Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back This Year

I wrote new year cards, put Shimenawa on the entrance, bought some groceries for new year and ate toshikoshi- soba noodles already. 
Looking abc this year I have to say thank for everyone who met me. I've got some foreign friends to talk to and got some English learning friends this year. I've never got that many friends in a year. You've inspired me a lot. You've helped me a lot. 
I'll continue to studying English and want to read lots of books next year. 
Wishing you Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Japan Record Award

It's December 30th. I'm watching the Japan Record Award on TV. It used to hold December 31st. When did it change? Anyway, when I was a child I was really interested in the show because I could watch someone crying when they got an award. I was wondering why they could cry easily. Adults around me didn't cry so often at that time. I thought I shouldn't watch someone crying. I felt a little bit guilty and I didn't know why.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Homecoming Season

In this time, around new year, many Japanese people is going back to their hometown. The traffic and trains are packed; a lot of people are waiting for cancelled air tickets. Despite the tiring situation, people want to do that badly every year because hometown heal them a lot. The atomosphare, the dialect, the neighbors and old friends welcome you as always. The homecoming season has come. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Funeral

I had to say farewell to a good guy today. A friend of mine from college passed away. I went to his funeral. It was too early to go to the other world. He was three years younger than me.
He was a good husband and father of two daughters. He was good table tennis player and coach. He was a good teacher and vice principal in his high school. We lost him so much. He did everything he could.
May he rest in peace.

Friday, December 27, 2013

To honor our people

Every countries have its own history and its own way for honor their people who serves their country. We have the right to do that and every country does. That's all I want to say about the issue.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Real Winter

It was cold in this morning. I found my car's windshield frozen. I boiled some kettle of water and melted the frost. From now on this happens so often. The real winter has come here. I hope we don't get a lot of snow this season.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Christmas!

It's Christmas today. I'm not a Christian but a Buddhist. To tell you the truth, I'm not interested in Christmas but my sons are different. Like many Japanese, they look forward to have KFC at Christmas Day even they are old enough. I lined up a KEC and bought a set of fried chicken. It's dinner time!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Dream

I had a dream yesterday. It was the first time I met my father in a dream. He looked much younger than me in the dream. My father died when he was 52 years old and everyone said it was too young to die. When I was about to hug him in the dream I woke up and I still remember that clearly. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Son's Injured Knee

My youngest son twisted his left knee while he was playing table tennis yesterday. At first he didn't feel any psain but in the evening his left knee started hurting badly. He couldn't stand up on his leg because of the pain. It was Sunday so my wife called the hospital if a doctor could see my son. The nurse said the doctor can see him but the injury is not serious, although they will still charge additional fee, 5,000 yen.
We rushed to the hospital and carried him to the consultation room in a wheelchair. He couldn't move his left knee without pain. My son climbed up to the examination table. The doctor said bend and stretch the knee slowly. My son tried to do that carefully and he did it with no pain! The sharp pain had disappeared. Gone!
I paid the treatment fee, of course, including the additional 5,000 yen. Where did the pain go?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Learning English

I'm learning English just for fun. Some people say if you have nothing to talk about you don't need to learn English so hard or it seems waste of time to learn English if you don't need it in your daily life but I don't think so. 
With English you can access a lot of information that isn't written in Japanese. There are so many things that I think you should know that is written in English on the web and in newspapers and magazines. You can learn various opinions from all over the world and not only from domestic views. I believe it makes you a wise and thoughtful person.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Diamond is Forever

"A Diamond is Forever" This is one of the most successful sales copy in the world. It was created by De Beers, the biggest diamond mining company. If people keep diamonds forever the prices wouldn't drop down forever. If they sell their diamonds to secondhand markets too much the prices would fall down. That's the real meaning for it. De Beers and other mining companies are carefully making the market price of diamond. 
In Japan, lots of men buy a diamond ring for engagement. They say the groom should spend three times as much as his monthly salary to buy it. It's also a De Beers's sales copy in 1968. They did the campaign only in Japan.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine

The Iwami Ginzan was a silver mine in Oda-shi, Shimane prefecture, Japan. It was the largest silver mine in Japan and used to mine a third of the silver in the world. It was developed in the 16th century and closed in 1923. 
The remains of the silver mine became a World Heritage Site in 2007. Since then lots of tourists have come to the Iwami Ginzan. Usually, the people who live in a World Heritage Site should be happy because their businesses go well in the area but the people there didn't think so. They wanted to protect their lives and environment. And then they shut out tourists' cars and buses from the town.Tourists  have to walk a long time toward the entrance of the mine. In addition, most of the remains of the mine were under the ground so they can't see them easily.
Now the residents, tourists and the nature in the Iwami Ginzan exist together in peace.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Do You Know Shimane?

I live in Shimane prefecture of Japan located in the Chugoku region on the main Honshu island. A recent survey shows Shimane is the 47th popular prefecture in Japan. If you are a Japanese you probably know Japan has 47 prefectures that means Shimane is the less-known place in Japan.
People often mistake Shimane for Tottori, the 46th popular prefecture. Someone would say Shimane has the largest sand dune in Japan. No, it's in Tottori. Even Starbucks forgot to open their shops in Shimane until last year. Tell you the truth, Seven-Eleven still don't.
The prefectural government recently made a T-sirt for advertisement which says "Shimane is on the left side of Tottori"
Would you like to come to Shimane? It's very convenient to go to Hiroshima!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Route 66

I listened to the radio this morning. The program was about the iconic US highway: Route 66. It was established in 1926 and ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. The life of Route 66 ended in 1985 after it was replaced by the new Interstate Highway System. 
The name "Route 66" was used in many ways like being featured in songs, TV shows, cigarettes and so on. You can even find it in the famous American novel The Grapes of Wrath. 
The road is now called "Historic Route 66" and is officially designated a National Scenic Byway. Someday I would go there and drive a big American car on the road.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Writing an English Blog

I'm trying to write my English blog every day. I believe it would help me to improve both writing and speaking skills.
I sometimes post this blog to a language exchange site, Lang-8, and many native speakers kindly correct it. It's also a big advantage for me to be writeing a blog in English. I can learn lots of natural ways to use English words and phrases.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kanji of the Year

Every December, The Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society announces a kanji which symblizes through the year in Japan. Many Japanese people vote for the Kanji of the year. 
The winning kanji this year was 輪 , rin or wa, that means ring in English. It also indicates the Olympic games because the symbol is made of five rings. Many people can remember the moment the Olympic meeting which Tokyo was chosen to hold 2020 Olympic games.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Stayed My English Coach's House

I stayed overnight at my English pronunciation coach's house with my English learning friend. My coach lives in the US and came back to his hometown Hiroshima for vacation now. He and his family ware welcome us very kindly.
His parents' house locates at hilly place where you can see beautiful view of the Inland Sea and lots of small islands. 
We spend a wonderful time together.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Driving Schools in Japan

My son, a high school student, got a letter from his future work place. The letter said he should get driving licenses for both ordinary cars and motorcycles. I thought he's going to go go driving school in April after graduating from high school because his school doesn't allow to go to driving school until then. He have to get a special permission for go to the school.
Unlike other countries, the cost of attending driving school in Japan is really expensive. It costs around 300,000 yen for a normal school. But you can go to one at a cheaper price if you could go to some intensive camping schools usually in remorte areas. It costs around 230,000 yen including a dorm and meal fee. Don't you think it's ridiculous?

Friday, December 13, 2013

KFC for Christmas in Japan

Perhaps many Americans would be surprised at a Japanese tradition at Christmas. Eating KFC at Christmas is popular among Japanese. KFC, of course, is the American fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC started the tradition in 1974 with a successfuladvertising campaign.
The catchphrase of the marketing campaign was ‘Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!’ (Kentucky for Christmas!) The copy hit with Japanese people and many people thought eating KFC or chicken was an American custom and seemed ultra cool.
Another tradition is eating a cake decorated with strawberries at Christmas. I'm not sure when it started but maybe because of a Christmas campain that some sweets shop did.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A miracle

This story comes from my wife who works at a shop in a local general hosoital. An old man came into the shop in a wheelchair with his wife. She said he had severe brain damage and became paralyzed on his right side. He was a former policeman and after retireing he worked as a security guard. His right side cannnot move anymore except for only one thing. He proudly gave my wife a smile and a perfect beautiful salute with his right hand!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


The other day, I listened to the radio and heard about Bitcoin. And sometimes I read some articles about Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not involved with any governments. Some Japanese guy invented the currency system. They say like gold, the amount of Bitcoin is limited and that's why it worth as much as gold. 
I can't understand well about Bitcoin because if I want to learn it I need high level math and computer knowledge. I wonder if I will use Bitcoin someday.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Marriage in Nepal

As I said, I took English private lessons several years ago. The teacher was a Nepalese woman and was just married with a Nepalese doctor's course student.
We talked about many things even I was not good at speaking in English. Marriage was one of the topics at that time. Her marriage was arranged by her parents because of their custom. She said they have to marry with the same caste and their parents decide who is the right person to marry. I asked if she wants to marry with a person against parents' will would you marry him? Her answer was no. She never thought against her parents. She first met her husband a month before her wedding day.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A beautiful English teacher

Several years ago, I took private English lessons from a beautiful Nepalese woman. The class took place once a week in a cofee shop and lasted three months. She came to Japan with her husband who took a doctor's course at Shimane University and she was an English teacher in Nepal.
The first thing she tought me was 'speak politely' It was really impressive for me and I think it's important for all language learners. People tend to want to speak casual way but it sounds rude sometime.
She went private schools in Nepal and learned all subjects in English. Of course local language were allowed in class at lower grade. To be continued, maybe.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Celebrate my son

My family had yakitori for dinner to selebrate my older son's acceptance for prefectural government employment tonight. He is a high school student but he doesn't want to go to college. He likes studying but doesn't like study for school. In fact, he has poor school record. Actually his record was second to the last. He studied only for the employment test since he was freshman at high school. That was all his decision. I really proud of him and my family had a wonderful time together.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Voyage of Dr. Manbo

When I was a middle school student, one of my favorite Japanese authers was Morio Kita. He is a son of a famouse Japanese tanka, thirty-one syllabled verse, master and wrote lots of interesting books. I enjoyed his books especially essays. His essays are sprinkled with humor and have a lot of laughs.
My first book of his essay was どくとるマンボウ航海記, The Voyage of  Dr. Manbo. He wrote in the book about his experience of a voyage as a ship's doctor. The episodes were silly and funny. It's hard to explain how funny the book is. He didn't write about nice tourist spots nor delisious foods. It was published in1960. It's an old one but I highly guarantee you'll enjoy reading it!

Friday, December 6, 2013

How to buy fish at fish markets

I’ll tell you about the auctions at local fish markets.
Only people who has the rights to buy at the fish market can take part in the fish auction. Fifty to 100 buyers from places like local fish shops or super markets come to buy fish at the markets every morning.
When you find some fish worth buying, you have to show the price you decided to the auctioneer with the secret hand sign and the person who offers the highest price can buy the fish.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

No topic

I decided to post my blog every day but sometimes, like today, I can't come up with an idea to write. Sorry. If I get a good topic I'll post a new one. Maybe, later tonight.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Extensive reading

About eight years ago, I began to study English for the first time in 20-something years. I don't remember exactly why I was thinking about learning English at that time. Maybe it was a fashion. I bought some books on extencive reading, 多読, and it was really interesting for me. They say there are only three rules for extensive reading. First, don't use any dictionaries while reading a book. Second, you should skip unfamiliar words in the books. And last, throw away the book if you lose interest in it. The method was quite new for me. I started reading English books like the way I learned from the books.
It worked well at first and spent six years just reading books in that way. It was fun but I've changed my mind because as long as I don't use a dictionary I won't read any advanced books or magazines like TIME. It's obvious. At best, I could read books at young adult level if I did't use a dictionary. I should have used dictionaries more.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Watching Kouhaku utagassen ,紅白歌合戦, on TV is a Japanese custom.  The Japanese public TV station, NHK, broadcasts the music show on December 31st every year. Many popular singers appear the program. My wife is really into it since she was a child. While watching the show, she often asks me like "do you think which side would get a win?" or "the white team will win because the mc is Arashi and they are really nice this year, what do you think?" Leave me alone. I'm not interested in the show but I HAVE TO answer it seriously otherwise she would blame me! Do you like Kouhaku?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thinking about this year

Time flies. Can you believe it's November already? One year ago, I studied English all alone except taking on-line lessons. I was using Twitter at that time but I didn't follow Japanese people so I didn't have English learneing friends at all. I had no idea what to do for learning English.
The situation has chenged since this March after taking English pronunciation lesson from Mr. Kaz Uekawa who teaches it with Eigonodo methed. He said speak English from your throat. He also recomended me to make friends on language exchange site and talk with the friends on Skype for improve my English skills. And I did it. Talking with friends on Skype helps me to speak English. I've got used to do it now, not really good at though.
After that, I followed many English learners, some of them are master class, on Twitter and made friends on Facebook. I learned a lot from them like shadowing, reading TIME magazine, rapid reading, flash speaking and more and others are inspireing me to study English hard. Thanks all. I'll continue to do my best.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why do you study language?

Almost every Sunday morning, I talk with an American friend on Skype. We met a language exchange site, Lang-8, this march. He's learning Japanese all by himself for several years.
He lives in Florida and he is nice, funny and a little bit shy. Every Japanese learner has their own reason for studying Japanese like Japanese culture, manga, J-Pop and so on. He said he likes the sound of Japanese. I understand his reason that brought him to learn Japanese because I also like the sound of English. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Listening to the radio in English

I listen to English radio progrems every morning via TuneInRadio, usually BBC, NPR or VOA.
At first, I was not able to hear any of the words but I used to do that now. I enjoy some programs. My favorite program was the making of a nation by VOA. It was not only American history but olso democracy's history. I listened from the American Revolution to the Bush administration. It was so much fun and I learned a lot about the history of democracy. I used to look forward to listen to the program but it is over now.
The news thre is different from Japanese one. For example you can get lots of news about Middle East, Southern Asia, Europe and of course America. You can get what's going on all over the world.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A little about my city

I live in Matsue, Shimane prefecuture. The population here is 150,000 so Matsue is not a big city. You can easily find convinience stores but we have NO starbucks here until this year. Because of the few population we don't have good pubric transportation. Many adults own a car even very old person.
 Here, we have the sixth largest lake in Japan, called Lake Shinji. The lake is famous for beautiful sunsets and yamato shijimi, a kind of clam, and its water is brackish.
Matsue also faces the Japanese sea. Many kinds of fresh fish are sold at local fish markets. You can eat tasty sashimi or other sea products here.
Our city has a 400-year-old Japanese style castle called Matsue-jo. This castle is the second largest, the third tallest (30m) and the sixth oldest one in Japan. You can tour the inside of the castle and see the whole city from the top floor. In Spring, you can see beautiful cheree blossoms there.
If you like tasty sea food and are interested in old Japanese castles, why don't you come here!

Set a heater

It's getting colder and colder these days. I set a heater in the living room and bought a tank of kerosene yesterday. It cost astonishing 99 yen/l and that'll be killing me until next April. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The first blog in five years

This is the first blog  post in five years. Since the last post, I didn't write anything in English but just read books in English. To be honest I simply lost interest in writing because no one read my blog at all. But from now on I'll keep writing for the sake of simply improving my English ability.
Since I did not study English grammar I had my blog corrected by online teachers at that time but I'll do it all by myself as much as I can. I'd really appreciate receiving corrections from anyone, though.
Anyway, it's snowing over here but only a little bit. Please take care everyone,