Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter vacation has started.

All jobs for this year has done without problems. And my another job as a mother or a daughter has started. At first I cleaned a room and organize it for my mother. She'll come here from tomorrow.
She'll stay with us just two days, That's why we have lots of things to do together.
Though she lives in Tokyo, she doesn't go out by train, because of stairs. When she comes here, she loves to go out to a department store, a hot spring, "by car". She has some favorite spots here, but for only tow days it's difficult to go to all of them. So I already went to one of her favorite shops
 and bought this, which is good to eat with rice. The shops is called "TOCHIGI souvenir shop" which deals with lots of TOCHIGI's products.

I bought lots of vegetables from a farmer directly. Yuki and I'll take her back to TOKYO by car on the New Year's day, so she can come back easily with vegetables. 

Most of family must have special feast at New Year. We celebrate the New year at Yuki's mother's house, so I don't need to cook it. Cooking it is my sister-in-law's job.(Thanks Mayumi san). I'll bake cakes.
Anyway for a while I'll enjoy house chores for my family. It's the time to start cleaning.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Is it a bad habit or not?

Can you whistle through your fingers? Do you think it 's a good manners? Yuki can do it, and to tell the truth I think it's kind of rude for  audience to do it in a "classical" concert.

Well, I read an interesting column in the newspaper. A man who is over 70, stopped to listen to live music by two young boys at a station. There was only one listener, so he was the second listener. The music was so wonderful, so he whistled through his fingers to encourage them, and he said whistling through his fingers is one of a few his specialities. The musicians were very pleased. In a little while some people came to listen them, so he went home.
The column was heartwarming.

It's cool for elderly person to whistle through the fingers to young musicians.

But unfortunately I don't like Yuki's whistling through his fingers at a Jazz concert.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Let's count doun to the New Year.

How was your Christmas?
Last night two students came, and they enjoyed eating the rest of our Christmas cake and apple cider sent from America. Our Christmas cake Yuki bought has gone without wasting.
In November I thought "it would be troublesome to something to do for Christmas".
But thanks for students we really enjoyed Christmas this year without our daughters.
And our daughters seemed to enjoy Christmas with their friends in Tokyo.

Yesterday I went to a clinic to take regular medicine. I also took the result of blood test of last month. Unfortunately the result was not so good. It gives sings of  chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis.I don't need to take special medicine until now, anyway I'll try to spend days with positive and cheerful attitude to reduce stress as much as possible. The important thing to bring relief is to improve a immune system.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christams

It's Monday and a substitute holiday in Japan because a national holiday  fell on Sunday (yesterday). How do you spend this Christmas Eve?
Yuki went to work, but he came back earlier than usual. He bought cake and chicken for Christmas. So we could celebrate tonight together.

He bought a present for me. Thanks. I'm sorry I didn't prepare anything for him. 

From early December to last Friday, my students and I really enjoyed Christmas crafts and cooking. To tell the truth, while I was doing it with them, I often thought that it was troublesome. But thanks of my students I really enjoyed Christmas season. And I could celebrate this Eve with Yuki.
In the day time I already put away Christmas ornaments, and put New Year's ornaments.

Can you see the title of the book? It's "Hide and Snake". The Chinese zodiac sign of the next year is "snake".

Monday, December 17, 2012


It's Monday. A new year is just around corner. I finished a big event this weekend. I went to GUNMA prefecture. Though GUNMA is next to my prefecture, Tochigi, it takes more than two hours by train, because SHINKANSEN (bullet train) doesn't run.  I assisted an event which one of my friends held. The event was a big success, I'm relieved now.
This week I'll go out to do two volunteer works. When I'll be finished the works, the works I'm asked will be done this year. (Though I have lessons at home until December 28.)

The lower house election was finished. As expected the Liberal Democratic Party won. Coincidentally before the election day I saw Mr. Abe who is a leader of the Liberal Democratic Party at Kiryu station in GUNMA.
I listened to him for a while, I felt he would win, and actually he won.
I don't know how much he'll protect poor people, how much he'll exploit taxes from wealthy people. I don't want to use the words such as the poor and the rich. But these days I often feel the difference is getting bigger. And at the same time I feel the difference between a country life and a city life.

I read a report in the newspaper. These days the number of students who want to study abroad is decreasing, it's running against internationalization. The main reason is that when they return to Japan it's difficult to get to work.  I think to study abroad improve their carrier. But these days even in the big company they don't afford to hire so many people who have  enough carrier. The more highly carrier people have, the more difficult it is for people to find a suitable job.Only a few people succeed,  and get good salary.
If students know that they won't get a good job even though they study hard, they don't study. So the society is getting weak. We are in the bad spiral.

Well, well, let's think about something fun.
What is the top event for you this year? For me I went to MIYAJIMA in HIROSHIMA with my mother. Since I was born, it the first time to go somewhere only with my mother.   I really understand how weak her physical power is. (though she speaks very very--- very well.)
I decided until she is eighty once a year I'll take her to a trip to somewhere.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Today it was the day of Karaku which is a tearoom and I played the piano  there. After 30 minutes performing I had a good coffee and sweet. It was my luxurious time.

While I was drinking coffee, I talked a lady who sometimes came to listen to the piano.
It was the first time to listen to herself. She has a one and half years boy, and 13 years girl. I thought both of them were divided by an big age difference.
She told me more.
She was divorced and for a while she was a shingle parent. She managed to live taking ADC. She  had no qualification because she dropped out of school, so it was difficult to live with a kid. Fortunately she met a man and married again. And she had a baby.
Now she is thinking to go to a job training school and get qualification. Now she is taking care of her kids at home thanks to her husband, but she wants to a have regular job. Because his husband is now 50 years like me. 10 years later he must be retired, so she will have to support their life mainly because her second child will be still 11 years.
Fortunately my two daughters are already (half) independent, If  we had one and half year kid, what should we do?

She seemed to be happy, and live steadily. I wish she and her family would keep current happiness.

Monday, December 10, 2012


This morning it was so cold that we had the first frost on the garden. Most of green plants froze and died down. I pulled them up and threw away. (Today it was a garbage collection day.)
One of my friend who lives in the northern area of Tochigi said "it is snowing". Actually around the noon even in Utsunomiya snow was lightly falling. We don't change the tires into winters' yet. This weekend we have to do it.

I'll wirte one of things which I notice these days. I thought in Japan we have not so many rich people, and not so many poor people. I used to see the report "most of Japanese people thing they are in the middle class."  I think it is one of good things in Japan.
I wrote about "housewives in Japan" in the previous blog. Being housewives means being in the middle class. In a foreign country, while both a mother and a father are working, a maid is taking care their house and their kids. Some maids must be professional and being in the middle class. But in my image maids are poor. Here in Japan not so many people chose to become a maid. Here in Japan the salaray of made is not cheap.

Though I wrote that most people in Japan seemed to be in the middle class, I feel the difference between a little bit poor people and a little bit rich people is getting bigger.
I heard that some young people (I don't know they education background) earn less than 200000 yen a month. So it's difficult to rent their house from their salary. Most of money they earn is used to their living cost. I think they must feel that they are poor."BUT", they can't afford to feel being poor, because they work hard for 6 days, and they just sleep at home the last important day. They don't have time to use their money for their leisure time, so that they don't notice they are poor,
In Japan some people said working is virture. I think it is partly true, but---.

I often think "something is worng".

Sunday, December 09, 2012


We have to do "winter cleaning" in Japan as our tradition.
So Yuki bought a new gadget to encourage him to have fun according to him.
Do you already have one?
Anyway he cleaned the fence, garden blocks,the entrance hall, and the bathroom. Unfortunately the result was -- not as good as we hoped. Our house was too old to shine it up.


On the other hand I organized the garden. I also arranged a flowerpot.I put some vegetables with winter flowers.

Well, on the last blog I introduced our traditional Japanese Christmas cake. Well, the other day I had a Japanese sweet for Christmas which is popular recently.
Though on the photo it looks white, it was actually green and light green. It was modified to a Japanese sweet from Christmas holly tree. Last week, my students and I made Christmas apple pinatas, they are waiting for Christmas sweets.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

December has come.

Finally December, which is the last month of the year, has come. I put some ornaments in my rooms to celebrate Christmas.
Last Sunday Utsunomiya International exchange organization held a festival which is "let's read picture books in the world". 6 people who are from Canada, Pakistan, Russia, Korea, China, and France, read their own countries' picture books to attendees. Most attendees were parents and kids who were from babies to 6 or 7 year old kids. More than 50 couples came. 
I assisted a Canadian lady. She read this book.
It really suited this event. In this book some things popular in Canada are introduced in turn, such as toque, loon , hockey sticks and so on. Do you have such a book? I think it might be good if we (my English Picture book club) could organize "Japan 1,2,3".

This time I found out about a Japanese cultural thing. I had thought  it was common or usual in the world.
Before I tell you what it is, I'll write another thing.

The other day my friend baked stollen. I know it is popular Christmas bread in Germany.

We are enjoying this stollen. We'll probably eat all up before Christmas.
Though the shape is different, in Canada thick fruit cake containing dried fruit covered with marzipan seems to be popular as a Christmas cake.
In Japan our popular cake is spongecake covered with fresh cream, and decorated with strawberries.
I didn't know that it is a "Japanese style". It seems to be a Japanese cultural thing.

Friday, November 23, 2012

cleaning time at school

If you have a chance to visit a Japanese school, one of surprising things is probably "cleaning time". At most schools in Japan, students clean their classrooms, hallways, the ground, the garden and even toilets.
Why? Today I found an interest report in the newspaper.
Roles of cleaning time
1, Organizing the cleaning procedure, and cleaning effectively help to grow children's ability to plan and sense of achievement.
2, They show more interest in cleanliness condition, find proper cleanliness level, and learn how to tidy up.
3, They acquire the attitude to take care of things, and make effort not to generate waste.
4. People feel good in a clean place, so cleaning somewhere for someone raises their emotion to do
 something for someone even though no one knows who did it.
5,Cleaning up give them a feeling of accomplishment.
6. They learn communication skills, how to share the roles, and understand the responsibility through cleaning in a group.
7,Cleaning somewhere in a set period time gives them concentration, and makes them punctual.

What do you think of them? I hope all sentences make sense.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Now I'm getting better. It's difficult for me to adjust to the change of temperature in this season. Yesterday I got a shot to stop my dizziness, According to my medical record, it's a "usual" thing. I get a shot at least twice a year, in spring and fall.

The other day I talked about 1030000 yen barrier with mothers. It was difficult to put together my mind even in Japanese, but anyway I'll talk again about it in English.
Do you know what 1030000yen barrier means? People who earn under 1030000yen per year become dependents and get tax deduction. So if house makers want to keep being dependents while they work part time job, they control their work. If they earn more than 1030000yen, they have to pay tax, and if they earn more than 1300000yen, they have to pay insurance fee. If they earn less than about 2000000 yen,  a strange thing occurs. The money people get is the same with the person who earns 1030000yen and the person who earns 2000000yen, because 2000000 yen earning person has to pay tax and insurance fee from her earnings.

So some people say 103000 yen barrier makes people stop to work more though they want to work more.
In Japan working harder (or earning harder) is considered as a virtue, so people who have time, except doing house chores and taking care of kids, tend to be considered as being lazy.

I think 1030000yen barrier protects house makers. Of course earning money harder is not bad. Actually I often think if I earned more. But if you are able to live as being a dependent (though the life may not be rich), thanks to the barrier you can do other things. Or I dare to say you should something to the society such as to help poor people, to enjoy kids, to be tender to senior people. I won't think that money talks everything.
Of course volunteering is one way. Actually I do some volunteer work at nursery schools. But what is volunteer? I often think about it. In my case I buy English books by myself, I pay for gas by my self, sometimes I buy costumes by myself. It's fun for me, but I won't recommend this way to others. I'll say again "I don't think money talks everything", but --- it's difficult.

Yes, it's difficult to put together my mind. Anyway I'll post my mumble.

Monday, November 19, 2012


A new week has started. How was your weekend? Unfortunately I was not so good, so most of time I was reading "Japanese books" in the bed. When a season changes, I often suffer dizziness.
Last night we had cheese fondu simply using the things in the fridge. It made us warm.

This morning I'm so-so, but probably I won't go to workout.
When I was in the bed, I noticed the places that I had to clean. It's funny, because when I'm busy I don't notice such things. In Japan December is Winter cleaning month. I want to do "winter cleaning"little by little, such as clean up the shelves, an air fan, etc. Cleaning the windows is Yuki's job, probably he will do on 29 December, before my mother comes to stay with us.

After I finish morning chores, I'll lie down for a while. Have a nice day. And let's enjoy this week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

After reading a book

I've just finished reading a book. The author is a Japanese woman who is a person of my own age. I like reading because sometimes books evoke my sympathy, and clear what I'm thinking.

The author said in the book;
Women are brought up from a baby to an adult without pressure of becoming a member of society or becoming independent. On the other hand men are brought up under the pressure which is that they have to be independent, and become a member of society.

I definitely agree with her. Is it a Japanese thinking way?

And I thought that;
women are brought up naturally with a picture of having a baby. It means women thinks naturally about their marriage and their future family. Of course women don't have to have a baby, so I add the word naturally.

So for men work is the most important thing and for women family is the most important thing.

Monday, November 12, 2012


A new week has started. How was your weekend?
I went to TOKYO to meet my daughters. Here is TOKYO station. After long reconstruction work, it showed up entirely. This building is one of historical buildings in Japan.
My two daughters and I had lunch at MARU building in front of the station. Then my elder daughter and I went to GINZA. First we visited a gallery where her teacher was holding her exhibition.

Then we dropped in Harrods tea room at Ginza Mitsukoshi department store.
After so long I had Harrods scorn  scone, though I have never eaten Harrods scorn  sconein the UK. These days we see various kinds of scorn scone. I don't know when scone showed up in Japan, anyway when I was a child, they didn't appear yet. Anyway in my image classical scone is Harrods scone. I was really satisfied with having it.

On Sunday I went to a cafe gallery in Utsunomiya. An American craft potter were holding his exhibition.  He made really sensitive potteries. I really enjoyed seeing them, though I couldn't afford to buy one.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Since I updated this blog, one week has passed.
Today the news of the president election in the US goes on air successively in Japan. An interesting thing to me is that in the US the politic situation depends on the president. Though it's not a good thing, I'm afraid that I feel in Japan our politic situation must not be changed a lot by the Prime Minister. And another interesting thing is that Mr.Obama broke  racial barriers, and Romney tries to break the religion barriers. (I'm not familiar with Christian religion.)

Last weekend Yuki and I went to listen a classical concert. It was a full orchestra. I like to watch and listen to the drums, the timpani, and other percussion. Our seats were on the third floor, it cost 1000 yen each. It's not bad.

On the other hand in downtown, Jazz music festival was held in down town last week.  We dropped in the town.

Well, in the previous blog I showed Yuzu-kosyou. We are enjoying them. They suit to pot-food, hot soup, grilled meat, and grilled fish.

What foods are you enjoying in this season?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We are in the fall . -2-

My friend came to my house with a big present.
In her garden, it is the best season for grapes, and YUZU citron.
This year she and her friends made YUZU-KOSYOU, which is paste of YUZU citron and pepper. There are two types, red one and green one.
This year she got an order from a famous stake house in Utsunomiya. Her YUZU-KOSYOU is getting popular among restaurants here little by little.

Last Sunday I attended a Toast Master's meeting. The topic of table speeches are autumn of sports, autumn of foods, and autumn of reading. In Japan the season of autumn is described with foods, reading, sports.

What foods do you enjoy in autumn?
Yuki and I ate grilled SHITAKE mushroom and roasted ginkgo nuts.
Last year we couldn't eat mushrooms because we were afraid of cesium contamination from FUKUSHIMA nuclear power station. This year the level of cesium recovers to the usual level. So we are able to enjoy mushrooms. MATUSTAKE mushroom is the most famous and expensive mushroom in Japan. We can buy one or two MATUTAKE mushrooms but we chose quantity so we enjoy eating a lot of fresh SHITAKE mushrooms.

What sports do you enjoy especially in autumn?
Sorry I don't like sports very much, but I do walking the most in autumn. And I want to increase my body strength to get through this winter. I try to go to work out more -- at least twice a week.

What books do you read recently?
I've just read this book.
Every body seems to be interested in the election of  the president in the US. Even in Japan I see the news. I don't support both of them, but I'm interested in the result.

How are you enjoying this autumn?

Monday, October 29, 2012

We are in the fall.

A new week has already started. How was your weekend?
Early Saturday morning Yuki and I went to Nikko to see autumn leaves. We left home at 6am, arrived RYUZU fall at 7:40 am and came home at 9 am.
We took some photos, and had AMAZAKE which is sweet drink made from fermented rice.  Nikkko was very cold so AMAZAKE warmed ourselves.
Why we left  home so early? Because this season the road to Nikko is very crowded, we wanted to avoid the traffic.
Why we came home so early? Because Yuki had a tennis lesson from 10 am . He didn't want to cancel it. (Actually while Yuki was taking lesson, I was working out at gym).

In the evening, there was a small festival downtown in Utsunomiya, We went out there by bus.

It was a cold night. So we ate Hot TOFU. Yuki drank beer and wine. I tasted sangria. It was "delicious". I don't drink  red wine much, but this sangria was really good, not too sour, not too sweet, not too strong.
Both of us got cheerful mood with drink, and came home by bus --- and went to bed. The day started very early and finished also early.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Today it's rainy and cool. A new week has already started.
Do you use a schedule book? I used to use one, when my daughters were with us.
There was a report on today's news paper, which is written how to use time effectively. They recommend to use a schedule book which is separated by an hour. If you use such one, you can manage time by an your effectively. Actually my husband uses such type.

Well, well, in my case, it's enough for me to have one additional thing on regular lessons. So I don't need such kind of schedule book. I use a monthly calender, and write down one additional event on it. I try not to put more than three events on it.

Tuesday; our club meeting
Wednesday; lessons all day long
Thursday; English activity at a nursery school
Friday; English activity at a nursery school
Saturday; work shop in IMAICHI (where it takes one hour from here Utsunomiya by car)
Sunday; going to a festival with my friend
Monday; English school meeting all day long

I need to take a rest between coming home and starting lessons. so I didn't have time last week to go to work out. (This is what I want to say, not an excuse.)

On Wednesday in the lesson, we enjoyed cooking Halloween cake.
On Saturday in IMAICHI I had a good lunch.
On Sunday, the festival was fun.
I took a friend who was from GABON there. The festival was about agriculture. For her it was the first time to see a real tractor. She seemed to be so excited to get in it.
On Monday, before meeting Yuki and I had a good breakfast at a hotel near Utsunomiya station. Yuki had to go to Tokyo on business, and I had to attend a meeting from early morning, so I skipped to cook breakfast at home.

Well, today I'll go out to attend a workshop about "MIND MAP". It sounds interesting, doesn't it?

Monday, October 15, 2012


It's sunny, and cool morning. In my garden SYUMEGIKU has started blooming.

Yesterday I attended a meeting which is organized by 30-year old lady. The attenders were three ladies in their 30's, two men in their 30's, 70-year old man, and me Their common thing is that all of them are working people (except me), even the 70-year old man is still working. He runs his own company.
And another common thing including me is that their hobby is English.

Though it's difficult to tell you concretely, the atmosphere was completely different from the housewife's meetings or mother's meetings. I felt all of them were completely independent. And they tried to share fun with others. Probably housewives and mothers are eager to share fun with their family. Their eyes always are on their family. On the other hand single people always look outside to do something with others.Though I couldn't speak English fluently as usual, I enjoyed the meeting.

To tell the truth I'm giving up to improve my speaking skill. On the other hand, I bear the title of "Kid's English teacher". So I "have to " speak English more fluently.
It's my big stress.

Anyway Monday has started. Let's enjoy this week.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Halloween month has started 2

This week most of students enjoyed carving Halloween pumpkins.

And they also enjoyed cooking.

We call them skeleton hands.
We call it spider cupcake.
The last big event is "trick or treat". We are going to visit three neighbors the week after next week.

Halloween is, I know, October 31. So it might be too early to do such activities. But the last week in October high school students will have tests, and from next week the six grade of elementary school students are going to go on school trip which is three days two nights trip. So some students will not be able to come to take my lessons.
I'm happy all students did Halloween activities.

Next week some women will come to enjoy English talking, so I'll cook something to enjoy Halloween month.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween month has started

I call this month "Halloween month". We do some Halloween activities with my students in this month.
First, thanks to Jan, we got "the" traditional Halloween sweets which I've never seen in Japan until now.

The traditional corn candy is yellow, orange and white one. We (my students and I) call it healthy tooth. The one with brown top is called "a cavity". But the brown part is chocolate, so it's popular among us. The pumpkin shaped one is also popular among high school students, saying "cute".
Our Halloween month has started with tasting corn candy.
And we also carve Halloween pumpkin. I got some of them from a farmer, and two of them were grown by my adult students. Even in an adult class, adult students and I carved a Halloween pumpkin.

I didn't get enough pumpkins for each student.(Even if I got enough pumpkins, I couldn't have enough space to keep them.) So we decided to share them.

Well, well, have you ever tasted "biltong"? My friend who is from South Africa made it and brought it. It looks like beef jerkey, but it's more sour and less sweet. The main flavor is coriander. She explained how to make it. It sounds not so difficult. I'll try to make it.

Monday, October 08, 2012


According to the calendar, today is the last day of three-day weekends in Japan, though Yuki goes to work.
How was your weekend? Did you enjoy it?
On Saturday we went to a "ventriloquial show" (,which is the latest word I've learnt).

Have you ever seen a ventriloquial show? It is excellent and unbelievable.
Why he or ventriloquist can do that?

On Monday we went to NASU where it takes one hour from here by car. We thought it might be crowded. So we left here before 7 AM. Of course one reason why we left early is to avoid the traffic jam, and another important reason is---- to enjoy breakfast at a popular restaurant.

The restaurant opens at 8. We got there around 8. Some people were already waiting. When we got out there, many people were waiting in line.
After that we went to a small art festival.
We really enjoyed the places. Around noon, we went back to Utsunomiya. As our expectation the road from Utsunomiya to NASU was really crowded at that time.
We had a good weekend.
Well, today I'm enjoying my holiday. What am I going to do? Anyway I have to organize the house.