Saturday, February 13, 2016

A half a century old!

Life after 50 ain't so bad.  Honestly, I secretly always just wanted to make it to this age.  I don't feel different at all mentally.  Physically, that's another story!  I somehow magically gained 5 lbs., added an inch to my waist and increased the size of my "love handles".  :)  I already promised my wife I wouldn't pull out anymore gray hairs after I turned 50.  She's worried I'm going to lose my hair.  And I have to admit, it's one of my worries too, ha ha.  I bought Rogaine last time I was home and will start using it from tomorrow.

I mentioned before about the good points of entering the 50's generation.  Movie discounts (which I haven't used yet) and entering the 50's age group for sports.  I did enter the Orange Marathon next month and would like to try an aquathon (swim & run) this summer.  Really, I just want to 
keep healthy and enjoy time with my family (and friends). 

Monday, January 05, 2015


It's 2015!  This will be an exciting year.  My son will turn 5 and I'll turn the big 5-0!  I wish I could stop the aging process, but nothing is permanent, including youth.  I'm getting used to my middle-aged years and am starting to embrace them.  As I do become older, I'd like to think that I have become wiser too.  I feel that I am a little less selfish and that I am a more worldly person now.  I know it's taken me a lot longer than the average person and I have plenty of room to grow and learn. :)  There are other good points of getting older.  Soon I'll be able to get discounts at my local movie theater.  I can join the "50 and over" basketball league.  Oh, and I've always said that I'll take up golf in my 50's.  One reason for this is that I want to be able to hang out with my friends back in California.  So watch out friends back home, ha ha!

2014 was good as usual.  It just keeps getting better watching our son grow.  He brings us smiles & laughter every day.  Our school is still going steady and keeping us happy.  I enjoy seeing my students both inside and outside of class.  My part-time university jobs provide a nice different teaching environment.  I like the contrast between teaching large classes & the small groups at my own school.

These pictures were taken at Zion National Park in Utah, Calaveras Big Trees in California and at Ninomiya Shrine in Odawara.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Beautiful nature & things

My summer vacation was wonderful!  One of the biggest perks of being a teacher are the long breaks.  But can they ever be long enough?!  One thing that I love about going back to the states is the beautiful nature.  This trip, besides our usual California destinations, we were also able to visit a couple of Utah's National Parks (Zion & Bryce Canyon).  Both are just a few hours drive from Las Vegas.  We did some pseudo-camping there in a wagon tent and cabin at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.  Our last night in Vegas we were upgraded to a Pyramid Suite at the Luxor.  This room was about the same size as our apt. in Japan!  Anyway, I was a good boy and didn't even gamble.  We were too busy seeing all the free entertainment there.  My favorite was probably the Fountains at Bellagio.  Las Vegas isn't the only place to visit in Nevada. Don't forget Reno, "The Biggest Little City in the World".  We spent a couple of relaxing days/nights there at the Peppermill Hotel & Casino Pool.  This time I couldn't resist the blackjack tables.  And I won!  The must go to place in Reno is The National Automobile Museum.  I remember how much I loved this place when my dad took us there when we were kids (at that time it was called Harrah's Automobile Collection) and I loved it just the same some 40 years later.  The cool thing was I could bring my son this time!  Driving home from Reno, we stopped at one of my favorite CA spots, Lake Tahoe.  In the winter, world-class ski resorts and in the summer, hiking, water sports and all kinds of outdoor fun.

I'll also post some pictures of Calaveras Big Trees which is just over an hour from my parents' house.  The animal pictures are from Safari West, the only place in California where you can go on an African jeep adventure. And I have to post a couple pics. of Taiga with his California cousins.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Capsule Hotel

I like capsule hotels.  They are cheap at 3800 yen (about $38) a night and I can take a nice hot bath & sauna.  Before going to your capsule, you put your belongings into a locker and change into the PJs that are provided.  Inside your capsule, there's a TV, clock radio & reading light.
There's just enough room to be comfortable inside at 2m by 1m and 1m high.  A couple of drawbacks are the snoring & alarms that start ringing from 5am.  However, if you can go back to sleep easily, it's not too bad.

I use them once or twice/year.  If I'm in Tokyo and have to be back the next day, it's more convenient to stay over night.  I can save time and money.  If you miss the last train home or just want to experience something a little different, try a capsule hotel next time!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thank you and good bye 2013

I had another great year in my "year of the snake" 2013!  Taiga turned 3 and started talking even more.  I don't know who he gets it from but the kid doesn't stop talking.  :)  I'm happy to say that he enjoys speaking in both English and Japanese and can switch back and forth quite naturally.  He started nursery school and has made new friends.  Every day he sings us songs and dances around the house.  Here's one of his dances.  He also loves playing with his cars, trains and legos.  My favorite game to play with him is "wrestling".  Aki has gotten better at playing ukulele and has continued to cook us delicious and nutritious meals.  Our school is on year number 8 already and holding steady.  I'm enjoying teaching our students and working part-time at the universities.  I'm trying to stay in shape and my goal is still to play basketball with Taiga as he grows up.  The best part of 2013 was going back to CA in the summer and seeing family and friends.  Let's have the best 2014.  Good health and happiness to all in the year of the horse!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Rumina & Roots

I want to introduce you to one of the most famous and successful people from Odawara, Rumina Sato.  He is a fighter and the owner of Roots Shooto Gym.  Shooto was originally formed in 1985 as as a particular fighting system derived from shoot wrestling.  Shooto rules have evolved and their events are now true mixed martial arts competitions (MMA).  You can win your opponent by either knockout or submission, but a fight can also end by a referee stoppage or a judge decision. 

Rumina has won a total of 45 professional MMA fights, 18 by submission. He won the Shooto Pacific Rim Lightweight tournament on March 11, 2005.  He is also thought to have had the fastest submission victory in MMA history when he submitted Charles Diaz in a mere 5 seconds with a flying armbar. 

I joined Rumina's gym in April this year.  Before starting, I was going to another gym for a few years but started to get bored of the same old routine.  At Roots, you can learn juijitsu, grappling, MMA or striking.  The instructors are all excellent (Rumina, Tsuchiya, Ken, Nobu, etc.)  Learning martial arts is extremely hard for me and I leave the gym sore, sweaty and beat up.  After 6 months, I'm still very much a beginner.  But I am learning SLOWLY.  If you want to learn self-defense or just get in shape, check it out.

Listen to my interview with Rumina.  And watch Rumina show some of his moves!


Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy 237th Birthday!

It was 237 years ago that America (the USA) claimed its independence from Britain.  Our Independence Day is also known as the Fourth of July or simply July 4th.  In July 1776, the population of the US was 2.5 million.  Today there are 316 million. 

Independence Day celebrations usually take place outdoors.  Family and friends gather together for a barbecue.  Old Glory (American flag) is displayed at many homes and red, white and blue decorations are put out.  In the evening, fireworks are ignited.  I have fond memories of watching the fireworks from a tree near my house or driving over to my Aunt Catherine's house as she lived just a block away from where they were shot from. 

I miss the celebrations now that I live in Japan but fortunately for me, summer festivals in Japan often have a great fireworks show!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Children's Day in Japan

It's Cinco De Mayo Day (May 5) in the states.  In Japan, it's Children's Day (changed from Boy's Day in 1948).  We celebrate it at our house by putting up koinobori  (carp streamers).  Carp are considered the most spirited of fish and because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it became the symbol of hope for boys to succeed in life.

We also eat kashiwa-mochi, which is a rice cake stuffed with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in an oak leaf.  The oak tree is considered sacred, and because old leaves do not fall off until new buds appear, they are a symbol of a continuous family line. 
We also display the samurai dolls in armor.  Since ancient times,  the armor, helmet and sword of gogatsu-ningyo have symbolized the hope of physically protecting boys.

The day ends by putting shobu, the Japanese iris that somewhat resembles a sword in shape, into the hot-bath.  The word shobu, although written with different characters, implies striving for success.  Shobu-yu is also said to have a medical effect.  It was believed to purge human bodies of noxious vapors. 

So happy Children's Day (and Cinco de Mayo)!  It's a public holiday here.  We enjoyed a nice day at the park.  :)    

Taiga wearing kabuto (samurai hat) that mommy made.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

My brother's visit

Wish this was my bathroom!
Care for a swim?
2 cousins hanging out!
View from our room

Waiting to see Captain EO
2 cute mice!
Fathers and sons in Atami
There's nothing like having family come visit!  My older brother, Kevin, and his family just left for California.  Our boys are just 3 years apart in age and it was fun watching them play together.  Luckily young boys tend to like the same things (cars, trains and games), so they got along very well.   This was also a vacation for us too.  We got to stay at the Ritz-Carlton with my brother's family compliments of his hotel points.  A beautiful sunset and view of Mt. Fuji could be seen from our 50th floor room.  After dinner, I enjoyed a dip in the pool and jacuzzi all by myself.  Nothing like Puttin' on the Ritz!  We also enjoyed staying at Disneyland, Atami and Ginza.  After all that fun, it's always hard to say goodbye.  We miss them!  Hopefully one day my younger brother and his family (4 kids!) will visit us too.  :)