Dec 29, 2013

Belated Christmas Cards / 少し遅れたクリスマスカード

Now the Christmas season is over, but I still have some Christmas cards I received over the last couple of days that I'd love to share with you.  So here they are. :) 
From my pal in Denmark.
Danish stamp
 From my pal in Sweden
Swedish stamp
 Lovely handmade card from my pal in USA. 
America stamps.  So Christmsa! :)
 From my pal in Hungary
Hungarian stamps.  I love the gingerbread stamps! :D
It's always fun to look at the stamps. :)  This time I learned from the Hugarian gingerbread stamps that in Hungary people make gingerbreads for Chritmas (or maybe for winter, not sure).  Do you make gingerbread for Christmas?  Is that popular in your culture??  I don't think it's popular here in Japan yet, but I sometimes see them at shops in the Christmas season.  I loved gingerbreads my host mother in Canada made for Christmas.  That's one of the things I miss about Canada.
Hope you're enjoying the nice weekend! :)

Dec 25, 2013

Meet-up with Singaporean penpal / シンガポールのペンパルに会う

To those who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas!  Here in Japan, Christmas isn't a holiday but people still enjoy celebrating Christmas as a seasonal event.  Wish you a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones! :)

Well, I've been having a busy week and haven't had much time for myself, but before I forget the detail of my fun time with my Singaporean penpal, I want to share about it here. :)

On December 12th, some of my colleagues asked me "Are you alright?", because I kept shuffling in my seat.  I wasn't alright in a way.  I couldn't sit still because I was too excited to meet my Singaporean penpal for the 3rd time. ;)  After work I met her at the station, and the first word from her was "Why is it so cold!!" lol  It was her first experience of winter...actually she'd never experienced any temperature below 20C/68F!!  What is the coldest temperature you've experienced?  In my case, -40C/-40F in Canada is the coldest.  That was really cold!

On Friday morning, we left Tokyo for a city called Kanazawa.  Since it was her 3rd visit in Tokyo, I thought I'd show her somewhere different, and I decided to take her to Kanazawa as I remembered that she's always wanted to visit that city ever since she watched the Japanese drama about Lord Maeda Toshiie who governed the present Kanazawa and the surrounding areas in the 16th century and his wife Matsu.  I was a history major at college, but sometimes she knows more than I do when it comes to Toshiie and Matsu. ;)  Well, even if you're not interested in the Japanese history, I think you'll still enjoy yourself in Kanazawa.  It's a lovely city with many tourist attractions. :)

Kanazawa is the prefectural capital of Ishikawa Prefecture located in the central part of the mainland of Japan, and it's about 4.5 hours from Tokyo by train.  We could fly (1.5 hours), but I had a reason for a train trip...will tell you about it later.  Well, that day was a really cold  day with very strong wind, so instead of exploring the city, we decided to have a relaxing afternoon at a nice cafe called "Fluffy".  (see here for more info).  Their pancake was so delicious!!  We ordered only one plate because we thought it'd be too much before dinner, but after one bite, we both regretted. X(  It was SO delicious!

The cafe was nicely decorated. :)
 Who said "We should share" ?! lol
 We ended up coming back to this cafe both Saturday and Sunday for breakfast. :D  We tried different pancakes, and here they are.  Having delicious pancake and hot tea is the best way to start a cold day!
On Saturday we explored the city of Kanazawa.  This beautiful Japanese garden is called Kenrokuen garden (see here for more info) known for "one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan."  I was here in spring last year, and even though I liked it in winter time, I think it's more beautiful in spring with gorgeous cherry blossoms.
Then we visited a shrine called Oyama Shrine (see here for more info).  What makes this shrine so unique is that the gate has the mixture of traditional Japanese, Chinese and European architectural elements.  It's said that the gate was designed by a Dutch architecture.  The upper story has beautiful stained glass window, and I loved it. :)  Too bad I couldn't get a better angle of the picture to show you the stained glass window. *Sigh*
Besides these 2 places, we visited the Omicho market, Chaya district and 21st Century Museum.  I wish we had more time so that we could visit one more place Ninjya Temple, but maybe next time. :)

On the way back to Tokyo, we were lucky to see this! :)
As my Singaporean penpal wanted to see snow so badly, we took a chance of taking a train from Tokyo to Kanazawa that passes the northern area where they get lots of snow every winter.  On Friday there was not much snow, but on the way back, it was snowing a lot. ;)  She was really happy to see snow for the first time.
The time flew so fast.  It was so much fun meeting her again.  Hopefully she will visit here again sometime or I might visit her in Singapore. :)  Do you have any plan of visiting your penpal or your penpal visiting you?  Any traveling plan in the coming new year?  Maybe to Japan? ;)
Have a nice day everyone!


Dec 17, 2013

Outgoing big packages / 小包発送

As I said in my previous posting, my Singaporean penpal was staying over at our place for few days, and we had heaps of fun together!  I will share about our great time here soon, but before I forget about these packages, let me share them with you today.  I sent out big packages for my host family and my dear friends in Canada. 
Inside the wrapping bag
This first package is for the Canadian family who was my host family for 4 years when I was studying in Canada more than a decade ago.  My husband and I stayed at their place for a night when we visited Canada for our honeymoon this summer, and the family was so nice to us as they always are.  All four kids came with nice wedding gifts, and we had such a fun night together.  After delicious dinner, we went for a long horse-back riding as they live out in the country and have 6 horses!  It was such a memorable night, and we wanted to send them something for a little thank-you and also for Christmas.  This is what's inside... 
This like a book, but if you open it, you can use it as a box.  I put some chocolates, bath items, towels and a card.  I love this card.  It matches the color of the box! :)  And here is another outgoing package. 
The Christmas card
This big box is for a nice Canadian couple who are also my dear friends.  They’re both retired now and just recently bought a camper to travel with their grandkids, and they asked us if we wanted to go camping with them with their new camper when we were there in summer.  It was SO much fun!  I hope they will enjoy our little thank-you.  I love this card so much! :)
I wish Canada were closer to Japan so that I could visit them more often.  It’s too far and expensive to visit from Japan. :(  My friends (the couple) is already in their mid-60s, and I know I don’t want to think like this, but I sometimes wonder if we can ever see each other again.  I hope I can visit them again soon at least within the next 10 years.  Until we meet again, I'll keep sending letters for them. :)
Have a nice day everyone! :D


Dec 11, 2013

Outgoing letters/お手紙発送

I'm busy with cleaning right now.  Why?  Because my Singaporean penpal is staying over at our place for 5 days from tomorrow till Monday morning!  I'm so excited!  Our place is not a five-star hotel, but hopefully she will enjoy staying with us. ;)  Also I'll take her to a city called Kanazawa on the weekend as she always wanted to visit there.  I'm sure it'll be so much fun!  I will share our journey here later. :)
Here are some of my outgoing letters over the last couple of weeks.  These ones are traveling to The Netherlands, Czech Republic and Latvia. 
 Winter stamps 
 They're traveling to UK and Sweden. 

I love making my letters fat. :)  Do you?  Have a nice day everyone!


Dec 9, 2013

Incoming letters/届いたお手紙

Big thanks to those who left a comment in my previous posting and gave me the exact answer I was looking for! :D  I told my husband that an international survey indicates that I'm perfectly normal to make a mess when writing a letter, and he understands it now. ;)  It was really nice to know that I wasn't the only one to make a mess. :D
Here are some other lovely letters I received lately.  My mailbox has been really happy. :)  How about yours?  These are from Greece and Croatia.  I love the stamps! :D
 From Sweden and Germany 
I love the flower stamps. :)  I've never seen these flowers, but they must be popular in Sweden. 
Ta-da!!  I've never received a package with this many stamps!  I love Dutch old stamps, but she said she's not allowed to use the old ones any more.  Too bad. :(
 Cards, Birthday presents and lovely long letter. :)
I love looking at the different stamps from different countries.  They often show famous places, persons, food, animal, flowers...anything that tells you about that country. :)  Stamp is a piece of art!  Do you like looking at stamps?  I love it! :)
Have a nice day everyone! :D


Dec 7, 2013

Christmas stamps / 切手購入

Do you make a mess when you're writing a letter?  I do.  I make a big mess.  Big big mess.  I have to have everything on the table - lettersets, stickers, tapes, glue, things that I want to put in the envelope like teabags, postcards etc.  I don't know why, but I have to do this to get myself in a writing mood.  Last night my husband started complaining why he only gets a book-size space on the table for himself while I get the rest for letter-writing items. lol  Sorry, but we don't have neither a study nor a space for a desk in our apartment, so I have to write letters at the dining table.  Plus he's married to a penpaller. :p  But he thinks not all penpallers necessarily make a mess and some would only need a pen and paper on the table when writing a letter.  So here is my question again.  Do you make a mess when you're writing a letter?  If I get many "yes" answers, I will tell him how normal I am to make a mess.  If many of the answers are "no", then I will just pretend that most answers were yes. :p

I didn't have time to go to the post office but finally bought some Christmas stamps.  At the first post office I went, 80yen stamps (snow flake ones) were sold out, so I had to go to another post office.  Glad I could buy them both. :)


They're pretty, and I love them. :)  I've been calling these stamps "Christmas stamps", but they're actually not.  They're called "winter greeting stamps."  Some years they have nice Christmas designs with Santa Claus and Christmas tree, but some years like this year the designs are more for the winter than Christmas.  I still love these stamps though. :)
Hope you're enjoying nice weekend!




Dec 6, 2013

Incoming letters / 届いたお手紙

We're still enjoying the last minutes of the leaving autumn here in Tokyo, but I can feel in the air that winter is almost here.  This weekend might be the last weekend to enjoy the colourful autumn leaves. :)
 This reminds me of Canada.
Today I'd love to share my lovely incoming letters. :)  This lovely letter, the card and the beautiful picture are from my dear penpal in Latvia.  It looks like Latvian autumn is rather "yellow" while we see lots of red here in Japan.
 Gorgeous Latvian stamps.
My penpal moved to Czech Republic from UK, and this is her first letter from Czech Republic.  Beautiful stamp! :)
 Lovely letter from UK.  She always put nice seasonal stamps.  Love them!
  Lovely Christmas stamps.
Does your post office issue Christmas stamps?  Did you buy them?  I bought some Christmas stamps and will share them in my next posting. :)