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Visiting United States military bases in Japan

Visiting US military bases is fun for me. The US Army, US Navy, US Air Force and US Marine Corps use 75 facilities within Japan and Okinawa, 51 of which are dedicated and the rest 24 shared with Japan Self Defense Force. Though those facilities are usually closed to civilians, they are open to residents around them once or twice a year, and you can get inside the military places during these festivals.

Visiting those facilities is one of the few occasions to get in touch with the United States. You can eat American-made hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, turkey legs, and other American foods. You can pay foods, sodas, beer, sweets, and souvenirs with US dollars. You can talk to Americans in English. And, you can find out how average Americans live their daily life. What kind of groceries do they buy? What kind of foods do they eat? What kind of newspapers do they read? What kind of school do they make their children attend? You can catch a glimpse of those things without flying more than 12 hours to get to mainland America.

I have visited US bases and facilities in Japan and Okinawa for more than 15 years. With respect to what I have experienced, I’m grading each of these out of 5 by categories of accessibility, smoothness of entry and exit, freedom of movement, and availability of on-base building. 5 is the most excellent, and 0 the worst.

British Lifestyle 英国ライフスタイル Music 音楽 Yuki's Diary 日記

Half A Sixpence再演

三枝美江子先生がダンス指導されている國學院栃木高校の文化祭のミュージカル部公演「Half A Six Pence」を観に行ってきました。初めてここの文化祭公演を観たのがちょうど10年前、そのときも「Half A Six Pence」でした。


British Lifestyle 英国ライフスタイル Music 音楽 Yuki's Diary 日記

Half a Sixpence again

I visited Kokugakuin Tochigi High School where a friend of mine taught dancing and choreography to the student of the Musical Club as an instructor. There was a cultural festival of this school, and the Musical Club members performed Half A Sixpence. It was the second time to see this show since I saw it ten years before at just the same place.




British Lifestyle 英国ライフスタイル Eating and Cooking 食・料理 Games ゲーム Music 音楽 Traveling 旅行 Yuki's Diary 日記

Deep in England

Last weekend was happy days for me because I deeply experienced a British taste last Saturday and Sunday. From the beginning, I preferred the USA to the UK or other English-speaking countries. Still, my affection has been shifting to England for years since I happened to read Kaoru Mori’s Emma, a romance manga about a maid in England in the Victorian Era who falls in love with a member of the gentry.

Gate of Cultural Festival
On the first day, the first thing I did is to see Oliver! by the Musical Club of Kokugakuin Tochigi High School playing for the school’s cultural festival held this weekend. Oliver! is, as you may already know, an English musical based on Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist. It’s the story that Oliver Twist, who has missing parents and is in a workhouse, is forced to get out of the workhouse and gets involved in a group of pickpockets. He tries to pick a pocket of a well-off lady, who finally takes him in and brings him up, and then he gets happy.

British Hills Directory British Hills Bump

I parked my car in the car park and took my iPhone to tweet in Gowalla, but the iPhone couldn’t connect to the 3G network because Softbank wasn’t in service in this area, whilst my Blackberry, where NTT DoCoMo’s SIM card was installed, was okay.

British Hills
I got out of my car with all of my luggage and walked to the reception desk, following the signs put on the roadside.

British Hills
The Manor House
The reception desk was in the Manor House. A Caucasian receptionist accepted my check-in. She gave me a room key and a brochure where my name and dates of stay were printed and gave a detailed explanation of the building where I was supposed to stay, as well as each of the premises in British Hills. Unlike the people you may see in the countries other than Japan, she behaved in a manner as polite and gentle as Japanese clerks would do. She also advised me that a handbell was available at the reception desk and anybody who was walking in the nature trail of British Hills should carry it in hand so that its sound might scare bears which might appear in front of the walker.

Guestroom 725
This is the guestroom I stayed in. It was a gorgeously furnished suite room.

Guestroom Guestroom Guestroom
It wasn’t air-conditioned so as to meet the taste of a Medieval British house, but I could cool off by an electric fan put in the room.

This is the bathtub made of the fabric imported from the UK. The amenities (shampoo, conditioners, soap, and body moisturiser) are imported from the UK as well.

After putting my holdall in the guestroom, I went out to walk around the grounds around the buildings. Unlike US military bases, you could go and walk wherever you wanted, although some “No Entry” zones for staff only were only exceptions.

British Hills Refectory dining facility and courtyard Main gate and Sports Wing The Manor House and courtyard Stone monument William Shakespeare statue
Every building was built in an ancient British manner, from Yeoman to Stuart, Georgian, and Tudor styles.

Housing complex
Each guest house was named after a historical person popular in the UK.

The Wren
This building is named “Wren,” who was an astronomer in Oxford making a great contribution to the reconstruction of London burnt down by fire in the 17th century.

The Turner
This is the Turner, where I stayed. Turner was a landscape painter in the 18th century.

The Drake
This is the Drake, derived from Francis Drake, the first British sea captain who sailed around the world in the Elizabethan era.

The Henry II
This is the Henry II, the first King of England.

The Ascot tea house
I dropped in on the Ascot tea house to have a tea set. An Englishmen and some Japanese girls served me there.

Tea set
This is what was served at Ascot: tea with a scone, a quiche, fresh cream (not clotted cream), and strawberry jam. They had got an afternoon tea set or a high tea set with more scones and sandwiches, but I didn’t order them because the dinner time was coming soon and I didn’t want to be stuffed there.

The Ye Shoppe
This is the Ye Shoppe, a souvenir shop selling tea leaves, mugs, shortbread, sweets, letter sets, bookmarks, keyrings, pens, toiletries, and other items imported from the UK. I found a gorgeous feather pen used in ancient times, so I bought it with a bar of English soap, bottles of bath foam, and a key ring celebrating the marriage of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Nature trail Nature trail
Then I dropped in on the reception to borrow a handbell and walked the nature trail. It was a 2-mile long unpaved footpath around the building area, with many ups and downs. It was a good exercise for me.

View point Celtic cross
I had got a viewpoint and special places to see on my way of the trail. Fortunately, I saw no bears or any other scary wildlife, but I had got a heavy thunderstorm while walking, so I gave up walking all of the trails and went back to the guest house halfway through the walk.

Stage at the Refectory
Dinner time began at 6:30 pm at the Refectory dining room. It was the main dining room modelling a refectory of British traditional public schools. It had dress codes and no admission for casually dressed personnel. I changed clothes into a suit with a tie before going there.

Full course dinner at the Refectory
It was a full course dinner starting from pumpkin & yoghurt veloute, followed by salmon terrine, consommé soup, sorbet, and the main dish in the above picture. This is some slices of the roast beef marinated with gravy and horseradish sauce. When serving it to me, the chef of the Refractory himself came to me and carved from a chunk of beef. Of course, it tasted excellent! It was a bit too luxurious for me, as I always eat simple foods daily.

After dinner, I went to the pub next to the Refectory and got a glass of 1-pint beer. A Canadian girl sat next to me, so I talked a bit with her. She said she was a staff member of the Refectory and she was coming to drink there because that day was her day off. After a while, a group of the staff finishing the work at the Refectory and changing their clothes more casually came to her and invited her to the inner seats to talk together. She went and joined them. Then I made a little conversation with a Japanese bartender, drank some dry martini, and played darts with him a bit. He told me that many more foreign staff members usually worked there and made merry in the pub every night, but in those days there were less because many of them were returning to their home countries to renew the working visas expiring in that season.

Foggy morning in British Hills
The next morning it was very foggy, and it was hard to see even ten yards ahead.

Buffet for breakfast
It’s breakfast at the Refectory. It was a buffet style. I thought it would’ve been perfect if there had been baked beans.

While eating breakfast, a supervisor came to me and asked me to have a guided tour in the Manor House if I had time. When checking out the hotel, I told her I was ready for the tour. Then she took two young girls to me and told them to guide me as attendants. They were just college students studying the hotel industry and were coming there for one of the education programmes of the college.

They took me inside the Manor House and explained the history of the Manor House, how and why those kinds of houses had been built in the Medieval times, with what fabrics the rooms were furnished, in what manner the walls and the ceilings were decorated, and more. They explained a bit falteringly, but with all their might.

Upper Hall
One of the most instructive pieces of knowledge from their explanations was why the level where there was the main entrance was called “the ground floor” and the upper level called “the first floor” in the UK or the British Commonwealth. According to their explanations, the downstairs wasn’t considered as a residential area because it was used just for a butler who greeted incoming guests, judging whether the guests were going down well with the master or not. Only the guests judged as welcome persons could be shown upstairs by the butler and arranged to meet the master at the upper hall like the picture above. That’s why the place was on “the first floor,” whilst the downstairs hall was on “the ground floor.”

In this picture above, you can see in the middle the gorgeous stained glass weighing 1 tonne specially crafted at Scotland, Queen’s and King’s rooms on the right side, and the left, a library of more than 1,000 volumes of old books stored in the bookshelves. Of course, Oliver Twist was one of the collections.

Aisle Aisle
On both sides of the aisle were the portrait pictures of the people who had made a great contribution to the UK and Japan, including former Emperor Hirohito and his Empress, as well as Emperor Meiji, the first east Asian person on whom the Order of the Garter was conferred.

Queen's room Queen's room Queen's room
It’s the Queen’s room named “Her Majesty,” modelling the private room of the mistress.

King's room King's room Bed at King's room King's room
The King’s room called “His Majesty,” the master’s private room. The furniture had a fierce-animal-shaped decoration in many parts to show off his power and strength. Prince Hitachinomiya actually stayed in this room when he visited British Hills. The attendants said even an ordinary person could stay here for 250,000 yen per night.

Snooker rooom Bar counter at the snooker room
The last place they guided me was the snooker room, where snooker was available as well as drinking brandy at the bar counter. Snooker looked like billiard, but they said snooker used a wider table and smaller balls than billiard, and it was much more difficult to play.

I enjoyed the stay until noon on that Sunday. The staff members were very polite, well trained, and had much elegance and hospitality. I thought it would’ve been better if the uniforms of the staff had been like those of British maids and footmen :-p as everything in British Hills was modelling the ancient British cultures. Apart from that, that “theme park” is my No.1 recommendation that is good for taking a rest if you get tired of your routine days. I think that the company I’m working for, trying to get involved in global business, should arrange a few days of English lessons in British Hills as an education programme for encouraging the employees to be more skilful in English.

Japanese Culture 日本の文化 Music 音楽 Yuki's Diary 日記



Performance by Vivace



The Palace
The Palace The Palace

The Kuni House

The Marian Hall

The Chapel

Interior of the Chapel


Japanese Culture 日本の文化 Music 音楽 Yuki's Diary 日記


October is a month of fruits, readings, sports, art, and — more than those — festivals. There were various kinds of festivals in Kiba Park, which was close to my house. The biggest one was the Koto Kumin Matsuri festival from the 16th through the 17th of October.

Performance by Vivace
It was the third time for me to see this festival, so there was nothing new in it. Everything was almost the same as usual. All I did there were to eat Indian foods bought from stalls inside the park and to watch a performance by Vivace, a marching band consisting of only female employees of ALSOK, a Japanese security company.

In the same days, there was a festival by the students of the University of the Sacred Heart, which had been built in the former residence of Empress Dowager Nagako, the previous Emperor Hirohito’s wife. This university is for women only, so it’s usually closed to people other than the students of it, except on special days like the festival. I wanted to get inside the university because I wanted to see the historical houses inside, such as the former house of Nagako and the chapel of the university. During the festival, the university was open to the public, so it was one of the perfect chances to see them, which wouldn’t come so many times.

After seeing the Koto Kumin Matsuri, I went to Hiroo to see the festival of the University of the Sacred Heart called Seishinsai. I took the subway to Shibuya and there I took a bus to Japan Red Cross Medical Center, where I got off the bus, and I had a gate of the university. After the ID check at the gate, I got inside and walked along the path for several minutes then I had the Palace, the former house of the Prince Kuninomiya, where his daughter Nagako had been raised and lived until she had married the previous Emperor Hirohito.

The Palace
The Palace The Palace
The Palace

The Kuni House
The Kuni House, the site of the main entrance of the Palace, where Empress Nagako departed to the Imperial Palace at her wedding.

The Marian Hall
The Marian Hall, an auditorium of USH. The Latin phrase on the top made me feel it was gorgeous.

The Chapel
The chapel, used daily for masses and prayers. An alumna of USH can use it for her wedding.

Interior of the Chapel
The interior of the chapel, where the student choir practised singing. I heard their sounds reflected in multiple directions on the round ceiling and resonated fantastically. I admired its gimmick of construction for helping Catholics feel God’s Power.

Besides, there was an open-air stage, stalls selling foods and goods, and many kinds of events and amusements during the festival, but I left in haste because there were such young and bright boys and girls that a middle-aged man like me couldn’t stay any longer 🙂

American Lifestyle 米国ライフスタイル Art アート Music 音楽 Yuki's Diary 日記



指導する三枝美江子先生に会いに行ってきました。今年もお元気でした。今年は少しお若く見えたような気がします。毎年見に行ってる常連だということで配慮してくれたのか、今年は入口に立っていると、特別に他のお客様に先んじて最前列の席をご案内いただきました。おかげさまで維持員席でかぶりつきで堪能することができました 🙂 ちょうど理事長先生もお見えだったようでその専用席も用意されていたんですが、理事長席は2列目だったので、理事長先生よりも前の席でちょっと恐縮だったんですけどね。


動画でウエディングドレスを着て歌っている女性は関谷ひかりさん。今の宝塚宙組 天瀬はつひさんです。