365 photos in 365 days: Photo #100

What better way to ring in 100 photos than with a picture of my beautiful wife. Thank you for, everyone, for your support and views! Here’s to 265 more photos. -Khoa



Summer, just go away.

I thought we were having fun frolicking in the ocean together and having an excuse to eat ice cream every day.  It was nice getting tan and watching fireworks burst in the night air.  I didn’t even mind that you forced me to look like a fool and use an umbrella as a shield against your buddy, the sun.  

But I’ve had enough of you.  You increased my dirty laundry load twofold because my frail Californian body can’t handle the humidity and chooses to perspire twice as much as the normal person.  You increased my electricity bill by over 50 bucks. You give me no relief from the hot, sticky air you insist on blowing and your cicada minions will not shut up!   

Our relationship was only supposed to last for a few months.  We reunited in June and things got really heated up in July. The beginning of August was going really well for us.  But there’s only two days until September and you still insist on sticking around. 

We had a good run, but I’m over you, summer.  Won’t you take the hint?  Why don’t you let fall have a turn?

Taiko and a dancing yellow cat

Last weekend, Khoa and I ventured to mainland Japan for the Japan Myth Expo in Izumo City.  This event was held to celebrate the 1300 year anniversary of the writing of the Kojiki, Japan’s oldest chronicle.  The Kojiki is said to contain one of the most important records of the early history of Japan.  There are also many ancient myths written in the Kojiki, a third of which are set in Shimane prefecture.  If you’re interested in reading some of the myths (in English), take a look

I was surprised to learn that Shimane, the sleepy little rural prefecture that Khoa and I have come to call home, was mentioned so often in the Kojiki.  The Oki Islands are even talk about in one of the myths chronicaling the (mis)adventures of a rabbit from our islands. 

As part of the Japan Myth Expo, each city, town, and village has a designated day to show off their area’s traditional dances, songs, and customs.  Chibu’s junior high boys and random “sticking out like a sore thumb” foreigner (me) performed Minna Ichi Taiko, Chibu’s traditional song.  The song is composed of taiko drumming, dancing using fans, and singing. On the day of the performance it was 37 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit) under the canopy that was over the stage…I don’t think I’ve ever sweated that much!  Khoa was there to watch both of the 30 minute performances, all the while taking pictures for the school.  I shouldn’t post pictures of the kids, but it’s not against the rules to subject the internet to my sweaty face:



There was also Oki Minyo (folk songs) and a stage performance by Shimane’s mascot.  Most (maybe all) prefectures in Japan have an official mascot.  Shimane’s is a yellow cat with the roof of Izumo Shrine stuck on his head.  His name is Shimanekko (Shimane + Nekko [cat]).  He’s cute…but I had about all the kawaii (cuteness) I could take after Shimanekko and his two perky cat friends performed the Shimanekko dance with accompanied song.  This kawaii overload was exacerbated by the screeching women dancing along with Shimanekko, screaming “kawaiiii!”  I like cute things, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about the sickeningly sweet cuteness of that song and dance combo, complete with “cat pose,” that rubs me the wrong way.

 Shimanekko, Shimane's mascot

…other than the cute yellow cat, Khoa and I had a great day 😛

There’s no escape once you’ve entered the depths of Shimanekko

The Adventures of Batman in Japan

*****After playing taiko for bon-odori (Obon dancing) and then practicing taiko for the next week, I had a few blisters on my hands.  Luckily, Batman was there to save the day*****

Batman rides a train.
Batman eats at Mos Burger.
Batman loves Khoa. Khoa doesn’t love Batman.
Batman is the master of chopsticks.
Batman enjoys a matcha latte.
Batman gets eaten by Michelle.
Batman watches Batman.
Batman braves a business hotel bathroom.
Batma enjoys a tasty snack.
Batman keeps it classy.

Dancing in the street

Last Saturday was Matsue City’s Dan-Dan Summer Dance. Starting at 3pm in blistering 35 degree Celcius (95 Fahrenheit), 80% humidity weather, teams of dancers took to the street near Matsue Castle to show off their moves. We were hot just watching, I can’t imagine having to dance under those kinds of conditions.

There was a wide range of dancers, from women in traditional kimono to elementary school girls in neon tutus to men wielding giant flags.

There were some very memorable performances. For example…

This was a hip hop dance group from Matsue. One of their goals was to learn how to dance “sekushi.” After hearing the announcement of their group’s bio, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of dancing we were about to see. I was preparing myself to be shocked at least…and shocked I was. The first group of girls, ranging from 1st to 6th grade elementary school age, danced to a rap song that included many uncensored “mother f-ers” and mentioned the singer’s own giant…well, you get the picture, this wasn’t a song for innocent 7 year olds to dance to. I don’t quite know how all of the little old grandmas and grandpas felt about this. Next was an N’SYNC song (much more appropriate) followed by T-PAIN’s “Take your shirt off.” I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the entire performance because of the song choices.

And then there was flag guy…

This guy was proud of his flag waving skills and wanted everyone to know it (he even posed for this picture). Synchronized with the music, he waved is huge flag inches away from the heads of the dancers in front of him. He even turned toward the crowd and occasionally flung the red cloth in the direction of innocent bystanders and laughed with confidence as they ducked. He was awesome.

There were many other great dances as well. Here are some more of Khoa’s photographs:

It was Khoa and my first time at the Dan-Dan Dance event and we were glad to have had the opportunity to see it. The three hours of dancing was a great opportunity for Khoa to practice taking photos 🙂

The problem with everyone knowing where we live

As many of you know, Khoa and I live on a 5 square mile island with around 600 inhabitants. To make matters even cozier, most of our island is mountainous, so the houses are clustered together on the coasts where any flat land is available. As a result of our close proximity to our neighbors and the fact that we are the only two foreigners on the island, everyone knows where we live.

This is a great thing most of the time. People come to our door often to give us extra vegetables from their garden or fish they caught. When Khoa and I stayed on the island during New Year’s, the principal of the elementary school saw the light on at our house, figured we were home, and invited us over for a big New Year’s feast.

However, there are some downsides to the entire island knowing our whereabouts.

Here’s a recent gmail chat conversation I had with Khoa when he was at home (…and I was at work. I’m not perfect guys…yes, I sometimes chat with my husband while I’m at work).


Khoa: omg they’re back

the little girls are back

what should i do?


just ignore them

did you lock the door?

Khoa: no i didnt

they are playing with the doorbell




This was the second time today that two little first year elementary school girls came to our front door wanting Khoa to come out and play. He had already gone out once and roamed the neighborhood poking at things with sticks and being silly with them.

Khoa and I often hear little knocks on our front door and repeated ringings of our door bell from the neighborhood kids looking for play time with the weird foreigners. It makes me so happy that even when the kids aren’t forced to play with us, they still want to. But it’s hard when we’re tired and just want to relax (or we’ve already played with them once before).

I guess the “problem” with everyone knowing where we live isn’t really a problem. Khoa and I love living here and always having someone to roam the neighborhood with 🙂