Latest Reading: Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown


This is the third book I’ve read by Salman Rushdie, the British-Indian novelist. He is most well known for his 1988 book, Satanic Verses, which depicts some irreverent aspects of the historical life of  Islam prophet Muhammad. The leader of Iran at the time, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or execution order. He became a free speech advocate and is still alive today.

Shalimar the Clown, published in 2005, is the story of a murder in Los Angeles in the late 1990s. He goes back through the lives of the people involved leading up to the event. Most of the book takes place in the disputed northern Indian region of Kashmir where the murderer is from, but also sections of the book are set in World War II France, Delhi and Los Angeles.

As an older, well-traveled person, I now understand most of Rushdie’s references to places and events. That was not the case when I read his books twenty years ago. I really enjoy the details and the breadth of cultures covered in this book. I do not like his tendency to include elements of magical realism in the story, similar to Latin American writers. I prefer my fiction to be plausible.

Reading novels is becoming less common with the advent of the internet. However, I like to unwind from screens and it calms my brain to reflect on the details of the story. It helps me fall back to sleep when my mind is racing with the many tasks I have to worry about as a head of school and a father of three children. Because of the complex plot and interweaving events and characters, it was the perfect book to make me sleepy.

Some parts of the book were a little tedious, specifically the mythology of Kashmir, the there was plenty of action and plot twists to keep me reading. I wonder why none of Rushdie’s books have been made into movies. This would make a good one, especially since it deals with some themes that resonate today, including terrorism, ethnic conflict and migration.




Oliver’s Soccer Season Coming to an End

Oliver’s middle school soccer team is preparing for this weekend’s Western Japan Athletics Association tournament taking place on Rokko Island over in Kobe. Oliver is in sixth grade and a starting member of the “B” squad. They will be playing in the “B” tournament.

A couple of weeks ago our school hosted a futsal, which is played with smaller goals on a smaller field with less players, tournament. The semifinal game against Canadian Academy of Kobe finished in penalty kicks. As you can see in the video, Oliver had an opportunity to take a shot in the penalty kicks.

I hope to make it the second day of the tournament on Saturday.

Oliver’s team wins!


Last Saturday Oliver’s team, the Osaka International School Sabers defeated Canadian Academy of Kobe, 4-3 in an exciting comeback win. They were down 1-3 at half, and fought hard to score 3 goals in the second half to win.

Oliver played midfield this game. He was playing center back on defense. I like him better as a midfielder because he is more active and gets some shots on goal. He is a really solid player and it was so fun to watch. As you can see in the videos in this post, he had a lot of touches.


They are free this weekend due to a national holiday. The Sabers return to action in a futsal (5-aside) tournament.

Skiing Over Lake Biwa

Ocean (blue) Owen (black and white checkered jacket) on the slopes

It was an exhilarating day of skiing today at the Biwako Valley Ski Resort. Lake Biwa is a large freshwater lake north of Kyoto. The Hira Mountains abut against the lake. It makes for a breathtaking backdrop as you can see from the photos. It only took 1 hour and 15 minutes to arrive at the parking lot of the resort, which makes it an easy day trip.

kids skiing

I love spending a day outdoors with my children. I wish Nadia liked skiing, but she stayed in the lodge for the afternoon. It took a couple of runs for me and Oliver to get comfortable, but we did have fun going down the main run at the top of the mountain.


The resort is small but picturesque. A gondola takes groups up the steep cliff to the start of the ski area. You cannot see the ski runs from the parking lots. There are only six different trails that are fun to ski. There were a lot of people, but the majority were beginners on the bunny run. Once away from them, there were really no wait times. There are two longer runs which were our favorites. It is not a resort to spend a week, but for a day of skiing, and being so close to our home, it is perfect.



Family Journal: January 27, 2018

Oliver clears the ball in defense against Marist Brothers International School

I am catching up on my family journal while on the shinkansen back from Hiroshima.

Last weekend was great because we had snow! Oliver’s soccer game against Marist Brothers International School was played on a snowy field. As the sun hit more of the field, most of the field was clear, but it was still slippery conditions. Oliver played sweeper (gunta in Japanese) which is a position that suits his body type. I had to laugh when the star of the opposing team tried to dribble past him. He leaned into Ollie and got knocked flat to the ground. Oliver is a stocky boy and to afraid of physical contact. I love watching him play. He also has an eye for the goal, and has a strong leg and is very accurate. His left heel is bothering him when he plays too much and we should get that checked out after the season.

ollie stops a goal

Ocean has been begging for a puppy. I really want to get one, but they are expensive and a lot of work so we are not sure if we are going to get one. Especially with our lifestyle of travel, it is difficult to travel with or find care for the dog when we are away. She read a lot about hamsters so we did get her a Dzungarian Dwarf Hamster named “Eduardo”. It is very cute and we are enjoying watching him and taking care of the little guy. He has a habit of biting so we are training him not too. He is a big eater and it is fun to hand him cheese, blueberries or standard hamster food chips. Eduardo grabs it in his front feet and nibbles like crazy.

Ollie holds Eduardo

It was Nadia’s birthday on Friday. We surprised her with flowers and strawberries in the morning. Owen baked her a small cake and Ocean made a nice card. We went to dinner at her favorite restaurant on Saturday, the Lei Can Tin. They have many delicious Asian dishes.

Nadia, Amy and Mariah

Owen and I like to throw the football around. We usually go to park #4 in our neighborhood. Having snow on the ground reminded me of playing football with my brother and the neighborhood friends on the first snowfall. We loved slipping and sliding around and diving into the snow.


Oliver Begins Soccer Season


Oliver Soccer

Nadia and I watched Oliver’s first game of the middle school season. He is such a character with his big smile and red cheeks! He is so funny to watch. As you can see he enjoys the sport and we are happy that he is making friends, exercising and experiencing winning and losing in pressure situations.

They played a small school, the Sons of the Light International School. The format of the day was futsal or 5-on-5 soccer with small goals and a smaller field. The idea is to get players to help with skills.

I will be posting more updates this season.

My Beautiful Ocean


Winner Again in the Bookmark Contest

Ocean won the bookmark contest again this year. She designed a Minecraft-themed book mark. The annual competition is sponsored by our library and Ocean won the prize for grade 4.


Ocean has a natural inclination for design and color and is a promising young artist. She loves making things with her hands. We nickname her little miss busybody and when she puts her mind to something, she just powers on until it is finished, whether making a basket out of paper, mosaic of glass tiles, a DIY folder organizer, etc. She just loves working with her hands.

Above is her flower arrangement from a recent ikebana workshop. Ikebana is a traditional Japanese art of flower arranging, dating back to 600 AD. One of the school parents is an ikebana master and led about 40 students and parents in a beginning session.