Jan 26

Multicultural Children’s Book Day~January 27, 2016

Celebrate Today!

A day to celebrate the power of multicultural children’s books around the world.

I’m proud to be a part of a growing group of authors who craft bilingual books for kids, including authors who have had their kid’s book(s) translated into other languages worldwide. Introducing children to another country’s culture and language gives our young ones a global perspective while fostering acceptance and love of others on the planet.

Visit your local library today!  You’ll be amazed at the selection of multicultural books available today.

Oct 17

16th Annual Victoria Nikkei Festival

2015 Final Poster Lo res 50Mark your calendars, October 24, from 10-4,  for the 16th annual Nikkei Festival in Victoria.  Kamishibai4Kids will be entertaining the children starting at 11:45am in the kid’s craft room.  My sidekick and I will be reading Fly Catcher Boy using Japan’s old style storytelling theatre, kamishibai (kah-me-she-bye).

After the reading you can find me at the book sale table.  All proceeds from the sale of my book will go to a non-profit in Japan, APRICOT, which has been working to meet the continued needs of so many children who lost family in the Fukushimi tsunami in March 2011. To learn more go to http://www.apricotchildren.org.  The need continues as we approach the 5th anniversary of this tragedy.

Looking forward to seeing you and meeting many new friends.  Oh, yes, there’s one more surprise….but you’ll have to visit the table to see what it is!

 

May 31

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month in Victoria

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The Dynamic Kamishibai Duo!

May 7, 2015.  A perfectly fine, sunny day for students from Margaret Jenkins Ecole Primary School to walk from their school to the Oak Bay library where we all gathered in a cozy, private room for a “kamishibai” presentation of my English/Japanese bilingual book, Fly Catcher Boy.<--more-->

After introductions and some personal backstory, we launched into learning a few Japanese words to prepare them for the presentation.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many students knew some Japanese words, beyond sushi!.  Since Fly Catcher Boy has 50+ Japanese words in the story, I promised them they’d be able to leave knowing even more words and phrases.

My sidekick, Braden, also taught English and performed in Japan around the same time I lived there! Accompanied by his guitar, he brought a well-known Japanese song, sung to the tune of Old Macdonald Had A Farm, to entertain the students. The kids eagerly responded when asked to name some of the animal sounds Braden made, delighted they’d guessed correctly.

The hour concluded with a riotous game which involved groups of 4, chopsticks, and plastic flies (think ‘jacks’ or ‘pick up sticks’ if you are old enough).  Teams have 30 seconds to pick up as many flies as they can with their chopsticks.  A team of four girls took home the coveted authentic Japanese Pokemon trading cards.  Parents, teacher, and kids had a good time at the “All Things Japanese Touch Table” where everything on display was thoroughly inspected!

flygame2

Intense concentration.

boyglasses

Who is this masked boy?

What fun morning!  Many thanks to the Greater Victoria Public Library for inviting me to present and to children’s librarian Devon for hosting us at the Oak Bay Library.  A special “arigato” to the students of Margaret Jenkins for your enthusiasm. We had a great time!

 

Apr 18

Cherry Blossom Fever Consumes Nation!

Victoria, Canada  2015

Victoria, Canada 2015

Here in Victoria, BC, Canada we enjoy a multitude of cherry blossom blooms.  Our glorious sunny spring weather ensured that our blooms were reported on CBC national news, taunting those who were still burdened with snow and wickedly cold weather, day after miserable day.  Here, at the hint of sunshine you will find Victoria’ites clad in biker shorts, flip flops, and tank tops taking morning coffee on outside decks while visions of impending summer activities dance in their heads.  It’s heaven, living on the coast.  When we say we have the best weather, we really mean it. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 31

Confession

Last fall, my house guest commented that I hummed–a lot. I was surprised. I didn’t realize I was a hummer but I didn’t think much about it as I was busy getting ready to leave for my trip to Japan.

Why is this woman so content?

Why is this woman so content?

After settling into my rental accommodation in Japan, I became aware that I was humming. Why hadn’t I noticed this before? Why was I aware of it here in a foreign country?

I consulted Dr. Google to find out why people unconsciously hum. Here’s what the good doctor told me: “Humming can be an indication of a contented mind. Or it can be a stress buster. (Dr. Google is quite open- minded and looks at both sides of the question). I preferred the former–a sign of contentment. I told myself  “Relax, you hum when you feel good. It’s a simple activity and it’s free. Think of it as little bits of joy bubbling up from your unconscious.”

And that’s what I did.  I was still bothered by why I was aware of humming in Japan and not Canada? I think I now understand. In Japan I had no television/radio in my apartment. Silence, every day.  I could listen to Tune In radio on my iPad, but for all intents and purposes there were no sound distractions in my apartment for a full month.  Outside was another world (noisy) altogether!

My conclusion: we all come with our own built-in entertainment systems.  What’s yours?

Nov 27

Wicked jet lag….

I left Japan three weeks ago. Most days it seems utterly surreal that I spent an entire month living my life on another continent. Before I left I titled this trip: Japan: Then & Now.”  Here’s my first attempt at that (unfulfilled) promise of regular blog posts! Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 21

Sayonara Baby!

NB:  while this initial post was created October 5, it’s now 17 days on, 22 October!  I know I promised to blog daily but….life got in the way.  I’ll have some solid bullet train time as I travel north for Tokyo, Sendai, and Morioka (Oct 23-26) to catch up on the past 17 days’ experiences as well as post appropriate photos as necessary, so stay tuned.  Domo Arigato!                                       ********************************************************************************************************

OCTOBER 4, 2014.  Departure day dawned with clear skies and sunshine.  Eight months of planning and organizing a month’s stay in Japan had been hard work but I knew it would be worth all the effort.

From the moment we entered YYJ (Victoria) terminal I was embraced and looked after by AIR CANADA staff.  Andrew greeted us and took me in hand, taking care of check-in, boarding passes, and a myriad of courtesies before taking me to see Janice who weighed and tagged my bags.  Matt and Carl manned the boarding gate for the short hop from YYJ to YVR.  After seeing I had a cane, Matt said “I’d like to order a wheelchair for you at each change.  Walking from domestic to international gates can be very tiring.  You’ll be glad.”  “Oh, Matt, I sure was!  Your suggestion made all the difference.  Priority boarding and golf cart travel is the best.”  AIR CANADA you rock!!!!!

AC03, a 767, with 2-3-2 seating configuration was sold out.  As I made my way to my aisle seat in economy I succumbed to “biz class envy”.  Twenty years ago I was blessed with a spontaneous upgrade but, alas, it was not to be this time.  The flight crew was great..attentive to my need to hydrate constantly while being on guard against Neko-chan’s penchant for roaming into areas off limits to felines.  The gluten- free meal I ordered in advance was very good, especially those chocolate cookies for dessert!

My seat mate, YaYa, spoke English very well.  She traveled with a handbag and an iPhone.  Over the 11-hour flight I educated her on what it means to be a ‘high maintenance” woman!  Like all Japanese travelers she slept often and long while I struggled with the occasional nap.  Neko-chan behaved and enjoyed a cat nap or two.

Arrived to pelting rain at Narita airport.  Typhoon announcement.  Possible cancellation of flights.  Araggggh, please, no!  Thankful to see a wheelchair; I was so tired and unsteady.  Clearing immigration and customs was a breeze.  There’s a separate area for diplomats, crew, and those in wheelchairs….so no long lineups for me.  Several minutes later I was headed for my last flight of the day.

ANA flight attendants greeted each and every passenger with a welcome bow.  Due to turbulence there was no in-flight service and we all remained locked in place.  We dropped altitude to avoid lightening while the aircraft rock and rolled (and I prayed) it’s way to my almost final destination, Centrair International, 3rd largest in the country, where husband Takeshi would be anxiously waiting for me.  Learned later my flight was the last to leave Narita because weather conditions.  Due to delays along the way, we only had an hour to eat, chat, and hug before the highway bus took me to my FINAL destination where friends would meet and drive me to my new home for the next month.

Sep 05

Rebecca-sensei~the journey begins

Thirty more sleeps and the adventure begins!  I’m returning to Japan for a one-month book tour which begins October 5, 2014.  I am beyond excited to visit my home-away-from-home for six years (1994-2000), rekindle friendships I left behind, introduce FLY CATCHER BOY (by ‘kamishibai’ theatre), and bathe in all that is Japan for me–beautiful fall weather, onsen, extraordinarily kind and polite people, food, big city lights, small town charms, convenient transport, food….oh, I mentioned that, did I?  I do love the food, yes I do!

Kamishibai, Surrey Museum, 2012

Kamishibai, Surrey Museum, 2012

I ran away from home at the age of 50 seeking adventure and travel.  I landed in Japan with two pieces of luggage and an assortment of expectations.  The luggage survived; the expectations faded, and I spent six of the most fascinating, exciting years of my life in Japan’s third largest city, Nagoya, smack dab in the middle of this island country.  I won’t lie; the first six-eight months were tough.  I had no job, little money, no friends, and pathetic  language skills.  The cards were stacked against me but I never gave up.  With the help of my homestay family, I secured an apartment; I rode the trains daily to get a feel for the territory and got lost more than once, and always met other ‘foreigners’ who became fast friends and led me to part-time jobs.  My life improved day by day.  I traveled Asia and returned to Canada for high holidays.  The longer I stayed in Japan the more foreign Canada seemed to me.  After six years it was time to leave.

In  2000 my new husband, Takeshi Fujibe, and I flew to Mexico where we lived for four years before returning to Canada.  During that time the idea for my bilingual kid’s book was born and in 2009 I launched the first edition of Fly Catcher Boy.  In 2012 the revised edition came out with new illustrations and new formats, including a digital iBook.

My October 2014 calendar is full of kamishibai performances for school children, community events open to the public, libraries in Nagoya and Tokoname, and a few pending gigs I cannot announce just yet.  I hope to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Tokai Japan Canada Society October 13;  I’ll take the bullet train north to Moirioka to attend/present at the annual Japan Writer’s Conference October 25/26; I’ll visit friends in Tokyo; and finally Takeshi and I will take a trip south to Nagasaki for a long awaited holiday/book research trip.

I’m thankful to the Nagoya Magazine for the great interview they published this week.  Go to:
www.nagmag.jp, click on Magazine, then scroll down to find “KOOL STORY”.

I’m grateful for the boots-on-the-ground in Japan for making all the necessary arrangements for my gigs, which might include a TV interview with my trusty translator!

You may have noticed I’ve not posted a single word for almost two years–challenging years of change which have led to a recovery of my health, a new residence in Victoria, and a renewed excitement for life in general and all that is writing in particular. I’m ready.  It’s good to be back; I hope you missed me.

Stay tuned…..

 

May 09

Asian Heritage Month at the Surrey Museum!

On stage, literally, Surrey Museum’s “kamishibai” storytelling, 2012

I enjoyed taking part in Asian Heritage Day at the Surrey Museum last weekend.  What a day it was!  This colourful event celebrated Surrey’s diverse Asian cultures with crafts, games, music and dance as well as martial arts demonstrations, some on-site ear acupuncture, and of course yours truly talking about bi-lingual books to an interested eager audience.  I sold my first book to a local MP who dropped in and the Dojo Sensei bought several for his students; it was a busy day with lots of visitors.  The entertainment was first-class. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 03

Closing out a year of National Holidays in Japan

Well, it’s over.  Last year I began posting about each and every national holiday celebrated in Japan….all fifteen of them!  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and learning a bit more about the country.

My foray into bi-lingual books for kids was prompted by the desire to write entertaining and informative books for children giving them an opportunity to learn a bit about the language and culture of different countries.  Because I lived and worked in Japan for six years, Japan was an easy first choice.  But I have traveled to many countries and my “list” of books I want to write is quite long. Read the rest of this entry »

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