Contents in 1999

no. dating title



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Answer from Elvis



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Young Mothers' Net



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Mother's Day



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My Father's Collection



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My Collection



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About Health



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St. Paul's Cathedral and my Acrophobia



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Ben Casey



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Kids' Pictures



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Our Culture in English



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Reunion in Tokyo



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The Seven Deities of Good Fortune

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January 28, 1999

Answer from Elvis

The English popular newspaper Mirror reported on the 16th in January, 1999, that Ms. Karen Gorz, a fifty-year-old lady living in Oberhausen in the western Germany, received the answer from an American rock singer, Elvis Presley, 39 years after she wrote a letter to him in 1960.

The answering letter is written in his own handwriting, and it is extremely precious because there are only five or so letters of Elvis's own writing in the world.

At that time he served in the army in West Germany. Although Miss Gorz wrote a letter asking his autograph in celebration of her eleventh birthday, she got no reply from him and she did almost cry.

But in fact he did write an answer actually. It is because the landlady of the billet didn't mail the letter that it wasn't delivered. The relatives of the landlady that passed away recently contributed her articles concerned with Presley to the local fan club. And the members dug up the not-mailed letter and they found out Ms. Gorz.

The letter says, "Dear Karen, Happy Birthday to you!" Ms. Gorz says, "I could find out that Elvis had really written an answer to me, and I almost shed tears."

It is a nice story and I wish I had such a marvelous experience as this. What we do seed in the course of our life brings some happy fruit after quite a long interval. When we have such an experience, we can find life worth living.

I think it is not too much to say that we have to try hard to sow many kinds of seeds, to take good care of them, and to wait patiently for the fruits without too much expectation.

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April 1, 1999

Young Mothers' Net

Some members of our Internet circle are making some plans for our activity. Four women living near Ofuna are thinking over the lecture on computer and Internet for homemakers and young mothers.

Several days ago one of them sent a mail to the rest. In it she says that she is a mother of two little kids. So she has little time to herself. Originally being quite an active person, she looked beat due to the fact that she is desperately tied to kids and home.

She says that Internet is the best communicative tool in this digital world for young mothers who cannot go out freely, and who feel isolated from outside society. Besides they can't get enough information about childcare with all this information-oriented society.

It seems that these three points can be associated with Internet directly. That is, the Internet could provide them with many friends, company, and information. In other words, the virtual world of Internet plays the same role as the real society. The sender of the mail would like to help young mothers enter the internet world by giving lessons in computer usage and offering a homepage with much information on child care including medical primary care at home and chat room.

The rest three are going to be willing to support her. We are scheduled to have a meeting next week. I hope our plans will work out satisfactorily.

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May 13, 1999

Mother's Day

This year the 9th in May is Mother's Day. It has become the most impressive day in my life in two senses.

First I celebrated Mother's Day for my mother and my mother in law at the same time. My husband and I delivered flowers to them together. To tell the truth I myself did it for my mother for the first time after the marriage. As my parents' family has no habit of exchanging something for such events as Mother's Day, I take it for granted that I don't do any other special thing than expressing my thanks in words. But my mother and father were so much glad to receive flowers that I was also happy to see that.

Second it was more impressive to me.

My younger son offered me supper. It was first time in my life. He got up in the afternoon because he came home at about four in the morning. He had been to Fujisawa with his friends to practice their band playing. And on Sunday he was going to go shopping. Before he left home, he said to me, "Won't you go shopping with me to Yokohama?" But I had something to do in the afternoon, so I said so to him.

After a little thinking, he said, "Then let's go to eat out together! I'll be back around seven."

When my husband heard his words, he was sure that the promise would not be kept at a rate of 80%. Even if he was right, I was happy enough to hear his words.

My son didn't come back at seven. Was my husband right? Before eight he called me at last and said, "I'll be back soon and you wait for me down in the parking lot."

Although he asked where I wanted to go, I didn't have any idea and said to him, "As you like. Anywhere will do." He took me to the yakitori house on the community center street. It was very small but the food was very good. It was my first experience to eat yakitori out. I like it very much and I want to go again.

To tell for the honor of my elder son, he had to work on Sunday till late. He thanked me in words later for my making his lunch in the morning.

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May 27, 1999

My Father's Collection

My father is now 82 years old. He loves classic music, so he has been collecting records for 62 years.

A few days ago I interviewed him because I didn't know about his hobby in detail. Although I was always with his collection, I found out that I was hardly interested in it. I could hear his story for the first time.

He began his collection at the age of 20. He said it was the reason he began to work then. In about 40 years he collected more than 2000 records, he said. But my mother was sure he had more.

At first they were SPs, which make 78 revolutions per minute. One side of SP can play about 3 minutes. That is, Beethoven's symphony No. 5 needs 5 SPs, for example.

In the wartime he couldn't buy iron needles, so he used the bamboo needles, which was sharply cut with special scissors. After the war needles made of sapphire appeared and then diamond.

Then EP and LP took the place of SP, which make 45 or 33.3 revolutions per minute. He began to collect records of operas.

When we lived in Osaka in my twenties, he built his house according to his own design in order to put all his collection in order in the shelves. One day, however, the ceiling over the shelves fell onto his audio set because the records were too much heavy. At that time he kept all his SPs.

When he moved to an apartment from the detached house, he broke many of them into pieces. And when he moved to Kamakura last year, he sold many of his records. The record shop bought them at a low price, but he was so much relieved to know his records could make someone happy. The shop owner said there were many enthusiasts crazy to have some special records like one of Maria Callas.

In all he got rid of about 800 records reluctantly. Now he began to collect music CDs.

While we talked about his collection, he said that he would show us his treasure. And he took out an album from the shelf. It was the album of historical masterpieces. It was produced in the 16th year of Showa Era and it cost 70 yen at that time. My mother said the first salary of new comer was about 30 yen. I don't understand the value but it seems to him extremely precious.

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July 1, 1999

My Collection

I love to see the movies, especially foreign films. Since I was a high school girl, I have been collecting pamphlets of the films I watched in the theater.

These days we can see on TV old films, good films, and even quite new films at home. But it doesn't seem to me that we could enjoy the films fully at home on a small screen of TV. When we see some film in the darkness of the theater, I think, we can feel the driving power, impressive colors and the full atmosphere of its own.

So I would like to see the films in the theater as often as possible. I make it a rule to get the pamphlet each time I see the movie in the theater. For about 30 years I have collected about 100 pamphlets.

To my disappointment it is rather small number. It is not because I didn't go to the movies so often, but because I could hardly do it when my kids were little. And later I was greatly involved in home chores.

Besides I couldn't go to the movies all alone. When I was young, the location of the theaters was not so good for young girls to go alone. It meant whenever I had no one to go with, I couldn't go there. Indeed I have an unpleasant experience in the theater. Once I had a seat next to the seat by the aisle, a middle-aged man sat on the next seat. Although there were many vacant seats left, he sat there. In the dark he reached out his hand for mine. Just before his touching, I noticed his movement and I moved to another seat. And from then on I have never been there alone.

I am sorry that I have been away from the point.

Actually I have lost some pamphlets and thrown away some after I moved here and there. And some of them were taken away by my kids. For many years I watched the movies on TV with my kids or alone in the night. So I have comparatively not many of pamphlets.

Each of them has a special memory not only of the movie, but also of the kids at that time, the life in those days.
For example, the pamphlets of "Superman" were torn, worn-out, and dirty. It is because my kids loved the movies so much and they watched and read them so many times.

With the movie "Caesar and Cleopatra" I have some memories. Then my husband came with me unusually. At that time my kids were still little and my mother in law looked after them while we went out. I was very happy because it was rare for us to go out together alone. But later I regretted going to the movie with him. To my big disappointment he suddenly laughed aloud in the midst of the most touching scene. So I wouldn't like to go with him again.

And "Sound of Music" and "Gone with the Wind", I watched these two films several times in the theater and later on TV. As for the latter I have the video, too.

Some collections are valuable because the things are expensive or rare, and others have special value for the owners in a particular sense.

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July 15, 1999

About Health

Recently health has got the priority over anything else in generally thinking.
We often talk about health from not only our personal view but also from the social point of view.

For example, when I say that I make it a rule not to smoke for health, it is a thoroughly individual problem. Then I care only my health, I mean I don't get some diseases as the result of smoking. And more I don't want to have physical pains and never want to die early.

But as for smoking, it is not only an individual problem but also a big problem in the human future.
Smoking for a pretty long time causes hurt on the cells in the level of gene. When the person who has some hurt in the gene has kids, they can also have the same hurt gene.
And when the hurt is extended much enough to cause mutation on the body of human being, the influence might result in evolutionary change.

Almost every day a certain food disappears from the market. That's why those who watch TV shows informing of the special effect of a certain food rush into the market to buy it. Their matter is health of their own. They can't see bigger problem than that. Long history of immeasurable time has made up the present human being. We are the mixed up things of a lot of factors and elements that are tangled complicatedly. Only a few foods can't change us easily.

If we care really our health in the future, we have to consider our circumstances, nature around us, pollution problem, even our daily life style.

I am afraid that we have forgot many valuable and important things behind us because we were so eager to pursuit our comfort and convenience. As the result the balance of our life is lost as well as one of the natural earth. And that is the reason of bad health. We should remember that we are one link of the ecological system itself. We should not taste the harvest from the field with chemical fertilizer. We should not enjoy the fruits from unnatural hybrid tree. We should not control the balance of nature.

We have to build up the right pyramid with the vast basis. The high technical society in the developed countries is like an inverted pyramid. Like a house of cards it can easily fall down from the bottom by a little bit fault. Indeed, even with only one wrong "bit" we might have a monstrous trouble in the New Year.

Health is a big problem. Don't you think so? Of course individually and globally.

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September 8, 1999

St. Paul's Cathedral and my Acrophobia

During my trip to London in this summer, my friend and I visited St. Paul Cathedral. Before the trip we checked up several guidebook of London, and we decided to go up the dome to the top.

We entered and watched the inside, and then we began to go up the dome. At first the broad wooden stairs, then the narrow stone steps. In all there were 259 steps. We got to the Whispering Gallery, where they say we could hear the other voices at the opposite sides. We tried, but we couldn't hear each other. A foreigner advised me how to stand and how to speak, but in vain. From the gallery we could look down to the hall with a marvelous view. The marble pavement in the hall was very beautiful from the gallery, and then the all design was clear to understand.

Then the next 119 steps became narrower to the outside gallery. Up in the Stone Gallery there was a strong wind, and the beautiful scenery down there.

After going round we began to go up again. This time the iron staircase was about 60 cm wide and the steps were only 10 cm deep. The rail was only slim wire. Moreover I could see the downstairs through the steps. It was the worst because I have a fear of heights. My friend went up on and on with my bags in her hand. My limbs were almost frozen to death, my heart almost jumped out from my mouth. After long hard crawling up 152 steps I managed to get to the top, the Golden Gallery.

Outside was the narrow gallery, from which we could look around London. But I was so scared by the height of 85 m. The steps we came up here were 530 steps in all. Coming down was another torture for me. It was a great challenge for me to go up to the high place, especially through a horrible staircase.

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October 25, 1999

Ben Casey

I wonder if Ben Casey is a celebrity or not. But I would like to tell you about him. An article in a magazine reminded me of him all of a sudden. For a long time I had forgot him completely.

In my teens I loved to watch his TV program. It was in black-and-white. I think it was the first series of hospital dramas ever broadcast on TV.

Ben Casey was an excellent doctor. He was also humane and handsome. As a hero he always solved various problems in his own special way. Among almost all women in those days he was quite popular. Every time one story was concluded. I enjoyed every single story so much that I would wait eagerly for the next week.

Even now I remember one story in that drama. In the hospital a young girl in her twenties had been in a coma for more than ten years. I forgot the name of her disease. She was a little girl in the primary school when she fell into a coma.

One day all at once she was awoken by the sound when a metallic tool dropped onto the floor. She thought it the sound of school bell. From then she suffered from the gap between her real age and her mental age. She was still a child mentally, but her appearances were of a young lady.

And besides she had a bad headache because of her brain tumor. Unfortunately it was in the center of the brain so that it was impossible to get rid of it by an operation. Dr Ben Casey came to a decision to block her nerves so that she might not feel any pain, but that meant she would be in danger of not knowing the condition of herhe was in danger of not knowing the condition of her body. After the operation she lived her life without pain in the hospital. She was happy in a sense but sad at the same time.

In the ending scene she was walking on the beach with Dr Ben Casey. Then she injured her foot with a piece of broken glass. But she felt no pain while she was bleeding. Dr Ben Casey took her up in his arms and went back to the hospital.

While I was writing this story, I came to wonder what would become of me if the same thing happened to me now. During the past decade the world has unbelievably changed. Sometimes I feel as if the present were an unrealistic world. When I was young, I never thought such a world as this would come true in my lifetime.

Today a lot of people use their own portable telephone and personal computer at home. We can see or hear a person on the other side of the earth instantly. The telephone sends out a text file or photos online. In a foreign country we can withdraw our deposit from the bank in Japan fast and easy, with a card. All of these could be done in the science fiction world in my younger time. If I should wake up now after a ten-year sleep, I could not keep up with the change, I'm afraid. I wonder if I am happy in this dizzy, scientific, machine world.

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October 28, 1999

Kids' Pictures

Last Thursday I met one of my friends in the community center after long interval. We went to a nearby sushi restaurant, where we enjoyed good lunch and happy talk.

Then we visited the La-Wel Hall to see the exhibition of kids' pictures in the world. There were about 200 pictures from over 100 countries made by the kids in the age from 6 to 16. The works were very colorful, cheerful, bold designed, with unique inspiration, which the grown ups would never think of.

In the pictures you can find distinctive features according to the countries. Several works reminded me of the countries where the painters lived. Some of them could be regarded as refined, some were very cute, and others made happy atmosphere.

I was so much surprised at the richness and freshness of senses. Even in the exhibition of famous artists I have never felt such a fresh feeling before. We enjoyed the kids' pictures so much.

This exhibition reminds me a picture of my younger son. He painted it in the kindergarten when he was about 5 years old. On the white paper he painted a big circle, and several vertical lines. And in the big circle there were several small circles.
My husband and I couldn't understand his picture at all. We asked him what he painted. His answer was that he made a picture of American football.
A few weeks before he went to Koshi-en Stadium and saw an American football game with his father and his brother.

Perhaps it might be very impressive to him to look down the game from the upper seats. He painted his feeling as straight as possible. At that time I had a vision of an artist in the future, and had a little selfish expectations. But it happened just once, and never happened after that.

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November 18, 1999

Our Culture in English

In Japan many, many people learn foreign languages in various places.
When we learn a foreign language, we usually read the topics of the country concerned in the textbook.

I will tell you about English as the representative example. It is completely said in the junior high and senior high, and also in the university. We read in the English readers many stories, which interest us greatly as attractive unknown things. We are used to having a lot of information from those sources. As for me, it is one of my pleasures to know many things of England or America. For example, the custom, the way of thinking, the life style, the history, and so on. All of them are quite different from those in Japan.

Recently I have read some book about the English study. And the author insists in the book that we should tell our culture in English. According to his opinion, in the early times when our country opened the door to the world, it was one of developing countries. So our ancestors had to absorb information about all things. Studying English meant studying western, advanced culture. That's why all the topics in the English readers are about their culture.

But today Japan has become one of advanced nations, although I don't know it can be said in the true meaning. The author, therefore, proposes to us that we should send our information to the world in English. Our knowledge and information are needed, he says.

Of course, I agree with him about the need for it. And also when we face to foreigners even in Japan, it is necessary to be able to explain our culture in English. Or when we go abroad, it will be also fun to tell them about our culture.

Well, then I have to study Japan again. I don't have enough knowledge about my county to explain foreigners clearly. As I have no confidence in it, I have to learn many things, politics, economy, history, literature, music, culture, and so on.
Perhaps I have to go to have some lessons, read the newspaper and many books, work hard at home...
After all I will be very busy with them, so I could find no time for studying English.

What a shame!

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November 25, 1999

Reunion in Tokyo

Last Monday I went to Tokyo. As one of my friends had come to Tokyo to visit her son last Saturday, we met at the Shinagawa Station.

At first we went to Hama-rikyu Gardens on foot from the Hamamatsu-cho Station.
I had never been there before, and I was very surprised and pleased to see the beautiful grand garden in the waterfront of Tokyo. We took a walk around there and saw the 300 year-old black pine, the teahouse of shogun in the middle of pond, and the landing place where the shogun embarked and disembarked. In the garden we felt as if we were not in the big city but in the woods. It was very quiet and beautiful.

In the garden there is the waterbus berth, from which we can get on the waterbus and go up the Sumida River to Asakusa. During the 40 minutes of travel the bus goes through 12 bridges, whose various designs we can enjoy. On that day it was fine and rather warm, and we could enjoy traveling by boat.

At Asakusa we got the city map and touring map at the Touring Center in front of the Kaminari Gate. Then we took a stroll along the Nakamise Street. It was very crowded with a lot of tourists including foreigners.

After we visited the main shrine, we crossed the Kototoi Bridge and entered the Sumida Ward. This side of the river was very quiet. We decided to visit the Seven Deities of Good Fortune of Sumida River. In Japan we can find them as a folk belief here and there. To our surprise there are eleven of them only in the Tokyo metropolitan area. And some cultured persons who gathered in the Hyakka Garden founded that of Sumida River in the Edo Era. Of course we wanted to visit all of them, but we were so sorry that we didn't have enough time. So we visited only four of them, and we made up our minds to visit the rest the next time.

While walking here and there, we talked and talked many things because we met after a long interval. At last we said goodbye at the Shinagawa Station again.

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November 30, 1999

The Seven Deities of Good Fortune

In Japan we can find the seven deities of good fortune as a folk belief here and there. To my surprise there are eleven of them only in the Tokyo metropolitan area. And some cultured persons who gathered in the Hyakka Garden founded that of Sumida River in the Edo Era. The other day I visited some of them with my friend, so I will tell you about the seven deities of good fortune.

The seven deities of good fortune include six gods and a goddess. They come from various sources such as Shintoism, Buddhism, Taoism, Brahmanism etc.

Ebisu 's origin is the deity the Nishinomiya shrine and the god of the sea and fishery. He wears a kind of cap on his head. In his left hand he holds a big red sea bream, and in his right hand a fishing rod.

Daikoku is called Daikokuten, too. He wears hood on his head and he carries a big bag filled with treasures on his left shoulder, and a mallet of luck in his right hand. He stands on the straw ricebags. He is the god of wealth, and he is also the god of Kitchen as well as Ebisu.

Fukurokuju is regarded as the incarnation of the South Pole Star in China. He is short. And he is a long-headed, long bearded old man. In his hand he carries a cane with a scroll of sutra. He is the god of wealth and longevity.

Bishamonten is said that he lives in the north of Mt. Shumisen, and guards the north world. His appearance is a warrior with a raged face. In his right hand he holds a pike, and in his left hand a pagoda. He is also called Tamonten.

Jurojin was Chinese in the 11th century. He carries a cane with a scroll of sutra and a folding fan. He took a deer with him, which is the symbol of longevity. He is sometimes regarded as the same light as Fukurokuju.

Hotei was a Zen priest in the 10th century. Because of his plump appearance and fat body the people respected him as the incarnation of Miroku. He walked around for charity with a big bag on his shoulder. He is the god of innocent and unselfish heart.

Benzaiten is only one goddess in the seven deities. The goddess of eloquence, music and wisdom. She plays biwa, Japanese mandolin. Often Kisshoten is regarded as the same as her in Japan.

The people, especially in the business world, visit the seven deities of good fortune in the New Year and pray for the prosperity, And ordinary people pray for their luck and long life.

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That's all in 1999.

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