‘So that the monotonous fall of the waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again… “Virginia Woolf

I know the beach. I grew up on one. I knew the color of the sand, the coldness of the water, how the waves break and the distance between the jutting rocks. I found this photo on the internet. I lived right behind the left side of that  photo. I also learned to ride my bike at the beginning of the boardwalk. The houses weren’t there yet. It was all beach. but that red brick wall was. When we mastered the two wheeler, we would come careening down that incline with the dangerous thrill of wondering if we would turn the wheel before smashing into the wall. I ended up riding right on the beach a lot.  (Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York)

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I liked how the sand felt on my toes and how the sun warmed my back. (Okinawa,Japan)


I knew where to find clam shells, crabs and snails. In the winter I built snowmen on the beach. In the spring, I chased birds. When I got older, I dated a lot of the lifeguards in the summer. I was happiest in a bikini on the beach getting a tan. (Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia)


I remember sad moments, scary moments and wonderful moments in an ocean. (Santa Barbara,California)


I’ve seen the power of hurricanes, felt the waves knocking me down or the undertow pulling me further out and almost drowned. There was always at least one drowning per summer. (Cartagena,Colombia)


We rented beach houses in Malibu when our kids were young. (Malibu, California)


One summer, I decided to make a table out of sea glass. I needed thirty pounds of sea glass and I was determined to get it. I enlisted the help of family and friends. When a big pile of rocks came up, I was out there for hours, with my feet cut up. It was a job. Everyone on the beach wanted sea glass. I have the table. (Shell from Eluthera, Bahams)


I still always look for sea glass on a beach.


I bring bags of shells or stones home from any beach in the world. I can not walk on a beach without looking for treasures. (Panama)


I turn to water for a sense of calm and clarity. (Hvar, Croatia)


The ocean gives my brain a rest and heals what is broken. (Marajo, Brazil)


It connects me to something beyond myself. (Great Barrier Reef, Australia)


My life and my problems always seem very small compared to the vastness of the ocean. (Varadero, Cuba)


When I walk onto a beach in any country, it invokes the memories of my childhood and I am at home. (Paraty, Brazil)


Fly safe,




Things I Have Carried

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful we must carry it with us or we find it not “             Ralph Waldo Emerson

Things  I   Have Carried

1. I have this GIANT CONCH SHELL on my kitchen table. It is from a pink sand beach in Eleuthera,Bahamas.  It is one of those giant shells you see in stores and think it isn’t real. There it was on the beach one morning when I was walking. I carried it back to my room and then proceeded to carry it back on the plane with a three-year old and a six-year-old. I see that shell every morning and it reminds me of a pink sand beach and a happy  very young family.

2. My friends told me about the perfect gift to bring  from Munich – DAS MURMELTIER DER ALPEN  ( singing  animal in the chipmunk family) They told me to buy them at the airport –more carry on bags. I  put them in the overhead compartment and went to sleep. Weisswurst breakfast is very heavy in the morning (white sausages and a pretzel) Suddenly everyone on the plane is in a panic. There is a  clicking noise and no one can figure out what it is.  Our first thought is that it must be a bomb. As they are about to call security, the yodeling and drinking songs in German  begin. The chipmunks had started singing in the overhead compartment.  Travelers are way too stressed out these days.

3 The Maneki-neko (beckoning cat) is a sign of good luck in Japan. They are made of ceramic  ( most common) and usually come in pairs.  You can find them everywhere in Japan. The beckoning right hand means money and the left hand means happiness. BECKONING CATS are found often in Japanese businesses and homes. Since I felt that everyone in my family needed Japanese luck, I bought several pairs of the cats. Between the Starbucks mugs from every city in Japan and the several pairs of cats, they overflowed into my carry on luggage.  I’m  pretty sure airport security in Osaka would have laughed at me while looking at  the x-ray machine, if it wasn’t Japan and they weren’t so polite.

4. The following year I had to carry  the protective and breakable lions from Okinawa.  They are called SHISAS and are half lion half dog from Okinawan mythology. They come in pairs. The shisa on the left traditionally has a closed mouth, and the one on the right has an open mouth. The open mouth is to ward off evil spirits and the closed mouth is to keep the good spirits in. They are usually guarding the entrances to homes and businesses.  They are sold everywhere in Okinawa. I feel that anything to ward off evil spirits makes an excellent gift.

5 Betel nut is a mild stimulant that is chewed throughout Asia.  It involves, betel nut, fresh pepper leaves (or other spices), powdered lime and damp tobacco leaves. It is wrapped in a betel vine leaf forming a wad or quid. The last ingredient is saliva . ,Your gums , teeth and tongue turn bright red when chewing it.  Eventually, you spit it out.  It is one of the most used addictive substances in the world. It creates a buzz and curbs hunger. The streets and stairwells of Burma are stained with red betel nut. It is customary to use special compartmentalized boxes to hold the ingredients for the betel nut quids. When guests visit, they are presented with a fully stocked box. Some of them are quite beautiful. I brought BETEL NUT BOXES back from Burma.(but no betel nut)

6  There is a Shang Hai Tang store in the Hong Kong airport and it was having a sale.  Shang Hai Tang is DESIGNER CHINESE CLOTHES. Their flagshop store is in Hong Kong but was always one of my shopping stops in NY.   Changing planes in Hong Kong, I managed to add to my already bulging hand luggage , two sweaters, a shawl and some Chinese shirts in beautiful fabrics.  You can’t go to Hong Kong without shopping – even if it is just in the airport.

7.  My goal when skiing in  Cervina, Italy was to find a pair of those FLUFFY WHITE AFTER SKI BOOTS It was many years ago and I had never seen them  when I was  skiing in Vermont.  I finally found the perfect pair in a shop next to my favorite cappuccino bar. The best thing was to wear them on the plane since they took up so much space.  It was April and we had been spring skiing. Changing planes in Brussels,  we were walking slowly and my friends and I got bumped from the plane.  I remember thinking it was odd that the teacher left us there.  The four of us were sixteen and seventeen.   I felt really embarrassed walking around the city in those after ski boots, ( the weather was quite warm) but having an unexpected   free day and night in Brussels was very cool.

8.  There is a craft  market  in the Plaza del Armas in Old Havana not far from El Floridita.   (Hemingway’s hangout where he used to drink his daiquiris not mojitos) They sold  WOOD CARVINGS OF DANCERS   The woman who was helping me spoke English with no accent. She told me her father was the linguistics professor at the university and she spoke twenty languages . She was selling wood carvings for a dollar.   They were quite nice but very delicate . .   I had to put them in my carry on bag and hold it very carefully. Still,many of them  arrived with missing limbs. It  looked a bit like a war when I unpacked them. Arms and Legs all over. –luckily there is no shortage of crazy glue here.  They were great gifts for all our dancer friends.

9. Hvar,Croatia is where some of the highest quality of lavender is grown in Europe. I bought a lot of small glass bottles of LAVENDER OIL I figured if something broke, it would be better  in my carry on bag. . Lavender would have a calming effect on the nervous  post 9/11 fliers.

10 Coca leaves have been part of the Andean Culture for 5000 years. COCA TEA   is made from the coca plant.  It is not cocaine  like grapes are not wine.  Neither drinking  or chewing turns it into cocaine. It is a mild stimulant without the speedy effect of caffeine.  However when airport security sees a word like coca, they are paranoid.  I thought the best thing to do was put some  in my luggage and carry a few in my hand luggage as well.  If I got stopped, this would show that I was innocent. (I watch a lot of Locked Up Abroad episodes)   The guide in Peru was trying to find out once if it was ok to bring back coca tea to the states. She asked airport security in Miami and was questioned for four hours.   I didn’t want to bring it up.I walked through customs in Miami right  passed the sniffing dogs with no problem.

Some things are good to carry with us and others should be put down or left where they were. We choose the things we carry.

Fly Safe,


Things I Have Learned In Okinawa And Hiroshima

“If I had known they were going to do this, I would have become a shoemaker.”

Albert Einstein

Things I Have Learned in Okinawa and Hiroshima

Driving on the Okinawa Expressway in the rain is like driving anywhere else in the rain.

Japanese Navigation

Touring Shuri-jo Palace in Okinawa one must follow the signs that say “usual route.”  What is the unusual route?

One of the hardest things to see was the Himeyuri Peace Museum in Okinawa.In the face of the American invasion, the Japanese forces stepped up the nurse training in the local high schools. Three hundred and two high school  students (mostly girls) and twenty one teachers were deployed to the front. They were told they would be working in hospitals but ended up in hospital caves with very bad conditions. There was no legal basis in Japan to use young girls for military purposes. On June 18th 1945 the Japanese forced the young girls out of the caves to fend for themselves against the American attack.  On June 23 the Japanese resistance ended. In those five days, 219 of them were killed. The museum is a model of one of the high schools that the girl’s came from. High school students from all over Japan come to pay their respects.

I was the only foreigner in the museum with alot of high school kids from Japan. I was looking at the photos  of the girls and was standing next to an old woman. She started to talk to me but I didnt understand so I found someone to translate. (not so easy to do in this museum).  We were standing in front of a picture of her daughter.  Two strangers became two mothers  looking at the ultimate tragedy.

Busena Terrace in Okinawa is the Grand Wailea/ any resort in Hawaii. Naha looks like Lahaina  . You can always find the American servicemen and their families at the Mcdonalds.

The Japanese and the Koreans were just as bad to the Okinawans as the Americans in WW2.

Okinawa Aquarium contains the largest fish tank in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Okinawa  Peace Museum is a memorial dedicated to the 200,000 people who died in the Battle of Okinawa. It is located in the south part of the island where the heavy fighting took place.  Over 100,000 were civilians and 12,500 were Americans. The civilians died from shellings, suicides, starvation, malaria and retreating Japanese troops. It was the largest campaign in the Pacific.  The lesson of the memorial is  the “Okinawan Heart”  that rejects any act of war, mourns for those who died in the war, passes on the stories of their struggle to future generations  and remind us of our humanity.

Other monuments in the park include the “Cornerstone of Peace”, a collection of large stone plates with the names of all fallen soldiers and civilians, including Koreans, Taiwanese, Americans and British.

After WWll , Okinawa was under United States administration for twenty seven years. They established numerous military bases on the Ryuku Islands.  In 1972, the islands were returned to  Japan but the US has maintained a large military presence. There are about 50,000 Americans  in Okinawa (including family members). There is protest from the Japanese and the Okinawans about the large American military presence there. They are trying to resolve it with a modified plan.

“As the bomb fell over Hiroshima and exploded, we saw an entire city disappear.  I wrote in my log the words”My God what have we done? ”The death was up to about 150,000 There were 76,000 buildings in the city at the time and only 8%  of them remained intact after the bomb explosion. The bomb affected an area of around 13 square kilometers and turned that into ruins.”

The closest surviving building to the location of the bomb’s detonation  in Hiroshima was designated the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

After the bombing, Hiroshima began to receive donations of streetcars from all over Japan. (After World War II, Japanese cities – like British ones – wanted to get rid of their streetcar systems due to damage to the infrastructure)  Hiroshima  rebuilt its streetcar system along with the rest of the city.   Hiroshima is now  the only city in Japan with an extensive streetcar system (although other cities have streetcar lines). Some streetcars that survived the war – and the nuclear attack – were put back into service, and four of these are still running today.

Hiroshima has now became a center of the movement for world peace and reduction of nuclear bombs, which is commemorated at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The city government continues to advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons . They write a letter of protest every time a nuclear weapon has been detonated anywhere in the world. In 1949, Hiroshima was proclaimed a City of Peace by the Japanese parliament.

The Thousand Origami Cranes was popularized through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was two years old when she was exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War ll. Sasaki soon developed leukemia and, at age 12, inspired by the Senbazuru legend, began making origami cranes with the goal of making one thousand.  One popular  story is she died before and her classmates finished  them. The Hiroshima Museum says she completed them and kept making more  when she didn’t heal.  One thousand origami cranes is said to bring a thousand years of health , happiness and prosperity. The cranes are left exposed to the elements, slowly dissolving and becoming tattered as the wish is released.

People leave them in her honor  and for all the people who died from the bombing at the Eternal flame in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

My father was stationed in Okinawa during World War Two.  He never talked about it.  There were some black and white photographs  of him in a uniform, skiing in Hokkaido, and the  old Japanese life in the cities..  The first words I ever learned to say in a foreign language  was not the Yiddish that my grandparents spoke but I Am An American Soldier in Japanese. Watashi wa Amerika hei desu. I guess I just wanted to see what happened for myself.

Sayonara, Fly Safe


Japanese Food

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

Luciano Pavarotti

Japanese Food

You get free tofu refills  with the tofu dinner. The containers on the tofu bar hold steamed tofu.  After the steamed tofu course, you may add as much tofu to your tofu as you wish.

“Western food. Every damn plate is round”.

The truth about Kobe beef is that all wa gyu (Japanese beef) comes from Hyogo prefecture usually from Tajima. Tajima sells the beef all over the Japan. If they buy it in Kobe, it is Kobe beef.

Food is served so beautifully in Japan it is not uncommon to see even the Japanese taking pictures of the food.

They have Yoshinoya in Japan. It was the first thing I saw leaving the airport.

Okinawans are considered to be the longest living people in a country of long life. They attribute it to the Okinawan diet which includes many different kinds of seaweed , a bit of pork, spam  and taco rice ( from WWll)

Okinawan sayings include the phrase that Okinawan cuisine “begins with pig and ends with pig” and “every part of a pig can be eaten except its hooves and its oink.”[

Things to eat in Okinawa  are–mango pudding, purple potatoes, Chinese food (Okinawan  food is more influenced from Chinese food  than Japanese food), teriyaki squid on a stick, barbecued grasshopper legs, pork,  pigs feet, pig skin , pig ears, ,goya juice, sooki soba( pork spareribs with soba noodles in soup), Okinawan doughnuts ( deep fried balls of dough) and Mozuku seaweed (seaweed for a long life).

Hiroshima is famous for oysters and anago (salt water eel).  Unagi ( fresh water ell) is more common in the US. It is not to be confused with inago, whole locusts boiled in soy sauce and sugar.

In Japan they say Autumn is the time for art and eating.

Food is always seasonal. It is chestnut season now and they are served in some way at every meal. Red beans and chestnut sweets  taste just like red beans and chestnut. (chestnut sweets)

Japanese women are always on diets .

Blowfish ovaries and pig ears are surprisingly delicious until you find out what you are eating.

Fugu (blowfish) is a delicacy and speciality of the Kyushu islands. Because it is poisonous, you must have a special license to cook it. Every year a few dozen people are hospitalized. The few  fugu deaths each year are fishermen who try to prepare it themselves.   The ovaries and intestines must be removed and cooked without puncturing them. (I didn’t know until after)  We had an eight course fugu dinner (including ovaries and intestines they made a point of telling us that ). I am still here so the chef must have been licensed. It was the most amazing meal, I had on two trips of amazing meals.

Surprisingly, Japanese eat a lot of eggs as in raw, appetizers and egg sushi.

Yakitori  chicken (grilled on a skewer) is usually not the breast. It can be thighs, skin, liver etc – because all the parts of the chicken are used.

People in Osaka spend more money on food than anything else.

Okonomiyaki is kind of a cross between a pizza and a pancake. It is batter mixed with cabbage and fried with different toppings. Okonomi means “to one’s liking”.  Unlike pizza and pancakes, the usually filling is octopus, squid, pork, yams or kimchi. Or you can have whatever you want on it.  It is most common in Hiroshima and Osaka.

The food in Japan is so tasty that you can find a delicious meal in a train station.

It is considered bad manners in Japan to walk down the street eating or drinking. Hence Starbucks is always very crowded.

Japanese now drink more coffee than tea and they all drink “shorts” at starbucks, which have been discontinued in the states.

Jidori chicken is a delicacy of Kyushu. It is a muscular chicken because it is allowed to run free, which makes it rather chewy. ( free range – as we say)

In expensive supermarkets, they bag your groceries, in inexpensive supermarkets you do it yourself. Also the boxes we have at registers for signing and scanning are considered “”so old fashioned” in Japan.

Sake means sake but also liquor.

Anything can be made out of tofu.

Yellowtail is always frozen.

Japanese seaweed is sweeter than other seaweed. ( There are many different kinds of seaweed. –apparently even in nice restaurants in the U.S., we get the cheap stuff).

There are hundreds of different soy sauces and sakes.

The first night of Kaiseki dnner (eight courses) at the ryokan (Japanese hotel and hot springs) is amazing. The second night is delicious.  The third night is good. The fourth night, you are thinking pizza. (  These are the first  three of the eight courses .  They go from raw to cooked.  The green pickle looking thing is fresh wasabi that you grate onto your food)

The food department in a Japanese department store  is almost always in the basement and can be an attraction by itself due to the wide variety of Japanese delicacies, sweets, desserts and other food on display. The food department at Harrods in London is a boutique compared to some of the Japanese stores.

Pockys come in many flavors . Haagen Daz does seasonal ice creams in Japan. Kit  Kats come in seasonal flavors but the most popular is Green Tea.

Im not a fan of Japanese breakfasts . I like the food but just not for breakfast. To me , it looks alot like the same food we had for dinner but im not a detail person. I wouldn’t notice that the fish in the morning is grilled  or the pickled vegetables are different, or that there are different vegetables and proteins in the miso soup.  On top of that I need coffee in the morning not green tea. (Dont be confused by the eggs-they are raw)

If you are a fan of Japanese breakfasts, Tsukiji fishmarket for fresh sushi in Tokyo  is the way to go – the earlier the better, They open at five am.  I prefer coffee and toast and getting there at 10. Sushi before 10 am is rough for me.

Here is what i found out on my first trip to Japan. I like abalone steak, flounder, red snapper, squid and octopus sushi.  I love tofu dinners (eight courses of differently cooked fresh tofu).  I like tofu buffet dinners. (every kind of tofu imaginable). I don’t like foo, or the diet jelly stuff, or mackerel (dry raw or whole). I don’t like raw eggs in the morning with rice. I hate roe sushi (which is not what you think-unless you are thinking survivor food challenge)  I like green tea soba, green tea mochi and Japanese green tea ice cream ( not what we have here with no taste) I like Japanese desserts –especially black sesame ice cream.

I hate to admit this but i did not use chopsticks until my first trip to Japan.   I dont have great motor coordination and it seemed like a  a lot of work to get the food to your mouth.  I was probably the only American in the towns where the ryokans were.  The chance of getting a fork was going to be slim.    I practiced eating everything with chopsticks at home for two months .   My friends,  the waiters in the Japanese restaurants in LA and especially my Vietnamese manicurist urged me on.   When you set your mind to it, and ask for help when you need it,  you can do anything.

Also see

Things I Have Learned  In Tokyo and Japan

Things I Have Learned In Okinawa and Hiroshima

yo I sorano tabi o,


Things I Have Learned In Japan

“I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world”                                       Saduko Sasaki     (young girl who developed leukemia from Hiroshima bombing)

Things I Learned  In  Japan

Deer are sacred animals at some of the temple sites. It is believed that one of the deities came to earth on the back of a deer. They run free through the parks and are quite brazen. I would avoid bringing small children with ice cream cones.  (Nara)

Japanese love affair with cats and dogs has created a booming industry in tasteful pet funerals and cremations. The twelve billion dollar industry is expected to increase next year by ten per cent.

The police have lost the battle of banning women carrying two or more children on bicycles, as long as the bicycles are sturdy, and they are not using cell phones or umbrellas.

Kyoto University will be offering the first graduate program in Manga ( comic) studies.

The Japanese are encountering a problem with  hybrid cars and the elderly and hearing impaired. The cars  are too quiet and they don’t hear them approaching. ( and by the way, we have the same cars!!!)

In the west, the recipe for a full life is happiness. In Japan, it is satisfactory performance, duty and obligation.

Japan has never been invaded until World War 2, therefore, ninety- nine per cent of the inhabitants are Japanese. They are also the largest consumers in the world of Louis Vuitton .

Most Japanese are not religious but celebrate traditions. They pray to the ancestors (Shinto) and they pray to Buddha.  They  like to get married in churches, wear wedding dresses and celebrate Christmas.  Who doesn’t like to wear a beautiful kimono to a tea ceremony or wedding?  (Kyoto)

When you pray in a Shinto shrine, you clap to awaken the deities. When you pray in the Buddhist temple, you don’t have to clap because the statue is already there and can hear you. (Miajima, Kamakura)

The plum, the bamboo and the pine are happy trees. The cherry blossoms are not happy trees because they are only  in full bloom for one week and show how fragile life is.  (Kyoto)

The correct way to enter a teahouse is to crawl through a hole on the side to show that all who enter are equal. If you eat in a Japanese style private dining room, the waiters must kneel down to your level when they speak or serve you. They cannot be higher than you . ( Many young girls with strong knees are working.)

People who shower quickly once a day and don’t wash their hair every day are unclean by Japanese standards. Everyone seems to be carrying toothbrushes and brushing their teeth in all public bathrooms.

Autumn is the season for luck in Japan and everyone is visiting the shrines. You pay some money, get a box and shake out your fortune. If it is lucky (like mine was) you are done. If not, you tie the bad fortune on to a tree at the shrine to leave the bad luck there.  Hence , a lot of  shrine trees are covered in paper.   (Kyoto)

Everything in Japan is expensive except,  shipping your luggage overnight from place to place, no tipping,  some street fashion ( because it changes so rapidly, it has to be cheap) , and having your crown glued into your mouth for twenty-five dollars.  You have to take your shoes off before entering a dental office but you can leave your lipstick on.

If you are watching old movies in Japan, they are white and black.

Tattoos are not allowed to be shown in public at many resorts and all bath houses.

When it rains in Japan, the airlines wrap your suitcases in plastic.

Stepping on a tatami mat with shoes is like spitting in public.  (Nagaoka, Izu Penninsula)

Japanese  trains are known for their schedule and punctuality. It is usual to see foreigners looking at their watches as the train approaches because they cant believe it. The conductors used to be penalized from their salaries if they were late. One day a conductor was rushing to the station and there was a terrible accident and 100 people died on the train. They stopped that practice and instead you hear in both Japanese and English that the train will be one and half minutes late.  (Tokyo)

In the country, the trains play Disney music or whistle when the doors are closing. If you approach a train station  in the country and only the foreigners get out, know that they did not consult the schedule . The express doesn’t run after five o clock and the conductor waits for them to get back on the local.  (Yufuin)

Because Japan is surrounded by the sea, there are too many aquariums.  (Okinawa)

There are more than five million vending machines in Japan.  They sell everything from drinks to porn.

Japanese give money for weddings. It must be an even number because an odd number is considered bad luck for the marriage.

Japanese give sweets for presents because they like to give something that will be used up  and not left behind.

see also

Japanese Food

Things I’ve Learned In Tokyo

Things I’ve Learned In Okinawa and Hiroshima

ki o twu kete