Jan 27, 2015


   My mother and I were opposite in several ways.

   She loved going to parties. She was always the life of the party. -- I avoid parties. If I were to attend a big party, I would be a wallflower.

   She loved going clothes shopping. -- I hate it.

   She was very emotional, and expressed her feelings freely. -- I tend to be emotional, but I've learned to hide my feelings in public.

   She loved cats and dogs, and they seemed to love her, too. -- I've been afraid of animals since my childhood, and I've never wanted to have a pet in my house.

   She was good at ball games and dancing. -- I am hopeless at any sport.

   She never wanted to learn how to use a computer. -- I love working with my computer.

My mother would often wonder why we were so different. I seem to take after my father rather than my mother. My parents were opposite in many ways. There were a lot of disagreements and arguments, but they stayed married 'till death did them part.'

  I am joining Josie for Two Shoes Tuesday.
writing prompts: opposite / own

Jan 24, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: January 24

Ten Things of Thankful

#1.  the vest I've made

#2.  the skirt I've finished making

#3.  my sewing box

#4.  the aloe ointment for the chapped hands

#5.  the rubber gloves that protect my hands when I do the dishes

#6.  the postage stamps I won in the New Year lottery

#7.  the rice flour I got at 30 percent discount

#8. the ohagi I made using the rice flour mentioned above, sweet adzuki bean jam, and soybean flour

#9. beef and vegetables stewed in black beer that we had for dinner last Monday


Jan 20, 2015

One Thousand Voices Blogging for Compassion

I've signed up for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, and we are going to write about 'compassion'  on February 20. I'm proud of being one of the participants, and I'm looking forward to pondering on 'compassion,' writing about it, and putting it into practice, and sharing ideas with these wonderful people from all over the world.

Why don't you join us?

For more information, please visit any of the following sites:


Jan 17, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: January 17

Ten Things of Thankful
I've been working as a translator for RBC Ministries Japan, and the first article that I worked on has been published and is now available on the Internet, too. You can read the original article in English here. I'm thankfully proud of being a member of this team.
I'm thankful for the gyouza (pot stickers / jiaozi ) that my father made for lunch on Sunday.

I'm thankful for the small afghan that keeps me warm while I'm sitting at the desk.
I'm thankful that it was sunny last Wednesday. It was freezing, but the sky was blue and beautiful.
January 15 is the day of 'ko-shougatsu', or 'Little New Year' in Japan. The day is also known as 'the women's New Year,' that is, a day of rest for women, who worked very hard for New Year's celebrations. It is customary to eat adzuki-gayu, or rice gruel with adzuki beans on this day. I don't always observe this tradition, but this year, I cooked some adzuki-gayu for lunch last Thursday. I'm thankful for this traditional dish that is good for the health.
This week, I'm practicing playing pieces in the book 'Mijikai Orugan Kyokyushuu,' or 'Short Organ Works.' I bought this book several years ago, and it was gathering dust. The pieces in this book are very short, and most of them are easy to play. I especially like playing the Verso Doria by D. Zipoli. I'm thankful to have rediscovered this beautiful music book.
I'm now working on a new sewing project, which I enjoy very much. Hopefully, I'll write more about it next week.
I've written a haiku in Japanese, and sent it to the newspaper in the hope that it may be published in their haiku column some day... Millions of haiku are being submitted every week, and only 20 of them are selected and published on Sundays... I'll show you the haiku if it is published. I'm thankful that I've written what I think is a good haiku, whether it will be published or not.
I'm thankful for the sashimi of yellowtail we had last Thursday. Yellowtail are at their best at this time of the year.
I walked a lot last Friday. I hadn't taken a very long walk for several weeks because of the snow. After the Christmas party and the New Year's feasts, it was high time to get some exercise to burn fat.

I went to the central library, which is about a forty-minute walk from my house. I borrowed three books, and then walked to a supermarket where I seldom go, hoping to find a certain brand of cheese we had been wanting to try. It is not available at the supermarket where I usually go shopping. I couldn't find any at the shop near the railroad station I went to two weeks ago, either.  I walked more than half an hour from the library to the supermarket. Unfortunately, they didn't carry that particular kind of cheese there, either. I left the shop without buying anything. It took me more than forty minutes to walk home. I walked very fast, so that I would get home before noon. When I got home at 11:50 A.M, my father had already cooked lunch for me.

Jan 15, 2015

Pondering on the Word 'Blind'

I am joining Brenda @ BYG Adventures for Pondering, where we write about words with many meanings. This week, we are pondering on the word 'blind.' Instead of discussing all the meanings of this word, I will just share two poems that I'm reminded of.

 photo image13_zps64a48e1e.png

The first is a sonnet written by J. Milton.

Sonnet XIX

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
d with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied,"
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man
s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his State
is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o
er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

When I read this poem for the first time in my life, I was deeply impressed with the last line: "They also serve who only stand and wait." At that time, I was going through an episode of depression, and felt as if I were 'only standing and waiting' for weeks. This poem encouraged me greatly.

* * * * *
The second is the lyrics to "Amazing Grace" by John Newton. It's one of the hymns in English that I've learned by heart.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
* * * * *
To read more about the meanings of 'blind,' please click here.

Jan 12, 2015

Memory Monday: More Vacation Memories

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday
   The school year starts in April in Japan. In my school days, the summer vacation usually began on July 25 and lasted until August 31. The winter vacation was from December 25 to January 7. We also had a spring vacation from March 25 through April 5.
   When we were in elementary school, we were given tons of homework assignments for the vacation. We felt as if we were always tethered to school. Every summer, we had to complete a workbook, a book report, a painting, and a science project. We were to keep a journal and hand it in, as well. In addition, we were expected to gather in a community park to do routine exercise at 6:30 every morning. We also practiced swimming in the swimming pool at school at least twice a week.
   I usually finished the workbook in July. It was a piece of cake. I loved reading books, and I finished writing a book report early in August. I wasn't very good at painting, and I usually put it off until late August. The science project was a big headache for me, because it wasn't easy for me to come up with an interesting topic. Some of my friends collected plants, seeds, or insects. Others took care of little creatures and observed them. I don't remember what exactly I studied, but somehow, I managed to write a mediocre paper every year.
   Though we had so much homework, we didn't forget to have a good time. It was our family tradition to go to the beach on the fourth Sunday in July. We always went to the great firework festival in our city on August 2 and 3. I also loved going to my aunt's house, where I saw my cousins from different parts of the country. They usually visited my aunt for the bon festival in mid-August. I was glad to spend some time with my cousins, who were about the same age. When I was in the fourth and fifth grade, I went camping on the hill with my family, which was a lot of fun.

Jan 10, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: January 10

Ten Things of Thankful
I'm thankful for the new frying pan I've just got.

I'm thankful for the zenzai (rice cake with sweet adzuki bean jam) that I cooked.

I'm thankful for the book I've read this week. It has a very long title: "Ichinichi de Kandoutekini Koe ga Yokunaru! Uta mo umakunaru!!", which can be roughly translated as "Your voice will be mpressively better and you will sing better in a day." (ISBN:978-4-88399-980-4) I saw an ad in the newspaper, and I borrowed the book from the city library. I've done the simple exercises described in the book, and I've found them effective. I've learned the posture and the way of breathing suitable for singing. I'm more confident now. I'd like to keep practicing every day.
I'm thankful that my aunt, Yoko, visited us last Sunday afternoon. She always comes to our house in early January to wish us a happy new year.
I'm thankful for the dried sardine that my aunt gave us as a New Year gift.

The other day, Noriko gave me some old-fashioned candy made from soy flour and sugar. It was not too sweet, and tasted good.
I've made an apron with leftover cloth. (It used to be my mother's summer kimono.)
I'm thankful for the large manjuu (steamed buns) with sweet adzuki bean jam in them that Mr. O*, a friend of my father's, gave us as a new year gift. -- We are being showered with something sweet this week.
I'm thankful that I've been keeping my new year's resolution so far. :-) I'm reading the entire Bible in one year, according to the schedule suggested in Our Daily Bread. I've read Genesis 1-26 and Matthew 1:1 -8:17.
I'm thankful that the weather has not been as bad as what the weather forecasters say. Certainly, we've had a lot of rain and snow, but it is not so stormy.

Jan 5, 2015

Memory Monday: A Vacation Memory

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday
   In my twenties, I went to Hokkaido, the island to the north of the main island of Japan, with Yuki during the summer vacation. Yuki was one of  my good friends in my university days. After graduation, she started teaching Japanese literature at a senior high school in Tokyo, and I began teaching English as a foreign language at a senior high school in a small town by the sea of Japan, hundreds of miles away from Tokyo. We talked on the phone at least twice a month.

   Five years after we graduated from university, Yuki and I had an opportunity to go on a trip together. We had never been to the beautiful island of Hokkaido, so we were excited about our plans. We took a vacation in late August. It was very hot and humid during that summer, and we had been looking forward to spending some time in a cooler place. At first, we had thought of going there by sea, but neither of us could afford a very long vacation, so we decided to go there by airplane. It was my first time to travel by plane. Our plane left Haneda, Tokyo, and landed in Sapporo. Thankfully, the flight was very comfortable.

  We visited a number of well-known tourist spots in Sapporo, including the Clock Tower, Hokkaido University, Hitsuji-ga-oka Hill, and a historical theme park. We had what tourists are expected to eat in Hokkaido, such as ice cream, corn, ramen noodles, and squids.

   Having spent two days in Sapporo, we went to Hakodate by train, enjoying the magnificent view from the windows. What I liked best about the city by the sea was the beautiful night view from the top of Mr. Hakodate. On our way back from the mountain to the hotel, Yuki and I indulged in large chocolate cake at a coffee shop. This is the second best thing that I remember about Hakodate.  Our vacation was short, but very refreshing.

Jan 3, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: January 3, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful

akemashite omedetou gozaimasu.
(The New Year has come. Congratulations!)

I'm thankful that the new year has started.
I'm thankful that my father has made kobumaki, a traditional New Year's dish made of the bony part of salmon and kelp (seaweed).
wrapping the bony part of salmon in kelp
simmering the kelp rolls in dashi stock
I'm thankful for the sunny, beautiful day that we enjoyed last Sunday. The sky and the river rarely look so blue in our city at this time of the year.
I'm thankful for the sukiyaki we had for supper on December 30.

I'm thankful that we observed the tradition of having toshi-koshi-soba, or buckwheat noodles on New Year's Eve. (Eating noodles on this day is believed to be lucky, because long noodles are associated with longevity.)
I'm thankful for the traditional dinner we had on New Year's Eve. We had grilled salmon, vegetable soup, soy beans and so on.
I'm thankful for the brunch on New Year's Day. I was so busy preparing these dishes earlier this week that I didn't have time to write in my blog.
I'm thankful for the dried persimmons we had for tea on New Year's Day.
One of my teddy bears is dressed in a kimono for the New Year. I'm thankful for this lovely teddy bear.
I'm thankful for the new dress I've sewed by hand.

Jan 1, 2015

A New Year's Resolution

   The year 2015 has begun. As soon as I got up this morning, I opened my devotional booklet, Our Daily Bread as usual. Reading today's article, my attention was drawn to the small letters printed under today's verse, saying 'The Bible In One Year: Genesis 1-3, Matthew 1'. I've been reading Our Daily Bread for more than 25 years, and I've read through the Bible according to their schedule a few times before, but somehow I've been ignoring that part for the last decade or so. This morning, however, those small letters looked as if they were highlighted.

   More than ten years have passed since I last read the Bible from cover to cover. It is time I started reading it from the beginning again. Today is the best time to start. So, I read Genesis 1 - 3, and Matthew 1 before closing the booklet. If I read three chapters in the Old Testament and one chapter in the New Testament on average every day, I will finish reading the entire Bible in one year. I will read every chapter in the Bible this year. -- This is my New Year's resolution.

   The New Year's Day is the most important holiday in Japan. More than 99 per cent of Japanese people are non-Christians, and it is customary for most of them to worship at Shinto shrines and / or Buddhist temples to pray for their health, prosperity and happiness on New Year's Day. On the other hand, most Christian churches in our country offer New Year's service to worship the Creator and our Savior. I'm thankful that I was able to attend the service this morning, and to begin the new year with worshipping the Lord.

  The sermon was based on 1 Peter 2:1-2.
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

 'Crave pure spiritual milk.' -- I will read the entire Bible in one year this year.

writing prompt: begin