Monthly Archives: February 2015

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

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   ricky1

      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!

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Maru-chan is Great!- An English Class Party

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     “Michael?”10644226_10152864428677356_7465040322612952079_o
    
“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!

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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!

Jazz Concert at a Buddhist Temple

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saikoji1     A Jazz concert at a TEMPLE?

     I was very surprised to hear from the deputy head priest of Saikoji Temple in Toyohashi that he was organizing a Jazz concert at the temple, but decided right away to join it because it is rare to have opportunities to listen to Jazz music at temples in Japan. saikoji2

   Incidentally, Saikoji Temple is famous in Mikawa area for an event called Tori-no-ichi. Tori-no-ichi’s literal meaning is the Rooster Fair and a market selling lucky charms for business, especially decorative rakes called Kumade. Actually, the day before the concert was Tori-no-ichi. So, a big Kumade rake was displayed at the temple.

     The concert was held on November 23rd. I was very surprised again when I entered the temple because the room was packed with little children. saikoji3

     This is the right place, isn’t it?

     A Jazz concert was certainly held at the temple. It started solemnly with the priest’s greeting to the audience under gorgeous golden decorations. It was a concert indeed, but it was different from others I have experienced. saikoji6

     First of all, there were no seats in the room. The audience could sit down on the floor anywhere they liked. Actually, they did not need to sit down. If they wanted to stand up, they could. Secondly, they were able to do anything they liked, for example, dancing, running around, and even making sounds! So many of the children were holding something to make a sound, such as maracas made from milk cartons, percussion instruments made from empty boxes, or rolled-up newspaper. Actually, I did not know until that day that the purpose of the concert was to cultivate children’s artistic expression.saikoji5

      The musicians were Minoru Yoshiki, the bassist, Noriyuki “Knocky” Nakahashi, the pianist, and Syuji Mori, the tenor saxophonist. Once the music began, the children got excited and started to express their feelings freely. Some clapped their hands, some ran around, some hit the floor with rolled-up newspaper, and some played their handmade instruments. I think this freedom of expression was because children are not bound or fixed by rules. But meanwhile, adults like me are limited by many restrictions. I would need gallons of alcohol if I needed to let my real self out…saikoji4

     Interestingly, the bassist and the saxophonist moved around in the room while playing, though, keyboardist could not move around. The concert had no separation between the stage and the audience, but had a free atmosphere. I had a great time at the temple!