Summer and all that entails

I’ve walked the Kamogawa so many times now that every little change there catches my attention. There are regular birds that I spot in their normal places, and new families (ducklings!) that I realize are new with delight. I witness the building of the dining balconies every year as restaurants prepare for hot summer nights… and their removal when everyone wants to withdraw from the cold. There are pet owners that I look forward to spotting, some with animals that made me do a double-take the first time I saw them.

The other day, for the first time, I saw a snake in the river.

Continue reading “Summer and all that entails”

Luck Dolls and Trust Tests

We had quite a week here in Japan; on Monday the Kansai area experienced an earthquake that left several injured and at least 4 dead. I was fortunate in that I live in Kyoto and was not on a train or anywhere near the epicenter when it happened; the worst I endured was a sudden, loud BANG followed by the sudden rocking of my apartment building–though I will say, that left me huddled in my doorway for several minutes after, eyes wide, clutching my phone.

After that, getting out of the house and enjoying things to take my mind off of the potential for aftershocks was a necessity. So when a friend suggested that we go and check out Daruma Temple, I readily agreed to the outing.

Continue reading “Luck Dolls and Trust Tests”

Bouldering karaoke?!

There are lots of ways to spend your free time in Japan; roadtrips, bowling, taking one-off cultural lessons, and, of course, karaoke. If you’re downtown in any given city in Japan, you’ll run across the Jankaras, the Shidaxes, the mom and pop snack bars that offer karaoke, and a host of other options. Depending on your group size or even what you like to sing, the world is at your fingertips in terms of options.

While walking the streets of Kyoto, I’ve noticed that something else has been popping up beside the karaoke boxes: climbing gyms. You can go in for one-off sessions, or sign up for a monthly membership just like you would at a traditional gym. Whether you’re already a lean, mean, climbing machine or a newbie, there’s something available for you.

It was only a matter of time before someone mashed those two ideas together.

Continue reading “Bouldering karaoke?!”

Hokojima and Tojimbo Cliffs

Another year, another Golden Week come and gone. It always feels like it’s over in a blink, doesn’t it? Whether you spent your Golden Week relaxing, putting in extra time at work, or going on wild adventures, I hope you enjoyed yours to the fullest.

I’d like to share two adventures I had this year– a roadtrip to Fukui, and a bouldering karaoke room!

Let’s start with the roadtrip: Continue reading “Hokojima and Tojimbo Cliffs”

Hiroshima overnight, part 2: the bus’s near-great escape

Last time, on Stefanie What, our heroes had attempted a night bus trip with the mixed results of having an entire day to explore Hiroshima, but struggling with the urge to sleep throughout said day. We slept very well in that hotel room, which is good, because our next plan was to hit up Miyajima Island.

Continue reading “Hiroshima overnight, part 2: the bus’s near-great escape”

Hiroshima overnight, Part 1: Powerful and moving

Hello and welcome to a Throwback Thursday post! I don’t do these very often, but while perusing my past blog posts and my pictures, I realized that there are a few adventures I haven’t talked about here. Some may remain in obscurity for a while longer; others, like this one, grow more pertinent as travel season is upon us.

Yes, Golden Week is around the corner, and before we know it, it’s going to be summer. With all that entails. Cicadas, tour groups, and every flavor of ice cream you can possibly imagine. Among other things.

Today, I’d like to share with you part one of the tale of our overnight Hiroshima trip.

Continue reading “Hiroshima overnight, Part 1: Powerful and moving”

The rise of “My Choco”

Around this time last year, I brought up the idea of “being romantic to yourself.” Back then, I had two or three students that told me (amidst giggles hidden behind a hand) that they’d gone to the department store and bought $100 chocolates… all for themselves! What scandal; what deliciousness! I’d thought it was a cool idea, and didn’t give it a lot more thought.

Continue reading “The rise of “My Choco””

Update from the kotatsu

Hello and welcome to the last day of January, 2018! Stefanie here, reporting from her kotatsu. It’s a whopping 1 degree Celsius outside, and despite having run out of water within arms’ reach I am reluctant to get up to refill my glass due to it being chilly.

There isn’t a ton happening this January, which is why not much has been written since my Takamatsu post. But I’ll run you through a couple of general life updates since we’re all here.

  • I totally failed the N1.

    This comes as no surprise to me; I basically let myself get pushed into taking it far before I was mentally ready to go for it. I did surprisingly well in the listening given how little I studied for it, but everything else was pretty bad. I’ll try it again, but won’t do so until December 2018. I’m not disappointed; if anything, my reaction was to shrug my shoulders and go やっぱりね.

  • I read a Japanese novel this month!

    Today I finished volume one of 文学少女, or “Book Girl”. It’s a light novel that’s been translated into English, and funnily enough I found it on a website recommending the English version! The first story, “The Suicidal Mime”, was dark (as you can imagine), but the writing style was enjoyable and the premise of the demon girl who eats books for sustenance was entertaining. I’d recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of anime– a lot of the reactions in the novel are overblown like you would see on the screen, which made them easy to imagine!

    Haven’t decided what I’ll read next– maybe I’ll finally read volume 2 of 寺町三条のホームズ. It’s only been sitting on my shelf for, what, two years? Regardless, I want to see if I can keep up reading 1 Japanese novel a month, on top of my other reading goals.

  • I’ve signed up for a special taiko class!

    I’ll post more information about this as the time gets closer, but I’ll be doing a 1 week intensive deal later this year. I’m extremely excited about this because I’ve wanted to do so for yeeeeeaaaaars but haven’t had the funds, time, or holidays from work for it. This year I’ll have all three, and since I’ll be done with student loans as of next month (whoa), I decided to treat myself.

  • I’m getting back into Japanese podcasts.

    I’ve really gotten into some English podcasts, which is great fun to listen to but not so great for the Nihongo practice. I’m a fan of folklore, history, and modern culture/society, so if you have any recommendations, lay ’em on me! In return, here’s my recommendation: ジンキとポテコの話せばわかる。Imagine overhearing a casual conversation between friends over a beer– that’s what you’ll get from this podcast. The speaking style is conversational, and they’ll bring up lots of little topics, whether it’s “who ought to bring what to a picnic” or “how does Anpanman work, anyway?”

    なぜなにコミュニケーション is another one I enjoy. While it’s more formal, it discusses what’s best to do in given situations. The very first episode title translates to, “What do you do if someone you’re talking to has prominent nose hair sticking out?”

That’s about it from this corner of Japan. I’ll have more to post as the weather gets warmer and plum blossoms–then cherry blossoms– start blooming. Or when I can nag a friend into hitting up one of the many new, interesting cafes in town.

In the meantime, stay warm, stay healthy, and see you next post!