第56話:Love Month ブログシリーズその3:ちょっとした日本の素敵なこと

Love Month Series: What I love about Japan

The little things I love about Japan

            What makes me love Japan more is the little things. These are the most mundane things that we somehow forget to appreciate because they are a norm for people like us who are living in Japan. For the month of February, I would like to put the humblest experiences that we mostly overlook on the spotlight.

小さなことなんだけど日本のよさを私が感じることっていくつかあるの。私たちのように日本にずっと住んでいると、ついつい普通のこととして感謝の気持ちを忘れがちなありきたりのことなんだけどね。さあ、Love Monthを締めくくるのは、私たちが忘れがちなほんとに地味な経験、これを並べてみたよ。

The little triangle they make with the toilet paper

Wet towels that are hot in winter and cold in summer

Opaque plastic bags for sanitary napkins

Holding doors for you

The person nearest to the elevator buttons lets everyone else alight first

The shoe horn

Face covers in salons and fitting rooms

lol 笑

Blankets in restaurants and cafes

Money envelopes

Warm toilet seats

Complimentary water or tea upon entering a restaurant

Walking the customer out of the shop

Free tissues (including a flier—but it’s still free tissue!)

Low-floor buses

Parks, shrines and temples everywhere


             To the readers, are you living here in Japan? Have you ever visited Japan? Can you think of anything more which you love about Japan? Let me know in class or in the comment section.

            This marks the end of my February series. See you in March for more!

-Teacher Mina


さて、これで2月のブログはおしまい。3月にまた会おうね! Mina先生より


第55話:Love Month ブログシリーズその2:「日本」のコレが好き!

Characteristics of Japanese people that I love
It’s been six years but Japan has never failed to amaze me by its people. They are the ones responsible for how this country has turned out to be—peaceful and orderly. Based on my personal experience, I can say that Japan is definitely one of the most ideal places to live in.

No photo description available.

               Now that I can understand a bit of Japanese, it has become clearer to me how polite Japanese people are when it comes to communicating verbally and non-verbally as well. I noticed that they are very apologetic and sometimes, a bit too much. すみません is a word that is often used for apologizing and also for calling people’s attention. Apart from their very remorseful tone, it also comes with a very sorry long face and multiple bows. I definitely have not seen anything like this anywhere. The funny thing is, I myself have acquired the same facial expression and gestures when apologizing which I am not sorry about.


Image may contain: 18 people, people smiling, shoes
               Seven years ago, I worked in a Japanese company as an English teacher. That was my firsthand experience of Japanese conviviality, not only from my Japanese co-workers but also from my Japanese students who were living in different parts of the world. There was a time when I lost my bag in Narita airport and one of my Japanese students living in Tokyo offered to contact the airport and even brought the bag to me himself. I have made a handful of friends at my fitness gym too. I have had lunches and dinners with them more than once. They have invited me and Marilou in their home which I think is the most private place for a Japanese. Japanese people are the friendliest!



No photo description available.
               One common thing about all of students is their curiosity. My students always wonder about so many things. They ask me what I do on my weekends, how the life in the Philippines is like, why I chose Japan and so on and so forth. They look at me with eyes filled with questions and curiosity which is so satisfying for me as a teacher. So whenever I see their eyes sparkle with amazement or because of a eureka moment, my soft teacher heart could almost burst in happiness.



Image may contain: 5 people, including Kenichi Chiba and Marilou Orang, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor
               Despite the language barrier, my Japanese bosses, friends and students never fail to make me feel cared for. Whenever I seem sick, coughing, or having a sore throat, they would always check on me or even give me medicine and fruits. Whenever they hear a terrible disaster happening in the Philippines, they would make sure that my family back home is okay. When the flu season is at its peak, everyone would tell me to take care. What I love about Japanese people is that they are so vocal about their concern. I also hope they take care of themselves as much as they care about others.



Image may contain: 5 people, including Kenichi Chiba, Yutaka  Chiba and Marilou Orang, people smiling, people sitting, people eating, table and food
               It all started with Kenichi and Masumi-san accepting me, a foreigner, wholeheartedly in their home. I remember every detail of how they showed me kindness and hospitality from the get-go. They prepared my futon mattress, picked me up from the station, prepared a sumptuous dinner, let me take a bath first before everyone else. They were very hands on but not in a suffocating way. They let me thrive on my own but they were always there when I struggled. Until now, they still make plans to take me and Marilou out to see beautiful sights all over Japan. For that, we are always grateful.



Image may contain: 3 people, including Marilou Orang, people smiling, people sitting
               Most people might know that Tokyo is one of the most stressed cities in the world. One of the reasons perhaps is their dedication to their work responsibilities. Japanese people are known for their great skill in working. Most people work overtime on their own volition. I am not saying that I am applauding this attitude—as a matter of fact, it is quite concerning. One can only wonder how they make time for their families, their hobbies and basically not working. However, I cannot deny that people’s high regard for working actually contributes positively to everyone’s lives tremendously. 


For anyone reading this who might be thinking of moving to Japan, be sure to take my opinions and experiences with a grain of salt. For sure, Japan is not utopia. Japan is not a  perfect country. But what I can assure you is that once you embrace Japan as it is, you will be able to find the brighter side of the Land of the Rising Sun. 


-Mina <3


第54話:メガフェプス ダパミクス






B:「MEGAFEPS DAPAMICS miss, enjoy, give up, avoid, finish, escape, postpone(put off), stop,deny, admit, practice, advise, mind, imagine, consider, suggest のそれぞれの動詞の頭文字をとって覚えるのさ。これらの動詞が来たときは、to不定詞は使わずに動名詞を使う、ってね。大学入試に必須さ。へへん!」



① My very excellent mother just served us nachos.


My - Mercury

Very  - Venus
Excellent - Earth
Mother - Mars
Just - Jupiter
Served - Saturn
Us - Uranus
Nachos - Neptune

② Fan boys






Opinion, Size, Age, Shape, Colour, Origin, Material, Purpose


She is wearing a tiny white silk dress. (形容詞が文章内でsize, colour, materialの順になっている)



第53話 : Love Month ブログシリーズ:「日本」のコレが好き!

Love Month: A blog series about the things we love in and about Japan


In celebration of the love month of February, I will be talking to you about the everything Marilou and I love about Japan.

Let’s talk food.

For food enthusiasts, Japan may be that one country that will offer you a wide range of variety of flavors may it be original or adapted. Japan has taken center stage in pioneering ground-breaking cooking techniques and serving food that are not only delicious but also an art from. Agricultural jobs are highly respected and farmers are revered for producing high quality meat, fruits and vegetables. With great nature comes great ingredients. Umami is a word widely used in the culinary word and is scientifically identified by a Japanese. It doesn’t end there. Did you know that Japan has taken over France in acquiring the most Michelin Stars in one country accumulatively?

Too much for the introduction. Let’s dive right in to our favorite foods in Japan. You will also get a bonus towards the end, so go through the entire blog!

Honestly, I had a hard time thinking about my favorites because I think the list will never end. In no particular order, I am going to reveal to you the Japanese foods that made great impact to me and has changed the way I eat.




Onigiri – This small portion of cylindrical or triangular shaped rice topped or filled with almost any Japanese dish you can think of is definitely one of my favorites. I have a special connection with onigiri because the first time I visited Japan, Mrs. Chiba would always prepare onigiri for me. Every time I get an onigiri from the convenience store, I would always attach this kind gesture to this humble ball of rice.


Oden – I love oden. My first closest experience with oden was in Korea. They have a similar way of eating simmered fish cakes, rice cakes and meat. The only difference is that in Korea, they are skewered and are sold in the streets. Every winter in Japan, I would always crave for oden and for a while now, it has become one of my comfort foods.


Ochazuke – You might be seeing a pattern of me choosing very simple types of food. Indeed, I lean towards milder tasting food than overwhelmingly spicy ones. Ochazuke is basically a rice dish with toppings with tea poured over it. The thing I love about it is how the tea accentuates the umami taste of your chosen topping while mellowing down the saltiness of the nori or the seafood. What is good food when it doesn’t give you the perfect marriage of all flavors.


Yakiniku – The thing I love about yakiniku is the social nature of it. While grilling meat around the table, you just can’t help but talk and bond with your family or friends. The downside is only smelling like smoked bacon after leaving the yakiniku place. Eat yakiniku at your own risk.


RamenRamen may or may not be the only dish that every foreign tourist wants to try in Japan. Because of the multitude of ramen restaurants that exist all over Japan, it is only logical to try a couple of ramen places around your hotel or your neighborhood. It may also be a considered sinful dish because of the amount of oil and sodium that comes with one bowl. On the brighter side, you can always start eating healthy tomorrow.


Natto – Okay, I do not know any other foreigner around me who eats natto religiously. It is known to be hated by foreigners, even by a handful of Japanese themselves. But to me personally, I genuinely enjoy the slimy texture it has to the tongue. Eating natto may feel gross to some, but it is an acquired taste. They might have to try it more than once.


Sashimi – Japanese cuisine might have changed how the world eats, but their greatest contribution to gastronomy is being true to the natural taste of food. Eating sashimi is like paying respect to the actual product of the ocean by consuming it in its purest form.  Some of my favourites are hamachi, salmon and uni.


SobaSoba or buckwheat noodles in English may be eaten chilled in the summer and with hot soup in the winter. Soba noodles are dense and chewy and has quite a strange colour for a noodle. Kitsune soba is my first love, while I also enjoy kakiage soba and tororo soba. The only problem I have is I am quite allergic to yamaimo. I can’t have too much of it.


Tsukemono – Last but certainly not least is the Japanese side dishes, tsukemono. They might be called side dishes but one must not just put them on the sidelines. Japanese cuisine isn’t complete without the tsukemono. Recently, I visited this quaint café just minutes away Kamakura station. There I tried for the first time a Japanese mochi dessert that came with a side dish. It blew my mind because my idea of a dessert is ultimately sweet. But this experience opened my taste buds to a new way of enjoying desserts.

I could go on and on about all the food that I love about Japan but one blog wouldn’t be enough.



I also asked Marilou, “what food do you love in Japan and why?” and she gave me her top three:

“It’s savory. It’s a perfect combination of saltiness (from the sauce) and tartness (of the pickled ginger). And most especially it reminds me of summer.”
Green Tea Mochi
“The sweet red bean paste goes well with the hint of bitterness from the green tea taste in the mochi.”
Rice bran pickles
“It’s healthy and it’s a good palate cleanser especially when eating savory dishes.”




As promised, I have a little surprise for you in the end. I also asked Boss, who is my boss and also a ghost writer on EXCEL English blog, about his favorite food and this is what he has to say. He wrote it in English by the way.

“My number 1 favorite dish is curry rice. This sounds quite childish but the moment I smell that pungent flavor, I would be on cloud nine.

Unfortunately for me is that my wife does not like it so much. So, the chances I can get for savoring it at home is only on a special day such as my birthday.

If you ask me for an alternative for curry rice, I will say won ton noodles or “wantanmen” in Japan. I’m originally a lover of all noodles but above all, wonton noodles are the most special especially if I cook it myself. My daughter inherited my gene, so she loves it likewise. We will eat wonton noodles even if they serve it to us every day till our dying day.”

If you liked this blog about food, I would love to write more. Just let me know!

最初に約束したように、最後にちょっとしたサプライズをみんなに贈るね。実は私のBoss(時々Excel Englishのブログも寄稿してくれてるよね)にも好きな食べ物を聞いてみた。で彼の回答がこちら。英語で回答をくれたよ。


-Teacher Mina the food lover #foodie