Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Today I went to 'teach' English to the two 5-year-olds that I got to know through my naginata instructor. I use 'teach' because as always, I'm not really sure if I am really helping them develop their English. In fact, today's lesson was almost half science, since I was talking about colours and was using this to show them how to form secondary colours when you mix primary colours:

You won't believe how excited they get over being able to see the colours being held up to the light. Then again, I'm still excited over holding these things up to the light and looking at them.

But as fun as today's lesson with Yuichiro-kun and Chi-chan was, that is not the point of today's post.

See, somewhere around last winter, I had this sudden urge to go walking about. It's a rather cheap way of being able to explore parts of Japan that you normally wouldn't be able to take a look at. And it saves on train fare. Plus, it's fun, as Gracia (who is probably a distant clanmember since we share the same surname) can attest to.

The thing is, two Tuesdays ago, after the English class, I decided to try walking back. And while I initially decided to follow the route I took in February (since I'm familiar with the path), halfway through, I suddenly decided to take a different path along the way, that was still heading in the general direction of home, but with which I had absolutely no experience with.

And I don't know why, but that was one of the most enjoyable times I had, just walking along, looking at all the 'new' places, while trying to follow my internal compass.

So today, I started to walk back, somewhat along the same route. I had wanted to follow the same path I took, when once again, my random leanings kicked in, and I decided to follow a different path.

And the same feeling of fun came back.

It's looking around, and realizing that you've never actually seen the place before. It's the slight thrill you get that you don't know exactly where you are (since I choose to go without a map, a singularly bad idea according to my JCC instructors). It's how your eyes play tricks on you, making you see shades of a Singapore from my childhood in the buildings and streets of a suburban Japan in the present, mixed with memories of Taiwan, while at the same time toying with the illusion that this is similar to what it would be like in Bangkok, all the while connected to an idealized, Age of Exploration-esque fantasy.

And I guess, for me, it fulfills a sort of psychological need to go on an adventure. Admittedly, in the unlikely (yes I do have that much faith, as well as residual arrogance, in my navigational training) chance that I do get lost, it won't be that hard to find my way to a train station. But I guess it is that possibility, the fact that I'm not exactly certain of where I am, but that wherever I am is a wonderful new place to explore, that makes such long rambles fun.

And I must also confess that whenever I come to a place where I recognize where I am, I actually do feel a pang of disappointment, that I know how to get back, that I've returned to the 'normal and mundane'.

But until that happens, I guess I'll continue to walk around, trying to find different ways to go on adventures (without having to spend ¥¥!), just me, my iPod, and the joy that God in His wisdom and generosity allows me to enjoy in my odd little endeavours.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Prayer Stuff #8

Ok it appears that while ideally I should be updating once a week on these items, I haven't been doing so. But we don't live in a world that is exactly ideal (if not hot dog buns would not come in sets of 4 while hotdogs come in sets of 10), so I guess we'll just have to try to avoid the less ideal bits, and move to the ideal parts when we can.

Prayer stuff!
  1. Thanksgiving for last week, had a couple of picnics (one with my naginata class on Sat and one with the Hanakoganei HC on Sun). And though both times swarms of yukimushi (a sort of aphid apparently) came upon us, it was generally fun.
  2. The Urawa English corner is still doing well, and the regular people are still coming. Do continue to pray that their interest will continue to go beyond merely intellectual or social levels, and that they may start realizing the need for spiritual fulfillment.
  3. Additionally, it seems that Miki-san from the Urawa English Corner has been asking a lot of questions with regard to Christianity, so that's a good sign.
  4. Same for Coco's Coffee Hour. It's been good talking to the people and getting to know them, since we're all really sort of neighbours living in the same area.
  5. English class for kids on Tuesday afternoon. The previous session two weeks ago went ok, I thought, but it's still something that causes me a bit of nervousness each time I go, since I really don't want to waste their time.
  6. E-moms on Thursday morning.
  7. There's a Celebration (gathering of HC members) this coming Sunday, pray for a good time of fellowship and encouragement, and that we'll be able to feel the presence of God with us.
And for the following week:
  1. The Yokohama HC is meeting on Wednesday. Hasn't really been mentioned before, but this is something that Kodaira-san has been doing recently. At the moment, there are only 6 members (Kodaira, the Hoshinos, Asahina-san and Kanbei-san, along with me), meeting around Yokohama area. This week apparently is a hike or something.
  2. As mentioned, the temperature has been dropping pretty quickly these past few days. Pray for health and stuff.
  3. Short-term team from OMF coming up from Singapore. They'll be heading up to Sapporo, but will make a brief stopover in Tokyo. It is led by Daniel Lau, who was the missionary we worked with the most 2 years ago in 2008. His wife Joylyn, is projected to give birth somewhere in Dec, so well, it's kinda stressful for him I guess? And Dean (also from the 2008 team) will be with them as well. Pray for a fruitful time of ministry here.
Ok that's about it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Being in Japan can get lonely at times... I have to live by myself, my family is 7000 km away, I can't easily call out my friends to go play CoH, or do many things that I would otherwise be able to do at home in Singapore.

Super Sentai Team: Not really possible right now.

However, being in Japan also affords its own perks. For example, I can get Japanese food at relatively cheap prices. I can also find lots of Japanese anime music which I either 1) will not be able to find in Singapore, or 2) cost $70 for a 5 track CD in Singapore.

And I am also able to pick up various things that may interest me, like martial arts.

See, as a kid, my dad didn't want me to take up karate or judo or taekwondo because he was worried that such martial arts training would lead me to grow up to become a horrible, violent, sociopath. His fears were pretty much unfounded; I have grown up to be a horrible, violent sociopath even without the martial arts training. But now that I am in Japan, I thought it would be nice if I could just go and try out some Japanese martial arts that I may not have the chance to do in Singapore.

One of the classes I picked up was the naginata. I started this earlier this year, and the net result of that is that I am now having to teach two 5-year-olds English. I will explain this some other time, since I want to post about naginata as well, but that's not what I want to focus on.

Then recently, I got the chance to try out Japanese archery. I've always thought the kyudo practitioners were really cool in the way they went through all the stylized actions of shooting. And as there was a beginners' course being taught by the local kyudo association, I thought I should join in just for fun.

I would post a picture of how cool kyudo looks, but since I wasn't able to take any photos then, this photo of me being happy with my beginner's certificate will have to suffice.

One of the interesting things about kyudo, as I read up on wikipedia, is the whole objective of the sport/art. In western archery, or most shooting sports with targets, the aim (pardon the horrible pun) of the whole exercise is to put your shot as close to the center of the target as you possibly can. And naturally, in kyudo, the closer the arrow is to the center of the target, the better.

The big difference is that that is not the main aim. The main objective of kyudo is to be able to have the correct form and actions, and the correct attitude in shooting. Which is really almost quite zen in its explanation, but it boils down to this: if your form and attitude is right, then the arrow will hit the target. But even if it doesn't, you've still managed to attain your objective. Conversely, if you hit the target, but don't do things correctly, then you've pretty much failed at it. You can go read up more on wikipedia if you're interested.

And I was thinking how this could easily be an analogy for many other things we do in life, where we have a target or objective that seems to be the main aim, but is meant to act more as a guidepost to getting the real lesson. (*Koff* studies *koff*)

And in life, we (generally) aim to be a 'good' person, and I'm thinking, being a 'good' person is a nice ideal, but that would be more like the target in kyudo. The main aim in life should be to become the person God wants us to be. And like an arrow that is shot when the archer's actions and attitude are correct, if we are able to find out what God wants us to be, we'll naturally be able to be a good person in life.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Prayer Stuff #7 (UPDATE)

Ok, I think I shall make a slight modification to this 'weekly' update. In order to be more relevant to MW publications, I shall put up things for the following week. But since we have to backtrack a bit now, we shall do two weeks for this round!

  1. Thanksgiving for a fairly decent first Alpha session. Hopefully the series will help people be willing to ask more questions, and that the Holy Spirit will give understanding to those who come (including us Christians)
  2. Taira-san (Tokorozawa HC) has gotten a month of no-pay leave, which he is quite happy about. He's been working very hard and felt like he could not take the pressure any more, so he went to speak to his section head, and they gave him a month.
  3. The 5-year-old English class was kinda ok, but it really is hard to maintain their attention. And my trump card failed, because one of the kids is not that fond of candy.
  4. Kids' club this Friday.
  5. Alpha session 2 on Saturday, and sounds like a couple more people will be coming, though leader Karen is unable to make it, as she has to give a presentation in school... which means I will have to do the English section while Sylvia (other leader) will do the Japanese section.
  6. Just received news from Liu Wen (formerly of Shinjuku HC) that his father, who was battling advanced cancer, has passed away. Pray that his family and relatives will be able to receive comfort from God as they deal with this loss, and that Liu Wen will continue to be the channel of that peace.
And for the following week:
  1. Eh... actually seems like not a lot of stuff going on the following week, but there is an outing planned for the naginata class I attend on Saturday, so well let's hope for more good relationships to be formed. Will update later if I know more stuff.
Ok so that's about it.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Prayer Stuff #6

Ok so I missed out on last week's stuff. But here's this week's!
  1. Have to teach the two 5 year-olds English tomorrow, one of whom is the grandkid of my naginata sensei. While I am not particularly worried about her beating me up if I don't do a good job, I am extremely nervous, since I do not want to waste their time. Additionally, as I told some others at the HC the other day, I already know nothing about teaching English, and I know even less than nothing about teaching English to 5 year-olds. So there.
  2. E-moms on Thursday morning, pray once again for a good discussion on not just English, but also Christianity.
  3. Shinjuku HC's Alpha Course is starting up this Saturday; they'll be doing both an English and a Japanese session each time. So far, there are two non-Christians (T, who is a regular member of the HC, and ZR), as well as a Christian guy who wants to practice his English (Kawazoe).
  4. L of the Tokorozawa HC has been given an eviction notice, and he will have to leave his apartment by December. Although it's still far away, it is not exactly easy to find (long-term) housing if you're a foreigner in Japan, even more so when you need to take care of children. Pray for the Lord's provision.
Ok so that's about it, trying to gather my thoughts for the English thing tmr...