Mar 28, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: A Visit to A Seaside Town

Ten Things of Thankful

   I went to Teradomari, a small town by the Sea of Japan with K* last Thursday. It was a sunny, warm day. First, we visited the aquarium, where we saw a lot of exotic fishes and turtles.

   We also saw some penguins there.

  There were some seagulls flying over the building. I managed to take a picture of one of them.

The view from the aquarium was beautiful.

We had lunch at the restaurant near the beach. It was very good.

fish soup, tuna sashimi, fried oysters, savory custard, fried fish cake, pickled vegetables


rice cooked with crab

Then we went to the fish market near the port.

We got some grilled fish there.

rose fish and flounder

I'm thankful for K*, who took me to the beautiful town by the sea in his car. The drive was safe and comfortable.

Mar 27, 2015

Skywatch Friday: March 27

寺泊 (Teradomari), Japan

I'm joining Skywatch Friday, where people from all over the world post great photographs of the sky in their part of the world.

Mar 21, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: March 21

Ten Things of Thankful

   I attended the cross-cultural understanding class held at the municipal International Affairs Center last Saturday, where we learned a little about the history and culture of Togo. I had never seen anyone from the country before, and I knew almost nothing about it. Now I know a few basic facts about it.

   I'm also thankful for the lemon grass tea they served during the class. The fragrant herbal tea is popular in Togo.

* * * * *

   This week, the second set of articles I helped translate into Japanese for Our Daily Bread Ministries have been published:

* * * * *

  It was sunny and relatively warm during the first half of this week.

  Our oomisumi-sou (Anemone Hepatice) are in bloom! They are commonly known as yukiwari-sou, or 'snow-breaking plant' in our area.

This plant in the corner of our backyard is in bud. --We don't know what it is called. 

* * * * *

   I'm thankful for the Japanese word 三寒四温 (san-kan-shi-on), which best describes the weather at this time of the year. It literally means 'three cold, four warm,' that is, 'three cold days are followed by four warm days. ' This expression tells us what to expect before full-fledged spring arrives. We usually go through several cycles of 三寒四温.


* * * * *

   On Wednesday, my father got some 牡丹餅 (botamochi ) at the grocery shop in our neighborhood. It is rice cake covered with adzuki bean jam. In our country, we have a tradition of eating botamochi around the Vernal Equinox Day. Ordinary botamochi are extremely sweet, but the ones my father had bought had no sugar in it, but they were seasoned with a moderate amount of salt.

* * * * *

   The cake I baked for Ms. M's birthday was OK.

* * * * *

Mar 19, 2015


   I was clumsy and awkward. They laughed at me. I tended to take things too seriously. They made fun of me. I felt isolated. They seemed to be pleased to see me upset and unhappy. Gradually, I learned to hide my vulnerability. When they jeered, I pretended to be nonchalant, though I was deeply wounded. I tried not to react in the way they expected me to. I learned to ignore the people who were unkind to me. -- I was ten years old. I was a member of the school music club. 'They' also belonged to the music club. I was always tense when they were around. Strangely, I never thought of quitting the club. In spite of the discord, I wanted to learn how to play music.

   One day, Toshiko, another member of the club, talked to me when I was alone. She was one year older than I. I had never talked with her before. She knew how the others treated me. She asked me if I had any brothers and sisters. I didn't have any. Toshiko said, "Then, think of me as your sister. I'll always stand by you." -- It seemed as if it were too good to be true. I was delighted to find that she was true to her word. I no longer felt alienated. I now had a friend. I wanted to be a kind person like her, too.

   Toshiko moved to another city when she finished elementary school, and we lost touch. By the time I was in the sixth grade, 'they' seemed to have lost interest in teasing me. I was no longer afraid of them.

   I'm thankful to Toshiko for her kindness. -- I don't know what has become of her. I have no idea what she looks like now. She was twelve when I saw her last. Whenever I think of her, I picture her as a twelve-year-old girl with shiny, straight black hair. I loved the way she smiled. I'll never forget her compassion.


* * * * *

I'm taking part in


Mar 14, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: March 14

Ten Things of Thankful

Mr. H* has given us lovely primroses.

I'm thankful for the yakiniku (grilled meat) that my father prepared for lunch last Sunday.

After procrastinating for weeks, I finally had my hair cut last Tuesday.

I'm thankful that I've finished my translation assignment for Our Daily Bread Ministries.

I'm thankful for a cup of tea in the afternoon.

I'm thankful for the bread I baked the other day. It is made of wheat flour, rice flour, and black sesame.

I'm thankful for "Shiokari Touge", a novel written by Miura Ayako, which I have read many times. I read it for the first time when I was fifteen years old, and I was deeply impressed with the story of a young man who sacrificed himself to save other people. I've read it again this week.

There was a snowstorm on Wednesday. It was freezing. I'm thankful that I didn't have to go outside on that day.

I'm thankful for 1000 Voices for Compassion. I've written a short post for March 20, and scheduled it.

I'm thankful in advance for the cross-cultural understanding class I'm attending this afternoon.

Mar 7, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: March 7

Ten Things of Thankful

I went to the exhibition of traditional ornaments for Hinamatsuri  (Girls' Day) held at a hotel near the railway station. Hinamatsuri is celebrated in Japan on March 3 every year. At this time of the year, we display traditional dolls in our houses to wish girls happiness. Though I have a pair of hina dolls of my own, I had never seen, or paid attention to, these lovely handmade ornaments before. They originated in western part of Japan hundreds of years ago, but it seems that the custom began to spread to other areas only about 15 years ago.

I'm thankful for the time I spent helping a Vietnamese lady learn Japanese at the International Affairs Department last weekend. Miss P* is a brilliant student.

I'm thankful that I played the organ for the worship service last Sunday.

(Some of you have asked me to post a recording of my performance here, and I've been trying to figure out how to record music in my computer without buying any new gadgets... I don't have a digital video camera. I don't use a cell phone. I don't have a microphone. At the local church I go to, they still record the sermons on cassette tapes, though there seems to be a plan to buy a new device in two or three years... -- My new electronic keyboard can record the music in it, and the files can be saved in the computer. The files, however, cannot be played on the computer because their format is specific to the keyboard. To listen to the files, one has to send them back from the computer to the musical instrument. They cannot be converted to other formats compatible with ordinary computers, either. -- When a new digital device is introduced to the church a few years later, I may be able to borrow the memory stick, copy the preludes and hymns, and post them here...)

I saw some blossoms of ume (Japanese apricot) in the city hall the other day. The white ume has been my favorite blossom since my childhood. --We have two bonsai ume trees in front of our house, but they aren't in blossom yet.

I baked cornbread last Monday. It was very good.

I'm thankful for the amazake ( 甘酒 ), or sweet drink made from rice.

Our green hellebores have come out at last!

I've almost finished my latest translation assignment for Our Daily Bread Ministries.

I'm thankful for the open air market, where I got some iyokan oranges (伊予柑) last Thursday.
The iyokan orange is about 12 centimeters (4.8 inches) in diameter. I love the fragrant and juicy fruit.

I'm thankful that the days are getting longer.

Mar 4, 2015


JPEG image-2CCA02FF19CA-1


   1. to make something exist that did not exist before
    2. to invent or design something

(LONGMAN Dictionary of Contemporary English)

   The Japanese word for 'create' is '創造する (souzousuru )', or ' 創る (tsukuru ).' In fact, there are at least two other Japanese words pronounced as 'tsukuru' which are spelt in different ways. One is '作る (tsukuru )', equivalent to the English word 'make.' The other is '造る (tsukuru )', which roughly corresponds to 'produce.' All of these Japanese verbs can be spelt as ' つくる (tsukuru )' in syllabary as well.

   It is interesting that the less ambiguous Japanese counterpart of 'create', '創造する (souzousuru )' is a homophone of '想像する' meaning 'imagine.' Certainly, we should be imaginative to be creative.

* * * * *

   I usually associate the verb 'create' with God. The following are some of the verses that immediately come to mind:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

(Genesis 1:1)

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

(Psalm 51:10)

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.

(Isaiah 43:1)

I love to meditate on these verses.

Feb 28, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: February 28

Ten Things of Thankful

   Last Saturday, I attended the cross-cultural understanding class at the municipal International Affairs Center. This time, the theme was Chinese New Year. The teacher was Mr. K*, a Chinese chef running a restaurant in our city. He told us about some of the New Year traditions in China. We tried Peking chicken (instead of Peking duck), and almond jelly, which the chef had made for us. The Chinese dishes were delicious. He showed us how to make the Chinese pan cake, too. At the end of the class, Mrs. S*, taught us a few basic movements in Tai Chi  (太極拳). They were very difficult, and I remember only the first, easiest one.

a Chinese ornament for good luck

Peking chicken and Almond jelly

* * * * *

   I've finished the Bible memory challenge, and I've learned Psalm 27 by heart.

   In addition, I'm still keeping my New Year's resolution, and reading the Bible everyday.

* * * * *

   I'm thankful for the rice crackers that Mr. D* has given us. I especially like the ones that look like cherry blossoms.

* * * * *

   The Girls' Day known as Hina-matsuri (March 3) is just around the corner, and traditional dolls are displayed for this festival everywhere in our city this week. I saw these lovely dolls displayed in the city hall the other day. The dolls are dressed like the Japanese noblemen and noblewomen that lived about 1,000 years ago.

I'm also thankful for the hina dolls of my own, which my parents bought for me when I was about three years old.

Feb 24, 2015


   I'm glad to have accepted His invitation.

   I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of 21. No one in family is a Christian, and I had never gone to church until I was 20 years old. Before that time, I had taken a glimpse of God in European and American novels and movies. I had been deeply moved by the novels and essays written by a Japanese Christian writer, Miura Ayako, as well. I had read a few books of the Bible, including Genesis, the Ecclesiastes, and Matthew in Japanese translation. In those days, it seemed to me that the Bible was a collection of rules, adages and stories. It was not until I started going to church that I learned the Bible is a love letter from God to me.

   Before I came to know Jesus, my goal was to have my own way in everything I did. When I was successful, I was proud. When I couldn't get what I wanted, I was bitter and depressed. I always wanted to be the best in the group. I wanted to be a 'perfect' person by making great efforts. I wanted to be admired by everyone. I wanted to be better than anyone else around me... I had thought that I needed to be 'perfect' in order to earn the love of others...

   Naturally, the time came when I had to admit that I couldn't live up to my own expectations by any means. I realized that I was burdened with myself and that I had been working hard for a wrong goal. I'm a sinner. I need Jesus, who has given up His life to save me.

   Jesus says, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

   I'm thankful that I've made up my mind to come to Jesus, casting all my care upon Him.

I'm joining Josie @ Two Shoes in Texas
for Two Shoes Tuesday.
writing prompts:
invitation / imagine

Feb 23, 2015

Memory Monday: My Other Jobs

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday


   I had my first part-time job as a private tutor when I was eighteen years old. I had my second part-time job for a few months just before graduating from university. This time, I helped a senior high school student, Yumi, to prepare for the college exams. I taught her English, Math, and Japanese Classics once a week. Her mother insisted on cooking supper for me, in addition to paying me for the private lessons. She was a friend of an acquaintance of mine. Every time I visited their house, I had supper with Yumi and her parents. She was a good student. She passed the exams.

   Immediately after graduating from university, I started teaching English as a foreign language at a senior high school in a small city by the Sea of Japan. Everyone was kind to me, and I enjoyed working with my students. I worked there for five years. I wished I could remain in that beautiful place for ever... The fact is that I was employed by the prefectural government, not by an individual school, so I was to be transferred to different schools run by the prefecture.

   The second high school where I worked was in a town surrounded by the mountains. It was famous for its heavy snow. While I was living in that town, I practiced skiing from time to time. My students were far better at skiing than I was. In spring and fall, I sometimes went hiking in the hills. I was blessed with excellent colleagues, friends and students. I enjoyed teaching there most of the time, except when I was going through a bout of winter depression. I came to love this town so much that I was very sad when I was transferred to another school.

   The third school where I worked was slightly different from the others. It offered various vocational courses and it had smaller number of students. There were fewer required subjects and more electives. Some students were keen and creative. Others were very difficult. What I liked best about this school was that there were relatively small number of students in a class. My smallest class (Writing in English) had only nine. Even the largest one (English 1) had thirty-five. (In other schools, there are forty students in a class.)

   Soon, it was time to be transferred to another school again. The last school where I worked was in a large city. Most of the students were highly motivated. I enjoyed being their teacher.

   I had planned to keep working as a teacher until my retirement age. I had never dreamed of giving up my job prematurely, but somehow, God has had other plans. One thing led to another, and I finally made up my mind to quit my dream job about two years ago.

   When I quit my job, I felt as if I had lost everything. Certainly, I lost my source of regular income. I lost my students. I lost my colleagues. I lost my apartment. However, I haven't lost my hope. I haven't lost my future. I haven't lost my joy. I haven't lost what I've learned from my experiences. Moreover, I have regained my health.