2007 December 4 Tuesday.

Another beautiful photograph from the website Rambling On My Hokkaido.   

This is a photograph of Mt. Yotei, also known as Ezo Fuji, that was taken on November 4 of this year, at 17:24.   

I am currently using this photo as the wallpaper 壁紙 for my personal computer.   

If you also would like to use this photo as a wall paper on your PC, it is OK with the photographer, if you do so.   

He even says so at the top of every page on his very extensive website.    

Click here  to go to the original high resolution version of this photograph, above/left. 

You too can copy and paste it into your PC, and enjoy it just like I do, everyday.   

If you can read Japanese, you also get the benefit of reading his detailed descriptions of each and every photo.   

Obviously, this guy knows a whole lot about, all aspects of Hokkaido.   

In fact, I am using his website as another study guide, for next year's   北海道観光マスター検定 in November of 2008.      

On a different subject,....    

Yesterday my classroom received a phone call, from the mother of one of my former students.   

Her son first came to my classroom in 2001, when he was 8 years old.   

Shortly before he came to my classroom for the first time, he and his family had lived in Houston Texas, for about 6 months.   

Without knowing any English at all, he was enrolled in a regular Houston elementary school.   

In other words, he had massive exposure to spoken American English, from a very early age. 

As a result, his EARS were naturally tuned into the music. 

The music which is spoken language. 

Any spoken language.   

In this case, American English.   

Anyway, his mother called my classroom again today, and asked for a consultation session with her son, and his father, TODAY.   

We were able to schedule them in for one hour, starting at 18:00.   

When the now almost 15 years old N君 walked into my classroom, I was taken aback, by the fact that he is now, as tall as I am, and very handsome, and able to engage in English Conversation with ease, and fluency.   

What a pleasant surprise.   

He told me for the first time today, that he has been playing golf, since the age of 9 years old.   

A good looking guy like this, who can speak perfect English, and play golf very well, has a lot of opportunities in this BIG WORLD we all "live" in.   

Thank you for coming back to my classroom again, after all of these years.   

You and I,  will get yourself very well prepared, for your soon to come, 3 years of living in Australia and going to a senior high school there, all at the same time.    

What a trip.      

Is it any wonder that I love my life's WORK?      

A Work and a Wonder.

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2007 November 23 Friday.

Today is a National Holiday in Japan known as Labor Thanksgiving Day 勤労感謝の日.   

It is also the day for taking the Master of Hokkaido Tourism Examination 北海道観光マスター検定.   

I first became aware of this test during August of this year, when I saw a poster about it at the 道の駅あさひかわ.   

I bought the study guide, and attended a seminar about taking the exam, as well as doing a lot of study on my own with the study guide and using the internet.   

I felt that I was well prepared for the exam.   

When I arrived at the testing site at just before 14:00, most of the 50 some people who were also taking the exam were already there.   

An explanation about the rules for taking the test started at exactly 14:00, and then the test itself began at about 14:08.   

There were 50 multiple choice questions some of which I knew the answers to right away, and many more of which I  had to take some time to think about.   

Some of the test takers had already finished the test in less than 30 minutes.   

I wonder if it was their second year attempt, and they were much better prepared than last year.   

It took me about 80 minutes to finish the exam, and I felt that I had done a pretty good job on it.   

My initial feeling as I walked out the door for the long walk back to my place, was that I may have gotten a passing score.   

But after I arrived back at my classroom and was checking my answers to the questions, using the guide book and the internet, I suddenly began to have that sinking feeling.   

I only checked 13 of the 50 questions, but already I had missed 6 of the 13 questions.   

Doesn't look good for the SnowmanJapan chances of getting a certificate of competence in Hokkaido Tourism this year.   

I will try again next year, and learn much more about this beautiful island upon which I live.   

There is a whole lot more to explore than even I knew about.   

I'm looking forward to the next season of no snow, so I can get back on the road and visit more places.   

But for now, it's time to get back into the research mode and learn ALL of the important facts about this place.   

I'm rather sure that I'm not the only one to screw up on this year's exam, so for those of you who tried like me, and came up a bit short, see ya all again next year.

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2007 November 18 Sunday.

Another very busy week.   

In addition to my usual schedule of classes until about 21:40, I had a total of 4 lessons during the morning hours of Wednesday and Friday, at the Asahi Elementary School 旭川市立朝日小学校.   

This is the 3rd year in a row, that they have invited me out to the school, to put on a performance which will help the kids learn some English, and meet with somebody from a foreign country.   

Finally on Saturday and Sunday, I had enough free time to continue reading my copy of the 北海道観光マスター検定の手引き書.   

I have read the entire book from cover to cover one time, and this weekend I am going to read it all again.   

This should give me a fighting chance to pass the exam that will be held next Friday, November 23, starting at 14:00.   

While I am reading this book, I am also searching the internet to get more detailed information about and images of Hokkaido.   

One of the things that really caught my attention today, is the large number of abandoned railroad lines, and their associated bridges and other old facilities.   

I have seen a very few of these places for myself, but there are so many other places, that I have not yet been to.   

Above/left, is a photo of an old concrete arch bridge along the eastern shoreline of Lake Nukabira 糠平湖.   

Click here to see the website from which I borrowed this beautiful photograph.   

I think I am going to make this area, and others like it,  one of my priorities for a driving expedition during the coming year of 2008.   

I want to learn more about the history of railroads and bridge building in Hokkaido.   

Every stone has a story to tell.

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2007 November 11 Sunday.

Wow!  What a busy week that was. 

Classes every day mostly until about 21:40.   

Recently, a lot of new students have joined my classroom, and every lesson time slot has some number of people in it.   

I am very happy about this, because I love my work, and I always learn something new from my students, every day.   

Finally, on Saturday November 10, at 14:30 when my last lesson of the week was finished, I had enough time to sit down and continue reading my copy of the 北海道観光マスター検定の手引き書.   

I have only read about half of this book up to now, so yesterday and today, I promised MYSELF that I would read the entire remainder of it.   

I also need to re-read the entire book one more time, from cover to cover, if I am to have any chance at all of passing the exam.   

No problem, I want to learn everything there is to know about Hokkaido.   

The only question is, can I make the best use of my remaining 12 days, and commit it all to long term memory.   

我輩はパソコンである。 

The more I read this book, the more I realize that I know very little about Hokkaido, even though I have lived here for 17 years, and have driven to almost every region on this island.   

When I come across some information that I didn't know about before, I will do a search on the internet to see some more photographs of it and to read more detailed information about it.   

One of the things I discovered today, was this photograph taken from the top of アポイ岳 in 様似町 in the Hidaka 日高 area.   

Please click on the photo to visit the website from which I borrowed today's blog photo.   

The narrow trail along the top of the peaks, is where people can go trekking, while enjoying a stunning birds eye view of the Pacific Ocean below.   

This of course is during the season of no snow.   

Another thing I discovered about the history of Hokkaido, is that since the beginning of the Meiji Era 明治時代 the mining, railroads, road building and most other modern mineral extraction, metal working and various construction technologies, were taught to the local people by many American experts in those fields.   

This was another subject upon which I spent a considerable about of extra time,  reading about on the internet.   

One of the more interesting academic papers which I found in the form of a PDF file, is about the beginnings of the Coal Mining Industry in Hokkaido starting around 1868 during the transition from the Taisho Era into the Meiji Era.   

That is when the inland regions 内陸地方 of this island began to become more easily accessible, to more and more people.   

As I was reading this academic paper, I thought to myself how good the roads are nowadays, and how easy it is to drive around the entirety of this beautiful dragon head island.   

Come and visit sometime!   You can stay, if you like.

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スノーマン先生のブログにお越しいただき、ありがとうございますm(_ _ )m
皆さまに読んでいただけることが、日々更新の励みになっております♪

今スノーマン先生は、「北海道観光マスター」の検定を控えています。
最近仕事が多忙のため、検定の準備やブログを更新する時間が
なかなか思うようにとれない状況です( ̄_ ̄ i)

検定が終われば、来週あたりから元のペースで更新していく予定です。
今後とも、スノーマン先生のアメリカンイングリシュ・ブログを
宜しくお願いいたします☆:(*^ー^)ノ

(ブログ管理人 ナツキより)

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2007 October 27 Saturday.

This is the day for the 5 hour lecture, about taking the 北海道観光マスター検定 Master of Hokkaido Tourism examination. 

From 10:00 until 16:00, about 45 people including myself, listened to 札幌国際大学観光学部観光学科の   吉岡 宏高先生   Talk about the 2nd annual examination, and what parts of the book, and what facts need to be looked into more closely, and also some amusing stories about traveling around Hokkaido, and how some things have changed, and some things have remained the same. 

It was a very interesting 5 hours lecture with a full one hour lunch break between 12:00 and 13:00.   

The walk back home however, was a bit cold, due to the fact that I wasn't wearing any socks nor shoes. 

I was barefoot in sandals.

Feels great during most of the year, but not today.   

Brrrrrrr.....    When I get back home I am going to fill up a big tub with hot water, climb in, and make everything better, all over again.   

Then, I need to sit down and read some more of what is written in this book.   

I have until November 23 to learn it all.   

Am I up to the challenge?   

We shall see.

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2007 October 15 Monday.

A very nice sunny day with cool temperatures.  My first gig of the day, started off at the Young Bud Kindergarten めばえ幼稚園 at 10:00. 

When that was finished at about 11:20, I drove back home and ate some lunch before the start of my next class at 13:00.   

This class is of course, the 英会話を楽しむ会 at the 神楽公民館.   

We haven't had this class for about one month, because the Kagura District city administration offices were being moved from the old building, to the newly refurbished building, that used to be the Forestry Management Office 営林局.   

You can see a photo of the information sign board above.   

This new facility is very nice indeed. 

In fact, the room that we are using now has a very fancy circular table-set in it, with very comfortable chairs.   

I felt as if I was at some type of company board room meeting.   Today, I used a translation that I made of pages 10, 11 and 12 of the Master of Hokkaido Tourism Handbook 北海道観光マスター・ハンドブック for our study material.   

You can see my English translation that we used today, by clicking here.   

This printout took up about 30 minutes of the 90 minutes class time.   

Other people talked about various things. 

One lady wanted me to talk about Halloween, and my experiences as a child in the USA during this event which is held on October 31.   

I told her all about my experiences, which I have also written about in a rather long essay which includes a podcast of the text. 

You can read and listen to it, by clicking here.    

Another lady, in fact one of the original members of this group that started almost 12 years ago, told us how she spent almost 1 week in BALI, for the wedding of her daughter!!!   

Wow!   I want to hear the whole story next week.   

That must have been wonderful experience.

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2007 September 18 Tuesday.

I know I promised myself that I would be reading the Master of Hokkaido Tourism Handbook everyday, until November 23, when I will take the written examination, but today I just couldn't keep myself away from reading more and more, of the first English edition of the Fukudoku Hon 副読本, a basic textbook covering the philosophy of Kongo Zen  金剛禅 which is used as the basis for the training of the practitioners of ShoRinJi KemPo 少林寺拳法.   

I have never called myself a Buddhist, but the more I read of this book, the more I can see that my way of looking at life and the world around me, is 99.9% the same as these folks.   

PURE GOLD.    It is literally blowing my friggin' mind!     Today when I read about the concept of Dharma, I realized that it is just another word for UNIVERSAL LAW.   

Yes, I know many things about COSMIC LAW and I strictly obey it at all times, but now I have a new name by which to call it.  Dharma.   

The textbook defines Dharma as follows; It is the fundamental source of all order and phenomena in the universe. 

It is through Dharma that ALL HUMAN BEINGS and EVERYTHING in the UNIVERSE are created, given life, and developed.   

Makes perfect sense to me. 

Another way to label it is as;  The Life Force. 

The textbook goes on to say that;  Although ultimately we are born of the Dharma, each of us receives our physical body directly from our parents. 

It is in this physical body where our mind, our spirit 心, dwells.   ]

To express the gratitude we feel for having received our spirit through Dharma and our body from our parents, we train ourselves to act with RESPECT for the nature of our spirits. 

This disciplined training is the PATH to developing an indomitable spirit and a strong and healthy body so that we can gain self-discipline and become capable of serving both others and ourselves.   

In other words, creating a WIN WIN SITUATION, where NOBODY LOSES.   

Everybody GAINS. 

There are no losers. 

Everybody is happy, and therefore there is NO WAR.   

Gawwwwd Damn It!!!   

Why can't everybody on this Tiny Earth SEE and UNDERSTAND that???   

The answer is stunningly simple. 

It is because most sheeple are LOOKING OUTSIDE OF THEMSELVES in a useless attempt to understand themselves, and what is really happening all around them. 

They have it all,...    Ass Backwards.    

Turn off the TV.   

Watch less Hollywood Driftwood washed up on the shore beach tar rubbish Movies and DVDs.   

What is really needed, since long long ago,   is  A TOTAL RETURN TO THE HEART 心. 

Especially NOW,  in the present state of this  目茶  phucked up world.    

IT begins with ME, and with YOU and YOU and YOU TOO.    

The time to look inwards is NOW.    

It is always NOW.      

Start TODAY.         PLEASE!      

Help yourself WHILE helping others at the SAME TIME. 

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2007 September 8 Saturday.

As expected, there was a lot of rain falling out of the sky today, because of Typhoon Number 9, passing this way. 

While watching JNN News Bird on Sky Perfect TV, I saw live reports from Hakodate and other areas along the Pacific Ocean Coast of Hokkaido.   

Obviously, I made the right decision yesterday, to NOT drive down to Minami Kayabe and attend the 2007 Jomon no Michi Forum, as I had previously planned to do.   

I even heard a story on the news, where some man in his 50s, went outside to take a look at the river water level,  and never came back home.   

My Gaaaawd!   

The only time you go outside during a typhoon, is when you see the river water level coming up towards your house, and then you run for higher ground.   

Water seeks its own level, and there is nothing that any human being can do about IT.   

It's a COMIC LAW, just like all the other universal knowledge that never changes.   

You can depend upon IT.      

I had no classes today, so I sat down and read Chapter 4 of the 北海道観光マスター検定 Handbook.   

It is about the history of Hokkaido, which starts during the stone age, some 21,000 years ago.   

Civilization doesn't get much older than that, my friends.   

We know for sure,  people were living here because, archaeologists have unearthed some evidence of it near Chitose City 千歳市 and KamiShiHoro Town 上士幌町.    

Next, they started discovering bows and arrows, and pottery among many other things from the Jomon Era 縄文時代. 

And then, starting after about 200 B.C., the Yayoi Era 弥生時代 began to flourish.   

Around the year 600 C.E. the Ohotsk Culture オホーツク文化 was flourishing in Southern Sakhalin and Northern Hokkaido, etc. etc.   

Finally, in about 1600 C.E. the Ainu Culture アイヌ文化 began to flourish all over Hokkaido. 

As we get into the late Edo Period 江戸時代 and early Meiji Period 明治時代, we begin to see the "modernization" of Japan, into a more Occidental looking country.   

As this trend progressed through the Taisho 大正 and into the Meiji 明治,   Japan began to get full of itself, and felt the need to project its power all throughout Asia, and even all around the world if possible.   

We all know about the tragic events that started with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, and put into motion, a chain of events that led up to the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9 of the same year.   

Since that time, Japan has had a peaceful demeanor and a National Constitution, adopted on May 3, 1947 that prohibits Japan from having any military forces at all.   

That was during the period since the end of the Pacific War on August 14, 1945,  until  April 28, 1952.   

On that date, more than 50 years ago, Japan once again became a sovereign nation.   

A little less than 10 years later, Japan created the JSDF.   

A defensive military, to protect it from enemies, both real and created.   

Finally year by year, the JSDF found themselves on PEACE KEEPING MISSIONS, in various Asian countries.   

Hey!  am I starting to see a PATTERN here?   

A road back to the bad old days, of a new Military Empire?    

In recent years, there has been much talk about revising the Constitution of Japan, especially Article 9, to allow the JSDF to get even closer to the combat, on forward battle lines, of needless wars.   

If a nation forgets its own history,  it is condemned to repeat it again, and again, and again, and,......    TURN OFF the BOOB TUBE.   

TURN ON your inner LIGHT.    

Educate YOURSELF!   

Use the internet AND all of the books you already have of your own.   

USE your local LIBRARY.   

Wake the phuck up, PLEASE! 

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2007 September 5 Wednesday.

I was scheduled to resume morning classes at my classroom again, starting today at 10:00, but despite sending out detailed information about it to everyone I know who might be interested in coming, I received no phone calls nor any emails in response, as of last night. 

This is a pretty good sign that nobody will be coming this morning. 

However, I got up a 9:00 took a shower, got dressed and opened my classroom door anyway, on the off chance that someone might come by unannounced.   

Nobody did.   

Was I disappointed?   

No, not at all.   

I have many things to do, so I will use my time in anyway I choose to do so. 

This morning my first priority was to proofread the 4 pages of translation work that I finished up last night. 

Then, I printed it out and made copies.   

Last night while I was doing the translation, I came upon some economy and industry terminology 経済・産業 専門用語, of which I had forgotten the English language equivalents.

Terms such as 第三次産業、畜産食料品、民間企業設備投資額、国内総生産、食料供給基地,  and so on.   

I tried using some of the internet based online dictionaries to translate the terms for me, but I was very surprised to find out that most of these terms were not listed.   

What to do?   

Suddenly, I remember a textbook that I had bought in Sapporo about 16 years ago, and that I had used to study about, how to read Japanese Financial Newspapers.   

You can see a photo of the cover of this book,  above/left.   

I haven't used this book in about 10 years, but I found it to be very useful last night. 

It contained the information that I needed to get the job done, and on time. 

Holy smokes, I can read the Japanese and know what it means, and I can explain the meaning in both English and Japanese, but these special terms have exact English equivalents that I MUST USE in order to make the meaning of my translation, crystal clear.   

The English Language. 

USE IT OR LOSE IT.   

Same universal law applies to any learned knowledge or skill.   

Anyway, this book saved my butt last night.  You can see my English translation of pages 10, 11 and 12, of the 北海道観光マスター検定ハンドブック by clicking here.   

Today at 19:00, the student for whose benefit,  I made this translation, came for his weekly lesson. 

His mother and father live here in Asahikawa, but he now lives in Sapporo with his wife, his wife's family and their 5 months old baby boy. 

He wants to become an English speaking tour guide in Hokkaido, and I am most certainly able to help him achieve his goals. 

Especially because, he puts forth his own effort to get were he wants to go. 

These type of students are a teacher's dream come true. 

There is no limit on what we can do together. 

After today's lesson was finished at 20:10, he asked me if he could start taking a 2 hour lesson each week from 19:00 until 21:00.   

The way my classroom system is set up, any lessons starting at 20:00 or thereafter, are considered to be private lessons, and the lesson fee is 4 times more expensive than those lessons which are held between 15:00 and 20:00.   

However, in this case, I told my ambitious student that two lesson tickets, at the group lesson price, would be good enough as payment for my time.   

He was very happy to hear this, and I was very happy to make the offer.   

I want to see this guy turn his life into a self-made dream for himself and his family. 

I am always glad to bend over backwards and bust my ass for those students who really have a SPECIFIC GOAL in mind.    

Go for it man!   

Let's DO IT NOW!   

You are on the right track.  Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes.

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2007 September 4 Tuesday.

Last night after all of my lessons were finished, I was sitting around and reading my Master of Hokkaido Tourism Handbook 北海道観光マスター検定ハンドブック when I suddenly got a bright idea.   

The student who comes to my classroom every Wednesday at 19:00, just recently graduated from Asahikawa University, and also just came back to Japan from a 2 months long, intensive English study course in Vancouver Canada. 

He wants to become an English speaking Hokkaido tour guide, and is coming to my classroom for that very reason.   

So, I thought to myself; He should also take this test together with me, and while we are both studying this handbook, I will translate some of the pages into English, and give them to him as a textbook for use in our classes together!   

Sound like a good idea?   Helping others WHILE helping yourself.   

So, I sat down tonight and started translating pages 10, 11 and 12.   

These pages cover the very basic information and statistics of Hokkaido, and you can see a photo of two of these pages in my blog of last Sunday below. 

The photo in today's blog shows pages 14 and 15 which talk about the 6 natural sightseeing regions in Hokkaido, and how many people come here each year, and from what countries. 

It also shows the percentage increase of visitors from each country from 2001 until 2005.   

The good news is that visitors from all countries are on the increase, with people from Australia showing the largest increase over the five year period, with a whooping 1219%!!!   

Is that cool or what? 

The second biggest increase is from China at 401%, followed by Korea at 252%, Taiwan at 232%, Hong Kong at 188%, the USA at 126%, and Russia at 72%.   

Come on America, Get It UP!!!  This island ROCKS!   

It is also an excellent place for winter sports.  See ya all real soon.

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