2020.09.21[Mon] 09:00

【Respect for the Aged Day】

Today's first topic is about Keiro no Hi or in English, Respect for the Aged Day. It falls on the 3rd Monday of September, and this year that happens to be today, Monday the 21st. On this day, we celebrate the longevity and wisdom of and give respect to the elders in our society. Usually, people go out for a meal with their grandparents or even take a trip somewhere but due to Covid-19 this year, I guess quite a few people might be doing online get-togethers with their families.  And although the dates are different, depending on where one is, it seems that all around the world, like in China, Korea, the US and other places, people have days on which they pay their respect to the elderly and honor and celebrate their lives as well as wish for their continuing good health. Unfortunately, all of my grandparents have passed away, but I often write letters to my grandfather's older sister who is a very sprightly 99 years old. Her 100th birthday is next year and hopefully I'll have a chance to make a visit to the US to celebrate with her and the family. Until then I'll have to keep writing though, sharing my life in Fukuoka with her, through pictures and words. She doesn't have internet or a computer or anything like that so it's the only way really!! It's nice writing letters though, and if she's anything like me, getting mail that isn't a bill is always a thrill. If you're thinking of a little something to do for someone around you perhaps a handwritten letter?


【Important information from Fukuoka City】

Bicycle Insurance

Now, I have some important information from Fukuoka City about bicycle insurance. Beginning the 1st of October, anyone who rides a bicycle will be required to have bicycle insurance according to a change in the law.

Whether you're commuting to work or to school, only going for a bit of shopping,  have a company that has employees on bicycles to get to jobs or are a company that rents bicycles, anyone and everyone that rides a bicycle must have insurance.

If you have a child that rides a bicycle, then a parent or guardian needs to sign up for insurance for them.

Why is this all necessary? Well, if you have an accident while on a bicycle, you may have to pay quite a lot of money to the injured party. However, if you are enrolled in an insurance policy, if that accident does happen while you are riding a bicycle and you injure another person, the costs for hospitalization and other costs will be covered. 

So, if you ride a bicycle, make sure you get insurance so that you are covered if you ever do have an accident! Of course you want to avoid that so, make sure you also follow the traffic rules!

You can check the Fukuoka Prefecture website for some information, there are links to some insurance companies, but it is all in Japanese so get someone to help you if necessary. I'll post some of the links on the blog, if I can.







You can find these and more on the Fukuoka Prefecture page (Japanese only):



The Fukuoka Knowledge Test

How much do you know about Fukuoka? Do you know the difference between Fukuoka and Hakata? Or what 'Bari Kata' is?  If you do, good job you are well on your way to perhaps passing the Fukuoka Knowledge Test. What's that you say? Well, it's a kind of exam that Fukuoka City has set up to help widen and deepen your knowledge pathways of Fukuoka.  And, if you pass the Fukuoka Knowledge Test, you can get discount tickets to sightseeing attracts,  the history and art museums here as well as receiving a special gift. 

If you are interested in the Fukuoka Knowledge Test, then just take a look at its homepage. There is information on the exam as well as games to help you brush up on your knowledge of the history and culture of Fukuoka. There are also short films that will introduce you to the charms of Fukuoka. It's a fun way to learn a little more about Fukuoka.

There's still a lot to discover, even for the longtimers here. So check out that homepage and start your Fukuoka journey. The site address is fukuokakentei.com. Again, that is fukuokakentei.com.

Oh, by the way, if you didn't know the answers to one of the questions earlier, Bari Kata refers to the doneness of the noodles in ramen. “Yawa, kata, bari kata, hari gane “ are just some ways to  say how done you want your noodles when you order a bowl of ramen. Bari Kata is a bit harder than normal, kind  of al dente. Did you know that?

2020.09.14[Mon] 09:00

【Emergency day or First aid day】

Last week I mentioned that September 9th was Choyo no Sekku but it was also KyuKyu no Hi. This is translated as Emergency day or First aid day and it was started in 1982 by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. If you know some Japanese, you'll know that the number 9 is Kyu. Double 9 puts together kyukyu, the Japanese word for "emergency". The day is designed to remind us to be grateful for health services and to be aware that sometimes things quickly take a turn for the worst. When that happens we need to be ready to help. In particular, if someone suddenly becomes ill or is injured we need to know how to treat that person.

If you need to call an ambulance or if you discover a fire, make sure that you call 119. Again that emergency phone number is 119. If you need help because someone has suddenly fallen ill or has been injured or if there is an accident or disaster, do not hesitate to call this number. There are 18 different languages available for the 119 emergency phone number.

【Getting out and about】

So, today I've got some fun information if you are looking to get out of the house for a bit. How does a trip to the Fukuoka City Zoo and Botanical Garden sound? It's right in the Chuo ward in the city and there are a number of different animals and a variety of flowers and plants to see there. You can go by bus or by subway. If you go by subway, that stop is Yakuin Odori, make sure you exit via the Zoo and Botanical Garden side. From there, you can grab a taxi or bus but walking is recommended as it is a pretty nice stroll to the Zoo. Entrance is only 600 yen for adults and 300 yen for high school students. Jr high students and younger get in free. If you're interested, check out their homepage at zoo.city.fukuoka.lg.jp. Again, that website is https://zoo.city.fukuoka.lg.jp/

You can see the baby giraffe and kangaroo that were born there this year, they're already getting big so quickly! I actually visited the zoo and botanical garden last month and highly recommend visiting the Tenbodai Cafe in the botanical garden. Not only is there a great view, but the coffee was amazing value and the pizza was so delicious! I also saw a ton of flowers that I'd never seen before. I can't wait for autumn colors to come, there is actually an autumn color area in that garden. I visited the zoo side as well and it looks like they are doing quite a bit of work rebuilding the areas for the animals. It looks like they're working to make a more natural and interactive space for visitors and a more comfortable space for the animals.

Of course, measures are being taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and so there is sanitizer at the entrance for your hands and posters have been put up   and announcements are being made to remind you to maintain social distance and to wash your hands at regular intervals. And don't forget to wear a mask when you do go out as part of those measures!

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2020.09.07[Mon] 09:00

【The Chrysanthemum Festival, Choyo no Sekku】

This morning I'd like to introduce you to something called Choyo no Sekku or the Chrysanthemum Festival. In Japan, when people used the lunar calendar, there were five days in the year called sekku and on these days, particularly important traditional events were held. One of them is Choyo no Sekku which falls on the 9th day of the 9th month.   Although many probably aren't familiar with “sekku” anymore, it's on this day, also called the Chrysanthemum Festival, that people would decorate their space with chrysanthemums, drink sake sprinkled with the flower's petals and eat chestnut rice in the hopes of having a long, healthy life.

This is actually a custom that came from China. Since ancient times, odd numbers have been considered auspicious in China and 9 is the highest of the odd numbers so the double 9 pairing of September 9th is a particularly auspicious day. As a result, Choyo became one of the 5 “sekku” days.

I guess a lot of people are feeling a bit stressed out these days due to the Coronavirus and other factors. Some say that flowers help to reduce stress so why not decorate with some Chrysanthemums this season? They're also the flower of November in Western cultures so there's no reason not to enjoy them for a couple of months!


Disaster Prevention Day and Disaster preparedness Week

Every year on September 1st is Disaster Prevention day. And in Fukuoka City, from the 1st to the 7th of September, is Fukuoka City's Disaster Preparedness week, preparedness referring to making sure you have enough food and other items stored up and ready for when something happens. The city wants its citizens to be aware that disasters can happen and the first step to understanding that is encouraging all of us to have supplies stockpiled in our homes and companies.

So why is this so important? Well basically, if a typhoon or earthquake hits and you are lucky enough to find yourself unscathed, without food and water you can't survive. Stores won't be open so you won't be able to buy supplies. If the water system shuts down, there won't be any water to drink. And if electric and gas services are disrupted, there will be no way to cook food. So, in order to survive after you emerge from a disaster unscathed, it is important to stockpile your supplies on a daily basis.

So the question is now, what do we need. Well, you need water for drinking and food, enough for at least 3 days. Three liters of water per person per day is what is recommended. Emergency food like instant rice, canned goods, dry biscuits, chocolate bars, hardtack and the like, are good things to have on hand because then, even if you can't cook, you'll still have something to eat. If you have a radio and flashlight prepared, always check that the batteries are still good. And make sure you have any medicines you need to take as well as bandages and other medical supplies prepared. For households with infants, diapers are also an essential item to have prepped.

In addition to the water that you'll need for drinking, you'll also need water for things like flushing the toilet. So be prepared by keeping a plastic jug filled with tap water or filling the bathtub with water.

You don't need to have a ton ready all at once. Just buy a little more of what you would normally buy and as you eat it up, just buy more to replace it. In this way, you'll have a “rolling stock” and it's a good way to always have an amount of stockpiled food ready in your home at anytime. It's also convenient because you can prepare for any emergency without having to worry about expiration dates on your food stocks. 

Typhoons often occur this time of year so take a look and make sure your stocks are ready.

2020.08.24[Mon] 09:00


With summer, comes the appearance of Yukata, a casual summer kimono. It's made of a light, and in recent years, many look forward to wearing it for summer events like Bon Odori, firework displays and summer festivals. And of course, when you wear a yukata, you've also got to wear the traditional sandals with it, they're called Geta and have been worn since ages past.

There are so many yukata designs now, really trendy modern ones, ones that have a retro feel and others that just really give the feeling of Japanese summers, with patterns like flowers, fireworks and goldfish. Unfortunately with the coronavirus putting a stop to festivals and other events this year, there aren't that many opportunities in town to wear one these days. In saying that though, there are a lot of shops that do rental yukata and now might be a nice time to try out a yukata, feel what it's like to wear a piece of traditional Japanese clothing and maybe even get a nice quiet photo shoot in, if you have the chance.

I actually saw a woman wearing a beautiful yukata the other day over at Yusentei Japanese garden. It's not busy there right now and I think she was there getting some nice summer pictures of herself. It seemed like a good idea and I might just copy her, I've got a nice yukata of my own and it would be nice to have a picture in a traditional environment!

【Important information from Fukuoka City】

The special fixed relief benefits

This is just a reminder, but the application deadline for the 100,000 yen special relief benefits is drawing near. It is August 31st. Applications were sent to everyone who registered by April 27th as a Fukuoka City resident. Please make sure you get your application in by the deadline! If there is anything that you don’t understand please call 092-401-0826 for help or information. Again that number is 092-401-0826. This phone service is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and consultation is available in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Nepali.

And, Love FM has been broadcasting a special 5 minute program to help you understand more about the special relief money. The program is called “Life in Fukuoka Special Edition-Understanding the Fixed Relief Benefits in 5 Minutes" and it is on every Monday and Saturday at 1:53pm in English.  You can also listen to this special program as a podcast at anytime on the Love FM Homepage so definitely check it out.


About Drunk Driving

Moving on to a more sobering topic, I don't know if you know, but on August 25th, 2006, a horrific drunk driving accident occurred. In the Higashi ward, 3 children were killed by a drunk driver. That accident prompted Fukuoka City to take serious actions against drunk driving so that it would never happen again. However, despite these measures, people continue to drive drunk. In fact, in 2020, there have already been 39 incidents involving drunk drivers. Drunk driving is a crime!

After drinking, operating a motor vehicle, motor bike or bicycle is not permitted.

Lending a car to someone who has drunk, or encouraging or forcing someone who is driving to drink is also, absolutely, not okay. And if you know that someone has been drinking, you should not ride in their car.

If you drink and then drive, the possibility of getting involved in an accident is dangerously high. Your judgement and the attention you need for safe driving is reduced. Your ability to recognize high speeds or dangerous situations will be impaired and the time it'll take you hit the brakes will be delayed.

So, it is important that each and every one of us remembers “Do not drink and drive, Do not let others drink and drive! “ This year is the 14th year of that terrible accident and from the 25th to the 31st of August, in remembrance, Fukuoka City Hall will have a “Messages of Life” exhibition in the first floor lobby. So, let us reflect on the tragedy that drunk driving causes, remember the victims and get rid of drunk driving together.

2020.08.17[Mon] 09:00


Today I want to talk about Obon, which is generally what comes to mind when one thinks about August in Japan. Have you heard of Obon? I’m guessing most of you have unless you are brand new to Japan, but just in case, I’ll give you a little intro to it. Obon is a Buddhist custom, and it is believed in Japan that during this period, the spirits of one’s ancestors return home. As such, loving family members and relatives gather to give thanks to their ancestors and pray that those in this world live safe and peaceful lives. Obon is typically the 4 days from the 13th to the 16th of August however in some parts of the Kanto area, it is between the 13th and the 16th of July. Regardless, this is why on TV around these times that you hear about the Obon Rush because if everyone heading back to their hometowns. In the US we don’t really have anything like this the closet approximation I could make might be Thanksgiving. Families typically gather for Thanksgiving dinner, meaning a lot of people go home over that holiday causing a rush like the Obon rush. However the feeling is completely different. In both cases you’re often gathered with family and there seems to be a lot of food, I’ve participated in the Obon custom here, but with Obon there is sometimes a bit of sadness remembering those who have died and well as nostalgia recalling those times past. Thanksgiving seems noisy, busy and loud! That’s just my experience though!


Information from Fukuoka City on the special fixed relief benefits

The application deadline for the 100,000 yen special relief benefits is August 31st. Applications were sent to everyone who registered by April 27th as a Fukuoka City resident. Please make sure you get your application in by the deadline! If there is anything that you don’t understand please call 092-401-0826 for help or information. Again that number is 092-401-0826. This phone service is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and consultation is available in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Nepali.

And Love FM is also running a special broadcast called the 5 minute guide to understanding the special fixed relief benefits. The English broadcast for that is on every Monday and Saturday at 1:53 pm.


Multilingual phone interpretation hotline for ward offices

Next, I have information on a phone interpretation service available to foreign residents. Whether you need help with your resident’s card, aren’t sure about what you need to do when you move house, or have questions about national health insurance, taxes or even garbage, there is a phone interpretation service available for you to use to check with the ward offices.

Interpretation is available in 18 languages, among them are English, Chinese , Korean, Vietnamese and Nepali, and the phone number is 092-753-6113. Again, that is 092-753-6113. When you use this number, after you have spoken to someone at the interpretation center, you will be connected to your ward office. Make sure you tell the interpreter in which ward you live and what you are calling about. For example, you might say something like “ I live in Higashi ward and I need the certificate showing proof of earnings.”, in which case you’ll be connected to the person in charge of issuing those papers for the Higashi ward. From there, you, the ward office person and the interpreter can continue your conversation. And, if you go to the ward office in person, don’t worry, just use your phone to ring up this service if you need any interpretation help.

2020.08.10[Mon] 09:00

【Mountain day】

Mountain day was started in 2016 as a day to give thanks to the mountains for the riches they provide us with and to provide people with the opportunity to get to know the mountains better. Now it seems that June is the only month without a national holiday now that Mountain Day" has been added to the calendar in August, which actually had no holidays before the addition.


I think it’s pretty nice that there are national holidays nearly every month. I know a lot of people can’t get time off normally because they are so busy working and no doubt these holidays come as a nice break in their busy schedules.


This year, due to COVID-19, the Olympics have been postponed until next year. However because they were supposed to take place this year, the date of Mountain day was shifted to August 10th, so make sure you don’t mix up the date!


【Information from Fukuoka City on the special fixed relief benefits】

The application deadline for the 100,000 yen special relief benefits is August 31st. Applications were sent to everyone who registered by April 27th as a Fukuoka City resident. Please make sure you get your application in by the deadline! If there is anything that you don’t understand please call 092-401-0826 for help or information. Again that number is 092-401-0826. This phone service is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and consultation is available in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Nepali.


And Love FM is also running a special broadcast called the 5 minute guide to understanding the special fixed relief benefits. The English broadcast for that is on every Monday and Saturday at 1:53 pm. So make sure you check that out.


Be careful of the Red Imported Fire Ant, Red back spider and the blue-ringed octopus!

In the summer there are a few poisonous creatures you should be careful about, including the Red Imported Fire Ant, Redback Spider and the Blue-ringed Octopus.

The Red Imported Fire Ant is a reddish-brown ant between 2.5 and 6 millimeters in length . If you are stung, you’ll feel a burning pain an some people may go into anaphylactic shock if they have a strong allergic reaction to the sting.

The Redback Spider is a venomous spider that likes to make its home in warm, sunny locations like around potted plants, under drain lids and under benches.

The spiders are about 1 centimeter in length but 3-4 centimeters with its legs stretched out. It has a black body with a red hourglass shape on its abdomen. If you are bitten you may experience pain, a fever and nausea.

If you discover the red imported fire ant or Redback spider, do not touch it with your bare hands and use an insecticide to kill it. If you are bitten, please go to the hospital immediately.

And the blue ringed octopus has been seen both in and outside of Hakata Bay. It is up to 10 centimeters long and has a distinctive blue ring pattern that appears on its body when it is agitated. It has the same deadly poison as a blowfish and in the worst case, can result in death if bitten. If you are bitten, do not try to suck the poison out with your mouth, try to squeeze it out by hand and get to a hospital right away.



2020.08.03[Mon] 09:00

【500 yen Lunch Meal】

So, what are you thinking about for lunch today? What do you usually do? Are you a convenience store lunch kind of person or do you pack your own lunch? I often pack my own lunch but I love a good a deal and around the Fukuoka area there are a number of places that do the “one coin” or 500 yen deals and one of my favorite places happens to be Saizeriya. Not only are there pasta lunches, which you would expect, but there's also curry, doria and hamburg choices as well. If I'm feeling really hungry or just being greedy, I can get two lunches, stuff myself and not break the bank. I can even go back for dinner later, order off the regular menu and still find myself with cash in my pocket. Maybe I sound like a cheapskate, but who doesn't want good value for their money? I guess what I'm having for lunch today is pretty obvious, hey?


Preparing for heavy rain and evacuations while taking into consideration COVID-19

In Japan, we often get typhoons. And so, it's best to check in advance what we need to do to for when the heavy rains come.  If you look at Fukuoka City's homepage, you can check hazard maps and get information on disaster prevention. If you check Support for Foreign residents, you'll find disaster prevention information for foreign residents so make sure you check that important information regularly.

In order to protect your life, it's important to know to where you should evacuate and to do that you need to plan in advance. First, take a look at flood and landslide hazard maps. You need to know if the area where you live poses any kind of danger.

If your home is in a safe location or if you live in a condominium or apartment where the higher floors are a safe place even if a disaster occurs, then do not leave your home and make sure you stay tuned to the TV, radio or other media to receive updates as information comes in.If your home may be in danger, then you need to either escape to an evacuation center or to a friend's home. Make sure you check a hazard map to ensure that your escape path is a safe one.

When you do evacuate, there are a few things that you should absolutely bring with you. These are things like water, some kind of food, clothes, hygiene or health supplies, a flash light, medicine, face masks and a thermometer. At the very least, you need to have three days worth of these supplies prepared.

This year, with the spread of COVID-19 , we need to take extra care and so if you are at an evacuation center, please wear a mask, wash  your hands and practice cough etiquette.

For emergency information on disasters, please visit Fukuoka City's Facebook page for foreign residents called (Global Community Fukuoka) or the Fukuoka City International Foundation's Facebook page. In addition, through Fukuoka City's disaster prevention mail, LINE and the disaster prevention application TSUNAGARU Plus, you will receive notifications so be sure to use these as well.

2020.07.20[Mon] 09:00

【Goals for the Summer】

And that topic is goals for the summer. So what are your goals this season? Planning to work off all that time spent at home this past spring? Or maybe you want to spend more time at home and binge watch some new TV series. Or perhaps some time making video calls to catch up with family and friends at home? As for me, my goals include exploring the less traveled areas and perhaps a few of the more touristy areas of Japan. After months indoors, I've got the travel bug, my feet are just itching to go and so I have plans to travel around a bit. Most of my travel will just be one day trips, perhaps an overnight stay here and there, I think. There's a lot of Japan I haven't seen despite having lived here for over 15 years and it looks like domestic travel is the way to go this year. I do have one big trip planned for next week, I'll head to the Fuji mountain area and do a circuit around the mountain. The mountain is of course closed to hikers this year but my plan does not involve any kind of hiking. Instead, I'm hoping to get as many views of Mt. Fuji from as many angles as possible. I'll start in Hakone and head around to Fujinomiya and then to Kawaguchiko. Hopefully the weather will be nice and I'll have a good picture to share with you on blog on the LOVE FM website.

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  • Colleen
  • Colleen
  • 誕生日:11月11日
    出身地:USA Detroit, MI
    特技:I can plan a party at anytime!
    好きな音楽:Almost everything, depends on my mood.