Wednesday, 14 April 2021

My favorite Leonardo Da Vinci artwork



My favorite Leonardo Da Vinci artwork is “Lady with an Ermine”. It is a portrait of a beautiful woman, holding a white marten. This precious work is one of the few Da Vinci paintings. This attractive picture is now in the National Museum, Krakow in Poland. I have been Krakow twice. I was impressed by the beautiful city on my first visit. Later, I decided to go there again because I wanted to see this picture. Appreciating this outstanding work, in the charming old city, was a fabulous experience for me.


It is said that the beautiful young lady in the picture is Cecilia Gallerani, who was the lover of the prince of Milan, Ludovico Maria Sforza. I understand why he was fascinated by her intelligent beauty. Not only her beauty, but she looks pristine, smart, and charming. I really like her straight line of sight, and her obvious sense of fashion. I think that the picture is full of pure elegance.


The painting makes me feel excited and appreciate elegance. I remember the refined city of Krakow in the same spirit.




Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Postcard from Singapore

    Dear Yuna, Asahi, Tori,


  I wish you all the best your next adventures. 


Friday, 9 April 2021

If Al Gore had beaten George Bush

Even if Al Gore had beaten George Bush in the 2000 US Presidential election, I think that the condition of the environment concern is not very different from the one we face. As countries like China and India were developed, it is hard to imagine that the result of the US Presidential election has appreciable effects on the environment concern.

On the other hand, if Al Gore had beaten George Bush, I think that the world would not face terrorist threats. West Asia, especially Iraq and Afghanistan would not be the disputed regions. The 9.11 terrorist attacks would not come into being. Many people would not be lost in grief.

I think that Bush era is very sinful from a standpoint of international peace.

The biography of Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan is a voyager of Portugal in the Age of Discovery. He is known as the challenger of a voyage round the world. Little is known about his life before he challenged the around-the-world voyage. He was born in around 1480 in the suburbs of Porto. He served the court of Portugal in 1492. He knew the discovery of America by Columbus, and he developed an interest in voyages.

He embarked on a voyage round the world in 1519. He passed through the south end of South America, the Pacific. But he was killed on the battlefield in Cebu Island, Philippines. He could not accomplish a voyage round the world, but I think his achievement is the discovery of the Pacific as an ocean and the signifying the size of the Earth.

“The First Communion” of Picasso

My favorite painting is “The First Communion” painted by Pablo Picasso. The first communion of his little sister Dolores was pained in this painting. Considering Picasso’s later work, this painting is suspiciously orthodox, but it shows that he was an exceptionally talented artist. Amazingly, he turned off this painting at the age of just fifteen. As this painting reminds me that a great imagination is based on a great talent, I love this.

Several of my friend rate Picasso’s work, for example “Guernica”, “The Weeping Woman” and “The Young Ladies of Avignon”, as strange. In those cases, I usually show this painting to them with Picasso’s golden saying, “When I was fifteen years old, I could already paint like Diego Velázquez. And eighty years passed before I can paint like children.”

Thursday, 8 April 2021

The Trojan Horse

The Greeks and the Romans had been at war for ten years. The exhausted Greek army had been camped around the important city of Troy in ancient Turkey.  The magnificent city walls were unbreakable, and the soldiers outside were desperate for victory. 

Early one morning, while he was having his traditional power breakfast with helpless generals, the old Greek king Odysseus had a brilliant idea.  

The king decided to have a huge, hollow wooden horse built, which would be big enough for a crack squad of brave soldiers to hide inside.

Eventually the enormous horse was built by the determined Greek soldiers. A corps of elite troops got into the well-built wooden horse. Others set fires to their shabby camp as they pretended to sail back to Greece. However, all of the courageous soldiers were hiding nearby. 

As the Trojans were tired of the endless fights, they were extremely delighted to see the Greeks had left.  When they came out from the never-opened gate, they found a breathtaking wooden horse which they had never seen before. Of course, they were very curious about it.  Meanwhile, the Trojans asked the sole remaining Greek soldier about the giant wooden horse.  He explained that the distinctive wooden horse was an offering to the goddess Athena.

The Trojans accepted the gift. They tried to pull the gigantic wooden horse into the city, but it was so big that they had to tear down a part of the impregnable city wall.  The Trojans took the mighty wooden horse to the temple of Athena in the centre of the city, and had a big party to celebrate the end of the war.

Finally, the Trojans relaxed and all the exhausted soldiers fell asleep.  Exactly at that time the patient Greek soldiers crept out from their hiding place in the fortress, the wooden horse, and killed all the Trojan guards at the gate before signalling the waiting Greeks to attack the sleeping city.  

The bloody battle finished soon. The Greeks had won the historic war. The miserable Trojan men were slaughtered; the women and children were taken back to Greece as hard-working slaves.

Posted for Sayuri & Teruki

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Speaking Examiner training sessions - announcement

Jim is going to be running the following Cambridge Assessment English Speaking Examiner training sessions for A2:Key & B1:Preliminary levels (which also includes the 'for schools' versions) on the following dates (all sessions are 09:30 - 17:30 unless indicated otherwise):

  • April 24 in Ikebukuro, Tokyo (already fully booked)
  • May 1 in Sendagaya, Tokyo (A2:Key only, am)
  • May 2 in Sendagaya, Tokyo (A2:Key only, am
  • June 12 in Nagano city, Nagano (09:00 - 17:00)
  • June 19 in Chikusa, Aichi
  • June 26 in Yotsuya, Tokyo
  • July 17 in Yotsuya, Tokyo
  • Sept 18 in Yotsuya, Tokyo

Obviously looking for a lot of qualified & experienced classroom operatives, resident in Japan and available to actually examine mostly on weekends. Obviously limited travel currently. 

All SEs need to certify after training (and thereafter annually). Most of these follow up sessions are next morning, same venue. 

All of these professional development sessions are free. 

So, who's got the chops?! Contact Jim by email to apply

Thursday, 1 April 2021

My favorite room


The bedroom in our house is the room I like the best. Besides the living room, the bedroom is the most important room for us because we spend a lot of time there. Sleeping well is important for our health, so we should think of how to make it comfortable.


Our bedroom is east facing on the second floor of our house, so in the morning, bright sunshine gets into the room, which makes me get up happily and lively. The ceiling is high and open. There are two big windows, with lovely view of the Japanese Alps, cherry blossoms in spring, green leaves in summer, snowy branches in winter. We also two long, narrow windows and skylight window through which the sun shines. I feel happy with the view from the window, especially in the cherry blossom season.


The floor is carpeted in a soft, grayish white color. My husband stretches every morning on the floor.


On the wall, there are paintings. One of them is an elegant botanical print which soothes my feelings. The other one is a Raoul Dufy woodblock print, which is my husband’s favorite. 

There is a king size bed and two chests of drawers. I keep some perfume and accessories in the drawers. All of the things in my bedroom are my favorites. When I am in the room, I can totally relax, sometimes reading a book. That is my happy time.



Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Holiday plans to penfriends

 Hi Bill and Bill's family,

Hello, long time no contact. Thank you for your e-mail about coming to Japan. We planned your travel course below and we'll enjoy staying with your family, if you like.

We're going to Kyoto and Osaka after staying in Tokyo for two days. Do your family like amusement parks? We're going to the Tokyo Disneyland in Tokyo and the Universal Studio Japan in Osaka. Then we're going to take a Japanese traditional experience in Kyoto.

It'll be very hot in Japanese summer, especially in Kyoto. In addition, we're going to wear a kimono which is unique Japanese clothes and take a walk in the town. So we'll get very hot and might be tired.

You should have a lot of suncreem and wear shoes to walk easily since we're going to walk a lot outside.

We're looking forward to meeting.

Best regard


Monday, 29 March 2021

Holiday plans to friends in Australia

 Dear Nancy and family, 

Hi! How are you? I'm looking forward to you coming to Japan. I maked a plan your trip.

On Tuesday, we're going to go the Tokyo Disney land, and the hot spa in Tokyo. On Thursday and Friday, we're going to Kyoto. After that, we're going to Osaka. In Osaka, we're going to the Universal Studios Japan.

Summer in Japan is hot and humid. Please be careful of heat stroke. I think that you should have some water diligently. To Kyoto from Tokyo take about three hours. Because you'll have better childrens toy to play in bullet train.

I'm going to do recommend nice some Japanese foods. I bet you'll love it.

If you have some questions, feel free to ask me anytime.

See you!

From Kanako

"The Green Mile" - Preference books vs films

My favorite movie is "The Green Mile". This movie is based on a book written by Stephen King. 

To be honest, I seldom watch movies or TV shows, but I was drawn into the realistic performance of Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan. This movie makes me cry every single time I watch it.

I prefer movies rather than books. I understand that books have their strong points. But, whenever I read books, I feel sleepy. I don't think I'm cut out for reading books.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

A positive experience - having a go at a Cambridge exam!

Not too hard :)
For the last year, Monwa-sensei has been busy working hard at Ueda-Nishi High School. Tough, with family & friends very out of reach in South Africa...but not such a hard assignment with the very keen English Conversation Club members eager to practice and improve their language skills.

And on March 27th, have a Cambridge opportunity for learners to prove they really "Can Do" for the first time. Thank you teachers at the school for letting us all have this chance, especially as our Speaking Examiners have long needed the experience of practicing with real teenagers, and not each other!

We ran a full 'mock' exam session. Listening was 'hard' because it was "British" - but half the voices were North American. Actual issue = unfamiliarity with the format (such as being able to read the questions first, and hear everything twice...and have to distill meaning rather than detail) ie read the question better!
We Can Do!

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Small world - umpteenth event in Matsumoto!

Generations :)
On Friday we welcomed a young learner back to Luna, after taking a year out because mummy & daddy were unable to bring her to play/study with her friends. Although missing a year of English, I'm so glad I have my favourite hand-holder back - but we skipped that option for now of course. Great to have you back H!

Enter granny - and blow me down we know each other! Michiko used to be in a class I taught in a cafe after Sally left Matsumoto, and I vividly remember we watched the opening ceremony of the Nagano Winter Olympics together around a kotatsu (easy lesson that morning!) as a class, with Sachiko, Hama, and Midori. 

Days like today, I really love my job as I realise that life really is a circle - and living in a wonderful place like Matsumoto is not for dilettantes.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

My favorite artist, Manabu Ikeda

My favorite artist is Manabu Ikeda. He was born in Saga in 1973 and he received his master’s degree from Tokyo University of the Arts.
He paints on boards using ink, pen and so on. It is extremely detailed work that he can proceed with the work only 10cm square in one day and he often takes more than one year to finish his works.

Characteristic of his works is that detailed objects are painted on somethings such as sea creature, tree and building. At first glance, it is just sea creature, but many things are integrated on it such as birds, ships and artificial something. Everything looks alive and seems to start moving at any moment.

When I searched about him, I knew that his hobbies are climbing, trekking and skiing. I was surprised that all of them are same as me. I may feel something from his works as we have similar hobbies.

His works I looked on an exhibition will remain on my heart.

Ryusendo Caves - Journey to the Centre of Japan!

 Ryusendo is in Iwate. 

You can visit the cave by bus from Morioka station. It takes about two hours. Of course you can visit by car.

The cave is over 4,088 metres long. In this cave are some "Geosi" lakes. The are called Dragon Blue. You can visit without a guide.

Posted for Honoka

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

The Da Vinci tapes

Tom Hanks : "How's the movie, Lenny?"

Leonard da Vinci : "Well, it's a bit of a bizarre story but good fun really. Who in the world invented this motion picture thing by the way. It would be a great entertainment for King François the First. Quite clever."

Audrey Tautou : "Did you really draw the figure of John of the Evangelist as Mary Magdalene? Did you create a V-shape for the representative of the chalice and of a woman's womb?"

Leonardo : "Well, well, well. What do you think? If I say 'No', all those rather interesting stories would be ruined completely, wouldn't they. Oh, you are the descendant, aren't you? Your grandpa was a clever man to use my 'Vitruvian Man' though it's a shocking scene, really."

Audrey : "Were you a member of the Priory of Sion, Leonardo?"

Leonardo : "It's pretty rude to ask one's religious beliefs. Didn't you learn at school, Miss?"

Audrey : "Oh yes, but this is important!"

Tom : "Leave him alone, Audrey. He is right. This is none of your business."

Audrey : "But…"

Leonard : "It's ok, young lady. I'm quite a scientific man, you know. I believe only what I see. So…"

Audrey : "Okay, I understand that. Thanks, anyway."

Leonardo : "That's quite all right. Well actually I'm delighted how you people appreciate my art work. You put my precious Lisa del Gioconda in a huge room with bulletproof glass surrounded. I worked on it using new ideas and I had never let her go even when I went to France."

Tom : "We love your paintings and everything, Lenny. You're the most famous and the most popular artist in the world."

Leonardo : "Besides Michelangelo?"

Audrey : "Oh, he is just different. I love your art work the most!"

Leonardo : "Good girl."