Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chanko restaurant

Today the VanderHaak's invited me for lunch to this restaurant that is owned by former sumo wrestlers, apparently they call them chanko restaurants.  This type of restaurant serves food typically eaten by sumo wrestlers.  There is actually a decent variety of choices and the food was quite good.  The seats in the waiting area were quite cute!  Chris did some modeling.  :)
The cow seat.
The pig seat.
Each table is in a little room. On the tables are gas burners which you can use for cooking, depending on what you order. 
The tables.
There's the pot cooking the food.
This was my plate, some deep fried fish and shrimp and well, not sure what the two things on the right were, but they were good.  The two sauces were ketchup and a mayonnaise based sauce.
The pot on the right with the lid was a broth/soup.
The food tasted good.  I appreciated the atmosphere they created.  The music was the typical music you hear when you attend sumo wrestling.  I'd recommend it, but remember that the table is low, so you do have to find a comfortable way to sit on the floor.  It was a great experience!  Thanks VanderHaak's, for inviting me!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I am thankful for breaks.  Christmas break gives us an opportunity to remember Christ's first coming, a wonderful gift, whose purpose was to die on the cross and rise again so we can be saved!  Truthfully, I also appreciate Christmas break because it does give a chance to rejuvenate, regain some energy to begin again in January. 
Today was one of those days where I started out with nothing really on the agenda, but it still ended up being a nice day with some surprise activities. 
 This first activity was something I wasn't even thinking about.  You see, when I moved into Matsukawa Place, the curtains were already set up in the apartment.  I just left them hanging.  I had noticed that the curtains in the bedroom were just barely wide enough to cover the window.  Fortunately, there are also blinds, so not really a problem.  I got it into my head to see if any of the curtains I bought at Thrift Shop a couple of years ago would fit better.  Lo and behold, yup, there was a set.  Unfortunately the set was VERY WRINKLY!  So, I put them through the delicate cycle in the washing machine and then ironed them.  They were still damp when I hung them up, but should dry soon. 
Yes, they are still a bit damp on the bottom. 
While I was in the process of hanging the curtains, Bette V. texted me, and asked if I wanted to watch them do some horse hair pottery.  It is very interesting to watch how that all comes together.  Bette, David and Chris had already made pots, glazed and ready for the horse hair.  What Bette did was heat up the kiln with the ready made pots in it, to about 900℃.  Once the pots were hot enough, they took them out, and then put horse hair on the pot.  The hair burns and leaves a mark on the pot.  It was quite interesting to watch.  The horse hair isn't all that easy to control, so trying to create something specific is difficult.  After you are satisfied with how the pot looks, it needs to be cooled, washed or brushed clean, and then put some lotion on. I thought their pots turned out quite nice! 
See the smoke?  That's from the horse hair burning.  It isn't a great smell, if you've ever burned hair.

See the hair? 
One of David's pots.
Back in November, Bette offered the Middle School students an extra art class during Parent/Teacher conferences.  I asked if there was room yet for me to participate in one of the sessions, which there was.  She had planned to have the students work on the wheel.  It has been a very, very long time since I worked on the wheel, like way back to my undergrad Dordt days.  It was great to make those pots with help from Bette!  Today I finally was able to put the glaze on!
Yeah, I know, not very straight, but it was my first.
My second pot, looks better, but is thick.  I wasn't fully finished glazing yet.
It was a fun day, with a few surprises along the way.  I am blessed to be able to have these great experiences, planned or not.  God is good!  All the time!  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Just a few things I've seen the last few weeks.

There has been a lot of activity over the last couple of weeks.  I have not been taking a lot of pictures, but here are a few. 
Hana relaxing on the chair in the cabin.
Rest Area on our way back to Tokyo from Tak.
Riding the train back from church.
Not very full train.
Apple Crisp
Every year the seniors raise money for their service trip to Thailand in the spring.  One of the fundraisers is selling apples from Nagano.  The price is very reasonable, ¥500 for 13 apples.  They are great apples to eat, and to make a variety of apple recipes, such as the apple crisp. 

Grade 2 class singing carols in the Academic Office at CAJ.
As a part of the grade 6 Bible curriculum, they have Passover.  It's very fitting to have this right around Christmas, the time we remember to celebrate Christ's first coming and look forward to his second coming.  There are a lot of symbols in the Passover that tie in with Christ's life, death and resurrection.  One can imagine Jesus' disciples sitting with him in the Upper Room sharing that meal together. 
Grade 6 class getting ready to start Passover.
Seder plate

My little tree
Two cards, giraffe, elephant and a shell.
I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to decorating at Christmas.  Most times I don't even decorate.  Two years ago when I had my first Christmas in Japan, the grade 1 and 2 classes at Washington Christian Academy sent me a little Christmas tree with ornaments from the students.  It's kind of cute. 

The night before we left Tak, I took a video of the night sounds.  You can hear the sound of the waves at the beach.  Enjoy.