Wings that fly us home

There are many ways of being in this circle we call life
A wise man seeks an answer, burns his candle through the night
Is a jewel just a pebble that found a way to shine
Is a hero’s blood more righteous than a hobo’s sip of wine

Did I speak to you one morning on some distant world away
Did you save me from an arrow, did you lay me in a grave
Were we brothers on a journey, did you teach me how to run
Were we broken by the waters, did I lie you in the sun

I dreamed you were a prophet in a meadow
I dreamed I was a mountain in the wind
I dreamed you knelt and touched me with a flower
I awoke with this: a flower in my hand

I know that love is seeing all the infinite in one
In the brotherhood of creatures; who the father, who the son
The vision of your goodness will sustain me through the cold
Take my hand now to remember when you find yourself alone

And the spirit fills the darkness of the heavens
It fills the endless yearning of the soul
It lives within a star too far to dream of
It lives within each part and is the whole
It’s the fire and the wings that fly us home
Fly us home, fly us home

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It’s been said…

that Japan has four seasons and therefore people enjoy beautiful scenery in each season, which makes Japanese people artistic and they have rich and abundant culture. I’m one of them who don’t deny it though.  But look at this!

Another snow storm hit northern Japan. A low pressure system as strong as typhoon reached yesterday and one of my friends in Sapporo gave me a text message that says they had pouring rain last night and another snow storm would follow.

Global climate change can’t be denied.

Two years ago, we had snow fall in the middle of May, and then over 30℃ next day.  We used to hear the slow  footstep of spring and then admire stunning cherry blossoms.

Indeed, spring was just around the corner but it tears through at a breakneck speed.

Learning English

I have learned English for over 3 decades. No, actually it’s for 4 decades including my school age.  When I went abroad for the first time in 1986,  I only could speak some terms of everyday conversation such as ” how are you?”, ” how much?”, ” what time is it?”  and so on.

I still cannot believe that I could achieve that reckless trip along the Silk Road in China, Tibet and Nepal with my poor English speaking ability for several months.  Since then, I worked at an international hotel franchise and most of the employees spoke English there. So I learned it through working.

Most of Japanese learn English from the age of 12 to 18 but these 6 years don’t make them fluent in speaking.  They are forced to be concentrated on grammar, reading and composition, which is called “preparation studying” for entrance exams of universities.  Once they enter colleges or universities, they tend to forget most of the terms and sentences they learned in those period of “exam war”.

This is one of the reason that Japanese seldom speak English.

In the end of January, I was in Annaburg, near Berlin and was having a product training of some agricultural machinery. While I was having a dinner with representatives of machine dealers from EU, there were guys from Czech republic and Slovakia.  The job training itself was held in German and it was simultaneously interpreted into Russian and English by two sales persons of the manufacturer.  I was astonished with their fluency and asked one of them how they learned and trained their skills of speaking foreign languages.  On the dinner table, sipping a glass of good wine or two, our dialogues became focusing on the education of second languages in each countries.

I explained them about the education in Japan as mentioned above and the guy from Czech told me that they had quite the same way of learning English in his country. Another man from Slovakia agreed with him and said ” only reading comprehension was the most important things for us when we were students.  And when I graduated from a college, I couldn’t speak English at all. So I decided to learn English again and went to the United States.  Those two years made me capable of communicating with English speaking people”.

I had believed that the grammar-translation method in English-learning is taken only in Japan and therefore Japanese people are not good at communicating in English, but I was wrong. I found that there were not so drastic differences between those EU nations and Japan.

I assume that “how to seize an opportunity” to speak out the terms and sentences which he or she has learned at school is a KEY and the accumulation of these experiences encourages people to speak English in front of native English speakers.

Fortunately, I can write English like this but my composition and usage of terms are obviously the one of non-native’s and my speaking ability must be still in the level of primary-school children.  I sometimes think if my mother tongue were English, my life would be totally different. On the other hand, I admire the beautiful structure of Japanese language and I appreciate living as Japanese on this globe.

Only one thing I want to emphasize for my children is that….

If you speak only Japanese, you can communicate with 0.14 billion people. If you learn and speak English, you will be able to communicate with 1.4 billion people.

My Business Trip

The day 13 of my business trip is now over and I am staying at a hotel near Aarhus Railway station, Denmark. Driving a rental car from Amsterdam, my accompany and I entered Germany and toured Salzkotten, Bad Essen, and Annaburg.  We visited our business partners and had some training of some products. On the last day, driving through the Brandenburg Gate, we got to the city center of Berlin on the 3rd of February.  Our driving distance was about 1500 kms and I was relieved when we returned our BMW 321 to the Hertz office where we took a long time to find out on the under ground of Berlin main railway station.

I left my home in the afternoon of 23rd of January with saying “Good-bye” to my wife and daughter and I’m feeling that it’s like a remote event now.  It was a tough trip indeed and my suit case getting heavier and heavier with those manufacturers brochures, booklets and operation manuals.

We took a train from Berlin to Hamburg this early morning and changed a train for Denmark.  Crossing the border, we got to Aarhus.

Another supplier is waiting for us in Nykobing Mors on Monday and we are going to stay in the port town.  It will be my last assignment that translate the meeting and will head for Japan in the morning of Tuesday.  Flying from Aarhus to Helsinki via Copenhagen, I will catch the flight to Japan.

Got used to driving on the right side of the road and those roundabouts which direction is opposite to ones in UK and also in Japan.  And I  had a good time chatting with my Ham Radio friend, Tomas, OK4BX on the mobile phone while I was having a dinner with suppliers and dealers from 20 countries in Annaburg.

There were a lot of interesting things and I have been excited to be here in northern Europe for these two weeks.  But now, it’s time for me to miss my normal life with family, and Japanese food.

Happy New Year 2012

Some folks get away from Japan and spend their days in tropical islands such as Hawaii, Guam and Saipan on this holiday season. And some of the others also seem to take their holidays in ski resorts with their families. What a fancy vacation they have!

Me?  Staying home and take some naps, watching TV, reading books, exploring YOUTUBE and take some naps again. But today…It was the first time that I went out for shopping in these holidays and it was to buy a special spanner to remove a fan from the kitchen ventilation. What a vacation I have!

My brother and sister came along with their family members and spent the night of New Year Eve together. In Japan, there is a well known music program on TV which is named Kohaku- Utagassen and a lot of singers appear on NHK. At my mother’s house, they were watching that program after we enjoyed the traditional dinner my mother and my wife made and I was bored with watching the TV program so I came home alone and watched another one, the Beethoven Symphony #9, which is held and broadcast every year-end.

15 minutes before the midnight, I went back to my mother’s home again and counted down the new year with my family. We ate soba, a buck wheat noodle waiting for the new year comes.. Having it with family members at the last moment of new year-eve is kind of a typical Japanese culture. Eating noodle means having a long life in the future.

When new year comes, we greet each other saying ” A Happy New Year” and we adults must give some money to the children,  Including my 3 children, there are 6 kids so my wife and I had to prepare the money beforehand. Insert the money into pretty envelopes and hand them to the children. This is the happiest moment for kids and staying up late until new year comes is worthwhile for them for that reason.

Coming home, I rushed to my bed and had a sound sleep.

The dinner we had on the 2nd day of the new year was okonomi-yaki, which is also a typical Japanse dish. My daughter is very good at making it and she served us as on the photo.

It was tasty.

I enjoyed the dinner she made and drank a couple of glasses of sake, rice wine.

I’m having good holidays.

Hope you are the same.

Richard Hicks

Richard Hicks came all the way from UK.   He is a sales engineer of Dowdeswell, a plough manufacturer in Warwickshire, UK. This is the 4th time I see him.  Twice in UK and twice in Japan. I am happy to have friends not only on Ham Radio but also on business like this.

When he arrived in Japan, he seemed to be exhausted with the long flight and was suffering from a jet lag. He said he couldn’t sleep at all on the airplane even though his seat was in premier economy class.  Yes, he is right.  I flew the same course as his which is from Birmingham to Paris and Paris to Japan. As we get old it becomes difficult to sleep in the economy class on flights. I usually take business class but occasionally I have to compromise to spend long hours in the economy class which tiers me a lot.

The next day he came was a national holiday in Japan and my boss Kazuo and I took him to a national park which is located about 100 kms northeast of my town, Memuro. We went their with our wives and daughters on a brand new Ford Explorer that Kazuo has just bought a couple of weeks ago.

The weather was nice and we enjoyed the scenery.

The photo above was taken at a lake named “Onneto” which is well known for its beauty. The girls are my daughter Noa (front) and Towa Kazuo’s daughter. The background mountain is an active volcano named ” Me-Akan” and “O-Akan” which means ” Female Akan and Male Akan”.

The volcano provides very nice hot spring and we took a bath in them.

Richard didn’t know that we Japanese enjoy bathing in those Spa with “naked” and he was surprised to know he can use only a small towel to hide his front. 🙂

But it was an enjoyable time for him to dip himself into the hot natural spring.

He will be with us until 18th October.

Today, we have to visit a farm around 6:00 AM to see how the Dowdeswell Plough works on the field.

 

Reunion

My father passed away at his age of 79 on 26th September after his 4 months suffering from lymphoma malignum.

He fell into the eternal sleep without any pain surrounded his wife, my brother, my wife and myself.

As his first son, I didn’t have much time to grieve and had to arrange the funeral.

A lot of people attended the funeral service and especially, there are several relatives who have not met with us for over 20 or 30 years. At the funeral wake, I enjoyed talking with them until very late.  We all met with tears at first and said farewell with smile at the end of the funeral.

This reunion must have been a surprise gift from my father.

Requiescat in pace, Dad.