Love Letters to Japan

July 13th, 2016

The daily read of 禅(ぜん)のことば seems to always bring me the words I need that day.

Today’s phrase 啐啄同時. 

-This is a sound that a baby bird makes when trying to get out of the shell.

啄 – Looks like the 卒 in 卒業, graduation, but it refers to the sound that a mama bird makes when cracking the baby bird’s shell.

同時 – at the same time.

This phrase reminds me of how important my students are to me, how much I have learned from them, and how much I appreciate them.

I am a teacher because they are my students.

Thank you students!! I look forward to seeing  you again.



June 17th, 2016

I moved away from Japan in March. I had a chance to see the cherry blossoms,                      IMG_1609.JPG桜(さくら)、before I left. Moving away from Japan, I realised how many things that I appreciate about this country. I will write about these things here.

I bought this great book, about words from Buddhism.             禅(ぜん)のことば. There are many words that come from Buddhism that are used in daily Japanese, just as in English so many of our words are Biblical references.

The book gives us the meaning, origin, and writing practice for one word a day.

The first day was a profound 4-kanji phrase ,


少 しょう small, few

欲 よく desire

知 ち know

足 そく enough

It means to desire little and know your abundance. Powerful words to live by.


January 14th, 2016

How can you not love KIMONO? I personally am not into wearing them, bIMG_0670ut I cannot help but love them. Their simplicity of design and wildness of patterns is a great c
ontrast to Western party dresses. I love seeing women wear them in the street. It just feels like a special occasion.

Monday was the 成人式 seijin shiki – Coming of Age Day. It is a national holiday when all the 20 year olds celebrate becoming adults. Many young women wear 着物 kimono, so you can see lots of pretty ladies walking along the street. I couldn’t help but take a photo!


January 3rd, 2016

あけましておめでとうございます! Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu

This is the traditional greeting for the New Year in Japan. It celebrates the opening of the New Year. There are many things to love about Japanese New Year, which is must quieter and holds a more important place in the culture than in the West. Here are  my top 3:


Enjoying 年越しそば

  1. 年越しそば toshikoshi soba  – The big new year’s meal, called おせち osechi, is typically eaten on New Year’s day. This simple bowl of noodles is eaten around midnight on the 31st, as we move into the new year. I heard once that people eat soba because the long noodles are bring long life. However, I recently learned that the soba is soft and easy to cut, so it represents cutting off our attachments from the old year so that we can pass into the new year fresh and ready. Cool huh? 
  2. 初日の出 hatsu hi no de  –  In Japan, the countdown on new year’s eve is far less important than the first morning of the new year. People will travel to look out points, or go to the tops of buildings to catch a glimpse of the first sunrise. It is considered to bring you luck for the whole year. And it feels better than waking up at noon with a hangover!
  3. 除夜の鐘 joya no kane – Buddhist temples ring in the new year by sounding the temple bell exactly 108 times. This number represents the number of worldly desires arising from our senses in Buddhist philosophy. Each ring of the bell purifies one of our desires, cleansing us for the new year.

Today’s 4文字熟語  4 media jukugo- My favorite 4 character maxims

I love the start of a new month! In honour of this special day, I am starting a new addition to my blog, Love Letters to Japan. In truth, I have been meaning to start this for months, but I what you call a

ぐすぐすと先延ばす人  gusugusu to sakinobasu hito  a procrastinator

One of my favourite sayings, better late than never, doesn’t really exist in Japan, where being on time is a highly valued quality. Today I was inspired to start this page because of my darling English students – they seemed very excited to retell their versions of the Tortoise and the Hare, and discuss the moral of the story
油断大敵  yudan taiteki       Unpreparedness (or Overconfidence) is your greatest enemy

なるほど。That makes so much sense to me. So how do I prepare myself? I suppose it comes from knowing where I am going. After all, I am the creator of my destiny.

I love these 4 character sayings – the succinctness, the brilliance.