Sunday, August 21, 2016

Road Trip!

Whah ho hey I’m back.

Thanks for your patience, all.  I enjoyed a lovely birthday blog break. 

Kp2 and I had a silly birthday party, complete with piñata, tabehoudai*, and CAKE.  Mostly it was a nice chance to catch up with our friends.  I also made Kp2 and I birthday sashes, which are popular here in the same way that a fake veil would be popular for a bachelorette party in the states.  Before the party, I brought the blank sashes to my Japanese lesson and asked my teacher what would be the most appropriate thing to write on them.  I assumed she would direct me to write something prim and proper like “best birthday wises” but instead, with a devilish glint in her eye, my teacher instructed me to scrawl “Omedetou Obaasan, Banzai!” on each sash.  Which effectively translates to “Congrats Old Lady!”  Ha.  Good job, Sensei.

*tabehoudai: a style of Japanese restaurant where you pay a flat fee upon entry and then have 2 hours to eat and drink as much as you can.  (aka: “All you can eat.”)  Sometimes also referred to as a nomihoudai, or “all you can drink.”  We did both, no worries.

After that The Mister and I packed up and went out to the Navy Base in Yokosuka for a bit.  He had some work to take care of out there (and a promotion, what what!).  I just wanted to get out of the Nagoya Humidity (and buy a bunch of American strength cleaning supplies at the commissary).
Ocean Sunset from the pier.  I'll take it.
Usually we take the Shinkansen (bullet train) out to Yokosuka when there is navy business to attend, but this time The Mister decided he wanted to drive.  Notable as it is about an hour and a half to take a train out to the base… but a SIX (6!) hour drive!  Still, it wasn’t like, the most unpleasant thing I’ve ever done, guys.  Japan does road travel in style.

I’m used to road trips where you buckle in and you start driving and you don’t stop until you get there or you run out of gas.  If someone in your driving party is stupid enough to have had a glass of water at some point, and insists that the car make an additional stop (UGH), then you will be treated to a rest area that might *look* nice, but the smell of old urine that hits you as soon as you get out of the car lets you know you’re really making a throw of the dice at when it’s been last cleaned.  

In Japan, it is strongly recommended that drivers take a break once every two hours at least.  And when I say “strongly recommended,” I mean that our car’s navigational system actually chimed in at two hours and said “It’s been about two hours since you started driving.  Why don’t you take a break?”  Obviously, this isn’t something we were expecting to happen, so gold star to The Mister for not panicking at the strange voice in the car and swerving off the side of the highway into oblivion the first time it happened.

Because the entire drive out there was through Japan’s mountain ranges… beautiful, but a lot of real high up bridgeways to drive across.  Panic-swerving would not end well.

The first time we pulled over, we chose a rest stop near Mt. Fuji.  Unfortunately Fuji-sama (how Japanese folk address the mountain) was hiding in the fog this particular day… sorry for the crap picture.  But there were these little fuji-shaped cakes at the store there, so we can pretend.

Okay but the rest stops?  Amazing.  We ended up stopping multiple times on the way out and the way back from the base, and every single rest stop put American rest areas to horrible shame.  

The rest stops were all incredibly spacious and well organized.  Each stop had a row of restaurants, small gift shop(s), gas station, all the vending machines ever, immense parking, and giant rest rooms.  Most of them even had a well maintained dog-run area.  So… we all know what happens next time we have reason to drive out to the base.
Road trip with Capt'n Mac*!
*yes, I did buy him a tiny navy officer cap. how could I not?
The organization of these rest areas was awesome.  As we pulled in, we were directed by maps of the parking areas that had lights to indicate which lots had available parking spaces.  This is fairly common in Japan, so not surprising.  But what if I told you they also had maps like that… for the restrooms?

Yes.  Little green lights on the sign indicated which toilets were open, what kind of toilets they were (squat toilet vs. BIDET… who picks the squat when bidet is an option!?), and which sinks were available.  Every time we stopped there was at least one restroom attendant keeping everything clean and toilet paper stocked, while scented diffusers and fresh flowers (I mean, seriously) that kept the place smelling pleasant even though there were literally 100+ toilets all smashed into the same area.  

Really the moral of the story is that you think you’re going to go on a wonderful adventure and see such awe inspiring things but then Mt. Fuji decided to hide behind a bank of clouds and so you find yourself gushing about public toilets on the internet instead.

What was the coolest thing about your last road trip? 
Can YOU beat a bidet map?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
omedetou obaasan (ojiisan), banzai!

congrats old lady (man)!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Up Nort, Japan Style.

Rejoice, for today it is only 87% humidity.  That is the first time this week it’s been so low!  Sounds like time for a walk!

Or not.  Being outside in Nagoya right now perpetually feels just like when you wear shorts and sit in a crappy restaurant vinyl upholstered booth.  You know those booths.  They’re always a gross red/maroon color, and there’s at least one rip, spilling out some sort of knobby foam that is of questionable *maybe asbestos* quality.  Then you get up but the skin on the back of your legs is all “you may not leave, I have become one with this disgusting vinyl" and you shall just have to live here forever… or slowly *PEEL* yourself off this seat in one of the most uncomfortable feelings that can be felt.

Sticky, is what I mean.  It’s all just sticky.

At times like these, I become thankful for the determination and mad google skills of KP2, for last weekend she declared “Eff this noise!  Let’s get out of the city and find a river to relax in!”  Then she up and found just such a river a few hours north of here. 

So The Mister, The Australians™, and Mac all took a Sunday drive Up Nort, Japan style.
on the drive up.  we def. went through that mountain.
dog POV for the cookout
Once we were able to find a place that let us park our cars, we had a lovely river-side cook out and waded in the River for a few hours.  If anything can cut through the thick and dismal air that is Nagoya in the summertime, this crystal clear river is definitely that.

tucked out, stretched out, blissed out.

Mac was in his element.  He was so happy to go along ( and in turn, I was so happy to be able to give my puppy some space for him to stretch out a bit - thank you to The Australians™ for letting this dobermutt tag along! ).  His [old] showed a bit as he struggled to keep his footing on the slippery rocks of the riverbed, and of course, Mac merely wades, he does not swim, because he’s a ninny.  But regardless, he was the happiest dog ever.  It could have been better if we’d have let him stick his head out the window on the way home.  Alas, this was not to be because around 3:30pm the sky decided it was murder time.

I don’t like storms.  One might even go so far as to say I’m afraid of storms.  You know what?  You go ahead and make fun of me for being an adult that is afraid of water falling from the sky but I feel pretty strongly that my fears are reasonable.  Consider for a moment, that I hail from the Midwest U.S.  Aka “Tornado Alley,” you know, that part of the U.S. where the summer skies regularly open a can of whoop ass on any and everything as far as the eye can see.  I believe that I have managed to survive into my early thirties* due largely in part to my ability to look at the sky and say “TIME TO GO TO THE BASEMENT RIGHT NOW.” 
facebook proof from the past.

We heard it coming.  The rumbles started up long before we saw any clouds or lightening, and as such, we tried to just ignore it for a while.  The River was clear and cool, the air was warm but crisp, and we were all enjoying the sunshine.  A little while later the clouds rolled in, and then the wind went from pleasant to “exfoliate your face” strength.  Then the rain, and mere seconds later… THUNDER AND LIGHTENING and me/ Mac running for the car.

I only yelped like a stuck pig once as we packed up the car, and I didn’t get struck by lightening and die, so I’d call that a win.

Then we spent the next four hours in bumper to bumper Japanese traffic while the rain came down in buckets and the sky made it’s best impression of what it sounds like when you accidentally drop a spoon in the garbage disposal.

Apparently the storms followed us home.  Yesterday it rained so bad the TRAINS STOPPED.  Can we talk about how absurd that is?  Last year we had typhoons roll through and the worst that happened was one train delayed for about 10 minutes.  They flat cancelled whole train lines yesterday evening.  As someone who mostly sticks to the 5 mile radius I can walk to from our apartment, that was crazy weird to hear about, but not alarming.

…you know, until I remembered that The Mister is a two hour train ride away at work.  Except not a train ride.  Because the train is cancelled.  

Like many other Nagoyans yesterday, The Mister was stranded at the train station.  He sat for an hour hoping the lines would be restarted, to no avail.  He managed to find a few co-workers in the area that were also stuck in the same area, so they had dinner together, hoping again that the trains would restart.  Again, no luck.  So they tried to get a cab, which all the other THOUSANDS of people who were also stranded had already taken.  Long story short, yesterday, my husband excitedly texted me that he had managed to get out of work early for the first time in forever at 5pm… and he didn’t actually get home from work until a series of subways, buses and a few still functioning train lines found him here at 1am.

Like the biggest BAMF ever, he still went to work this morning at 6am.  I have no idea how he does it.  Mad props, Mister.

At least that’s all over and done with tho, yes?  What’s that?  The weather forecast for today says MORE thunderstorms?
well, so there's that then.
What’s your take on storms?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
watashi wa kaminari no kowai desu.
I am afraid of thunder.  

*Oh hey lookit that.  My birthday just so happens to be on Friday.  I’m taking a week off from blogging as a present to myself…. and then it’s Obon (Japanese holiday) and I can’t guarantee that I’ll be bringing a laptop along on our vacation so I will likely see y’all in two weeks!  Have adventures, I will do the same and we’ll come back here in a fortnight to discuss.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.

Should I acknowledge that I skipped a week on the blog?  I mean, we all know it’s because of PokémonGo right?  Yes, we all also know I’m a grown ass woman who *should* be beyond childish video games, but we also all know that I flipping love Pokemon and as a grown-ass adult woman I’m allowed to have weird hobbies and interests because you most certainly have them and you just don’t blog about me so LET ME LIVE.

*ahem*  sorry okay I’m fine.

There are certainly more phone zombies out on the streets, but I have to say that I’m really happy to have had such an easy in to conversations with native Japanese people in the park lately, and I’m particularly pleased as punch over the gym I won yesterday with the help of the oldest, most turtled little obaasan lady.  #TeamInstinct.  And that’s all I have to say about Pokemans.

So yesterday I returned home from a walk to put my key in the lock when I overheard the worst noise any cat owner can hear -if you’ve ever had a cat, you know the noise- it’s the “URK - URK - URK” that immediately proceeds an epic cat vomit.  Your response to this sound might, like me, be to find the offending feline as quickly as possible, so that it might be relocated to a space in the home that has laminate flooring for easier hork-clean up.  

In this particular instance, I was not fast enough.  I unlocked the door and burst into the hallway just in time to see Bubba going “exorcist-style” all over the tiny little couch.

ah yes, these are the types of photoshop skills that make my parents particularly proud of that art degree I have...

I mean, I know we don’t really ever sit on the stupid tiny couch, but I do still try and keep it un-vomit-y.  Except, then there’s cleaning products in Japan.  Which... can we just take a minute?

The Mister and I are planning a trip to the Navy base for Obon (mid August National holiday in Japan).   While many might think that I’m excited to hit up the commissary for some new clothes or American foods, what’s actually on my shopping-spree list of American goods is… cleaning products.  The Japanese stuff just seems weak to me.  Maybe it isn’t, but there is something comforting about the smell of antibacterial-chemicals that makes me actually feel like something is clean.  That is not an aroma that comes with any of the Japanese cleaning products I’ve found in our local grocery store.
yep, that's real.  I'm adulting.

On top of that, upholstery cleaning isn’t super common here?  That’s a guess I make because I have yet to find any cleaning products specifically for cleaning upholstered stuff like… couches.  

Long story short, yesterday I had to take the covers off all the couch cushions and run them through the wash - effectively leaving a frame of springs and discomfort in the middle of the living room.

Meanwhile Mac is adjusting to his new bed nicely.  Dog bed?  Nah.  They don’t make dog beds big enough for Mac-dogs here (just like they don’t make couches big enough for Kp-peoples…), so when this happened a week ago:

this look says "do you see this memory foam, ma?  it's all wrong for my lower lumbar support."
…we went out and bought yet another toddler’s mattress for our own princess-pooch and the pea.  He sleeps on three mattresses piled on top of each other because his aging joints like a little extra cushion, and also because that is the minimum limit of bedding for Mac to actually stay in that bed all night, instead of trying to crawl up into the people bed and shove me off the side at 2AM.

It’s a good thing they’re cute, is what I’m saying.

Is there something your adorable pets do that 
make you day-dream of scotch guard?  
Tell me in the comments?

today’s little language lesson
watashi no neko wa outoshmashita.

my cat threw up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Gaijin Summer Survival Kit

Believe me when I say that the irony of the most popular Nintendo game in recent history not yet being released in Nintendo’s homeland of Japan while I am in Japan is not an irony which is lost on me.  

(though I did manage to catch a server test the other day while it was up for an hour… and then I also caught an Evee.)

In any case, best get my weekly blog post in before PokemonGO *does* release in Japan because lord knows that I will fall into that void for at least a week or so.

So.  This was the weather report this morning while I waited at the train stop.  That’s 9:15AM.  30 seconds after I took this screen shot a wave of torrential rain fell from the sky while the earth continued to reach higher and higher tempreatures.  How does anyone survive the temperature/ humidity/ sudden downpours that are so common during this season? 

Let me introduce you to... My Gaijin Summer Survival Kit
this stuff (minus the hat) lives in my backpack all summer long.

  1. Sunglasses.  Because when it isn’t raining, there seems to be an endless supply of windows and other various reflective surfaces which will surely burn out your retinas. 
  2. Brimmed hat.  See above reasons.  Also it keeps your ear-tips from getting sunburned and crispy like you’re growing bacon on the sides of your face.
  3. Sweat-rag.  Because you sweat when it’s hot and then when there’s so much humidity in the air that you’re basically walking through a soggy sponge on your commute, that air isn’t going to let any of the aforementioned sweat evaporate.  Take matters into your own hands.  Your handy dandy sweat rag is your new bestie.  
  4. Umbrella.  Because it rains so much harder when you don’t have one.  The heavens… they know.  
  5. Ever-cool neck towel.  You add water - hot or cold, doesn’t even matter! - and then place this thing around the back of your neck.  As this towel slowly dries out it magically stays cool, and by proxy, keeps you cool too.  I don’t understand this magic, but I am thankful to our unicorn overlords for bestowing their gift upon us.
  6. Bottled water.  ...Or at least 110 yen in your pocket so you can buy a bottle of water at the next vending machine.  Or better yet both.  You’ll need it.  Stay hydrated folks!
  7. Oil Blotting Paper.  The post sweat-rag option for when you’ve found your destination and have managed to get yourself back inside a building (preferably a building with Air-Con*).  A handy maneuver to look a little less like you visited an olive oil factory and fell into the processing tank.
  8. Hair Style Reset Wipes. These claim to take the excess oils and sweat out of your hair once you’ve successfully escaped the outdoors.  They don’t really “reset” your style to it’s original condition, but they do make you feel a little less gross if'n you don’t have immediate access to a shower.
  9. Body spray fragrance in travel size.  Because no matter how amazing your deodorant, it doesn’t last as long as you need it to in this weather.   However, just so we’re very clear, body spray is no excuse to skip the deodorant.  I wish I could tattoo this sentiment on the people I always get stuck next to on crowded trains.
  10. Not pictured:  nylons or spandex-y undergarments.  I know you might think: “Oh God, another layer of clothing?  What on earth are you thinking!?”  To which I say: Skirts give your legs access to some air circulation, but heat rash/ chub-rub is a very real and present danger to the non-Japanese proportioned gal.  Nylons add a buffer zone and fix that.  You’re. Welcome.  Side-note, Uni-Clo offers boxer-short type things made of fabric which boasts “sweat wicking technology."  This is a technology I would not have guessed I’d be ready to offer virgin sacrifices, but you know, here we are with an alter, a pure goat, and a pair of cooling boxer briefs.

What do you keep in your survival kit - 
tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
kono kisetsu wa tsuyu to yobarete imasu.  Daremo ga sore wo kiratte imasu.
This season is called the rainy season.  Everyone hates it.

*today at my Japanese lesson, we were talking about vacation spots around Japan.  My teacher told me she spent a few years living in Thailand and it was beautiful, but so hot that she had to keep the air conditioner on 24 hours a day!  The incredulous tone to her voice made me pause and ask "wait. how long do you keep your Air Con on during this season?"  To which she replied, only when it is too hot.  Maybe an hour or two each day.  Guys, I don't know when I last turned the Air Con in our house off.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

I haven't melted yet.

bwah.  okay hi.  

I’ve been working on keeping up with life over here so the blog has been a bit sparse these last few weeks.  Sorry not sorry, #letmelive.  

I also try to keep things light and happy when I write.  Because, hello:  I am well aware that I am a very privileged woman to be able to travel and live abroad multiple times.  To have the support of a  Mister who puts up with my shenanigans and encourages my art and never once batted an eye when I insisted we spend a LOT of money to make sure both Mac and Bubba can come along for those adventures even though he’s a little bit allergic to Bubba and in this tiny apartment sometimes that gets pretty yuck for him.

It’s hard to see a downside in a place this beautiful.

That being said, we’re in the middle of Japan’s Rainy season - a time when it’s reasonable to expect torrential downpours at any hour of the day.
Mac's v. fashionable rain coat, his post-downpour-walk face, and his "omg now it's a thunderstorm and we are certainly about to die" face.

However, in an unusual phenom that I’m sure has ties to Global Warming and our imminent demise, the *really* hot and humid (we’re talking at least 90*F each day with 75% or better humidity) part of the year has started in Nagoya a few weeks earlier than usual.  This effectively means that if the heavens are not trying to drown you, they are absolutely trying to melt you like that one time you forgot the gummy bears in your car.  Or as I affectionately refer to it: It’s like living in an armpit.  

A few of The Mister’s coworkers are trying hopefully to speculate that if the season started early, it’ll end early... but I think we all know that this constant feeling of swamp-ass and floating through everyone else’s BO cloud is just gonna be real life for us all until at least mid September.

I can’t spend the next few months being a cranky whiner, so instead, let me look at the top 5 amusing things going on in my Nagoya life right now.

1.  The cicadas are back!  I know not everyone is a fan of cicadas, the ground dwelling bugs that lay dormant underground for years and then suddenly all know to come above ground, molt, sing their song, mate, and die all in the same few weeks together.  But they are fascinating to me, and the molted cicadas are really beautiful jewel tones, and I think their song is a good substitute for a white noise machine in the middle of the loud, bustling city.
lookit his little "peekaboo!" face in the first picture.  eee!

2.  It’s eel season.  I. Love. Eel meat.  If you don’t, great- more for me.  If you do, hit me up, let’s go get an Unagi bowl RIGHT NOW.

3.  It’s almost Mac bootie season.  There comes a time when not only is it so hot in Nagoya that Mac cannot physically live outside long enough to take a walk until after the sun goes down, but the sidewalk remains hot enough that he has to wear little booties to be able to comfortably put his paws to pavement.  Have you ever seen a dog in booties?  Because it’s the best.
duck walking.  yesssss.

4.  Birthday planning has begun.  Or really, I’ve decided what kind of cake I’m going to make myself, and I am REALLY excited to bake it.  (I also decided what kind of cake I’m going to bake for Kp2, who’s birthday is right after mine, and I think she’s gonna love it).

5.  Oktoberfest is this weekend in Nagoya.  Yeah, you read that right.  A celebration that many westerners associate with a specific fall month, instead takes place in the middle of the hottest part of summer here in Japan.  The Mister, The Australians™ and I are gonna go watch the yodeling, the lederhosen, and drink ice cold beer as we sweat out all the water but retain the alcohol content in what is obviously not a real big health risk for the participants.  Good times ahead ya’ll.
last year's yodelers

What do you like about the 
(totally oppressively hot and humid) summer season?  
Tell me in the comments!

today's little language lesson:

watashi wa wakino shita ni sunde imasu.
I live in an armpit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Texting Japanese, I think I’m Texting Japanese…

When you’ve been in Japan long enough, I would wager even if you’re not actively trying to learn the language, you pick up a few phrases here and there.  “Arigatou.” “Sumimasen.”  “Daijoubu!”
(that’s “Thanks.” "Excuse me." and “Ok." respectively, for my peeps back stateside)

And you probably use those words, on a not-entirely-conscious level with your friends and acquaintances.  I know we (meaning The Mister and I) definitely use a few Japanese words commonly when we’re chatting with any of The Australians™ and they do the same back with us.  It’s sort of a fun way to have a “secret code” that is not secret to anyone.

The fun part comes when you begin to use those phrases in text messages.  Why?  Because we are too lazy to switch our texting keyboards over to the Japanese character keyboard for just one word, so we’ll spell ‘em out phonetically in roman alphabet characters.  Which means the best thing happens:


That above sentence is so laced with sarcasm it’s an entire doily collection.  Auto correct is not the best.  I hate auto-correct so, so much.  But when it’s Japanese words, the auto corrects can be amazing.  And so here are my top five favorite things which Auto Correct has sent to my friends in replace of words that are even slightly sensical.*

5.   Daijoubu
what it means: 大丈夫  Okay/ Alright
what auto correct thinks it means: Sais Honey

Bonus - when you can make fun of yourselves for how you said daijoubu before you learned how to properly pronounce Japanese words and find yourself telling each other “Die-joe-bers

4. Kanpai
what it means: 乾杯  Cheers!
what auto correct thinks it means: Limp pie

3. Sumimasen
what it means: すみません  Excuse me
what auto correct thinks it means: Sumo Mash

2. Doko desu ka?
what it means: Where are you?
what auto correct thinks it means: Dodo deus k’s?

1.  Domo Arigatou Gozaimasu
what it means: どもありがとございます  Thank you very much
what auto correct thinks it means:  Dino Rigatoni Go Carts

What’s your best Auto Correct?  
 Tell me in the comments!

*Sadly, I “added words” to my phone's “dictionary" as I’ve been here, and now the only one that still works is Dino Rigatoni Go Carts, because I’d finally figured out that these Auto Corrects were too great to demolish. 

today’s little language lesson

Watashiwa, jidou hosei no ga daikiraidesu.

I hate auto correct.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Japanese Netflix

I have a weird guilt thing going on lately: I’ve been in Japan for over a year and a half and somehow I am not 100% fluent in Japanese.

That sentence is about half joking.  I have seen native Japanese speakers take out their pocket dictionaries to look up words or kanji that THEY don’t know in their own language, so I am comfortable in the knowledge that the is no such thing as 100% fluent. I do sometimes feel like I should just be… BETTER at this than where I am.

I can manage the life basics: I am conversationally proficient in getting groceries, navigating to places, ordering at restaurants, and talking to people on the street about the giant dog at the end of my leash.  But because that covers about 90% of my life here, I haven’t pushed beyond that.  I’ve been sort of stagnating at that level for longer than I’m comfortable with.  

I study at least an hour a day, but recently my anxiety has been rearing it’s ugly little head every second I’m not parked in front of my notebooks with a highlighter, sneering in an ugly little voice; 
“why aren’t you studying right now?

I mean, I needed to do laundry so we have clean clothes to we-“but you could be studying.”
Yeah, I just needed to get dinner toget-“it’s your fault you’re not fluent”
Sure, except if I don’t walk Mac he’ll go craz-this is why we can’t have nice things!”

right except then I put up vocab flashcards in front of the toilet so there is no escape.

This feeling is worse when I’m doing things which aren’t vital chores.  Like say, doodling silly comics about my anxiety, or painting my finger nails.  

My current solution to curb the anxious little monster on my back is to make a point of turning Japanese subtitles on while watching Netflix for "reading practice” (which I admittedly mostly ignore). 

OR, better actual solution, watching Japanese television shows, to practice my listening skills.  If’n you have access to Netflix and want to also pretend you’re being productive in learning Japanese as you indulge some silly media… allow me to share my current faves.

  • Yokai Watch

Easily the most popular kid’s show in Japan right now, Yokai watch is like… pokemon, but with ghosts.  Watch out, America, my understanding is that it’s coming to the US soon, and it’s gonna be big.  There are no English subtitles on the Japanese netflix seasons of Yokai Watch, but the plots are easy enough to follow along without needing to read.  
Basically this kid, Keta, has a watch which allows him to communicate with ghosts, and once he’s befriended a ghost, the watch allows him to call upon them for help in his every day life.  

It’s interesting because many of the ghosts have back stories about how they came to BE ghosts, which alternate between weirdly hilarious - like the business man who was fired, got drunk and on his walk home was crushed by falling construction equipment… along with a small stray dog who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time… so his ghost is basically a toy poodle with a creepy adult man’s face.  It can also be “oh wow that actually made me cry” emotional - like the grandfather ghost who waits outside a convenience store every day to see his granddaughter, who he misses and was very close with in life… until he realizes that she still carries a trinket around that he gave her and comes to be at peace knowing she misses him too.  Some of the episodes get understandably real childish, like the one where the big problem was a ghost that made everyone he affected have to fart, but I’ve also learned a few fun phrases, so I’ve stuck with it.

This ghost's name is "MuRi" which I learned means "no way."  Yes, he is a wall.

  • Terrace House

My cousin actually turned me onto this show when she found it on her American Netflix!  I… am weirdly addicted to hating this show?  
Terrace House is a long running show that recently partnered with Netflix.  The premise is a little bit Real World, with six strangers, all picked to live in together, and a little bit traditional Japanese panel commentary style, aka an actual panel of (sometimes funny) commentators who watch the show along with you and pop in every few minutes to share their thoughts on how things are going.  And the rest of it is a REAL interesting look into Japanese relationships and courtship.  By which I mean these people are in this house with the express purpose of finding love, and it takes 10 (TEN!) full episodes into the series before of them even kiss.
I’m in a love-hate thing with terrace house because the pacing is (as described above) painfully slow for my American sensibilities.  But I love it for when the one random guy in the house who happens to have grown up in the US (Arman, if you’re also a TH fan), holds his dates' hand, and then I laugh for YEARS at how shocked and offended the entire commentary panel is with how brazen he is and how quickly he moves.  
the hand holding.
the reaction.
  • Silver Spoon

Silver spoon follows an upperclass rich kid who -for some reason that’s not yet explained- decides to go to an agricultural high school instead of a yuppy preparatory school. The show follows his trials and tribulations as he makes friends by melding his city-slicker sensibilities with his growing farm skills.  There’s not much more to say about that.  I heart when he’s introduced to the piglets and his classmates immediately tell him “these are food, do not name them.” and he takes approximately three seconds to pause before proclaiming his piglet’s name:  Porkbowl.  

I also love the stray puppy they find and name class vice president.  I watch this for the cute anime critters is what I’m saying.

  • The Devil is a Part-Timer

By FAR my favorite Japanese show I’ve found, The Devil is a Part-Timer is exactly what it sounds like and I need you to go watch it right now because it is absurd and amazing.  The Devil gets kicked out of the immortal realm and decides that his best path to power in current corporate Japan is to work his way up the McDonalds management chain.  Meanwhile there is an Angel sent to destroy him who gets a part time job as a cell phone sales rep to make ends meet while they hunt each other.  It’s just hilarious.  

And now, quite frankly, I’ve taken a long enough break from the books to write this up - back to studying!

Do you watch any fun Japanese shows 
I should check out (on Netflix preferably)?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
nanagatsu no kyuujitsu no daishi no tame ni Amerika no shokuhin o kaimashita ka?
Did you buy American foods for the 4th of July holiday?

please note the clam chowder pringles in packaging 
featuring a pringle chip dressed like lady liberty.  ‘Murica.