The Best Halloween Party EVER!


On Saturday October 21st from 4:00pm to 8:00pm we held the first ever AIM English Studio Halloween Party. Our goal, to have the most authentic North American Halloween Party in Japan! We had a Trick or Treat/Haunted House, Pumpkin Carving, Costume Contest, Pinatas, and lots of regular Fall Fair games like Bean Bag Toss, Musical Chairs, Bobbing for Apples, a Shooting Range and the ever popular Fish Pond.

We were wondering at first whether our students and families would enjoy an authentic western Halloween Party, but after we sold 230 meal tickets our fears were laid to rest. To say that the party was a smashing success would be an understatement. It was AWESOME! We had about 240 guests (students, their friends and families) and over 4600 pieces of candy.
Continue reading

Kirk’s Kendo Practice


My older brother Kirk came to visit (Dec.29 2005 to Jan.08 2006) soon after Grace Yuki was born . While he was here, Shigeru Komamonoya (the older Japanese fellow whom I met one day on the JR Train and has been a good friend to Kana and I ever since) was able to arrange for Kirk to attend a New Years Eve/Day Kendo Practice at Osaka Taiiku Daigaku (Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences). The really cool thing is that one of Kirk’s Senseis from the UVIC Kendo Club (Hayashi Daisuke) went to Osaka Taiiku Daigaku and knows all the Seneis there. Although there is only one picture of him, Morioka Sensei is a good friend of Hayashi Sensei, in fact, they went to Jr.High together! Read more…

The birth of Grace Yuki Mercer


Grace Yuki Mercer was born on December 22nd, 2005 at 10:17AM weighing 2900 grams. This video is a compilation of the first three days of Grace Yuki’s life as seen by us (her parents). We hope you enjoy our greatest Christmas gift of all!

2005年12月22日、AM10:17、私達夫婦の間に赤ちゃんが産まれました!2,900グラムの元気な女の子。 初めての出産にもかかわらず、病院到着後2時間足らずという超スピード&安産でした。
Continue reading

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri 2005


Kana’s hometown of Kishiwada is famous all over Japan for their annual Danjiri Matsuri (Mobile Float/Shrine Festival). You can learn more about the historic roots of this wacky festival at the Kishiwada City homepage (

After seeing the trial pulls a week earlier we knew we were in for a treat during the actual Danjiri Matsuri. Unfortunately on Saturday (the 8th) it rained all day, which was tough on both the Crews and the spectators. However the sun came out on Sunday (the 9th) and we returned as well this time with the video camera to document this awesome hometown festival. Read more…

Kishiwada Danjiri Trials 2005


Kana’s hometown of Kishiwada is famous all over Japan for their annual Danjiri Matsuri (Mobile Float/Shrine Festival). You can learn more about the historic roots of this wacky festival at the Kishiwada City homepage here.

There is always a Trial Day prior to the actual Matsuri, and we were able to go and enjoy the trial (training) pulls last weekend. I put a short video together that might give you an idea of what the Danjiri festival is like.

Everyone in the community (young and old) gets involved in this event. Our good friend Yai-Chan (of Making of the Mochi fame) was picked for traffic control and you can see him in the video making sure people stay out of the Danjiri’s way. Read more…

The Mercers One Year Wedding Anniversary at the Otodama Rock Festival


Has it been one year already? WOW! Time flies when you are having fun. This first year of marriage has been a wonderful time, moving to Japan, expecting our first baby and missing all of our family and friends back in Canada, but enjoying making some new friends in Japan too.

To celebrate our one year anniversary we decided to accompany Chie and Chizuko (Mom) to a Rock Festival at the Izumi Otsu Phoenix (between Kishiwada and Osaka) called Otodama. Otodama means “hotspring of music for your soul” (rough translation). There were 14 bands playing from 10:00am to 21:00 (9:00pm for you non 24 hour clock people).

Continue reading

Trip to Ninja Mura


Craig and I went on a day trip to NINJA Village on May 3rd with Ai my best friend, her boyfriend Junya and our new friend Toni from West Virginia, who has been in Japan for 4 years now. We got to know Toni when Craig was looking for a job and she gave him lots of good information on how to do that.

We all got together at Tsuruhashi Station before 9:00am and headed to Iga-Kambe Station (on Kintetsu-line) where we switch a train to the final destination. I tried to book the seats for an Express Train to Iga-Kambe as we need to ride on a train for about 2 hours, however I was a bit later than other people and couldn’t. I had totally forgot that there is the Aichi Expo 2005 on and Ninja-mura (village) is on the way to Aichi! So we had to ride the rapid train instead and fortunately, the train wasn’t as packed as we had expected. Read more…

Trip to Ikuta Jinja

On January 3rd 2005, Ai & Junya along with Kana and myself took a trip to Kobe to visit Ikuta Shrine. We had a lot of fun that day experiencing a Japanese New Year tradition. Happy year of the Chicken!

(The following courtesy of Wikipedia)
Ikuta Shrine (Ikuta-jinja) is a Shinto shrine in the Chuo Ward of Kobe, Japan, and is possibly among the oldest shrines in the country. Read more…

Trip to Mizuma Dera

On New Year’s Day, Craig & Kana along with Kana’s family, visit the Mizuma-dera Temple. It is a new experience for Craig. There are lots and lots of people visiting the Temple on New Year’s Day.

There are dozens of little stalls surrounding the temple selling everything from cotton candy to squid to octopus!

One funny little story that happened in the video, a little girl got Craig’s leg mixed up with her mother’s. Imagine her surprise when she looked up and saw she was holding onto a strange white guy’s leg! LOL Read more…

Making of the Mochi in Kishiwada

Kana’s Dad (Hirotoshi) has a really good friend named Yaichi (Yai-chan for short). He invited us over to his house on Dec.30th 2004 to help make mochi.

The video above is the fruition of the mochi making extravaganza!

Mochi is a type of rice, made in a traditional way during the New Year’s Holidays.

The rice is cooked, dropped into a large stone or wooden bowl and then smashed repeatedly with a big wooden hammer which results in a very chewy, gummy rice. Some batches have small shrimp added which results in a red very salty mochi, while others have brown sugar and ginger to it. Some mochi are wrapped around red bean paste (almost like chocolate) making for a very sweet mochi! Read more…