Category Archives: SOCIETY

The Five Stages Of Breakup Survival In Japan

Being dumped in a different country is heartbreaking and frustrating to say the very least. But, before you cover yourself with your futon and refuse to leave the house for the next few weeks, read on for a few tips that will help you deal with it, eventually helping you return to that fabulous woman you were when the relationship first started.

Breaking Up In Japan

Over my time in Japan, I have done my share of dumping and being dumped. Neither are fun. Like in many other countries, breaking up here tends to either come to you as an unexpected lightning from the sky or simply fade away — in other words, hard and soft breakups.

Hard breakups: This is the messy type. (S)He goes out of his way to be mean to you, picks fights over insignificant things and throws ‘culture differences’ in your face, is unfaithful to you, or, goes for the throat with an “I don’t see this relationship leading to something that aligns with my goals for the future,” and there’s not a single thing you can say that will get them to speak with you again.

My ex-fiance combined the last two and got his co-worker pregnant, so that was a fun breakup to deal with on Christmas Eve (yes, he told me that over the phone on Christmas Eve). This is a rare case though, and I hope you never encounter it. Either way, this is a shocking thing to deal with, but the good thing about it is that you’d know there’s no going back (and there shouldn’t be). Leave the memories behind, and thank all heavens you didn’t end up with a partner like that.

No one is irreplaceable, after all, and if your partner is avoiding you, it’s time to find someone who …continue reading


Country living and the story of the free watermelon

Country life has proven to be substantially different to city life in Japan already – and it couldn’t be illustrated better than our family’s evening walk yesterday.We like just going on evening walks to enjoy some outdoor time after we have dinner. Now, as you can imagine in an urban environment that means lots of noise, traffic to contend with, and not a whole ton of green space – it’s definitely more of a sidewalk stroll than any appreciation of nature. Last night though I was truly appreciative for our amazing view on our walk. We live by rice fields right now, so the view is incredible – the bright, vibrant green is so pleasant. But more than the walk and the scenery, it was the friendliness of one of our neighbors that really blew me away. As we were walking by his house, he called our whole family over – there were some neighborhood kids all feasting on a watermelon that he had grown, and he was offering us some too. It was delicious – and we heartily expressed that to him – so he ran inside and got us a giant one to take home with us!That’s my husband with the watermelon right there! I can’t remember the last time we had watermelon (since it’s usually so expensive here in Japan) so the kindness of our neighbor – that we just met, mind you – was flooring to us.Have you experienced this kind of warm welcome in Japan? Or perhaps, have you noticed a difference between city and country welcomes in Japan? I’m curious to hear your thoughts! …continue reading


Heal your heart and body: Find Your Element in Fall 2017

As much as we love Japan, it’s a stressful place. If you don’t know the language, even more so. And actually, sometimes knowing the language makes it even worse. If you’re looking for some spiritual healing, relaxation, leadership skills and/or guidance try attending the Find Your Elements Workshops this coming fall .

Find Your Element Workshop ’17 Fall Season〜 A 12-Week Program for Inner Discovery and Inspiration will feature some great speakers, teachers, and philosophers.

Featured Speakers For The Find Your Element Workshops this Fall.

…continue reading


I want a Japanese Girlfriend

Uh, sure you do

I made a lot of mistakes with Saki, my first Japanese girlfriend. The most notable of which was attempting anything resembling a conversation.

“So you said you’ve got a sister, right?” I asked. “Does she live in Tokyo too?”

“I think so, maybe.”

“Well, when did you last see her?” I continued.


“Huh. Okay…well, um, does she live by herself? Does she have a boyfriend?”

“Mmm,” she said, “I’m not sure.”

“So you don’t know where she lives then, your sister?”

“Mnnnn,” replied Saki, “maybe Chiba?”

In the Land of Tiny Cakes

We were sitting upstairs in a tatami room in a cafe in Azabujuban, having tiny cups of green tea and even tinier cakes. My legs were killing me. Why a nation renowned for its technology has yet to embrace the chair, I’ll never understand. And hey, I’d voted for a round of darts with some spicy fries and beer, but somehow that motion got overruled. Now all we were lacking was a Victorian doll house and a couple teddy bears. Care fo’ a spot o’ tea, Mista Pibbles?

But Saki was remarkable for two things. The first was the eye- and lip-liner she’d had tattooed to her face. Hey, that’s time efficiency, which I appreciate. If you still think tattoos are limited to yakuza, you’re living in the 1990’s. Younger Japanese are picking them up like wildflowers, onsen be damned.

Saki also had a wildflower tattooed on her outer thigh. I thought it looked godawful, but that just goes to show what Ken Seeroi knows about fine art.

That wasn’t the second remarkable thing. That thing was that Saki seemed to possess almost no knowledge of her own family. At the time, I thought this unusual.

“So your father,” I continued, “what does he do?”

“Oh, he works for a company,” she replied proudly.

“Great, and what’s his job?”

“Ummm, he’s …continue reading


Hope in Japanese


Sporadic missile tests by North Korea, especially over the past few months, and the equally hot words now flying over the Pacific in their wake are giving rise to both fear of war, and hope for a solution.

Hope is always in ready supply in those who care about the future, and so we’re going to look at how this wonderful state of mind is expressed in Japanese.

Japanese, of course, has it’s word for the noun “hope,” which is 希望 kibo. That’s what you’ll find in the dictionary, but it’s not what you’ll often hear in conversation.

The way kibo is used, it is usually closer to “wish” or “desire” – i.e., something that will benefit you personally, than to the expansive emotion that is hope. For example, メーカー希望価格 meh-kah-kibo-kakaku is “recommended retail price” or, literally “manufacturer’s wished for price”; or 希望の学校 kibo no gakko is the school you are aiming to enter.

The more usual way to express hope is using the pattern dattara ii. dattara is the conditional form of the verb “da” (the closest thing Japanese has to a “be” verb) and “ii” means “good”. In other words “it would be good if…” but attached to the end of the sentence, not the beginning. The “da” verb is used here as the standard example, but the transformation applies to whatever verb is being used.

So, “I hope the North Korean threat will blow over” is “Kita Chosen kara no kyoui ga sugisattara ii ne.” 北朝鮮からの脅威が過ぎ去ったらいいね. sugisaru means “blow over”, and becomes the conditional sugisattara, or “if [something] blows over.” By the way, the “ne” at the end is the almost mandatory invitation to assent that comes at the end of so many spoken Japanese sentences. So, literally translated: “If would be good if the North Korean threat blew over, wouldn’t it.”

Or, …continue reading