An Open Love Letter to Japan – Part 2

Well hey there! Figured I’d be a bit more sociable and come around a little quicker than usual. Work’s been (as usual) busy, but I’m just finishing up a 5 day vacation. I didn’t exactly travel very far, but managed to get a bunch of errands out of the way and get out here and there. You know, renew my visa, go to Disneyland, run to IKEA, read a book, that sort of thing. What the young, cool kids nowadays would call a stay-cation. Or so I hear.

But that was now and this is then! Getting back to our story from last time of living on memory lane, we last left off talking about the hostel I stayed at in Asakusa. Fortunately, I actually left the hostel and wandered around the surrounding area on a near-daily basis. I regret to say that I didn’t really head out far and wide, but I did wake up early every day and explored Asakusa, Ueno, and all they had to offer. I did make trips to other parts in Tokyo with a Japanese friend of mine (who I met through a pen-pal program), where we made it all the way out to Tokyo Tower, Roppongi, Odaiba and some other places. But we’ll talk about that when the time comes. Right now, it’s time to talk about…

Asakusa – Temples, Donuts and Ninjas

Continue reading An Open Love Letter to Japan – Part 2

An Open Love Letter to Japan – Part 1

Wow… has it really been over two months since I’ve written last? Apparently so. I need to work on that, but I’m sure that’s something I’ve said before. Unfortunately, I’ve been really busy at the office (who isn’t?) since this year has started, averaging about 40 hours of overtime a month. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but between that, reading and studying, it puts a bit of a pinch on your free time.

In other news, we’re in the middle of Golden Week here in Japan. Typically, this is a week of vacation at the end of April/beginning of May, but it worked out to two extended weekends this year. I didn’t really have any particular plans (when the entire country is on vacation, everything’s pretty expensive), so even though I could go traveling, lay low and read, or do something super exciting, I decided I wanted to try something a little different this year.

You see, recently I’ve been backing up all my files (…again. I have about 4 backups of all my files, since I’d really hate to lose them) and was looking through all my old photos. I actually have a folder literally named “Old Photos.” And in that folder, I found 3 rolls of pictures that I took back in November 2004, when I made my first visit to Japan at the age of 18. It’s been about 8 and a half years since that time, but I still remember vividly all the excitement, how amazing it was to be abroad–in Japan, no less–for the first time. Anyone who knew me back then probably knows that since the age of 13, I was dreaming of going to Japan, so finally coming here was beyond amazing. Since I didn’t want to just watch my limited vacation disappear, I decided to go visit some of the same places and take new pictures, to talk about those impressions I had back before I knew I’d be living here.

So, let’s get started!

First stop — Asakusa

Continue reading An Open Love Letter to Japan – Part 1

Only in Japan…

Japan is definitely not without flaws, nor do I intend to imply that it’s a perfect place to live, but it’s simple stuff like this that just warms your heart. This is a locked gate next to some storage for a business I walk past everyday and for some reason, they’ve kept the key hanging on the lock for he past few days.

The fact that it’s not broken into and that no one’s entered yet is just impressive to me. It reminds me of he stories you hear about small-town America in the 50s. “Leave it . . . → Read More: Only in Japan…

Summer Vacation, Ghosts, and Taxes

Spent the weekend feeling under the weather, but fortunately I’ve managed to make a full recovery after 2 days of eating soup and rolling around my apartment floor while watching travel shows about the best food across the US.

Actually, scratch that. Watching TV shows about people eating large volumes of food probably wasn’t a good idea. But hey, since when have I been known for good ideas?? I do stuff and then let the good and bad sort themselves out after the fact. Let’s not dwell on that! At least you can have some exciting stories in the end, . . . → Read More: Summer Vacation, Ghosts, and Taxes

Jason – Smarter than a Sixth Grader

I’ve got good news for you all: I am now certifiably smarter than a sixth grader. So take that, all you uppity sixth graders! Ha!

I mean, I suppose that may seem evident, considering I’m a university graduate and several times over older than such children, but what I’m actually referring to is the Japanese test I mentioned I was taking a month or so back, the Kanken. Basically, it’s a test of Japanese kanji writing and reading ability for Japanese students and adults. In case you don’t know (and I suppose a lot of people who live outside of Japan don’t and would . . . → Read More: Jason – Smarter than a Sixth Grader

Simple update

Yep, in Kyoto. Will post later!

The Tax Man Cometh

I’m not one to typically complain much about taxes. I don’t like them (who does?), but they’re a necessary evil. Governments, by their very nature, are not money-making enterprises. In fact, they don’t make money at all (we even have laws to prevent them from competing in the market and making money). Look at the US post office and tell me that any corporation would keep that train wreck alive. But if you really think about it, we get a pretty sweet deal from the government. I pay a small stipend of my earnings and they subsidize schooling, provide . . . → Read More: The Tax Man Cometh

You know that guy?

You know that guy in the office? The one who’s ridiculously cheerful and doesn’t seem to know that he’s actually at, well, work? Tries to high five everyone and answers every question with “Absolutely!”? We’ve all dealt with that person and have had those moments where we wonder if that office worker is a little bit special. There are those Monday mornings where we’re still nursing our coffees and wishing it weren’t Monday when all of a sudden, that ray of sunshine comes blasting in, just a little too bright for our liking. Well, I’m that guy. And today, I bring you:

Confessions

of the Cheerful Office Guy

Read on for an inside look into the life of the guy who starts every day with a little-too-charming G’mornin’!

Continue reading You know that guy?

Biz Cas Fri

When talking about other cultures and their respective languages, you can often learn just how undeniably the two are intertwined. Obviously, there are things like politeness and levels of respect (such as addressing people older/younger than you), different speech patterns for the genders, etc. Then there’s also the types of words that exist; the words that express concepts that we can’t natively express in our own language. They say that the Eskimos have 40+words for ‘snow’ (this is a myth, but you get my point) because snow is important to them and their culture. In the same way, we . . . → Read More: Biz Cas Fri

Let’s Read Jason!’s (junk) Mail – Wednesday/Thursday

Yes, even I have a hard time rambling about the junk that ends up in my mailbox. Forgive me; yesterday was not a good day for junk (I was also busy, but let’s not dwell on that). Today was a long day at the office (wound up starting early and didn’t get away from my desk all day; I was fortunate enough to have some corn soup in a can for lunch while continuing to type away), but that’s not to say it’s a bad day. Just busy.

In other news, I don’t know if I mentioned it or not, but I’ve started looking into learning Chinese this year. I’ve tracked down some schools to get licensed as a translator (those courses will start–like all schools in Asia–in April) and found two different Japanese tests to take this year, but I’ve always wanted to learn know 3 languages. As weird and pointless as it may be, I’ve always felt it was a personal goal of mine to be trilingual (polyglot, for those of you who care about the technical word for it). I don’t plan to stop with Japanese–as I mentioned, I have 1-2 tests lined up this year and will be taking a translator training course in Japanese–but I would try something new while I still have loads of free time. Besides, if I learn Chinese in Japanese, I’ll either kill two birds with one stone, or myself in the process.

This weekend? Going to volunteer to teach English in Tokyo (there’s an English conversation group that meets twice a month) and renew my driver’s license. Fun all around!

Right now? Well…

Let’s Read Jason!’s (junk) Mail

Wednesday + Thursday Edition

Continue reading Let’s Read Jason!’s (junk) Mail – Wednesday/Thursday