Friday, 9 November 2012

Happy Birthday to Hachiko.

Did you know that November 10 is the anniversary of the birthday of one of Japan's most famous dogs? I love dogs and I love the story of Hachiko. The interesting thing is that Hachiko is world famous. Almost every Japanese schoolchild knows the story: Hachiko greeted his master, a professor at Tokyo University, every day after work at Shibuya Station in Tokyo. One day, his master died while at work and did not return to Shibuya Station. However, for the next 9 years, the dog would always return to the station to wait for his master's return.

It's an interesting story. It also proves the power of the media. At first, apparently many people didn't like to see a stray dog at the station. They used to do mean things to the dog. However, after an article appeared in the Tokyo newspaper about the story of why the dog would hang out at the station in the evenings, people started to feel differently. In fact, many people would give Hachiko snacks, and they began to treat the dog with respect.

Eventually, Hachiko succumbed to cancer and heartworms (「フィラリア」 in Japanese) and died in 1935. Hachiko received a grand funeral, and eventually a statue was placed in front of Shibuya Station.

Almost 10 years ago when I visited Shibuya Station, I had to find the statue and have my picture taken with Japan's most famous dog. Here I am with my son, Kei, standing next to the statue in the rain. I will never forget this moment. Do you have a picture of yourself in a similar pose?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

E-Style Kids Classes Prepare for Halloween.

Well, it's finally starting to cool down this year. It seems like autumn has come, and before long it will be winter. At E-Style, I have been the main teacher for the kids classes. One thing that we always do at this time of the year, is start to celebrate Halloween. It's a big holiday in America for kids, but adults like to join in the fun, too.

In the kids classes, we talk about all the scary things associated with Halloween. There are black cats, owls, ghosts, vampires and of course, jack o'lanterns that are made from pumpkins.

One of the highlights of the Halloween kids classes is the Halloween TV special called It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (In Japanese, the title is スヌーピーとかぼちゃ大王). We always watch the DVD in the kids classes on the last week before Halloween. Already, many of the kids who have been in the class for more than a year are asking me every week, "Are we going to watch the Snoopy Halloween DVD today?!" I have to tell them to wait.

Well, some of my adult intermediate class students asked me about the show and the kids classes. They wanted to know what we do on Halloween. Here is a great 3 minute video of highlights from the Peanuts Cartoon special. Have a look and enjoy!

Monday, 11 June 2012

I like stargazing

What is your hobby? One of my hobbies is looking at stars and planets in the night sky. This is called stargazing. I like to use my telescope, my binoculars and my camera. But, mostly, I just use my eyes to look up at the sky.

May and June of 2012 brought us 2 exciting stargazing events in the daytime. The first event was the solar eclipse. There are 4 types of solar eclipses:

A total eclipse--where the Moon completely hides the Sun.

An annular eclipse--where the Moon cannot completely hide the Sun around the edges. Annular means circular. You get a circle of light around the Moon.

A partial eclipse--where the Moon only partially covers up the Sun.

A hybrid eclipse--where depending on your location on the Earth and the angle of the alignment of the Sun, Moon and Earth, you can see both a total eclipse and an annular eclipse.

On May 21st, for a few hours in the morning, and annular eclipse was seen over many places in Japan. Unfortunately, it was not a total annular eclipse in Takamatsu, although other cities in southern and eastern Kagawa could see a pretty ring. I took this photo through the clouds from my apartment in Saiho-Cho. Luckily it was cloudy, because I was able to take this photo with only a dark filter on my camera. The clouds actually make it look cool.

Later, On June 6, Venus passed in front of the Sun. We were lucky in Japan, because we could see the entire thing. It lasted from about 7:15 in the morning until about 1:45 in the afternoon. It took more than 6 hours. This time, without a filter on my camera, there was no way to see it. The Sun is just too bright. I used the darkest camera filter you can buy. It is specifically made for taking pictures of the sun. This was my first time to take a picture of the Sun. The big black dot is Venus and the smaller dots are sun spots.

Finally, on the evening of June 4, there was a lunar eclipse. I was sad because I had to work and couldn't go out and see it. In the end, though, nobody in Takamatsu could see it because it was too cloudy. Typhoon number 3 was approaching Japan and brought many clouds with it.

One piece of trivia about solar and lunar eclipses is that they always come in pairs. Either 2 weeks before or after a solar eclipse, there will also be a lunar eclipse. It all has to do to with the way the Sun, Moon and Earth line up.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Chibi's ワン-Point English: Frequency Adverbs

Hi everyone,

The other day, a dog in my neighborhood (近所) asked me how often Alan walks me off (my) leash (ひも [リード] なしで). My answer was "Never." I then started to think about other frequency adverbs (頻度の副詞) and came up with the following examples:

Always (いつも) - Alan always walks me on a leash.
Almost always (大抵、ほとんどいつも) - He almost always drinks coffee after breakfast.
Usually (普段は) - It is usually still cold in March.
Often (しばしば) - She often oversleeps (寝坊する).
Sometimes (時々) - I sometimes go fishing.
Rarely (めったにしない) - I am rarely late for work.
Hardly ever (めったにしない) - We hardly ever eat out (外食する).
Never (ぜんぜんしない) - They never go drinking.

Did you notice that the frequency adverb came after the verb "be" (be動詞の後) in two of the above sentences?

Bye for now,


Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Chibi's ワン-Point English: What kind of 〜 do you like?

Hi all,

Alan tells me that his students have been studying the following sentence pattern recently:
What kind of 〜 do you like? (どんな〜が好きですか).
In this case (この場合), ”kind” means 「種類」.
Here are some sample sentences for you with my answers added:

1. What kind of music do you like? (どんな音楽が好きですか)
2. What kind of food do you like? (どんな食べ物が好きですか)
3. What kind of dogs do you like? (どんな(種類)が好きですか)

1. Classical, especially Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
2. Delicious food.
3. Hot dogs!

See you later, alligator!


P.S. Today is February 29th, also known as "Leap Day" (うるう日).

Friday, 27 January 2012

Chibi's ワン-Point English: Top 10 Ways to Stay Warm This Winter

Hi everyone,

Although Groundhog Day isn't until next week, it is already being predicted (予測されている) that the cold weather will continue all the way to April. I love winter, but Alan often complains about the cold (寒さについて文句を言う) and is always thinking of new ways to keep warm. He even asked his intermediate class (中級クラス) students for advice. Here are some of their ideas:

Top 10 Ways to Stay Warm This Winter
10. Work out (運動する) = Train = Exercise
9. Drink hot water with ginger (生姜湯)
8. Eat kimchi nabe
7. Use pocket body warmers (懐炉)
6. Use a futon drier (布団乾燥機) to warm up your bedding (寝具類)
5. Use a hot water bottle (湯たんぽ)
4. Wear thermal underwear/long johns (股引、パッチ、らくだ)
3. Wear a belly-warmer tie/belly band (腹巻)
2. Put on a short winter coat (半纏、ちゃんちゃんこ) and rest under a kotatsu while eating mandarin oranges (みかん) and drinking hot sake
1. Move to Okinawa . . . or Miami!

Stay cool and don't be a fool,


Friday, 13 January 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Happy New Year from all of the E-Style teachers.

Every year I am asked: What do Americans do on New Year's? Well, this year I called my friend in Santa Rosa, California right before midnight and asked what was going on.

Just the same as a lot of people here in Japan, many at my friend's place were watching special New Year's Eve television programs. Just before midnight, people charged their glasses with champagne, and gave a toast. They said, "Happy New Year!"

While I was listening on the phone, all of this happened. It was very exciting. Then, suddenly, I could hear fireworks going off outside. People from the neighborhood were making a lot of noise. I even heard people outside yelling, "Happy New Year!"

The next day, I called again. Everyone was watching (American) football on TV. Football is the most popular sport in America. The playoffs to the championship start at the beginning of the year. So, many people who like this sport are glued to their TV's on New Year's Day.

New Year's Day is a national holiday in the United States. But, most people start work on January 2. This year, the holiday fell on a Sunday, so everyone was happy that they could take Monday off, and start work on January 3.