Summer 2019

Summer 2019
Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Videos

Here's another YouTube video. This clip shows the surrounding area. As you can see, we are out in the middle of nowhere. The elevation is 700 meters which is about halfway up the side of Mt. Yufu. Some people say that this is the backside of the volcano. I think it's the best side. If you travel to the other side of the volcano, the crater is more visible. The terrain is rockier and it looks more dramatic...more like a volcano. I'll try to take pictures the next time I'm over there. Mt. Yufu is known as "Bungo Fuji" which means it's the Mt. Fuji of Kyushu. From 40 miles away, the volcano kind of looks like Fujisan...only smaller.

Mt. Tsurumi is close by. This volcano was on the "watch list" after last year's disastrous earthquakes. In the video clip is Mt. Garan. A famous hot spring is located there. We are near many hot springs. Beppu and Yufuin are a mecca for tourists seeking those natural wonders. The concentration of hot springs in this area is second only to Yellowstone National Park. This is probably a good thing since the hot springs seem to act like a relief valve. We haven't experienced an earthquake since we moved here.

I included one more video showing the outside of the house. Please don't laugh at Erika's garden. She just planted some carrots and other stuff, so the mounds look bare. I'll update as soon as we have more veggies. The wood pile has steadily grown. Erika has worked very hard at stacking and sorting the firewood. We should have enough wood to get us through this winter and part of the next.   George

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Terror in Tsukahara

Living in the mountains has been an en-“lightening” experience. We have experienced thunderstorms almost every day in August. The weather routine is predictable. A typical summer day starts out clear. As the afternoon approaches, the dark clouds peek over the rim of the Tsukahara Plateau. Soon after, the rumble of thunder can be heard in the distance. The winds pick up and the clouds quickly gather overhead. The lightning and thunder occur almost simultaneously. The ground shakes with the tremendous explosions of thunder. A deluge of rainfall soon follows, signaling the end of a short lived, but violent storm. The entire cycle lasts about two hours.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch and experience unless you’re caught in a storm. Erika went for an afternoon walk with the dogs. She was caught completely off guard. She didn’t even have an umbrella. The swiftness of the developing storm surprised everyone. Before she knew it, she was surrounded by flashes of light and explosions of thunder. She was terrified and disoriented. Up ahead, she saw a bolt of lightning strike the ground. She remembered to stay away from anything tall. She crouched down and pulled the dogs towards her. The trio trembled as the storm worsened.

Meanwhile at home, I ducked instinctively as I heard a thunderous crash from a nearby meadow. The house shook and the power went out. I hurried over to unplug the well pump. I was told that lightning could do some serious damage to a well since it’s not grounded. I proceeded to unplug everything I could think of. “Should I find Erika?” I asked myself. I didn’t know that she forgot her cell phone. I assumed that she would call me if she were in danger. When I called her, I heard her phone ring. I felt sick to my stomach.

The deluge of rain began coupled with lightning and thunder. I decided to jump in the car and to look for her. As soon as I approached the front door, I heard Erika’s voice yelling, “Kiley’s coming!’’ The trio made it back safely.   George

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lucky on YouTube

Lucky likes to play soccer. In Washington, he would maneuver beach balls around our neighborhood park. This would often get the attention of people passing by. We started using a basketball because he found that popping a beach ball was more entertaining than chasing it around. He hasn’t popped a basketball…yet. Here’s a YouTubeclip of Lucky in action in Tsukahara. Please excuse the poor quality of the video. It’s the first time I posted anything on YouTube. Posting on YouTube is easy to do, but it takes a long time to process. I started the post at ten in the morning and it wasn’t completed until ten that night. The clip is less than two minutes long.  I think it has something to do with waiting for my turn. Anyway, this will give you a chance to see our dilapidated deck that is in need of some serious renovation. I hope to post more clips in the future to give you some idea of what we have been up to. Stay tuned…

Thursday, August 16, 2012

French Memo Board

We managed to find some spare time over the summer holiday to do arts and crafts. In the U.S., we often made time to do intarsia and stained glass. With the new business taking up so much of our time, it’s rare that we have a spare moment to be creative. Last year, Erika gathered the materials for this project. So, what is it? I'm glad you’s a French memo board. We wanted an easy way to display our student’s pictures. It’s also a way for the other students to see who has joined Y.E.S.

The construction was straight forward. We used a cork board, fabric, batting, ribbon, and buttons. The tools we used were a staple gun, hot glue gun, scissors, hammer and a thick sewing needle. First, place the batting (5 layers) on the face of the cork board. Flip the board over. Staple and glue the batting in place.

Next, place the fabric over the batting. Stretch the fabric so that there are no wrinkles, but not too tight. You don’t want to bend the cork board. Flip the whole thing over. Staple and glue the fabric down. Neatly fold the corners so that there are no visible creases.

Figure out a pattern for the ribbon. Stretch the ribbon over the face of the fabric. Flip the cork board over and attach the ribbon with glue. At each ribbon intersection, attach a decorative button.

We used a thick, threaded needle to attach the buttons. The needle is pounded through the cork board with a hammer. The thread is pulled through the board and the button is pulled tight against the fabric. The thread is glued to the back of the board. That’s it!    George

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


We have been in Japan for almost a year. I think I enjoyed the autumn colors the most. The temperature was perfect and the night skies were clear. When we arrived in October, I did not have any time to take photos. This year I’ll try to capture Tsukahara’s fall colors. Winter was my second favorite season. It was frigid, but the surrounding beauty made up for that. A “winter wonderland” would best describe the winter of 2011. Sure, it was difficult to get around. I learned that driving in the snow was fun provided there were no other cars around. It was so quiet and peaceful in the winter. Sitting by a warm wood stove was a magical experience.

“Spring is a time for awakening.” Living in California most of my life, I never knew what that saying meant. I was used to the weather going from cool and rainy to hot and dry. That was a sure sign that spring arrived. In Tsukahara, the change was subtle. It was still very cold, but the stillness disappeared. Winter loosened its grip which allowed for tiny plants to emerge from the ice and snow. After a few weeks, the meadows of golden brown turned into lush green. It seemed as if everything turned green. A plethora of insects also made their debut.
Summer kicked off the rainy season. The rain was soon followed by the humidity and heat. Which brings us to today…it will be 33C with 45 percent humidity. It’s time to sit in front of the air-conditioner. The rest of the week will be cooler, but thunderstorms are in the forecast. The hillsides are saturated from the rainfall. I’m looking forward to fall.

I have a weather station that I purchased before I left the states. Over the past year in Tsukahara, the coolest temperature has been -10C and the warmest has been 33C. The biggest surprise was the rainfall amount in a 24 hour period…5.67 inches!   George

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


If you haven’t heard, Curiosity has landed. If you have to ask, “What’s a Curiosity?” please read no further. Check out the cool website from NASA Curiosity . This YouTube clip is pretty cool, too. The landing sequence was known as “The Seven Minutes of Hell,” because of the complexity. I have to marvel at the engineering that went into this project. It’s amazing that something as mind boggling as this, landed without a hitch. Magnificent job, NASA scientists!   George