Rolling Hills


It’s hard to believe that Golden Week is over. It went by too fast. My next vacation isn’t until August. I also can’t believe that it’s something I can find complaint about.

Back in the US, I never really had any holidays. If I was lucky, I might have Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and Easter off. Since coming to Japan, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to not only have two days off a week, but to also have paid vacations.

When I speak to people from outside the US, they can’t believe that vacations aren’t the norm for us, especially if we don’t come from a white collar – middle class family. I’ve lived here for just under a year and I already find myself wondering if I could ever go back to living as I did back home. Something tells me I wouldn’t. it’s startling, but I wonder if I’ve left my home country for good.




Went traveling with some coworkers. We took an early morning bus to Takayama and spent the day hiking, eating, and looking in old shops.

Takayama is famous for its old towns and fall foliage. If you have the chance to go, I strongly recommend that you go.


Like Music


It’s been a very long time since I played the piano. I have a keyboard at home, but I rarely every use the thing and I certainly never practice anymore.

When I was younger, my mother taught me the keys and encouraged me to play around with the instrument. She grew up with a lot of music and wanted to share that love with me. For the most part, that was done through listening to old records or the radio, but I remember my mother’s then-boyfriend buying her a keyboard when I was 12.

Neither of us can read music, yet my mom is really good at listening to a song and figuring out how to play it. I’m not that good and probably will never be. She used to figure out how to play the songs I liked and write the notes down with letters and arrows so I could play them. The first song she taught me was Memory from Cats.

I have a student who is a huge handful. This young man is known for fighting with staff and students alike. He is also known to come from a less than ideal home situation. However, we have recently found his passion: music.

It started when we had a dance group visit us. I’d never seen such a look of awe on a child’s face before. He was silent the entire time they were with us. When he turned to me and my boss and simply said, “I like that,” it was like he was an entirely different child– like we were seeing the real him for the first time.

In the coming weeks, he has mentioned liking music to me from time to time, so I asked him if he would like to learn how to play a few simple songs on the piano. Mind, these lessons only occur after class is over and only if he has been good. The first thing I showed him was what each key was. Then, I taught him “Hot Cross Buns,” which I remember from when my class was learning to play the recorder when I was in 3rd grade. The amount of focus he put into learning the notes– B.A.G… B.A.G… BBBBAAAA…B.A.G— was intense. I hope that our little system helps him in some small way.