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2015年10月30日 (金)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from Heather

 

Hello Everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful Autumn. It's my favorite season for a number of reasons: the trees are beautiful, the weather is cool, and then there's my favorite holiday, Halloween!

Every year on October 31st, Halloween is celebrated around the world, including in my home country America, and even more recently in Japan. But, do you know the history of Halloween?

The original name of Halloween is All Hallow’s Eve or All Saints’ Eve, a Christian three day remembrance of the dead including deceased saints and loved ones. However, it’s speculated that even before it was called this, it was a Celtic harvest festival with Pagan roots. When Christianity spread throughout Europe there became a sort of melding of cultures with the native pagan beliefs and the incoming Christian ideas. Originally the Irish believed that starting around October 31st/November 1st the barrier between the dead and the living became thinner and spirits could travel freely into our world. This was based on the fact that around this time darkness of night lasted longer than in summer. The original Gaelic name for Halloween reflects this idea, ”Samhain” which literally meant summer’s end. The spirits, called Aos Si were both respected and feared. In order to appease these spirits people made offerings of food, drink, and portions of their crop which were left outside their house. Souls of the dead were also believed to visit their homes so places were set for them at the table. The belief that the dead visit us once a year was not only prevalent in Ireland but dates back to ancient times and can be found in cultures all over the world, including Japan (Obon). After the meal was done and a prayer was said for the dead’s souls games were then played which were said to divine one’s future. Bonfires also were lit that were said to have protective powers as they mimicked the fire power found in the sun. Starting around the 16th century people began to wear disguises and go house to house to recite prayers and often expected food or a special type of All Hallow’s Eve cake, called a soul cake in return for their visit which brought good luck . If you were unable to provide food for the visitors it was believed you would receive bad fortune throughout the winter and in some versions of the celebration, the early trick-or-treaters would carry out pranks on the house. They even carried turnips and mangold beets with carved menacing, grotesque faces and used them as lanterns as an early version of a Jack-o-lantern!

So as you can see Halloween had a much more serious start than is now reflected in the modern day celebration and for the most part its religious roots have been wiped out. But, it’s interesting to know exactly where this custom comes from as you celebrate this year! HAPPY HALLOWEEN

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2015年10月 7日 (水)

September Fun - Dani -

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a great month. Mine was pretty fun. I went to the F1 race at Suzuka Circuit last weekend. It was my first time to go to a race, and I had a really great time. Actually, I woke up ate that day, so I only saw about 30 minutes of the race... OOPS! But after that I got to eat some yummy food and drink a little, so it was still a good trip.


 

I also went to Futami to see the Wedded Rocks. I’ve lived in Ise for about four years, but it was my first time to go there! It was alright. They were a lot smaller than I had imagined. I always saw the torii gate on top of the rock in the pictures, so I thought it would be huge, but I was surprised to see it was a mini gate!


 

I’m just so happy that weather is finally cooling down! I love fall weather. October is by far my favorite month. I don’t mind riding my bike to work every day now, haha. Also, on the way to GES in Ise there are some really fragrant flowers. I have no idea what they are called, but I think they are pink. They smell really sweet and it puts me in a good mood every day. : )


 

Well, I hope you’re all enjoying this nice weather, too. See ya at school!


 

Dani


 

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2015年9月16日 (水)

Race Day in Japan


Hello everyone!
Billy here. I am very excited about the month of September. At the end of the month, on September 27th, is the Japanese Grand Prix Formula 1 race. The race will be at the historic Suzuka Circuit which hosted its first Formula 1 race in 1987, and has had its share of amazing and tragic story lines play out at the circuit.
The famous feud between Brazil's Ayerton Senna and France's Alain Prost played out at the Suzuka Circuit in 1988. That afternoon saw Senna come away with the victory which pushed his point total forward and won him the drivers' championship that year.
It has been a long time since the days of Hunt, Frost, Senna, and Prost. Now the cars are much safer, despite continuing to push the envelope of what a, automobile is capable of. Since Senna tragically passed due to a crash during the San Marino GP in 1994, considerable advances in car and track safety has kept these death defying drivers alive.
This year marks the 28th running of the JPGP at the Suzuka Circuit; Japan shared many of the GP's with the Fuji Raceway which in recent years has not been used for the F1 race. Currently, Lewis Hamilton is winning the drivers' championship with a considerable lead over his teammate, Nico Rosberg, who is in second place. The two Mercedes drivers have been dominating F1 this season, with Hamilton winning most races out right. Rounding out the top 10 is Mexico's Sergio Perez, who has been an amazing young talent to watch come up in F1 since his introduction in 2011. This year following the Japanese and Russian GPs, F1 will return to North America for the USGP at the end of October and make a triumphant comeback in November when F1 returns to Mexico. The last race in Mexico was held in 1992, and it stands to reason that the young Perez will want to put on a show for his home country. Finally, the season will come to an end after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Hamilton stands the best chance to win another drivers championship, but there are still plenty of races left in this season and anything can happen!
I hope to see you at Suzuka on Sunday the 27th. If you have never had the chance to experience a F1 race, it is a must. As the saying goes, "It's race day in Japan! Gentleman start your engines!"

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2015年8月31日 (月)

It's Peni again.

Hello everyone,

 

It's Peni here. I hope you're all fine. The weather has become a lot cooler, especially at night and early in the morning. Yeahy!

 

Time flies really fast. It's the end of August already. The obon break came and went in a flash, and so did the speech contests. Congratulations to Komomo, Yune, and Nana. Well done! I would also like to commend all the wonderful students from GES who took part in the contests. You're all courageous and full of confidence. You're all winners.

 

My Obon break was rather quiet, but restful. Rather than doing something really active, I chose to go on a "mini gourmet" tour - Mexican, Indian, and Italian dishes were the highlights. I gained some weight during the break, and I'm still trying to get back into shape. It's a never-ending quest. Hmmm!

 

See you at the Halloween party.

 

Smiles,

Peni

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2015年8月 9日 (日)

It's Peni here.

Hi everyone,

 

I hope you're enjoying the summer season, despite the heat.

 

This time last weekend, we (GES staff and teachers) were with about 40 wonderful students in Nara. Yes, GES Summer Camp, 2015!! The overnight trip was a whole lot of fun.

 

On the first day, we visited a musuem, went to an onsen, played games outdoors, and had curry wth rice for dinner. It was delicious. On the second day, we hiked up a sacred mountain and visited a limestone cave, which was really cool. We had cold udon noodles and tofu for lunch. They were both yummy, and great to eat, especially during summer.

 

Many thanks to all the students who participated. I truly enjoyed the trip to Nara with you, and hope to see you again at the Halloween party.

 

Have a pleasant Obon week. I look foward to seeing you again in class after the break.

 

Smiles,

Peni

 

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