Monday, 11 November 2013

Cold comes to Nagano

First night of the year where it was proper cold yesterday, down as low as one degree centigrade. It won't be long before we start seeing frost in the mornings. I do love this time of year, I have to say.

Over the mountains from us in the ski resort of Hakuba, it's already started to snow. You can see pics of it here. None here in Nagano yet, but soon, soon, soon ...

Chris Ward
November 12th 2013

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The ultimate cat-sessory?

Spotted this monstrous thing in a shop in Shinagawa station in Tokyo last weekend.

Cat-shaped lipstick ...

Chris Ward
November 7th 2013

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to the All-Japan speech contest we go ...

We won!

For the fourth time in three years, my school won one of the Nagano-ken Commericial High School English Speech Contest trophies.

Two years ago we won the Speech division, while last year we won both Speech and Recital. This year my student Sayuri retained the Recital trophy that she won last year. My other students finished 6th and 10th in the Recital, while in the Speech we were unlucky to finish 4th.

I'm a bit of a speech contest coaching demon, with four 1sts and two 2nds over the last five years, but at the end of they day I can only coach if I have good students to coach, and as always they busted ass to do well. I'm very proud of all of them.

Here's me holding the two trophies we won last year, after cleaning them up ready to take them back.

In an ideal world, I would like to win 1st, 2nd, 3rd in both Speech and Recital divisions, but it wasn't to be. Maybe next year ...

Here's the winners and the judges and all that. My students are front third from left, and back fourth, fifth and sixth from left.

Well done all!

Chris Ward
November 5th 2013

Monday, 4 November 2013

Alps view

Just a nice view shot today. This is looking over at the Northern Japanese Alps from Kinasa, a kind of mountain village area about half an hour from my house.

Chris Ward
November 4th 2013

Sunday, 3 November 2013


Readers of this blog will know that the wife and I already have one cat, Miffy, a four-year-old female who is the light of our life. We now have half of a second cat, Kiki.

We first spotted Kiki back in July, hanging around with Miffy in the wild field next to our house. Miffy generally hates all other cats so for Miffy to accept another cat was pretty unusual. Since Miffy didn't mind him being around, I decdied to tame him.

At first you couldn't get within ten feet of him. He would run whenever you tried to approach him, but like most stray cats he was keen for a bit of food. Over several weeks I fed him every day, gradually getting closer while he was eating. In order to get him used to being touched, I used a cloth glove and draped it over him while he was eating. Yeah, the first few times he ran, then he just started getting annoyed, swiping at it with his claws, but eventually he got used to it. Once I wasn't worried about getting ripped to shreds, I graduated to using my hand.

Now, three months later, he's basically a big baby. He wants all the attention he can get, and will whine like hell for it. He's even begun to get a little fussy over his food, when at first he would eat anything.

He's still mostly an outdoor cat, because while some nights he sleeps inside he's still pretty skittish and seems to prefer being outside. I took him to the vet (what a nightmare that was, haha) and he got his vaccinations done. He also had a blood test and he's free of any diseases and also worms, which was good to know. In short, he's extremely healthy. I'm planning to get him neutered in the next couple of weeks, and hopefully after that we can teach him to use the cat flap. Miffy still isn't too happy when he's in the house (my house is tiny) so on the nights he comes in I keep them in separate rooms. He's completely docile though, oblivious to Miffy's hissing and snarling, although outside she's quite happy to treat him like a big brother.

When we first started feeding him he was really thin and his fur was a bit patchy. Now he's a big fat lump of cuteness.

His name, incidentally, came about because when we first started to feed him he would growl at us, and it sounded like kee-kee, so Kiki kind of stuck.

Chris Ward
3rd November 2013