Friday, 23 June 2017

Black Hawk Down - film review

Black Hawk Down was directed by Ridley Scott. It stars Josh Hartnell and Ewan McGregor, who plays parts of the soldiers.

The film is set in Somalia in the 1990s. Mogadishu was a war zone and the political situation was unstable. So it was shot in Morocco.

The film is about the war in Somalia. America dispatched its special forces to stop the civil war there. In the beginning, the operation was expected to finish in one hour, but just after it started, two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by rocket-propelled grenades (RPG-7). Other soldiers head into the enemy territory to help their friends, and plunged into violent & dangerous street fighting.

I strongly recommend Black Hawk Down. Each scene is very realistic. The soundtrack is memorable. The acting makes a deep impression on the audience. I think this film should be seen by everyone, as we have to know the facts that are happening in this world, such as war. If you like war films, you'll love this one.

Posted for Tomoro

Monday, 19 June 2017

After reading of the book “Don’t Tell Me What to Do”


I have never bought or built any own house, but I would like to describe my process plan how to buy an own house.

If I have a child, I will buy the own house when the child enroll at an elementary school to avoid him/her from transferring the school.

In order to decide a layout of house, I would like to visit many houses what types of layout there are and what layout/function is convenience for my life style.

Also, we should confirm what construction/material have the quality to last long and how maintenance is needed.

From seeing many houses, I will get many useful ideas.

 

I think it is very important to imagine not only current but also future life style and to find a best solution with satisfaction at that timing.

My thought mentioned above is caused by my experience.

When I bought my current car, I checked many many cars at car park etc to know what internal/external design I really like because I thought it was very important to like the look of the car to ride for many years.  Now, over 10 years passed after I bought my current car and I still like it.

 

When a rough idea of layout/function is made, I will ask some home builders for quotation.

Maybe the quotations will exceed our budget, so I will review again what part we can handmade or eliminate and negotiate the home builder to do markdowns.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

So what does Jim do at the weekends when he isn't teaching?

BYOD solution to get SEs talking!
Last weekend I was looking after the Certification of speaking examiners for one of our fellow Cambridge Centres in Tokyo. This is a part of my job I really enjoy a lot, as I am working with professional teachers who are dedicated to the role they have chosen to pursue in their spare time - doing more teachery stuff! Speaking Examiners do not grow on trees; they need looking after, nurturing, and occasionally patting on the back! They need to know when they are doing a good job, and every year they need to freshen up their skills in delivering the speaking tests and to show that their assessment is in tune...matching Cambridge's worldwide benchmark.

We were fortunate last weekend to have half a dozen young CEFR B2 (FCE) level kids studying in the school, who were keen to have a couple of free practice 'goes'. One of the teachers was surprised one of the boys didn't start crying - so well done my team for not being scary & insensitive! Yes, it's a test, but you can still smile and be 'normal'. One thing I really do not want 'my' cadre to do is get all serious and high & mighty. Our job is to provide the candidates with the opportunity to display all that they can do....

This year I have been throwing my examiners into Quizlet Live games, competing with & against each other to tackle tricky topics like feedback commentaries. Rather than me stand there & bemoan this or that, the examiners themselves have to come to some sort of agreement as to how certain behaviour or outcomes should be considered. That in itself generates a lot of discussion - and consensus - and reinforces the message that regardless of location or circumstances, each & every candidate must have the same opportunity to be successful.

Ayako, Jim & Hiroshi - champions!
So I was delighted to be able to introduce the team later to Ayako & Hiroshi Nishizawa, both former Luna students now running a fabulous restaurant in Naka-Meguro ("Yakitori Champion"). Ayako took YLE while at Luna & has since home-stayed & studied in Warwick; Hiroshi was cool throughout our first 10-day farm-stay to Whangarei in New Zealand, 15 years ago. The food? Fabulous lamb, lots of lamb, and then more lamb. Excellent value, if a bit smoky!

For me, this was a 10 out of ten weekend. What do you think?

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Smart phones - in my opinion

Almost everybody has a smart phone, but is it a good invention? I think there are both advantages and disadvantages to them.

The first advantage is that we can keep in touch with our friends, for example using SNS, sending text messages or sharing pictures. There are plenty of ways to communicate, and what’s more, we can do it easily with our fingers at any time. Secondly, we can listen to music anywhere. As the mobile phones are very light these days, it is useful to carry them around, so we can enjoy our favourite music on the go and without disturbing others. Thirdly, they sometimes can be our lifeline because we can get an alarm before an earthquake happens. It is well known because of this alarm, many peoples’ lives will be saved by escaping safely, without getting in a panic. Also, in my country Japan, there are many earthquakes every year so this alarm is really helpful.

As for disadvantages, I will give you three. Firstly, we modern people waste our time using them, for instance playing games, watching videos or searching gossip. Of course, it is nice to use them in our pastimes, but I think many people are using them even when they haven’t finished tasks like homework. Secondly, it is bad for our health. Using them causes stiff shoulders and also our eyes get damaged especially in dark situations. It is said that the blue light from mobile phone screens cause injuries to our eyes. Thirdly, sometimes people get bullied by SNS. Being talked about , having a photo shared online which we didn’t wanted to, body-shaming. Nowadays it is getting a serious problem.

In  conclusion, although it is dangerous if we use smart phones too much, I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, especially if we add improved media literacy and free access to information. The smart phone is a wonderful invention.

Posted for Yuya

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

PanSIG 2017 AIU

Ready to rock&roll
May 19-21 saw JALT PanSIG visit Akita International University, with members and non-members coming together from all over the country, and even a few from further abroad, to present, exchange and share ideas. It was my first time attending a PanSIG conference, and I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to present; a poster presentation on using the mobile app Aurasma.

The entire process was very new to me, writing a proposal for my presentation, getting it approved, preparing all of my materials (with multiple backup copies!), ironing out any technical difficulties with Aurasma and finally standing in front of a crowd of people showing the ins and outs of my poster display.

Augmented reality guru Parisa Mehran checking out my work!
The preparation stage was a good opportunity to take a step back and re-evaluate what exactly were my aims with using Aurasma, had I succeeded in attaining those goals and to reflect on ways to improve or do differently. It allowed me to view my project another perspective, the perspective of the audience. What questions would they have, what questions would I be asking if I were seeing some new tech for the first time and how I could translate it into my own teaching.

Leading up to the conference it was a mixture of first-time nerves and anticipating some sort of technical failure, but composed and collected knowing that I had put in the time and effort to create a poster display I was confident in showing to a group of language instructors. It was left in my hands to make the presentation a success.


An interactive poster with an interactive audience
One niggle that I did run into was that I had prepared my posters to be held up by magnets, being a modular poster with various segments it allowed me to have a more dynamic and interchangeable display, under the presumption from reading the PanSIG poster session web page that magnetic display boards would be available. You could imagine my disappointment when I reached the venue realised I had to pin all of my posters! I think it would be a benefit to future presenters if the advice on the official web page matched what was available on site on the day.

Contributions from attendees on the day
The day of the presentation was brilliant. There was a lot of interest and it was overwhelming at times with the number of people crowding around my display. I did come away thinking that I would have preferred the Saturday slot as there would have been even more people to get feedback from. Many conference attendees had to catch flights/trains to get back to their respective workplaces (Akita is not an easy place to get to and from!) for Monday morning, which meant that there was a significance turnout between the Saturday and Sunday poster sessions. Nevertheless, it was an amazing opportunity and my first experience presenting outside of local events.

Thank you to all those involved, especially the organisers for putting together a wonderful conference, Akita International University for a gorgeous venue and for the splendid hospitality, and all the presenters for an eye-opening weekend of professional development. A special mention to Jim for driving all the way there and back while I kipped in the front!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Professional Development - PANSIG Conference in Akita

Last weekend Damian & I drove up to AIU to attend the annual PANSIG Conference. Quite a drive, and a very impressive weekend full of presentations, learning & sharing. Damian made a poster presentation, using Luna's experiences with Aurasma to show how we Expand Our Interests at Luna. He put a lot of hard work into presenting your hard work, and I could hear the WOW!!! reactions across the room.

I thought I'd share with you how the Conference played out on twitter, using storify to collate events as they unfolded over the last month, culminating in the big weekend and a lot of really exciting interaction. I enjoyed meeting old friends, making new ones, and connecting with people I've 'heard of' but never met in the flesh before.

I was inspired - I hope you will be too.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Postcard from...Hong Kong

Jim & the Gang

Greetings from Hong Kong, Macau & Lamma Island.

You can speak English with everyone, as well as Cantonese, and in Macao, Portuguese.

From the guy in the red boiler suit who totally made the BBQ a massive success last month with his Green Egg but is not Jim's brother nor in the Red Devils skydiving team, and neither is he very quick over 4 metres, let alone 400m... Michael Johnson

Friday, 12 May 2017

A Chirstmas Carol - A letter to your business partner

Dear Jacob,

I have no words to express my gratitude. If you didn't warn me, I didn't notice what was the most important thing in my life. I didn't imagine what happened to my life. Maybe l went to Hell.

I paid Bob Cratchit only fifteen shillings a week although he had his family to keep. His family! What a nice family was! But poor Tiny Tom! He had not walked since he was born and although he could pull himself and his thin little legs along with the help of wooden crunch. He would die soon. The Cratchit family were very unhappy.

I lived a lonely life and took no interest in other people at all. The only thing that mattered to me was the business, and making money. My heart grew colder and colder until one day I died lonely. I would lay on the graveyard in the cold hard ground and nobody would visit.

But you and three spirits showed me what was the important thing. I did everything that I promised to Bob, did more. Tiny Tim didn't die. I became his second father. Now I can keep Christmas cheerfully and live a happy life. That is what all of us want.

Thank you so much, Jacob. I hope you are already free from your horrifying chain. Your spirit doesn't travel endlessly anymore. Because you helped me and Tom.

See you again in Heaven!



Posted for Olga

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Profile of an admired adventurer: Ayako Imoto


The explorer that I admire is Ms. Ayako Imoto. She has a various face and is comedian and alpinist.

Not a very sensible thing to do
She debuted on national TV and was chased by Komodo dragon at first TV program. The Komodo dragon couldn’t catch Ms. Imoto. After the TV program which she debuted, she experienced many dangerous or hard jobs

One of her hard jobs was marathon at 24-hour TV and she run about 126km that was 3 full-marathon distance.

At a regular program that she was on the bill, she climbed the mountain Matterhorn at a height of 4,478 meters in the year 2012.

And in the year 2014, she tried to climb the mountain Everest at a height of 8,850 meters

But before her party tried to climb, some Sherpas who were expert in the mountain and help the party died due to snow avalanche. So, her party decided to drop the plan to climb the mountain Everest. It is said that this decision was sensible.

The point that I admire Ms. Ayako Imoto is as follows.
  • She is normal/ regular woman like me. 
  • She is unaffected 
  • She is funny 
  • She makes her dangerous/ hard task to the end 
  • She has unbelievable courage 
  • She tried to dangerous tasks which I wanted to withdraw my eyes from TV. 

I want to be a person who always challenge and smile like Ms. Ayako Imoto.

The Wind in the Willows - Toad's apology

Dear Ms. Keeper's Daughter,

I'm sorry I don't know your name. But I want you to say the other day of thanks. You have a very kind heart. If you didn't help me, I would still have been in prison. When I was in prison, I cried and cried. I thought that this was the end of everything. All my friends would forget me, and I shall never get out of the prison again.

But, you were there. You saved my life. You heard my story seriously, you asked my home and my old life, brought me nice things to eat and hot drinks. Those kindness made me sit up and wake up. When you told me the plan to escape the prison, I could 't believe and I suspected my ears. Because your suggestion was so unique. At that time, my heart was beating very fast indeed. I hadn't been able to imagine that I wear dress as an old washer-woman. "That's impossible", I thought. But I did it. I could do it. I owed you a lot.

After I left the prison, I walked out of the wood, jumped into a barge, but the barge-woman pushed off into a canal. I swam in the canal. And I borrowed her horse to ride, and I sold it. I borrowed someone's motor-car, but I lost it. At last, I've met my friend the Water Rat after a long way swimming in the river. Now I'm happy to be in my house. Thanks a lot to your kind cooperation. 

Sincerely Toad



Posted for Naoko

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Last Sherlock Holmes Story - Final words from the 'protagonist'


April 1891 Switzerland
I had enjoyed my life with my best friend Watson for a long time before we left England. I always fought against crime. I always investigated the truth of crime.

Recently I have had some suspicion against Watson. When a woman called Flora White was killed with a knife in Whitechapel, the suspicion became a true. When I found my bedroom door was locked in Watson's house, I tried to hit the man who came in, but he jumped away. And then there was the letter telling Lestrade that I was the Whitechapel murderer. What rubbish! How Scotland Yard would laugh!

I took it from the cook's hand while Watson was calling the cab. Because it wasn't Watson. Moriarty had killed my friend and taken his place. Moriarty is very clever. He looked almost like Watson. I knew this man was Moriarty since I had seen him injecting himself with cocaine. My dear friend Dr. Watson would never, never take drugs.

Moriarty has asked me to walk with him to the Reichenbach Falls, which is a wild and lonely place. Since taking cocaine, Moriarty will be getting weaker and weaker. I know he will try to shoot me there, but he will not kill me because I have put blanks in his gun. He is very clever but he always takes drugs. I can kill him. I must kill him. This is the best way for my life.



Posted for Hiroko

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Rabbit-Proof Fence - An epic journey (Into the Wild)

I will tell you another epic journey. It is about a young American man who died in Alaska in 1992. This story was become a movie directed by Sean Penn. And this movie " Into the Wild" was nominated to the 80th Academy Award.

Cris was born in a rich family. He graduated Emory University with an excellent results. His parents wanted him to go to Harvard law school. But he refused to go there and donated all his money which supposed to spend for study. His parents always gave him only money, not love. They had a different sense of values from him. He decided to go to Alaska by himself to know the truth of the world.

He changed his name and traveled to Mexico, through the US. As he traveled, he met many kinds of people. Sometimes he wanted to stay with them, but he wanted to go to Alaska to find something. He walked, hitch-hiked and finally he went to Alaska. He survived there for a while, but it was very difficult to find foods. So, he decided to leave Alaska. Unfortunately the desolate river of melted snow disturbed him to go out of Alaska. After 100days in Alaska, he died of hunger alone.



Posted for Yasumi

Monday, 8 May 2017

A postcard from Irabu Island, Okinawa

Hey Everyone,

First dive crew
I've just visited an amazing part of Japan, a small island called Irabu which is connected to Miyako Island via bridge. Before you could only get there by plane or boat, but since the end of January 2015, you can drive across.

Irabu is so quiet and peaceful. Even in the middle of Golden Week, there was almost nobody there! The beaches were beautiful, the water crystal clear with plenty of amazing coral and colourful fish to see, the locals were super friendly and the weather was gorgeous.



The fish that bit me!
During my stay, I got to experience diving for the first time (and getting bitten by a territorial fish!), as well as my first taste of Awamori. I went snorkelling almost every day and got to see some amazing sunsets with a beer in hand of course!

I had an incredible week off and I hope that all of you at Luna had a well-earned break and feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

See you all at Luna soon!

Damian
Sunset at Irabu

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Holiday report - Hong Kong

I went to Hong Kong last September with my friend. We flew to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. We stayed for four days in a small hotel near Yau Ma Tei station and we could walk some night markets.

During the day we took the tour. We visited a food market, ate dim sum, took tram. At night we went to Victoria Harbour to see a Symphony of Lights.

It was very beautiful. We didn't buy souvenirs so much, we enjoyed to eat. I bought a lily oil that is like a Tiger Balm. We had a great time. Hong Kong is very interesting city, dim sum is great and beer is cheap.

But there was trouble. We went to Macau from Hong Kong by ferry. We wanted to arrive at Macau but arrived at Taipa. Besides, when we went back to Hong Kong, we arrived at Hong Kong island. We was going to get to Kowloon!





Posted for Megumi

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Three Musketeers - The Hundred Years' War

The Hundred years’ War was from 14century to 14century. The war continued for about one hundred years with several intervals. The beginning of the War was Edward Ⅲ, king of England, pretended to the French throne. And he sent an army to France. It was just one reason of many things. One of other reasons was that England and France had contended for supremacy of woolen industry in Frandre district. First England was strong and superior for many years, but French girl Jeanne D’arc who had heard the words of God appeared, led French army and relieved Orleans from long siege by England. She is a historic heroine in France but her life was very short. She was soon arrested and was execution by burning. About her life many novels and films had been made. At all England lost possessions in France.


Posted for Yoko

Monday, 1 May 2017

Jane Eyre - a letter to your teacher

Dear Miss.Temple,

How have you been? I married. After you left Lowood School, I left too. And I became a governess of Thornfield Hall. Thornfield Hall was a beautiful house. The girl enjoyed my lessons and I was happy. The owner of Thornfield Hall was Mr. Edward Rochester. He was not handsome but he had a strong face. I loved Mr. Rochester. One evening, Mr. Rochester said ‘Will you marry me, Jane?’ I was very happy. But at the wedding day, I knew Mr. Rochester have mad wife. I left Thornfield Hall. But I could not forget him.

One day, I heard Mr. Rochester’s voice. So I went to Thornfield Hall. Then I saw the burnt, black house. Nobody was living there. I heard that there was a fire at Thornfield Hall, The mad woman burnt the house and she died, Mr. Rochester was blind and badly hurt. And I could meet Mr. Rochester again. Mr. Rochester and I got married. His eyes were better. He could see the face of our first child. Now my dear Edward and I are very happy.

I hope to see you soon.

Jane Eyre



Posted for Reiko

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Current Magazine - Nujeen Mustafa

Inspired by reading a snippet of Nujeen Mustafas's 'Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey from War-Torn Syria in a Wheelchair' in Mary Glasgow's Current magazine, some students wrote about the toughest journeys they've experienced in their lives.


When I was a university student, I sometimes had a part-time job. The university was in Kyoto, so there were some special part-time jobs.

One day, I found the notice of the job with my friend at the student affairs office. It was an extra of a period play. It looked fun and payment was not so bad. We were willing to apply that job. On the day, it was really heavy rain early in the morning. I wonder whether I go there or not. I decided to go there.

The bus was waiting for us at school. After leaving there, it stopped raining. Because of the heavy rain, my friend hadn't come. I went to Uzumasa film studio to wear a peasant costume. I was unhappy.

Everyone got on a bus again for an hour, and arrive at Ado river ibn Shiga prefecture. Around the river was lonely place. There were just only a field and a river. It was a good place to shoot peasants riot. Some professional extras involved in our group. s making a sign, everyone began to run. We did it again and again. Lunch box was served on the bus.

Then we ran in the different field. In the evening another scene was shot. This time we ran with torches. There is no place to go to the restroom. So I gave up to go there. After shooting, they gave dinner box. When I got to my sharehouse, it was nine. It was a unique experience, but I didn;t want to do it again. It was the toughest day trip.


Posted for Hiroko

Friday, 28 April 2017

Current Magazine - Nujeen Mustafa

Inspired by reading a snippet of Nujeen Mustafas's 'Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey from War-Torn Syria in a Wheelchair' in Mary Glasgow's Current magazine, some students wrote about the toughest journeys they've experienced in their lives.


As a matter of fact, I've never had so tough journey in my life. I was born in a peaceful country and
raised up with a nice family in a middle class, and had never desired to have a tough journey.

When I go travel, it was always well planned getting rid of risks. but in 2004, when I went to Europe alone was an exception. My daughter was already in Rome, so I had to go to Rome by myself. It was the first time for me to go to Europe. I couldn't understand Italian at all, so I learned Italian a little.

In the airplane I chose the seat near the aisle. Next to me were two big young Korean guys. They drank alcohol so often, so they went to the toilet frequently. It bothered me. The cabin attendant recognized the situation. At the end of the flight, she gave me a small present of JAL with an apology.

From the airport to Telmine station, I took a train. It was already night, the train was crowded. I could see many kinds of people, looked like from Africa, the Middle East, Asia or America, talking their own language.

At Telmine station, I didn;t know the direction when I saw the policemen. I wanted to ask them the way to my hotel, but they were so big I just hesitated to do it. I checked the name of the road, and began to walk/ But the area where my hotel looked very dangerous. On the dirty road, people were sitting with blank looks.

Finally, I got to the hotel. When I was checking in, there was a phone call from my daughter. She sad she wanted to be with her friend one more day. So, I had to be at the hotel alone. I couldn't sleep all night because of the noise and the neon light from outside.


Posted for Yasumi

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Current Magazine - Nujeen Mustafa

Inspired by reading a snippet of Nujeen Mustafas's 'Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey from War-Torn Syria in a Wheelchair' in Mary Glasgow's Current magazine, some students wrote about the toughest journeys they've experienced in their lives.

It was the first time I had been to Hawaii. I was sixteen years old. I went to Hawaii with my brother
and my high-school friends. That journey was hard before leaving Japan.

Before summer vacation, we made a plan to go to Hawaii. I decided saving money to go to Hawaii. I worked in my uncle's factory from Monday to Friday at the beginning of the summer vacation. First my job was very easy. But some old women complained about it. They thought it wasn;t fair so my uncle changed my job. My job was getting harder and harder. Every weekend I worked at swimming school. I liked teaching swimming. I was very tired but finally I saved enough money to go to Hawaii.

We arrived at Hawaii early morning. We wanted to go to Hanauma Bay. It was a fine day. We decided to go there by bicycle. Hanauma bay wasn't so far from Waikiki  but our bicycles were gear-less, so it was very hard to pedal. The road wasn;t flat, it was a slope. If you slipped and fell into the car road you'd have been killed by cars. Finally we arrived at Hanauma Bay. We were all very tired but we were very excited.

Next day we borrowed an open car. It was a nice BMW. We were very excited. It was the first time I had ridden in an open car. In these days there wasn't navigation. We lost our way and wandered into a strange place. It was a beautiful residential area. There were many beautiful houses. When my brother (Lui) was driving slowly, suddenly one big dog appeared. The dog attacked us. Unfortunately our car was an open car! When I screamed, Lui drove at full speed. We were all safe.

Every day I swam in the sea without blocking sun, because in those days a tanned face and body were very attractive for me. So I wanted to get a suntan. But the place was Hawaii, ultraviolet rays were very strong. I got a terrible sunburn. My face grew bigger and I couldn't open my eye. I felt a stinging pain in my body. I was childish and immature, but sometimes I remember those sparkling young days.



Posted for Olga

Monday, 24 April 2017

Postcard from...Pingxi District, Taipei, Taiwan

I traveled in Taiwan for three days last week. I and my daughter went to old towns of Shifen & Jiufen. Shifen & Jiufen were small towns where gold was found.

In Shifen lanterns are blown into the sky, during festivals once a year. Tourists can fly lanterns even if it is not a festival day. We wrote a wish on a white lantern & it flew up into the sky.

Next I went to Jiufen which became a model for the story of "Spirited Away" (Ghibli's animation). A lot of red lanterns lit the sky. It was a really fantastic scene.

We went to the National Palace Museum on the second day. The Chinese Cabbage, which has green & white beads, was a very delicate & beautiful piece. It is made of precious stone & crystal. We found a dumpling restaurant. It was very delicious.

On the last day, we went to a skyscraper called Taipei 101. I could see all the places I went on this trip from the observatory at the top of the tower.

Posted for Kaoru

Friday, 14 April 2017

Postcard from...Fuji Speedway, Shizuoka

Hi everybody!

Last Sunday I took my brother & youngest Aussie nephew, as well as Ceilidh to see some classic Japanese cars whizzing around this racing circuit.

Uncle Mike & damp Ceilidh
It was a nice idea, but the fog and rain defeated everybody - we only saw two laps being raced in anger! Nevertheless, we could enjoy having a good look at a number of cool old cars such as Skylines & Fairladys; there were a few Porsches and a Ferrari and a Ford GT40, but the star car for us was a friend's Mustang, which sounded tremendous 'fanging it' down the hill.

I think we'd all like to come back when the weather is nicer!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Whitechapel - review of Episode One

The TV series is about an ambitious police officer investigating a murder case. It is set in Whitechapel in 2008.

The story starts with a murder scene. A man with a funny hat brutally killed a lady. A young police officer, who wants to be promoted, is in charge of this crime. However, he has never worked in the field, so he clashed with the cops who usually do. Back to the incident, the victim's name is Cathy and she is married to Bob, a butcher, who is suspected by the cops. However, he had a cast-iron alibi that he had already been arrested at the time of the murder. He couldn't be the killer. Moreover, the incident is extremely similar to the crime which Jack the Ripper committed exactly 120 years before.

What's similar? Of course the gender, the way of killing, the place, and even the date & time! In the last scene, the cops knew the crime was a copycat criminal.

I only watched the first part, so I don't know what the story be like, but I'm really curious about it. If I have an opportunity I'd like to watch the next episode.

Posted for Yuya

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A music inspired postcard

Dear everyone,

It has been a month since I visited Chicago in U.S.A. I have great time here.

I watch the sunset over the sea from my room. The view is amazing and nice. It looks and feels different. I feel comforted. I began to listen to the music when I watch the sunset. The song makes me miss you all and Japan.

I'll be back to Japan soon.

See you soon!


Love Yukako


A postcard inspired from DJ Okawari - Kaleidoscope

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Music inspired postcard

Dead everyone in Luna,

I'm traveling in the south coast in France by car. Today I drove beachside of Cannes, which is famous for the film festivals.

The song I was listening during the drive made me excited and happy.

The driving in the beautiful sunshine cool wind from the blue sea was fantastic! I enjoyed very much.


The song that inspired this postcard is DJ Okawari - Kaleidoscope


Posted for Teruki

Sunday, 2 April 2017

postcard from...Chicago, Illinois

Hi Jim-sensei,

I'm in Chicago & saw a TRUMP Tower.
I'm now eating a snow crab (picture).

Ritsuko

I spent a week in the States, and had a glass of freshly brewed beer, good meeting with lots of homework.
Tomoko

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Postcard from...Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture

I'm watching you...
Nikko is one of my very favourite places in Japan - it's historic, but not overrun with tourists & their selfie sticks. There are a lot of international visitors taking their time to stroll around on their own & explore the place slowly, which is different!

It is also just a little bit eerie - tucked away in the forest, still a bit chilly at this time of year. Amazing architecture & woodwork panelling, gold detail everywhere, and heavy eyebrows following you around!

This was a flying visit with Damian-sensei; we had driven over very early in the morning to give Cambridge YLE speaking tests to one of our venues in Tochigi (the children were very good and the staff extremely helpful & cheerful)...but we felt we had earned a bit of tourism time after such a long drive & took a little detour 'on the way home'!

We really recommend making the effort to visit this incredible place - one of Japan's better kept & unspoilt secrets.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Postcard from...Kagoshima, Kyushu.

Sakurajima (volcano) from Kagoshima Port
Hi everybody!

I visited a very nice school here to give speaking tests to some very nervous children taking their Cambridge Young Learners exams. Although they were nervous, we did have a lot of fun.

When I had a spare moment, I walked around the historic part of the town and found the site of the old castle, as well as a couple of shrines and statues. I found out about the Namamugi Incident & the subsequent Anglo-Satsuma War in 1863...you know I like my history?!

I also managed to pop down to the port & catch a glimpse of Sakurajima. Fortunately, it was not erupting!

See you all soon :)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A review of 'The Name of the Rose'

The Name of the Rose

The Name of the Rose
Historical mystery drama 1986

The Name of the Rose is about a murder in the monastery. The film is based on the book 'The Name of the Rose'. The film is set in Germany and Italy and starts in 1327. It tells the story of an old monk and a young monk who solve a murder in the Italian monastery. The story is difficult, but people who like history, (especially medieval European history) will like this movie.

Sean Connery acts as an old monk 'William', Christian Slater acts as a young monk 'Adaso'. There are no famous stars in the film. but the picture is very beautiful. Sean Connery is fantastic! William is a strict monk and he is searching enlightenment. He leads Adaso for the truth of the murder, like his father. It is a little awful but beautiful movie.


Posted for Misako.

Monday, 27 March 2017

A Review of 'The King's Speech'

Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter filming T...
Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter
The King's speech
Historical drama

The story is about the King of the United Kingdom George VI. He had a strong stammer and he was terribly distressed by that. David Seidler wrote the scenario. The film is set in England and starts in 1925. His speech as the Prince of York disappointed people. He visited Lionel Logue, a speech-language-hearing therapist in London to ask him to correct his stammering...

Colin Firth stars as George VI, Helena Bonham Carter plays the role of his wife Elizabeth, and Geoffry Rush plays the role of Logue. I love the acting of Colin Firth, being distressed, losing confidence and fearing speech. I also love Geofferey Rush. His acting makes me feel that he is a real person not a character. This is a really good film.


Posted for Misako

Friday, 24 March 2017

A review of 'Honnouji Hotel'

Honnouji Hotel,
Comedy, 2017

Honnouji Hotel is about the Hotel connected to the age of (Japanese civil) wars, and heroine Kuramoro Mayuko meets Oda Nubunaga in there. The film is not based on a book. However, Nobunaga is a person who existed. He is one of the most important people in Japanese history. The film is set in Kyoto Japan, and starts in 2017. It tells the story of Mayuko's relationship with Nobunaga and his character as the Military Commander.

Portrait of Oda Nobunaga (detail)
Portrait of Oda Nobunaga (detail) 
I love the acting in this film. Tsutsumi Shinichi stars as Oda Nobunaga and Ayase Haruka plays the role of Kuramoto Mayuko. My favourite character is Oda Nobunaga, because he seems to be cold in history, but he is a warm and a charming strong man in this movie.

I think this is an ideal film for people who like comedy stories. Everybody laughs well and sometimes becomes sad. It is a pleasant movie. I give Hannouji Hotel *****. Go and watch it soon!



Posted for Reiko

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The God Father Ⅲ - Film review

The Godfather Part III
The Godfather Part III
The God Father Ⅲ
Maffia film 1990

The God FatherⅢ is a story of the Corleone family. The film is based on a book "The God Father" by Mario Puzo. The film is set in New York and starts at end of 1970's. It tells the story of his later life as the Don of the Maffia.
He (Michel Corleone) hopes for retirement and  try to legalize of the business but...

Al Pacino stars as Michel Corleone and Andy Garcia and Sofia Coppola play the role of his "family". My favorite character is Vincent Mancini(Andy Garcia), because he is hot-tempered,faithful and cold. he is good for the new boss.

I think this is an ideal film for people who like Maffia film.
Pictures are beautiful like a Rembrandt.  We can feel aesthetic sense and evanescence from the film.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Holmes' diary - The Last Sherlock Holmes Story

April 1891 Switzerland
Tomorrow I will kill Watson. I will kill my best friend.

I know that something was wrong when I found my bedroom's door was locked by Watson. When I got up in Watoson's house, I saw that Watson's cook had his letter. I took it from her hand while Watson were calling the cab. It was the letter telling Lestraid that I was the Whitechapel murderer. What a rubbish! How Scotoland Yard would laughed! But I have the letter here. You have failed Watson! No, he was't Watson. Nori arty had killed my friend and had taken his place. I saw that he injected the cocaine into his arm. Perhaps cocaine had destroyed him. He was two different people in him. One is very intelligent doctor,Watson. The other is an evil itself, Moriarty.

He told me that next day he wanted to walk over the mountains to the famous Rechesland falls. I know he will try to shoot me there. Poor Watson, he will not succeed . Because I took the bullets from his gun. He is clever, but he is just a doctor. I am the greatest detective on the world. I will win tomorrow.

I will keep this diary into a locked box and order that it must not be opened until many years later. I want none knows Watson's secret.

Tomorrow will become the great successful day!


Posted for Olga

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Rabbit-Proof Fence - A letter to the Australian Prime Minister

Feb/ 7 /2017


Dear the Prime Minister of Australia

I heard the government had failed to catch the half-caste girls who escaped from the Moor River Settlement several weeks ago. It is long way and must be a hard way to back home, especially for very young girls.

They must have been cold, hungry, and scared most of time, but they would have never stopped walking. They might hunted for their food, catching rabbits, lizards, and birds and cooking them over a fire. They build a shelter every night pulled them down in the mornings, covered their fire holes, and were careful not to leave easy chance for the police to follow.

They just wanted to get home to live with their families, and that's the best place for any child to be.

The government spent a lot of money to catch them. But they couldn't catch them. Some people who met the girls on the way to their home helped them. It is the natural things to do that as a human.

If the girls would survive their long way trip to home, you shouldn't punish them. I think you should permit them to live with their family. And I hope you to change the law for the half-caste children. 

No one is more important their mother when they are young. You shouldn't take them away from their mother. It is the right way as a human to live with their family. 

Sincerely yours, 

Naoko Hiramatsu

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A letter of gratitude - after reading A Christmas Carol

Dear Jacob Marley

I'm really thank you for coming to my bed at Christmas night. You have been travelling on the wings of wind for seven years as a ghost. You said there was no peace and rest. At first I didn't understand what you say. But the three spirits came by my bedside at Christmas Eve.

The ghost of the Past came and showed me my lonely life.My father was a cold, hard man who didn't love me at all. I always stayed at school in Christmas holiday. After I started work, I showed an interest in money. Once I had a girl friend who loved me. But I always love money more than her. So she married another man.

The ghost of the Present took me to the people I know. I understood the thought of Fred and Mr. Cratchit. The ghost of the Future showed me the last miserable life of me. So I changed my thinking. 

When Christmas comes, I always "Merry Christmas to you!" In the morning I go to church and give children money for sweets. In the afternoon I stay Fred, nephew's house. We enjoy a wonderful dinner, party games, every time. I feel wonderful happiness. Of course, I've never forgot Bob Crachit's family. Eapecially to Tiny Tom I become a second father. I always care of him.

If I keep Christmas cheerfully and do a lot lf good things to people, you might escape to travel with chains. See you as a ghost.

Sincerely yours.


Posted for Hiroko

Monday, 6 March 2017

The Hundred Year's War - after reading The Three Musketeers

The Hundred Year' War was from 14century to 14cenntury. The war continued for about one hundred years with several interval. The beginning of the War was Edward Ⅲ,king of England pretended to the French throne. And he sent army to France. It was just one reson of many things. One of other reasons was that England and France had contended for supremacy of woolen industry in Frandre district. First England was strong and superior for long years, but French girl Jeanne D’arc who had heard the words of God appeared, led French army and relieved Orleans from long siege by England. She is a historic heroine in France but her life was very short. She was soon arrested and had execution by burning. About her life many novels and films had been made. At all England lost possessions in France.


Posted for Misako

Friday, 3 March 2017

Reminiscing about a holiday - after reading The Long Tunnel

When I was highschool student, My friend asked some of friends to working in Tugaike. My friend's relative ran a guest-house in Tugaike. Tugaike was famous ski area. They wanted to working students during winter holiday. I imagined we could enjoy in winter after working. My friends thought so. We had pleasure to go there . But we guessed wrong. We had been swamped with work all day long. We were very tired. After working we could not out freely. We were under age. Resort earea had many temptations. My friend's relative had a sense of responsibility to us. So during working in Tugaike we could not enjoy. Of course no skiing. But it was important experience for us. "Life isn't as easy as you think"


Posted for Yoko

Thursday, 2 March 2017

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - A letter to a loved one

To Mrs. Douglas

I’m sorry to run away from home without saying. My father locked me in a cabin. But I escaped from the cabin. And I went Jackson’s island on canoe. I met Jim there. I was frightened. Please don’t scold Jim. Jim wanted to be free. Our adventure started from there. We found a strong raft. And we intended to go to the Free State on the raft. The great Mississippi River was taking us away from St Petersburg. We prepared meals and had a long talk. We were very happy. Various things happened. Two white men running away to us. They were the Confidence Tricksters. In a small town they pretended to be another person, and cheated the money out of the girls. But I took the money and hided it. So the money was safe. The white man sold Jim. But I could meet Jim again. Surprisingly, I met Tom Sawyer there. The adventures were splendid for me.

Huckleberry Finn






Posted for Reiko

A letter of gratefulness - The Wind in the Willows

Dear Miss(the daughter of the prison keeper),

How are you? I am Toad who was in the prison. You helped me to escape from the prison. If you had not been there, I would be in the prison still now. You saved my life. Thank you very much. 

Eventually I have come back to my home. After I escaped from the prison, it was not easy to come here. It was quite an adventure. Sometimes policemen chased me, I happened to meet the person whose car I had stolen before, so they chased me, too. When I was running in the wood, I dropped into the river and I met my friend Ratty. He told me that the Wild Wooders (the stoats, the weasels and the ferrets) took my house and lived there. Idid not know what to do.

One night, I and my friends(Rat, Mole and Badger) had a meeting to talk about plans to take back Toad Hall(my house). Next day we fought with the Wild Wooders when they had a party till they run away to the Woods.

Now I have changed a lot. I know nobody can live alone. My friends taught me that. I am very lucky to have such nice friends.

Please visit me anytime. I want to introduce my friends to you. I am sure you will like them. And remember when you have trouble, let me know. I will do anything for you. I hope I will hear from you soon.

Sincerely yours,

Toad



Posted for Yasumi

Friday, 24 February 2017

Describing my house

It's a brown detached house, off a quiet street in central Matsumoto.

Matsumoto Castle 
It's spacious. There's a living room with a kitchen where there are two long modern counters for preparing lovely warm meals. It has a training centre with weights & a huge TV. There are three bedrooms; one for my parents, one for my older brother, and one for me & my middle brother (T). My parents sleep on a Japanese-style futon, my older brother has a double bed, and me & T have a bunk bed. There are two toilets, which are modern, and a store room, full of emergency food & old bags,. There is a big garden with a breath-taking wooden deck. There are a lot of beautiful flowers in summer and the wooden deck is very handy for BBQs.

My house is fifteen minutes on foot from the city centre and the castle. It is not convenient for busses. My house is in a sleepy neighbourhood near a shrine & a temple.

My house is ideal for a family with pets. Sorry, definitely no smoking.

Posted for Tomoro

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Revised Cambridge English: Young Learners tests – an overview

Important news for all YLE teachers & schools out there - suggest you pay careful attention to the changes & plan accordingly.

Please don't ask me for new sample or practice materials - the ink is still very wet!

Likewise, SEs, I'm trying to find out when the new materials will be available & implications for certification before the 2018 changes take effect. See the section from 22'35 - 25'00 & a comment at 47'


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Well hello there!

Absolutely thrilled to bump into my former line manager at Sasabe kindergarten on Friday, with her resignation in her arms! 

To be honest, I did spy her the day before, helping out at the school's music festival. She didn't have to be there of course, but cool schools generate & retain those unquantifiable little extras - loyalty, goodwill, even love. 

Ikuko was an amazing teacher (see previous eulogies!) and I am very sure will an awesome mum. We have never spoken the same language with each other, but you don't really need to when infectious enthusiasm & obvious talent is available in spades (her side of the equation!) & jaded teacher wants to impress!

And I wanted to share this cool pic. Why can't all teachers smile like Ikuko!?
 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Kimi no na wa (Your Name) - a film review

'Your Name' is a film that you must see. It was directed by Matoko Shinkai, a popular animation
movie director. It stars no one because it is an animation film. This film should win the Japanese Academy Prize for Best Animation film.

This contemporary film is set in Tokyo and Hide-Takeyama, in rural Gifu.

The film is about two high school students, a boy called Taki and a girl called Mitsuha. They had never met each other, but they started to reverse roles in their dreams. They come to know each other, and one day Taki decides to see her, but she wasn't there...

I totally recommend 'Your Name'. The animation is spectacular and it makes you laugh a lot. The story is a bit complicated, thus I would recommend you watch it twice. The soundtrack was made by a Japanese popular rock band 'Radwimps', and it is captivating.

Posted for....Yuya

Forever burning

Helen Margaret Gowland passed away at the age of 99 in late January. A mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, an aunt and a great aunt. A figure held dearly in the hearts of many. Here is my tribute to one of the people who shaped me into the person I am today.

I shall always cherish the memories I have of my grandmother in my very first year living in England. At the time my surroundings were new and alien, I had yet to get a firm grasp of the language, customs and the way of life. When I first arrived, I could communicate in English, but my reading abilities were rudimentary at best. Yet amidst all the unknowns, and at the heart of all this unfamiliar territory, there shined a beacon of light.

I fondly recall sitting atop my grandmother’s lap, story book in hand, waiting for her soft gentle voice to bring the words to life, eager to turn the page and see what adventures awaited. It was her patience and guidance that ignited a flame for a love of books and reading. Her tender love and care allowed me to flourish, spread my wings and fly. I was soon able to read independently, yet would always look forward to every opportunity of sitting beside her, enthralled by the magic of her storytelling.

The precious moments we were able to share together will always be close to my heart, and I often reminisce about those days. It was at that time that sparked a burning desire in my heart. A desire to nurture, help the world shine brighter, light the darkness. A flame that was passed on to me, and lead me to where I am today. An eternal flame that will shine radiant as it did in your heart. A flame I wish to pass on to my students, friends and family. And for you Helen Margaret Gowland, I will blaze the torch dazzling bright, forever in your loving memory.

Damian

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Postcard from...Hanoi, Vietnam

Dear Jim-sensei

3 days has been past in Hanoi. It was very fast! Although it is second time to visit Hanoi, I could enjoy "new" Hanoi & felt Vietnamese kindness a lot. It seems so cold in Japan, I don't want to go back!!

See you next class :)

Best regards,

Reiko

Monday, 13 February 2017

L.A. Winners - my lottery winnings plan

The reading book “L.A. Winner” is a story about stolen race force.


If I get big money by horseracing, lottery etc, what do I want to do? I will write my vision in my mind.

Firstly, if I get big money from lottery, I will not say that issue to many people. A half of money from a lottery, a horseracing will be saved to buy next lottery or bet on next horse rating and to get money from a lottery again.

And the bal. half of money from a lottery will be used to followings.
  1. To go graceful/high trip (to spend slow-moving time at graceful/high hotel) 
  2. To go all football games of Matsumoto Yamaga which are played at adversary stadium to give the Yamaga team a supportive push 
  3. To make a large donation to groups who help animals that were not bought at pet shops and who are taking actions to reduce pet shops and slaughter of animals. 
  4. To buy 2 rooms of assisted-living condominium for my parents because I heard many news that many people are now leaving their job to carry out elders’ care (ex. Parents) and when their cares are completed, it is really hard to go back to work. So I want to continue to work with a sense of safety which my parents receive enough care during my work. 
  5. To make a large donation to the Matsumoto Yamaga team to improve their practice environment. 
My vision in my mind makes me happy..., but if it becomes true, that is unbelievable happy thing for me.

Monday, 30 January 2017

After reading - The Quest

Do you know the CHATUCHAK weekend market in Bangkok? If no, I recommend to you to visit the market in the weekend. As you can see, the market is only held on Saturday and Sunday. It's very big market and many tourists visit this market every weekend. The place is 2.5 times as large as Tokyo Dome and 0.2 to 0.3 million people come per week. There are everything you want, souvenir, clothes, fruits, restaurants, furniture, bag, hat, shoes, lamps, figurine of animals,,,everything!! And all of them are very reasonable prices. When I go to the weekend market, I enjoyed to buy small pouches made by straw, a bracelet of natural stone, accessories, hat, table cloth, T-shirts, and so on. As the place is too large, I recommend to buy it when you like it. Once you passed the shop, you might not be able to come back the original place. In addition, there is no air conditioning. You may not be able to walk for a long time as it's too hot, the average temperature is around 30℃ and highest temperature is 39℃. Please enjoy your weekend in this market when you visit Bangkok.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Have an ice evening!

Last weekend saw temperatures plummet appreciably here in Matsumoto, with local & international ice carvers rubbing their hands enthusiastically!

Rumours have it that this event might not continue - which is a crying shame as it is one of the most under-rated nights out locally.

Night out? Yes! I can't remember the last time I went in daylight. Seeing the professionals and keen amateurs chipping, sawing, carving, blow-torching their creations into life is a treat. You need to be patient - wrap up well - and hot sake has excellent thermal properties...give a carton over to the lads & you'll be friends all night (and have access to the heating tent!).

Through the night designs change, bits fall off or ambitions need to be pulled back. Attachments carefully chiselled into shape get hoisted up to height on the forklifts waiting for work - snowflakes, horns, legs, carp, penguins - you name it!

For the photographer a delightful ongoing vista. Men-at-Work portraits, icy black & white super contrasts, shadow play & backlit studies. And a very cold trigger finger! (Keep your spare battery in a deep warm pocket, by the way). I really enjoyed my Saturday night out - and had to laugh at the white-lens warriors who turned up too late on Sunday morning as the bell rang at 6am to announce competition time was finished (put your tools down & step away from the ice).

When the sun comes up you do have the amazing Alps as a backdrop, but the magic is gone as the dawn approaches; the statues' poses are set and the decay starts almost immediately...before noon limbs have fallen off, carefully carved features have melted into tell-tale puddles.

Matsumoto ICE - 2017 Festival

Friday, 27 January 2017

Augmented reality island poster

In an attempt to explore the potential of Aurasma (read more about it here on a previous posting) and bringing in an extra dimension (the augmented kind) into the classroom, my bi-monthly housewives class went on a journey into uncharted territory: using a smartphone app to expand their learning and augmenting analogue into digital.


This project, which spanned a couple of lessons, revolves around a remote mystery island. We began by learning vocabulary for types of terrain, points of interest and landmarks, alongside adjectives which they collocate to. This served as a base to be able to be more descriptive when it came to summarising the key features of the island.



Obviously, we need an island to describe before going about specifying what it looks like. Everyone was given a blank island, with a key to label the different types of terrain & landmarks: ocean, ruins, rivers, forest, lake and mountains, with space to add their own. Everyone used the key, plus their own ideas to design and draw their mysterious remote island. There were also caves, a lighthouse, and even a volcano added in amongst many others. This concluded the first lesson, with the homework task to go away and choose 5 special points of interest on your own map and write a brief paragraph for each location. Still very much all analogue so far…




2 weeks later we regrouped and ironed out any errors in the writing. What I wish I had done in hindsight is added in a listen and draw activity, where everyone paired up and listened to their partner’s description of their island and re-drawing the island as it is described. It would have really helped activate all of the useful language we had studied. Tunnel vision focusing on the final output with Aurasma may have obscured my vision here!


Alternatively, we split into pairs of speakers and listeners. The role of the speaker was to describe the special interest points on their map, first with their written summaries in hand, and after a few practise rounds over their summary to their listening partner, whose role was then to prompt when the speaker when they stumbled. For the finale, the listener video-recorded their partner (finally starting to go digital) much to the objection of those involved. At this stage they had rehearsed and practised their summary, not just reading out loud and were ready for the big stage. Even if they didn’t believe it themselves at the time.


I then went through the process of embedding the videos into everyone’s poster, using the images on their islands as trigger images. Jaws on the table when given my phone to point at their poster, and out pops an audio/visual combo of the creator describing what exactly it is that they are looking at. Pretty cool! It’s quite rare to be able to have a record of what students have produced orally and be able to showcase it too. Aruasma is the perfect medium to do so, and has a great WOW factor. It can make your 2D poster, into a living, talking, interactive masterpiece!