Sakata Yamagata Prefeccture


酒田のラーメン 月 Ramen Tsuki in Sakata


Sakata is coast port town in Yamagata Prefecture along the Sea of Japan. Sakata was developed by merchants in the 17th to 19th century to trade rice and local products from Hokkaido to Kyoto and Tokyo. Currently the city produces some of finest sake and rice in all of Japan. It is also located near Mount Chokai and it’s network of spring water and waterfalls. The area also consumes the highest consumption of ramen in Japan.

Earthy Glow


Salt pond at Alviso Slough Trail at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Alviso


Unusual winter




surprise of nature

American Avocet & Black-necked Stilt

The American Avocet bird is a relatively large shorebird with an upturned bill, long neck, and round head. It feeds by wading through shallow waterswhile looking for crustaceans, insects, and fish.  Breeding Avocet’s are brown, black, and white while the non-breeding Avocet’s are white and black.  It is found in wetlands, salt ponds, and evaporation ponds. During winter also uses inter-tidal mudflats, and flooded pastures. It’s habitat is from Washington and British Columbia, east to Minnesota, and south to California and Texas. 


The Black-necked Stilt has colourful rose-pink legs, a thin black bill, and black-and-white feathers. They are often seen moving through wetlands in search of food while making high pitched yapping sounds. You can often view Stilts on salt-marshes, flooded fields, or salt pans. Black-necked Stilt’s are found in wetlands from North America and the Caribbean south to central Argentina.

Yokohama Chinatown


Yokohama Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in Japan and started in 1859 when Japan opened to foreign trade. The Chinese migrants opened institutions and temples such as Yokohama Kanteibyo (Guan Di Miao) 横滨关帝庙 which became a center for Chinese immigrants. After World War II a goodwill archway of Paifang was built and the area was recognized as Chinatown. Yokohama Chinatown has over 300 densely packed Chinese shops and restaurants. To access Yokohama Chinatown please either take JR Negishi Line get off Ishikawacho Station or take Minatomirai Line and exit Motomachi-Chukagai Station.


Babe the Muffler Man


Babe’s Muffler Service in San Jose has been in business since 1953. In order to attract more business, “The Muffler Man” was created in the 1960’s. There are more than 220 muffler statues throughout the United States. The City of San Jose designated Babe as a historic Landmark. The statue of Babe The Muffler Man is located at 808 The Alameda in San Jose near the San Jose Sharks hockey arena.

Hara Model Railway Museum Revisited


The Hara Model Railway Museum in Yokohama is a special place to visit.  But due to the covid-19 pandemic, the Railway Museum is closed indefinitely.  You can start off by experiencing real train driving by trying Ugotetsu (a train simulator).  Nobutara Hara, the creator, has a nice display of his HO Gauge Models.  Mr. Hara has an impressive collection and knowledge of model train history.  The Hara Museum has some very colourful dioramas or three dimensional miniature railways.  It is definitely a worthy side trip to visit the Hara Model Railway Museum.

Vote Yes on Prop 16

On November 3rd 2020 vote yes on California Prop 16 because it will allow more diversity in public employment, education, and contracting decisions due to racial and gender bias. This year the covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis has revealed the ugly truth about race and racism in this country. Today people are quite agitated and annoyed at elected officials and institutions using race as an issue to keep people divided.

Historically it was peoples protests and the African American Civil Rights Movement that led to the signing of Executive Order 11246 (Affirmative Action Law) in 1961 by John F. Kennedy that ensured that all applicants are employed, and employees are treated fairly during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin. But in 1996 the victory of Prop 209 overturned the use of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin for education, employment, and public contracting. This proposition was created due to the backlash against the growing population of people of color. Unfortunately twenty four years later in 2020 California is one of nine states that that still bans affirmative action in education and in the workforce. But states with affirmative action give more public contracts to people of color small businesses.

Racism and racist attitudes still exist in 2020 as evident in the opposition to Yes on Prop 16, as well as, police brutality and violence against African Americans. Opponents deny and refute the existence of racism and discrimination as it relates to our country and society. These narrow and short-sighted attitudes will only keep people apart and divided. But recent demonstrations for social equity and justice are strengthening and opponents know social change is coming.

In higher education Latinos make up over half of our state’s public school students but just 25 percent of University of California undergraduate students. The Asian American admission rate at UC Berkeley is currently at 21% down from 30%. And women in California earn less than 80 cents for every dollar white men make – and for women of color and single moms it’s even worse.

Passing Proposition 16 is a seed to begin dismantling structural racism and sexism in our society. We can only hope in the future that all people can be treated equitably and fairly rather than becoming marginalized or disenfranchised people.