The other day Hitomi discovered a riding stable just five minutes from our home. She stopped by with the kids and met the people who manage the place. Today we took the kids and dropped by.
They are very friendly people. They have a three year old boy. That’s him in the photo, and this is his pony. The reason we went today is because the wife, this boy’s mom, told my wife to come anytime and let the kids ride the pony for free. They also played with the boys bunny. We talked with his mom most of the time and learned about their lives. She lived in Australia for a year, so we spoke in both English and Japanese. She and her husband have a good life. They work from morning to night, but it’s the labor of running a farm. It never stops, but they enjoy doing it. Her husband rides horses competitively and gives riding lessons. On rainy days they can’t work, so those are their days off.
We love the community where the stable is located. Like I said, it’s very close by. But once you turn down that road, it feels like you’ve left the up-and-coming “new town” where we live and entered the country.… Keep Reading
We went for a hike today. This isn’t really a photo of a hike but just a moment along the way.
This is Reia, our oldest. We went with the kids from her preschool and the related outdoors school. We drove about 20 minutes from our house to a reservior (fenced off, because it’s drinking water) called Shiroyama Lake. There is a wide trail that goes all the way around. It’s quiet; in warmer weather you can hear the birds and nothing else. Today was our first time to go all the way around the lake (4 or 5 km).
I took a series of shots the other day. Each one is different, and I like them all, so here’s another.
I don’t have many other options. I haven’t picked up my camera much recently, let alone made time for any kind of expedition. But life has been great, and again, no regrets.
This evening a couple from Sri Lanka came over for dinner. They are friends who I met through the English class where I semi-volunteer on Thursday nights. We had a great time talking, and I feel so grateful to be meeting such people.
My kids and their cousin watch a couple having their portrait drawn by a very bold caricature artist. I say “very bold” because of the way he drew the poor girl’s teeth protruding from her mouth at all sorts of diverse angles (even more so when he added color). Yeah, they were sort of like that, but in a cute way, and they *were* paying customers. I’m afraid after seeing the finished drawing her boyfriend may have that image stuck in his head every time he looks at her.
Have a great Christmas day! Today we woke up to watch the kids open presents. Outside the window we saw elementary school children walking to school. A delivery service stopped by later to deliver a box from the girls’ grandma. Life goes on without a stop — until New Year’s when most of Japan finally stops for a few days of rest and fun with family.
Christmas is getting mighty close, so here’s another photo in the spirit of the season. I wasn’t planning to take a shot like this, but two of the cousins came over to pose with our kids. I moved the tree around, covered the windows (so the lights would show), pulled out the tripod, and even got out my flash (a Sunpak 383 that I bounced off the ceiling). After all that work, it made sense to take this as well.
I took this photo of the twins this morning. Today (Saturday) the roads and stores were packed. I noticed our local grocery store has stocked more specialty deserts than usual (eclairs, cream puffs, etc.) plus lots and lots of fried chicken. Cold fried chicken…Hmmm. For anyone who doesn’t already know, in Japan they have a tradition of eating fried chicken on Christmas. They think that’s what Americans eat. That myth was created years ago by Kentucky fried chicken. (Kentucky Fried Chicken is reporting that they’re already sold out for this year.) The other big tradition is “Christmas cake” which I saw for sale in the train station today (and just about everywhere else I turned). Christmas cake is white cake with strawberries on top. Come to think of it, that’s the same cake they sell all year long.
As for us, we’re making posole tomorrow. Bloggie brownie points for the first person who knows what that is. 🙂
(Should I trademark: “bloggie brownie points”…?)
I kind of like this. It’s probably obvious, but the shadow is intentional.
Yesterday at the birthday party I met a young woman from Ecuador who has been in Japan for about three years. Already she speaks excellent Japanese. My wife said that she sounds natural, and her husband said her ability to learn is amazing. So I asked a few questions about how she learned. For one thing, she attended a university based language school. Studying Japanese at a university is much more expensive than going to Japanese schools, but perhaps they offer better instruction (or simply push you harder and faster). She said that at one point she was learning 25 new Kanji per day and studying six hours per day to keep up. She suffered head aches and was always tired, but she kept going.
In addition to the pace of study, she spoke Japanese all the time. Being on a university campus is surely a great advantage, because you can talk with students. If you attend a Japanese school somewhere in the city, then it’s harder to find Japanese people to talk with (especially if you hope to speak with Japanese men). I’m sure being a Spanish speaker helped, too.… Keep Reading