Author Archives: moshimoshimo

About moshimoshimo

I'm Japanese. I love cats, coffee, reading books, eating snacks, taking naps and doing Tai Chi♪

Happy Birthday to Me! : Thank you so much for celebrating my birthday, Friends!

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     As you know, though you might not know, my birthday is St. Valentine’s Day. Many of my friends remember my birthday and celebrate me every year. Moreover, this year’s one was particular. One of my friends, Midori, treated me at a Hawaiian café! Another friend, Rosario, came to my apartment and fixed special lunch for me! And another one, Sue, baked a cake for me! Of course, other friends gave me wonderful presents and sent special messages, too! What a lucky person I am!

     That was on January 28. Midori asked me where I wanted to go for lunch when she picked me up. She celebrated my birthday a little bit earlier. I replied promptly, “I wanna go to Mahalo Café!” Actually, I don’t…can’t drive a car…The Hawaiian café is located in an inconvenient place to access from my apartment by public transportation. So, I requested the restaurant.

     Mahalo Café’s specialty is pancakes. Midori had pancakes with smoke salmon salad, and I had cured ham salad one, which was excellent. The restaurant was not so crowded. We chatted over delicious lunch in a comfortable atmosphere. I had a great time! Thanks, Mirodi-chan!

     In the morning of February 13, I had a Chinese exercise class. I take the class with two of my friends: Michiyo and Yukiko. Unfortunately Yukiko had something to do in the afternoon and couldn’t come, but Michiyo came to my apartment after the class. Rosario was supposed to treat me and Michiyo with Peruvian cuisine at my place.

     Firstly, Rosario made a cocktail called Pisco sour, which is drunk in special occasions, such as birthday party and wedding ceremonies, in Peru. I don’t think it’s easy to buy Pisco in Japan. Rosario brought everything from her house for the special lunch, even a rice-cooker and a shaker! Cheers!bd3

     Secondly, she made “papa a la hunakina”, and then served “poyo al horno” with turmeric rice. Of course, both of them were divine! Actually, she had prepared even dessert! She had baked cake! That was fantastic! I had a wonderful time! Muchas gracias, Rosario!

     On February 18, I took a Tai Chi class in the morning, and then had an English class in the afternoon. The surprise happened soon after the English class finished. Sue appeared in the classroom (she was taking an Italian class or something in another place that day) with her homemade cake for me! Wow! The cake was delicious, of course! Thank you, Sue-chan! And many thanks for celebrating my birthday, Friends!bd2 bd1

Woderful Japan Tour in Chita Peninsula: Make a toast with sake of Chita!

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“What does Ikuji mean?”

     I was in a sake brewery. I had seen the word of “Ikuji” many times on my way to the place, and the man standing in front me was also wearing a coat on which the same word was printed. I was curious about it.

     There was an interesting tour visiting around Chita Peninsula on November 16. The participants looked on a Japanese sake brewery, tasted many kinds of sake there, went to an agricultural establishment, studied about vegetables produced in the area and had a healthy lunch set made from some of the products there, and then visited a temple related to Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had established the Edo Shogunate. Actually, the tour was guided in English. I took part in it with some of my friends.

     The man I asked is the president of the brewery named Harada Shuzo in Higashiura. He introduced an interesting episode: Long time ago, when Prince Yamatotakeru passed by this area, he got thirsty and he drove an arrow into the ground. Then water started gushing. Local people still use the spring and the well is called Ikuji. Nowadays no one knows the derivation of the name.

     His brewery also uses the water and sells sake named Ikuji. The place is suitable for sake making because of the climate and good quality of water.

     The building was filled with sweet sake flavor. The participants were able to look into a big tank in which sake was fermenting and to taste many kinds of sake. CAM01666Interestingly, they have collaborated with Meijo University for creating new sake with yeast from carnations. The carnation sake was sweet and smelt like flowers. Actually, the university has also made ice cream from the sake lees. You can try it in a cafeteria of the collage.

     Next we headed to an agricultural establishment in Obu for lunch half drunk. The place is called “Genki-no-sato” with many facilities, such as a farmers’ market, a spa, a bakery, and lots of cafeterias and so on. We went to a restaurant named “Dan-ran-tei”, where a man was waiting for us. He was a kind of vegetable geek… According to him, he can keep on talking about just tomatoes at least three hours…

     We enjoyed the meal, hearing his lecture on vegetables. All of the foods were made from vegetables produced in the area: boiled sweet potatoes with tangerines, boiled crams and daikon- radish leaves, boiled garland chrysanthemums, boiled mushrooms with ginger roots, crabs with vinaigrette, grilled salmon with beans paste, fuki or boiled giant rhubarb with soy sauce, steamed egg custard, fried mushrooms, tomato-nabe (fish, crams, mushrooms, Chinese cabbages, garland chrysanthemums, tomatoes, and leeks), and sushi (shrimp, sea eel, fig, bell pepper, wasabi leaf)…Those were delicious!

     After lunch, each of the participants spent free time there for a while. For example, I went to the farmers’ market and bought some fresh vegetables, dropped in the fish shop and the bakery, and bought some foods in the souvenir store. Then all of us head over to a temple named “Uchu-zan Kenkon-in”. Uchu means cosmos or space. Strange name…

     This temple was built in the 15th Century and is related to the mother of one of the most famous feudal lords, Tokugawa Ieyasu. She was from a powerful family, the Mizunos. The temple was located southwest of a castle of the family. Both of “ken” and “kon” mean southwest, and “kenkon” means massive universe. That’s why, the temple has the name of cosmos or space as well.

     We strolled around the temple with some local guides. The participants and the guides got along well and we had animated conversations during the tour of the historic site.

     Delicious sake and food, interesting stories, sites, and people…I had a wonderful time!

Karaoke Party @ ISONA: This is like we are in an expensive dinner show, isn’t it?

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And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain…

     Charlee’s vibrant and resonant voice filled in the small pub Isona. Kenji, a friend of mine held a karaoke party there in the beginning of last November. I was having a good time with some of my friends. In fact, the owner of the pub is also a friend of mine.

     Although Charlee was using a microphone, I did not think he needed it. He is a professional singer. So, his voice was totally different from the other participants. It did not come from his vocal cord, but emanated from his whole body! His voice is lamprophony.

     Having delicious food with alcohol in the dim light of the pub, my friends and I were captivated by Charlee’s singing, saying “This is like we are in an expensive dinner show, isn’t it?”

     Of course, not only Charlee but also all of the participants sang various kinds of songs. I sang a famous Enka song, Tsugaru-Kaikyo-Fuyu-Geshiki, or The Winter Scenery of Tsugaru Straits, and Duran Duran’s The Reflex. Oh, don’t guess my age! CAM01479-a

     Some of the participants were shy and hesitated to sing at the beginning, but they loosened up and finally transformed themselves into different characters at the end of the session! I’m sure all of us enjoyed the party!

    

 

  

     Charlee Laine: http://www.charleelaine.co.uk/

     ISONA: 2-8-11 Nakata, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya (between Imaike and Ikeshita) http://www.site-builder.jp/1085/isona/

Happy Halloween and a Healthy Newborn Baby!: Do you know Japanese people love to party?

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As you know, Japan is not a Christian country. Nevertheless, most of the Japanese celebrate Christmas, and recently many of them have become enjoying Halloween as well without understanding the essence. Actually I’m one of them…

     Not only Christmas and Halloween but also many cultural things are used commercially in this country, and ironically many people including me like to get in on the crazes! You might have thought Japanese people are shy and quiet. Well, in a way, you’re right. But interestingly they also love to party!

     There was a Halloween party at Mairo, the bakery store, near my apartment last October 26. Actually, the shop holds a Halloween party every year, and I take part in all of them…But this time it was not only to enjoy disguising themselves for the participants but also to celebrate the debut day for a newborn baby of the baker.

     I was able to meet the angel and many of my friends there. We had a wonderful time over delicious food, beer, wine, spirits like vodka, and jack-o’-lantern-shaped cake. I suppose no one was thinking about Celtic or Christian cultures during the party. But I think it’s okay if many people can drive off their gloom in unusual costumes with their friends over delicious food and drink even though they don’t understand the meanings of the original event.

     I appreciate the bakery to have had such a wonderful party and wish the baby a promising future!

The Tai Chi Camp in 2013: I ate too much again!

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Why are they changing the light volume so frequently? I was wondering while doing a qigong exercise. I was doing that with other 400 participants. All of us were taking breath slowly as moving our arms at the same pace. No one uttered a word. The room became brighter and then darker repeatedly. Then I noticed that the room became brighter when we inhaled and became darker when we exhaled. I thought it was strange a hotel staffer changed the light volume in time with our movements…54220081000925697

     Then I came to a sudden realization that no one was controlling the intensity but I just felt like that way! Probably I perceived “qi” radiated from 400 people as light. When I inhaled slowly, the room got brighter and brighter, and when I exhaled slowly, it started darker and darker…How interesting! I’d never perceived “qi” that way. This strange thing happened while I was joining a big Tai Chi meeting in Toyohasi last October.

     The Tai Chi camp was held at Loisir Hotel Toyohashi on October 5th and 6th. I took part in it with two of my friends. When we got on a train, there were many ladies in it. And I glanced at them, wondering if all of us might be heading to the same destination. Sure enough, some of them who were sitting opposite to us smiled and gave us some candies! Suddenly our car became a kind of reserved train, and I was already able to have a wonderful time before the camp began.

     My friends and I had a lunch at a Japanese restaurant named Musashi nearby after we arrived at the hotel. They had many lunch specials, and I chose “hime-kgo-zen”, or a lunch set in a basket of a princess. Yes, the photo was that meal. It cost 1,000 yen. Hmm, reasonable. After lunch, the Tai Chi camp stared. But I was sleepy…you know, I ate too much…

     Around six o’clock, there was a feast. I met many people and made new friends over the wonderful dinner there. A teacher came to our table and told us an interesting episode: He has bought a new house recently in a countryside, where there are still many wildernesses. One night, he noticed a shadow of someone was getting closer to the frosted glass door. He wondered who came at that time of night. Then, the glass door slid open quietly without a knock, and a raccoon peered into his house. He was very surprised because he had not expected that non-human appeared. They stared at each other for a while. Then the raccoon seemed to give up something and left without closing door…

     Actually there was a workshop after the dinner. But I was sleepy…you know, I ate too much again…Around 8:30, it finished. I went to my room with my roommate. Not only me but also she ate too much at the banquet, but we went to a convenience store outside to buy some snacks… No wonder I can’t become thin…

    The morning training started at 6:30. I was almost a zombie. But I revived by breakfast! All of the participants practiced Tai Chi around 9:30. And as you’ve already expected, I was sleepy because I ate too much! After the session, there was an examination for becoming a master of Tai Chi. More than 60 people took the test and wonderfully all of them passed. I might be more nerves than the test-takers…During the test, there were a great deal of tension in the room… Relaxing after the event, I had lunch together with other participants. Ha ha, I ate too much again! Well, I had a great time at the Tai Chi meeting!

A Stormy Fireworks Display

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     When was the last time I wrote here? What? September 26?! Mmm…I haven’t posted anything for such a long time except for the annual report…My last article is about events which happened last July and September 11th. Okay, let’s go back to last September…

     It was raining hard on September 15. A big typhoon was getting closer to my area. There were not only heavy rains but also strong winds outside. A fireworks display was planned in my neighborhood that evening, but of course, many people including me had given it up.

     But I thought I heard something big bangs faraway around 6:30 in the evening. Then I opened the window and looked outside. The wind and rain seemed to ease a little. Then a big bright flower opened in the air before me. Wow! A firework!

     Actually the event was supposed to start at 7:00 p.m., but they began before the time. They seemed to decide to set off all of the fireworks while the weather was lulling. You know, once fireworks get wet, they will never be used. If they hadn’t fired them off, they would have had to throw them away. And it would be very difficult and cost a lot.

     Around 7:00, when was the originally scheduled time, the weather was getting worse. They seemed to fire the rest of the fireworks at once…The stormy night sky was filled with countless bright lights and glowed with loud blasts for a short time. And then the town was steeped in darkness in a moment.

     They fired all of the fireworks off in 30 minutes though it would take two hours for the event in a normal situation. I stood there looking at the dark sky for a while despite of the bad weather because the last one minute was spectacular. I felt like the summer had gone with the fireworks display while hearing the roar of the typhoon…

 

2013 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Teacher with Shafts of Love Comes to Small English Club: “Teacher, Teacher, I like him!”

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     “Chinese philosophy!?” The two ladies and I repeated the word in surprise. We were making curry in the cooking room of Nanzan Elementary school. It was a very hot day in July. An interesting event named Aichi Summer Seminar is held in Nagoya every July. There are more than 3,000 classes in it and anyone can take any classes freely there. That is why it is called “The Dream School”. I have participated in the dream school for five years and I take the same cooking class – Bangladeshi curry – every year. (I have written the event and the curry class in the past: 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012)

     The Bangladeshi curry class is led by some members of Japan Bangladesh Cooperative Society. Although I took the class five times, I have never met a Bangladeshi there but some Japanese members of the NGO and a Seychellois. Seychelles is a country officially called the Republic of Seychelles comprising more than 100 islands in the Indian Ocean. I think it is very rare to come across a Seychellois in this Far Eastern island country. He is Jean. He teaches English, economics, and Chinese philosophy in a university, and of course, teaches how to make delicious Bangladeshi curry in the cooking class.

     The opening exclamation was uttered when one of the classmates in the cooking class asked Jean about his leisure time:
     “So, what do you do in your spare time?”
     “Well…I read books.”
     “What kind?”
     “About my study.
     “What do you study?”
     “Chinese philosophy…”
     “Chinese philosophy?!”

     How interesting! You know, he is from Seychelles and studies Chinese philosophy in Japan! I wanted to listen to him more and I thought I should not get his story all to myself at the same time. Then a light bulb went on over my head. I have a small English club in my neighborhood and teach some senior citizens once a week. I decided to invite him as a guest to the club. In fact, one year had already passed since they had an opportunity to talk with an English speaker. (The episode is here: “An Event at a Small English Club: When is the next session?”) I was sure they would be glad at the meeting. It was very kind of him that Jean agreed readily to come to the club.

     The session was held on the second Wednesday this month. Seven members came to the club that day. The average age is around 75. The oldest person is an 83-year-old lady. The youngest is probably 63. Although one is a patient of Parkinson disease, one is recovering from a stroke, one has poor lung function, one is suffering from a spinal canal stenosis, and two of them have panic disorders, those elders and betters are flexible and curious, and enjoy their lives. So, they were waiting for Jean’s arrival in their excitement that morning.

     Jean entered the room in applause. The senior citizens looked a little nervous in the beginning, but soon all of them were attracted by his interesting stories and came out of their shells. They looked very happy during the meeting. I was also very happy to see them excited with their starry eyes. They were enjoying like children. Pleasant hours fly past. Finally the time came when they had to say goodbye to Jean. While the others were saying goodbye and thank you to him, one of them ran up to me and whispered, “Teacher, Teacher, Jean is gentle and good-looking. I like him.” “Ha ha. I knew you would say that!” I winked at her. Actually, the rest of ladies came to me later and left similar comments. It seems that Jean has not only boosted the elderly people’s motivation for learning English, but also pierced some senior women’s hearts with shafts of love!

Choshokaku–a ‘new’ historic building opens: He might be waiting for a chance to explore in a secret tunnel…

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     “How about tomorrow 2pm at Kakuozan. There is a ‘new’ historic building opened there. We could visit it and go to a café for our lesson. Ciao.

     That was a text message from Ricky my private English teacher on September 4th. I take his lesson once a week. We usually meet at a donut shop in Hoshigaoka, where you can get a donut for free if you buy something to drink, and talk in English for an hour. But he suggested another place that day. A ‘new’ historic building? What does it mean? Many question marks crowded my brain. But they disappeared soon, when I happened to open a Nagoya’s community paper that night: Nagoya City had completed the restoration of the historic Choshokaku reception hall and opened the building to the public at the end of August. Ah, the ‘new’ historic building is a reception hall called Choshokaku!

     The hall is part of the estate called Yokiso which was owned by Suketami Ito, the first president of Matsuzakaya department store. He bought a 35,000 m2 land near the Nittaiji Temple in Kakuozan and built about 30 buildings on the estate by 1940. That area used to be a place for guests like the imperial family, nobility, politicians, and foreigners, and for social interaction for them. But most of the buildings were burned down in an air raid in 1945, and some remained ones were occupied by the US Army Forces for a while after the war. The Yokiso Villa has been managed by an NPO since 2003, and was donated to Nagoya City in 2007. Since then some parts of the place has been opened to the public. Choshokaku was originally built in 1937 as a guest house. The renovation began in 2011 and finally opened on August 29 this year.

     Ricky and I met near Kakuozan Station next day and walked to Choshokaku together. According to the community paper, the ‘new’ historic building is in the south area. Both of us had visited other buildings in the north area of the villa, but did not know from where we could enter the south area. However, we arrived at the building without notice while following two women who we saw walking before us. There was a striking red house in front of our eyes. Those ladies were also visitors to the heritage. We paid for the fee, which was 300 yen, and stepped inside.

     The building is a western-style house, but you have to take off your shoes at the entrance. We had a direct view of a tea room when we entered. We decided to have a lesson over tea at the tea room before touring the house. But Ricky ordered a set of curry and rice instead of tea. He has not had lunch yet. The tea room was quite cozy. This is a sequel, but Ricky liked its atmosphere and has spent a lot of time there recently…We talked about Syria’s situation, Turkish movements, and a Serbian revolutionist Popovic at the comfortable and quiet tea room. Ha ha…

     After my lesson, we started touring the house. There was a miniature land of the place at a corner and we imagined the way the villa used to be. Now in the most of the land there are many houses and tall condos. In fact, many of the windows of the house were closed and blocked not to look outside. A guide told us it was because of privacy protection for the residents around the heritage. The interiors were exotic mixed up Japanese, other Asian countries’ and European cultures. According to the guide, many of the parts of the house are made from chestnut trees and they look rough because the wood is very hard to curve. But the roughness has brought to the house its special avant-garde atmosphere.

     The house is two-story and has a basement floor. There are two rooms and a tea room on the first floor, five rooms on the second floor, and a ball room on the basement. The same guide highly recommended visiting the basement floor and came down with us. There was a hall with beautiful Indian paintings on the wall at the bottom when we descended the staircase. According to the guide, the paintings were painted by an Indian exchange student. The ball room also is designed with Indian motives. There are many relieves of Hindu gods and Indian geometric patterns on the wall and the pillars and the windows have Himalayas in the room. Actually you can rent the room at night from 3,000 to 4,500 yen. It might be nice to have a party with your friends there!CAM01243

     Interestingly there is a set of stairs down to the lower level from the basement. And you see a set of doors at the bottom. There is a tunnel behind the doors. Unfortunately it is not to open to the public…According to the guide, the tunnel connects to other places in the villa and there is a dome room in the way. It seems that the tunnel was made for evacuating or hiding important people during the war. It is not clear whether it was used really…As I mentioned above, Ricky liked the tea room. So, he bought a year pass when we left the house. He seems to visit the building and have curry and rice or tea almost every day. But I am suspecting that he might be waiting for a chance to explore in the tunnel…

Japan Air Self-Defense Force participates in US military drill: Reinterpretation of the Constitution?

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     A formation of F-15 fighters of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has participated in a military maneuver which the US Air Force has led. They had exercises jointly with a B-52 for covering the bomber. It is capable of meaning to depart from “the defense-only policy” that Japan has been acting up to since the end of the war. The Abe administration adopted a change the chief of Cabinet Legislation Bureau at a Cabinet meeting this month to let them accept the use of the right to collective self-defense by “reinterpretation of the Constitution”.

     This military exercise is called “Red Flag-Alaska (RFA)”. It was named that way in 2006 since then it has done in Alaska, and it started on August 9th this year too.

     “This happened during the OCA (offensive counter air operation) mission in RFA. A formation of F-15 of JASDF took the lead and kept covering B-52 bomber….But B-52 had run the mission and had gone back with the other formations before the Japan’s team knew. The formation of JASDF was left behind and got down without covering forces. This misstep was because all of the operation plans and the pre-flight briefing had been done in English and Japan’s pilots had not understood correctly that they had to go back when B-52 finished its bombing mission and because they could not catch the MC’s “Mission accomplished. Retreat” …

     That is a part of an article in the July issue last year of the monthly magazine of the Air Self-Defense Force. The writer is a captain in the 6th aircraft wing. He did not write when the drill was held. Actually Japan Air Staff Office has not affirmed the contents of the exercises. According to them, it was an “air defense drill”.

     The relations between Article 9 of the Constitution and activities of Japan’s Self-Defense Force have been stretched gradually. However, the exclusively defensive defense and the individual self-defense are the base, and the government has been conditional on these three points:
1) if Japan gets an imminent and unlawful incursion,
2) and there is no other appropriate methods to get rid of it,
3) resort to force to minimum necessary
And they have banned to exercise the right of collective defense because it departs from those three conditions. But they have used the ideas of “logistical support” or “non-combat areas” since 1990s and have delivered weapons and provided information to the US Armed Force because they interpret those actions are not using of force and do not regard them as the right of collective defense.

     What do experts think about the participation of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to RFA? :

Kyoji Yanagisawa (The chairman of International Geopolitics Institute Japan, a former aide to deputy chief cabinet secretary for security in the first Abe administration) : The government might reply that they assume the situation in which North Korea launches missiles to Japan. When Japan is in such an emergency situation, the activity is within the individual self-defense.

Akira Kato (A professor at Obirin University, a former research worker at the National Institute for Defense Studies): The Japan Air Self-Defense Force always keeps joint operations with the US Air Force in mind. That is why they practice many drills together to boost mutual understanding and communication. In actual condition, members of Self-Defense Force don’t think whether their action is collective or individual so much.

Tetsuo Maeda (A military commentator): B-52 is notorious for using napalm during the Vietnam War. The recent white paper on defense says, “There is no risk of getting a direct invasion to Japan”. So, it’s difficult to accept their activities as self-defense. It is rather a proof that they practice the use of the right to collective self-defense on a daily basis. It has no reality of using B-52 in the Korean Peninsula because the bomber is incapable of point attack to the deployment place of Taep’o dong or Nodong. It’s natural to think the practice is to join wars between the US and other countries like Iran.

Motofumi Asai (A political scholar): Strategic bombers are used for aggressive attack or invasion. So, covering B-52 departs from “minimum necessary” of self-defense. Politicians may be creating “faits accomplish” such as the drill.

     B-52 is capable of strategic nuclear strike. It seems to be difficult for US to handle attacks from North Korea with a ballistic missile defense system. They appear to have a nuclear retaliation plan. That exercise may be for sharing the project. It might be the aim for the use of the right to collective self-defense to support wars between US and other countries. The worst thing is that the government has neither opened the activities of the Japan Self-Defense Force nor assumed situations to the public. They have never even placed those things on the agenda. In the meantime, Prime Minister Abe is scrambling for acceptation of the use of the right to collective defense.

(From The Chunichi, August 13, 2013      translated by moshimoshimo)