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2008 October 1 Wednesday thru October 5 Sunday.


As expected the winds get colder and the rain falls suddenly and more often. 

It is harvest season and the rice farmers are working as fast as they can to rake in this year's crop before the snow level reaches the low lands.

Early on Saturday afternoon, I drove out to the Kamiubun 上雨分 section of Asahikawa, to retrace the roads that I and my friend Brian Smith would often go cycling along, on our mountain bikes.

Everything was pretty much the way I remember it from many years ago, except that there was some new road construction going on.

I saw many farmers out in their drained off rice fields with harvesting machines, cutting down the rice, spitting out the leaves and stalks, and then unloading the golden grain into a waiting truck.

It's the same thing every year at this time.

A job that has to be done.

Many people are depending on the farmers to bring in the staple food of Japan.


Some like it polished and white, I like it brown.

Either way, it's fresh out of the fields.

Yum yum.


Another thing that is always the same each year at this time, is the changing color of the leaves.

The best way to describe Hokkaido during the summer is GREEN.

This is the greenest place I have ever lived, and in more ways than one.

Higher up in the mountains, there is more color right now, than there is here in the lowlands.

That will change very quickly.

The best way to describe Hokkaido in autumn, is RED GOLD and YELLOW.

An amazing patchwork interwoven colors that can keep a professional photographer busy for hours.

Coming soon, the all white blanket of winter snow.

Don't  say I didn't warn you.

It says so right at the top of the ASAHIKAWA page of this website.   

Warning!!!   Asahikawa is covered in snow for about 5 months of the year, every year.   If you don't like snow, don't move here.

Yeah, it's been there since the birth of this FrontPage web site.

Speaking of giving birth to new web sites, I have started a new one using the DreamWeaver MX software package, and it looks and feels completely different than this old rusty web site.

The new web site is at  www.everythingjapan.net    and is being designed as a customized google search engine, and also as an affiliate web site for the promotion of all products and services that are MADE IN JAPAN.

If you are looking for a quick and accurate search for something about Japan, you might enjoy using the search engine portal on this NEW WEB SITE.

You will be able to find what you are looking for more quickly, because I have designed it to filter out unrelated content.

Try it!    I think you'll like it!





2008 September 30 Tuesday.


Thirty (30) days has September, April, June and November. 

All the rest have Thirty-one (31), except for February which has Twenty-eight (28) days.   

Unless it is LEAP YEAR,  that is the time, when the days of February are Twenty-nine (29).

This is how children in the USA are taught to remember how many days are in each month, throughout the year.

It works well, if you understand the English Language.

Here in Japan, they have another method.

It involves starting with a closed fist, and counting from the the knuckle of the index finger which is up high (January), to the valley between the index finger and the middle finger, which is low (February).   

Up to the next high point of the knuckle of the middle finger (March), down into the valley between the middle finger and the ring finger (April) then up to the knuckle of the ring finger (May) then down into the valley between the ring finger and the little finger (June) then up to the knuckle of the little finger (July).

At this point, you start at the knuckle of the little finger where you already are and count that as August. 

Then you go back down into the valley between the little finger and ring finger (September) up to the knuckle of the ring finger (October) back down into the valley between the ring finger and middle finger (November), and finally back up to the knuckle of the middle finger (December).

The meaning of this exercise is that the high points on the knuckles, represents the months with 31 days. 

The valleys between the knuckles represents the months with 30 days. 

The only exception being February which has either 28 days or 29 days, depending on the year.

Which method works best for you?   I use both of them.

By the way, the photo in today's blog was taken just today in the Nagayama District of Asahikawa, not to far from the campus of Asahikawa University.   

You can clearly see that there is a lot of new snow since September 24, when it all started again for the foreseeable future.

From this day forward, you will be able to see the snow line get lower and lower on the mountains, and then onto the flatlands were most of the humans live.    

There is no escape.      Unless,.....    

You get aboard an airplane and fly off of the island of Hokkaido.

I'm staying here.   In the hot tube.   

Catching big fluffy snow flakes on my tongue, as they fall from the sky.

It's just another way to fly.





2008 September 25 Thursday thru September 29 Monday.


It was cold, dark and rainy all week, until Saturday morning. 

Then the sun came out and it warmed up a bit, making for a pleasant Indian Summer 小春日和 kind of feeling.   

I spent most of my time developing a new web site at the URL of www.everythingjapan.net .   

It looks and feels much different than this web site, and has a completely different purpose.

The web site you are looking at now, started out about 6 years ago, and looked very different then, than it does today.   

The only reason I started this web site way back then, was to give people more information about my classroom, than the Town Pages (Yellow Pages) in the telephone book could provide.   

In fact, the web site was finished just in time, before the new telephone directories were shipped to everyone in Asahikawa.   

I had put my URL www.snowmanjapan.net in my new advertisement, and didn't want people to try and access it, only to come up with a "FILE NOT FOUND" message, when they did so.   

That would be very embarrassing, to say the least.

I used FrontPage 2000 to make my first web site, and even that simple to use  software was a big challenge for me, at that time.  My first web site had only about 5 web pages in it, and was very confusing for the user to navigate through.

A year or two later, I upgraded my software to FrontPage 2002 and bought a big thick book from Amazon dot COM, called the Developer's Guide.   

This book helped a lot, and I learned how to make frames for the web site, making it easier to set up a navigation menu for the users.   

After that, I was able to organize this web site much better and added many new items to the navigation menu, and several hundreds of pages of original content, to this web site.    

It was a big improvement.

In the year 2004, I discovered Marcomedia (now Adobe) software.   

They had a software package called Studio MX, which contained Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Freehand and Flash.   

When I first bought, installed and tried to use this software, I was overwhelmed by the number of menus and functions that this excellent software package has.   

Again, I went to Amazon dot COM and bought a set of about 5 books, to help me learn how to use this new and amazing web development tool.   

It wasn't easy, and I am still an amateur, but finally, I produced a small (for now) web site that you can see at www.everythingjapan.net   

One of the things I discovered is, that DreamWeaver is so much more powerful than FrontPage, I began to wonder why I ever used FrontPage at all.   The reason is, FrontPage is so much easier to learn for people like me, who are not very Techno Smart.   

But, the good news is, I am becoming more knowledgeable about the internet and the IT industry in general, thanks in large part to my good friend Charles Hamel.

He has been working with computers and the internet for a lot longer than I have, and he has shown me so many things about IT, that he has removed the fish scales from my eyes, about the World Wide Web.   

Thank you so much, my dear friend Charlie.

You truly are; ON THE PATH in Hokkaido Japan.





2008 September 24 Wednesday.


According to the evening addition of the Hokkaido Newspaper, Mt. Asahidake got it's first snow on the mountain peak 初雪冠雪 just today.

Wait a minute!   It is only September 24!   

Say what?!?

Welcome to Hokkaido.

It is time to start wearing warmer clothes again, especially at night.

Summer in Hokkaido is extraordinarily beautiful.   

It is also very short.   I hope you enjoyed it again this year, as much as I did.

With colder weather approaching rapidly, day by day, I and most other people who live here, will be spending more and more time indoors.   

It's a good time to do all of the things you have been planning to do, but didn't do, because you have been spending so much time in the great outdoors.

In my case, I will be spending more time developing web sites and reading books about how to do that, and reading more books about various other things.   

For other people, it will be a time to get back to THE classroom and study English or music or flower arrangement or the tea ceremony or whatever.   

The long winter in Hokkaido makes it easier to stay indoors and really concentrate on the STUDY at hand.

Recently, I have been getting a lot of new adult students coming to take a look at my classroom, and then starting regular lessons on a weekly basis.

Last week a man and a woman began private lessons every week on Wednesday, starting at 20:00. 

The man is about the same age as me, and is also a guitar player with a band called LIBERTY and the woman works at a law office.   

I am also a guitar player so we have a lot in common and we both love many of the same songs.   

Mostly stuff from the USA rock and roll style of the 1960s and forward from that time.   

I don't play the 6 string guitar as much as I used to, because I like to play the bass guitar more nowadays.

Also, just today, I had two adults come to take a look at my classroom for a free trial lesson. 

The man is also a guitar player who likes HEAVY METAL, and the woman can play the trumpet and violin.   

Another interesting thing about these two people, is that they both work at Asahiyama Zoo!!!   

What a cool job!    I love animals too, so I could enjoy a job like that, if  ever I had the opportunity to do it.   

They both found out about my classroom after seeing this web site on the internet.   

In fact, the man who came today is one of the people who has designed and currently maintains the Asahiyama Zoo Web Site.    

A very good web site indeed.   

I have a permanent link to it on the LINKS page of this web site.

The main reason they both came to take a look at my classroom today, is because many foreign tourists come to the Asahiyama Zoo every year, and being able to speak English is very usefu, for their jobs.   

I hope they both decide to come back again and start taking lessons on a weekly basis.   

I really enjoyed meeting and talking with them today.

By the way, the photo in today's blog is of a brand of Japanese Rice Wine made by KuniMare 国稀 which is located in Mashike Town 増毛町.   

I have been to this rice wine brewery several times, and you can see a photo slide show of Mashike Town by clicking here.

This particular product is called Hokkai Nigori Zake 北海にごり酒 and was made during July of this year.   

It usually hits the shelves of the supermarkets around September and that is why I am enjoying it right now, as I write this blog.

It is not 100% Rice Malt Wine 純米酒ではない but it is raw and needs to be keep cold or it will spoil.   

It has a sweet smooth flavor and is about 20% alcohol, so it's easy to drink a little bit too much, and get tipsy.

As you can see from the photo, it is not clear, but cloudy.   

The meaning of Nigori is something like "cloudy", and that is why the brew looks something like watered down milk.   

The perfect drink for this season.   

If you love Japanese Rice Wine the way I do, please try this product.   

You won't be disappointed.   






2008 September 23 Tuesday.


Today is the Autumn Equinox 秋分の日 and a National Holiday in Japan.   

Not only is this day the official end of summer on the calendar, it is also noticeably colder in the air with some rain in the evening.   

Time to switch from cold water baths to hot water baths.

Ikuko and I stayed home today, and didn't go anywhere except to the supermarket just before closing time.

I did some work on the internet, and then later tried again to make some musical sounds come out of my newly acquired plastic ShakuHachi 尺八 Flute.

I am making some progress and discovering a whole new world of music at the same time.

I love to feel the deep vibrations of the flute when I make a sound that can be called a musical note.

Oh no!  Another obsession.

I usually go down to the bank of the Biei River to practice, but today it was so cold and rainy that I just stayed indoors and practiced in my classroom.   

So far, nobody has complained about it.   

Of course, I closed all of the windows double tight so that none of my horrible sounds could leak out into the world.   

I am years away from any kind of public performance, but I will get there.   

Practice, practice practice.





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