A Spanish Dinner Party on St. Valentine’s Day: Happy Birthdy to Me!



     “I’m going to have a Spanish dinner party at home on February 14th. Why don’t you come?” One day in February, Takako kindly invited me. She had come back to Japan last year after living in Spain for about 25 years as an interpreter. She and I met in an English class last September. She told me that she was going to invite other classmates and our teacher, Michael, to the party. I said, “Yes!” right away. stv4

     I went to Takako’s house with Hisako. When Hisako and I arrived, Akiko was already there and was helping Takako with the preparation. There was a lot of delicious-looking food on the table. Akiko showed me a wine bottle with a big smile and said, “This wine is really nice!” Wow! It looks like it will be a great party!stv3

     Another friend of mine, Sue was going to pick up Michael, the teacher, in her car, but they didn’t show up by the time when they were supposed to come. When Takako, Akiko, Hisako and I started to worry about them, Sue phoned Takako and said, “Michael is not here! I gave his phone a few calls and left messages, but he hasn’t called me back yet! What shall I do?” We couldn’t do anything but said to her, “Could you wait for him for a while, please? We’ll also try to get in touch with him!”

     That’s why I also tried to call Michael several times, but the phone just said, “The phone stv1number you called is now disconnected.” So, I tried sending messages on Facebook. But he didn’t write back…We began to imagine some terrible things, such as Michael had collapsed at his apartment and was losing his consciousness, or he had had a heart attack and was suffering alone…or it was over and he had finally died…

     I gave Sue a phone call after a while. She had been waiting for Michael for nearly 30 minutes. “Thank you, Sue! We’ll give up on him! Come to Takako’s house!” When Sue arrived, we started the party. We were enjoying the nice wine and lots of delicious food, and then I noticed the blue light was flashing on my phone. I hastily checked it and found a message from Michael who said “Help!”stv5

     Actually, his phone’s battery had died, not Michael himself…We were relieved to know that. According to him, he was waiting for Sue at their rendezvous point for about 20 minutes, and then his phone died…So, he had gone to charge it at a convenience store…A hobgoblin or something might have gotten in the way of their meeting…Anyway, we made a toast when Michael arrived. In fact, this time they sang Happy Birthday for me! February 14th is my birthday!stv6

     Takako cooked paella for us. It was brilliant! Sue had baked a birthday cake for me, which was also fantastic! Actually, she baked one last year, too! Thank you so much, Sue! I love you! She entertained us by playing the flute, too. I had a really good time with my friends on my special day! Thank you for throwing such a great party, Takako!

The Final Day of Aki-chan Izakaya Bar: Good-bye, Aki-chan. Thank you for your hospitality and delicious dishes…



       “Aki-chan Izakaya Bar closes at the end of January!” What? I was surprised and sad at the sudden news in the middle of January. Izakaya means Japanese bar-restaurant. This bar was not an ordinary bar. It opened only on Friday and Saturday evenings at Mairo, the bakery in my neighborhood, after the bakery closed their door at six p.m. I don’t know the reason, but Aki-chan decided to end four years of business there. aki2

     The final day was on January 31. The customers could enjoy not only Aki-chan’s delicious handmade dishes but also Mairo’s pizzas that night. They had recently built a stone oven for pizza. But they don’t usually use the oven because they need to preheat it with wood at least one hour before starting to bake pizzas and they can’t bake lots of pizzas. It’s inefficient for them to use the oven for business. In fact, they built it for pleasure. aki3

     When I arrived at the bakery / the bar around seven p.m., Oku-chan, who had built the oven, was standing in front of it and baking pizzas. Actually, he is not a baker, he is just a friend of the staff. According to the husband of one of the bakers, Oku-chan came to the bakery around noon to prepare for this event. You know, Aki-chan Izakaya Bar started after six when the bakery closed the door. It was more inefficient than I had thought…But I was lucky because I had an opportunity to try some of their rare pizzas! aki5

     Customers came in one after another to the bar to say good-bye to Aki-chan and to enjoy her food and pizzas. One of them was a friend of mine, Kon-chan, whom I hadn’t seen at the annual Halloween party in Mairo last October. We usually meet there. That was a good chance for us to catch up. I wanted to hear from him about his recent news because at Mairo’s Halloween party held two years ago, he had confessed that he had got a girlfriend at last after divorce and that he had become a groupie of Momoiro Clover Z, a Japanese idol group. aki4

     I couldn’t believe him. He and his girlfriend were stuck in a rut. He told me that it might be time for him to break up with her…Hmm…it might be…As for Momoiro Clover Z, he said, “I’m a still fan of them, but I’m now crazy about Team Shachihoko!” Oh, Gosh! He is in his mid-forties…Team Shachihoko is another Japanese girls group in Nagoya…Well, I’m happy if he’s happy…Anyway, I enjoyed talking to my friends and other customers with Aki-chan’s food and Mairo’s pizzas.

     Good-bye, Aki-chan. Thank you for your hospitality and delicious dishes. I wish you a wonderful new chapter!

Welcome Back to Japan, Amelia! : It was as if we had never been apart…


Amelia 1

     One day in January, I happened to be passing a post office, when I received an email. I stopped to check it and found it was from Amelia in Australia. I used to learn English from her when she was in Japan several years ago. Actually, she was supposed to come to Japan a few days later and we were going to meet with other friends. According to her, she tried to contact three Japanese ladies among her old students, but all the emails she had sent to them failed to get through. She wanted to meet them while staying in Japan. So, she asked me to send them letters for her to let them know about her visit to Japan and her contact information. Amelia 2

     Reading the message, I looked up from my phone and turned my head to the left. Yes! I was in front of the post office! Amelia asked me to print her message out and send them to the three ladies, but it would have taken a lot of time if I had gone back home, made photocopies of her message, written letters, and then gone outside again to send the letters to the ladies. So, I entered the post office and bought three postcards. I decided to write Amelia’s message in handwriting. Actually, there was one more reason to use postcards not envelopes. I thought that they might have been suspicious of my letters before opening item because I didn’t know the three ladies at all. But postcards wouldn’t make them uneasy because they could check my message on the spot. Amelia 3

     I added some information about me, such as my name, about my relationship with Amelia, and my phone number, to Amelia’s message on the cards. Hoping the message would work well for a rendezvous with Amelia, I sent the three cards right away…

     The next afternoon, my phone rang. The call was from an unknown number. I answered the phone, wondering who it was. It was one of the three ladies. I was surprised at the sudden phone call and the speediness of Japan’s postal system. I was relieved when she told me that she would contact the two other ladies and Amelia. She thanked me which made me very happy. Amelia 4

     Actually, that night, the other two also got in touch with me. One called me on my land line, and the other emailed me. I knew that they had both received my postcards and a phone call from the one who had phoned me that afternoon. I was very happy to know that the three ladies had already decided the dates and time to meet Amelia in Japan.

     Of course, I myself had an opportunity to meet Amelia with some of my friends. We met at (Sekai-no-)Yama-chan, a chain restaurant of ‘tebasaki,’ or fried chicken wings, in Nagoya on January 22. Amelia was as beautiful as before. Happiness was radiating from her eyes because she came to Japan with her boyfriend this time! We hadn’t met each other for a long time, but once we started talking, it was as if we had never been apart. We enjoyed chatting and eating lots of ‘tebasaki.’ I had a great time! Amelia 5

     Later, I found out that the three ladies had had a wonderful lunch time with Amelia and her boyfriend. I was so happy to see their photo taken that lunchtime. I’d like to go to Australia to see Amelia and her cat, Poppy, someday!

Oden and Aji de Gallina: I enjoyed the belated Christmas party with the Japanese and the Peruvian food!


xmas1      Today’s topic is an event at the end of last year, although March has already started…. I visited a Peruvian friend, Rosario, with two of my Japanese friends, Michiyo and Sachiko, on December 26th, the day after Christmas. We had a belated Christmas party. xmas2

     We got together at 9:30 in the morning and started cooking Japanese and Peruvian food together. The Japanese one was Oden and the Peruvian one was Aji de Gallina. Oden is a kind of stew with fishcakes, daikon raddish, boiled eggs and so on in soy-flavored broth. This time we added some Chinese dumplings to the Oden. Amazingly those dumplings went well with Japanese Oden! Aji de Gallina is a sort of chicken curry. ‘Aji’ means hot chilli peppers, ‘de’ of, and ‘gallina’ chicken. xmas4

Aji de Gallina (Serves: 4)


500g chicken breast
500ml water
1 onion (chopped)
2 tbs oil
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
3 slices of white bread (without crust)
4 boiled eggs
Parmesan (grated)
Aji Amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli pepper paste)
Salt and pepperxmas3

1) Boil the chicken breast and shred them. (Keep the broth.)

2) Heat the oil in a pan, fry the onion, garlic with Aji Amarillo, salt and pepper.

3) Add the broth and heat.

4) Add milk soaked bread to the pan.

5) Put the shredded chicken into the pan and boil with some Parmesan.

6) Serve over rice and/or potatoes with black olives and Aji Amarillo if you like. xmas5

     Neither Oden nor Aji de Gallina have anything to do with Christmas, but we enjoyed cooking, chatting and eating together at the belated Christmas party!

Good-bye, Ricky…I’d like to see you after improving my English skills someday!



      It was snowing on December 18th. If I had had nothing to do, I would have avoided going outside in the heavy snow. But that day was special for me. In the morning my private English teacher Ricky was supposed to introduce me to a friend of his as another teacher before he left Japan. In the afternoon I was going to have a farewell party for him, and in the evening I was going to attend his band’s last gig. Therefore I went to the café in spite of the snow. It usually takes about 30 minutes to the place by bus, but it took me nearly one hour to get there due to the snow that morning.ricky2

     Ricky and I were at Komeda, a famous chain of coffee shops in Nagoya. We talked about many things, looking out the window at the snowflakes, sipping hot coffee and eating some toast and boiled eggs from their “Morning Service.” Most coffee shops in the Nagoya area have this “Morning Service” and give you some food for the cost of a cup of coffee in the morning. After a while, Ricky’s friend Anthony joined us. I was relieved to meet him because he looked very gentle and friendly. ricky3

     Then we went to a friend of mine, Hisako’s house, where Ricky’s farewell party was supposed to be held. It had stopped snowing by the time we arrived at her place. Unfortunately, most of my friends decided not to attend the party because of the snow, but two of them came. To tell you the truth, I would have liked to have a much bigger party for Ricky! But the small party was very nice and cozy with Hisako’s cordial homemade dishes.ricky4

     Around two o’clock, Anthony and Ricky left Hisako’s place. Anthony had to go to his school, and Ricky needed to prepare for that evening’s concert. I went home after clearing up after the party, and then went to Juke★Box, the music studio, in the evening. They have a party room and you can have a small party and a concert there. Ricky’s band “Los Tres” usually rehearsed at the studio. In fact, I myself often practice playing the drums there. ricky5

     Los Tres was a rockabilly band consisting of three musicians: Ricky, the vocalist and the keyboardist, Antonio, the vocalist and the guitarist, and Sally Fat, the bassist. The name Sally sounds female, but he is a man. I had wondered what the band would do after Ricky left Japan, and was shocked to know that they would disband. Antonio was also going back to his home in Spain soon! Not only me but also the staff at the studio were surprised at the sad news. So they served many kinds of food and drinks for free as a farewell.ricky6

     The concert was fantastic! Ricky, Antonio, Sally Fat and the drummer played energetically and their music fascinated the audience. Anthony came to the party after his job during the interval. “Oh, we have the same name!” After Anthony and Antonio greeted each other, Anthony borrowed Antonio’s guitar and sang a few songs. That was also great! I had a wonderful time, but the end of the party meant I had to bid farewell to Ricky… Good-bye, Ricky. Thank you for your lessons. I don’t know when I can see you next time, but I’d like to see you after improving my English skills someday!

Maru-chan is Great!- An English Class Party


“Oh, Maru-chan!”

     All of the people including me were surprised and watched the two men who were glad to see each other again. That happened during the English class party on December 9th.

     I took an English class at Chukyo University for three months from last September. Although I joined class in the middle of the course, I became the organizer of class party in November. I did not know where to have the party because I was a stranger around the Yagoto area. But one of my classmates kindly offered to help me look for a good place to have the party.

     10470852_10152864428822356_7059506429380459043_oAfter class she and I were strolling in a dark alley, where there were many kinds of shops. Their illuminations were luring us. We were checking menus outside and peeping inside at each restaurant. All of a sudden, a man’s voice called from behind us. We turned around and found a man in a white cook coat standing with a big smile in front of a building. “Why don’t you come to my restaurant?” he said. It was the first time I met Maru-chan.

     We checked his menu. It was nice and reasonable. We decided to try some food and to check inside. All of food was very nice and the atmosphere was also good. We made a reservation for our class party when we left the restaurant: Nude-R Yagoto.10700757_10152864428902356_581425881724085529_o

     It was a chance meeting! The man who appeared from the kitchen saying “Michael?” was Mr. Maruyama, a.k.a. Maru-chan, the chef, and Michael was my class’s teacher at Chukyo University. According to Michael, he and one of his friends Paul used to frequent Maru-chan’s former restaurant in Sakae. But suddenly the restaurant was closed several years ago. Since then Michael and Paul had been searching for Maru-chan but had not been able to find him until that night.

    10857239_10152864428762356_4366614944756609720_o Michael was in a good mood due to the nice wine and delicious food, but he became merrier after Maru-chan appeared. My classmates also became happier to see our teacher’s big smile and praised me. “Wow! Well done!” Actually, I had not done anything, though…

     All of the food Maru-chan cooked was very nice and Michael shouted “Maru-chan is great!” All of us enjoyed the food and talked about many interesting topics. Of course I had a great time, too!

Kanreki Celebration! : My Tai Chi Teacher’s 60th Birthday Party Makes Me Very Happy!


yjimage      Do you know that people celebrate their 60th birthday extravagantly in East Asia? It is called Kanreki in Japan. Kanreki means the completion of the 60-year-cylce of the Chinese lunar calendar. People who turn 60 are sent something red to wear by their family and/or friends in Japan. This is because newborn babies used to wear red clothes as the color was believed to repel evil in this country. After 60 years it is believed that people complete a full cycle and return to the starting point, so they ware red clothes. DSCF0810

     Why am I writing about this tradition? My Tai Chi teacher reached her 60th birthday and there was a big celebration for her at Sir Winston Hotel in Yagoto at the end of November. She looked gorgeous in her RED dress at the party!

   DSCF0811  Actually, when some of my teacher’s students started planning it half a month ago the party was supposed to be small with only several people. But it eventually became big enough to use a banquet room in the hotel because 60 students from her five classes got together to celebrate her 60th birthday! 

     The atmosphere of the party seemed like a wedding reception. Many of the items in the room had the word “Wedding” on them. But there was only one exception: There was a candle blowing ritual by the teacher instead of the usual wedding cake cutting ceremony. DSCF0861

     The participants enjoyed talking to other classes’ students, their congratulatory speeches, and delicious food. Of course, so did I! But I could not remain seated at the table because I was the party photographer and had to move around during the party. DSCF0880

     料理 After the party I spent more than one week making a special photo album with more than 30 pages for my teacher and souvenir cards for the participants. They appreciated it and gave me many gifts later: lots of cake, money, coupons, message cards etc. I was greatly impressed by their consideration, especially my classmates’ surprise! They bought me a big lunch!

    I usually have lunch with them at the schIMG_6294 ool cafeteria after our Tai Chi class. It only costs around 400 yen or so. But they insisted on having lunch at a restaurant in a department store nearby that day. I did not know that they had been planning to treat me as a ‘thank you’ until we were about to leave the restaurant. They stopped me taking out my wallet and told me in chorus that they would pay for me. I was very surprised! My Tai Chi teacher’s Kanreki celebration made me very happy!