Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chiba Dodge Ball Championship Tournament

Every year we have elementary school kids' dodge ball championship tournament in summer and in spring. For summer tournament the best team in each prefecture gets a chance to participate in the national championship tournament in August. Chiba championship was held last Monday which was a national holiday in Japan.
My son's team has been one of the best in Chiba for these several years and for the last 2 years they were the summer champion in Chiba.
This year 17 teams participated and in the morning they played round-robin in 4 leagues.
The best 3 or best 4 teams could go on to the final tournament in the afternoon.
My son's teams won all the matches in A league and became the best.
They won 2 games and came to play the final match.
Only the winner could go to national tournament in August.
Our opponent team was our biggest rival for these several years in this region.
The following video is 2nd set of this final.
We won the first set but lost the 2nd set because of some questionable judgement and unfair play by the opponent team.

Anyway we won the final set and achieved the champion this year! The kids of the opponent team cried for regret but their tears didn't look beautiful at all to me after such an unfair play.

By the way my daughter's homeroom teacher was interested in some kind of bird while she was staying in Japan.
Here is a link to it's wiki page.
You can hear some varieties of their singing here which is very interesting.

Since this bird, we call uguisu in Japanese, is very common in Japan and thought that there should be similar birds everywhere in the world which was not true.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On June 28, my daughter's homeroom teacher in Holland visited our house with her boyfriend. At first they were scheduled to come to Japan in April but because of 3.11 disaster they changed their plan and postponed their visit to Japan. I was worried if they could not come but finally they came! This is the photo we took at night before they left Japan.

In the morning of 28th I met them in the lounge of the night bus from Kyoto. It is amazing that they traveled long way from Kyushu to Kyoto by bike spending about a month! They returned their rental bike in Kyoto and took a highway bus to Tokyo.
They could leave their bags in the lounge so we could do some sightseeing in Tokyo before we came to our house in Chiba.
A few days before I happened to find a daily inside tour of the Imperial Palace was available now when I was searching in a guide book of Tokyo for some good places to take them. New Year's day and Emperor's birthday used to be the only days it is open to public before and I have never been inside the palace myself. And I was lucky to make a reservation for it.
It is a walking tour and takes about 1 hour. The weather was fine although we were in the middle of the rainy season. It was very hot outside but it's better than rainy. The official tour guide always with us and he required that we walk in the line without stopping to take a picture.
The above picture is the Imperial palace Office building. From the Imperial Palace Garden which is always open to public we can see only a part of the green roof of it.

The next picture is the Imperial Palace. It is not Imperial Family's residence but this is where many kinds of ceremonies take place and they wave their hands from the balcony on New Year's Day and Emperor's birthday.
And this day there was a ceremony. Newly elected ambassador from East Timor visited here to deliver the credential to the Emperor.
This is a famous double bridges. From the public garden we see two bridges overlapping. In this picture I was on the steal bridge usually seen in beyond from the garden. Beyond the stone bridge you see people in the garden.
The lotus filled moat.
One of the moat's walls is under construction at this time and the rocks were kept here. Each rock is numbered so that they can pile them in their original position.
After the tour we went to see the Tokyo Sky Tree which will open next May. It's height is 634m now it's the world tallest building!
There was a kind man and he suggested to take a picture using this mirror. This mirror enabled us to take a picture of the whole tower and myself.
Since they were very tired from days of biking and travelling with a night bus we went to our house after seeing these 2 places.
They were very interested in Japanese food and tried all of food I prepared. I made nukazuke pickles, daikon salad with nameko mushroom. They tried junsai seasoned with vinegar, and they liked especially herbs like myoga. They even liked natto which amazed me.

She watched my kid's dodge ball practice and visited their school.
I year passed since we came back to Japan and my kids don't have much opportunities to use their English. They don't want to practice English by reading books or keeping diaries which I told them to. But this time I felt a relief a bit to see how they communicated with them. I could see they could understand their English and my daughter could speak English a bit. I really thank them to visit us.

On their last day I sent them to the platform of the train to the airport. At that time the thunder started to rumble so severely and heavy rain started which made our farewell a dramatic scene!
I think we can see each other again in the future.

Next I want to write about the following day.
My son went to Hobby Fair which took place in the Makuhari Convention Center.
The following picture is taken at 7:26. It is amazing that there are so many people waiting for opening of 9:00 from that early time.
One of my son's purpose to come here is to join bei-blade tournament.
I did not go with him this day but inferring from this photograph each battle was done by 3 kids.

I heard that he was defeated in the first battle. I can imagine how disappointed he was. He is carrying his bei blades in a plastic basket.
He got many presents for free including a new bei blade which made him satisfied.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pandas in Ueno Zoo

Yesterday it was holiday exclusively for Chiba residents. All public schools in Chiba were off. So I took my children to Ueno to see giant pandas since it is too crowded in weekends. But there were so many people! Maybe they came from Chibaaaaaaah!

I looked up in the Ueno Zoo homepage to check buisiness hours before hand and tried to reach there before opening at 9:30 but my daughter could not wake up early enough and we arrived a little bit before 10:00, 30 minutes after the opening. We went directly to the end of the line of pandas. There were already many people in the line and the man in the zoo said it would take a little bit more than 1 hour to see pandas, but we joined in the line.
Luckily it didn't take so long before we could see pandas but as I expected we could not stop to see pandas. Pandas were asleep in the corner of the room and didn't move a bit! All I could hear was shouting of the man saying 'Keep moving! Don't stop to take pictures in the front line!"

This a picture is of my lunch I bought at the snack stand in the park, which is called Panda bento. Ears are made of shiitake mashrooms and eyes are black beans. It is 550 yen but small about 10cm × 15cm. I am sure it will not satisfy European's stomach!

Lastly, I happened to see this amazing dog in Yoyogi Park.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Field Day

Today I heard a news that a man living in Fukushima committed suicide for being pesimistic for his future. He was a dairy farmer and he killed himself by hanging on the rope in his warehouse. He left his message on the wall saying "only if there was no reactor". Because of the reactor's accident his dairy farm got banned to ship cow's milk products. Since then he had to discard all the milk he squeezed from his cows. He was married to a Filipino woman but after the 3.11 disaster her wife went back to Philippine with their children. I felt so sad. I suppose there are a lot of people like him now. I hope there will be no more sad news like this and earliest possible reconstruction.

Well today I would like to write about Field Day which took place on May 14 at my kids' school.

My kids' school holds several events every year and Field Day is one of them. Until 2 years ago Filed Day was held in September but last year it was held in May. I suppose because of global warming we tend to have very hot days in September and that is why they changed the event schedule. Since rainy season has not started in Kanto region it was a sunny but windy day.

First, I'd like to show you a video.  This is called Ohdama-okuri, big ball conveying. All the students aree classified between red or white and they compete each other in various games. In this video you can see how they convey each ball over head using their hands to the goal.

Typical events we see in school field days are sprints, recreational sprints, tug of war, dance, cavalry battle, combination gymnastic, tamaire and so on.
Next photo is of my daughter finishing in recreational sprints. In this event kids take each note with name of the teachers and they are required to find the teacher on the note quickly and finish together. She is not good at running fast but she was lucky to finish 2nd. An interesting point is some teacher wore a mask like hers which makes difficult to find the teacher.

This is a photo of tug of war. Neither of my children didn't do this this year.
This is cavalry battle. 4 kids make one team. 3 kids make a hoarse and one kid mounts on it like a cavalry. In the battle the cavalry tries to capture other team's cavalry's caps. My daughter was one of 3 making a hoarse. Because other 2 hoarse girls were much taller than her and it looked she got more weights of her cavalry girl.
My daughter is in the 6 grade which means this is her last field day in an elementary school. I think it was right decision that she joined cheer leaders. For a month before the event she practiced hard every day before classes and after school. But I am sure it became one of her good memories.
This is a finale photo of combination gymnastic. To be honest I don't really know how to say it in English. We call this kumitaiso. This is the last position making a big pyramid.
Both of my children were in white team. I am a bit sorry that their team didn't win this year which made them unsatisfied. But I could see how my daughter was active in cheer leading and events and how my son worked hard to fulfill his job as a scorer it surely was a memorial good event for me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 5, Children's Day

May 5 is the national holiday called Children's Day. Originally it was the day for boys and we still have a custom to stand a carp streamer outside the house and set a decoration of ancient warrior's helmet to pray for boy's healthy growth.

For my family it is a special day because it's grand-pa's, my husband father, birthday!
We met my husband's parents to celebrate birthday in Ueno in Tokyo.

Last time we came to Ueno park in late March energy saving after the disaster was going on and there was no lights at night. The famous Ueno zoo was closed then. After the last giant panda in Ueno zoo from China died in 2008 there were no giant panda for a while. This year Tokyo got two giant pandas from China and they were supposed to be shown in public in late March. But because of the 3.11 disaster the Ueno zoo got closed and panda's release was postponed. On April 1 the Ueno zoo started to show the giant pandas. Since then many people visit the Ueno Zoo to see pandas and we see quite a long line of people especially on weekends in front of the entrance.

Before we meet my husband's parents we visited the National Museum of Nature and Science.
My son is in front of the display of Japanese dog's stuffings. The white dog is that of a famous dog Hachi. Nearly 80 years ago there was a dog named Hachi. He became famous for his loyalty to his master. Hachi waited for his master at the station to meet his master after work as a routine but he kept waiting there after the master died without knowing his death for 10 years. Famous American actor Richard Gere was moved by this fact and he made his movie in Hollywood about this dog.
There was an experience corner of science technology which my kids got interested so much and wouldn't leave.
This one is for experiencing magnetism.
My daughter is shaking hands with her up side down reflection.
This experiencing corner reminded me of NEMO we visited in Amsterdam. Since we didn't enough time to have my kids play as much as they wanted I would like to take them there again.
We had lunch at a Japanese restaurant in Ueno Park.
My daughter is pouring sake for her grandpa. He became 76 years old.
This is today's lunch. Lacquered container's shape is so interesting!
The bottom container was for rice with broiled eel, we call kabayaki, second was grated yam which we eat with rice. The top container was for sashimi.
The vegetable you see on the left is Japanese pickles using cucumber and Japanese white radish.
This is grandma and and grandpa.
From April 29 to May 5 we have 4 national holidays. With Saturday and Sunday included many people can have a long holiday so we call this period the Golden Week.
There were many stands of food. This landscape can be often seen in festivals.
After lunch we visited the Shitamachi Museum http://www.taitocity.net/taito/shitamachi/.
In front of the building picture story show demonstration was going on.
In old times the story tellers move from one place to another with a bike telling story using pictures to children. They earn by selling cheap sweets or toys after the story. We no longer see this kind of story tellers anymore.
After the story the teller gave some quizzes and the one who could make the right answer he/she got a small prize. My son could get 2 right answers with a help from his grandma! My kids seemed to enjoy this show.
Entrance of Shitamachi Museum. Shitamachi means downtown.
This is a cheap sweets shop.
Very old Japanese room. Even when I was small my house was not like this anymore.
Paper fortune.
This is a replica of a Japanese old public bath house. There was an elevated seat between men's entrance and women's. The bathhouse owner or his wife could sit here and receive money from their customers. My son is sitting there and peeping women's bath!
Old telephone. This is the telephone every house had when I was small. I asked if my kids can use this kind of telephone but they could not!
This is an old style post.
Lastly my tulip's final report.
On April 29 all my tulips bloomed.

The red ones were very tall and the stems couldn't hold their large flowers so I had to set a pole.
Red ones were gorgeous and looked like roses!
The black ones were tall, too. I had to set poles for them, too.
Finally my tulips season is over now.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tulip report

First I want to tell you that I made a posting about dodge ball which is my son is doing. Since I uploaded the movie first and posted it later it didn't come to the top. Please also look at March 2nd posting.

This week I had interviews with my kid's homeroom teachers. In Japanese public school homeroom teachers usually visit their students' houses at the beginning of each school year. I think the propose for it is to make sure the location of the student's house and know the environment. Sometimes problems occur such us truancy. Teacher's visit system may help them to find out the reason for the problems.
So my children's teacher came to my house. They have to visit several houses in one day, actually after school, so they had only 10 minutes to talk with the parents. I was relieved because through these interviews I found out that both of my kids are quite doing well at school.

By the way, some of my tulips are at their peak now.
I planted bulbs in 3 lines at the back of my garden.
I had a big package of purple pink bulbs which you see in the back of the following picture so I planted them on both side of the lines. After the purple pink ones bloomed pink ones started to bloom which you see in front of the picture. I prefer these to purple ones because the stem is longer and leaves are narrower and they look elegant. I like the color, too.

Next to the pink tulips I planted two kinds of bulbs. They have not bloomed yet but I can see the buds. The shape of the buds are different. One is slender and the other is fat. I don't remember what kind of tulips I planted but I think one of them is black.

The following picture is from my parents. I gave one package of tulip bulbs when we returned to Japan last year. I don't know why but they came out earlier than my tulips. The package contained multi colored bulbs and they look very beautiful. I regret that I gave packages to my relatives and neighbors as souvenir without a plan what remained were pink and black!

According to news the Fukushima reactor is still in the critical condition. I hear it takes at least several months to settle this situation.
The most surprising thing is that this year's expected turn over of my husband travel company will be only 5 percent of the last year. The company decided to implement 4-day work week for every employee including my husband. Off course his salary will be declined. I can't imagine what comes next!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

One month since the Eastern Japan disaster

My children's school started as usual. My daughter became 6th grader and my son 4th. I felt spring break this time was quite short. I think it's because we have been restless after the disaster worrying about shortage of foodstuff and gasoline as well as rolling blackouts. We are doing fine which is one of the most valuable thing in life.

In Tokyo area the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The following picture is one in my area. In this season Japanese people get together under the cherry blossom trees and drink sake and sing aloud which is typical scenery in this season. But this year it is different. After the eastern Japan disaster everyone in Japan have a deserve feeling of having a binge. Because of power shortage most of public facilities has been saving electricity by stopping light up during nights.
When I visited Ueno Park which is renown for cherry blossom party or 'Hanami' in Japanese a few days ago I found a sign of cancellation of Cherry blossom Festival and when it's dark we could hardly see the beautiful flowers without lights. No wonder there was not many people even if it's the top season.
On the other hand, I heard some brewing company in disaster area are complaining about secondary damage because of decrease in consumption of alcohol as the result of Japanese people's restraint reaction after the disaster.

The following picture is 'kobushi' which is Japanese native magnolia. They are now at their peak now and decorates the entrance to the houses complex where our house is.
You can see the rows of kobushi trees at the entrance. This is my favorite scenery every year. Here is where swimming school bus stops and I remember I used to wait for the bus with my kids. My children used to go to the swimming school since 2006 until 2009 before we left for Holland.

Today it's windy but this south wind made temperature warmer.
What is shame is that after the Fukushima reactors accident I don't want to dry my laundry outside which I always did on sunny days. Maybe there is no harm to our health even if we dry the laundry outside but so far I have never heard that experts say it's safe. That's why I don't feel like doing it just in case.

Last night there was a strong aftershock of M7.4. We felt strong shaking here in Chiba but not so much as 3.11 quake. The intensity in the area near the epicenter was so big that power outage occurred in wide area in Tohoku.
My husband has been accompanying an American photo journalist since yesterday and they were staying in a hotel in Sendai at that time. He called me after the quake telling their safety and told me that they had to go to a shelter which is a school gym nearby because of blackout. Japan Meteorological Agency announced warning of tsunami but fortunately there was no tsunami this time and they lifted the warning an hour later.

Lastly I want to show the picture of my tulip in the garden. I want you to look at a small bud coming out. I expect I can see the first tulip flower soon!