February 2014 week 4
① I. Love. Family. Restaurants. I can’t believe I haven’t sung their praises on this blog yet. Family restaurants are large chains with low/mid-priced meals (it’s easy to spend less than 1000yen/$10 per person) and spacious seating. Unlike other restaurants and certain cafes where studying is discouraged, it’s expected that almost half of the customers go to family restaurants in order to do so. They have soft drink bar menus that allow people to just throw down a few coins for an endless supply of drinks, and the wait staff doesn’t have to bother with doting on you or cycling you out for new customers. If you need assistance or want to place another order, you press a button on the table and the wait staff will come when they are available.
② Shinpei’s first bath! TK must not have been aware of the “wet dog shake” because it really took him by surprise.
③ This is how I justify doing tedious, timesink tasks in MMOs: multitask studying!
④ Whenever guests ask questions like “why are your fridge magnets all on one side?” or “why is the tissue box upside-down and weighted with another box?” or “why is there a doorstop wedged vertically in this sliding door?” I just point at the cat.
⑤ I caved and entered the dangerous world of individual sized microwaveable mug desserts. Now I fear that every apple that enters this home will be turned into a cinnamon crisp full of melted butter and crushed maple cookies. Here it is before cooking, in its less-dangerous form (before I attempt to shovel the molten-holt contents into my tender mouth.)
⑥ Whyyyyyyyyyy are so many “moisturizers” full of alcohol?! That will do the absolute opposite of moisturizing my face! It’s so disappointing to get a sample or to discover an affordable yet popular cosmetic only to see “ethanol” in the ingredient list.
⑦ I found this phone UNDER a good 10 cm of snow. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t work, but decided to drop it off at the nearby police box anyway. For good measure, I tried powering it on and… wow! Japanese technology!
February 2014 week 3
① Tire tracks unearthed this discarded newspaper. “Biggest snow storm in 20 years.” Little did this paper know it would be bumped up to 45 years later that evening!
② This is my favorite wedding reception guest gift thus far! It’s a fancy tea set from a fancy tea store that we would otherwise never step foot into because it is too fancy. It contains a tin of loose leaf tea (“wedding” blend), ten 10-ingredient herbal tea packets, a jar of rose hip tea honey, and a packet of dried strawberries.
③ For the holiday we decided to rent a car and take Shinpei on a drive! He was very calm, never wiggling or whining, and seemed to enjoy the view. We started to regret our decision to take him to Hachioji (my husband’s hometown in the very west tip of Tokyo) because the snow was piled up to dangerous heights. But when we got to his parents’ house and they doted and fawned over the dog, we decided that it was a success!
④ TK’s parents always load us up with food, snacks, and random knick-knacks every time we leave home. His dad handed me this squishy, shiny keychain and said, “This will help prevent crimes.” TK gave him an incredulous look and said, “HOW?!” My father-in-law’s logic was that it would reflect light and therefore scare off potential predators. I didn’t want to discredit his theory, so I took it (while trying not to laugh too hard.) Thanks?
⑤ This is what I wake up to every day. “GOOD MORNING IS IT TIME FOR A WALK NOW?”
⑥ I bought this tiny little washcloth nearly a decade ago, unsure what it was doing in a Sanrio store but too enthralled with the ridiculous kawaii-ness of this hamburger. Now it’s actually quite useful at local restrooms, where paper towels are considered a luxury.
⑦ TK nearly leaped up and cheered when Yuzuru Hanyu won, but then he settled down and said, “But… I think Patrick Chan did better…” He always has lots and lots of feels about figure skating— so please don’t ask how he reacted to Yuna Kim’s loss, I cannot sort through all that again.
February 2014 week 2
① “Um, excuse me, I’m trying to take a bath here.”
② Chata’s new toy looks like a tampon…
③ First snow! It’s always exciting to behold for the first few moments, but then it becomes a pain in the ass.
④ My birthday gift was a deck of tarot cards designed by Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy concept art fame. A friend recently got me interested in all the symbolism and intricacies of tarot. While I don’t take it seriously enough to make it a defining point of my personality or lifestyle, I do enjoy it a bit more than superficially. It’s a creative way to ponder decisions and patterns in your life!
⑤ This Sailor Moon pencil case is quite obviously for kindergarteners, but it was too cute to not snatch up! I justify its use by reminding myself that my students are kindergarteners…
⑥ Shinpei, our new addition to the family, finally arrived! He is a mix of possibly shiba and shepherd breeds, 3 or 4 years old, found wandering about in Chiba (a prefecture that is apparently well-known as overrun with abandoned pets.) He is an absolute sweetheart, and strangers and vets alike constantly praise his sweet and gentle disposition. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would release him into the wild, but if I had to venture a guess, it was probably due to his size. At 16kg/35lbs, he’s rather large, considering that I rarely see dogs bigger than a shiba inu on our daily walks. I suppose his previous “owner” thought he was cute enough to take in as a puppy, but didn’t expect him to grow to this size. Whatever, their loss! We’ll treat him like a spoiled little prince.
⑦ Shinpei’s raincoat makes him look like a little space crusader. He’s ready to pilot a Gundam AND poo on the freshly fallen snow!
February 2014 week 1
① Part wedding, part college reunion, all fabulous! My first mentor and Japanese friend from my university years got married to the first fellow Japanese national she met in California. It was a touching story, and many friends from school trickled in from all corners of Japan to celebrate. After the festivities we spent time hunting down purikura booths and local famous foods of Nagoya!
＊This photo is actually from a friend’s camera. Weddings are one of the few occasions where my camera stays in my purse.
January 2014 week 5
① Chata likes to sit on my lap and help me play video games. And by “help” I mean bite/sleep on my mouse hand.
② This is where he sits when I’m cooking. He’s my little sous-chef.
③ I used to be extremely irritated by the sound of my upstairs neighbor’s toddler stomping around at all hours. But when the mother stopped by with a gift of German sweets from her hometown in Sendai and an endless amount of apologies, I couldn’t help but forgive them. She’s a young mom with a toddler, a slightly older child, and another baby on the way. I told her that I was a preschool teacher not long ago and that I know it’s impossible to keep little ones from galloping around. I wish I hadn’t been in my pajamas during this conversation, but overall it was a good interaction with my neighbors!
④ These Facebook ads “specifically tailored to me” are getting kinda rude.
⑤ all dis mine yes? yes
⑥ On the bullet train, zooming off to Nagoya for a dear friend’s wedding!
January 2014 week 4
① Birthday meal! Tons of sake and tons of skewered meats and cheeses. Yum yum.
② My parents keep this overly dramatic letter I wrote for my dad when I was 5 or 6. Apparently I was trying really hard to prevent him from going on a business trip to Nevada.
③ Cooking up my own ketchup makes me feel like a 19th century wife living in a cabin on a pasture. It’s nice.
④ I love getting makeup samples from cosmetics stores! They usually come with little handwritten flyers with instructions from the staff. I have actually found some miracle products this way, and it’s great for travel!
⑤ He likes the warm air that comes from the PlayStation 3’s vent. But it really overheats it, and we have a perfectly good kotatsu mere inches away!
⑥ Chata also likes attention. If you try to watch TV or play video games when he wants you to look at him instead, he’ll find ways around it.
⑦ We got the final approval to adopt Shinpei! Shopping online for his goodies was 100x times more fun than shopping online for myself, and I love that almost as much as I love eating and wearing pajamas (almost.) Can’t wait to set the date for him to start living with us!
January 2014 week 3
① As inconvenient as it was to carry around a folded over paper bag with no handles, the design is really cute!
② This is what happens when you make eye contact with Chata. Forceful snuggle demands.
③ I decided to jump on the resolution bandwagon and try out green smoothies. I was expecting them to be disgusting, bitter, and sludgy, but they’re actually quite delicious! Then again, I’ve always been a veggie person myself. I’m hoping this will be a good way to get in a nutritional breakfast instead of skipping it altogether like I typically do.
④ This entire aisle is dedicated to cell phone charms that you screw into your smartphone’s earphone jack. Is this popular in America, too?
⑤ I’ve seen this graffiti all around town. Wonder what it means.
⑥ Over dinner I tried to convince TK that drawing skill also comes from your knowledge of the subject matter, so we both secretly drew motorcycles (something TK is an expert on and I know shamefully little about) on napkins to test this theory. Okay, maybe I was wrong. His is on the left and mine is on the right. At least we had a good laugh!
⑦ Chata met two dogs today: Mina (left) and Shinpei (right). Everyone got along swimmingly… well, minus a few unprovoked drive-by face slaps administered by Chata, but that’s nothing new. We’re now just waiting for final approval on Shinpei! YAY PETS (人´ω｀*)☆.｡.:*･ﾟ
January 2014 week 2
① I found a bunny café. I consider this a good omen for 2014.
② Chata likes to sleep as close to human faces as physically possible.
③ Like I said…
④ On the prowl.
⑤ A box full of birthday presents from mom and dad! My haul included noise canceling headphones, two homemade cocoa powders, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes packets, and a new decorative bunting!
⑥ Hot chocolate with peppermint sticks and good conversation with friends make for a good winter evening.
⑦ “Please mutually give way to others when traveling on this passageway.” Yeah, okay, banner… I’m sure this will happen in Shinagawa station AKA salaryman central.
January 2014 week 1
① I always look forward to o-sechi ryouri during the first few days of the new year! It’s a traditional Japanese New Year meal that is made of dishes that do not need to be refrigerated or reheated and every portion has a (usually punny) meaning. It is an interesting tradition that is on the decline, and worth reading about in-depth if you have an interest in Japanese culture!
② A newspaper from January 1st. I thought my friends back home would get a kick out of it! I think this was drawn by the creator of the manga series Kinnikuman.
③ Keep the altar above eye level, in a place where people will not stand under. Replace the water or sake regularly. And don’t forget to replace your talisman and arrow every year and say your thanks! Love this peaceful worship.
④ Look at this beautiful work of art masquerading as a pancake.
December 2013 week 5
① SOMEone likes the kotatsu…
② Chata had a serious case of funkmouth to the point that we were getting concerned. Luckily he’s just losing his baby teeth!
③ All prepped for the New Year with a kinda-kadomatsu and kagamimochi!
December 2013 week 3
① Chata’s blood and organ tests came out well, and we’re happy to report he doesn’t have FIV (kitty AIDS) or his little nutties anymore!
② This elderly cat at the local vet has an adorable jacket and refuses to move from the sunbeam right in front of the entrance.
③ TK’s sister baked and sent us stollen! I really need to stop telling people that I’m German-American, because they tend to overestimate the amount of “Germanness” I have. For example, she added a sweet note that said, “This cake is probably very nostalgic for [Mimi]!” Oops.
④ After being neutered, Chata was stuck to me like glue, constantly peeping at me and rubbing his head on my hands and face.
⑤ It’s the end of the year, and salarymen have to protect their livers from the incoming floods of alcohol with turmeric drinks like these.
⑥ Mama sent a Christmas package! It was full of my favorite Starbucks pumpkin spice latte packets, and a new bunting decoration for the winter months! I really think mom should sell these on Etsy.
⑦ For being the spawn of Satan, he was very calm about having the e-collar on for nearly a week.
December 2013 week 4
① TK’s mother sent us a sweet letter for our anniversary and a bit of money to “have a good dinner together!”
② Stollen and Glühwein… my ancestors are nodding in approval.
③ And now for the Japanese Christmas classics— cake and fried chicken!
④ Christmas 2013: Mom and dad on Skype, Yule Log stream (featuring Lil Bub!) and cocoa as per my family’s tradition.
⑤ Still clingy even when the e-collar is off and his coinless coinpurse is healed.
⑥ TK and I marveled at this envelope for several minutes over the skilled handwriting. I saved it so I can practice writing our names in a way that doesn’t look like a kindergartener wrote it.
⑦ Japanese language culture continues to astound me. This is a wedding RSVP card, and when you circle “attending,” it is proper form to cross out the honorific prefix in order to humble yourself. We added an even more polite, “please allow me to” as well.
December 2013 week 1
① Bad kitty. Bad. Kitty.
② Owls in Ikebukuro reading books about… themselves. How self-absorbed!
③ People that tease others when they gasp, “I broke a nail!” have no idea how perilous it is to have fabulous nails. When they break, they inevitably split deep down!
④ Nobody can claim that I don’t give great birthday gifts. In case you can’t tell, that’s my husband’s face photoshopped onto a Sports Illustrated model.
⑤ Kotatsu boys.
⑥ It’s hard to stay pissed off about having to come all the way to Hachioji for one piece of paper when it reminds me of when we got officially married here. Also, the statue of these dancing topless broads would cheer anyone up. Naked breasts and bureaucracy for all!
⑦ ”Are those ginkgo trees?”
"If it smells like barf, then yeah."
I am a treasure trove of immature trivia.
December 2013 week 2
① This is quite possibly the most ridiculous purchase I have ever made. It is a bag of bath salts called “Bath Boyfriend,” and there were several scents that match an anime boyfriend that I am supposed to imagine myself bathing with. I was breathless with laughter as I translated all the taglines and profiles of the boyfriends, and ended up going with the “brotherly type” pâtissier Kouga. The rosemary scent made me feel like a roasted chicken, but how could you resist a line like, “You seem a little tired… it’d be nice to relax a bit, yeah? I’ll help you wash.”
② i want dis
③ dis mine too
④ Taiko yourself a blood blister and you’ll be a boss like me.
⑤ Delivery soup curry, for the days where it’s too cold to leave the kotatsu and your pajamas behind.
⑥ Hella Nostalgic 90s Karaoke Jam Sesh with two of my favoritest friends from my language school days made for a great night of shouting, “Oh my GOD this was my 6th grade jam!”
⑦ Nothing says MAGICAL quite like a Disneyland honeymoon with a BFF that is not actually your spouse. The sight of us walking around with a couple headband set was enough to get people smiling and craning their necks, but what took the cake was our “carrying over the threshold” pose in front of the Christmas tree. Classic.
November 2013 week 5
① Thanksgiving! This was the first time attempting to do so in Japan. Turkey is not sold in most markets, but we managed to find one at a specialty meat market that caters to restaurant owners.
② Mama made all this using one tiny microwave/oven combo and very few pots and pans! She also made the autumn bunting for decoration.
③ Bumming hard that mom discouraged me from buying this amazing jacket. It’s so Tumblr!
④ Facebook status update: Mom and I tried to get fancy with our meal tonight and ended up accidentally eating raw bacon. And I just lost our “if we both get food poisoning, who gets the toilet and who has to shit in a plastic bucket” game of rock-paper-scissors. We’re getting farty and nervous. Life is hard sometimes.
⑤ This yogurt is based off of the world famous pastry chef Pierre Hermé’s signature Ispahan, made of rose macarons, raspberries, lychee, and rose petal cream! The photo on the right is from 2009 when I first discovered his delicious creations.
⑥ I had been begging mom for months to snap a photo of the mural in a local restaurant featuring Chuck Norris and one of the Golden Girls! Very Oklahoma.
⑦ Nothing like Thanksgiving leftovers and the Thanksgiving leftover sandwich episode of Friends to round out the November holiday season!