Because you are students a big part of your life is listening to other people. You have teachers. You have parents. You have grandparents. You have uncles. You have aunts. You have coaches. You have upper-classmates, your “sempai”. You have a lot of people talking to you all the time. You will probably get a lot of advice from these people. Your mother, your father, your grandparents, your teachers, your friends, your neighbors, and anyone older than you will tell you all the things you should do. They have a lot of advice. Maybe too much advice.
You are a student here at Otemae and you have many things you can do in the future. You can do so many different kinds of jobs in the future. You can have so many different kinds of careers. Which one is the best for you? What school should you go to in the future? What should you study the most? What do you need to do so you will be successful?
Who should you listen to? Who has the best advice for your life?
Maybe the most important thing to remember is that you will get a lot of advice from people around you, but you must live with the choices you make. Only you live your life. Only you will have the result of choices you make. It is good to listen to good advice, and of course you must listen to your parents and family, but you must live your life and think about your own future.
Sometimes it can be good to go out and ask people for the best advice they got from a parent, or a teacher. Sometimes the good advice someone heard from a friend or parent can be good for you and me too.
Many people who have successful careers, or who are leaders in the world have some very similar ideas to each other. I will share their advice with you today.
Deepak Chopra talks a lot about how to have a balanced and healthy brain. He says that we need balance to work hard, sleep proper, keep healthy bodies, and to have time to connect face-to-face with people around us. You need to take care of yourself. Sounds like good advice.
John Donahoe, who is the president of eBay, talks a lot about how it is easy to walk away from hard times, but the best things in life are from not walking away but working hard and fighting for something you want. Sounds like good advice.
Judith Rodin, who is the president of the Rockefeller Foundation in America talks a lot about how we need to work hard and grow, not to make other people happy, but to do it for ourselves. We should not work hard so that other people agree with us, but we should work hard so that we can become a full person and be good for other people. Sounds like good advice too.
These are only three examples, but there is something that is very important to what they all say. The message is that we should not worry about what other people want us to be. We should not be afraid of others, or our own feelings. We should not listen too much to what other people say. Most answers are inside you. Your own heart knows what you can do with your life.
I hope that during this spring vacation time you can have some time to think about who you are and what you want to do with your life. It is a great gift you have. Who do you want to become? The answers are in your own heart and mind.
Mar 9th 2016
Spring Comes On March 11th
This is the week in history where we remember the terrible earthquake and
tsunami in the Tohoku area of 2011. This week we will see reports of the
past. We will see the terrible waves of the sea crash into homes and buildings
again. We will hear the voices of the people who suffered. We will hear
their pain again. We will remember again the terrible, terrible disaster
of those days.
15,894 people died in the Tohoku disaster. 6,152 people were injured, and 2,562 people are still missing. The damage was huge. So many buildings were crushed, road and railways were destroyed, bridges washed away, and dams were broken. There was no electricity, no proper water, and nuclear power trouble as well. It was only a few years ago, but the memory of that time is still very new in our minds.
Even though the terrible earthquake and tsunami were five years ago, the
Tohoku area is still very damaged. Many homes and buildings are still broken.
Many roads have garbage and broken cars and trucks on them. The cleanup
of the area will take a few more years for it to be completed. The reminders
of the disaster are everywhere through the area.
But the spring season will still come. The air will grow warmer. The trees will grow new leaves and flowers. The cherry blossoms will come again. Life will find some way to come to us. Spring will come again to all of Japan, even in Tohoku. It is natural for us to feel very dark and sad when we have experiences like earthquakes and tsunami which kill so many people. Maybe we feel that death cannot be stopped. But that is also true of life, and of nature. New life cannot be stopped. New flowers will come. New animals will be born. New people will come. Life is unstoppable. Hope is unstoppable.
We are all very worried for the people of Tohoku who still do not have their lives back. They still need support. They still need help. They need their homes again. They need their roads, and trains, and schools, and cities again. They need to have the hope of spring again and they need help from the rest of the country. This is an important time for us to remember what happened five years ago, and to also be able to look to find ways for Tohoku to be whole again.
The spring air comes here to Otemae too. The trees are soon ready to show us their new colors. Life is unstoppable for you too. Spring brings us also a new feeling of opening our eyes and becoming awake. As you become awake, what would you like to do this spring? What new thing would you like to try?
The flowers of spring come to all of Japan. Let’s hope that there will be more life this year, less death, and that a healing wind will come to the Tohoku region.
Feb 24th 2016
Get Ready for Tests
Spring is coming very soon. Spring is a great time of year, but this is also the time of year for your final tests. Maybe you are feeling very nervous about what to do for your tests. Maybe you think you will not get a good result. Maybe you worry about how to prepare. Maybe you did not study so well before. Maybe you will panic before your tests.
But do not panic!
You will be okay. There is still some time from now until you start your tests so you will need to prepare your mind and make a schedule for how to study. I have some ideas to help you study and to get a good result. These ideas are from scientists at the University of Oxford. The scientists did some study about what is the best way for students to prepare for tests. I will share that information with you today.
1. Do not try to study without taking a rest time. The Oxford scientists believe that the best study is to study hard for 20 to 50 minutes and then take a 5 or 10 minute break. Make a schedule to study, but also put some mini break times between the study periods.
2. You need to exercise a little. The Oxford Scientists say that if you do some physical activity for 20 minutes before you study you will relax your brain and increase your energy. So ride your bicycle, or go for a walk. It will help your mind concentrate better on the study times.
3. Eat some good food. To keep your mind healthy, you should eat fruit and vegetables. Fish and rice is good too. Do not eat snacks or too much sugar. Don’t eat ice cream, cake, and chocolate. Try to eat yogurt, fruit, and nuts. You will feel better as you study.
4. The Oxford scientists tell us that if you change your study place you will remember more. So, sometimes you should go to a library to study, or a different part of your house, or a different place in Otemae. Changing the place where you study a little can help your brain be more active and help you remember more information.
5. Manage your time. Time management is very important for everyone. If you can manage your time and decide the times you will study you will have a good result.
6. You must get good sleep before your test. Do not stay awake all night. You will not get a good score on the test and you will be very sick. Before you go to sleep at night you should review the most difficult part of your study and then go to bed. Your brain will remember better and you will get a better result the next day.
7. Be in a quiet place. The Oxford scientists tell us to study in a quiet space. No TV. No radio. No music. No cell phone. No games. No computer. All you need are your books, pencils, notebooks and a quiet place. Stay away from noisy things so you can get a good score on your test.
That is all the advice that we have from the Oxford scientists, and I think it is very good and interesting. Good luck on your tests, and please take care of your mind and your body too.
Thank you very much and have a great day!
Feb 17th 2016
In school you study a lot of different things. You study Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Japanese Language, and of course, English. There are a lot of things that you must study. Sometimes it seems that one thing you study does not connect to another thing you study.
One interesting place where Science and History are connected is when we study the history of invention. Maybe you know some of the great inventors of the past. You maybe know about Thomas Edison. Edison made the light bulb, the record player and the first movie camera. Maybe you know about the Wright brothers who made the first airplane. Maybe you know about Benjamin Franklin who discovered electricity. Maybe you know about Leonardo Da Vinci, or Alexander Bell, or Galileo. These are all great inventors in history and they changed the world.
Maybe that is interesting for you. Maybe that is not so interesting. But something that might be interesting to know is that inventing is not only in history. Inventing is something that happens again and again. We know about the very famous inventors in the past because they are in our history textbooks. But there are many inventors who make great things for us today too. Inventors are also not just old people. They are also young people too. Here are a few examples.
In 1921, a boy who was only 15 years old, designed how to make the first television. His name was Philo Farnsworth. Philo was sitting in the countryside looking at cows and then the idea of how to make a television came to his mind.
An 11 year old cancer patient created cancer treatment backpack. Her name is Kylie Simonds in America. She uses Hello Kitty designs for her invention.
There is a boy who made a safety device for his mentally sick grandfather. Some old people walk away from home and forget who they are. A boy named Ken Shinozuka, who lives in New York is only 15 years old made a device that is in the socks of an old person. If the old person walks away from home your cell phone will send you a message.
A high school student named Eesha Khare is 18 years old but she made a device to charge up your cell phone battery in 30 seconds. She is from California.
Another student named Param Jaggi, also from America is only 17 years old. He made a device that cleans up pollution from cars and changes CO2 into O2.
And another boy from Holland named Boyan Slat created a machine to collect plastic from the oceans and to help recycle it. He is only 19 years old.
These are modern day great scientists. They are all teenagers. We look at our textbooks and think that inventions are only about the past. But all of these new inventions are things made to help find answers to modern problems.
Sometimes a new problem needs a new mind. Sometimes a problem today can only be solved by a teenager. Junior high school students and high school students are very important. Great ideas to find answers comes from the teenage years.
What problems do you see in the world? What would you like to do to change them? I am very interested to know what you will create for the world next.
Feb 3th 2016
Bring in the Good Luck
Today is Setsubun. I do not know if there is a special greeting for Setsubun, so I will just wish you a good day. Happy Setsubun!
This is a wonderful time of year. We can feel that there is change in the air. But we should be careful too. Danger can attack us. I like the part of Setsubun where people throw beans and shout, “Devils go out!” and “Good luck come in!” Maybe I just like to throw beans at my children.
Actually, Setsubun is a very interesting holiday, and it has a lot of common elements with other cultures around the world. There are many different kinds of “Setsubun”. The Jewish people would have routines to stop devils, and the ancient Christian churches too. Cultures in India, Korea, Brazil, the Caribbean, and also many indian groups all over North America have ceremonies to stop evil spirits and devils. Stopping devils from making trouble is something that countries all over the world believe in. I think that this is very interesting.
Another interesting thing is that the time for many of these cultures to stop bad spirits is almost the same. They are often at the end of the year, or they are at the beginning of spring. This is something more that we all share.
We are now all here together at an important time. Spring is ready to come. We can see the beginning of spring. We can feel a warm wind coming. Soon the flowers will come out. Soon the trees and plants and animals will wake up.
This is a good time to feel the coming of spring, and to also remember to keep the bad feelings out of our lives. Maybe you are feeling tired at this time of year. Maybe you are feeling like you cannot go further. Maybe you feel like the day is too short and the night is too long.
But from Setsubun the season is changing from winter to spring. The days will start to get a little longer. The sun will stay up a little longer. The wind will feel warmer and the sun will be brighter. Tell your own mind, “Devils go out. Good luck come in.”
Setsubun is a time to receive good luck, but you need to throw out the trouble-making devils first. But after you do that, you are ready to receive the good things you need. From March there are a lot of good things you will need. You will need good luck, and good health, to finish your examinations well. You will need good luck to complete this school year. You will need good luck to get ready for the next school year that is coming soon.
Setsubun is a very interesting culture expression of Japan. In many ways it is a unique idea and feeling, but it is also interesting that the same feeling is shared with different cultures too. Japan is indeed a very original and special country. There are many things that are found only in Japan. But the feeling of Setsubun, and the idea of staying safe from bad spirits and dangerous devils is the same all over the world. We hope that the whole world can push out the devils of trouble, and bring in good luck, good health, and peace for all.
Jan 27th 2016
Truth in Stories
When you were young, like when you were five or six years old, you heard many stories. Maybe you read about Momotaro, Kintaro, Urashima Taro, and Kaguyahime. I think you have read or know about many different kinds of famous Japanese folk stories. In my culture too, I read many old stories like Cinderella, The three pigs, Red Riding Hood, and many many more. The truth is, I really like these stories and I am glad I can share them with my kids now.
There is something important in many of these old stories. Some people think that they are too simple, or that these old stories are only for kids. I don’t agree. When we read these old stories we can see different kinds of people. We can see different kinds of human feelings and we can see different kinds of human needs. We understand more deeply human psychology with these stories. In some stories we see how to be a good person, and we learn what are the important qualities for people. In some stories we see some terrible people, and we learn what kinds of things we must not be. But in many characters we see a lot of unusual and unexpected things too. Humans and characters in stories can be mysterious.
Telling stories is not only for kids. We tell stories many times. We see the same ideas and themes of old children stories in great literature too. We read the stories in Shakespeare’s dramas. We read about the characters in the Heike Monogatari. We learn a lot about the human mind and we learn about how people think. We learn about human themes. We learn about love, revenge, destiny, mercy, kindness, and compassion. We learn about human trouble and how experience can give us deep wisdom. We learn that we are part of a large beautiful world that is always changing.
Stories are important to teach us about human feeling. Stories are also important to teach us how to express our ideas and thinking. Stories teach us how to understand our own human heart.
Today we have a lot of computers, cell phones, and instant communication. Sometimes the technology is wonderful and a good tool to do work quickly. But sometimes the technology makes things look very simple, and there is not much feeling to the text or email messages we get. Reading and writing become too simple, and there are pictures inside the messages to express human feeling. But that messaging device is not as good as an old story. It is too simple. It is too cold. It does not have a deeper tone, and there is no human feeling in it. Cell phone messages are like instant ramen. It is maybe okay to eat, but it is not so delicious. An original story is much better, and much more like a healthy beautiful dinner. Original stories have all the flavors, and make you feel deeply satisfied when you finish.
I hope that you will always continue to read great books and great literature. It is important for you to know the old stories and to be able to understand them deeply. Literature is the gift we have from the past, and it is a great teacher for us to move to the future. With old stories we learn about the human heart, and we learn about other people too.
There is deep truth in the old stories. Read them with your own eyes. Discover the truth with your own heart.
Jan 20th 2016
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Every year, in January, America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I do not know if you know Martin Luther King Jr. but he is an important person in history. I hope you have a chance to learn more about the man, and more about the ideas that he had.
Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929 in America. At that time in America black people and white people lived separate lives. Black people and white people could not mix together. There were many troubles. There was a lot of hate. There was a lot of violence.
But Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to change that. He wanted to help bring the idea of peace to people. To him, it was important to say “No” to people who are wrong but to not use violence to make changes. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that we need to be active together to make a good society. If you are black, or white, or brown, or any other color, it is not important. Society belongs to the people who live in the same place. Together people make peace and make things fair.
Martin Luther King Jr. made some beautiful speeches about freedom and about how to be equal. He spoke about how we must help the poor. He spoke about how we must make our lives important in service to others. In America, and in many countries, Martin Luther King Jr. Is a symbol of peace, a symbol of change, and a symbol of hope.
It was very sad that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968. He was only 39 years old.
Today in America there is a lot of trouble between black people, white people, Muslim people, Mexican people, and all kinds of people. The people who want to be leaders in America have a lot of hate in their speeches. They have a lot of anger. They want Americans to be afraid of people who are different. They want Americans to be afraid of people who are Muslim, or who have different cultures or languages.
America needs Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. today.
But even if Martin Luther King Jr. is dead and cannot be with us, his deep words live today. We can learn much from him about how we should live together.
Our world has changed very much in the last 50 years. People all over the world travel. People all over the world mix and make friends. We know much more about other countries and cultures. We know that information, talking, and understanding keep our world peaceful. When we actively talk to others we make peace. When we read about other cultures and understand them, we make peace.
We also know that when we learn English, we make peace. That is correct… learning English will help you make peace in the world. That is true.
We know that for people of different cultures to meet and talk they must have a language to use. The language for the whole world is English. Japan is already a very peaceful nation, and a great example of Martin Luther King Jr’s ideas. It is my hope that you will learn more English, and learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. so that you can share the peace of Japan with other people around the world.
Jan 5th 2016
Happy New Year!
First of all, I want to wish everyone a very happy new year. It is now 2016 and we are at the beginning of a new year. Personally, I really love this time of year, and Japanese “O-shogatsu” is becoming my favorite holiday.
I was not always a fan of Japanese New Year. In my country, New Year’s Day is not a special day. There is usually a big party on New Year’s Eve, but the next day people in Canada do nothing but sleep and maybe watch TV. But now I have lived in your country for a few years and each year I learn some more things about Japanese “O-shogatsu”. For you, maybe it is not a new holiday, but there are many things about New Year’s Day that are original, unique, and special. New Year’s Day is now my favorite day of the year.
New Year’s Day is a great time to go to the shrine, and make your wish for the new year. It is a time to enjoy special foods like “o-sechi” and “o-zoni”. It is a time to enjoy making “mochi” and to spend some time at home with family and friends.
The thing that I like the most about New Year’s Day in Japan is the feeling of having a new start. On January 1st we get to make a new beginning to a new year. 2015 is finished and gone forever. We can start again. We can begin again. So, it does not matter so much what happened last year. Maybe you had some trouble. Maybe your study was not so good. Maybe you made some mistakes. Maybe you did something that was not so good. All of it, every mistake and every trouble, can be behind you now.
The New Year lets us begin fresh and new. We can forgive past mistakes. We can forgive the things that we did not do. The most important thing is today and tomorrow.
But we also have a responsibility to do something important with the gift of a fresh start. We need to do something good with the next chance we have. What will we do this year? What will we do to make 2016 a great year and an important year for us? How will we find good ways to help other people? How will we help our friends and families? How can we learn more ways to support and contribute to our society?
For the third year high school students this is a very important time. They will soon finish their time here at Otemae and prepare their minds and hearts for the next big challenges of life after high school. There is a lot of pressure on them. We hope and believe that good things will come for them.
For all students here at Otemae we are beginning the last few months of the school year. There are many things to study and learn. There are tests to write and many things to do. The finish line is coming soon, so I hope you can finish strong in your studies. You can do it. Your teachers standing around you are your coaches and guides.
It is a new year, and a new year needs new dreams. Take some time to make a new dream for yourself. The year is new, and fresh, and clean. Let’s make our time together something beautiful and important.
Dec 16th 2015
I like science. I like to read about science. I like to read about people who are very intelligent. I like to read about new things that people make. I want to learn more about robots. I want to learn more about computers. I want to know more about biology and chemistry too.
Science is great, and science is real. When we study science we learn about the world. We learn about the world that we share. We learn about the world we see every day. We also learn about how the world can change. We learn about how the world can be in the future.
Five years ago Japan sent a spaceship to the planet Venus. The spaceship is called “Akatsuki”. The plan was for the spaceship to go around Venus to study it, but there was some big trouble with the main engine. Akatsuki went in a different way and was now moving around the sun. This was a big disappointment and the spaceship was gone.
But this week, the space scientists got another chance to make the spaceship go in the original direction. They had to wait five long years for this chance. They changed their plans. They changed their goals. Then they took action. Now Akatsuki is going in a better direction to the planet Venus. It will not be the same as the original plan, but it is going in the right direction for the project.
This story is a great lesson to all of us. Sometimes we make a plan for the future. We want to go to University A, or University B, or we want to have a special kind of success, or win a sports event. We make plans to become something in the future. We make plans to go in one direction.
But sometimes our plans become destroyed. We cannot go to the university we want to go to. We do not have success. We do not win the sports event. We cannot have the job we want for the future. Our plan to go in one direction is blocked.
When this happens it is natural to be angry and sad. It is natural to have hurt feelings. It is natural to be deeply disappointed. We want to quit. We want to give up.
But we must not quit, and we must never give up. Maybe our plans are crushed, but we can make new plans. The main engine of Akatsuki was no good, so it used smaller engines to move. It went in the direction it needs to go. Maybe not perfect, but better than going the wrong way. When our plans are destroyed we must do the same thing. We must use our power and energy to move ahead in the direction that life is pulling us.
Do not give up your hope. Do not throw away all your dreams. Sometimes we need to make new dreams. Sometimes we need to change our direction. Hard times come to everyone. Maybe your main engines are damaged. But you have many other talents and different kinds of power too. The scientists for Akatsuki were waiting five long years to try a new kind of plan.
I am very interested to know more about Akatsuki. I am very interested to see the data it learns about space and the planet Venus. Your teachers here at Otemae are very interested to see which direction you will go. They want to see what you will learn and how you will grow. We are all moving forward, through this world we share, learning and growing. Moving ahead, just like Akatsuki.
Dec 9th 2015
The Air We Breathe
Humans need some important things to live. We need water. We need food. We need clothes. We need a place to live. We need air. If we do not have these important things we will all die. This week in China many students could not go to school. The schools were all closed. The reason why the schools were closed was because of air pollution. The air in Peking was so dirty that the kids could not go to their classes.
This is a very shocking and surprising thing to see in the news. When we see the air in Peking it is dark and full of pollution. There are too many factories and cars that are not clean. The air is not safe for people to breathe. How did this happen?
Of course we need to have many factories and companies in our countries. Of course people need to have cars. Of course people need to make things and we need plastic and oil for many things for our lives. But we also must remember that we need to take care of nature too.
We need clean water to drink. We need clean air to breathe. We need clean food to eat. We need clean homes and clean clothes for life. It is good for us to live in a clean way.
One of the great things about Japan is that many people think that it is important to be clean, and it is important to keep our homes and schools clean too. In Japan, students must help clean their classrooms and school. We do not have this custom in Canada. In Japan, students clean their school and help keep a good place for everyone. In Canada, students do not clean their school, and as a result, maybe do not respect their school in the same way. To my eyes, cleaning your own school is a good thing. Sometimes it may be troublesome, but it teaches good habits and makes a good person too.
If we do not clean our classrooms, our homes, our companies, our factories, and our neighborhoods, our community becomes dirty and full of garbage. It is a good thing for us to remember to keep a clean environment, and to protect our world from pollution.
We share our world with each other. We share our world with the trees and animals of the mountains and sea. We share our world with the people who come after us in the future. We do not own the world. We live in it for many years and then we must give it to the children who come after us. What kind of world do you think we should give the future? What kind of community and society do we want to pass to them?
The terrible situation in China is a good lesson for us. Let’s keep our air clean. Let’s keep our water and land clean. Let’s keep our lives clean and healthy too.
Thank you very much and have a great day.
Nov 25th 2015
Some People Have No Country
In the news these days we see a very big problem in the country of Syria. In Syria there are many people who want to leave and go to a new country. This is a very big problem because some people say that there are terrorists who are trying to leave Syria too. Some people in America want to stop the people from Syria coming. It is a very difficult situation, because many people do not know what to do. Many people have no home. Many people are very afraid for their lives, and very worried for their children.
In this month of November we remember the time of war in Europe. The big wars in Europe were terrible times and many people died. After the war time many people in Europe went to new countries to start a new life. My family was in Europe and moved to Canada. That was many years ago.
But during the war years there were some very important people who helped. One very important hero from Japan was a man named Sugihara Chiune. Mr. Sugihara worked for the government and was in Lithuania from 1939 to 1940. At that time, in Lithuania many Jewish people were being killed. Mr. Sugihara gave many Jewish people a visa to leave the country and escape. He saved over 6,000 people. For many years many people did not know the name Sugihara Chiune, but to the people who escaped from German Nazi soldiers, he is a very special hero.
Mr. Sugihara said that he had a strong feeling for other people that asked him for help. He said that he should decide himself to help other people. He said that there is a spirit of humanity, a spirit of neighborly friendship that we have together. He believed that we have a duty to help other people.
When the war was finished, Mr. Sugihara and his family returned to Japan. Mr. Sugihara went to Russia and worked a low-level job for many years. He was very famous in Israel and Lithuania, but not many people know about him in Japan. Maybe that was his character. Maybe he liked to be quiet about his life, and he just wanted to help other people. That is a great thing.
So what should we feel about the new group of people who have no home from Syria? Their culture is different from you and I. Their religion is different than you and I. Their music, their ideas, their clothing, their language is all different from you and I.
We should remember the man, Sugihara Chiune. Mr. Sugihara did not care about a person’s religion, or their culture, or their skin color. He only cared about other people as a human.
This is how we must see the people who are from Syria. They are people like you and like me. We must not push them away. We must not push them back to their own country. We must help the old people, and the mothers and the children. We have a duty as a human being to help other human beings.
Thank you very much for listening. I am glad to learn more about Mr. Sugihara Chiune, and I hope that we can keep his spirit of caring for other people today. If we save another person, we do a great thing. We save the future. We save the world.
Thank you very much and have a great day.
Nov 18th 2015
Times of Trouble
I am sure that you have heard the news of the terror attack in Paris that happened last week. It was a terrible thing to happen. It was an attack on people that has no meaning, and so many families are broken because of this terrorist action.
Now the media is very busy and the leaders of America and Europe are arguing about how to solve this problem, and how to stop terrorism. The attack in Paris was very shocking, but it was maybe more shocking because it was in the news and on television so much.
It is true that terrorism is a terrible thing. Terrorism is a very scary thing. I checked the internet and counted how many terror attacks we had in the world this year. Since January of 2015 there have been 69 different terror attacks in the world. ISIL, ISIS, the Taliban, and Boko Haram did most of them. The complete number of people who were killed is 2,499. That is a lot of people. That are too many people to die for terrorism. These people are killed by guns and bombs. We should do something about that. We should talk more about that.
America is very quick to tell the whole world how to fix these problems of terror. But America has trouble too. In America, over 30,000 people die of gun violence every year. In Japan, the number is less than 50 each year. It is true that violence with terrorism is very scary. But violence in any way is very scary.
How did the world become so violent? Some countries, like America, want to go to fight and have more war with Syria and Iran. They believe that more guns and bombs will give a solution to the problem of terrorism. But the problem is not so simple to fix.
We need much more than guns and bombs and armies. We need safety and security in our own countries. We need discussion. We need meetings. We need a fair global economy so that all countries can grow in peace. America is too violent to tell the world how to solve all the problems. We need to find better ways to fix these problems. We cannot fix every violent problem with more violence.
Solutions to these problems will take time, and we must be very patient to bring peace. We should do what we can to work for peace. Of course, we should keep our countries safe and we should work with the police to keep our society safe. Of course we need to control who can come into the country and who is not welcome. Of course we need to find the people who make terror and stop them quickly.
But with all of our actions we need to talk. We need to talk and listen to people in other countries and understand them better. We all live on one earth. We all want to have safe and happy lives. We want friends and we want family.
One of the greatest things about Japan is that it is a country of peace. People cannot have a gun so easily. There is violence, but compared to other countries, Japan is a very peaceful place to live. It is my hope that you can help more people in the world understand the importance of peace, and that keeping peace is a lifelong mission, and that a gun is very, very rarely an answer to the problems we have as people live on the same earth.
Nov 11th 2015
Home Sweet Home
All my friends in Canada say, “I want to come to Japan.” Everyone says that. The image of Japan and the history of Japan is very attractive. Everyone loves your country. I wanted to know why people love Japan so I made a list of my research. Here are the 20 reasons I discovered why non-Japanese people love Japan so much. I asked all the people I knew and these are the answers I received:
Services: Japan has the best service in the world. Everyone in hotels, airports, taxis, and restaurants are very polite and kind.
Team Spirit: The idea of being a “team” is very attractive. Many Western people would like to be part of a team and a group.
Festivals: Japan has so many festivals all over the country. Many are so colorful and beautiful to see.
Karaoke: Everyone likes to sing, and to sing with friends is a delight.
Onsen: When you are tired or have stress an onsen can make you feel great.
Kimono: Japan is the home of the beautiful kimono. Every woman I know in Canada wants to have one.
Japanese food (and not just sushi): It is healthy, fresh, and good for the body. Also, the food is colorful and creative.
Culture of Bowing: Showing respect to other people is classy and interesting. It can make for harmony and understanding between people.
Japanese Stories of Monsters and Ghost: Japan has wonderful stories and many scary characters that are popular all over the world.
Cars: The cars of Japan are known everywhere for safety, high quality, and good price.
Cherry Blossoms: The cherry blossoms of Japan have a very magical feeling that everyone in the world can understand and love.
Japanese Clothing Fashion: Japan has very cool clothing fashion. Many people in America and Canada want to look more Japanese.
Tea Ceremony: The quiet of the tea ceremony and the beauty of having tea together is a wonderful tradition in Japan. I know many people who would love to have a tea ceremony.
Low Crime: Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. That is an amazing thing.
Nengajo: Exchanging New Year’s cards with friends is a wonderful way to start the new year.
Tatami: They are so comfortable. Everyone who comes to an older style tatami room says the same thing. They love it.
Japanese desserts: Mochi and manju are very unique and special treats of Japan. All the Canadians I know who try them really can’t stop eating them.
Kotatsu: These are the best table to sit under in winter time. We understand why many people love to sit under the kotatsu on a cold winter night.
Ikebana: The art of decorating with flowers is very interesting for people in my country.
Bonsai: These mysterious trees are very popular with people all over the world. They are like a very small window into Japan. They are beautiful and fun to take care of.
As you may know, Japan is not my country. I mean, I am not from Japan. But Japan is my home. I am very glad that my family and I live here. I am also very, very glad to live here in Kagawa. You really have a beautiful home. But I wonder if you really know how unique and special Japan is, and how great Kagawa is.
You have a special home and special country. Most people in the world want to come here to see your world. I hope that you can find a way to share it with new people that you might meet in the future.
Nov 4th 2015
How Strong Are You?
Sometimes we can see on television people with a lot of muscles. They do weight training and can make their arms and legs very big. It takes a lot of time to make a big body with big muscles. Those people must go to the sports center every day so that they can keep their big muscle shape. Those people look very, very strong, and a little scary too.
About two nights ago I was watching a television show and Goromaru Ayumu was a guest. Goromaru Ayumu is a rugby player for Japan and he is now very famous. Recently, the Japanese national rugby team had a wonderful performance in the Rugby World Cup. Like many friends I watched Japan play. It was great.
On the television program it was very interesting to listen to Goromaru speak about playing rugby. He said that he wanted to play so hard because many people in the world think that Japanese people are weak. That comment really surprised me. I did not think that was true at all, but the other people on the program did not disagree with him. To Goromaru Ayumu, it is very important to show the power of Japan and the strength of Japanese rugby.
I was thinking about what is the meaning of being strong. What does it mean to be strong? Do you need big muscles? Do you need to be a rugby player? Do you need to be tough?
There are many different kinds of strength. We can feel strong in our school work. We can feel strong when we help a friend. We can feel strong when we make someone else feel better. We can feel strong when we hold a pencil and write our ideas clearly. We can feel strong when we put our hands on a computer keyboard and learn something new. We can feel strong when we are a good friend to other people. We can feel strong when we help our families.
There are many things in our world that can give us power too. We get power from books. We get power from music and art. We get power from the people around us. We get power from friendship and people that we enjoy. We get power when we care for other people around us.
One very interesting thing about rugby is that to be a strong player you need to have a strong team too. Every player in rugby is connected to another player. As a group they fight to move the ball. As a group they have their arms around each other and move forward. It is a beautiful thing to watch.
This is the same kind of power we need in our community too. We can get power from some things, but the best kind of power is one that we share. When we come together as a team, or when we make a group we can move forward. Cooperation, understanding, communication, and working together make us powerful. We need to not be afraid to be close to other people and to share our goals. We should work together. We must work together. We should push our community and society forward together.
Alone we cannot go so far, but together as a team we can be strong and we can be powerful.
It seems that we can learn a lot from rugby. I am looking forward to watching more in the future.
Oct 28th 2015
Being Afraid is Not So Scary
We have an expression in English. The expression is “Fear is a man’s best friend”. This is some advice for people that we should be careful in our lives. If we are afraid of something dangerous we will choose to be safe. Maybe that is some good advice, but maybe too much fear is not a good thing.
There are many things that people can be afraid of. Psychologists help people understand a lot about fear. Sometimes fear can keep us safe. For example, it is good to be afraid of the cars and trucks on the roads. If you are on your bicycle and have an accident with a car it can be very serious for you. If you are a little afraid of the cars and buses and trucks on the road you will look right and then look left before you cross the street. In this case, fear is your friend, so please be very careful on your bicycles and on the roads.
Psychologists also help us learn about a group of fears called “phobias”. A phobia is a kind of fear that is too much. A phobia is a strange fear, and a feeling of being afraid of unusual things. For example, a fear of the moon is called, “selenophobia”. If you are afraid of water you have, “hydrophobia”. A fear of clocks is called “chronomentrophobia” and if you are afraid of trees you have “dendrophobia”. There is a “phobia” for everything.
If someone has some trouble in life and has a unique kind of fear we can understand that. And we should do what we can to help our friends when they have trouble with their feelings. One thing that we should remember is that everyone is going to be afraid of something in their life.
When we have something coming to us that makes us afraid we have to remember a few things. The first is that it is okay to be afraid. The feeling of being afraid is normal and everyone feels that way sometimes. To feel afraid is not dangerous. When that time comes do not do anything. Wait a few minutes. And then wait a few more minutes. Feelings of being afraid will feel very strong and then after a few minutes they feel less strong.
When the feeling of being afraid gets smaller we can understand more of the problem we are having. Do we see a problem that we can solve? Do we see a problem we need to ask for help? Do we see a problem that we do not understand the solution yet? Take some time to think about the problem you have.
The next thing is to talk to another person about the trouble and why you feel afraid. You can talk to a friend and you can talk to your teacher. Otemae is a great school because your teachers worry about you and they want to help you. If you have trouble, you can talk to your teacher here. They are big supporters for you and want to help you if they can.
Every year you will have new troubles. Every year you will have more difficult troubles too. But these troubles that come, these troubles that make you afraid, they are good lessons for you. Each challenge, and each trouble, is like a new teacher for you.
You will learn something new. You will become stronger. You will become smarter and wiser after each time you experience something that makes you afraid. Fear can be a best friend. Fear can be a best teacher. Just remember that you control your fear and that the fear does not control you.
Oct 21th 2015
Make the Changes You Want: VOTE
Yesterday, in Canada, my country chose a new prime minister. His name is Justin Trudeau. He and I are the same age. It is very surprising that Canada has such a young prime minister, and we hope and believe that he will be good for my country. It is always very interesting when a new government is made. I enjoy watching elections, and enjoy learning about politics.
In any country the right to vote is very important. The right to vote is something that keeps our countries safe. The right to vote is important to keep us interested in our communities and society. The right to vote is our way to participate and make change in our communities.
Recently, the government in Japan has made the voting age 18 years old. This is wonderful news. It is a great thing for high school students. You are now able to join the world of adults, and now you can choose the kind of leadership you want for your country.
What do you want to change in your country? What do you want to change in your city and community? If you have the right to vote you can help make some changes.
But when you have the right to vote you also have an important responsibility. You must now understand more of the community you live in. You must now read more of the newspaper. You must understand how politics work. You must think about the things that are important for you and what kind of leader you want to have.
Do you think that safety of your country is important? How do we keep a country safe? Do you think that education is important? How do we improve our education for students? Do you think that the economy should be better? How can we make the economy better?
These are very difficult questions, and it is very difficult to find an easy answer. But when you vote for a leader and that leader has power you are connected to your community and society. You are part of the solution. You are part of the world of adults.
How do you know who to choose for a leader? That is a good question. It is a difficult question. Perhaps the best place to start is to talk with your parents. If you need more information, talk to your relatives. If you like to read, you should read the news on the internet or in the newspaper.
It is very difficult for a leader to lead people. Sometimes they do a good job. Sometimes they do not. Our job is to watch them, to support them, and sometimes to stop them. We stop them by voting. We support them by voting for them. But if we do not vote, we have no connection to what they do. And that is not a good idea at all.
No one should tell you who to support or vote for in government. That is a personal choice. But you will need to read more and understand more. You will need to talk to more people and learn more. You will have to get more education about government and the law. If you want changes in your country, vote. If you want to make solutions, vote. If you want to be safe and free and have hope for the future, vote. Choose the future you want for yourself. Vote!
Oct 7th 2015
A Great Week for Small Things in Science.
This week has been a very good week for scientists in Japan. Dr. Omura Satoshi, a biology expert and Dr. Kajita Takaaki, a physics expert, have both won Nobel prizes. These are both wonderful occasions and important in many ways. It is wonderful news!
Something that is interesting is that both of these great scientists have found ways to contribute to society and to the world.
Dr. Kajita found something very important about the sun and about nuclear power. His discovery can help us understand more about how the sun works and how the stars work. Dr. Kajita’s work can help us know more about the nature of light and the nature of how energy is created and how it moves. It is very difficult to understand, but it is very helpful for our understanding of our own sun.
Dr. Omura’s work is also very important. Dr. Omura helped find a way to make a medicine that can help many people living in Africa. There are diseases in Africa which can make people very sick. Some disease makes people blind. Some disease makes people’s bodies become very sick. There is a disease called “elephantiasis” and it makes parts of the body grow very big. Someone may grow very big arms or legs and it is very painful. Dr. Omura found a way to make a medicine that can help a lot of people be healthy. There is a report that over 300 million people are affected by this disease, and Dr. Omura has found a way to help. It is an incredible thing. It is a wonderful thing.
Dr. Omura made a very interesting comment. He said, “My job is just receiving microbes. I don’t think I did an important thing. I was thinking how I could do a small thing for other people.” But Dr. Omura did not do a “small thing”. His “small thing” will be a very big thing for millions of people in the world. His “small thing” is a big service to everyone. He has saved millions of people from disease and suffering. Dr. Omura may be a national hero in Japan, but he is also a hero for our whole world.
When we see great doctors like Dr. Omura and Dr. Kajita we feel some inspiration. They work with small things in light and small things in the earth. But they have found great things in their work. I want to know what small things you and I can do in our lives. Maybe we cannot save millions of people like Dr. Omura. Maybe we cannot find the secret to knowing the power of nuclear energy like Dr. Kajita, but maybe we can do something small for other people around us.
Now you are all studying very hard every week here at Otemae. This school has education programs for you to learn more about the world we live in. Maybe you will have a career in science like Dr. Omura or Dr. Kajita. That would be great. Maybe you will have a future career in music or art. That would be great too. Maybe you will have a career in computers and technology, or business or sports. Those would all be great too. There are many places for us to learn more, and to find more “small things” that can be “big things” for society.
The most important thing, maybe, is that whatever you do, it is good to have a feeling in your mind and heart about how you can do a “small thing” for people. What is the great “small thing” that you can give the world? I hope you can find it and share with the whole world.
Sep 16th 2015
The season of autumn is now here. It is a beautiful season, and for me
a very special time. In my country, in Canada, our autumn season is very
short. The snow comes early and the orange and yellow leaves are covered
in snow. Winter is beautiful too, but I like to see the orange, red, and
yellow as long as possible. Japan has a wonderful long season for autumn.
I am glad to live here.
Autumn is a season for poetry. Autumn is a season for literature. Many poems and stories have ideas and feelings about autumn. It is a magical time of the year, and poets feel inspiration from nature.
But nature is not only a calm and quiet thing. Nature can sometimes be very strong in the wind and rain. We love nature and we can enjoy nature, but we must also respect the power of nature. We must sometimes be afraid of the damage that nature can do to our homes and cities.
Japan is a country that has many typhoons coming to it. I checked the history of typhoons in Japan. There has been a lot of damage by typhoons to Japan. I was very surprised.
In 1947, a typhoon came to Saitama. In that typhoon, 1,930 people were killed. In 1959, super typhoon came to Wakayama and over 5,000 people died. And in 1961 a typhoon came to Osaka and 173 people were killed. Those are terrible stories. We cannot imagine how terrible it was for those families who had those experiences.
Today we are able to get information and keep communication much better than in the past. If there is a very serious storm, or a natural disaster we have computers and cell phones to help us communicate and get help. That is a great thing. But, even though we have great technology, the power of typhoons and the power of nature is still too big.
I have friends and relatives in Canada who telephone and email when typhoons come to Japan. They worry and ask, “Are you Ok? Is the family Ok? We saw the terrible news about the typhoon on TV.” I can tell them that we are safe and that everything is fine. Japan is still one of the safest and cleanest countries in the world. Typhoons and earthquakes come to Japan, but it is still a very safe and wonderful place to make our home.
There is nature all around us. There is a lot of wonderful beautiful nature around us here at Otemae. The trees are changing color and the leaves are becoming golden, bright yellow, and deep red. We are very lucky to be surrounded by this wonderful environment. It is a good reminder for us to take some time to enjoy natural things, and to see the flowers, trees, insects, and animals that are around us. It is a good time to remember that although we are human, we are also part of nature. We belong to nature and we live in a natural world.
But also please be careful when you are out in nature. If you climb a mountain
or go in the forest, please go with friends. Do not hike alone. If you
go the river or sea, please tell friends and family where you are. If it
is a rainy day, please prepare your clothing, take more time to go to school
and be careful going home when it becomes dark. Be careful on your bicycle
on stormy days and protect yourself at all times.
Typhoon season is here. It is a time of poetry and deep thinking and a time to be careful as you go outside. Thank you very much and please take care of yourself!
Sep 9th 2015
There was an interesting story in the news recently. It is a story about
President Obama going to Alaska. There is a very famous mountain in Alaska
that was called McKinley Mountain. The mountain was named after an American
president. But there was a name for that mountain before it was called
Before, it was named “Denali”. The native people of Alaska called their mountain “Denali”. It is a very old original word in their language that means, “big one” or “the high one”.
When President Obama went to Alaska he changed the name back to the original name. The name “Denali” has a special feeling for the people who live in Alaska. “Denali” is part of their home, it is part of their world, and it is part of their culture and identity.
Your name also is very important. Your name is the name your mother and father decided for you. Your name is from them. Your family name is the gift you receive from your parents, your grandparents, and great-grandparents. Your name is what you carry for your life, and one day, you may have a chance to give it to your future kids. Names are important.
Names are words we use to give something, or someone, an identity. We use words to know what things are. We use words and names to understand. We use writing tools to record our sounds and feelings about things we see. We use pencils, pens, and computers to record our understanding and to save that information for the future.
Language is very important for everyone that reads. Language has many shapes. Language has many cultures. Language is everywhere, and it is like a code. Of course you have language classes here at Otemae. You have Japanese language classes and you have English classes.
But there are other languages too. There is language in music. There is a language in art. There is a language in mathematics and science too. Computers and technology have very new and exciting languages that many people use. Language, the code of giving information and feeling, is in many things we learn. Language is really everywhere around us.
I am an English teacher, so I hear many people say to me, “I am sorry, but I don’t speak English.” But English is only one kind of language. There are many ways to communicate our feelings and ideas. We can communicate in another language. We can still express our feelings through gestures and through our eyes and the tone of our voices. Some of the best language we can receive has no voice at all.
When you are a student, and as you become an adult, you will learn more and more how language is a very important thing for your life. Of course many people use language like a tool, or sometimes like a weapon. But language is also a mirror for your mind, and a light to the human heart.
Be careful of the words you use, and the language that you use. It is a sign of your mind and heart, and it can be a great gift that you can use to share with others. Please keep on learning and growing and trying new ways to make your language creative, beautiful, and fun.
Sep 2nd 2015
The Otemae Community
Coming soon is the Homecoming Day for Otemae. I always enjoy coming to this school, but on that day, I really enjoy coming here. Homecoming Day is something very special and unique. When I was a student we did not have such a thing. So, I am always very surprised and very impressed each year I can come to see what the students and teachers are doing here at Otemae.
In my country, in Canada, we live very independent from each other. Even when I was in junior high and high school I was told that I had to be an individual and do everything for myself. I rode the city bus a long time every day. I had part time jobs to buy my own clothes, shoes, and school books. I had to arrange my own school schedule and plan for my own college education. Maybe that was a good experience for me, but there are also some demerits too.
When you are told to be completely independent sometimes you lose a chance to be part of a community. If you are told to be strong and alone, you lose a chance to be together with many other people to make a society.
I think that Otemae has a great feeling of community. I think that Otemae has a very strong idea about being in this society. So, when I see all the students so happy and enjoying Homecoming Day I can see that the students, teachers, staff, and parents feel like they should be together. I also can see that the families that come here and the people who are connected to Otemae feel a special kind of pride. They are proud to be part of Otemae. I think that the great students and talented teachers here at Otemae are also very proud.
We see the pride of Otemae with students who play sports for the school. They wear the name of Otemae on their uniform. They meet other students from other schools and compete. There is pride in students who are involved in art, culture, music and dance clubs here at Otemae. They share what they know and learn with others outside the school. We see the pride of Otemae in students who master their studies, and who know that they learned a lot when they were here. We see pride in Otemae in the teachers who work on their weekends, and holidays to help students in study and club activities. I see how happy they are when their students have success. They care about you like they care about their own kids.
I think that I am very lucky to have a small place here at Otemae. I am always so deeply impressed with the love and passion that the founders of the school have for their teachers, students, and community. It is a good day to be in Otemae, and Homecoming Day is a great day to be in Otemae.
Aug 26th 2015
No Junk Please
Science is very interesting. We see science everywhere in our lives. We use technology every day. We have computers, cell phones, televisions, and all kinds of cars, trains, and airplanes. We have learned a lot about the human body and health. Science helps us live longer and better.
One of the greatest things we have done as humans, is to explore space. On September 5, 1977, NASA put a space probe up into space. The space probe’s name is Voyager 1. This space probe sends photos of space and planets back to the Earth. The Voyager 1 probe has sent us beautiful pictures of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The space probe has collected data and information about space from 1977 until this summer in 2015. It is amazing that a space machine has been working for 37 years without stopping.
When the scientists of the past created a machine, they often thought about how to make something good and strong. Voyager 1 is a machine that worked very well for 37 years. This is older than most of your teachers.
But these days, our machines are very cheap and of low quality. A cell phone is often replaced in about 3 years. A DVD player will usually break in 5 years. Washing machines, refrigerators, microwave ovens, computers, coffee makers, mixers, hair dryers, stereos, and CD players are all very easy to break. In a few years, everything becomes junk. Everything turns into garbage. We take our machines and put them in the earth. Then we just go to the store again and buy something else that will break soon.
Why don’t we make things that are good for a long time? Why don’t we make great machines and tools that are good for many years? Why do companies make so much junk?
This is a good question. We should talk a little about it.
Our world wants everything to be cheap. Sometimes that is ok. We all like to have a good price for things we buy, and everyone likes a bargain sale. But, sometimes we need to get things that are of very high quality for our life. Not expensive fashion goods, but things that are good and necessary for life.
We need high quality education. We need high quality computers and tools for work. We need high quality teachers. We need friends who have a high quality for friendship. We need high quality relationships. We need high quality trains, planes, cars, and buses. We need high quality information, books, and classes.
Voyager 1 was high quality. It lasted for many years. It gave the world an amazing gift of information and beauty. What will you and I make that will be so good? We must start with quality. We must not accept junk, garbage, or trash. We need to make the things that will live for many years into the future. Let’s make something good for our lives. Let’s think about how to live a life of high quality. Good education, good classes, good music and art, good food and drink, good friends, and a good positive mind is the start of how to find and how to make quality.
Voyager 1 will continue to move into the stars. Where will we go? What will we do? We do not know, but we know that we must start with good quality before we go anywhere.
Jul 8th 2015
Tanabata: Wishes, Hopes, and Dreams for the Future
When I first came to Japan I did not know anything about the festivals
of your country. But after a few years I have had the chance to enjoy and
learn a little about them. One of my favorites is Tanabata. I love the
story of Orihime and Hikoboshi.
It is wonderful and sad. It is a great story with many interesting ideas and themes inside. It is a story about love, and about hope, and about dreams, and about hard work, and about looking to the future. The story helps me understand a little more about your culture. Stories can teach us many things.
I like that the custom for people to celebrate Tanabata is also a time to think about what they would like to develop and grow in themselves. It is beautiful to see the “tanzaku” hanging from the bamboo trees. It is beautiful to see the paper move in the wind. It looks like a dream.
From my view, the most interesting part of Tanabata is that people do not wish for things. They do not wish to get money, or beautiful goods. They do not ask for gold or diamonds. They do not ask for a new car, a new cell phone, or new clothes. Tanabata is about asking for new skills and abilities. Tanabata is not about getting some things, it is about becoming something.
Kids ask to be stronger or faster in sports. They ask to be more skilled in something. They ask to have more knowledge and understanding. They ask for ways to improve and grow. We do not have such a custom in my country. I believe that this is a very unique celebration for Japan, and I am very glad and lucky to learn about it.
I am sure that you hear many things from your mother or father about what you need to do and become for the future. Your mom or dad may have some good ideas for you. It is a good idea to listen to their opinions. But in Tanabata the beautiful thing that we see is when students write for themselves what they want. Each person can think about and decide what they want to improve themselves. You decide what to write on your “tanzaku”. You choose what you want to grow for your own life.
Did you choose something? Did you write something that you want to develop for yourself?
There is also something important about writing your dream or wish on the “tanzaku”. When you put a pencil or pen on paper and write what you want you will understand more clearly your own feeling. Writing your idea and dream on paper makes the dream “real”. Writing your wish on paper makes your life go in that direction. If you write what you want for your life, your mind and your heart will go that way.
Writing is the key to understanding. Writing is the important step to getting knowledge and to becoming smart. Writing is the step to master information, and to make your dream come true.
Tanabata is a wonderful celebration for people to remember what they want
to develop and grow in the future. But you can write your dream and idea
and plan for the future any day of the year. Don’t wait once a year to
write your wish for your future. Write your dream every day if you can.
When you put your pen on paper and see the words in front of your eyes
an important thing will happen. You will begin to move in the direction
of your plan, and everything you do will bring you to your future dream.
Dreams come true. Write them on paper and remember.
Jun 17th 2015
Maybe you feel a lot of pressure these days. You will have some tests coming very soon. To be a student is a hard job. You have pressure. You have a lot of pressure. Feeling too much pressure may be bad for you, and it makes you feel unhappy too.
But pressure is very important for our world. There are many important inventions that we have because of pressure. The tires in your bicycle are full of air that has air pressure. Your lunch may be made by a pressure cooker. Rice cookers also work with pressure to make delicious rice that we eat every day. Steam engines, bottles of cola and soda, basketballs, tennis balls, volleyballs and soccer balls are all full of pressure. If we did not have pressure in our lives we would not have any of these things that we need and enjoy.
Denis Papin of France created the steam engine and pressure cooker. Nikolai Korotove made pressure medical devices in Russia in the 1920’s. Eugene Bourdon created tube pressure gauge that has been used in so many machines. So many things came from their inventions.
Airplanes that travel all over the world need pressure inside so that they can fly safely. Much of our exploration of space needs to use pressure in creative ways. Medical devices need pressure to help people stay healthy and to take care of people who are in medical trouble.
Pressure vehicles travel to the bottom of the sea. Pressure tools help get oil from the earth so we can have warm homes in winter. The water that comes through the pipes in our homes needs pressure. It seems that everywhere in our world there is pressure all around us. We feel pressure. We need pressure. Our daily lives are filled with pressure.
But all of these kinds of pressures are different than the pressure you may feel with your tests. You feel unhappy. You feel nervous. You worry. You feel like you cannot do it. You lose your confidence. Pressure is pressing you too hard. Your teachers understand your feelings. They know what you are thinking about this high pressure time, but they know you very well too. They know that you need some pressure in your life so that you can learn.
There is still one more kind of pressure that we know about in our world. It is the pressure that you must find in your own mind. It is the pressure you must create in your own heart. This is the pressure that will help you find your way in the world. This is the kind of pressure that will make you excited to wake up every day, and give your life a purpose and hope.
The pressure I am talking about is the pressure you will feel to push yourself to grow and to learn. The pressure you need for life is when you find your dream and your passion. When you know what you want to be in your life you will feel a new kind of energy inside. This is a kind of internal pressure. This pressure makes you work as hard as you can work. This pressure makes you study as hard as you can study.
So, even though you have so many tests to prepare for, and even though you feel some pressure, I hope you will not feel so bad. There are more pressures in your life to come. And the best pressures are the ones that will give you the power and speed you need to catch your dream. Pressure is precious.
Jun 10th 2015
The Cowboy Code
If you think about cowboys you might have an image in your mind about what a cowboy looks like. Maybe you imagine a man with a beard and moustache. Maybe you think about cowboy hats and cowboy boots. Maybe you imagine these men riding around on horses.
That is all true. The cowboy life has cowboy hats, boots, horses, and guns too. Cowboys can shoot guns. I am from cowboy country. I am from the western part of Canada, and I know many men who are cowboy types. I like the cowboy life. I like the feeling of being in nature. I like to ride a horse. I like the slower pace of cowboy life and I love cowboy music.
But there is more than only music, horses, and fashion to the cowboy life. There is also a code. There is a way of thinking and a way of living. Not all cowboys can live this code perfectly, but there is a code. I am going to tell you about this way of life, the cowboy code.
A cowboy is brave, but a cowboy is not foolish. Cowboys do not run from trouble, but they also do not run into trouble either.
A cowboy will obey his parents. A cowboy believes that mom and dad know the best way to live and can give the best advice for life.
A cowboy is neat and clean at all times. A cowboy washes himself and takes care of his teeth. A cowboy does not wear old broken clothes and does his best to look good.
A cowboy is polite, and a cowboy has good manners. A cowboy serves other people first and thinks about other people around him.
A cowboy will protect other people. A cowboy is not afraid to help people who are not popular and who do not have friends.
A cowboy studies hard. There are many things to learn and a cowboy must study and think so he can live in nature and be something helpful for society.
A cowboy is kind to animals and takes care of them.
A cowboy respects his country, and respects the flag of his country too.
There are a lot of things that we can learn about life from cowboys. Many of these ideas are also very strong and important here in Japan too. In fact, we find cowboys in other countries outside of Canada and America. In history there have been cowboys in Mexico, Ukraine, Italy, France, and Australia. I even saw some program on television about cowboys in Hokkaido. That was very interesting. There are even cowboys here in this country. It is a beautiful thing.
You don’t need to have a cowboy hat, a cowboy gun, a horse or boots to know the cowboy code. Cowboys are part of the world that I come from, but there is a little cowboy in many of the kind people we meet every day here in Takamatsu, Kagawa-ken too.
Jun 3rd 2015
Music is Food for your Soul
The great philosophy Socrates gave us a warning. “Music is dangerous. It goes past your mind and enters your heart.” Socrates was worried. Socrates was afraid that the power of music was too strong for humans. If a song is beautiful and people like the song, it can go directly into the human heart.
The brain cannot stop the power of music. We cannot stop the message inside music from going into our hearts. Music is great. Music is beautiful. And maybe, music can be dangerous. Let’s talk about that.
There are different kinds of music from all over the world. There is rock and roll, blues music, electronic music, and rap music. There is country music, reggae, new wave music, punk music, classical music, brass band music, country gospel, opera, Jazz, Latin Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Ragtime Jazz, Cool Jazz, Bebop Jazz and Pop Music. There is Motown music, Disco, and a huge range of traditional music found in countries all over the world.
Japan also has so many kinds of music as well. In modern music we can find J-Pop, J-Punk, J-Synth and J-Ska music. It is a wonderful thing to discover and enjoy so many different kinds of music.
Music is the voice of the human heart. Music is the sound of a dream, an idea, a piece of our imagination. Music is the voice of our humanity. It comes from the human heart and connects to other humans. It is a kind of unique communication. It is a special kind of gift between people, and a gift from the energy of our world. Music is a special kind of mystery.
But, just like many kinds of art, there is great music, there is ok music, there is so-so music, and there is the bad too. Your job, as a student, as a member of humanity is to listen to the sounds and voices of music and find the best. What is the sound that speaks clearly to your mind? What is the music that moves your soul? Music is a wonderful thing, a magical thing.
Music is also shared with other people. For me, I love to make new friends. I love to know what kinds of music people listen to. I often ask, “What is your favorite song?” and “What music can you suggest to me?” I always find something new with a new friend. Their feeling in music can be shared, and that is a beautiful thing.
I also love to play music. I am learning to play the guitar but I am a very poor guitar player. My teacher, Kanaya-Sensei always says to me, “Mark, you must practice more”. I promise to practice as much as I can, and I do, but I would like to play guitar more. Playing music is a wonderful thing for me. It helps me express the parts of my heart and mind that words cannot give a voice.
I also love to study music because it is very much like the study of language. You study English, so you know this. Music study and English study are very similar. Both have tone, and rhythm, and phrases. Both have style and voice and expression. Both are difficult to master quickly. Both need time. Both need practice. Both need rehearsal. Both are voices for the human heart. So, when you practice English, please remember that it is like the practice of music. It needs a lot of repetition. Learning English and Music need a lot of time, and a lot of patience.
You can do it. Find your voice in music. Find your voice in English. If you can enjoy both, that is a wonderful and very special thing.
May 27th 2015
Invention: The Spirit of The Future
When we think about inventions we read a lot about the great inventions of Europe. In history class we learn about Leonardo da Vinci. We learn about Copernicus. We learn about Galileo. It is true that those are great inventors of the past. Many of their ideas helped many more new ideas come into the world.
But did you know of the many wonderful inventions that come from Japan? Do you know about the incredible things that are made here in your own country? I did some research so I have some information for you.
Japan gave to the world great gifts in technology. Japan invented the bullet train (the shinkansen). Japan invented the blue LED, the flash memory for computers, the quartz wristwatch, the kei car, flat panel display, the compact disc, and the blue-ray disc. Japan has invented great robots to build things, and robots for human support for people who cannot walk or move. Japan is the home of the electric rice cooker, the videocassette recorder, motion sensors, and digital cameras. Japan is the creator of special kinds of steel. Japan has wonderful technology in many areas’ medicine.
Japan has given the world great entertainment. Japanese video games and manga are enjoyed all over the world. Japan created anime and now millions of people all over the world are big fans. Japan has given the world kendo, judo, karate, sumo, and other martial arts. Japan also created the world’s first novel: The Genji Monogatari.
Japan has also invented instant noodles. This food has been very important for university students all over the world.
The spirit of creating and making something new is very strong in Japan. The idea that we can improve something seems very strong in Japanese society. I am from Canada, and there are many things about the spirit of Japan that I do not know. But when I think about the wonderful inventions and creative things made here, I am very shocked and very impressed.
We think about what are the next things that will come from Japan. What will be the next great inventions that change our world? It is a great time to a student in Japan. It is a great time to find the things that will give you great inspiration in the future.
To make a change in our world, we need to understand our society. We need to study the shape and way a government works. We need to study and understand how our science is connected to human life. We also need to develop a human heart that thinks about other people around us. We need a society where helping other people is an important thing, and a necessary thing.
Your education is important. Your time in your classroom with your friends is important. This is a golden time in our lives where we can learn and grow. This is a special time to feel inspiration from our teachers and people around us.
What will be our next project? What will you do to make the world more interesting? What will you do to make the world better? What will you do to help people in the world?
The future is coming quickly. These are very exciting times for all of us.
May 20th 2015
The English Study Journey
Today I want to talk about English. I want to talk about why it is very important to study English. I want to talk about why you must think about your study life here at Otemae, and why you need English for the future.
Maybe your mother and father tell you that English is important. Maybe your teachers here at Otemae tell you that English is important. They are right. English is very important. English is everywhere in the world, and more and more English comes into Japan too.
English is the most spoken and used language in the world. There are over 400 million native speakers of English. There are over 700 million people in the world who speak English as a second language.
Over 80% of all information on the Internet is in English. English is the language used in all airports and international flights. English is used in most international sporting events. English is the main language used in international media. English is the language used the most in creating movies and music. Many reports about scientific study, and scientific meetings are in English.
But, maybe you think, “I am Japanese. I do not need English. I will always live in Japan. I do not want to go to another country.” Maybe that is OK. Maybe you will not leave Japan. Maybe you will not travel to another country. That is OK too. Japan is a beautiful and safe country. I like Japan too. So, like you, Japan is my home.
More and more English is needed for companies in Japan. Many careers in the future will need strong English skills. You will need to read and write English very well. You will need to be able to express your ideas in English. You will need to know how to listen to English and to respond. Many top careers in Japan need strong English skills.
To master English will take many years. That is true. You cannot learn English quickly and easily. Learning English is not quick. Learning English is not easy. But you can do it. You can study English slowly and steadily. It is like going on a very long walk. You need to take one step, then another step, then another step.
Learning English will take a long time. That is the bad news. The good news is that you are students here at Otemae. This school is a great place to learn English. This school is the best place to learn English. The English teaching staff is very professional. They can help you as you master your English classes. They can help you as you make progress through the eiken tests and interviews.
In my work I meet many English teachers from different schools. I meet professionals who study English and use it for their careers. I meet professors from universities and colleges. I have chances to meet many people. But I think, and this is only my opinion, that Otemae has the best teachers and program for your English education. I hope you will listen very carefully to your English teachers here, study your textbooks very carefully, and talk to your English teacher when there is something you do not know. They can help you. They want to help you . They want to see you have a great future. They want to see you have a great career. You can do it.