sakura drive

2022-03-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Mom, Noriko, Kero and I drove through sakura near TUFS. We comfortably viewed the blossoms at their peak on this cloudy chilly day. At first I was disappointed that the skies were not clear blue but later we agreed that the soft light through the clouds illuminated the flowers and tree limbs gently from all directions so that we could clearly see them.

While we were driving, we were so awed at the sights that we decided not to take pictures but to immerse ourselves in the sakura atmosphere. Here are photos from mom's vantage point.


Mom visited my new office and met my colleagues. More photos about that later.

sakura erupt

2022-03-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Within a span of 36 hours, sakura trees erupted in bloom. No flowers on Friday late afternoon, yet ablaze with petals on Sunday morning.

A street beside TUFS campus, between our school and the municipal airport.

A street between TUFS' athletic field and the Fire Academy.

Most flowers are blooming, with some buds remaining. No petals on the ground.

From campus we took a walk through the neighborhood to a bus stop by a beautiful old wooden building.

We rode the community minibus to the Fuchu Art Museum.

They have nice permanent and temporary exhibits. Admission is free for TUFS staff, yay!

The museum is located within a pretty city park. We found lots of tadpoles in a pond!

The center pathway through the park is lined with sakura.

Curiously, people brought tents to the park for
hanami (flower gazing). Lots of people enjoyed hanami the old-fashioned way, by spreading picnic sheets on the lawn to sit on or lie down.

We took the train to Shinjuku station. We visited 3 shops that are scheduled to close for a few years while they demolish and rebuild the Odakyu department store. The store in the picture is Seishoen, a supplier of utensils and powdered tea for
sado (tea ceremony). I used to come here often.

We plan to bring mom to campus the day after tomorrow during the peak of the sakura season.


2022-03-25 TOKYO, JAPAN -- The 1st train in the morning gets me in the office at 05:38.

I learned that around the equinoxes the sun rises just as I arrive at my desk. Gorgeous colors.

Morning rays over the horizon hit the walls of my office. I need to close the blinds for a while because it's too bright to see my computer screen.

noriko visits office

2022-03-23 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko visited my new office for the 1st time.

She smiled at the silly sign I posted on the office door that reads "LOST -- Learning Online is Suffering and Torture".

I showed her our refreshment corner, and the coffee and soda that she had bought for my officemates.

It was commencement today! Most women wore kimono. Everybody was glad it stopped snowing.

Later in the day, we took the train to the Iida jazz school for our 2nd lesson with Shuichiro Ise. It was hard to hear his soft voice because a clear shower curtain separates us in the tiny soundproof music room. Luckily I am rapidly becoming accustomed to his speaking style. He gave me listening and playing assignments.

unusual snow

2022-03-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Unusually for this time of year, we had snow in Tokyo.

Hardly any snow on the ground. Yet it was so cold that I gave up swimming. The swimming pool water is plenty warm and comfortable. I feared I might catch cold walking in the sleet to the pool and back.

ume sakura

2022-03-06 TOKYO, JAPAN -- On our 1st weekend of work we walked through our neighborhood to admire the ume (plum) and sakura (cherry) flowers.

ume are not often seen.


ume bloom weeks before most sakura. Some sakura bloom early.


swimming again

2022-03-01 TOKYO, JAPAN -- On my way home from my 1st day of work, I joined a neighborhood gym.

My new gym card! I am not confident that I will break even -- that is, whether the monthly pass will be cheaper than paying per visit. Having a monthly pass encourages me to come more often, which is the whole point. I stopped regular exercise when I left Sapporo on 2020-02-29. That day I swam 2000 meters. Since then, I exercised frightfully rarely.

The facilities were built for the 2021 Paralympics. I am particularly attracted to the 50-meter swimming pool. Alas no photography allowed indoors.
Their website shows some tiny pictures.

Sakura (cherry) trees line the streets between the gym and my campus. I want to bring my mom and Noriko here when the flowers bloom.

places of our birth

2022-02-21 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Mom and I drove through the neighborhood where she and I were born, and my sisters Sandy and Chihaya were bought.

The Yanagisawa fowl and canine store. While I was forced to wait in the car due to parking restrictions, mom went inside to chat with the late owner's daughter, who told mom that she keeps the store running because they are the headquarters of the association for the
kai breed of dogs. Sandy and Chihaya came from this store. I dream of them often.

Just a few blocks away is Hosenji, a temple with fairly large grounds that includes a private school offering education from kindergarten to graduate school. Instead of appreciating the school and temple buildings, mom and I were keen on discovering frogs in the old pond at the temple. Yes! We found clusters of eggs!

noriko birthday

2022-02-02 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We celebrated Noriko's birthday with cake.

'Tis the season of strawberry.

Some more strawberry?

Strawberries, anyone?

We went out to get more dessert!

Noriko read a children's book of a frog playing trumpet:
Friedrich Feld "Der Frosch mit der Trompete" (the frog with the trumpet). The book was translated into Japanese by Taro Shioya, who unknown to me was living a few blocks from my house when I was born.


I attempted to play "Happy Birthday" on my instrument. We laughed a lot today!

plum blossoms

2022-01-31 KANAGAWA, JAPAN -- Mom and I visited the Odawara Flower Garden to view plum blossoms.

The blossoms are just beginning to bloom. Maybe 1 in 10 trees are flowering.

I learned that some varieties of plum trees have green buds and stems.

Odawara is known from
umeboshi (salted sour plums).

Some varieties of plum trees have multiple pistils (the female reproductive part of a flower) and produce up to 8 fruit per flower.

Mom explained to me that plum trees resist breaking that might kill other species of trees. This tree looks like a lost cause but it is very much alive.

I love Tokyo winters. The skies are clear, the air is crisp, and the ground is dry and safe. By contrast, Sapporo roads were treacherous with ice and snow.


White and red, both are lovely.

We had a relaxing day out.

mom's new year food

2022-01-02 KANAGAWA, JAPAN -- Mom served us family style New Year's food at her house.

A toast with the "friendly snowman", a
yokai (a spirit) who is said to carry your luggage over mountain ranges in exchange for small amounts of food.

My favorites are
datemaki (sweet rolled baked eggs) and kamaboko (steamed fish paste).

Mom baked us
mochi (rice cakes) on the dining table.

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!


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.


2021-11-25 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.

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.

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!

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!


2021-09-26 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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".

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!


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!

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


sake and cakes

2020-12-29 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We visit Noriko's father often. Tonight we had sake. One of our top favorite brands is Hakkaisan. We poured their "aka echigo" sake that is available in limited quantities. We also had sweet cakes. The year of the rat (or mouse) is ending and the year of the ox (or cow) is coming.


mom-in-law went to heaven

2020-12-12 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- Today on 2021-04-28 I resumed my blog on my website. In order to catch up, I wrote about events at the rate of roughly 2 to 4 per month. I have been silent since 2020-11-29 because we lost Noriko's mother a few days afterwards. I was close to her, I loved her, she knew it, and she loved me back. I was devastated. Thank you folks, I am recovering.

She is the first of our 4 parents to depart. I am not confident how I can bear the loss of my remaining parents. I am glad that I am physically closer to my aging parents, and while I continue to look for a job (I want to contribute to society) I have plenty of time to be with my folks. I realize that one day -- perhaps tonight -- somebody dear to me will die and I will fall apart. Until then, we are having fun and telling each other we love each other.

2020-12-12 would have been Noriko's mom's 89th birthday. We celebrated with her favorite cakes.



christmas tree

2020-11-29 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We are trimming our Christmas tree this afternoon. Pictures coming soon!

oil painting

2020-11-28 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- Mom showed me an oil-painting kit I used in middle school and high school.


My brother and mom have art talent. I chose art class through a process of reluctant elimination. My music was atrocious and calligraphy was not quite in the style my teacher appreciated.

I wonder about the condition of the paint.

I fear the oil is in bad shape too!

Mom's favorite stray cat watched us tinker with old memories.


2020-11-23 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We celebrated Thanksgiving 3 days early, because in Japan today is a holiday while Thanksgiving day is a work day.

Costco in Japan sells frozen Butterball turkey, just like in the USA. I did not know that a Butterball turkey "contains up to 8% of a solution of water, salt, spices and natural flavors for tenderness and juiciness". Hmm, I prefer untreated birds!

Sprinkled paprika for color. Roasted for 3 hours, just to be safe.

Chopped onions and celery (hard to find in Japan) for stove-top stuffing.


Deliver to family. Sister lives downstairs. Brother lives a 35-minute drive north. Mom lives a 35-minute drive southwest.

time difference living

2020-11-17 HIRATSUKA, JAPAN -- Noriko once wrote a short novel titled "Time Difference Living" (which, by the way, received a review in a literary periodical). The protagonist chooses his own time zone to live in. He gets up way earlier than other people in his community. He has lunch, works, plays, rests all at different times of day. He escapes the crowds and gets the best treatment by living in his private time zone.

We tried time difference living at a restaurant. We arrived at 17:00, too late for lunch, too early for dinner.

We had the entire restaurant to ourselves! hurray!

Tranquil isolation calls for leisurely dessert!

keroppi donuts

2020-11-14 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our niece gave us donuts made in the likeness of Kerokerokeroppi and his mom and dad.

Too cute to eat! But ... they're gone!

The image below is copied from the
promotion website.

drive with mom

2020-10-28 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We took Noriko's mother (whom I love just as much as my own mom) to her dentist. Afterwards we drove around the neighborhood. Here are some screenshots from our dashcam.

Her dentist.

The Enoden tram.


fresh produce

2020-10-27 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our sister gave us fresh produce from a farm in Gunma prefecture. Yummy!


mom's birthday

2020-10-23 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- We celebrated mom's 85th birthday.

We admired her minnow ponds. She raised several thousand this summer. Alas, a bunch were devoured by a murder of crows. The attack made the fish skittish. They are all hiding in this picture.

Noriko ordered 4 identical mini-cakes so that our family could celebrate mom's birthday at their own homes.

My brother sent flowers.

I played "Happy Birthday" in at least 4 different keys many many times. Some times I got it right.


2020-10-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- An article in the New York Times (the only newspaper I subscribe to) says that many people are exercising less due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aye, that includes me. I swam 2 kilometers on my last day in Sapporo (2020-02-29). The gym was being forced to close starting the next day. I happened to terminate my membership on the last day they were open. Since then I ran a bit (swimming pools in Tokyo were also closed) but had to stop running during the hot Tokyo summer. Now I'm resuming my regimen. This morning I ran 14 maybe 15 kilometers. Not much compared to most runners, but for me this is a milestone.

We got a pedometer for Noriko's mom to encourage her to walk. The frog pedometer belongs to Noriko. Neither device is reliable, I must say. They seem to show less steps than you actually take.

daughter and her famiily

2020-10-14 CHIBA, JAPAN -- A star former student of ours introduced us to her husband and baby boy.

I practiced trumpet while waiting for them at a river bank. The river seems popular among water skiers.

What a wonderful young family! We are so happy for them. Too bad we couldn't hold the baby because of COVID-19 pandemic.

They took us to an observation tower where we could see all the way down to Yokohama.

bigger monitor

2020-10-10 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I brought home my mom's old computer monitor. This monitor broke a while ago. (I recommend against buying this make and model, unless you buy through a vendor that takes your side when you need repairs. The monitor does a fantastic job when it is operational.) I got her a new, different monitor because she needs to work. I got the old, repaired monitor, and set it up in my room.

First things first: clean the windows so we can leave them open while we set up equipment. Alas our house is in a dusty neighborhood, and our windows get dirty quickly. The rain made it easier to wipe the dirt off the rails and screens. Can't let that dust blow into the house!

My old setup. Dual monitors, 1600 x 1200 pixels. I've been using dual (or more) monitors since 1996.

Remove everything, clean everything, and place everything back.

Tall monitors are good for posture. Keeps my neck and spine straight. Less pain.


2020-10-05 TOKYO, JAPAN -- 3 kilometers north of our house is Hinasakudo, a sweet shop that sells gekotan cakes. Gekotan means "Croaky", a diminutive form of the onomatopoetic word for "ribbit". An easy reason to walk half an hour to fetch a baker's dozen.


An artist was commissioned to design the branding irons and wrapping paper.

I bought 2 each of all 7 flavors. Some flavors change by the week or by the season. More reasons to shop!



2020-10-05 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko mailed in our census form. Japan has held censuses every 10 years since 1910.


thai curry at home

2020-10-04 TOKYO, JAPAN -- My brother gave an assortment of heat-and-serve curry sauces.


We steamed turmeric rice. Nice way to finish last year's crop of rice. We start enjoying this year's crop later this week.

Quick and delicious.

wildfire support

2020-10-02 (UPDATED 2020-10-23) OTIS, OREGON, USA -- Our friend Frank King lost his house in a wildfire. I am in awe of the outpour of support from his friends and neighbors. Noriko and I wish Frank and everybody else affected by the recent disaster in Lincoln county to be safe and as comfortable as possible during this most difficult time.

Screenshot of fund-raising webpage taken on 2020-10-22.

Screenshot of fund-raising webpage taken on 2020-10-02.
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sister gifts

2020-09-23 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our sister brought us lots of fresh veggies!

We begin with fresh ears of corn!

Steamed, no flavor added, superb!

points, lines, shapes

2020-09-14 KAMAKURA, JAPAN -- Noriko and I have been visiting her parents more frequently than before moving to Tokyo. Our decision to retire from Hokkaido University was correct -- yes I lost income, yes I continue to look for a job -- we are closer to our families in space and time.

Today we explored the area near Noriko's parents' house. I want to learn the lay of the land. We know some spots -- the house, mom's dentist, several supermarkets, a few shopping malls. I want to connect the dots into lines, and the lines into 2-dimensional shapes.

I hate the narrow, crowded, torturous roads, but they sometimes offer unexpected views. We chanced upon the
Shonan Monorail. This is the first time I followed a monorail from beneath. I felt like a submarine tracking a surface ship!

From our dashcam:






art in life

2020-09-10 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We ventured out the house, like a pair of mice gingerly poking their noses out their hole in the wall.

We visited the
Suntory Museum of Art in the Roppongi district of downtown Tokyo. Skyscrapers and glass domes.

Only until after we entered the exhibit area did I learn that photography is allowed! I should have brought my camera. The work on display were (to my untrained eye) understandable, purposeful, and aesthetically pleasing. Here is a screenshot from
their website.

We had boxed lunches outdoors in the breeze.


2020-09-10 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Our friends in Otis and Lincoln City are evacuating from their homes because wildfires are approaching the city. We are concerned for their safety.

The evacuation map below was issued today.

Evacuation orders come in 3 levels.

Level 1 (the lowest level) "be ready" (some people say "get ready") means "prepare to evacuate". The area colored green at the south end of Lincoln City is at Level 1.

Level 2 (the middle level) "be set" (some people say "get set") means "prepare to leave at a moment's notice". The area colored yellow at the center area of Lincoln City is at Level 2. Our house is in this area.

Level 3 (the highest level) "go" means "leave immediately". The area colored red at the north end and east side of the city extending to the town of Otis is at Level 1. Our friends who live in this area have evacuated.

Thankfully, the fire is coming under control, and our friends have been allowed to return home. However, electrical power is intermittent because the fire continues to rage, and falling trees break power lines.

Noriko and I pray for the safety of our friends, acquaintances, and everybody else in our community. Hugs!

kero in the flesh

2020-08-22 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Kerochan rarely exits his protective case. Today he stepped outside to replace a package of desiccant placed beneath his seat cushion.

Kero looks great!

Old and new packages of CaO (calcium oxide, commonly called lime). The old packet is thick and heavy after absorbing moisture.

noriko's father's birthday

2020-08-10 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We celebrated Noriko's father's 94th birthday.

I helped with some chores around the house. Here's me cleaning the dehumidifier.

atomic bombs

2020-08-06 TOKYO, JAPAN -- 1945-08-06 and 1945-08-09. Read about those days and what they mean today. Subscribe to support the authors and publishers; otherwise read for free.

John Hersey "
Hiroshima", New Yorker, 1946-08-24

Michael S Rosenwald "
The US hid Hiroshima's suffering. Then John Hersey went to Japan." The Washington Post, 2020-08-06

William Langewiesche "
The reporter who told the world about the bomb" The New York Times, 2020-08-04, a book review of Lesley M M Blume "Fallout: the Hiroshima cover-up and the reporter who revealed it to the world", Simon & Schuster, 2020-08-04

Additional reading suggested by the New Yorker magazine, 2020-08-02.

deliver dinner

2020-07-14 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- We delivered grilled yellowtail to my mom.

steam convection oven and its temperature probe grills the fish to perfection.

Noriko wrapped the fish in aluminum foil, and placed it in an aluminum grill pan. These pans are unavailable in Japan. We brought them from USA years ago.

I feel like a pizza delivery person! Wish I could chat with mom for a while, instead of dropping of food and driving away.


2020-07-08 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We hung a second hammock in our living room.


The first hammock is a seat made of meshed fabric (a net) that we bought at a sporting goods store in Tillamook, Oregon.

The second hammock is a bed made of thick canvas. We bought it at Yodobashi Camera, which sells camping and outdoor equipment especially during summer. We bought it online to avoid people.


2020-07-07 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Tanabata is a festival held on the 7th day of the 7th month. In Chinese tradition, odd numbers are auspicious, hence 1-1 (new year's day), 3-3 (girls' day), 5-5 (boys' day), 7-7 (tanabata), and 9-9 (chrysanthemum day) are celebrated in Japan.

According to mythology, a weaver girl (Orihimeboshi, the star Vega) and a cowherd boy (Hikoboshi, Altair) are lovers that meet once a year on this evening across the river of heaven (the milky way) if and only if the skies are clear ... alas today it has been raining on and off, heavily at times, stopping ever so often but only to resume.

We celebrated with Kerovis (a frog version of Elvis) serenading to Crystal Kristin (a frog princess).

Kerovis and Crystal Kristin were gift from friends in the USA and Belgium, respectively.

where did i put it?

2020-06-24 TOKYO, JAPAN -- June is rainy in Tokyo.


I organized some of my belongings indoors. I discovered several items I had been looking for.


2020-06-17 TOKYO, JAPAN -- It's been many years since I celebrated my birthday in Tokyo city. Summer hasn't begun yet, and it's already hot.

Noriko ordered multiple birthday cakes so that my mom and sister can celebrate at their homes! I miss talking with my family.

The castella cakes come from
Bunmeido, my favorite!

The decoration is so adorable I didn't have the heart to cut it.

I sliced the cake horizontally to save the decoration on the top half.


We ate the bottom half. But not before we carved out a likeness of Kero.


I practiced trumpet. I warmed up (Maggio style), practiced major and minor scales (ascending and descending in 12 keys in the order of the cycle of fifths -- until a few days ago I practiced in chromatic order), and tonguing (one of my many weak spots). Unusually (for me) I played a bunch of songs that I have been learning over the past 3 years. On a typical day I might practice 1 or 2 songs. Today I went through a bunch, mostly for fun, and to see how far I have come. I began trumpet lessons exactly 6 years ago.

My birthday presents were a laundry drying rack and hangers. I am super lucky to be (doubtless) the only person in town who received household utensils as a birthday gift.


neil stalnaker

2020-06-06 (UPDATED 2020-06-13) TOKYO, JAPAN -- Neil Stalnaker, my friend and mentor, passed away on 2020-06-06. I learned of his passing a week afterward.

Neil was formally trained in music in college and at Berklee.

Neil was a student of Carmine Caruso (famous for his
"6 notes" regimen). Neil told me how Caruso would wear ear-protection headsets when teaching trumpet students because Caruso had a medical condition where loud sounds would cause him to lose balance (as in falling out of his chair).

After a career playing trumpet in a US Navy band and later as a freelance jazz player, he became an artist.

A picture of us, taken at his art show held near Tokyo central station on 2019-03-31. This was our last face-to-face meeting. We connected frequently online.

His autographed painting is placed on a cabinet behind my music stand.


A day before his death, we exchanged greetings on Facebook. After learning of his departure, I offered condolences to those who survive him.

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masked mom

2020-06-07 KAWASAKI, JAPAN -- We delivered roasted pork to my mom this morning. Alas we were forced to wear masks, and to part in less than 2 minutes. I felt like a newspaper delivery person.

Truth be told, as far as family is concerned, I can hardly wait for COVID-19 to become less of a concern.

I have few complaints other than being unable to see my friends and family. We were planning to quit my job and stay at home anyway. However, I confess that our house is not being organized or improved at the speed I promised myself.


financial aid

2020-05-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We applied for financial aid for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sapporo city government sent us forms because we lived in Sapporo until recently.


clean the house

2020-05-13 TOKYO, JAPAN -- I did minor chores around the house.

Clean the air conditioners.

Read the manual. Daikin manufactures excellent air conditioners, but they need help with technical writing.

Wipe the floor. (Oops took no photos of me with my favorite mop.)

Hang shoji paper on windows.

Glue shoji paper on wooden frames for our tatami room.

Attach light-reducing fabric on the railing.

costco again

2020-05-12 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We went shopping again. Shopping is a rare event these days. We hadn't gone grocery shopping in 16 days.

We feel like we are living in medieval Japan or wild-west America, when market days were spaced apart. Instead of riding our horse and buggy to town, we rented a car and drove to a hardware store, a supermarket, and Costco. These 3 stores are located close together.

The driving distance from our house to Costco is about the same as from our house in Lincoln City to Depoe Bay (the next town south) but it feels much farther! There are lots of stoplights that run on timers rather than sensors, so traffic is slow even if it's not congested. Our traveling speed averages at less than 20 miles per hour, compared to about 40 miles per hour between the not-so-fast roads between Lincoln City and Depoe Bay.

We spotted a truck with frog sign! Sorry for the poor resolution photo. The truck was too far to capture legibly on our dashcam.

We are fully stocked on food. There were some items that were sold out, such as macaroni (wonder why) and fish heads (they tend to sell out quickly when the fresh fish section opens). Fish heads are tasty when grilled.


2020-04-26 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Once the 14-day quarantine period ended, we went grocery shopping.

Japan has Costco too. Here is dashcam footage from our rental car. (I attach my dashcam when I rent cars.)

We spent 58115 yen (about 570 dollars) on groceries. We broke our record!

Fresh fish grilled by yours truly.

We shared roasted beef with our sister Keiko. I wish we could eat together! Instead we give her food to take home.

more neighborhood walks

2020-04-04 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- My last serious exercise was on 2020-02-29, the day I left Sapporo, when I swam 2 kilometers. Since that time, walking through our neighborhood has been my weak excuse for exertion. Quite enjoyable, actually! We check out our old haunts and discover so much more.

A few minutes from our house, there is a statue of a viking warrior whose girth is said to resemble mine.

The beach is deserted because of the city and state lockdown. I did not expect governments to react so drastically to COVID-19. If they were going to do this, then they should have done so sooner for greater effect.

Most houses are quite nice. Some are expensive. Weather-worn empty dwellings add character, I think, to the scenery.

I have no idea what these flowers are. My mother probably knows.

We are donating to the Cultural Center. This is where Noriko goes for yoga lessons. My trumpet teacher's big band plays jazz here from time to time. When you donate, they make a brick with your phrase on it. Ours will be "Kerokki the pink frog"! Look for our brick when they pave the footpath.
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Coast Guard helicopters patrol the beach several times a day.

The black specks in the center of the picture are sea lions.

We bought catnip for my mom's cat.


2020-03-31 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We cleaned up our front and back yards a bit. Not a lot. Just a tiny bit!

Ivy and blackberries were climbing our trees and fence posts.

Didn't take long to remove the vegetation. Did a number on my allergies though! We're smack in the middle of pollen season.

Ivy was suffocating our hydrangea.
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We gave our hydrangea some breathing space.
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We are burning through our stockpile of firewood at a good pace. I am impressed how well the tarp has protected the wood during the past 2 years.

neighborhood walks

2020-03-30 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We took 2 short walks today when it stopped raining.

When the fog and rain went away, we saw Cascade Head to the north from a hill behind our house.

At the end of our street is a statue of Abraham Lincoln on horseback. They recently built an attractive gravel garden around the statue. Behind the statue is the parking lot for the community center. The center (including my favorite swimming pool) is closed due to the COVID-19 disease. The parking lot is empty.

pho noodles

2020-03-15 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Easy noodles for lunch at home.

I roasted beef a few days ago. Today we made Vietnamese pho noodles with spinach and beef. Quick to do and tastes fantastic.

easy fancy food

2020-03-11 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Easy fancy food at home tonight.

We bought heat-and-eat food at the store.

We steamed lobster ravioli. Boiling tends to result in soggy and broken ravioli. Steaming produces cleaner, well-formed ravioli.

We heated ready-to-serve king crab and corn chowder.

Placed ravioli in a deep bowl, poured thick soup over them, and topped it with home-made smoked salmon. Easy yummy dinner in half an hour!

chocolate frog

2020-03-11 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We visited our friends at the Chocolate Frog candy store.

Love their new store!

Dark, milk, and white chocolate frogs!

Peanut buttercup!

regatta park

2020-03-09 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Gorgeous weather we're having!


smoking whole salmon

2020-03-08 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- I wish I could fish! Until I learn how (or at least join a fishing boat for tourists) I buy at the local store.

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Today we smoked a whole salmon. The fish had been cleaned by the store person so I used a cutting technique that wouldn't usually use.

Our kitchen window faces west. Lots of sunshine today.

We place the smoker just outside the glass door so that we can check up on it.

The white portions are fatty paste that we don't mind.

Steamed veggies on the side.

moving from sapporo to tokyo

2020-02-26 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We are moving from Sapporo to Tokyo. It feels like a double move -- that is, as if were moving out of 2 houses at once -- because I am simultaneously vacating both my office and apartment. Each place has computers and stationery items (naturally) and kitchen items (unusually), the latter because I would occasionally spend long hours at the office, and would cook while working instead of eating out (the time spent away from the desk seemed wasted).

It's snowy out.

A total of 25 boxes left Sapporo for Koenji, to join the 50 boxes waiting there since 2019-11-30. Our Koenji house looks like the ruins of Ankgor Wat.


Empty drawers! Ta-dah!

A mini-celebration is in order.

A few days later, on leap day 2020-02-29, the office was barren except for items that my colleagues requested I leave for them, and my apartment contained only my luggage.


I returned my employee ID card, and keys for both my office and apartment. In the afternoon I went for one last swim (2 kilometers, breast stroke as always), then hopped on a plane to join Noriko in Tokyo. We will miss Sapporo!


2020-02-18 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Hiroshi Watanabe, professor emeritus and former colleague of mine at Hokkaido University, spent a few decades translating Samuel Richardson's "Clarissa". Clarissa is one of the longest novels in English literature. The original book contains over a million words. The Japanese translation is approximately four million characters long. Richardson's style of writing to the moment made this mid-18th-century novel tremendously popular in its day. Hiroshi's translation is the first time "Clarissa" has become available in Japanese language.


I am indebted to Hiroshi because he chaired my job interview (we were strangers at the time) and he believed in me. Hiroshi is an avid photographer -- his monochrome candid pictures received awards from magazines. We shared a common hobby. I have nowhere near Hiroshi's photographic skills (regardless of my hours in the darkroom for both monochrome and color photography), but I do have an edge over him on internet technology, which brings me to the story behind Hiroshi's translation of Clarissa.

Hiroshi was concerned, wary, worried, fearful to the point of certain failure in finding a publisher who would print his translation. The book is simply too long. Plus, Hiroshi wanted to add notes to his translation -- notes that elucidate his interpretation of Richardson's writing, and that help readers appreciate the customs and values of Richardson's day. Hiroshi wanted a publisher that would not only publish the first edition of his translation but successive revised editions as well. I suspect he was correct in presuming that no publisher would accommodate his desires. Hiroshi dejectedly predicted that his manuscript would be locked away in a library, doomed to obscurity before anybody learned of it.

I offered to disseminate Hiroshi's translation via the internet. I set up a web server 15 years ago (2 years after I was hired, and 1 year after he retired), and managed the web server until yesterday. Beginning today, Hiroshi's translation is delivered from
Hokkaido University's library website. Finally! Yay!

The translation is available in PDF file format. Clarissa Harlowe’s composition "Ode to Wisdom" is available both as an audio recording in MP3 file format, and as a music score in MIDI file format. Click on the links below to obtain your own copies.

Clarissa translation in PDF format, about 57 megabytes
Ode to Wisdom audio recording in MP3 format, about 2 megabytes
Ode to Wisdom score in MIDI format, about 4 kilobytes

former graduate students

2020-02-15 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our former graduate students (who are each successful in their professions today) threw us a good luck and farewell party! We are overjoyed.

Truth be told, I was never popular back in elementary school or middle school ... sometimes picked on, sometimes ignored ... had I went to high school in the United States I am sure that I would have skipped the prom. So having our academic sons and daughters wish us well was a heartfelt surprise. I couldn't believe it.

First and best time anybody had thrown a party for us!

They showered us with gifts. They gave me towels that I can wrap around my neck. (I have a permanent minor neck injury. Keeping my neck warm keeps the pain away.)

A delightful keychain with a leather trumpet. I will attach this to my trumpet case!

We enjoyed castella (sponge cake) at home.

piano lesson

2020-01-18 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Ivy Lin, my former graduate student, gave me my first piano lesson today at her house. I am electrified!

Ivy was trained originally in classical piano. She has a degree in jazz performance in piano and guitar.

Ivy autographed a copy of "Beyer" she gave me as a gift. The book is written in German, English, and Japanese languages.

I hope to buy a portable electronic keyboard once we settle into our Tokyo home. Maybe a Kawai? Our names would match! Or maybe a Casio ... their products used to be considered toys, but nowadays their high-end models are highly regarded.

happy new year

2020-01-10 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Happy New Year! We spent our winter break with our family.

Noriko and I walked over to a shinto shrine and a buddhist temple near our Tokyo house. They are both popular sites of religion. We avoided the thickest crowds by visiting early.

Oomiya Hachimanguu, a shinto shrine known for military fortune in general and archery in particular. By extension, the gods enshrined here assist worshippers in their quest for victory in any competitive endeavor, such as winning sports events, passing exams, or finding employment.

The shrine has the Frog Stone, a natural boulder somewhat resembling a crouched frog, believed to bring fortune back to you. The word "frog" in Japanese language is homophonous with (that is, has the same pronunciation as) the word for "return" or "come back". What goes around comes around.

Every January 2nd, the shrine hosts an archery ceremony. This year, the responsibility was handed from the patriarch of the Ogasawara family to his son. The picture shows the father, the 31st-generation head of the clan, holding an arrow tipped with a whistling arrowhead. The whooshing sound was originally intended to intimidate enemies before battle. Now it is sounded to ward off evil.

The son pictured moments before loosing the arrow. In Japanese archery, the bow and arrow are first raised above the archer's head, and lowered to eye level as the bow is fully drawn. The Ogasawara family crest is printed on the fabric screen in the background.

Myouhouji, a buddhist temple known for medicinal healing powers.

They served us ceremonial drinks in a tiny sake cup with drawings of mice. This year's animal is the rat or mouse or gerbil or whatever you like to call it. They are often depicted with long tails, so I guess they are not hamsters!


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.

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, a weather website.
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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!

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.

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.

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.


2018-06-17 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I celebrated my birthday.

Noriko gave me a fantastic birthday card that she had found in Southampton, England almost a year ago! The card shows a picture of a couple just like us, the husband with short hair and the wife with long hair riding a red tandem bike followed by a black and white dog! Kerochan naturally is too important to appear in mass-produced greeting cards so he made a special appearance.

We went to
Toppi, a sushi restaurant at Soen train station, a 14-minute walk from our apartment. We had had a heavy breakfast, so our sushi lunch focused on spendy delicacies.

We had shortcake at
Rokkatei, a confectionery store well-known and respected on Hokkaido island. They serve free cakes and soft drinks on your birthday!

We visited the
Yamaha music store located upstairs from the Rokkatei cake-and-coffee shop. We chatted with a sales person (a French horn player) who sold me the Yamaha YTR-8310Z trumpet that I play when I am in Sapporo. We took no pictures. Instead you can view a photo album of the history of Yamaha wind instruments. The first wind instrument they manufactured was a trumpet, designed under the supervision of Renold Schilke.

Today is also my 4th anniversary of my learning trumpet. Here's a recording of me playing "
It could happen to you". It's best if you don't play the audio file. Instead, listen to what I want to sound like: Chet Baker singing the song (he also plays trumpet).


belated commencement

2018-06-13 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I celebrated our graduate student's commencement.

Ivy finished 3 months ago but we missed her ceremony because were out of the country. She and I were busy the last 2 months with classes. Tonight's celebration was belated yet relaxed.

Our 2 families enjoyed food and conversation.

Ivy made a photo album of our 3 years together. The classes we taught, the conferences we presented at, the jazz gigs we went. Wonderful memories!

sushi party at home

2018-05-29 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriko returned from Tokyo to Sapporo. She was staying with her family, while I was cooking for myself (efficiently and moderately nutritiously but not excitedly). We rented a car for 5 hours, and went grocery shopping at the Sapporo Costco.

We celebrated her return with sparkling wine poured into a wine glass etched with frogs.

Sushi party at home! Fantastic weather, just the 2 of us, happy together. Shira-ebi (literally white shrimp, Pasiphaea japonica, pictured lower right) is a delicacy available only this time of year.

diamond wedding

2018-05-19 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- Noriko's parents celebrated their 60th anniversary.

Being happily married for that long is an accomplishment. Being healthy to enjoy celebrating is cause for double celebration!

We ordered gorgeous boxed lunches. I was astonished that mom and dad finished theirs. They usually eat light.


Noriko and Keiko ordered a commemorative manju (a steamed bun filled with sweetened black bean paste).

This behemoth is about the size of a child's head. It contains 7 tiny manju with colored bean paste.

Dad is a master gardener. We took group photos in his garden.

cooking calamity

2018-02-17 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Several evenings ago, I cooked tragic tempura. I am reeling from shock. I haven't yet thrown away my deadly disaster. The result was so horrendous that I cannot release graphic images to the internet.

My mom trained me to make tempura batter using flour and eggs. For quite some time now (maybe 30 years) I have used tempura ready-mix flour. This time I used organic whole wheat flour, organic eggs, baking soda, and water. I used freshly-opened clean canola oil.

What went wrong? Have I forgotten my teenage training? I was so confident that I could make tempura batter from scratch that I purposely did not bring back any from our recent trip to Japan.

Or maybe whole wheat flour is nutritious yet too coarse for tempura. The batter felt knotty and crumbly, not smooth and fluid.

I cannot pinpoint the cause of my catastrophe.

The last time I failed in the kitchen was maybe 25 years ago when I baked 2 whole chickens in the oven, but mistook the time required to roast them. At least at that time all I needed was to add more cooking time. Our house guests were without food though.

Tonight we are roasting beef. This I ought to be able to accomplish.

noriko's birthday

2018-02-02 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We celebrated Noriko's birthday at her parents' house.

After 3 years, 7 months, and 3 weeks of practicing trumpet, I finally managed to play "Happy Birthday" for Noriko! And in 3 keys (my G, A, and C). Sorry no pictures or video of the event. Noriko -- the poor girl -- was focused on filing tax returns for our parents.

Noriko's dad and I had drinks and sushi and hors d'oeuvres.

We all had cake. I chose Mont Blanc, a quintessential Japanese edition of Italian pastry (apparently the recipe wasn't invented in France).

cutting trees

2017-12-11 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Charlie the arborist and his assistant Josh removed 2 pine trees from our front yard. We had asked for a price quotation some days ago. This morning they announced that today was the day (wow). They arrived 40 minutes later, and left 2.5 hours after that. Fast work! They didn't give us time to warn our neighbors about the noise and dust. Thankfully our neighbors were graciously accommodating.

They removed 2 trees for us. For each tree, Charlie (up in the tree in the photo) made 1 round trip -- up and down once, that was all. Going up, he removed the smaller branches. Coming down, he cut the thicker branches and trunk. Josh (down on the ground wearing the white hardhat in the photo) collected fallen material. Both guys are strong!

Josh told me that they go through 1 or 2 chain saws each year due to heavy usage. Takes only 3 to 10 seconds to cut through a thick section. I guesstimate that a chainsaw lasts about 1000 hours of engine running time.

Before and after pictures from our rooftop. We were surprised how bright our north-facing living room became.


Most of the wood went through the wood chipper machine. Josh cut thick pieces into 14-inch lengths for us to use as firewood.

Noriko stacked the big fat heavy pieces in our breezeway (left side of photo). When the wood dries, we will split them with our firewood axe. The firewood that is ready to burn (right side of photo) might last us until Christmas. After that, electric heaters until next fall.



2017-12-10 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- We have been heating the house with our wood stove. The flames are pleasant to watch, and the stove heats the entire house.

Currently we are burning wood that we bought 15 months ago. The wood was already seasoned (that is, dried) when we bought it. The wood dried more since we bought it, and now burns excellently. The firewood we have left might last us for a few more weeks.

We bought a new pile of wood from
Charlie the arborist, same as last year. He put the firewood on our driveway.

The wood we bought this time is not seasoned. We need to dry it for 6 to 12 months. We stacked the firewood in our backyard so that it will dry better than leaving it as a pile on the ground. I estimate the total weight of the wet wood at about 1200 kilograms. Noriko and I got a serious workout by carrying the wood!

During the months that we have no firewood to burn, we will use electric heating. We will also have the chimney inspected and cleaned by professionals.

work out

2017-12-04 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Noriko and I are back into our regular routine. We resumed exercise, believing that working out is an investment in our bodies. Noriko enjoys yoga, and I tag along. We lift light weights, which is as wimpy as it sounds! And after a long absence from the pool, I started swimming again. This morning was my 2nd swim in several years. Breaststroke, 1000 meters, 31 minutes. The hardest part is walking over to the gym. It's only 2 short blocks away but feels much farther. The greatest part is the sense of accomplishment afterwards.

friends in california

2017-11-11 to 2017-11-20 SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA, USA -- We cherish the special people who regard us as their friends. After an absence of several years, we visited our friends in the San Francisco bay area. We had a wonderful time!

Djuki and I met in 1987 as roommates at Stanford University. 30 years! His family gave us an Indonesian lunch.

Seikyee and Noriko met in college. Seikyee is trained as a professional chef. She threw an early Thanksgiving party.

Seikyee brought us to several eateries in the Inner Sunset district of San Francisco.

Ginny and Noriko met at work. Ginny thinks and verbalizes fast. Noriko is blessed to have Ginny as her mentor.

Psi and I met at work in 1988. He has the fast speech rate of anybody I know personally. We met his family for a too-brief conversation over homemade chocolate cake.

Jared was my supervisor at work. I strive to emulate his style. I'll show his picture below because he is well known in academic and industrial circles.

Mark and I met at work. Mark and June cleaned our house when we bought it in 2003. We walked and picnicked near the Point Bonita lighthouse north of Golden Gate.

California blue sky!

Mark lives within walking distance of quite a few nice eateries.

While the girls bonded in the shopping mall, Mark and I bonded by polishing the windows of his 26-year-old truck. I drove it when it was brand new. That was a fast truck!

My aging and somewhat inaccurate handheld GPS receiver says that for our entire trip we drove a total of 2435 km (1521 miles) in 27:03 (27 hours and 3 minutes) at a mean speed of 90.0 km/h. The maximum speed of 250 km/h is clearly an error. I wish our truck ran that fast!

taft tigers

2017-11-01 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Gabe, son of our friend Lori, is a senior at Taft High School, and captain of the soccer (association football) team.

Gabe is number 24, in the white shirt towards the right of the picture.

I got great seats next to the Taft HS Band. I learned a lot from observing their playing.

We congratulated Lori and her mother-in-law after the match. The Taft Tigers won 6-0. Actually I predicted that after the 1st goal but nobody was taking bets!


2017-09-25 IEPER, BELGIË -- Ieper (Yepres in English) was the battleground for trench warfare during World War I, or (WOI wereld oorlog een) to people in Flanders.

Ieper gave the name to Yperite gas, because this was where
mustard gas was first used.

The battle raged almost exactly 100 years ago. Cavalry still rode horses. Bugles were serious means of communication.

Special trucks transported several dozen carrier pigeons at a time.

The signal corps adopted wired telegraph and, in some cases, wired telephone.

Our friend Mia encouraged us to visit the
Passchendaele Museum. She was right -- Passchendaele is better than the more famous In Flanders Fields Museum. The latter is easily accessible from the Ieper train station, and has a wonderful exhibit that is worth a serious visit. The Passchendaele museum offers more direct and comprehensive appreciation of the trenches, particularly how they evolved over time.

Passchendaele let us tour a real tunnel that was recently discovered beneath a church. This is a temporary exhibit that is open until Armistice Day of this year (2017-11-11). The corridors are filled with water that need to be constantly pumped out. During trench warfare, soldiers manned the pumps. I would not last 5 days in these conditions.

We walked to the
Tyne Cot memorial to pay our respects. Many headstones mark unknown soldiers who are, as Rudyard Kipling wrote, Known Unto God.

We attended
the Last Post ceremony at 20:00 at Menin Gate. Tonight's ceremony was conducted by the Australian military. Our friend Mia is a loyal supporter of the Last Post Association.


2017-09-14 (updated 2017-09-23) ANTWERPEN, BELGIË -- We thank our friends for their friendship and for squeezing time out of their busy schedules. Out of respect, we will not upload their photographs, but I'm a few photographs of our surroundings should be permissible.

Annuska chatted with us at
the Royal Cafe inside the magnificent Antwerpen-Centraal train station.

Margret (she goes by Maggie now), Koen, and Mathis entertained us at their beautiful home. Koen opened a treasured bottle of
Trappist Westvleteren. Mathis commented that "De kikker (Kero) is rustig!".

Fons and Ingrid invited us to their home. We then visited
the decommissioned lighthouse ship Westhinder 3 in preparation of the Water-Rant festival.

Nathalie remembered me! She gave me impromptu lessons in Dutch language when she came to my office for cleaning. She speaks impeccable English by the way.

Jozef was humorous and lively as ever, plus with serious advice for me. Notice the hedge trimmed in the UA (Universiteit Antwerpen) logo at
the faculty club.

Mia gave us tips on visiting Ieper. She is a serious supporting member of
the Last Post Association.

Jan invited Evelien, Hilda, Francis, and us to his lovely home for an evening of intense conversation plus mosselen (mussels) cooked correctly (unlike mine), wine, and whisky.

Sarah told us about literature and translation. We talked about translating manga. A wonderful long conversation in a cozy tea room near the Antwerpen cathedral.

We missed Geert this time. With luck we'll connect next summer. We hope to return briefly for a conference in Brugge.


2017-07-14 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Deep frying is my domain at our home. Noriko surpasses me in every aspect of cooking but she let's me do some tasks so that I have the opportunity to serve her.

We started deep frying at home after living in Antwerp, Belgium. Before that, we regarded frying in oil as a hassle. It's no big deal with the proper equipment.

I no longer use woks. Deep pots prevent oil splashes. White pots show you the color of the food.

Coffee filters wick away the excess oil. We're preparing
agedashi-dofu (deep-fried tofu in daikon sauce).

We love veggies.

ivy lin sings at jamusica

2017-06-29 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Ivy Lin, my graduate student, sung at Jamusica, a local jazz bar.

Ivy has a bachelor's degree in jazz performance. Her instruments are piano, guitar, and voice.

Masaya Yanagi is one of most sought-after bass players on Hokkaido island.

Sohei Kawai (no relation to me) is a bashful and respected drummer. I should take his rhythm lessons.

Tomoaki Motoyama is a Hokudai physics major turned Sapporo piano player.

We gathered with our friends to enjoy the evening.

Monochrome captures the jazz scene nicely.

kaeruya coffee

2017-04-29 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We visited Kaeruya Coffee, an intensely froggified coffee store.

The shop is across the street from the
Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, and close to the Governor's Mansion.

The building is narrow, long, single-story, and decorated with hundreds of frogs.

Edamame is the shop mascot. I believe he is the only live frog in the store. He's been around for years! And grown a bit.

Two sisters own and run the store. One loves brewing coffee and baking pastries. The other loves to paint.

Whenever the Museum of Modern Art changes its exhibit, the painter sister creates frog spoofs of the artwork on display.
P1420930 copy

This creation surpasses the original.

Noriko had cheesecake with a mask. One of the large pieces in the traveling exhibition was a restored oil featuring party masks.
P1420949 copy

Noriko bought a wine glass etched with frogs. See him peeking at you from under the water?

izuru opens restaurant

2017-04-27 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- My former trumpet teacher Izuru Konishi retired from his day job as an insurance salesman. He and his wife bought a restaurant. They had a pre-opening party for close friends a week or so ago. Today was their first day open to the general public.

The "Party House Fiesta" is located smack in downtown Sapporo.

I know where it is now, but the first time I came, I got lost for 40 minutes walking within half a block of the place.

Izuru claims the place seats 100.

Big windows overlooking sakura almost in full bloom.

Trumpet art by local artist
Quzan Kuzuoka. Gold foil on canvas.

Quzan formerly taught fine art in middle school. He now paints art, and creates signs and labels for commercial clients.

We toasted Izuru's success.

keroppi shopping spree

2017-04-27 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriko went for a Keroppi shopping spree. Way to go!

What do I have in my bag today?

Sweat pants, 2 tote bags, pouch, tissue paper case ...

I got a tumbler for my fuzzy navels!

fuzzy navel

2017-04-26 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- My favorite cocktail these days is "fuzzy navel", a sweet, tangy drink with low alcohol content. I usually order it at parties.

I learned only recently that the recipe is as simple as a whisky and soda. Peachtree (a peach liqueur) and orange juice. That's it!

Approximately 3 to 4 % alcohol by volume.

the chocolate frog

2017-03-08 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- After my trumpet lessons with John Bringetto in Seal Rock, we like to drive a bit further south to Waldport, where our friends have their Chocolate Frog candy store.

Noriko and l love the store-owners Ken and Leslie. We visit and buy every chance we get.

They make chocolate frogs! The yellow one is a new flavor -- hot pepper!

Frog poop! Puffed wheat, I think, covered in colored candy.

Frog poop goes great with ice cream sundaes!

The Chocolate Frog supports local talent by selling artifacts made by local artists. We installed a cute faceplate for our light switch in our family room.

zach moves to oregon

2017-03-06 DAMASCUS, OREGON, USA -- We visited our friend Zach at his lovely new home located southeast of downtown Portland, Oregon.

When the skies are clear, Mt Hood looms in the east. What a gorgeous view that must be!

Noriko selected mice-themed sake cups. Zach keeps rats as pets.

Friends! Last time we met face-to-face was 10 (gasp!) years ago in Sapporo. Electronic correspondence is nice, but can never beat a hug.

in remebrance of mutsuko masaki

2017-02-20 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We learned this morning that our friend and colleague Dr Mutsuko Masaki (眞崎睦子・まさきむつこ) passed away this past weekend due to a sudden illness at home.

Mutsuko earned her PhD in language and culture studies at Osaka University. She joined Hokudai as an associate professor in 2006, 3 years after I was hired.

We did not work on research projects together -- her interests focused on immigration while mine are in online learning systems and teacher training -- but she, Noriko and I chatted from time to time on topics ranging from pleasant culinary tips (Mutsuko was a serious cook) to exasperating concerns such as a senior professor telling junior colleagues they were unfit for academic duty because they were physically unattractive.

Mutsuko took a stand against coercion. If I understand correctly her interests stemmed from the history of immigrants from Japan to north and south America after the Meiji restoration. Low-class samurai and farmers who lost their jobs were urged to relocate abroad without receiving what nowadays is called full disclosure. Mutsuko gave me a copy of her book about the information the immigrants did receive (ISBN-13: 978-4872591767).

During her tenure at Hokudai, Mutsuko's angst widened to encompass present-day coercion resulting in binge drinking at college parties. Her work was often misinterpreted as a crusade against alcohol abuse. Mutsuko told me on several occasions that the central issue to her was being forced into acting unwillingly. Press-ganging into drinking is an example of present-day intimidation, she explained. She taught classes on this topic, and wrote a book (ISBN-13: 978-4891152840).

Mutsuko and our last professional connection was in hiring teaching assistants (TAs) for the 2017 academic year. We created an austere web page for potential applicants. The English Online class is hiring 15 TAs starting 2017-04-04.

Our last personal connection was several weeks ago when we passed each other by near Oodoori park in downtown Sapporo. She smilingly declared that she approved of us holding hands in public. (Holding hands in Japan is not as rare as it was 30 years ago, but among our generation perhaps it still is.) Mutsuko had a sweet habit of pointing out positive aspects in people.

My obituary omits Mutsuko's picture because she preferred that her photograph not be taken. A screenshot of Mutsuko's self-introduction on the
Hokudai grad school web site is attached below in remembrance.



2017-02-19 FUJISAWA, JAPAN -- We visited Noriko's parents in Fujisawa city.

We scrapped our plans to walk Enoshima due to unexpectedly cold winds. The weather forecast has been consistently unreliable the last several days!

Surfers waiting to ride the big waves, just like the Hokusai woodblock prints.

We prayed for our parents' health at a seaside Shinto shrine.

We chatted over sashimi.

Night waves and Mt Fuji.

Pizza and paella at the Red Lobster restaurant.

Cushy ride on the Odakyu Romance express.


2017-02-05 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Cold days call for warm food. "Rustig" (Dutch) or "hygge" (Danish).

Waffles are quick and easy. Our $40 waffle maker bakes 2 at a time.

Half a ladle of batter makes roundish waffles. More batter makes squares.

Chocolate sauce.

Cheese and blueberry jam.

Ice cream with toppings.

food ideas

2017-01-15 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We've been searching for food ideas by dining at restaurants we usually don't go to because we can cook their food at home. But professional cooks do use more ingredients and present their dishes with flair. Much to learn, much to eat ...

A kushikatsu (deep-fried on-a-stick) restaurant gave me ideas that I must test and taste.

At a restaurant for okonomiyaki (pancakes made at your table with veggies, meat, fish, and eggs), we decided that mine is better!


2017-01-12 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Many years ago I won a prize from the Snapple soft drink company. The reverse side (the inside side) of a bottle cap told me to mail it to the company to claim a keychain. It was my trusty keychain for many years until the carabiner and cloth strap disintegrated.

After so many washings the strap shrunk and the Snapple logo faded. Worse, the strap came apart. Need to fix it before I lose my keys!

I bought a new carabiner and fabricated a new strap from a piece of leather strap I bought at a crafts store. 30 centimeters for a bit over 300 yen!

I sewed through the stitch holes that came with the leather strap. I still managed to break a needle.

I am rather embarrassed that this simple sewing task took me more than half an hour. All my friends fabricate fancy stuff, but this is my limit! *sigh*

sake of the month club

2015-05-05 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I joined a sake of the month club for the first time in our lives. This is not a serious commitment. We get 2 720-milliliter bottles of fresh sake delivered each month for merely 3 months. If we enjoy it, we might join again. We are not heavy drinkers. It took us 14 days to finish our 1st delivery of 2 bottles. Most people would finish a bottle in a single evening.


reflecting on 2014

2014-12-31 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The year 2014 felt long for us. 2014 started great, with a relaxing vacation at our home in Oregon, followed by a train trip from Sapporo to Kagoshima and back. In the same month of January I was stunned to learn of the loss of my close friend, mentor, and aviation buddy Bruce Lowerre, and in August, of the manga artist Obi Hiroshi whom I had met just once almost exactly a year before his death and whom I hoped to develop at least a professional relationship if not a friendship.

Noriko sympathized with my grief and suggested that I take a free trumpet lesson because she knew I always harbored a fascination for the instrument (I had drawn a trumpet for my college freshman class T-shirt and sweatshirts, and had purchased but not pursued an electronic trumpet shortly after joining Hokudai in 2003). I surprised myself for registering for trumpet lessons. I received my rental trumpet on 2014-07-01 and as of today 2014-12-31 exactly 6 months have passed.

I immensely enjoy my music adventure. My only regrets are that I have not much to show to my 2 teachers Izuru Konishi and John Bringetto. Although these 2 gentlemen may have remotely possibly seen students worse than me, those hypothetical students were probably children forced against their will to learn music by their parents. In my case, however, I signed up for lessons. I have been committed, recently practicing 2.5 hours daily, which is considerable for a person with a full-time job. Yet those precious 2.5 hours are simply insufficient. A middle school or high school band member might practice 4 hours a day. A college music major would practice 8 hours a day. At my rate of practice, I would never become even half as good as 9th grader.

I see myself as at best a beginning-level trumpeter that no band or ensemble would want. I accept that with rational dismay, because after all music is a hobby, a sideline to my arguably successful occupation as an associate professor at a major university -- this year, 2 graduate students of ours were hired by prestigious universities, our paper won an outstanding paper award, and we won a few grants. Yet as a novice student of music who happens to be an overly logical adult I foresee a limited future akin to homeowners who are justifiably proud of their real estate and yet realizing that they would never own that 7-bedroom 4-car-garage house with 2 swimming pools on 10 acres. My musical journey will allow me to appreciate the equivalent of the majesty of Chomolungma (Mt Everest) and the achievements of the people who summitted it. I myself will enjoy walks in the city park.

Today I watched an interview with Arturo Sandoval, who exhorted trumpeters to spend 3 seconds before each practice session expressing gratitude for the exquisite opportunity to enjoy music, despite life’s numerous obligations. I am delighted that I am allowed to engage in my new pursuit.

Hence I find it fitting to close this year with a sense of deep happiness and intense good fortune that our 4 parents, 2 siblings and their families are relishing their lives in excellent health.

remembering a friend

2014-08-08 MARGATE, FLORIDA -- Noriko and I visited Edith, the sister of our late friend Bruce Lowerre, at her home in Margate, Florida.

Bruce lived 5 houses away from Edith. We visited them several times after Bruce moved there to be close to his family.

As we had in the past, we stayed in the guest bedroom at Bruce’s house. The house was empty without him. I could barely bring myself to take pictures.

Noriko and I intend to return when I can play a few songs on my trumpet for Bruce and Edith. I would like to play “Gonna fly now” (the theme from the movie “Rocky”) for Bruce, because grieving for my friend is so hard now, and because he should be flying. For Edith, I would like to play “Anchors aweigh” because she is USN, Ret.

Above: Bruce’s study. Most of his books and equipment are gone. Hanging on the wall is his CMU PhD diploma.

Above: Bruce’s belongings are slowly being given away to his surviving relatives.

Above: Edith, Pat (a neighbor), Noriko and I had lunch at the Big Bear Brewery, where we once had lunch with Bruce.

Above: Edith rescues injured or neglected pets. Sassy is one of her most recent house guests.

Above: Edith formerly played the French horn for the US Navy. She took me to a local well-stocked trumpet store, where a trumpet instructor suggested I try the Bach 3C mouthpiece. He and Edith believe that the Yamaha 1335 mouthpiece that came with my rental trumpet is too small for my mouth. They may be correct, given that most players of the rental trumpet are Japanese middle school students (who tend to be smaller than adults), and I am larger than most Japanese adults. The Bach 3C has roughly the same rim size but a shallower alpha angle (the angle between the rim and the cup). I did notice a slight improvement in producing notes. The white ornament is a toy I got at the Moomin art exhibit in Sapporo, Japan.

death of an admired artist

2014-08-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Obi Hiroshi (帯ひろ志), a manga artist and teacher whom I respect and admire, died this morning due to a sudden illness.

A year ago yesterday we met for the first and last time at the Sapporo Clock Tower. Obi Hiroshi chose his pseudonym from his birthplace Obihiro city on Hokkaido island. He left Hokkaido when he was a toddler, grew up and lived on Honshu island, and opened his manga studio in Sagamihara (a city in Kanagawa, close to where I spent my adolescence). The day we met, he had returned to Hokkaido island for the first time in 50 years.

Obi Hiroshi earned fame in soft-porn manga for teenage boys. I approve of his manga because his work is full of loyalty, friendship, and happy endings. There is no violence or broken promises. His heroines are healthy, optimistic, extroverted, and courageous.

Above: My favorite character Chisato from “Miracle lingerie”. Chisato gains super powers by wearing lingerie sent to earth by aliens. Her bra and panties are activated only when exposed to sunlight and to the full view of men transfixed at the 14-year-old saving the world. Obi Hiroshi softened the sexual aspect of his story by drawing Chisato as if she was wearing a bikini swimsuit, and by assigning Chisato humanitarian missions to overcome her embarrassment. Contrary to what amazon says, the books are available for purchase. (This cover artwork is identical to the books I own.)

Another reason why I respect Obi Hiroshi is his generous, sincere love of his students. He was an assistant professor at an
art school. We talked about teaching techniques and student psychology. He taught at various off-campus venues including Sapporo. I believe he was teaching a manga clinic at Tokuyama University (in Yamaguchi) when he suffered a brain stem hemorrhage that killed him within hours.

Overwork must have caught up with him. He mentioned his hectic schedule and health problems. Manga artists are rarely paid well for their artwork. Obi Hiroshi supplemented his income by illustrating corporate instructional material. He was proud of his fast turn-around times. I wish I had paid him to draw for my online courseware. If only I could have afforded to pay him enough so that he could have worked less.

It is so unfair for such a super-friendly artist and ultra-caring teacher to leave us behind.

Obi Hiroshi was 54 years old.

Above: Obi Hiroshi signed his book for me. It occupies a treasured display position in my office.

Above: Obi Hiroshi and I exchanged messages over the past few years on twitter.

Above: Obi Hiroshi’s wife announced her husband’s death on
his twitter account.

death of a close friend

2014-02-09 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I have been reticent because I have been in shock. I am stunned and paralyzed because my close friend Bruce Lowerre died in an airplane accident.


Bruce and I met at work. The research institute we worked for is known for inventing the computer mouse (I knew Dave Engelbart -- his wife told me how she renamed the turtle the mouse). The research team that Bruce and I belonged to later developed SIRI, the speech recognition software used in Apple products.

Bruce was a decorated researcher. His invention (the beam search algorithm) is still taught in computer science classes today.

He started his career in chemistry (his first BS was in that area), but became enthralled with computers when, as an undergraduate student, he was hired by a local bank to write computer software. CMU initially rejected Bruce’s application for graduate studies in computer science because CMU believed solid training in logic was necessary. So Bruce earned a BS in mathematics (in the 1970s, computer science was not taught at the undergraduate level), went to CMU, studied under Raj Reddy, invented the beam search algorithm, and earned his PhD.

Bruce was clever with his hands. He brought his home-made telescope to his honeymoon. He flew radio-controlled blimps at HP labs, his workplace at the time. He built toys for children of his friends.

Bruce loved what he called bar room music. He often played the piano for Noriko and me.

But his most serious love was aviation. He earned his private pilot license in 35 hours (the legal minimum allowed), and continued with his instrument rating, commercial pilot license, and flight instructor certificate. I was one of his students. Through Bruce I learned the fascination of floatplanes. I earned my private pilot, single-engine sea at Dave Wiley’s seaplane base. Bruce had almost 2000 hours of flight time. I had much less, but at one point had more floatplane time than him. Bruce and I flew floatplanes together in Florida and Washington.


As a young man, Bruce had become infatuated by the Spencer AIrCar, a wooden amphibious airplane with a boat-shaped hull and retractable wheels. Bruce resolved to build one himself. He obtained the plans for the aircraft, and bought or fabricated parts. On many occasions, I watched him working on his airplane, and sometimes handed him tools or parts. I never helped with the actual construction though, because I knew he wanted to claim he had built it all by himself.


After many years, his airplane began to take shape. Noriko and I rode in the airplane on the ground (we enjoyed a high-speed taxi up and down the runway) but we never flew in it, because federal regulations require that experimental airplanes first be flown for at least 40 flight hours with no passengers, in order to test for safety.

It was during this period of testing that Bruce was killed.

In late September 2013, two days before his fatal flight, I called him in Florida from Oregon. He told me of his intention to fly to Lake Okeechobee that weekend, partly to observe issues with the exhaust manifold. The engine had either been running hotter than it was supposed to, or the exhaust manifold was unable to handle normally expected temperatures. I wished him well, and promised to visit him as soon as he could take passengers.

I did not learn of his death until after New Year’s. A Christmas card from Bruce's sister Edith told me the terrible news. Dazed, I read various news articles, a preliminary report from the NTSB, and a closed online forum for builders of the Spencer AirCar.

I had been worried because he hadn't replied to my email nor phone calls. I kept leaving messages on his voicemail. This was not the first time Bruce was incommunicado, however. There were times when he was offline for months on end, usually due to networking problems with his internet provider. I was however concerned enough to dig up Edith's mailing address (she doesn't use email) and had planned on writing her.

I am crestfallen with the death of my friend. When Dave Wiley died in the floatplane that I had been trained in, I essentially stopped flying. With Bruce gone, I may never fly again, even to renew my license (I need to fly with an instructor and pass a knowledge and skill test every 2 years). The cockpit would remind me of the friends I lost.

Below are pictures from September 2011, the last time we visited Bruce in Florida.

At his hangar, Bruce shows me an airplane ride machine he is building for his great-nephew and great-niece. A leaf blower gives children the sensation of flying.

Bruce and I mess with the engine cowling. The propeller of the Spencer AirCar faces rearward.

Bruce takes Noriko and me on a high-speed taxi ride.

The Spencer AirCar has dual controls, but the right seat pilot almost never flies the airplane.

We did about 60 knots (about 70 mph) on the runway.
Video of the high-speed taxi. 110906_high_speed_taxi_3

Friends unconditionally embrace their friends’ passions.

Bruce signs me off for my biennial flight review. We flew a different airplane (a Cessna 150) for my review.

Bruce, Edith, Noriko and I dined richly every day. This is the Big Bear Brewery.

We lost Emily (Bruce’s wife, 2nd from left) and her mom Agnes (far left) several years ago. Now Bruce. We miss you so.

Noriko believes that Bruce and Emily are now happy. I hope so too. But at this moment I am inconsolable.

Things we can learn from a dog

2012-09-27 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON -- Sirokuro (my dog) told me rules he lives by.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
All the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face can be pure ecstasy.
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience.
Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
Take naps and stretch before rising.
Run, romp and play daily.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout, run right back and make friend.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

(These rules has appeared in various forms over the years. The original author is unknown.)


2012-09-15 HILLSBORO, OREGON -- Gavo (my former PhD advisor), Noriko (Gavo’s wife and pianist) and us visited the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.

Gavo is a rockhound (a person interested in finding or collecting minerals, rocks, and fossils). 3 days ago, Gavo had bought a double thunderegg (2 geodes fused together) for $26 at a rock store in Pioneer Square. The double thunderegg had been cut open in half and polished.

We were astounded to find the second half of that very same double thunderegg on display at the Rice museum. What a coincidence that a hobbyist’s specimen bought recently matched a specimen that must have been catalogued and displayed some time ago!

The pictures below show the 2 specimens, with the picture of Gavo’s specimen flipped to ease visual comparison. Note that 2 halves of thundereggs never perfectly match because the cutting process removes material having the thickness of the cutting blade from between the 2 halves.

This double thunderegg came from what is now Richardson’s agate beds located near the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Gavo and I bought thundereggs that Richard Rice himself collected at the same site.

lunch with friends

Noriko and I visited our former Dutch language teacher at her home in Ghent, Belgium (Gent, Belgie). Evelien, Cleo (who had turned 2 the day before), Annuska, Paloma and us enjoyed an afternoon together. We are so fortunate to have friends that welcome and care for us. We’re hoping that they’ll come see us in Japan and/or America.