Oct 2, 2014

Pondering on the Word 'Recess'

I am joining Brenda @ BYG Adventures for Pondering. This week's word is 'Recess'.

 photo image13_zps64a48e1e.png

The first kanji that the word 'recess' makes me think of is this:

This is the kanji for 'rest', and it is made up of two parts:
a kanji component for a 'person',


a kanji for a 'tree.'

Picture a person taking a rest by a tree. --That is how we've learned this kanji, which also means 'a period of time when someone stops working, vacation, or a holiday.' 

The second kanji that comes to mind is the following:

This is the kanji meaning 'the inner, hidden parts of something.' According to my kanji dictionary, it originally stood for the furnace or the oven in the kitchen, which was in the furthest corner of the house.

I've found such examples as 'in the dark recesses of my mind,' and 'in the inner recesses of the temple' in the dictionary, and I'm wondering why the word recess is in the plural form in these phrases.

The third kanji that I associate with the English word 'recess' is this:

I think this character is self-explanatory. This kanji, meaning 'concave', would help us picture 'part of a wall, set back from the rest of the wall.'

According to one of my English-Japanese dictionaries, the English word recess comes from the Latin 'recedere' [ re (back) + cedere (to go)]. The multiple meanings of the word recess seem to have the notion of 'going back' in common. 'Going back', away from the activities, the lessons, the surface, and so on...
'Recess' reminds me of the word 'recession', which looks similar but has quite different meanings...
I wish I could keep pondering on these words, but it is about time I took a break.
Thank you for reading this post.

Oct 1, 2014



 listening to silence
until ready to let go,
 a long starless night

Sep 27, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful: The Concerts

Ten Things of Thankful
I'm thankful that Autumnal Equinox, September 23, has been a national holiday here in Japan. On that day this year, I went to the concerts held in the city auditorium: the Mori Yuri concert in the morning, and the concert of the local church choirs in the afternoon. I was one of the singers in the latter.

It was sunny and warm last Tuesday, and I went to the city auditorium by bicycle. It took me about twenty-five minutes to go there.

The concert of Mori Yuri was splendid. Her songs were so beautiful and powerful that I was moved to tears. She taught us how to sing "JESUS LOVES ME" in sign language, and we sang it together. We also enjoyed her stories. I was deeply impressed and encouraged when Yuri said, "Singing is not about skills, but about souls."

After the concert, I saw several friends of mine, whom I hadn't seen for years. (I saw Junko for the first time in 25 years!) I was delighted to see the people from M***, where I had lived for more than ten years before I moved back to my hometown. We spent some time chatting. I was amazed to see Mayumi, who was now a high school student. When I lived in M***, she was an elementary school pupil, and I didn't talk with her very often. I didn't think she remembered me, but she did. Moreover, I was surprised to hear that it was because Mayumi had heard me play the organ at church that she had asked her parents to let her learn how to play the piano. Now Mayumi plays the piano for the choir. I'm thankful that my music has had a positive influence on this young lady unexpectedly.

The people from M*** were also going to sing "Amazing Grace" in the afternoon concert, and they suggested I should join them. I said yes. We practiced together once.  We sang the first stanza in Japanese, then in English, and the fourth stanza in Japanese. I sang on the stage twice, the first time with them, and the second time, as a member of the choir from our local church. There were eighteen choirs taking part in the concert, and three of them sang "Amazing Grace."

Before I sang with the choir from M***, I felt a little nervous at first, standing in front of hundreds of people, on the same stage that the diva had sung in the morning. I felt my legs trembling. Soon after the song started, however, I was able to concentrate on singing. The second time I was on the stage, I was calm. I even smiled at the audience.

I'm thankful for this beautiful day when I had a great time talking and singing with my old friends and new friends.

the park near the city auditorium

Sep 24, 2014


I went to the Mori Yuri concert, which was held in the city auditorium yesterday. I was deeply impressed with her beautiful and powerful songs, and I was moved to tears. All of her songs were splendid, and I especially loved the hymn "Tooki Kuni ya (There's a Light on the Cross)," which was written by J. V. Martin soon after the devastating earthquake that hit Tokyo on September 1, 1923.
Before Yuri sang this song, she talked about her brother who was killed in the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake on January 17, 1995. He was twenty-two years old. He was about to graduate from university and start working as a newspaper reporter. Her father asked her to sing the hymn at the funeral. At first, she said no. She would be too sad to sing. When she was praying at night, however, she thought she should sing it for his father. She was in tears when she sang. Her voice faltered, but she sang the song with her soul.
Since Yuri lost her brother, she has been singing to encourage people affected by devastating natural disasters. Our prefecture was hit by great earthquakes on October 23, 2004. On March 11, 2011, a great earthquake and tsunami destroyed the towns and cities in the northeastern part of Japan, killing more than 15,000 people. More than three years have passed since then, but there are still a large number of people who cannot go back to their homes. There have been floods and landslides in various parts of the country, too. Yuri visits these areas and sing for the people who have lost their houses and loved ones. One elderly lady said to Yuri after the concert, "I didn't cry when the earthquake occurred. I didn't cry when the tsunami came. I did cry, however, while I was listening to your song." When she started crying, true healing began.
Yuri sang the hymn for us yesterday. While she was singing, scenes from the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquakes were projected on the screen behind her. Collapsed buildings, fires, rubble, debris, ruins... The photos brought tears to my eyes. They had lost everything... Almost everything. -- We still have at least one thing left. Whatever may happen, we still have the cross of Jesus, who gives us eternal hope.
God has reassured me through Yuri's concert that He is always with me, whatever I may lose in the future, and that he himself is my hope.

This is part of the lyrics of this song.
(If you don't have a Japanese font, it may not be displayed properly.)
なぐさめもて ながために
なぐさめもて わがために
I haven't been able to find the English version, so I'll try to explain its meaning in English:
Consoling you,
consoling me,
the cross is still shining,
standing on the quaking ground


Sep 20, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful / September 20

I'm thankful for Tamara @ Moogly, who has shared this crocheting pattern for autumn leaves. I've made an acrylic dishcloth according to the pattern.

I'm thankful that it is a good season for crocheting, because it has got much cooler.

I'm thankful for the chestnuts, my favorite food in September. :-)

I'm thankful that I've finally taken apart my old fleece jacket and made it into dust cloth. (I had procrastinated it all summer.)
I'm thankful for a bowl of matcha green tea early in the morning.
I'm thankful for the beautiful cosmoses I see near the park on my way to the supermarket.
I'm thankful for the free ticket for the concert held in the city auditorium next Tuesday morning. (September 23 is the Autumnal Equinox, which is a national holiday in Japan.) It is a concert by an evangelical singer named Mori Yuri. I am looking forward to listening to her songs.
After the concert mentioned above, we are going to have an informal concert at the same venue in the afternoon. I'll be one of the singers this time. The choirs from 20 local churches in this prefecture are going to sing on the stage. I'm looking forward to seeing some of my friends from other cities, where I used to live. I'm thankful in advance for the reunion.
I'm thankful that I'm learning to play the variations of Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht (I will not let go of my Jesus), arranged by J. G. Walther on the electronic organ. I'm glad that I'm making progress every day.

I'm thankful for Ten Things of Thankful again, because it helps me be mindful of good things in my everyday life, and enables me to appreciate ordinary things more. I'm also thankful for your kind comments.

Ten Things of Thankful

Sep 18, 2014

My Recipe for Hot Green Pepper 'Miso'

  • 12 hot green peppers
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoon miso (soy bean paste)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  1. Cut the hot green peppers into small pieces with scissors, with a pair of gloves on.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a pan, add the green peppers, and stir-fry.
  3. Add the miso, mirin and sugar. Mix. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly.

This hot green pepper miso is very spicy, but it tastes a little milder when it is mixed with food rich in protein, such as meat and tofu. I like adding some to stir-fried pork.

I am joining Heather @ Beauty That Moves for This Week In My Kitchen. 

Sep 17, 2014

Weight Control

   About three years ago, I was overweight. I had been living in an apartment house by myself, and I had been too busy to pay enough attention to what I ate. My meals were too rich in carbohydrate, but lacked in protein and minerals. I constantly craved for chocolate, cookies, cakes, and the like. I was prone to fatigue and depression. The more depressed I felt, the less careful I was about what I ate...
   One day, I was shocked to see one of the photos that a friend of mine had taken and sent to me. Before I saw the photo, I hadn't realized how fat I looked. Immediately, I made up my mind to do something to lose weight. The first thing I did was to try to walk as long as I could. I walked to the supermarket instead of going there by bicycle. I started to take a walk in my neighborhood. 
   Then I gave up buying chocolate and cookies. I avoided going to that section in the supermarket. Instead, I got more fish, meat, poultry, and vegetables. I came to spend far more time cooking than before. Soon after I began to plan well-balanced meals, my unhealthy craving for chocolate and cookies seemed to have disappeared completely.
   I weighed myself on the bathroom scales frequently. The figure remained almost the same for weeks. Someone told me not to be discouraged, saying I would begin to lose weight in a few more weeks. I continued taking a walk as often as possible. I kept planning well-balanced meals.
  I finally got a visible result about two months later. I was delighted to have lost about 1 kilograms (2 pounds.) I've kept up my efforts, and I've lost about 8 kilograms (about 17.6 pounds) since then, by following these three simple rules.
  1. Have well-balanced meals.
  2. Avoid eating between meals.
  3. Walk as long as possible.
  These habits, which cost us little extra money, are effective not only in losing weight, but also in staying healthy. I have been free from severe depression and bad headaches for the past few years.
   I often wonder why I hadn't acquired these good habits earlier. One of my greatest mistakes in my life is that when I was younger,  I used to believe that working, studying and reading were more important than cooking and eating. I was so foolish to think that spending more time working at the desk was much better than wasting time cooking meals. I really should have known better. I have almost wasted my life by not spending enough time in cooking healthy meals regularly... I am glad that I have chosen to make efforts to lose weight and stay healthy.
What is your experience with weight control; what works and what doesn't?
before or after

Sep 13, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful / September 13

Ten Things of Thankful
I'm thankful I've found a video of the Japanese version of Amazing Grace at YouTube, so that I can share this with you. I'm thankful for the person who has created this.

We are going to sing this song at the concert in 10 days, and we are practicing it every Sunday.


I'm thankful for Lizzi R, Debbie Huffaker, and Dyanne @ I Want Backsies, who said in their comments last week that they would like to listen to Amazing Grace sung in Japanese. Having found the video above, I've been inspired to write a series of posts about the Japanese version of this song, and I've written the first post with the lyrics transcribed in the English alphabet. I'm going to write more about each stanza next week.

I'm thankful for my father, who cooked curry and rice for lunch on Sunday.

I'm thankful for the quail eggs that I have had for the first time in years. I was not sure how long the small eggs be boiled, so I searched for a recipe on the Internet. -- Put the eggs and water in a pot, and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for two minutes. Drain, and put the eggs in cold water. Shell the eggs. -- They tasted good.


I'm thankful for the new bitter melon in our humble garden, which I've found quite unexpectedly. It is just outside the window on the second floor. The vine has got entangled in the window screen, so we can't open it until the fruit is harvested... Thinking that the plants were withering, we had planned to remove the vines earlier this week. I'm glad that we have somehow procrastinated.

I'm thankful for Noriko, who has lent me a beautiful book on Hawaiian quilting. The book makes me feel like starting a new sewing project.

I'm thankful for the new music book which has a number of chorale variations for the organ. I've started practicing some of the pieces.

I'm thankful for J. S. Bach, who created so many beautiful pieces of music. I'm thankful that I was born after he composed all these magnificent works and that I live in the time when I can listen to them on CDs, on the radio, and through the Internet at home.

I'm thankful for the time I spent helping a lady from the Philippines to learn to read in Japanese at the municipal International Affairs Department on Friday.

I'm thankful for the uneventful, peaceful week I've been enjoying.

Sep 10, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I am taking part in Wednesday Hodgepodge,
hosted by Joyce @ FROM THIS SIDE OF THE POND.

1. On Thursday we pause to remember a dark day in history-9/11. Will you mark it in some special way?
No, I'm afraid not. The TV news will probably mention it on that day here in Japan, too, but I am not going to do anything special for that day.

2. Do you ever/still...listen to an actual radio? Watch a videotape (VCR)? Look up a number in a phonebook? Refer to a paper map while traveling? Set an alarm on an alarm clock as opposed to your phone?
Yes! All of the above, except VCR. In fact, I love listening to the radio while working in the kitchen.

3. Is it ever a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don't know?
No, I don't think so. I hesitate to discuss religion or politics even with people I know well.

4. What's a dish you haven't eaten all summer, but come September find yourself craving? Have you made it yet this month?
Grilled Pacific saury. I made it last Saturday for the first time this season. I'm going to make it at least three times a month during the fall.

5. What's something you know nothing about?
Since I know nothing about it, I don't even know what it is called. :-)

6. September is Classical Music Month. Do you like classical music? If so, what's your favorite piece?
I LOVE classical music. My favorite composer is J. S. Bach. My favorite piece right now is the Fuga in "Fantasia et Fuga in g (BWV 542)."

7. What's the oldest thing you own?
It's my grandmother's chest of drawers made of paulownia. I don't know exactly how old it is, but I'm sure it's the oldest. My paternal grandmother had passed away years before I was born.
8. Insert your own random thought here.

I just wanted to share the pictures of flowers at the foot of the bridge near my house.

Sep 9, 2014

Clouds in Autumn

   I took this picture on my way to church last Sunday. I was crossing the bridge by bicycle, and noticed the beautiful clouds. I stopped. I took out my camera, and took a picture. We call the clouds in the upper part of this photo 'iwashi-gumo,' which can be literally translated as 'sardine-clouds.' These clouds are considered to be a symbol of autumn where we live. 'Iwashi-gumo' is also known as 'uroko-gumo,' because it looks like scales of fish. I wondered what it is called in English. I remembered seeing the expression 'mackerel cloud' somewhere before. It was interesting that English-speaking people compare these clouds to mackerel, while we associate them with sardine... Later, however, I found that some Japanese people in other parts of the country call them 'saba-gumo,' or 'mackerel clouds,' as well.

   After coming home, I looked up a dictionary, and found that 'iwashi-gumo' is 'cirrocumulus cloud' in English. 'Cirrocumulus' was a new word to me. Then I made a little research on the Internet. When I searched for 'mackerel clouds,' I was directed to this page, titled "Altocumulus mackerel sky", where it is written:
A mackerel sky or buttermilk sky describes a sky mostly covered by altocumulus clouds.
 I was confused. 'Altocumulus' was another new word. 'Alto' means 'high' in Spanish, but they say 'altocumulus clouds' are 'medium level,' while 'cirrocumulus' is classified as 'high level.' -- Come to think of it, alto is lower than soprano in music, too. --

   Are 'iwashi-gumo' and 'mackerel clouds' different? Doesn't 'mackerel sky' refer to 'a sky mostly covered with mackerel clouds'? Are there colloquial English expressions for 'cirrocumulus clouds' like those in my photo? Are the 'iwashi-gumo' in the photo cirrocumulus, or altocumulus? -- In Japanese, altocumulus clouds are sometimes called 'hitsuji-gumo' (sheep clouds) instead of 'iwashi-gumo' .

  I kept searching for more information. This page tells us that cirrocumulus clouds are 'also referred to colloquially as "herringbone" or "mackerel." So 'iwashi-gumo' and 'mackerel clouds' are roughly the same thing. In addition, I felt somewhat relieved to read the following sentence on the same page:

Cirrocumulus is distinguished from altocumulus in several ways, although the two stratocumuliform genus types can occasionally occur together with no clear demarcation between them...
 '... the two ... can occasionally occur together with no clear demarcation between them...'

   I'm wondering why I wanted to know the difference between cirrocumulus and altocumulus clouds so much. I don't know about you, but I prefer the fuzzy, everyday words to the technical terms. After all, whichever category they belong to, whatever fish they are compared to, I find these clouds beautiful.


* You may have inferred from such expressions as 'iwashi-gumo', 'uroko-gumo', 'saba-gumo,' and 'hitsuji-gumo' that 'gumo' is a Japanese word for 'cloud.' You are right, in a sense. To be more exact, however, the independent word meaning 'cloud' is 'kumo.' The 'k' in 'kumo' is often changed into 'g' when preceded by another noun to form a compound.
This is the kanji for 'cloud':
This kanji is pronounced as 'kumo', 'gumo', 'un', and so on, according to the words in which it is used. It is almost always pronounced 'un' when it appears in technical terms. For example, 'cirrocumulus clouds' are 'ken-seki-un,' and 'altocumulus clouds,' 'kou-seki-un.'

'Ken-seki-un' is spelt in two ways, #1 with the kanji for 'silk' and #2 with the kanji for 'curl.' The first kanji in #3 means alto (high).
I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the English terms were first translated into Chinese, and Japanese borrowed these words from Chinese later. -- Chinese people may have coined them independently, instead of translating them from English. -- It is fuzzy to me which is true.


I'm joining Josie @ Two Shoes in Texas
for Two Shoes Tuesday.