Thursday, January 25, 2007


Congratulations and Thank You!

To all the students in my Communication Classes, congratulations on finishing the semester, and thank you for the pleasure of being your teacher. I was impressed by everyone's efforts this semester to improve your communication skills and, especially, to try a completely new challenge, using blogs in English. According to our class blogging survey, this was the first time any of you had written a blog in English. You did very well!

I will continue making entries in this blog over the break. I will start a new class blog next semester. I encourage all of you to continue using your blogs. I'm very impressed that Marie at Amami 5 has continued to use her blog to write English. When I start a new class blog, I will invite you to join us. You can then help the new students to understand how to use English-language blogs, and can continue to communicate in English together.

Have a great vacation!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Coming of Age Day

Happy Coming-of-Age Day! What did you all do?

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Happy Late New Year

Happy New Year!

My new year's break has been peaceful and happy, for the most part. My wife and I visited her family for a New Year's lunch. We ate tons of osechi (and sushi and sashimi; there was also yakiniku, but I didn't eat any of that). My wife's uncle's family has a rabbit. I'm extremely allergic to rabbits, so within an hour, my nose was running like crazy. Other than that, I had a great time. The food was delicious and the people were interesting and friendly.

We also watched a few minutes of Kouhaku (the big New Year's Japanese song competition, which pits men against women), and also watched different parts of the world do New Year's countdowns on CNN.

Experiencing the New Year's holidays in Japan and watching other countries celebrate on TV, reminded me of how different Japan and the U.S. are in celebrating the New Year's holiday. For one thing, the New Year's holiday is much more important in Japan than in the U.S. In Japan, this holiday is filled with old traditions which have symbolic importance. For example, people carefully prepare osechi, eat toshikoshi soba, visit shrines and pray for good things in the New Year, etc. Young people look forward to nice cash gifts from their families and a lot of people still watch Kouhaku on TV (although this year, it wasn't very popular, I heard). In the U.S., people often spend New Year's eve at parties. The most important moment is the New Year's countdown, and the most important activity is drinking alcohol, especially champaigne (a huge number of police are on the streets during New Year's, to stop drunk drivers). There is also a popular idea that you should have a date on New Year's, and you should kiss your date at exactly 12:00 midnight (as is shown in the movie "When Harry Met Sally"--Japanese title: 恋人たちの予感; 見てみてください!).

I wish you all a peaceful and healthy 2007. See you soon!


P.S. nyo---n! I can't see your blog! Probably other people can't see it, either! I don't know the reason for the problem, but it's possible that you write something in kanji on the name of the your blog, or the name of an entry. This sometimes causes problems with Blogger. Please try to fix it. Thanks.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Merry Late Christmas

I spent a quiet, happy Christmas at home this year. My wife and I exchanged nice gifts. We refused to wrap the gifts, to avoid causing pollution. We had a great, homey dinner together and watched a movie on TV.

I talked to family members and friends on the phone in the U.S. and was reminded of how different Christmas is in Japan compared to other countries. My family and friends were having family parties (some very large) around Christmas trees decorated with lots of lights and tinsel and other colorful decorations, eating lots of good food ("feast food" like turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, etc.--in the part of the U.S. where I'm from, the food for Thanksgiving and Christmas are similar). Some people drink eggnog, which is a kind of sweet, thick, milky drink (I don't like it--I think it tastes nasty), sometimes with nutmeg sprinkled on top and sometimes with a shot of whiskey. Some people watch a famous Christmas movie called "It's a Wonderful Life".

Since Christmas is, ostensibly, a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, some people in the U.S. go to church on Christmas. However, many others "celebrate" by buying and giving gifts. For many people in the U.S., Christmas involves buying expensive products. People often feel pressure to buy expensive gifts (when they don't have money), and feel stress from the huge crowds at the stores. The number of suicides in the U.S. increases during the holiday season.

I never liked the materialistic ideas about Christmas, and am happy that my friends and family don't like them either. My brother and his wife gave me and my wife a perfect Christmas present this year. It was a jar filled with flour, bits of chocolate, and other tasty things--it was homemade muffin mix. It probably cost about a dollar to make (100 yen), and was a recipe created by my sister-in-law (who is a great cook), especially for us. I can recycle the jar, too!

Merry Christmas!


What did you do for Christmas? What will you do for New Year's?

Thursday, December 14, 2006


A Herniated Week

It's been a crazy seems like everything became twice as busy and twice as difficult.

We have an expression in English: "When it rains, it pours." This means "When there's a little bit of trouble, there is a lot of trouble" or "when one bad thing happens, many other bad things also happen."

Teaching always becomes more frantic as New Year's holiday approaches; there are final exams to prepare, and lots of papers to grade, especially in my writing classes. Additionally, I got injured twice in the past week and a half. A visit to a doctor showed that I have a herniated disk in my spine, and a small fracture in my knee. The pain was bad enough to prevent me from standing or walking all weekend. Now, fortunately, I am becoming better. I can walk again! Walking is important!

I haven't thoroughly read every blog this week (but I will!). However, I wanted to point out a very good entry by Yamame on December 12, at ti-mutonosama. He read an interesting book about Japanese rich and poor people, and he wants to hear your opinions.

See you soon!


Monday, December 11, 2006



Some alternative uses for meat:

Beautiful meat art.
Formal meat suit.
Useful meat shoes.
The comfortable meat chair.
The lovely meat dress.
And last, but not least, future meat, for the time after we've killed all the animals and have no choice except to create hi-tech meat.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Busy Week

On Sunday, I took the Japanese Proficiency Test (level 2). The test was held at Konan University in Okamoto. It was an interesting experience. I was in a big room, with about 400 other people. Almost all were Asian-looking people, most in their twenties. I heard lots of people speaking Chinese and lots of people speaking Korean. I heard at least a few people speaking Thai (maybe) and a group of people speaking Arabic. Probably 70 percent of the test-takers were women. Out of the 400 or so people there, I saw only 5 "western" people (non-Asian). The westerners represented only about 1 percent of the group. I was in an even smaller minority--a middle-aged white male. Because I live in Japan, I'm accustomed to this.

The test was difficult! The kanji and listening parts were not too bad, but the reading section nearly killed me! Nonetheless, there's a chance that I passed. A very, very, very, very small chance.

It was a good experience.

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