C’mon, aircon!

I promised last time that talking about my aircon woes would be a whole new post. Here it is!

Ah, aircons. Coolers. Heaters. Dehumidifiers. And a source of white noise when you’re trying to sleep. They do it all, and we work them to death. We’re at the point in summer where a lot of people need to run it all night in order to sleep. I am, in most cases, one of those people in August. While winter is not a problem for me, summers leave me exhausted and yearning for cool temperatures the minute the thermometer goes over 27 degrees Celsius.

And then… this summer happened.

Continue reading “C’mon, aircon!”

How Many Towels Does One Person Need? (A Hotel Adventure)

Like most people, I haven’t been in a hotel in about two years (the photo you see is from 3+ years prior). But necessity pushed me into the unenviable position of having to book a hotel room for a few days during the height of travel season. The necessity? My air conditioner breaking.

That’s another story.

My stay in the hotel has reminded me of a lot of things. What it feels like to use facilities that aren’t your own. How nice it is to have someone else doing the cleaning for you. The awkwardness of timing yourself so that you don’t have to share an elevator with anybody else. That sort of thing.

And, of course, the cleaning wars with the housekeeping staff.

Continue reading “How Many Towels Does One Person Need? (A Hotel Adventure)”

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”

Greetings from the kotatsu

Hello, and a happy 2020 to you all! I hope this new month/year/decade finds you well.

It’s certainly been a while since I last logged onto this blog. I was shocked when I checked in and realized the last post I made was waaaay back in July. Whoops.

That’s not to say I haven’t been busy elsewhere. I have been more active on my Instagram and Twitter, trying to reach out to new folks, but I have missed using this platform to talk about what’s happening in my life and in Japan.

This post is mostly to reassure those who might want to know that this blog isn’t dead–far from it! But please do bear with me as I contemplate what I want to do with it from here on out.

There are so many things I want to accomplish, and if possible, I would like some of them to happen in 2020. That means I can’t write and send off posts as often as I would like. That said, I do want to revamp and begin posting here more regularly once again.

The year of the Rat is upon us. What does that mean? Well, the rat was the first to win the race in the old legend, so “aggressive success” comes to mind when contemplating this upcoming year. It’s funny, as I remember the Year of the Boar being considered a good year for us to be charging forward, too. What’s with all this aggression?

That said, it’s apparently the time to get into the entrepreneurial spirit, try new things in business, and put yourself out there.  So if you want to change jobs, start a business, or what-have-you, now is the time to do it.

What are your goals?

For me, I’m editing stories in hopes of one day getting them published. I’m especially fond of the developing collection of Kyoto-based cryptid stories my friends and I have developed over the years, and which I think deserve to be preserved in written form. I’m also developing what I hope might be a series in the future for urban fantasy, focusing on one continuing theme explored in multiple ways.

But right now, it’s January 1st and I just had a late lunch. I’m curled up under the kotatsu, belly full, feet warm, comfortably sleepy, with a book in my hand. (火狩りの王, great fun, every character’s name involves a fire pun.)

Enjoy your New Years’ holidays, and talk to you all very, very soon.

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!

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?

Continue reading “It’s finally almost 2019!”

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!