Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Facebook Suspended My Account for Unknown Reasons

I was hoping the preparations for my trip home would be uneventful, but, no. 

On Thursday night, I shut off my computer and decided to check facebook on my phone one more time before heading to bed. I wasn't too surprised when I was asked to log in again, I'd just cleared my cache.

However, instead of seeing my page after logging in, I was told that I needed to submit proof of my identity. I typed in my name and birthday and sent the info off, and fell asleep...assuming that things would be back to normal in the morning. 

Nope. I was asked to submit a photo ID. I was fucking pissed. I pulled out my Costco card and business card, snapped a picture and sent it to them, later getting a reply that I needed something with my birthday on it.

This was getting annoying. When I got home, I pulled out my gaijin card, my Japanese insurance card and my state ID...along with my business card and snapped a picture of them. 

A little aside, when I signed up for facebook in 2005, I used an alternative name and three years later my account was suspended. I sent them a picture of my gaijin card and the reply I got from facebook was, "I've changed your name to [first name] [first initial of last name]."

Fine. Bitch.

That's the name I've been using for the past seven or eight years. And suddenly, I'm asked to confirm my ID.

So, I spend some time cutting slips of paper to cover my address, card numbers, middle name, last name (aside from the last initial), etc. And I send the whole of it to facebook. 
Over the past four days, I've only gotten copy-paste replies about my information not matching something. So, I sent them a picture of the original gaijin card with the information covered. 

I check my "special account" and it says "case closed." What? Nothing is closed, you people need to fix this shit. 

So, I've been sitting here trying to figure out what's up...

- Facebook has decided to go back on it's initial decision of my name as [first name] [first initial of last name] and they want my last name

- Facebook doesn't like my name in Japanese ([Japanese name given to me by my coworkers, written in hiragana] [first name written in katakana])

- Some fucking bitch decided she didn't like something I posted and smugly reported it

- Some dick decided they either didn't like me or wanted to fool around and say my name in Japanese was fake

- ????

I'm pissed because I've gotten emails from "Tanaka" and "Watanabe" that all say the same thing. The emails are all form emails copy-pasted from the English site, but the names are signed in kanji and English.

I guess my next move is to write in Japanese too? This is bullshit.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Getting Your Japanese Credit Card

Before she left in 2008, a friend of mine swore that she would have stayed if Japan would have given her a credit card. I'm certain she was only about 20% joking. The issue she brought up, however, is a real one for a number of foreigners.

I never had a real credit card in the US, only debit cards that could be used as credit cards. Cards issued through my local credit union and came with a ridiculously low credit limit. As in, "You may charge up to, but not over $200 in a given day. If you'd like to buy that $1200 plane ticket to Korea for study abroad, call up the credit union and we will graciously raise your credit limit for a 24 hour window."

Since I didn't know much about credit cards, aside from hearing about all the debt people racked up on them, so I put off applying for a card. When I finally got around to asking my local bank here in Japan about a card, I was told I needed permanent residence to get one. Which was strange, because my JET pred had gotten a credit card with the same bank days after arriving in Japan.

That's when I knew something was up. (Scroll down for the TL;DR)

Fast forward a year or so, and I decided to sign up for a card with my cell phone carrier. I was told I'd hear back in 2 weeks and went on my merry way. Three or four weeks later, I still hadn't heard back. And while doing some shopping, I signed up for a card on a whim. It was that card that gave a swift response: NO.

Well, it was a letter in keigo.

I think that many foreigners (?) drop the issue here. "Oh, rejected again." 

However, I made the decision to call up the credit card company. They already said no, so, what's the harm?

The first representative I talked with said that she was not authorized to discuss my application with me. (Huh?) Being the smartass I am, I asked if there were someone above her who could talk to me. I was told to expect a call.

I think that foreigners who do decide to call have gotten stopped at this step...if the internet people are anything to go by. The person says they are not authorized to talk about the application and, "Oh...ok...not card for me."

Thirty minutes to an hour later, I got a call back from a supervisor (?) who explained that my application was rejected due to a lack of credit history in Japan. That word is shinyou, by the way. My gut reaction was, "OMFG! Did this bitch just say that as a foreigner I couldn't be trusted with a card, but they'll give them to unemployed housewives?!"

After some back and forth regarding my job and pay and the card I applied for, but still hadn't heard back from, I was told to expect my new credit card in the mail in two weeks.

Just as promised, I got my card and I've had really no major problems. 

There are more loops that you have to jump through, and if you can't speak Japanese it's very difficult to navigate. So, to sum up:

1. Call the credit card company to ask why your application was rejected
2. Ask to speak with someone who is authorized to talk about your account
3. (I didn't mention this one) Have evidence of a steady job, especially one with a good wage
4. Profit.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Passing the JLPT Additional

The other book I used to study for JLPT N1 was Point Seiri Nihongo Bunpou [ポイント整理 日本語文法]. It was about 1,000 yen. I found it on Amazon Japan for a little less. 

Be warned: there are NO English explanations in this book. Each grammar point has a short, two line Japanese explanation and two to four examples underneath.

I am lazy and found it really annoying to have to read everything in Japanese, though that probably did me some good. The grammar points usually give a similar and easier grammar meaning. For example, 「~に・して」was given ①だけ ②さえ as the meaning. When I couldn't picture how to use a particular grammar point, it was helpful to switch it out with one I was familiar with.

There are 16 chapters with grammar points grouped by similarity. Chapter 1, for example, covers time (along with "in the case of..." and "conditions"). Six grammar points are introduced at and the end of the chapter there's a practice quiz.

At 78 pages, the book is quite thin compared to the average study guide. It might be better to buy another one if you want, I guess. There are two short practice tests at the back of the book which I never got around to taking, but just like the JLPT practice tests, I tried to use the "take it over and over until it sticks" method. Er...I actually ran out of time before the actual test to get through the whole book. I don't know what I was doing. 

I hope they are still publishing this book or an updated version, since this was actually not for the New JLPTs!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Passing the JLPT

The JLPT is held twice a year, and every year I read about the frustrations of people prepping for the test.

I took the New JLPT a number of years ago, and I've decided to write about the (somewhat) simple method I used to pass both tests in one go.

The best test advice I got was from my boyfriend. He told me that Japanese people prepared for tests by finding past tests, making multiple copies of them and taking them over and over until getting their target score, then moving on to the next practice test.

I bought the white book on the right long after passing N1.

For N2, since this was when the N2 had just come out, I used old versions of the JLPT 2-kyuu and borrowed some grammar books from a friend. Taking the old version of the JLPT over and over became my main method of study.

I took N2 in July? of that year and turned my sights to N1 soon after.

For N1, I was gifted an N1 study guide and I went out and bought a thin book of level 1 and 2 grammar (all written in Japanese). Again, I made multiple copies of the two or three tests in that book and took them over and over again. I used the other book to check unfamiliar grammar. At one point I was trying to write down each unknown word and memorize it, but as study time wore down, I put that aside.

In fact, it was my boyfriend (if I remember correctly), who told me to forget about memorizing all of the kanji and grammar. Basically, there was just not enough time to memorize everything and it's better to practice with old tests since sentences and types of questions are often reused. 

I am going to guess that most Americans probably study the way I started to: by diligently going through each grammar pattern, thinking of different ways to use it and trying to make sentences...writing down each kanji and trying to make flashcards for each single kanji and other words that kanji used. The idea of copying old tests and focusing mainly on that was totally unheard of to me.

Maybe that's why I bombed the SAT? Perhaps everyone else already had this "knowledge"?

Anyways. If you are like me, and you want to pass the JLPT, I recommend making old tests the bulk of your study. Take them over and over. Yes, you will memorize the answers. Yes, you will feel like you are cheating. But, isn't that really what it's about?
The JLPT isn't a true test of your knowledge. It's a test of how well you can test. And if you are looking to work in Japan in something other than an ALT position, N2 is usually listed as a minimum requirement.

By memorizing bits of the old test, your subconscious should start to point you in the direction of the correct answers on the real test.

Don't believe me? That's fine. I'm the one that passed N2 in July of one year and N1 in December of the same year. First time ever taking either test. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Rage Thoughts 1211

If I may be a little pissed. 

It's incredibly annoying to ride the elevator to my floor every morning. It's annoying to ride it up again in the afternoon during lunch.

People have obviously never learned how to ride an elevator because when the doors open, they slowly walk through them, usually stopping right after they step in...causing a backup of people who are also trying to board. Once they've kindly moved to the side, they carefully pick their floor out of the myriad of choices...usually it's one or two floors above the one they've gotten on from.

If the person riding is female, the forget that they are working in some random office and seem to think they are the fucking Sogo department store elevator girl: "Oh, I'm so prim and proper. Look at me lightly and carefully pressing the close and open buttons. Look at how my hands are carefully folded in front of me. I am a god. The god of the elevator. Tee hee."

I want to choke slam these chicks into the floor.

And finally, when they've reached their destination, the men and women take their slow ass time getting off the elevator. I assume they are picturing themselves in some sort of exotic location. Perhaps somewhere where life is slower and people literally stop to smell the flowers.

All I know is I do not have time for this shit!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Random Thoughts 1207

Sometimes, when I have a translation in front of me that's been "checked" by a co-worker and they are looking at me, I want to just throw it down and say, "I really don't care."

This sentiment is probably shared by millions of working people, so I know I'm not alone. 

I feel frustrated with my inability to explain written and spoken English grammar. I also am frustrated with my writing. It wasn't until after I graduated university and moved to Japan that my mom told me she thought I wrote well. Throughout school I remember hearing, "What is this? This is something a retarded kindergartner would write, not a seventh grader." Or something in a similar vein. Similarly, grammar wasn't exactly a subject in school. We learned of verbs and adjectives...conjunction junctions and their functions, but anything more than that makes my eyes gloss over.

However working in translation with Japanese people means I must...need to learn how to explain grammatical concepts to them in the way that they understand. Usually I turn to a writing manual I bought in my first year of university; I search for the grammar point and kind of shove it in their faces.

Sometimes that works.

Many times I'm told that my understanding of the Japanese is wrong and that X is the subject, not Y. In these cases, I find myself up against something I often encountered in elementary school. You know when you turn in your first draft paper and the teacher rewrites some of your sentences? Your teacher keeps your ideas, but uses more sophisticated writing to make everything cleaner. 

Well...it's like the opposite of that. I would write, "In response, the minister spoke about the importance of the project." I then get a rewrite back that goes, "The minister said, 'This project is important,' in response to the CEO." My coworker would say something about how "the minister" is the subject, so that should come first, the quote is a direct quote in the original Japanese, so we must keep it the same in English and finally something about how my English was "off."

So, I change it. I prefer what I wrote 9 times out of 10. However, if that's what they want, and it makes sense, I'll keep it. But, I really want to tell them "fuck it." A lot of what I translate will never been seen by anyone other than Google's bots. 

What annoys me, what really rubs me the wrong way, is how often I have to hear, "This English doesn't make sense." I do not have time to comb through hundreds of years of English-language evolution and grammar to explain why, "We would be really happy if you can come to our humble event," may be grammatically "correct" but "wrong" for everything. Trust me when I say it sounds weird. Trust me even more if you have never lived in an English-speaking country.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Oh, to be free...

Don't we all wish to be free? 

Free from responsibilities like bills or work.

Free from the pressures of life.

Free from a society that pushes women to be more masculine...

...wait. What???

Apparently a writer at RocketNews thinks that Japanese women have a great freedom that western women don't have, and she wrote about it in an article titled "Three reasons why it's ok to be a girly girl in Japan." The writer, who seems to be from the UK, lists reasons why Japan is so great for allowing the womenfolk to be the petite, delicate flowers that we all know they should be. Unburdened by the pressures of western society that push masculine behaviors on females.

After acknowledging that maybe it might be difficult for some women to make careers, she jumps into her list:

Her first point is that women are "celebrated for their feminine characteristics." 
These include being called "cute" without the burden of "gendering." So true. Before coming to Japan I remember that parents feared to call their daughters "cute" lest they grow up to be perverted serial killers. But, here in Japan...the Land of the True Free, as I call it...parents can do as nature and god meant and call boys strong and girls cute. 

"You are not kawaii."
And that's fine because in Glorious Nippon, as I am often known to call Japan, many households still subsist on one income, that of the male. This leaves his feminine wife to care for the children since she doesn't have to adopt pesky masculine behaviors like "assertiveness" to get ahead in a job she doesn't need. 
There is the issue of women who aren't interested in those things, but fuck those bitches. We were born to wear frilly clothing and be cute, HELLO!!!11 Or should I say, "moshi-moshi???!!"

The second point raised is that Japanese women have the "freedom to dress up without being catcalled." 
Yes. In Glorious Nippon, all of the women are uniformly dressed well. In fact, well-dressed women are so normal that no one notices them. Slovenly western females discover their inner beauties and all is right with the world.
Well, except when guys hit on you (ew) or grope you (uncomfortable)...or flash you (mildly interested...). However, all of these pale in comparison to being catcalled in a western country, which would roughly be equivalent to being sold as a sex slave. Unfashionable Japanese women are shot. Or spirited away...

"Do you like my frills? As long as you call me 'cute' that's all that matters."

And finally, her third point is that "Japan loves cuteness un-ironically."
I'm not really sure what this point has to do with her argument that the women of Glorious Nippon are free to be frilly, but whatever. Odd numbered points generate more clicks. So, here we are. And she's right. Japanese people love cute things. We're talking about a country that gave us Hello Kitty and Pikachu. Yes, grown men will have some sort of cute thing on them, and you can bet it's NOT a picture of a girlfriend of wife. Probably some miniature version of Hatsune Miku. But that's besides the point! 

The take away...

RocketNews posted a shit article. That article was shit. The writer placed wearing frilly clothing and foregoing the business world above truly equal opportunities for both sexes. Japanese women AND men face tremendous pressure to fit into their prescribed roles. If you love the soft, girly "save me!" look and way of life, Japan can be a pretty interesting place. But, if you are a girl who loves sports, who wants a career and who dresses in clothing that's not "cute," you will have a damn hard time in life. 
When women hit their late-40s, suddenly being "cute" is a right that's taken away from them. They are now "oba-san" who wear dowdy clothing. Their once long hair is cut short and permed. They bitch at everyone and everything. For Japan, the time allotted to women who want to be cute is cut off around 24. Wouldn't it be better to allow wider roles for both genders that aren't so heavily policed?

And, because I find this annoying, this kind of bullshit article is exactly what a certain type of western man eats up. They want some evidence that they are "right" about how "masculine" western women have become. They love Japanese women because they think that Japanese women are soft and delicate...everything that western women are not. The write just went along with this stereotyping of Japanese women and reducing gender issues to "cuteness." 

In conclusion: Fuck this shit.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

That Happened 1202

It started raining early this afternoon and it's continued into the night. I'm certain I'll be taking the bus to work in the morning because I can still hear the rain outside.

When I have a bit of free time after work, I like to walk around the downtown area and just let my mind wander. These walks usually take two or three hours. It's just nice not to think about translation and it's nice to let my mind turn to static. I stopped in Yamada Denki as my last stop before heading home to check out their cell phones and see if I could find a deal.

I talked to one AU representative who later disappeared and was quickly approached by someone with WiMax. WiMax is a kind of pocket WiFi that many people here use as it's cheaper than getting your home wired. It's great for your more basic internet browsing, watching some YouTube videos and such.

This guy starts asking me about internet, providers, etc. and eventually asks me to take a seat so he can check out my area. I figured I'd let him do his thing because whenever I'm at Yamada Denki it seems like there's 50 staff to every customer. I ended talking with him for maybe 15 or 20 minutes and he tried to show me how much money I'd be saving by switching to his WiMax. 

Now...I've used WiMax. In fact, it was my main internet until this May when I switched to OCN. My mental calculations told me that while I could get WiMax at my place, they have some monthly data limits and other things that I just wasn't interested in dealing with. I didn't go into all of that detail, but I said that I'd think about it and yeah.

I get it. This is a commission job. You get me to sign up, you get a cut. You show me some cheaper numbers and wow me and I should jump. At the end, the guy started to pull out his business card, paused, looked at the card and said, "Nah, forget it. You probably don't understand anyway."

No. I am pretty sure I do understand. I got 40,000 yen cash back when I signed up for OCN. If I cancel my contract early, I have to pay about 20 - 30,000 yen back. The guy calculated my bill as coming in at 78,000 yen over the next 12 months. He suggested I switch to WiMax and my estimated one-year bill would be 55,000 yen, but...BUT!! I could get 15,000 or so yen cash back. So, I switch to WiMax at 55,000 a year, take away the 15,000 yen for the cash back and that's 40,000 yen a year. Great. But then I have at least 20,000 yen I have to worry about in cancellation fees. So that jumps to 60,000 yen. Then, the two bills will probably overlap, so that'll be another 10,000 yen or so.

So, it didn't really seem like it was going to be a "win" for me to go through the trouble of switching. Who knows. Perhaps my math was off. Either way, he didn't have to get so pissy about it :(

Monday, November 30, 2015

Once a Month

There are many areas where Japan seems way behind and way ahead of the US. One of the areas that seems to be caught in a gray zone with some are the monthly "menstruation days" that women are entitled to.

Typically, a company gives, say 10 PTO days, 10 "sick" days and a handful of other days that can be taken for bereavement and others. Most people do not use all of their days, and while sick days (byou-kyuu 病休) are available, they are not used for colds. They are used for, say, major surgery or cancer treatments...big stuff.

Women, however, are entitled to one "menstruation day" per month. As far as I know, most companies have this. I actually decided to use it today. Eekk...

I sometimes here mutterings about this day, usually from men, so I've decided to compile some of what I've heard and offer my view.

"It's not fair for women to get, what is essentially, an extra day of PTO!"

This is by far one of the largest complaints I've seen online. I can understand the sentiment. It's not like your boss can somehow check to see whether or not you are actually on your period. It is plausible that someone might use the day to go chill or something.

"My wife/girlfriend doesn't complain about her period, so I think this is bullshit!"

It's possible that your wife/gf has no pain and that's fine. It's also possible, and more likely, that she'd just not going into details because it's not really a fun topic. 

"Hey! Come look at my period chunks!," said no one who ever wanted sexy times. 
The truth is that the amount of pain one experiences is variable. In the US, I've heard of women that use birth control to help reduce/eliminate pain from their periods. However, according to various Japanese sites, such as this one, birth control (the pill) is taken by only about 1% of Japanese women. 

With my coworkers, touching my belly and making a face is enough to get the message across. 

"Do Japanese women even use this day?"

I know that the day is available, but I don't know how many women actively use it. At my workplace, for example, there is a website that we log in to to request time off. There are a large number of options available, from child-rearing to summer vacation. We choose the type of time off we need, the number of days, and forward the request to our boss for approval. 
For something seemingly innocent like a cold, this is fine. But really, who wants their boss to know that they're on their period? In fact, I rarely use the day because I'm not interested in announcing my flow to my two male bosses. Sure, they probably don't care, and I am entitled to the time, but I also don't plan on telling them when I have diarrhea, either.

"This makes Japanese women look weak! American women don't need this!"

Funny, this is one argument I've really only heard from western men. Western women seem interested in the concept. I don't really know if it makes Japanese or any woman look weak. What people have to understand is that for some of us, there's a huge amount of pain associated with having a period. There's dizziness from lack of iron, fatigue, period shits, etc. This probably isn't the most mature response, but if men had to deal with this, they'd be giving themselves a week off to recover. 

So, what do I do when I take this special day?
Well, today I went home, ate a small lunch, then curled into a ball on my bed with a heating pad pressed into my stomach and fell asleep. Nothing exciting. No screwing the man out of work. 
The benefit is that I get to return to work rested and happier. I also didn't have to sit in the office with stomach cramps while running back and forth between my desk and the bathroom. 

As for abuse? Maybe some people abuse the system, but it's such a private thing to throw out there. I feel like it could work in the US, but who knows?

Random Thoughts 11302015

In about a month I'll be back in the US for Christmas and New Year's.

I'm so happy and trying to keep myself from buying everything I see before I return home. 

It's been over four years since I've set foot in the US. Four years. I really can't believe it. Part of me feels like the time has just flown by. These past few years have been terribly difficult. Getting to this point involved me putting my head down and focusing on just getting through the day. That's what I've been telling myself: "Get through the day. Come on."

Now my family is on me about returning home permanently to live and work. Of course, I'd like that. If I had a good job to look forward to. If I thought I had some sort of useful skill to peddle. (Complaints? Bitching? I guess that doesn't pay well.)

I guess my plan is to try to do some travelling around Japan or East Asia before wrapping up and heading home. My plan to save up $10,000 before I leave is looking to be impossible, but I can at least transfer my pension credits to Social Security in the US.

I'll feel bad about leaving my students, especially since they really seem to like me (pretty strange, I know!). But, everyday, I'm reminded that I don't really have anyone here. I have some kind of good friends that I enjoy spending time with, but since they're not in my city, I rarely meeting them and the ones in the city are either married or married with kids (yuk).

No one's going to take care of me except for me, so it looks like 2016 will be the year I make my grand plans to move back to the US and live in poverty again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I am from the midwest. Depending on who you talk to, the midwest stretches from Ohio to Kansas. Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, etc. are NOT the midwest. They are the Plains States or whatever.
The midwest is Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, hmm...and maybe Iowa.

Anyways. I've heard recently on the internets that we are supposed to be passive-aggressive. Now, I fully admit to leaving angry notes for my mom as a kid, or being pissed that someone had the audacity to ask me something that was A Big Deal while thinking it wasn't (are those really passive-aggressive actions?).

But, as much as I like to fancy myself a mind reader, I find it really annoying here in Japan. I don't like being blunt, but I also know that things that are obvious to Japanese people (who are local) are not going to be obvious to me. So, all they have to do is tell me and then they can go back to their style because I've been clued in on How Things Work and I should get it now.

This past week, I heard from a coworker than my kind of supervisor was annoyed with a "native check" I did. "Native checks" refer to materials that have been translated into another language, often English, and need a native speaker to read through them. 

Native checks are a crap shoot. If I change everything (and more times than not everything needs to be changed so that it doesn't sound like it was written by Google Thesaurus Translate), I get called to change it back because, "It doesn't match the Japanese." If I make minimal changes, I'm told later that the paper doesn't matter and I can use more natural-sounding English.

I never know what I'll get. But, there I am, going over a document that has a tight deadline and I make a few changes. Now, one of the biggest problems I have here is that my pay is low, I'm stressed, I haven't been back to the US in years and the weird English questions have finally gotten to me ("Should it be 'a' book or 'the' book?") 

I absolutely hate explaining my phrasing to Japanese people. I hate it. What they will do, is find another English speaker who will agree with how they've arranged the words and feel confident that they were picked over the native English speaker. They only want to hear opinions that agree with their own. No one watches English-language TV programs. No one has lived in an English-speaking country. No one reads English-language literature to know that there are countless ways to say the same thing. 

And that has left me feeling stressed and pissed because I don't have the energy to scour the internet looking for phrasing that matches mine. I don't have time to explain how pauses and stressing words can render a flat sentence into something inspiring. I don't have the motivation to talk about how the language has evolved over the past 60 years.

If you don't like the phrase, say so and let's find one that you do like. Just because a sentence or phrase is not cataloged in your mental dictionary, does not mean it's wrong. 


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Public Service Announcement

I was just watching the news and a segment about foreign tourists caught my attention. But, that isn't the reason for this post. This gesture is:

If you come to Japan, don't do this. This is NOT how Japanese people greet each other. Maybe you saw a picture of an Asian person online or something, I don't know. If you are travelling to South Asia or maybe Southeast Asia, it seems that there are people that do greet each other like this.

Feel free to do that there.

Not here.

You look ignorant when you do that shit. Ignant.

Oh, and don't even try to do this either:

There is usually a reason WHY people are bowing like this. Those reasons include: meeting someone from another company for the first time. Uh...and...hmm...yeah, that's basically it. Store staff bow to customers, it is neither polite nor appropriate to return the same level of bowing...unless perhaps you're an 80 year old Japanese woman with a lot of time on her hands. I know you're not an 80 year old Japanese woman, so stop frontin'. 

But what's the problem, you party pooper? I hear you cry. Well, let's look at this from a different angle. Since you can't differentiate between different Asian countries, it shouldn't come as a surprise that people in Japan can't really differentiate between different Western cultures.

Now, you're sitting in whatever state in the US it is that you're from, and newbie Tanaka-san comes over to greet you. It's his first time in the US, but he knows from TV that foreigners (ie, white people) love to greet by kissing each other on the cheek and giving hugs. So, he makes his way over an plants a juicy one right on your right cheek and another moist one on the left one. Then he gives you a long hug and crushes your hand with his Superman handshake. 

Sound like fun?
Then cut that shit out.

Friday, October 16, 2015

CoCo Ichi Doesn't Take Credit Cards

...alternate title would be "TIFU..." (today I fucked up).

I go to CoCo Ichi Curry for lunch about three days a week. I order the same thing everyday and pay with cash.

Today, I had only a few hundred yen, but went to CoCo Ichi as usual...assuming that I could pay with my credit card as I was sure I had before. 

Well. That wasn't the case. I tried to pay with my card and was met with "We don't take credit cards." I looked at the guy and he looked at me, and I said, "I don't have enough money. I could get some from the ATM."

I wasn't really sure what would happen. As it was, I had 15 minutes of my lunch break left and a long walk to my workplace. He asked for some ID and I passed him my gaijin card and gave him my phone number then took off running for the bank.
I get to the ATM and the line is long. I curse the fuckers and line and take off running for a conbini. Luckily, I was able to withdraw some cash and ran back to CoCo Ichi to pay and promptly ran back to work.

I don't know why a national chain restaurant is not set up to take credit card payments. Nearly shat myself right there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


I sit in front of a computer and translate Japanese to English for about six hours a day. My pay is meh and will never rise, but the good part is that at least I'm doing something I have some knowledge in and my coworkers are good people.

I think that in general, Japanese people are good workers. The problem, however, is that everyone has to be a super uptight perfectionist. For what Japanese companies pay, they are making a killing. My coworkers will check and triple check documents that no one cares about. They will offer commentary on the most mundane points.

The pressure to get things perfectly extends to all aspects of people's lives. When I tutor elementary and even kindergarten students, they will sometimes erase whole lines due to one mistake. On the one hand, there could be something said for writing something perfectly each time...perhaps the perfect way will burn itself into your mind. On the other hand, I can see kids tense up when they miss an apostrophe or a comma.

Anyways, back to work. What this means for me is that every word in the Japanese has to be reflected in the English and if it's not I have to explain why. I am constantly frustrated because it should be obvious as to why I left out certain words or phrases. I've lost count of the number of times I've translated clunky Japanese sentences only to have them cut later.

I've been here long enough to know that people aren't going to suddenly relax. However, for as much as they want to fit in every word "because...," I will continue to resist!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I am a Hero

If you speak Japanese and you've ever listened to Jpop song lyrics, you'll probably find that they sound very nice, but seem to make no sense. One genre of Jpop that I've noticed throughout the years is the "ganbaru" songs. These are songs where the artist sings about persevering through some difficulty to win the game or triumph in some way.

To be quite honest, I had always thought they were kind of lame. Especially ones that have lyrics that are, quite literally: "You can do it."

However, these "ganbaru" songs have started making their way into my playlist. Notably Superfly's Tamashii Revolution and B'z' Ultrasoul. Recently, I've been listening to Fukuyama Masaharu's I am a Hero. This was the theme to "Hanazaki Mai wa Damatte inai 2" (Hanazaki Mai Won't be Silent), a drama about an outspoken bank worker who has a knack for saying what needs to be said...despite being young.

When I listened to the lyrics, I thought they represented Japan pretty well. A young person, presumably in their 30s is sitting drinking with coworkers. While making the decision to better themselves in 10 years, they struggle with how to tell their boss/coworkers about their dedication to work and better themselves.

I made a rough translation which I'll post below the video. I'll try to explain the difficulties of translating in a later post. These are my translations and my romanizations, if you are going to use them, please credit :) The translations are also quite stiff/stilted for a reason...I'm trying to keep them line by line the same as the Japanese.Oh, and apologies for the bad formatting m(_ _)m

僕は出来る いやもっと出来る I can do it No, I can do more
boku wa dekiru iya motto dekiru

偉大な人とまでは言わない That's not to say I'm great
idai na hito to made wa iwanai

「頼れる人」くらいにはなれる I just want to be "someone counted on"
tayoreru hito kurai niwa nareru

言わせるなよ ここは通過点 Don't make me say it This is the checkpoint
iwaserunayo koko wa kyotsuten

聞いてる?もう酔ってんの? Are you listening? You're already drunk?
kiiteru? mou yowatten no?

何回めの乾杯だっけな How many times, this kampai
nankaime no kanpai dakke na

来たか!無限ループ Has it come?! An endless loop
kita ka! mugen loop

10年先の自分をイメージして Imagining myself 10 years from now
juunen saki no jibun wo image shite

虎視耽々と「積んできた」んだ I lay in wait to "acquire experience"
koshitantan to tsunde kita nda

どんなにいま辛くたって No matter how hard it is now
donnani ima tsuraku tte

いつかは本当の自分に変身するんだ I'll someday transform into my true self
itsuka wa hontou no jibun ni henshin surunda

I am a HERO 何笑ってるの? I am a Hero What are you laughing about?
I am a hero nani wara tteru no?

僕やってる 上も下にも I'm doing it The ups and the downs
boku yatteru ue mo shita nimo

誰に対しても平等です I treat everyone equally
dare ni taishite mo byoudou desu

どんな仕事だって逃げない I don't run away from any task
donna shigoto datte nigenai

きっと誰か僕を見てるよ I'm sure that someone's watching me
kitto dareka boku wo miteru yo

そんなの言うわきゃない I've got to say that
sonna no iwa nakya

でも言わなきゃわからない But, I don't know how to say it
demo iwa nakya wakara nai

自己アピール下手だし嫌だし… I'm not good at promoting myself, I hate it...
jiko appeal heta dashi iya dashi...

ジンジンジンジン人生のど真ん中で Right smack dab in the middle of life
jin jin jin jin jinsei no doman naka de

全然何者にもなってない I'm no one at all
zenzen nanimono nimo nattenai

「なんであいつなんだよ」 "Why that fucker?"
nannde aitsu nannda yo

って今日もやっかんでる I say again with envy today
tte kyou mo yakkan deru

でも嫉妬こそ 努力の根源さ But it's that jealously that's the root of effort
demo shitto koso douryoku no kongen sa

I am a HERO しつこくいこうぜ I am a Hero I'll persist
I am a hero shitsukoku ikou ze

ジンジンジンジン人生のど真ん中で Right smack dab in the middle of life
jin jin jin jin jinsei no doman naka de

いっぺんくらい調子に乗りたい I'd just once like to go wild
ippen kurai choushi ni nori tai

10年経ってまだこれ言ってるけど I'm still saying this 10 years later but,
juunen tatte mada kore itteru kedo

待たせたな本物に変身するんだ I'll change to the real me that's been waiting
mataseta na honmono ni henshin surunda

I am a HERO 何笑ってるの? I am a Hero What are you laughing about?
I am a hero nani watteru no?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Will Chacott be my Savior?

Chacott is a brand I've always seen on the shelves of cosmetics stores and I've always kind of passed it over for the cuter and flashier brands like KATE or Majolica Majorca

Two weeks ago, I picked up the darkest foundation they had and, expecting to be disappointed, applied it to the back of my hand. The color seemed to melt into my skin. I couldn't tell where the foundation ended. I applied some more to various spots on my neck and face and walked around a bit waiting for it to settle.

Unlike other foundations that seemed too yellow or white, this one seemed perfect.

My little research into Chacott showed me that it's a company that focuses on dance and other performance products, with the make-up line being a natural branching out.

So. I bought it. I applied it to my face and it was great!

Unfortunately it doesn't have any SPF so I need to apply sunblock before I apply the foundation. But, I am really hoping that this works out well...!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Random Thoughts 0926

This past Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were holidays in Japan known as "Silver Week." If you are familiar with Japanese holidays, you may know about "Golden Week" which takes place in May and has been a staple for a number of years. 

For those of us lucky enough to have those three days in addition to the weekend off, we had five days of freedom. I saved up my summer vacation days and took off the Friday (18th) and this past Thursday and Friday...giving me 10 days off of work (including the weekend).

So, what else would I do but go to the great land of Korea for about a week?

1. Korea Has Wi-Fi
Like, wtf Japan? There is free Wi-Fi all over Seoul and other outlying cities. And it's not that "sign up to use and we'll kick you off after 15 to 30 minutes" shit you call "Wi-Fi" on an old NTT line. This is the real shit.

2. Korea (Seoul) Has Tons of American Stuff
I know, "Who goes to Korea to eat Taco Bell?", right? Well...I do. There is fucking Fruit by the Foot. What the---?!!! Why? You know what, I don't need to know why. Just give me those Fruit by the Foot, some Quiznos, some of that Starbucks in the glass bottles and...take my money!

3. Seoul is Vibrant
Seriously. Tokyo, just...take a seat an learn. 

The National Museum was FREE! I've never been to a free museum in Japan unless I got tickets from someone. And the museum was so nice...it was huge!
I had a drink by the river with a friend and there were so many people out there drinking, skateboarding, singing and just enjoying life. People are out late, stores are open past 9pm and yeah. Tokyo seems dead by comparison. My guesthouse was about 7,000 yen for five nights...in a central area (the doorstep of Ehwa University). I stayed in Taito-ku last September, which is barely Tokyo and paid twice that for three or four nights. And the neighborhood was shit. Subway fare used in Seoul over 6 days, about 2,000 yen, if that. Subway fare used in Tokyo over a five-day period? Close to 6,000 yen.

4. The non-Asian Westerners Living in Seoul are Crunchy
Yeah, it's like all of the people who were rejected from the JET Program were sent to Seoul to teach. Some were pretty creepy. Guess there are no changes there.

Now that I'm back in Japan, I feel dull. I guess that's how things are after a vacation.