Jade’s Escape from Japan

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Jade’s Escape from Japan

So I went to Japan 5 years ago to escape the American recession and lifestyle as well as my mother and live out my dream of working in Japan. Now that my 5 years are up and I’m back in the States, life should be better…But there are tons of things people didn’t warn me about when it came to re-adjusting to my home country.

The Constant Stomachaches. In Japan, I became a vegetarian (from July 2014), and since my husband returned to the U.S. first, I could adjust my diet every month to a lifestyle teetering on veganism. I eliminated most salts, refined sugars, and fats from my food by planning, measuring, and cooking every meal, and in 4 months, I lost around 33 pounds (15 kg). The return to America cost me dearly–in a week, I gained 10 pounds (4.5 kg). Everything I eat, even without meat, makes my stomach flip upside down. And it doesn’t help that my husband isn’t considerate of my new eating lifestyle because he isn’t vegetarian. Maybe part of my stomachaches are from stress.

The Wonderful “Gaijin-ism”. Where I lived in Japan, there were few gaijin, or foreigners. When I did see a foreigner, my first thought was, “Gaijin!” That’s how few and rare foreigners are in Japan save for the heavily-populated cities. Back in the U.S., I had to stop myself from being surprised by “foreigners”. Everyone, including myself, aren’t foreigners, so I’m in the middle of re-training my brain to think, “People!”

The Unemployed and Dependent Adult. I had a job and an apartment in Japan for 5 years. Now I’ve got job history and a former apartment that’s already passed to my successor, but no employment or space of my own. I have to depend on my husband’s family before I can look to getting a place, and the job hunt for something I actually want–a position in the writing industry–still makes me ask for help from my in-laws. I’m suddenly a dependent, and it makes me feel small and unreliable. I thought being in Japan would make me more independent, but in returning to America, I find myself in a worse situation than before I left the country.

The Unhomely Home. I got no warning about coming home when you’re not really home. The U.S. doesn’t feel familiar to me anymore. I look at the people and the stores and the houses, and I just think, “I want to go home.” My Okinawan apartment and the places I frequented there pops up in my head, and suddenly I’m finding home to be a far away place in my memories. Part of this foreign feeling comes from my immediate family leaving California. I can’t see my mom or brothers, and it really makes me sad. With the ensuing stomachaches and uncomfortable lifestyle, I just want something familiar, something normal, and that was my family. When I want to eat my mom’s soup because I have stomach pains or I want to laugh with my brothers, I can’t.

The Lost Relationship(s). What kills me is the one thing I’ve left behind: missing someone. I made many friends in Okinawa, and even though I’ve said in past posts that Japanese people are hard to accept foreigners, the friends I made accepted enough of me to let me into beautiful and loving relationships. I just knew that when I got on the plane, I’d never know if I’d see them again. Sure, there’s email, but it’s not the same as facing them at a table in Mr. Donuts or Spicy Kitchen and saying, “How’s it going?” Craving someone’s words or smiles or stories makes me feel as if I’ve lost something really precious in my life.

This Week at Jade’s Escape: Godzilla, Big Hero 6 Manga

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I watched the new Godzilla movie.

It gets Razzie of the Year in my book.

  • Unused talent: Ken Watanabe and Bryan Cranston do not work together. It’s not even a Bryan Cranston movie.
  • One-dimensional actor takes the boring lead: Aaron Taylor-Johnson keeps looking at the camera, adding to his unconvincing role as Bryan Cranston’s military son.
  • Too many kids: This is not a family movie! When did throwing kids into the mix equal “human element”? True Lies, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, and Back to the Future had kids in them, but they actually served some role other than “Let’s make this a family movie.”
  • Gun/nuclear-happy Americans: I would have to say that this pro-military movie portrays Americans’ top specialty–using their guns first and coming up with sound answers later.
  • Horrible villain monsters: In the Godzilla franchise, there are tons of interesting and badass monsters to choose from. I would’ve gone with King Shisa (I’m impartial to the Okinawan shisa) or King Gydra (the Hydra).

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    Picture from the best Godzilla books ever in Japan, ゴジラ人間 series, printed in 1984 by Shogakukan Publishing.

  • Friendly Godzilla: When was Godzilla on our side? OK, so he crushed a few buildings, but he’s nothing like the Godzilla from the past franchise.
  • Movie should’ve ended in the beginning: If you’re a foreign who gets arrested in Japan, unless you’re married to a Japanese person, you’ll get deported, not sent back to your apartment. Godzilla would’ve easily ended in the first 20 minutes of the movie.
  • Japanese people don’t speak English: Sorry, English teachers, but I know this as an English teacher here in Japan. Few Japanese people speak English, especially fluent English, and most freak out when they see a foreigner, even if it’s in a convenience store.
  • Japanese people don’t take orders from Americans: How many foreign executives have you seen in Japan?

I started watching the 1998 Godzilla: The Series TV show just to wash the taste out of my mouth.

 

Big Hero 6 Manga

This is a first: before Disney’s Big Hero 6 release, Disney is releasing the manga for free through Amazon.co.jp, Boollive!, and Yahoo! Bookstores etc. from August 20th (limited time only). You can read the manga in Japanese here.

Lefties in Japan: Do Southpaws Get Little Love Here, Too?

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Happy International Left-handers’ Day!

Did you know I’m left-handed? My father, my grandfather, my aunt, and my husband are also left-handed. Imagine all the smear stains we’ve gotten on our cuffs, how many artful turns of a paper we did to avoid ruined sleeves, how many decisions we’d have to make–throw left or right?–in our entire lives. No matter how many left-handers there are in my family, there aren’t many in the world (only 10 percent!). Left-handers are just as rare in Japan as in the States, but unlike their American counterparts, they don’t have as much trouble dealing with a right-side world.

In Japan, left-handedness isn’t seen as a conspiracy to make do with the Devil as it is in Western and Catholic countries. Sure, there was a time when Japanese viewed southpaws as impractical because of traditional calligraphy writing. Even though Japanese people still write from left to right when they make banners, the taboo of being left-handed, or giccho, is considered old news.

In recent times, Japanese students use regular notebooks or genkou youshi (原稿用紙), a Japanese manuscript paper for writing essays. This kind of paper has little boxes, each box for one character, and they’re read from right to left. Because traditional Japanese is read from the top downwards, essays are written the same way, top to down. It makes it easier for us lefties to write an essay in Japan, even if they’re apology or detention essays (you’ll see it in manga, anime, or in the discipline office in Japanese schools).

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Poor Houtarou from Hyouka has to re-write an essay he forgot at home.

Of course, left-handers in Japan still face problems in the right-hander world. In contrast to manuscript paper, writing calligraphy on horizontal banners is oriented for right-handers.  I wonder if famous calligraphers like Michiko ImaiShinjo Ito, or Shingai Tanaka ever had trouble writing Japanese characters.

Oh, Flanders, you'll only get orders from Japan. Go online!

Oh, Flanders, the Simpsons and the Leftorium are washed up. Get your butt online, man!

Looking for your real Leftorium? Here are some shops that can help you with your left-handed needs on this fine International Left-handers Day:

1. Lefty’s – https://www.leftyslefthanded.com/ (Special discounts on International Left-handers’ Day)

2. Anything Left-Handed – http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/

3. RU-Lefthanded – http://ru-lefthanded.co.uk/ocart/

4. Left-hand N.Z. – http://www.lefthandnz.com/

Happy International Beer Day!

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Happy International Beer Day!

How’s beer in Japan? The good news is Japanese beer is cheaper than any Western beers like Budweiser and Guinness ranging from 80 yen a can to 320 yen for a bottle. The bad news is Japanese beers all taste alike. “The nail that sticks up must be hammered down” is a proverb that explains both Japanese culture and the sameness between the top beer brands in Japan. I don’t know if it’s Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, or Orion’s faults for making these beers. Maybe it’s just the people who’ve learned not deviate from the tastes of their peers and try something new, and so, the companies cater to their flavors.

I would recommend going to a liquor store, local brewery, import wine shop, or a good bar that sells import drinks for different beer tastes. My favorite place is the import wine shop in Chatan that carries imported German, Austrian, and Italian lagers and alcohol. Just watch out for the price tag–imports are very expensive.

Gurren Lagann to Debut on Toonami

gurrenlagannSANTA MONICA, CA (July 19, 2014) –Aniplex of America, Inc. has announced today that the legendary TV anime series GURREN LAGANN, will debut on Adult Swim’s TOONAMI™ Saturday line-up this August. The first episode will premiere on August 16th at 2:00am EST.

From the SAME team that brought us KILL la KILL, GURREN LAGANN comes from the genius minds of Director Hiroyuki Imaishi and Script Writer/Series Composition Kazuki Nakashima. In response to its global popularity, the series was also adapted into two full-length films, Childhood’s End and The Lights in the Sky Are Stars. Aniplex of America re-released the GURREN LAGANN TV Series on home video last year featuring both the original Japanese and English dub which features many popular voice actors such as Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon), Kyle Hebert (as Kamina) and Michelle Ruff (as Yoko). This past July, Aniplex of America also released the GURREN LAGANN Movies in a Double Feature Blu-ray Set (Japanese Language only with English subtitles).

Story of GURREN LAGANN
This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him….
In the distant future, mankind has lived quietly and restlessly underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are 2 young men: one named Simon who is shy and naïve, and the other named Kamina who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. The destiny of these two starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon and Yoko ride the mecha “Lagann” that Simon digs out of the ground, and fly up to the surface!

For more details, please visit: www.AniplexUSA.com/gurrenlagann

The Princess of Tennis: The True Story of an American Manga Assistant

I finally got my copy of The Princess of Tennis from Jamie Lynn Lano!

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There aren’t many stories (if any) about Western manga assistants working in Japan. Jamie Lynn Lano tells all in this book and on her blog, Jamieism.com. You can buy  The Princess of Tennis: The true story of working as a mangaka’s assistant in Japanon Amazon.

Also, you can help Jamie get to San Diego Comic Con through http://www.gofundme.com/9v7x64.

Short Story Contest Finalist

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I got my “2014 Short Story Contest Finalist” certificate for entering the 1st Annual Little Tokyo Historical Society Short Story Contest. It came with a $10.00 gift certificate to Mr. Ramen’s, a ramen restaurant in Los Angeles. Although I didn’t win the top 3 spots, I placed top 16 out of 60 entries. I’m proud of myself! Writing the story, “Smile’s Sonata”, taught me that there’s another layer to myself that can be drawn out through writing.

And, yes, my name on this certificate is misspelled. 28 years later, and my name is still being misspelled. Lovely!

私は1回リトル東京歴史協会の短編小説から「平成26の短編小説決勝戦出場者」の証明書とロサンゼルスでのラーメンレストランの「Mr.Ramen」商品券をもらった。トッポ3番を勝ってないのに、ストリーは16番でした。うれしいです!「笑顔のソナタ」を書いたら、多く自分の層があることを学んだ。