Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Most Difficult Chopstick Food

What is the reaction of a Japanese person at the sight of pickled plum? His tongue gets stimulated by the thought of this sour delicacy called umeboshi, and starts releasing gallons of spit. This is an effect to which outlanders with no former experience of pickled plum are immune.

My reaction to seeing a bowl of miso soup with cubes of raw tofu is nothing other than panic: I'm sitting in this fancy restaurant with all these erudite intellectuals, and the waiter brings us a mighty block of tofu on a bamboo tray... and all I've got is a pair of enamel chopsticks!
Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Cat Pees on the Futon

I just finished washing my semi-double futon in the bath tub because it stank of cat urine! The mattress was blotted with two big patches of yellow fluid...

Kai, our younger cat, has been guilty of passing water on various materials such as blankets, backpacks, mats, pillows, and futons ever since she was neutered a year ago.
Saturday, June 27, 2009

How Long It Took Me to Learn to Read and Write Japanese

Photo: Shugatastic
Kids in Japan learn a minimum of 1945 Chinese characters. The characters are learned in two phases: the first 1006 kanji are introduced in elementary school, and the remaining 939 in middle school and high school. The Japanese kanji curriculum, therefore, spans over 12 academic years. Does this mean that foreigners too must devote 12 years to learning Chinese characters to become literate in Japanese?
Friday, June 19, 2009

Butakimudon (Pork Kimchi Domburi)

I'm proud to present my first recipe ever: ぶたきむ丼!

I have a confession to make... Before coming to Japan I wasn't able to cook anything except rice. But after starting to live in a gaijin house, I couldn't keep eating only bento (Japanese boxed lunch), so I had to finally ignite the gas cooker and devise something to nourish myself with.

I experimented a lot with rice and various ingredients, but what I really wanted to do was come up with something quick and easy to make.

A friend of mine told me that buta-kimchi is easy to prepare, so I thought I'd give it a shot. To be honest, I didn't have any idea what it was like so I improvised—I was also too lazy to look it up on the Internet. I coated the frying pan with sesame oil, fried some shreds of pork in it, and emptied a pack of kimchi into it. Finally, I laid the concoction as topping on rice.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to Read Japanese Menu Prices

Japan is a country where you'll get stuck sometimes for not being able to make sense of the local orthography. While the more important signs in the bigger cities are presented bilingually, you might have trouble understanding the restaurant menus even in central Tokyo.

Even if you're just a traveler wanting to go for a slurp in the local noodle shop, you might want to learn the Chinese numerals, because (1) they're still widely used in Japan, and (2) most restaurants don't have English menus. Where's Google Translate when we REALLY need it!?

While it is usually safe to order without knowing the contents of a dish, it will become a much greater problem if you fail to heed the price on the dish! So at least learn the numbers!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3 Bothersome Facts about Japanese Dorms

To supplement my gaijin house post I wrote three weeks ago, I'd like to tell you something about Japanese dorms. I have never stayed in one but some of my friends have, and I heard their horror stories...
Friday, June 12, 2009

5 Tips on How to Effectively Improve Your Japanese

When I enrolled in the exchange program, I had many goals in mind that I wanted to achieve. Among them was of course a desire to improve my Japanese.

Going to a foreign country doesn't always entail becoming fluent in a language. You have to work at it if you really want to achieve good results. Just going to Japan and staying in a hotel for six months while working as an English teacher won't get you very far. You have to put effort into learning the language.

Today I'm going to give five pointers on how to improve your Japanese faster during your stay.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Kiyomizu Temple in Pictures

I could at last drag my ass to Kiyomizu Temple. I'm not that good at appreciating temples and shrines, but I must say it was pretty darn Zen!
Saturday, June 06, 2009

5 Things I Don't Like about Convenience Stores

No matter how much I love convenience stores, there are always things about them that bug me.
Thursday, June 04, 2009

Angry Note from Neighbor

Today I got another complaint from a neighbor of mine. He doesn't like the fact that my room emits smoke. He hangs his laundry on the balcony so he wrote to us saying that our unhealthy habit is making his clothes stink.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Spidermen Noodles

Ever wonder where Spiderman's webs end up...?

In Japan, they get gobbled up by diehard fans of the superhero, because Universal Studios Japan (USJ) collects Spiderman's trusty nets and cooks すぱいだぁ麺 (supaidaamen) out of them.
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