Thursday, 25 September 2008

Happy Birthday Tana

Birthday best wishes for Tana today, who isn't 23 anymore!

This time last year she was in a queue at the Japanese Embassy in South Africa trying to get her visa sorted out before flying over to join us. Besides celebrating her birthday, I am delighted to report she has also recently signed a new contract to keep her with us for another year at least. I am sure everyone will be glad to hear that and want to congratulate me on managing to keep a good teacher?!

Unfortunately, the weather didn't co-operate last weekend so her party/BBQ was called off...I am sure Tana will come up with Plan B soon, and we eventually sing "Happy Birthday" for her.

Congrats Tana from all of us - Yuki, Hijiri, Tomoko, Iinuma, Jim, and all your students.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Takako's leaving party

Once again we are saying goodbye to a favourite student :(

Takako has been in my class at NHK for the last two years and has been very popular with her co-learners. She hasn't always been able to come, with work commitments and a busy social schedule, and her homework book mysteriously vanished ages ago, but she has consistently done very well in class and added a bit of sparkle.

Last night, her classmates went to Rakura for a meal and a few drinks to say goodbye & wish her well as she heads off to Sydney. With a bit of luck, she'll catch up with my brother Mike & mate Greg. The food was fairly ordinary (the cod was about as bland as it could possibly be!) but the drinks kept coming to wash it down. Kouichi was throwing down the sake...

As you can see everyone had a great evening, and a quick 'second party' at one of Teruki's friend's bar finished us off nicely. Thanks to all for making Takako's sayonara lots of fun. Let's wait for her to blog her from Downunder?!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Okinawan music concert

Please let me inform you our Okinawan music performance on this coming sunday.

["The Yuimaru" performance of Okinawan Folk Music and Dance]
at "Nan-nan-hiroba" Festival

Sunday 28th September 2008
1st performance: 11:30 for 30 min
2nd performance: 13:30 for 30 min

Place at Large meeting room in 3rd floor in the "Matsumoto-shi Kinro-seishonen home" called "Nan-nan-hiroba" at Minami-Matsumoto. (5 min by foot from JR Minami-Matsumoto STN.
Map here

Free admission
Free parking available. If there is no space for parking, please park your car in JUSCO where is just at the opposite side.Please let me add more information for this event.

We are learning Okinawan folk music from one of the most famous teacher in Tokai area Mr.Shigeru Minatogawa. I used to play Okinawan folk music and dance in SOAS Okinawan music society in London for three and half years until early 2007. We could show you great performance even though this will be in the festival in community center.

Please do come and feel free to bring your family and friends!
Hope to see you in there.

Naomi Mizuno

Friday, 19 September 2008

Let's think about the reality

I am organizing a photo exhibition which is showing about 20 pieces of photojournalism with my friends. It is going to be held in M-wing (Matsumoto city) from Sept. 27th to Oct. 5th.

The photos were taken by professional photojournalists around the world; they were awarded a prize for the magazine "DAYS JAPAN".

I would like to share the reality with you.


What is Fair Trade?

My friends and I are going to have two screenings of the movie "Oishii Coffee no Shinjitu" on Sept. 20th in M-wing from 10:00, and from 14:00. It is a documentary about a coffee trading (Campaign for Fair Trade). We can see the reality of a mechanism if coffee trading and the world . It also makes us think about Fair Trade.

Here is the official site :

You can taste some coffee from the around the world before or after the movie. Come on - join us!


A soldier return from Iraq came to Matsumoto

I went to M-wing on Sep.8th to listen to the precious experience of an American soldier who went to Iraq war.His name is Ash Woolson. He joined the army as a state soldier (in the National Guard) to cover his school tuition, but one day, he got called up for the Iraq War. It was difficult for him to accept it, but he had to go the battlefield.
The Iraq war experience attacked his mind. It was so difficult to talk about what happened and what he saw there. I was shocked to hear the fact that a soldier who has been to war, can never be the same person they were before.
Now he is traveling and telling his story in Japan. Talking through his experiences and his feelings make him sad...exhausted; but he does it for world peace.
Here is the speech in ENGLISH and JAPANESE.


Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Circle Games

Question: Which story did you like best, and why?

I like "The Trishaw Man" best, because Thomas and his wife loved their son.
They work very hard for their son everyday, but not for themselves, because they are very kind person and the best parents.
Gregory who is Thomas's son love his parents too, and he is going to look after his parents when his parents are old, because he is realy kind child.

The family are so happy with tender heart.
Therefore, I like the family's story very much. I want to make my family be so.

Posted for Shin

Monday, 15 September 2008

baseball - yawn!

Believe it or not, I actually went to a baseball game yesterday.

It wasn't far away (at the stadium in Asama that my brother helped build) and I wasn't up to anything special for a couple of hours - the High School I "teach" at were playing the big guns from Massho. Thought I'd go along & lend some moral support.

I admit, I don't like baseball much, and nothing I saw today did much to change my mind. I always think of it as 8 poeple there to throw the ball back to the star - the pitcher. Who may or may not be any good, but how can you tell sitting so far away? I certainly don't get the idea of having to run if you hit the ball - especially if you are going to get out. Why bother? Wait until you get a good hit, then go. But even then, you loose your chance to keep batting. This is the opposite to cricket - good batters keep batting, and tire out the bowler (pitcher)!

Could somebody explain why baseball has to be played in the heat of the middle of the day in the middle of the summer? It's dangerous - especially in a country where keeping hydrated is seen as a weakness.

Could somebody also explain why it is played on dirt? It adds to the heat/discomfort, glare, and chance of a skinned elbow. Hasn't anyone ever heard of grass? (When I ran a football team in Matsumoto we always had to play on gravel pitches, and the number of joint injuries we had was ridiculously high as a result).

How about having a practice between all the action? Ever seen this in a proper sport? Ever seen a footballer having a few practice penalties before the real thing? Or swimmers having a couple of dives before the start of their race? Of course not - so no wonder baseball takes forever - nothing happens even the players get bored.

Now I do like a bit of sportsmanship; I don't get the having to bow at the mob who just beat you. In rugby we used to applaud the opposition off, and they us, regardless who won the match. Our fans would come & support us as much as they could, but not expect to be served drinks! The chants are practiced, the dances co-ordinated, and the obligatory drummer...but why take turns?!! If you want your team to win, shout louder & longer, and outdo the other lot. Taunt them, pick on their players, deride their uniform etc. Get under their skin & help your team find a chink to exploit!

And play until the end! You can't stop just because you're copping a thrashing! I saw a cup match at Alwin a couple of years ago and the game lasted 80 minutes. What about the last 10? Ever see Manchester United win the European Cup in Barcelona? 2 goals in the last 3 minutes...Anyway, my lot took a nine - nil beating on the chin...and packed up in the 8th inning. Which was OK because I was already bored, sunburnt, and happy to remember I had 2 tickets for the Toyota Cup in December.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Ask the experts

As regular readers will know, we're having a makeover outside (still wrapped in blue cloth, by the way) so I thought we should ask the colouring experts for their opinion.

You can see the results yourself on the left, and it is obvious that "Rainbow" is the clear favourite option! I asked the landlord about this and he nearly fainted!

Still plenty of time for you to vote - find the quiz on the right hand margin & click away.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Tana's Birthday Barbecue on the River Bank

Hi everyone! Another year and another birthday! And yes, you guessed it, 23 again!! It’s a perfect excuse to enjoy a barbecue on the river bank, and I’d love it if you all could join me. Husbands, wives, children, pets, friends & lovers – everyone is welcome!!

When: Sunday 21st September 2008, from 2pm – 6pm

Where: The Susuki River Bank, Matsusho HS side

(same place as Luna’s Ohanami Party)

What to bring: Please bring your own food and drink (cooking utensils too if you have them!)

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Jojo's Story

Jojo was a sheltered child until the men who have crossed the river attacked Jojo's village. Jojo's family and all people of the village were killed by the men, so Jojo had to go care house. In the care house, Jojo met many chile and a good teacher, but he get out from the care house to fight with his brother's friend.

I don't understand this story clearly, but I imagine this is a story connected civil war and how to be born a child soldier. Jojo asked himself why his family and friends are killed, and his thinking addled.

After leading this book, I feel groomy.

Posted for Minako

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Flame of Adventure - book report

I actually read this book during my trip to the UK (most of it on the way there because British Airways is rubbish) in July - I haven't posted about it because I lost it on my way back. I don't like losing books (just have a look in our office - our shelves have four times as many English titles as the library does!)

This is a mountaineering/biographical book. The author is Simon Yates. I know he isn't famous here. Which I find amazing, because he and his best friend lived one of those "urban legends". Find out for yourselves - google a bit? His best friend's name was Joe Simpson.

This book actually annoyed me. I understood this man's situation after his trip to South America. I grew up in Sheffield; I even climbed on some of the crags - I doubt my scrabbling efforts up Burbage Edge or Stannage rated much. "V Diff" was my limit.

I found this book annoying, because I got the feeling that no matter how traumatic Simon's experiences were, he made a series of dumb mistakes, and seemed to be a difficult person to be around. Maybe it's just the way he has written about his experiences in Pakistan etc, but I wouldn't enjoy travelling with him - no matter how fabulous the sccenery was!

In contrast, Simpson's books are breath-taking; "Beckoning Silence" in particular rates as one of my favourite all-time books. Flame of Adventure doesn't hold a candle to it.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Book report: 1914-1918 History

I have never thought that the history of World War One was particularly interesting. Unbelievable slaughter, largely static, and a pre-cursor to the conflict in 1939. I have always been very keen on the history of the Second World War; reading this book has been a revelation.

When I studied history at school, I was lucky to have two really enthusiastic teachers - "Dippy" West and "Ma" Wade. Dippy taught me how to write a proper essay, and to argue a point. Ma Wade made characters old & fusty come alive.

This massive book about the "war to end wars" is brilliant. It is extremely well-written, and covers every imaginable aspect of the conflict and more. Of course it details the major battles which still bring shivers to the spine when you hear the words Ypres, Somme or Gallipoli. I saw one of the cemetaries at Vimy Ridge when I was a kid and have never forgotten it. I have a distant relative or two commemorated at the Menin Gate. This book is one I will read again. It is jam-packed with facts and analysis, not just of why a certain battle went one way or the other, but how the political moods of America affected the British & French economies and their production bottlenecks; how the disintegration of the Habsburg Empire set up future Balkan conflicts; why the Russians paid the Germans back so brutally in 1945.

The scope of this book is enormous - as was the war. It took me ages to read but I only put it down reluctantly. If I can remember a fraction of what I learnt reading it, I`ll have done well. What is quite obvious, unfortunately, was that it was not the war to end wars, and a generation of young men were slaughtered with ever increasing efficiency.

Colour update - preview

Just a quick update on the paint job at Luna. After a week or two of plastic wrapping (very sweaty indoors!), lots of dust and the surprise of seeing people walk past a second floor window, I can announce what colour we will soon be revealed as.

It`s D12 50H, and it smells pretty good too...going to be a week or two before the official unveiling though. Can you stand the tension?!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Postcard from...Hawaii

Dear Ms. Tana

How are you? I'm now in Hawaii.

There's a very famous mountain called Diamond Head.
We climbed it and saw the sunset.
I love Hawaii.

From Yuya

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

A Matter of chance

Q1 How important do you think chance has been in your life?
I think chance seems to be equal to be timing. It is important to decide (or get) the timing (or chance).

Q2 Would you like to live and work in a foreign country,like Paul and Jacky?Why or why not?
I would like to live and work in Australia. Melbourne is a beautiful and comfortable place. However, I think I can not work there.

Q3 Which chapter can you remember most clearly? Why or why not?
Maybe it is chapter 13,14 and 15. These situations can be caught easily by images.

Monday, 1 September 2008

summary of "Scarlet Feather"

This is my first writing.
I would like to introduce my favorite novel. I have read more than ten times.
I have never cried and laughed so much in English novels before. The characters seem so real.

Summary of "Scarlet Feather- by Maeve Binchy".
Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather had a dream to set up the best catering company in Dublin. They are very good friend and full of talent. On Christmas Eve, they find a perfect premises and started their business. However not everyone seem as pleased the idea of catering company "Scarlet Featehr" as they are. Cathey's husband, Neil who is laywer, pays no attention her business. He also thinks her business is just a new hobby. His main interest is civil rights for homeless or refugees. Tom's parents desired Tom to succeed their family business. Tom's girlfrind, Marcella, struggle to be a model and always love to dress up and has a lust for photograph.

Their first year had the most maddening happenings, between friends and families, ups and down, heartaches and joys. Whether Cathy and Tom survive a year of their lives...