If you know me, you're welcome to read this duplicated letter. If you don't, I can't imagine you'd find it interesting.
This letter doesn't seem to be dated, but it must have been written in mid-December, 1998.
This is to wish you the very best for Christmas 1998 and New Year 1999. I'm afraid my letter-writing goes from bad to worse: 1995's letter (!) apologised for the absence of 1994's, and that seems to have been the last one. As a family that means we've put on a total of fifteen years! Anyway, here's a little news, and I'm going to enclose a photograph.
We made it to Europe last year (i.e. 1997), as part of a trip to Italy and France, but only managed about ten days in England, so we didn't get to see many friends and family. This year I've been desperately busy most of the time, so we didn't really get away at all during the summer. Well, I was working down in Tokyo for a couple of weeks, and Keiko, Terry and Aki came down and went to the aquarium in Shinagawa on a Friday, then we went and had (real Indian) curry together. (Summer holiday in Tokyo?!)
The kids are all progressing, as well as getting bigger. Ian passed to Sano High School, where he's now in the first year (roughly the fifth and sixth forms are a separate school) and is getting good marks. Like me he tends to do better at maths and science. Terry is now second year of middle school (roughly 2nd - 4th forms), and doing OK. Aki's now in his third (and last) year of kindergarten: he's learning to read fast, mostly Japanese, but he knows his English letters (and he learned to count to ten in Italian last year too).
We've made some musical progress. At the end of 1997 we bought a real piano to replace the electronic one we had. All three are now having piano lessons, with a new teacher, Mrs Sekiya, who's the mother of one of Ian's best friends at middle school. I've been practising too, and been doing some duets with them: working on Debussy's Petite Suite with Ian at the moment. He also plays the clarinet in the school wind band, and electric guitar in a pop group with friends from school.
Just after we got back from England in 1997 I joined the local "Ninth" chorus -- Ninth meaning we sing Beethoven's ninth symphony each New Year (actually the Emperor's birthday, December 23), plus another concert in the summer. (Seems to be a Japanese tradition, a bit like doing the Messiah every Christmas.) So I'm busy relearning it now for my second time.
Ian's trip to the seaside: Ha! One of our many public holidays is 10th October, "Sports Day". Ian decided to set off early in the morning with his friend Yoinara-kun on bicycles "East, to see how far they could get." About half-past-three in the afternoon we get a telephone call: "Hello Ian, yes, well, where are you?" "At the sea." You don't need a very big map of Japan (if you know where we are) to see that's quite a way: about 100 km (60+ miles). So guess who had to drive there and bring them and their bicycles back!
Oh, and yes, we're on the Internet, as of last year. I use E-mail a lot for work, both directly and for things like the English-Japanese translators' discussion group. It's really quite amazing being constantly in touch with a large group of people literally all over the world. Perhaps by next year we'll have a "multimedia" Christmas message on the Web, with photos, piano music, the works!
Once again, our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,
Brian, Keiko, Ian, Terry and Aki Chandler