One of my favorite TV programs is 劇的ビフォーアフター . Everytime I watched it, it made me want to try something new.
Japan is in the beginning of Reiwa (Beautiful Harmony). How will this "before-after" turn out for Japan, I wonder?
I haven't posted anything here for a month. Sorry! I was very busy before, during , and after Golden Week, with different projects around my house.
Here are a few photos of my before and afters.
My yard before
My Mother's back porch before
My walk-in closet,
Perhaps, the least dramatic, but most difficult, replanting our tree.
Changing my wife's car, turning signal, last Sunday.
And finally, ME!
What happened to my life???
What are some of your before and afters?
Did you have a chance to enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms this year? The weather was perfect yesterday and the blossoms were at their peak. I went cycling down Taihei River, Hitotsumori Park and through Senshu Park.
Today, I want you to become a poet. Using "like" or "as", compare the cherry blossoms to something. This is very common in Haiku. Here are a few of my tries.
The blossoms looked like popcorn popping on the trees.It was like a gentle snowfall of petals.The blossoms were as white as snow.The tree looked like a great big dandelion puff.It looked as delicious as the cotton candy if the hands of the child below.
Here are a few photos from yesterday. I look forward to hearing about your cherry blossom viewing this year. I'll add some of the best comparisons from my students here next week.
The end of March is a bittersweet time for me. I have to say good-bye to some of my wonderful students who are graduating, moving, or just moving on. I wish you all the best of luck in your future. I will wish for you the same thing I tell my elementary school students at the end of the year. I want you to be happy, healthy and kind. If you have those three things, I have no complaints or regrets.
Saying good-bye is hard and always using the same phrase is a little boring!
Here are ten different ways to say "good-bye". Try one next time.
See you later alligator.
Well, I'm off.
Gotta hit the road.
Take it easy.
I gotta make like a tree and leave.
Catch you on the flip side.
Have a good one.
I gotta head.
Bye for now.
I'm looking forward to saying "HELLO" to my new students in April.
By the way, I woke up this morning to see this!
It's too early for April Fools'!
I wrote about White Day last March. So I won't repeat myself again. This week is a week of baking and saying thank you to all my wonderful students. Look forward to tasting some of these cookies this week. More later. I will post some of the recipes tonight. No time now.
Good Evening. Here are the recipes:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick oats (aka 1 minute oats)
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter then whisk in the sugar, cocoa, milk and salt. Turn the heat to high and boil mixture for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
2. Stir the peanut butter and vanilla into the chocolate. Add the oats and stir until well combined.
3. Using a small ice cream scoop or a 1 tablespoon measure, form dough into cookies( they can be flattened into cookies or into balls) and place on parchment paper to cool.
4. Allow to cool 30 - 45 minutes.
BAKER'S Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is our go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. When you have a craving for a classic chocolate chip cookie, bake up a batch of these!
Heat oven to 375°F.
Beat butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in flour and baking soda until well blended. Add chocolate chips; mix well.
Drop tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets.
Bake 10 to 12 min. or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet 3 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
Beat together the butter and confectioners' sugar till creamy. Add vanilla.
Mix the dry ingredients, stir into creamy mixture. Blend well.
Add the nuts, mix well, roll the dough out into two balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Flatten dough out and cut into 15 or 20 equal size pieces, shape into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes till firm but not brown. While still warm roll into confectioners' sugar, let cool and roll again.
Do you get cabin fever? I do! With the weather getting warmer and the snow melting, I really wanted to get out yesterday. I didn't have a lot of time, somewhere not too far, but also not too near. I finally decided on Kosaka Town. NHK had a short special about Akita, Friday night, that I happened to watch. They showed the Kosaka Mining office and the Kabuki Theater.
We left around 10:00 a.m. (a late start), and arrived at the theater at noon. Faster than I expected. The road from Akita to Kosaka has gotten much better! I was surprised that we were the only visitors at that time, but it allowed us to do and see many things that are not included in a normal tour. Here are a few pictures:
Built in 1910, the Korakukan was designated as a National Important Cultural Property of Japan in 2002. It is the largest existing wooden theater and one of the oldest surviving wooden Kabuki theaters in Japan. Tours and performances are held daily from April to November. The daily shows however, are not considered “true kabuki” as it often incorporates humor and contemporary themes. But rather, the shows are a mix of a kabuki, singing, dancing and rakugo style comedy.
Inside the Korakukan (seating capacity 600)
Beneath the stage. This is the rotating stage mechanism. Yes we rotated it!
I was able to try on some of the costumes.
This is Meiji Street in front of the theater.
Kosaka Mine Office
The Kosaka Mine Office was built in 1905 and used as the head office of Kosaka Smelting and Refining Co. Ltd. until 1990. In 1997, the Mine Office was scheduled to be destroyed to make way for a new smelter, but instead it was donated to the town. The Mine Office was disassembled and rebuilt next to the Korakukan. The Mine Office was designated as a National Important Cultural Property of Japan in 2002.
The counting office.
Beautiful spiral staircase
Muslim inspired balcony.
Along the Jukai Line (highway) towards Lake Towada is Nanataki Waterfall, a 60 meter high waterfall.
After a nice dinner and a stop at the new Futatsui Machi Michi no Eki, we arrived home around 7:00 p.m. I learned many interesting things about Kosaka. Did you know it used to be the 2nd largest city in Akita Prefecture? It had the first electricity, water works, and private railroad in Tohoku. Also the first Christmas was celebrated there.
I had a wonderful time and can recommend this short trip to anyone.
For more information. see here:
Happy Valentine's Day!
Do you enjoy Valentine's Day, or do you think it's just another excuse for stores to sell more chocolate?
I want to talk about the difference in Valentine's Day in Japan and America.
In America men and women exchange Valentine's on the same day, there is no White Day.
In America there is no "giri choco' (duty chocolate). The first time I was given this was a shock to me. I looked up the word "giri" in my Japanese dictionary and was so disappointed.
We have a school Valentine's dance starting around the 6th grade. I can still remember my first dance. So shy, so exciting!
School children in America typically give a Valentine's card to every member of their class. (maybe THIS is America's "giri choco"?) These cards are put in a special handmade box at school.
Usually, a couple, husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, etc, will plan a special date for Valentine's Day. A nice dinner, a nice dance, a nice card etc. . . .
I have many nice memories as a young child of leaving cookies, or candies on the steps of my neighborhood friends, ringing the doorbell and then running away.
I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day.