31 Dec 2011

Happy New Year!!

Source; Canon Creative Park


The End of the Year

How was your year this year? Considering the record of the past year, it was a really tough and rewarding year for me. And also I made some big decisions and had some new challenges.

No matter how you look at it, the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March was one of the really scary experiences of my life. I was in Sendai city centre, so I was safe from the tsunami, but I was reminded of death in a tall building for a brief while. After that, our lives were kind of hand-to-mouth. Nobody knew when we could buy food, heating oil or get water. It was really scary. I remember people's faces who bear hardships. I couldn't take a bath and use the subway to go to work from my nearest station about for a month. Effect of invisible radiation are still threatening the lives of Japanese.

Under these circumstances, it was hard decision to go to the UK. I felt I had lived by my own selfish rules. Indeed I think I was, yet the sun rises and people should step forward. For this reason, I needed to understand who I am and what should I do for my own future. I am going to live in the UK. I will be 40 years old next year and will start the next chapter of my life. I'd be lying if I said I was not apprehensive about living abroad because everything is new. But if the Japanese average lifespan exceeds 80 years, I am nearly at a turning point. It would be a waste not to enjoy your life. You should cherish your one chance at life, value meeting people and it's important to experience as many things as you can.

Wish everyone good luck for the coming year. See you soon!

30 Dec 2011

Preparation for the New Year

A Christmas in Japan is always hectic, because many Christmas decorations at shopping centres are taken out at the midnight of the 25th, or the morning of the 26th, and decorations for New Year's are displayed instead. When I went to see the Sendai Pageant of Starlight on 26th December, there were already Kadomatsu at the entrances of department stores. Kadomatsu are a pair of pine decorations for New Year, which are to assist the gods descending to earth. You can see it in front of buildings, department stores and huge houses.

I already posted New Year's cards (Nengajou) to my friends and relatives. Honestly, I debated whether or not to send New Year's cards, because most of my friends and relatives live in the Tohoku region and they suffered from the earthquake and tsunami this year. But the cards are a very convenient way to show them that , though you do not see them often, you still remember them. In addition, I needed to say thank you to them. And also, it's one of the pleasures of the New Year holiday to receive greeting cards.

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. Dragons are believed to prevent evil and bring good fortune. Best wishes for the coming year.

Source; Canon Creative Park

27 Dec 2011

Seasonal Tradition in Sendai

I went to see the Sendai Pageant of Starlight with my family and nieces this evening. It was cold and a bit snowy because of a cold wave. I always see it with my family, friends, co-workers, exes, but last year I saw it alone after finishing work late. The event holds good memories for me. Especially this year, the event is designed to give people 'hope' to reconstruct their damaged cities. The orange coloured lights make you feel warm, even if it's cold outside. The Christmas events like a parade were finished, but there has been a special outdoor skating rink "Sendai Winter Park" until 28 December. My nieces enjoy skating there, and I was happy to spend a wonderful time together with them.




24 Dec 2011

Christmas 2011

May the miracle of Christmas fill your heart with love and warmth.


22 Dec 2011

Challenge

I took Pearson Test of English Academic, which is an international computer-based English language test. The UK Border Agency, universities and other organizations accept it as a measure of English language proficiency of applicants. The greatest benefits of PTE Academic are that it's available any time of the year, you can get a score report quickly (within 5 business days), and you can understand your weak points.

I've never taken IELTS nor TOEFL tests, which means I've never taken Speaking and Writing tests. So I can't say what the differences between them are, but I felt it was difficult, harder than TOEIC at least, because you can't go back to a question and to change your answer, and also the test focuses on academic subjects in the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.

It's only natural to feel anxiety when you take a new challenge. I think I did well for the first time, even though I am not good under pressure. I am very happy with the result, as at the same time that I passed the entrance exam for high school that I really wanted to do. I can spend the remainder of the year with an easy mind.

14 Dec 2011

Christmas Hamper

I love getting gifts, don't you?

I received a Harrods hamper today. My bf sent it for me and my family. We have a good memory of Harrods hampers. Last Christmas season, we received a big Harrods hamper from my bf. It was the first time for us to get a parcel from Harrods Department Store. It was a really huge parcel. At first, we were surprised at the size of box, and then surprised at the volume of stuff. At that time we felt like kids opening a treasure box, with excitement, confusion and amazement. It was like the inexhaustible box, many chocolates, biscuits, teas, et cetera, many things came out from the box. Surprisingly, a big teddy bear appeared as well. We yelped with delight.

I realized that habituation is a frightening thing. We got used to get a big parcel from Harrods... We weren't surprised, but yet we were excited opening it. It was a really nice Christmas hamper, that makes us always happy and smile. We are truly grateful to him. Thank you very much.


12 Dec 2011

Danshari

In the last couple of years, the idea of 'Danshari' is popular in Japan. What is Danshari? In short, it's the concept of a simple and comfortable life, the basic idea coming from Yoga. This words consist of three kanji characters, 'Dan' means to cut out unnecessary stuff, 'Sha' means to throw away junk in your house, and 'Ri' means to step away from your obsessions. Danshari suggests we get rid of mental as well as physical junk.

I think it's a new idea, because Japanese have the sense that it's wasteful to throw away things. Japan was a poor country and still depends largely on importation. I've grown up in such an environment, I had always taken that for granted. But this idea reversed the thinking of "wasteful". If you keep things for 'just in case', and you never use them, that's what is really a wasteful practice! It's not easy to throw away stuff, but I must, and I started to dispose of my personal belongings, which makes me feel lighter spiritually.

11 Dec 2011

Lunar Eclipse

The lunar eclipse was observed in Japan last night. It occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth, and the Sun, Earth, and Moon are lined up exactly. We were lucky to have a clear sky to see it. Ancient people thought it was an ominous phenomenon. They might be intimidated by the waning moon and it was very mysterious. I like to look in the night sky, because I feel a burst of power.

9 Dec 2011

Hairdressing

Finally I went to hairdressing shop today to get my hair cut. Honestly I got an urge to have my hair cut and dyed red, when I was in the UK! But I didn't. This time my hair style didn't change dramatically, but I feel very refreshed. I trust my hairdresser, I've known him 15 years or more! He is the first hairdresser who understands my difficult natural curly-wavy hair. He always meets my selfish order. And also he is cool and very stylish. He explained to me a little about techniques of Vidal Sassoon and Mod's Hair, and also about water, shampoo and so on. This information is helpful. Well, I should go there again.

4 Dec 2011

Food Safety

We received a package of apples from my uncle. His family lives in the interior of Fukushima, and they send fruits us every year. The apples are made in Fukushima. In the box, there were certificates for radiation test from a laboratory and a message from the prefectural governor. We ate one of them today. It was really sweet and juicy. After the nuclear accident, it appears to be a reality that food from Fukushima Prefecture is not sold well. Some people makes such a fuss when you just mention the words "Fukushima" or "Japan," but I trust these certificates.

3 Dec 2011

December

♪ Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way ♪
December is the most exciting time for me, because it's the Christmas season and also the new year will come soon. Thinking about Christmas presents and designs of cards is fun. During this month, I usually walk along the illuminated street, and have a Christmas party with my family and nieces; it's my tradition. But I have had a lot to do before the party and I have been busy since I came back to Japan. What would a typical December be like for you?


1 Dec 2011

Sendai Pageant of Starlight

I can't believe how quickly the time goes! It's already December, the last month of the year. 2011 is a special year for me in many ways.

Sendai is proud to have the Pageant of Starlight in Winter. Last year, all lamps were changed into LED lamps. But, they were completely lost because of the Tsunami, because they were kept in storage near the sea. Sendai recently bought 4 hundred thousand lamps and also borrowed sixty thousand lamps from Tokyo (Omotesando-Illumination). The Pageant of Starlight will start tomorrow, earlier than usual, which is filled with many feelings, emotions and souls this year. I think I'll go to see it as usual.


Implementation period: 2-31 December 2011
Place: Jozenji-Street
Time: 17:30-22:00 (17:30-23:00 on 31 December)