Adaptability Vignette

When my husband and I moved into our first apartment, I wanted to do a little shopping. I asked him what I should buy for our kitchen and he suggested buying soy sauce dishes.  It sounded like a good idea to me.

I went to a little glass and china shop near my old apartment and looked around.  I hemmed and hawed and finally decided on some little dishes.  They were small, with a gold detail, and weren’t very expensive.  Nice enough for guests to use and plain enough that we wouldn’t get tired of them.

I picked up five dishes and took them to the counter.  I paid and the man wrapped them up in newspaper for me and I took them with me.

When I saw my husband that night I presented him with the package and he unwrapped them.  “Oh, you bought pickle plates,” he said.  I disagreed, I said they were for soy sauce.  He corrected me and said that we could use them for soy sauce, but actually they were for putting takuan out for each guest.  I was rather crestfallen, but decided that I’d use them as I wanted.

Over time, we have used my little “pickle” plates so much.  They really are the handiest little dishes.  We have used them very occasionally for takuan, but more often for holding dipping sauces,  pre-measured amounts of spices for recipes, used teabags, and yes, even for soy sauce.  There are only four left out of my original five, and the shop where I bought them has gone out of business, but  those little dishes have paid for themselves over and over again.  I think it is fair to say that we use those little sara all the time and have adapted to having them in our kitchen, whether they hold soy sauce or pickles or something we haven’t even thought of yet.

IMG_2604Stella Starstruck


She said,”Don’t do it.  Run!”

I had just contacted the friend of a friend in Japan.  I was planning to marry my Japanese beau and this lady was already married to a Japanese man.  We chatted for a while, and even though she tried to scare me off getting married to a Japanese man, she didn’t manage.

I did marry my beau, with much thought and worry beforehand.  For the first few years of our marriage, whenever an argument came up, I thought of her words. I still think of them to be honest.

She ended up divorcing her husband and leaving Japan.  Fourteen years later, I’m still here and still married.  There have been times, more than a few, when I sincerely wish that I had run away, but they are becoming fewer and less frequent.

Marriage in any culture has a steep learning curve.  Combining two cultures, two or more languages, and expectations on all sides can put even more pressure on a newly married couple. Today I consider myself one of the lucky ones, tomorrow, who knows?

Having chosen to live in his culture, surrounded by his language and his family and his friends, I sometimes feel that I have given too much of myself, that I am becoming less me, more like a Bonsai that has been carefully shaped and crafted to be palatable for Japan.

Happily, my antidote, my panacea if you will, is my membership in AFWJ. This group of women from all over the world is a positive, helpful source of information and encouragement. If I have a question about life in Japan, I have a friendly, caring place to ask.  If I have a problem, someone will have been in a similar situation and is only too happy to advise me.

I have told my husband more than once that my membership in AFWJ is a big part of why we are still together. So, run if you want to…run to the post office to make a payment or run to the website to join up.  We’ll be glad to have you with us.

Stella Starstruck

Long Termer’s Luncheon – Sunday, October 18, 2015

Have you been living in Japan for 20 years or more?

Congratulations, you’re a Long Termer! And you’re due for a real treat! Please join us at our annual lunch and gabfest in Yokohama. There will be an assortment of dishes, including vegetarian options, served buffet-style, 3,000 yen for AFWJ members (includes all drinks, alcoholic and otherwise)

3,500 yen for non-members.

For more information or to reserve, email: info (at)

Please note: This event is only open to women who are married to or are in a committed relationship with a Japanese person and who have lived in japan for 20 or more years.

Reservations taken from Sept. 1 through Oct. 11, 2015 (Seats are limited to 55.)

Lunch at Ikea

Today I met a fellow AFWJ member for lunch at Ikea. We had lots of fun and laughs and we were able to share a lot of stories. Sometimes living in a more rural part of Japan it is hard to meet other foreign women so it was a lovely opportunity.

I couldn’t resist the hazelnut chocolate and Daim bars on the way out. 


Welcome to the AFWJ Blog!

This Blog was started to show members, potential members or anyone interested in our organisation more about us and our activities.

AFWJ is a support group and networking organisation for foreign women with Japanese partners. We have around 500 members worldwide. Our activities include meet-ups, online groups, a bi-monthly journal and an annual convention.

If you are interested in learning more about us, don’t hesitate to contact us at info(at)