The Tart’s Japanese Photo Album and Results of Elizabeth Loupas’s Giveaway

Daruma doll on left. I painted the face of the one on the right. In the center, a chan-chan horse.

If you haven’t already noticed, the news out of Japan opened a floodgate of nostalgia for me. I’ve been into my photo albums, decided to cherry-pick and show you guys images of my six week exchange. Get them over in one fell swoop.

Because most of my pictures involve other people, and can’t be shared without their consent, I don’t have a lot. In fact they’re mostly about me, albeit to provide a peek into a wonderful culture.

First, though, some business to do with the Elizabeth Loupas interview: 😉

  • In the matter of  the Moleskine Passions Book Journal, Amy Bai was favored by the RNG. Amy, if you e-mail me your snail mail addy, I’ll forward that to Elizabeth.
  • Because of your comments, Elizabeth will be donating $210 to the Red Cross’s special fund for Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Relief.
  • Kimberly Hays, your signed postcard is in the mail already. 

Many thanks to all who participated! Elizabeth and I had mixed feelings about proceeding with the interview, but I’m glad we did. You guys made it all worthwhile.

Now the photos:

I don’t think my first host family had a lot of social standing. Papa-San operated a small car dealership. Regardless, we Lions Club exchange students were treated like royalty, as demonstrated in this photo. That’s me being welcomed and interviewed in a newspaper office. A small article appeared in the local paper the next day.

At the same meeting I was given a glass-encased, kimono-clad doll and a chan-chan horse, which I treasure to this day.


In my second family’s home, we spent several nights attending street parades and parties. Because of the language barrier, I had little comprehension of what we were celebrating — only a sense it related to the fall and harvest.

During the festival, at times and without warning, I’d find myself a minor celebrity and be thrust into the middle of drumming and singing. That’s me in festival clothing. I’m probably thrilled at the crowds, but awaiting the tap of a threatening/benevolent finger on my shoulder, and another moment in the spotlight.


Lastly, my second host family treated me to a make-over and photo session in the days when these things weren’t done, even in North America. (Well, unless you were a star.)

In the image below, I’m wearing a silk kimono, rented for the day. This photo dates back to the 1980s. I’m told my outfit was worth thousands then. I can’t  imagine its equivalent in today’s dollars.

At any rate, behold: The Tart — spoiled, cossetted, corsetted (that belt’s a tight sucker!), and in full Japanese regalia.

Yes, my feet show signs of their Amazonian dimensions in this photo.

If you’ve been lucky enough to travel, either as a youngster or mature adult, which culture or location made the biggest impression on you? Why?

For me it had to be Japan because of the length of my trip, the ability to glimpse a brand new culture as an insider, and my first taste of adulthood away from my family-of-origin.

12 thoughts on “The Tart’s Japanese Photo Album and Results of Elizabeth Loupas’s Giveaway

  1. Great pictures, Jan! What great memories you must have! I must confess, while looking at them the song International Bright Young Thing, by Jesus Jones, started playing in my head – because you evidently were one! That’s all I’ll say on the subject, as I promised you when you friended me on FB that I was interested in more than just cruising the hot ladeez ;).

    My neighbor is an 83 year young Japanese-American woman. I love going to her Japanese style house for afternoon tea. I’ve learned she was born in Japan, raised in Seattle, and her family was placed in internment during the war. She’s fascinating. I’ve checked in with her, but have yet to sit down with her since the tragedy began. Our next tea should be interesting.

    Thanks for sharing your IBYT photos! 🙂

  2. Awww, aren’t you a pretty thing in these photos! Thanks for sharing these Jan! I find myself very much caught up in japanese culture over the years, and its not just the food. Kendo (bamboo sword fighting) has been a part of my life for six months now. And to think-I started it because I wanted the hero of my next novel to have a ‘cool’ hobby! Well, I’ll still be practicing long after the novel is finished!

  3. Jan, I love your photo session, the stylish attire and the artful design of your hair. Yes, even your “Amazonian” feet look graceful and delicate in the traditional attire of the Japanese. What fantastic memories you’ve shared. Thanks!

  4. Ha ha. Poor Vaughn. With that FB comment I sealed you into a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t paradigm, didn’t I? 😉 Thank you. As for your neighbor, yes, I’m sure she has a lot of thoughts on current events. At 83 some long-term perspective that would be worthwhile. Enjoy your tea.

    Donna, oh that’s right! I’ve seen your FB statuses about kendo. Should have known it would be writing-related. That sounds like a much healthier hobby for a hero to have than pastry chef. 😉 Sounds like a lot of fun, too.

    Sheila, you snuck in there while I was commenting. Thank you, but my feet grew after childbirth! Now there is no help for them. They can only be disguised by floor-length costumes. 😀

  5. Aw, love the photos! Sounds like the trip was fabulous! Japan is on my list of places I’d love to visit. Alas, said list is so long, and vacation time and money are so short, I’ll be thrilled if I get to visit 1/10 of the places on there.

    And your feet don’t look so Amazonian to me!

  6. Jan, lovely pics! The full kimono looks very elaborate. It sounds like an amazing trip. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan.

    And yay for winning the Moleskine Passions Book Journal! I’m always surprised when I win things. 🙂

  7. Kelly, so glad you enjoyed it.

    Tracey, I fooled you! Those were the largest size shoes they had. Even so, my toes hung over the end a bit.

    Amy, hope you enjoy the journal. Can I make a confession? I’ve never yet owned a Moleskine.

  8. I love Japan. I spent four months there in 2007 teaching English and travelling the country. The people are by far some of the most amazing and kind hearted I’ve ever met. I feel so sad by the tragedy that’s befallen them.

    The pictures of your time in Japan brough up fond memories of my time there. Thank you!

  9. Tina, I didn’t know you’d been there, never mind so recently. Some day I’d love to hear more about where you went, etc.

    Amanda, thank you, but when I say “cherry-picked”, I was sincere. And yes, I’m glad I was better about putting photos away and labelling them properly when I was younger. You think you’ll never forget some things, but you do.

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