Friday, January 31, 2014

A visit to the grave

So, the wedding is over and I have just enough time to keep my 3:50 appointment. I traveled from Tokyo to Urawa but was 10 minutes late. As I wanted to travel light this day I didn't have my cell phone. But, Kazuki and Miho were waiting for me patiently. They are the children of my friend Teruko who passed away three years ago. I was the emcee at both of their weddings. We took a bus to a cemetery about 20 minutes away. We then had to walk for 10 minutes to the place to clean the grave stone, place some flowers and hurry to shelter. It was so windy and cold. Unfortunately I wasn't properly dressed. We then returned to the bus stop and had to wait 15 minutes in the cold again. While we were waiting I saw a white streak fly through the sky. It must have been some space debris returning to earth. Or was it Teruko?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Shoko's wedding

Miwako's niece got married last Sunday. Of course our whole family went, except for Leo. The "girls" went by car as they had to arrive early to get kimono and make-up maintenance. I went by train. I arrived at right before 10AM. From there both families go together for introductions. Even though I rehearsed by myself for three days Shoko's father introduced all the members. He did a great job! Next was the wedding at the chapel and then the reception. It was cool because I had no responsibilities at all, only to eat, drink and be merry. Of course the bride and groom were beautiful,  the food was excellent and I drank delicious Japanese sake. Lots of the newlyweds' friends attended so it was a lively affair. I reflected on how Miwako's sister and her husband had aged. I also thought the same of us.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

L.S.E. Karaoke party

So, after dinner eight of us traveled right next door to the KaraokeKan for some more fun and this time with singing. Everyone joined in the action. It is really interesting to see each person sings their songs. Everyone has their own style. Everyone has their own choice of music. It seems to me that we choose the music we can sing. The seniors sing older songs. The younger people sing more recent songs. The middle aged people sing middle aged songs. It is a chance for all to hear a variety of music. In my case I cannot hit high notes. So, I would never try "Dancing Queen". I sing almost all English songs. However, I do try Japanese songs. There are two that I sing. I know that I am not very good, but as everyone says, singing karaoke is a stress release. I agree.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

L.S.E. party


Trying hard to guess right.
Did you know that I have
ten fingers
on my right hand?
The Lets Speak English group held their annual New Year's Party last Saturday. After my Kenkatsu lesson I biked back to my school, got on the train and went to the locale. This year it was at ToranuTanuki in NanGin. I believe this was our fourth time here. We get a separate room and eat, drink and be merry. As usual, there was entertainment. Several members prepare quizzes and games. They get up front and center in the room and explain their quizzes. Usually they prepare prizes for those who get the correct answer. One game was using country names. We also had a magic show. The magician was great even though she said she didn't practice much. Of course our group gets pretty noisy but all had a good time. I think the biggest worry was that I would bring my violin. I eased everyone's mind by telling them I thought that my playing would be too noisy. I There were 18 of us. Thank you all!
Enjoy!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Puzzler Answers

Get your Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE

This is my last prepared BLOG for the month.I have to make some more from today. I hope to get some pics from students and my family. Anyway my weekend went something like this:

SATURDAY
1. RINRI
2. Jog
3. Go to the car wash (or was that Friday?).
4. Violin practice.
5. Two kids lessons.
6. Bike to Kenkatsu after lunch.
7. Two adult lessons.
8. Bike back to school (meet Miwako as she is administering the Eiken test).
9. To Omiya by train for L.S.E. New Year Party and then Karaoke bash.
10. Home by train and bike to finally sleep at midnight.

SUNDAY
1. Up and home alone. All went to the wedding.
2. Get ready and go to the wedding by bike and train.
3. The wedding.
4. Go to visit Teruko's grave with her two kids. It was real cold.
5. Go for eats and drinks in Urawa.
6. Finally home by taxi from Okegawa station.
Waiting prior to the wedding

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Puzzler Hints

This is one busy weekend though I hope I can relax tonight. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE

HOME PROJECT for January 2014:   “even though”
 
~だけど、~ではあるが、~に関わらず
even though は2つ事実の対比を強調します。
 
1. Even though it's raining I’ll go there by bike.  雨だけど、そこまで自転車で行きます
2. My friend is real energetic even though he is ten years older than I am. 友人は私より10歳年上ではあるが、エネルギッシュだ。
3.Even though he is only six, he plays the violin well. 彼はたったの6歳ですが、上手にヴァイオリンをひきます。
4. The skater performed even though her right leg hurt. そのスケート選手は、右足が痛いのにもかかわらず演技をした。
 
“even though” ”although” に置き換えることができます。
 
今年最初のHPです。
Let’s enjoy speaking English!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Puzzler

It's the weekend. I have a RINRI meet this AM, lessons, a party tonight, a wedding tomorrow and then a visit to Teruko's grave to say "Hey". Puzzler: CLICK HERE

HOME PROJECT for January 2014:   “even though”
 
~だけど、~ではあるが、~に関わらず
even though は2つ事実の対比を強調します。
 
1. Even though it's raining I’ll go there by bike.  雨だけど、そこまで自転車で行きます
2. My friend is real energetic even though he is ten years older than I am. 友人は私より10歳年上ではあるが、エネルギッシュだ。
3.Even though he is only six, he plays the violin well. 彼はたったの6歳ですが、上手にヴァイオリンをひきます。
4. The skater performed even though her right leg hurt. そのスケート選手は、右足が痛いのにもかかわらず演技をした。
 
“even though” ”although” に置き換えることができます。
 
今年最初のHPです。
Let’s enjoy speaking English!

SUPER SCRABBLE answers: HOAX  WORK  ALARM  CHEEK

Friday, January 24, 2014

Super Scrabble

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, here is another Super Scrabble BLOG. I haven't done one of these in a long while. Actually I have two that I am saving. Recently. the kids don't like to do this puzzle. So, I don't bring it out very often. The cool words: zest  floss  entity  meany  guile eyed. And, can you figure out the blanks? Answers tomorrow. On another note I am now able to use my computer to do Blogging. About three months ago there was some kind of a meltdown (malfunction/difficult to use) with my BLOG site. I couldn't input smoothly. I had to use the HTML mode instead of the Compose mode. It was really a hassle (troublesome) but I was lucky to discover this mode. And for a long time I was Blogging from my home. I could access the site from there. The only problem was getting pictures to it. BUT a miracle happened. I upgraded to Internet Explorer 9 just now. And VOILA! The BLOGGER works just fine. The bad news is that my Puzzler Home Page is on the fritz (not working well). It's always something.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beautiful Moon Part 2


Seven members from O-San13 party last Saturday
I continued watching the moon. I was jogging so the sight bouncing up and down. It was also cold so my eyes were moist (wet). At the next corner I stopped to take in the beauty of it all. I resumed jogging. There was a lady who I see sometimes on my jogs. For the first time I spoke to her. "Good morning." I said. She replied in kind, so I asked "Did you see moon?" When she answered YES, I said "It's gorgeous!" She agreed. I continued on, checking it out once more before the trees and houses shut the door. I was back in front of my house in 5 minutes. I couldn't find the moon again. There were too many obstacles (thing) obstructing (blocking) the view. Even though, I couldn't forget it. There were no stars now. The east was brightening. I had to get in and take a shower and get ready for the day. But if I hurried I could catch the sunrise.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A beautiful moon


Five members from O-San13 party last Saturday
I jog an average of six days a week. When I left my home at 6AM last Thursday the sky was clear. I saw a few dozen stars. It was still dark but the eastern horizon had a faint red glow. I started out heading south, my usual course. My jog takes only 22 minutes to cover three kilometers. After about 300 meters I turned left and headed east. No  cars yet, just one motor bike. At the only traffic signal I encounter (meet) there was no traffic so I jogged right through, no problems. At the end of this stretch I turned left again. I was half way. In a very short distance I made another left and began the return home, heading west. There are three down and then ups in the roads I jog. This was the final one. When I got to the top of this last one a big, beautiful, yellow orange moon appeared sitting on the western horizon. To be continued tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bridge at Ofuna club

 Miwako and I traveled to Ofuna, Kanagawa for a bridge tournament January 12th. It was for a higher level group of players than the last event which we won in Yotsuya. This time we went by train. We left Okegawa at 7:34 and went directly to Ofuna. We arrived about 9:15 so we bought a lunch at the station and then headed to the center. We played 18 boards in the morning and then 18 boards in the afternoon. The players were all pretty good. There were two couples that we have met before at these competitions. There are many ways to be successful when playing this game. First there is the bidding with many things to remember. It is also where you must be able to communicate with your partner. Even though trying to make your bid is exciting, defense can also be fun. We finished 6 of 8 teams in the AM and then 5 of 7 teams in the PM. Better luck next time.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Puzzler Answers

Miwako and I went to Shibuya for a, what else, bridge competition. Although there were twenty teams, and even though we made some mistakes, we managed to come in 6th place. The teams from 1st to 9th receive master points. We have no play next weekend but in February (my alcohol free month) we have 5copmpetitions on our plate.
Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Puzzler Hints

The challenge was not to drink too much last night. I wonder how it went? Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE

HOME PROJECT for January 2014:   “even though”
~だけど、~ではあるが、~に関わらず
even though は2つ事実の対比を強調します。
1. Even though it's raining I’ll go there by bike.  雨だけど、そこまで自転車で行きます
2. My friend is real energetic even though he is ten years older than I am. 友人は私より10歳年上ではあるが、エネルギッシュだ。
3.Even though he is only six, he plays the violin well. 彼はたったの6歳ですが、上手にヴァイオリンをひきます。
4. The skater performed even though her right leg hurt. そのスケート選手は、右足が痛いのにもかかわらず演技をした。
“even though” ”although” に置き換えることができます。
今年最初のHPです。
Let’s enjoy speaking English!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Puzzler

It's the weekend. Of course, we have a bridge competition tommmorow and I have a party tonight. I can't wait. Puzzler:
CLICK HERE

HOME PROJECT for January 2014:   “even though”
~だけど、~ではあるが、~に関わらず
even though は2つ事実の対比を強調します。
1. Even though it's raining I’ll go there by bike.  雨だけど、そこまで自転車で行きます
2. My friend is real energetic even though he is ten years older than I am. 友人は私より10歳年上ではあるが、エネルギッシュだ。
3.Even though he is only six, he plays the violin well. 彼はたったの6歳ですが、上手にヴァイオリンをひきます。
4. The skater performed even though her right leg hurt. そのスケート選手は、右足が痛いのにもかかわらず演技をした。
“even though” ”although” に置き換えることができます。
今年最初のHPです。
Let’s enjoy speaking English!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bridge competition


Before the compe we had lunch.
As you may or may not know, Miwako and I study and practice "contract bridge". It is a card game known all over the world. It was born in England. It is rather complex (complicated/difficult) as there are so many things that each player has to remember. And there are many times when you have to imagine or hope that your opponents (the other team) have certain cards. There are so many things to remember, and a lot of case by case scenarios that  it helps me concentrate and hopefully prevents Alzheimer's. 2014 begins our 5th year as students. We have been to about a dozen competitions. It is usually for beginners. Miwako is rather good so I needed to level up my basic skills. I have been studying hard and it paid off last month. We went to a competition in Yotsuya and we came in first place. We were the top team of 8. We are the champions, my friends!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A visit to the grave

We have a custom of visiting our family grave here in Japan once a month. Although it is difficult sometimes with our busy schedules and the weather and such we maintain this custom since Miwako's father passed away in 2000. (I remember the year because we were just opening our Okegawa school then.) It was a fine day and we were all together on December 30th. We went by car of course and I wore a suit. These days when I visit this grave I pray to my father first and then my two grandfathers whom I never met. Then to my two grandmothers who I knew rather well. The only problem was that they couldn't speak English, only Polish. My father was always the translator. From now on, I will add a couple of my Japanese friends who have passed away since I have been in Japan. By the way that is me in the grave.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coming of Age Day IN KOREA

 The coming of Age Day is celebrated in Japan on the second (Happy) Monday in January. People who turn 20 years of age this year are now considered adults. They can legally drink smoke and vote. I checked the Internet and found that Korea also has a similar custom. Here is the news: Young adults wear traditional Korean dresses known as 'Hanbok' during the 40th annual 'Coming of Age Day' ceremony aka 'Gwan-Rye' hosted by the private Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, on May 19, 2012. Gwan-Rye certifies 20-year-old men and women as adults and designates them as independent individuals who are emancipated from their parents and able to enter into legal contracts by themselves.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Happening

The Happening!Rina got complimentary tickets for the whole family to go see the New Year Concert at Suntory Hall January 3rd. It was fantastic. There was a symphony orchestra, opera singers, ballet dancers and a violin solo. After the concert something unusual and quite funny happened. I was mistaken for the conductor! As usual, our family waits until all the other guests have left their seats and exited before we make our move to the exit. As we did, suddenly from the back, two young ladies and their grandmother approached me and asked "May we take a picture with you?". Of course, I replied. Then as we were doing this another lady my age came up and asked to have her picture taken with me. "My pleasure" I chimed. Then on our way to the restroom, almost everybody turned to take another look at me over their shoulder. Look at the picture. Wouldn't you agree that Ola Rudner is rather handsome?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Puzzler Answers

Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE

Miwako and I are gungho about our bridge study. I have found that we must not only study but w must also put what we have learned into practice. That is, we must take part in competitions. My only free time is Sundays and holidays. Of course  I would like to sit home, drink some Sake or Shochu or Beer and relax. Although I had a wonderful opportunity to do just that yesterday and toda I passed it up to go to Ofuna yesterday and then Yokohama today to play in 4 tournaments, with Miwako , of course. The kicker is that there are four live telecasts of the American football play-offs on TV. I could have watched them. But Nope! Practice, practice, practice! After all practice makes perfect.


Welcome home Eri...again
 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Puzzler Hints

This is Sunday so M and I are in Ofuna at a bridge competition. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE

HOME PROJECT for January 2014:   “even though”
 
~だけど、~ではあるが、~に関わらず
even though は2つ事実の対比を強調します。
 
1. Even though it's raining I’ll go there by bike.  雨だけど、そこまで自転車で行きます
2. My friend is real energetic even though he is ten years older than I am. 友人は私より10歳年上ではあるが、エネルギッシュだ。
3.Even though he is only six, he plays the violin well. 彼はたったの6歳ですが、上手にヴァイオリンをひきます。
4. The skater performed even though her right leg hurt. そのスケート選手は、右足が痛いのにもかかわらず演技をした。
 
“even though” ”although” に置き換えることができます。
 
今年最初のHPです。
Let’s enjoy speaking English!
another Sumo pic

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Puzzler

The New year is going good so far. But, we've only just begun! Puzzler:CLICK HERE

HOME PROJECT for January 2014:   “even though”
~だけど、~ではあるが、~に関わらず
even though は2つ事実の対比を強調します。
1. Even though it's raining I’ll go there by bike.  雨だけど、そこまで自転車で行きます
2. My friend is real energetic even though he is ten years older than I am. 友人は私より10歳年上ではあるが、エネルギッシュだ。
3.Even though he is only six, he plays the violin well. 彼はたったの6歳ですが、上手にヴァイオリンをひきます。
4. The skater performed even though her right leg hurt. そのスケート選手は、右足が痛いのにもかかわらず演技をした。
“even though” ”although” に置き換えることができます。
今年最初のHPです。
Let’s enjoy speaking English!

Yesterday's sunrise

Friday, January 10, 2014

Suntory Hall

After our visit to the shrine (yesterday's BLOG) we drove to Suntory Hall. There were five of us so GOLF was a little crowded in the back seat. I was the driver but, I rode in the back on the way home. Anyway, once again Rina's company, Libera, gave us complimentary (free) tickets for this annual New Years concert. I must say it was a gala event. We had pretty good seats; first floor directly in the middle in the 21st row. The concert featured the Symphonieorchestrer der Volksoper Wien. There were also four ballet dancers on the stage for three different numbers. There were also two opera singers who came out for five or six numbers together and separately. The conductor was a happy, very entertaining fellow. He also played a piece on his violin. The whole event was fantastic. Afterwards, there was a bit of a happening for me. I'll tell you about it next Tuesday.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A visit to the shrine

We did many things together as a family this New Years. One of them was to visit the local shrine. This was our second time to this particular one. We went there last year. We found it quite by accident. Since we moved from Omiya we stopped going to the main Hikawa shrine in Omiya park. We have visited here and there these past 6 years. However last year we didn't find a suitable shrine on January 3rd and as we were on our way home we found this one. It is in KitaAgeo on the west side. It is not very far from our place so we put it in our schedule to visit here. It is small with a very convenient parking lot next door. Even though I was the driver this day I drank some Amazake. The good news is that it is alcohol free. We all got Omikujis. And three of us will have Ultra Good Fortune this year of the HORSE.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Akinoshima

Akinoshima (real name is Yamanaka Katsumi) was a Sumo wrestler from the Futagoyama stable (heya). He is currently the Oyakata of the Takadagawa beya (stable). One of his mates was the famous Yokozuna, Takanohana. Akinoshima was born March 16, 1967 in Hiroshima. Takanohana was also from Hiroshima. Although they became friends there I heard that later they parted ways on unhappy terms (unfriendly). Rina's company, Libera, is based in Hiroshima, so that is why they are supporters, I believe. Anyway, at the O-mochitsuki event at first I didn't realize who he was. But my friend told me quickly. So, I went in for some photos and then I asked him, "What are your hobbies?" Golf? Majan? Pachinko?. He said "Sumo". His whole life is Sumo. He lives, eats and sleeps Sumo. Pretty cool guy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mochi-tsuki

For the second year in a row I went to the Takadagawa Sumo stable in Tokyo. It was Saturday, December 28th. I arrived at 6:45AM and my daughter, Rina, came at 6:55 then my friend, Claudio, came at 7:10. We got the invitation from Rina's company which is a supporter of this stable. It was fun. The Sumo guys are in a playful mood and all were happy to be there. There was beer and sake, O-mochi and of course, Chanko Nabe. Although it was very early in the morning I drank some sake as a new Year's toast. Then we got to do some O-mochitsuki with the big boys. Everybody joined in from small to big and young to old. Then a happening. The Oyakata (manager) arrived. It was Akinoshima. He was a famous, outstanding Sumo wrestler some years ago. I got a chance for some pics and conversation. What do you think I asked him? Answer tomorrow.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Puzzler Answers

So, how was your weekend? I had a whole week off so I feel great! Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE

The weekend was simple.
Saturday
1. Get up slow and late. Forbear jogging.
2. Wash and then wax GOLF.
3. 2 hours violin practice at my school.
4. Home to study and practice bridge with Miwako.
Sunday
1. Up early to jog.
2. Watch NFL football on TV. (The playoffs are happening now).
3. Go to Monthly RINRI committee meeting. Leave early.
4. Miwako and I drive to Yotsuya for bridge competition. We are the champions!
5. Home to review bridge and BLOG.
Fummy Sumo wrestler

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Puzzler Hints

Here's another pic from Ise Jungu. And for your Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.
 

HOME PROJECT for January 2014:   “even though”
 
~だけど、~ではあるが、~に関わらず
even though は2つ事実の対比を強調します。
 
1. Even though it's raining I’ll go there by bike.  雨だけど、そこまで自転車で行きます
2. My friend is real energetic even though he is ten years older than I am. 友人は私より10歳年上ではあるが、エネルギッシュだ。
3.Even though he is only six, he plays the violin well. 彼はたったの6歳ですが、上手にヴァイオリンをひきます。
4. The skater performed even though her right leg hurt. そのスケート選手は、右足が痛いのにもかかわらず演技をした。
 
“even though” ”although” に置き換えることができます。
 
今年最初のHPです。
Let’s enjoy speaking English!



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Puzzler

A new year but the same old Puzzler. Hope you don't mind. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.
HOME PROJECT for January 2014:   “even though”
 
~だけど、~ではあるが、~に関わらず
even though は2つ事実の対比を強調します。
 
1. Even though it's raining I’ll go there by bike.  雨だけど、そこまで自転車で行きます
2. My friend is real energetic even though he is ten years older than I am. 友人は私より10歳年上ではあるが、エネルギッシュだ。
3.Even though he is only six, he plays the violin well. 彼はたったの6歳ですが、上手にヴァイオリンをひきます。
4. The skater performed even though her right leg hurt. そのスケート選手は、右足が痛いのにもかかわらず演技をした。
 
“even though” ”although” に置き換えることができます。
 
今年最初のHPです。
Let’s enjoy speaking English!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ise Jingu Part 2

While we were on our way to Naigu (which is the bigger park) we made a mistake. We should have stayed in the left lane but we went passed our turn on the right. We were running out of time, too. We came back and suddenly, as we approached the Isuzu river, some old guy jumped out and in front of our car and stopped us. He told us we could park down by the river. It was a gamble but we took it. How lucky we were! We were just across the river from Oharai Machi Dori. We could get a wheelchair there. And, what a cool place. We ate and I had some sake coming and going. The shrine here was also fantastic. Lots of people and a warm friendly buzz in the air. We finally got back to our car and then drove to our hotel. It was gorgeous. There was some kind of mix up (mistake) with our reservation so we got bumped up to "first class". And the meal was so delicious for just a few thousand yen more. Lucky us!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ise Jingu

 Miwako and I took a two day trip to Ise to visit Ise Jingu. They build a new shrine next to the old one every twenty years I heard. Actually I went there twenty yeas ago with the (then) Omiya Chamber of Commerce and Industry Young Entrepreneurs Group (YEG). I don't remember much as it was at night and we drank a lot. On Saturday we drove until 6:30PM and arrived at our hotel in Nagoya. It is a business hotel...very cheap but rather elegant. The next day we drove to Ise. We got caught in a traffic jam (caused by a car accident) and arrived Ise Jingu at 1PM. Then it took about 30 minutes to get a parking place. We cruised around Gegu first. What a beautiful place. It reminded me of Meiji Jingu. We saw a shrine that was just rebuilt and next to it the old shrine. The weather was fine. After buying souvenirs and such we drove to Naigu. I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Sunrise this morning, January 1st, 2014
Happy New Year everybody. It's the year of the Horse. Are you ready for it? My resolutions:
1. Stop complaining about other people's driving. I usually do this while I am in my car. Sometimes with Miwako and sometimes when I am soloing. I will ignore these drivers from now on. This also applies to when I am walking and/or riding my bicycle.
2. I just checked my diary. My weight was 76.8 kilograms 1/1/2011, 75.5 1/1 2012, 64.7 1/1 2013 (the year after I quit drinking) and now 68.6 this AM. I will get it in the 65kilos range and keep it there (maintain it). In order to do this I will abstain from alcohol every even numbered month. That is Feb, Apr, June, Aug, Oct, Dec.
3. Practice bridge on-line.
4. Use the metronome more when I practice the violin (I do not like Mr Metronome).
5. Karaoke once a month.
Did you make any resolutions for 2014?
Good luck.