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2013 Koinobori Crafts

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This is an awesome post about 子供の日(Boy’s Day/Children’s Day) in Japan! 読んでください。^_^

Hiragana Mama


This Sunday, May 5 is Boys Day/Childrens Day (Kodomo no Hi) in Japan.

Our family celebrates by:

– Displaying Koinobori (previous posts with more info HERE and HERE)

– Making a samurai hat out of newspaper (planning to post about that soon)

– Eating Okosama Lunch (previous lunch HERE. this year I plan on making fried rice, ebi-fry, korokke, and purin)


Craft #1

Since we don’t have giant koinobori (こいのぼり) windsocks to display outdoors, I decided to make a small koinobori bunting (ガーランド) to display inside our house. I made one koi for each member of our family. This little banner reminds me how much I love my little family!


To make your own, you will just need:

– felt

– googly eyes

– glue gun

– embroidery thread and needle

– glitter glue

– ribbon


I don’t have a pattern… I just free-handed…

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Here is another great post from Tokyohamster! 🙂 (It’ll make you crave soba! 😉 )

oh my omiyage

It seems like it would be so simple.  Pick up soba, put it in your mouth, chew, and swallow.  But just like many things in Japan with a history or tradition, there’s a proper way to eat soba.  Although there are hot soba dishes, truly good soba is enjoyed cold or chilled served on top of a zaru (a bamboo strainer).  And just like pasta, it’s served ‘al dente’ so that each bite of soba is chewy.

Soba dipping bowl - wasabi and green onions served over a bowl of tsuyu

Typically before the soba arrives, a server will bring you a cup filled with tsuyu (pronounced: tszoo-you; soba dipping sauce) covered with a small plate of wasabi and leeks.

Soba Dipping Sauce - wasabi and green onions. How to eat soba.

Take the plate off of the dipping cup, add your desired amount of wasabi and leeks to the tsuyu, and mix in the cup.

Soba Tsuyu with wasabi and green onions

When your soba is served, pick up some soba noodles with your chopsticks, dip it directly into the tsuyu, and…

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The Light of the Firefly: What is its Role in Japanese Culture?

Japanese fireflies in Okayama Prefecture

The firefly (or lightning bug as we call it in my hometown) has always been my favorite insect.  Surrounded by hundreds in a field on a summer night can take your breath away and make you feel as though you’re in a fairytale.

Well, the other day I was perusing one of my favorite websites ( and I found an article about the role fireflies (known as “hotaku” in Japanese) play in Japanese society.  It was really fascinating!

According to Namiko Abe, the Japanese language guide for, fireflies have quite a few meanings in Japan. She wrote that the firefly’s mystical light has been a metaphor for passionate love in poetry since Man’you-shu (the 8thcentury anthology-which is the oldest collection of poetry in Japan). The firefly is not only a symbol of love but it also has a

Image from the movie “Grave of the Fireflies”

supernatural meaning, too. “Their eerie lights are also thought to be the altered form of the souls of soldiers who have died in war,” wrote Abe. I believe that this metaphor is used throughout the popular 1988 Japanese animated film, “Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Firelies)” as a representation of not only the soldiers that died in World War II but also of innocent citizens who died from “side effects” of the war (such as starvation).

Another form of poetry that fireflies have been the subject of is music. “Hotaru no Hikari (Light of the Firefly)” is a very popular song in Japan. According to Puneeta (from the blog Japan-as I know it), this song is sung to the Scottish tune of “Auld Lang Syne” and is sung mostly at graduations or as a symbol of “the end” (such as the end of a business day).  I really like the Japanese version! The lyrics are beautiful. Below are the lyrics to this song as they were listed on Puneeta’s blog:

Lyrics of Hotaru no Hikari (with English translation)

hotaru no hikari, mado no yuki. (Light of fireflies, snow by the window)
fumi yomu tsukihi, kasanetsutsu.(Many suns and moons spent reading)
itsushika toshi mo, sugi no to wo. (Years have gone by without notice)
aketezo kesa wa, wakare yuku. (Day has dawned; this morning we part)

tomaru mo yuku mo, kagiri tote ( Stay or leave, either an end)
katami ni omofu, chiyorozu no (Think as mementos; so many)
kokoro no hashi wo, hitokoto ni (Corners of my heart, in one word)
sakiku to bakari, utafu nari. (Sing for peace)

tsukushi no kiwami, michi no oku (Far reaches of Kyushu, far along roads)
umi yama tohoku, hedatsu tomo (Though separated by seas and mountains)
sono magokoro wa, hedate naku (Its sincere heart is not.)
hitotsu ni tsukuse, kuni no tame. (Serve single-mindedly for our country)

chishima no oku mo, okinawa mo (From the ends of Chishima to Okinawa),
yashima no uchi no, mamori nari. (All part of Japan)
itaran kuni ni, isa o shiku. (Contribute to our great country)
tsutomeyo wagase, tsutsuganaku (I’ll faithfully devote my life)

Similar in concept to “hanami” (the cherry blossom viewing that occurs earlier in the year in Japan), Abe also wrote about “hotaru-gari”. She said that “hotaru-gari” is a popular activity where people go out on summer nights to view the fireflies’ glow. Abe went on to say that because of pollution, the fireflies are sadly decreasing as they only live in clean streams.

Japanese fireflies near a stream in Okayama Prefecture

Do you have fireflies in your area? Do they have any special meanings that are different than the ones listed here? If so, leave a comment and let me know! 🙂

***If you’d like to read the posts where I received this information, here are their links:

Namiko Abe from Relationships with Nature: Firefly-The Role of the Firefly in Japanese Society

Puneeta: Japan-as I know it: Hotaru no Hikari (Glow of the Fireflies)

This is such a nice video (and I really like the song, too!! ^_^), I had to reblog it! 😀 Thank you for posting, Tokyohamster! 🙂

oh my omiyage

Who doesn’t love a random act of kindness, especially when you’re greeted by adorable balloons garnished with colorful ribbon?  I’m loving this video by Oh Joy – it just brightens up my day!  I hope it does the same to yours too 🙂

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Animal Shelters & Social Media: The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship

Photo Courtesy of

This year’s October issue of DOGFANCY had a great article by Kim Campbell Thornton about how marketing and social media can empower shelters. As a public relations specialist and a supporter of animal shelters, I was glad to see that the use of social media within a shelter’s marketing plan is finally going main stream.  In my opinion, social media has been overlooked far too long in the animal shelter world and it’s exciting to see it being used more and more. The whole point of the article in DOGFANCY was to showcase how shelters are getting creative with their community relations plan to draw in more potential adopters while gaining community support.

Some of the creative marketing ideas that Thornton listed were:

  • “senior citizen discounts

    A child’s birthday party at the Humane Society of Huron Valley

  • fundraisers featuring bingo night
  • birthday parties for kids
  • furry speed dating
  • money-back guarantees
  • attractive professional photos
  • clever copy”(Thornton, 31)

Thornton went on to say that “outside-the-kennel” thinking is what will ultimately help shelters achieve their goals.

The Nevada Humane Society in Reno was highlighted in this article as their Executive Director Bonney Brown has come up with some very clever events. Some of those events are:

  • “a Valentine’s Day promotion including a three-hour Furry Speed Dating event
  • a 10-day Mardi Gras adoption promotion with a “Mardi Paws” parade featuring animals who had been in the shelter the longest and came with reduced adoption fees
  • a Presidents Day adoption promotion
  • an Arbor Day promotion where adopters received a free tree from a local nursery and light bulbs from the local energy company
  • a car dealership pays for Pet of the Week ads and people who test-drive a car get discounted pet adoptions
  • Moms get a special deal on adoptions on Mother’s Day
  • an Independence Day ice cream social
  • having the shelter stay open late on Halloween so families can come trick-or-treat” (Thornton, 32).

As for the use of social media, Thornton gave great real-world examples of how shelters are utilizing these free tools.

The Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Colorado utilizes Facebook to:

  • “announce events
  • post information about specific animals
  • request donations of needed items
  • remind pet owners of seasonal concerns” (Thornton, 32)

The Baltimore Humane Society uses Twitter to:

  • “call for foster homes and volunteers
  • feature pets for adoption
  • post YouTube videos of available pets
  • announce events and media coverage” (Thornton, 32)

Destroying the stereotype of a dark, damp, poorly-kept kennel is something social media and creative marketing strategies can accomplish for shelters.  As Brown said in this article, “Make the shelter a fun place instead of a place people dread” (Thornton, 32). If animal shelters will continue to embrace the new possibilities that social media and marketing can bring, I truly believe that more animals would find “fur-ever” homes-and isn’t that what it’s all about? 🙂

***If you’d like to read the article I received this information from, here’s the data for the DOGFANCY magazine the article was in:

DOGFANCY, OCT. 2012, Volume 43/Number 10***

This is some great resume advice from Eastern Michigan University’s PRSSA Chapter! 🙂

Rethinking the Press Release: Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different!

Mashable.composted a really interesting article the other day that went over four different ways to rethink the press release. Naturally this article caught my attention

Photo Courtesy of

because I was always taught that there was a standard form for the press release. Jonathan Rick, the author of the post, wrote that, “Every year for the last ten years, someone has proclaimed that the press release is dying. While the rumors of its demise are exaggerated, they are not totally unfounded. That’s because the press release is, in fact, being eclipsed by digital alternatives that are more flexible, more interesting, and more relevant” (Rick, 1).  Rick went on to say that companies are looking at creative ways to present their news-such as using a blog post (Rick, 1).

Here are the four tips and examples that Rick gave of companies that broke the “press release mold” and found success with their efforts:

1. “Keep it human. Your stakeholders, and customers, prefer it that way!

  • The real estate company Zillow follows this principle well as their press releases are written in a conversational tone on their company blog.

2. Passion, even edginess, does not get in the way of your message. Passion actually shows personality, and that there’s a real person behind your press shop.

  • Patagonia-the outdoor clothing company-places their press releases on their Facebook group’s page as well as having a great blog on top of that.

3. Entertaining consumers is as important as informing them.

  • The British smoothie-maker company called Innocent releases both a press release and blog post (both of which are in different tones and writing styles). Some bonus features include: the press release is downloadable as a PDF, the blog post provides colorful video and pictures and the most interesting comments will win a free case of the product.

4. Make it personal. Comments from the soldiers in the trenches are more memorable than a few quotes from a chief executive.

  • ServInt, a web host, has turned single announcements into multiple opportunities. They were able to do this by splitting the story into parts and having different workers discuss how each point will affect the company.”

(Rick, 1-2)

The media is looking at creative press releases a lot more lately. If a company is able to successfully send the message they want to send while making the story fun and colorful, then the newsworthiness of the story doubles.

To read Rick’s entire article, click here.