Thank you, Trey and Matt.

I didn’t think it possible to love South Park more than I already did, then Season 19 Episode 6 aired. I, as did all the other internet fangirls around the globe, lost my shit. It was 5.30am Thursday morning, UK time, and I’d woken up early to stream the episode, as I do every week, because I don’t live in the US and can’t watch the show on Comedy Central when it airs. (Every week I act like Cartman pacing in front of the Nintendo Wii displays in ‘Go God Go’, Season 10. ‘Come on… come ooooonnn…’) And now I’m sitting here, having watched the episode twice in a row, trying to contain my feels and figure out what the fuck to say. I don’t think I can ever move on from this. That was the best episode, ever.

As an ex-yaoi fangirl (okay, ‘ex’, who am I kidding), a speaker of Japanese, a fan of Asian culture (glad to see a little more Korean exposure this week! If they did a kpop-centered episode, ‘I would be sooo happy’…) and a South Park shipper myself (Kyman, thanks for asking), this episode was everything I could have ever wanted. I guess you could say I was one of South Park‘s targets this week, and I fucking loved it. The hashtag ‘#kinkshame’ popped up all over Tumblr.

I am so happy, and I don’t know who to talk to about it. All I can do is grin like an idiot, clutch my face and whisper, “Oh my God, OH, MY GOD.” I’m glad I got that out.

Where does South Park go from here?

I don’t know. But I know I will follow it always.


Day 132: Taco taco, burrito burrito~ ♪ 日曜日・2015年1月25日

I’m not sure why, but I slept a LOT this weekend. Far too much. I wonder if it’s because it’s cold season and my body’s trying to protect itself. Still haven’t caught a cold yet. Planning to keep it that way, but I wonder what I’m doing right this year that I didn’t do last year, because ever since I caught Freshers’ Flu on the first night I never really recovered until I finished the academic year. Is it because there’s no such thing as Freshers’ Week here? Maybe there is and I haven’t heard of it. Either way, I’m much healthier.

Saying that, I made tacos for the first time tonight, not very healthy. But I made them mainly because I bought a box of Old El Paso taco shells before Christmas and I wanted to get rid of them. And I was feeling like having meat.

I’ve never even eaten a real taco before, let alone made one. I think I did okay seasoning the ground beef, but I didn’t warm the taco shells as we don’t have an oven (there’s a fish grill but I’ve not even tried to use it). So I left the taco shells hard and tried to put the filling in anyway (mild taco sauce, salsa, homemade guacamole, seasoned ground beef, lettuce), and of course, they all tipped out and made a sloppy mess every time I tried to take a bite out of it. Taco fail.

I also bought a different type of “taco” at the supermarket today – by that I mean tako, which is Japanese for ‘octopus’. I bought a load of eggs so I’ll make some takoyaki at some point. Not very healthy either. I probably shouldn’t have bought all those eggs. Whenever I do I just seem to make fatty stuff that doesn’t help me on my way to my goal of 65kg. Sigh.

After I write this blog post I’m going to watch The World’s End and then go to bed. I’ve seen both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz but for some reason it’s taken me a year and a half to get round to watching the finale of the Cornetto trilogy. Or the Fence trilogy, or whatever we’re gonna call it. Comedy horror is the best. Is there a special word for that genre? I don’t know, but I love it.

I can’t remember who it was who talked about all the benefits of lemons (might have been Blogilates), but I bought a bunch today (because I apparently needed a lime to make the guacamole with but I couldn’t find any so I settle for lemons). Anyway, they say it’s good to drink water with a slice of lemon in it, and also squeeze some lemon juice in there. Makes the water taste better, but also it’s supposed to be good for “flushing out the toxins” (I don’t tend to trust such phrases) and help with digestion, so on and so forth. So while I have some lemons to use up, I might as well give it a go.

Lemons apparently can also be used as a natural deodorant (not sure I trust that either; I’d have to try it first), and also mixed with honey a skin-tightening face-mask. And this wasn’t mentioned on the video, but I found out when I was younger that if you have natural blonde hair and you want to keep it blonde, you should squeeze lemon in your hair and spend as much time in the sun as possible, to naturally highlight your hair. I’m a natural blonde, but my natural hair isn’t blonde anymore. It’s darkened to mouse-y brown over the years, and now the blonde in my hair is from unnatural colouring. If only I hadn’t dyed my hair black when I was fourteen. But oh well.

I’m letting my roots grow out for now, so I think the first four inches of my hair are the natural dark colour my hair has become, followed by several inches of dyed blonde. I want to grow my hair out as much as possible, and I’ll either grow my hair so long it reaches my elbows, or when I think it’s a suitable length I’ll chop it off so all that remains is my natural hair colour, and then I’ll resist the urge to ever dye my hair again. If you’ve never dyed your hair, please don’t ever start.

If I leave my hair as it is, it may darken to black by the time I’m twenty-five or whatever, which is what happened to my dad, I think. Then I will have naturally dark hair. I think I suit dark hair quite well, but not with blonde roots. The effect makes you look like you’re going bald, whereas light hair with dark roots seems more socially acceptable. And I have naturally dark eyebrows, which my mum complimented me on the last time we Skyped. Hooray.

What am I babbling about?

Going off on a haircare tangent because once again, all I did today was read, and study, and go shopping, and make tacos. But at least I’ve gotten rid of the taco shells so I’ve curbed my temptation for unhealthiness… until next time.

Halfway through the week I’ve been invited to go get Indian food again, because the place we went to last time was so good. They have a lot of excellent vegetarian options in India; in fact, it has the lowest meat-consumption rate worldwide. I think it’s to do with Buddhism and Hinduism but I’m not too sure. Don’t quote me on that.

And because I have my interview on Friday, Rachel said that would be a good excuse to go do karaoke again. Either to celebrate because it went well, or to cheer me up if it goes badly. Either way, hopefully we’re doing karaoke on Friday night. Oh, and I’ve been invited to go to a vegan restaurant Thursday lunchtime. Can’t wait. So many delicious things to try!

Night night.

Day 128: One Piece and South Park in my lesson! :D 水曜日・2015年1月21日

I’m going to make this quick as I want to do some cooking before I go to bed (really bad timing, I know, but it’s more preparational cooking rather than having a huge meal right now). And I don’t want to make too much noise because of others sleeping.

Well, all that happened today was I went to some lessons. Specifically Vincent’s lessons, as I only have first and second period on a Wednesday.

The first lesson was Linguistics again of course, taught in English as always, and today we continued analyzing Japanese humour and how it compares to Western humour.

I’d known from last week we were going to be studying South Park in class, but I got treated again when I found out we were also analyzing pages from the One Piece manga. Two of my favourite shows in one class. How convenient that we could see both Japanese translated to English, and English translated to Japanese, and how both translations dealt with the cultural transmission of humour.

Manga is in one of those unfortunate positions where you have to make direct translations, because of the pictures and the timing and the box sizes limiting possibilities to get a good translation. I suppose cartoons are also the same. Also, translators for manga are under extreme time pressure, so they do what they can to make a joke in Japanese funny to an English audience, but they shouldn’t spend more than a few minutes on each phrase, so the possibilities to what they can do are limited.

There were more examples, but from the Japanese-English One Piece examples, this one was to me, the most interesting.

Luffy (the main character of One Piece) has just met a man stuck inside a treasure chest, and he makes a joke in Japanese which is very difficult to translate into English.


Here there’s a pun, and a demonstration of noritsukkomi (the reacting part of a duo who at first plays along then goes “what are you on about?!”).

Luffy says: “This is my first time seeing a guy in a box,” then in Japanese, he says, 「箱入り息子なのか?」“hakoiri musuko na no ka?” (“Are you a son-in-a-box?”)

That doesn’t make much sense in English, but the phrase 箱入り娘 hakoiri musume roughly translates as “daughter in a box”, and it refers to a girl who’s led a sheltered life, maybe her parents have never let her do anything on her own, etc. So here, Luffy made a pun and called him a “son in a box”, as he’s stuck in a “box of treasures”. Har har.

Then the guy in the treasure chest (I forgot his name, it’s been so long since I saw One Piece) takes on the role of noritsukkomi to Luffy’s boke and replies, “Ahhh yes, when I was little my parents were very nice to me… ARE YOU AN IDIOT?!”

Hahaha. I started watching anime when I was 14 (wow, six years ago… time flies), and I think I naturally got used to Japanese humour, somehow knowing what’s funny and being able to laugh really hard. And I think One Piece is one of the funniest anime I know. But I don’t know if people who’d never watched anime would find it funny the way I do.

Then in English, they translated it as:

“Ah, I’ve never seen a man in a treasure chest before. Are you a boxer?”

“Ah, well when I was little… HEY, THAT’S A STUPID JOKE!”

So they had to completely change the pun. I like what they did with “boxer” (albeit very cheesy), but making the link between the treasure chest being a box is a little vaguer, as we don’t call a treasure chest a “box” in English.

Then we watched part of the South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut movie, first in English with Japanese subtitles, then dubbed by Japanese voice actors.

And… oh shit, I only just realised the significance behind the title Bigger, Longer and Uncut. I should have guessed. But it was so subtle. It just sounded like a classy name that encased the transition from TV to the big screen. It’s taken me nine years to realize they made a phallic joke, and totally got away with it. I am so slow.

If I can find a DVD of South Park here in Japan I think I’ll buy it. I’m very fortunate as Europe and Japan have the same DVD region. I should probably buy all the DVDs I can, haha. I was annoyed that I couldn’t find certain movies on YouTube with an English sub so maybe the DVDs will have them.

Anyway, first we watched the scene at the very beginning where they’re off to watch the new Terrance & Phillip movie, and they get rejected at the ticket office. When Vincent was setting up the DVD and skipping through to the right part, I heard the opening theme of “Terrance and Phillip: Asses of Fire”, and I was like, oh boy. Vincent DID say the clip he was showing didn’t have very bad language, but all I could think of at that moment was Phillip going “You are such a pig-fucker, Terrance”. Among other things that would lead to Sheila Broflovski having a coronary. I don’t think I’d have been able to contain my laughter if I’d seen that clip.

But no, we didn’t see that part. Probably a good thing in the end.

Vincent mentioned that while Japanese people watch English movies and find them interesting, they rarely find them funny, as we just have a different sense of humour. He’d often find himself in a movie theatre and he’d be the only one laughing. I have to agree, that’s happened to me, less than a week ago, actually, at a scene at the end of The Battle of the Five Armies.

Vincent also commented that the way they’d translated it in the South Park Japanese dub actually really worked, in a way so that Japanese people could find it funny. For one, they’d translated it into Kansai-ben, which is regarded as “funny-language” nationwide. Also in the scene where they’re not allowed into the movie theater, they were able to turn Kyle into a tsukkomi, which was more helpful. The ticket office guy says something along the lines of “This film has been rated R under the Motion Picture Association of America. You can’t enter without a legal parent or guardian.” Kyle says, “but why?”, and the guys goes, “BECAUSE THIS FILM HAS NAUGHTY LANGUAGE!” (“Next, please.”)

In Japanese, where Kyle says, “but why?”, they change it to “nandeyanen?” (“What are you on about?”), which is a classic Kansai dialect tsukkomi phrase. Also, when the guy goes “BECAUSE THIS FILM HAS NAUGHTY LANGUAGE!” in Japanese, apparently its Japanese counterpart is also considered quite funny, so this scene in particular really worked.

However, I think I was the only one laughing when Cartman goes, “yeah, but the animation’s all crappy” and then they walk along side-by-side, showcasing the show’s own crappy animation. Har har har.

We have the exam next week, but from what I hear from Lisa, it’s quite kind. I’m making a chart with notes on for each of the sections he’s covered. I hope I get a good mark, as Linguistics was one of my favourite classes this semester and I paid as much attention as I could.

Then there was the reading class, and then I went back to my dorm. We finished early, so I could have snagged a seat at the canteen before it got really busy, but I’m being careful with money, so I resisted the urge and went home to eat soup and a sandwich instead.

And then I had a nap, which probably wasn’t a good idea as I’d slept for ten hours the night before, but somehow, it wasn’t enough.

Still, I only had a short one, and I felt very replenished afterwards.

My original plan had been to get up early tomorrow and make a quick trip to Universal Studios (as quick as a trip there can be, haha) for certain reasons, but then Rika invited me to go to karaoke tomorrow, and we’ve not hung out in AGES so naturally, I happily agreed to go. Universal Studios can wait. I also need to find some work shoes at some point for my interview next week, which I’m nervous about as I have pretty big feet (size 8 UK), and it’s hard finding shoes even in England. So I’ve no idea what it’ll be like in Japan. I’ll just try to find flats if I can, or nondescript loafer-type shoes. No heels if I can help it. Is it acceptable for working women to wear trousers over here, or are skirts preferred? I’d rather not show off my legs.

Anyway! That’s enough for today.

Day 123: Tea party! …or, pizza party, I don’t know. 金曜日・2015年1月16日

My application to be a subwarden in university accommodation from September 2015 got rejected. Haha. Oh well! I guess I’ll just have to find a regular part time job and live in a regular apartment when I get back to England. Well, at least I’ll have more of a life that way. And be able to come back at a more relaxed pace, instead of cutting my summer holiday short to come back and start work immediately. Lulz. Hopefully if I get this job that I have an interview for at the end of January, I’ll then have more experience to add on to my CV and have less chance of getting rejected.

I need money so badly.

Please just give me the monies. *cries*

Well until then, I went along to my lesson today and then found out it was cancelled, so I didn’t really do anything until the “tea party” tonight. Everyone brought different types of tea and snacks with them, turning it into something more along the lines of a snack party, and then we ordered 3 different types of pizza, which took centre stage. A crab/fish pizza for the non-meat-eaters, then some meaty ones. I didn’t eat too much as I had a chicken sandwich before going to the party, to prevent me from eating too much.

I met a couple of new people, which was nice, including that Brazilian girl Angelina who I’ve seen around a lot but never really spoken to, and Rachel’s Japanese friend Tomoki.

Angelina, the girls and I had a little lament over how high Japanese male standards apparently are for women. Being overweight is seen as incredibly bad in Japan, and they can even look at you with barely-concealed disgust. Also, while BMI 25/26 (around there, anyway) is considered perfectly healthy in the West, Japanese standards say you are only healthy at <24 or so. Most girls here weight an average of 40kg. My ultimate “healthy-for-my-height” goal is 65kg, and there is no way I’m ever going below 60. Also they tend to want girls smaller than them, petite and cute, and of course European girls tend to be pretty tall. Angelina is a bigger even than me, but in Brazil she’d only be considered a little overweight, and I think maybe the same in the UK, but here in Japan, she’s considered like, obese, and I can’t believe that. Her size isn’t at all strange to me, as I’ve seen plenty of girls that size, and having a healthy appetite is a good thing. But then I heard she was apparently “too big” for the rides at USJ, and they rejected her only when she got to the front of the queue when she waited for two hours. Unbelievable. It’s an international theme park; they ought to be prepared for that kind of thing.

Apart from that I can’t really think of much to say.

Well, I left early so I could Skype my parents, and we had a good long chat. Apparently my dad’s started his own blog. Now I can be the judging critic, muahahaha.


Oh, also, I saw the exam timetable posted inside the CJLC. I don’t think I have that many, maybe 5 or 6. I say that like it’s not a big deal, but to me it’s not. I feel way less pressure for these as they’re more like “tests” than “exams”, though of course I’ll try my best.

I really want to watch The Hobbit now but I should probably go to sleep and watch it tomorrow. Ah well.


P.S. I learnt how to say “Oh my God! They killed Kenny! You bastards!” in Japanese.

「なんてこった!ケニーが殺されちゃった!」 Nante kotta! Kenii ga korosarechatta! 

「この人でなし!」 Kono hitodenashi!

Hehe. I thought that was funny. Now I just need to figure out how to say, “Screw you guys, I’m going home”, and then I’ll be set.

Day 121: English humour vs Japanese humour 水曜日・2015年1月14日

Today was maybe my favourite Linguistics lesson of all time… until next week, of course. because we’ve been promised something amazing (for me, anyway).

We were looking at linguistics used in jokes and humour, so it turned out to be a very funny lesson. Mainly comparing English (or American, looking at the standard style) humour to Japanese humour. As the only native English speaker in the room, I feel I had a harder time suppressing my laughter.

We were presented with a typical stand-up joke, with a set-up and a punchline.

My girl is great. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, and her third feature is most prominent of all.
She has a protruding Adam’s Apple.

That wasn’t exactly the way the joke was told… I think my version here is less funny. I laughed when I saw it projected on the board.

However, Vincent told us that in Japanese humour, the joke would appear incomplete.

In Osaka-style humour in particular, rather than just one person, you have two people, a boke and a tsukkomi, and they bounce off each other, and usually what’s funny is the reaction.

So, to adapt the Western style joke into something the Japanese would find funny, you’d make it something like this:

A: My girl is great. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, and her third feature is most prominent of all.
She has a protruding Adam’s Apple.
B: It’s a man! D:<

But if I’d seen that version of the joke without knowing the context (altered for Japanese humour), I wouldn’t have found it funny at all. English jokes seem to rely a lot on the unsaid, and the element of surprise. We were told a couple more “typical” English-style jokes:

A woman goes into a store, and asks the shop assistant, “Can I try on that dress in the window?”
“Sure,” the shop assistant replies, “but wouldn’t you rather try it on in the changing room?”

“Is the doctor home?” the patient asked in his bronchial whisper.
“No,” the doctor’s wife whispered back. “Come right in.”

A man was playing golf by the side of the road, when a funeral procession led by a black Herse passed slowly by, and he stopped to take his hat off and bow in respect.
“Wow, that was considerate of you,” his friend praised him.

The man smiled, and replied,
“Well, it is my wife’s funeral, after all.”

I have to admit, that last one, I found REALLY funny.

But I actually quite like Japanese humour too. You just have to be watching it in its context, and understand certain things about the culture and language and word play and so on. They say once you’re able to laugh at jokes in another language, then you’ve mastered that language.

Mind you, I’ve been unconsciously laughing at Japanese humour for years, without even realizing what it was. Classic examples being the boke and tsukkomi, a duo where the tsukkomi bounces off and reacts to everything the boke says, but also there’s the “playing along” when something is obviously wrong, and then suddenly going, “nani, kore?!” or “chigau yo!” (“What is this?!” “Wrong!”)

I experienced that only recently when I rewatched The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya, the little chibi cartoon spinoff series. I feel like such an otaku right now. But it genuinely was very funny. Achakura would keep playing along with Yuki and then suddenly going, “WRONG!” or “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU!”

I feel like these are better explained by watching a couple of clips from the anime “Work, Work, Watching!” which shows Japanese humour performed in English. As you’d expect, the result is very strange. The English actors are self-aware and go, “is this supposed to be funny?”

So hopefully now you’ve seen that and have an idea of how Japanese humour works, if you understand Japanese, you might find the next couple of clips quite funny.

The first one is of a robot acting as the boke, though his role is supposed to be the tsukkomi, the one who bounces back with funny reactions, but the skit is very self-aware and talks about the inner workings of comedy, and the robot “malfunctions” as part of the act. It’s very cute.

The second one is the example with the “playing-along-then-funny-reaction”. It’s a social experiment where a TV company approaches people in both Osaka and Tokyo and hands them something wrong, like a brush instead of a microphone. People from Osaka play along a lot better than people from Tokyo, almost like it’s a second nature, which doesn’t help with perpetuating the stereotype that people from Tokyo are cold. I found this pretty funny, but one of the Chinese girls watching this was properly laughing her head off. I wonder if Chinese and Japanese humour are similar at all?

And then we watched another clip of “Work Work Watching” for the lulz.

Work work watching


And then of course I was asked the question every British person wants to hear: their opinion on American humour, and how American humour and British humour are different.

I wasn’t quite so cryptic in my answer as one would expect me to be. People tend to be a little too proud/protective of their own humour, and so it’s irritated me in the past seeing British shows being remade in America to suit the audience, as it takes away everything I found funny in the first place. But I’m calm. Okay, yeah, British people enjoy the use of irony/sarcasm/black humour more, and it can be quite dry, which is why it’s hard for people in America to laugh at, perhaps. I think British people find what’s unsaid to be the funniest, but there tends to be more of an explanation in American humour, and to me, that ruins it. It feels like it’s being spelled out for me. (I hasten to add, not ALL American humour. Just some. *cough* Adam Sandler. *cough*)

I think a lot of people feel the same way, which is why British people can be kind of snobby about their humour. But to be honest, now I think about it, we’re not so different. I mean yes, trying to recreate The Inbetweeners to suit an American audience was a hideous crime in the eyes of British fans, but looking at the setup/punchline structure of stand-up, we have that over in the UK too. And when I think about shows like Mock The Week, I’ve seen they’ve had American contestants on before, as do many UK comedy programs, and everyone’s able to get along and bounce off each other. Not without a few transatlantic jokes being snuck in, of course.

Whose Line on UK television was the best. It started off being all-British but by the last season before the show was permanently moved over to the US, there would quite often be shows where almost all if not all the contestants on that night’s show were American, or Canadian. Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie were made regulars, as they were the funniest duo ever, and then you’d add in people like Greg Proops (who is incredibly witty by the way, and has been on a lot of UK comedy shows) and Brad Sherwood, or whoever. My favourite mashups were Ryan and Colin with a couple of British people though, to keep the balance.

Anyway, back to the point, I think.

Next week we’re going to be watching South Park in Japanese!!! Eeeeee!!

I’ve actually already seen a few clips of South Park in Japanese. There’s not that many on YouTube, well, they’re hard to find, anyway. It’s not that well heard of in Japan.

But yeah, anyway, the aim is to see what they’ve done to alter/translate the humour. I already know it’s been translated into Kansai-ben (Kansai dialect), as that’s what most Japanese comedy uses. It’s funny language. I’m living in Osaka, hometown of 90% of Japanese comedians.

After that lesson, we started a new text in reading class, which is about Osaka dialect, again. And relating to superheroes.

I managed to meet Rika for lunch!!! For the first time in two months!!! Hooray!!!

We had a nice catch-up, even if it was only for 50 minutes. I hope we get to meet up again soon. She just needs to finish off a few more application procedures and then she should be free. (She got accepted into UCLA, hoorah!)

My tutor session with Yuko was also quite productive. I feel like I learned a lot, and picked up new phrases very quickly. I have a lot of notes.

Some useful phrases I learned today:

Sore wa suji ga totta teian da.
(That’s a reasonable explanation.)

Hisashiburi ni yukimidaifuku o tabeta.
(It’s been a while since I ate icecream wrapped in mochi rice flour.)

Hitori atari no cha-shouhiryou ga mottomo ooi kuni wa igirisu desu.
(England is the country where the most tea is consumed per capita.)

Nante kusai shibai darou!
(What a cheesy performance!)

…I always know how to learn the most useful phrases.

I know how to say “Industrial Revolution” (産業革命 sangyou kakumei) but I don’t know how to say “brown”. Probably due to the fact I rushed through the GCSE/A-Level so fast and skipped over the really simple vocab to be able to talk about complicated topics. I got to N4 Level Japanese within less than two years.

I just looked up “brown”. Apparently it’s chairo, spelt 茶色, meaning the “colour of tea”. But they drink green tea. They call all other tea “koucha” 紅茶, literally “red tea”Make up your mind, Japan.

Learning about humour is so interesting.

Not sure what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. I might be going to see The Hobbit with Aiko-san, but she’s not contacted me all week. Hmm.

Ah, oh well, a day in bed wouldn’t be the worst thing. It’s now a healthy 9:30pm, and even if I don’t set my alarm I doubt I will drastically oversleep.

Night night!

Day 67: Second-hand stuff rules. 金曜日・2014年11月21日

I’ve calmed down since my mini breakdown over the last two days. I think we momentarily witnessed Return of the Emo.

I’m also sorry for going, “Fuck you, Japan. you motherfucker”, when it’s not the entire country’s fault its phones are so damn expensive. It’s a really nice phone, to be honest. So I’ll take a deep breath and let it go.

I was exhausted yesterday, and not in the best of moods, yet I managed to stay awake until 7am, getting an hour and a half in quickly before Ethnology and surviving on that until now (7pm). I hope I can go straight to bed after this, though I’m tempted to watch this week’s South Park episode again. It was utterly hysterical. The writing was a little sloppy according to the IGN review, but it returned a lot of my old favourite characters with classic South Park lines, as well as some completely unexpected hilarious moments that had me in tears.

Ethnology was interesting, though Jay and Fraser sat in front of me and it wasn’t the greatest experience… the only two guys in the class, acting like “lads”. Sigh.

I have to choose a topic to do my report on soon, which is scary because I feel like I’ve barely been in this class long enough to find out what to talk about.

In between Ethnology and Politics I took a middle-of-the-day shower, not caring if anyone walked past to see me in my pajamas with a towel around my neck and red Croc-alike ¥100 sandals on my feet (don’t judge me). Yeah, you keep looking, because I be fabulous.

Politics was great like always. Carlos-sensei forgot to translate this sheet he had about English Skype opportunities, but I took a picture of it with my crystal-clear smartphone and will get to translating it myself.

We learned about karoshi (death from overwork) today. The fact there’s even a word for it is worrying in itself. Unfortunately this is very common in Japan, as well as a few other countries in Asia, though in China it’s more that they’re forced into labour, whereas Japanese people do it voluntarily. They work overtime to the point where they’re getting maybe two hours sleep, staying in the office until the boss leaves, going out to drink with everyone, go to bed, repeat the next day two hours later… a nightmare. I guess the body can’t cope with it. I don’t want that to happen to  me. I don’t work myself to death but my sleep pattern is so bad and I know it’s going to affect my health if I continue to run on so little sleep/no sleep at all.

After Politics I tried finding Rika at the kombini but she wasn’t there. I still want to give her a birthday present (a week late), but I’ve not seen her in about two weeks now, not for lunch, karaoke, anything. I wonder if she’s insanely busy? Maybe. She’s trying to get into UCLA to do Shakespeare, after all. She’s gotta be on the top of her game. But I thought I’d see her at work, and she wasn’t there.

I walked to Onohara again so that I could go to Second Street and look at potential electronics to purchase. I got all excited when I saw they had a Canon DSLR at only ¥8900 which looked pretty snazzy, but it was only that price because it was partially broken, so I decided not to buy it. The only other “good”-looking ones were around ¥49000, which is almost as much as I had to fork out yesterday, so I wasn’t about to do that again in a hurry. But if it’s a lot cheaper than buying a brand new one, I MAY consider it.

I DID, however, succeed in finding a small fridge. Not tiny – there was a tiny child’s one which I thought was too small, and other “small” fridges which were actually too big and contained a freezer as well. I found one the perfect size, at only ¥4000, but I’d forgotten how heavy fridges are, so I’m going to get it delivered on Tuesday, for a small fee, but the fridge was already loads cheaper than I’d imagined it to be, so I don’t mind. I just hope it comes before my tutor session with Yuko, and after third period ends. I should have chosen a safer day, dammit.

But yay! Success. Kind of.

It’s okay about the camera to be honest, as the camera I have on my smartphone is actually pretty exceptional. I’ll let you be the judge.

DSC_0007 DSC_0009

And that’s without any editing. Almost the entire front of the phone is a screen, hence why the photos are so long and thin.

I tried again to find Rika, but again, she wasn’t working at the kombini. I stopped by and ate at the shokudou instead. Too tired to cook.

One of the German girls, I’ll call her Eve, came up and talked to me in Japanese, which towards the end slipped into mixed English and German. I’m slowly getting the hang of being tri-lingual now. Just wait until I have to try being quadri-lingual.

That was it for my day, I think. I am calm and tranquil, like a red leaf cascading into a mirror-like pond and watching the ripples glide across the glassy surface. Ahh, what a beautiful image.

Day 65: Ya ya ya. Not feeling good on a Wednesday. 水曜日・2014年11月19日

I woke up late, having had next-to-no sleep last night, but I woke up just in time to dash to Linguistics. For the first time in two months I actually felt hungry sitting in my lesson, because my stomach had gotten used to eating breakfast in the past two days. Oh well, I guess my box of all-bran will have to die another day. Heh.

Linguistics, fun fun. I got asked a lot of English-related questions, which I enjoy. Only thing I really excel at here, being a native speaker.

After that, the Words and Culture of Comprehension, or whatever it’s called. Again, I got lucky, and Vincent stopped class just before I had to attempt reading it out. I take way too long looking up how to read the kanji, other people must do it outside the lesson. I think that’s what I’ll start doing.

After that I went back to my flat (Layla taped ¥500 to my door for breaking a glass, ¥200 of which I returned, but it was my fault for perching it in a weird place. I think I’ll replace it with a plastic cup from the ¥100 store or something), made a sandwich, then dashed off to the monorail so I could get to Umeda and meet Yuusuke properly.

I ran out of money on my IC travelcard so when I tried to go through a gate, I was rejected and had to worm my way back out past an old man behind me, apologizing. I’m sorry; I be nothing but an ignorant foreign girl running late to her tutoring session. It took me a while to figure out how to charge my card as the damned machine refused to take my money, but in the end I managed it and ran to the subway.

I was fifteen minutes late meeting Yuusuke, because I got lost again trying to get to the Yodobashi-Umeda entrance, and when I did, it was the wrong one. But he came to find me, and then the day in Umeda began.

We got along pretty well. We wandered around the shops for a while before going to a café, ordering ice raspberry lattés and proceeding to sit there for two-and-a-half hours as I attempted to teach him English expressions, British phrases, and correct his pronunciation. He wants to speak Queen’s English as he wants to live in Europe, Germany specifically I think, among other reasons. I’m not sure in the end whether I taught anything that useful, or if he found it that helpful. I enjoyed teaching the phrases and explaining them, especially funny British expressions, but in hindsight I feel a bit self-conscious. He wants to be fluent, and now I feel like I didn’t teach anything of much value. If it had been me learning English just as a consequence of loving English, then I’d have loved it, but rather than for leisure this is a very conscious effort to speak proper English. I also probably bored him to death; I spoke a LOT, much more than I usually do, which he did comment on – not rudely, of course not. Actually, I talk a lot with Zed, too. And Lucy, I guess. And on this blog, definitely. Oh, with everyone, now I think about it.

Yeah. I guess I do talk too much. Fucking fabulous.

Yuusuke’s only been learning English two years, and it’s already better than my Japanese. And he speaks German pretty well, considering he’s only been learning it for nine months. My Japanese really suffered today. I was tired, and we ended up conversing in German quite a bit. My German suffered, too. I stopped learning it two and a half years ago, and today whenever I tried to speak German my brain would try to use Japanese grammar, which was meccha taihen (incredibly troublesome).

We then quickly went to the German Christmas Market, where I had a wurst with ketchup. It was lovely. The cookies also smelled delicious but everything other than the sausages were insanely overpriced, including the mulled wine. I would kill for some now, though, as my nose, feet and fingers are freezing in my non-insulated bedroom. Maybe I could figure out how to make it myself and bring a little bit of Christmas into the flat.

After that we wandered back into Yodobashi-Umeda, proceeding to look at cameras and iPhones. The SIM-free iPhone 6 Plus costs ¥82,650. Fuck that shit. Not that I wanted it, anyway. A half-decent smartphone that can use Google Maps, Facebook, LINE and has a good camera is all I’ll need. Also an interchangeable Japanese-English keyboard would be great.

Speaking of phones, Yuusuke told me it costs ¥8000 a month to run a smartphone with SoftBank. What the actual fuck. I didn’t go sort it out in the end because I didn’t want to make him wait around while I handled something that could take like an hour, but now I’m wondering what my options are here. Another option is to buy a SIM-free smartphone from a second-hand shop or something, then go buy a SIM at Docomo, which is the only network here that lets you buy a SIM on its own. I’d have to change my number and phone mail of course then, not to mention cancel my phone contract at ¥10,000 when I’ve only had it too months. And I’ll have to cancel the smartphone at the end of the year as well, if I did that.

Fuck you, Japan, trying to steal my fucking money. Also, fuck the Orange network in the UK for doing the same, but at least it’s not such a big fucking deal trying to buy a SIM-free phone back there. You don’t have to strive to find loopholes in the system in order to get a cheap phone contract on a reasonably convenient smartphone. For fuck’s sake. Contracts here are already expensive as hell. I’m feeling pretty unreasonably annoyed. Well, maybe it IS reasonable anger, but at the same time I’m sure I could have found this out some way without going in blind. I also curse myself for getting the shitty flip phone in the first place that I’d inevitably have to upgrade, being unable to live in another country without the convenience of instant-access internet. Flipping it is incredibly satisfying as I’ve never had a flip-phone before and it’s something oh-so-intrinsically Japanese with its little hiragana buttons, but it’s expensive to run, not to mention I’m unable to use the internet, unable to adjust the volume on the camera shutter, unable to take decent photos, and the buttons are super-hard to type with.

We said goodbye outside the Midosuji line, connected to the basement of Yodobashi… I wish I’d known that before so that I don’t have to constantly cross over bridges and go the long way round.

I bought an onigiri and some water at a little kiosk in the subway station. On the way back I was feeling strange, oddly depressed. My Japanese wasn’t getting any better. I’d kind of failed as an English tutor. I felt pissed off at potentially having to pay a fortune to run a phone as well as the damn train system for taking nearly ¥2000 off me today, which is standard for anyone wishing to go to Umeda from where I live. I could feel dark circles developing under my eyes, my hair was unbrushed, I was wearing yesterday’s clothes due to waking up late, I’d eaten some really fatty foods and I felt fat, unattractive, useless and discouraged. I’m starting to seriously doubt myself and my abilities. I write like a child, unable to write wittily or with any real integrity. I could barely form a coherent sentence in Japanese today, and I’ll probably get a mediocre mark at best in my degree. I won’t be able to go on to study further at some highly-regarded university in England or Japan, I’ll end up in a dead-end job and spend the rest of my middle years staring at a dire report on Windows XP and feeling too fat for my smart work clothes. I’ll stand up on the subway home, feeling like a sardine crammed into a tight space, then return to my single flat and throw myself on the bed as soon as I enter the room. Repeat the next day, and the next, and that’s the story of the rest of my life.

I can’t write anymore tonight. I can’t even smile.

I’ll end it here and continue tomorrow.

Day 43: Possible school trip; lady items; hungry cat; rude flatmates. 火曜日・2014年10月28日

Woke up 10 minutes before my lessons started. On the way to lessons I bumped into Pat, who I hadn’t seen in a while, the guy  who likes One Piece and is studying Chemistry here. He’s nice, but I hadn’t woken up yet and so disgraced myself by going “wuh” to him every time he spoke. He was wearing a Trafalgar Law jacket. Awesome.

Fukuoka-sensei still speaks far too fast. Today, like other days with Fukuoka-sensei in Modern Lit and Tea Ceremony, I realized my Japanese still leaves a lot to be desired. Some days I’m on top form, and can speak faster than usual. Others, I don’t take in a single bloody thing people are saying, even if it’s just at the supermarket and they’re asking if I have a points card. Well, it doesn’t matter, I’ve come to expect what they say now. “Pointo kaado o motteirun desu ka?” “Mochimasen.” (“Do you have a points card?” “I don’t have one.”)

At lunch time I had to go to a medical sign-up think in preparation for the medical check-up next week. I think I have to give them a urine sample. Gross.

Navigating the site to fill in my details on my own was far more complicated than it needed to be. Then there was a little quiz, with lovely questions such as: are you depressed? are you sexually active? do you have regular periods? do you have phlegm-y coughs? do you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? how many hours of exercise do you do a week? do you often get constipation/diarrhea?

I was sitting next to George, coincidentally, so I really hope he didn’t look at some of my answers. I don’t think I put any answers to be ashamed of (except perhaps for the average of zero hours exercise a week), but I don’t really want anyone, particularly males, knowing about my cycles, thanks very much. Like me, I heard him do a little coughing laugh of disbelief at some of the questions.

To my female readers: speaking of “cycles” (sorry if you’re male and you’re reading this), sanitary towels (pads) and tampons here are pretty expensive. ESPECIALLY tampons. And in every country I’ve been in, no pads beat the British Always brand. Most here don’t even have wings. I recommend bringing a large supply with you if you’re coming to Japan for a while, to both save yourself money and humiliation. And accidentally buying a pad that’s forty centimetres long. (See video for more information)

After that I finally when to sign up for the school trip next month. It’s to go to the Hyougen Prefecture, to Tokushima I think (which is actually in Shikoku, a separate island to the one we’re on now), and it’ll be an overnight stay, mainly providing seafood. I know Theresa’s going, and it looks like quite a lot of people on the international program are going too, so I hope I won’t be alone for the whole trip. We have to pay an all-inclusive fee of ¥4000, which isn’t too bad. I’ve seen this kind of trip happen in anime all the time. I remember in Lovely Complex they went to Hakodate in Hokkaido. I really wanna go there. Oh, gah, and they had the whole big school trip experience… as in everyone getting together as a couple. Yeuch.

Yep, confirmed, seen the really feminine Thai girl with one of the tall blonde European guys. This is a massive stereotype, should probably keep this to myself, but I can’t help but admit I’ve tried to figure out if any of the Thai girls here are actually ladyboys. Nope, nope, abort that thought. Stereotyping, racist, etc, etc. But Thai ladyboys are really well-known for being good at their disguises… and the conversation of okama (transvestites) came up in conversation with Kaori and the Thai girl Ponyo on Sunday… okay, I’ll stop now.

I went to find Mizuki-sensei so he could sign my part-time job signup sheet, but when I tried to give it into the office, they reminded me I needed to get a work permit card. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I fucking hate the bureaucratic shit here. I think I have to go to S-Campus to sort that out at some point. Which reminds me, there’s an S-Campus party on Thursday. And hopefully I’ll get to do karaoke with Rika before then. Oh shit yeah, and I’m going to an elementary school on Thursday. I think I have to make a presentation or something. Crap.

Rika, Rachel and I are supposedly meeting up for lunch tomorrow. I hope that plan goes forward, still. Also Rika’s invited me to go to the cinema with her on Saturday. Heck to the yes! I think we’re going to see that new film with Chloë Grace Moretz, If I Stay. I probably wouldn’t have picked it myself, as Chloë acting in high-school roles really weirds me out after she played a 5-year-old in Amityville Horror only nine years ago (nine years? Fucking hell), but I miss the cinema. I’ll take Rika to see Gone Girl if I can, as Lucy’s seen it and recommended it.

Mizuki-sensei didn’t take class with us today, instead we had Yamada-sensei who taught us about the use of Japanese in advertising. It wasn’t too bad, but I still wasn’t feeling up to scratch with my speaking/listening today and I got picked on for being the only native English-speaker in the room. Not picked on, per se, but I felt the pressure whenever he asked a question about the correct way to say things in English.

He asked me to explain what they meant by the Nike slogan, Just Do It. I couldn’t explain myself in Japanese. Three monosyllabic words, of Celtic origin, grammatically masculine, packing more of a punch, and akin to the meaning of getting up off your arse and getting on with something productive rather than holding yourself back with excuses. Yeah, I couldn’t explain that shit.

The guy from Holland upstaged me by explaining what it meant. His English is really good as well, so much so that people mistake him as a native English-speaker. I wish my Japanese had been good enough to explain.

I got back to my unit and the tabby cat was waiting for me again, outside where the postboxes are. It always mewls pitifully and I feel bad for never having food with me, but today I remembered I had a half-eaten sausage bread in my bag. We’re not supposed to feed the cats, as the food can apparently attract baby boars (you what). But #YOLO, right? (Sarcasm. SARCASM. I’m sorry. All the times I’ve said ‘swag’ as well, I was being ironic.)

I started digging around in my backpack, and as soon as I set my back down on the ground, before I’d even got my zipper open, the tabby cat was mewling again, approaching me, getting up on my lap, poking its head through the hole in my bag. And I couldn’t help it, I fell hard and was petting the cat with all the love in my heart. I knew it was just using me to get food, but none of the animals have paid any attention to me yet, and I’m such a sucker for cats. It was in my lap, an impressive feat seeing as I was half standing up, not sitting, so it was digging its claws into my jeggings a little. I stroked it, and it gave me a little nip on my fingers. I choose to interpret it as a loving nip. To my chagrin, I couldn’t find the sausage bread at first, it was so buried in my bag. I tried to move the bag so I could sit on the stairs and look for it, to look a little more dignified in case onlookers walked past and saw a cat clinging to my legs as I tried to feed it, which everyone knows is forbidden (everyone still does it though, so I’m not exactly a lone rebel). But the cat was on TOP of my bag, trying to find the food itself, so I had to awkwardly lift it up without it trying to scratch me out of rage.

I got to the stairs and still couldn’t find it so I thought okay, I’ll go back up to my flat, find the bread there, then come back. Even though I felt bad about leaving the kitty, as if I’d delivered a fake promise of food. But as soon as I started coming up the stairs, it started following me – no, leaping in front of me and blocking my path. Little fucker… so I gave up, searched my bag again, and eventually found it. Barely had I got it out of my backpack, wrapped up in a little plastic bag, did the cat start clawing at it, and I took it out of the plastic, and was about to rip it into smaller, bitesized shreds, when the cat snatched the bread and started tearing at it like a lion tears at a steak, not caring about it being far too big for its mouth. It didn’t look at me again. I was used and abused.

Last time I saw that cat getting fed, Shin was feeding it proper cat food, which not only did the cat polish off straight away, but then starting mewing for more. I’ll tell you what the cat reminds me of: the homeless people on that South Park episode, Night of the Living Homeless. You give them change, and they immediately forget you giving them change, always asking for more.

I felt bad writing that. I’ve said all sorts of opinionated, pretentious things on this blog, but I just recently watched Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason where she had to stand up for herself against snobby Tories saying homeless people deserved to die, or something along those lines. Just to clarify, I do sympathize with homeless people.

After being snubbed by the cat (goddamn their cute little furry faces), I heated up the rest of that soup for my dinner. I can finally feel the cold starting to come in, as while I was heating the soup on the stove, I could feel a cold breeze coming in through the cracks behind the stove, so much that I had to warm up my hands by rubbing them over the soup. As I’m writing this, my feet are also really cold. And it’s still at least ten degrees warmer than England.

Layla got angry because apparently one of the other girls in our flat walked out her room, saw Layla collecting cooking stuff from the fridge, then promptly dumped her own cooking stuff on the counter and stole our shared purple pot to cook with. After all that fucking fuss at the start of the year, that we had to buy our own shit, even though there were MORE than enough of pots and pans, because “people would be upset if we used theirs”.

Rude as fucking fuck. Most people I’ve met here are polite, as one would expect in Japan, but occasionally you’ll cross the path of a complete asshole that completely upturns the stereotype. I know there are assholes in every country, but here, it feels a lot more shocking for some reason.

Another thing I’ve noticed is women in Japan seem to be split into the smiling types, who are always happy-go-lucky and polite, and the types who never smile, and constantly look like their eyes are boring into you, and make you feel like they hate your guts. That is one of my flatmates, and my sixth-form Japanese teacher. Though thanks to my teacher’s strictness, I got an A* in A-Level Japanese.

Maybe that’s why Japanese horror movies are so scary. Do all Japanese people possess this inner power to completely change their personality? No, of course not, that’d just be silly… heh… oh God, I’m having terrifying flashbacks to all the Japanese horror movies I’ve seen. I think I’m going to have nightmares tonight.

I remember once I was sitting on the train home while I was in Fukuoka, and I looked at my exchange partner sitting across from me, and her eyes were really blank, huge and black, like they were staring into my soul. It took me a few seconds to realize she wasn’t staring at me like she was thinking about eating my flesh; she was actually just staring into space and happened to be staring at me by accident. I’ve done that before. But the emptiness of her eyes was really disturbing.

Speaking of disturbing, I finally caught up with The Walking Dead. Classic example of humans being more of a threat than actual monsters. One of the most disturbing things in this world is the unstable nature of humans. What survival can push them to do.

And South Park returns this week! Yay! And it looks like it’s going to be a Cartman/Butters episode. The only thing I love more than a Cartman/Butters episode is a Cartman/Kyle episode. They’ve been getting along really well this season so far, though. No explosive fights. Cartman and Kyle are really alike though, more than they’d like to admit, as was proved in Crack Baby Athletic Association. And several other episodes. So maybe they’re both mellowing out.

Horrible confession here: I ship Cartman and Kyle. I’m twenty years old, I’m too old for this shit, I know.

Speaking of shipping, Emma Blackery and Luke Cutforth came out as a couple. For reals. #LEMMA is a thing.

I’m both extremely happy and extremely weirded out by this. Happy, because they look good together, I always suspected they had something going on, and they appear to have an awesome relationship –  friendly, romantic or otherwise.

I’m extremely weirded out at the same time because despite Luke saying “we weren’t trying to hide it”, it totally seems like they were. Especially Emma, always talking about this mystery boyfriend, denying it was Luke on several occasions. And constantly being like “just because people are close doesn’t mean they’re dating”. So I convinced myself they were just really, REALLY amazingly good friends, and now it turns out they are together after all, and are all like “well, wasn’t it obvious? We’re surprised if you hadn’t noticed by now.”

You can imagine I feel a little peeved at that.

But whatever. They had a little kiss at the end of their video on Luke’s channel, and I felt a huge wave of sappy happiness, because how often do you get to see ships sail in your lifetime? (Not that I ship YouTubers. I’ve never been that kind of person.) There might still be hope for Cartman and Kyle (thought most likely not), as there’s a  lot of evidence that can be compiled as ‘canon’ on the show… oh God, I’m a freak. I haven’t shipped since I was fifteen years old, fucking hell. What does South Park do to me?! I’ve become a giggling fangirl all over again. Fucking shipping. I need a life.

Sorry, if you ship as well, but I can just picture my parents/male friends reading this and shaking their heads. MOVE ALONG, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.