Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I took a day off today.
In the morning I attended the pre-funeral  of the neighbor.  Usually the wake (通夜: tsuya) is held in the night around 6 to 7 or 7 to 8 PM.  And the funeral (告別式: kokubetsushiki) is held in the day time between 10 AM to 2 PM or so.  However they say the crematory (火葬場: kasoba) is so crowded today, they decided to do pre-funeral first, then go to crematory, then have a funeral.  Since I had an appointment at lunch time, I decided to attend the pre-funeral. 
I was surprised to see two things, one was the  message on the lid of the coffin (棺桶: kan oke) which I have never seen, the other was the closing ceremony of the lid of the coffin.  Every participant nailed a lid by a stone, which I have never done.
At the wake or funeral we bring money called o koden (御香典).

I had luncheon and tea party in the afternoon and a meeting in the night at the Imperial Hotel.  I saw many people today.


I happened to see someone with whom I have worked twice before on my way going out of the office.  We have talked for a while and decided to have dinner together.  We went to a Spanish restaurant where I have been interested in for a long time.   We shared some dishes and enjoyed chatting. 
While we were working, we seldom have a chance to talk about our private things, so we have known each other for nearly 4 years but we don't know each other at all.  But today we knew many things about ourselves.  Our common thoughts are we are enjoying our job itself and knowing many people. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


It was cold and slightly snowed in the morning around here. 
In the night when I was walking toward the Shinjuku Station, the temperature was 0 degree centigrade.
Today the 183rd Ordinary Diet Sessin (通常国会:tsujo kokkai) started, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (安倍晋三) gave a general policy speech (所信表明演説:shoshin hyomei enzetsu).

Sunday, January 27, 2013


It was a beautiful day.  I stayed home and didi not go anywhere. 
Today was the senshuraku (千秋楽), the last day of the hatsubasho (初場所), the first grand sumo tournament of the year.  The new Yokozuna Harumafuji (横綱 日馬富士) became a champion by complete victory.  Congratulations!
The popular sumo wrestler, Takamizakari (高見盛) decided to retire after 14 years of sumo wrestler life.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


It was a cold windy day.
In the morning I went to once a week grocery shopping. 
In the afternoon I joined the walking tour in Yokosuka (横須賀) for 3 hours or so.  Since I was born in Yokosuka, I have known somehow about Yokosuka, but today I knew other histories of Yokosuka. 
I knew about this tour by the article of the local newspaper.  The guide lecturer was the same person as the tour of the Kamakura Seven Gods of Fortune last Sunday.  His talk was interesting, therefore I decided to attend. There were about 25 participants today.


Today I took a day off to attend a big event in Shiodome (汐留).  After that I went to have tea with 8 people and enjoyed chatting.  After that we said good by.  One of them said "I will go to Konpira sama (虎ノ門金刀比羅宮)."  So I was interested in that and joined her.  After visiting there, we went to rice cracker shop nearby where we can enjoy tea with rice crackers.   I have known the place for more than 20 years but it was totally different what I knew.  It looked like American style coffee shop.  We enjoyed talking.

Tonight I watched a movie "Shodo Girls!!  Watashitachi no koshien (書道ガールズ!!私たちの甲子園)" on TV.

Friday, January 25, 2013


After work I went to see a movie "Skyfall 007." They say it's been 50 years since the first 007 series was made.  This is the 23rd one.  And the 3rd one by Daniel Craig as James Bond. I don't remember how many 007 movies I have seen.  How about you?
In Japan there was a long series movie, otoko wa tsuraiyo (男はつらいよ).  48 movies were made between 1969 to 1995.  It finished because of the death of the actor (Kiyoshi Atsumi: 渥美清) of the main character, tora san (寅さん).  There was another one, tsuri baka nisshi (釣りバカ日誌), which was made 22 series between  1988 and 2009.
Do you have any long series movies like these?

Thursday, January 24, 2013


It was cloudy today.
Today's top news is still what happened in Algeria.  Yesterday they said 7 Japanese were saved and 7 Japanese deaths were confirmed.  Today two more Japanese were confirmed to be dead, and one more is still missing.  Those people were working for the big plant construction company named Nikki (日揮).  I feel very sorry for them because they were working for the Algerian people and it is too unreasonable.
The other news I feel strange is the early retirement of the school teachers in Saitama (埼玉) prefecture.  The third semester is the important season for the schools because of  entrance examination or graduation ceremony, however, 110 teachers in Saitama prefecture decided to retire at the end of this month to secure their retirement allowance.  If they continue teaching until the end of March, it will be about yen 1.5 million less than what they will get now.  It seems there are some other prefectures like that.  I do not know why the execution of the new ordinance could not be waited until the end of the fiscal year.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


It slightly rained today, which made snow melted somehow, however there are still others left though it's been already more than a week since it heavily snowed.
Every day many different news happen.  These days the top news is the terrorism happened in Algeria.  Today's other news were U.S. President Mr. Obama's second inauguration ceremony and the Japanese world famous film director, Mr. Nagisa Oshima (大島渚)'s funeral. He passed away at the age of 80 after a long struggle with illness.  
Recently Ms. Toyo Shibata (柴田トヨ) who is a famous poet also died of senility.  She was 101 years old.  She became famous after publishing her first book ”くじけないで(kujike nai de:  Hold on!)”at the age of 98 or so which was sold 1,600,000 copies by August 2012.  She started making poems after becoming 90's years old.  Amazing lady! 

Monday, January 21, 2013


It was a cold day.  They say it will snow or rain tonight again.

Yesterday there was an announcement of the numbers of the lottery of New Year's Cards.  I only won the two pieces of the  fourth prizes this year. The fourth prize is a set of stamps of yen 50 and yen 80.    Yen 50 stamp is the postage for postcard, and yen 80 is for envelop in Japan.  To send postcards overseas is yen 70 for anywhere but the postage for envelop abroad depends on the weight and place, the minimum charge for Asia is yen 90, Europe and America for yen 110, South America and Africa for yen 130.
I have sent many new year's cards and Christmas cards, and most of them replied but some of them did not reply at all, so I am wondering if they have received my message or not.


Today is taikan (大寒), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節季) the 24 solar terms.  The last one was shokan (小寒) on January 5, and the next one will be risshun (立春) on February 4.  Taikan literally means big cold, and it is the coldest period of the year.  But it was very fine and not so cold today.
I attended the course of visiting the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神:shichifukujin) in Kamakura (鎌倉) held by Miura (三浦) City.  Last year there was the couse of visiting the Seven Gods of Fortune  in Miura.  Last year we moved by bus, but this year we walked and walked and used the local train called Enoden (江ノ電) from Kamakura to Hase (長谷) .  There were 26 people in total.  It started at 10 AM in front of Kitakamakura (北鎌倉) station and finished around 3 PM.  After that I went to Eno
shima (江の島) to visit one more god.
I bought the special paper at the first place and got stamps at each temple or shrine later.  After visiting all seven gods, they added the special stamp of ketsugan (結願) which means completed the wishes.  I hope my dreams will be granted.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


It was fine today.
Today and tomorrow there are Center shiken (試験), the common entrance examinations for universities.  Usually every year the weather on this day is very bad, sometimes it even snows, but it was a nice day today.
In the afternoon Father and I went to once a week grocery shopping.  After that we went to the car shop.  I do not have any intention to buy a new car now, but the sales person in charge asked me to visit and see a new car and we went there.  It was an interesting experience.

Friday, January 18, 2013


It was fine but cold today because there is still snow left at the roadside.
After work I went to see a movie "Les Miserables" with my colleague.
It was a long one from 18:45 to 21:25 or so. I have read a book when I was young, and seen the movie or musical before, but I have forgotten some parts, so I have wanted to see it since I knew it would be released this winter. Therefore I am glad to see it tonight finally.
This became the first movie of this year for me.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


It's been 18 years since the Great Hanshin Earthquake happened.  Eighteen years is a period of one person's  from the born to the graduation of high school.  They say about 40% of the residents in the area have not experienced the earthquake anymore.  They have a memorial service every year.

There was the announcement of 148th Akutagawa Prize and Naoki Prize last night.  Ms. Natsuko Kuroda (黒田夏子) , 75 years old, was selected as a winner of the Akutagawa Prize for "a b sango (a b サンゴ)," and Mr. Ryo Asai (朝井リョウ) 23 years old and Mr. Ryutaro Abe (安部龍太郎) 57 years old were selected as winners for "Nanimono (何者)" and " Tohaku (等伯)" respectively.  Ms. Kuroda is the oldest person who received the prize.  Congratulations!


It was cold today. 
I started working from 6 AM or so and ended around 10 PM, so it was another long day.  I have stayed at hotel for two nights.  Since I had to walk to the station 2 days ago when it was snowing and no taxi was available, I had to use the taxi tonight because I had a suitcase.  There is some snow remain at the road sides.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


January 15 used be a national holiday called seijin no hi ( 成人の日 ) , Coming of Age Day. But now it is on the second Monday of January becaue of Happy Monday System.
For me January 15 is my father's birthday.
Since I had to stay at hotel tonight, I
cooked the red bean rice called sekihan ( 赤飯) and left a present and a card for him yesterday.
It was a beautiful day today.

Monday, January 14, 2013


The last day of the three day weekend.  Today is a national holiday called seijin no hi (成人の日), Coming of Age Day.  In Japan being 20 is regarded as adult.  Each municipal government has its own celebration for the new adults.  Women usually wear long sleeve kimono called furisode (振袖) which are only worn by  unmarried women.  Furisode is very expensive.
It's been snowing since this morning and very cold.  Many transportations are out of service because of the heavy snow.   

Sunday, January 13, 2013


It was fine and rather warm today.  There was hatsugama (初釜).  Hatsugama literally means the first pot, but actually means the first tea ceremony in a year. 
It started around 11 AM and finished around 4 PM.  It was held at my master's tea room.   There were 15 pupils got together.    There were 4 different procedures:  sumi demae (炭点前), o koicha (お濃茶), kaiseki (懐石), and o usu (お薄).  They are charcoal procedure, thick tea procedure, tea-ceremony cuisine, and thin tea procedure. 
Before drinking tea, sweets are served.  For o koicha omogashi (主菓子), moist sweet is served, and for o usu , o higashi (お干菓子), dry sweet is served. 
Since this year is the year of the snake, on the face of o higashi there was a picture of ema (絵馬) of snake (巳:mi).  Snake is said to be a messenger of god because they shed their skin which suggests revival and regeneration and they can live without eating, and it is thought to be related with fortune.
After the ceremony, there was a lottery.  Fortunately I got one of the prizes, and felt really lucky.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


First day of the three day weekend.  It was very fine but cold and windy.
Father and I went to once a week grocery shopping.  After coming home, I looked for the kimono (着物) for tomorrow's hatsugama (初釜).  Hatsugama literally means first pot.  It is the first tea ceremony.  I decided to wear Mother's kimono.
Tonight I watched my favorite TV program.  It is  the 89th All Japan Kasoh (仮装) Grand-Prix.  This year 72 years old man became a champion.  Congratulations!


January 11 is known as kagami biraki (鏡開き), literally mirrow opening,  and kura biraki (蔵開き), literally storehouse opening.  As a custom we eat kagami mochi (鏡餅) which are round rice cakes offered to the gods at New Year's on this day.  I ate them as oshiruko (お汁粉), sweet bean paste soup with rice cake.

It's been 1 year and 10 months since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami happened.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


It was cold today. 
This coldness makes the price of vegetables very expensive this winter.  For example, the prices of lettuce and spinach are about the double of the last year.
It's been already 10 days since the new year started.  And it's been a week since the business started.  But we have three day weekend from 12 to 14 because of the national holiday on Monday.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Today I went out for lunch at a Chinese restaurant with 5 colleagues.  Two of them are new faces from this January.  That restaurant has 5 lunch menu dishes, therefore we ordered everything and shared them with 6 people.  They were so delicious.  The good thing of Chinese foods is we can share.  Therefore the more the better.  We enjoyed eating and chatting.  It cost yen 925 per person.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I started working at 7 and finished around 21:45. I walked and walked with heavy luggages for nearly 18000 steps which is about 9 km. What a long day!

Monday, January 7, 2013


January 7 is known as nanakusa gayu (七草粥).
During New Year's holiday we tend to eat too much, therefore we eat light food on Jan. 7.
Until today it is called matsu no uchi (松の内),and we take away the new year decoration today.
Many people started working, therefore the train was very crowded.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


The first Sunday of this year.  How did you spend?
I stayed at home.  I watched some TV programs.  In the morning I saw the live of dezomeshiki (出初式).  It is the official first working day ceremony of the Fire Departments.  At night the 52nd NHK's period drama (大河ドラマ: taiga dorama) started.  Its title is "Yae no Sakura (八重の桜)" which literally means Yae's Cherry Blossoms.    It is a story of Yae Yamamoto, later the wife of Jo Niijima (新島襄) who founded the Doshisha (同志社) University.  She is from Aizu, Fukushima (福島県会津).  NHK chose the place to encourage the people who suffered from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011.


It was rather cold.  Today is shokan (小寒), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節季), the 24 solar terms.  The las one was toji (冬至) on December 21,  and the next one will be taikan (大寒) on January 19.  Shokan literally means small cold.
Today Father and I went once a week grocery shopping in the afternoon.  Since we got an invitation from the car dealer, and we visited there too.  They have lotteries, and I draw sweets and vegetable.  I felt lucky.  Then we went to another shop to buy bedclothes because they have once a year clearance sale.  Shopping is a good way for a change.

Friday, January 4, 2013


It was the first working day of this year. It is called shigoto hajime (仕事始め). Since it is Friday, if you take a day off, you can get 3 more days off, therefore there were not so many people on the train nor at the office.
It was fine but a very cold day.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


The last day of New Year's Holiday.  I slept long and got rested.  The dreams which had the second night of the year is called hatsuyume (初夢), literally first dream.  There are three best things to have dreams "ichi fuji, ni taka, san nasubi (一富士二鷹三茄子)", that is No. 1 is Mt. Fuji, No. 2 is a hawk, No. 3 is an eggplant.  I do not remember what I saw last night.  How about you?
There was the latter half of Hakone Ekiden (箱根駅伝),and Nittaidai (日体大) became a champion after 30 years.  It was the 10th victory for them.  Congratulations!
Tomorrow will be the first working day of this year. 


It was fine but a very strong windy day.  I stayed at home all day long. 
It was the first day of Hakone ekiden (箱根駅伝), long-distance relay road race from Tokyo to Hakone.  Last year Toyo University won, but this year Nittaidai (日体大) , Nippon Taiiku Daigaku won.  Tomorrow there is another half from Hakone to Tokyo.
I read a book "Beate san no shiawase no tsukamikata" written by Ms. Beate Sirota Gordon who passed away on Dec. 30, last year.  I happened to find this book when I was looking for something at Amazon and bought last month.  I am not sure if Beate-san wrote the English version too, but if not, I feel like translate it into English too so that many people especially women around the world also can read.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


あけましておめでとうございます。(akemashite omedeto gozaimasu)
Happy New Year!!
!Feliz Ano Nuevo!

In the morning of the New Year's Day is called gantan (元旦), and New Year's Day is called ganjitsu (元日).  Gan (元) means beginning. 
It was a beautiful day.   Every New Year's Day I try to take pictures of Mt. Fuji and  so did today   Here are two of them, morning and evening.  I hope you enjoy.
I cooked ozoni (お雑煮) and ate osechiryori (おせち料理) in the morning.  These are special dishes for the new year.  What do you eat in your country for the new year?
My favorite thing of New Year's Day is to receive New Year's Cards (年賀状:nengajo).  When I was young, there was another favorite thing, that is otoshidama (お年玉), new year's monetary gift which is given by adults.

Today I got a sad news from the USA.  My most respectable woman, Ms. Beate Sirota Gordon passed away on December 30, 2012 at the age of 89 in New York.  She tried hard to write Women's Civil Right into the new constitution of Japan after World War II.  I visited her last October to hand my first essay.  She welcomed me at her apartment.  She looked smaller and weaker than I saw her before.  She said she was sad losing her beloved husband Joseph in the previous month. 
May her soul rest in peace with him.  ご冥福をお祈りします。(gomeifuku wo oinori shimasu.)


The last day of 2012.  We call new year's eve omisoka (大みそか).
How was your 2012?
For me it was a very special year because I finally published a book which was my 20 years' dream.  I chose the release day on my birthday.  I had some celebrations with my friends here and there.  And I went to the USA to deliver the book to those who are important in my Florida life.
At home, we reformed kitchen, bathroom and toilet.
At work, I was in charge of 6 invitation programs (BIMP, Philippines, ASEAN, Mekong 5, Indonesia, and India).
I hope you had a good year too.