Children's Rhymes

Good morning everyone,

There has been a slight change in the weather forecast. Tomorrow is now calling for rain in the afternoon. That, along with rain on Saturday, means you'd better stuff an umbrella in your purse or bag for the next couple of days.

This morning I woke up early-I was having one of the strangest dreams I've had in a long time. There was one good thing about it-I was young and thin in the dream. Other than that, I don't remember much...ha ha!

While I was thinking about what to put in today's blog, a children's rhyme came to mind.

What are little boys made of?
Snakes and snails and puppy dogs tails.
That's what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice.
That's what little girls are made of.

I remember growing up thinking, why do girls get sugar and spice and we get stuck with snakes and snails? Ha ha! 

Now that I'm older, I must admit that whoever wrote this poem was pretty much right on. When I think back to some of the things that I stuffed in my pockets and brought home, they were either snails or grasshoppers or frogs or some other creepy crawly creature. I must admit that a lot of them didn't live much longer than a day or so in my homemade aquarium. Then my father gave me a speech about enjoying nature in it's place. We have a little rhyme we use to remind people how nature is meant to be enjoyed. It goes like this:

Take nothing but photgraphs.
Leave nothing but footprints.

After that I never brought things home in my pockets, I just enjoyed them when I was out playing. I still try to live by this when I go hiking or camping. Do you have something similar in Japanese to remind people to respect nature when they are out enjoying it?

Have a great day!

PS Don't forget about the party next Tuesday!


Good morning everyone,

The cherry blossoms are out in full bloom and the weather is perfect for for having a 'hanami' party.

However, many parks have posted signs and some politicians have even spoken out, asking people to show some 'jishuku' or self-restraint.

I am of two minds about this. On one side people should do as much as they can to support the victims of the disaster-both financially and emotionally. Also, if we are asked to cut back on electricity usage to ensure that those in stricken areas are fully served, again, we should do it without complaint. Otherwise, to me, showing self-restraint is each person's individual choice.

Being told to show it, defeats the purpose of it. In that case, it isn't really self-restraint, is it?

A disaster of this scale is unprecedented on the Japanese archipelago, since records have been kept anyway, and each person needs to take time to think about the victims, pray for them, and support them however they can. And if, in your mind, you are supporting them by cutting down on entertainment, then that's ok. If you feel that you are supporting them by going out and continuing to live your life, then that is ok too.

It is a personal choice and whichever you choose, doesn't matter. It is how you make your decision that matters. Is it for selfish reasons or selfless reasons?

I, for one, am cutting back on 'entertainment' expenses, not because some organization or politician thinks I should, but because I think I should. We should all think about it ourselves, rather than having someone tell us what we should do.

Have a great day!

Wet socks and new shoes

Good morning everyone,

After that last coolish (and rainy) day, spring has finally sprung! We are looking at a week of warmth and sun over the next 7 days. It's perfect cycling weather...or perfect 'riding the bus' weather, if you don't have a bike...ha ha!

Yesterday morning I found out something about my shoes that I never would have learnt if I was still riding my bike. The soles were so worn out that water was seeping in. The last 100m of my walk was made with soaking wet socks. It wasn't very comfortable, but I did get to make those squishing sounds I remember from my childhood! Ha ha! Needless to say those shoes were 'retired' yesterday and I rushed out to Step, a shoe store just off of Hondaori to pick up a new pair. Luckily, yesterday had a 10% sale so I picked up a really expensive pair \3,990! (before the discount!) Ha ha! I'm sure my friends back home will say that I'm too old for Converse All Stars, but I don't care. I can't see me ever changing to another kind of sneakers. In 30 years, I'll be that 70 year old guy who still wears them. They are so comfortable! They're light and easy to wear. I don't get blisters even from a brand new pair and to top it all off they're about 1/2 the price of a normal pair of sneakers...ha ha!

Before I forget again. On April 26th, it'll be the school's 2nd anniversary! Of course, we are having an anniversary party! It won't be anything fancy-I'll order some food like last year. We'll have some champagne, beer and wine at the school and just have a party! There's no fee, but feel free to bring presents! Ha ha! Just kidding! You don't have to bring anything! It'll start at 4 and go till 9. I might organize some party games, like 'Spin the Bottle'...ha ha! Actually, I might organize some Western party games like 'Taboo' or 'Charades'...Hope to see you there!

Have a great day!

Feeling nostalgic

Good morning everyone,

The forecast for today hasn't changed. It'll be cold in the morning and then warm up in the afternoon-much like the rest of the week has been. They are still calling for highs around 17C on Sunday and Monday. I was hoping that those temps would be the beginning of warm weather, but I was being a little too optimistic. The temperatures are forecast to fall again late next week with lows around 1C-2C on Wed and Thu.

Have you ever ridden a double-decker bullet train? I've never seen one since I've come to Hiroshima, but when I was living in Morioka I often had to ride them. They are pretty cool. There is a lot more space and riding high above the ground gives you a completely different perspective on the landscape. The view is great! As with most things however, their time has come. These trains are set to be decommissioned in 5 years time so if you haven't had the chance to ride one, you'd better give it a go soon! They toil along the Joetsu and Tohoku lines so it's a bit of a hike from here...ha ha!

I, for one, will miss them. They don't provide any particular memory for me, but technological advancements that replace things I grew up with always give me a sense of melancholy. When we were kids, our lives were much simpler so we tend to assume that 'those days' were simpler for everyone, Of course, it isn't true, but it is nice to still have something to look at or use that reminds us of those simpler times...ahhh...I'm feeling very nostalgice this morning...I wonder why...

Anyway, have a great day!

Reminiscing about hot springs...

Good morning everyone,

Does anybody know what the weather is going to do? It certainly seems like the weatherman doesn't...ha ha! Now they are calling for a chance of rain later today albeit not a big chance. And if you are anywhere north of Hiroshima you might see some of the white stuff!

I was talking to a friend the other day and realized that I've probably been to hot springs in more prefectures than most Japanese. I wonder if I could hit all 47 prefectures. Are there hot springs in every prefecture?

Of course I've been to Kusatsu. Kusatsu is one of the largest hot spring resort towns in Japan. It even has a hot spring waterfall! You can soak your tired feet in a public foot bath after walking around the quaint little town. Although, it is becoming a little touristy, it is still quiet enough to have a relaxing holiday.
I've seen the sun rise while soaking in a hot spring in Izu. That was an amazing experience.
izu sunrise
And I've seen the sun set while sitting in a bath in Aomori.
aomori sunset
I've been to Nyuto Hot Springs a few times too. (unfortunately when we were there, these beautiful women were nowhere to be found...ha ha!)
nyuto onsen
But the best hot springs I've ever had were after a day of snowboarding. In Tohoku, most ski resorts have a hot spring at the bottom of the hill and if you show them your lift ticket, you can usually get in for about \200 or \300 yen. It's great! There wasn't anything special about the hot springs, it just goes to show that it doesn't matter where you go, it's who you go with that's important. The only problem is getting in the car and driving home after a long day of snowboarding, then soaking in the bath for an hour or so. Both of my friends were usually sound asleep so I would slam on the brakes and honk the horn every now and then just keep it interesting. It was cruel I know, but worth it just to see their faces as they jump awake! Ha ha!

Have a great day!

PS I've been in Japan for 11 years and I still can't get used to having graduation in March...anyway, congratulations to everyone whose son or daughter has graduated this year and will be moving on to bigger and better things next year! (next year being from April 1st-I can't get used to that either...ha ha!)