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Hello everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and staying healthy. In the United States now, people are advised to maintain “social distancing,” staying indoors and when in public keeping at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others.
On the bright side, with so many Americans stuck inside right now, I’ve had more opportunities to catch up with old friends. The time difference between Japan and the US sometimes makes keeping in touch difficult, especially for people like me who enjoy seeing or speaking with other people rather than relying on social media.
Here in Japan we are encouraged to stay inside as well, so I have been trying to make the most of it. Over the last few weekends I have been reading through many books, and making time to watch more movies. It is even better when I can combine watching movies with studying another language. I have previously written about the usefulness of media when learning English, but it is true with any language!
After spending some time with my textbooks studying Japanese, I decided to try watching some Japanese films. While they might not have a lot of terribly useful language, it is still a fun and enjoyable way to improve on listening skills. Yesterday, for instance, after I finished studying I watched シン・ゴジラ. I had never actually seen a movie from Toho Pictures before, and found it very interesting.
Have you tried watching any English language films as part of your studies?
When I have free time, I love to go touring in the mountains or along the coast. I also enjoy cruising across the Shimanami Bridgeway.
My favorite is probably touring in the mountains. I really enjoy riding in the mountains, because of the beautiful nature. You can see lots of wild animals as well.
I also like to ride and not worry about dangerous drivers. Because the roads aren’t paved, there usually isn’t any traffic.
Do you ever explore the mountains? If you need to get away, it’s the perfect place to hike, cycle or ride.
On the weekend I visited the flowering canola fields at Minara. The bright yellow flowers were beautiful against the distant mountains.
In the area of Australia were my family live there are many canola fields that are grown to make canola oil. Seeing the canola fields at Minara reminded me of home. I have used canola oil to cook but recently in Matsuyama City I ate a sandwich that had canola plant in it. It was my first time to eat the plant!
In October I visited the same fields at Minara to see the beautiful cosmos flowers.
Many people visit the Minara fields to see the flowers there and I think it is a special place.
I hope everyone enjoys the start of Spring!
Last Monday, the 24th of February, was a national holiday for the Emperor’s birthday. I went with a friend to Shiroyama Park next to Matsuyama Castle. The weather was sunny and the trees along the moat had started to blossom.
We enjoyed delicious food from food trucks in the park, especially strawberry crepes!
I enjoyed my day in the park very much. I think the green spaces of Matsuyama are beautiful and peaceful. I hope everyone cares for them and enjoys them as Spring begins!
There are some strong memories which I still have from my childhood. Some of these memories include riding my bike, playing with action figures, camping, video games and sleepover parties. I think bikes, toys and video games are pretty usual activities for children around the world, but I’m not sure how popular sleepover parties are.
Sleepovers, also known as pajama parties or slumber parties, were pretty common in the states when I was growing up. Usually a friend or friends will sleep at another friend’s house. They will likely eat dinner there as well. Most friends will bring over a bag with their tooth brush, pajamas, pillow, and of course-favorite toys, video games or comic books. It was always the most fun when you were supposed to turn off the lights and go to bed, but just talked with your friends for another two or three hours. The mornings were always difficult.
Most children enjoy sleepovers, but they don’t happen very often. As a kid, you usually had to consider three things when planning a sleepover; 1) your parents’ mood 2) your friend’s parents’ mood 3) timing- usually on a Friday or Saturday night. Parents are always reluctant to say “Yes.” at first, because if their child wants to stay at another family’s house, they don’t want to impose. If your child wants to invite people to stay over, you have to take responsibility for another child or children. Parents also have to talk over details on the phone. This makes it a difficult prospect for children from the start. Lots of children will plan in advance, by doing chores and finishing homework early. The most common technique children use is to ask one parent- “Can I stay at Jimmy’s house?” and the parent will say “Ask your mother/father. If they say yes then it’s okay.” Then the child will ask the other parent “Is it okay if I stay at Jimmy’s house? Mom/Dad said it was okay.” Then the second parent will probably say “Yes.”. Children are always good at adapting language to their needs.
Usually sleepovers are filled with games, chatting, pillow fights, and snacks and sweets. They aren’t always smooth though. Sometimes children who aren’t used to staying away from their own home wake up and the middle of the night and want to go back to their house, which makes it hard on both parents and the host friend. Friends also sometimes get into fights with each, but it is usually a good experience all-around.
Did you grow up with sleepovers? If so, are they different from the sleepovers I wrote about? If you are a parent or grandparent, do your children or grandchildren have sleepovers? One of my favorite movies is “Sandlot”. It’s a story about baseball loving boys growing up in the late 50’s or early 60’s. They have a great sleepover scene which takes place in one of the boys’ tree house. If you have the chance and you’re interested, please check it out. You might get a glimpse of the magic of sleepovers.