Tuesday, May 31, 2005


It was my assignment this morning to find some flyers advertising community Japanese learning courses that might be offered at community centres and the like in my neighbourhood. Aukje gave me two locations, pointed out where they would on the map, described where the were, and sent me on my way. I jumped on my bike with a little apprehension, since I did not know where I was going and don't have enough language yet to help things much. I zipped up the street toward the first location, a community learning centre. I got to the overhead expressway before I realized I'd gone much too far in my haste. I back tracked to the number 14 block and found the building I thought I was looking for. I was a little skeptical, it did look very communitycenterish but I wasn't sure. I parked and locked my bicycle and ventured in. I wandered around a little looking for a big flyer rack filled with brochures advertising this and that. All I could come up with was a pitiful little excuse holding about twenty flyers. The place smelled somewhat hospitalish as well. I snagged a couple potentials but didn't hold out much hope. This couldn't be the right place.
I decided to get to my next destination, the library. I found the NTT building right where Aukje said it would be, and turned the corner to look for the library. Where I expected the library to be I found a taxation building (the sign was in English). I looked a little further and found a building that looked like a potential. Again I parked and locked my bicycle and ventured in. Aukje had told me that the library was on the third floor and that I could take either the elevator or the stairs. I wandered around looking for a way up but I couldn't find either stairs or an elevator. Not to have been wandering around for nothing I stopped at the washroom which made me feel a little less frustrated. I found another pitiful rack of flyers on my way out, nothing potentially language like however. I left. I hopped on my bicycle and went round the other side of the building and, Eureka! I did indeed find the library. About time I thought. Yup. There were the stairs and an elevator. I parked and locked my bicycle and headed for the elevator. I entered and hit the button for three. Curiously the doors didn't close, so I hit the close door button. Then I didn't go anywhere. I tried the other third floor buttons (beside the button panel in the usual place there were button panels on each side of the elevator as well) and when nothing happened I repeatedly jabbed the buttons for a while. As I was jabbing I noticed a little sticky note on one of the buttons with some kanji written on it. Perhaps it had something to do with the elevator trouble. "Well no matter" sez I to myself, I shall take the stairs. I arrived at the second level only to find a chain barring my way. It now dawned upon me that perhaps the library was closed. Hmmm. I headed back down, to see a lady tossing a library book into the return book thingy at the bottom of the stairs, adding more support for my hypothesis. I hopped on my bike and headed home, feeling like a complete and utter failure. Such is coping with life in a foreign city.

My new neice

May I introduce Hailey Elizabeth, born on 22 May to my brother Paul and his wife Cindy in Georgetown.
May God richly bless this new life.

Monday, May 30, 2005

You are entering the Twilight Zone...

From the manufacturer Omron, whom I have (up to this point in my life) only associated with PLC controls and it's related doodads. A cute little kitty cat. A fake cat that seems too real to be cute, disconcerting would be a more accurate term. Quicktime movies of this furry little critter. I think this would have made a good basis for a Twilight Zone episode.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Coffee Time

Today, I shall post my heaps of appreciation to Chiemi (a friend of Aukje’s who lives near Tokyo), for the coffee maker she got for us as a wedding gift. Here it is almost finished concocting that delectable brew known as kohi. Behind the camera Aukje and I are salivating as we drink in the aroma, nay the fragrance of Blendy, (the locally available and most reasonably priced java). As you can see we are thoroughly enjoying this gift.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Today's Service

The centre of God’s will is our only safety. – Betsie ten Boom

The past couple of weeks at our meeting of the Budonoki Seru Chiyaachi (Grapevine Cell Church) the sermon has been related to World War II. The pastor we have been listening to is Hirano Sensei (Pastor Hirano) of Horizon Chapel in Tokyo.
The chapel creates a DVD of every service and sends it to all their subscribers. We use these DVDs as a way of conveying a message from a Japanese pastor at our Thursday meetings. It has been very educational to be a party to hearing a Japanese pastor speak on this topic, getting a glimpse of how this topic resonates with the Japanese. His message of taking responsibility for one’s actions and then seeking forgiveness is very biblically centered, and I think relevant though now fading with the passing of the generation who was directly affected by the war .
Since I am a first generation Canadian of Dutch decent, I know well this feeling of hurt related to WWII, from the Dutch community I grew up in. I’ve heard many a tale and many a heartfelt recollection of the war from a large group of people who emigrated immediately after the war. Experiences which were related to me from my family, has given me a much closer tie to WWII than the average North American.
I think that most North Americans were largely insulated from WWII since most of the war (apart from Pearl Harbour) was fought in other parts of the world. The North American pain is tied largely to those who sent their sons, brothers and fathers to war.
In the pocket of Canadian-Dutch people where I grew up there was still some animosity against the German people, and only by the grace of God and Christ centered forgiveness can such gaping wounds be healed. I appreciate this work of Tokyo Horizon Chapel, and hope they continue working out God’s sovereign plan of redemption.
Seek the centre of God's will.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Rapid Transit

Last evening in my travels I was near Tennoji, which is a major hub for train traffic. As I was coming to this bridge, I thought to myself very cool, two levels of trains and under that a road. To my left there is also the expressway which goes over top of the whole kitandkabudle. While I was enjoying the urbaness of it all and snapping a photo, a train sped by adding (for me) to the ambiance. I briefly toyed with the idea of standing there until two trains (upper and lower)came by at the same time with maybe a car and a bike underneath. But after mentally going through some probability calculations, I realized I might be there for quite some time (even in Japan).

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Commotion

I heard some odd noises. I poked my head out of my apartment window to see what the commotion was. I saw school kids, millions of 'em. Well that might be a slight exaggeration. There were at least 49. And they kept coming, stretching from around the corner of our apartment building, along the street and around the next corner.
My memory went with nostalgia. Thinking about being a school kid and school trips of yore. Although they involved long arduous busrides to and from our destination. Yikes, I'm not quite so nostalgic any more.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Jaunt

I took out my newly put together bicycle, and headed down 163. (163 is one of the major streets that comes past Sekime.) I didn't know where I was going, but I knew I would find something interesting. I found this rice paddy, squeezed between apartment buildings and automotive shops. The dealership a few doors down had a couple of Lambourgini's for sale. It was a quite a contrast.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Diver Down

As a person gets used to a new culture there are always many surprising and interesting moments. Something that was completely unexpected for me, Osaka has more dive shops than Tobermory does. I guess I shouldn't have been so taken aback since Japan is surrounded by ocean.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A cultural moment.

When a North American person points to themselves, they point to their chest, but when a Japanese person points to themselves they point to their nose.

I'm not used to it yet.
I get distracted thinking about the cultural differences when I should be concentrating on what the person is saying, especially with my nonexistent level of Japanese.
Communication is so much more than language.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Green Tea

This my friends, is a Green Tea Chocolate Chip Cookie. I wasn't sure what to expect. Green Tea flavoured things are quite popular here. Particularly Green Tea flavoured ice cream. (Which is quite good as well). The green tea with the chocolate makes for an interesting combination. Food combinations are quite a science in Japan and a lot of R & D seems to go into it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Fun with learning the lingo.

Lately I have taken to telling people here in Japan (with a furrowed brow and a very serious look on my face):

Watashiwa nihonjindewa arimassen.
I am not Japanese.

It usually gets a quiet response for a moment as the person tries to figure what I really mean, and then when I smile, a good laugh.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Unknown Continued...

Yesterday I met my little friend in the elevator again. I was arriving home, and as the elevator got to my floor, she was getting on. She politely bowed to me (which I thought to be extremely cute) but seemed a little nervous as she looked at me. I said in my very best Japanese "Konichiwa" (Good Afternoon) to which she replied with a smile, "Konichiwa".
I was chuffed.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Hey Heather!

This post is dedicated to a friend of mine who works at Jergens Canada. Biore in Japan! I snapped this picture as I was leaving the 24 hour grocery store on the other side of the tracks from my apartment. I chuckled as I checked out the Jergens website. It seems they are on a campaign to make people's skin darker no matter the season! Now I am no advertising, branding or product expert, but I think I'll offer a little free marketing advice for the fine folks at Jergens. Don't export the campaign to Japan! The societal ideal here is for woman to be as pale as possible. Any exposure to the sun is terrible, and many precautions are taken to ward off the sunshine when women are out and about. However as I said I am no expert and perhaps you can change thousands of years of cultural and historical trends and make everyone feel they need your product. You could corner the market if you are successful, and I for one would certainly be interested in watching your attempts.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I mailed my bike to myself. It is over ten years old and not an expensive bike or anything (note to any thieves out there, It is not worth stealing!) but it is like a good pillow. I had to deconstruct it slightly to fit it into a box that was mailable. I added some books and computer equipment and I managed to slip it in the mail at 29.5 Kg. I was cutting it close as the limit for Canada Post is 30 Kg. The box was slightly too long so I had to pay a surcharge. I'm sure you've heard of the "slow boat to China", well I sent it on the slow boat to Japan. As it turned out, I beat my bike to Japan by only several days. The six weeks quoted actually turned out to four and a half. Snags: Pumps in Japan are made for Japanese valves. Locks and lights are mandatory and you might be pulled over if you don't have them. A kickstand is a good idea, and the one I bought was too short. All situations are rectified, but I probably will need to get some fenders as it rains quite often here.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

This wisdom has recently been imparted to me.

The average time it takes for a Japanese person to go from thinking about Christianity and thinking about becoming a Christian to actually making some sort of commitment is about eight years.

If the person has been exposed to Christian education in some fashion (ie Catholic School) or has otherwise had some form of alternate exposure to a Christian worldview in the process of their growing up, that time can be decreased to a period of about three years.

It may be the radical nature of the Christian world view that causes problems when compared to the options that are generally presented in the process of growing up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A walk by the shore.

Late last week Aukje and I went to see one of her previous Alpha students in Nishinomiya. Nishinomiya is a city between Osaka and Kobe. After the visit we took a stroll down to see the ocean (since we were in the neighbourhood). What we saw were mostly man made land areas built in the bay on which Kobe and Osaka were established.
In light of the recent devastating tsunami, I was impressed by the preparation of the people in Nishinomiya. This sea wall was constructed to turn quite a large wave over. In other areas there were thick steel doors/gates that are normally open to allow traffic flow but are ready to be closed just in case. These preparations are not new, but I don't think they would be robust enough to stem a tsunami the size of the one which recently took place.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Our washroom is soo small...

You have to be careful you don’t hit your head on the door when you sit down.

Watashi no atama ga toire no doaa ni butskarimashita. Itai! (Itakattadesu) (past tense of Itai.)

I hit my head on the washroom door. Ouch!

(Based on a true story) (again)

Woo. That smarts.

I wondered how I would take to saying Itai instead of ouch as I try to become bilingual. I don't know if I'll have enough wits about me when I hurt myself to translate to Itai! before Yow! comes out.

Hmmm, I may have to practice.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

It's a Good Thing Aukje was Home

Watashi wa kagi o wasuremashita.

I forgot my key.

(Based on a true story)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Old Fridge New Fridge Small Fridge Green Fridge

Well I am no Dr. Seuss that is for sure. But we do indeed have a new fridge. It is three times the size of our old fridge and we no longer have vegetables and fruit and diet coke lying around on shelves and/or the floor. We successfully bought our fridge from a smallish appliance store in Den Den Town and felt we got a very good deal. Our fridge is a Sharp and the other two fridges we were looking at were made by Toshiba and Sanyo. All are major brand names in North America, but none are associated with fridges. In Japan these companies are very diverse, and many major companies make a large variety of different types of products. Our fridge has an upper refrigeration compartment with a door that can be opened from either side, a freezer drawer under that and at the bottom a vegetable drawer. Let me reiterate, Cool! A door that opens from both sides and drawers!