Sunday, July 24, 2016


This beautiful place is about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. There is an entrance fee of 300 yen, but I would have paid more!  I highly recommend visiting Ryugeji!  It was established in 1670 by Priest Nisshin, a nephew of Oman, a concubine of Tokugawa-Ieyasu.  

This small museum has many old things on display, but not being able to read Japanese, I can't tell what they are.

The 1,100 year old cycad and the 300 year old cactus are national treaures.  

I wandered around the paths and enjoyed seeing the gardens, the buildings, and the view.  

There is a literary monument of Chogyu Takayama. The inscription on the grave is from one of his writings: "Obviously we should transcend the present".

The small pond is gorgeous.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Blood Donation in Japan

I recently read about the 52nd National Convention for the Promotion of Blood Donation, which took place in Tokyo.  HIH Crown Prince Naruhito and HIH Crown Princess Masako, who are the Vice Presidents of the Japan Red Cross Society attended the event. 

In the US, I often heard about blood drives, especially in the summer.  I've never heard of a blood drive here.  I didn't give blood regularly, but I did donate periodically.  The last time was when a friend was going to have surgery and I donated specifically for her. 

Reading about the convention made me think about blood donation here.  

This is what I found on the Japan Red Cross website:  

To those who are considering donating blood within Japan:
Thank you very much for your support and kind consideration.
Under the blood donation policy and for safety reasons regarding the person donating blood, we are required to ask you to fill out a mandatory pre-questionnaire in Japanese, and have a certified physician conduct a preliminary medical examination for blood donation in Japanese. Both of these steps will take place on site at any of our blood donation facilities. For this reason, we cannot accept donations from individuals who are unable to understand and respond in Japanese. Thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation.

Is this requirement (be able to understand Japanese) a way to keep non-Japanese from donating blood, or is this a legitimate policy?  What if the person brought a translator?  What do you think?

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Puzzling Letter

I love getting real mail, but don't get much at all here in Japan.  I was pleasantly surprised when I came home to find an envelope in my mail slot.  I opened it and saw it was full of puzzle pieces.  After putting it together and turning it over, I had a message from my friend and former English student in Hokkaido.  

Thank you Michiko!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Kabuki Saturday

Last Saturday I took the train to Fuji City to see this Kabuki performance. The name of this play is Matuura No Taiko, and it starred a very famous Kabuki actor, Ichikawa Somegoro. The ticket taker correctly guessed that I would not be able to understand what the actors were saying and produced a six page English explanation, which he gave to me with my Japanese program!  

Photos were not allowed in the theater, so I can't show the beautiful scenery or the costumes and make up of the actors.  It was past my bed time by the time I got back home, but I was so happy that I was able to see this traditional Japanese performance!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Original Sport

I don't know everything about this and what I think I know may not be correct, but I'll try to tell about it.  

Years ago at the company where I teach, the employees invented or created this sport called Panpang (I don't know about the spelling, this is how it sounds to me). They call it an original sport.  Over the years it became very popular and there came to be competitions between teams at each location of the company, then the winners at each location played each other.  The game is something like a mixture of tennis and ping pong I think.  It is played with a rubber ball and a wood paddle (made by the participants). There is a low hurdle that is like a net for other sports.  The floor is taped and the service area is a very narrow lane in the middle. The teams play singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.  One person stands in the middle and keeps score with his fingers.

So, Friday after work was the first round of the competition at this location.  Two of my students are on their department's team.  Over the last few weeks they have been telling me which departments have the strongest teams and why (they practice a lot or they have people on their teams who are ping pong experts, etc.)  I have been very interested in this and decided to go and watch.  I think there were 10 or 12 teams competing. The finals of the tournament will be this next weekend and the top two teams from this location will go to Tokyo to play the winning teams from the other locations of this company.  My pictures are poor - it is a fast moving game and I wasn't using a flash, but maybe you can get the idea. The event began with a little ceremony or pep talk, then on with the games!