00:33.

Black Crested Formal Kimono Dyeing in Nagoya

Before I read an English version in the Japan Times this week of an article that originally ran in the Chunichi Shinbun newspaper, I had admittedly begun to take black crested formal kimono for granted.  As elegant as they are, I’ve seen hundreds of used kimono like this at Kyoto’s famed monthly markets at Toji Temple and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The markets are affectionately referred to by locals as Kobosan and Tenjinsan and are held on the 21st and 25th of every month respectively.

I’ve bought many of these formal black kimono over the years for resale, and the prices are always very reasonable because when Japanese people do buy vintage kimono for wear or projects these days, this type is of relatively limited use. As formal kimono they include family crests, and it’s always interesting to look at a crest to see if it’s an often seen one or not.  There are hundreds of crests, with many that look quite similar with small variations.  Some crests are more common in certain parts of Japan, so there is a geographical component to them as well. I’ve browsed lots of reference books on kamon as the crests are known in Japanese. My favorite is the well worn one on my bookshelf now, Family Crests of Japan.

Other than the crests, well, black is elegant, but black’s black, or so I’ve always thought. That’s what was so enlightening about the story about a Nagoya dye company and the two brothers who are striving to adapt to a changing marketplace.  It turns out that traditionally made black crested kimono have an especially deep tone which includes just a bit of blue and red. They are shokunin-true craftsmen!

 

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

 

Living as I do in Nishijin, traditionally Kyoto’s weaving center, I’m well acquainted with the challenges that traditional kimono and obi makers face, and I’ve seen numerous attempts at changing their product lines to combat sagging sales as fewer and fewer Japanese wear kimono.  I’ve even seen dog wear made of silk brocade of the type traditionally associated with fine obi.

Nagoya’s Nakamura brothers are betting that their dyeing and designing skills will make such new products such as t-shirts and stoles appealing to a new generation. Other companies, including at least one in Kyoto, specialize in dyeing their clients’ old clothes black.  Which seems like another great way to put traditional skills to use, and also to give used clothing a new lease on life.

I didn’t know that Nagoya has long been a center of kuro-montsuki black crested kimono dyeing. But thanks to this article, I looked and in no time ran across an informative English video about another Nagoya dyeing company! This one is run by the Takeda family.  Mr. Takeda is seen below dyeing various kimono, and the focus shifts to black dyeing and family crests just after the five-minute mark.

Originally posted 2017-03-22 15:14:57.

Shinmei-ichi Festival: Home of the Largest Daruma Doll in Japan?

I’ve written quite a few articles about daruma dolls, and in my research I found a 2004 column by Amy Chavez on the Japan Times website that chronicles with her usual flair, her quest to buy a daruma doll at the Shinmei-ichi Daruma Doll Festival in Mihara.
I hadn’t heard of the festival before, and it sounds like a good excuse to get to know that beautiful area on the Seto Inland Sea in Hiroshima Prefecture better. As the festival has just come and gone for another year though, I’ll have to wait a while before the chance comes around again!

I also learned that Shinmei is another name for the sun goddess Amaterasu, a major deity in the shinto faith.

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

If you happen to be in Japan some future February, it seems like a fun way to sample local cuisine as well as see lots of daruma dolls!  It’s been held for over 400 years, so it seems safe to assume that it will continue to be a festive February option.
Hundreds of street stalls offer a variety of temptations.  And then there are the daruma dolls. A giant daruma doll is on display and proudly bears the kanji characters 日本一(Nihon Ichi) to signify that it’s the biggest daruma doll in Japan. Check the short video below to see what it you can expect if you go.

At 30 seconds into the clip you’ll see a row of daruma dolls lined up for sale according to size and the camera pans from big to small. In case you’re curious, here are the prices for the largest three:  15 was going for ¥20000($175USD), 14 for ¥15000($132USD) and 13 for ¥10000($89). I don’t know if I’d be willing to part with mine after a year at those prices!

Kyoto Collection is part of the Amazon Associates program, which means I earn a small amount of money every time you click on a link I provide and purchase something on Amazon. It will be put to very good use the next time I take my family to the neighborhood revolving sushi joint, and we thank you!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Originally posted 2017-03-19 15:01:12.

The Bushido Code Kanji Quiz-Test Your Knowledge!

How familiar are you with the kanji that represent the bushido code, the principles that dictated the samurai way of life? Take this quickie quiz and find out!

Learning about the bushido virtues by way of translations in your native language is a natural first step. This is as far as many folks choose to go.

With just a bit of concentrated effort, you can then memorize the Japanese name of each precept.

But don’t stop there!

You might well have already come across at least some of the kanji characters that stand for these precepts.

But if you’re not a fairly serious student of the Japanese language, you might gloss over these kanji, assuming that they’re beyond your reach if you’re more interested in bushido than in the language itself.

Don’t be bowed!

Learning to associate each kanji or pair of kanji with the corresponding samurai code virtue is a simple and straightforward and rewarding task.

Learning to actually write the kanji as well can be very rewarding of course, but that does take appreciably more effort. The good news is that it’s not at all necessary to go that far if you want to forge a relationship with the characters.

Being able to simply match the bushido kanji with their Japanese names can be supremely satisfying and engaging in its own right.

And that’s where this simple bushido code kanji quiz comes in.

I hope it makes the learning process even more productive by giving you a clear sense of where you are at this point in a fun and engaging way that makes it easy to measure your progress and to motivate yourself to keep it up!

The kanji shown here are based on hand written calligraphy by Hiro, a good friend of mine here in Kyoto who’s also an accomplished brush artist in the traditional style.

These works are also featured in my calligraphy shop gallery, where you can review the kanji, Japanese names and English translations of the eight virtues of bushido before you take the quiz.

Or………just wing it and dive into the quiz!!

Get a baseline idea of how much you’ve already absorbed already-you might surprise yourself. Then come back after a short session of focused review and give it another go.

A passing score is 75%(6 out of 8 questions correct). Each question includes the Japanese name of a precept as well as common English equivalents. Each question has just one correct answer.

You can change answers at any point before you finish the quiz. After you’re done, in addition to viewing your score at the top, you can scroll down to see what you got right and what you missed, with those answers marked green and red respectively. When you miss a question, the correct answer will also be shown in green, for future reference.

I join Hiro in hoping that his art and the kanji characters and principles expressed in it will bring the spirit of bushido and Japan closer to you.

And we thank you for sharing our humble bushido code kanji quiz with friends who follow the way of the warrior.

Let The Quiz Begin!

Originally posted 2020-04-05 05:15:50.

The Making of a Daruma Doll

What is a daruma doll made out of?  Ask me and I’ll say something about papier mache, which sounds so much better in its original French than the literal English translation of chewed paper!
Beyond that I really had never seen anyone make one.  I was curious to know more about the process involved in making daruma, and I’ve also been wanting to get some Japanese language practice watching Japanese videos on youtube.

How to Make a Daruma Doll: An Inspiring Video Showing Traditional Methods

In researching about how to make a daruma doll, I came across a very well done short video produced by a Japanese company in Japanese. It’s one of many interesting installments in a series they’re chosen an English name for, ‘The Making.’

The episodes are both entertaining and educational and show how various things are made. This episode features daruma dolls and is 14 minutes long.  It uses Japanese subtitles to illuminate the steps shown without any spoken words. The only audio is a pleasant soundtrack.  So it happens to be very accessible even if you speak no Japanese at all.

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

The first 3 1/2 minutes of the video shows how to make a daruma doll by hand, and the video was shot at Shorinzan temple in Gunma Prefecture, also known as ‘daruma-ji.’

The temple was a natural location for this video because it’s considered the birthplace of the Takasaki daruma doll. These are the most famed daruma dolls in Japan and the local city of Takasaki still is a major producer, accounting for about 80% of Japan’s daruma dolls! The red daruma doll below is an example of the work of Taksaki City’s craftsmen.

You’ll notice that a key component of the handmade method in this video is a daruma to use as a form on which to base the shape of the new doll.  So if you don’t already have a daruma doll to use in this way, it’s not practical for the beginner who wants to make their own daruma doll.  Still, it’s quite interesting and shows quite clearly how daruma dolls have been made over the centuries, before more mechanized methods came into use.

At the 3 1/2 minute mark the focus shifts to more modern methods of mass production, and this takes up the bulk of the show.  Notice that the facial features are still painted by hand, even with the modern approach!  One of my favorites parts was watching the craftsman so deftly adding the characteristic facial hair to the dolls!

Kyoto Collection is part of the Amazon Associates program, which means I earn a small amount of money every time you click on a link I provide and purchase something on Amazon. It will be put to very good use the next time I take my family to the neighborhood revolving sushi joint, and we thank you!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Originally posted 2017-03-16 15:01:50.

Daruma Dolls: Kanji and Color Meanings

Just as there’s no longer just one flavor of pasta sauce on supermarket shelves(Prego makes over 40 now!) daruma dolls also come in a variety of colors these days, to suit different tastes.

Here’s a rundown of the meaning behind many of the most common daruma doll colors, and an explanation of what those kanji characters so often seen on daruma dolls mean as well!

Red Daruma Dolls

Red is traditionally the color most associated with these dolls, and I’d bet that it’s still the most popular one for dolls sold in Japan.  Red is an auspicious color that some believe has the power to ward off evil spirits, disaster and illness.

The traditional red daruma is said to be modeled on Buddhist priest robes. Shinto too seems to venerate this color, as torii shrine gates through which parishioners pass are either red or vermilion.

When I was reading in Japanese on the history of daruma dolls, I learned that they’re origin is in China. This comes as no surprise, as so many aspects of Japanese culture have their roots in the Middle Kingdom.

But I was particularly interested to find that when they were introduced to Japan and for some time thereafter they were yellow, as they were in China! This certainly sounds plausible, as it’s natural for adaptations to be made when something is introduced to a new culture, and it could be said that Japan has a particular flair for that.

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

Red is a celebratory color in Japan and carries with it numerous positive connotations. When people turn 60 in Japan, they celebrate their ‘kanreki’ by donning a jaunty red vest and cap to mark the occasion, which is seen as a sort of rebirth and return to the beginning of the life cycle. Red also has strong associations with victory, which is why political candidates choose red daruma when they’re running for office.

I’m partial to red daruma, so I bought the small one pictured below the other day when we went to a Kyoto temple known for daruma dolls that’s called Daruma-dera. It has a hole drilled in the bottom with an ‘omikuji’ fortune paper inside, and it’s sitting on my table watching me at this moment!

daruma doll

Red daruma dolls invite good fortune in the most general sense, so if you like red and want to go the traditional route, it’s always a good choice.  Mine has eyes that are already painted and a splash of festive hues in a floral pattern that gives it a cheery look.

If you don’t live in Japan and are thinking about getting a daruma doll for yourself or as a gift, a good place to start to get an idea of what’s available is amazon.  Click here to go there and see their selection.

Other Colors and Their Meanings

If you gravitate toward another color or have a specific goal in mind and want to put a finer point on things, there are daruma dolls of various hues that will be happy to call your house their home.

Sometimes they’re sold in sets of five different colors, each with a specific power. Such sets are called goshiki daruma. The word goshiki literally means ‘five colors.’

With the recent proliferation of colors though, some online sellers have created sets of ten dolls, each with it’s own distinct look and presumed powers.

This sort of set can be put to especially good use if you’re looking for small Japanese gifts for a good number of friends who are into Japanese culture or who would simply appreciate something unique and fun.

You can find the set of ten petite mini daruma dolls below on amazon by clicking on the photo.

Some popular daruma doll colors and their meanings are:

Purple-health and longevity. Purple is a regal color that is associated with the imperial line, and it’s connected with such qualities as character and integrity.

Yellow-as with gold, there’s an expected association with financial good fortune as well as a more general connection to good fortune.

Gold-wealth and prosperity. The obvious choice of color when career advancement and economic gain are in sharp focus. It’s a natural for a business environment, but it’s also a good fit at home, where a gold daruma doll can add brightness to your decor and motivate you to be active and to harness the energy to do what needs doing.

White-the color of choice for students studying for rigorous school entrance exams that are such a common and stressful rite of passage in Japan.  More generally white is associated with goal attainment.  White also stands for purity, not only in terms of experience, but also in purpose.  So a simple white daruma, perhaps with less gold accents than the one pictured, would be especially apropos for someone who’s practicing a martial art such as karate, judo or kendo.  A white daruma can inspire those who are interested in bushido, the code of honor of the samurai, for similar reasons. White emphasizes the the way, the path, rather than the result in this context. So, while white daruma dolls and goal setting go together, they also remind us to pay attention to the process.


Black-success in business ventures. A good color for entrepreneurs. Just like in English(in the black), the Japanese language refers to black for success in business(kuro ji), and so a black daruma doll will invite such business fortune.  And because it also represents power and strength, black can also promote stability in terms of a business’s money flow. So a black daruma would be a great gift for someone who’s starting a new business venture.


Blue-success in school and the development of the intellect. Blue is also a calming color and so a blue daruma doll can be a good addition to your home or work space.  It can promote a sense of relaxation and serenity.

Silver-promotes self-awareness and self-development. Expectant mothers also sometimes choose silver because it’s said that it makes an easy delivery more likely.


Green-physical health. Also the development of talent and skill. This ties into the connection between the color green and plants budding, and calls to mind the English expression ‘budding talent.’

Orange-couples who want children choose this color and it also offers protection against disaster.

Peach-this is a color of love and attracts romance and passion.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, as I’ve seen mention of different shades of blue and green, etc.! The furoshiki wrapping cloth below features just a few of the colors that daruma dolls now sport.

red and gold purple daruma doll

Daruma Doll Kanji Meaning

The three daruma dolls depicted on the fabric above happen to not only have different colors, but also different kanji characters written on them. The red one has the most often seen character, pronounced ‘fuku.’  This refers to good fortune in a general sense, which is why it’s so common.

JapanesePod101.com – The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed

The yellow daruma doll specifically attracts money, and so it includes the character for money, ‘okane.’ The purple doll has a character read as ‘kotobuki’ which is often used for weddings and other special occasions, as it carries the meaning of long life and longevity as well as congratulations.

The two characters in the middle of the rising sun in back of the dolls are pronounced ‘kai-un’ which is another way to convey a message of good fortune.  These two characters in fact are sometimes written on daruma dolls as well.

What color is your daruma doll?

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Kyoto Collection is part of the Amazon Associates program, which means I earn a small amount of money every time you click on a link I provide and purchase something on Amazon. It will be put to very good use the next time I take my family to the neighborhood revolving sushi joint, and we thank you!

Originally posted 2017-03-15 15:18:51.

Daruma Dolls: How Long Can I Keep Mine?

What do you do with a Daruma doll after you’ve achieved your goal and colored the second eye?

It’s a good question, because there is indeed a protocol for daruma dolls, and for good luck charms in general, and a daruma doll offers itself as a wonderful window onto interesting aspects of traditional Japanese culture.
But at the same time, as you’ll see, there’s no need to feel compelled to do any particular thing, and the key is to act according to your own feelings.

Traditional Farewell

Daruma dolls are associated with New Year’s in Japan and are usually bought at this time. 12 months later at the start of the new year they’re taken to a temple where they’re ceremonially burned in a ceremony called Daruma Kuyou, and a new one is bought.

So If you happen to live near a Buddhist temple that has such an event and you are so inclined, you might take advantage of it. This is a sort of memorial service that offers a chance to reflect on the year that just ended and express gratitude for the good things it brought.

It’s a poignant way to usher in a new year of possibilities, and perhaps to buy a new daruma doll, too! As with other Japanese charms, simply throwing it in the trash is inappropriate.But having said this, parting with your daruma doll is only an option, not a requirement.

The subject of dolls in this context brings hina dolls to my mind as a contrast. Hina ningyo are the set of dolls including an emperor and empress and their court that are displayed at home by families with daughters for Girls’ Day, which is celebrated on March 3rd.

As lovely as the display is, you’ll be very challenged to find any still out after March 4th, as according to tradition, families that don’t put the dolls back in their storage boxes by the 4th risk late marriages for their daughters.

Keep Your Daruma Doll if You’d Like!

Daruma dolls don’t come with any such caveat and can be kept and displayed indefinitely, if you so choose.

One cozy little Kyoto restaurant that I frequent has one rather large daruma on a shelf on permanent display for each year they’ve been open. It’s a fun way for them to commemorate their years in business and show appreciation to their customers for their shop’s longevity.

Obviously they have no fear of incurring bad luck by keeping their menagerie! Now that they’ve been in business for a dozen years or so, they have quite an impressive row of daruma dolls standing sentinel. It won’t be long before they need another shelf!

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

We visited Kyoto’s Daruma-dera (Daruma Temple)recently. As the name implies, it’s a temple known for its collection of daruma dolls, and there are over 8000 of them.  I took the two photos below as we strolled the grounds.

The priest’s wife mentioned one parishioner who kept the same daruma doll for some 30 years, not wanting to part with it. In the end, it was placed in his coffin before his cremation.

This underscored for us her belief that there are no hard and fast rules with this, and the story and the beautiful way in which she took the time to relate it to us gave me a deep sense of her focus on the spirit that the dolls are meant to convey rather than details.

So if you prefer to hang onto your daruma doll after a year has passed, you should by all means do that. One thing to remember is this-display your daruma doll in a place where you can see him, so that you’ll be reminded to take steps, however small, toward the goal you had in mind when you gave him his first eye.

He will serve as a gentle reminder of the principles that bring happiness, which is much more valuable than any luck. This is really where the Daruma’s true power lies, after all.

Kyoto Collection is part of the Amazon Associates program, which means I earn a small amount of money every time you click on a link I provide and purchase something on Amazon. It will be put to very good use the next time I take my family to the neighborhood revolving sushi joint, and we thank you!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

Originally posted 2017-03-14 15:17:38.

Daruma Dolls: History and Meaning

What is a daruma doll and what does a daruma doll represent?

These distinct, diminutive figures are said to have been created with Bodhidharma in mind. He was a monk who lived in the 5th or 6th century, and is recognized as the founder of the zen sect of Buddhism.

I took the photo below at ‘Darumadera’ temple in Kyoto, which is also well known for its collection of daruma dolls.

Gazing at this beautiful work,  I imagined the typical daruma doll, with only its face visible, the rest of it resembling a priest’s robe. Because the doll’s countenance is its most distinguishing feature, it’s easy to overlook what’s framing it.  But when you realize that a daruma doll is cloaked in such a robe, it’s easier to grasp its origins.

Daruma Dolls and Zen

Zen Buddhism has garnered attention in the west as a means to cultivate mindfulness. Formal sitting meditation is but one aspect of this training.

In general, it promotes a greater awareness of what’s going on around you, of the reality that exists outside of ourselves and the narrative that our thoughts create, and the resulting lenses that we see the world through.

In this spirit of seeing what is in front of us, I’d like to offer up a simple exercise-take a moment to really look at a daruma!

It occurred to me in writing this that though I have seen hundreds of daruma dolls over the decades of living here in Kyoto, if asked to make a cursory drawing of his face from memory or describe it, I would have little confidence in my ability to recall anything clearly aside from his eyes and his robe!

Facial Features

Daruma dolls made in the traditional way feature a face framed by ample eyebrows and a beard. There’s an understated line representing his mouth that gives him a stoic look, and his robe is embellished with bold but simple brush strokes, often in gold.

Red daruma dolls at Daruma-dera temple in Kyoto.

I’ve read that if you look carefully at his stylized facial hair you’ll find cranes in his eyebrows and turtle shells on his cheeks. That very well may be, and I went looking in his eyebrows for cranes and found them, one on each side-then I found others!

So I ended up wondering what I was seeing and what I was imagining! Maybe I’ve found a new use for daruma dolls-as rorschach tests!

Cranes and turtles are both symbols of longevity in Japan, with the crane said to live 1000 years and the turtle 10,000 years. This makes them very common symbols in Japanese art, especially in connection with auspicious occasions like weddings.

Meaning

Take a look at a daruma doll-what do you see? It’s believed that daruma dolls were introduced in the 1700’s by a priest at a temple in order to satisfy his parishioners’ desire for new charms. As a talisman, there are different ways to look at a daruma doll.

Some might color in an eye and make a wish in the same way you’d make a wish when blowing out the candles of a birthday cake.

I can’t remember being disappointed when such a wish didn’t come true, because I never even deeply thought about what I would wish for before the cake was set in front of me. And I knew that I wasn’t committing myself to doing anything to help to make the wish come true.

Personally, I think that having a daruma doll can be a great way to buoy yourself up when you’re striving to attain some goal that you’ve chosen thoughtfully and are committed to working toward attaining.

JapanesePod101.com – Learn Japanese with Free Daily Podcasts

The reason for this lies in the doll’s association with an often used Japanese proverb, ‘nana korobi ya oki’ which translates as ‘fall down seven times, stand up eight.’ It’s represented in kanji characters on the poster below.

fall_down_seven_times_stand_up_eight

This saying has its roots in zen and quite pithily conveys the essence of zen in its message of perseverance in the face of adversity, resilience, and a stoic commitment to seeing something through.This dedication infers a focus on the present moment and what we can make of it.

Poke a daruma doll and you’ll see why it has become so associated with this saying. Though it might look unstable at first glance and easy to topple, it comes right back up. You can’t keep it down.

I’m about to date myself and American pop culture references can’t do justice to the wisdom and beauty of the expression above. But it does somehow take me back to a TV commercial that I must have seen a thousand times in the 70’s…… weebles wobble but they don’t fall down!

I’ve taken part in some meditation sessions and at times a priest would circulate among us ‘sitters’ and stop at times to hit someone on the shoulder with a piece of wood. It wasn’t hard enough to hurt, but it certainly does tend to bring you back to the moment.

Daruma dolls are very useful for goal setting and achievement as reminders of the goal we’ve set for ourselves. We take the time to clarify the goal and to imagine achieving it when we color in the first eye, and put the daruma doll in a place where it can be seen(and where it can see us!). Over the next year, it serves as a physical manifestation of the commitment felt on that day when a pupil was drawn in that blank space where eyes should be.

And as far as goals go, these days daruma dolls come in a rainbow of colors, which each color purported to help you focus on a specific sort of goal. Gold, for example, predictably is the color of choice if money is what you’re after.  Check out the link to my post about other color meanings at the end of this post.

Let the daruma doll remind you of that as you use your days to challenge yourself by devoting time and effort to your goal, no matter how uphill the process feels at times. And just remember that for better or worse you won’t be pulled back to your focus with a sudden whack on your shoulder, but with a watchful eye!

Kyoto Collection is part of the Amazon Associates program, which means I earn a small amount of money every time you click on a link I provide and purchase something on Amazon. It will be put to very good use the next time I take my family to the neighborhood revolving sushi joint, and we thank you!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Originally posted 2017-03-13 15:16:37.