new year's on new year's eve

2021-12-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I are celebrating New Year's a day early. Although this is not the custom of our families, we chose to adopt the tradition of some people in this country because we wish to avoid crowds by living in your own time zone.

New Year's decorations.

Osechi kit.

3 layers of boxes.



Viewed from a different angle.



Happy New Year everybody!

hanazono jinja

2021-12-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We walked in the pleasant cool dry sunny air to Suwa shrine (where they have stone statues engraved with Noriko's grandfather's name) and then to Hanazono shrine near the entertainment district of Shinjuku.

Both shinto shrines were eerily deserted. Usually at this time of year the grounds would be full of shops and stands. I used to sell at them myself.

The praying altar has 5 bell ropes so that 5 people can simultaneously summon the divine. The gods and goddesses must be totally exhausted by now!

The oracles here come in rolls.

Co-located on the shrine grounds is the Geinou Sengen shrine, whose deity bestows artistic talent upon determined worshipers. I promised to continue practicing trumpet.

Noriko tells me that the Hanazono Manjyu store is famous for their cakes. We are bringing some to my mom on New Year's day.

nagoya business trip

2021-12-28 AICHI, JAPAN -- I took my 1st business trip since the beginning of the nCOVID-19 pandemic.

My mentor and guardian Professor Tsuneo Nitta held a research meeting at the Nagoya Institute of Technology. His team studies how to determine words and phrases that we think -- that is, words we say in our heads silently, without speaking through our mouths. In the olden days we were told to mind what we say. Nowadays we need to watch what we think! Surprisingly -- perhaps worryingly -- the technology somewhat works. Beware!

I had some time to sightsee. I visited Oosu Kannon temple, which was a major center of learning in its day, boasting a library of ancient documents, many of which with considerable historic, literary, and artistic significance.

The main gate.

The principal buildings.

The praying platform.

The Kannon diety.

I brought frog-themed goodies for Noriko.

Adorable frog cakes. Each cake's eyes and smile are branded by hand.

daybreak and nightfall

2021-12-21 CHIBA, JAPAN -- We took a day trip to Kujuukurihama (literally "99-mile beach"), a long shoreline on the northeast coast of Chiba prefecture.

We arrived in time for sunrise.

Daybreak. The word reminds me of the D-machines (Dandelion, Daybreak ...) at Xerox PARC we used in 1986.

I practiced trumpet facing the waves. I wrapped disposable hand-warmers on my trumpet's mouthpiece. Not hot at all, lukewarm at best, yet enough to keep my lips from freezing.

Fresh seafood brunch at a deserted diner by a fishing port.

I practiced trumpet again at a different beach late in the afternoon until nightfall.

cooking class

2021-12-14 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I attended a cooking class for our combi oven.

On my way I prayed at the frog deities nearby.

I lost my way. I should have taken the side street on the right of the picture. Instead I stayed on the sidewalk of the main street. I arrived late. Shame on me.

Fujimak (a commercial kitchen appliance manufacturer) sells Rational combi ovens under the Fujimak name. Years ago, Fujimak was the sole distributor for Rational products in Japan. Their demo kitchens show the full spectrum of Fujimak products.

This is their latest model. Mine is a generation older. The new interface allows for more detailed controls and settings. The old interface is easier to see from across the room. The oven itself remains the same.

The instructor demonstrated 6 recipes. These are ingredients for
chawanmushi (egg pudding as a side dish, not dessert).

Chawanmushi requires precise temperature control. Too hot and bubbles form inside the pudding.

A page from the instructor's recipe and my notes.

Noriko and I experimented with the paella recipe that our instructor suggested.

Not bad!

winter illumination

2021-12-13 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We walked through winter illuminations in Roppongi, a posh district in downtown Tokyo.

Earlier in the afternoon we visited an exhibit focusing on Prince Shotoku at the Suntory Museum of Art. When we exited the museum, the sky was dark and the ground was glowing.

The park was full of lights, some changing color, some releasing fog.

Trees and skyscrapers awash in light.

Giant Christmas tree.

cd-signing event

2021-12-11 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I attended a CD-signing event at the jazz cafe Eagle.

Earlier this day I walked to an automobile dealership to test-drive a Mitsubishi Delica. The car was too small for our needs alas. Afterwards, to save time I rode the train to the event venue.

The cafe owner, Masahiro Goto, is a jazz critic (but apparently not a musician). He is releasing a collection of jazz songs that reflects his tastes. I bought his CD that came with various free goodies.

I planted myself in the corner (same seat as last time), slowly ate their spaghetti (jazz cafes are known for music not food), and read one of Goto's 30 or 40 books (he himself does not remember how many he has authored). I learned that "Eagle" is named after his father's bar -- no connection whatsoever with jazz.

It just so happened that my seat was directly to the right of Goto. He, another music critic, and a DJ (who is a critic of sorts because she curates songs for her dancing customers) gave a joint talk (that in academia would be called a forum or a panel).

Goto gave me his autograph.


2021-12-06 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I bought a new mouthpiece for my trumpet.

2 weeks ago, our eldest daughter Hiroko invited her dad (me) to a talk at her school. To commemorate her kindness, I bought a new mouthpiece with the honorarium that her school graciously offered.

3 days after the talk, I had an online trumpet lesson with my mentor and friend John Bringetto. We discovered that after 20 months of being apart my lip position has become wrong. A mouthpiece with a slippery surface would help me reposition my lips as I play, I think, because every time my lips move into their accustomed comfortable bad position I can smoothly nudge them back into their strange uncomfortable correct position -- which was the position I used to play in, but now feels weird.

Some time ago, John let me try his gold-plated mouthpieces. Gold is more slippery than silver. I picked a mouthpiece that has a different sound because I wanted something different. And it is!

autumn foliage

2021-12-04 CHIBA, JAPAN -- We visited my dad's former house (now vacant) in the countryside.

I cut the grass, and placed yard wasted in a corner of the property.

The Japanese maple trees are gorgeous. They changed color daily.

I was sorely disappointed with my brand-new pressure washer. Pressure too low! I wish I had the pressure washer that we use in Oregon.

I deep-fried vegetables for Noriko. Easy to do in the kitchen at this house.

see a friend

2021-11-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I saw my friend and collaborator Akio Ohnishi for the 1st time since I left Sapporo. He and I together built Glexa, our online learning system. Interestingly, I left Hokkaido University (where I needed and used Glexa) and Akio left Version2 (the software company that he founded to build and sell Glexa), about 2 years ago, roughly at the same time. Coincidence? Or end of a phase of our joint endeavor?

He brought me a bottle of Nikka whisky (spelled without the letter "e"). Nikka was featured in a popular TV drama based on real events. Fans of the show bought so much Nikka whisky that their stocks were depleted. Now we cannot buy the specialty whiskies the brand was known for before.


2021-11-28 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We went to a yakiniku (barbecue) store near our house.

I had eaten here alone once before when I visited a showroom of an electric lighting appliance manufacturer nearby during the period that our house was being remodeled. I discovered that, although yakiniku stores are often pricey, one can eat fairly economically here.

Customers order plates of ingredients to be grilled at their table.

In the center of the table is a sunken grill. The grill combines the ease of natural gas (lower flame is better) and the flavor of cooking with charcoal (the liquid dripping from the ingredients burn and add smokey flavor). Surrounding the grill is a ring-shaped exhaust vent that sucks smoke from the grill. Your clothes and hair don't smell like barbecue when you leave the store. I wanted to install this appliance in our home when we were remodeling but alas our building (specifically the space beneath the floor, where the exhaust vent would be placed) could not accommodate it.

My ordering technique is to get a small number of high-quality ingredients, and add vegetables from the salad bar (price included in the meal).

hozumi nakadaira

2021-11-27 UPDATED 2022-03-25 TOKYO, JAPAN -- UPDATE: A video of the event has been produced and released by the L-1 gallery, the event venue.

Hozumi Nakadaira photographs jazz performers. Tonight I attended the opening reception of his photography exhibit in downtown Tokyo.


Mr and Mrs Nakadaira hosted the event.

I arrived a bit early. Nakadaira gave me his autograph and told me the story behind his favorite photograph of
Bill Evans that has become his signature work.

Nakadaira was at the
Top of the Gate jazz club in New York city. It must have been 1968 or 1969.

"Bill Evans plus a bass player and a drum player were there, but nobody else -- the place was deserted." said Nakadaira. "The performance was scheduled to start at 21:00. I assumed that the band wouldn't play to an empty house, but I was wrong. I learned afterwards that musicians were paid by the hours they played, audience or not."

"You don't get to photograph Bill Evans", he said, "So when Bill Evans hunched over the piano and started to play, I crept towards the piano, thankful that the place was empty. The manager let me get close to the stage. He even offered to turn on a light." That's how the spotlight fell upon Evans in the dark club.

Until I heard Nakadaira's story tonight, I had interpreted this picture as Evans in pain, in agony, contorting himself into a capital letter E in order to focus and create music. I had wondered whether Evan's drug problems were affecting him.

But it turns out that Nakadaira's camera captured Evans when the latter was simply getting to work as usual.

I confessed my revelation to the photographer.

"Each work of art has lots of valid interpretations. Yours is okay."

He continued his narrative.

"They played until 04:00. Only a handful of customers came. But the cats played 4 sets, just like they said they would."

Nakadaira paused and said, "That would never happen in Japan. An empty house? Never."

My mind went back to several jazz performances I have been to in the last several years. Some, if not most, were poorly attended. Perhaps times were different in 1961, the year I was born, and the year Nakadaira began photographing jazz performers.

In 2014, Nakadaira published a collection of his photographs leading up to that time.

One of photographs shows
Thelonious Monk drenched in sweat after a performance.


"Monk perspired a lot. He had 2 ginormous suitcases full of suits. I think he brought like 20 suits for his Japan tour. The morning he was leaving Japan, my wife and I visited his hotel room. He was fast asleep, and his wife -- Nellie was her name, if memory serves -- was complaining while she packed his suitcases. We helped. And I gave him a gift, a music box, you know, wind up a spring and music plays ... It played 'Koujou no tsuki' (moon over castle ruins). Monk loved it. He played it over and over during his flight. The stewardess told him to stop. So he locks himself in the lavatory and continues to play the music box! Finally it was confiscated by the cabin crew."

Aha! Nakadaira was the person who gave Monk that music box!

"The next year, I went to Newport. Monk's wife comes up to me and says 'Thelonious is playing a song for you.' And that was '
Japanese folk song'. You need to listen to the album."

The tiny gallery became full of admirers and fellow photographers. I sat in a corner so that others could talk to the host of the show.


In college, Nakadaira majored in art with concentration on photography.

"My academic advisor -- he was a photographer too -- his pet peeve was that 'People ask if they can take a picture. But they always wind up taking several! If they want 2 pictures they should say so.' Maybe that's why I usually take only 1 picture during a performance."

This curiously parallels
Francis Wolff's approach to jazz photography. According to the documentary film "Blue Note records: beyond the notes", Wolff would customarily take 1 shot only of jazz performers.

Nakadaira loved jazz as a young man. He started his jazz cafe, initially named "Dig", and later, after relocation, "

I visited Dug a few weeks ago. They are in a tiny 3-story structure that appears 2 stories taller because of a billboard on the roof. Still 10 stories shorter than the neighborhood buildings. Great location though.


Dug is in the basement.


Nakadaira began photographing jazz performers in order to support his jazz cafe. He wanted to decorate his shop with his photos.

He published his own calendar. 2 weeks per page.


After 60 years, he has stories to tell, pictures to show, and coffee to serve. The cafe is run partly by him and mostly by one of his sons, who went to college in the US.

"I attended my son's commencement ceremony. And sitting next to me was a person whom I recognized but couldn't remember his name. I asked him 'Have we met somewhere?' He says "No we haven't.' He was Tom Hanks! I had seen him in a movie."

And I hadn't met Nakadaira either, until tonight. I am grateful for his spending time with me.

His autographed photo is placed in front of my music stand in my soundproof practice room.

trumpet online

2021-11-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- John Bringetto, my trumpet teacher, gave me a trumpet lesson using an online conferencing tool. This was our first time doing this.

So wonderful to see and hear my cheery encouraging hero! We hadn't chatted since 2020-03-20 -- 20 months and 1 week ago! Plenty of time for my learning to go astray. He had kindly responded to my email messages but we hadn't heard each other for ages.

A few things I learned today: (1) I need considerable improvement on my lip buzzing, (2) more and more practice is the sole solution for mapping piano keyboard positions to trumpet fingering positions, (3) I need to practice hearing a note and replicating it on my instrument, and (4) I might run out of time (that is, die) before I become a mediocre player (right now, I am far below that!).

Most worrisome is that my embouchure might be wrong. After being away from my mentor, my mouthpiece placement seems to have slipped into a bad position. I am terrified at the prospect of spending a few years correcting my embouchure. I need to see John soon! At this time, I cannot judge the extent of damage.

Some news: (1) a restaurant a block away from our house in Oregon prohibits wearing masks -- astonishingly, a store person asked a customer to
remove their mask, (2) John is performing at multiple locations where it is safe and sanitary -- whew! what a relief -- wish we could be there!


2021-11-25 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- Japan is 17 hours ahead of the west coast of the United States. We celebrated Thanksgiving a day earlier than our friends in America.

We bought a 7-kilogram (15-pound) Butterball-brand frozen turkey at Costco, just like last year.

I followed a recipe that I found the day before, and, as a first for me, rubbed olive oil on the turkey's skin. Then I sprinkled paprika all over, just like my mom taught me.

I was astonished that the bird was ready after only 80 minutes in our combi oven.

We gave half to Noriko's sister, and the other half to mom. This was one of the fastest turkeys in terms of cooking time and eating time!

Mom gave us her hand-made
hoshigaki, which are persimmons that are peeled and sun-dried. I did not know until now that the word persimmon comes from the Algonquian language. There is the Algonquin Park near Toronto where I spent my early childhood.

The day after Thanksgiving, I made soup with the carcass.


2021-11-19 MINAMI-BOUSOU, JAPAN -- We visited Komatsuji, a buddhist temple known for its autumn foliage.

We had dropped by the previous day, however because of rain we did not walk through the temple grounds. Today the leaves and tree bark were beautiful because they had become moist and rich in color by rain from the day before.

We walked around a pond. The path was steep and slippery in places. The elevation we gained gave us a nice view from above.

I enjoy both mixtures of colors, as we saw here today, and solid colors, for instance streets lined with ginkgo trees that turn a bright uniform yellow. Both are wonderful.

We arrived early, and had the place to ourselves. By the time we left, the parking lot was full!

manazuru again

2021-11-10 MANAZURU, JAPAN -- We visited Manazuru again.

This time we had lunch at a restaurant with a view of Sagami bay.

We walked through the lawn of the
Endo Shell Museum. The single rail in the center of the photo is a monorail track that ends behind the museum building.

The sky was beautiful. Alas the wind was too strong -- sand kept getting in our eyes -- so we had to curtail our walk on the bluff.

We walked along a rocky beach that reminded us of our house in Oregon. We want to go back!

shinjuku walk

2021-11-06 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We went to another exhibit of the frog artist Kawanabe Kyousai, and then walked through Meiiji Jingu (a shinto shrine for Emperor Meiji) to Shinjuku station.

The art exhibit was a bit disappointing because ghosts, monsters, and non-frog animals predominated.

When Emperor Meiji the Great (the only "great" emperor in Japan's history) was enshrined here, some people protested because the shrine was located far from the Imperial Palace. They chose a spot away from the city center because large tracts of land were unavailable in what was then downtown Tokyo. Today the shrine grounds are a valuable area of greenery in the concrete asphalt city.

We walked along the shrine's perimeter. From time to time, the tips of tall buildings peeking from behind the trees reminded us that we were in downtown Tokyo.

Kero said hello to his friends in a pond.

Shinjuku station is slated for a massive rebuild. The tall building in the background is scheduled for demolition.

Talking about disappearing acts, Eddie Bauer is pulling out of Japan. Too bad, their prices were sky-high (unlike their factory outlet mall in Lincoln City, Oregon). I will miss them, as I do Ford Motors (another brand that is a favorite of mine but left the country several years ago).

What happened to the COVID-19 pandemic? Restaurants were so crowded that we went to Burger King! (Japan has them too.) Half-price sale!

jazz cafe

2021-11-04 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I visited the jazz cafe Eagle located near Yotsuya station in downtown Tokyo. This was my first time ever visiting a jazz cafe in Japan.

I walked from home. Gorgeous autumn day. Part of the path I took was along a shady brook.

In Japan's music scene, a jazz cafe is a coffee shop where audiophiles listen to recordings of jazz. Jazz cafes were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, good music was expensive -- fans needed to buy LP records or their illegal bootlegged copies -- unlike YouTube of today, music was not free. Live concerts were infrequent (and horribly pricey, as they are today). Radio or TV shows were scarce too, because only a handful of broadcast stations were licensed by the government (as they remain today). So aficionados -- mostly males who smoked incessantly and wore permanent scowls on their faces -- would hang out at jazz cafes, contemplate music, and growl at strangers who walked in. Jazz cafes were scary places for the uninitiated or uninvited (as they remain today). If you wonder why jazz cafes manage to exist, then you are correct -- jazz cafes are disappearing all over the country because being a curmudgeon isn't cool anymore.

The jazz cafe Eagle offers a slightly more accessible aspect of the jazz cafe tradition. For starters, they face a busy sunlit street, instead of a deserted dark alley. Do you see the trumpet sign beneath the Indian tea house sign?

Eagle's staircase leads to the basement. They are non-smoking. Yay!

Most jazz cafes are equipped with impressive sound systems. The photo below shows Eagle's turntables behind a window that looks out into the dining room.

I planted myself in the corner of the rectangular room, because I wanted to avoid sitting close to other people. Turned out that my table was adjacent to the loudspeaker playing music on the left channel. Although I missed out hearing the right channel, the loudspeaker completely masked the sounds from the dining hall, so I was able to drown myself in the music.

Some jazz cafes host live performances by small ensembles, often at night when alcohol is served. I wish there were more daytime performances. I prefer lunch over booze. 960 yen ($9) for pasta, salad, and iced coffee. Jazz cafes have a reputation for bad coffee and worse food. The grub here was quite edible. A tad better than my trumpet playing!

Eagle is owned by jazz critic Masahiro Goto. I own one of his books -- to be precise, a collection of audio recordings that were selected by him, accompanied by his written commentary. The cafe has a mini library of jazz publications. Next time, I would like to read for a while.

I enjoyed my visit. I intend to visit again, especially in combination with
Shinjuku Gyoen (a park nearby) or the Camera Museum.

suwa jinja

2021-11-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We walked from our house to Suwa jinja, a shinto shrine that Noriko's grandfather was involved with.

Our first stop was Kaichuu jinja. The shrine's name can be interpreted (among other valid interpretations) as "all [shots are] bullseyes" or "everything [is a clean] hit". It was a favored deity of Noriko's grandfather's family, for they were riflemen of the shogun for over 2 centuries. Even today, Japan's army rifle's safety mechanism is marked with 3 letters
a, ta, re, the initials for anzen ("safe"), tampatsu ("single fire"), rensha ("repeating fire"), which combined become atare (the verb "hit" in the imperative sense). I guess we are still superstitious!

Here are bilingual plaques of the shrine.


We walked by
Tsutsuji doori ("azalea street"), an area that used to be full of azaleas grown by the shogun's riflemen to supplement their income. Side businesses were encouraged by the shogun and daimyo. Samurai were cash poor.

The gingko trees were turning color at Toyama park. In feudal times, this area belonged to a Tokugawa daimyo (feudal lords) who governed what is today Nagoya city. After the Meiji era (when the emperor was restored to political and military power) the area belonged to the army, with schools for medical doctors and other non-combatant branches of the service. My mother remembers the parade grounds.

Suwa jinja is across the street from Toyama park on the north side. Before World War 2, the shrine grounds must have been substantial. Today, both Toyama park and Suwa jinja are tiny slivers of their former size.

The rifleman tradition continued after the Meiji restoration. Emperor Meiji inspected his troops here.

A pair of
koma inu ("Korean dogs") guard the shrine gate. They are so named because in ancient times these mythical beasts -- resembling more lion than wolf -- were thought to have originated in the Korean peninsula.

Noriko's grandfather donated this pair of koma-inu to Suwa jinja in 1936. I used a flashlight (in broad daylight) to cast shadows on the engraved lettering in order to read the text. Yes, his name and address are here all right.

This was my 2nd visit to this shrine that is sacred to Noriko's family.

The shrine's name written by a prince hangs above the doorway.

An old-fashioned vending machine dispenses oracles.

The gods and goddesses inform me that my luck is shining!

On our way home, we stopped by a confectionery store that has a dining area for lunches, desserts, coffee and tea. We learned to our dismay that they are closing in 2 weeks. Oh no! They will be missed.

Wrapping paper and ribbons for customers buying cakes as gifts.

My favorite,
omuraisu ("omelette rice").

Noriko had shortcake and coffee.

We paid homage to the frogs at the Kaeru ("frog") park near our house. This frog is a water fountain.

Noriko walked more than 20,000 steps. Well done!


2021-11-01 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Hangyodon is an amphibious male creature created by Sanrio. We are collecting Hangyodon-themed items.

Noriko switched today to warmer winter indoor slippers.

I spread a circular mat in my room. Like the entrance to the CIA building! (I have never been there; my imagination is based on theatrical depictions.)

I also have a Hangyodon pedometer. I keep it in a plastic pouch so that it doesn't get scratched.


2021-10-28 KANAGAWA, JAPAN -- We walked around the tip of the tiny Manazuru peninsula.

Gorgeous weather. Do you see the moon overhead? I almost missed it myself.

Rocky beaches.

A monorail track. In Japan there are 2 kinds of monorails -- one for carrying people and one for carrying small amounts of cargo. This track carries a car (an open box) about the size of a household refrigerator laid on its side. Great for steep slopes.

Sacred rocks connected by a shinto rope.

In the evening (sorry no pictures) I played trumpet on the beach to the sound of crashing waves. That was relaxing.

mom's birthday weekend

2021-10-23 KANAGAWA, JAPAN -- We visited mom for her birthday weekend.

I reported on my trumpet progress. Mom declared I'm magnificent. Her evaluation consists of 99 percent of her love and 1 percent of my music performance. After 8 years of practice, I can play "Happy Birthday" in 12 keys. This is a level of proficiency that most middle school students might reach after 4 years of study. I am a slow learner!

We delivered roast beef. I should have roasted it overnight. Instead I started cooking in the morning, and feared I might be late, but we arrived on time.

I like big chunks instead of thin slices because biting through thick cuts is gratifying.

Washed down with Niigata sake we bought on 2021-10-03.

My brother sent mom a birthday cake. Yummy!

By coincidence, technicians came to install mom's new kerosene stove. The installation had been delayed 2 weeks due to shortage of specialized parts for installing the stove. We wanted to put the stove in the corner of an L-shaped room (actually 3 rooms open to each other) at a 45-degree angle. We needed extension pipes and what not.

The stove seen from above. All the piping and tubing are hidden inside the triangular space behind the stove. The space is easily accessed by a vacuum cleaner nozzle too. I hate to see dust trapped behind shelves and appliances.

Test run of the stove. Super warm!

replace laptop battery

2021-10-14 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced the battery of one of our laptops.

I have replaced laptop batteries a fair number of times. This particular model (an Apple MacBook Pro retina 15-inch late-2013) employs ugly, disorganized, inelegant assembly techniques. I used acetone and rags (shown held in my hands in the picture below) to loosen and remove the adhesive that attached the old battery to the laptop's aluminum casing. Not hard to do; just tedious.

Buying this laptop was an expensive mistake. For unknown causes, I am unable to install operating systems (MacOS) above a certain version, even though the manufacturer says I should be able to. Wiping the storage device has no effect. I have restored the system at least 7 times since I bought the device -- about once per year on average, a failure rate much higher than my other devices.

nogawa park

2021-10-09 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We walked through Nogawa park, adjacent to my alma mater International Christian University.

The park has woods and fields.


Nogawa (meaning "field stream"), fed by springs, runs through the park.


Autumn flowers too.

I did not comprehend why cherries were in bloom this time of year. They were nice to see!

cut grass

2021-10-05 CHIBA, JAPAN -- It has been 3 months since I went to dad's former house in the hills.

Noriko and I left our house before dawn to avoid traffic. The traffic accidents I saw 2 days ago frightened me. Better to travel when fewer people are around!

We took a break on an artificial island in Tokyo bay. The roads from this point onward were uncrowded, so we could relax.


We departed the island at sunrise.

When we arrived at dad's old house (he doesn't live there any longer) we were dismayed to find the driveway blocked by thick tall grass. I couldn't leave the car in the road because the pavement is barely one car wide. So I rushed to the house to fetch the grass cutting machinery that has flesh-cutting knife edges designed for green berets fighting guerrillas (or gorillas, I don't care which). Truth be told, I feel totally inadequate with power tools unless I am in the hardware store pointing out equipment to my wife. (You must imagine me imitating Dave Barry right this moment.)

Vrrrrm! Zrrrrm! Bushwhacking mode full throttle! I cut my way through the grass from the house down to the driveway.

Noriko and I were both drenched with morning dew as we walked through the grass to the house. On the way downhill (dad's house is about 8 stories worth of elevation above the driveway entrance) I was lucky to be in dry work clothes (I changed in the house) but Noriko stayed wet all over.

The car's collision-avoidance sensors determined that the tall grass was either a human being (bad to hit) or a brick wall (also bad to hit) and applied automatic brakes so that I could not drive up and over the grass. Stupid car! Excessive artificial intelligence begets unintelligence.

Ta-dah! After merely 30 minutes the entrance to the driveway was cleared! It felt like 2 hours because I felt rushed -- I wanted to get the car off the road and in the driveway. I could have skipped (or at least delayed) cutting the grass between the house and the driveway entrance in order to quickly cut the grass right in front of the car. I chose to cut my way through (so to speak) for 3 reasons: I needed practice operating the grass cutter (I had only seen my brother use it) and I didn't want Noriko to get wetter than she already was (poor girl) and I needed Noriko to watch over me for safety and companionship and all the good stuff.

We celebrated our success with a breakfast buffet at a bayside restaurant.

Plus some trumpet playing in the evening. I love this house because I can practice 24 hours.

Incidentally, we cut more grass the following day.

echigo yuzawa

2021-10-03 NIIGATA, JAPAN -- Mom and I took a day trip to Echigo Yuzawa, an area in Niigata prefecture, where she had lived for 2 years some time ago.

Ski slopes in late summer.

Mountains everywhere. This area is at the end of a long valley. Until a century ago few people crossed the mountain passes.

Nowadays tunnels for automobiles and trains zip you through. The entrance to this 11-kilometer long tunnel reminds me of sandworms on the planet Arrakis.

At a nearby reservoir, they were building a dam to protect another dam. The old dam is a historic monument that is being preserved.

Mom took me to a not-so-famous local temple that deserves to be better known for its treasures -- some serious, some amusing.



The area is known for rice. We bought several bottles of sake (rice wine) and drove home -- slowly, alas -- traffic was heavy, due to multiple traffic accidents, including one fatality that I drove past after dropping mom off at her house. The COVID-19 emergency restraints were lifted 3 days ago. It seems that people have either forgotten how to drive or are overly eager to get to where they are going. I need to watch out!


2021-10-02 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We had an unusually active thunderstorm. Lots of lightning and thunderclaps. We saw so many flashes of lightning that it was easy to photograph them even with fairly fast shutter speeds. Here's a bad picture.


koenji walk

2021-10-02 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I stepped into side streets in the local neighborhood.

Chousenji has one of the largest grounds of buddhist temples in the area.

They have a quiet garden.

I meditated in solitude for a moment.

ogikubo walk

2021-09-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I walked through a nearby yet unfamiliar neighborhood.

Suga Jinja, a local shinto shrine of obscure origin.

When drops of water fall into a buried jar, clear resonant sounds are heard through the bamboo pipe.

Otaguro park, built partly to commemorate the musician Motoo Otaguro, whose heirs donated his property to the city.

Otaguro was the son of well-to-do parents. His father founded what would later become Toshiba corporation, the electrical and electronic equipment manufacturer. In 1912, at the age of 19, Otaguro went to the UK to study music, and introduced Debussy (among other composers) to Japan. After World War II, he became a music critic, and had a popular radio show.

Otaguro's Steinway piano. Painstakingly restored.

The park is tiny yet immaculate. Highly recommended for a stroll, if you happen to be in the area.

temaki sushi

2021-09-28 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We had a temaki (roll-your-own) sushi party at home.

I am an awful sushi chef. My knife technique ranks only slightly above my trumpet technique.

Vinegar rice (which is what sushi means -- "su" vinegar, and "shi" short for "meshi" rice) no problem.

Noriko prepared the avacado and cucumbers.

We rolled so thick that we got full fast!

The nori came from mom.


2021-09-26 KANAGAWA, JAPAN -- We walked to Enoshima, an island connected by a sandbar to Shonan beach.

On our way, we ran into our former student and his family! Wow! Absolutely made our day! We were overjoyed to be favorably remembered. For the sake of their privacy, I'll put their masked picture here.

I drew an oracle at Enoshima Nakatsunomiya shrine.

The oracle read "Visitors arrive unannounced". Wow! The gods are correct!

We celebrated with a nice lunch.

kero station

2021-09-19 SAITAMA, JAPAN -- We discovered Kero train station.


Truth be told, the station is called Moro, not Kero. For us, it's Kero for sure.

2-car diesel-electric trains run on single tracks roughly every half hour.

Waiting area.

Station facade.

fall of civilizations

2021-09-18 TOKYO, JAPAN -- For the past several days, I have been enthralled with the "Fall of civilizations" podcast.

I wrote the following comment on their website:

The tales are so superbly told that I cringe to watch the episodes, for I feel as if witnessing a rape or murder, and I shudder realizing the evil that man is capable of lies within me, hopefully dormant until my death, but ready to be awakened by what we believe to be righteous or justified in our current time.

This is a partial screenshot taken today from
their website.

keroppi goodies

2021-09-17 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Fun frog items for Noriko.

Pedometers. Left: Hangyodon for me. Right: Keroppi for Noriko. We'll be walking together a lot, now that the weather is cooler! I want to compare the number of steps we take. I'm taller than Noriko so I should take less steps than her.

Keroppi macaron. Discovered by accident at a nearby cake shop.

Keroppi power strip and USB power supply. Irresistible.

eye surgery

2021-09-03 (UPDATED 2021-09-29) TOKYO, JAPAN -- I had surgery on both of my eyes.

For 2 weeks (until 2021-09-16) I wore goggles to prevent dust from entering my eyes. Wearing goggles (all day and night, even in bed) was not that big of a deal. Being unable to wash my face was a bit of a drag. Noriko cut my hair the day before surgery. We stayed mostly at home.

All is well, thank you, I see much better now!

I got a new prescription for my eye glasses. The frame is from before. This is the first time in 50 years that I have had difficulty adapting to my new prescription. I get seasick! haha

waterfall trumpet part 2

2021-08-25 NAGANOHARA, JAPAN -- I practiced trumpet at a different waterfall, this time on a bridge spanning a reservoir that is being filled with water by the newly-built Yamba dam.


The waterfall is named Fudounotaki ("waterfall by the Fudou diety"). The waterfall consists of at least 3 stages, falling over steep cliffs, following the surfaces of the rocks rather than free-falling through air.

The bridge is named Fudou bridge.

The Fudou diety building was moved from its original location (now submerged beneath the artificial lake) to its current place at the south end of the bridge. The building itself has little historical significance, other than being one of the many foci of local religion. Dam projects necessitate the relocation or new construction of numerous roads, buildings, and infrastructure.

Creating jobs is as important as building roads and schools. An amphibious bus gives tours of the lake and the land around it.

I walked up and down both sides of the bridge, taking in the sights of this sparsely populated mountain reservoir, and the soon-to-be submerged shoreline.

waterfall trumpet part 1

2021-08-25 TSUMAGOI, JAPAN -- We parked at a roadside rest (that is, a tiny parking lot alongside the highway) at the site of a tiny waterfall called Setonotaki (meaning "the waterfall back door" or "the waterfall behind the house").


The roar of the waterfall masked the sound of my trumpet. The spray kept me pleasantly cool. I loved it!

But Noriko was not pleased. Although the waterfall is in plain view and hundreds of cars pass by it daily, we had never seen anybody stop to visit, and thought that it would be a nice place for us to be alone. Alas today, perhaps because Kero was here, at least 5 groups came by. A lady motorcycle rider even asked to take my picture!

akagi jinja

2021-08-24 GUNMA, JAPAN -- We visited Akagi Jinja, a shrine at a caldera lake on top of Mount Akagi, a dormant volcano.

The main building is resplendent after renovation.

A frog commended us on our pilgrimage.

A 4-kilometer peaceful pathway circles the lake.

A sister shrine (also Akagi Jinja) on the opposite side of the lake is now an empty ruin.


2021-08-21 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We walked 10 kilometers in cool light rain to Enoshima, an island connected to the mainland by a sandbar and a bridge.

We won a free coupon (400 yen value) for
takosembei, a thin salty pancake containing a flattened octopus.

We wouldn't have walked unless today was one of the few days on which we could use the coupon. Nice treat!

grilled tuna

2021-08-19 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our combi oven grills fish so superbly that I have forgotten how to cook with a roasting grill over a flame.


Our current stock of tuna is sashi-grade.

kawanabe kyousai museum

2021-08-18 WARABI, JAPAN -- We visited the Kawanabe Kyousai museum.

Kawanabe Kyousai was an artist trained in the Kano tradition. His life and paintings spanned the end of the Tokugawa shogunate (the Edo era) and the Meiji restoration (the Meiji era).

Kyousai was a famed frog artist. He loved the tiny creatures. His tombstone is a frog statue. Here is a photograph of a souvenir that we purchased. (No photography inside the museum.)

Detail of above artwork.

She resembles Noriko. All frog lovers are irresistible!

mom paints wall

2021-08-14 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- Kero, Noriko and I visited mom.

She painted a copy of Escher's fish-and-fowl drawing on her garden wall.

Kero got a bag full of tiny oranges from Kagoshima. These miniature oranges are prized in the south part of Japan. They are too delicate for my fat clumsy fingers!

i-love-my-wife hill

2021-08-10 GUNMA, JAPAN -- We visited I-love-my-wife hill, where husbands are expected to shout, yell, scream their affection for their wives. This is an honorable duty.

I complied with gusto. This is merely my mezzo piano. I can go louder ... I was a teacher after all.

My confessions of adoration caused no end of embarrassment to Noriko. Even Kero wanted to leave the scene (or obscene!).

I myself enjoyed the scenery! I wanted to stay longer, and scream louder, but Noriko would have none of it.

gone with the wind (almost)

2021-08-08 TOKYO, JAPAN -- The heat-reflective tarp that I had placed on our roof was almost blown off in a storm.

Unusually strong winds swept through the greater Tokyo area. Our niece saw our tarp being dragged off the roof when she came home from work. She sent us a picture.

To avoid catastrophe, I wrapped up everything for storage till next summer.

horseman museum

2021-07-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I visited the Topcon Horseman Museum, co-located at Kenko Tokina headquarters, north of Nakano train station.

Topcon was the trademark of Tokyo Kougaku (Tokyo Optics), a manufacturer of large format cameras.

Topcon disappeared, like so many other camera manufacturers and brands, beginning when the industry was consolidated during the film era (Petri, Miranda and Konica come to mind), then when photography shifted to digital (Minolta and Elmo, for instance), and today, as cameras become part of mobile phones.

another nearby park

2021-07-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We visited another park near our house.

Shakujii park, a favorite of my mom when she was a young girl.

Water in the city.

grilled eel

2021-07-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I finally submitted an academic paper, and to celebrate, Noriko and I are having grilled eel tonight.

This is our 2nd eel this season. My brother sent them via chilled delivery.

The eel is pre-cooked. Most people probably boil or microwave them. We believe these delicacies deserve a serious steam and grill.

heat-reflective tarp

2021-07-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I rearranged the heat-reflective tarp on our roof after a weak typhoon passed by. I would prefer a wider air gap between the tarp and the roof. My current set-up is not so bad because the wind lifts the tarp off the roof.


fresh veggies

2021-07-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our sister gave us a heap of fresh veggies.

We steamed and grilled corn.


We baked pizzas for lunch.

First watermelon of the season. Small pleasures remind us how fortunate we are.

covid vaccine

2021-07-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I are vaccinated for COVID19. The government took its time. It might take several weeks for the vaccine to become effective.

visit mom

2021-07-26 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- Mom gave us grapes and a flower pot of shiso (Japanese basil).

I played trumpet for mom. She was ecstatic! For my display of affection, not my artistry haha. She liked the song "Soleado".

olympic airshow

2021-07-23 TOKYO, JAPAN -- The 2020 (delayed to 2021) Olympic games begin today in Tokyo.

Air force demonstration fighters flew over our house and drew a five-colored Olympic logo in the sky. We watched with delight from our rooftop. We didn't take pictures because we wanted to view the entire sky with our own eyes. The screenshot below comes from the
Nikkan Sports newspaper. From our vantage point, the pink ring appeared to our far left.

We assumed that the air force performed aerobatics all across town. We learned later that, for reasons unknown, they drew only one logo (the one we saw) and many people, including television crews, were disappointed because they didn't get to see it.

Noriko and I were lucky! Just like the solar eclipse in Lincoln City, we got to see something special in the sky right over our house.

We wish the athletes the best. But we're not interested in following the spectacle (or debacle of public safety). Frankly we are fed up with the the callous rude greed that seems to drive the Olympics. The airshow was both the beginning and the end of the games, as far as we're concerned.

nearby parks

2021-07-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We took walks in nearby parks. These parks are a bit too far to walk to. We rented a car, parked next to the park, and walked around.

Inokashira park, known for an old spring that supplied water via irrigation canals to what is now downtown Tokyo.


Kinuta park, with grassy open areas, big trees, and a museum of modern art.


frog cups

2021-07-21 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko received a pair of adorable frog-themed cups as a gift from an airline.

The frogs are modern renditions of classical artwork (
鳥獣戯画). The frog on the left is holding a camera. The frog on the right holding a flag must be the tour guide or ciceroni.

water hyacinth

2021-07-20 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- My mom has a green thumb.

I gave her 3 tiny water hyacinth. The now cover a total area of about 3 square meters in various containers throughout her house.

escher fish and fowl

2021-07-18 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- My mom copied an Escher painting on her garden wall!


repair watch and trumpet

2021-07-06 TOKYO, JAPAN -- The day began with my 1st COVID vaccine shot. Then I went to fetch my wristwatch and to have my trumpet repaired.

I went to Ginza (downtown Tokyo) to pick up my wristwatch that came back from maintenance. Nothing was wrong with it, except that after 30 years the watch deserved a rebuild. The watch was sent to Switzerland, where technicians completely disassembled it, cleaned everything, replaced parts that were worn out, reassembled it, tested it, and shipped it back to Tokyo. I am impressed with the durability of the device, and the manufacturer's long-term commitment to care for it.

The watch was a 30th birthday present from my brother. It came back in a bright red case.

Then I went to Ikebukuro, where a Yamaha store is open on Tuesdays (their Ginza flagship store is closed on Tuesdays), to have my trumpet fixed. My 2nd slide was stuck. A technician pulled the slide out in 3 minutes! Thanks!

trumpet and cake

2021-06-24 CHIGASAKI AND HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- The day began with embarrassment.

I discovered that I had mistakenly set an air conditioner on "demo" mode (turns off the heat exchanger, so that wind blows without cooling or heating) when I cleaned it last summer. No wonder our sister thought it was broken. My fault, sorry! Works fine now.

I practiced trumpet at the beach. Passersby and sunbathers didn't seem to care. Noriko stayed in the air conditioned car (she needed to work on her laptop) and took my picture through the rear window.

We went to Denny's (Japan has them too) and used coupons for lunch and free cake.

Totally full!

awashima marine park

2021-06-18 AWASHIMA, JAPAN -- We visited Awashima Marine Park, a delightful tiny aquarium on an uninhabited island located 10 kilometers south of downtown Numazu.

The island is reached by a ferry boat.

The aquarium admission includes the 4-minute ferry ride.

Years ago, a cable car connected the island to the mainland. The building seen in the top center is the cable car house on the island. The institution is slowly falling into ruin.

The aquarium is renowned for its frog collection. The building is tiny (it is the brown structure in the lower left of the picture above) and so are most of the 50 species of frogs on exhibit.

I did my best to photograph the anurans through the misty glass.

Tiny conspicuous poison dart frogs.

Tinier than a penny (1-yen coin).

I relied on photographs placed by the glass tanks to find the diminutive creatures.

I used my new camera (a Nikon Z5) that, in retrospect, I could have waited to buy, because it went on sale a mere 10 days after I bought it. The lens is an old Zeiss makroplanar 50 mm F 2 with Pentax K mount.

One of the largest individuals on display.

Translucent frogs. While some species camouflage themselves by changing their skin color, other species choose to be semi-transparent so they don't need to change color at all.

Frogs have excellent eyesight.

Some frogs look like frogs!


2021-06-22 JOUGASHIMA, JAPAN -- We visited Jougashima, a tiny island off the southern tip of Miura peninsula, Noriko and Kero for their 1st time, and me for my 2nd (mom and I visited for our 1st time on 2021-02-18).

The daikon lighthouse.

The old lilghthouse.

We climbed down the cliff to the rocky beach.

Serrated rock formations.

The landscape reminds us of our home in Oregon.

dairy museum

2021-06-18 KAMOGAWA AND MINAMIBOSO, JAPAN -- We enjoyed our 2nd day at the aquarium, then began sightseeing the area.

The morning after my birthday, I ran along the beach. Delightful view and breeze.

We enjoyed several orca shows. Each show was a bit different. This picture shows a woman gymnast (who doubles as orca trainer) being catapulted out the water by an orca. The orca pushed its snout against the woman's feet and leaped out the the water.

After leaving the aquarium, we visited the
Rakunonosato Dairy Museum. In terms of equipment on display and factory tours, the Tillamook Creamery Association museum is more informative, especially with respect to modern dairy technology and products. The museum we visited today excels in the history of dairy farming in the Chiba and Tokyo areas. I learned that the Tokugawa shogunate owned choice pasture here, initially for breeding cavalry horses, and later for raising dairy cows. The cattle were imported initially from India and later from Holland. In the Meiji period, an American dairy specialist lived here (close to my dad's country house) to teach local farmers how to raise cattle. No wonder there are so many tiny cattle farms in this region! The dairy tradition at Hokkaido University was seeded in part by cattle from Chiba prefecture. Wow!

The Morinaga and Meiji dairy companies began business in this area. A-ha!

For the 2nd night of our trip, we stayed at dad's country house. I practiced trumpet indoors, out of the rain.

We cooked fried noodles loaded with local fresh veggies. Cheap and yummy!

kamogawa seaworld

2021-06-17 KAMOGAWA, JAPAN -- Noriko and I celebrated my 60th birthday and 7th anniversary of learning trumpet.

We visited
Kamogawa SeaWorld, an aquarium that is laid out like an amusement park, with an adjacent hotel that lets you visit the aquarium for 2 days.

The sea water intake is located 2 kilometers away. The machinery shown to the right of Kerochan disinfects the water and pumps it to tanks throughout the aquarium.

Sea mammals are the main attraction.

Because it was my birthday, we splurged and enjoyed lobster curry with orca-shaped rice. Japanese lobsters have no claws -- they are more like jumbo prawns.

Our hotel room has a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean. The last time I stayed at a hotel was over 16 months ago.

Hotel guests can join guided tours of the aquarium before and after opening hours. This picture shows 1 of the 4 orcas (all female, all born here) having her temperature taken at the start of the day. They use a rectal thermometer that is about 40 centimeters long. Normal temperature is about 35 to 36 C, which is about the same as mine.


2021-06-15 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I availed myself of having borrowed my brother's tools. I replaced our ancient shower hose and head.

A patient clerk at the neighborhood hardware store found me the appropriate parts.

I needed to re-use the L-shaped elbow joint because replacement parts are no longer available.

I used a longer hose to facilitate cleaning the bathroom. Bathing areas are large in Japan.

Tomorrow I hope to replace another outdoor faucet.


2021-06-14 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced our outdoor faucet.

My brother let me borrow his tools from his extensive collection. Top left: faucet wrench. Top right: new faucet.

Kerochan supervised my work.

The new faucet comes with a spring-loaded detachable coupler for rapidly connecting and disconnecting garden hoses. Note the yellow dot on the faucet handle. Not blue for cold water, or red for hot.

Our new faucet has temperature-sensitive springs (like automobile radiator caps do) that open and close within a range of temperatures. To prevent freezing and rupturing of water pipes, the faucet allows water to drip when water temperature falls to about 1.7 C. Once the valve opens, it closes again when water temperature rises to about 4.5 C.

crashing suns

2021-06-12 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I found an online version of a space opera short story I read as a child. I could not put it down (my tablet, that is).

Edmond Hamilton "Crashing Suns"

Mom surprised me by sending me a photo of the very book I had read as a child 50 years ago. "Took me 5 seconds to find it in the family library" she said. Wow!

roast beef

2021-06-11 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- I brought my mom home-made roast beef and store-bought bagels.

This batch of roast beef is the best we made since returning to Japan on 2020-04-11. Costco's meat department is hit and miss -- they sometimes (not too often) have good beef. We lucked out this time.

The price tag. For our USA friends, approximately 17 pounds at 6 dollars per pound.

Every time I visit my mom's house, I am glad that we improved the floor and arranged the furniture. The place is safer, prettier, and healthier.

aburatsubo aquarium

2021-06-08 ABURATSUBO, JAPAN -- We visited for our 1st time the Aburatsubo aquarium.

The aquarium is situated atop a hill overlooking the sea.

The weather and landscaping reminded me of Singapore.

We enjoyed a sea lion and dolphin show.

At the indigenous species habitat, Kerochan greeted a local frog.

coastal woods

2021-06-08 MANAZURU, JAPAN -- We walked through woods and by the beach.

Easy, shady trails that let you walk side by side, instead of single file.


The woods extend right up to quiet, rocky beaches.

Noriko spotted a crab in the tidepool.

A sacred rock formation.

We picnicked in the car at a roadside rest.

I practiced trumpet looking out towards the ocean.

hillside walk

2021-06-07 OISO, JAPAN -- We walked over gentle hills admiring flowers and scenery.

Hydrangea are wonderful this year, perhaps due to abundant precipitation.

Ringed hydrangea have clear orientation -- that is, they have a top and bottom and direction.

Globular hydrangea have volume and can be appreciated from multiple angles.

The hills were covered with blooming hydrangea.

I believe that this year's rainy season began on 2021-05-05 and ended on 2021-06-07. The meteorology agency disagrees. Either way, the heat of summer is on. I practiced trumpet at the beach inside our air-conditioned rental minivan.

survey for jaltcall

2021-05-08 (UPDATED 2021-06-12) TOKYO, JAPAN -- Thank you for participating in my survey for my presentation at the JALTCALL-2021 conference. The purpose of the survey is shown in the description below. The survey was open between 2021-05-08 and 2021-06-04. Thank you again for your time and expertise.

You may download
my presentation slides in medium resolution (6.6 megabytes).


河合 剛 (かわい ごう) 博士(工学)

slice of life, slice of day

2021-06-01 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I walked over to a nearby train station.

The sky is summer already.

I bought tea for mom.

I discovered a public library under a railway bridge. Take a book, leave a book.

The pandemic lockdown is fading. Repeated announcements by the government have diluted the sense of urgency. Just like air raid sirens during World War 2. The yakitori store sign says "open for business as usual".

flowers bloemen

2021-05-31 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Flowers in our neighborhood are beautiful.





Bronze statues of animals adorn the sidewalks.

antenna mast

2021-05-25 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- I bought a straight steel pipe to use as a mast for my Cushcraft R7 vertical antenna.

My Cushcraft R7 antenna base is a pipe with an inner diameter of about 45 millimeters, of which about 2 millimeters is unusable due to fastening bolts that protrude inside the pipe. Until recently, I was unable to find a pipe that fits well, partly because USA and Japan have different pipe sizes. In Japan, common outer diameters are 48.6 millimeters for construction scaffolding (too big for my R7) and 31.8 millimeters for household handrails and hanger bars (too thin for my R7).

Yesterday, I bought a 2-meter pipe from an
agricultural supply factory that manufactures frames for plastic-sheeted greenhouses. Outer diameter is 42.7 millimeters -- perfect for my R7. I wanted a longer pipe (6-meter lengths are available) but 2 meters was the longest that would safely fit in the rented minivan.

The agricultural pipe slid perfectly into my R7. The mating section is just in front of my knee. Bolts on the R7 hold the antenna against the agricultural pipe.

Happy! I'll set up my antenna during my next visit to my dad's former house.


2021-05-19 KAWASAKI AND TOKYO, JAPAN -- For the first time in our lives, mom, Noriko and I shucked oysters. I cannot believe we had never done this before.

iwa (rock) oysters come from an oyster farm in Okinoshima, a group of islands off the southwest coast of Honshu island (the main island of Japan), in between Japan and the Korean peninsula.

Because live oysters need to be enjoyed immediately, I packed oysters in ice packs, and rushed over to my mom's house. We watched videos and read instructions on how to open oysters. Turns out that techniques for opening oysters differ between the USA and Japan, and between species of oysters. The
iwa oysters we got have large, heavy, hard shells that need to be broken with pliers before a clam knife can be inserted. Full-grown iwa oysters can weigh over 1 kilogram. Ours were about half that.

Among the species of oysters that originated in Japan,
kumamoto oysters (called shikame oysters in Japan) are the most popular on the Oregon coast, and perhaps all across the USA. Kumamoto oysters are smaller, and easily confused with ma (true) oysters, because they look similar and are almost always harvested together. These are the species that are often breaded in panko and deep fried. Today, we had oysters on the half shell.

Top a bowl of steamed rice with an oyster, pour its brine (clam juice) over, and the scent of the sea comes to your table.

laptop battery

2021-05-15 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced the battery for a laptop. I seem to do this fairly regularly! Each laptop is different, so the batteries and replacement procedures are different, too.

One of the screws is hidden behind a flexible flap.

Battery and dust removed.

Battery status before and after replacement. The old battery lasted 1 hour tops. The new battery lasts 5 hours. The battery was manufactured 17 months ago. Hmm ... spent some time on the store shelf.

Screen Shot 2021-05-09 at 11.24.47 Screen Shot 2021-05-16 at 06.29.52

dad-in-law went to heaven

2021-05-10 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- Noriko's father joined his beloved wife, 6 months after she passed. They were a tight couple.

I am happy for him because, as was his wish, he was moving around until immediately before collapsing, and died at home.

I was close to him, I respected him as a gentleman and samurai, he knew it, and he drank sake to show it.

From our last drink together.

dream cars

2021-05-08 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I daydream about owning or leasing an electric vehicle.

I enjoy reading about electric vehicles on
edmunds.com. Here are 2 cars that I would love to drive.

There are at least 2 obstacles for me. (1) The COVID-19 pandemic prevents us from returning to Oregon, USA, where, compared to Japan, automobiles in general and electric vehicles in particular are more easily obtained, maintained, and enjoyed. (2) Although we could afford a car in Tokyo, Japan, here we have varying needs that cannot be accommodated by a single vehicle. Dad-in-law needs a minivan for handicapped people, I would prefer a van or truck for carrying tools and materials for home improvement, and everybody needs a tiny car to navigate the alleys of Tokyo -- an impossible combination. I rented various makes and models, and yes they're all fine, but none are compelling.

Instead of buying we have been renting. Renting allows us to choose the vehicle that matches the mission of the day -- driving parents, buying groceries, carrying building material, sightseeing, for instance. I focus on the driving and ignore the owning because the rental car company maintains the car. Plus, rental cars let you walk away from problems as long as they're not your fault. I was rear-ended last July, and had a break-down last month. Each problem solved over the phone.

Here is a table showing my usage for the
rental car agency I use most often. The column headers are, from left to right: (1) calendar year and month, (2) contract type -- mine is individual not business, (3) total time duration of rental in hours and minutes, (4) total driving distance in kilometers, and (5) total cost in yen. Note that early in the COVID-19 lockdown period we drove very little -- between 2020-02 and 2020-05 we drove a total of merely 256 kilometers, a distance that in Oregon we might travel in a single day. Usage increased swiftly once we started driving to our parents' houses. Since 2021-04 I stopped driving to my dad-in-law's house mostly because Noriko began riding the train to stay with her father.

The monthly charges are roughly comparable to (that is, in the same order of magnitude as) monthly payments for leasing a car. Hence I could lease or own if I wanted. However, because I need different types of vehicles for different types of missions in Tokyo, I should not drive exactly one vehicle. Ahhh ... that's too bad. Maybe in Oregon?

imperial palace moat

2021-05-07 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I walked from University of Tokyo Hongo campus along the Imperial Palace moat to Ginza. I'll show pictures of the inner moat area.

Let's orient ourselves with this runner's map. This map has north pointed downward. I walked along the left-hand side (that is, the east side) of the line with yellow arrows from point E through point D to the red dot "you are here".

Hirakawa gate ("mon" means "gate"), point E on the map above. Weather was overcast, bad for photography but good for staying cool.

The public gardens are closed, alas, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I suspect that many people in this country are becoming restless with a full year of stay-at-home orders. The government's inconsistent lockdown policies undermine the public trust.

On the inner side of moat lies the imperial palace, surrounded by stone walls, parts of which date back to the early 17th century. The outer side of the moat is lined with government and financial buildings. In years past, tall buildings were forbidden because they looked down into the palace.

Ote gate, point D on the map. This used to be the main gate to Edo castle.

I do not know whether these buildings continue to serve a purpose or are preserved empty.

Nijuubashi ("double bridge") gate, pictured center, and the main entrance to the imperial palace, to the left of the bridge. On a calm day, the bridge reflection on the smooth water makes the bridge look like a pair of spectacles. The "double bridge" is not named for the eye-glass shape, but because it originally had 2 layers for structural strength.

Running laps around the palace is a popular activity. I have never done it because I dislike crowds. I would like to walk with my mom. It is 5 kilometers around the palace.

work party

2021-05-03 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- Mom, Kan and I enjoyed a work party at mom's house.

Kan installed track-lighting fixtures for the dining room ceiling. A suspended light for eating and a wide angle light for walking around the room.

Kan and I installed anti-skid strips on the stairs. The strips have adhesive backing and glow in the dark. I recommend laying strips from end to end (that is, the full width of the steps) instead of only at the center (that is, where you are likely to walk) because you can see the entire step (which makes your staircase look wider, and aids in placing your feet especially when carrying items down the stairs) and in case you slip sideways the strips near the end of the steps will stop you.

Kan and I pressure-washed and bleached the driveway. This should keep the moss and mildew at bay through the end of summer. I got bleach splashed all over my almost brand-new jumpsuit. Honorable casualty of war.

Mom's minnows and water hyacinths are multiplying fast. She grows several thousand each year.

water timer

2021-04-30 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- Dad's former house draws water from a well. When he lived there full time, he used enough water so that the water and plumbing were clear of debris and organic matter. Water quality deteriorates when the well and plumbing are left stagnant. I want to frequently draw water from the well and through the plumbing to keep the water clear. I got a water timer, originally designed to turn sprinklers on and off, to run the well water pump when I am away.

The timer is roughly the size of a grapefruit.

One end of the water timer attaches to the faucet, and for most people the other end connects to a garden hose. The center box consists of the timer and solenoid. The device runs on 4 AAA batteries, which, according to the manufacturer, should last about a year.

I wanted to attach it to the bath tub faucet to protect the device from the elements. Alas the bath tub faucet leaks. So I attached the water timer to the garden faucet.

I covered the faucet and timer with a bucket to protect them from the sun, wind, and rain. I observed operation for 2 days. Seems okay ... for now. The device has a dismal record of failing, according to some people who have used it. Many users have no complaints. Let's see how lucky I turn out to be.

romance car museum

2021-04-27 EBINA, JAPAN -- Mom, Noriko and I visited the Odakyu Romance Car Museum. They opened 8 days ago on 2021-04-19.

The building is a garage for trains that is located next to Ebina train station and yard.

The trains on static display are mostly retired express trains that required a surcharge over the standard fare. Passengers were assigned reserved seating in plush interior. The trains were designed for pleasure travel, and were named "Romance Cars". Later, starting about 30 years ago, the railway company introduced express trains for commuters, so that business people could sit in their own reserved seat instead of being squished on packed standing-room-only trains. I endured that for 10 years ... never again!

One car was an old passenger car from when the railway began business. I do not recall seeing this model, although when I was in middle school a similar car without seats carried light freight (such as bales of newspapers) each morning to shops on platforms. At night I would hear the whirring of the direct current electric motors. Life was simpler and quieter then.

Only recently did I learn why train wheels are sloped -- that is, the inner diameter is larger than the outer. I watched a video of Richard Feynman explaining the reason. Hint: rail car axles lack differentials.

An intricate diorama of backdrop video displays and miniature landscape and rolling stock is a highlight of the exhibit. The models are so nice that I doubt railway personnel built them. They must be made by professional modelers. Kindly excuse me if I am wrong. I would love to learn that railway employees love their trade and posses talent in model trains.

clean trumpet

2021-04-21 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I cleaned my trumpet (a Yamaha YTR-8310Z) using an ultrasonic bath with dish soap, and thiourea.

Ultrasound gets the gunk out fast.

Thiourea smells bad so do this on a breezy day. Until now I used a cloth to polish the silver finish. Thiourea works faster and deeper. I was able to clean surfaces that my fat fingers couldn't reach with a cloth.

My trumpet is the cleanest it has been since new. I found lots of tiny dents that I have no recollection of creating!

electronic keyboard

2021-04-07 TOKYO, JAPAN -- A few months ago on 2021-01-27, I bought a cheap electronic keyboard, a Casio CT-S200. About $150 (about $120 in USA, lucky Americans!).

I was super excited when the keyboard was delivered.

I use the keyboard in the evening to practice reading music. I find that practicing reading tires my chops (that is, my cheeks and lips), so learning on keyboard is physically easier, plus I can do this in the evening without disturbing neighbors. I play the keyboard with my left hand partly because I am having trouble with my right hand, specifically trigger-finger on my 4th finger (ring finger). The doctor says "no trumpet!". Well I can't use that as an excuse can I? so I practice ...

This keyboard is perfect for my needs and ability. The device has numerous limitations that don't bother me -- the keyboard has 61keys (that's only 5 octaves but that's 2 more than my range on trumpet), only 48 voices (that is, notes that can be played at the same time -- that's 47 more that my monophonic trumpet), lacks touch-sensitive keys (it has simple switches that play notes at full volume regardless of finger pressure -- perfect for me because I cannot coordinate finger strength), and blasphemous "Casio-chords" (shortcuts for playing chords, for instance pressing C plays major triad CEG -- nice because I get to hear what chords sound like). I can transpose the keyboard to Bb to match my trumpet pitch (I transpose 10 semitones up so that the lower range of the keyboard is raised an octave).

My new keyboard replaces my older keyboard, a Casio SA-46 (about $35). My previous keyboard has much smaller keys that may suit young children but are awkward for my fat adult fingers. I often used the eraser end of a pencil to press the keys.

When I bought my older keyboard, I was not confident how much help a keyboard would be for me, so I bought a cheap model. Later, I discovered that even with my rudimentary keyboard skills (that are not the focus of my music practice) I benefit from having a keyboard that fits my body size. So I saved my pocket money and bought a new one. I still have my old keyboard because I rarely sell or discard old equipment.

Both my old and new keyboards are lightweight and run on 6 AA batteries. I can easily carry them to my coffee table (I sit on the floor) or bed (I play on my lap).

My photos show alkaline batteries. I use these for testing only. For daily use, I use rechargeable batteries.

car breaks down

2021-04-01 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- I didn't need an April's Fools joke this year because I experienced something similar in real life. My rental car broke down.

Dad had a tiny all-wheel-drive vehicle that could climb the driveway to where the well water holding tank is. I parked the rental minivan (a Toyota Noah, not sold in USA) at the bottom of the driveway, like I always do, because I don't have the courage, and the car doesn't have the strength.

The car wouldn't start. The cell motor ran with gusto, battery was fine, but engine wouldn't start. I called the rental car company, which sent me a mechanic. He came right away (nice surprise) in a tiny passenger car (not a tow truck). He didn't bring many tools (surprise).

The mechanic tried a few things, and then told me that the car's computer is refusing to inject fuel into the cylinders because the computer detected one or more errors that he can only determine when the car is connected to a diagnostic computer at the shop. Even then, he said, we may never know what went wrong, because the diagnostic tool only tells you which parts to replace. Wow, 3rd surprise of the day (1st was the breakdown, 2nd was the tiny passenger car).

The mechanic drove away, saying he needed to get back to his garage to fetch a tow truck.

I went back into the house, spent a few more nights there, and rode the bus home. The nearest bus stop is 1500 meters (about 0.9 miles) away. 6 buses each direction per day on weekdays, 4 on weekends. Not bad for a remote rural location. In fact I am planning to switch to traveling by buses once I finish bringing items to dad's house. There's a 2-hour bus ride from downtown Tokyo to Tateyama, the major city nearby, followed by a 20-minute bus ride from Tateyama to close to dad's house.

After 3 weeks the car was finally repaired. They never told me what went wrong with it.

laptop battery

2021-03-16 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I replaced the battery for Noriko's laptop computer. Quick to do, once I got the replacement battery.

Kero blesses the equipment prior to replacement.

Appropriate screwdrivers facilitate assembly. I happen to own these somewhat arcane screwdrivers. The battery comes with screwdrivers for people who don't have them.

Disconnect the old, factory-original battery.

For the replacement, I chose a brand with a reasonable reputation.

Ready to go!

pressure washing

2021-03-04 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- I borrowed my brother's pressure washer to clean the house and discourage wasps from building nests.

The awning and eaves are prime real estate for wasps. Apparently wasps (hornets, yellow jackets) avoid areas that can occasionally get wet. So I blasted water all over the place!

Remnant of old wasp nest. I blasted most of the nest away. Wasps use a nest for a year and then abandon it.

I also pressure-washed the stairs leading up to the house.

The back porch is organized and sanitized.

After a day's work, enjoy practicing trumpet looking out the window, without a care for bothering neighbors -- they live too far away to hear me.The rectangular object hanging from the curtain rail near the top center of the picture is the WIMAX mobile internet device.

My sheet music is on my computer tablet. I use a camera tripod as my music stand.

screen door

2021-02-28 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I installed a screen door at our kitchen door. The door is great for ventilating the house. Alas in summer bugs come in. No worries now!

Me with the screen door kit.

The hardware is nicely manufactured, but the instructions are horrible. They need a technical writer.

We got it to work, and we're thrilled with the result.

rural internet

2021-02-20 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- I have been visiting dad's old house regularly. Today I learned that internet has arrived at our remote location.

I use WIMAX, a mobile internet service that costs about $45 per month for unlimited data. Speed varies by location. Until my last visit, there was no high-speed coverage. Now there is! Yay! I am delighted even with the low speeds (I get faster uplink and downlink speeds in town) because it's enough to do what I want and much better than before. Although we still cannot get wired internet connections, such as fiber or cable TV or ADSL, I don't care!

miura peninsula

2021-02-18 MIURA, JAPAN -- Mom and I visited for our first time the southern tip of Miura peninsula, located on the west side of Tokyo bay.

Great weather and awesome scenery.

I love Tokyo winters. The air is clear, crisp, dry, and not too cold. The clear skies give us nice views of Mt Fuji in the distance.

Their new lighthouse (just opened) looks like a daikon upside down. The Miura penisula is famous for their excellent daikon.

online conference

2021-02-05 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I attended the CamTESOL (conference in Cambodia for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) this year online. Last year I was physically there. I would love to visit again. For the purpose of attending conferences, I am beginning to favor online gatherings.


well pump

2021-02-02 MINAMI-BOSO, JAPAN -- For the first time, I stayed over at my dad's old house. He used to live near the southern tip of the Boso peninsula east of Tokyo bay. The house has stood vacant for some time.

We had a problem with the well water pump. I asked the plumber who installed it originally to repair it. His work was expensive and sloppy. I cleaned the holding tank, inside and out.

The holding tank holds 300 liters of water. There are 2 pumps: 1 at the well-head down the steep driveway, and 1 at the holding tank. The 1st pump draws water from the well and raises it to the holding tank. The 2nd pump sends water from the holding tank to the house.

Clean the house, enjoy it for some years, and then sell it.

It's 200 meters (1/8 mile) to the nearest house, and that is with a hill in between. I cannot hear the local farmers riding their tractors. The songs of birds, frogs, and trees are all I hear. This is a wonderful place to practice trumpet (haha) or seriously, music, wood working, pottery, what have you. Close to shops yet far from neighbors.

experiment with rooftop antenna

2021-01-16 TOKYO, JAPAN -- My new amateur radio license allows me to experiment with radio transmissions. I tried setting up an antenna on my flat rooftop.

I began by attaching connectors to coaxial cable. Here is my new heat gun in action. (My old butane torch gave up the ghost.)

I enjoyed this Cushcraft R7 antenna when we lived in Palo Alto. The antenna has been in storage since 1996. 25 years!

The antenna is pretty long.

Oh boy the wind! I am not comfortable installing an antenna so close to our neighbors. Instead of downtown Tokyo, I will set up my antenna at my dad's old house (he no longer lives there) in rural Chiba prefecture.

new callsign for amateur radio

2021-01-08 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I received my new amateur radio license. My new callsign JK1EAS is recycled (that is, somebody had it before). This is my 3rd callsign in Japan, after 7L1FQE and JM8AGU.


new year's food

law would not have wanted us to skip New Year's celebrations on her account. So Noriko and I visited my mom. We had osechi (New Year's fancy food) and ankou (monk fish) pot. We bought a whole ankou and spent a few days finishing it.