n : The act of balancing on the tips of one's toes when performing ballet.

Left Behind

We thought Charles Jenkins' story was amazing, but what about this: Two Japanese soldiers have been found in the Philippines, sixty years after the end of the war.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | 'Japan soldiers' found in jungle

We've got gas

But WAIT, before you run away holding your nose and screaming, please don't worry, because it's safe gas.

Ueda san, the gas meister for this area, I guess, came knocking on the door today to check our gas lines for any leaks or damage. Whew. Good thing he mentioned lines. At the outset, when he asked about our gas, I was just wondering how in the heck he knew about that!

He left a brochure in English for me, which was very nice of him (considering we're the only ones in this area that we know about who actually speak English), entitled The basic knowledge on pleasant life with gas. Stephen and I both knew how bad things could be living with this invisible substance, so fortunately we've now been delivered from all the unpleasantries normally associated with this type of distress.

So, thank you Ueda san.

It's raining rice fields

I'm getting a bit behind on blogging, but here's a picture from this month for your viewing pleasure. Lots of rice planting goes on around here in May. The farmers dread the hard work, the foreigners love the new green, and the froggies definitely enjoy their new watery play area. They tell us every night how much fun they're having.

Funny boy

Read this and laugh! I think little James could make some big bucks in the near future.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Houdini babe takes toy initiative

Kwangju Uprising

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Kwangju Uprising in South Korea when hundreds or maybe thousands of ordinary people were massacred by the military under the dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan.

I was there in 1994 for several months with Korean YWAM on my DTS outreach and teaching English to Korean staff members. I had never heard of this incident until I went there, but feelings about it were only just below the surface.

Every day it seemed, there were stand-offs, demos and riots. I remember one day I was near the centre of the city in an underground shopping mall and I wondered why there seemed to be a lot of people heading towards me. Then I noticed the tear gas and decided it was time to leave. Not so the old ladies: They had seen it all before, and just got out handkerchiefs, covered their mouths, and continued shopping.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Lingering legacy of Korean massacre

Addicted to blogs

You know, we have such avid, faithful readers for our blog that I'll bet my friend Jeanine is looking at this right now as she's giving birth to her son, Silas. :)

You go, girl!

Rail workers attacked

It seems that the Japanese social system of corporate responsibility has reared its head, this time in the form of abuse against JR West staff by regular Joes off the street who are angry about the Osaka crash. I won't go into details about the attacks (you can read the article) but I feel sorry for the workers who are just trying to get on and do their jobs.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Abused Japan rail staff get help

Just to be fair

I make funny mistakes when I'm studying Japanese, too. Today in class, I told my Japanese sensei that Michael Jordan is the most famous singer in America. Meant to say the Japanese word for athlete, but oh well, maybe he is good at singing.

Decaffeinated vegetarian

When I told the ladies in my English class yesterday during tea time that I had decided several weeks ago to go caffeine-free from now on, one of them replied, "Oh, are you a vegetarian?"

Cool Jazz

I have been corresponding with one of my customers, a nice Macedonian guy who runs his family's brushmaking business and enjoys martial arts as a hobby.

His brother is an accomplished jazz musician, and he was nice enough to send me a CD which Abigail and I have been enjoying recently. You can hear some of his brother's music on his website:


(He tells me that Cetkar is the family nickname. Apparently, it means "brushmaker" in Macedonian.)

Curiouser and curiouser

It just gets more interesting around here all the time. I guess I shouldn't be shocked that even in light of all the continuing conflict in this region over Japan's wartime crimes, and the apparent lack of sincere apologies, Japan has gone ahead and renamed a national holiday in honor of the wartime emperor.

Yes, the militant nationalists are still alive and well over here, and still kicking up a fuss, as Mom, Dad, Stephen and I distinctly saw and heard while we were in Kyoto a week ago while just trying to have some peace in Starbucks. The yakuza (Japanese mafia) have oversized motorhomes and vans painted black with Japanese flags on the side, complete with megaphones on top. The drivers play wartime militaristic marching songs and they yell into microphones. We saw a herd of them stationed at a major intersection in front of Kyoto station. Truckloads of police followed, but didn't hinder them from creating their racket. We couldn't hear each other speak, even inside the building.

The yakuza are immediately identifiable by their body-covering tattoos and tight curly perms. I've never seen any in Japanese parliament before, but I'll keep watching the news. The way things are going, you never know. Lately the suits in Tokyo and the perms on the streets are not seeming very different from one another.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japan names day after Hirohito

This one's for you

For all you blogging "stalkers" out there, I just wanted to let you know you are appreciated. Thanks for reading. :)

Going back in time

A serene pool in Kyoto.

Need I say more?

We're happy. We're nuts. And we found the perfect place for our portrait.

Haha No Hi (Mother's Day)

Mom being honored on Mother's Day in our Nishio Church here in Japan. A few of the kids (actually, these are most of the kids in our little fellowship) sang Jesus Loves Me in Japanese and English for them.

Quality time

Mom on a train going to the Hamamatsu kite festival last Tuesday. We were squished together just like sticky rice in a small bowl. Fortunately everyone behaved themselves admirably, but Dad did admit to having sore ribs afterwards, as a pushy grandmother had wanted to leave the train quicker than everyone else.

Feeling wistful

It's wisteria time in Japan. This particular purple cloud floats by Okazaki Castle once a year.

Happy nuts' favorite canine friend

I want everyone to meet Chibita, one of our favorite animals of all time. He lives at a replica historical village, Asuke, where we took my parents last week. Chibita especially enjoys having his belly rubbed and his head patted, or so he told me. He also really likes his ears tickled. Go ahead. Give it a try.

Kyoto trip: The bullet train

This captures what it feels like to have a bullet train whiz by you while you wait on the platform. And this one you can see here was a "slow" one. (Dad heard the fast one coming, but by the time his video camera had initialized and was ready to film, it had already gone by. It was that fast!)

Kyoto trip: The view across the city

Looking down across the rooftops towards Kyoto Tower near where we were staying.

Kyoto trip: Kiyomizudera

The huge Buddhist temple called Kiyomizudera in the east of Kyoto.

Kyoto trip: Gion 1

A Maiko (apprentice geisha) hurrying down a Gion backstreet to avoid the tourists (us)!

Kyoto trip: Gion 2

I would like to say that this is a picture of a Maiko (apprentice geisha) caught looking wistfully into a garden on a quiet Gion street. Unfortunately, the Maiko is a fake (she's a tourist on a Maiko-for-a-day plan), the rickshaws are hauling camera-toting middle-aged women and the quiet street was far from quiet at all - it was heaving with visitors! But what a shot.

Kyoto trip: Gion 3

A lamp in Gion, the geisha district of Kyoto.

Kyoto trip: Murin An

Murin An Garden was my favorite place in Kyoto: Peaceful and beautiful - and without any Buddhist or Shinto undertones. It was created for a statesman in the Meiji period (about 130 years ago) who was instrumental in Japan's aggressive foreign policy that lead to the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, and indirectly to Japan's expansion in Asia. But at least he had good taste in gardens.

Kyoto trip: Leaves in the rain

Japanese maple leaves in the rain at Nijo Castle in Kyoto.

The Hamamatsu Kite Festival

This is where we were yesterday - the Hamamatsu kite festival. Each neighborhood in the city has their own kite that they launch as a team. They then fight and try to cut each others' control strings. They usually just plunge to the ground, but sometimes they get loose and fly off on their own: One flew as far as Chiba (the other side of Tokyo) a few years ago.

Ready for lift off!

A kite on the ground with its launch team.

Kites! Over 60 of them in the sky above Hamamatsu.

Taking Japan by storm

Tom Cruise was busy this time around, so the Hollywood director asked my parents, Jim and Susan Melton, to come to Japan and do a sequel film to The Last Samurai, called The Very Last Samurai and His Wife, the Honorable Okugata.


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