Pink Heels and Rusty

Rusty's electric blue eyes bored into me, his expression a total cipher.

"You're mad at me."

"Mmm-mmm," he shook his head without taking his eyes from mine or changing his expression. I couldn't look away. The grass under my feet scratched.

"Then what?" Yeah, I was asking the obvious.

"You said your shoes would match my hair." His voice was matter-of-fact, just a shade cool, revealing no hint of what he was really thinking. "I just want you to know that my hair is not hot pink."

My ears burned. I held up my heels, pleading with my eyes.

"And my hair is not fuzzy. Curly, sure. Not fuzzy."

The fake fur ankle straps. Mom had called them excessive. Did the corners of his mouth twitch?

"But they're cute, aren't they?"

"Sure. But nothing on my head is as sharp as those stilts, not even my nose."

Relief flooded me. "Oh my gosh. You had me going."

He tilted his auburn head. "You wear those tonight and your ankles'll be killing you before you leave." I couldn't tell if he was warning or joking. Maybe both. Then he bent down without changing his expression.

"Uh, what should I do?" I asked as I watched him. I didn't know whether to squat down with him or remain standing. Either way was awkward.

He pulled one shoe off. "Well, you could go barefoot. Myself, I never pass up a chance to go barefoot." Then he pulled his sock off and wiggled his toes. I know it sounds stupid, but his feet were as perfect as his face.

I think I would have died if he had let his focus drift even for a moment to my thighs.

When I was choosing my outfit, my thoughts had been different. I chose the tight denim hot pants and loose, light blue v-neck tee-shirt specifically to keep his attention on me. But when I arrived at his house for the party, I could see I was out of place.

He had met me on the front sidewalk before I could quite decide whether to say I must be at the wrong house, and had stared, just for a moment, at my high-heeled shoes before saying, "Nice heels! Wanna take a look at the back yard? It's where we'll be dancing later."

Not knowing quite what to do, I had removed the shoes as I followed him around the corner of the house, before both of us came to stand in the soft but scratchy grass.

And now he had removed his shoes.

I do not not know how he managed it, but he straightened up without looking once at my legs.

"Let's put our shoes on the porch."

"Rusty!" A girl's voice called through the back door. "What ..." The door swung open and Rusty's sister stepped out. "Ah, you must be Cheryl. Rusty said you would be coming."

"Hi." I didn't know what else to say. I was planning on seducing your little brother? Right. That joke would not fly in this house, not in this group.

"Cheryl, this is Reba, my big sister."

"So nice to meet you. Lovely outfit. Where did you find it? Could you come with me? I could use some help. Mom wants to talk with you, Rusty."

"Thanks, Reeb."

"Uh, ..." I looked back to Rusty.

He just grinned, and my awkward feelings seemed to vanish like mist. "Reeb's a good friend. I'll go see what my mom wants."

Reba came down the steps and hugged me. "Bring your heels. Wouldn't want'em walking off without you."

I followed her up the back stairs, carrying my shoes.

"I'm gonna change to jeans, and I want your opinion," Reba said as she led me into her room.

"Uhm, ..."


"I'm dressed wrong."

She started pulling pairs of jeans out of her closet. "Whattaya think o ' this pair?"

"I guess I misunderstood when Rusty said casual. Those look nice."

"Think so? I have an old pair that matches these. Not your kind of casual? Here. Do you think they'd fit you?"

"Maybe. Not my ... usual casual, I guess. Fit me? May I?"

Ten minutes later, we descended the front stairs in matching jeans and tees. She had found me a pink camisole to go under my tee-shirt, and picked a tee of her own that matched the blue of mine. And we were both barefoot. And friends.

I don't quite know how Rusty's family made me feel so at ease so quickly, but I had even forgotten to worry what Mrs. Ellison would say.

"Ah, Reeba, Cheryl, there you are. Come help me with the finger food."

Of course Rusty was right. I would have broken my heels or my ankles or both, dancing in the grass.

The music was loud enough to dance to, but not loud enough to bother the neighbors. In fact, some of the neighbors joined the party at different times.

And it was fun. Reeba and her date led a bit of formation street, and some of their church friends showed us how to dance ballroom style. And there were parlour games, which are kind of like drinking games without the drinking. And nobody paired off to go submarine racing in the bushes or anything.

I got to help clean up, and I found myself driving home thinking that she who had come to conquer was the vanquished. And I didn't exactly hate the idea.


Asking for a Letter of Reference

A letter of reference is a lttle different from a letter of recommendation, and a reference is not a guarantor.


letter of reference:


You provide a letter of reference to give someone an idea of what sort of person you are.

A referee is completely irrelevant to letters of reference. When you think "referee", think of the guys who call the plays in football and other sports.
"Referee"  と言うのは全く関係ありません。審判のような者です。

[This is not exactly true in the field of law. I'm talking about letters of reference for school and job applications.]

So I have put together a little sample conversation to help understand the concept and the usage.


Hana: Professor Williams!

Prof.: Uh, hello.

Hana: Do you remember me? Hana Kinoshita.

Prof: Uhm, sorry, give me some more clues.

Hana: I took your class in foreign language teaching methodologies at Nanboku University seven years ago.

Prof.: Nanboku University ... Ah, yes, I remember teaching there. I was also teaching at Touzai University at the same time.

Hana: Oh, dear. I was hoping to ask you for a letter of reference.

Prof.: You would get a better letter of reference from a tenured professor, I'm afraid.

Hana: But I was hoping for a letter of reference for the methodologies class. I'm applying for post-graduate teacher training at a college in the US.

Prof.: Well, if I were at my desk where I could look at my records, I might remember better. Can you send me an e-mail to refresh my memory?

Hana: Oh, well, I guess I can.

Prof.: And maybe you should get a letter from one of the tenured professors, as well.

Hana: I'll try. Can you write down your e-mail address for me?

Prof.: Got a pencil?


Don't worry. Forgotten but not forgotten.


To: jill7williams (at) groupmail.net
From: hana.yesterday (at) rose.readmail.ne.jp
Subject: Letter of reference I asked for today

Dear Prof. Williams,

Thank you for taking time for me this aftenoon.

I was a student in your foreign language teaching methodologies class at Nanboku University in 2010.

One of the things I remember you teaching were methods of engaging the student. You demonstrated how pretending to forget what words mean can be used to invite the students to help in class.

I really appreciated the teamwork assignments. You had me leading a team twice, once in techniques for elementary schools and once in techniques for high schools.

Sometimes it was hard for me to finish on time because I was also taking a class in using novels as a teaching tool, and had to demonstrate use of four novels for that class over the semester. You helped me several times when I was having trouble getting projects ready to turn in.

I need a letter of reference for Southwestern Teachers College in New Mexico. Could you write one for me? I am asking one of the tenured professors, as well, at your suggestion.

The address to send the letter to is

Admissions Office
Southwestern Teachers College
Santos Pisces, New Mexico 99999

Please let me know if you can.

Respectfully yours,

Hana Kinoshita


That's a little formal for e-mail, but this is a formal request.

Note that prompting the memory, as Hana does here, is okay, especially because Professor Williams asked for help remembering.

Asking the professor to say specific things is usually considered a breach of protocol.


To: hana.yesterday (at) rose.readmail.ne.jp
From: jill7williams (at) groupmail.net
Subject: Re: Letter of reference I asked for today

Dear Hana,

I have checked my records and refreshed my memory.

I recall encouraging you to work hard on the novels class.

I also recall you falling asleep a couple of times in class because you had been practicing late for the drama club. Remember to use those drama techniques in your classes.

I will be happy to send your letter of reference (and I won't mention the falling asleep in class ;-).

I checked the address for Southwestern Teachers College. The best place to send letters of reference for graduate school applicants is the graduate admissions office, so I will send it there.

Let me know how things go at STCNM.


Jill Williams


This is where Hana's involvement ends.

The letter should usually be sent by regular post (physical mail) directly from the professor to the school.
大概は、教授本人がこの letter of reference を直接その学校に送るべきです。

If a professor can't send a positive letter of reference for some reason, the professor should decline, to allow the student to find someone who can.
なんらかの事情があって生徒のためになる letter of reference を送ることができない場合、教授は控えて、生徒が別の方に、参考になる人になってもらえるようにするべきです。


Snow White, as a Play, scene 14, A Woman of the Camp

prev TOC

[Scene 14, A Woman of the Camp -- 

N: Narrator, K: King, 

J(SW): Snow White, in disguise as the servant, Jane,

C: Councilor, S1 & S2: two Soldiers,

AB: the King's armor bearer, R/M: Runner/Messenger,

P: Prince of the Enemy camp]

S1: The Queen's Maid is a sight to be seen.

N: The young woman was watching the night sky at the edge of camp.

C: You should keep your thoughts and your eyes in check, soldier.

S2: But you have eyes for her too, I think.

C: I am bound by the Queen's orders. I must watch her.
    If she comes to any harm, I come to the same.

S1: Cruel. They say the Princess and the Maid look alike.

C: I can tell them apart when they are together.

S2: They say she is only inferior in beauty to the Queen.
    And the Princess, of course.

C: They have loose lips.

N: Both soldiers busied themselves with the camp fire for a moment,
    then returned to watching the soldiers on guard duty around the camp.

S1: The Slow Moon is high.

N: The Councilor looked quickly at the soldier who had spoken,
    then at the other, who was again watching the young woman.

C: I don't know that I would say that.

N: The soldier who had spoken only nodded.

C: Jane. Isn't it time to retire?

J(SW): Yes, I suppose it is.

N: In a prearranged signal, Snow White, in her disguise as Jane,
    stretched and looked first at the larger Slow Moon,
    then at the smaller Fast Moon.
    Having thus told her friends trailing the camp that she was safe,
    she returned to campfire.

J(SW): I will retire now.
    With both moons high tonight, I think I could read,

C: The Princess spoils you, teaching you to read.

J(SW): It is only that I may better serve their Majesties.

C: So they say. So they say.

N: The trip to the battlefront took most of a week.

C: Your Majesty, I bring supplies and news.

K: That is good.

J(SW): And the Princess's Maid,
    with a charge to serve you as you need.

K: I see.

N: And the King saw more than the Councilor, of course.

C: I don't see how she can help.

K: You must be tired from the journey.

J(SW): Shall I tend to your wounds?

K: I think you should. Councilor, how about the supplies?

C: I shall see to them, sire.

N: When the Councilor was out of hearing,
    the King's Armor Bearer signaled to him.

K: I must say, I am not surprised, although it is against my orders.

J(SW): You have not had your wounds properly dressed.

K: I am not the only man with wounds in the camp.

AB: I will send for bandages and medicine.

J(SW): I shall need help by the river.
    There are herbs for dressing wounds there.

AB: Then I shall call for someone.

J(SW): See that the Councilor is made aware that I go.

K: He did not use the signs.

J(SW): He does not trust your Advisor.

K: Then he is not

N: Snow White put her fingers to the Kings lips.

J(SW): We work with whom we must.

K: You've learned your lessons maybe too well.

N: On the third day that Snow White, in disguise, was in camp,
    the enemy Prince raised a flag of parley.

C: It's a trick.

K: See that our allies are informed.

C: Soldier!

S1: Sir!

C: Send signals to the camps of the allies.

S1: What shall I inform them of, sir?

K: I am meeting with the Prince of the enemy to arrange parley.
    Jane, you will attend me.

J(SW): I hear and obey.

C: She will just be in the way, Sire!

K: I thought you knew, Councilor, that the servants of the Palace
    are trained in all the arts and service of the court.

C: I shall prepare to attend.

K: I think I won't need your help.

J(SW): But, M'Lord, he would take news back to the Kingdom.

K: Then, Councilor, I must put you under oath.
    You must remain silent during the meeting.

C: By the King's word.

K: And there may be news which you will not be able to tell.

C: Understood.

[JMR: Written between 21 January and 7 July 2017, and posted on 7 July.]

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Snow White, as a Play, scene 13, The Bad News

prev TOC

[Scene 13, The Bad News -- 

N: Narrator, A: Advisor,

Q2: the 2nd Queen,

M: Mayor, C: Councilor, 

R/M: Runner/Messenger, Jane: Snow White's personal servant,

MM: Magic Mirror]

Q2: Councilor, we must send you to the battlefront for information.

C: What? Battlefront?

M: Your Majesty. It is our pleasure to serve.

C: Where is Snow White?

Q2: She did not take the news very well.

M: What news?

C: Is there trouble?

A: You sent for me, Your Majesty?

Q2: Thank you for hurrying, Advisor. I know you are busy.

A: The Queen's word is my only command.

Q2: Runner, please tell these men the news you have.

R/M: The King is wounded, and the soldiers do not fight.
    There are shortages of food and supplies in the camp.

C: We must send someone!

Q2: Who but yourself would you suggest?

M: Quite right, Councilor. Quite right.
    Who else would be free to go?

Q2: Advisor, you will see to it that the King knows
    he can trust the Councilor.

A: Your Majesty. Not that.

Q2: How else shall he know whom he should trust?

A: Very well. I shall see to it after preparations are complete.

Q2: The Princess is very disquieted. No one is allowed to disturb her.

A: No one, M'Lady?

Q2: Only I and her personal servants may see her.

J: Your Highness?

Q2: Yes?

J: If it please the Queen, I seek permission to attend the King
    for the Princess in the camp.

Q2: Is this by the Princess's request?

J: It is.

Q2: Then you shall also represent me in the camp.

J: I hear and obey.

C: Your Majesty!

Q2: See that there is sufficient preparation.
    Jane must be allowed to attend to the King in every need,
    and she must be brought back safely.

M: Is it wise?

C: She will be in danger.

J: I am understand the dangers.

Q2: If she comes to harm, I will require it of you.

C: It is a hard thing you require.

N: But Snow White disguised herself and traded places with Jane.
    And Jane resigned herself to staying in the Princess's rooms,
    occasionally showing her silhouette at the window.

R/M: See how the Princess worries.

M: It is past midnight. She should be asleep.

C: She must be very worried.

N: Before they left, the Advisor privately gave the Councilor
    secret signs to give to the King.

A: These will assure the King that you speak for us.

C: Are they necessary?

A: It is by arrangement with the King, to show
    how much he can trust your reports.

C: Thank you. I shall go now.

[JMR: Written between 21 January and 6 July 2017 and posted 6 July.]

TOC next

Snow White, as a Play, scene 12, Rumors

prev TOC

[Scene 12, Rumors -- 

N: Narrator, A: Advisor, SW: Snow White, 

Q2: the 2nd Queen, who was no longer a confused and scared Woman,

M: Mayor, C: Councilor, 

R/M: Runner/Messenger, Jane: a Servant, Tom: another Servant,

MM: Magic Mirror ]

M: Is the King alive? Has he been injured?

R/M: The King is alive and leading the armies.

C: Are the women of the camp tending to the injured?

SW: You are both of you just horrid.

M: Oh! Snow White! I didn't know you were around.
    I'm sorry to cause you to worry about your father.

SW: I don't think you are sorry at all.

Q2: Be careful how you speak of such things,
    in the castle, or in the hearing of the people.

C: But you must both prepare yourselves for the eventuality.

Q2: What eventuality?

M: That the King might not return.

C: Or that he might not return alone.

SW: You have both disobeyed a direct order of the Queen.
    Leave now.

M: But we have business with your majesties.

Q2: Why do you talk of a war which you yourselves will not fight?

C: It is about the war. We must send supplies. We need money.

M: Or, indeed, the King might not return.

SW: Jane, call the Advisor.

J: He is outside the castle, M'Lady.

T: The Mayor and the Councilor asked him to see to the crops
    when he returned with the Runner.

Q2: Then send for him.

J: I go.

Q2: Until he comes, you two may sit in the conference chamber.
    Tom, you will see that these two gentlemen are made comfortable there.

T: I will see to them, M'Lady.

N: The Mayor and the Councilor left with Tom, though not willingly.

Q2: I am afraid for us all.

R/M: Fear is a careless messenger. It is useful, but not as a commander.

SW: Don't be afraid, Mum. Things will work out.

Q2: What if they don't work out very well?

A: If we do our best, only God can judge us.

Q2: Oh! Advisor!

SW: And He will judge us well and faithfully, in the end.

Q2: You weren't gone?

A: I obey the Queen. But I have sent some men we can trust,
    to check the crops.

Q2: Tell us the full news, faithful Runner.

R/M: The King has been injured.

SW: How badly?

R/M: The wounds are not mortal.
    He still leads both in battle and in parley.

SW: Is ... how ...

Q2: Is he recovering well?

R/M: He is. Do not lend your ears to rumors, my Majesties.

SW: Thank you.

A: How goes the war?

R/M: All parties grow weary of the fighting.

Q2: Why does it continue?

R/M: Our agents tell us that our enemies are being paid to fight.

SW: Of course. Is it clear yet who buys their service?

R/M: Rumors, your Majesties.

SW: These are rumors we must hear.
    We will judge for ourselves of their truth.

R/M: Indeed. The money seems to come from partisans
    within our own country and the countries of our allies.

A: Are these rumors reliable?

R/M: Proof is hard to come be. There is one more rumor.

Q2: Let us hear it.

R/M: The money is drying up and the partisans are seeking new sources.

Q2: That explains why the Mayor and the Councilor come asking for money.

SW: Do not speak of this last rumor outside this room.

R/M: I hear and obey.

SW: You are all my good friends. Tell our friends I will miss them.

Q2: Miss them?

A: We must protect the Queens.

N: And the Queen, the Princess, and the Advisor made plans
    with their most trusted servants and court officials.

[JMR: Written between 21 January and 6 July 2017 and posted on 6 July.]

TOC next


Snow White, as a Play, scene 11, The Plotters Plot

prev TOC

[Scene 11, The Plotters Plot -- 

N: Narrator, 

M: Mayor, C: Councilor]

N: Some people think plots are more important than kingdoms.

M: How much longer can we pay the enemies to keep fighting us?

C: Not much. We are running out of money.

M: What about the kingdom's treasury?

C: The Queen and the Advisor check the accounts.

M: You said she would be easy to control.

C: She was once.

M: She thought she loved you once. What happened?

C: I guess the King is a better man than I am.

M: She really loves the King, I guess.

C: Snow White has more control over the Queen than I do now.

M: Fear makes it easy to control people.

C: Fear?

M: We must make them afraid for the King.
    Fear turns people's hearts.

[JMR: Written and posted 5 July 2017.]

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February PTA -- Forgot to Mention Temperature -- 体温・気温

Oh. One more thing. I forget to mention the temperature relative to weather. I guess you can't cover everything.

I talked a little about body temperature a year ago, in the January 2016 lesson.
一昨年、 2016年1月のクラスで体温をちょっとだけ取り上げました。

And I explained about Fahrenheit vs. Celsius/Centigrade in a post on my math and English blog, several years ago.

Just for fun, I'll put a short conversation about both body and environmental temperature up here.

Jun: Hi, Honey, I'm home!

Sherry: Jun, I'm not feeling very good.

Jun: Oh, dear. You don't look so hot, either. Where does it hurt?

Sherry: All over.

Jun: Have you taken your temperature?

Sherry: I took it an hour ago, but it wasn't especially high.

Jun: Let me check.

(Jun touches Sherry's forehead, then her neck under her chin, with the inside of his wrist.)

Jun: You're kind of warm. Where's the thermometer?

Sherry: It's on the table.

Jun: Well, let me get the futon out so you can lie down, and let's take your temperature again.

(Jun spreads the futon in the tatami room and puts the feather quilt on it while Sherry sits in the kitchen.)

Sherry: Is it cold outside?

Jun: Yes. It's very cold out there. I think it's below zero.

Sherry: Really! Oh. Wait. You mean zero degrees Celsius.

Jun: Yeah. Sorry. What is that, below thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit?

Sherry: That's still cold, but not as cold. Suddenly I want to know what the temperature is outside.

Jun: We'll check after we check your temperature. Get under the covers and put this under your arm. Get it snug in your armpit.

Sherry: You're tickling me.

Jun: Sorry.

Sherry: That's okay. Back in America, we put the thermometer under the tongue. The armpit doesn't transfer heat very well, so the temperature tends to read low.

Jun: Maybe that's why you guys think thirty-seven is normal, where we think it's a low fever.

Sherry: Maybe so. There's a song my dad liked, called Ninety-eight Point Six. It wouldn't be the same in Japanese.

Jun: I guess it means normal body temperature?

Sherry: Yeah. Healthy. Feeling fine. He's happy to have her back.

Jun: There's the thermometer.

Sherry: It's beeping.

Jun: What's it say?

Sherry: Hey, ninety-eight point six.

Jun: Then what could be the problem?

Sherry: Maybe it's not a problem. I think I want to throw up.

Jun: Oh! Wow! What do you want me to do? Pickles and ice cream?

Sherry: Hawaiian pizza with Canadian bacon and jalapeños would be nice. If I can hold it down.

Notes: 注釈:

I'm home!
Hi, Honey, I'm home!
feel well
feel good
"feel well" の砕けた言い方
look hot
暑そう => 気持ちを熱くする外見をいう意味で使うこともある。
don't look so hot
What's the matter?
「物体はなんだろう?」 => 「どうした?」、「何があった?」など
What's the problem?
「問題はなんだろう?」 => 「どうした?」、「何があった?」など
Where does it hurt?
どこが痛い? => どこが悪い? => What's the problem? と同じ
((°華氏) - 32 ) × 5 ÷ 9
(°摂氏)× 9 ÷ 5 + 32
華氏 32度
put 〇〇 under □□
that is why
where 〇〇
low fever
high fever
華氏 98.6度
摂氏 37度ぴったり
be the same
happy to 〇〇
have her back
What could be the problem?
throw up
上に投げる => 胃袋から投げると考えて、吐き出す
hold it down
抑える => 食べても吐き出さないこと

Useful phrases: 便利な表現:

Do you feel well?
体調大丈夫? => Are you okay?
I ache all over.
high/low temperature
normal temperature
Are you hot/cold?
Is it hot/cold outside?


PTA February Notes -- Seasons and Weather

These are the notes for the February 2017 lesson.

[JMR201702211306: I forgot to talk about temperature in the lesson, so I posted some extra material about that. 

We talked about the weather and the seasons for about an hour.
Do you like ○○?
I like ○○.
I don't like ○○.
○○が好きではありません。 (○○が嫌です。)
time of year
rainy season
them all
... spring into summer, fall into winter
Spring into summer, fall into winter.
Which season do you like ((the) best)?
Which is your favorite season?
I like ○○ ((the) best).
○○ is my favorite (season).
I like them all.
I don't like the cold. (heat)
寒さが苦手です。 (厚さ・熱)
I like warm weather. (cool, hot, cold)
暖かい天気が好きです。 (涼しい、暑い、寒い)
Rain makes me feel clean.
I like the rain because it makes me feel clean.
I love the rain, for it cleanseth my soul.
雨が大好きなわけは、私の魂を洗い清めてくださるのです。 (諺)
汗かく、汗が浮かぶ (上品な言い方に思われる)
Men sweat.
Women perspire.
Men sweat, women glow.
男性は(動物らしく)汗をかくが、女性は潤しで輝く。 (諺)
Summer makes me sweat.
get to ○○
○○をやらせてもらえる (○○してもいい、○○ができる)
In summer I get to sweat.
Winter makes me cold.
In winter I get to ski. (go skiing)
冬はスキーをやってもいいです。 (スキーに行ける)
On Valentine's Day, I get to give my friends chocolate.
I get to _____.
  • go on vacation with my family
  • go to hanami
  • go swimming
  • sleep late
  • make snowmen
    雪ダルマを作る (複数かも知らない)
  • walk the dog

hanami, flower (cherry/plum) blossom(s) festival
go to the cherry blossom festival
go watch the cherries blossom
go watch the flowers bloom
花、開花、花が開く (若い花、実が生る前の花)
花、開花、花が開く (一般の花や実が生らない花)
(flower) pollen
hay fever, pollen allergy
I like fall because it's not (so) cold.
I don't like spring because of flower pollen. I get hay fever.
Spring gives me hay fever.
I like to take walks in (the) spring.
春に散歩するのが好きです。 春の散歩が好きです。
I like to take walks in the rose garden in spring.
get ○○
get cold
get warm
get crazy
go crazy
It drives me crazy.
It drives me up a wall.
Winter is more fun when you have a nice warm place to go home to.
It's like, skiing is more fun when you can go inside and get warm after skiing all day.
  • hurricane: ハリケーン(カリブ海やメキシコ湾を中心に)
  • cyclone: サイクロン(インド洋を中心に)
  • typhoon: 台風(日本などを中心に)
tornado, twister, cyclone

For the last half hour, we played the card game AGO.
最後の三十分 AGO というカードゲームを遊びました。

"AGO" is pronounced "A-go".
"AGO" の発音は「エイ・ゴ」です。

The rules are simple and the cards give the players a chance to practice speaking English.

I hope to see you all in March!


February PTA English -- Seasons, Weather

So. Let's talk about the seasons of the year and weather, I guess.

Or anything else. I'm also preparing a little game.

The notes for the lesson are now up.

I put up some extra material for temperature, both body and weather.

Conversation example:

Student: Matthew Sensei, What's your favorite season?

Matthew: Oh, winter, ... spring, ... summer, ... and fall.
  And the rainy season, too.
  I love the rain, for it cleanseth my soul.
さて、冬かな… 春かな… 夏かな… 秋かな。

Student: Huh? Speak Japanese, please!

Matthew: I like them all. Rainy season, too.

Student: All? Why? Isn't winter cold?

Matthew: Sure. But if we spend all summer trying to get cold, why not enjoy the cold when we have it?

Student: You're kidding.

Matthew: Well, winter is more fun when you have a nice, warm place to go home to.

Student: Oh. Like skiing is more fun when you can go inside and get warm after skiing all day.

Matthew: Right.

PTA English January Notes -- New Year's Words and Phrases

Notes for the January 2017 PTA English Class

We talked about Seijinshiki, New Year's resolutions, and New Year's celebrations.

come of age, become an adult
Coming of Age Ceremony
Coming of Age Day
未成年者 (小さい、少ない、二流)
age of majority, legal age
voting age
(legal) drinking age
cancel class(es)
cancel school, cancel classes for an entire school
cancel classes for an entire grade, cancel the grade
It was snowing (there) for three days.
It was like a ski resort.
driver's license
general celebration
local celebration
How do you celebrate 〇○?
We celebrate ○○ with □□.
street clothes, everyday clothes, daily wear, plainclothes (police officer), usual dress
formal dress/wear/clothes
Sunday best, Sunday dress/clothes
church clothes/dress
dress up
dress down
We celebrate Seijinshiki (Coming of Age Day) by dressing up and attending a lecture on the duties of adults.
spinning tops

New Year's resolution
lose weight
lose ten pounds
My new year's resolution is to ○○.
clean up, straighten up, organize
organize my life
dust the furniture
sweep the floor
mop (the floor)
wipe the floor
Each sport has its own words for a meet or game.
win a tournament
inside and outside
be beautiful
be beautiful both inside and outside
beauty is as beauty does
gain strength

Then we made up a dialog, imagining picking up a foreign friend at the airport on January 1st:

Friend: Happy New Year!

One-of-Us: Welcome back to Japan.
  And Happy New Year to you, too.

Friend: Long time no see!

One-of-Us: Hungry? Let's go for lunch.
[(Are you) hungry?]

["go for lunch" => "go to lunch"]

Friend: Sounds good.

One-of-Us: Whaddaya want?
[What do you want (to eat)?]

Friend: Sushi! Soba!

One-of-Us: How about o-sechi?

Friend: What's that? What's o-sechi?

One-of-Us: O-sechi is new year's food.

Friend: Sounds interesting. I'll try it.

[ここで、 "try" => 「試食」]

注釈 :
(But think flexibly. あやふやに考えて下さい。
These are not rules, just suggestions. ルールよりも、提案と考えて下さい。

(It has been a) long time (with) no (chance to) see (you).
  => しばらくして会う機会がなかったのね。

It has been a long time since I've seen you.
  => 会って久しぶりですの。

I haven't seen you in a long time.
  => 長い間、出会っていません。

It's been a while.
  => しばらくの間ですね。

(Are you) hungry?

Let's go for lunch.
  => 昼を食べに行こう。

Let's to to lunch.
  => 昼ご飯に行こう。

Food that we eat at New Years
  => お正月に食べる食べ物

A special dish for new years
  => お正月のための特別お料理の一品です。

I have a similar example here.

While we were waiting to start, I played Gavin Sutherland's "Sailing", both the Sutherland Brothers version and Rod Stewart's version that was a really big hit.
始めるのを待っていた間、 "Sailing" という曲を流しました。これは作曲・作詞の Gavin Sutherland to 兄弟の Sutherland Brothers が出したバージョンも、有名歌手の Rod Stewart が出した大ヒットになったバージョンもあります。


Snow White, as a Play, scene 10 (redirect), The Stepmother's Feelings Change

[JMR201707051658: Moving things around:]

This scene was in the wrong place. It has been moved to here:

Snow White, as a Play, scene 10, The Stepmother's Feelings Change

(Please update your bookmarks, if any.)


Snow White, as a Play, scene 10, The Stepmother's Feelings Change

prev TOC

[Scene 10, The Stepmother's Feelings Change -- 

N: Narrator, C: Councilor, M: Mayor,

Q2: the 2nd Queen, who was a vain and confused Woman,

SW: Snow White, MM: Magic Mirror, A: Advisor ]

N: The Mayor and the Councilor teased Snow White and her Stepmother incessantly.

C: I wonder when the King will return?

M: Where is he now? Is the battle going well?

N: The Councilor taught the Queen some finer points of horse riding.

C: You are far too delicate a creature to ride this way.
    Why does the King leave a woman such as yourself alone so long?

Q2: Maybe I should not let you teach me to ride horses.

N: The Mayor discussed the course of the war.

M: The women of the camp need more medical supplies.
    I wonder who is tending the King's wounds?

SW: Mum, I would like to join the women of the camp.

Q2: I would, too. But it's too dangerous, my dear.

N: The New Queen felt the weight of responsibility keenly.

Q2: Oh, Snow White, they ask me to make decisions that I don't understand.

SW: We should leave those decisions to Father's Advisor.

Q2: The Advisor is always out on the business of the court.

SW: Then we should make the Mayor and Councilor wait.

N: Sometimes, the Stepmother Queen consulted her magic mirror.

Q2: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, ...

MM: You keep asking me questions that you should be asking yourself, or God.

Q2: But I have no confidence.

MM: You are the Queen. You have the King's Advisor. You have Snow White.
    You need patience. And to be careful of whom you listen to.

Q2: It is hard to be patient.

N: Little by little, the Mayor and the Councilor poisoned
    the Stepmother Queen's heart.

M: If he really loved you, I'm sure he could make time
    to take a break and come home to visit.

C: Maybe he has found someone more beautiful than you.

Q2: There is no one alive more beautiful than I to the King.
    Snow White explained to me how the King feels.

C: And what about your step-daughter?

M: If the King ever does return, and if he should give you children,
    won't she come before your own children?

N: The Stepmother Queen made herself distant from Snow White.

SW: Mum, can we go for a picnic?

Q2: I am so tired. Maybe not today, honey.

N: Then the Mayor made a shocking suggestion.

M: If Snow White should meet an accident in the forest,
    there would be no one between you and the King.

Q2: You are evil. Leave, now.
    Never say such things to me or anyone else, again.

N: The Stepmother Queen mentioned this to Snow White.

SW: They are not friends of my father.
    I once asked him why he allowed them to remain in office.

Q2: What did he say?

SW: He said that the people had chosen them.

Q2: But surely the King could overrule the choice.

SW: The people must be free to make bad decisions.

Q2: He said that?

SW: If the people will not choose good, the King cannot save them.
    If he tries, it will only spoil the people and ruin the kingdom.

Q2: Your father's wisdom is greater than I knew.
    Are you afraid of me?

SW: I am a little afraid. Not of you. For you.
    But I must trust you.

Q2: Is it wise for you to trust me?

SW: If we fight, it will destroy both of us.
    And it will destroy the kingdom.
    We have no choice but to trust each other

Q2: How did your father train you so well?

N: But the Stepmother Queen could not shake herself loose
    of the Councilor and Mayor's influence.
    Eventually, she asked the King's advisor a shocking question.

Q2: What would happen if you and Snow White were in the forest hunting,
    and she should meet with an accident?

A: The Mayor and the Councilor have been teasing you again.

Q2: They have. But is it safe for her to go hunting with you?

A: I wonder whether it would be safer to leave her here with
    only you against the wolves.

Q2: I see what you mean.

A: Sometimes I think I should take you with us, as well.
    But the duties of the court demand otherwise.
    I really am sorry to ask you to fight these battles alone.

Q2: I think I'm learning, but I'm scared.

[JMR: Written and posted 21 January 2017.]

TOC next

Snow White, as a Play, scene 9, Insecurity, Accidents, and Intrigue

prev TOC

[Scene 9, Insecurity, Accidents, and Intrigue Plague the Royal Household -- 

N: Narrator, VW: the 2nd Queen, who was a Vain Woman,

M: Mayor, C: Councilor, A: Advisor, SW: Snow White ]

N: The New Queen became distraught, waiting for the King.

VW: There must be no one more beautiful in the kingdom than I when he returns!

SW: Mum, Daddy will be okay.
    And, to him, no one living is more beautiful than you.

M: Besides yourself, Snow White, of course.
    You worry too much, my Queen.

C: I'm sure he has hasn't found anyone new.

M: He would be too busy on the battlefield.

C: Of course, he can't be fighting all the time.

A: Can't you two leave well enough alone?

VW: Snow White, I need to think. Can we go for a picnic?

SW: That sounds like a great idea, Mummy.

A: I'll come with you.

VW: No need. We won't go far.

SW: Let's go pack some yummy food.

N: The New Queen thought she knew a place in the woods where Snow White had never been.

VW: Isn't this a beautiful place?

SW: Yes, it is. I like to come here when it snows.
    But don't tell Daddy, he would worry.

N: They finally found a place where Snow White didn't say she had been before.

VW: This looks like a nice spot.

SW: I don't remember having come here before.
    It's a little wild, but that makes it all the more fun.

N: They ate their picnic and watched the woods animals and talked for a while.

VW: Do you really think that the King thinks I'm beautiful?

SW: My father sees the real you, just like I do.

VW: That kind of scares me.

SW: I'm not sure you see the real you when you look in the mirror.
    You are more beautiful than I think you know.

VW: Thank you for coming with me. I feel much better, now.

SW: I'm glad.

VW: Do you miss your mother?

SW: Sure I miss her. But you're my Mum, too.
    I think Momma likes you.

N: When she heard that, the New Queen repented.
    And they returned to the castle together, laughing and singing.

C: Back already?

A: They've been gone for four hours.
    I was about to organize a search party.

M: You worry too much.

N: One day, while the King's Advisor was out hunting, the Mayor and the Councilor suggested another picnic.

VW: Is it safe?

C: I'll go with you. See, we've packed a picnic already.
    We can ride horses, to run fast if there is trouble.

SW: We haven't been outside the castle grounds for a while.
    It might be fun.

N: Snow White's horse was not feeling well.

SW: She's off her feed. Poor girl.

M: You can ride mine.
    He's well trained.

VW: Maybe we shouldn't go.

C: You both need a bit of diversion.

N: They rode into the woods.
    Suddenly, something spooked the Mayor's horse.
    The horse ran away, carrying Snow White deep into the wilder part of the woods.

VW: Oh, dear! I knew we shouldn't have come.

C: Don't try to follow her. It's not safe.
    We'll have to go back.
    I'll send some guards to find her.

VW: I really should learn how to ride a horse better.
    I could try to catch up to her.

C: I can teach you.

N: Back at the castle, the Mayor and the Councilor made elaborate search plans.

VW: Can't we hurry?
    She must be frightened!

M: We have to ensure everyone's safety, of course.

N: By the time they were ready, the King's advisor was back.
    Snow white was with him.
    They were carrying the game he had taken on their horses.

A: Well, I'm glad everyone made it safely back.

C: What?

M: Oh, dear ...

VW: Oh, thank you, dear God!
    Snow White! You're okay!

A: She knows more about the woods around here than most of the people in our kingdom.

SW: Mum! Councilor! I found the most wonderful spring in the woods.
    Is the picnic still packed? Let's go back!

A: I trust there will be no more accidents?

C: I'll make certain of that.

N: And they had a nice little picnic.
    That night, the Stepmother Queen talked with the King's Advisor.

VW: I don't think I am to be trusted.

A: I trust you more than I trust certain others.

VW: I am not sure I can defend myself from them.
    I know I can't defend Snow White by myself.

A: We'll have to be more careful.

[JMR: Written and posted 21 January 2017.]

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January PTA English -- Ringing in the New Year Again

Again, we are going with the season.

We'll probably talk about New Year's resolutions and winter holidays.

Maybe we'll play some of the parlor games we have been learning.

Maybe we'll sing "Auld Lang Syne".

Maybe. I never know for sure.

At long last, here are notes from last years lesson.


And, at long last, here are the notes from this years lesson.

Also, here is a sample New Year's greeting conversation.



Practice Conversation -- New Years and Winter Holiday

[JMR Posted February 6th. Should have been posted early in January.]
At the airport, Nanami is heading home for winter vacation:

Alice: Do you have everything, love?

Nanami: Just my backpack and my carry-on bag.
  It really is okay if I leave everything else?

Alice: It's no problem, love.
  It won't be in our way.

Art: Don't worry 'bout it, mate.
  It'll all be waiting here for you when you get back.

Christopher: I promise I’ll stay out of your stuff!

Julie: If he so much as peeks into your room,
  I’ll take his head off!

Christopher: Mom! She’s threatening me again!

Alice: Oh, behave yourselves.
  There’s your flight, Nana.
  Take care of yourself.

Nanami: Thanks for everything.
  Goodbye. I’ll see you in two weeks.

Art: Have a merry!

Nanami: Everybody have happy holidays!

Julie: See you next year!

Christopher: Take care!

At the airport, two weeks later, Nanami is returning to her home stay family after winter vacation:

Christopher: There she is!

Nanami: Alice!

Alice: Nana, love! Over here!

Nanami: Art, Julie, Christopher, Happy New Year!

Christopher: Oh. Yeah. Happy new year.
  You missed the fireworks.

Julie: Ignore my brother. Happy New Year, Nana! 
  How were your holidays?

Nanami: I had a wonderful time at home.
  But I'm glad to be back.

Alice: Tell us about it on the way.
  We must have your family come visit sometime.

Art: Indeed.  Got your stuff? Let's go.


Landmark: Kōmyōji in Takino-chō (Katō-shi)

Landmarks (a sample)


in Takino-chō (now Katō-shi)

Kōmyō-ji Temple
Photo by Corpse Reviver, edited by Joel Rees
Courtesy Wikipedia:
Licensed under GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0

(Version with Japanese 日本語入りのバージョン)

Example Presentation (minimum level):

Komyoji is a Buddhist temple

It is located in Katō City, Hyōgo, Japan.

You can throw plates off of the mountain for good luck.

It has a nice view.

The autumn leaves at Komyoji are beautiful.

The nearest train station is the JR Takino Station.

You should visit Komyoji Temple.

Example presentation (high level):

Kōmyōji is a Japanese Buddhist temple in Katō City, Hyōgo, Japan.

It is located near the top of Mt. Gobu.

It is also called “Gobu-san”, after the mountain.

I used to live at the foot of Mt. Gobu.

There was a war between the Ashikaga brothers near the temple around the year 1352.

There is a memorial for the war behind the temple.

The image of the founder rests in the henjōin commemorative hall.

Throwing plates off of the mountain is a tradition for bringing good luck.

There is a deck that you can throw the plates off of.

The deck has a nice view.

The autumn leaves at Komyoji are beautiful.

The nearest train station is the JR Takino Station.

It takes about an hour to hike to the temple from the station.

The view from the parking lot is spectacular!

You should visit this temple.

JR Takino Station
by 沙羅星人, edited by Joel Rees
Courtesy of Wikipedia:
 Assigned to the Public Domain

This is an example of projects I sometimes use in teaching English.

The students choose a landmark (in this case) outside of Japan and find information about it.

Then they make a poster and present some of their research during class.

We use it to help the students gain confidence in composition and in making presentations in English.

Translating -- the Song "Sayonara", by Off Course

Today's English programs on NHK included a segment on an English language version of a popular Japanese song called "Sayonara", by the band Off Course. I have a copy of it in my record collection back in the States, but not here. I think my wife has a copy in her smaller record collection stored at her parents' house. Anyway, I looked it up on the 'net.

Off Course was a Japanese folk rock band, active from the late 1960s to the 1980s. When I returned to the US after my two years as a missionary in Japan, some of their songs were among the music I took back with me.

(Their name was something of a pun in Japan, since -- especially at the time -- "of course" tended to be pronounced the same as "off course": "ofu kōsu".

Oh, here they are on Wikipedia, and here in Japanese.)

"Sayonara" was one of their bigger hits. People here who have never heard of the band will likely know the song.

It's tempting to post the Japanese lyrics, but I'll refrain. You can find them by searching the web, and I don't have permission to post them.

Translations are also supposed to trip over the current international copyright regime, but I do not feel all that bound by all of the vain imaginations of the so-called artists' associations that want to use copyright to establish their minor tyrannies and monopolies. Translation is creative work, and work that has entered the public milieu by way of copyright claims must have boundaries.

So here's my rough translation of the Japanese lyrics:

original lyrics by Kazumasa Oda,
new translation from Japanese by Joel Rees

Now, the end has come, and you look so small to me.
I have this unthinking urge to take you in my arms again.
Go! Leave me alone, I am not going to cry.
I look at your cheeks, wet by the tears that fall.
We are free, is what we used to say,
As if today was a day we would never think of.

Goodbye, farewell, sayonara!
Outside white winter comes.
I am sure it was only you I loved,
Only you the way you are.

Love is such a pitiful thing. Instead of mine
Tonight you may lie in someone else's arms.
I blush easily, so we'd find a hidden path
To walk along on those cold days you liked so much.

Goodbye, farewell, sayonara!
Outside white winter comes.
I am sure it was only you I loved,
Only you the way you are.

Today again outside, it's rain, and it will shortly turn to snow
That will, in our hearts fall and pile deep --
Fall, and pile deep.

I could work harder to fit it to the rhythm and rhyme, but I won't. I could also try harder to connect the stanzas through cultural interpolation, but I'll refrain from that as well.

There are limits to my time, and there is an English version which is pretty fully interpolated and carefully fit to the tune, anyway. Kantner, Balin, and Casady covered it in 1986 as the KBC Band, if you want to find it and listen to it.

After some search, I haven't been able to find out for sure who wrote the original English lyrics. They are definitely interpolated and much more detailed than my translation, probably trying to fill in cultural details [JMR201701131157: with the extra verse ].

The English language Wikipedia page on the KBC Band Album only references Oda, with no details. (I think it odd that they don't reference the band, since the Japanese page credits the band along with Oda on the music.)

The Japanese Wikipedia page on the song simply indicates that the KBC Band used the lyrics from a promotional video that Off Course put together in 1983 with the intent to try to break into the English language markets. [JMR201701131157: So I can't say who did that translation. I have the impression it might have been Oda himself, with the help with a native English speaking friend. ]

My father was not the only one who ever told me that you can't fully enjoy foreign language literary works unless you can enjoy them in the original language. I think it's true. [JMR201701131157: I also think someone raised outside the culture will still miss much of the symbolism and many of the references. ]

But I think we can try to appreciate them to a limited extent in translation, especially if we can find translations by different people. [JMR201701131157: So, having taken time I didn't really have to take a stab at it, I thought I'd share the results. ]


Eikaiwall ch. 01 -- The Door in the Wall

A World in a Wall

An English and Japanese Language Adventure

by Joel Matthew Rees, Copyright 2017
adapted from, and extending
this Eikaiwa session
recorded fancifully in 1995.

Names, details, and events changed
... to protect the people to whom this didn't really happen.

Ch. 1 -- The Door in the Wall

「あの掛物の裏、なにがあるかな?」 Iwakazu asked absently of no one in particular.
-- Ano kakemono no ura, nani ga aru kana? [I wonder what's behind that wall hanging.]

His friend Yasufusa replied, 「壁ぇあろう。」
-- Kabe 'earō. [The wall, of course.]

-- Chau yarō. Yappari, nanika sono ura ni aru. [I don't believe it. There's gotta be something there.]

Their other friend, Takeru, asked, 「なんでそう思わなアカン?」
-- Nande sō omowanaakan? [Why? What makes you think so?]

The three friends were sitting cross-legged around a low table on a raised tatami-dai in the second-story juku classroom where they were taking Eikaiwa lessons. Iwakazu was a third-year junior high (9th grader, or freshman) student and the other two were first-year high school (10th grader, or sophomore) students.

Iwakazu was insistent. 「怪しいや。絶対あやしい。怪しぉ思わへん?」
-- Ayashii ya. Zettai ayashii. Ayasho omowahen? [It looks suspicious. Definitely suspicious, don'cha think?]

「どうして?」 Takeru didn't think he was buying any fantasies today.
-- Dōshite? [How so?]

-- Kage no tokoro, na, sen aru yarō? Soreni, na, katte-guchi gurai no ōkisa ya. [Well, see how there's a line right at the shadow? And the size is about right for a small utility door.]

Yasufusa shook his head. 「あれ、外の壁。ドアの向こうになにがある?」
-- Are, soto no kabe. Doa no mukō ni nani ga aru? [That's the outside wall. What would be on the other side of the door?]"

Takeru asked, 「でな、なにに使うぇあろう。」
-- Dena, nani ni tsukau earō. [And what would it be used for?]

-- Iya, meccha ayashii. Doa aru yarō. Aru, omowahen? [Nah, I think it's very suspicious. There must be a door behind it. Don't you think there's a door there?]

「さぁっ…」Yasufusa was beginning to look carefully at the pattern of shadows on the wall.
-- Saa ... [Well, ...]

Takeru was shining him on. 「考えすぎ。な、ジェームズ先生、あの壁掛けの裏、なにかある?」
-- Kangae-sugi. Na, Jēmuzu Sensei, ano kabe gake no ura, nanika aru? [You're imagining too much. Hey, James Sensei, Is there something behind that wall hanging?]

I was waiting for this. "Ask me in English."

The three boys put on their best dumbfounded expressions. Iwakazu started to joke around. 「発音良すぎ、わからへん。」
-- Hatsuon yosugi, wakarahen. [Your pronunciation is too good. Can't understand it.]

I repeated myself, slowly. "Ask. Me. In. English." The boys were still giving me expressions of incredulity. Raising my hands and pretending to be a hypnotist, I dropped into an exaggerated Japanese accent. "Asuku mii iin Iingurisshu."

The boys responded in chorus. 「イヤ、無理むりむりむりむり。勘弁してくれ!」
-- Iya, muri-muri-muri-muri-muri. Kanben shite kure! [Wait! No way! Huh uh! Give us a break!]

After a bit of negotiating and practice writing and asking what was behind, over, under, etc. several things in the room, the boys returned to the subject of the wall hanging.

This time, they asked me in English. Takeru led, "One, two, three," then all three chorused on cue, "What's behind the wall hanging?" It was pretty nice pronunciation, too.

[I can only wish I had had the teaching skills and Japanese to have pulled it off like James Sensei demonstrates here, back in 1995. It would have saved me a painful ten years' trip back through the computer industry that was always going someplace I didn't want to go.]

We all laughed, and I said, "I think it's just the outside wall, but I've never looked. Let's take a look."

I stood up and lifted the hanging to look behind it. It was an inexpensive printed scroll of the year's calendar on a background of plum blossoms and snow capped peaks and other Japanese seasonal symbols.

 "Hmm." I showed them the bare wall underneath where the scroll hung. "Looks like just the wall to me." I tapped the wall around where the scroll had hung, the taps echo hollowly -- tap, tap, tap, tap. "It does sound hollow, but most walls in Japan sound hollow."

I had to explain what hollow meant at that point: 「中が開いている、という感じ。うつろに響く。」
-- Naka ga aite-iru to iu kanji. Utsuro ni hibiku. [Like it's empty inside. echoes hollowly.]

To emphasize the point, I tapped again where I had found a beam, then between beams, just under where the hanging scroll had rested.


Yasufusa exclaimed, 「エェッ!まっさか!なーなーなにヤ?」
-- Eh eh eh! Massaka! Naa naa nani ya? [Huh? Wha wha what?]

Takeru echoed his friend's concern. 「嫌だよ!先生どこに行ったん?」
-- Iyada yo! Sensei doko ni ittan? [Oh, no! Where's Sensei?]

Iwakazu didn't say anything, just stared.

[That is, James Sensei could have imagined it this way, if he hadn't been suddenly busy elsewhere. Since he can't tell you what happened next at the Eikaiwa juku, I'll have to take over.]

Iwakazu came out of his shock first, but he was in denial. 「先生、今日、来てた?居らへんかったん、ちゃう?」
-- Sensei, kyō, kiteta? Orahenkattan, chau? [Sensei, today, was here? He never showed up, right?]

Yasufusa slapped his friend back-of-the-head a little harder than he intended. 「お前悪い。あの馬鹿な掛物のことを気にするもんか?」
-- Omae warui. Ano baka na kakemono no koto wo ki ni suru mon ka? [It's your fault. Who'd pay attention that stupid hanging scroll?]

Takeru stood up and went to the wall, tracing around the scroll, which now hung as if nothing untoward had happened. None of the shadows that had raised Iwakazu's curiosity were in evidence, but he tried to trace around where they had seen the door open for a brief moment. Then he started tapping -- tap, tap, tap, ...

「オイオイ、気をつけろ!」 Yasufusa jumped up and held Takeru's hand away from the wall.
-- Oi oi, ki wo tsukero! [Hey! Watch what you're doing!]

Iwakazu stood up and joined his friends around the hanging scroll, examining the wall and the scroll, looking for seams or cracks. He even dared tap the wall once or twice.

「手持って。」 Takeru extended his hand to Iwakazu.
-- Te motte. [Grab my hand.]

Iwakazu looked at the hand quizzically.

-- Motte 'tteba. Shikkari motte. Yassun, Iwachan no te wo motte. Achi no kabe 'e itte. [Didn't I tell you to grab it? Yasu, grab Iwa's other hand and go to the other wall over there.]

Yasufusa understood and did as he was told.

Then Iwakazu picked up on the plan and grabbed Takeru's arm in a death grip. But he expressed his disagreement. 「イヤよ!」
-- Iya yo! [I don't like this!]

Takeru proceeded to tap around the wall randomly.

「あち。おち。それ。それ。」 Iwakazu gave his opinion of where he should tap, trying to recall where they had seen James Sensei tapping.
-- Achi. Achi. Sore. Sore. [There. There. That. That.]

But nothing happened.

Yasufusa suggested, 「比嘉さんに言ってたほうがええ?」
-- Higa-san ni yutteta hō ga ē? [Shouldn't we tell Mrs. Higa?]

「なにを?あの、あんたらは何をしてはる?」 Mrs. Higa had just come to the door and had heard him. 「先生は?」
-- Nani wo? Ano, antara wa nani wo shite haru? [Tell me what? Wait. What are you boys up to?]
-- Sansei wa? [Where's your teacher?]

All three looked at her in surprise. Iwakazu blurted out, 「消えた、よ。」
-- Kieta, yo. [He disappeared!]

Yasufusa and Takeru looked at him with expressions that might have been intended to warn him off.

But Mrs. Higa misinterpreted him. 「おトイレですか?」 She left them and went down the stairs to the middle landing, where the toilet was.
-- O-toire desu ka? [Has he gone to the toilet?]

「何を言ってる?」 Yasufusa chided Isakazu.
-- Nani wo yutteru? [What are you saying?]

Takeru was thinking out loud. 「でも、本当に消えている。どっかに行くつもりだったはずもない、し。」
-- Demo, hontō ni kiete-iru. Dokka ni iku tsumori datta hazu mo nai, shi. [But he really did disappear. It's not like he went somewhere on purpose.]

They could hear Mrs. Higa knocking on the toilet door. -- Knock, knock. --「先生?大丈夫ですか?」
-- Sensei, daijōbu desu ka? [Sensei, are you all right?]

They listened hopefully, but heard no response. They did hear a faint click, like a light switch being turned on below them.

「見てたよ、このカレンダーの壁掛けを。」 Takeru was still thinking out loud.
-- Miteta yo, kono karendā no kabekake wo. [She was looking at this calendar wall hanging.]

Mrs. Higa's voice drifted up from the stairwell. 「突然に胃が悪くなりましたのですか?」
-- Totsuzen ni i ga waruku narimashita no desu ka? [Oh? Your stomach suddenly started acting up?]

「居る?」 Yasufusa clearly wanted a simple explanation.
-- Oru? [You think he's there?]

「そんなわけあらへん。」 Takeru was definitely not convinced.
-- Sonna wake arahen. [No way.]

From the stairwell, 「授業できなさそうですか。」
-- Jugyō deki nasasō desu ka. [So you won't be able to finish the lesson?]

「都合の良さすぎる。」 Iwakazu was also doubtful.
-- Tsugō no yosa sugiru. [Too convenient.]

-- Maa, Iwakazu-kunra wa gakkari suru to omoimasu kedo, shikata ga arimasen, ne. [Iwakazu and his friends will be disappointed, but what else can we do?]

「どうする?」 Iwakazu was the one who asked.
-- Dō suru? [What should we do?]

-- Ressun go no tochū desu ne. Yarimasu, yo. San-nin kara kikeba ii desu ne. [In the middle of lesson five? I'll finish it. I can ask the boys where, right?]

-- Sensei ga sonnan iwahen. [Sensei would not be saying that.]

Yasufusa wasn't willing to consider the possibility that Mrs. Higa was trying to fool them into thinking that James Sensei was there. 「だけど、先生は確かに不基準的なやり方。」
-- Dakedo, Sensei wa tashika ni fu-kijunteki na yarikata. [Well, James Sensei does use irregular methods.] 

The other two looked at him.

-- Notta hō ga ii to omou. [We should play along.]

「誰の演技に乗る?」 Takeru was not really asking, though.
-- Dare no engi ni noru? [Play along with whom?]

-- Datte, Sensei kawaisō. Yamesaserareru ka mo shirahen. [Think of poor James Sensei. He could get fired.] 

「先生、本当に大丈夫かな?」 Iwakazu voiced there concern.
-- Sensei, hontō ni daijōbu kana? [Will Sensei be okay?]

-- Higa-san ni makaseta hō ga ii to omou. [I think we should let Mrs. Higa take care of it.]

Mrs. Higa came back in the room at this point. She clapped her hands primly. "Okay boys, back to work."


Yasufusa translated. 「勉強に戻るって。」
-- Benkyō ni modoru 'tte. [She's telling us to get back to studying.]

"It's too early to close your textbooks. Let's open them back up to page fifty-three. That's where you are, isn't it?"

Caught off-guard by Mrs. Higa's speaking English, they boys opened their books and pretended to be picking things back up in the lesson they had never started.

"Repeat after me: 'Where are you going?'"

Three boys chorused: 「ホォエアー アール ユー ゴーイング。」
-- Howeā āru yū gōingu. 

"No, no, not 'ho-weh-ah', not 'fu-eh-ah', either. It's 'where'."

When she was satisfied with their pronunciation, she worked with them on the grammar of replies. Shortly, it was time to end the lesson. She asked the boys, "Where are you going after class?"

「授業の後、どこに行くのさ。」 Takeru translated this one.
-- Jugyō no ato, doko ni iku no sa. [She's asking where we are going after the lesson.]

"That's right."

"I'm going to study math at Mr. Kuwahara's juku." Yasufusa volunteered.

"I'm going to Mr. Kuwahara's juku, too, but I will be studying chemistry." Takeru replied next.

"I will go to Ms. Horiuchi's juku to study Japanese." Iwakazu took his turn. Then, without thinking, he added, "but I'd rather go through the wall to find James Sensei."

Mrs. Higa was taken by surprise.

「イエイ。やるやん。」 Takeru approved of his friend's sudden attack.
-- Yei. Yaru yan. [Hey, there you go, guy!]

"Whatever are you talking about?" Mrs. Higa recovered quickly.

「解かってるでしょう。」 Takeru joined the attack.
-- Wakatteru deshō. [You know what we are talking about.]

"James Sensei is in the toilet trying to recover from a bit of stomach distress. Do you want to break through the toilet wall?"

-- Muri ka. Toire ni haitteiru 'tte. [No use. She insists he's in the toilet.]

Yasufusa jumped to Mrs. Higa's defense. 「当たり前。あっ。幸代。」
-- Atari mae. Ah. Sachiyo. [Of course. Oh, hello, Sachiyo.]

「や、…」Mrs. Higa's daughter, Sachiyo came in the room. Her mother warned her with a look. "Oh, hi, guys. How was the lesson?"
-- Ya, ... [Hey! ...]

Taking advantage of the distraction of Sachiyo's arrival, Mrs. Higa managed to send the boys home.

-- Kite kureta, Sachi. [Sachi, you came.]

-- Konain ka? [Would I not come?]

Mrs. Higa immediately went to the wall and tapped in four specific places, then stepped away from the wall. 「開くかしら?」
-- Hiraku kashira? [Will it open?]


A hand appeared near the floor, grasping the edge of the doorway that opened. Then another, grasping the opposite edge.


Table of Contents

  1. The Door in the Wall
    In which a sensei disappears, mid class.
  2. (TBA)