2019/01/07 A&B @ Lake Biwa 琵琶湖
2018/07/02 (月) L61 Lake Biwa
Hey, is that Oki-no-Shiraishi?
I think so. Oki-no-Shiraishi is near the center of the lake.
I see. I still can’t believe how big this lake is.
I’m Akito. Today, Ben and I are on a boat on Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. This boat does a one-day tour around Lake Biwa’s islands.
Akito, what was the name of the first island we went to?
Oh, right. And this is called Oki-no-Shiraishi. They sound similar, but Okishima is bigger.
It’s the biggest island on Lake Biwa. About two hundred eighty people live there. In Japan, it is the only island on a lake that people live on. Oki-no-shiraishi is actually just a group of large rocks.
So can we go on those rocks?
I don’t think so.
Too bad. I wanted to juggle on top of the rocks.
Ben and I are a street performance duo called A&B. We are traveling around Japan to become better performers.
Hello. Is this your first time visiting Lake Biwa?
Well then, let me give you a quiz. How big is Lake Biwa.
Is it about half the size of Shiga Prefecture?
I think it’s bigger. It must cover about 70 percent of Shiga.
No. Lake Biwa covers only about 16 percent of Shiga Prefecture.
Really? I thought it was bigger.
Well, it is the biggest lake in Japan. Most of the water used in the Kansai area is taken from Lake Biwa. If people say bad things about Shiga, we say, We’re going to stop Lake Biwa’s water.
You can stop the water?
No, no. it’s just a joke.
Oh, okay. Anyway, can you tell us about the next island, Chikubujima?
Sure. I think most people from Shiga have been to it. Since a long time ago, people have said the gods live there.
We arrived at Chikubujima. After walking around for a while, we stop at a place with a nice view.
Hey, what’s that? People are throwing things.
That’s kawarake throwing.
Kawarake? What’s that.
Kawarake is a small white plate made of clay. You write your wish on it, and throw it toward that torii gate down there. If it goes through the torii, your wish come true.
Let me try it. My with is to become the best street performer in the world.
To become the best, you’ll have to work much harder.
Oh, don’t tell me what to do.
After leaving Chikubujima, we go to Takeshima.
This island I really strange. It looks like a different island from each direction.
Yeah, it’s famous for that. And the whole island is a temple.
Really? Actually, this whole lake feels like a temple to me.
Ah, maybe you’re right.
Soon, the sun goes down. The view is amazing. It’s too bad we can’t stay at Lake Biwa longer.
2019/01/08 Urashima Taro 浦島太郎
2018/07/03 (火) L62 Urashima Taro
Once upon a time, in a village by the sea, there lived a young man named Urashima Taro. One day, Taro was walking along the beach. He saw a group of children hitting a small turtle with sticks. Taro took the turtle from the bad children and put it in the sea. Taro watched the turtle swim away until he could not see it anymore. The young man was happy the turtle was all right.
A few days later, Taro was walking along the beach again. Suddenly, a very big sea turtle came up to him and said, Thank you for saving my son the other day. I’d like to invite you to the Sea God’s castle. It is down on the bottom of the sea. I can take you there. Please sit on my back.
Taro rode on the back of the turtle. And they went deep down to the Sea God’s castle. At the castle, a beautiful woman came out to meet him. It was Princess Otohime.
In the castle, Taro was given a beautiful dinner with all kinds of wonderful foods. While he ate, colorful fish danced for him.
Princess Otohime showed Taro to a special room. She opened the door. Inside the room, it was spring. There were many cherry trees with beautiful pink blossoms. At the end of the room, there was another door. Behind that door, it was summer. The trees and grass were green. The next room was autumn. The leaves on the trees were as red as fire. The final room was winter. It was snowing. He caught some snowflakes in his hand.
Taro was having a wonderfur time. But he said to Princess Otohime. Thank you for everything. But I think it’s time for me to go back home.
Princess Otohime said, I understand. Please take this treasure box home so you will remember us. But remember, you must never, ever open it.
The big sea turtle took Taro back to the beach. But he found his village was different. He looked for his home, but there was a different house standing there. All of the people were strangers, too. Taro was afraid, so he talked to a man. Does the Urashima family live near here?
The man thought for a minute and then said, Well, I’ve heard there was a family here with that name about 100 years ago.
Taro was shocked. He didn’t know what to do. So he went back to the beach to think. As he was walking, he remembered the treasure box that Princess Otohime had given him. Taro thought, Maybe it could help me.
He forgot she had told him to never, ever open it. When he opened it, white smoke came out of the box.
When the smoke was gone, Taro found his hair had turned gray. He was now an old man with a white beard.
2019/01/09 Tree Climbing 木登り
2018/07/04 (水) L63 Tree Climbing
Ah, I was so nervous.
Well, it’s finished now.
So, Chinami, do you think I did all right?
What do you mean?
Do you think your parents liked me?
Yuichi, my parents have known you since kindergarten, and they’ve always liked you. I don’t think they changed their minds today.
I know, but this is different. I was so nervous.
Well, thank you.
For asking my parents if it’s all right to marry me.
I think it’s important. It’s true your parents have known me since I was a child, but I wanted them to see me as a man they can trust.
So we are really getting married,
Sorry, it doesn’t seem real.
Yeah, I feel the same way.
Remember when we were children, we used to walk over this hill to get to school. Back then, I didn’t think about marriage. I only thought about baseball.
Actually, I secretly wanted to be your bride one day.
Yes. Oh, look over there. Do you see that tree?
Yeah, what’s so special about that tree.
I used to climb that tree a lot. From that tree, I could see your house. When I climbed it, I always looked at your house and hoped to see you. Hey, why don’t we go climb it right now?
Now? I’m wearing my new shoes. And I don’t think I can climb a tree in this suit.
You’ll be fine.
Climbing a tree is hard. It was so easy when I was a child.
Come on. Hold my hand.
Thanks. We can see so far from up here.
What’s the matter?
I can’t see your house.
Ah, there are some new buildings. The view has changed a lot since we were children.
But you believe me, right? I really could see your house from here.
Of course I believe you. And ah, I saw you.
You saw me?
Yeah, I saw you climbing this tree a few times.
Really? You’re joking, right?
I’m not. My friend, Taro, lived near here, so we used to play over there.
I didn’t know that. Why didn’t you talk to me?
We were in elementary school. It was difficult to do that.
Ah. You were shy because I was cute and popular, right?
You? Cute? You were climbing a tree like a monkey.
Hey, that’s not nice. Be honest. You couldn’t talk to me because you liked me.
Don’t push me. I’ll fall. Ouch.
Yuichi? Are you all right? I’m so sorry. Can you get up?
I’m okay. I just fell on my back.
I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to push you. I was just playing.
That’s okay. Anyway, I’ll tell you the truth.
When we were children, I secretly wished I could marry you, too.
2019/01/10 Belgium ベルギー
2018/07/05 (木) L64 Belgium
Hallo. Bonjour. Guten Tag. I am a country with three official language. Dutch, French, and German. Hello, I am the kingdom of Belgium. I am in Western Europe and a little smaller than Kyushu. My neighbors are France, Holland, Germany and Luxembourg. The North Sea is to the west of me. My population is about 11 million, and the capital city is Brussels. Did you know that Brussels is the capital of the EU? So the headquarters are there. You will also find other organizations such as NATO in Brussels.
When you think of my country, some of you may think of chocolate, waffles and beer. You’re right. You have to try my sweets and the many different kinds of beer. But did you that I’m also famous for diamonds?
Iif you go north about 45 kilometers from Brussels, there is a port city called Antwerp. Around 80 percent of the world’s diamonds go through this city. You see, raw diamonds are dug up in places like South Africa and Russia. Then, 80 percent of those stones are sent to Antwerp. Diamond merchants buy and sell these diamonds at the trading center. Then, the raw diamonds are sent to places like India and China for cutting and polishing. It’s a long process, right? But that’s not all. These cut diamonds are then sent back to Antwerp. After that, prices are decided, and then, they are finally sold.
Antwerp has a long history as a diamond city. In the sixteenth century, many Jewish people were working working in the diamond trade. And those people were the first to shake hands and say, Mazal and Bracha, when people finish buying or selling diamonds. This comes from the Jewish people’s phrase meaning God will give both of us good luck.
Cut and polished diamonds are worth twice as much as raw diamonds. But to be worth this much, you need a good cutter. Have you heard of the cutting method called a round brilliant cut? It was created by a man named Marcel Tolkowsky. He was from a famous diamond-cutting family. He researched the best way to cut a diamonds so light would make it shine the most. His grandnephew, Gabi, is also a diamond cutter. He says, I hear the diamonds sing with joy when I cut them. His family has been diamond cutters for six generations, and he has cut a diamond with 247 sides. What a family.
I hope I have made you interested in my country. You have to see Brussels’ oldest and most famous statue of a boy, and the the beautiful fields of Flanders, and.. Oh, there is so much for you to see. I can’t wait to see you.
2019/01/11 A bunch of grapes Episode one
When I was a child, I loved drawing and painting. My school was located in an area called Yamanote of Yokohama. There were many people from foreign countries living there, and most of the teachers in my school were foreigners. There were a lot of hotels and foreign companies on the road I used to walk to school. My school route was a road by the bright blue sea, and you could look out and see many ships. Smoke came out of their chimneys, and the flags of their countries flew high above them. It was one colorful sight. It was so colorful that it almost hurt my eyes.
I always tried to paint that colorful scene as bright and beautiful as I had seen it. But my blue wasn’t the same as the blue I saw. Neither was the red. These two colors never looked exactly right with my paints.
Then one day, I remembered a friend at school who had paints from abroad. His name was Jim, and he was a foreigner. Jim had very good quality paints, and he had twelve different colors in a light wooden box. All of the colors were beautiful, but his blue and red were especially beautiful. Jim was two years older and much taller than me. He wasn’t good at drawing. But when he used his paints, his bad drawings looked so much better. I was very jealous. I imagined how my paintings would look if I used those paints. From that day, I wanted Jim’s paints so much.
I don’t remember when it finally happened, but it must have been in the fall. I remember that the grapes were ready to eat. One sunny day, we ate our box lunches with our teacher as usual. Everyone was enjoying the beautiful fall weather, but I couldn’t relax. My heart was the opposite of the sunny weather- it was sad and dark. I couldn’t think of anything but Jim’s paints. I wanted them so very much.
At that time, I was a cute boy. But my body was weak, and so was my mind. I was too shy to say what I thought, so I didn’t have many friends. On that day, my classmates went outside to play after lunch. But I stayed in the classroom because I was feeling sad and dark. The sun shone brightly outside. But the classroom was dark, just like my heart. I sat at my desk, but my eyes kept looking over at Jim’s desk. I imagined opening his desk. There would be books, notebooks, and the wooden box. The blue and red paints would be inside that box… I felt my face turning red, so I took my eyes off Jim’s desk but only for a short time. I couldn’t help looking at Jim’s desk.
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