The Papertiger Sound

Dan, a friend from home, is in a band called The Papertiger Sound. They are a long distance duo (the two members of the band live very far apart). While Dan is based on the east coast of England, the other member, Kerstin, lives in Canada. As a result, they don’t play many concerts, but the music they make is intimate and warming. Influenced by bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, their sound is perhaps best described as ‘transatlantic dream pop’.

The Papertiger Sound recently appeared on TV in the UK:
BBC Introducing Interview Video – papertiger sound

Their latest ep is available to download from their website now:
Music – papertiger sound

‘FeliCe anima!’ launch party March 2011

At the launch party of ‘FeliCe anima!’, a new exhibition by Chika Fukushima, the artist herself was on hand to talk us through her artworks and explain what they mean to her. Inspired by a recent trip to Italy, she makes pictures of weird and wonderful animals in vibrant colours. Chika has an individual style, and it was particularly interesting to hear her own thoughts about the animals she portrays. Thank you to everyone who came.

As always, it was great for us to chat to imagine members outside of lessons, and to meet the friends and relations they bought with them. Catering this time was provided by ‘The Sugar Fairy’ – a splendid array of cookies both sweet and savoury to suit all palettes. Check this website for information about our next party.

Looking back and thinking ahead

It isn’t often the case, but at the moment there are a lot of very interesting films coming from the UK. Due to the global recession and a new government, Britain is experiencing a period of significant social change, which might explain why so many recent British films seem to either focus on an uncertain and worrying future or to look nostalgically at the past.

The late-fifties and early-sixties, a time of recovery and optimism in the UK, is the setting for three new films.

‘Nowhere Boy’ tells the story of John Lennon’s life in Liverpool before he became famous as one of The Beatles. It is directed by the well-known visual artist Sam Taylor-Wood.

Nowhere Boy – Official UK Trailer (2009)

‘An Education’ is a wonderful film about a teenage girl’s relationship with an older man and her troubled attempts to get a place at Oxford University.

Based on Graham Greene’s classic story, ‘Brighton Rock’ is about a young criminal in a seaside town. Originally set in the 1930s this adaptation moves the action forward to the early-sixties.

Brighton Rock (2011) Official HD Trailer
Brighton Rock (1947) – Pinkie’s first appearance

For more forward looking films, two of the most interesting ask serious questions about how we value human life when confronted with the possibilities of genetic engineering.

‘Moon’ is a science fiction psychological drama starring the American actor Sam Rockwell, and directed by David Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones.

Moon | Official Trailer (2009)

‘Never Let Me Go’ is based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s thought-provoking novel. It is set in the near future, or perhaps an alternative present, and depicts a disturbing vision of society.

Kazuo Ishiguro on The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go

At the time of writing, in Japan, ‘Nowhere Boy’ has been shown in cinemas in recently. ‘Moon’ and ‘An Education’ are available to rent, and ‘Never Let Me Go’ and ‘Brighton Rock’ are due to be released next year.

The Thousand Autumns…

I have heard it said that autumn is the ideal season for reading books. In that case, I can readily recommend ‘The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet’. It is the latest novel by David Mitchell, and tells the story of a Dutch clerk working on Dejima, the man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki which functioned as Japan’s only contact with the outside world during the Edo era.

David Mitchell is widely regarding as one of Britain’s best young novelists. He started to write while working as an English teacher in Hiroshima in the nineties, and many of his works are set in, or have connections with, Japan. He is best known for ‘Cloud Atlas’, an incredible book which compromises various interconnected stories from different times and settings. ‘The Thousand Autumns…’ is just as ambitious, and is recommended for an advanced English learner, with an interest in how foreign writers interpret Japan and its history.

Coincidentally, one of David Mitchell’s key influences is Italo Calvino, an Italian writer whose ‘If on a winter’s night a traveler’ is also the inspiration for our current exhibition of photographs by Seiko Oka.

‘If on a winter’s night a traveler’ launch party 5 September 2010

Last Sunday was the latest party at imagine* – this time to celebrate the launch of Seiko Oka’s new exhibition ‘If on a winter’s night a traveler’. It was great to see so many imagine* members there, from some of our longest serving to a few of our youngest! There was lots of praise for the artworks on display and the delicious food, once again provided by Itsuki Bakery.

We hold parties like these every three months to mark the launch of each new exhibition at imagine*. They are great way to meet like-minded people and to meet our teachers, as well as see some interesting contemporary art. If you are in the area, feel free to drop in next time we hold a party. Details will be available on this website.


A recent trip back to the UK gave us the chance to stop off for a couple of nights in Amsterdam. Having never been there before, it was a visit I was particularly looking forward to, and I am happy to say that it didn’t disappoint. Amsterdam is famous for its canals, bridges and bicycles, and these were all very much in evidence in the area we were staying, just outside the city centre. We didn’t do much when we were there. It was simply a pleasure to stroll around the streets, crossing canals, and admiring the beautiful 17th century buildings. The fact that were more bicycles than cars added to the laid-back atmosphere – quite different from other major cities. It was also lovely to be able to eat dinner (and drink a beer or two) in the open air: watching the world cycle, or float, idly by.

Fun run

Ashiya International Fun Run, in aid of UNICEF, was held last Sunday (11th April 2010). The sun shone and thousands gathered for a day of races (from 3km to half-marathons) around Ashiya-hama. I took part in the 10km race, and I am pleased, as well as being a little surprised, to say that I really enjoyed it. It was tough at times but I had been training for a few months, and with the help and encouragement of family, friends and Imagine’s members, I was able to run the race in a fairly respectable time: just under an hour! Having had such a good time running 10km this year, I think I might try and go for the half-marathon next year. Watch this space.

Line of light

Hadrian’s wall was built by the Roman emperor Hadrian, to protect the Romans in England from the ‘barbarians’ across the border in Scotland. It can still be seen, stretching across the North of England, from Newcastle to Carlisle. In March 2010 a crowd of around 25,000 people gathered to watch a ‘line of light’ being lit all the way along the wall. It made for a spectacular display, with beacons lit, one at a time, 250 metres apart for 135 kilometres:

The line of light only lasted for half an hour, but the wall itself has survived for over 2,000 years. If you are visiting The Lake District nearby, or even Edinburgh, why not pay a visit to Hadrian’s wall? While it is not quite on the same scale as The Great Wall of China, it is still a fascinating part of British history, situated in a beautiful location.

Henry: a progress report

It has been a very busy six-months since Henry was born. In his short time with us, he has flown on aeroplanes, had a dip in the sea, attended two imagine* parties, and worked as a model, to name just a few of his activities. He has recently started crawling, which has brought him a great deal of pleasure, and a little bit of pain (he keeps banging his head – ouch!).

Another development is that he has started to take an interest in food. Mashed bananas or mangoes – yummy! Mashed apples or sweet potatoes – yuck! We are beginning to teach him sign language so that he will be able to communicate a little sooner. So, tapping the mouth means FOOD, one hand clapping is DRINK, and two hands together, next to the cheek, is BED, and a well-earned rest.

have a dip in the sea 海でひと浴びする
crawling ハイハイする
ouch 痛い
mashed すりつぶした
yummy  おいしい
yuck ウエッ
a well-earned rest  もらって当然の休息

Christmas cards

It’s the middle of December and people all over the world are busy writing Christmas cards. It’s an important part of the festivities and a good way to keep in touch with people you don’t see very often, but if English isn’t your first language it can be difficult to know what message to write to English speaking friends. One thing to remember is that we usually include a New Year’s greeting with the Christmas message. Some people write a long message, but most people have to send so many cards they only have time to write a short message.

Here is a selection of some standard messages from cards we have received this year:

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Season’s Greetings
Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year
Special Christmas Wishes
May your Christmas and New Year Shine
Christmas Greetings

Any of these will be fine for a message to a friend, family member or colleague. Don’t forget to write the name of the person you are sending the card to, and to sign it. For example:

To Imagine’s members
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
From us all at Imagine