The Old Lady With the Crooked Back

On the other side of the bridge that spans the river where the great white Japanese herons build their nests is a rusty old building. Actually, it’s the dirtiest, ugliest old building along the road. Made of what seems like centuries old wood and tin it leans slightly to the left as if it is just tired of standing straight all these years.

Not only is the building old and ugly but at first glance the grounds give it the appearance of being long abandoned. In the front there are rows of old, cracked plastic flower pots whose colors have faded to slate gray. Among the pots are dirt stained and worn Styrofoam containers that probably once held seafood judging by bits and pieces of label still stuck to them. They are now filled with dirt and weeds. The ground is strewn with rocks and what looks to be old car rims also filled with dirt.

The building is divided by what was probably a garage that has a set of stairs running up one side. Looking up at the grimy windows, dingy curtains hide whatever lays within.

The only tell-tale sign of life is the short clothes line that hangs in the garage. On most days there are several blouses, a few pair of socks, perhaps a skirt and some ladies trousers drying in the dusty breeze kicked up from the passing cars.

I needed to walk past that old building today and as I came up over the bridge I saw her. A tiny frail little thing hunched over the ground pulling up weeds. I was so startled to see her there. I had a hunch that the building wasn’t really abandoned but I guess I imaged the occupant to be totally different.

I slowed down as I approached the building. For the first time I began to see things that were probably always there but, I just hadn’t taken the time to notice.

Tucked right behind the old pots were six tiny rows of soil that had been carefully hoed with little ditches between them. Each row must have only been about two feet long and two rows were filled with autumn vegetables. So neat and tiny were these rows that I could tell a lot of effort and care had been put into them.

The old cracked pots including the Styrofoam containers had been cleaned of weeds and were now filled with flowering plants.  They were still lopsided, cracked and faded but no longer so forlorn looking. As a matter of fact, I could see that each container had been rearranged and supported by rocks or bricks.

She was working slowly and quietly on the side of the building. I watched as she meticulously plucked weeds up out of the rocky ground. There were patches of white flowers growing up out of that rocky dirt. I don’t know what they are called but the the leaves are long, like thick blades of grass and up out of the clumps of leaves grow little white flowers that look like five pointed stars. It was amazing to see those beautiful little clumps of grassy-leaved flowers growing up out of that dusty ground. There she stood, hunched over to the ground with her little crooked back and lovingly tended them.

Then I realized-she lives here. She lives in this creaky old building that looks for all the world like it should be condemned and torn down. She’s the owner of the worn clothing that hangs on the line. The one that lives behind the dingy glass windows. The one that lovingly tends the six tiny rows of vegetables.

I stood there and my heart wrenched. I will never see that building the same ever again.

This is not the end of this story. I’m sure there will be more in the future.


Fascinating, unusual and shocking facts about gift-giving in Japan

I’m sure that most have heard about the culture of gift-giving in Japan. There are some things that you may not have known…..I just wrote an article about this topic on Taiken Japan……here is an excerpt:


“From the biggest shopping mall to the smallest tourist stall one can find all manner of items intended for gift-giving. Some are so exquisitely wrapped that you don’t even want to open them! There are whole companies dedicated to producing prepackaged gift items. In many department stores you can find a display section with an assortment of boxed gift items. The varied assortment of items surprises many foreign visitors. Most of the items aren’t exactly what most non-Japanese would consider “gifts”. Gift items can include boxes of laundry soap, bar soap, shampoo and conditioner sets, instant coffee, assorted juice sets, hand towels and nori (dried seaweed)!”

To read the rest of the article click here:

Fascinating, unusual and shocking facts about gift-giving in Japan


Where is Mrs. N?

My sincere apologies! Life has been very busy.

I have been working on several articles for various travel sites.

My mother is ill so I will be taking an unexpected trip to the “states” very shortly


I have been madly preparing for this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge in November. Due to my unexpected travel  I’ve had to work furiously on “NaNo” prep.


The autumn here – if you can call it that- is taking its good ole’ time arriving. Last week we had temperatures up near 100 degrees. It was terrible. A few days ago a super typhoon roared past us and suddenly veered at the last moment slamming into Korea with devastating fury. We were quite fortunate. Had it hit us I would probably not be writing this blog post as my computer would be strewn from here to “who knows where” along with all my other worldly possessions. The damage from the storm was catastrophic.

The rice harvest is in full swing here.


Some fields have been harvested before others. I noticed that our town seems to be ahead of other towns about 30 minutes away. It just seems odd with the warm temperatures. Actually-from what I read-things seem od all over the planet.

I have an announcement:


I “may” do an update here and there but I’m guessing all my writing concentration will be focused on NaNoWriMo. Sorry. I’m not sure if I can do updates when I travel.

I apologize for the hurried post.

I hope everyone is doing well!