SMILE English

SMILE Vol. 25 January 5, 2019 (H31)

Heisei 31 (2019) Happy New Year!

Heisei 31 (2019) has begun. How have you spent your holidays? The new year’s day was a warm and calm day. I only wish that the new year will be like the new year’s day, a peaceful and bright future without natural disasters and war. The Japanese saying, “bonji tettei” means to apply thorough and careful attention to mundane tasks. Instead of doing special projects, by consistently and diligently working on ordinary duties, we may reach our goals and produce results. Doing “what is in front of us” may seem easy but working on it with utmost care and persistence is difficult to do. But this is why such method of working yields results. Realizing that there is no same day as today, doing your best within the daily tasks is important. Further, faced with today’s disasters and accidents, we must realize that the “ordinary” is actually not so mundane, and be thankful, without taking it for granted. I pray that everyone’s 2019 will be a bright year filled with smiles.
Please continue to support the JLSP activities this year.

SMILE Vol. 24 December 15, 2018 (H30)

How was your year 2018? Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

This year passed so quick we only have 16 days to go. The more years that pass, the more I feel time passes faster. Looking back, how was your 2018? It may have been filled with fun activities with family, might have been the year you marveled at your children’s’ growth, or might have been a challenging year. We usually find out the Keywords-of-the-Year at the end of year. The Keywords-of-the-Year are trendy or “fad” words of each year. “Sodane-(Right?)” was this year’s word that the Japanese Olympic curling team spoke each other during competition. Also, the Kanji (Chinese character)-of-the-Year was released on December 12th at Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. We tend to reflect on what happened around this time each year. As the Heisei period (Emperor’s reign) ends April 30th, 2019, many Japanese reflect, not only one year, but this 30 year era. Many key events have occurred including the 2011 Tsunami and nuclear disasters as well as an aging society with fewer children. As we welcome a new era on May 1, 2019, I pray this coming year will bring peace in the world without war or disaster. Thank you for all of your contributions to the Japanese Language School of Philadelphia. Please continue your support and help your school. Happy New Year!

SMILE Vol. 23 December 8, 2018 (H30)

Foster the ability to adapt to changes in various environments!

I often hear the word “abnormal weather” recently. “Extreme weather” is defined as “a weather that shows a significant bias towards the climate of the past 30 years.” (Japan Meteorological Agency) Cool summer, warm winter, hot weather, landing of large typhoon · hurricane, occurrence of floods etc. Global nuisance abnormal weather and serious damage caused by each country are reported on the earth scale.
Right now, Japan is in the midst of “abnormal weather”. Even though it is December, I have recorded summer days above 25 ℃ in various places. Within one week after this time the temperature will shoot down from summer day to midwinter, snow cover etc is also expected. In the United States, hot and cold waves, large hurricanes, floods, forest fires caused by high temperature and drying are frequent. Extraordinary weather is said to be closely related to global warming and environmental problems and has seriously affected our lives, health, environment and industry. I think that we should move our actions little by little to protect our lives and eventually to protect this earth
The big difference between cold and warm in our daily lives places a heavy burden on people’s bodies. The autonomic nervous balance is lost, it becomes easy to infect virus, it seems to be more likely to catch colds and flu. First of all, symptoms often appear when you are tired such as dullness and dizziness. I would like to use this doctor’s story, which is necessary to preserve physical strength with sufficient sleep and well-balanced diet for everyday life.

SMILE Vol. 22 December 1, 2018 (H30)

It is already “Shiwasu” (Busy time of the year, December). Let’s close the year properly!

The last week was Thanks Giving Holiday. It was an important holiday that you get together with your family and appreciate “Food” and “Health”. I assumed that you also had busy holiday. I knew about Thanks Giving but I didn’t know about “Black Friday and “Cyber Monday”. When I watched TV about “Black Friday”, it reminded me the Japanese “Hatsu-Uri”. “Hatsu-Uri” is bargain sale that happens from New Year eve to New Year. During “Hatsu-Uri”, some of the items are half price and many people shop but the targeted item is “Fukubukuro”. In this bag, you will often find goods that are so much more than the price of the bag. Shoppers make lines before New Year for “Fukubukuro”. It seems like it will tell you this year’s fortune because you are excited not knowing what are inside and also saving you get. The Christmas sale starts from Black Friday and wait for the Christmas. We wait for spring with “Hatsu-Uri.” Both are important culture for US and Japan. Today is already December. December has another name, “Shiwasu” in Japan. “Shi” refers monks and they are busy preparing for the many events at the year of year. It is said that it comes from the phrase “toshi hatsuru “(the year comes to an end) that then turned into “shi hatsu”. Then it turned into “Shiwasu”. Anyhow we will close the year quickly. We should plan well and close the year properly while we can spend time calmly. It is getting colder, let’s be careful of getting cold.

SMILE Vol. 21 November 17, 2018 (H30)

A new beginning! Our office is moving into the Friends’ Central School

Just when we were enjoying the beautiful leaves of autumn, winter has set upon us very quickly. In good news, the JLSP office will be moving on November 19th (Monday) after 21 years in our current location. During the weekday, 3 staff members conduct all business related to the school at this office. From creation and distribution of class materials to coordination with the Ministry of Education, the office has many responsibilities. We also store all computer related items and historical documents in this office. Truly the heart of the school! All this important material will be transported to a room within the Friends’ Central School, which will lessen the need to move materials back and forth between the office and the school. We believe we can service you even better with smoother and faster preparation and creation of class materials. JLSP opened 42 years ago in 1972. We moved to the current Friends’ Central School in 1989, 17 years after our opening. The Friends school is renowned for having been the home to famous Japanese educators like Inazo Nitabe and Umeko Tsuda as well as bacteriologist Hideyo Noguchi. We believe our long-lasting relationship with the Friends’ Central School is thanks to many supporters and the Friends’ Central School itself, which has a deep and rich history with Japan. With the move of our office, we want to take the time to express our deep appreciation for all our supporters, and double our efforts in providing the best educational experience. Please come visit our new office!

SMILE Vol. 20 November 10, 2018 (H30)

Summer Time Has Ended, Reassure the importance of the time, (to make the most of time)!

Summer time was ended on Nov 4th (Sun). The last time I turned the clock back an hour was 18 years ago when I was in Mexico and it was a very interesting feeling. I actually did not know it ended at 2 o’clock in the morning on the 4th. I was talking to my son’s son (my second grandson) on the phone wishing him a happy birthday at the time. At the end of conversation, we said “what time is it..” “time difference is…” and I looked the digital clock. It was different from my cell phone clock and I said “what is going on…!?”. I looked at the clocks around the house, turned the TV on, and compared the TV programs. The more I looked, the more I was confused. “What time is it actually!?” Holding my head, I went to bed. It was in the morning I realized the summer time ended. One hour makes a huge difference. I felt that day went very calm. “Time is Money” is one of the sayings that describes time. This means that time is valuable as much as money, so spend time meaningfully. This quote was by the United States founding Father, Benjamin Franklin. In Japan, we have “autumn sun sets as quick as a bucket dropping into a well”, describing how quick autumn sunset is.

Slow sun-rises and quick sun-set, we all have same hours a day. I hope you use the time wisely.

SMILE Vol. 19 November 3, 2018 (H30)

Reading is great to prolong healthy life?!

As fall deepens, the fallen leaves we step on are making good sounds. As mentioned from the last volume of Smile, new reading award “yokozunas” has been awarded each week, and it is great to see children loving books. Between everyday studying and clubs, it is hard for people to make time for reading. Last week, I watched a NHK show called “Asking AI (artificial intelligence)” that featured the theme “healthy life.” Health life is a numerical value that shows how old you can be active till. According to the AI, “to prolong healthy life, more than exercising or eating healthy, it is important to read.” You exercise to find a book, your mind receives intellectual stimulation, your mind recalls the past events—reading books seems to bring together all these effective features to prolong healthy life.
When my child was little, I remember reading a storybook with him on my lap. Even after he’s grown up, he still remembers that one page from the book and talks about it. His body also remembers that warm feeling on my lap. It is such a blessing to be able to reflect back on those precious family time.
What is “your family’s storybook”?

SMILE Vol. 18 October 27, 2018 (H30)

Balanced Meals Bring Healthy Mind and Body!

When I walk through the meat and seafood sections at the supermarket, I am fascinated by the ways they are cut that we do not see in Japan. There are more selections of different parts of meat, mostly lean meat. Compared to “Wagyu” that has delicious reticular marbles of fat, on the contrary, lean meat has light, chewy taste with the original flavor of meat, and you never get tired of it. On the other hand, the fish section has many kinds of beautiful fish…. My electric dictionary helps me find the names of fish unknown to me, and I enjoy buying fish using body language.

In Japan, there is a tendency to favor fish and vegetable over meat as one gets older, however, it resulted in malnutrition among the elderly, so eating meat is encouraged now. Fish also are high in nutrients, with unsaturated fatty acid including DHA and EPA, is encouraged to take daily for any age group to maintain good health, promote healthy growth, and to activate the brain.

Talking of fish, Tsukiji Market, which had been called the “Kitchen of Japan” for 83 years and was a tourist attraction, closed recently. It moved to Toyosu Market. As time passes, so does the food market of Japan, and so are the foods we eat. We all are busy with raising children and working every day, but let us take a close look at our own bodies and the foods we eat. The balance is always important, and as we enjoy the “Fall of Harvest” and the “Fall of Appetite,” we should look into the lifestyle of a balanced diet and exercise.

SMILE Vol. 17 October 20, 2018 (H30)

Fall is in full swing. It’s a Halloween season!

Halloween on October 31 has been showing excitement in Japan for the past few years. In Japan, “Halloween” may be reminded of Halloween costume and parade rather than the origin of Halloween. Halloween is an event that celebrates the harvest of autumn and kicks out evil spirits. When the spirit of the deceased visited the family members, they wore masks and dressed up to protect themselves from spirits and witches coming at the same time. From these practice, children nowadays are dressed up and started trick or treat.
In Japan, there is a similar event during the Bon, such as a “grave festival”, in which all residents in a region prepare the Bon festival, and families welcome the spirits of the ancestors and visit the grave.
It is also similar to the Setsubun, where we decorate holly leaves and sardines at the entrance of home to drive away the demons, and the Full Moon Night, where we celebrate the harvest and children walk with sweets. In Mexico, where I had worked before, there is a custom that they decorate the grave with a huge decoration, greet the deceased family members and friends, and have bright and fun time with the dead. Although religious meaning and historical background of the events in the fall season are different among countries, it seems to be common that they talk about memorable memories of their ancestors and appreciate the harvest in fall.
At Halloween, children in our neighborhood seem to come seeking treats. How do we prepare and welcome children? I’m very excited to have Halloween.

SMILE Vol. 16 October 13, 2018 (H30)

“Fall is the season for art & culture” Let our children shine!

When I take a walk around my neighborhood, I spot red and yellow colors among the green leaves. The height of autumn is approaching. Pumpkins and Halloween ornaments at the entrance of houses are also adding beautiful colors to this season. At JLSP, from now through November, various events will be held by each schools/divisions and courses. Students will show off their study progress at those occasions.
Schedule of the events:
Kindergarten: 11/17/18 (Sat): “Birthday Celebration/Fall Music Concert”
Elementary School: 11/10/18 (Sat): “Fall Study Festival”
Middle School: 10/20/18 (Sat): “Fall Cultural Festival”
High School: 11/17/18 (Sat): “Ko-shien Debating Contest”
Keisho Course: 11/3/18 (Sat): “Autumn Culture Festival”
In the past, all schools/divisions and courses had gathered together and participated in one annual school play around this time of the year. However, last year, we started to have separate events by each schools/divisions and courses. It will be a good occasion for each of them to introduce Japanese culture and experience, or to present their studies that they have been working on. Moreover, this will be a great opportunity for students to improve how to express themselves, as well as for students to respect and learn from each other. You are welcome to observe any event. Please support your children in their preparation, and cheer for them. Details for the events are yet to be announced. Please pay attention to the correspondence from your children’s homeroom teachers.