Friday, September 12, 2008

It is fitting.

While watching our boxes of stuff being trundled kitty corner from our home to the depot.
It seemed to me to be an injustice of sorts. After being abused daily (not to mention nightly) every day of the year (except for about five of the statutory holidays) with the noise generated by normal operations at the courier/trucking company called Seino, they were the ones who came to get our stuff.
It was with a wide variety of emotions that I watched the boxes it took so much effort to pack being unceremoniously taken to the dock on their way back to Canada.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Look Boss! The pain, the pain!

As you can see teaching English can be extremely difficult.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Surprise Surprise?

They have 'em in Myanmar Taxis as well!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Observed Skill of Indigenous Osakans

I have not yet learned or aquired the skill of sleeping while standing on a packed train, but I'm getting closer!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Site of First Front Gate

Destroyed in World War II, this gate formed a square shape with the Second Front Gate, had a smaller gate on the side with a gabled and tiled roof. The wall section under the front part of the gate was covered with wooden tiles, and the gate itself was iron plated and rocks could be dropped from a second story machicolation. The door on the smaller gate was latticed for reinforcement.

From the context I guessed what a machicolation was but I had to look it up anyway.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

As They Say in Japan

There is a saying in Japanese.
猫の額ほどの庭 = neko no hitai hodo no niwa
My yard is sooo small...
It's no bigger than a cat's forehead.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Vast Wisdom

They were talking about how even though in Hawaii the temperature can be 32 degrees it still doesn't feel as hot as it does in Osaka.
I chimed in.
"It is because there are no bugs." I sagely imparted.
I got The Quizzical Look.
I tried again "It is because there are no bugs". I apprehensively ventured.
After one of those uncomfortable silent moments, they made a guess.
You mean not muggy?
Yes, that's what I was saying, "It is because it is not as muggy in Hawaii as it is in Japan.

mushi by itself means bug;
mushi in conjunction with atsui means muggy.

Monday, July 07, 2008


On the way home from church, I noticed this company.
The building looks very old but it also looks well kept as if there is good money in their business.
The company name is the Fuso Sobi Circle Company.
So I got to wondering about who the owners were and what their craft or trade might be. I wondered if perhaps they owned the rights to the use of circles in Japan.
And so I got to thinking about who might have the rights to circles in Canada. I remember a few years ago McDonald's applied for a patent on the sandwich and in a similar vien perhaps I can apply for a patent on the circle. I could start my own circle company! And get a piece of the pie for every circle made.
I think I had better do some market research first though, to see if people still use this ancient device in this high tech computer age.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Defining the Quizzical Look

Being on the recieving end of the quizzical look, something that foreigners learn (sooner is better than later though it took me a while) as a sign that they have said something not quite right (which can range from just not being understood to saying something downright insulting).
Mostly one hopes it is the former, which just leaves you feeling stupid, but somtimes you end up feeling not only stupid but embarassed as well.

Friday, July 04, 2008


My all time favorite quote on the use of chopsticks comes from my all time favorite aunt.

Oh! You only use one hand!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just For Now

One of the Osaka incineration plants posted only because it is weird and I haven't posted since my return from Canada.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More Hibbie Jibbies

On the other hand being not only a red blooded Canadian male but also a hockey playing Canadian, I have been known to wear garters.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hibbie Jibbies

Many men in Japan carry purse like bags and or carry their bags in a very purse like fashion.
It can be very disconcerting for me, a red blooded Canadian male, to see this, I need to get into the 90's.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Canada Bound

Northwest. Sekime to Georgetown. Trains, planes and automobiles. Kansai, Detroit and Toronto airports. Close to 24 hours of travelling.
It always astounds me it works out.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Is that Kosher?

At the Canadian Consulate in Nagoya the Japanese lady who helped me had a bit of an Austrialian accent.

Friday, June 06, 2008

What I learned in Japanese Class

目に入れても痛くない。= me ni iretemo itakunai.
It's a saying. They say it originally came from China.
Translation: Even if you put it in your eye it won't hurt.
Usage: My son is sooo cute, even if I stick him in my eye it won't hurt.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hence the Diatribe

In retrospect, I am probably just bitter about the lack of hot dogs in my neighbourhood.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The wisdom of it all.

知 = tomo = wisdom
宏 = hiro = vast

Parents often have high expectations of their children. My boy is going to play in the big leagues, my child is going to be able to read by the time he is four, my son is going to love to go hiking with me, my child is going to excel academically.
And etcetera.
I like to think we are not like that.
And yet our son's middle name is 知宏.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Trying to Remember My Quadratic Equations

I still have not become used to the quantities in which things are sold in Japan.

It is a little like the hot dog idiocy in Canada, where wieners come in packets of twelve and hot dog buns come in packs of eight. It takes a math whiz to figure out the number of packets of wieners required to arrive at a common denominator consistent with the number of buns in a package, dividing by the number of persons in your household and how many hot dogs you will have that will feed your family for x amount of days and then reconciling that with the best before dates of BOTH packages. (You might find it odd that the meat lasts longer than the bread). Perhaps it explains why some families eat so many hot dogs. If you were to make a slight error in your calculations or if you are unable to do math, you will end up with too many of one or the other and it is back to the store to get more of what you don't need, in which case you would end up with more of the other again. Its one of the those downward spirals.
In Japan things tend not to come in packets of four. And it would be a great social faux pas to give a gift in a quantity of four. Things often come in packs of three or five which can create strife and marital struggles for our family. The solution often involves knives.

Monday, June 02, 2008


I remember praying in childish English, for hitting the ball as the pitch came at me. Oh so childlike.
I have heard people pray in British Anglican English, graceful, deep and solemn, that left me with an inkling of the majesty of God, and feeling extremely inadequate in my own way of praying.
And in Japanese, with the language's built-in ability to convey a sense of respect and reverence for God, which also makes me feel inadequate in my praying.
And in English, colloquial, comfortable, able to bring the nearness, kindness and gentleness of God more easily into focus.
I am certain there are more ways in use, both more simple and complex.
All need redemption.
One can't do them all
We are sinners even when we pray.
And yet God treasures every word.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Limited Time Only!

When I hold my son's hand;
He wraps his fingers around my thumb and I wrap my fingers around his entire forearm.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Yesterday we visited the hospital for the one month checkup.
We met several of my wife's fellow inmates, also there for the one month checkup.
Oddly enough we also saw more preggies coming and going. Aukje saw one in particular waddling in, and she later said to me, "I don't think I ever waddled like that did I?"
But then I thought about the time, walking down a quiet Sunday morning street on our way to church. I suggested she practice waddling for when it became neccesary. Naturally I demonstrated, and then Aukje too gave it a try.
We looked up. And there was a 70ish years young Japanese lady piddling around in front of her house, on the street with us. Though the Japanese are known for being stoic in the face of even the most difficult of circumstances, she could not help but chuckle at us.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Around the House

A night shot of Keihan Sekime Station from the stairwell of our apartment building.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


力 = chikara =
(n) force, strength, energy, might, power, agency, authority, influence, vigor, vigour, stress, emphasis, exertions, endeavors, endeavours, efficacy, help, support, good offices, ability, faculty, capability, attainment, means, resources, (P)

After holding and/or comforting my young son when he has difficulty sleeping I find myself to be exhausted at the end of a day. My 力 seeps away. All the things I planned to do have fallen by the wayside. I cannot figure out where my 力 went. Perhaps I am out of shape. I wonder if they have baby soothing routines or some kind of baby soothing treadmill at the local gym.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Yappari = やっぱり
A fabulous Japanese word;
justasithought, inspiteof, still, also, ofcourse and absolutely all rolled into one word;
It slices and dices, it's a not-too-distant cousin of the Swiss army knife, akin to miracle tonic.
Perhaps I have exaggerated.
But only slightly I assure you!

Monday, May 19, 2008


I have this (bad?) habit of reading books concurrently. Perhaps it is my Sesame Street attention span. Currently, one of those books is Charlie Peacock's New Way to Be Human. In it, I came across a lyric from David Wilcox's (no, not that one Anth) album Live Songs and Stories
From the song Show The Way; it struck me, got stuck in me, I had to write it down.

Look, if someone wrote a play
Just to glorify what's stronger than hate
Would they not arrange the stage
To look as if the hero came too late
As if he's almost in defeat
So it's looking like the evil side will win
So on the edge of every seat
From the moment that the whole thing begins
It is love who makes the mortar
And it's love who stacked these stones
And it's love who made the stage here
Though it looks like we're alone
In this scene set in shadows
Like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us
But it's love that wrote the play
So in this darkness
Love can show the way

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The view from there.

This morning I boarded the Hankyu, as I tend to do on many Saturdays. I was early for this particular train, it was still eight minutes before departure and I was the first person in the train car. I made myself comfortable.
Kids, mostly boys;
Assorted parents;
Gathered at the front.
I understand why they are here, it is why I am here.
I too like to look out windows. (Here too.)
My boy is still too young, I’m not sure he can even see me yet, but I look forward with a boyish father's eagerness, to the looking out of windows together.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Today's Tidbit.

It was a baptism of sorts, Tazel got it all over me, I actually had to take a shower.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


A smattering of Tazel photos are here if you are interested.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Akin to an Epiphany

I was taken aback today.
Our baby boy makes baby noises.
Two weeks ago I would have been hard pressed to explain exactly what baby noises are.
Today as I was sitting with Tazel he was making noises and I says to myself, now those are baby noises.
And now I find I am still hard pressed to explain exactly what baby noises are.
I can only say you will know them when you hear them.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Like Son Like Father

It was 4am or so. Tazel did not want to sleep. After my wife spent some time holding him and trying to get him to go to sleep, I took a turn for a while.
So we sat together and his intestines started to gurgle and burble. Perhaps that was what was keeping us both from sleeping. He quieted down, and my intestines burbled and gurgled in a more manly fashion. Tazel opened his eyes and looked up at me accusingly, perhaps that was what was keeping us both from sleeping.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Baby boy Tazel

In Japanese when someone says 'soro soro' it means it is now time to go, or something is about to happen. In Osaka, which has it's own dialect, when someone says bochi bochi it can mean the same as soro soro, (though not always).
Yesterday, as I was spending a brief moment with my wife, I heard the doctor say 'bochi bochi' and in that moment I knew two things. I was in Osaka and we were soon going to have a baby.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Things that make you go hmmm.

Japanese envelopes do not come with that gross tasting, icky licky sticky stuff on the flaps.
Apparently it is because of the weather.
No really! It is too humid in Japan and everyone’s envelopes would get stuck closed, or start sticking to who knows what not, which would wreak havoc in people’s stationary boxes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The math of language learning.

ryou = 旅 = (n,vs) travel, trip, journey. and
kan = 館 = (n,suf) house, hall, building, hotel, inn, guesthouse.
thus, ryokan = 旅館 = Japanese style inn.

This is the front lobby of a Japanese inn. (in Amanohashidate (天橋立)) It is said that if you are in Japan you need to enjoy the 旅館 experience at least once.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lost in Translation.

In the process of learning a new language, one always runs across new words which are often very difficult to translate. Some words contain so much cultural history and/or so much experiential feeling that they are nigh on impossible to translate.
This tidbit of knowledge led me to wonder.
When God speaks to someone, what language does he use? Do you suppose there is something that gets lost in translation?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Pair of 50s

The year 2007 saw two very different churches, both of which are connected to my life, celebrate their 50th anniversaries. My home church, the Georgetown Christian Reformed Church celebrated early in the year and Miyakojima Kyoukai (都島教会) celebrated late in the year. I received a commemoration book from GCRC in December not long before I received a commemoration book from 都島教会. There are pictures of me in both books and every time I happen to see myself it scares me. For 都島教会 everybody had to write an essay. I wrote in English because my Japanese is not very good, and a capable church member translated it into Japanese for the book. (See below if you are interested.)
The differences between the two congregations are striking. Urban Japan and not so urban Canada. Worship style. GCRC with a congregation that is ten times the size of 都島教会. The similarities of the commemorations are also striking, historical photographs of the church buildings and former pastors. Photos of the congregation and congregation life as it changed under God's direction over the years. Memories. Most striking is God's faithfulness to both of these congregations over the 50 years.
Soli Deo Gloria.

Christ commanded us to “Take eat” and “Drink this”. As Christians we do this regularly in many different ways. The church in which I grew up, the Georgetown Christian Reformed Church, did communion only four times a year. That seems to be almost not at all, but it was a very special occasion, not to be missed and not to be trifled with. By the time I began to take communion the church leaders saw fit to change the frequency to once a month. When I came to Japan, and started to attend 都島教会、Communion became a weekly event for me and I was able to see another side of the Lord’s Supper.
In 1993 I spent two weeks helping with some construction in the Dominican Republic. While I was there I visited the San Mateo church in Sabana-Grande-de-Boya, a small town in comparison to Georgetown, which is very small in comparison to Osaka. During the service we were invited to partake of the Lord’s Supper as guests of the congregation. Sitting on rudimentary benches, the bread was passed to each participant. Then in small glasses, only some of which matched, the wine was served. When half of the congregation had received their wine, there were no more glasses. The first half took and drank, while the second half looked on. Then the glasses were efficiently gathered and washed in the baptismal basin, which was sitting ready for a baptism later in the service. The freshly washed glasses were refilled and I too was able to participate. The entire service was done in Spanish, and I don’t speak any Spanish. When I came to Japan, the entire service was done in Japanese, and I didn’t speak any Japanese. But. I was able to partake of communion, and it continued to be meaningful. Communion is tangible, I see it, I feel it, I taste it. And as certain as I am of these physical things, I am also certain of Christ’s body and blood having been given for me.
Participating in communion in these different circumstances, has demonstrated to me in a concrete way how the body of Christ crosses borders and time. Every week as we take communion together, we join Christians from a myriad of different times and places, as far back as the twelve with Jesus, and as far away as Canada and the Dominican Republic.

私が育った教会 (改革キリスト教会)はー年に4回しか聖餐式がありませんでした。それは、全然ダメのように見えますが、しかしそれは非常に特別の儀式であり、見逃してはならないもので、いい加減に軽んじることの出来ないものでした。私が聖餐式を始める頃までには、教会の指導者たちはその回数を月に一回するのが妥当だと思うようになりました。私が日本に来て、都島教会に出席し始めてからは、聖餐式が毎週になり、私は聖餐式の新たな面を見ることが出来ました。

Many thanks to 荒木紀子さん (Mrs. Araki Noriko) for the translation.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

On riding to school. For my posterior-ity

From the archives, I recommend you blow the dust off this one before reading it.

Largely I really enjoyed cycling to school. It took anywhere between 35 and 45 minutes depending on how genki I felt and what route I took, but that was no problem. Things that really were a pain in the butt were the never ending irresponsible or otherwise non-attention paying cyclists and pedestrians and especially the many, many rude taxi drivers.
I had a good seat when I came to Japan. It broke. I bought a new seat at the Konan, the cheapest one I could find since going to school doesn't pay all that well. I pretty much stopped enjoying my ride after that, my butt was always so sore from that crappy seat, even after forcing myself to "break it in" (not sure weather that is my butt or the seat) in any case it didn't work. The moral of the story? Never buy a cheap seat when you butt is on the line.

When I originally wrote this little bit the feeling was stronger than it is today. Upon rereading it, I noticed that I used a stronger word for butt everywhere and thought for my more sensitive readers I should change it. If you are a purist, feel free to substitute "butt " with a stronger word and reread for the full effect.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 ー 平成20

Happy New Year!
あけまして おめでとう ございます。