Saturday, May 31, 2014
Friday, May 30, 2014
Matsue Castle is the second largest, the third tallest (30m) and the six oldest among the remaining castles in Japan.
The castle is looked five stories from outside, but it has six stories inside. The base floor has a well and food storage for preparing battle. And you can see 360-degree view of Matsue city from the top of the tower, so the soldiers could find enemies easily. But the truth is that the castle never faced any battles. The castle was built after major civil war in Japan.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Matsue Castle is the symbol of the traditional castle town of Matsue. Matsue is the capital city of Shimane prefecture which is located in the west part of Japanese mainland.
The castle was built over a five year period, from 1607 to 1611, by Hirio Yoshiharu, the feudal lord of the Matsue-Han.
Matsue Castle is over 400 years old and is one of the very few remaining original castles, only twelve remaining, of Japan. Most of the hundreds of original castles were destroyed due to earthquakes, fires, wars and political reasons. You can see many Japanese castles here in Japan, but most of them are concrete or modern constructions.
The castle was being sold at a price of 180 yen in 1875. The price was only as the same value as 6,000 kg of rice at the time. Local farmer Katsube Motoemon and others bought and saved the castle.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Many metal bridges' name plates have been stolen since April in the eastern part of Shimane Prefecture. One hundred twenty six plates have been taken away in four cities and two towns. The amount of damage is estemated at nearly 3,000,000 yen. The police are searching for the criminal and said, the cases happened due to rising metal prices. These stolen happened in little traffic areas and these malal plates were stolen with its metal fittings.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Eiken is a kind of English test. It used be the most popular English test in Japan. I decided to take the test in September. I checked their web site and learned that reading news article and writing blog would help to get good scores. I should do these things more.
Monday, May 26, 2014
A full-sized fake Sphinx in Heinei, China will be broken down because Egyptian government complained about the statue. The fake Sphinx is made of iron frame and cement, and the size is 80m width and 30m height.
From sneakers to champagne, piracy is wide spread in China, you can even see the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, Hallstatt of Swiss, and more in the country.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
I took TOEIC test today. TOEIC is an English test that has two sections, listening and reading. It has 200 problems and takes two hours long. The highest score is 990 but few people can take 990.
Today, I did well at listening section, but not in reading section. I need more grammatical skill and vocabulary. I didn't study much about English grammar, but I think I should study that otherwise I cannot get over 900.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Friday, May 23, 2014
The defending champion Australia advanced to final with a 2-1 victory over Korea at another semifinal yesterday.
Japan is going to meet Australia in the final. It will be a tough game. Both teams are tired because they did many games in a short period of time. The Japanese players have the strong will to win the Asian cup bucause they don't have tha Asian champion title even though they have FIFA World Cup title. I'm looking forward to watch the final on Sunday.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
I watched The AFC Women's Asian Cup soccer match today. Japan won 2-1 against China. It was an exciting game. The Japanese team scored the last goal just before the end of the game. If they didn't make that goal, the match would have gone into a penalty shoot out.
The Japanese team is called Nadeshiko Japan. They won the FIFA Women's World Cup once, but never won the Asian Cup. Nadeshiko is going to the final against Australia or Korea the 25th of May. I believe they will win the Asian Cup for the first time in history.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I have resumed watching "Desperate House Wives" on Hulu even thoug I don't really like the show. There are lots of interesting dramas and comedies on Hulu, but many of them don't have English subtitles. I'm watching the show with English subtitles. I think it helps my understanding of English.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
A fire occurred at my neighbor's this morning. The fire started at a company's building, but no workers were there at that time. Someone might have set fire to the building.
Six houses and the company's building were burnt down by the fire and 350 houses were temporarily without electricity. In addition, the optical cable was destroyed, so I can't use Wi-Fi in my house.
Fortunately, according to the news, no one got injured in the fire. If this fire was caused by arson, the polic have to arrest the criminal immediately.
Monday, May 19, 2014
My younger son are going to take midterm exam this week. He's not good at studying. He loses his concentration easily when he is studying. He would say I don't want to go high school because he has to study for the entrance exam. He hated studying that much.
He is 9th grade now, so he has less than one year to take the entrance exam. He finally started to study for the test. Never too late to study. I hope he gets good scores this time.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
The Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped over 300 school girls in Nigeria last month. Some of the girls escaped, but most of them still cannot return from the terrorist camp. Some escaped girls say that the abductees are forced to cook, clean, and gather firewood and water for the militants group. Nigerian government should do everything they can for rescue the missing girls, but it seems difficult for now.
TIME magazine said Africa has a long tradition of its girls disappearing without much attention because girls abductions happen everywhere in African continent. Even an extremist Christian group abducted thousands of girls and forced to became sex slaves in Uganda. People not only in Africa but in all over the world should reconsider women's human rights. We should pay attention more on this issue.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
A famous Japanese singer has arrested due to illegally drag possession. He denied it, though. Many Japanese celebrities have arrested as the same reason. They said drugs made them more creativity and got rid of tiredness. But drugs destroy their humanity completely if they don't stop using drugs. I want him to tell the truth to the police and return to sing good songs as soon as possible.
Friday, May 16, 2014
I'm going to take TOEIC test this month. TOEIC is an English test, and the test is the most popular English test in Japan.
I should prepare for the test, but I'm too busy to study for TOEIC. I want to read books, magazines and articles in English.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I received an email from a volunteer group. I joined a volunteer tour guide group one year ago and took a few training courses. They sent me a guide schedule in advance. I'm supporsed to gukide foreign tourists around Matsue Castle biggining in June. It will be the first time to guide someone. I feel a little nervous but I will do my best. If you have a chance to come to my city, why don't you contact me?
Monday, May 12, 2014
I haven't studied English for a long time. Maybe, two months or so. I know I should study English grammar and vocabulary, but I don't want to. I know studying English like high school students gives me a big progress for my English skills, but simply, I don't want to do that. Instead, I read magazines, books, news articles and listen to the radio in English. These activities might not give me good TOEIC scores, but that's ok. I just enjoy myself using English at all.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
I attended a Buddhist memorial service for my grandmother and an ancestor with my relatives. The event is called "法事, houji" in Japanese.
My grandmother died six years ago when she was 100 years old. She raised six children as a single mother. I really admire her effort to support her children.
Another person whom we prayed for at the memorial service died 150 years ago. Of course no participants know the ancestor, but after each ancestor died, we have that ceremony every 50 years.
After the Buddhist ceremony, we had a lunch at a Japanese style hotel, ryokan. I had a nice memorial day today.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
A Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori is ranked at the top 10 of ATP. This is a historical event to not only Japanese tennis players but also for Japanese sports fans. He said, "It was a big goal for me to get in Top 10. I have to keep playing better tennis and keep this ranking."
I'm really happy to hear the news because he is a hero in my city. He was born and raised in my city, Matsue, before he went to an American tennis academy when he was 13 years old. I hope he can reach the top 5 of ATP players someday.
Friday, May 9, 2014
I've just started reading the second Hemingway in English for me. I've chosen "The Sun Also Rises". The title sounds cool and I'm wondering where the title come from. I might find the answer when I turn the last page. Hemingway wrote this book in 1926 when he was 27. I'm reading chapter three now and I really enjoy reading this novel so far.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
I read my old blog post today. I wrote the blog in 2008. It was about a famous mystery writer Agatha Christie and the topic was my top five of her novels. In the blog, I said that I wanted to read her books in English someday. To tell you the truth, the day hasn't come yet. I'm really sorry....but I tried it before. I'll try it again soon. I promise!
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
My older son came home for the first time since he went to the academy's dorm on April 1st. He got his first payment even though he is still in training.
He went to buy two sets of coffee cups for my wife and me. He bought them using his first salary. They are really nice cups and we are very happy for his kindness. We drank coffee with the cups and the taste was so special for us.
Monday, May 5, 2014
I had to go to Okayama where is 180km apart from my house.
The story goes like this, my son took part in a table tennis tournament in Okayama on May 3rd and 4th. He left home and took a bus to Okayama at 5:30am. After that my wife realized that he forgot to bring his table tennis shoes. It was 6:30am at that time, and the tournament would start 9am. He couldn't play table tennis without wearing shoes.
I thought he should buy new pair of shoes at a shop near the gym where the tournament held, but no shop opens by 9am there. So, I decided to bring the shoes to Okayama.
I drove to Okayama and it was a nice 2 hours drive. I reached there before 9am. I made it by my son's first match. He thanked to me and after 10 minutes, I left there because I had some work in the afternoon.
On my way home, I had a terrible drive. I caught a traffic jam. It took 6 hours to get home. I was really exhausted.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Friday, May 2, 2014
The Japanese men's table tennis team has won the quarter finals at the World Table Tennis Championahip against the Portugal team today. That meant the Japanese team got at least a bronze medal for the fourth time in a row.
At the semifinal game, the Japanese players might fight against the German team, the best team of European countries. I've never seen the Japanese national team beat the German team in recent years but, I hope I can watch the final game, which the Japanese face off against the Chinese this time.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
I received a letter from my son. He entered an academy and lives in the dorm now. He is not only banned from using any electric devices like a smart phone, but also he cannot contact the outside world.
He wrote that he is well and is getting used to living apart from his family.
I'm really glad because it was the first time that I got a letter from my son. As technology advances, we don't write letters often nowadays, but writing a letter might make a good way to communicate.