Pajama Party???

I wrote that I was in a slump in my previous article.

I have already overcome it by just having fun to speak in English.

Japanese people tend to think we should speak English with no mistakes.

But I try not to concern about it too much.

It was the last day for my children to go to school this year.

They had a small party in their classrooms.

I got an email from my 8-year-old daughter's room parent a few days ago that;

"Please have your child wear their cozy pajamas to school (if they'd like to)."

I wondered why they go to school wearing their pajamas??

I asked my daughter,

"The children who want to wear your pajamas can go to school with your pajamas. What will you do?"

"No, I won't wear pajama."

She answered.

She went to school as usual.

After she came home, she said;

"Most of my classmates wore pajamas, except three students including me. Some of them brought their favorite stuffed animals. Even the teacher was wearing his pajama, too!"

"What??? What for???"

I was very surprised to hear that and asked her.

"I don't know."

She said.

"Did you want to wear your pajama like them?"

I asked her, and she answered,

"No, I don't mind."

Such an event would never happen in Japanese school.

I am curious why the pajama party is a common event in American elementary school.

 Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


When I am in a slump

I had enjoyed learning English until a week before, but I am in a slump learning in English.

I could express my feeling in English well before, but I often can't find the word in English now.

When I listen to my ESL classmates' English, I often feel inferior to them.

I don't want to read something written in English now.

Why can't I improve my English even though I am studying hard?

Oh, what should I do...?

I had an ESL class today, but I skipped it because I felt sick to my stomach this morning.

But if anything, I didn't feel like it today.

In that case, I try not to push myself.

Take a rest, stop learning English, don't think too much....

I really want to know how to get out of the slump.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


The differences between Japanese students and students from other countries in the ESL class

I wrote in my previous blog that I take the ESL classes three days a week.

I met a lot of classmates from all over the world.

The classmates are from Asia, Central and South America, Mid-west, Africa, and Europe.

They are very friendly and eager to learn English.

It's fun for me to discuss the differences of customs of each country.

Some classmates came to the US as refugees.

They usually don't talk what they were like in their native countries.

But one of the classmates told me that he was lucky to be able to come to the US.

He made me think about how big the problems of conflicts, wars, and refugees are.

And I keenly feel that how little I know about world affairs.

I found some differences of the lesson between other countries and Japan.

1. How to say own opinions during the class

Basically, we need to be quiet during the class in Japan.

When we would like to say something during the class, we usually should raise our hands first.

In case a teacher picks me, I should stand up then I can say my opinion, the answer, and so on.

The situation is like below:

Teacher : Is there someone who wants to share your experience?

Student : Hai! ( はい : Yes )

Teacher : Then, Kumi - san.

Student : Hai! ( はい : Yes ) (Stand up) I went to.....

But in the US, students suddenly start talking while a teacher is talking.

Most of Japanese students seem to be overwhelmed.

We are also taught the importance of listening to teachers and other students carefully.

But some students try to say the answers or their opinions even though they interrupt teachers.

Teachers often say Japanese students are too quiet.

I agree with it, but in my case, I am just not used to the way of saying something during the class.

I don't want teachers and other students to regard that Japanese students don't want to talk and don't want to join in the class.

But I realize that I need to learn to be proactive like them more.

2. Most of Japanese students tend to be not good at speaking

This is related to the topic 1 above.

English education in Japan have focused on reading and writing.

That's why most of Japanese people tend to be not good at speaking.

But I was surprised to see that other students who are able to speak very well couldn't solve the questions of grammar.

They told me that speaking English is easier than grammar.

One of my Japanese friend who takes the same ESL class said to me:

"We are not good at speaking, but good at grammar. We should be proud of it."

Of course I often mistake the grammar and I often feel the sense of inferiority against speaking English.

But I try to stop feeling negative.

I just practice speaking more.

This is not the topic of differences, but it was very interesting that I found all of us have each country's accent.

I can understand the English spoken by the students who speak Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese.

But it was hard for me to understand the English spoken by the students who speak Arabic and Spanish.

It depends on each student, but I realized how the pronunciation is important.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


Our first Halloween in the US

This was our first Halloween in the US.

I attended the Halloween party held in the ESL class which I belong to in the morning.

I went to see the Halloween parade held in my children's elementary in the afternoon on Oct 31.

They also had the Halloween party at school.

My children and I went to trick-or-treating with our friends.

My children were so excited!

We walked around our neighborhood for two hours!

I prepared treats for children at home and my husband took care of it.

He called me that they were all gone at 7pm because a lot of children came to our house for trick-or-treating.

I asked him to give them our stock of snack.

It was a very busy day, but we had a lot of fun.

Today I would like to write about how my impression of Halloween changed after I experienced it in the US.

Actually, I didn't have any interest in Halloween when I was in Japan.

I have never celebrated Halloween and I didn't know the origin of Halloween and why people cerebrate it.

I only had an image that Halloween is just a costume parade, young people all gather Shibuya with creepy makeups and they didn't have any rules and manners, sometimes caused the troubles.

I had wanted the Halloween events to end quickly.


I changed my image of Halloween completely changed.

I saw not only children but also adults enjoyed Halloween costumes very much.

The Halloween Parade in the elementary school was so cute!

Children were so excited and walked in the parade proudly.

The teachers were also wearing costumes, those were very interesting!

I was so surprised to see the amazing hospitality of our neighbors.

They were Halloween-friendly neighborhood.

They decorated their houses and gardens with spider web, skeleton, witches, scarecrows, ghosts, and so on.

Some residents wore costumes and tried to surprise children.

They didn't get mad with children even though they were so excited that they walked on their grass.

They kept the manners well.

Of course, there were the people who didn't join in the event.

There was a sign that they didn't turn off the entrance light and the people didn't ring the bell of those people.

I was able to see that they enjoyed Halloween very much.

I was very impressed to see that the neighbors tried to entertain the people who visited their houses and they also enjoyed themselves very much.

I liked to say "Happy Halloween!".

I thought it was like "Yoi Otoshiwo" in Japanese.

This is a greeting when we ususally say at the end of the year, it means that I hope you will have a happy new year.

I thought a lot of Japanese people misunderstand Halloween.

I realized that it is not only an event for young strange people.

But I was also impressed that my children's school prepared another option for children who didn't want to join in the Halloween events.

In Japan, it's normal for students to join in the school events.

Japanese people tend to avoid doing different things from others.

I like the generosity which admit the differences.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


The differences of schools between Michigan and Japan

I have two children, 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.

One of my biggest worries regarding moving to the US was about them.

Will they be able to adapt to the American school?

Will they be able to make friends?

Will they forget Japanese language?

Will they be late for Japanese curriculum?

The list is endless.

As I wrote in the previous post, they enjoy going to the local school now.

Actually, there are a lot of children who came from abroad in their elementary because we live in diverse and international city.

That's why not only my children but also other children have some difficulties to speak in English.

But teachers are skilled and very used to such children.

They help such children and they are getting used to school little by little.

I started taking the ESL class two weeks ago.

It is very inspiring and fun for me!

As well as my children's school, the ESL class is also very international.

It is opened only for adult.

The students are eager to learn English, and very friendly.

They don't stick to their friends who speak the same language, they enjoy talking to the students who are from different countries.

They try to speak in English even when they talk to the students who have the same mother tongue.

I like the atmosphere there!

I found some differences of school between Michigan and Japan through my children's elementary and the ESL class.

They are very interesting!

1. Teachers sometimes talk sitting on the desk.

When I saw the scene, I was surprised because Japanese teachers never do like that because it is usually regarded as a bad manner.

2. Children read books while lying down.

Children have a reading time in the elementary in Michigan.

My children were so surprised to see the other children's behavior.

They read books while lying down on the carpet and while eating snacks!

It could happen at home in Japan, but children have to read books while sitting on the chairs in school.

And they must not bring snacks to schools in Japan.

They can bring snacks only when they go to the field trip.

3. The students can go to the washroom during the class.

There is a washroom in the classroom of their elementary.

They can go anytime they want to go without permission of teachers.

In Japan, children are offered to go to the washroom during the recesses.

Children have to manage it by themselves.

If they want to go during the class, they have to tell their teacher.

The teacher would say like that,

"OK. But you should go to the bathroom before the class."

4. School lunch doesn't seem to be good for health.

I make lunch (bento) for children every day.

The elementary school offers school lunch.

But I don't think the menu are not good for health.

It is offered in the buffet style so that children can choose what they like.

But some parents or adult who are living in the school district have to help them as a volunteer at the lunch time.

Unless children choose vegetable, children don't eat vegetable no matter how much they offer it.

In Japan, the menu of school lunch is made by the Nutritionist.

Children and teachers eat the same one.

All children have to be on a school lunch duty in turns for a week.

They serve their lunch and clear the tables by themselves.

As I mentioned, children must not bring snack to school in Japan.

The lunch time is only the opportunity to eat in school.

Even though there is something they don't like, they get to eat it because they are hungry.

But recently, children can reduce the amount of the dishes before they start to eat.

Since my 8-year-old daughter always doesn't eat a lot, she often reduced her meal before she ate.

5. Children don't have to clean their school.

In Japan, there is a cleaning time every day and children have to clean all the classroom, hallways, entrance, school ground, and washroom.

They sweep with brooms, put the dust and garbage in the dustpan and throw it away in the dust box.

They also wipe the floors and hallways, wipe windows with a damp cloth.

In Michigan, children don't have to do it.

My children are glad, but I want them to learn how to clean.

6. Children go to school by a school bus.

My children take a school bus to school.

I think school bus is the best way for children to go to school safely.

In Japan, they walked to school carrying a heavy bag like a backpack named randoseru made of leather with a lot of textbooks and notebooks.

It was hard for the first-grade students, but it makes them stronger.

7. Teachers try to teach children with fun.

Children enjoy the local school because the class is fun.

Teachers seem to let children have more fun with learning.

They have a few homework.

The ways of teaching are quite different from each teacher.

The school seem to leave it to the teachers.

In Japan, children learn a lot of things in school.

Sometimes they don't enjoy it because it is like a training.

Teachers have to follow the curriculum guideline issued by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Children can learn in the similar way wherever in Japan, but teachers have a very heavy workload.

They have a lot of homework every day, reading, Kanji workbook, math workbook, and so on.

I have more other things I want to write, but I would like to wrap it up today.

Just one thing I could say, if my children are used to American school too much, they would have a hard time for them to adapt the Japanese school when we go back to Japan.

Because I think American school tend to make them have fun and Japanese schools tend to be stricter.

It is not that which school is superior, or which school is doing right.

I just would like to say that there are so many differences in both.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


Our Hello Project

My 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter go to the local elementary school on weekdays and they also go to Japanese school every Saturday.

They are busy, but they enjoy both.

My son is not shy, he wants to speak in English and has made a lot of friends in school.

My daughter is shy and not good at speaking.

She had a very hard time at the local school in her first week.
(I will write about this later, it's a long story.)

But she has been getting used to being there little by little and could make good friends there.

They started learning English in January from online Japanese teachers.

The teachers were amazing and very kind to my children.

My son seemed to be good at remembering language, he learned very quickly.

But my daughter didn't.

She enjoyed the English lesson, she liked her teacher, but she forgot what she learned easily.

Actually, she didn't even know ABC's.

I think she tried her best.

But she needed more courage to speak in English.

When we moved to the US, it was during the summer vacation.

Even though I took them to the park, supermarket, museum, and so on, my children didn't have any opportunity to speak in English because I had to speak instead of them.

For example, I let them buy something at a food stand.

I told them,

"Say 'one hot dog and one French fry, please' to the staff."

My son tried to say it to the staff, but the staff couldn't understand him because his pronunciation was not good.

My daughter tried to say it to the staff, but the staff couldn't understand her because she was shy and her voice was too quiet.

In this case, the staff asked me with troubled face what we wanted to order.

I thought that was too difficult for them, so I suggested to them:

"Why don't you try to say hello to people who pass on the street?"

I thought it would be an easy thing for them to try.

Actually, we don't have such a custom in Japan.

If people we do not know say hello to us in Japan, most of us would be surprised and think:

"Oh, who was she/she? Did I see them before? If so, I might have ignored him/her. I wonder who he/she was..."

Of course, NOT all Japanese people have this reaction.

Some of us would say hello and some of us would ignore it.

But here in the US, people tend to be more social and say hi more often than the Japanese.

I like this custom very much.

They named this  the "Hello Project" and started trying to say hello to the people who met on the street, near our house, at the park, and so on.

The reactions from the people who were said hello to by the children were very interesting.

Some of them seemed to be surprised at first, then smiled and said hi to them.

Some of them didn't say anything.

My children were disappointed to see such a reaction, but I explained this to my children like this:

"There are various kinds of people. Some people say hello, but some don't. That's same in Japan, too. You don't have to be disappointed even if they don't react to you."

One day, they said hello to a young man who was walking near the supermarket.

He answered "Hi, how are you?" so fast.

My children took some time to understand what they said.

A while after we passed the man, my son finally said "I'm good, thank you. And you?".

But he already had gone far from us by that time, but he said to them in a loud voice:

"Good thanks!"

We were very glad to see his reaction.

This event encouraged my children very much.

I think language learners need courage when we try to speak in foreign languages for the first time.

But when we find that they can understand what we say, we feel very happy and it encourages us a lot.

I wanted my children to experience a small success and a sense of grafual achievement little by little.

I believe that little improvement will build up and they will become confident.

And the same goes for me.

After I moved to the US, I had to adapt to the new environment.

I sometimes hesitated to try speaking and was disappointed because I couldn't do it well.

I didn't want my children to hear my complaints, but it made me drive into a corner.

When I felt tired and troubled, I shut myself in my house and didn't go out all day.

I called to my mother using my iPad and told her how I had a hard time getting used to my new life.

She listened to my story patiently.

Thanks to her, I was able to feel better.

I believe it's sometimes OK if I want to take a rest.

Little by little, I want my children to enjoy their life, and I also want to enjoy my life in the US.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


The differences in food between Michigan and Japan

I wrote that I was very confused about the difference of units between the US and Japan in my previous post.

Today, I would like to write about the differences of food between Michigan and Japan.

I am going to mention what I was surprised by when I went shopping, in Michigan.

1. VERY large!

Some of the supermarkets are very large!

It sometimes takes time to find what I want.

And it's like walking exercise when I am exploring in the supermarket!

2. Various kinds of products

I sometimes can't choose between products because there are too many choices.
For example, milk.

There are so many sizes and kinds.

I think if I could try some, it would be easier to choose.

When I bought a gallon of milk, it wasn't good.

I had to drink all of it even though I didn't like it.

3. Various kinds of potato

I was surprised to see a lot of kinds of potato!

I used to buy Danshaku potatos or May Queen in Japan.

I still don't know what the difference is between yellow potato, red potato, and white potato!

I was also surprised that they were very cheap!

My children love French fries, and I often buy frozen French fries.

They are very cheap, so I often put them into their lunch boxes.

They love them very much and I just heat them in the oven.

Very easy and they are happy.

This is exactly "killing two birds with one stone"!

4. Various kinds of cheese

I often bought a pack of sliced processed cheese when I was in Japan.

I was surprised to see a lot of kinds of cheese at the supermarket.

When I went to the sandwich store with my children, I didn't know how to order.

I observed how other people were ordering and found out that I should write down my order on the bag of the sandwich!

The bag was on the counter, so I took it and read what was written on it.

There were several options on it, and what I had to do was just check what I wanted.

I understood the options of bread, ham, vegetables and sauce, but I had no idea about the kinds of cheese.

I asked the staff,

"What cheese do children usually like the most?

He answered,


"American? Is that the name of the cheese?"

I thought in my mind, I didn't know about the names of cheese at all.

"OK, I'll have that."

I said to the staff.

My children asked me anxiously,

"What kind of sandwich are we going to eat? "

"I am not sure, but it would be nice!"

I answered.

5. Cabbage is very hard!

I don't know why but I feel that American cabbage is harder than the Japanese ones.

I try to simmer cabbage when I cook it.

6. Cucumber is very thick and big!

My 8-year-old daughter loved cucumber when she was in Japan.

But after we moved, she doesn't like it, very much anymore.

Because they are very thick and big!

They are not prickly.

I was taught by my mother that prickly cucumbers are very fresh.

I wonder how I will be able to know that they are fresh or not without prickles.

7. Meats are very cheap!

I was surprised that meats are very cheap!

A pack of meat is usually very big, our family couldn't eat up one pack of beef for steak.

Meats are usually sliced into thin pieces and sold in Japan.

If I want shaved meat here, I have to ask the staff to shave them or cut them by myself.

I am getting used to cutting the meat by myself little by little.

8. The colors of cake decorations are very vivid!

I was surprised to see the very big cakes at the supermarket.

But what made me more surprised was the colors.

Blue? Pink? Orange???

I have never seen such colors used for cakes in Japan.

I agree that they look colorful, fun, and cheerful.

I would like to try it someday.

9. There are few options for fish.

It might be only in Michigan, but unfortunately, I couldn't find a lot of kinds of fish here.

Most of them are salmon and tilapia.

I have never tried tilapia, but I like it very much.

The taste is like a cod.

10. Japanese food sold in Michigan is way too expensive!

When we first started living here, we often went to the Japanese supermarkets.

The prices were too expensive!

I understand it is costly to import them from Japan.

But I feel like I pay too much in unnecessary charges for them.

I enjoy finding such differences.

I will never know unless I try!

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


An ordinary Japanese mom in the US!

After a long interval, I have finally come back here!

Our family moved to Michigan in the US at the end of July because of my husband's job transfer.

We will be living here for about three years.

The first time we came here, we suffered from the terrible jet lag, especially my children!

My children fell asleep in the early afternoon because it was night time in Japan, and they woke up at night and stayed up all night!

Since I was able to sleep well on the flight, it was terrible that they interrupted my sleep every day.

I had to take a nap every day to compensate for the lack of sleep.

I would like to write about what differences I was surprised by between the US and Japan, after I started living here.

1. The different units of mesure

When I went shopping at the supermarket, I was confused the different units of mesure.

What is lb?

What is oz??

What is gal???

When I bought a bag of cherries, it was $3.99.

I thought it was very cheap because I believed that the price was for a bag of cherries.

But, it wasn't.

The price was per lb.

I ended up buying a bag of cherries for more than 9 dollars!

I don't understand Fahrenheit and mile well, either

They are still confusing to me.

2. The differences in traffic rules

I already passed the American driver's license test, but I was very scared of driving when I started practicing driving.

Because cars drive on the left side in Japan, but it's totally opposite in the US.

I often opened the right side door by mistake to sit on the driver's seat because the driver seat is usually on the right side of a Japanese car.

I often turned on the wiper by mistake when I wanted to turn on the blinkers because their places were totally opposite from Japanese one.

I was always saying "keep right, keep right!" while driving.

I was surprised that we still can turn right even the traffic light is red, if there is no car in the way.

We must wait until traffic lights turn to green in Japan.

I like this rule, it's very efficient.

I also like that highways are free!

But I was surprised and scared that cars drive so fast!

The speed limit on the highway in Michigan is faster than the Japanese one.

3. The days are longer

In summer, the sun sets around 9pm in Michigan.

It's about 7pm in Japan.

My children assumed that they could stay up late during summer.

I understood their feelings, it was too bright to go to bed at 9pm in summer.

But at a result, they couldn't wake up in the morning until after 9am.

I don't think it is a good for them.

4. Various diverse groups of peole

Needless to say, the majority of people living in Japan are Japanese.

Of course, some people are from other countries, but they are still very few, especially in rural areas.

Various kinds of people are living around here.

I realized that the US is a multicultural and ethnically diverse country.

People who live here are used to people who are from other countries.

They never seem to think that I may not be able to speak English.

They talk to me very fast and cheerfully.

Such kinds of small talk don't happen so often in Japan.

I can speak English, but it is often hard for me to catch what they say because they speak too fast.

I would like to improve my English more during our stay.

I would like to write more about the differences, but it would be too long to read.

I will write more about this over time.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


My worst incident

Last Thursday, I was so irritated because of my children’s attitudes.

My 7-year-old daughter went to her friend’s house after school.

I always tell her to come home no later than 5pm because it’s getting dark by then and dangerous to walk outside alone.

She broke her promise last week, so I scolded her.

Then I asked her the reason.

“We took of our shoes and were kicking our shoes away from the top of the slider, then my friend’s shoes caught by a branch of a tree. It took some time to take it.”

She said.

I said,

“Oh well, I will only allow it this time. But you should follow our promise from now on.”

Although I explained to her why she should come home until 5pm again, but she still came home at 5:10pm.

I asked her why she was late.

She said she enjoyed playing with friends and forgot to check the time.

As a mother, I was glad that she had such a fun time with friends.

It was only 10 minutes late, but I wanted her to follow the rule.

I was really irritated about it.

On that day, my 9-year-old son had a reservation for an online English conversation lesson from 5:30pm.

I turned on my husband’s laptop and said to my son to prepare for his lesson and review the previous lesson before the lesson started.

I was so irritated because his laptop was running so slow, and I couldn't log in to Skype.

I tried to enter my password many times, but it didn’t work.

I pushed Ctrl, Alt, and Delete keys together to close all windows to restart his laptop, but it didn’t work.

We had only 15 minutes before the lesson started.

I felt frustrated and expected that we would not make it on time if I kept waiting for the laptop to restart.

I turned on another laptop and kept trying to restart my husband’s laptop.

At that time, I saw my son had started reading a comic.

I couldn’t believe his attitude.

I wondered why he didn't prepare for his lesson and review the previous lesson even though we only had 10 minutes.

Then I flipped out as if a volcano suddenly erupted, and ended up hitting the keyboard of the laptop strongly.

“Why are you always doing things like this? Why don’t you study English seriously? If you didn’t do it, YOU would be in trouble in US!”

(Actually, our family have a possibility of moving to US this summer and stay there for about three years due to my husband’s transfer.)

I couldn’t control my anger.

At last, I had to hold down the power button of the laptop to terminate it.

After a while, I turned on the laptop, but it didn’t start up any more.

I tried the diagnostic program which was already installed on his laptop, it found out the reason.

It was a failure of the hard disk drive.

We lost our data that was saved on it.

Since my husband hadn’t come home yet, I sent him a text message to explain what happened, and apologized to him deeply.

He was disappointed to hear what had happened, but he never got mad with me.

I regretted and was deeply ashamed that I couldn’t control my anger.

I felt really sorry for my husband.

I am usually a calm person, but sometimes I can’t control my anger in front of my family.

When I feel that I can’t put up with my frustration, I tend to take my anger out on things.

For example, I have thrown a cup and broke it.

After I do things like that, I always think I shouldn’t have done it.

I hate myself for doing this again.

I know I still depend on my family, it is evident that I don't like dealing with things alone as an adult or mother.

I want to be a “real” calm person like my husband.

He is always calm, and rarely gets angry.

I was ashamed that I was unable to see things from another persons point of view and lost my temper.

I apologized to my children.

“I’m really sorry. I did it again, even though I tried to stop. I guess you two don’t want to see your mom gets mad too much, and losing my temper . Don’t be like your mom in the future. I will make an effort not to act like this in the future.”

My 9-year-old son said with a smile,

“I have already gotten used to it. I won’t be like you. Don’t worry about it!”

My 7-year-old daughter said,

“It’s a little scary when you get mad, but I love you even though you get mad!”

Forgive an immature mom.

I told my husband about this incident in detail early in the morning.

I also told him that I was sick of getting mad with our children every day.

In fact, I didn’t want to say “Hurry up” to them, but they will not do anything if I stop saying that.

But I have changed my mind that it’s their problems, not mine.

They need to notice it by themselves, otherwise their attitudes will never change.

I am wondering if I should stop saying scolding them.

My husband said,

“This incident was really so you. I have already given up thinking that your character will change, ever. You couldn’t help it. But we need to encourage our daughter to keep her promise. Actually, I'm so excited see if I will be able to extract our data from the broken hard disk drive or not. I've never failed to recovery data!"

I was impressd to hear that.

He is familiar with computers.

That's so him.

He told our daughter to eat breakfast quickly so as to be on time for school  many times.

It was rare for him to rush her.

Thanks to him, I didn’t have to say “hurry!” this morning.

I am really thankful of him.

He is always like so.

He usually doesn't ay overly sentimental words to me, but his attitude show me his kindness and consideration.

I really have to learn a lesson.

I will learn from this mistake, not to let my dear family feel uncomfortable.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!