2019-12-28 ENOSHIMA, JAPAN -- We visited Noriko's parents, and on our way back walked to the light show at Enoshima.

No need for conversation. Just pour, smile, drink, smile. Repeat for 4 hours. Wonderful time with my father-in-law.

Enoshima is a tiny island (or a big rock, if you like) that is reached by a bridge. The light show is at the top of the island.

We usually walk up and down because it's not far and the view is nice. Tonight, to avoid the crowds, we rode the escalators up to near the peak.


The peak was awash in light.

The lookout tower.

Many of the lights have wintry colors. Brrr! Everything
looks cold!

Jewels of light.

We warmed our lips with hot chocolate.


2020-11-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Movers transported our belongings from Sapporo to Tokyo.

We asked the crew to put moving boxes on old curtains that we spread over the floor. 44 out of the 50 boxes contain my stuff (er, junk) from my office. We (er, I) will spend a few months opening and organizing.

Bookcases that our friend Chris Perry gave me found their new home in my music room.

I assembled Noriko's desk.

We celebrated the move with sparkling wine poured into glasses from Noriko's alma mater.

class reunion

2020-11-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I attended a reunion for the University of Tokyo department of electrical engineering.

Mostly guys (with some gals) all working in impressive positions. I showed up in casual clothes haha.


2019-11-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I have been an amateur carpenter, soundproofing a closet in our Tokyo house. Although the project is incomplete, the interim results are promising.

I want to practice trumpet without bothering our sister and her family who live downstairs. We live in what you might call a vertical duplex -- that is, a duplex where 2 houses are stacked on top of each other instead of built side by side like most duplexes are.

The closet that I am modifying does not share a surface (such as a wall or floor) with our sister's house. The closet is next to a hallway and staircase that do share surfaces with our sister's house. By reducing the noise emanating from the closet, I hope to reduce the noise penetrating into her house.

There are 3 steps in soundproofing a room for the purpose of playing music:

(1) Trap sound inside the room.
(2) Absorb sound within the room.
(3) Reduce sound reflections within the room.

Step 1, stopping sound from exiting the room, means people outside the room do not hear the sound. This is my main objective. In actual soundproofing construction, sound is attenuated, never eliminated. Some sound leaks. I am aiming for 20 dB attenuation. Professional soundproofing provides 35 dB or more (the larger the number, the better). However the professionals whom I consulted declined to work for me because their soundproofing material is too heavy. They were concerned that the building would become top-heavy and unstable in earthquakes. The material I use is not lightweight but has less total mass than what the professionals use.

Step 2, removing sound within the room, is accomplished by absorbing sound with fluffy material. (Acoustic energy is converted to a tiny amount of heat.) This step is necessary because the sound trapped inside the room is too noisy for me. I can't stand my own noise, haha!

Step 3, reducing sound reflections within the room, means weakening echoes. Echoes mask imperfections in playing. I want to hear myself as if I were standing in an open field or a large room. I do not want my trumpet to sound like it is being played in the bathroom.

I added a wall within a room. The original wall was unmodified. At this time, I have finished steps 1 and 2. Step 3 will be done around 2020-04-25, when I return to Tokyo for a longer stay.

Now for some pictures!

We begin with step 1. I hung sound-reflecting sheets on the wall and floor. This material weighs about 3 kilograms per square meter.

I used an electric staple gun to attach the sound-reflecting sheets to the existing drywall.

I sealed the seams with sound-proofing tape. Ultra-sticky stuff that blocks air passages where sound can propagate.

I covered the inside side of the door too.

My brother advised me on construction techniques, and loaned me his tools.

We proceed to step 2 of soundproofing construction. I attached long pieces of wood to hold the sound-absorbent wadding and drywall.

The sound-absorbent wadding weighs about 1.6 kg per square meter. Feels much lighter than the sound-reflecting sheets because the wadding is 30 times thicker (that much more volume).

Each piece of sound-absorbent wadding takes merely a few seconds to put in place.

Drywall covers the sound-absorbent wadding. The drywall I used weighs about 9 kilograms per square meter.

Repeat the process.

Cut wood smells fresh.

The easiest part.

My brother gave me a ruler for cutting drywall.

I over-estimated the amount of drywall I needed. I wasted very little material. Lots left over!

I cut too much off when I built this irregular corner of a wall. I will replace this board.

I installed additional electrical outlets.

I laid 3 layers of carpet padding on the floor. This material absorbs low-frequency sound such as footsteps. The manufacturer claims 51 dB attenuation at 500 Hz. In my case, the bouncy padding lets me comfortably sit on the floor (I sit on my feet).

Rough measurements give me 15 to 20 dB of attenuation already, even though the door is not yet sealed. Noriko cannot hear me in her office. She walked over to remind me to practice. I already was!

Fairly satisfied up to this point. More work to be done. The drywall surfaces are hard. I will attach another layer of sound-absorbent wadding to reduce echoes. This is step 3 of soundproofing construction.

typhoon 19 (typhoon hagibis)

2019-10-13 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- A typhoon of unprecedented ferocity hit Japan yesterday. Media reports seem to indicate that fatalities were much fewer than the Kanogawa typhoon of 1958 that produced the heaviest rain on record. Yesterday's typhoon (which still exists, although in weakened form) easily surpassed the 1958 typhoon's precipitation depth. Over 1000 mm of rainfall in the Hakone area!

Noriko and I kept looking at meteorological products (that is, the weather data) as they were announced. The screenshot below is from tenki.jp, a weather website.
Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 08.42.22

Thank heavens, our friends and families are safe.

chocolate frog

2019-09-01 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Our friends Ken and Leslie are moving their Chocolate Frog store from Waldport to Lincoln City. We used to visit their Waldport store after trumpet lessons because their store is several miles away from John's house. Now that the store is in Lincoln City, we can shop for chocolate more often!

The new store is bigger, fancier, classier, and snazzier.

The new store has tables with ocean views across the treetops. We hope to sip hot chocolate during winter storms.

We love their chocolate frogs.

We brought wine glasses engraved with frogs from the
Kaeruya coffee shop in Sapporo. Ken and Leslie displayed the glasses on their shelf!

internet phone

2019-08-16 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We switched from POTS (plain old telephone system) analog to IP (internet protocol) digital telephone.

Our monthly bill decreased from $32 to $10, and we can call anywhere in the USA for free (to be precise, it's included in the monthly bill) and Japan for $9 an hour. I calculate in dollars per hour because I tend to chat long with friends and family.

Equipment from left to right: analog phone with answering machine, uninterruptible power supply, cable-to-telephone converter (newly installed, and belongs to cable company), cable-to-internet converter, wifi router.

Maybe our last telephone directory ever.

We kept our old phone number when we transitioned from analog to digital. The last 4 digits are identical to Noriko's parents's phone number.

trumpet lessons resume

2019-08-06 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Trumpet lessons resumed after a 16-month gap. Yay!

John corrected a bad habit that I had developed.
He told me how to shape my lips to play, which resulted in immediate improvement. The correct shape hurts a bit. Hopefully my body will soon adjust to the new configuration. 

John and I play duets. He gave me elementary assignments that focus on articulation (tonguing and accents), speed (16th notes), and reading. Here is an etude from a well-known brass wind textbook called "Arban's". I want to become able to sight read music. At my stage of learning, sight reading is impossible, so I first convert visual information (written music) to a mental acoustic image (silent interpretation of written music), and then convert to an acoustic signal (playing the instrument). Both steps take time. There are many tutorials online, such as Tony Rapacciuolo's website, that demonstrate how the etudes should be played. I refuse to listen to recordings until I think I have it right. I listen to recordings to check my answers. They are often wrong!

hong kong

2019-07-07 HONG KONG -- I traveled to Hong Kong to confer with professors at other universities, and to present a paper at a conference.

On the street behind my hotel, a street market opens every morning. Some stores are buildings, others are tents.

This photograph is misty because the camera lens fogged up when I stepped into the humid street.

Fresh veggies, live fish.

Even peaches flown in from Japan.

It's constantly raining here. The locals use umbrellas all the time.

The rain is not natural precipitation. It is condensation dripping from air conditioners. Many drains are open to the outside, instead of being connected to gutters or downpipes.

Dripping all over the place.

rishi and rebun islands

2019-06-21 RISHIRI ISLAND, JAPAN -- Noriko and I took a weekend cruise to Rishiri and Rebun islands off the north tip of Hokkaido island.

Streamers are rare these days, I learned. First time in my life! Kero is excited too.

Rishiri island is a volcano sprouting out of the Sea of Japan.


long holiday week

2019-05-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We spent an 11-day holiday in Tokyo with our parents and siblings. This year's holiday week was ultra-long due to an emperor ascending to the throne.

Our house in Tokyo has no furniture. Maybe we shouldn't get any, to keep it looking spacious!

Noriko devised a way to convert a corner into a breakfast nook.

spring comes to campus

2019-04-22 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Blue skies today! I left home late to take pictures along my way to the office. (I usually arrive at the office at 04:00.)

Professor William S Clark consulted for the Japanese government to design and found Hokkaido University.

Behind Clark's bust is a cherry tree that each spring blooms ahead of other trees. Behind that eager cherry tree stands our apartment building. We are on the top floor.

The cherry blossoms were about 20 percent blossoms and 80 percent buds.

A underwater river emerges above-ground and feeds a stream than traverses campus.

Ohno pond is named after an engineering professor who converted a swamp dumped full of trash into an ornamental pond.

They had drained the pond for maintenance. A few hours later, the pond was at full pool (that is, maximum water capacity).

Skunk cabbages are white on Hokkaido Island.

The former entomology department is one of the oldest buildings on campus. The Sapporo Agriculture School (the former name of Hokkaido University) had a love-hate relationship with insects. Insects devour crops, yet are essential for pollination and sericulture.

The School of Science. In a few weeks, fresh leaves will conceal the buildings from view.

Gothic arches (with pointed apexes) were standard design for imperial universities. Not all schools or buildings used them, however.

The School of Medicine.

A convenience store with a mini-restaurant and demo kitchen opened in summer 2018. The person who designed and installed the kitchen also installed ours at our house in Tokyo.

The campus restaurant Trillium. Unlike some faculty clubs in America or Europe, anybody can enter.

My office is 2nd from the top, 2nd from the left, between 2 offices with red triangles on their windows. The triangles mark fire fighter access. The steel bracing on the exterior wall is seismic reinforcement that, alas, is hardly effective.

ishikari river mouth

2019-04-06 ISHIKARI, JAPAN -- Noriko and I visited Ishikari city, just north of Sapporo.

A local museum shows ancient artifacts. The area was rich with salmon, and people have lived here for thousands of years.

Salmon do not run thick and heavy these days, but they come enough to support an industry. We visited a salmon factory nearby.

We went for a walk nearby the Ishikari lighthouse, which marks the river mouth.

A boardwalk helps keep mud off our shoes.


2019-04-01 MITO, JAPAN -- I visited public parks near Mito station on my way back from Tokyo to Sapporo. During the Edo period, Mito was home to one of the three major Tokugawa families, second in prominence only to the Tokugawa shogun. Mito city is rich in history and culture.

Sembako, a small lake near the Mito train station, is a wonderful place to walk and run. Sakura (cherry) trees line the banks.

Kairakuen park was designed during feudal times as a park occasionally open to the public, a remarkable idea at that time. Admission is free, which is a remarkable idea today. By contrast, Shinjuku Gyoen in downtown Tokyo charges admission.

Kairakuen is famous for plum trees. The flowers were past bloom. Sakura, while few in number, were nearing their peak.

A frog statue guards a sacred spring.

At the Koubunkan villa, topped by the Rakujuro lookout room, the daimyo (feudal lord) would meet with and congratulate elderly samurai and common folk. The guests would sit on the room pictured in the foreground, while the daimyo would address them from the room in the background.

In stark contrast to the subdued, tasteful color tones of Kairakuen and Koubunkan, the Toushouguu shrine close to Mito station is gaudy and ostentatious. The Toushouguu enshrines the Tokugawa shoguns.

neil stalnaker, artist

2019-03-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I visited Neil Stalnaker, a friend who gave me a trumpet lesson once in Sapporo, at his painting exhibition near Tokyo station.

Sakura were approaching full bloom.

Neil began painting a few years ago. His form is free-style, as in jazz improvisation.

Neil signed his artwork for me.

This painting invokes imagery of me holding my trumpet. The painting will hang on my practice room wall.

test kitchen

2019-03-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I tested our new kitchen. (Note for my students: a "test kitchen" is kitchen that experiments with recipes. Here I played with words -- I literally tested my kitchen.)

Ingredients: yakisoba stir-fry noodles 1kg, moyashi bean sprouts 1kg, sliced pork 300 g. Layer everything in that order in the pan. My new oven takes 2/3 size gastronorm pans (known in Japan as "hotel pans" because they are standard in the hotel and catering industry). The pans are almost square, about 34 cm to each side (353 mm x 325 mm to be precise).

The oven takes up to 6 pans at a time, depending on the depth of the pan. My pan in the picture is 40 mm deep.

After 6 minutes of cooking, take out the pan, pour sauce over the food, and mix.

Dinner is served!

home repair repair repair repair ...

2019-03-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Repair and renovation work at our house in Tokyo is almost complete.

A grand team of over a dozen people came to reinstall the sink and steam convection oven.

I am experimenting how to direct the hot moist air from the oven towards the ventilation fan.

The attentive cleaning crew beautifies the construction area.

home repair repair repair ...

2019-02-20 TOKYO, JAPAN -- At our house in Tokyo, the contractors are smoothing the sheetrock surfaces and hanging wallpaper.

The entrance to the house is where in-coming equipment is stored. From left to right: the vanity sink, the steam convection oven, and toilet.

commercial kitchen show

2019-02-19 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I visited a trade show for owners and managers of restaurants and hotels. Vendors exhibited services and equipment.

Alas, no photography allowed

I noticed 3 things:

(1) The booths are huge. Some vendors rented space exceeding 30 x 30 meters. They had full-size kitchens and tables for customers. Wow!
(2) The buyers expect respect. Chefs typically work (or should I say slave) for several years before advancing to leadership positions. They are proud and can be haughty.
(3) Many vendors offer food samples but (surprise) you don't get full! Buy from vendors who give you all the food you want to taste and test.

valentine's day

2019-02-14 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Valentine's Day!

All the boys got chocolate from Noriko.

Today is the 20th anniversary of my submitting my PhD dissertation. At my department (at that time) we revised our dissertation after the defense. This was the last step before commencement.

snow festival

2019-02-10 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Sapporo has its snow festival in early February each year. Noriko and I walked the streets to see the sights.

The Japanese army builds some snow sculptures. The army signals group built the Helsinki cathedral shown below.

The army's 11th artillery built sculptures of a rock band that comes to life with projected lights and powerful music. (The picture below has low quality because it is a screenshot of a movie I took.)

A freight train traverses the landscape. Night-time sculptures are colorful.

180210_Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 11.40.47

In daylight, the snow statues are all white.

Frozen aquarium.

Pink Frog meets Ice Frog.


2019-02-05 NIIGATA AND OTARU, JAPAN -- I took another ferry back from Tokyo via Niigata to Sapporo.

Azalea was launched in 2014 for the Shin-Nihonkai Ferry line.

Plenty of deck space!

My cabin was slightly smaller than the
Kitakami but no complaints. Same off-season discount -- a cabin for 2 for the price of 1.

The TV has an HDMI input port so that I can connect my laptop or digital camera.

The shower has fantastic water volume and pressure.

Pick-and-pay cafeteria. I had beef stew,
nikujaga (pork and potatoes in sweet soy sauce broth), veggie salad, and a big bowl of rice.

home repair continues

2019-02-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our house repair is progressing. Work halted several times while the construction crew waited for materials to be delivered. We were unable to order materials before start of construction because nobody knew what needed to be repaired until the ceiling, walls, and floors were removed.

We installed sound-absorbing ceiling tiles to reduce sound reflection. The eye bolts are for Noriko. She intends to relax in hanging chairs and hammocks.

The shoddy workmanship of the original owners of the house gives us no end of headaches. Our construction crew fixes as much as they can.

Cross section of our new flooring material. The top layer is decorative. The middle layers support the weight. The bottom sponge layer cushions the floor, so that if people or objects were to fall on the floor, the shock would be reduced. The total thickness of this composite flooring is 19 millimeters. We installed this on top of our existing 2 layers of flooring material. The floor is now over 30 millimeters thick.

The ceiling is ready. The walls need to be papered. The floor is ready.

Glass sliding doors were replaced. The old doors (see above photo) were clear on the top half and frosted on the bottom half. The new doors are a single pane of clear reinforced glass, so the room feels airier and more naked than before.

sendai sightseeing

2019-02-02 SENDAI, JAPAN -- On my way from Sapporo via Sendai to Tokyo, I spent several hours sightseeing the city of Sendai. I have been to this city several times, always for work. Until today, I never had the opportunity to enjoy the scenery.

hop-on hop-off mini-bus travels to major attractions.

Date (pronounced [date] not [deit]) Masamune founded the Sendai clan. He lost the sight of his right eye due to smallpox (not a war injury) and his eye-patch gave him the nickname "one-eyed dragon". His mounted statue is at the ruins of Aoba Castle.

Also at Aoba castle is a monument for
Doi Bansui. He wrote the lyrics for "Koujou no tsuki". Taki Rentarou wrote the music, which became a hymn at a monastery in Belgium. Together they moved Japan's music from Japanese Edo-period style towards European Meiji-period style. I often play their song on my trumpet. I was under the mistaken impression that Doi Bansui was steeped only in Chinese and Japanese classics. I learned that he was also competent in several European languages, a notable achievement even today, and certainly so in the early Meiji period.

Date Masamune and some of his descendants are entombed at their
family mausoleum. The structures were destroyed when the United States fire-bombed Sendai during World War II. After the war, the tombs (which themselves were underground) were excavated, and the structures were rebuilt following the gaudy ostentatious style of the Momoyama period.

The highlight of the day was a visit to the
Sankyozawa hydropower plant.

Sankyozawa is Japan's oldest hydroelectricity plant. It started with a 5-kilowatt generator. A unit similar to the original is displayed in a glass case.

Today Sankyozawa produces 1310 kilo-volt-amps. The fat disc in the center of the photo is the Siemens electric generator. The tubular apparatus on the right of the picture is the Voith turbine that uses a pair of
Francis turbines. The turbine and generator are connected via a flywheel and spin at 429 rpm.

A panel explains the generator's construction.

new kitakami

2019-02-01 TOMAKOMAI AND SENDAI, JAPAN -- I have been regularly flying back and forth between Sapporo and Tokyo to oversee construction at our house in Tokyo. To break the monotony of airline travel, I took a ferry from Tomakomai to Sendai.

Kitakami is a brand-new ship that entered service last week for the Taiheiyo Ferry line. She replaces an older ship of the same name.

I got a cabin for 2 people for the price of 1 because winter is off season.

My cabin faces the bow.

Brrr! The deck was cold! Windy and chilly. No trumpet practice on deck!

Brand-new ship. No rust anywhere.

home repair

2019-01-05 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We have been repairing and remodeling our house in Tokyo. It is partly an irritating process, because the building should have been demolished (it was not built to code) when we obtained it. Alas we are stuck with it. Our contractor team is removing or replacing faulty plumbing, and insulating and sealing the drafty house. I am determined to make the best out of a poor situation.

We ripped out the old ceiling, walls, and part of the floor. We are insulating and sealing all inside surfaces. Already the room feels warmer. The ceiling has been sheet-rocked. The walls will be too, as soon as the electrical outlets are installed. We will add a layer above the existing floor to reduce sound propagating downstairs.

This corner is where the new sink and
steam convection oven will go. I am excited to cook for my extended family!

We are aiming for a spacious room where we can cook, laugh, watch movies, and (gasp) play music.

archery event

2019-01-02 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We went to the Oomiya Hachimangu, a shinto shrine about 2 km south of our Tokyo house. After praying for purity for the new year, we watched an archery ceremony conducted on the shrine grounds.

The event consists of 2 ceremonies. In the 1st ceremony, an arrow with a ceremonial whistling arrowhead is shot. The whistling sound wards off evil. In ancient times, the sound signaled the opening of battle. In the 2nd ceremony, 6 archers shoot 2 arrows each. This is a ceremonial competition, where the symbolism within the rituals is more important than the shooting.

The target is large and fairly close to the archers. The objective is to cleanse body and spirit, not necessarily to hit the bullseye (although all 13 shots did hit it).

happy new year

2019-01-01 SAPPORO AND TOKYO, JAPAN -- Happy New Year everybody! Best wishes to all of you!

Screenshots from "
Dream Girlfriend" (虹色カノジョ). My grand-daughters have been collecting cute outfits.