Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Piano Man - after reading, choose another Tim Vicary book

"The Everest Story" of  Mr. TimVicary looks very interesting for me.

Some Japanese tried to climb up to the top of the Everest before. The climbing was broadcasted to the world including Japan. There are also a lot of climbers in Nagano as there are lots of high mountains in Japan. Actually, I had climbed up to the middle of the mountain in Nagano when I was 14 years old. That was my first climbing of a full-scale mountain in my life.

I got used to seeing the people of the climbing mountains since my childhood and liked to see their stories to reach to their final goal after the harshness of nature, various difficulties and enjoyable beautiful scenery. It is difficult to climb the Everest by myself, but I think I could imagine and enjoy when I read the book. And I also would like to learn how difficult to get the top of the mountain and how to find the way to climb to there.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Empress Michiko

The current Empress Michiko
The current Empress Michiko (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Queens- Write about a powerful woman in our country’s history.

Empress Michiko (皇后美智子 Kōgō Michiko), born Michiko Shōda (正田 美智子 Shōda Michiko) on 20 October 1934, is the Empress consort of Japan as the wife of Emperor Akihito, the current Emperor of Japan reigning from 7 January 1989.

Michiko Shōda was born in Tokyo, the eldest daughter of Hidesaburō Shōda, president and later honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling Company. Raised in Tokyo and in a cultivated family, she received both traditional and "Western", learning to speak English and to play piano and being initiated into the arts such as painting, cooking and Kōdō. She is the niece of several academics, including Kenjirō Shōda, a mathematician who was the president of the University of Osaka from 1954 until 1960.

She attended Futaba Elementary School in Tokyo, but was obliged to leave in her fourth grade because of the American bombings during World War II. She was then successively educated in the prefectures of Kanagawa, Gunma and Nagano in the town of Karuizawa, where Shōda had a second resort home.

After attending college, she admitted to have also been named in her childhood as "Temple-chan", because her curly hair and reddish colors were unusual for a Japanese girl and it made her look like the American child actress Shirley Temple. Although she came from a Catholic family and was educated in Christian private schools, she is not baptized.

She graduated summa cum laude from the Faculty of Literature at the University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in 1957. She also took courses at Harvard and Oxford.

Since she came from a particularly wealthy family, her parents were very selective about her suitors. Biographers of the famous writer Yukio Mishima had considered marrying Michiko Shōda, and that he was introduced to her for that purpose sometime in the 1950s.

In August 1957, she met then-Crown Prince Akihito on a tennis court at Karuizawa near Nagano. The Imperial Household Council formally approved the engagement of the Crown Prince to Michiko Shōda on 27 November 1958. At that time, the media presented their encounter as a real "fairy tale", or the "romance of the tennis court". The engagement Ceremony took place on 14 January 1959.

Michiko married Crown Prince Akihito and became the crown princess of Japan until the death of Emperor Hirohito. She was the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Imperial Family. She has three children with her husband. Her elder son, Naruhito, is the current heir to the Chrysanthemum throne. As crown princess and later as empress, she has become the most visible and widely travelled imperial consort in Japanese history.

Monday, 25 May 2015

The Mutiny on the Bounty - Pitcairn Islands

The Pitcairn Islands are a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. That is the British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. It consists of the four islands – Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno. They are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and the total land area is about 47 square kilometers (18 sq mi). Only Pitcairn, the second largest island is inhabited.

There are no inhabited islands 300km around. Why do people live in this solitary island far off in the ocean? The Bounty mutineers who are famous in the several movies serve as a trigger. The people in this island are the descendant of the sailors who took part in the mutiny of the Bounty.

Their religion is Christianity. All islanders are protestant of Seventh-day Adventist. Basically they don’t drink nor smoke. The alcohol and cigarette are sold in the government store which is only one convenience store and the Christian’s café which is only one café in the island but is thinly distributed.

There is a rule for the food, they don’t eat pork nor shrimp. This is because they are dedicated to their passion in the practicing Christianity. After the mutineer lived in the island, some of drunken islanders killed each other. The Adams who was the last person in the accident sought help from the Bible and the islanders have practiced hardly and don’t eat pork nor drink in the end.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Why I hate science - after reading C.H.O.I.R. Boy

I hate science.. Because everything is difficult for me!! I have an aptitude for humanities course not science course.

I don't like see mathematical formula at all, so I have never felt that science class was fun or interesting. I didn't remember the science words although I tried to study hard. So, my test score was terrible.. I liked to empiric test but I could not find interesting poing for the other stuff.

Also, science teacher class was difficult and it is hard to understand what he said. I'm not sure but I liked science more if the class was fun.

Posted for Miyuki

Friday, 22 May 2015

Guest Blog: Tom & Damo's adventures (Part 3)

Customs finally catch up with Tom
Lastly we headed to Matsumoto, close to the Japanese Alps. Although not a big city like Tokyo or Osaka, it holds many things to do and is situated in a great location. Even in May you can see the snow capped mountains in the distance. I really enjoyed the visit to the castle and even got a photo with a Samurai. With admission to the castle you can also visit the nearby museum for free. Although information written in English was limited inside the museum it still held some interesting artefacts from both the castle and Japanese history.

Majestic as ever
 On my final day me and Damo headed out up into the hills. After getting a little lost and taking a detour, we made our way to Utsukushigahara Open Air Museum. It holds a bizarre collection of art, with what seems like hundreds of unique and crazy sculptures. Some pieces I thought were incredible, thought provoking and of interest, whereas others were just plain weird and I had no idea what they were. The weather wasn't great, but on a nicer day, the viewpoint at the museum would provide a great view of the whole region and definitely worth the hour and half drive from Matsumoto. After this it was time for me to head back home from my visit and leave Damo to get back on with his English teaching.
One of the more bizarre works at Utsukushigahara

After 3 flights, 22 hours of flying and a very tired Tom, I made it home back to the UK. I really enjoyed my time in Japan and will definitely make sure I come back in the future!!

Time for goodbyes and the end of our adventures

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Mary, Queen of Scots – after reading

Catholics – Write about the history of this religion in your country.

Catholics was introduced to Japan by Francis Xavier in 1549.  He arrived at Kagoshima prefecture and worked a lot to expand it in Japan.  About 450,000 Japanese became Christian over 50 years, but as the unification of the country progressed, Catholic was prohibited and the country was closed to foreign commerce.  Many Christians were martyred for their faith.
After the country was re-opened in 1859, Christian missions were restarted.  The foreign missionaries visited Japan and the churches were built by them.  However, Japan stated that emperor was a religious head of state after 1890 and unified the thought and education.  During World War II, the churches were forced to cooperate for the war.

After the war, a freedom of religion was accepted, and many missionaries came to Japan from North America and Europe.  Even though that, it was difficult to expand Catholic to Japan as the traditional religions and the customs were deeply penetrated to family life and observances.  Therefore, the number of Christian is only 1% of Japanese population.  Nowadays, many people came to Japan from South East Asia, Middle East and Latin America for work, and Catholic Churches in Japan are also expected to fulfill the international responsibility.

Guest Blog: Tom & Damo's adventures (Part 2)

Making friends
On next to Nara. Having not heard of Nara before my visit, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount it had to offer in such a small town. We visited the park and fed the deer some deer crackers. Once the deer realised you had food, 4 or 5 would surround you in seconds and nudge you in the hope that you fed them. I have never seen deer so tame and relaxed with humans. Although it was very funny to see one of the deer sneakily steal a pack of crackers out of a lady's hand when she wasn't watching. We also visited some more temples in the area, including the Big Buddha at Toudai-ji. Standing at 15metres this Buddha was enormous! And surrounding him the temple itself was also huge. A very impressive sight and a must see. 

We saw Jim on our travels
Along our stays we also camped. Damo brought along a tent and sleeping bags, and so we ended up building the tent each evening. Although slow at first by the end we got pretty quick at building it. Trying to find a spot to camp at 11 o'clock on the evening was not so much fun though, especially when really tired from the sightseeing in the day. However, this was all worthwhile when we found a perfect spot at the top of a hill overlooking the town. This had a shrine, and a viewpoint which gave an awesome view.

Enjoying the view from Umeda Sky Building
Next onto Osaka. I knew the city was big, but didn't realise the size it would be. We drove through the hills and mountains then suddenly appeared on the outskirts of Osaka, with buildings as far as you can see. After finding a hotel to stay in what I would call, a 'rougher' part of town, we planned our days and set out on the city. We went up the Umeda Sky Building which was awesome. I recommend to any visitor, the view was amazing and you can see across all of Osaka in all directions. Any couples, make sure you look for the lovers seats at the top for a photo. You can also buy a heart shaped keyring to lock on the wall at the top to ensure your love is everlasting. In the evening a trip to Dotonburi was required. After getting off the subway, we ended up walking the wrong way by mistake for 20 minutes! This meant we had to work backwards, oops! We walked down the famous street and took a photos of the Glico man, the big crab, and the great bright lights outside of every bar and restaurant. After a few drinks at the foreigner friendly Zerro and Murphy's bars we headed out to the clubs until the early hours. Dotonburi definitely provides a good night out. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

School trip to England - Yuya's report

I went to England for about 2 weeks in April.It was my school trip. The flight took about 12 hours and I didn't sleep so I was exhausted.

English: White Cliffs of Dover, England - the ...
White Cliffs of Dover
First, I went to Cambridge. The main event at there was to learn from the students of Cambridge University. The program is called Blue Bridge Education and I had a great time because the students were very funny and clever. They told us the importance of body languages, eye contacts and big voice. It is quite hard for me, but I'm trying to do them when I take communications, even in Japanese. We also did a shopping with the Cambridge students and I bought many teas.

Next, we went to Dover, where we were really lucky because there weren't any clouds in the sky. Dover is at the south end of the UK, and it is near France. We saw a gravel beach, blue sky and the white cliffs all at once, so it was awesome & beautiful.

After that, we went for a sightseeing trip in Canterbury. I bought many things there, like T-shirts, chocolates, and some drinks, because they were so cheap!
Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, England
Canterbury Cathedral

The final place we went to was the capital city, London. I stayed there for about a week, and I felt the difference of the scenery between it an Tokyo. In Tokyo, there are many kinds of tall buildings, but in London, of course, there are also tall buildings but not only that. There were also many kinds of old-fashioned buildings. Because of that, we could easily feel at home there.

The food in the UK was very delicious. Before this trip, I heard that British food is not tasty. So I was a bit nervous. However, we didn't have any problems. The best food was fish and chips, which I ate at a restaurant called "Garfunkel's Restaurant". The fried fish, with some fresh lemon, was absolutely fabulous.

Traditional Fish 'n' Chips
Traditional Fish 'n' Chips 
Finally, I will talk about where I stayed. First in Cambridge, I had a home stay for the first time in my life. The host family were very kind, but the food was a bit oily. In London, I also had a home stay. The host mother's food was delicious but she was very strict. For example, when we went for a drive, she shouted at any driver who didn't give way to her. Nevertheless, while I was staying there I was touched by her kindness, so in the end I was very sad to say goodbye. So where did we stay on the rest of the days? Of course, we stayed at a hotel. We were very free during the hotel stay, so it was a lot of fun and I really wanted to stay there.

My Secret Garden

Open a door to a secret garden for me, there are a lot of plants. The garden is green and fresh. There are also various flowers. It is very nice smell. In the middle of the garden, there is a river which is clear water. I can swim in there without any concern. My secret garden has miracle power, if I want to drink beer, some birds bring bottle of beer for me! This place makes anything whatever I want!

Also, there is a library. I can read any of books, magazine. I wish I could have the secret garden.

Posted for Miyuki

This is my house!

I like the big garden and the big trees.

I like the white, purple and pink flowers.

I like my piano, and I like our big bathroom.

Everyone likes the house.



Monday, 18 May 2015

Guest Blog: Tom & Damo's adventures (Part 1)

Skytree selfie
Hello all!

Just to introduce myself, my name’s Tom and I am Damo's friend from England. We became friends at university in the UK, and now although Damo is living 5713 miles away we still keep in touch!

I have been travelling in Asia the last couple of months including stops in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, all of which I had a fantastic time seeing some amazing things. Whilst I was in Asia I had to take the opportunity to go and see Japan, having never visited before.

I flew into Narita Airport, Tokyo, and was welcomed by Damo and his family. After being treated to a very traditional British beef roast dinner in the evening we made our way the following day on our adventures. First stop was Tokyo, and having only seen pictures of it on television, I was amazed by how busy it was and all the amazingly colourful lights everywhere. We stayed in a capsule hotel (something I think is unique to Japan!) which was a strange experience. We almost felt like cattle, having so many people staying in such a small space. We visited some temples in the city and went to the base of Tokyo Skytree. The evening was filled with good traditional Japanese food and many, many beers!

"Let's nick it!"
After a very hungover morning, we made our way to Tokyo station to get the Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto. I was amazed how quickly they travel and how smooth the ride was. Trains in the UK are slow and always late, so this was a complete contrast! Arriving in Kyoto we picked up a rental car and after attempting to get used to an automatic (in the UK all cars are manual) we made out way around Kyoto. Visits included going to Kiyomizu-dera and Chion-in amongst others.

An okay view from Kiyomizu
On the outskirts of Kyoto we also visited one of the Onsens. This was to be my first of many Onsen visits during my stay. I loved the hot spring water, and after a long hard day visiting Kyoto's sights, was well needed. Sitting outside with a slight cool breeze, but with lovely hot water was the perfect balance.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Remi's health questionnaire

As part of Remi's project she has written a short health questionnaire. We are looking to collect some date so that we can present the results to all of you. It would be hugely appreciated if you could take a couple of minutes out of your day by clicking this link and completing it.

Posted for Remi

My childhood collection

Colorful Super ball, home
Colorful Super balls
When I was a child, I collected little balls. They can hop higher than other balls. We call them “ super ball”. There are various colour and size. I put them in a little red box which my grandmother gave me. The box has the lid. So I can easily carry them.

I could get them in the festival. There are many shops at the festival. One of them was a shop of “super ball”. We could get the ball using a wafer, ladle, cup, or bowl. The cost was different which I use to get them. The balls were float on the running water in the little pool. Using wafer was the cheapest, but it couldn’ t get balls a lot. So I always use a ladle. I think I could get them 5-15 at one time. I had over one hundred balls.

Now I have about 50 balls. Some of them I gave to my niece. I played with them using balls. And they are collecting the balls. So they ask me to give the balls to them. It is interesting to hear they collect the balls like me. I enjoy playing with my niece using the balls.

 Posted for Yuri

Monday, 11 May 2015

Jet setting around Japan

Where's Damian?
I hope that you've all had a grand Golden Week, letting loose and relieving any pent up stress.

I was one of the more fortunate souls and got over a week off! I made the most of it and went travelling around Chiba, Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and even a little bit of exploring closer to home. Had an absolutely amazing trip and would like to thank Jim for lending us his tent. We really would have been roughing it without it!

Replicating Tom's favourite movie scene
I won't go into  further details as there will be a guest post from my friend Tom (once he finishes his 30 hour transit home!), who I am grateful for putting up with me during our travels.

I took my fare share of photos, so if you're interested in having a look, here's a link to my album on Facebook (should be able to access without a Facebook account).