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Christmas 2013 December 23rd, 2013 | Author: David

Christmas 2013

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As it is already the 23rd of December, I guess there is only one topic we can do this week – Christmas! Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and Wednesday is Christmas Day.

Unfortunately, like most people in Japan, I have to work on both days. On Wednesday, I have to go to a meeting where someone is going to explain something about the Center Examination. Not really my idea of a good Christmas!

So what is happening in your families? How do you celebrate Christmas? Who gives presents to whom? Will you be at home, or are you planning to go somewhere?

By the way, I’m not planning on doing an entry next week, so this one will cover the New Year celebrations as well. If you have any special plans, please tell us about them.

Anyway, Happy Christmas to everyone, and thank you for your support for this blog throughout 2013.

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Comments

  1. Anne
    Commented on
    2013/12/23 at 5:23

    Hi David,

    I found the blog had already updated! You kindly said to summerize our discussion about last week’s topic.

    Can I summerise the discussion concerning the snetence I wrote?
    1. My sentence:
    I can easily imagine a young woman working there besides your face.
    *What I wanted to say is “私は若いお嬢さんがそこで働いているのが簡単に想像できる、ただし顔をのぞいてね.”( Because I’ve never met Biwa in person.)

    I made the mistake of the use to express “。。。をのぞいては” It should be “except for” not “besides.”

    2. Members helped me and made the sentence:
    —I can easily imagine you in your younger days working there except for your face.” and would have added a sentence like “I hope we can all meet up some day!”

    Members discussed about the use of “besides” and “except.”
    That spread the discussion a lot more.

    A.So, how should I write to express “私は若いお嬢さんがそこで働いているのが簡単に想像できる、ただし顔をのぞいてね.”?
    B. Does using “except for” here make sense?

    ——————–
    Here’s Biwa’s question about the feedback:

    >I’ve been always wondering why.
    I’ve always wondered about that

    As for my question about “wonder”, would my original sentence have been okay if I had added phrases such as “for long” or “since you said you have studied Japanology in Germany”?
    >I’ve been always wondering why “for long.”

    If so, I’ll kick myself! I think I made the same mistake before. (Can I use the phrase like this?)

    I’d be grateful for your advice.

  2. David
    Commented on
    2013/12/23 at 5:43

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for summarising the questions. With regard to your original sentence, I think you would have to make two sentences to make it sound natural.

    “I can easily imagine a young woman working there. Of course, I have no idea what you look like.”

    Hi Biwa,

    If you said, “I’ve been wondering about that since you told us that you used to work in Germany,” it would be fine.

  3. Biwa
    Commented on
    2013/12/23 at 6:03

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your help!
    And that makes me ask another question. Sorry!

    Does that mean the phrase “wonder why” is wrong? But I sometimes see people saying “I wonder why.”
    ______________________________

    And there was a question from amo, too.
    I’ll paste it here:

    >I’d never thought of teaching Japanese to someone, either, because I’d never been trained as a Japanese teacher, but I find it a very interesting job.

    YU was talking about her past so shouldn’t it be “but I found it a very interesting job” instead of “but I find…?

  4. Biwa
    Commented on
    2013/12/23 at 6:07

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for asking David my question. :)
    I was surprised to know that you’ve been to the Christmas market in Tokyo last year. Is it the market in Roppongi? If so, we actually might have met!(lol!) I went there with my friends last year.

  5. David
    Commented on
    2013/12/23 at 6:16

    Hi Biwa,

    “I wonder why” is fine. If it wasn’t, this song wouldn’t work!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAPEfdjvTqE

    HI Amo,

    It depends whether YU is still teaching or not. If she’s not, it should be “found.”

  6. YU
    Commented on
    2013/12/23 at 8:56

    Hi David,

    > I think you would have to make two sentences to make it sound natural.

    That is what I should always keep in mind when I write English sentences. You or someone gave the advice to us before, but I tend to forget it.

    > On Wednesday, I have to go to a meeting where someone is going to explain something about the Center Examination. Not really my idea of a good Christmas!

    Sounds lovely Christmas! hahaha… I heard that the Center Examination is going to banned in the near future and the government will introduce new jyuken systems instead. I’m interested in the meeting. Shall I go to the meeting instead of you?

    Anyway, time flies! I can’t believe another year has passed since you spent last Christmas with your students in New Zealand (or was it in Australia?)!!

    Hi everyone,

    My family’s plan for Christmas Eve is nothing special. I’ll cook some chicken and make sushi rolls or something like that. My husband will fetch a Christmas fancy cake at the cake shop on his way home from work. Then we’ll have Christmas dinner(?) at home. We won’t exchange presents tomorrow, but we’ll go shopping during the new year holidays as usual.

    On Christmas day, I’m visting my friend’s house in the neighbouring city with my son. She has two children. She built a house this year and has just moved into her new house last month. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Our another friend is also coming with her three sons, so we’ll be three mothers, a girl and five boys all in all! It must be going to be a very messy Christmas party!

  7. Fumie
    Commented on
    2013/12/23 at 11:05

    Hi David and everyone,

    I really like the picture, warm and romantic!
    Today, we had Christmas dinner. It’s a bit early but today is most convenient for all of us. I baked a cake and made Christmas dishes. Santa Clause (my husband) will put presents besides our middle son and youngest son’s pillows. My eldest son is 18 now and started working as part time so he won’t have presents, Okozukai any more. BTW, he works at a Japanese restaurant featuring crab dishes so he has been very busy recently because it’s the high season of crabs.

    The other day, I went to Osaka to see German Christmas market with my friends. I wrote about the day on my facebook page so I paste it here.

    I had a full day today. I went to Osaka with my friends. We had a lunch at one of the restaurants of Grand Front and we were looking around the shops then we had Kona coffee and Kona coffee cream pancake at a Honolulu Coffee (coffee shop.) The cafe was very crowded so we had to stand in line to wait for about an hour. It’s me who wanted to have Kona coffee and Kona pancake and my friends waited so long for me. It’s worth waiting because coffee and cake is delicious!
    Then we went to the German Christmas market. Illumination is gorgeous and there are several shops (stalls) which sell food and crafts. I had a sausage and mulled wine. I usually don’t drink much alcohol so just a cup of wine made me drunk. Later we went up to see the floating garden. The night view from the top is beautiful although it was so cold. We took a lot of pictures. I had a lovely time today!

    Hi Anne,

    Sorry to hear that Christmas market at Sakae wasn’t as good as you had expected. Recently so many places put Christmas decorations and just seeing them makes me happy!

    Merry Christmas, everyone!☆

  8. Anne
    Commented on
    2013/12/23 at 11:26

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your quick reply.
    >I think you would have to make two sentences to make it sound natural.—I got it.
    I’m afraid I stuck to “。。。をのぞいては” too much.
    When I wrote the sentence, I didn’t want to divide into two sentences because it looked like redundant for me. I often made these kinds of mistakes, and I need to keep your advice in mind.

    Hi everyone,

    My family usually don’t do anything special,but we have dinner at home every year. Actually we did tonight because my son who lives away from home got back home. I cooked chicken, salad and soup, and we ate Christmas cake.

    I had dinner with my friends a couple of times, and had a party the other day. My friends and I exchanged presents, but my husband and I don’t do that.
    Anyway, this year’s Christmas was almost over…

    Hi Biwa,
    >Is it the market in Roppongi?—Yes! We might have bumped into somewhere in Roppongi. I went to Tokyo woth my frineds,too.

  9. Biwa
    Commented on
    2013/12/24 at 7:58

    Hi David,

    >“I wonder why” is fine. If it wasn’t, this song wouldn’t work!

    LOL! “I wonder why I love you like I do~~♪♪” I wish my husband said that to me.

    Anyway, I guess you need a clause that goes after “why.” If I said “I’ve been wondering why you studied Japanology in Germany,” it would be okay, right?

    Hi everyone,

    I don’t have any special plans for the holiday this year. My elder son is preparing for the university entrance exams, and so are many of my friends’ sons and daughters. We’re having no pot-luck parties or big family gatherings, just a quiet family dinner this year. I’m baking a wreath-shaped bread with walnuts and dried cranberries. I’m also making a salad with tomatoes, avocados and mozzarella cheese. Christmassy, isn’t it? I haven’t decided the main dish yet, but my sons are saying “Kentucky fried chicken!!” right in front of me. Yuck.
    Anyway, Merry Christmas to everyone☆☆☆

  10. YU
    Commented on
    2013/12/24 at 6:28

    Hi Fumie,

    > I had a sausage and mulled wine.

    I love the wine. It’s called Gluehwine(グリューワイン) in Germany. It’s not too much to say that I used to visit Christmas Market just to drink the wine every year when I lived there! FYI, you can buy them at imported food shops like KALDI in Japan.

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve just finished making salad and sushi rolls with full of ingredients(avocados, tuna, cucumber, omelette, seafood sticks and mayonaise). It always takes a lot of time to make them, but my family eats up them in an instant. My son asked me to cook ”からあげ”, so I’ll cook it later. Finally, my family’s Christmas dinner isn’t Christmassy at all except クリスマスケーキ & シャンメリー. Even they’re very Japanese. (^^ゞ
    Biwa’s Christmas cake sounds very authentic and シャレオツ. My mother never baked Christmas cake like that for us. I don’t think she knew what real Christmas cake was like.

    ☆彡 Wishing you all happy Christmas!! ☆彡

    YU

  11. Tomo
    Commented on
    2013/12/24 at 7:50

    ☆Happy Christmas!!☆

    My husband and I also have to work on both days, so we already had a party this weekend. As usual, we had a big meal and enjoyed some sparkling wine. On Monday, we went to Siodome to see Caretta Illumination 2013, “White X’mas in the sea.” There were a lot of people there, but the lights were very beautiful, so we had a lovely time.

    Hi Biwa,

    > I wonder if your eyes don’t get tired compared to paper books.

    You can read a book on a Kindle in the dark as well, but Kindle Paperwhite is just like paper books. I read books on my Kindle for hours like I do with paper books.

    >I might ask Santa for one. (lol!)

    You should! One of the best things about Kindle is that you can carry thousands of books on your Kindle;-)

    See you soon,

    Tomo

  12. Tomo
    Commented on
    2013/12/24 at 8:16

    P.S. David, I love the picture, too!

  13. Fumie
    Commented on
    2013/12/24 at 10:30

    Hi YU,

    Since I saw TV program featuring Christmas markets in Germany, I want to visit Germany to see Christmas markets. But I heard winter there is very cold. So Gluehwine will hit the spot. I bought a Gluehwine at a liquor store but I want to try home-made one not a store bought one. I should make one by my self.

  14. Anne
    Commented on
    2013/12/25 at 5:59

    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends.

    ☆Merry Christmas to all ☆

    Here’s the song I found it great:)

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xu0rs_band-aid-do-they-know-it-s-christma_music

  15. YU
    Commented on
    2013/12/25 at 8:47

    Hi Fumie,

    I see.
    I’ve never made Gluehwine by myself, but I remember some friend of mine made it with red wine and the “mixed spice set” (it’s sold everywhere in Germany) for me. Anyway, if your’re interested, here is the recepie ;

    http://www.wishfulchef.com/gluhwein-mulled-wine/

    As you mentioned, it’s very nice to drink it in the cold at romantic Christmas markets. Many Germans go drinking it there on their way home from work many times before Christmas to get them feeling Christmassy.

    Hi Biwa,

    Sorry, I misread your story. You were talking about “bread”, not about “cake”.

    Ich wünsche euch allen frohe Weihnachten!!
    Alles Gute! ☆彡

  16. Biwa
    Commented on
    2013/12/26 at 10:47

    Hi YU,

    No problem! :) It was very good and went into everyone’s stomach in a second! (自画自賛!)

    Hi Tomo,

    Thanks for your reply. Do you know what Santa said? He said “Maybe next year!” (lol!) Anyway, I’m going to Yodobashi during the New Year’s Holiday to see what it’s actually like.

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve just finished writing all the New Year’s cards. I love receiving cards from my friends, but I hate writing. Even though my printer does all the address-writing, it still takes quite some time. I know a lot of people have quit this custom, but do you still do it?

  17. YU
    Commented on
    2013/12/26 at 12:48

    Hi Biwa and everyone,

    > I know a lot of people have quit this custom, but do you still do it?

    Yes, I still write some to my firends and relatives.
    By chance I talked about it with my friends yestreday.
    One of my friends said, “I don’t write so many cards, but I always write the same message to the same people, ‘We didn’t have a chance to meet last year again, but let’s meet this year!’. I don’t actually think I’ll meet them another 10 years or forever, but I send cards to them because they still keep sending cards to me. Anyway, I wonder myself how I can write such a glaring message every year!”
    We really laughed hard because we all do exactly the same as her!

    By the way, as I mentioned, I went to see my firends at my firend’s new house yesterday. The stories they told me made me think about a lot of things.

    One of my friends has a daughter(5). Her dream is to become a French woman in the future.(I don’t think she can.) She doesn’t know where France is, but she always says “I wish I had pale skin like white people.” Apparently, her kindergarten class has some foreign children and one of them is a black girl. One day her daughter told my friend that she didn’t want to play with the black girl because she was sunburned.” My friend was shocked and could say nothing but “Don’t say that, how would you feel if you were her?” at that time. She also told us that many small girls like her daughter long for princesses in the anime, but almost all of them are princesses with pale skin, so she wonders if it is a kind of racial discrimination.
    If you were her how would you explain it to your daughter?

    Another friend of mine told us that since her son started kindergarten, he suddenly started saying “I should use/wear a blue 〇〇 because that is the color for boys.” She complained that they learned things like that from kindergarten teachers, but that was totally an unnecessary education which might guide our children to have sex discrimination.
    What do you think?

  18. Tamami
    Commented on
    2013/12/26 at 2:57

    Hi, David and everyone. 

    I had so many things to do that I wasn’t able to write any comment… And YU, thank you very much for answering my question a few weeks ago, and I’m sorry I’m late to tell this…

    Hi, Anne. 

    I live in Nagoya, but I’ve never been to Sakae in a Christmas season. Reading your comment and I’ve decided to visit a Christmas market at Nagoya station next year. That would be nicer. 

    I had a Christmas dinner on 23th with the same reason as Fumie. 
    On 24th I made a Christmas cake ! Every year, my mom (or mom and I ) made one, but she said, ‘Let’s buy one this year.’ But I thought making one was cheaper (lol), so this year I made ! And at night we ate it. 
    On 25th I was really happy to find Santa Claus came to me ! lol  In the morning, I ate Christmas cake ( which my friend bought ) with my friends. It was , of course, more delicious than one I made ! After that, we had a little party at my department. Some wore カチューシャ of reindeer’s antlers ! We had a very good time there ( even if we had make-up classes after the party ) !
    And today in the evening I have another party called ‘Christmas & New Year Party’ ! (What we’ll do is like Christmas. ) We’ll play funny games and eat cookies. I can’t wait !

  19. Tamami
    Commented on
    2013/12/26 at 3:03

    I wrote a lot, so separated my comment.(^^;;

    Hi, Biwa, YU and everyone. 

    > I know a lot of people have quit this custom, but do you still do it?

    I almost quit. I send cards to only teachers I like and friends I haven’t met for years. But every year I can’t decide what to write easily and finally write like YU. My parents, however, wrote a lot of cards a few days ago. And mom said it was very very troublesome. She might quit it someday… Anyway it’s a pity that a Japanese tradition is disappearing…..

    Hi, YU. 

    >If you were her how would you explain it to your daughter?

    It’s a very difficult question. Let me think about it for a while.
    I was shocked that even a 5-year-girl could have a racial discrimination… But little children might be sensitive to this problem because the yonger they are, the more things in common they look for. The colour of the skin is visible and obvious, which means they can feel a difference easily. They prefer pale skin because girls with pale skin in anime are very cute and what they do is very cool. This lets little girls wish to be like them. So if there are black girls in anime who is very cute and cool, little girl might change their mind…? 
    Anyway, let me think how to explain. 

    >that was totally an unnecessary education which might guide our children to have sex discrimination.What do you think?

    When I was little, I had many pink goods and my brother had many blue ones, but I don’t think it’s good. 
    It’s because not only this can cause a sex discrimination, but also their thought should be respected. And I think the idea the teacher has is out of date. If not, girls wouldn’t  be allowed to have blue ランドセル !

  20. YU
    Commented on
    2013/12/26 at 5:28

    Hi Tamami,

    > And YU, thank you very much for answering my question a few weeks ago, and I’m sorry I’m late to tell this…

    Don’t worry, I can’t remember what your question was or what my answer was at all!

    > But little children might be sensitive to this problem because the yonger they are, the more things in common they look for

    Maybe.
    My husband is from Indonesia and his skin is light brown. By chance my son’s skin looks almost the same as other Japanese’s because my skin is quite pale for the Japanese.
    When my husband and I went to see my son’s sports day a few months ago, some of my son’s classmates froze and looked scared seeing my husband. They all greeted me “〇〇君のママ~こんにちは!” waving their hands, though. My husband didn’t mind it at all, but my son seemed to mind it. He said, “もうパパは来ないでいい”. He must have felt something from his classmates’ reaction, but I didn’t think they did it in malice at all, but I thought they just reacted honestly because they still didn’t know how to react when they meet someone who look different from them.

    > Anyway, let me think how to explain.

    Of course! Please take your time!

    You seem to be very busy with parties!
    Please have fun with your friends!!
    See you!

  21. Fumie
    Commented on
    2013/12/27 at 1:01

    Hi YU,

    Thank you for telling me about Gluehwine. It seemes buying all the ingredients is troublesome so I hope I can buy mixed spice set somewhere.

  22. Biwa
    Commented on
    2013/12/27 at 8:55

    Hi YU and Tamami,

    Thanks for your replies.
    I’m glad to know that you still write New Year’s cards. Even if it takes quite time to write many cards at once, I think it’s still nice to know how you friends are doing. I wonder if David writes any Christmas cards to his friends.

    On the subject of skin colors, I think it’s very natural that little children feel a bit scared to see someone with a different color from what s/he is used to, especially in a country like Japan. However, things are changing and actually, a lot of my students have one or two classmates from different countries. Listening to what they say, I feel that they soon get along with each other, and colors don’t matter at all. So I don’t think YU’s friend has to worry about it too much, but if you’re interested (and if you think she would be interested, of course!) I recommend these picture books. I use these books when I teach “colors” to my students.

    1)”The color of us”
    http://www.amazon.co.jp/The-Colors-Us-Karen-Katz/dp/0805071636/ref=sr_1_1?s=english-books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388099996&sr=1-1&keywords=the+colors+of+us

    This is a story of a little girl learning different shades of brown from her mom who is an artist. As they take a walk along the street, they meet their friends and people in various shops. Her mom expresses everyone’s skin colors in words that sound really delicious; butterscotch, coffee-toffee, cinnamon, honey, chocolate cupcakes, etc. As soon as the girl gets home, she gets out her paints and draws a picture of everyone. The pictures are pretty and it’s a really nice book.

    2)”All the colors we are” http://www.amazon.co.jp/Colors-Todos-Colores-Nuestra-Piel/dp/0934140804/ref=sr_1_3?s=english-books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388100046&sr=1-3&keywords=all+the+colors+we+are

    This one is a book with real photos, and tells us that the colors of our skin and eyes depend on how much “melanin” we have. It says that the “melanin” gives color to the skin and eyes and helps protect it from the sunlight. I think this book helps children think about skin colors in a more scientific approach, but it’s still written in simple English.

    By the way, Tamami, I think you said before that you were a student, and I’m intrigued by your sentence “even if we had make-up classes after the party!” Are you becoming a make-up artist? (I hope I’m not being too nosy by asking this!)

  23. David
    Commented on
    2013/12/27 at 9:02

    Hi Biwa,

    “Make-up classes” means 補講. Students and teachers have to make up for any classes that were missed.

  24. Biwa
    Commented on
    2013/12/27 at 9:45

    Hi David,

    Really?? I’m so embarrassed!! Maybe I was being too artistic talking about colors!
    How do you say メークの授業?

  25. YU
    Commented on
    2013/12/27 at 10:26

    Hi Biwa,

    Thank you for introducing the books to me. They sound interesting, but unfortunately, my friend isn’t good at English, but I might buy ones for my son.

    > Listening to what they say, I feel that they soon get along with each other, and colors don’t matter at all.

    There are a number of races in the world. They all look different, some are black, some are white, some are red, some are yellow, but there is no difference between them.

    I guess little children in my son’s age just don’t know much about the world yet because they lived only for four or five years! They’ll learn a lot of things as they grow.

    However, looking at myself, I realized I(or better say “adults”?) mind human’s skin colors, too.

    We(adults) tend to worship white people, don’t we? If not, why most world fashion magazines are still using mainly white models? Why do most women long for Parisiennes, but not for African women?
    My head knows it, but my heart doesn’t. Just like my friend’s daughter feels, I feel white models are more beautiful than others against my own will. Am I speaking too honestly? 大人失格でしょうか?, but I can’t help thinking that my biased view was formed by information controlled by this society that preaches the moral “All men are created equal” to us.

  26. YU
    Commented on
    2013/12/27 at 1:27

    Hi Biwa,

    > How do you say メークの授業?

    It’s difficult!
    “Make-up courses(in make-up artist schools)”!?

    If you mean ones shopping malls or department stores offer their guests inviting professional make-up artists, how about “(free) make-up workshop(s)”?

  27. Biwa
    Commented on
    2013/12/27 at 5:57

    Hi YU,

    >”Make-up courses(in make-up artist schools)”!?

    Thanks for thinking together.
    I’m not sure, but if “to make up for something” means 補う, wouldn’t it still mean “補習の・追加のコース”? I think we need to change the “make-up” part, but I can’t find a good word.

    >Am I speaking too honestly? 大人失格でしょうか?, but I can’t help thinking that my biased view was formed by information controlled by this society that preaches the moral “All men are created equal” to us.

    Well, I guess that is why those picture books exist! It’s interesting to know how people in other countries try to explain or educate this awkward issue to children.

  28. Tamami
    Commented on
    2013/12/28 at 11:43

    Hi, YU & Biwa. 

    I’m sorry I’m late to write a comment. 
    I enjoyed the parties ! lol
    Jokes apart, I  considered and considered, still I have no idea how to explain… But if I were her, I would say the same words. And I’d also say, ” you mustn’t do to other people what makes you sad. (自分がされて嫌なことは人にもしてはいけない。Is my English right ? If you can express it more clearly, could you teach me it ?) 
    YU, I’m sorry I can’t answer your question…

    > I thought they just reacted honestly because they still didn’t know how to react when they meet someone who look different from them.
    >I guess little children in my son’s age just don’t know much about the world yet because they lived only for four or five years!

    I really think so, too. And in addition to them, I think in Japan children have few opportunity to interact with people from other countries. So they haven’t gotten  used to meeting people from different countries. (Is ‘seeing people directly not through TV’ better than ‘meeting people’ ?) I think this makes children upset. 

    > I don’t think YU’s friend has to worry about it too much,

    I agree with Biwa. When I was in the 5th grade in elementary school, we had a 3rd grader who transformed my school. He was a black. But I remember I thought I mustn’t have prejudice against him. And he seemed to get along with his classmates like Biwa’s students. As the daughter grows, she can understand this kind of things. 

    > looking at myself, I realized I(or better say “adults”?) mind human’s skin colors, too.

    So does my mother. In her case, she really cares not only skins but also nationalities. She has strong prejudice against people from other counties. I can’t understand her this point of view…

    >Am I speaking too honestly? 大人失格でしょうか?

    I don’t think so. African people used to be slaves. A lot of countries in Africa are still developing countries.  Many people image Africans are aggressive and violence. Even if we don’t think about these things, maybe we care about them unconsciously. But I think it’s natural. I believe that these biased idea will disappear by communicating a lot with African people and feeling we are wrong. 

    P.S. My 補講s were psychology :)

    Forgive me for many bad expressions (morally)…… 道徳的に言い方の悪い表現ばかりでごめんなさい…。

  29. Kattie
    Commented on
    2013/12/29 at 3:06

    Hi everyone,

    As I’ve mentioned before, I love Christmas – I love all the lead up to Christmas; choosing and decorating the Christmas tree, going to the Christmas markets, sending and receiving Christmas cards, meeting up with family and friends, Christmas carols, Christmas films, choosing and wrapping the presents etc. Our Christmas is, I think, quite a traditional British Christmas so here goes!

    Proper Christmas, for me, really starts on Christmas Eve, This year Tom and I hurried around doing the last bits of food shopping and then went for a glass of wine and some tapas in a very nice bar which had a big Christmas tree and was very cosy, it was a lovely feeling thinking that all the shops had closed and people were all heading home to enjoy Christmas.

    In the evening, Tom and I started preparing all the food and Emily and Rosie went to the local pubs with old school friends who were all home from university etc. Unlike most British families, we don’t usually have turkey because it’s very big, expensive and not as tasty as other meats, so this year we had guinea fowl. We roasted it and had it with all the usual Christmas trimmings; bread sauce, chestnut stuffing, gravy, redcurrant jelly, little sausages wrapped with bacon, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips and red cabbage cooked in mulled wine. Tom also made a vegetarian pie with all sorts of nuts and cranberries because we had a veggie friend for Christmas dinner. We also had a fish mousse starter and Christmas pudding to finish so there was loads to prepare!

    On Christmas Day, we came downstairs, lit the fire and candles, put the lights on the Christmas tree and played Christmas music while we opened our stockings. Tom and I did stocking presents for each other this year but usually it’s just Emily and Rosie who have stockings. I filled their stockings with things they needed like socks, gloves, diaries etc and also added a few exciting things. While we opened our stockings we had a pot of tea and bacon sandwiches. We then got dressed, tidied up, did a few jobs, spoke to family on the phone and drank champagne. At about 4 o’clock we started opening our main presents – we all gave presents to each other and we had other presents from family and friends, so it took ages! Just after 5, our friend arrived and we opened a special bottle of champagne.

    Most British families have their Christmas meal at about 3pm, I think, but we waited until the evening. I laid the table with a white table cloth, polished the cutlery and glasses and decorated the table with candles and gold confetti, I also put crackers out. British crackers are different from Japanese crackers, you pull them and they make quite a loud cracking sound (hence the name!), inside we had a joke, a trivia question, a little present and a hat.

    After dinner, we played games and watched Christmas TV. At about 2am we finally went to bed – exhausted!

    Last night we had about 30 people round for a party – we made lots of finger foods like crostini, pate on bits of toast, quiches, dips. Later in the evening, when everyone was very drunk, Tom played Christmas songs and we all sang very loudly… and very badly! We didn’t get to bed until 5am. This morning I counted 57 empty bottles of beer and 10 empty bottles of wine!

    A lot of people in the UK stop working on Christmas Eve and don’t go back to work until 2nd January, so it’s a great chance to have a party and really let your hair down (do you know this expression? it means to relax)

    As I said before, I think our Christmas is fairly typical so hopefully you’ll get an idea of what a British Christmas is like in 2013. I know New Year is a big thing in Japan so I’m interested to hear how you celebrate. Anyway, a belated Merry Christmas to you all and I wonder David, do you really miss not being with your family in the UK for Christmas?

  30. Tamami
    Commented on
    2013/12/30 at 11:17

    Hi, YU, Biwa and everyone.

    If my previous comment makes you disgusted, I’m really really sorry……
    I think I should have wrote my idea more softly…..

    Hi, Kattie

    You had a very nice Christmas !

    > let your hair down (do you know this expression? it means to relax)

    I didn’t know that ! Thank you for teaching it !

    I’ve never heard about Christmas in the UK. I’m glad to know what it’s like. It sounds better than that in Japan! Thank you very much, Kattie.

  31. Fumie
    Commented on
    2013/12/31 at 12:38

    Hi Kattie,

    Thank you for telling us how you(typical British people) celebrate Christmas. I read it with interest. I can picture the sights. I remember some of your rooms of your house(you put pictures here last year.)
    One difference I noticed is that we eat Christmas cake. Do you eat cake on Christmas? Maybe custom of eating cakes on Christmas (other events too) were started by confectionary companies for commercial reason.

    Here is how we celebrate New Year.
    Celebrating New Year in traditional way needs lots of preparation. At the end of the year we do clean the whole house. Some people still do rice cake pounding, most people buy them at the store now. We prepare Osechi (special dishes for New Year) and put them beautifully in layeres of lacquer ware boxes. Each food has auspiciois meanings. We hang Shimenawa (twisted straw rope) on front door and put Kadomatu (consist of pine tree and bamboo) for decoration and offer big rice cakes on altar.
    On January 1st, family gathered and eat Osechi and Zoni(rice cake in soup.) Soup has some varieties depends on region. Adults drink Sake(rice wine.) Children are given Otoshidama(money) from adults.
    People visit shrines to pray for happiness and good health for the year and buy good luck-charms.
    On this occasion, some women wear Kimono. Less and less people wear Kimono because of inconvenience. That is a glimpse of how we celebrate New Year.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_New_Year
    Wiki explaines Japanese New Year nicely.
    New Year is serene family gathering occasion. I love both Christmas and New Year.
    Have a lovely New Year!

  32. Kattie
    Commented on
    2013/12/31 at 3:12

    Hi Fumie and everyone,

    >Do you eat cake on Christmas?

    We have a very rich cake called Christmas cake, it’s often iced and decorated with Christmas figures like a snowman, Father Christmas etc. Christmas cake is made of various dried fruits, it’s usually made at the end of November (traditionally the last Sunday in November is called Stir-up Sunday and this is when people should make their Christmas pudding or cake), some people add a coin to the mixture for good luck. Whilst Tom and I often make or are given a home made cake, we (as a family) don’t generally eat it on Christmas Day because there is too much food already! I think most people cut into it on Boxing Day.

    I googled Christmas traditions in the UK and only about 5% of British people go to church on Christmas Day these days, about 30% of people will watch the Queen’s Christmas broadcast, 40% will sing carols (at some point over the Christmas period), 20% will get drunk and about 35% will play board games on Christmas Day.

    New Year sounds like a lovely occasion in Japan, osechi, in particular, sounds very interesting – I get the impression that Japanese food is always very carefully prepared and beautifully presented and I’m sure it tastes wonderful as well.

    Happy New Year to all of you. We’re going to our friends’ house for a dinner party, they live on a hill with fantastic views so we can watch all the fireworks from there. I’m sure it will be very nice but I’m generally not a big fan of New Year, it always makes me feel melancholic to say goodbye to the old year!

  33. Fumie
    Commented on
    2013/12/31 at 6:59

    Hi Kattie,

    Thank you for the message.

    I googled Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. They seem richer than Japanese Christmas cake: ours is regular sponge cake decorated with whipped cream.
    I watched Jamie Oliver’s cooking program for Christmas. His dishes look rich and delicious. And I like his cooking style: rough in good way. He doesn’t use measuring cup or spoon and use hands when mixing food.

    >I get the impression that Japanese food is always very carefully prepared and beautifully presented and I’m sure it tastes wonderful as well.
    -Not always. Osechi is carefully arranged but our usual meals are not so. When we eat Japanese food at expensive restaurant, food are beautifully presented though.

    Have a lovely time at your friend’s house!

  34. Biwa
    Commented on
    2013/12/31 at 4:54

    Hi Tamami,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m not disgusted at all. :) Sorry I couldn’t write back, I’ve been too busy preparing for the New Year. And thanks for the expression “make-up class.”
    Psychology sounds intersting, too. My younger son has to decide whether he will take 理系 or 文系course before the next semester, so actually, we’re doing lots of family-talking on what to study in university or jobs in the future, etc.

    Hi Kattie,

    >This morning I counted 57 empty bottles of beer and 10 empty bottles of wine!

    That sounds like a real party!
    Thank you for your Christmas story. I like both Christmas and New Year, and I especially like New Year’s Eve, and that’s tonight! I’m all done with the cleaning and cooking, and I think we’re all set for a brand new year. I prepare new underwear for my family, and my husband and sons got their hair cut. We’re having noodles for dinner. I love to hear the 108-year-end-bells from the temples(it is said that people have 108 klesha, so we try to ring them out), and the steam whistles from the ships. It feels nice that I can happily greet another new year with my family.

    Hi everyone,

    Happy New Years Eve!

  35. kattie
    Commented on
    2013/12/31 at 9:21

    Hi Fumie,

    So Jamie Oliver is famous in Japan! We have a lot of celebrity chefs and it’s interesting to learn about which ones are famous in other parts of the world. This year, baking has become very popular in the UK, I think mainly because there has been a very popular TV programme called British Bake Off – it was a competition for amateurs which lasted several weeks and was judged by two very well known bakers.

    Hi everyone,

    I enjoyed reading the wiki article on Japanese New Year celebrations and I liked hearing about the bells tolling, the card sending, giving money to children etc. I have a couple of questions: do the New Year’s cards all arrive on New Year’s Day? Also. is it just parents who give money to their children or do other friends and relatives also give money and does this stop at a certain age?

    Hi Biwa,

    The idea of a fresh start is nice but we don’t do a big clean etc at this time of year because we still have all our Christmas decorations up until Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night is the last day of Christmas and most people think of it as 6th January (i.e. the twelfth night after 25th December). In the past, housewives and servants would do a big clean in about March called a spring clean – I think this marked the end of winter and the beginning of the warmer weather. These days, this type of thing is not so ritualised – probably because the idea of the traditional housewife is largely gone and also because modern appliances make regular housework easy.

    However, a lot of people do make New Year’s Resolutions and it’s also becoming increasingly popular to stop drinking for the month of January. Maybe this is the same in Japan.

  36. YU
    Commented on
    2013/12/31 at 9:27

    Hi Kattie,

    Thank you for your Christmas story.
    I read it with interest!

    >so we can watch all the fireworks from there.

    People display fireworks on New Year’s Eve in Germany, too. Actually I found it a bit strange and noisy every year because I’d gotten used to Japan’s silent New Year’s Eve since my childhood. As Biwa mentioned, in Japan, we see the old year out hearing the tolling of temple bells (usually TV airs it!) 108 times beginning a little before midnight on New Year’s Eve with our families at home. That means, it’s silent and solemn. Today more and more Japanese people have started spending their New Year’s Eve having parties with friends or going to the concerts,etc.., though.

    Hi Tamami,

    I’m not disgusted at all, either. I’m sorry, I couldn’t reply you earlier as I’ve been very busy with cleaning the house, going grocery shopping, etc…

    >She has strong prejudice against people from other counties. I can’t understand her this point of view…

    I know exactly what you mean.
    I guess your mother is still young, but I do  remember my father(He would be 85 if he was still alive) looked down on other Asian people. For example, he used to call Korean people in discriminative way – チョン. Even today some people still use the expression “馬鹿でもチョンでも…”. I don’t think all the people who use it know what “チョン” actually means, though. Anyway, I have no intention whatsover of supporting him, but in my father’s generation, it doesn’t seem to have been uncommon to discriminate against Koreans or Chinese people because of the education they received in those days.

    By the way, I think I’m slightly different from my father. As I mentioned, my head knows that it’s totally wrong to discriminate other people in any case and in reality I don’t do that, but my heart simply doesn’t. I have to admit that I long for Parisiennes in my mind. My brain says they’re more beautiful than colored people how much I try to persuade myself to think that there’s no difference between human races.

    Likewise, I don’t really think those who seem to be kind to people from other countries are always philanthropists. For example, many Japanese parents can be kind to a blak guy unless he becomes their daughter’s husband…

    意地悪な見方かもしれませんが表面上どんな国の人も差別していないように見える人でも心の奥底には差別心を持っている人がほとんどのような気がするんです。例えば、自分に遠い存在である限りはどんな国の人にも親切にできるけどいざ自分の娘が黒人男性と結婚すると聞いたら急に本性を出して断固反対する親って多そうじゃないですか?でも白人だったら許したりして。私は両親が他界してから結婚したので反対されなかったけど、もし生きていたら何と言ったかな、と思います。

    Hi Biwa,

    We had 年越しそば for lunch because we wanted to eat すき焼き for last dinner this year.
    By the way, my husband taught me that it is actually right to have 年越しそば around 7PM on New Year’s Eve. He’s Japanized, isn’t he? No, he told me that he just heard it on TV last night!

    Well, happy new year to all of you!
    I hope I’ll see you soon!!

  37. YU
    Commented on
    2013/12/31 at 9:33

    correction ;

    >… how much I try to persuade myself to think…

    should be

    …no matter how much I try to…

  38. David
    Commented on
    2013/12/31 at 10:11

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your comments. Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m in my office working. Actually, I’ll be working right through the holiday. In the daytime, I’m working on a project at the new house, and in the evening, I’m coming to my office to work on books and university stuff. It’s actually a great time to work because it is so quiet.

    Hi Biwa,

    New underwear for all the family? Really?? Is that a Japanese tradition, or is it just your family?

    Hi Kattie,

    I do miss everyone at Christmas, but I don’t miss the terrible weather and the dark mornings. Actually, the thing I miss most is the food. I had a shock when I first came to Japan and saw an advertisement for a Christmas cake. I was so pleased to think that I could have my favourite Christmas food in Japan as well, but when it came, it was just a sponge cake. In Japan, a “Christmas cake” is just like a birthday cake but with “Merry Christmas” written on the top!

    This year, however, I am happy to say that I had a proper cake. A few weeks ago, I met a Japanese woman called “Mrs. Barker.” I’m not joking. She married a Welshman with the same surname as mine. Anyway, when I mentioned cakes, she offered to bake me a proper Christmas cake and send it to me. It arrived on Christmas Eve, and it was absolutely fantastic!

    I’d better get back to work now because I want to try and be home before 12. It would be very sad to see in the new year sitting in front of a computer!

    Happy new year to everyone, and best wishes for 2014.

  39. amo
    Commented on
    2014/01/01 at 3:01

    Hi David,

    Happy new year and thank you for helping to improve my English last year. Off course it’s never end so I am looking forward to learning from you this year too.

    Hi Kattie,

    Thank you for sharing your stories to us. I am still cleaning my house so I just answer you questions:

    >do the New Year’s cards all arrive on New Year’s Day?

    Yes but you need to post cards until 25 or so(sorry I am not sure the exact date)

    Also. is it just parents who give money to their children or do other friends and relatives also give money and does this stop at a certain age?

    No, I don’t have any children but I give money to my nephews and nieces. I don’t give money to my friends children because I don’t meet friends who have children during that time. But some people do so it’s your choice.
    I am not sure but I stop give money when they graduate high school. I think it’s up to you.

    Hi everyone,

    Happy new year and best wishes!!

  40. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/01 at 7:33

    Hi Amo,

    Thanks for answering my questions. I like the idea that all the cards actually arrive on New Year’s Day, people must look forward to receiving them and hearing from all their family and friends, I hope this tradition carries on.

    It’s similar to our Christmas cards except that we receive them day by day in the run up to Christmas. This year we received about 45/50 however, I have noticed that some people have stopped sending them altogether and some people have sent ecards instead. I think ecards are only okay if you really can’t send a proper card because you don’t have the person’s address, or they’re travelling, or you’ve been unusually busy and I really don’t like receiving them.

    Hi David,

    > the thing I miss most is the food

    I remember my sister saying how much she missed British food when she was travelling. I think missing certain foods is something that can make people feel quite homesick – actually this is the reason why I bought a rice cooker for my Japanese guests. I have been thinking about what I would miss most if I was away at Christmas and I think you will find it strange but if I couldn’t have my own decorations at Christmas and a real Christmas tree, I think I would feel homesick. When we spent Christmas in Washington DC, I even took a lot of my decorations and cards, bought a real tree and we cooked a traditional British Christmas meal with a slight US influence. I missed crackers though!

    Hi everyone,

    Happy New Year!

  41. Biwa
    Commented on
    2014/01/02 at 7:28

    Hi everyone,

    Happy New Year! Hope this year will be a nice and merry one for all of you.

    Hi David,

    (lol!) Is it just my family’s tradition?!! Maybe we’re just weirdos, but I think people do understand the idea or feeling of doing this (I hope!) I’ve read before that in some Catholic countries, people wear new dresses on Easter. It made me think that New Year’s Day for Japanese might be very similar to their Easter.

    By the way, how is your house going? I hope everything is going all right.

    Hi Kattie,

    The Twelfth Night, yes, and that reminds me of the song, “On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me…” When I first learned this song as a child, I didn’t really understand that Christmas lasted that long because everyone went back to school or to work on the 2nd, and it didn’t feel like Christmas at all. However, I do remember all the trees and decorations were still hung up, while in Japan, everyone puts them away on the 26th of December, changes everything into traditional New Year’s decoration. Come to think of it, it’s really amazing how all the shops and houses change in a night! Do you do something special on the Twelfth Night?

    As for the cleaning, I think how much you clean (because housework is endless!) really depends, but what I do as a year-end cleaning is more like sorting, rearranging and throwing away things you don’t need. I usually do my closet, drawers, bookshelves, kichen/bathroom cabinets, etc. Anyway, I think doing this helps me a lot to live light.

    Are you going to stop drinking for the month of January? (lol!) I used to make New Year’s Resolutions when I was a child, but now I don’t really. Maybe because I know I won’t be able to accomplish it from the beginning!

  42. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/02 at 6:34

    HI Biwa

    > Do you do something special on the Twelfth Night?
    No, I think most people in the UK simply make sure they have taken down their Christmas
    decorations on or before then. However in some other European countries e.g. Sweden, they have a party on Twelfth Night, I know this because a Swedish girl who stayed with us told me about it -also, we had a Spanish girl to stay a few months ago and I think she told me that they get presents on Twelfth Night – I’d have to double check this though.

    > Are you going to stop drinking for the month of January? Yes, I think so – I did last year but it wasn’t easy, especially when friends came round, you see it’s such a big part of UK culture. Tom tried to too but he didn’t manage it! January is usually a very anti-social month which makes it a little easier. I really don’t like January or February because Christmas is over and Spring is miles away.

  43. Biwa
    Commented on
    2014/01/03 at 10:08

    Hi Kattie,

    >I really don’t like January or February because Christmas is over and Spring is miles away.

    Same here!
    Although we have fairly nice weather here in Yokohama, I get blue thinking about getting back to ordinary days from Monday…no big holidays to look forward to!

    I just googled the holidays in the UK, and it seems that you have St. Patrick’s Day in March. I don’t really remember celebrating it in the US, I think we just wore something green to school. Do you have any special events or food in the UK?

    By the way, I also found that December 26th is called Boxing Day. I didn’t know that. It says that you give presents to people who work for you such as the mailcarrier, doorman, etc. That sounds very nice. Did you do that, too?

  44. kiyoshi
    Commented on
    2014/01/04 at 1:13

    Hi everyone.

    Happy New year, I hope you a good year.

    How did you enjoy the first three days of this Oshogatu ?
    I took it easy at home with otoso and osechi.

    It was only few times that I could join this blog last year.
    I will try to effort to join more frequently this year.

    I will appreciate your continued kind cooperation this year.

  45. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/04 at 9:53

    Hi Biwa

    >Do you have any special events or food in the UK?
    I don’t think St Patrick’s Day is a very big deal in England, although they celebrate it in a much bigger way in Ireland, I think. Generally it’s a good excuse for Irish people to go to the pub, dress up in green and have a good time! A lot of English people also have Irish,Scottish and Welsh roots – I have all three – but most people don’t really celebrate the Saints’ days – in fact, I don’t think many people could even give you the exact dates for them. Maybe because of our colonial past, I think the English, in particular. don’t want to be viewed as too patriotic – personally I don’t really like seeing English flags flying, except possibly in a sporting context. As far as food is concerned, I know my local bakers sell pies called Dublin coddles and I think other places sell foods which are considered a bit Irish but that’s about it. It’s pretty low key – unlike Christmas!

    Boxing Day – This used to be a time when people would give money and gifts to their domestic servants and the poor but we these days hardly anyone has domestic staff and, even if they do, they would be viewed more as normal employees. Sometimes people give a Christmas tip (before Christmas)to various people for example, my friend gives her regular postman a present at Christmas because she lives on a big hill and he often has to deliver big parcels up there! Also, people might give a bigger tip at Christmas when they go to the hairdressers or out for a meal but that’s about it. Boxing Day, like Christmas Day, is a public holiday, most people treat it as an extension to Christmas and typically will go for a long walk, visit friends, go the the theatre, the pub or a restaurant, it’s also a big day in a lot of sports.

    You asked about me – I usually give my hairdresser a big tip at Christmas, she’s very nice and quite young and a few years ago her mum died just before Christmas – I think Christmas is a hard time for her so I am usually quite generous. This year, however she’s on maternity leave so I gave a tip to the new hairdresser, it was larger than my normal tip but not as large as I would have given to my normal hairdresser.

  46. Anne
    Commented on
    2014/01/05 at 3:01

    Hi David and eveyone,

    Happy New Year!
    I hope you will find all the happiness you seek in 2014.

    How were your New Year Holiday?
    The weather was mild and fine around here in Nagoya. On New Year’s Day, my husband and I went to a nearby shrine in the morning. This is what we do every year. There were a lot more people there than last year because of the good weather. It’s nice to celebrate New Year with neighbors.

    Yesterday I went to Atsuta shrine, which is one of the largest shrines in Japan.
    When I made a phone call the day before yesterday to wish Happy New Year to my aunt who lives alone, she said, “Anne, are you free tomorrow? If you have time, would you mind going to the Atsuta shrine with me?” I answered,” Yes, to morrow is fine.” She is 81 years old and has a slight eye problem, so she was worried about going there alone. She looked glad to have an opportunity to pray for good health, so I felt happy.

    I’ve been a bit busy since year-end, and now am getting back to normal life.

    I’m looking forward to discussing various kinds of things with you.

    Hi Kattie,
    Thank you for sharing a lot of Christmas stories. It’s nice and fun to hear what people in other countries do.
    By the way, speaking of Christmas cake, my elder sister, who lived in the UK once said to me, “One of the things that makes me miss about the Christmas in the UK is Christmas cake.” When I went to the UK several years ago, she asked me to get it at a department store if I could, so bought several pieces. I left the UK Nov. 1st,so it was a bit early to get something Christmassy, but anyway, I somehow got them. Yes, as David mentioned, it was completely different from the one in Japan.
    As for Boxing day,I might be stupid, but when I first heard this about ten years ago, I had no idea about what the Boxing Day was. Boxing? I wondered how this sport was related to Christmas. It’s so embarrassing!

    Hi Biwa and David,
    >New underwear for all the family? Really?? Is that a Japanese tradition, or is it just your family?
    —Biwa, I think your family is not the only one family. When I was a child, my mother prepared new underwears for the family. Also, I myself did it until my elder son left the home when he was 18. I guess this is one of the aspects or ideas to reset or renew on New Year besides other house cleaning. I think New Year is not just another day, and it means new in various aspects especially in Japan.

  47. Anne
    Commented on
    2014/01/05 at 3:35

    correction:
    >How were your New Year Holiday?
    —How was your New Year Holiday?

  48. YU
    Commented on
    2014/01/05 at 6:36

    Hi everyone,

    Happy new year!

    I went to play bowling with my brother and my family on January 2nd. It wasn’t as crowded as we had imagined. I wondered how other people spend their Oshogatsu these days because I’m sure “bowling” was one of the most popular entertainments for New Year’s holidays besides going to the movies or watching TV at home when I was a child.

    Hi Biwa, David and Anne,

    I do remember my mother used to prepare new underwears for all the family every year, too. I think it’s a real custom in Japan. I myself don’t buy new underwears for my family, but I prepare new tooth brushes every year.

    I can hardly wait for the next Oshogatsu!

  49. Biwa
    Commented on
    2014/01/06 at 7:24

    Hi Kattie,

    Thanks for answering my questions. And the expression “low key” was new to me. It’s really interesting to hear about these things directly from you. It’s hard to get this kind of real information by just reading articles on the net.

    By the way, there was quite a big article about the poll concerning Scotland’s independence in the newspaper yesterday. As you have told us before, most people don’t really seem to support the idea because of economical reasons mainly, but the article also said that the poll is going to be right after a big sporting event, so it might change people’s nationalism. I’m not sure if the nationalism would be strong enough to change the results, but possible, maybe.

    Hi Anne and YU,

    I’m glad to know I’m not a weirdo!

  50. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/07 at 2:35

    Hi Anne,

    > It’s nice and fun to hear what people in other countries do

    Yes I think so.

    > I had no idea about what the Boxing Day was. Boxing? I wondered how this sport was related to Christmas. It’s so embarrassing!

    I think a lot of British people don’t know why it’s called Boxing Day either but I think it’s do do with boxing up left over food and giving it to the poor.

    Hi Biwa,

    I like hearing all your stories too! The normal everyday things are the types of things that I find most interesting because, as you say, these are not the what you normally read about on the net, or what journalists write about but they give you a real flavour of a country and the people. I recently read extracts from diaries which were written by ordinary British people between 1945 and 1950 and the things I found most interesting were normally to do with what happened at the hairdressers, what the neighbours said, what they ate etc and not so much their views on the world situation – so, for me, it’s interesting to hear that, in your family, you have new underwear at the start of the year or, as Yu has just written, that a lot of people like to go bowling on 2nd January.

    Hi everyone,

    We took the tree and all the decorations down yesterday and I spent most of the day tidying up and reorganising furniture. I don’t really know why I bothered so much because we’re supposed to be moving in 3 weeks.

    I got a new camera for Christmas, it’s a cheap, easy to use camera but I didn’t have one before and I LOVE it! I went out on Friday night especially to take photos of a local secondhand bookshop which has such a pretty and creative Christmas display, I wanted to do it before they take them all down. I wish I could post them for you.

  51. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/07 at 2:39

    Correction:

    Sorry! – > ‘these are not the what you normally’

    I meant to say ‘these are not what you normally’

  52. Biwa
    Commented on
    2014/01/07 at 8:47

    Hi Kattie,

    >I don’t really know why I bothered so much because we’re supposed to be moving in 3 weeks.

    Wow! Congratulations on your getting your new house, at last!! I’m so happy for you and Tom. :)

    I hope we can all see your photos of the bookshop and your new house soon.

  53. Fumie
    Commented on
    2014/01/07 at 10:33

    Hi everyone,

    Happy New Year! I hope the year 2014 will be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for all of you!
    We spent new year’s days in usual way. My brother’s family and my family gathered at my mother’s house and my sister in-law, my mom and I each made some Osechi foods and we spent quiet holiday together. We didn’t do anything special but I feel grateful and happy that we all could spend the new year together.

    What is your new year’s resolutions?
    I try to keep several things as my resolution.
    1. Be kind to people and my family.
    2. Improve my English ability and step up my working skills.
    3. Always reflect my acts and what I said and try to become a responsible person.
    4. Care about my looks. Try to be fashionable and look young.

    I’m looking forward to exchanging various thoughts with all of you throughout the year.

  54. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/07 at 11:36

    Hi Biwa

    >Wow! Congratulations on your getting your new house, at last!! I’m so happy for you and Tom

    Thanks Biwa, we still won’t know that’s it’s definitely happening until we have signed the contracts but so far, so good (do you know the expression ‘so far, so good’?)

    Hi Fumie
    > 4)Care about my looks. Try to be fashionable and look young

    I have a long list similar to yours – number 4 made me laugh – I think I should do number 4 too!
    As I said before, not drinking in January is quite a hard one for me, a friend of mine is popping round this evening, he often pops round on his way home and we always have a drink, so this will definitely test my willpower!

  55. Fumie
    Commented on
    2014/01/08 at 5:50

    Hi Kattie,

    Why I put number4 on my list was that my children are getting older and it’s not difficult for me to put jewely or nicer clothes so I thought it’s okay to care about my looks now. You know when children are little, they would pull neckless, mess up our clothes. Nowadays mothers especially younger moms look young and trendy and they don’t look like middle aged and not frumpy.

    You try not to drink in January. Do you usually drink a lot? I think it’s not bad that if you drink moderately. Anyway, it’s hard not to drink while someone around drink.

  56. Biwa
    Commented on
    2014/01/08 at 9:22

    Hi everyone,

    >so this will definitely test my willpower!

    Willpower! That is one of the things I lack most!
    Whenever I fail following my resolutions, I feel like giving them up all together and I shouldn’t have done anything from the beginning. Easy-going person? (I know!) I wonder if you all make a New Year’s resolution.

    By the way, I used an old clothes brush to clean the net-windows at the year-end cleaning. It worked amazingly well. I think this tip was from Fumie. Lots of thanks, Fumie!

    And thanks, Kattie, for the expression “so far, so good.” I do know it but I’ve never used it myself. I’ll try next time. Hearing about the long house-chain in the UK, your story always makes me excited as if I were buying a house myself!

  57. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/08 at 9:41

    Hi Fumie,

    >You try not to drink in January. Do you usually drink a lot?

    I think I drink more than I should, so stopping drinking in January helps me break a pattern. In the UK, drinking alcohol is very much part of our social lives and associated with having a good time.

    Hi Biwa,

    >your story always makes me excited as if I were buying a house myself

    I’m glad you can enjoy it vicariously – I’m very sad to leave our house but I don’t think there’s anymore we can do to it, so it’s time for the next one – we always buy rubbish houses and try and do them up – it’s something we both love doing/planning! I like hearing about David’s house plans too.

  58. Fumie
    Commented on
    2014/01/08 at 11:42

    Hi Biwa,

    Oh, you remembered the tip. Yes dust will take off amazingly. ほこりが面白いほど飛んでいくでしょ!
    I’m glad you like this tip.

    Hi Kattie,

    >In the UK, drinking alcohol is very much part of our social lives and associated with having a good time.
    I see. You have pub culture so drinking alcohol is important for social lives. For Japanese people drinking alcohol is big part of socialize with people too especially in business. They drink with co-worker after work, they drink with client.

  59. David
    Commented on
    2014/01/09 at 11:56

    Hi everyone,

    Sorry I didn’t have time to do a new entry or write any comments this week. I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off all week. (There’s a new expression for you!) I still read everyone’s comments, though, so please keep them coming. I’ll do a new entry next week, although Monday is a public holiday, so it might be on Tuesday.

  60. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/09 at 6:04

    Hi David,

    Glad to hear you’re okay – thought you must have been very busy! Hope the house is coming on well.

  61. Biwa
    Commented on
    2014/01/09 at 6:36

    Hi David,

    >I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off all week.

    Oooh, that’s a very scary expression. Anyway, I’m glad to hear that you’ve been just busy with things. I thought you might have been either hospitalized or lost in the winter mountains! :)

    Hi Kattie,

    Thanks, “do up” was another useful one. And yes, we do often hear about people in the UK buying old houses and doing them up. I also hear that you sometimes spend years on doing it. I always wonder where all that time and energy come from. How much do you actually do them up yourselves, besides, for example, painting the walls?

    In Japan, I think most people just buy new houses or buy old ones and get it renovated by a real building/interior firm. Also, TVs and magazines sometimes feature people who buy really old Japanese-styled houses and show how modernly they live, keeping the traditional structure at the same time. (I hope this sentence makes sense!) However, these stories are somewhat topical, and I don’t think many people really do that. At least, it seems to cost a lot!

    Hi Fumie,

    Yes! 本当に今までの苦労がなんだったの?って思うくらい簡単に取れました!感動~!I use old tea-packs to rub the greasy pans, too!

  62. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/10 at 2:55

    Hi Biwa,

    > How much do you actually do them up yourselves, besides, for example, painting the walls?

    The sort of things we typically do are; lots and lots of painting- inside, outside, on wood, metal, brick and plaster. Stripping wallpaper and re-wallpapering. Prepping surfaces e.g. filling, sanding and lining. Putting up shelving and simple jobs like that. Sanding and painting/waxing floorboards. Simple tiling, reflooring and kitchen installation. Garden work like re-lawning, planting etc. We get work people in for things like plumbing, electrical and plastering work – basically anything that involves a lot of skill! When we have employed people to do jobs that we can do ourselves, I have often been very disappointed because they haven’t done a very good job and try and blind you with science (i.e. they make out the job is far more difficult than it is!). I think we maybe have the time to do DIY because we don’t work such long hours, we don’t spend as much time cleaning/washing, we probably don’t look after our children so intensively and the DIY shops sell fantastic, easy-to-use materials!

    > sometimes feature people who buy really old Japanese-styled houses and show how modernly they live, keeping the traditional structure at the same time. (I hope this sentence makes sense!)

    I understand you perfectly! We have programmes like this too!

  63. Biwa
    Commented on
    2014/01/10 at 9:51

    Hi Kattie and everyone,

    >I understand you perfectly!

    Thanks!

    >try and blind you with science (i.e. they make out the job is far more difficult than it is!)

    That sometimes happens in Japan, too!

    >The sort of things we typically do are; …

    Wow! It sounds like you and Tom are already specialists to me! Does it mean that you both are particularly good at DIY or it’s nothing special for most British people to do all that? I wonder if the interior business would pay in the UK.

    We do have DIY shops in Japan, too -they’re called “home-centers”- I don’t really go except for buying plants and seeds, but even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to figure out what I need to do what. Where do you get all the information? Is it because your parents used to do those things and you have learned everything naturally?

    I think DIY is a wonderful part of British culture. You can spend lots of time together with your other half, family and maybe friends. It’s good to have a common goal(purpose?) with your husband!

    As you say, I think we definitely spend too much hours on work, and maybe our commute is longer than yours. My husband is lucky because his is only 30 minutes, but we hardly ever have dinner together on weekdays. He sometimes goes to work on weekends, too. It’s really crazy, but I try not to say anymore about it because I know it would sound as if I were saying he’s not working efficiently enough.

    Anyway, your story made me think that other blog members might like to do DIY, too. I’d love to hear your stories too, everyone!

  64. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/10 at 10:31

    Hi Biwa,

    >Does it mean that you both are particularly good at DIY or it’s nothing special for most British people to do all that?
    No we’re not particularly good – I remember reading an article which someone wrote about DIY and he said that most of his DIY projects end up with blood on them – his own! It made me laugh because this happens to us too! The interior business does very well here because British people typically move house several times but I think it’s hard for self employed painter decorators these days because it’s very easy for us to do a good job ourselves. I think that a lot of painter decorators have to focus their businesses on the top end of the market where people will always pay and also, if you are putting up very expensive wallpaper you don’t want to risk making a mistake, so you might get someone in. I was very nervous about using a wallpaper which was £45 per roll (7729 yen) but in the end I did it – very slowly!

    > My husband is lucky because his is only 30 minutes,
    I just googled and found a newspaper article which said the average person spends about 45 minutes to an hour a day, it’s higher in the big cities but offset against this is the fact that a lot of people hardly have any commute – I think Japanese people spend much longer. I do have a freind who commutes to Paris though! He goes on Monday mornings and comes back on Thursdays so he doesn’t waste much time travelling and then he works from home on Fridays. Actually working from home is much more common that it used to be – is that the case in Japan?

    I’d love to hear about DIY from other members too!

  65. Fumie
    Commented on
    2014/01/11 at 6:21

    Hi Biwa and Kattie,

    Neither my husband nor I am DIY person.
    Though when we lived in a company house which was dirty and old but very cheap, we painted the wall ourselves before our marriage.
    My father was a DIY person. He made shelves, other stuff to make living more convenient and my brother seems to be influenced by him and he does DIY too. My brother made approach of our garden so they are quite handy.

  66. YU
    Commented on
    2014/01/11 at 10:48

    Hi Kattie,

    It must be exciting to decorate your house interior. I’ve never done it myself because I have no idea how to do it. My house is still 3 years old, so everything is still quite new, but it’ll be surely shabby after ten years or so, so it might be a good idea for my family to learn DIY already from now for the case in the future!

    By the way, if you rent a room in Japan, you have to return it in the original condition when you leave there. You can’t do it yourself, but usually your landlord leaves it to his contract interior company, so you can’t ask several firms to estimate the expenses and choose the best one for you. Is that the case in the UK too?

    In Japan when you contract to rent a room, you are usually required to pay one or two months’ rent in deposit, which is called “shikikin” in Japanese and another one or two months’ rent to your landloard for key money, which is called “reikin”. In addition, you have to pay the brokerage fee of one months’ rent to your estate agent, too! Anyway, after you left the room your landlord spends “shikikin” to change the wallpapers, re-cover tatami or clean the room to let it to his new tenant. The surplus is refunded to you if your landloard was a good person. I mean, of course, you receive the detailed statement later, but I feel that they often conspire with their contract interior firms and pad the expenses. If you get no luck, they sometimes send you a bill to ask to pay extra!
    Well, in addition, your contract is usually vaild only for two years, if you want to extend it, you are asked to pay the renewal charge, so that many tenants will be encouraged to think about moving to a new apartment house every two year. And if you move, then it just helps your landlord, interior firm, realtor feather their own nests. It’s really cleverly engineered, isn’t it?

    Hi everyone,

    My son’s class seems to perform “Golden Goose” (金のがちょう) by the Brothers Grimm at their お遊戯会. To be honest, I didn’t know the story. I asked him, “What role will you play?”. “Hans.”, he answered, so I googled it. It turned out that “Hans” was the hero of the story. I was very glad to know that my son got the main role, but he also told me that there were three other classmates who would play “Hans” except him! I know that today’s schools tend to avoid have students compete with each other, but isn’t this(= more than one person play the same role in a play) going too far?

  67. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/11 at 9:25

    Hi Yu,

    >I know that today’s schools tend to avoid have students compete with each other, but isn’t this(= more than one person play the same role in a play) going too far?

    Yes-particularly when it’s the lead character!! Rosie once played a star in the Christmas nativity play and it turned that all her year (they were the youngest) were either stars or angels – this was fine – but had there been 3 Marys or Josephs it would have been very funny! I think schools should just make sure that they don’t always choose the same people to play the leads and that they have plenty of opportunities for everyone.

    > If you rent a room, you have to return it in the original condition

    Yes, it is more-or-less the same here. You pay a month’s rent in advance and a month as a deposit. The deposit money is put in a special deposit account and should be used to pay for any damage but as far as ‘general wear and tear’ (i.e damage caused by everyday use) is concerned, the landlord should pay. Some landlords deduct more than others for damage. I rent out a flat and I have never deducted anything, even when the tenants have left the place in a very bad condition, I can’t be bothered to have an argument about it and I like to leave things on good terms, if at all possible. I don’t think the law prevents tenants painting the place themselves to restore it to it’s original condition – it seems very unfair (and open to corruption) that you have to use the landlord’s contractors! It sounds like the landlords and contractors are a powerful lobby group.

    However, a lot of tenancy agreements do have a provision that says that tenants shouldn’t alter their property without getting prior permission, so tenants don’t generally do much DIY but most people in the UK try to buy their own houses as soon as they can afford to. This must be another reason why we are generally so interested in DIY

  68. David
    Commented on
    2014/01/11 at 10:05

    Hi YU and Kattie,

    Actually, it’s a common misconception among Japanese people that apartments have to be left in their original condition. That is what the realtors and landlords tell people, but the actual rule is the same as in Britain in that they have to allow for “general wear and tear.”

    I hate these stupid rules, and I have challenged them everywhere I’ve ever lived. In total, I have rented five houses or apartments in Japan, and I have never had any problems. (Of course, I always look after them and keep them very clean.)

    As with many things, people in Japan are taught not to question what they are told by realtors and landlords. Unfortunately, many bad people take advantage of this trusting nature. Unless the place you are renting is in very high demand, you should always try refusing to pay the “reikin” and clarify the conditions for the deposit before you sign the contract. Tell them that you are familiar with the renting guidelines, and most of the time, they will accept your conditions. Actually, this might be a good topic for next week!

  69. David
    Commented on
    2014/01/11 at 10:07

    On a very similar theme, many places like gyms demand a “joining fee” (入会金). This is quite obviously a scam, and every time I have joined a gym, they waived it when I said I was not prepared to pay it.

  70. amo
    Commented on
    2014/01/12 at 12:41

    Hi David,

    Glad to know that you are just busy. I have been a bit worried about you like Biwa said.

    I have a question about the expression.

    >I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off all week.

    When I checked this expression in the net, I couldn’t find “… with MY head cut off” but “…with ITS head cut off.”
    So I was wondering if it was a typo or you use “MY head” for some reason?

    By the way, I don’t like to pay “joining fee” when I join a gym, so I always choose a gym which don’t demand it :)

    Hi Kattie and Biwa,

    > I’d love to hear about DIY from other members too!
    I am not a DIY person, but when I was a little, my father used to do those kinds of things, fixing and making things. I like making things like knitting and beading, but I don’t have time to do these days. By the way, my brother in law likes cars, and he built a car by himself, he asked some help for his friends though. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to take a ride, because he sold it before I visited them in the US last year.

    Have a nice long weekend!!

  71. YU
    Commented on
    2014/01/12 at 11:02

    Hi Kattie and David,

    > I hate these stupid rules, and I have challenged them everywhere I’ve ever lived.

    Actually, I mentioned this because I’ve challenged them too. My landlord told me that he would return only very small part of 敷金 I paid, but I couldn’t accept it because I always kept my room very clean and as Kattie and you said, the contract said, “Damage caused by everyday use is concerned, the landlord should pay”. I also talked with a volunteer(free?) 敷金鑑定士 to get some advice.
    A few days later I called to my landload again. I read aloud the sentence on the contract
    and told him the proper 敷金 refund following my 敷金鑑定士’s advice, but he never listened to me. My 敷金鑑定士 told me, “You can send 内容証明 and bring the case into court, but court costs would be higher than you will receive after you win the case because your 敷金 is a small sum in the first place.” So, I stopped challenging because it’s nonsense to spend money for my stupid landload.
    However, I didn’t forget to report it to the consumer affairs center(消費者生活センター) to ask them to add my landlord’s name onto their blacklist.

    > you should always try refusing to pay the “reikin” and clarify the conditions for the deposit before you sign the contract.

    I know exactly what you mean, but then most of them would just choose other obedient tenants, not you, but you can give a try because not all landlords in Japan are bad people.

    Today many realtors offer 敷金礼金ゼロ物件, it sounds kind to us, but I heard that they just set up higher rents instead to make up the shortage because they know that we don’t realize it.

  72. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/12 at 9:45

    Hi Amo,

    > I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off

    There are probably a few variations of this expression but the one I have most commonly heard is ‘I have been running around like a headless chicken’, maybe that will come up if you search for it.

    Hi Yu,

    >You should always try refusing ‘reiken’.

    Actually I once took a tenant without a deposit, she was unemployed and the housing people said they would provide a bond for her so that if there was damage done by her, they would step in. Unfortunately, the bond was limited both in amount and duration. When she left, she didn’t pay the last few months rent, the flat was absolutely squalid e.g piles of rubbish everywhere, rotting food, broken beds, ruined sofas, I can’t begin to describe it! Even though I knew she had abandoned the flat, I couldn’t re-enter legally for a few months because you have to serve notice, so I lost even more money through lost rent. The housing people said that the bond had expired so they couldn’t help and when I read the small print, I realised that, even if this hadn’t been the case, the amount they would have offered me would have been a drop in the ocean, compared to the damage/losses. It was a really horrible experience! Having had my finger’s burnt, I would definitely not take someone without a deposit in the future (even though I have never deducted anything from the deposits) simply because I think someone who provides a deposit is more likely to look after the property.

    I was a tenant myself for years and had nice and horrible landlords and so I know there are two sides to this, it’s such a shame we can’t find a good way of marrying the two up. When you first meet people, as a landlord or tenant, it’s difficult to know what type of people they will be. In this tenant’s case, I spoke to her former landlord, he said she was fine and the housing people were backing her so I thought she would be okay. I feel sorry for the landlord who subsequently provided her with accommodation, if s/he had asked me for a reference, I would have been honest but, of course, I was never asked.

  73. amo
    Commented on
    2014/01/13 at 12:08

    Hi Kattie,

    Thanks for helping me, but actually I found these four expressions when I googled the other day.

    1. run around like a chicken with its head cut off
    2. run around like a chicken with no head
    3. run around like a headless chicken
    4. run around like a chicken with its head off

    Those four expressions are the same meaning “a chicken without its(chicken’s) head” but David said “a chicken with My(David’s) head cut off” and I couldn’t get the meaning. Is it still the same meaning even you say “MY head” instead of “ITS head?”

    By the way, sorry to hear about your horrible experience.
    I heard a similar story from an old coworker. Her father was a landlord so he sometimes told her about horrible tenants.

    Good night

  74. YU
    Commented on
    2014/01/13 at 12:09

    Hi Kattie,

    >It was a really horrible experience!

    Indeed!
    I really wonder why both former landlord and the housing people backed her up…

    > when I read the small print, I realised that, even if this hadn’t been the case, the amount they would have offered me would have been a drop in the ocean, compared to the damage/losses.

    It sounds like they actually knew it, but didn’t tell you by design.

    > simply because I think someone who provides a deposit is more likely to look after the property.

    I know what you mean. If I were a landlord, I would not like to lend a room to someone who I don’t know without a deposit because as you say, you never know what kind of people they will be when you first meet people. I can’t forgive my landlord because he treated me badly although actually I was a very nice tenant for him!

    Now I remembered other rules.
    You are usually required to provide your guarantor and the certificate of employment when you contract to rent a room in Japan. Realtors sometimes call to your company to confirm if you’re really working there with your permission.

    By the way, “a drop in the ocean” was new to me.
    Online dictionary says it means “a very small amount in comparison to the amount that is needed”. There’s a smilar expression in Japansese, “suzume no namida (hodono)”. It literally means “sparrow’s tears”, but its actual meaning is “a very small amount of ~”. So, for example, you can say “suzumeno namida hodono” bonus, salary, etc… I don’t know why we say “sparrow’s tears”, not “eagle’s tears”, though… It might be because sparrows are small, so are their tears?!

  75. Biwa
    Commented on
    2014/01/13 at 10:36

    Hi Kattie,

    >Actually working from home is much more common that it used to be – is that the case in Japan?

    Yes, I think so. However, it really depends on your job. Some of my friends who work in IT companies are more like that. Besides, I think a lot of companies are having more choices in the ways of working especially after the Tohoku earthquake. Public transport had only partial service for a while, so a lot of people had no choice but to work from home.

    Hi amo and Fumie,

    Thanks for sharing your DIY stories. I’ve never heard of a person who makes cars, but my friend’s husband is a mechanic, and on weekends, he’s always doing something in his garage whenever I happen to pass by. I’m imagining that David might be that type!

    Hi YU, Kattie and everyone,

    I read your stories about renting/lending houses with great interest because I’ve never rented a house in my life before. All I know is my parents’ house, dorm, my husband’s company apartment and my current house which we own.

    However, the stories reminded me of an awful mother of one of my students. She didn’t pay the monthly tuition and material fees(books and workbooks) for more than two years! At first, I thought she had just forgot, because my class fee is really cheaper than other, say, franchised English schools. (A real sparrow’s tear, and of course, I never charge any joining-fees!) I called her many times, but she always pretended not to be at home. However, the child was a good student, he never failed to come, and I couldn’t tell him that he shouldn’t come or I couldn’t give him the book because of his(his mother’s?) overdue payment. Anyway, at the end, it turned out that the mother was a kind of debt-freak, and she was known as a money-borrower from all of her friends. So I told her that I would take a legal action (I had no idea what it would be, though!), and she finally paid.
    Of course, the amount of money is nothing compared to a rent, so I can’t really talk, but it’s really digusting to have problems involving money, isn’t it?

  76. YU
    Commented on
    2014/01/13 at 4:02

    Hi Biwa,

    I really hate people like the mother.
    Did she pay class fees and material fees all at once?
    I hear some of the parents today don’t pay their children’s school lunch fees although they can actually afford it. I suspect she doesn’t pay it either. Apparently their points are ;

    1. Education through junior high is compulsory in this country, so school lunches should be offered gratis too.

    2. They’ve never asked schools to provide their children school lunches, so they don’t need/want to pay the fees.

    すごい屁理屈!

    > the mother was a kind of debt-freak, and she was known as a money-borrower from all of her friends.

    Do you think people like her are mentally ill? In my case I don’t think I could have a good sleep if I borrowed so much money from so many people like her. Of course, my husband and I borrowed a lot of money when we built a house, but that is our only debt. We even bought our car in cash because any of us don’t like to borrow money.

  77. Kattie
    Commented on
    2014/01/13 at 11:08

    Hi Amo,

    > “a chicken without its(chicken’s) head” but David said “a chicken with My(David’s) head cut off” and I couldn’t get the meaning. Is it still the same meaning even you say “MY head” instead of “ITS head?”
    Yes, he means the same thing.

    > By the way, sorry to hear about your horrible experience.
    Actually, It made me realise how much I hate being a landlord. I wanted to sell my flat a few years ago (straight after this) but the market was so bad at that point that I couldn’t afford to risk it. I have quite a lot of equity in it but it isn’t mortgage free so if I put it on the market and it took ages to sell, I would still have to pay the mortage etc without any money coming in. The market is a bit better now so I’m hoping to sell it soon.

    Hi Yu,

    >It sounds like they actually knew it, but didn’t tell you by design
    Yes, I think they knew more than they were letting on.

    >You are usually required to provide your guarantor and the certificate of employment.

    The housing people told me that they were like a guarantor but, in reality, they weren’t. My current tenants gave their mother as a guarantor but even that’s not fool proof. UK landlord’s can ask for an employer’s reference but most long term tenants (outside the major cities) tend to be unemployed – because, as I said before, most British people will try and buy a house as soon as they possibly can. How are unemployed people in Japan housed?

    Actually as far as deposits are concerned, English law changed a few years ago and now landlords have to place deposits in a special government backed scheme. This means that they can’t spend the deposit money and if a tenant abides by the terms of the contract, they will get any money back also, if there is any dispute, the deposit is kept in the scheme until it is properly resolved.

    By the way, I love the sparrow’s tears expression, I wish we had that one!

    Hi Biwa

    > a lot of companies are having more choices in the ways of working especially after the Tohoku earthquake
    That’s interesting and it’s good to know that companies are being more flexible

    > an awful mother of one of my students

    That sounds horrible. It’s particularly difficult when children are involved.

  78. Biwa
    Commented on
    2014/01/14 at 1:36

    Hi YU,

    >Do you think people like her are mentally ill?

    Yes, I think so. I heard afterwards that my friend (also a friend of the awful mother) who moved to Kagoshima a few years ago received a call from her begging for money. She’s definitely, ill. I feel very sorry for the child, and at the same time, I wonder if her husband knows about her illness. I think she needs to see a doctor as soon as possible. I don’t meet her after the incident, so I don’t know what is happening now.

    Regarding the school lunch fee, of course I paid it, but I kind of understand what they say. We’re already paying high taxes, I think!