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Review: Sukiyaki Western Django

This is an unusual movie. Produced with an all-Japanese cast (except Quentin Tarantino), it unites 12th century Japan and 19th century Nevada. It is in English, but as though the characters (not the actors) had agreed to use that language beforehand for reasons of their own. Accents are thick, sometimes to the point of incomprehensibility, [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 8: Nonverbal Communication

My entire stay in Japan originated because of my interest in Japanese. It wasn’t a particularly serious interest at first, but I discovered somewhat to my surprise that I really liked studying that language. It was only natural that once I actually got to Japan, I continued my studies, even though it meant paying almost [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 4: Combini and Vending Machines

Japan has been crowded for as long as anyone can remember. Even in prehistoric times, when the very first boatload of proto-japanese people landed and set up a settlement, they built their town in an area the size of a basketball court and reserved the rest of the land for a mixture of golf courses [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 1: Culture Shock

Logistically, it worked out best for me to fly east from Boston Logan to London Heathrow to Tokyo Narita, a trip which involves 26 hours of flight time and another 12 of waiting in airports. The time difference from Eastern Standard Time to Japan Time is 13 hours forward. I arrived at Logan at 3am [...]

this concludes my interest in sudoku

This past week, for lack of much better to do, I’ve implemented a series of Sudoku solvers. I already had one from a few months ago, but the code was just plain ugly and while it kind of worked, I can no longer say conclusively how or why it did. Thus, version 2 was born [...]


There was a moment in Futurama in which the protagonist makes himself breakfast: he simply pours a bowl of pellets from a large sack marked “bachelor chow.” Ever since, I’ve wished that such a food actually existed, because when I’m eating alone, convenience and price come far ahead of taste. The best part of such [...]

true facts should I join the Army

I finally got the recruiter on the phone today–he’s been hard to get in touch with, having recently had a baby–and learned the following things: It is not likely that it will be determined whether I’m accepted into the helicopter program while I’m still in Japan. Even if I complete all the preliminary testing here, [...]

road trip

Last month, I made plans. The first weekend of this month, I was to go skiing. The last weekend of this month, I was to go to an onsen. Skiing was fun but mostly unremarkable; I took a train there, skiied for a day and a half, and took a train back. There was some [...]


The Japanese custom for Valentine’s day goes as follows: every female interested in participating buys a crate of chocolate, then gives a sub-box to every male she knows. (It isn’t wholly sexist; guys do give gifts back a month later–but only to the women who gave them chocolate first.) As such, I’ve received a few [...]


When I have cause to buy my food from convenience stores, it’s usually because I have no food in the apartment and the actual grocery stores closed before I got out of work for the day. As a result, I’ve had a fair bit of experience with the various fares available in the stores near [...]