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.