Perry's Asian Tour - 2001

Cub Reporter Perry Bear!Hello, bear friends!  In 2001, I traveled to Asia with the San Francisco Symphony. I hope you will enjoy reading about stories and adventures!

Perry's Travels: 

Perry's language lesson

"Perry, that's the third time you've fallen off the bookcase!" said Miss Cynthia, exasperated.

Only one day left until we leave on our big trip! All day, I had the oddest feeling in my tummy. Happy, and funny, and a little bit scared, all rolled into one. Would I like visiting Japan? Would I be able to talk to the people? What if I got lost, or stolen? Miss Cynthia and Doctor Steve were rushing and hurrying and scurrying, and nobody seemed to have time to talk to a little bear.

So I jumped off my bookcase, right into Miss Cynthia's path.

Miss Cynthia stopped, picked me up and dusted my fur.

"All right, Perry," she said, "Why don't you tell me what's wrong?" All my funny feelings came tumbling out as I sat, snuggled up, in Miss Cynthia's lap. "Miss Cynthia, what if I get lost in Japan? What if I can't find the restroom? What if I don't like any of the things to eat?"

"Perry, it sounds like you have a case of the jitters," she said. "I don't think we need Doctor Steve to cure you." Miss Cynthia put me back on my bookcase, and handed me a little book. "Here," she said, "the best cure for the jitters is to learn something. Why don't you learn a few words in Japanese?"

I opened the book. Why, this was just right! How do you say "Hello!" in Japanese? Hmmm. You say, "Konnichi-wa". I practiced the word. "Co-Nee-Chee-Wah, Co-Nee-Chee-Wah, Co-Nee-Chee-Wah!" I could say, "Hello!" in Japanese! This was exciting!

I looked for more important words. "Thank you"--that's very important! In Japanese, it's "Arigato". I practiced again: "Are-ree-gah-toe, Are-ree-gah-toe." Now, when someone helps me, I could say, "Arigato!"

Using my little book, I practiced some more Japanese words. Let's see, "sayonara" means, "Good-bye!" "Pencil" is "empitsu" and when you answer the phone, you don't say "Hi!", you say, "Moshi moshi!" I tried it out: "Moshi moshi, Ewer residence, Perry speaking!" I liked it!

Suddenly, I thought of something. I turned the pages in my little book, forward and backward. Where was the word for "bear"? It wasn't listed! The most important word of all!

My bear friends, I need your help! Can you tell me how to say "bear" in Japanese? Tomorrow, we leave to join the Orchestra in San Francisco. On Monday, we fly to Japan--and Perry Bear Ewer will be ready!


Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry packs his bag

Dear Bear friends:

Everything is topsy-turvy in the house on the hill! Soon, we will leave for Japan and Hong Kong. Everyone is packing their bags for the trip.

Miss Cynthia is packing her bag. She has a coffee pot and a hairbrush, a dress and some trousers, and me, Perry Bear Ewer!

Doctor Steve is packing his bag. He has medicine and a stethoscope, a camera and some film, and lots of shirts and ties.

I think about all my good friends in the Orchestra. I imagine how each one of them is packing his or her bag!

Mister Larry, the double-bass player, is packing his bag. He has a shirt and some jeans, a CD player and jazz CDs, and his special folding bicycle!

Miss Karen, who plays the harp, is packing her bag. She has a beautiful jacket and some sparkly shoes, a magazine and an alarm clock.

Mister John, who takes care of business for the Orchestra, is packing his bag. He has neckties and crisp starched shirts, a raincoat and lots of files and papers.

Mister Bob, who plays the french horn, is packing his bag. He has a computer and some extra socks, some blue jeans and a holder for his ponytail.

Miss Kelly, who plays the violin, is packing her bag. She has some makeup and a special pillow, some tea bags and a pretty dress.

Miss Abby, who helps the Orchestra travel, is packing her bag. She has a warm jacket and many files, some pens and lots of airplane tickets.

Mister David, who plays the clarinet, is packing his bag. He has a computer and some magazines, a plaid shirt and a book about Japan.

Maestro Michael, who conducts the Orchestra, is packing his bag. He has a toothbrush and a nice warm scarf, a stack of music and an extra baton.

Mister Don, who plays the viola, is packing his bag. He has some pens and paper, a comb and some old-fashioned tennis shoes.

Mister Bill, who plays the oboe, is packing his bag. He has a razor and some wooly socks, a newspaper and a picture of his little boy.

Mister Robin, who plays the keyboards, is packing his bag. He has a leather jacket and some jeans, shaving cream and a swimming suit.

I like to think about all my good friends in the Orchestra, packing their bags! Soon I will see them in person, as we gather to travel to Tokyo.

If you would like to see many of my friends from the San Francisco Symphony, put this Internet address into your Web browser:

Oh! I nearly forgot!

Perry Bear Ewer is packing his bag! He has a fur-brush and and some name cards, some honey and his best black velvet bow-tie.

Everyone is ready for the trip!

Your Bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry takes a bow

Dear bear friends:

The big day is here at last! I am writing to you from an airplane over Idaho, on our way to San Francisco. There, we'll meet the members of the Symphony, and tomorrow will find us on our way to Japan!

It was exciting enough to begin our trip, but this morning saw even more excitement: Perry has made the news! Yes, our home-town newspaper, the Tri-City Herald, heard about my travels, and they came to the airport to photograph me, Perry the Symphony Teddy Bear! They will be publishing my picture, and a story about YOU--my e-mail correspondents.

There we were, Miss Cynthia, Doctor Steve and Perry Bear, checking in at the desk at the airport. Here came my new friend, Mister Andre, the newspaper photographer. He was very, very tall, with kind, twinkly brown eyes. Big black bulky cases hung from his neck and waist, and he had the biggest camera I'd ever seen. I could see myself in the reflection from the camera lens!

Miss Cynthia introduced us, and he shook my paw, warmly.

It was really rather exciting! Mister Andre walked with us to the airplane gate, and took many pictures of me. Here I am, riding on Miss Cynthia's carry-on bag! Here I am, perched in Miss Cynthia's arm! Here I am, writing my bear story on the little computer!

As he took my photograph, Mister Andre talked to me about Japan. He'd traveled there and was very interested in hearing about my trip. I showed him what I had packed in my little bag. "Name cards!" said Mister Andre, pleased, when he saw my Perry the Symphony Teddy Bear card. Just like a businessman, I have a little card, called a name card, with my name and e-mail address printed on it.

"Do you know what to do when someone presents you with their name card, Perry?" asked Mister Andre. I admitted that I didn't know exactly what to do.

So, right there in the Tri-Cities Airport, I learned to bow! When Japanese people meet one another for the first time, they don't shake hands, they bow.

It's not easy for a little teddy bear to bow properly, you know! We do have those plump little tummies. I tried hard, and finally managed a pretty nice bow. Arms straight at the sides, Perry! Bow from the waist!

Now, to the name cards. When they bow, Japanese people hand the other person their name card. The person who receives the card takes it in both hands.

That's considered a mark of respect. Hold the name card with two paws, Perry! Then read the card, and say something about the person's name, or what he does, or where he lives. A polite remark, to break the ice.

I practiced with Mister Andre, right there in the airport! A few fellow passengers looked on, curiously, but most everyone smiled to see a little teddy bear, bowing and presenting his name card to a tall, tall photographer.

By the end of our time together, I was very polished at this little bit of Japanese courtesy.

Tonight, we will stay in a big hotel in San Francisco. I must go now, as our plane is landing--but I will write again soon!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry on the plane

Dear bear friends:

This is your friend, Perry, a bear in the air. I'm writing to you from somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. I can see land far off to the right of me: the coast of Washington State!

We are on our way to Tokyo. An hour ago, our Boeing 747-400 took off from San Francisco International Airport. In nine more hours, we will arrive in Japan. I thought you might like to hear what it's like to travel on a long plane flight!

Our jet plane is very, very large--so large that it has two stories! On a plane (or a ship), they're called "decks". I'm sitting with Miss Cynthia, Doctor Steve, and my good friend, Miss Catherine in the upper deck of our plane. More passengers sit beneath us, in the lower deck.

There is so much to see and to do on the plane! Just in front of us is a television screen. During the flight, we can see a map of our flight path. A little plane marks how far we've traveled. The television shows our altitude (35,000 feet), our speed (600 miles per hour), and the time to go until we reach our destination.

In front of each seat, there is a magazine pocket. There's a magazine with stories about Japan, a menu card (we have fish for lunch, yum!), and a card with safety information.

What's this? A pair of headphones? Miss Cynthia adjusts the headset around my ears, but they weren't designed for bears! The headphones keep slipping down around my muzzle! Never mind--I can hear several different channels of music on my headset.

Suddenly, my musical interlude is interrupted. Lunchtime! I sit on Miss Cynthia's lap and nibble bites from her lunch. Goodness! The filet of sole with mustard sauce is delicious--but I can't say the same for the dessert. Almond jello? Ick, pfft, ptooey! (Miss Cynthia scolds me here, for making faces.)

While we eat our lunch, we watch a news program on the television. Only one problem: it's a Japanese news program, and we don't understand a word! Miss Cynthia and I have a good time trying to guess what the program is saying. Here is a story about virtual pets, like Tamagotchis. Look! It's the sports segment, and there is a sumo wrestling match. We laugh as we try to decide what everyone is saying.

Yawn. I am feeling so sleepy! Lunch has been cleared away, and it's time for all little bears to take a nap. I think I will, too!

[Several hours later.] Yawn! That was a nice nap!

I have to write very quietly. All my friends from the Symphony are watching a movie on the little televisions. It is a very exciting movie, with much running up and down stairs. The airplane is very quiet, though, because everyone is listening to the movie on the little headsets. I look around and rub my eyes with my paws.

It's a good thing I had such a nice nap, because this is a very, very long day. It seems as if the sun has been high in the sky forever! Miss Cynthia says that when we fly to the west, we "follow" the sun--and our "day" becomes very long.

Oh! Now we are having a snack: ice cream! Ice cream for Miss Cynthia, ice cream for Doctor Steve, and ice cream for Perry Bear. I LIKE traveling on airplanes!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

P.S. If you can read this, we are in Tokyo, SLEEPING.

Perry's Travels: 

Perry wakes up in Tokyo

Dear bear friends:

Shh! I must write you very, very quietly. It is early morning in Tokyo, and Doctor Steve and Miss Cynthia are sleeping. It was a VERY long day, traveling to Tokyo, and they are very tired.

Tokyo is so large! It is one of the biggest cities in the world. Our hotel room is on the 24th floor--but there are many buildings which are even taller.

Today, we will go sightseeing. Did you know that Tokyo has it's own Disneyland? Tokyo Disneyland looks just like the California Disneyland, only smaller. I hope we go there! I would have a good time on the rides!

Tokyo is so very large that I feel quite a little bear. Never mind, Perry! Miss Cynthia will be awake soon, and we will go out to explore!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

A visit to the Imperial Garden

Dear bear friends

Our first day in Tokyo, and oh! so busy!

Miss Cynthia and I woke early. Even though the sun was not yet up, the streets of Tokyo were wide awake! Rivers of cars flowed through elevated freeways, snaked around tall buildings, backed up before stoplights at ground level.

Time for breakfast! Miss Cynthia chose a traditional Japanese breakfast: rice, pickled green vegetables, and a mixture of bamboo shoots and seaweed! Surprise, surprise--it was delicious! To eat breakfast as the Japanese do, fill your bowl with rice, not cereal, and top with small amounts of vegetables. Hold the bowl close to your mouth, and eat with chopsticks!

Having breakfasted (and feeling quite brave), Miss Cynthia, Doctor Steve and I set off down the busy street. We stopped at Lawsons--in Japan, a small store like a 7/11 or an AM/PM mart. What is this? In the candy aisle? Why, it's Tamagotchi CANDY! Yes, little candy sprinkles that come in a Tamagotchi-shaped container. Miss Cynthia and I smile, because we LOVE Tamagotchis. Meanwhile, Doctor Steve is looking at ganga comics: Japanese comic books with superheroes and maidens in distress.

Stop shopping! It's time for some serious sightseeing!

Where better to begin seeing Japan's sights than the Imperial Palace Gardens? Japan's Emperor, Akihito, lives in the Imperial Palace in the center of Tokyo. Although the palace grounds are open only two days a year (December 23, the Emperor's Birthday, and January 2, a national holiday), we are welcome to walk in the beautiful East Palace Garden.

It is beautiful! Tidy, manicured azaleas and boxwoods and magnolias tower over smooth green grass. Each shady spot shelters several "salarymen": Japanese office workers, enjoying their lunches in the beautiful surroundings.

The Imperial Palace is surrounded by a large moat--and in the moat, huge and beautiful carp, called koi, swim with a flash of gold, silver, black and white. Some Japanese are feeding the koi, who swim so close to the surfacethat their heads appear above the water!

Many classes of schoolchildren have come to visit the Imperial Gardens. They wear uniforms: white shirts, neckties (for boys AND girls), jackets and trousers or skirts. Each group of children marches from place to place led by a teacher--and all the teachers hold a small, bright-colored pennant.

Gather round, pupils! Follow the flag!

There are very few ganjin, or foreigners, on the streets. When the schoolchildren see me, they smile! Japanese students study English for 10 years, so the children wave and say, "Hi!" as we pass. I wave my paw, and say, "Konnichi-wa!", and the children are delighted!

It's fun to be an American bear in Tokyo!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry rides the subway!

Dear bear friends:

The end of another day in Tokyo! I am one tired (but happy) little bear. We learned to use the Tokyo subway today!

Before one can ride the subway, one needs to have money. In Japan, we call it, "yen". There are yen coins and yen bills--no dollars and cents, just yen. If you have one American dollar, you can exchange it for 118 yen. A large apple, which sells for 500 yen, costs about $4, or four American dollars. Yes, FOUR dollars!

Doctor Steve has many, many yen, so we are ready to ride the subway. It will cost 160 yen to ride to our destination: Ginza, the shopping area. First, we must find the subway station near our hotel--only it doesn't seem very near to me! My poor paws are about walked off! At last, we see a sign with a large letter "S", and we go down the stairs to the subway station.

At first, it is very bewildering! All the signs are in Japanese characters, and we aren't sure which direction we need to travel. The station is crowded with people hurrying here and scurrying there. Doctor Steve consults his guidebook, and Miss Cynthia consults her map. There! Right there, the Ginza line! That's the one.

Now that we know where we want to travel, we need tickets. Big ticket machines line one wall of the subway station. Even though there are no English instructions, we learn how to use the machine. How? We watch! We watch other people use them, and soon we're able to step up and put our yen coins in the right slot. 160 yen for a ticket for Miss Cynthia, 160 yen for a ticket for Doctor Steve--but teddy bears ride for free!

To go to the subway platform, where we'll meet the train, we pass through a machine. Feed your ticket into the slot! The machine lets us pass through the gate, and hands us our stamped ticket, too! What smart machines!

We climb down many stairs and corridors, and finally reach the subway platform. A big tunnel extends both ways from the platform. That's where the train travels! We don't wait long; a wind rushes from the tunnel, and then the train is here. We climb on board with everyone else, and are lucky enough to find seats.

All too quickly, our subway ride is over. We're here! Off the train, up the stairs, and back out into the sunny day: we're at the Ginza district, and we've learned to use the subway!

The Ginza district has wide streets. It is where large department stores are located, stores eight and nine and ten stories high! My bear nose twitches: food . . . and fish! Yes, there's food here!

We visit one department store, and wander around its Food Fair. Two whole floors are devoted to delicious foods. I see sushi (raw fish and rice) and Miss Cynthia buys potstickers (fried dumplings) from a man who's making them fresh, right there. Miss Cynthia is very, very fond of potstickers, and says these are the best she's ever had. There are fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, cakes and chocolates--as well as Japanese snacks that we've never seen before.

I've told you about traditional Japanese breakfast; now it's time for lunch. Japanese office workers buy lunch from food fairs or neighborhood shops: a small tray subdivided into compartments. In one compartment, there will be rice, tucked neatly into small rolls. Here is some chicken, battered, fried and sliced! Another lunch tray will feature sushi--raw fish. (I beg your pardon, but we bears--and Miss Cynthia--are quite partial to sushi). Neatly sliced fruits nestle next to the rice, and some vegetables, raw or steamed, are placed tidily in their own compartment on the tray.

Now I understand something! In Japan, if a mother doesn't do her job just right, it's called "sloppy lunch box". Looking at these beautifully presented lunch trays, I see what they mean. Poor Miss Cynthia! When she's busy writing, she's certainly guilty of "sloppy lunch box!" Never mind, I love her anyway.

The Food Fair has made us hungry! Miss Cynthia has her potstickers, but what about Doctor Steve? McDonald's to the rescue!

We find a McDonald's restaurant with windows that overlook the busiest street in the Ginza. A good place to watch the people passing by! Doctor Steve orders a "teriyaki burger" and some fries, and we all order sodas. We receive our food, and find a table with a good view.

Japanese people are very polite, but I suppose they're not accustomed to people who travel with bears. Miss Cynthia helps me into my seat, and folds a shopping bag under me so that I can see out the window. At the next table, four young women shoot shy glances my way. When Miss Cynthia begins taking my picture, they smile!

Miss Cynthia smiles, and says, "Konnichi-wa!" The girls giggle, heads together. What to do? I know! We forgot to bow! So I give the girls my very, very best Japanese bow, paws at my sides (and tummy sucked in just as flat and tight as i can manage). The girls laugh, and begin to pat me.

One of my new friends, bolder than the rest, asks for my name. She's speaking English! I'm too shy to talk, so Miss Cynthia answers for me: "Perry. Perry Kuma." I pass from lap to lap, as the girls say, excitedly, "Peri. Peri. Peri Kuma." They giggle and smile and pat my fur. I have made some friends!

So Miss Cynthia takes our picture, and one of my new friends takes a picture of me, Miss Cynthia and Doctor Steve. When it is time to leave, I do my best bow, and say, "Sayonara!" My new friends understand! "Sayonara, Peri Kuma!"

Miss Cynthia IS right: teddy bears make friends wherever they go!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry gets a letter

Dear bear friends:

Have I introduced my good friend, Miss Brighid? Miss Brighid is Miss Cynthia's little girl, onlys he's not little! She's all grown up and goes to college. Miss Brighid is studying anthropology and she is VERY smart.

Miss Brighid has many friends among the Japanese exchange students at her university, and some of them have asked to receive my letters! This is very exciting: an American bear in Japan is writing to Japanese students living in the U.S.

Welcome to Hiroko, Shunsuke, Nao and Kanako--I hope you will correct me when I make a mistake!

Miss Brighid has sent me a letter, all about Japanese writing. It is so good that I want to share it with you today! Here is what she wrote:

Dear Perry Bear,

What a fun trip you are having. I will tell you a few things, quickly and simply, since I know your days are very busy. Here's a few things regarding words. The funny comic books are spelled manga (it's rare I get to correct your spelling, since I am a far worse speller than Cynthia :)

A word which you can use to be cute in Tokyo with young people is "ikachii" (pronounced ee-kah-cheeee), which means "cool," or "groovy."

Also, you commited a small faux paw (get it?) by using the word "gaijin" to refer to yourself. It's hard to explain, but polite Japanese would feel a little hesitant about using gaijin around a foreigner, because it might make them feel bad. It's a little like the difference between foreigner and alien. There is a polite word, but I can't remember it right now.

As for the history of Japanese writing:

There are actually 4 systems of writing used and understood by Japanese. The first are the Chinese characters called "kanji" which were brought from China at the begining of the middle ages (I can't remember it was the 7th or 8th century). During this time many ideas and things came to Japan from China, like Buddhism and kimonos. Kanji look like little pictures and are very hard to write. Each kanji character stands for a whole word or idea, and they are very complex. The Japanese use around 10,000 of these Chinese characters (according to my friends)!

The second kind of writing used in Japan is called "hiragana." Hiragana is a "syllabary" not an alphabet. That means that each letter stands for a whole sound (like ka, ke, ki, ko, or ku), not just a vowel like "A" or a consonant like "B". Hiragana is much easier to write than kanji (Chinese characters). Each hiragana letter looks like a graceful little scribble or doodle. Hiragana was invented by Japanese poets about a thousand years ago so that people could write down the sounds of the Japanese language, not just ideas like in the Chinese kanji. Many of these pioneering poets were women.

The third kind of Japanese writing is called "katakana." Katakana is easier than hiragana to write, because each letter is like a little dash or a curve. Katakana is ONLY used to write words which are foreign. Katakana makes it easier for Japanese to say words like "bear", "Perry," or "Hello Kitty," because it's made specifically for foreign sounds. It's more like our alphabet than kanji (Chinese characters) or hiragana (Japanese syllables).

The last kind of writing which they use in Japan are the same Roman letters we use in English! The Japanese started using these when they began to trade with America and Europe in the 1800's. (The man who first convinced the Japanese to open their country was an American admiral named... Perry!) Roman letters are really only used so foreigners can read Japanese words, and because they look "neat" or "cool" to some Japanese. They don't usually use Roman letters because it is much faster to write in Japanese using hiragana.

Japanese can use all four kinds of writing together (kanji, hiragana, katakana, and Roman) in a sentence. But they usually only use kanji (Chinese) and hiragana (syllables) unless they are talking about a foriegn word. It looks very confusing to us to see so many different kinds of letters and characters in one sentence, but for the Japanese it is normal, since they have used these different kinds of writing all their lives.

The Japanese also use little symbols to express their feelings, like little hearts if they are feeling love. Americans are beginning to do this, too, with our little smiley faces and frowns called "emoticons" which are used on the internet :) All these different kinds of writing let the Japanese say many things and express their feelings in a very beautiful way.

Perry, I hope all that helps you figure out Japanese writing and tell it to the little kids. I hope you are having a good time and talk to many Japanese. They probably all think you are "kawaii" (ka-wa-EEEE), which means cute.

Look out for Sailor Moon and Haru Kiti (Hello Kitty)!


Perry writing again:

Isn't Miss Brighid smart? I didn't know that Japanese children learn FOUR different writing systems.

However, I have decided to make a Perry emoticon. Are you ready? Here it is!


That's me, smiling (with ears)

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry goes to the symphony

Dear bear friends:

Life on a Symphony tour isn't all sightseeing! It's music, too and tonight, I went backstage at Suntory Hall, here in Tokyo.

I'm always happy to go backstage before a Symphony concert. The Orchestra performs in concert halls: large buildings with a stage and seats for the audience. "Backstage" is the place behind the stage where the musicians prepare to play, where the instruments are stored, and where everyone waits during intervals in the concert. To go backstage is to be part of a very select group!

Tonight, as always, I am struck by the change in my musician friends. During the day, I see many musicians in the hotel, or out sigh seeing in the city. They will be rumpled and relaxed, wearing blue jeans, telling us of a restaurant to try or a museum to visit. Backstage? Everyone is wearing their formal stage clothing: a tuxedo with tails or a long, black evening gown. Even I have changed into formal attire: I'm wearing my best black velvet bow-tie!

There is a hum of excitement. A trumpet sings the same four notes, again and again. Violin bows slide softly across violin strings, a rich throaty sound. Musicians pace, group around the little beverage bar for one last cup of tea, talk and gesture with bows or instruments. The concert will begin soon!

Several people have dressing rooms: small private rooms for the Maestro, the concertmaster, and the evening's violin soloist to rest in before the performance. Tonight, Doctor Steve has a dressing room, too! Since everyone is healthy today, Miss Cynthia and I enjoy exploring the Doctor's dressing room. We have comfortable chairs, a large mirror, and a little bathroom. There is a Japanese tea service, with hot water: "Perry, would you like some tea?" There is even a small television where we can watch the performance!

It takes more than musicians to make a Symphony concert. Backstage, I see some of my very special friends the staff members who make the concerts possible. Mister Jim is one of my favorite staff members! He is the Stage Manager: the one who makes sure everything necessary for the concert is on the stage. Chairs? Don't forget the concertmaster's special chair, Mister Jim! Are there enough music stands? Do you have all the instruments for the first musical piece?

Mister Jim, too, wears a tuxedo. I was puzzled! It's certainly not very comfortable to move heavy instruments and set up chairs in a tuxedo! Miss Cynthia explained, though, that anyone who might have to go onstage in the course of a performance must wear formal clothing. On her first tour, she told me, a very exciting thing happened. Maestro was conducting a

symphony a piece of music in four parts and was gesturing so strongly his baton hit a music stand and broke! Maestro didn't even blink, just kept on conducting with the short, broken end of his baton. At the end of the movement, out walked Mister Jim, with a replacement baton. He bowed to the Maestro, and held out the new baton. The Maestro bowed to Mister Jim, and handed him the broken baton. The show must go on and sometimes, it takes Mister Jim to save the day!

Mister Jim has some helpers: Mister Vance, Mister Dennis, and Mister Lurie. They are stage technicians, in charge of packing and unpacking all the instruments. The instruments travel in special instrument trunks. Some are VERY large--the trunks for the basses can be eight or nine feet tall! Each trunk is carefully designed to hold the instrument firmly as it is moved; many are lined in soft and beautiful velvet. Miss Cynthia perched me on an instrument trunk, and took my photograph. I held on tight, because it was a long way to the floor! Don't fall, Perry!

The orchestra's instruments are very, very valuable. You must be very skilled and careful to be a stage technician! And have big muscles, too!

The orchestra's sheet music is so important there is a special staff person just to take care of it: Mister John, the orchestra librarian. Imagine what would happen if the music got mixed up! Mister John must make sure every musician has exactly the right piece of music and that the music is properly collected and packed for the next concert.

Backstage, I see other good friends who help the orchestra. Mister John, the operations manager, is VERY important. He is in charge of EVERYTHING ­ but do you know, he's still nice to a little bear? "Hello, Perry!" he greets me, as he rushes off to see to something important. Miss Julia sees to publicity, making sure photographs are taken and the right information is given to

the newspapers about our tour. She dashes by, explaining something over her shoulder to the photographer behind her. Mister Josh is in charge of personnel; if someone is sick, Mister Josh makes sure there's a replacement musician for their part. The show must go on!

Now it IS time for the show! We must take our seats for the performance. I hope you like to go backstage as much as I do!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry goes stylin'

Dear bear friends:

Perry Bear Ewer, your fashion trend reporter, here! After a day spent in the Harajuku district, I'm ready to share all the hottest Japanese fads and fashions.

Japanese schoolchildren work very hard at school. While American students go to school 180 to 190 days a year, the Japanese have a 220-day school year. That's six to eight more weeks of school, each year!

A longer school year isn't all that Japanese children must endure. Evenings and weekends, many attend juku--a special, private school to help them pass important examinations. Add homework on top of long hours in school and juku! Riding the subway, I'm not surprised to see children hard at work on their studies as they travel.

Even hard-working Japanese children have amusements, however! On a Saturday afternoon, the place to be in Tokyo is the Harajuku district: a crowded, cheerful mix of shops and arcades, all devoted to the things young people love. Hip clothing stalls, toy stores, video game arcades and food shops sprawl over several blocks--and your stylin' friend Perry Bear made the scene!

Let's start with fashion. Even on Saturday afternoon, most young people wear their school uniform. Groups of boys in high-collared jackets with a nautical design compare purchases on the corner. Pairs of girls in dark pleated skirts and sailor middy blouses stroll by beneath a single umbrella.

Uniform colors are dark and severe: black sailor suits, navy blazers and slacks, a few green jackets paired with green plaid skirts.

Even in uniform, Japanese children display their fads and fashions. Hot for girls: skirts that are short, shorter, shortest! Some girls have taken six-inch hems in their uniforms! Others practice a simpler method--they roll their waistbands several times until the stodgy pleated skirt swings at mid-thigh level.

Beneath the swingy skirt, girls wear baggy socks, white ones. Sold in all the clothing stalls, the knee-high slouchy socks look like legwarmers. You have no claim to fashion savvy in Japan if your socks don't slump around your ankles!

Boys show their fashion sense with footwear, and the word is, "Nike!" Check that swoosh from beneath those dark trousers!

Both boys and girls display another fashion trend: they replace their standard uniform sweater with a same-color model from Ralph Lauren Polo. Cardigans and pullovers are both popular, so long as they bear that polo pony logo!

Japanese children, like American children, love video games. Sega, Nintendo--all the familiar names in gaming are Japanese! Video arcades sandwich between shops selling "American-style" clothing. Currently popular: racing games and scrolling arcade games.

For girls, the current rage is making photographic "Print Shop" stickers! Arcade-style photo booths are everywhere--and for 300 yen, they'll make 40 small stickers with your photograph on them.

Start by choosing your machine. Some machines offer cartoon character themes, others feature pop music artists like Namie Amuro. Pay 300 yen in the coin slot! Next, choose the design for your sticker from the 30 or so different borders offered.

Now for the photo! A video camera lets you adjust your picture just the way you like it. When you're happy, push the button and flash! Your photo has been taken. In just a minute, you'll receive a small sheet of adhesive stickers. Hey! That's me, Perry Bear, with two cartoon characters!

Girls make photo stickers and trade with their friends. The stickers are kept in small albums. Often, five girls will crowd into one small booth to make their stickers!

One fad shared by American and Japanese children: Tamagotchi, or virtual pets. Most girls' backpacks feature a tiny portable phone and a Tamagotchi, swinging from a keychain on the strap. Newest Tama version: gold or silver Tamas, decorated with angels. They're expensive! 3950 yen--or about $33. Miss Cynthia wants to go back to the Harajuku with her American Tamas. Perhaps someone will trade with her!

I made many friends in the Harajuku, and learned a new word: kawaii! It's pronounced kah-wah-EEEE, and it means, "cute!" Perry Bear Ewer is VERY kawaii!

And in Japan, kawaii is COOL!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry checks in!

Dear bear friends:

Our week in Tokyo is up, and it's time to begin our travels again. You musn't worry if you don't hear from me quite so regularly! I will write to you, but may not always be able to connect to the Internet. We will be staying in four different places in the next four days!

Tomorrow, we visit Akita, in northern Japan, and from there, we travel to Nagoya. Akita will be interesting, as it is not as modern and up-to-date as Tokyo. I'm excited to be visiting Nagoya, because the 1998 Winter Olympics will be held there! While in Nagoya, Miss Cynthia and Doctor Steve plan to take me to Kyoto--a very traditional, old-fashioned Japanese city. I will enjoy learning more about Japan's past!

Until then, here are some interesting things I've learned. First, some table manners. Never mind what your mother told you--in Japan, it's considered polite to drink your soup from the bowl. Don't forget to slurp! Making noise slurping soup or noodles is a compliment to the cook!

When using chopsticks, don't point! It's not polite to lick the ends of your chopsticks, either. Do use them as pushers, holding your rice bowl close to your mouth as you push the rice toward you. If you must put chopsticks down, don't cross them. It's rude!

I have two new words to teach you. Actually, both are word suffixes; you add them to names to express an idea. The first is the suffix, "san." Your teacher, a neighbor, or an adult friend would be called by his or her name, followed by "-san". For example, "Miss Cynthia-san" or "Doctor Steve-san." Using the honorific "san" expresses respect, and it is used toward older people, or those in authority.

For good friends, there's a different honorific suffix: "chan." Miss Cynthia might call Doctor Steve, "Steve-chan." It means, "friend" or "I like you!"

I will write to you soon, friend-chan!

Your bear friend,

Perry-chan Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry visits Northern Japan

Dear bear friends:

We've had such fun in Tokyo! It's a big, bustling, modern city. There are many things to do and see, and the people of Tokyo are hip and stylish.

There is another Japan. A Japan that moves more slowly. A Japan that honors the past, and lives more closely to the land. We have been visiting there, and I can't wait to tell you about it!

For the past day and night, we have been visiting Akita, in northern Japan. We arrived there by plane. Even from up high, Akita was very different from Tokyo! Where Tokyo sits flat on the ground, Akita lies among gentle, wooded hills. From the air, I could see gardens and forests and patches of farmland. In the distance, I saw the ocean!

Akita lies near the Sea of Japan, on Japan's western edge. Smell the air, Perry Bear! It's fresh and cold, much cooler than Tokyo! The small airport sits in the lap of groves of cypress trees, and their scent is delicious! Cold and sharp and bright. I sniffed the air as we left the plane. So many good smells! Rice and trees and farmland, and beneath it all, the ocean heaven, to the sharp nose of a little bear!

Where Tokyo is buildings, buildings, buildings, Akita sits in farm country. We rode the bus from the airport to our hotel. The bus wound through farmland ­ tidy, green gardens and jigsaw patches of rice paddies. Akita is famous for its rice, and we saw rice being grown everywhere! Small irregular plots of rice land were bordered by bright-blooming rows of dwarf orange marigolds. Each rice paddy was connected by a small irrigation ditch, because rice plants aren't happy unless their toes are under water!

I waved to a woman in an apron, out hoeing her cabbages.

"Does Japan have rabbits?" I asked Miss Cynthia, because Akita looked just like a page from my Peter Rabbit book! Tight cabbage heads bloomed from round, wide leaves. I could imagine my friend Peter hopping among the cheery green plants. Look out for Mr. McGregor, Peter!

In one field, rice was being harvested by machine, but in another, Japanese men were harvesting by hand. It was interesting! Rice plants grow about 18 inches high the same height as Perry Bear! To harvest the rice, the plants are cut off close to the ground. Gather a handful of rice plants, and stack it next to a tall pole. As you gather more handfuls, alternate them in a tidy ring around the pole. You'll form a "tube" of rice plants, sitting neatly in a circle around the pole. Let the plants dry for several days, and you can pick up the pole and transport the rice to the threshing area! I saw many poles, surrounded by their tube of rice plants, drying in the sun and waiting to be carried away.

Among the rice paddies and gardens rose small, trim houses. Although the houses were built of modern materials, they looked very traditional. Tile roofs slanted down to roof ornaments, and upper stories perched high upon the broader shoulders of the ground floor. Each house was neatly kept, with a small kitchen garden of vegetables and flowers. Our path into the city was lined with long rows of bright orange marigolds. The people of Akita must be very skilled gardeners!

Akita is a small city. It sits on a river, quite near the seashore. Akita's parks have ponds and fountains and many water plants.

Attention! Bear friends from Minnesota! Did you know that Akita, Japan, is your sister city? I was surprised to learn that an American university, Michigan State University, has a campus branch in Akita! Japanese students who will be traveling to the United States study in Akita for a year or two, and American students who want to learn more about Japan come to Akita to study. What a good way to learn more about one another!

Our hotel in Akita was very nice. It looked out upon a lovely park, with a pond and fountains. We strolled the downtown streets in a fine mist of rain. Poor Miss Cynthia! She doesn't like to feel the mist in her hair. If she had fur, as I do, she'd enjoy the rain much more!

People in Akita were not as busy and hurried as those in Tokyo. Ladies have a long and friendly afternoon tea in the hotel's restaurant. Look! Two young ladies are practicing their English, talking with some of our musician friends! I decided that Akita was a very nice, very friendly place to visit!

Oh! It's late and time for Perry Bear to go to bed. I'll have to write more, another day!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry rides the bullet train

Dear bear friends:

I am writing to you from the bullet train!

In Japan, train travel is very common, and the "bullet train" is the fastest, most comfortable way to travel. We have just left Tokyo station, on our way to Nagoya.

Our train car looks very much like an airplane cabin. There are nice, comfortable seats and big windows. I watch the city of Tokyo flash by; we will be traveling at over 120 miles per hour! A stewardess comes down the aisle, handing out drinks and snacks, just like on a plane.

All my friends from the Symphony are here in our train car, laughing and talking. I have told Miss Lee and Miss Darlene all about making my photo stickers, and they have made some for themselves! Here's Miss Lee, with her face on a cartoon dog's body. I trade one of my Perry Bear stickers for one of Miss Lee's stickers!

Miss Olivia, our baby friend, takes little steps up and down the aisle. She's 1 year old, and she has learned how to kiss! Everyone wants to get a kiss from Miss Olivia, even me.

The train is moving very quickly now. Tokyo's suburbs give way to farmland and small towns. Although we are traveling very fast, it seems like we're just riding in a car. I see houses and factories, fields and schools. I wave to people riding their bicycles!

In the distance, we see mountains look! There's Mount Fuji! Japan's tallest mountain, Mount Fuji is a volcano: a tall symmetrical cone wearing a collar of snow. It floats gently over the lower hills and mountains.

Too soon, our train arrives in Nagoya. Nagoya is a city, but not so large as Tokyo. We leave the train station and find our bus. I bow politely to our guide, a young Japanese woman. She asks my name, and I answer, "Peri. Peri Kuma." She, too, thinks I am kawaii, or cute!

Now we are at our hotel. There are so many people to greet us! The doorman has a beautiful uniform and a great tall hat. He bows, and I return the bow. Inside the hotel lobby, I bow SIX more times! Every few feet, from the door to the elevators, stands a hotel manager. I bow and greet each one.

"Konnichi-wa! Konnichi-wa!" The managers bow gravely, and give me an approving nod. I'm glad I practiced my Japanese manners!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry writes haiku

Dear bear friends:

Perry Bear is now a poet! I have learned to write haiku a form of Japanese poetry.

Haiku has very simple rules. A haiku has three lines. It should contain one "season word" a word that evokes a season in nature. A season word can be a color, like green, or a natural phenomenon, like wind.

Haiku doesn't rhyme.

Finally, to write Japanese haiku, there is a rule about the number of syllables:
The first line has five syllables.
The second line has seven syllables.
The third line has five syllables.
Because haiku is so clear and simple, children can write very nice haiku! Goodness! Even a little teddy bear can write beautiful haiku. Would you like to read mine?

Tokyo Autumn, by Perry Bear Ewer

Trees of steel and glass
Leaves dance crisp on concrete steps
Milk-grey morning light.
Here is a site on the Internet to read some Halloween Haiku, written and illustrated by children:

For teachers and home teachers, here is a site with lesson plans and information about teaching haiku:

I hope my bear friends will send me their best haiku! I would like to share them with all my friends.

Your poet bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry goes to festival day!

Dear bear friends:

There's only one bad thing about a festival day: sore paws!

We woke to Nagoya, a mid-sized city in Japan. It was a holiday, and a festival day, and for the Symphony, it was a free day a day in which there is no travel and no concert. Time to enjoy Nagoya!

The sun was bright and the air cool. We stepped out of our hotel to join the happy people walking on the street. Because of the holiday, children did not wear school uniforms. I was interested to see that Japanese children dress very much like my American friends: overalls, jeans and T-shirts, and Nikes. I felt very much at home as I bowed to the doorman when we left the hotel.

Soon, I was treated to an even stronger reminder of home. For those bear friends who may not know it, Miss Cynthia, Doctor Steve and I live in a small city in Eastern Washington State. Our house sits on a hill looking at the place where the Yakima River joins the Columbia River. Because there are three small cities lined up along the Columbia River we call our home "The

Tri-Cities, Washington." Many good things to eat are grown there: cherries, asparagus, and most of all, potatoes.

Back in Nagoya, Miss Cynthia, Doctor Steve and I reached the central city square. It's a park, with a big fountain and many trees. Around the square, small food booths offered delicious snacks for sale. Here were grilled meats and fish, and over here, fried rice. Other booths sold noodles or bowls of soup.

"Look," said Miss Cynthia, "french fries!" There among the Japanese delicacies were good old American french fries. A nice man would fry them, fresh and hot. "Shall we buy some?" she asked.

We walked up to the booth, brightly curtained in red and yellow. Suddenly, Miss Cynthia squeaked. "Look!" she said, "They're selling our potatoes! Here! In Japan!" Doctor Steve and I looked behind the counter, and there were boxes and boxes of potatoes . . . from Tri-Cities, Washington! "Lamb's Special Export Potatoes" from our hometown firm, Lamb-Weston.

"Miss Cynthia," I said, "don't we have friends at Lamb-Weston?" "Indeed we do, Perry Bear," Miss Cynthia said. "Miss Andrea and Miss Erin's daddy works for Lamb-Weston, and he'll be delighted to hear that we had some of his potatoes in Nagoya, Japan!"

The potato man didn't speak English, so he couldn't understand why we were so excited, why we pointed to his boxes of potatoes. Good-naturedly, he fried our portion of french fries, and good-naturedly, he posed for a picture with his boxes of potatoes and with me!

The french fries were delicious as are all Tri-Cities french fries! Imagine, eating french fries from home, so very far from home. I shook my furry head. The world is a small place!

Everything was all in a bustle, preparing for the festival. Workers taped down large sections of carpet on a dance platform. A stage was being erected, and dancers rehearsed to the music of Japanese instruments. Booths selling sake, or rice wine, food snacks and portable telephones rose around the festival ground. We walked everywhere to watch, staying out of the way of the busy, hurrying workers.

The festival would not start until nightfall. Everyone was excited! We decided to return to our hotel and rest until the activites began. As we were walking through the lobby, we saw Mr. Smiley, our Japanese travel consultant. Yes, Mr. Smiley does smile a lot!

Mr. Smiley explained we would be seeing a Festival of Lanterns. The dancers we'd seen practicing in jeans and sneakers would wear beautiful kimonos and would dance with lighted lanterns on their heads! Unfortunately, Mr. Smiley's English wasn't up to the job of explaining why the festival was being held. I'm afraid our Japanese wasn't up to the job of asking questions, either!

After a nap, we returned to the city square. Night had fallen, and many happy people had gathered. The food booths and sake booths were doing brisk business. "Look up, Perry!" Doctor Steve said. There, above our head, was a modern touch: a laser beam glowed from the stage all the way to the top of a towering building, blocks away. It was beautiful, green and bright against the night sky.

The dance was beginning! Everyone gathered around the dancing square. Miss Cynthia made two older Japanese ladies stand in front of us; Americans are taller people, and Doctor Steve's broad shoulders were blocking their view. Many people with cameras gathered close, to get good photographs of the dance.

As we watched, over a hundred Japanese ladies walked in small quick steps onto the dance platform. They wore beautiful kimonos. On their feet were special socks with a split between the big toe and the other toes, allowing them to wear traditional wooden clog shoes. The kimonos and wooden clogs require the wearer to take very small steps; quick and light and graceful. On each dancer's head swayed a beautiful Japanese lantern.

On the stage, a singer and Japanese musicians were seated. The crowd quieted, as one by one, the dancers lit the lantern on the person before them. The light glowed and grew as more and more lanterns were lit.

The music begins! The dancers began an intricate dance, full of small gestures, measured bows, delicate steps. The line of dancers stretched like a coiled serpent across the dance area. The singer sang, a song of sadness and longing. The instruments plucked out the plaintive melody. The line of dancers moved in slow circles.

We watched the dancers near us with great interest. Some were young girls, nervous and uncertain of their movements but they tried very hard and did very well. Middle-aged women were the surest dancers, forming the intricate poses with ease and grace. Miss Cynthia and I smiled at one dancer, quite old. Snowy haired, she was bent with age, tiny and doll-like. Even though

her movements were slower, and she sometimes lagged behind the rest, it was clear she enjoyed taking part in the dance. Miss Cynthia said she probably danced this festival dance many, many times in her life, and we were privileged to share in her performance today.

After the dance, a men's drum troupe took the stage, dancing with fire and vigor No small, delicate movements here! Even young boys danced with male energy and strength.

All about, the crowd gathered, happy and polite. One booth did brisk business, selling vibrating recliners and rolling foot massagers. Tired festival-goers lined up to relax in the row of chairs. Young girls giggled as their feet were massaged by the rotating footrests.

All too soon, it was time for Perry Bear Ewer to go back to the hotel, to bed. I fell asleep, sore paws and all, dreaming of the beautiful Dance of the Lanterns. I like Japan!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

P.S. Thank you to all those, children and dolls and bears, who have sent me your haiku. Keep them coming! When we return to our home and our big computer, Miss Cynthia will gather all our poems together and share them with everyone. We have many talented writers among our bear friends!

Perry's Travels: 

Perry chooses an instrument

Dear bear friends:

When I travel with the San Francisco Symphony, I hear beautiful music.

Imagine! More than one hundred of the world's finest musicians come together to play music that is grand, or happy, or vivid, or sad. The music they play makes my little heart beat faster! I sit in the concert hall, snuggled on Miss Cynthia's lap, and wish, oh, how I wish, that I could make beautiful music, too.

On this tour, I've found myself talking with my musician friends. I ask, "What would be the right instrument for a little bear to play?" Of course, everyone in the Orchestra thinks their particular instrument is the best!

It's fun to imagine playing each of the instruments in the orchestra. Perhaps I could play one of the instruments in the strings section. I like the big double-bass! It has a low, manly sound. It would be fun to stand on a high stool and play an instrument five times my size!

Perhaps a cello? Miss Jill, the cello player, says I would have a problem with fingering--since I don't have fingers, I have a paw but I like the silky, sweet sound the cello makes. Miss Jill says I would be good at vibratto: pressing hard on a string and vibrating it to make a thrumming sound.

Violin! There are more violin players than any other instrument in an orchestra! Mister Dan says I might be able to play a violin, but I would have to stretch my little arms way, way out to grasp the neck.

What about woodwinds? That section of the orchestra includes the oboe, the flute, the clarinet and the bassoon. Oh, dear. Miss Robin says my muzzle is the wrong shape to blow into a flute. Mister David plays the clarinet, but he showed me it is way too long for a little bear to reach. Darn! I like the way the woodwinds sound, from the sweet tweedle of the flute to the low song of the bassoon.

Well, there is the brass section. I could play a trumpet! Or a trombone, like Mister Laurie. No need for fingers on a slide trombone, because you change the length of the instrument to change the note. Oh! Could I play the tuba? Imagine little Perry Bear sitting inside a tuba, puffing away. I love the tuba's big, booming sound.

What about a horn? A french horn that calls, sweet and low, over the heads of the musicians. My friend Mister Bob plays the horn, and he likes computers, too! Perhaps Perry Bear could play the horn.

What else? The last section of the orchestra is called "Percussion and Other Instruments", and it's the most fun of all. I'd rather bounce on the big drums called tympani than play them! Imagine little Perry Bear, bouncing and bouncing in the center of a big drum. I could play the triangle! Strike the center, and mind your time, Perry Bear.

I don't think paws would play the piano very well, but I love to sit with Mister Robin and watch his large, supple hands draw music from the keyboard. The harp, too, would be hard work for a little bear. Mister Doug has to extend his arms out very, very far to ripple across the strings of the harp. I like to sit on top of the harp, though the sound is very beautiful and I feel the vibrations from the strings from my tail to my nose.

I am only a little teddy bear, but in my imagination, I can play music! I know what my instrument would be. I would play the viola! The viola is a stringed instrument, larger than the violin and with a deeper, sweeter voice. I like the sound of a viola it reminds me of bears humming.

Most of all, I'd play the viola because I like viola players. Viola players are a lot like teddy bears! They're nice. They're calm and relaxed, and they like people. Other musicians make lots of jokes about viola players, but the viola players themselves tell the very best viola jokes! They're always laughing and happy, and they always welcome a little bear to their circle.

That's it! Perry Bear Ewer has chosen his instrument: the viola.

What instrument would you play, if you were a member of a symphony orchestra?

Your bear friend,
Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry arrives in Hong Kong

Dear bear friends:

We have arrived in Hong Kong!

More properly, Miss Cynthia, Doctor Steve and I have arrived in Kowloon the city on the mainland facing Hong Kong Island. We have the most exciting view! Our hotel is located on the very tip of Kowloon, facing the Island. Our room looks out over the waterway and the Island.

Many boats pass quickly along the waterway small junks and ferries, even a cruise ship has passed by this morning. Across

from us, on the Island, shiny buildings spring up in a glittering mass, almost even with the tops of the hills!

I'm happy to have such a nice view, because everyone else is very grumpy. It was a long, hard travel day to get to Hong Kong. For humans, at any rate! We bears have a fortunate ability to go into hibernation. When we have to

travel long days, Miss Cynthia makes a nice bed for me among the soft clothing in her suitcase. I snuggle down into my bed, close my eyes, and sleep peacefully until she opens the suitcase once again. For Perry Bear, it's a nice cozy nap!

Poor humans, however, have to endure long bus rides and long plane flights and long lines in customs and at airport ticket counters. This makes them very, very cross. Why, even Mister Don, the viola player, grumbled at us in the hallway this morning! I think everyone needs some coffee, don't you?

Soon we will leave our hotel room and explore Hong Kong. Doctor Steve wants to find a tailor and have some clothes made. Miss Cynthia wants to see some boats. I want to learn some Cantonese the Chinese language spoken here in Hong Kong.

I will be sure to write and tell you all about our Hong Kong adventures!

Your bear friend,
Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry goes to a Hong Kong tailor

Dear bear friends:

Hong Kong is a city at the center of the world!

During our visit to Japan, we saw very few non-Japanese people. As Americans (and as a teddy bear) we stood out in Japan. This was nice, in a way, because so many Japanese smiled just to see me and often, became my friend.

In Hong Kong? Why, I believe that everyone in the world must come to Hong Kong! There is so much to see and for a bear, so much to smell and to hear. I will be writing about all my Hong Kong adventures, because they are so exciting.

Today, I want to tell you about my trip to a Hong Kong tailor. Doctor Steve needed a new suit of clothes and tailors in Hong Kong are the best!

We entered the basement of the big hotel. My! The air conditioning felt good, after the warm, steamy air of a Hong Kong autumn day. I like being a bear, but fur isn't very comfortable when it's hot and sticky outside! Inside the building, I took a deep breath and felt much, much cooler. We walked along the narrow corridor, looking for our tailor's shop.

Here it is! Our tailor's name is Mister Chan, and he smiles and welcomes us. He wasn't even surprised to see a little bear visiting his shop! As Miss Cynthia and Doctor Steve and Mister Chan consulted about Doctor Steve's suits, I sat on a little bench and looked around me.

Everywhere I looked, I saw beautiful fabrics. Fabrics for jackets and trousers, fabrics for suits and dresses. There were shirt fabrics, and tie fabrics. It was like sitting inside a rainbow!

Soon, Doctor Steve had selected the fabric for his suit of clothes. Now Mister Chan must measure him! When you buy a suit from a tailor, it fits you, and only you because it is made just for you. Doctor Steve stood in front of a large mirror, and Mister Chan measured him here and there and around and up and down.

What? Mister Chan wants to measure me? I don't want a suit of clothes I have fur, and it's very uncomfortable wearing anything on top of fur! I tried to wiggle off the little bench and run away, but Miss Cynthia was too fast for me.

"Don't be silly, Perry," said Miss Cynthia, "It's just for fun and so we can take your photograph!" I squinched my eyes, suspiciously. Clothes are just fine for humans, but they do NOT belong on bears.

Miss Cynthia was good as her word. Mister Chan measured me, but just to take my photograph! Whew! That was a narrow escape!

I will write again soon!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry makes an Australian friend

Dear bear friends:

If the bad part about traveling is having to have a bath in the washing machine, the good part is making friends! I have a new friend! His name is Bradley, and he lives in Brisbane, Australia!

There we were, on the big, big plane. Doctor Steve, Miss Cynthia, and me. Next to me sat a boy with bright brown eyes. He was playing with a Game Boy as we waited for the plane to take off. I peeped, curiously, around Miss Cynthia. It has been a long time since I've seen a Game Boy!

"Hello!" said Miss Cynthia, "Would you like to meet my bear?" That is how I made a new friend, Mister Bradley from Australia! Lucky Bradley! He is going all the way to Disney World, in Florida!

We talked and talked and talked, and I learned so much! Mister Bradley lives in Brisbane, in the northern part of Australia. The weather is very warm, so it is a good place for plants to grow. Mister Bradley grows lovely vegetables in his garden: tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuces. His neighbors buy them, and he makes lots of money! In Brisbane, everyone lives an outdoor life, enjoying picnics and days at the beach.

Mister Bradley is six, just one year older than me! In a few days, he will be seven. Mister Bradley goes to school, and is in Grade One, nearly in Grade Two. In Bradley's school, they do lots of things like American children do, but some things are different. Bradley doesn't have recess he has playtime. Bradley reads little books at school, and his favorite is a story about Grandpa's Old Slippers.

Mister Bradley has so many things to tell about Australia. If I went to Australia, I could make music on a digiridu. That's a long tube, a hollow piece of wood. You blow in it, and it makes the most exciting noise, something like "Wooo-woo--woo!" Digiridu can be played like music. I wonder if some of the musicians in the Symphony know how to play a digiridu?

Mister Bradley is going to buy a boomerang, to play with. Sometimes it will come back, and sometimes his dog will catch it! A boomerang is shaped like a letter J, and it's made of wood. Originally, a boomerang was used to hunt animals by the people who lived in Australia long ago, but now it can be used to play with!

In Australia, there are wild dogs, called dingos. People catch them, but they would rather be wild. Scientists have to help them so there will always be dingos.

Look! The plane is coming in for a landing. It is time for us to put away the computer. I've enjoyed my talk with Mister Bradley, and hope he will enjoy my letters on the Internet!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry and the new viola

Dear bear friends:

Perry Bear here, writing to you from another airplane. Traveling with the Symphony means many airplane trips. I sit in Miss Cynthia's lap. We look out the windows at the land far below. Everything looks so tiny, even enormous mountains. Our Symphony friends sit all around us, and everyone is jolly, laughing and talking. It's a good way to travel. I like to use the computer to write to you from the airplane. It's fun!

Last night I met a very special viola! It belongs a very special viola player, my good friend, Mister Don. Mister Don is very nice to me, and we've been friends for a long time. When he asked if I'd like to see his new viola, I was happy!

I was happy and I was surprised! What was this? Mister Don's new viola looked as if a giant had stretched and squashed it into a new shape! Mister Don held me and I looked and looked. The new viola looks so different from the other violas in the Symphony.

Mister Don explained. This is a new kind of viola. It has been specially made to sound like any other viola but it's designed to be kinder to the viola player. Playing a viola can hurt muscles and joints, just ask Mister Don. His new viola? It makes the musician feel better.

"Perry, did you know that I was on television?" asked Mister Don. Yes, indeed, Mister Don and his new viola have appeared on CNN, the television news channel. He's been interviewed about this new viola by the New York Times a very, very famous newspaper. Once the New York Times takes notice of something new, so do other newspapers and Mister Don has been interviewed by several other newspapers.

The interesting thing about the new viola, Mister Don explained, is the viola maker used new technologies to help the musician feel better. The viola maker studied how a viola makes it's sound, then used computer technology to make the same sound with an instrument that is healthier and easier to play. The new viola is a mix of tradition and technology, coming together to help create beautiful music.

Miss Cynthia says it's something like me: a traditional teddy bear who uses a computer and the Internet to talk to all my friends. I hadn't thought about it, that way. Now when I imagine I am a viola player, I will play a new viola, just like my friend, Mister Don.

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: 

Perry explores Hong Kong

Dear bear friends:

We woke this morning to soft sunshine glowing through the haze of Hong Kong's harbor. From my window, I watched boats slice back and forth through the harbor passage. When will Miss Cynthia wake up? I want to explore Hong Kong!

It was a typical morning on tour. First Miss Cynthia wakes up. Her eyes are puffy behind her glasses. She stumbles around the hotel room, clattering the little coffee pot. The noise wakes Doctor Steve. He makes smacking noises, and scratches his beard. Honestly! Humans can be so exasperating! I pat my paw impatiently as my human family takes forever to rise and greet the day.

Bears are so much more efficient!

At long last, we have stumbled and clattered and scratched ourselves awake. It's time to explore Hong Kong! Today, I will be riding in a little shopping bag. Miss Cynthia explains that Hong Kong is such a busy, bustling, crowded place she doesn't want to risk losing me! She tucks me into my bright yellow bag, and we're off!

To a bear, Hong Kong is a treat for the nose. My nose quivers trying to take in all the smells! Since the city sits on the oceanside, the air is heavy and soft with moisture. There's a smell of fish, of garbage, of seawater, of rusting ships. I can smell cooking odors: ginger and onions, smoke and spices. I smell sewers, trucks, buildings, people's feet. It's heaven if you're a bear! Humans just wrinkle their noses and frown.

We walk to the ferry dock, a few blocks down the hill. Where Japan was neat and clean and tidy, Hong Kong spills over with people and their refuse. I was glad for my shopping bag as the crowds thickened around us. I saw people from what seemed like every nation in the world! Tall, short, male, female, wearing dress suits and turbans and tunics and saris and blue jeans. Everyone must come to Hong Kong! It was exciting to see so many different people, all hurrying about their business.

Doctor Steve buys our tickets for the ferry. The city of Hong Kong sits on an island just off the coast of China, so we must take a short boat ride to enter the city. In Hong Kong, money is called "Hong Kong dollars", and there are about 7-and-a-half Hong Kong dollars for each American dollar. In Hong Kong, they have cents, too, but the smallest coin I saw was a "20-cent" piece. That's about two American cents. Our ferry ride costs 2 Hong Kong dollars and 20 Hong Kong cents--or, a little more than an American quarter. What a bargain especially as bears ride for free!

We clamber up a red-painted ramp to the ferry, and step over the gangway onto the boat. Goodness! Even at the dock, the little boat rocks and swoops like a real ocean vessel. Wheeee! I like the feel of the little boat it's almost like a ride at Disneyland.

A minute later, we're on our way. Miss Cynthia and I look out the sticky windows. What a view! The tall buildings of Hong Kong grow straight and tall to the sky. It's beautiful! I wonder how so many people can live together in such a small space. Behind the clustered, reaching buildings rear tall green hills and we are going to the tallest hill of all, Victoria Peak.

All three of us are dazed when we leave the ferry. People and sounds and cars and trucks and smells fuse into a single impression: hurry! Everyone walks quickly, cars stream by impatiently, trucks roar. Everyone in Hong Kong seems to have somewhere to be, people to see, business to do. We do, too and we find the shuttle bus that will take us to the tram up the hill.

It's a double-decker shuttle bus! We climb to the open top level. What a way to see Hong Kong! As we ride, we look down on the quick river of cars and the streams of walking people. We look up to the towering buildings, glimpsing the harbor passageway in between them. I'll never forget Hong Kong!

We're here! Now it's time to take the tram up Victoria Peak. The tram is a little train car that travels up the hill on a track. Whoa! We're leaning, almost on our backs, as the train inches up the steep, steep hill. We can't see anything through the thick plants and shrubs and I'm not sure I want to see anything when I'm tipped over like that! Miss Cynthia clutches my shopping bag very, very tightly, and for once, I was glad.

No matter, the tram ride is very short. We've arrived at Victoria Peak. A large building sits at the very top of the hill, and from the top deck, we can see most of the way around the island. What a sight! Hong Kong spreads out before us. We see the harbor, with ships and boats full steam ahead in the passageway from the ocean. The city of Kowloon, across from us on the mainland, spreads away into the mist. Doctor Steve, Miss Cynthia and I look and look and look. It's beautiful, simply beautiful.

I am sorry to report, however, that Doctor Steve gets tired of looking at beautiful things much sooner than Miss Cynthia. When Doctor Steve is bored, Perry Bear had better look out--and so it was up on Victoria Peak. Miss Cynthia wants to take just the right photograph of me, so she asks Doctor Steve for help. She's busy with the camera, so she doesn't notice his mischievous look but I do!

Doctor Steve is holding me up by my back paws so Miss Cynthia can take the photos. Oh, NO! Suddenly, he pushes my fuzzy head over the railing, hanging onto me by my back paws! I'm hanging upside down! Miss Cynthia is busy with the camera. Help! Help! I don't want to fall down over Victoria Peak! "Look!" says Doctor Steve, "Perry wants to go bungee-jumping!"

Everything turns out all right in the end. Miss Cynthia rushes to save me, and scolds Doctor Steve. Good! I didn't want to fall head-first over that railing! Miss Cynthia hugs me and hugs me, and glares at Doctor Steve over my fuzzy head.

All in a day's work for Perry, the Traveling Teddy Bear!

Your bear friend,

Perry Bear Ewer

Perry's Travels: