Requisite awkward “It’s been a while!” post

Boy howdy, it’s been a hot minute since I last wrote anything on here.

How’s everybody been doing? I can’t say that I’ve been hit with writer’s block entirely, but it sure did focus on this blog for a while. Which is a shame, because a bunch of neat things happened over the past few months. Thankfully, time is relative and just because I’m not writing about it the very second it happened doesn’t mean I can never mention those things, right? Right.

So! Here we are, on the requisite “What I’ve been up to so you can look forward to reading the deets” blog post. Once we get over this hump, everybody, we can get back to our regularly scheduled “Stefanie, WHAT?” and “Stefanie, WHY?” posts.

Let’s sum it up in bullet points:

  • I went through my annual “Ugh, March” slog
  • I’ve been slowly but steadily pushing through “The Demon of Lonely Isle” by Edogawa Ranpo in Japanese. Very slowly. You don’t want to know what my Kindle is estimating my “finish” time to be.
  • I hiked Fushimi Inari for the first time in ages
  • I went through a bonus “Ugh, April” slog
  • I played some drums at a temple!
  • I found out a thing I wrote will be put into a printed copy of an anthology, and
  • I went to New Zealand

I’m especially excited to share my New Zealand experiences with you, so over the next couple of weeks look forward to posts about things like Hobbiton, the cities I visited, the tours I partook in, and the differences in language I couldn’t help but notice.

Meanwhile, here in Japan it’s already 28 degrees Celsius on a given day (it’s May), and I’m already hearing people begin to practice the Gion Festival music. I suppose now that the Aoi Festival is over with (as of May 15), everyone is gearing up for the next big thing.

For now, I shall leave you with a picture from my hike up and around Fushimi Inari Taisha. Talk soon!

Apartment Hunting Adventures: What to Expect

So, you’re probably an English-speaking individual who wants to live in Japan. How exactly does one go about securing housing? If you google “apartment hunting Japan”, you’ll find plenty of advice about documents you need, how much money you should be prepared to part with (especially for things like key money), and the good and bad points of foreigner-friendly housing like sharehouses.

What I’ve noticed, though, is a lack of the step-by-step process of what will happen from when you find an apartment you want to when you get the keys in your hand.

Today, I’d like to walk you through the main points of what to expect while you’re apartment hunting in Japan.

Disclaimer: This focuses on the experience of a single person who is already present in Japan, and who therefore can go to apartment agencies in person easily.

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Done in a Day: Tower of the Sun and Osaka Expo Park

There are two types of people in the world: people who rush through art museums, and people who linger for hours. I’m part of the former group. While I appreciate art and all the work people put into it, I don’t spend much time looking at one piece. I will look over it for a few seconds, read the plaque, go, “Wow, that’s cool,” then move on. I’m more of a fan of pieces that are performed, somehow, whether that’s through music or something else.

So it shouldn’t have been so surprising that the Tower of the Sun in Osaka Expo Park struck such a chord with me. But more on that later.

Today, let’s talk about a daytrip that will give you plenty of nature and space and, if you time it right, a cool exhibition or two to check out with tasty food. Let’s talk about Osaka Expo Park.

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Liliane, the Girl Who Can Speak to Animals, Book 1: A brief review

Hey listen, sometimes you gotta take it easy on the Nihongo. Sometimes you look at some heavy tome and go, “You know what? No. I want some popcorn for my brain.” So, you pop into the library and check out the kids’ section for a light read. And what I found was the series 動物と話せる少女リリアーネ. The original German title for the first book is Liliane Susewind. Mit Elefanten spricht man nicht! by Tanya Stewner.

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It’s finally almost 2019!

Hello, all! I’m here with my report from under the kotatsu. It’s chilly outside, I’ve got hot tea and mikan in arms’ reach, and in less than 24 hours we will be in the new year. Can you believe it? I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited about that!

2019 will be the Year of the Pig. According to a friend of a friend, this is a great time to take the plunge on something Big you’ve been planning on for a while, be it a relationship, moving, changing jobs, or whatever else might be going on with you.

So for today, I will reflect on what made 2018 great, and what I hope to achieve in 2019.

Won’t you join me?

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Done in a day: Kagoshima

I don’t go through my old photos nearly as often as I should. There are a lot of gems in there, and many of them fill me with a rush of nostalgia. The other day I was browsing through my summer vacation photos and I stumbled across when I spent a week or so in Kyushu, an island south of Honshu in Japan that is home to boatloads of delicious food and sightseeing places that people rarely manage to put on their “to see” lists when coming to Japan.

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Mata, Onaji Yume wo Miteita: A review

I had some grand plan of reading more than ten Japanese novels this year in order to improve my reading, vocabulary, and what have you. I have since reached a grand total of three. Which, hey, is a far better number than zero, but it’s not anywhere near where I wanted to be.

One of my favorite downtime pastimes is to walk into a bookstore and browse, no matter where I am. Depending on the size of the bookstore/my ability to read the language, I can be in the same shop for hours. And while many people spend those hours standing in place and reading through a book, I’ll be flitting back and forth between multiple sections, delighting in everything available I have yet to read.

On one such outing, I came across また、同じ夢を見ていた (I saw the same dream again) by 住野よる (Sumino Yoru). It looked cute, I could read the title and first page without help and, most importantly, the story looked interesting to me.

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A night to remember: Yoimiya and Motomiya Festival at Fushimi Inari Taisha

My first memory of Fushimi Inari Shrine is hiking up the mountain and getting so turned around that a wandering worker had to help me find my way back down it before sundown.

Since then, I’ve had a fondness for the winding torii gates, the little fox statues, and the views from the mountaintop. I guess you bond with a place when you get stuck for a few hours, huh? But over the years as it’s become more and more crowded, I’ve visited it less and less, reluctant to face the wave of humanity that hits it. And when I did visit it, it was purely to grab an omamori charm or to lead a visiting friend through. I didn’t visit it for myself anymore.

At least, not until I performed there.

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