Category Archives: Life in Beijing

Beijing’s Olympic Park was a paradise.

Last weekend, I went to Beijing’s Olympic park for the first time with my husband. It took about 40 minutes by subway to get there. It’s not so far at all. It was built for the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008.
LeavesI felt it is fall now, even though some leaves were still green.


The station looks different from others because of these columns.

Even though the park was a little bit far from the center of the city, there were a lot of people near the gate of the park. We had to keep walking, walking and walking to get out of the crowd. Omg, that’s Beijing. China’s population is more than 1.3 billion…

This is what I see only in China. Many people, families or couples bring tents to put up in the park to have their own space. They don’t stay over night. They come during the daytime and go home before the park closes in the evening.

Once we finally walked into a small path, I didn’t see many people and we could find a good place to sit and have a lunch.

I often make lunch box with onigiri (rice ball), simple okazu (food) like egg and vegetable, cut fruit and hot green tea in a thermos when I go to a park. Why does onigiri taste so good when you eat outside???

wetlandThere was a wetland at the park.


This leaf’s color stays fresh green because it’s covered by other leaves.

I like waking in nature because I can find interesting some scenes like this, especially when seasons change.


I especially love taking photo of small fruits in trees. They look so cute and good! Sometimes I even have a bite of them occasionally…

Now you can see some different kinds of small fruits in trees, so the Olympic park was like a paradise for me. : P


Got invited to a mysterious party 2

(Former story is here)

So, on the day the party was held, I took a subway and a taxi to get there. The gallery was in the 798 art district, which is a bit far from the center of the city and there was a traffic jam, so it took about an hour to get there.

I arrived at 798 and went to a cafe near the gallery to wait for my friend. When I was reading my French text book, groups of French people, who were obviously going to the party, came to the cafe one by one to kill time before the party. I got surrounded by so many Frenchies! I heard no Chinese at all. “Is it Paris here?” I thought.


I felt it was funny and couldn’t really concentrate on my book actually.


Eventually my friend arrived at the cafe and we went to the party together.

There were many guests already.



On the day the party was held, I took a subway and a taxi to get there. The gallery was in the 798 art district, which is a bit far from the center of the city and there was a traffic jam, so it took about an hour to get there.

I arrived at 798 and went to a cafe near the gallery to wait for my friend. When I was reading my French text book, groups of French people, who were obviously going to the party, came to the cafe one by one to kill time before the party. I got surrounded by so many Frenchies! I heard no Chinese at all. “Is it Paris here?” I thought.


I felt it was funny and couldn’t really concentrate on my book actually.


Eventually my friend arrived at the cafe and we went to the party together.

There were many guests already.
(This movie is cool.)


The gallery owner has been active for this kind of stuff. I got it.

Mom, they didn’t push me to buy expensive art. Good!



~ Art collages portraits combining traditional French paintings and Chinese-opera face painting jumped into my eyes first when we entered to their garden. They look a bit scary in the dark night.
Champagne and snacks tasted good and the band’s music makes me dance forever…
I don’t want to go home!

But, well, my friend had to get up early the next morning, so we left the party early.

During the party, I saw the owner came late, but couldn’t find him again because of the crowd. I should tell him thank you when I see him at the Starbucks again.

So, from these things, maybe that ‘French Culture Center’ is calling me?
Or, France is calling me???

Started learning French / Got invited to a mysterious party 1

I’ve just started learning French this month, because my husband and I may go to France later in this year. (Even though my progress learning Chinese is slow …)

o0354046413038829103-1                                     Paris was awesome when we visited last summer…

Actually my husband is the one who really wants to learn French!
But we thought it would be fun to learn together.

He already got a brochure from the French Culture Center which is nearby.
It looks good, but mm.. if they teach French in Chinese, I’m sure I would be confused… (He has the ability to understand the class, but I maybe don’t…)

So, I started reading a French textbook written for Japanese at a Starbucks one day. That was my first day to learn French!

After a while, a Chinese man sat at the same big table. He was wearing a nice suit and pocket handkerchief with a dots print. Oh it looks a bit too fashionable for here… But never mind.

While he was reading some newspapers, his phone rang and he answered it.

‘Oh~, bonjour! %*$#@+/>…’

Omg! He is speaking French very fluently…

When he finish talking on his phone, I couldn’t help talking to him (in English).
“Excuse me, but you can speak French so fluently! It’s amazing!” or something…

He also could speak good English.

He told me he is an owner of a gallery and works in Beijing and France.

I told him I’ve just started leaning French there and I also do my painting.

“There is a party in my gallery in this weekend. Why don’t you come over if you have time?”

Omg! I’d love to go!

My husband would be interested in going too, but unfortunately, he is gone for his work trip now. Ok, I found a friend to go to the party with me.

When I talked to my mom in Japan over the phone about the party, she said
“What kind of the party is it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t they push you buy expensive art or something?”
“Oh well, yea, they could.”
“Mom, you are smart.”
“Of course! Is it at night? Be careful…”

My husband said
“Are you really all right going there?”

Oh come on! Don’t scare me guys. Anyway, I’ll go!

~ to be continued ~  (next story)

Watching cherry blossoms at Yuyuantan Park 2 ~ Chinese girls take cheesy pose. / a punk dressed couple

Hello. I’ll add some more impressions I got, when my husband and I visited Yuyuantan Park to see cherry blossoms. (Here is the previous page.)

First, Japanese people like to take photos, but I feel Chinese people do even more. They really enjoy taking their own photos and showing them to others.


Women (including old women) take cheesy pose photos, like models. Japanese people are too shy to do that.

Now many Chinese people are visiting Japan (and buying high-tech toilet seats or rice cookers) because Japanese yen is cheap now, so maybe Japanese people see Chinese tourists taking lots of photos in Japan.

Second, there were so many people in the park. (I mentioned it last time.)

Plus, I just liked that I saw a couple who wore crazy style clothing.


My husband said ‘Wow it’s punk!’ I like that they wear whatever they like. (It doesn’t matter whether their taste is good or bad.)

Chinese people have many choices now for clothing. They have an economy to let them buy all kinds of fashion. Isn’t it great?

I have a friend who visited China 10 or 15 years ago for a business trip. She said she felt depressed because everybody was wearing simple clothes in black, gray or dark blue. It was before China started to open a free market economy. If she saw how Beijing is now, she would be surprised. I asked her to visit Beijing to see me, but she doesn’t sound like she would…

Many girls were wearing crowns made of colorful fake plastic flowers, which I don’t see in Japan. They want to be a princess!

There were some people who pulled the cherry tree branches to their face to take good photos, but it could harm the trees.

I saw a boy maybe in middle school, who was climbing on a tree. I thought it’s a bit funny because I would see the same thing in Japan too. It’s also not good for trees though.

Anyway, it’s maybe universal that people feel happy when they see pretty flowers in warm spring weather.

Watching cherry blossoms at Yuyuantan Park 1 ~ kind Chinese man and his girlfriend

In last weekend of March, my husband and I went to Yuyuantan Park (玉渊潭公园) to see cherry blossom.

You know, as a Japanese, I can’t skip watching cherry blossoms.

In Japan in the springtime, people enjoy getting together and having a party/picnic with good food and beer or sake under gorgeous cherry blossoms in full bloom.  We call it hanami (花見). For Japanese, hanami is a kind of special event to celebrate that spring has come.

Even though the air was bad because of a sand storm (also a sign of spring in Beijing…), I NEEDED to go. Come on, husband! (He is a Taiwanese American)

Luckily, in Beijing, we have Yuyuantan Park (玉渊潭公园) which has many cherry trees. Yay!

We took the subway and it took about 30 minutes. So convenient.

As we expected, there were A LOT of people in the park. Did we come here to see cherry blossoms or crowds of people?  I realized how large the population in Beijing is again. But I don’t care. I got used it.

There were some different kinds of blossoms including cherry, peach, Forsythia, and so on. I was quite satisfied. But I didn’t see many people having party, eating or drinking on blankets.


In the park, I saw a young Chinese couple. They both were tall and good looking.


The young woman put her leg on a rock, and the man, maybe her boyfriend, was scrubbing her shoe. I guess he was cleaning her shoe.

It looked like nobody else paid attention to what they were doing. I did though. I mean, I was impressed by how much he cared about her and was cleaning her shoe. He treated her like a princess.

I don’t think this would happen in Japan (or it rarely does). In general, Japanese men are usually too shy to do it, or they think it’s too cheesy. Japanese people care how other people think about/look at them A LOT.

But anyway, I thought the way the couple acted was cute.


When I was painting this illustration, I recalled a young Japanese woman whom I met recently. She said she likes Chinese men’s kindness for women. I guess what she likes is just how the man treated his girlfriend. (She talked about a similar episode like this actually.)

I heard that in general in Southern China, like Shanghai or Hong Kong, men are especially kind to women. Is it true? (Of course it depends on the individual person though.)

I know a Chinese woman, her husband drives to pick her up when she finishes her work every day, and he gives her nice presents, for example a brand bag or roses for her birthday.

I also have a Chinese friend, whose mom doesn’t do cooking or cleaning rooms at all. Instead her dad does most of the house work.

They are all Southern Chinese.

Oh,  I see men helping hold their girlfriends’ purse in Beijing. It also looks cute to me. Japanese men won’t do it. (My husband does it. Good.)

I think Japanese men are kind too, but just they are shy and the way they take care of their girlfriends/wives is different.

Anyway, I enjoyed watching people and pretty flowers same time at the park.

Xiangchun 香椿 vegetable, which tell you spring has come


It’s been so warm until yesterday, but after the rain, it got a bit chilly.

But I guess spring is going to be finished very soon here in Beijing.

I like shopping in the super-market or local market when the season is changing because I can find new seasonal vegetables I’ve never seen or tried.

There have been some vegetables in the corner of a supermarket I often go to, for a while, with shiny young green leaves, deep purple leaves that would obviously taste a little bit bitter like other spring sprouts vegetables.

This really looks like spring sprouts vegetable.

And I’ve never seen this in a supermarket in Japan.

I didn’t buy it the first day because I didn’t know how to cook it, but my curiosity brought me to buy it today.

It’s only 8RMB. (=153 JPY. Oh but now JPY is so cheap!)


When I opened the package, I found there were a lot more sprouts than I thought.

And it looks like spring!

I googled the vegetable’s name on the sticker, ‘Xiangchun 香椿’. It means fragrant camellia. Pretty name.

‘Xiangchun is a food which tells you spring has come to Northern China.’ I see.

(I checked this page, thank you very much. It’s a very nice blog with so much info about restaurants in Beijing. It’s all written in Japanese.)

’The color would turn into bright green if you boil it in hot water.’

Ok. it sounds similar to a vegetable I’ve tried to cook and FAILED before.

(Before I cooked brassica campestris, 红菜苔(hongcaitai)without boiling it in hot water beforehand and the food turned into a weird purple color and tasted very nasty bitter…)

I learned from that experience that I should boil some spring vegetables before I use them for cooking to avoid having too much bitterness.)

After boiling in water, it turned into light green like tea leaves.

And then, I pan fried the vegetables with tofu, sesame oil and salt.


Ohhh, it taste like spring!

It’s like spring vegetables from the mountain. I feel deep taste.

And well, it still has some nasty taste. I could soak the vegetable in cold water more after I boiled it.

But ok, I could feel spring has come with this food!

My husband also ate a lot of it without any bad comment. Good.

It’s fun to try new seasonal ingredients I’ve never tried~.

Got asked for help to write Chinese character.


I’m back in Beijing after a short stay in Japan.

Now it’s warmer than Japan during the daytime. But in Beijing, all central heating for buildings/apartments stopped in the middle of March, so I feel cold when I’m in my apartment…

On Saturday, my husband had to go out, so I was home alone.

When I was home, the woman who cleans the community space and garden cleaning woman (阿姨 ayi) knocked on our door.

She visits my husband sometimes to ask for stuff, for instance, fixing her cellphone or something. (Sometimes he can help her, sometimes he can’t.)

She works outside every day whether it’s hot or cold. Cheerful ayi.

Ayi : ‘Hey, can you write Chinese?’

Me : ‘Well, It’s similar to Japanese, but (grammar is different)…

        but I can write down Chinese characters.’

‘Good! Could you copy this?’

She gave me a postal package invoice that was already filled out and two blank ones.

‘Oh, ok, sure.’

If it’s only writing Chinese characters, I’m sure I can do better than my Taiwanese-American husband, because Japanese also use them in everyday life. (But my speaking skill is way lower than my husband. He’s been here for seven years.)


So, I see, this ayi doesn’t know how to write.

Even though she is working in a big city like Beijing, and is not old, maybe in her 40s, she doesn’t know how to write/read Chinese so well.

It was actually a bit of a shock to me.

Was she from a farming village?

Speaking of farming villages, the kind woman upstairs is from a village, but she can write and read. When we chat toegether, sometimes we write Chinese characters on paper for better understanding when I can’t speak well in Chinese.

And I know a girl in her twenties who speaks very good English. Even though she is from a farmer’s village where education levels are still behind of the city, she studied hard and graduated from a university and found a job here. But she said it’s still kind of rare.


When I finished writing the postal invoices, Ayi gave me a piece of white cloth.

’This, ○$△≪※…’


She was pointing at the invoice and the piece of cloth.

‘What? …Oh, do you mean you want me to write on this piece of cloth too?’


Really? Wow, it’s very interesting…

Anyway I started writing as she asked.

‘Write with bigger letters!’

‘I got it! …But, why on a cloth? Can’t you use paper?’

‘The paper one is for the post office, but I need the cloth to put on my two baggages.’

‘Oh really. I see~~~.’

’So write two please.’

‘Here you are. Is this address your home town?’

‘Yes, it’s Hebei province. It takes about three hours or more by train.’

It was not easy to write on cloth with a regular pointed pen.

But it was a very interesting experience.

Now I feel I should’ve written bigger. I hope her packages arrive

to her home safely.

A day to eat dumplings again.

Here in China, it’s still New Year’s time. So my husband and I were home today. When we were in front of our door to take a walk, the woman upstairs (let me call her ‘Upstairs a-yi’) walked down to us and said ‘Here are dumplings for you. I’ve just cooked these. It’s Po-wu today, a day to eat dumplings!’ ‘Oh!’ She kindly shared her wonderful food with us again!
This is the fifth time we had dumplings for this Chinese New Year. So actually we were just talking about how we were getting bored of eating dumplings this morning… :P  But we always welcome the food she cooks, it’s very yummy always. They were two kinds, green chives and beef, and cabbage and beef.

We found there were a couple of dumplings in a shape we’ve never seen. They were flat and bigger than the others. Why?? My guess is this: when she was making dumplings, the skin dough was a bit more than the veggie and meat to put inside. So she used two skins for one portion of veggie and meat. I may ask her the reason next time I see her…

By the way, especially tonight I hear the noise of firecrackers and fireworks again…mm.

I researched about Po-wu (破五) a bit. It’s a day to eat dumplings now. But in old time, there used to be a tradition that people were banned from cooking, cleaning rooms, sawing, and for women going out from new year’s eve to this Po-wu (破五), for six days.  Ok…
And, omg, ‘Around 12pm midnight, people light firecrackers to invite a god for fortune’
Mm… it means we can’t have a good sleep tonight again :(

Chinese New Yea’s Eve 2 ~ An war zone with firecrackers?

18th Feb was Chinese New Year’s Eve.
For dinner, my husband and I ate ketchup rice with omelet and some vegetables at home, then my husband had to work with his computer and paper. It doesn’t feel like New Year’s Eve at all.
Around 9 pm, the noise of fireworks and firecrackers got bigger, so we went outside to see how it looked.

People were lighting fireworks and firecrackers everywhere, so I jumped from being scared by the big sudden noise.
‘E-panda, don’t run away suddenly! It’s dangerous! What if you get hit by a car?’
‘But… kowai yo—!!! (So scary!) ‘
It was like being in a war zone. I’ve never been in it though.
Some people spend a lot of money for fireworks and firecrackers for the New Year. This year the government banned lighting them in some areas because it’s getting extreme year by year and every year there are bad fire accidents and some people get injured (burned) seriously.
But they still do it.



I even saw people burning something in a street. Ok, there is a police man with fire extinguishers nearby…

Chinese New Year’s Eve 1 ~ Dumplings

18th Feb was Chinese New Year’s Eve. Because many people go back to their homes outside of Beijing, the streets were almost empty. Not many cars were on the road and factories were not running, so the air was very nice.
Following Chinese tradition, we went to a restaurant to eat dumplings.

baoyuan1We ordered dumplings with colored skin. All of them had a lot of vegetables inside. Yummy~.
They serve raw garlic with the dumplings. It looks wild to me…
The soup tastes like ramen pork soup.


These days I often see people walking around with red gift bags. Maybe they have tradition to give gifts to family for new year?