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Some Books I’ve Read Recently

(In reverse chronological order:) Shogun, James Clavell. It’s not a bad story, really; it’s extremely detailed, and he does a good idea of giving an impression of 16th century Japan. I just couldn’t get past the fact that he absolutely butchered the Japanese language, which he scattered throughout for a well-intentioned but disastrous attempt at [...]


I just registered for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, level 3. According to the official site, this represents the following: The examinee has mastered grammar to a limited level, knows around 300 kanji and 1,500 words, and has the ability to take part in everyday conversation and read and write simple sentences. This level is [...]

Images of a Green Apocalypse

I think sometimes that I am just a sucker for cityscapes. The ones in question show the reclamation of Tokyo by nature after all the people, for whatever reason, disappeared. That link goes to a roundup by another English-speaking blog; the original artist posts in Japanese, and doesn’t have an obvious link which collects all [...]

Whence the fascination?

I’m really not sure why I’m so interested in Japan, or the Japanese language. It’s easy enough to find the point of entry of my interest; it was when I started to match sounds to subtitles in the anime I watched in college. However, that was little more than a passing fancy; it doesn’t explain [...]

in which a random fact leads to a political realization

A doctor’s predictions about whether or not various victims of assassination could be saved with modern trauma medicine. Casualty rates in american wars. The importance of medicine in keeping people alive is hard to appreciate. It’s easy to say that the US life expectancy has more than doubled since the nation’s inception, but it becomes [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan

True Stories of Life in Japan is a series I decided to do as a creative writing exercise. My constraints were that I was to publish one per weekday, that each would be at least 500 words, that the series would have ten installments. They would each focus on some aspect of life there, while [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 10: All Good Things

My contract in Japan specified that I would stay one year at that company, and that nine months into the process both the head office and I would determine whether the contract was worth renewal. If we both decided that I should stay, I would get a raise of about $1000 annually and an automatic [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 9: So You Want to be an Expatriate

One of the more common reactions I get from people newly learning that I’ve lived in Japan is “I wish I could do something like that.” It’s actually not all that hard; all you need is a bachelor’s degree, some patience during the application process, a few thousand dollars to get you over there and [...]

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 will continue through the finish after the holiday break.