Days before Golden week

I recently watched a TED talk video as i often do. This one was about a Japanese man who was very unusual. His name is Black, and he is a yo yo master. Many people would be impressed by his ability with a yo yo but really the most impressive thing about him is his free thinking and risk taking. It seems that many people live out there lives in such ordinary and typical ways these days, that when a man chooses to follow his passion and break out of ordinary roles and choices, it is very frightening, and uncertain. Black is a man who shows us what can be possible if you have the passion.

http://www.ted.com/talks/black_my_journey_to_yo_yo_mastery.html

Last Friday i met the parents of a high school student of mine. We went to an Izakaya after not having seen each other for about two years. i was very happy to hear that my old student had gone to Germany for University, she wanted to be a translator and was very good at English, and now working on her German.

I was very happy to hear about her success and very happy that i had contributed a little to her English ability and worldview. i often feel most proud when i hear about my high school students, i can say that almost every one of them has reached some good degree of success with their English studies and lived lives not unlike Black the yo yo master.

Unfortunately i got food poisoning that night, on Saturday after my first lesson i was in such bad condition that i could not continue. i cancelled the rest of my lessons that day , went into the TV room and curled up into a ball for the rest of the day, i felt like a potato bug.bug

I recovered after two days, and had not eaten. i feel better today but i was surprised at how ok i felt after not having eaten for two whole days!

A sudden trip to Tokyo

Last week two high school friends of mine came to Japan. They suddenly contacted me and asked  to meet me in Tokyo. I had not seen them in about 17 years. i’ve heard from many of my students that they sometimes go to high school reunions, i’m not really used to that at all. For me reunions of any kind are rare and full of surprise. Thanks to facebook, i am experiencing more small and sudden reunions.

One of my friends was Craig, and he was now a blood technician at a hospital, he collects, checks and takes care of blood at a hospital that i used to go to all the time. My other friend was Dan, who had become a police officer. Both had very interesting stories to tell, especially Dan, who had been a police officer for 11 years! If you ask me about it I will share some of their stories with you.

I spent only a day with them but realized how much i missed living in Canada. i just listened to them talk and asked questions. i felt relaxed because i could speak freely in a way that i was used to speaking in Canada. i swore a lot and i missed that too. Some of you may know that i used to have a very dirty mouth and swore very much.

capsuleI was also very pleased that i had the chance to sleep in a capsule hotel for the first time! Considering it was only 3000 yen for one night, it was very convenient.

But as you might imagine, it was very crowded and i didn’t like that there were carpeted floors with no slippers. It seemed the busiest time to check in was late at night when there were many drunk salary men.

The capsule itself was very comfortable and clean, i really enjoyed it a lot!

capsule2

Receiving Gifts

turkish delight
Turkish Delights

One of the students at English house came back from a trip to Turkey recently. She was very kind and brought back Turkish Delights!

I had never tried Turkish Delights but I’ve read about it in the book “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”. She also gave me some fish snacks from southern Japan called “Karasumi”. She is always modest about her gifts but her gifts are always very expensive, rare and from far away places.

karasumi2
Karasumi

I’ve noticed that people often downplay the gifts that they give me, always saying “well its nothing”, or “this isn’t anything special, but here you go ….” but in reality the gifts that i receive are actually quite expensive and rare!

In many cases I receive traditional Japanese foods which I have never seen or heard of before. i never know how much the presents are worth and then later i would find out from another friend that what i received was very expensive or very high grade! i would always be surprised because sometimes it would be food that I didn’t really like but other times it would be food that i absolutely loved! Either way it becomes a shock to me after i realize how expensive it is!

In this case i loved the Turkish Delight! i want more!! but I didn’t enjoy the Karasumi so much, though it was very good that i know what it is now.

Needless to say, i appreciate gifts from students always, but i sometimes wonder if they realize that i  have no idea of the value of these items. i sometimes feel sorry that maybe their presents are wasted on me. On the other hand, it is because of these presents that i have discovered and learned to appreciate high grade Japanese foods which i would normally never have the chance to try.

Downhill Skateboarding

Its Spring, and the weather is warmer but most importantly the roads in Fukushima are dry and ready!

I’ve been skateboarding for over ten years now, but it has always been freestyle. Freestyle skateboards are the most common now and usually what you see most people riding. These boards are great for tricks and jumping, but what they have never been good for is speed.

Since I’ve moved to Fukushima and discovered the mountains, i”ve realized that i really want to take full advantage and experience what i could not experience in my flat home town of Toronto.

I’ve changed my freestyle snowboard to a mountain board, and now this spring, I’ve changed my freestyle skateboard to a downhill longboard.

As i talked to my students i realized that many people don”t know what downhill long boarding is! So take a look, it is this…..

I’ve been practicing some basic slides and speed control techniques but last Sunday for the first time, i went to the top of Shinobu Yama and just rode down to test myself. It was very fun and very fast and of course i crashed many times.

I was very fortunate to be wearing my helmet and protection pads because i slid into trees, rocks, and guard rails. It really is exciting to be traveling so fast on a skateboard, and its also very fun to be sliding around corners.

I was fine on Sunday but this week my whole body hurts from all the crashing. At one point i was sliding on my butt and burned a hole in my pants, it hurts when i sit down now, and it really hurt when i took a bath. i think it will take about a week for my muscles and skin to recover.