My Family Photos

Down by the river in Kouzu, Japan

Written by on July 12, 2011 in My Family Photos, Photo Posts with 0 Comments

Sometimes Japan surprises you. The cities have great parks, with carefully planted trees and occasional rivers coursing through nearly endless gray concrete neighborhoods. This park by the river in Kouzu has another surprise, an anomaly. An old man tends a shed filled with odd bicycles contrived (perhaps by him) and hand made: pandas, tandems, bicycles propelled by bouncing, and others, plus regular unicycles and ten speeds. And every afternoon he signs them out for free to whoever comes and asks. Kouzu is my wife’s home town. We often went walking and riding by the river when we stayed there.

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Maika, hearts and angst

Written by on April 26, 2011 in My Family Photos, Photo Posts with 0 Comments

Maika, hearts and angst

My daughters have a flair for drama. They all disappeared upstairs one day and came down in fantastic outfits and covered with face paint.

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A beautiful day at the beach

Written by on January 4, 2011 in My Family Photos, Notes By The Way, Photo Posts with 5 Comments

Scroll down for the pictures. Last Christmas friends and kind strangers donated enough money to take the kids and staff from Wat Opot on a special trip to Kirirum, a hilly hideaway two hours outside Phnom Penh. This year our friends in Japan raised just over $400. With that money, plus some more donated by friends of Wat Opot in Cambodia, there was enough to take 49 kids and 14 adults (plus our family) on a day trip to Rabbit Island, off the coast by the town of Kep. Once again the children were so excited. They went to bed all cleaned up and already wearing their beach clothes; then they woke up at 3:30 am. Finally the bus departed at 6 am. The group reached the island about 9 am, and the fun began: playing in the ocean, floating on inner tubes, relaxing on the sand, eating fried chicken, and soaking up the new experience. Many of the kids had never seen the sea before. They wouldn’t hesitate to jump head first into a muddy pond, but several had to overcome fears in order to swim in the vastness and coolness of the sea. We were so fortunate and …

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Traditional kimono pictures for Shichigosan (7-5-3)

Written by on November 20, 2009 in Life and Family, My Family Photos, Photo Posts with 4 Comments

In November of the year when daughters in Japan turn seven, it’s a tradition for their families to dress them in kimonos and take them to a shrine. The year of their third birthday is also marked, and boys are especially honored in the fifth year. The Japanese shorthand for the tradition is 753 (shichigosan).

Our twins turned seven this year. We didn’t take them to a shrine, although our friends invited us to bring them to a church service just for kids. Then we took¬† them to a photo studio that specializes in kimono pictures. This video documents that experience.

In recent years, the Japanese have added the tradition of dressing their daughters in “princess” dresses as well. Sure, it’s another Western incursion, but we went for the whole nine yards. We were there for three hours. I took 200+ pictures, more than one per minute. I edited those down to 45 for this video.

I recommend watching in HD, or download the video from YouTube for (by far) the best results. BTW, here is a photo I took of Reia on the same occasion two years ago.

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Into the depth

Facing the deep

He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to thyself divert
Our arrows aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great,
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.

– C.S. Lewis (h/t McLaren)

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Potato diggers, Japanese school kids’ Oimohori (potato digging)

Written by on November 3, 2009 in My Family Photos, Photo Posts with 3 Comments

I made this short video featuring my kids’ outdoors school digging potatoes. Digging potatoes in the Fall is part of the rhythm of life for Japanese kids, but I think this group does it with style. I’ve always liked the way they relate and work together, something that the teacher cultivates starting in preschool until they finish the outdoors school after the sixth grade. Years ago we saw a group of kids from the school playing together and noticed how the boys and girls were getting along so well. That really go our attention. I guess you’d have to see how Japanese kids play¬† and relate to understand (e.g., groups of boys all sitting around each with his own Nintendo DS, groups of girls nearby checking cell phones for email). Anyway, you can click to watch in HD if your connection is fast enough. Leave a comment with your thoughts below.

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