Russian sweets

My Russian friends sometimes give me sweets.

The other day, I received a lovely bouquet. The white, red, and gold flowers are made of paper. Each flower contains a candy.

Russian sweets are cute! I can’t wait to eat them.

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ロシア人(じん)のお友達(ともだち)から、ときどきお菓子(おかし)をいただきます。

素敵(すてき)な花束(はなたば)もいただきました。
白(しろ)と赤(あか)と金(きん)の花(はな)は、紙(かみ)でできています。
花(はな)の中(なか)に、お菓子(おかし)が入(はい)っています。

ロシアのお菓子(かし)は、かわいいですね。楽(たの)しみにいただきます。

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Landscape of Salzburg

I visited my parents. There are many watercolor paintings of my mother’s and as many oil paintings of my father’s in their house.

My father took up a new hobby last April. It is oil painting. The truth was, one of my sisters bought some painting tools for my mother. My father mistook them for his. He tried using them while my mother was out. He realized that it was what he had long wanted to do!

When he was young, he wanted to be an artist. However, he did not realize his dream because he had to succeed to his father’s business. Now that he is retired, he has got around to working on paintings. He has never taken lessons, so he has his own style.

Last summer, he painted a landscape of Salzburg for me. Although I liked it, he did not like it and painted another one last month. I received the new one and hung it on the wall today.

I spent a whole academic year in Salzburg in my early 20s. I went to college, crossing the bridge over the Salzach River every day. Looking at the painting brings back my happy memories in Salzburg.

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Happy Holidays

Happy New Year 2019! I trust you are having happy holidays.

I had a nice family get-together. My husband came home after completing a six-month project in Chiba.

In mid-December, I joined a Russian Christmas party in Kobe. Some of my Russian friends performed on the stage. I was excited! They acted, sang and danced beautifully!

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On the day before Christmas, one of my students brought me a beautiful bouquet. What a surprise! Both my husband and I were busy working at that time, but the flowers warmed our hearts.

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Thanks to nice people around us, we had a wonderful Christmas time.

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Russian-style Birthday Party

One of my closest friends kindly invited me to her birthday party this weekend. I was very happy to celebrate her birthday together with her family and friends. She is a Russian lady, so her birthday party was held in the Russian style. In addition, all the guests were Russians except me. I should have learned more Russian words before the party!! Luckily, however, they could speak either Japanese or English, so I had no difficulty communicating with them.

I was delighted to see how she coordinated her table. It was full of traditional Russian dishes.

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Look at these beautiful dishes!

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While I was thoroughly relishing the delicious meal, I was never silent; rather, I was busy chatting. Everyone at the table was very kind. They told me many things about Russian culture, all of which were really intriguing.

After the meal, we played games. One was a word association game using cards, and the other was charades. The former required brains, while the latter required acting abilities. Both were so much fun that we laughed out loud! While playing charade, I was surprised that everyone was extremely good at acting except me. When it was my turn, my acting was desperately poor. (Actually, I was trying to communicate “mayonnaise” by gesture! You could imagine how difficult it was.) However, our team members had a such great imagination that they correctly guessed what I meant.

At the end of the party, my friend’s husband sang Russian songs, playing the guitar. She and her daughter joined the songs, too! Their singing voices were gentle, warm and beautiful!

It was a fun, exciting and heartwarming party! I will never forget the fabulous time I spent with all the people there.

Happy Birthday, my dear friend!

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Trip to Tohoku

My husband, who is an architect, is currently working in Miyagi Prefecture.  On a winter day, I went all the way to Miyagi to visit him and his associates. I was delighted to meet them after such a long journey and to find that he was working with such nice people.

I flew to Sendai Airport, and then took the Shinkansen train to go further northward. It was winter, so I enjoyed the beautiful snow scenery to my heart’s content.

I departed from Kobe Airport. As the airplane went northward, the mountains got snowier and snowier.

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Here are some views from the Shinkansen. The rice fields were completely covered with snow.

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After the happy time with those nice people, my husband and I had to leave for home for winter holidays.

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Sendai Star Festival decorations in Sendai Airport Terminal
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Lake Inawashiro
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Craggy mountains

Back at home, we enjoyed the local specialties they gave us. They included a delicacy of Tohoku, which is literally “a Jewelry Box of the Sea,” and fluffy sponge cakes called “Hagi no Tsuki.”

Every time I pass by Miyagi by Shinkansen, the beautiful landscape from the window always reminds me of the wonderful people there. I will always remember their kind and warm hospitality.

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! Hope you are having a good day!

I had a family reunion today. First, I met up with my family. Afterwards, we went to a photographic studio to take pictures. The photographers were very nice. At first, we were kind of nervous, but they tried to make us smile, and waited patiently until all of us smiled broadly. I smiled a lot today.

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Percy

My father made a ceramic dog recently. It is Percy, a west highland white terrier. He lived with our family almost 20 years. We loved him. He passed away 11 years ago. Every time I visit my parents’ home, I remember him. He was named after Percy Blakeney from the novel The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Percy was like my little brother, which I had never had, and my friend. He joined our family when I was 13. He was always with me in my teens, a time of life filled with worries. He always comforted and encouraged me. When I was 19, I left home for Tokyo. I did not come home very often, but he never forgot me. When I got home, he always wagged his tail to welcome me.

So when I found this ceramic dog at the entrance of my parents’ home, I was delighted! I felt as if I were heartily welcomed by Percy. My father saw me so delighted that he made another Percy for me. It is now at my home.

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Christmas service

I attended a Christmas service at Kwansei Gakuin University today. One of my students is a member of the choir there. His mother kindly invited me to attend the service.
 
I loved the beautiful campus. The school buildings were designed by William Merrel Vories, who is one of my favorite architects.
 
 
The service was conducted with solemnity. I was profoundly moved. I listened to prayers, quotations from the Bible, organ music, and hymns sung by the choir and solo singers. I also sang several hymns together with other attendees and the choir. I felt as if my heart were being purified.
 
 
 
After the service, we went outside the building and sang carols together. It was a truly unforgettable experience.
 
Merry Christmas!
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Russian Christmas Party

I went to a Russian Christmas Party in Kobe, which was hosted by Russian Culture Center. Some of my Russian friends kindly invited me to the party and I was looking forward to it. I have been interested in Russian culture and have studied the Russian language since I made friends with them. So it was a precious experience for me to join the party.

As I stepped into the venue, I was overwhelmed by a huge New Year Tree (ёлка) and sweet children in fabulous costumes. All the children looked very happy and excited, which made me feel happy, too. After a while, they began to dance to Russian music.

That was when some characters appeared. They included a witch called Baba Yaga and her black cat, Ded Maroz, and Snegrochka. I particularly loved Baba Yaga. She was not only amiable but also educational. And her cat was charming, too. They sang different songs beautifully. I was fascinated by and glued to their performance. At the same time, I found myself soaked in the Russian world.

There was a concert, too. Some children sang Russian songs on the stage. They were amazing singers. I really enjoyed their performance.

As for the Russian language, to be honest, I understood less than 1% of their speech. However, I was delighted when I was able to catch some words I knew. This experience motivated me to study more.

I was happy to see how Russian people cherish and practice their tradition and culture in Japan. I was also impressed with their strong bond. I learned many things from the party. It was a precious opportunity for me to come into contact with Russian culture. I really admire and respect their great efforts to make this happen!

Спасибо за всё.
С наступающим Новым годом!

Actually, the more I study Russian, the more difficult I find it. I must admit that sometimes I feel like giving up. I think it is nothing but friendship that drives me to continue my studies.

 

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Chatting at a cafe in Kyoto

I visited Kyoto to see one of my old friends the other day. She is a professor who travels around the world. She happened to be in Kyoto for the time being, so I took advantage of this opportunity to see her.

We caught up with each other over a Kyoto-style lunch. I was eager to hear about her views on language education. I respect her for her extensive teaching experience in universities as well as her extraordinary skills in interpretation. She always inspires me to foster my intellectual curiosity.

After strolling in Maruyama Park, we stopped by a historic building called Chorakukan. The stone façade of the building gave me the impression of solidity and solemnity. However, once I stepped inside the building, I found myself surrounded by a warm atmosphere. I was especially enchanted by the woodwork including curved railings and coffered ceilings. A live piano performance was enlivening the atmosphere.

We were guided to a cozy room on the second floor, where we had delicious tea and cake. I liked the classical interior design and the fantastic view from the window. We talked and talked for a long time. Before we knew it, it was already dark outside. I had an unforgettable, precious time there.

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Christmas decorations and Japanese lantern

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Friendship

In an English textbook, I found a nice quotation, which I want to share with you.

“Your friend is the man who knows all about you and still likes you.” ーElbert Hubbard

I absolutely agree. Luckily, I have wonderful friends. Friendship is my most precious treasure. I have some old friends from college and we have been keeping in touch for a long time. I have made close friends in recent years, too. When I am with them, I always try to be true to myself and express myself honestly as I did in my college days. They understand my strengths and weaknesses and they are still my good friends. Thank you, my friends!

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