Atagawa 2


The sashimi plate served in Atagawa had only three things: tuna, squid and mackerel. It might seem a little boring to you, but it was some of the tastiest sashimi I have ever tried. There was a little fresh ginger for the mackerel, and a little fresh horseradish for the other two, and a nice big shiso leaf too.

Later I saw a very good fireworks display which reminded of the taste of the sashimi!



Atagawa is a district of East Izu City in the Izu Peninsular of Shizuoka prefecture. It is a very small place but it is full of hotels. Does anyone know this place?
You have probably guessed that it is a hot spring resort. There are hot springs all over town, and there is a lot of steam rising into the air.

I went there a few days ago to spend Christmas Day. The hotel was OK, but the best thing about it was the food.


Speech contest

You might think that it’s the start of the New Year break today. And the weather is pretty cold and wet.

But it didn’t stop a number of students, members of the ESS (English Speaking Society) from having their speech contest.

I was asked to be a judge, which was a very difficult job since all the speakers were very good.

It was great to see such devoted students trying so hard on such a miserable day.

Why so warm?

Why is it so warm so far this ‘winter’.

Yes, I know about global warming, but it seems much warmer this year than even last year, or is global warming happening  much quicker than we all think?

Late autumn colours

Many people are saying that the autumn colours were not as good as usual this year. But I think they were just a bit later than normal.

Here is a recent photo, plus a dragon too, especially for dragonlife!



Most of us know that Santa Claus lives near the North Pole, probably somewhere in Finland, and every Christmas Eve he gets dressed in a bright red suit, jumps into a sleigh pulled by reindeer, and delivers gifts to all the children of the world, entering their house by the chimney.


1. Who was the original Santa?

2. Why does Santa wear red clothes?

I’m pretty sure I know the answer to No1, and I think I know the answer to No2.

Santa Claus was originally Saint Nicholas, who lived in Myra in southern Turkey in the 4th century. His name in German is Sankt Niklaus and his name in Dutch is Sinterklaas, so it’s easy to see how this changed to Santa Claus.

Not much is known about Saint Nicholas, except that he was a very kind and popular man who helped many people, especially the poor, and it is thought he also gave them gifts.

But no-one knows if he wore red clothes or had a white beard. I thought his red clothes started with Coca Cola commercials in the 1930s. For many years Coca Cola used Santa Claus as a character to help sell their drink. Since Santa was dressed in red, white and black it matched very well with the colours of the Coca Cola label.

It doesn’t seem a good idea to me. Can you imagine a company using Mother Theresa to advertise orange juice? I guess if Coca Cola used Santa to sell orange juice then his name would be changed to ‘Fanta Claus’!

But Santa was very successful at selling Coke, and many other companies used Santa to sell their products until the 1960s.

So the Coca Cola Corporation put Santa in red? No, I was wrong. There are many Santa pictures from well before this time which show Santa in a red and white suit, with a black belt.


The picture above is by Thomas Nast in 1869 (before Coca Cola was invented), and it is thought that he was the first person to dress Santa in red.


This picture was drawn in 1908 by E Boyd Smith and shows Santa in the same suit as we see him now, and with a very long white beard.

But all this happened in the USA. The rest of the world got to see Santa in a bright red suit when they saw all the Coca Cola commercials. So, even though the artist Thomas Nast gave Santa his first red suit, we can be pretty certain that the Coca Cola commercials made sure that Santa will always be in red.



This is my 200th post on this blog-site, and the 100th post under the category of Think twice.

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Spurs in Europe 4

Tottenham (nickname Spurs) played against Anderlecht of Belgium in their latest match in the UEFA Cup. It was a 1-1 draw which was enough for Spurs to progress to the next stage.

The Spurs scorer was Berbatov (Bulgaria) and you can see a picture of his goal below.


A poem by my students

In class a few days ago the students made separate lines of a poem, and I put them all together. I hope you like it.

Success is:

To have entered this university
To have made good friends
To play a valuable role in society
To lead a life full of happiness

To always make an effort
To enjoy, to treasure every day
To have found fortune
And to give, to help in your own way.

On my own / By myself

I know I’m meant to be the teacher, but can anyone help me?

What is the difference between ‘on my own’ and ‘by myself’?

For example: ‘She went to Bali on her own’, and ‘She went to Bali by herself’.


December is the twelfth and last month of the year. It is also the last in this series. If you want to read about any other month of the year then click the word ‘Months’ in the Categories in the column on the right.

December used to be the tenth month and the word ‘decem’ is the Latin word for ten. When January and February were later added December became month number twelve.

December’s flower is the holly and its birthstone is the turquoise (which happens to be my favourite colour!).