More older Americans are being buried by housing debt

The costs of living in the United States are rapidly outpacing any increases in income for those still in the workforce, but for those who have already left the rat race and are currently living on fixed incomes, the negative effects of eroding buying power are even more acute.  Many retirees are still treading water […]

Goodbye Obuse Elementary Sports Festival

  Obuse, Japan:  This morning I arrived early at the Obuse Elementary school grounds in order to secure a coveted shady area before the annual sports festival began.  It’s a special year because it’s the last festival for my sixth grade son, and it’s also my retirement from frantically shooting photos and video of my three […]

Obuse City Free Market

 This Sunday, Obuse held it’s semiannual Free Market where local residents could sell their unwanted items rather than dump them on the already overburdened refuse system.  I think Recycling is a “good” way to reduce the waste stream, but Repurposing through such markets is a “great” way.  A friend and I agreed to set up […]

Masako Harada Exhibition Draws Crowd at Obuse Museum

   Masako Harada, Japanese artist, philanthropist, and long term friend, welcomed a packed room of fans and friends to the opening ceremony of her landscape exhibition now showing at the Obuse Museum until May 26th.      After the opening ceremony, guests were treated to a concert in which Ms. Harada demonstrated her talents on […]

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Happy Mother/Female Nurturer’s Day!

 

Mother’s Day in Japan

The florists are crowded with middle-aged men and children, which can mean only one thing…it’s Mother’s Day. It’s the one day of the year when we tell our moms just how much we appreciate them for the other 364 days that they fed, clothed, educated, scolded (well, at least in my case…), nurtured, and generally loved us.  Thanks, Mom for bringing me into this world…and for resisting the urge to send me back when I almost blew up the house….  But enough about that.  Not to belittle what moms have done,  I thought it about time we also showed some appreciation to all the other women out there who have nurtured us in some way. As a boy, I was fortunate enough to be able to meet my grandmothers almost daily.  They were truly saints who bent over backwards for me even through my periods of rebellion. I really wish I had another chance to tell them how much they were appreciated.  Another nuturer in my life is a very special aunt who has spent years mentoring this country boy about the big world that lay on the other side of the dirt road in front of his house.  I credit her with giving me the courage and skills to go on and complete my college education and explore the world… and I’ve been living on the opposite side of the planet for over two decades since then.

So as you celebrate Mother’s Day this year, consider changing the name to, “Mother/Female Nuturer’s Day,” then go out and thank ALL the women who have positively impacted your life.  Do it today because nobody knows what will happen tomorrow; you may never get another opportunity.

Happy Mother/Female Nurtuer’s Day!

Obuse Elementary School Sports Festival

The town of Obuse’s only elementary school, called Kurigaoka Shogakko in Japanese, will hold it’s annual sports festival on May 30th.   As part of activities leading up to the event, my sixth-grade son drew this picture to capture the fighting spirit between rival “red” and “white” team runners as they cross the finish line. […]

Climbing the Walls at Artwall

  My son wanted to go bouldering over Golden Week in #Nagano, #Japan so I took him to Artwall.  Amazingly, he had the place entirely to himself.  All the regular climbers must be out fighting the crowds at some Buddhist temple or amusement park.  Hey, no complaints here!  I would be on the wall too […]

Zenkoji Temple Gokaicho Celebration

  The Zenkoji Temple in #Nagano, #Japan is holding its once-in-seven-years Gokaicho celebration.  It is the only time a sacred statue of Buddha can be viewed by the public.  People have travelled from all over Japan to experience this rare event.  You had better hurry if you want to see it.  Gokaicho wraps up the […]

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Are Tiny Homes the Wave of the Future?

Many of us grew up in the U.S. with the expectation that, if we studied and worked hard, we too could realize the “American Dream”… owning a large home, getting a new car every few years, raising a couple of kids and putting them through college, and doing it all with an enjoyable, “lifetime” job that paid a decent living wage plus benefits.  Fast forward to 2015 with millions of unemployed and underemployed people, many of whom are past their prime working years, unable to afford to rent, let alone buy, even modest housing.  Starting around the turn of the century, tiny homes have gained increasing popularity around the globe as people have become more concerned about skyrocketing costs of living and about the negative impacts of their environmental footprints.

Australian filmmaker Jeremy Beasley spent two years documenting the tiny house movement in Portland, Oregon for his film, “Small is Beautiful.” In it he documents the lives of four people as they adjust to new lifestyle paradigms.  Although tiny homes average only about 186 square feet in size, their average cost is only about $23,000…a fraction of the typical suburban residence.

 

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