News

I just spent about an hour on Facebook and I don’t even need to refuse to feel bad about it: there is no need for guilt here. I just closed 8 Jisho.org tabs and it’s causing no anxiety. Why? Because the JLPT is finished for another 7 months. I sat N1 again yesterday and can safely say that in some ways I did better than last time. I know this because yesterday I read the whole grammar section, which in July I didn’t have time to do, having done the reading first.

Speaking of the JLPT, one of the reading texts was about writing. The writer – a novelist, by the sounds? – was writing about the word 好き ‘like’ and saying he/she couldn’t honestly say that they liked writing, nor that they disliked it. In one section they were saying that the writing process helped them form and organise thoughts, and to discover what they were really thinking. The thoughts were floating around in some sort of nebula and it was the act of putting them to paper that helped them understand. Well, that’s the answer I chose for that question. Hope it was right. And that’s a bit what this post is going to be like.

Can you guess what I’ve been doing since my last post? Well, it has involved several textbooks, one full-time job, tens if not hundreds of episodes of News 7 on NHK, several seasonal coffees from Starbucks and Tullys, a few of Ryoma-den (the story of Sakamoto Ryoma), a couple of Japanese books and a couple of English language audiobooks, one and a half episodes of the Dollop (wtf Ronald Reagan), about AUD$1900 worth of taxes, vegetarian gyoza, and some frustrating bootlaces and less frustrating shoe polish.

News:

I am leaving Japan. This time in three weeks I will be in Australia again. To be honest, this gives me quite mixed feelings for several reasons, in no particular order and I truly mean no particular order at all:

  1. I will be in Australia where there’s no shame in asking for time off. I think. Wait, I’ve never worked full time in Australia. Is there shame in asking for time off?
  2. I will be in the same country as most of my family and Australia-living friends, able to see them (more) often. Not that much more for the ones who live in Brisbane. Who are mostly from Melbourne, I’ll have you know. Why did you move to Brisvegas?
  3. My other half will still be here until his partner visa approved – and it had better be approved, it cost the better part of 4 years of savings on what I’ve earned in Japan.
  4. I will be leaving some craziness and also some rather endearing personalities at my current job.
  5. Need to find a new job, which will undoubtedly have new craziness and hopefully minimum toxicity.
  6. I’m going back to uni. Will the course be any good? Will I be any good? Where am I going to park to get to the station? How will I deal with morning train anxiety?
  7. How am I going to keep up my Japanese when I’m suddenly surrounded by English everywhere?
  8. How am I going to find who/what I’m looking for when I can’t see over and around other people?
  9. I’m going to miss my friends in Japan. I’m already at a distance with those in Tohoku, but the ones in Hiroshima I see often – some more often than others of course – and there are some special ones in Tokyo and I know I can always hop on a shinkansen and be there the same day. Even to Tohoku it’s a short plane and moderate bus/train, possible over a weekend.
  10. I’m going to be an aunty!
  11. I’m going to miss Japanese customer service.
  12. I’m not going to miss the plastic and packaging.
  13. Am I going to miss the weather people telling me what to wear/have with me the next day?

OK. Before I leave, there are about a kjillion things to do. Now that the JLPT is done, I can start actually doing them without any ‘aagh is it OK to use this time to do this?’ worries.

  • Clean the apartment
  • Go to the city office and report that I’m leaving the country. Get a certificate that says so and has the dates of when I was living at this address
  • Photograph/scan, translate, edit and upload the last 6 months’ worth of bills, documents, photos together etc. to My ImmiAccount for the partner visa application
  • Buy an electronic dictionary
  • Cancel phone contract
  • Clean the balcony
  • Buy Japanese books and send them, with other books, to Australia for reading practice
  • Send home some clothes and stuff
  • Get rid of everything else
  • What to do with thank you messages from students in past schools? It’s the sort of thing I only look at when I’m thinking of throwing them away.
  • Clean out work desk
  • Finish the project I’ve been working on over the last year and a half to help new teachers at work

You get the picture. And now, it’s time for me to get ready for work.

I know I always say this, but I think it’s more realistic this time to expect that I’m going to post again soon. Thanks for reading.

A funny weekend

Hi blog! Haven’t seen you in a while. Been studying for a test – yes, the JLPT, N1, and I’m quite confident that I’ve failed it for the first time – and working full time, and also applying for a visa. That is an ongoing process I’m not going to talk about it here today. Maybe another time. Maybe never.

A couple of weeks ago I had a funny weekend that I want to share with you. You’ll need some back story first – namely, that I’m a musician and have on occasion done some performances singing and playing the piano around Hiroshima city. My friend’s mum, who is in a band, was participating in these events and invited me to join, which was nice of her. I don’t have a band in Hiroshima, and these have always been solo acts. I did one in February or March this year and didn’t enjoy it much, and decided not to do these any more by myself. But in June this year I was asked to do one on a Friday night.

A friend my age was organising an event in his local area, and some local acts including a DJ were doing a gig in a small gallery space, and they wanted one more act, so my friend asked me. It was a different group of people from the other events I’d participated in – younger, like, people in their 20s and 30s and a couple of families with kids. One of the families was on stage together, with their kids playing marimba, clarinet, keyboard, violin and singing. The dad was on the drums or bass, depending on the song. Another act was a singer-songwriter kid, 19 years old, in red bell-bottoms and an orange and white striped long-sleeved T-shirt, singing all his own songs, with a distinct sound. One group was made up of One Piece fans in orange T-shirts and straw hats who sang two Aimyon covers in a row. Then there was me, and then the DJ who played some great music. It was an interesting and fun event to be part of because everyone was so different. At the end one of the One Piece guys played a song someone had written about the area, Yokogawa. It was pretty catchy.

Some friends had come along to watch, so we went out afterwards to find somewhere to have a drink and something to eat. We tried to go into a cool-looking bar on the ground floor of a hostel nearby, but they were closing. Around the corner there was an Akamaru, which is a chain izakaya popular in Hiroshima. It was pretty full but there was a very friendly bunch of Japanese guys drinking with a bearded overweight white guy, all who looked to be in their early 20s, who encouraged us to join them or take their seats. They were sitting out the front of the place with tables and chairs on the footpath. They actually stood up and asked us to take their seats, but they and all their food and drinks were still at the table, so we didn’t straightaway. The staff brought out an extra bench to sit on and we eventually sat down and the 4-5 Japanese boys drifted away, but the white guy said ‘Can I join you?’ and sat down with us.

There were about 7 of us – me, an American guy, and 5 Japanese girls with varying levels of English speaking and listening skills. The American guy was between 2 Japanese girls nearer the other end of the table, but I was next to the bearded white guy. His name was Ron and he was from Canada. One of my Japanese friends wanted to ask him lots of questions but he didn’t really understand her English, nor she his, so they did a bit of communicating through me. It went something like this.

Friend (in Japanese): What’s his name?

Me: She’s asking your name.

Him: Ron, I’m Ron.

Me (in Japanese): His name is Ron.

Friend (in Japanese): Rob?

Me (in Japanese): No, Ron, like Ron Weasley. You know, in Harry Potter.

Friend (in Japanese): What’s that?

Me (in Japanese): You don’t know Harry Potter?

Friend (in Japanese): His name is Harry Potter?

Me (in Japanese): No, his name is Ron. One of the characters in Harry Potter is also called Ron.

Ron: What are you guys saying?

Ron told us that he had been travelling around Asia for a couple of weeks. He had been in Taiwan for a week and then maybe Korea, and Japan for a few days, and my American friend and I were the first white people he’d seen in a week and a half. He’d come to Hiroshima through Saga (Kyushu) and Fukuoka and there were no white people anywhere. We couldn’t know how happy he was to see white people!

This was pretty funny for me and the American guy. All the Japanese girls agreed that his story was impossible: maybe not in Saga, but there are lots of foreigners in Fukuoka. There must have been some.

No, he said, there weren’t.

We asked Ron what he did and he told us he worked for General Motors, which was a name we two westerners recognised but none of our Japanese friends did. They didn’t know Holden, Commodore, Chevrolet or Buick either. This was a bit of a surprise for Ron and, honestly, for me too. We all had to suppose that Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Honda are just really prevalent, and that other cars popular in Japan are often from Europe or the UK, like VW, BMW, Audi, Mercedes etc. You do see Fords though.

Ron had to repeat how happy he was to speak natural English with white people again. I could only think, hmm, he hasn’t lived in a non-English-speaking country before.

We all had fun meeting Ron and he seemed to have enjoyed meeting us. He might be back in Canada again by now.

The next day was Saturday and I had work. I was planning to go to lunch at a friend’s house on the Sunday and that friend had a new baby, so on Saturday after work I went with my other half to look for a nice present for the baby. We weren’t sure exactly what sort of thing we wanted to give, but we went to the baby/kids’ section of Fukuya, a department store, to see what was there.

About 90% of everything was pink/red or blue. I was appalled. The baby whose present we were looking for was a girl, but I didn’t want to enforce any gender norms on her, no matter how sure I was that everyone else would, as well as what she would see on TV, in shops, in books, in all media. We eventually found a nice soft teddy bear – NOT PINK – without a speaker or a peek-a-boo function, not too big, that I figured a small child would be able to hug.

Then we went looking for some yakitori, because it was dinner time and we hadn’t had yakitori in a while. It was raining and the first 3 places we tried were full, but we kept walking around and eventually found an empty yakitori place.

There was a dog on the counter. yakitori dog

The owner didn’t smile the whole time we were in there. He didn’t talk much either. He didn’t mention the dog, we didn’t mention the dog. The dog looked at us. We talked quietly and watched the TV that was on, up in the corner. The dog walked up and down the counter. Some show with some scary home videos. The dog went to sleep. The food was good. The one other customer ordered draft beer after draft beer and eventually left. The dog turned around and looked at us again. We decided it was time to go. The owner stepped outside for a minute without saying a word and I took the chance to snap a photo of the dog. 

The next day was Sunday. I went to the lunch and gave the teddy bear to the mum – the baby was still 3 months old and might not be very interested in her teddy yet, but her big sister would claim it, because she’s really into soft furry things at the moment, according to her mum. Another dad who was at the lunch invited all of us to go to a haunted house he’s organising in August, on levels 3 and 4 of a building, upstairs from what you might be able to call a cafe/cabaret bar.

And that was that weekend.

Spring and that

Here are a few things that have happened with me in the last while.

*Revelation*

It’s hit home that in many cases I’m now a sempai in Japan. Not only in Japan, actually, but that’s the current setting. This became evident a year or so ago at a picnic with a heap of newly-arrived JETs. They were all so shiny-eyed and excited to be in Japan, which was, well, refreshing. It reminded me how it used to feel to be new and as foreign inside as out. I’ve become one of the people explaining and showing other new people how to do things. Stranger still, I’ve had to do this for a co-worker who actually is my senior in both age and in our workplace, because they’re going to do an ALT position, which is what I’ve had both more training and experience in than maybe anyone else at work. Of course, the longer I stay in Japan, the more people I meet who have been here for 10 or 20 years longer than I have, and who can speak, read and write fluently in Japanese. So it’s all relative.

Spring

As well as the end of the school year and a number of changes at work, I had a parental visit over the March transition period which was terrific, and also intense. Mum and Dad came and even though this winter was mild, the trees were still just getting ready for spring. There were some buds on the sakura, but that was about it. Everything was still grey and ugly, but Mum and Dad got to see it all start to change, which was nice. And now everything’s green, the humidity’s on the rise, the doona/duvet/kakebuton is in the cupboard, and the hydrangeas are coming out. No dragonflies yet, but mozzies have started.

Study, work, whelm

I’ve been trying to watch Japanese news, listen to Japanese news, do reading comprehension exercises, read books and study kanji in some combination every day, while working full time and also eating and sleeping. And, you know, brushing my teeth, showering, and even exercising sometimes. And trying to socialise with people. This means that things like watching dramas, reading books (without a dictionary nearby) and alas, self-care take a back seat. Which is a real shame and doesn’t make sense, I know. If you don’t look after yourself, it’s natural that you’re not functioning at your best, which would of course be the ideal way to be for work, study, socialisation and life in general. I guess I’ll make a point of prioritising it for at least the next couple of weeks and see how that goes. With luck the study, etc. that I get around to should be a bit more effective that way too.

What else has happened?
Got my gold licence. When you first get a driver’s licence in Japan, it’s green. Then after a while you have to renew it and it changes to blue. If you have the blue one for a set time (3 years?) and you don’t have any traffic violations in that time, the next time you renew it’s gold. Not sure if it changes to blue the next time if you’re involved in any incidents or what. Hope I don’t find out.

Australia had an election… not much to write home about there.

Japan had an election… not much to write home about other than noisy trucks driving around with recordings of people just saying their names and good morning, hoping that you’ll vote for them.

I went to Kyushu for Golden Week. Kyushu’s great. I failed to go to Yakushima because of weather conditions, but succeeded in having some adventures and spending some money. And finding how popular Kumamon is all over Kumamoto. Most of the week I had in Kyushu was rainy.

IMG_2359

Walking in the rain in Kagoshima

I also saw an interview of a famous ex-porn star, I mean really a star. There was one of a famous man and one of a woman who wasn’t so famous. The man is charismatic and speaks well. His interview is interesting.
Oh, and I saw the Green Book movie the other day and thoroughly enjoyed it. Also found a beautiful cinema where it was showing.

So not that much news going on, but that’s what there is for the moment. At some stage I should have some more to say… maybe in Japanese! That way I could blog and study at the same time.
HW: self care. Hope you’re looking after yourself, reader!

Dark Emu: book review

I read this book recently, Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, and wrote a kind of review on Goodreads, and I want to share it with you too, whether you’re on Goodreads or not, because I think every Australian should read this, or at least become familiar with the material.

Dark Emu is a first rate extended essay. It presents the heretofore unknown history of Australian Aboriginal agriculture, economy and ways of life, and describes the way European immigrants and hero-worshipped explorers ignored the clear signs (and some that were apparently too subtle) of civilisation and of the manipulation and interaction with the landscape. Pascoe writes about the native crops that were cultivated and the ways they were managed, and suggests ways of bringing back the farming methods that sustained Aboriginal people for millennia – that seem to work on this dry continent with its particular soil.

The style is – well, I’ve described it as an essay – documentary and somewhat academic. Pascoe writes with real conviction, making his own position clear and encouraging the reader to take the same position and also to feel curious to learn more about Aboriginal ways of life.
One thing that I found strange in reading Dark Emu was the insistence against the perception that Aboriginal Australians were ‘mere’ hunter-gatherers: rather, they did build towns and work the land. That’s fine, but what’s so bad about hunting and gathering? Pascoe seems to argue that it’s seen as primitive, whereas farming is seen as a sign of a more developed way of life. I’d thought that hunting and gathering was supposed to be kinder to the land, whereas farming was harder on it – but Pascoe reckons it’s just that Western farming methods and crops/stock aren’t designed for Australian conditions. Either way, I imagine Pascoe’s dispute with the ‘hunter-gatherer’ label must be partly because it’s not accurate and partly because the stereotype worked against Aboriginal people when it came to Native Title – maybe the white guys were arguing that ‘they’re not farming the land, they’re just wandering around and taking from it’ to deny Aboriginal entitlement to the land.

Excellent writing, not only for Australians.
Now I’m going to check out some of Pascoe’s other stuff as well as this novel ‘Taboo’ by Kim Scott. If you’ve got any country-specific recommendations for me, please let me know! I’m also enjoying reading a couple of books set in China at the moment.

Happy 2019!

As always recently, long time no write, eh? It’s looking like staying that way this year, because as well as still working full-time in a language school I’m studying for the next level of the JLPT – the N1. I want to learn to read more in Japanese generally, and N1 might be useful in getting jobs, too. There are some jobs in Japan where N2 is useful, and there might be some in Australia where it’s useful too but N1 is definitely more so.

2018 was a pretty good year for me in some ways. It was also pretty sad in some ways. Two of my grandparents died, on different sides of the family. Elsewhere in the family, cousins got engaged and/or had more children. My work environment changed from one of constant discomfiture to one where I can make jokes with other teachers and laugh when things go wrong (not if it’s serious, obviously).

In 2018 I learned the hard way not to ride on the yellow lines (for the visually impaired) when it’s been raining. At least not the new ones. After falling off my bike on them, twice, feeling annoyed at the footpath suddenly having become a minefield of pedestrian and slipping hazards, I also discovered that there ARE actually people who use them for direction. Saw two people in one week feeling their way along, having myself made it to adulthood without ever seeing anyone using them.

2018 brought ends to some friendships and beginnings of new ones, as well as the discovery and closure of a nice Cambodian restaurant. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a bar that plays the BEST music, and also a little Italian restaurant where all the staff wear denim shirts and serve some of the best pasta I’ve ever eaten.

In 2018 I went skiing once. I read 27 books, according to Goodreads, including some fantastic ones. My top 3 would be: The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss – and the next book in the series), Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman), and The Sympathiser (Viet Thanh Nguyen).

I visited 2 countries I hadn’t been to before: Hong Kong – yum cha 3 times, or was it 4? – and Korea, and really enjoyed both. I tried calligraphy, another first. I tried archery for the first time (it was great) and saw an exploding bamboo fire at the archery course. I enjoyed whisky for the first time: Teacher’s. I went to a rainbow tea party. They were just showing off all the colours of tea they could make – I don’t know if the tea makers are aware of what rainbow means in the West.

Japanese calligraphy. It was fun.

Fancy tea – more for looking at than for drinking.

The bamboo grows in sections, so when the air in each expands with the heat, the divider as it were has nowhere to go but out… pop!

There were some great films that I saw in 2018, including Bohemian Rhapsody. Japanese films I really liked were One Cut of the Dead, Cafe Funiculi Funicula, and Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura. I learned the joys of Japanese medical dramas.

Plenty of things happened for me in 2018 and it’s looking like 2019 will hold quite a few too. Already been skiing once so it’s looking good! I hope you’re well and that 2019 is shaping up well for you.

See you sometime, reader. Wish me luck with my studies. Somehow I’m determined to have some semblance of a life while I study and work. Hard to balance everything. So 応援してね!

またね :)

9? 10?

I was just looking through old posts, thinking, man I need to write more, and I found this one that I wrote last year when I was still working in the kindergarten.

—– sometime in 2017 —–

These days, I’m surrounded by pregnancy. I’m at the age where all my school and uni peers seem to be posting pregnant-and-or-baby things on Facebook. I work in a kindergarten that also takes kids from the age of 1, and the attached childcare facility takes babies from 2 months old.

Only this weekend did I learn that in Japan, they consider a human pregnancy to be 10 months and 10 days long.

I will admit that I’ve been watching the ‘asadora’ (morning serial drama) Mare, about the life and career of an aspiring pastry chef, and enjoying it in all its soppy silliness until I got too invested in the last couple of episodes. Ok, ok, that’s not the first time I got annoyed with it. *Spoiler alert* I got annoyed when the main character turned down an apprenticeship in France – a rite of passage for any serious dessert chef in Japan – to go and support her husband because he was in over his head at work. Even though he and everyone else told her to go to France. That annoyed me, but it was fitting with the character and made for good drama so I let it pass. Thinking about it now, it still grates.

This episode, yesterday, though… a character finds out on New Year’s Day that she’s pregnant, at the hospital (what sort of Japanese hospital is open on New Year’s Day? Maybe they went to emergency?). They tell her she’s 3 months pregnant and the baby is due in August. But… if she’s 3 months pregnant, that means the baby must have been conceived in late September or early October, yes? So the pregnancy is expected to be over 10 months long!?

I asked this of my Japanese companion, who responded, yep, 10 months and 10 days, everyone knows that.

Naturally I Googled it. Wiki and the rest of the internet when you Google it in English on Australian Google (look, it knows I’m Australian, I don’t deliberately go to Google Australia) claims that it’s 40 weeks on average, but anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks is not unusual. 42 weeks is 9.66 months.

Where did you pull ’10 months, 10 days’ from, Japan?

Well. A couple of blogs, Japan Explained and this English forum, say that it’s probably for a couple of reasons, being 1. counting on a lunar calendar for this instead of a usual Western calendar and 2. counting the pregnancy from the first day of the last period, as in, the period that last happens before the pregnancy has occurred. I guess it’s like how Koreans say they’re already 1 when they’re born.

I haven’t had any pregnancies/children of my own at this point, so I can’t discuss this with any first-hand knowledge, but from what I’ve heard, Japan is a bit old-fashioned with some strange beliefs when it comes to the having of and caring for children and the way women should do it – and yes, specifically women.

Common beliefs include that pregnant mothers should keep their feet warm at all times. This means they have to wear socks at all times, including in the height of summer. Expectant mothers seem to be often encouraged to rest rather than exercising, even if the pregnancy is going fine. One mother I know was told by her doctor to stop cycling. She did stop cycling to her doctor’s appointments.

I’ve heard stories about a women having to give birth with their feet up in stirrups, which is pretty outdated. I know a woman who had twins and was only allowed to see them for 2 hours a day for the first few days. I’ve heard of a Japanese woman who was shocked to hear of epidurals when an American explained it to her. However, I can also vouch for some of the high-tech equipment that’s used in some clinics. There’s a gynaecologist’s chair that’s like a dentist’s chair: it moves and puts you in the easiest position for the doctor to do what they need to do.

———-

Doing some research for this post, I found an interesting not-quite-horror story – thanks to a lot of work on the part of the parents – of an American-Japanese couple going through pregnancy and childbirth in Japan. It’s well written and worth checking out.

And I enjoyed this Japan Times article that’s a what-to-expect guide for pregnancy and birth in Japan. It came out a couple of years ago now but it’s a great read. I think it’s the reason I didn’t publish this post when I wrote most of it a year or so ago.

Catch up

Oh dear, it sounds like something I’m putting into a lesson plan. Finish all the stuff everyone couldn’t finish because they were absent or slower than the time we had.

I’m feeling at a bit of a stalemate with Bijinjapan at the moment. There are things I think about writing, but lots of them don’t feel worth a whole post or relevant to what the blog is supposed to be about (Japan and/or Australia, remark or compare and contrast):…

Like, wow, we’re having some weather events and natural disasters this year. Floods, landslides, earthquakes and typhoons in Japan, and yet more drought in Australia.

Like, I read a great piece about acceptance and the lack thereof as a foreigner in Japan (please read it, it’s excellent, and thanks to the Canadian friend who shared it!).

Like, I don’t know how music fits into my life now that I’ve discovered audiobooks, internet radio and podcasts. This can’t be only me feeling this way. And how paper books fit into the world. I definitely still like them, and music, and do I want to make music? What kind? By myself? Should I wait for a chance to make music with others?

Like, the number of parking attendants in Japan is still funny to me. Sometimes I find them very helpful, sometimes the opposite.

And here, have a couple of summer photos now that summer’s over, the 金木犀 is out in full force and the Halloween goods are on display at Daiso (who am I kidding, they’ve been out for weeks).

This was the day my phone finally decided to let me know when an emergency warning is being broadcast. It let off a siren during a meeting, about ten or twenty seconds before anybody else’s phone did anything. This was the day we were allowed to go home early, except for those of us who weren’t allowed to or couldn’t go home because they lived on a hill or in a valley, so they had to hang out in a car or a school hall for the weekend. It was the 6th of July 2018.

This was a Vietnamese iced coffee I had in Osaka the day I lost one of my favourite earrings – it fell out while I was walking around. It was good, and with the condensed milk it tasted amazing, but I wasn’t game to go for all the lactose in the whole serving. Wish I could have (without issue).

New Obscura in Hiroshima.

Hokkaido white corn, eaten raw. One of the many delicious consumables to be found in Hokkaido.

 

Futon 2: Don’t try this at home

Or, if you’re like me, you might as well try, because it’s not getting much less sleepable-on.

Remember how I wrecked my futon by washing it? Definitely wasn’t a good idea, though I’m still honestly not sure what else I could have done. It had suffered too many nights of 30-something degree heat and 80- or 90-something % humidity (read: sweat) and needed to be cleaned.

Well, it’s fixed! Ish.

For weeks it sat around taking up valuable space in the 42m² apartment, while 2 of us slept on a single futon. But summer was coming and the prospect of 2 bodies sharing this tiny space in the heat was not appealing, and I thought about getting rid of it and sleeping on 2 single futons, or replacing it… but we’d gone to all the trouble (and expense) of lugging it down to the coin laundry, washing and drying it… so to be honest, we slept on that lumpy thing for a while. There was this one big lump, though, that just wouldn’t be flattened out. So we decided there wasn’t much to lose, and there wasn’t much for it but to operate.

Sigh.

There was a lot going on inside the futon. I discovered that it had a kind of thick, comparatively rigid blanket-type base made out of what felt like coarse wool, as well as a thicker layer of stuffing like what you get inside cushions. This was sealed with a filmy gauze layer we also had to cut through to be able to manipulate the layers.

The unflattenable lump we’d been sleeping on top of, in the dense, coarse, woolly layer, compounded by having the soft stuffing on top.

It was hot in there.

Flat! Ish.

With a bit of work and a bit of getting covered in polyester stuffing, we got it flattened out and  slept on it like that for a few weeks. But it kept losing bits of its stuffing and was pretty hard to air out, so I got some white thread and a needle and set to work again.

Franken-futon

dav

All better!

The moral of the story is, if there’s any chance you’ll want to use a futon for more than a year, GET A WASHABLE ONE. They exist. Don’t be like me and get the cheap unwashable one at Nitori.

This person was smart and bought a washable futon, and wrote a huge blog post waxing lyrical about it

In fact, if I’m giving advice here based on my mistakes, why not give a bit more: Even if you’re buying a futon for 2 people, consider buying 2 single ones. They’re much easier to manipulate to hang out in the sun etc., and I think that’s what most couples have, if they use futons as opposed to beds. Double futons used not to exist for a long time – everybody just had their own single. Double futons are a nuisance. Now I know.

Wherever you’re sleeping tonight, I hope it’s in a nice clean, comfortable sleeping vessel.

Not lost, just wandering in translation

I read a great Japan Times article today about how translation is not always given the care and attention it deserves. The article refers in particular to English signage in Japan but also mentions that often, for longer pieces of text too, people are often not asking the best person for the job. For signs, a native check will generally take care of most glaring errors, and for longer pieces of text you want someone who writes well in the target language (i.e. English) as well as understanding Japanese and being able to check the original text for its meaning. The lack of native checking seems to suggest that it’s not considered that important? And maybe shows a disregard for languages other than Japanese.

The part of me that gets Japanese as my ‘secret’ identity on Facebook quizzes thinks, ‘Well, maybe they’re too scared to talk to a native speaker or don’t know where to find one or how to get them to check their signs,’ and the rest of me thinks, ‘And this is the result.’

While reading this article made me consider the serious issue that it is, it also reminded me of some of the signs I saw on my recent travels around Hokkaido. They were mostly harmless, I thought, and got a chuckle or two.

This is the most potentially harmful one, where katakana strikes again. This time the loan word is from Dutch. It means something like ‘evacuation ramp’ or ladder. I think it’s an emergency exit, though whether there’s an actual ramp or what, I don’t know. Seen in a hotel in Tomakomai.

The only actual error here is ‘the spirit of toilet’ – should be ‘toilet spirit’ or ‘the spirit of the toilet.’ I just liked it.

Seen in a market in Otaru

‘Please note that your feet is slippery enough’ – seen at Nikka Whisky Distillery, Yoichi.

‘Dangeraus! Don’t walk on the Blue Pond’ …Even if you can. It’s dangeraus.

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Also at the Blue Pond

This last one is from a service area a few years ago, but it’s too relevant not to share here now. An example of why semantics and pragmatics is important and is a fun thing to study.

Seen in Osaka

I’m still here. This blog is still here. Watch this space, more posts coming again soon!

In the meantime, have a picture I liked.

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Anyone want to try a more natural translation? I mean, this one’s cute though.