About Japanese People

Recently I am active on many websites outside Japan but I rarely see Japanese people other than myself even in places where I see many people from different countries.

Some of the pages are unique pages and I can understand there are not many Japanese people there but I rarely see Japanese people wherever I go. What is happening to people in this country? Everywhere there are so many people from other countries but there are few Japanese people. (Maybe they might be there but they do not speak up) That is part of the reasons they are not understood (well, I dare to use “they” because I strongly feel that I am not one of them!). Ever since I went to home stay when I was 18, I have always been one unique (and to other Japanese people’s eyes, “WEIRD”) Japanese go jump into other English speakers and talk to them, away from Japanese people who always make a secluded group (and in most of the cases speak in Japanese) and look at me like looking at me as the one who goes rogue. (Sorry, I have so many experiences as such!)

I think what Japanese people need is not a better way to teach English but a way to teach them to be a little bit more extrovert people who can talk to those from other countries even if they are alone outside Japan.

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I am a kid!

As I had a little conversation with my friend on a facebook page and some of her words have made me realize one fact. I am not conscious of time, my age, or anything else. There exist only me and what I like, for example, right now there is only English on my mind. Come to think of it, I have always been like that. And I guess it will be always like that. Maybe that is a key to happiness. At least for me, it it the truth.

I am sorry but this is all I want to say right now. It is foolish talk of a drunk.


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Golden Week (we have four holidays in a week!)

I will read a lot during this “Golden Week” since my kids have to go to Juku (they will take exams for junior high school this year). So we are not going anywhere. I have decided to do lots of reading. 


I will do two kinds of reading. One set for study and the other set for fun. 



Here are books for study (I have finished the thinnest one and now put my hands one of the thicker ones):






These are for fun! They are fun novels and I can simply enjoy them. Actually there are 11 books (each one is about 700 to 1000 pages long) and I finished one and 300 pages in 10 days. I pick up this series of books more often than serious ones…. 








Anyway, it is fun as usual! I love English.


(150 more words and I can finish SLV (a list of 12000 frequently used words selected one of the good publishing companies of English textbooks in Japan) )

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Good Tempura

I haven’t written many articles about the Japanese food in this blog. I like eating good food. A couple of days ago, I went to Asakusa on business. Then I went to one of the Tempura shops that are famous and popular.

Well, twenty minutes’ walk brought us to the place. It had a shingle like this and food as follows :



It is a quintessential old shop of Japan and this arouse good appetite any tempura lovers. Since this is the first time, I ordered the best one, the best ten-don. “Don” (丼) implies that it is the type of food that is served with the bowl of rice with some other food on top. Most of the time, the name of the stuff on top comes before it so when you say tendon, it is the bowl of rice with tempura on top. The price varies depending on what is on top and what I ordered was the best one and cost me 2300 yen. It has two shrimps, one big conger and several vegetables. Usually I don’t persuade any foods that look too unfamiliar to people from abroad but eels and conger are exceptions. Many people from abroad in the end like them and it is something you don’t want to miss.

And it is huge for a Japanese food. I was sated by the time I ate just two-thirds of it. When you happen to come to Japan and drop by Asakuss, it is a good place to visit. And this tempura is the good food to eat.

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Collections of Essays on Japanese English Education and English Learning

As I am teaching English for living, I have something to say about English education in Japan and my English learning. These are some of the essays I wrote about them in other blogs :

New Guideline for English Education in Japan

(OK another radial criticism about English education here. Well I felt frustrated by English classes 30 years ago and still I see chaos. It is amazing to see it has been taking more than thirty years to change English education simply from grammar-translation oriented one to one for communication. To some people this essay may sound too harsh but think of those frustration I have been feeling and allow me to write this way)

Now we have new guidelines! We will teach English in English. That is OK with me! Actually I am thinking of teaching one hour a week in English, this year. I don’t have to do that because they are not the first graders but I will do that so that those students will have no disadvantage in future.

Now when I took a look at new textbook, my reaction was, “it is appalling.” On the left side there are passages you will teach and on the right side there is a script on the right side. I f you just read them, you can teach a class. Ready made text! But wait, is that a class? You will just read out the script. What about the level of the students? Do everyone understand them? But when I think of the many teachers I know (not from our school) from public school, I think they will need “scripts” to teach. At the same time I am afraid that they will be tape recorders. I think you will need another 10 years before the real English classes will take place because it will take about 10 years for new teachers to replace the old teachers without any communicative English. Who that cannot communicate in English can teach students to communicate in English? When you teach translation and test taking techniques, it was not difficult. Anyway, at least I can foresee the chaos. I cannot help feeling sorry for students (not teachers) who will learn English in this chaotic situation.

Along with use of TOEFL, there will be revolution but I don’t think people think of all those ideas know about the actual classrooms. At least we have to train teachers for some years before we start this. I want to be a teacher trainer. Anyway, I am a lover of American English and at least TOEFL make American English more useful.

Dramas, Movies and Books
You know when you fall in love. You think of all those logics, his or her outlook, height, age, nationality (not often in Japan) or even characteristics… Well once I was devastated by following my sense then I swore that I would never use my senses or instincts as my guides then I think I made a BIG mistake there. You should follow your instinct…

Well, that was my woe of thirty years ago and it is not important here. What I want to say here is how I fell in love with one drama. I have been watching “Legend of the Seeker” since I watched it on HULU. I bought the DVD set and original books.

As I repeatedly mentioned, being into books or dramas is one of the best ways to bring you the huge progress beyond imagination in English (this has been lately proven by one of my apprentices who has learned so much from the watching of the dramas). If you just read textbooks, you feel something but from my experience it is weak. But if you love the story and are into it, your heart goes through the emotions and that connects the words you hear or read to your emotions and then, those expressions, sentences, words, idioms, sounds and whatever will be part of you.

This is another thing I mentioned before but I still believe in what Krashen said, to acquire a language, you have to internalize them. That is all those elements have to be part of you!

These days a lot of people talk about “AUTOMATISM.” I think it is important. I, however, want to emphasize the importance of connection between expressions and emotions. If this is established, your response will come from your heart and it will be quicker.

Anyway, enough for my excuses and rationalization for my loving Legend of the Seeker! I have been watching episodes of the drama like a mad man. I finished first 22 episodes in 4 days. But thanks to this, I have been listening to English for 8 hours non-stop one day. I could hear all the characters pronunciation in my head without any efforts. This will further improved my listening skills and pronunciation. And this is the main reason I am writing this essay today!! How dramas and books help your English if you are into them. If you like movies, dramas or books, that is the greatest advantage you have over the others in learning a language because you can make efforts without realizing you are. You are having fun and it is helping you!!

There are two more things I want to talk about. One is the pronunciation.

All four main actors and actresses have American accents. So how is pronounced as “haeu.” I love the sound of “ae.” “But how?” “How?” “how can you … ?” Whichever one of the four main characters (oh, the enemy wizard king, too, so make it five!) speak, they pronounce this way. Some of you might not see the point. I am sorry. I just want to say I love the sounds and glad that I hear them so many times that I was able to master this pronunciation completely.

Another thing is there are so many good lines. I will repeatedly introduce them.

Today’s one is :

I know what it’s like to doubt yourself at every turn, but I’ve realized that if I stop and question every decision I make, I’ll never get anywhere. All we can do is make the best choices we can and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Yes, yes, as I grow older and look back on my life, there are so many regrets about past, especially the wrong decisions that I made. I cannot but rue it and kick myself for it when I brood over each decision. But come to think of it, I made each decision because I thought it seemed the best choice at the time. I will make mistakes from now on. I made mistakes before but you can say it only because you saw the result. So exactly what this sentence says. If I was afraid of mistakes and did not make decisions, I would be far behind in my life with more regrets. So I guess I can say that I did do the best I could, came to the farthest place I was able to reach under this circumstances and I will do the same from now on.

This line today has really eased my pains (more ore less self-inflicted) I have when I look back on my life and has helped me move on with confidence from now on. This, I believe, is the benefit you have when you love dramas, movies and books and this may be even more important assets than those for English learning.

There Are Two Ways to Learn English
There Are Two Ways to Learn English :

This maybe is the fact that every single person who has studied English might know but I would like to reiterate it once again here because although I insinuated this here and there, I did not enunciate it from this point of view.

I think there are two paths to climb the mountain called English. One is done by using logics and another is done by using senses. In the long run, you need both and you know that if you think about how you are using your own language.

To acquire senses you have to be exposed to a huge amount of English (both letters and sounds and this I have been emphasizing throughout my articles) and to acquire logics, you have to read logically explained text books. I am learning English with trying to achieve balance between these in mind.

So yesterday, I watched 5 hours of English dramas without caption (even did some “shadowing” when the protagonist was speaking. I read 70 some pages of a novel and read two articles from Time magazine, which I think enough exposure to English in one day.

Then I wrote the total of 500 words here and there in English, memorized 20 new words from SLV LV12 list (250 more and complete!) and summarized 1 chapter of 英文法解説. That is my logical side. Since I had a whole day to myself yesterday, I was able to study for 8 hours which I was unable to do for the last couple of days (usually 4 or 5 hours) and won’t be able to do from next week. Though I did not dream last night, if i had had a dream, I am sure that I would have dreamt in English.

Reading Experience on Kindle
Reading Experience on Kindle

Now Kindle has become an important part of my life.

What are the good points?

1. If you carry one device, you have all the books with you;
I have about 20 paperbacks, 5 dictionaries (all English ones. if I really need English-Japanese dictionary, I use iPhone), Time and some magazines and a couple of grammar books in this device. I cannot carry all these books.

2. They are cheap :
Some might have the same price tags but usually they are half or sometime one third of the price for the real books. Sometimes you get a real bargain.

3. I can get it right at the moment even from Japan:
So you can down load it right after you click “Purchase.” 5 minutes later you can start reading.

4. If you tap, you can get the meaning :
If you come across some words you don’t know. if you press the word for a while and get yourself a meaning. You can change your dictionary, so I assign Webster’s advanced learners dictionary.

The odds are :
1. I am a person who writes in the book a lot. You can digitally take a note and write whatever you want but it gives you a different feeling. Not critical, though. Also, I haven’t had any troubles so far but I kind of get the feeling that if something goes wrong, you might lose all your memos and all because they are just digitally recorded. The fact that I have back-ups of memos on my Macbook gives me a sense of security.

2. My sense of ownership is not sated. So sometimes I buy the books, too. BUt come to think of it, I can store the paper ones as part of collections and read digital versions. This can be a merit.

So I am happy with Kindle and I am sure it does your reading good!

How fun it is to learn English #1 whatever you do in English is “learning”
The Legend of the Seekers, Burn Notice and Nikita:

I have been watching dramas like crazy! But at the same time, a good thing about learning English is even being addicted to dramas and keep on watching all day long is justified as studying. I mean if you keep on listening to English more than 5 hours that is really good for you all four skills of English.

So I bought the box set for the episode 2 of the Legend of the Seeker and some books that are those dramas are based on. With Kindle, it was cheap and easy.

Now we are living in the great age of technology. I guess Japan is behind not just making use of it but in the attitude of making most of it. In the United States, they use iPad to provide textbooks in high schools. What is technology? It is to make humans better. Then why don’t we just use them as much as possible. What I am afraid of is if Japanese people stick to the attitude right now, we are left far behind. I personally believe since there are too many people on earth and the only hope we have is the technology because we know that unless we overcome them with technology, nature alone cannot handle this many people on earth and I want everyone to live happily as possible.

Another Dictionary:

Two weeks ago, in Grammar Girl Podcast, she introduced the new dictionary, “American Heritage Dictionary of Idiom.” When I checked it out in Amazon, I found out that It had just come out in 2013 (this year!) so I bought it with just a click! It is a brand new edition.

To see how it is, the best way is to look some expression up in it so I looked up the expression, “kick in.” Right now I don’t hear it as often as before, but a couple of weeks a go, I heard the expression a lot in the news of Sequester. The anchors kept saying, “Sequester will kick in” all the time. Now the third definition of this entry might be appropriate definition :

3. Begin to operate, as in Finally the motor kicked in and we could get started. This usage was first recorded in 1908.

Well, interesting information and easy to understand definition with a good example. I (want to) believe that it was worth the money. LOL

Anyway my life goes on with English. Where will it end up, I do not know but it will be fun! Let’s have fun together!

Posted in Japan, Japanese English Educatioin | Leave a comment

Now I have to write something about my biking.

Before last summer, I rode my road bike like a mad man. I rode 1500 km a month. I sometimes rode 320 km a day.

As I said, I did not lose interest in biking or anything. The visit to the US in last summer was a game changer. I mean I realized that I love English so much that I want to study hard to be able to use it (not just speaking but writing, reading and everything) as well as the native speakers of English.

So I kind of stopped studying hard about 10 years ago and after that I spent most of my free time biking (before that I learned Japanese old swordsmanship) but I started working on my English. Well I am a guy with a family to feed so I don’t have time to spend both on biking and studying English. So I spend more time on studying (or totally 100 % on studying).

Maybe during summer vacation, when I have a whole day to myself, I will go for a long ride this year but until I feel I have achieved something, I want to concentrate on my study.

For the last 8 months I have worked on my English, I learned 3000 new words by heart (I know about 15000 English words, I think) and read 10 books, have kept watching at least 2 hours of News (Today and Nightly News) and dramas (Burn Notice, Nikita, Legend of the Seeker and Saturday Night Live mainly) in English without Japanese caption (I mostly understand those in English so I didn’t use them anyway. Plus I basically buy region 1 DVD so most of my DVD’s do not have Japanese on it. These days I watch those dramas on HULU, though).

Now, where will I go? I just can’t do it just like that because I have my responsibility for my family but after my kids finish education, I would like to live in the States at least for a year (my wife is a quintessential Japanese and do not speak English so maybe I have to live alone in US…well, I love English and US that much). Anyway I’m not gonna die without living in NYC at least for a year.

Anyway, therefore, I am mainly working on my stationary bike except for some days I might have an extra time for a ride. By the way, at least I am commuting on my mountain and road bike everyday to my work. Sometimes I make a detour and ride about 10 to 20 km.

写真(4-7-13 10.13 AM)

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Cherry blossoms survived!




Today, in Mito (and maybe in Kanto Area) we had almost the storm like weather!  The wind blew viciously and it rained hard.  I was working inside a building so I did not have much trouble but it blew almost all day.  It finally cleared up when i was about to leave school.  On my way home, I noticed that all those cherry blossoms are still in bloom!  It was beautiful (because I don’t have good skills, it does not show the original beauty of the scene).  I just made sure that there’s no car around me, pulled up my car and took a photo.

It is one of those moments that you rarely come across.  It was blossoms with pinkish hue against golden skies.

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