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Happy New Year!

Hello everyone, it's been a long time! Another year has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I wonder what kinds of changes we can expect this year? I hope this year will be good, too. Let's do our best!

皆さん、こんにちは。お久しぶりです!あっという間にもう一年が経ちましたね。今年は何が変わるでしょうか。今年もよい年になりますように。がんばりましょう!


Origami Exhibitions

写真:おりがみ展

In September and December 2012 I had two gallery exhibitions with my illustrator friend Mino (Minotica) The first one was at Gallery K in Kichijoji and the second one was at Reds Square Gallery in Kita Urawa, Saitama. They were both great experiences, and I was very happy that many people came to see our art. It would be great if I could do art as my job...

2012年の9月と12月にイラストレーターの友だちの土谷稔(ミノティカ)と一緒に展覧会がありました。一回目は吉祥寺のギャラリーKというところで、2回目はさいたま市北浦和のレッズスクエアギャラリーでした。本当にいい経験でした。たくさんの人が来てくれてうれしかったです。これからアートが仕事になればいいんですが。


Useful English in Koenji

Koenji English Class

Last week I taught classes at Machi No Eki in Koenji on Wednesday and Thursday about useful English when shopping. Originally we intended to teach English that would be useful for shop owners when foreign visitors came to their establishments. However, since most students had either lived abroad or had interest in going abroad, the focus was shifted to useful English in stores or restaurants.

Each day I had 5 or 6 students, and although their levels were somewhat varied, they all worked well in the class together. I really wanted to give them all a chance to practice using English, so they worked with some skits I had prepared, and they were encouraged to improvise. This way students of all levels could get something out of the class. I really enjoyed the classes and I truly hope the students enjoyed it as much as I did.


I Don't Like Rainy Season...

As we enter July we are in the middle of rainy season... I remember last year in particular where every day was either raining or dark and gloomy. This year, however, it hasn't actually been so bad. We have had many pleasant days within the rainy season, so I have been in a rather good mood as opposed to my usual rainy season depression.
The most troublesome part of rainy season is trying to do your laundry. I always wondered why people in Japan don't have clothes driers, especially during rainy season. In America we don't really have the custom of hanging our clothes out to dry so most people put their clothes in their dryer. But I suppose Japan is a much greener country than the U.S.

7月になって、梅雨の真っただ中です。特に去年は梅雨の毎日は雨か暗く陰気な雰囲気でした。今年は天気がそんなに悪くないでしょう。梅雨の中で晴れた日もたくさんあったので、去年のうつうつとしていた梅雨の変わりに比較的に機嫌がいい。
梅雨の一番面倒臭いことは洗濯ですね。特に梅雨にどうして日本の家には乾燥機がないかなと思っていました。アメリカでは洗濯の干す習慣がないので乾燥機に入れます。でも、日本の方が「グリーン」と言えるかもしれませんね。


Happy 4th of July!

Today, July 4, is an American holiday, Independence Day. I suppose most Japanese don't know about it, but it is the day in 1776 when Americans declared themselves independent of Britain. In Japan people enjoy fireworks as a summer activity, but in the U.S. we usually only have fireworks on July 4th, but everyone goes to somewhere to see them.

Also, as a mid-summer holiday, most people take a week vacation and spend the time with family and friends having barbecues and/or going to the beach. That's what my family is doing at our house in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I wish I could be there, too. Maybe next year? I am not sure when I will go back to America.

今日、7月4日はアメリカの祝日の独立記念日です。大半の日本人はあまり知らないかもしれませんが、1776年にアメリカがイギリスから独立を宣言された日です。夏のレジャーとして日本人でも花火を楽しんでいますが、アメリカでは夏だったら7月4日にしか花火がありません。でも、誰でも見に行くでしょう。

真夏の祝日なので、一週間のお休みを取って、友達や家族と一緒にバーベキューしたりビーチに行ったりしている人が多いです。うちの家族もマサチューセッツ州のケープコッドの家でそんな風に過ごしているそうです。私もいれたらいいなぁ。来年かな?今度はいつ帰れるかまだ分かりません。


Two Years in Japan...

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

I can't believe it's already been two years in Japan... (as of May 6th, 2012) Time really goes fast! Maybe only now I am getting to where I want to be, but I will keep going, keep climbing... Let's all do our best this year!

今回の日本がもう2に年になって、あまり信じられません(2012年5月6日が2周年記念)時間の経つのは早いものですね!最近本当にやりたい事が出来そうですが、もっと頑張らないといけないと思います。上り続けます。皆で頑張りましょう!


Salvatore Pizza

margarita pizza

We finally went to Salvatore Pizza in Ogikubo. I was surprised, it was actually better than I expected! Pictured here is the "Margarita Pizza", which I didn't think I could find in Japan. It was still very Japanese in that it was very small and too thin, but it was quite tasty. Probably the best pizza I had in Japan so far. Must be the brick oven. I was pleased.

ついに荻窪のサルヴァトーレというレストランに行きました。そこのピザは思ったよりおいしくてびっくりしました!写真は日本に見つけられないと思ったマルガリータピザ。普通の日本のピザみたいに小さくて薄すぎましたが、このピザは味も良かったです。たぶん、今までの日本で食べたピザの中で一番おいしかったです。レンガのかまどのおかげに違いないと思います。嬉しかったです。


Japanese Sweets!

Like I said, I love Japanese food. But I have to mention that I am also a fan of many Japanese things that most foreigners will not eat, such as natto (fermented soy beans) and anko (sweet red bean paste). I eat natto everyday, and I'll eat anko any chance I can get. I love the stuff- can't get enough. It's great because Japanese sweets are much healthier than western sweets, like cake and chocolate-- which I don't care for. Just another reason Japan suits me well.

前に言ったように、和食が大好きです。納豆とか餡ことか、他の外国人が食べたくないものでも好きです。毎日納豆を食べています。餡こはできるだけ食べるようにしています。いつも食べたいくらい、とても好きです。いいことに、あまり好きじゃない洋菓子のケーキやチョコレートのようなものより和菓子の方が健康に良いです。また日本生活に合うことの一つです。


Japanese Pizza?

I love Japanese food. I love it so much, actually, that I don't even miss food "American food". Being in Japan there are only 2 foods I miss: pizza and cereal.

Of course I can find both here, but neither Japanese pizza nor the small selection of cereals here could ever satisfy an American. I gave up on cereal already because it is too expensive here, but I still hope to one day find a good slice of pizza in Japan. On of my student's told me about a place called Salvotore's-- the same name as a place I used to go back in the States-- so the name alone makes me hungry. I will report back after I try it!

和食が大好きです。実は「アメリカ料理」を食べたくならないくらい好きです。日本の暮らしで2つのアメリカの食べ物だけまた食べたいです。それはピザとシリアルです。

両方は日本に買えますが、日本のピザの味と種類が少ないシリアルはアメリカ人にとって満足ではないでしょう。日本のシリアルも高すぎて諦めましたが、おいしいピザはまだ見つけたいと思います。私の生徒さんが「サルバトレ」というピザレストラン上がると教えてくれて、ボストンでよく行ったレストランと同じ名前で、名前だけで良い予感がします。試した後でまたここで書きます!


Holidays in Japan

In America Christmas is a very big holiday, and most places are closed, and most people take vacations to spend time with their family. On New Years Eve people go out late and party and drink with their friends. People don't do anything in particular to celebrate New Years Day. People are tired and just want to sleep late and recuperate, and everyone goes back to work on January 2nd.

In Japan, it is the opposite. Christmas is not really an important day, but on the other hand Christmas Eve is a big night to go out and people often have dates and plans it seems. But New Years is the important time to spend with family, and it seems most people return home for a few days at this time and share a big meal, just like Christmas or Thanksgiving in America. I found this to be quite interesting.

アメリカにはクリスマスは大切な祝日で、会社はほとんど休み、家族と一緒に過ごすために長く休みます。12月31日に皆が遅くまで友達と一緒にパーティーしたり、飲んだりしています。お正月に別になにもしないで、休養して遅く寝てのんびりすることだけです。一月二日からはまた仕事です。

日本では逆です。クリスマスはそんなに大切ではなくて、クリスマスイブの方がデートや予定で出かけることが多いです。一歩で、お正月は家族と一緒に過ごすところです。アメリカのクリスマスとサンクスギビングのように、人が実家に帰って一緒に食事をする習慣もあります。面白いですね。


Slurping Noodles

I went to Hanamaru to eat udon for lunch today, and after over 2 years in Japan I still can't get used to everyone slurping their noodles. After living in a country for 28 years where it is considered rude, it still feels strange to me. Even harder to get used to than the sound is doing it myself-- I was told in Japan it is customary to slurp and I should do so too. But it's really hard to break the habit of eating quietly.

今日はお昼にうどんを食べにはなまるうどんに行きました。2年間以上日本にいるのに、皆がめんを食べる時に大きな音を立ててすすることにまだなれることができません。音を立ててすするのが失礼だと思われる国に28年間住んでいたので変わった感じがします。すする音より私が音を立ててすすることが慣れにくいです。日本で習慣ですので私もやった方がいいと言われましたが、遠慮がちにめんをすする習慣をやめにくいです。


Washi: "The Skin of Japan"

Since I became serious about making origami as fine art, I became interested in Japanese handmade washi paper. It is very strong, beautiful paper. My American friend who is a well known origami artist and paper-maker calls it the "skin of Japan." When I recently went to Ozu Washi in Shinbashi, I felt like a kid in a candy store! I wanted to stay there all day and spend all my money. I look forward to going again soon.

芸術的に折り紙をしたいということに真剣になってから、日本の和紙にも興味を持つようになりました。とても強くてきれいな紙です。アメリカの有名な折り紙のアーティストと自分で手作りの紙を漉いている友達は「日本の皮」と呼びます。最近、新橋の小津和紙に行って、お菓子屋にいる子どもになったような気分になって、一日ずっといたくて全部のお金を使いたかったです!遠慮できましたが、また行くのを楽しみににしています。


First Trip Home

アメリカの旅行

For over a month in the fall I was back in the U.S. for my first visit since May 2010. It was a new experience because I knew I would be returning to Japan, so it was really just a trip. In my time in the U.S. I visited my home town near Boston, my parents house in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, New York City for the 911 ten year anniversary, Yosemite National Park for my cousin's wedding, and San Francisco to visit many friends.

I experienced culture shock when I arrived in the U.S. and the airport staff talked openly to everyone and made many jokes. They all talked to me like a friend and it took me aback, as this sort of exchange would never happen in Japan.

It was a great trip, but I was very happy to be able to come back to Japan.

秋に一ヶ月以上アメリカに帰っていってきました。2010年の5月から初めてでした。日本に戻るつもりがあったので、本当に旅行だけでアメリカにいることを初めて感じました。アメリカにいる時間で色々な所に行きました:ボストンと近くある出身地、マサチューセッツ州のケープコッドの実家、ニューヨークの911の10周年式典、ヨセミテ国立公園の従姉の結婚式、サンフランシスコの友達の家。

アメリカに到着してからボストンのローガン国際空港でスタッフがお客さんに友達のように話しかけたり、冗談したりして逆カルチャーショックを受けてしまいました。特に関東にあり得ないことでしょう。関西の違いが良く分かりませんが、大阪国際空港では想像できません。

本当に楽しい旅行でしたが、日本に戻ってくることができてとてもうれしいです。これからもよろしくお願いします。


The Earthquake of the Century

What are the chances I would be in Japan during it's largest earthquake disaster to take place in 1,000 years? At the time I had only been in Japan a total of less than 2 years. I still can't really believe that this happened. I feel very sorry about everything that happened to the people in Tohoku, and I will continue to pray for them and for Japan.

東日本大震災は1000年間に一回起こるくらい大きい大震災だと言われています。その時に2年間以下日本にいて、それを経験して今でもあまり信じられません。地震で被災された方々に心からお悔やみとお見舞いを申し上げます。日本のためにお祈りしています。


Traveling in Japan

Hiroshima

I always thought Japan was a beautiful country. The cities are clean and the lights are dazzling. The historical sites are magnificent to behold, with unique architecture and cultural significance. The nature is more majestic than anyplace I have ever seen.

My first time in Japan I traveled a lot around Honshuu. I went to all the major cities. I went to Kyoto twice, Nikko twice. This time, I was more concerned with deepening my understanding of language and culture, and traveling has not been a main purpose. So far I went on 3 trips by myself: the first was to Hiroshima, Miyajima, and Nagasaki. The second trip was to Nagoya for an origami convention, and the 3rd time I went to Shirakawa-go in Gifu.

Each place was amazing, but I enjoyed the places I went to for the first time the most. I think Miyajima and Shirakawa-go are my new favorite places in Japan. They both have the historical beauty and natural beauty I described. They may lack the city beauty, but I can see that often in Tokyo anyway.

Although I didn't think I would be traveling so much this time, I am glad I did and I have a new desire to see more of Japan. I want to know more and get closer to Japan.


One Year in Japan...

Wow, time flies!! Before I could realize, my second stay in Japan has already reached one year. I arrived here in Suginami, Tokyo, on May 6th, 2010.

I've had a lot of great experiences, and I definitely learned a lot more this time, my second year in Japan. Last time (2004-2005) I left happily after about a year, but this time I cannot. It has been great so far, but I am not satisfied yet.

I need to try harder. I still have no confidence-- a sad truth after being here for a year. Has my Japanese improved? Do I understand more about Japan? It is hard to tell.

Some people think that I will stay here forever, but I don't think so... However, I cannot foresee when I will feel satisfied enough to return to America permanently. I am excited to visit my family this fall, but I will come back shortly after. Mostly I am very happy with my decision to stay after the earthquake. I would rather stay here and try to help this great country I love.

大要:2010年5月6日来日しました。いつの間にか一年経ってしまいました。時間が経つのは早いものですね。2回目の日本の方がいい経験でたくさん学ぶことができましたが、満足していないので帰国しないことにしました。本当に一年が足りないことに気がついて、旅行だけで帰ることになっています。家族に会うのを楽しみにしていますが、日本の生活を続けるといいですね。特に、東日本大震災の後に大勢の外国人たちのように帰国しなくて良かったです。逃げる代わりに、こんな時こそいた方がよいと思います。一緒に頑張りましょう!


The Folding Continues!

Butterfly Ball

On April 27th we folded the Butterfly Ball. It turned out to be a lot harder than I expected, but in the end everyone could finish the model. Part of the fun, however, is breaking it apart and the putting it back together, but nobody wanted to break it after they made it. It looks like butterflies flying when broken in the air, so I was glad they could enjoy it when I showed them.

Starting this month (May) the class is being moved to Mure Kid's House, in the same building as TFF. Hope you can join!!

4月27日に折り紙教室でバタフライボールという作品ができました。思ったより難しいようでしたが、結局皆が出来上がりました。この作品の楽しいことは組み立てることだけではなくて、壊すことです。でも、わざわざ組み立てた後でだれも壊したくなかったです。壊したら12羽の蝶々が空を飛ぶことに見えます。それで私が見せた時、喜んでくれて嬉しかったです。

今月(5月)からTFFと同じビルのミュールキッズ・ハウスで行うことになっています。お待ちしております!

詳しくはこちら


Another Great Class 2011.04.06

8-piece ring

This week's origami class had great success! We made the 'Mette-Basceta Ring' with folding method by Michael G. LaFosse, my great friend and mentor from my home state of Massachusetts. Many students were surprised that I had them make a measurement tool out of paper. We made an 8-piece and a 12-piece model. Every week there is something new. For the next class on April 27th, we will be making the Butterfly Ball, by Kenneth Kawamura. It is made with 12 pieces of paper. I'm looking forward to it.

今週の折り紙教室は大成功しました!「メッタ・バシェッタ・リング」という作品を私と同じいマサチューセッツ洲出身の友人のマイケルGラフォース先生の折り方で作りました。紙で定規のようなツールを作り生徒さんも驚いていました。8枚と12枚の作品を作りました。毎回何か新しいことがあって楽しいです。次回4月27日にはカワムラケンさんのButterfly Ball(蝶々の球体)を作る予定です。12枚で組み立てる作品です。楽しみにしております。


Origami in English!

Greg teaching

In February I started teaching a class on my beloved origami, a subject that many Japanese are familiar with since their childhood. So what twist could I apply to this? Well, for one I teach in English, and secondly, I have been showing the true "art" behind origami that is still rather unknown.

In Japan and all over the world many people think of origami as a simple craft, often aimed at children. It is that, but so much more-- it is an amazing art form where there are no limits! I am very passionate about it, and I hope to spread that passion among Japanese. It is thanks to origami that I am in Japan now. It changed my life.

2月から大好きな折り紙の教室を始めました。折り紙は日本人なら子どもの頃からよく知っていますので、外国人の私は一体どうやって新しい知識を教えたら良いのか、、。まず英語で教えます。それに、できるだけ折り紙の芸術的な特徴を伝えようと思っています。

日本でも、世界でも、折り紙はただ子ども向けの単純なペーパークラフトだと思われています。もちろんそれもありますが、氷山の一角です。無限の可能性がある芸術です! 私は折り紙にとても興味を持ち、長年研究してきたので日本の人にも広めたいと思います。折り紙のおかげで今日本に滞在しているくらいです。折紙が私の人生を変えたのです。