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Greetings to everyone from Japan. Another great year is almost over, but for me it was filled with many great moments and remembrances, from New Years in Cazadero to Thanksgiving in Ginza, Tokyo. Even though I havenít heard from some of you in a long time, I still think about all of you and hope to see you in 2000. Donít forget to write back. (An international letter costs only about 50 cents)

Changes

Yes this was a year of big changes for me. First and foremost, I got married (no ceremony but completely legal). Yeah, I know you didnít think it would ever happen but it did. Iíve heard somewhere that, if a man doesnít marry by age 30 he only has a one-in-four chance of every marrying. I guess Iím one of the lucky ones. And, I found a wonderful, beautiful, understanding woman in Soyoko. I love her very much and she makes me very happy. Of course, we had a nice honeymoon in Fiji. (I hope you got the postcard) It was a great place to spend a relaxing time and the sunsets are awesome. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about a South Pacific vacation. The second big change is that I am no longer a full-time English teacher. I have given up the "fast food" style English teaching business to become an Editor for Arthur Andersen Worldwide. AA is one of the top 5 accounting/financial-consulting firms in the world and has offices in all the major cities. I believe there are over 61,000 employees worldwide. My job is to edit documents written by Japanese people in English. The staff is kind and helpful. All of them speak English but sometimes their written work isnít perfect. It can be difficult especially when they use accounting and financial terminology. Anyway, itís nice to work in an office environment again. Of course, it is a part-time job covering only 25 hours per week so I teach at home in my spare time. Currently, I have some private students who I teach at home about once a week. It helps to supplement my income.

Travel

Thanks to those who provided us with accommodations during our stay last Christmas and New Year. It was really nice to see all of you and a tremendous experience for Soyoko. It was her first time to visit the mainland of America. She was a bit overwhelmed at times seeing that she met, literally, more than 40 friends, relatives and other people. We also had an enjoyable stay at the cabin. Our good fortune continued when Soyoko and I were "bumped up" to Business class on the flight home to Tokyo on January 5th because of overbooking. It was our first trip in such luxury and it was great. Champagne, crab legs, personal video screens and enough the room to stretch-out and get some quality sleep. We also took two pleasant trips inside Japan. First, in April we traveled to Gifu prefecture in central Japan to attend the wedding of my friends Michael and Toshiko. While in Gifu we had the chance to visit a mountain village called Hida-Takayama which in parts resembles a traditional Japanese hamlet with houses from about 100 years ago. Two of the most interesting places we saw were an old sake brewery and miso factory. The sake was marvelous and the miso was delicious. Our other trip was to Kamikochi in Nagano prefecture. Called "the Yosemite of Japan" by some people. Itís one of my favorite parts of Japan with mountains, forest, and rivers. Itís only about 4 or 5 hours from Tokyo but it seems a world away. A great place to rest, recharge and relax from the hectic crowded life of the big city.

Future

Iím not sure what the future holds but Iím sure it will be unpredictable. Iím still enjoying life here and aim to stay in Japan at least until 2001 but who knows? Weíre planning to stay in Japan for the holidays. We have dinner reservations on Christmas Eve. New Years is the biggest holiday in Japan and weíre going to celebrate it the traditional Japanese way, visiting shrines and eating special foods. 2000 is the year of the dragon according to the Chinese calendar. We expect to make a trek to California sometime next spring or summer. Donít forget if you want to come to Japan, there is a free, but small, place to stay. Be well and have good holidays. Hope to hear from you all soon. Both E-mail and snail mail is exceptable.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Jimmy & Soyoko

1F Satsuki-so, 5-6-29 Iguchi, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo-to 181-0011

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