The Tatsudomari Line


For the long weekend, I took the shinkansen to Akita City, rented a motorcycle and went riding. One goal was to ride the Tatsudomari Line (竜泊ライン), a famous motorcycle road in the Tsugaru Peninsula of NW Aomori. So I rode up coastal Route 101 from Noshiro, spent the night in Hirosaki, and rode the Tatsudomari Line the following day.

20180915.02.Tatsudomari Line.jpg 20180915.03.Hokkaido.jpg 20180915.04.Mt. Iwaki.jpg 20180915.05.Tappizaki Lighthouse.jpg 2014-06-12.10.Tatsudomari Line.png 2014-06-12.11.Tatsudomari Line.png 2014-06-12.12.Tatsudomari Line.png

Later in the day I headed south, first on Route 101 back to Noshiro, and then down the expressway to Honjo. Todd put me up for the night, and we went drinking at Castaways. The next morning we went to visit Michan and Eva.

20180915.08.Castaways.jpg 20180916.01.Michan-Todd-Eva.jpg

Tohoku in the fall is a magical place. For the week or two before the rice harvest, the plants turn yellow and gold and sparkle in the sun. If the weather is good, any activity that gets you into the countryside is a great experience. When I lived in Akita, I was driving and jogging every day in that environment, and since it's awesome, this weekend I went for the shinkansen plus bike rental option. Highly recommended.

20180914.04.Route 101.jpg 20180914.05.Route 101.jpg 20180915.01.Mt. Iwaki.jpg 20180915.06.Octopus.jpg 20180915.07.Seafood.jpg 20180914.01.Akita Station.jpg 20180914.02.Ramen.jpg 20180914.03.CB400.jpg 20180916.02.Rice.jpg

I owned a Honda CBR250 for several years and sold it last fall when I moved apartments. I sold it for several reasons, but one reason is that getting out of Tokyo on a motorcycle is tiring. The hour plus ride on city streets in city traffic is one I'd rather avoid. By taking the train and then renting, I can save my riding energy for the good roads, and it gives me more range. Get to the good places, ride the motorcycle in a leisurely fashion, visit friends, have a good time.

Plans are deliberately indefinite, more to travel than to arrive anywhere. We are just vacationing. Secondary roads are preferred. Paved county roads are the best, state highways are next. Freeways are the worst. We want to make good time, but for us now this is measured with emphasis on “good” rather than “time” and when you make that shift in emphasis the whole approach changes. Twisting hilly roads are long interms of seconds but are much more enjoyable on a cycle where you bank into turns and don’t get swung from side to side in any compartment. Roads with little traffic are more enjoyable, as well as safer. Roads free of drive-ins and billboards are better, roads where groves and meadows and orchards and lawns come almost to the shoulder, where kids wave to you when you ride by, where people look from their porches to see who it is, where when you stop to ask directions or information the answer tends to be longer than you want rather than short, where people ask where you’re from and how long you’ve been riding.

— Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Police Harassment


Here's a history of times in Japan that the police stopped me on the street and demanded to see my Residence Card.

I've written about this in the past, but the short story is... The cops come up to me and demand to see my passport or Residence Card. But only foreigners have those, and the only reason they think I'm a foreigner is my skin color. It's pretty obviously racist. However, the law is ambiguous, and getting arrested would be horrible, so there's very little I can do except document the badness and share it with others.

2010-07-28Narita AirportWalking to the check-in counter to see Toby off.
2010-07-28Narita AirportTwo hours later while sitting on a bench.
2014-05-29Musashino (Musashisakai)Walking to dance class after work.
2014-06-18Tokyo Metro (Kayabacho)Escorting students on a school trip to Tsukiji.
2014-07-07Musashino (Musashisakai)Walking to the coffee shop.
2014-09-05Musashino (Midori-cho)Walking to dance class after work.
2018-08-24Musashino (Midori-cho)Walking home from work. YouTube.

Each time it happens it's scary, and it doesn't get any better over time. Each time they come up to me, there's a chance I could have forgotten or lost my Residence Card, and then I'd be arrested and thrown in jail. Also, once you realize that you're the target, because they'll harass you when you're simply walking down the street, your perspective on the police changes. They see me as the likely criminal. In their eyes, I'm a danger to society. And all because I did ... nothing at all.

I live here and go about my life normally. I work a job and pay my taxes, just like anyone would. If I'm not doing anything suspicious or breaking any laws, I just want the cops to leave me the fuck alone. They don't, and it sucks, and it's sad.




For summer vacation I went to Newfoundland to visit David and Amanda.

20180610.01.Canada.png 20180610.02.Canada.png 20180610.03.Eastern Newfoundland.png 20180813.01.Panini.jpg 20180815.01.David.jpg 20180815.02.St. Johns.jpg 20180815.04.St. John's.jpg 20180815.05.St. John's.jpg 20180815.06.Signal Hill.jpg 20180815.07.Signal Hill.jpg 20180815.08.Douglas.jpg 20180815.09.St. John's.jpg 20180815.10.Cape Spear.jpg 20180815.11.Cape Spear.jpg 20180815.12.Cape Spear.jpg 20180815.13.Cape Spear.jpg 20180815.14.Middle Cove.jpg 20180815.15.Middle Cove.jpg 20180815.16.David-Doug.jpg 20180816.01.Pouch Cove.jpg 20180816.02.East Coast Trail.jpg 20180816.03.East Coast Trail.jpg 20180816.04.East Coast Trail.jpg 20180816.05.East Coast Trail.jpg 20180816.06.Cape St. Francis.jpg 20180817.01.Tim Hortons.jpg 20180817.02.Campsite.jpg 20180817.03.Terra Nova National Park.jpg 20180818.01.Salvage.jpg 20180818.02.Salvage.jpg 20180818.03.David.jpg 20180818.04.Terra Nova National Park.jpg 20180818.05.Douglas.jpg 20180818.06.Terra Nova National Park.jpg 20180818.07.Terra Nova National Park.jpg 20180818.08.Douglas.jpg 20180818.09.David.jpg 20180819.01.Signal Hill.jpg 20180819.02.Signal Hill.jpg 20180819.03.Signal Hill.jpg 20180820.01.Carbonier Nature Park.jpg 20180820.02.Flower.jpg 20180820.03.Canada Goose.jpg 20180820.04.Carbonier Nature Park.jpg 20180820.05.Mall.jpg 20180820.06.Mall.jpg 20180820.07.Sign.jpg 20180821.01.Douglas.jpg 20180821.02.Puffin.jpg 20180821.03.Birds.jpg

The scenery is beautiful. Lots of pine trees, some exposed rock. It's kind of like Maine or northern Vermont. The food has been pretty tasty but rather greasy. Fine for vacation, though. Lots of fries, fried cod, fried sea food, and other assorted brown and tan foods. Mostly sun, some clouds, some light rain. Nothing too hot, which is a nice contrast from the ridiculous temperatures we've had this summer in Tokyo.

Newfoundland is really far from most anywhere. I listened to Great Big Sea a lot back in college and thought it'd be neat to see the places they're singing about, but it's hard to get up here. Finally, with David and Amanda living here, I found the chance! There are fewer people here than I had somehow expected — the population of St. John's, the largest city, is 108,000 people. When parking or shopping or sightseeing, there's a lot more elbow space than I'm used to. It's quite relaxing.

Tops and Bottoms


My dance group was invited to perform in a new musical called Tops & Bottoms. We performed at the Akasaka Blitz venue on August seventh. The musical itself was composed of professional musical theater performers. Four dance groups appeared in dance-only events and as back dancers in musical songs. My group was organized by Kraus, Ryota, and Ayano. We had three songs: a standalone dance number to the song Boogie Wonderland, a masquerade ball dance to the song Keep My Cool, and a back dance segment for a fight scene and song from the musical.

20180623.01.Poster.jpg 20180701.01.Tops and Bottoms.jpg 20180806.01.Cast.jpg 20180806.02.Cake.jpg 20180807.01.Douglas-Kraus.jpg 20180807.02.Kraus-Ryota-Ayano.jpg 20180807.03.Group.jpg 20180807.04.Group.jpg 20180807.05.Group.jpg 20180807.06.Group.jpg 20180807.07.Douglas-Maari.jpg 20180807.08.Boogie Wonderland.jpg

I only have a short video clip from Boogie Wonderland. Usually dance events aren't strict about photography, but this is a new musical, and I suppose the production team has some idea of how they want to market it. That's OK, but unfortunately it means I don't have video of the whole thing.

Health Check


Most people in Japan with full time jobs have to do an annual health checkup, and my job is no exception. Reading the forms is problematic. In the worst case, the doctors usually know medical terminology in English, so I can ask them for help with the paperwork, but it would be better to be able to read the forms. Doctors here need to be able to read medical literature, which means even if they can't speak English well, their knowledge of medical terminology is generally sufficient ... although, for more obscure technical terms, perhaps you or I might not know the English.

This document was first written in 2013. My company's health check form changed slightly in 2018, and I've updated the Japanese to reflect the changes.

2013-06-13.90.Health.jpg 2013-06-13.91.Health.jpg

The above pages are directions and a blank form for me to complete. Here is my translation. I think it's of rather decent quality, but in medicine you don't want to screw things up, so please use your own judgment. Also, some of the Japanese words are vague, which makes for equally vague English translations. I think hospitals and dentists are some of the scariest places in foreign countries, because if you don't understand exactly what the question or explanation means, you won't really know how to answer or use it. Just guessing or being approximately on target isn't good enough. The good thing is, what I've found is that it's usually not so difficult for you to say what feels wrong with you. If the doctor is good, he or she can take that information and do something intelligent with it, which is half the reason you went to the doctor's office in the first place. The bad thing is that the doctor might or might not be good at explaining things in a comprehensible fashion, which can be stressful (for both you and them, but we aren't as worried about them). In some cases, I've had reasonable results with getting the explanation on paper and later asking school nurses and the internet for help.


This page is to be completed in pencil. To be precise, the form says either pencil or mechanical pencil is fine. These are seen as two different things in Japan, though I don't really understand why.

1内服中Currently taking medicine
2定期検査中Regular testing
3食事療法中On a medical diet
5放置・中断Leaving as is

The above are answers for the below table. If you had or have any of the below conditions, circle the relevant number as described above. If you haven't had any of these conditions, put a circle in the □ 特になし box.

高血圧High blood pressure12356
脂質異常症(高脂血症)Lipid abnormality (hyperlipidaemia)12356
心疾患(狭心症・心筋梗塞等)Heart disease12356
痛風(高尿酸血症)Gout (hyperuricemia)12356
胃十二指腸疾患Gastroduodenal ulcer12356
血液疾患(貧血等)Blood disease (anemia, etc.)12356
肝疾患Liver disease12356
呼吸器疾患Respiratory illness12356
肺結核Pulmonary tuberculosis12356
慢性腎臓病・腎不全(人工透析等)Renal failure (dialysis)12356
その他の腎疾患(結石等)Other kidney disease (kidney stones, etc.)12356
婦人科Gynecology (birth control)12356
眼疾患(高眼圧等)Eye disease (ocular tension, etc.)12356
脳出血・脳梗塞Cerebral hemorrhage or stroke12356


There are several yes/no questions.

手術を受けたことがありますか。Have you ever had surgery?□ いいえ No□ はい Yes
心臓ペースメーカーをお使いですか。Do you use a pacemaker?□ いいえ No□ はい Yes
採血後に気分が悪くなったことがありますか。Have you ever felt bad after having blood drawn?□ いいえ No□ はい Yes
ピロリ菌の除菌をしたことはありますか。Have you ever been treated for gastric ulcers?□ いいえ No□ はい Yes
今までに胃のバリウム検査によって体調不良や少しでも異変を感じたことはありますか。Have you ever felt bad or strange after taking a Barium stomach exam?□ いいえ No□ はい Yes


Next, there is a section about subjective symptoms (自覚症状). For each symptom, if you're feeling it, put a circle in the box to the left of the symptom. If you aren't feeling any such subjective symptoms, put a circle in the □ 特になし box.

胸痛Chest pain 肩こりStiff shoulders 便秘Constipation
動悸Palpitation (e.g., heart)腰痛Lower back or hip pain下痢Diarrhea
息切れShortness of breathCoughむくみSwelling, edema
疲れやすいEasily tiredPhlegm口が渇くDry mouth
頭痛Headache食欲不振Loss of appetite手足がしびれるNumb hands or feet
めまいDizziness腹痛Stomach acheいらいらするGetting irritated
耳鳴りRinging in the ear胃の具合が悪いStomach troubleその他Other

There is also a section for women on the right side of the subjective symptoms section.

For women only.
Are you currently menstruating?
□ はい Yes       □ いいえ No
Is there any chance you're pregnant?
□ はい Yes       □ いいえ No


Here are some questions regarding lifestyle and habits. Answer by writing a circle in the relevant box. For each question, choose only one answer.

Are you taking medicine to lower your blood pressure?
□ はい Yes (薬品名 Medicine name)□ いいえ No
Do you take shots or medicine to control your insulin or blood sugar?
□ はい Yes (薬品名 Medicine name)□ いいえ No
Are you taking medicine to lower your cholesterol?
□ はい Yes (薬品名 Medicine name)□ いいえ No
At present, do you have a smoking habit?
□ はい Yes□ いいえ No
Have you gained more than 10 kg since you were 20 years old?
□ はい Yes□ いいえ No
In the past year, have you exercised for 30 minutes or more 2 or more times a week?
□ はい Yes□ いいえ No
Do you walk or do some other physical activity for at least an hour daily?
□ はい Yes□ いいえ No
8ほば同じ年齢の同性と比較して歩く速度が速いですか。(普通の場合は いいえ に記入して下さい。)
Do you walk faster than people your age? (If the same, select "No".)
□ はい Yes□ いいえ No
When you eat food, which of the following best describes your chewing conditions?
① □ 何でもかんで食べることができる
I can chew and eat anything.
② □ 歯や歯ぐき、かみあわせなど気になる部分があり、かみにくいことがある
I have some concerns about my teeth or gums making some food difficult to eat.
③ □ ほとんどかめない
I can't chew most food.
Do you eat faster than others?
□ 速い Fast□ 普通 Normal□ 遅い Slow
Do you have dinner less than 2 hours before bed 3 or more times a week?
□ はい Yes□ いいえ No
Do you have snacks or sweet drinks outside of your regular three meals?
□ 毎日 Daily□ 時々 Sometimes□ ほとんど摂取しない Rarely
Do you skip breakfast 3 or more times a week?
□ はい Yes□ いいえ No
How often do you drink alcohol?
□ 毎日 Every day□ 時々 Sometimes□ ほとんど飲まない Rarely
On a day when you're drink alcohol, how many drinks do you consume?
□ 1合未満   Less than 1□ 1~2合未満   1-2 drinks
□ 2-3合未満   2-3 drinks□ 合3以上   3 or more
Do you get enough sleep?
□ はい Yes□ いいえ No
Would you like to try to improve your exercise and eating habits? Choose only one of ①-⑤.
① □ 改善するつもりはない
I have no plans for changes.
② □ 改善するつもりである(概ね6ヶ月以内)
I plan to make changes in the next six months.
③ □ 近いうちに(概ね1ヶ月以内)改善するつもりであり、少しずつ始めている
I plan to make changes little by little starting soon.
④ □ 既に改善に取り組んでいる(6ヶ月未満)
I've made changes in the last six months.
⑤ □ 既に改善に取り組んでいる(6ヶ月以上)
I've made changes more than six months ago.
Are you generally interested in a consultation regarding lifestyle changes?
□ はい Yes□ いいえ No


Upgrading a Special Teaching License


I got a Special Teaching License (特別免許状) several years ago. This license allows me to do solo teaching and be a homeroom teacher in public and private schools (JHS & SHS) in Tokyo. The Special Teaching License is valid for ten years and can be renewed, but it can only be used in the prefecture where it was obtained. However, it's possible to upgrade from a Special Teaching License to a Regular Teaching License (普通免許状), which can be used anywhere in Japan. There are three classes of the Regular Teaching License: Second Class (二種免許状), First Class (一種免許状), and Specialist (専修免許状). The upgrade procedure goes to the highest rank, Specialist. I haven't done the upgrade, but here are some notes based on information from national education regulations and the Ehime Board of Education.


Teachers currently holding a Special Teaching License who have taught using it for three or more years and have enough university credits in certain areas qualify for the upgrade.

教育職員免許法施行規則 第十一条の二

Required university coursework is specified in the table below.


For both JHS and SHS, ten credits related to education are needed, and fifteen credits related to either education or the target subject (i.e., English for English teachers) are needed. In Japan, a university class that meets once a week for 90 minutes for one semester is worth 1 credit (単位).

  1. 第二欄に掲げる教科又は教職に関する科目の単位の修得方法は、第六条の二第一項に定める修得方法の例にならうものとする。ただし、教科又は教職に関する科目の単位のうち三単位までは、第六条第一項の表に規定する教職に関する科目に準ずる科目の単位をもつて、これに替えることができる。
  2. 中学校教諭又は高等学校教諭の専修免許状の授与を受ける場合の教職に関する科目の単位の修得方法は、第六条第一項の表に規定する教育の基礎理論に関する科目六単位以上並びに生徒指導、教育相談及び進路指導等に関する科目四単位以上を修得するものとする。
  1. The types of required coursework is described in Article 6.2.1. However, up to three credits related to education or the target subject may be replaced with similar courses listed in the table of Article 6.1.
  2. For junior and senior high school licenses, at least six credits must be fundamental education (教育の基礎理論) coursework, and at least four credits must be in student guidance/education consultation/career guidance (生徒指導、教育相談及び進路指導等) coursework.

Unfortunately, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, the college coursework has to be completed at a Japanese university after you receive the Special Teaching License. In other words, old college courses don't count, and neither does international distance learning. It seems to me that working full time while trying to complete fifteen credits at a Japanese university would be an awful lot of work, but if you have advanced Japanese skills and are working part-time, then it might make sense.