Taiko Concert

This Wednesday, February 11th was a national holiday in Japan. National Founding Day, or “Kenkoku Kinen no Hi” in Japanese, celebrates the ancient founding of Japan by the first Emperor Jimmu.

This year, I went to see a free taiko concert held by the local “Fujioka Shimin Daiko” group. As usual, their performance was excellent, and a testament to how much work and effort they must put into their practices.

I watched from the back of the auditorium, but even there the force of the rhythmical beating of the drums was powerful.


national holiday:  祝日  founding: 建国  ancient: 古代の  emperor: 天皇

held by: 〜により開催された performance: 演奏   a testament to: 〜の証

work and effort: (練習)と努力   back of the auditorium: ホールの奥

force: 力  rhythmical: 律動的  beat: たたく  powerful:  力強い

Taiko ConcertBefore the show

Fujioka Taiko ConcertPerforming a song

Planting Cucumbers

We helped plant cucumber seedlings at our friend’s farm in Kamisato, Saitama Prefecture. There were about eight of us, and we planted approximately 2,000 cucumber seedlings ordered from the main southern island of Kyushu.

The greenhouse was warm and humid (about 30 degrees Celsius). Each row was covered in plastic, and had a holes for planting. One person went up and down the rows placing the seedlings near the holes. Someone else then removed the plastic pots, and planted the seedlings in each hole. It took about two hours with eight people working.

plant: 植える   cucumber seedlings: キュウリの苗  eight of us: 8人   approximately: おおよそ greenhouse: ビニールハウス/温室  warm and humid: 暖かい、湿度か高い   Celsius: 摂氏   row: 列  holes:  穴  up and down: (列を)往復する remove: 外す plastic pots:  プラスチック鉢

planting Planting a cucumber seedling.

greenhouseRows of cucumbers in the greenhouse.

cucumber plantFreshly planted seedling.

Tokyo in January

We went to Tokyo again a few days into the new year. This time, we stayed in Shinjuku. We enjoyed eating American style pizza and Mexican food on our first day. On our second day, we went up to the observation deck of the Tokyo Skytree, which was completed in May of 2012. The line to buy tickets was about 35 minutes long. The view from the top was impressive, but unfortunately the sky was a little bit hazy. We couldn’t see Mt. Fuji at first, but as the sun began to set, Mt. Fuji showed itself for a short while.

This time: 今回   observation deck: 展望台  completed: 完成した  line: 行列 impressive: 印象的/素晴らしい  unfortunately: 残念ながら   a little bit: 少し   hazy: (空が)霞んでいる  set:  沈む(日没)  show itself: 姿を見せる a short while:  短い間

Shinjuku A beer and liquor delivery truck in Shinjuku.

Skytree 1 Hazy skyline as seen from Tokyo Skytree.

Skytree 2Sunset from Tokyo Skytree with Mt. Fuji in the background.

Tokyo Trip

We went to Tokyo last weekend for the first time in six months. We visited Yabo Tenmangu Shrine in Kunitachi City, some shops in Kichijo-ji City, and stayed overnight next to the Prime Minister’s residence in Chiyoda Ward. The Ginko leaves were very vibrant and beautiful set against the backdrop of a bright blue sky!

for the first time in~: ~ぶりに stay overnight: 一泊する Prime Minister: 総理大臣

residence: 家・住居 (総理官邸)vibrant: 色鮮やか backdrop: 背景

DSC_2654-1Ginko Trees in Chiyoda Ward.

DSC_2601-1Yabo Tenmangu Shrine in Kunitachi City.


Young boy in Kichijo-ji City. “I want a smartphone too!”

Ashikaga Gakkou

On the weekend of the 16th, we visited Ashikaga City, in Tochigi Prefecture. We mainly went to take part in an annual wine/harvest festival, but we also visited Japan’s oldest academic institution, Ashikaga Gakkou. This former school was founded over a thousand years ago, and its restored buildings are now open to the public. It was cloudy the day we went, but the fall colors were still nice to see.


mainly:  主に harvest festival: 収穫祭  academic institution: 学術機関

former school:  元学校  founded: 創設  restored buildings: 修復された建物

open to the public:  一般公開される


Winter Cherry Blossoms

Last week, we went on a short trip to Sakurayama in Onishi, Fujioka City. Sakurayama is famous for its winter cherry blossoms, which bloom from late October through December.  If you’re lucky, you can see the fall colors and the cherry blossoms together. It was a little early for the cherry blossoms, but the fall colors were nice.

Sakurayama Park, Fujioka

winter cherry blossom: 冬桜  late October:   10月の下旬

fall colors: 紅葉  together:  一緒に a little early: 少し早い


Sakurayama Sign



Uenomura Sky Bridge

Today, we went on a motorcycle ride into the mountains of southwest Gunma Prefecture. We passed through Fujioka City, Kanna Town, and arrived in Ueno Village. We had a “Inobuta” (pig and wild boar hybrid) curry & rice and minced patty. The Sky Bridge is a long pedestrian suspension bridge high above a river valley.


southwest: 南西  pass through: 経由/通過  wild boar: イノシシ  hybrid: 掛け合わせ

minced patty: メンチカツ   pedestrian: 歩行者   suspension bridge:  吊り橋

river valley: 渓谷



Harvest Season

On Friday, Jessica went to our friend’s farm in Honjo, Saitama Prefecture to harvest fruits and vegetables. She dug up peanuts, and pulled a daikon (Japanese radish) out of the ground! Our friend also gave us persimmon, oranges, bok choi, and cucumbers to take home. Thank you!

P.S. Can you see our cat? (ウチの猫に気付きましたか?)

Vegetables and Fruits


farm: 農場    harvest: 収穫    vegetables: 野菜    dig up: 掘り出す

pull: 抜く(引く)     ground: 地面   persimmon: 柿    bok choy: チンゲン菜

cucumber: キュウリ

Red bridge and berries

On Friday, I went out on my motorcycle to enjoy the nice weather. I stopped at Mizube Park in Kamikawa to see if there were any fall colors. It was still a little early, but I noticed some bright red berries on a bush. I’m not sure what kind of bush it is, but I liked the way the red bridge in the background looked, so I took a picture.


fall colors: 紅葉 bright red: 真っ赤な berries: ベリー

I’m not sure: 分からない  bridge: 橋 background: 背景

Halloween Party

Last Saturday we had a Halloween party for our younger students. Many children came in costume, and they enjoyed learning about Halloween. When I was a child, I always had a pizza party with my friends before going trick-or-treating. We had pizza at our party as well. The kids made Halloween decorations, took pictures, and helped make Jack O’Lanterns. It was a fun night.


in costume: 衣装を着て trick-or-treating: 子供がお菓子を貰いに行く行事

as well: 〜も decorations: 飾り Jack O’Lantern: カボチャの提灯(ジャックの提灯)