Archive for November, 2010

tabi ni demasu

Going straight to Kanagawa after work tomorrow to spend the weekend with Noji’s family, bumming around Yokohama and Kamakura. It will be nice to relax from the last two weeks of non-stop work work work and gorge with the fam. Maybe I’ll even have something to blog about come Monday!


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pink slip

We just finished watching the third season of Mad Men. We live in a crazy land where everything is one season behind and we live in constant fear of spoilers. Noji can’t watch without subtitles so torrents are out of the question, and the only thing that airs in a timely fashion here is: American Idol and The Walking Dead (??). If only all the crappy subtitling could be done in a week! There is clearly no native checking the subtitles on any of these programs, so at best they are slightly off and at worst they miss the point completely. See: failed turkey baster joke in House, “making out” being translated as ヤる in Glee (well, basically all the lines in Glee). The Simpsons similarly results in a bloodbath of humor.

I used to think translating would be an awesome job, as I painstakingly attempted to pull meaning out of Hamasaki Ayumi songs at 15. But now that I am actually good at Japanese, I’ve discovered it is pretty torturous. Every time Noji asks me how to say XYZ in English, I cringe. God forbid the answer is, “We don’t say that in English.” I suspect that Japanese and English sit in very separate parts of my head and while that makes speaking Japanese a lot easier (Japanese and English are kind of ass-backwards versions of the other), it also means there’s a lot less mapping between the two– not great for translating.

Still, I thought it might be fun to try to translate the first part of Kokuhaku, but even though I understood everything, I started to second-guess whether what I was writing in English was real English, or Japan-influenced fantasy-land English. I suspect if I put together my mediocre Japanese and my mediocre English, it would still probably equal one slightly literate grasp of language, but instead I am pretty good at Japanese for a foreigner and pretty crap at English for a native speaker. No one wins!

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Now I actually have to think up my own topics to blog about.

Day 30 – Did Japan meet your expectations, both good and bad? What has been the most surprising thing about Japan for you, or the thing you least expected?

I don’t think I came to Japan with any specific expectations, but then again, I moved across the world to come to here so I think I must have thought something good would come from it.

I am surprised that in the last three years, I have found a great partner and a great job, and that I can read novels and understand the news in Japanese, and that I’ve settled down here as much as I have. Japanese TV and snacks are not as good as I thought, but I’ve had very few bad experiences. Stuff is pretty good.

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Day 29 – What’s the thing you will miss most about Japan when you leave (either on vacation, or move away)?

Is this not just Day 23’s questioned dressed up a bit more? Here are some things I don’t miss whenever I go home:

– People on bicycles. All of them. Especially the ones who ride like maniacs and park their bikes wherever they want, but even MORE especially the people who don’t oil their damn breaks.
– The “Bye Bye Rat” piercing rat alarm that plays at one million decibels at all hours near the station.
– Watching all the people cram themselves unnecessarily into the train in the morning.
– Crappy grocery stores.
– No good shoes. Steve Madden shoes cost 100 dollars on sale.
– Despite the dollar being worth less than garbage, import everything is still ridiculously expensive. Why should I have to pay 52USD for Studio Fix here when it costs 26USD in America? #firstworldproblems

And that is all my negativity for November.

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chung chung

We just finished watching the third season of House. I have probably never watched so many American dramas as I have since I moved here. Though thanks to the culturally boundless “10 hour SVU marathon”, I probably watch just about as much Law & Order SVU here as I did when I lived in America– “exorbitant” I believe is the word.


Day 28 – A picture of you looking like a weaboo/A picture of you trying to blend in and failing.

Uhh all of them. I don’t think there are any pictures where I blend in. All of the pictures of me with Noji’s family make me look like their homestay exchange student.

The last few questions are kind of dumb so I am losing the will to finish. Two more days!

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erin no oushou

We spent our Culture Day sleeping and eating Chinese food. (y) Kinda depressing to go back to work tomorrow.

Day 27 – Place you avoid going to if at all possible.

Shibuya or Shinjuku. It’s just exhausting and most of the shopping there can be done in the Buk if necessary. Odaiba, because it’s far away and boring and you inevitably get swindled by the wildly expensive Yurikamome line to get there. I work very close to Roppongi, but luckily I don’t walk from that station everyday and witness all the drunks/predrunks/afterdrunks in the morning and night. In the afternoon, it’s pretty boring and normal, but in general not really somewhere I’d go to hang out. It’s like Times Square. Pretty much anywhere that requires transferring or riding the train more than like, 40 minutes, and one of us is def. getting fussy on the way home. Not worth it.


PS. We grabbed a Coke that had been left in a random place in the grocery store, but then I opened it today and it was totally flat. Clearly tampered with! This is like the less painful version of people putting pins in watermelon and bread (which has happened before in Japan).

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streetcar named toden

Day 26 – What’s your favorite/least favorite train line.

Well, it depends on the time of day. If we’re talking morning rush hour, then all of them.

I am partial to the Yamanote-sen, because it’s easy to go wherever, they come every few minutes, and you can use your keitai unlike the subway which is always a race against time to do all of your cellphone related activities before you leave for the next station. It’s also usually easy to get to the platform, whereas the subways are always one million feet below ground.

On that note, I don’t like the Oedo-sen because it’s so deep. I like the idea of the Toden Arakawa line and have fond memories of riding it to school for a year and a half, but it’s almost always crowded and slow and goes the most random of places. Sorry, Toden.

Last summer, we actually took an adventure on the Toden– bought ourselves a day pass and decided we would get off at whatever stations looked interesting– but it was 800 degrees so we only ended up getting off at: Ouji (hot), Machiya (boring), “Joyful Minowa” which was not joyful but almost entirely closed. Maybe we’ll go for another round, but I think the only station we really enjoyed was Kishibojinmae, which has a cool little Houmyouji shrine as well as some delicious food and a whole lot of nothing else. They opened that weird Fukutoshin line station there, but I’d be shocked if the area’s been developed at all in the last two years. It’s walking distance from Ikebukuro, but just goes to show how much of Tokyo are just these tiny, quiet residential slivers with none of the bells and whistles of Shibuya, Shinjuku etc. I seem to recall a Poplar though…

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