The Phone Booth Otsuchi Japan

The ‘Wind Phone’ (kaze no denwa). Image from Mikinee.
The ‘Wind Phone’ (kaze no denwa). Image from Mikinee.

Itaru Sasaki who lives in Otsuchi Japan installed this booth a year before the 2011 tsunami disaster.  He had just lost his cousin and was looking for a way to talk to him about his grief.  Otsuchi still has 421 missing, lost in the 2011 tsunami.

The phone is not connected but people, entire families, come to speak to their missing or deceased loved ones.

Listen to this moving story from NPR This American Life, the phone booth is the first part of this segment 597: One Last Thing Before I Go narrated by Miki Meeks.


Japanese Kite Flying Festival



imageMaster kite maker Mikio Toki is in Denver from Japan  teaching kite making and flying technics.imageFriday there were two sessions teaching kite construction.
imageimageimageimageSaturday the actual kite flying.imageThe small one underneath is actually an artichoke.image What a relaxing afternoon. Amazing kites made by amazing artists.

Arvada Colorado’s Cherry Trees, Sakura Blossoms, a Gift From Japan


In 1912 Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo made a gift of friendship, 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington, DC.

Commemorating that 1912 gift the Consul General of Japan made a gift of three cherry trees to Simpson United Methodist Church at the 100 year anniversary and celebration.  These trees are thriving and they are now welcoming spring and blooming this week!

Members of this diversified church include first, second, third, fourth and fifth generation Japanese-Americans.  We are fortunate that we will be able to practice hanami (flower viewing).  Perhaps we should arrange a Sakura Hanami Festival and enjoy viewing our very own blossoms with a traditional picnic.

The Denver Cherry Blossom Festival this year is Saturday June 27, 2015 – Sunday June 28, 2015.  The Sakura will be done blooming but Denver will enjoy a festival of entertainment, vendors and great food.


Noisy Offering – Children of Simpson UMC

The children of Simpson UMC collect the loose offering from the congregation once a month for a special mission.

Here they are receiving buckets from their Sunday School teacher Brenda.  The coins are very loud when tossed into these buckets, the children love it!

The most recent mission was sending money to an orphanage in Japan after the devastating tsunami.




Shichi-Go-San, Blessing of the Children

Shichi-Go-San “Seven-Five-Three” is a traditional festival day in Japan celebrated to mark the growth of children as they turn three, five and seven years of age.  In Japan this festival occurs annually on November 15 or on the nearest weekend.  Parents take their children to a shrine where they pray for the good health and well-being of their children.

At Simpson UMC Shichi-Go-San was celebrated this year on October 5th.  We also call the day “Blessing of the Children”.  We bless all children of the congregation and other children who wish to attend, we thank God for their presence in our lives and for their health and happiness.


In Japan the children may wear their traditional dress, kimonos for girls and haori jackets and hakama trousers for boys.

At Simpson the girls wore kimonos and the boys happi jackets.  Ann Henderson presided over a blessing for the children.  Ann truly joined in the spirit of the day and wore a kimono provide by Jane Fujioka.



Rice fields of Japan

This was received in an email.  I don’t know where the email was started but this is amazing!

Rice fields of Japan Incredible !!!

Looks ordinary  enough……. but watch as  the rice  grows!!!!!! 





Stunning crop art  has sprung up across rice fields in  Japan , but this is no  alien creation. The designs have been  cleverly PLANTED!  

Farmers creating the huge displays use  no ink or  dye.   Instead, different  colour  rice plants have been precisely and strategically  arranged and  grown in the paddy fields.   As summer progresses
and the plants shoot up, the detailed artwork begins to   emerge.



A Sengoku warrior on  horseback has been created  from  hundreds of thousands of rice plants.   The colours  are  created by using different varieties of rice plants,  whose  leaves grow in certain colours.   This photo  was taken  in Inakadate , Japan

Napoleon on  horseback can be seen from the  skies.   This was created by  precision planting and  months of planning by villagers and  farmers located in  Inkadate , Japan .


Fictional warrior  Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife, Osen, whose  lives are  featured on the television series   ‘Tenchijin’,  appear in fields in  the town of  Yonezawa in the Yamagata prefecture


This  year,  various artwork has popped up in other   rice-farming areas of Japan ,  including designs of deer  dancers.   Smaller works of  ‘crop-art’ can be seen  in other rice-farming areas of  Japan such as this image of Doraemon and deer dancers.
The farmers create the murals by planting little  purple and yellow-leafed Kodaimai  rice along with their  local green-leafed Tsugaru,
a Roman  variety,   to create the  coloured patterns in the  time between  planting and harvesting in September.
The  murals in  Inakadate cover 15,000 square metres of paddy   fields.



From  ground  level, the designs are invisible, and viewers have  to  climb the mock castle tower of the village office to get  a  glimpse of the  work.

Closer to the  image,  the careful placement of the thousands of rice plants  in  the paddy fields can be seen.   Rice-paddy art  was  started there in 1993 as a local revitalization  project, an idea that grew  from meetings of the village  committees.   The different  varieties of rice plants  grow alongside each other to  create the masterpieces. In the  first nine  years, the village office workers and local   farmers grew a simple design  of Mount Iwaki every year   but their ideas grew more complicated  and attracted more  attention.   In 2005, agreements  between landowners  allowed the creation  of enormous rice paddy art. A year  later,  organizers used computers to precisely plot the  planting  of four differently colored rice varieties that bring  the  images to life!   TRULY A WORK OF   ART!!

Taiko Japan’s Number One Energy Export by Marc Steuben

This article appears here with the permission of Marc Steuben and explains how Taiko was born as we know it today and how Taiko came to the United States.

I have taken several lessons from Marc now and the more I get to know him the more fascinating and complex I find him.  Look forward to reading about his other talents and endeavors here soon.

He remains a patient and encouraging teacher even though I have two left hands when it comes to drumming!