Your Bucket List: How Do I Get to Japan?

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“How do I get to Japan?”

Aside from stowing away in a friend’s suitcase for Tokyo, getting to Japan is easy. It depends on your desire. Do you want to work, play, study, or tour?

If you’re looking to play in Japan or tour the sights, you could do it the old-fashioned way and buy a plane ticket. You’ll be shelling out around $1,000 for a round-trip ticket–a definite hole in some shallow pockets. The other way to get to Japan is by joining your city’s sister cities program. “My city has a sister city?” Most cities, even the small ones, have a sister city in a different country. I came to Japan for nearly half the cost because the City of Chula Vista did a summer sister city exchange program in Odawara. If you go this route, you’ll be a representative, which means you’ll have some obligations to fulfill before seeing sights. As a representative, you’ll get to see places and things that you wouldn’t see if you were just a tourist.

Bottom line: Try to go to Japan on someone else’s bill.

If you want to study in Japan, there are various programs to try. The first one to try is your own school. Many high schools and universities have a short-stay (two weeks to three months) exchange program or a long-stay (eight months to one year) exchange program. In universities with strong international programs, you could arrange to study for a year in a coordinating Japanese university paying the same tuition for your regular university. Aside from the universities, some places in Japan offer a chance for foreigners to come to Japan simply for studying manga techniques or the Japanese language. These programs, however, are usually limited space and short-stay programs, but they still give you a glimpse into Japanese culture. There are a few programs in schools intended for job placement in Japan, such as Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. You can also check out my post on manga classes offered to foreigners.

Bottom line: Use the easiest route first and learn some Japanese.

If you want to work in Japan, you’ll have to do one of two things: come to Japan and find work within three months or apply through a program in your home country and get the job before coming to Japan. The latter is easier to do because programs like the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (J.E.T. Programme) and the Interact Network provide some assistance in getting your visa and plane tickets and helping you settle into your new home in Japan. Coming directly to Japan and looking for work on a visitor’s permit is more stressful because of the time restrictions. If you arrive after April, you miss the hiring season, lowering the chances of finding a job. If you arrive between January and April, the chances of finding a job is higher since most work contracts end in April.

Bottom line: Apply before coming Japan or arrive before April for the hiring season.

If you want to “accomplish your dreams”, remember that dreams require work. Most young people want to be a manga artist. As Jamie Lano of Jamieism.com suggested, read Bakuman. It’s not as glamorous as most people might think, but if you’re willing to shed some sweat and tears–and maybe blood–you’ll find yourself gaining wholesome experiences.

Bottom line: Look before you leap, and work for your dreams.

頑張ってください!Good luck!

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Not Like Anime or Manga: 10 Realistic Ideas for Your Japanese School Festival

School festivals are central to all manga and anime centering around Japanese schools as well as Japanese society.

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Everyone participates in the school festivals, even the foreign English teachers like myself. Last year, I was faced with the school festival, and though I wanted to do something as typical as a cafe, rules kept the maid outfits at bay. “There are only two places where food can be made, and they’ve already been claimed,” a teacher told me with a sympathetic smile. “You’ll have to come up with some other idea for the English Club.”

Great. I guess my anime dreams of doing a maid cafe couldn’t come true. Ideas, I thought, I need ideas. Of course, my students couldn’t come up with anything. You’ll find that unless you offer Japanese kids ideas, you won’t come up with anything concrete.

For those of you in the same situation, here’s a list of ideas you can do with a small club (3 to 5 members) or more.

1. Cake Walk (Musical Chairs + Raffle): Use Daiso vinyl tape and make footprints or circles on the floor into one big circle. Put numbers in each circle. Participants will stand on the circles, and when the music starts, they will walk to each circle. When the music stops, a number will be called. The participant on the called number will win a cake or a prize. For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cakewalk_(carnival_game) 

2. Costume Booth (Halloween + Photography): Get a lot of costumes and props. Designate someone who will print pictures and put them in cellophane holders. Participants will pick what costumes they want and the theme of their photograph.

3. Skit: Pick a Western-origin or English-language skit such as Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, or Harry Potter. Adjust the script, pick the actors, and perform the skit on stage.

4. Names in Cursive: For more artistic people, participants will get their names written in pretty cursive. If you’re into graffiti, do names in graffiti.

5. Dance: Do a traditional dance from a different country (i.e. Philippine’s tinikling or binasuan or Mexico’s folklorico).

6. Western bazaar: Get lots of new knickknacks (stickers, posters, bilingual books, toys, stuffed animals, bracelets, snacks, etc.). Set up a booth or room with the items all tagged with prices. Get a register or cash box and put someone responsible for it.

7. English wanage (Ring Toss): Make rings and stands out of cardboard and tape. (I would use Daiso colored tape to make the rings and stands more interesting, seeing that cardboard is pretty ugly.) Use vinyl tape as a distance marker. Give participants the rings and prizes after they’ve gotten the rings on the stands successfully. For an English-involved ring toss, put pictures on the stands. Show the participants an English word. They will throw the ring onto the matching picture of the English word.

8. Basket Toss: Make balls out of tape and set up cardboard boxes. For an English-involved basket toss, put pictures on the boxes. Tell the participant an English word, and they will throw the ball into the matching picture. You can also do this with teachers’ pictures and tell the participants a teacher’s profile (where they’re from, the subject they teach, the homeroom they’re in charge of).

9. Western Cafe: Pick any theme for your cafe (find ideas at CelebrationsatHomeBlog.com). Get refreshments (cupcakes, brownies, muffins, breads), drinks, utensils, table clothes, napkins, and props that fit the theme. Set up nice tables and have the club members be waiters (make shifts!). Customers will come and order food and drinks from an all-English menu. The waiters will take the orders in English as best as they can. For the non-food option, still set up the cafe the same way but make a separate table with different candies, knickknacks, and lots of gift wrapping materials (ribbons, wrapping paper, tape, scissors, cellophane bags, hole punches, and stickers). Customers will look at a menu of themes and make a gift for their friends, parents, or lovers. The waiters will only clean up after the customers and offer suggestions to them.

10. Movie: Make a movie with the club before the school festival (summer vacation is the best time to do this if your festival is later on in the year). Sit down with the club, write the script, schedule times to film, practice all the scenes, film, edit, and add Japanese subtitles.

11. English Scavenger Hunt: Give attendees a scavenger hunt paper with tasks such as “Find three married teachers” (3人の結婚したの教師を探してください). If they complete the task, they get a stamp on their paper. They can show their stamps at one location (if you have no room, use a kiosk or table-top cart) and get prizes. If you’re looking for examples of this kind of activity, it has been done at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Okinawa for their annual festivals (おきなわ国際協力・交流フェスティバル[English][Japanese] ).

If you’re having trouble coming up with school festival ideas for your English club or the English Speaking Society, just think of a fundraiser or carnival event and try that.

Free Screentones Giveaway Winner! 2014

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In honor of Jade’s Escape’s most popular post, “Screentones for Manga Artists Outside of Japan”, I held a giveaway to win free screentones straight from Japan.

The winner of this contest is… SYS, an Indonesian manga artist of Sang Sayur (The Edibles). She not only claims several packs of screentones but an Attack on Titan puccho, or soft chew, candy (only in Japan) and a few other treats that’re only in Japan.  candyattackontitan

 

Want to win stuff straight from Japan? Look for the next contest announcement in Jade’s Escape’s posts!

Japan: Land of Interesting Chocolates

Every month, there’s always new chocolate appearing on my desk. Gotta love Japan, Land of the Omiyage!

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FEBRUARY – A librarian I talk to every week gave me this cat chocolate as a トモチョコ (tomochoko), or friend’s chocolate, which is becoming more common between women on Valentine’s Day. In Japan, Valentine’s Day is a day where girls give boys chocolate and sweets. No, it’s not a day to subject Japanese women to being, well, subjected. On March 14, boys “return” the chocolate and sweets that was given to them by the girls. As Japanese girls become women, they still do this tradition, but I’ve noticed how every year, the women get more disgruntled with giving ギリチョコ (girichoko), or obligation chocolates. I suppose this friend’s chocolate is a way of saying, “Valentine’s Day isn’t just for guys.”

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MARCH – This one came from my student who went to Tokyo as part of her school trip. Every year, Japanese students (usually second years or eleventh graders) visit different parts of Japan. I understand going to different parts of the country, but its really hard for poor students. They usually pay anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 to make this week-long trip. My student went to the Skytree, the new tower in Tokyo (not to be confused with Tokyo Tower).

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APRIL – This $5 chocolate is one I bought for myself at Lawson’s (one of many convenience store chains in Japan). It features characters from my favorite recent anime, Attack on Titan (新劇の狂人, Shingeki no Kyoujin).

#2 of 33 Art Projects in a Year

#2: The Ryukyu Star Winter 2014 Cover

I’m the visual editor for an online magazine for Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET Programme) teachers in Okinawa. I’ve decided to completely change the design of the magazine to make it more efficient as a magazine. To commemorate this change, I took the skills I learned on Photoshop and used it to color this mediocre inking of a horse.

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This horse was drawn without any preliminary sketches. I wanted to keep it fun and a little messy by just going at it with a Copic multiliner pen.

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Next was tracing it in Illustrator and ignoring the whites.Image

I transferred the image to Photoshop and used many layers underneath the vector to color it.

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Since I was using InDesign for designing the layout of the magazine, I decided to put the final product in InDesign. I always get the cover sizes wrong, so it’s just easier and cleaner.

You Can Make a Piñata in Japan!

I don’t like balloons. I loathe them. So what was I to do when websites kept saying, “Hey, you have to use a balloon”? Find another balloon-phobic soul with piñata-making skills on a budget!

I made my piñata, a beautiful and large Frankenstein head, with cardboard, tape, hot glue gun glue, and origami paper. If you go to Daiso, it’s around $5 of material. It’s the labor that sells a Halloween piñata for $17 (Oriental Trading). Took me a day to make!
For a step-by-step guide to make a cheap piñata, please go to http://keephomesimple.blogspot.jp/2013/02/how-to-make-homemade-pinata-for-under-5.html.

How Much of the Snake I’ve Eaten

In January, I posted my New Year’s resolution. Now, six months later, I’m doing a check-in.

Gotta get that fat outta here!!

#1: Losing weight: Drop 25 pounds.

In January and February, while my husband did a cleanse, I opted for only eating meat once a day. I don’t know if I dropped weight, but my clothes did fit differently–good for not exercising (my husband did, though). Just when we were going at a good pace, my husband hurt his back and the exercising (for him) and the non-meat meals stopped. It goes to show how much being in a relationship can affect your body.

Three weeks ago, I started doing Tae Bo again. It wasn’t as bad as I remembered (I did it last year for two months), but I decided to do cardio three times a week and strength training once a week. A week ago, I hurt my knee, so I’ll have to stick with strength training and minimum cardio. Injuries are the worst!

Plan: Do 30-45 minutes of exercise every other day. Two times a week include a strength training regiment (12 reps, 3 sets with weights), and work on abs every exercise day.

How to write “learn” in kanji

#2: Learn Japanese: Become a more fluent speaker.

I entered an international speech contest in Japanese, but I wasn’t picked. Maybe next year… Every day, I learn a new Japanese word (today’s word is 野良猫, noraneko, or “stray cat”) to build my vocabulary. I also write in a journal in Japanese, and some of my posts on this blog have a Japanese translation. So far, my reading comprehension has gotten easier as well as my kanji.

Plan for the rest of the year: Sign up for the JET Programme’s free advanced Japanese course and get ready for another speech contest (to get picked this time!).

#3: Save more money

I haven’t saved any money (according to my Mint account), but I have managed to slim our daily expenses. Instead of buying many snacks and going out to eat, we cook at home and avoid sugary products like cookies and fruit juices.

Plan: Send a set amount of money to my American bank account and not touch it except for emergencies and bills.

#4: Travel more.

Because of Item Number 3, traveling is out of the question. Sadness!

Once upon a time, there was a writer…

#5: Get to reading and writing!

I became a part of a creative writing circle. We get a prompt and two weeks to write something, then we post in on Google Plus. It’s very convenient because I never know how people will react to it. Also, it keeps me on my toes in keeping with deadlines!

Plan: Continue with the writing circle. Win at least one writing contest!

Links

1. Scale: http://www.johnstonefitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Weighing-Scales-1.jpg

2. “Learn” kanji gif: http://nihongoichibandotcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/5b66.gif

3. Piggy bank: http://sj.sunne.ws/files/2011/09/Piggy-Bank1.jpg

4. Suitcase: http://henricodoctors.com/util/images/TravelMedicineSuitcase.jpg

5. Books: http://jadesescape.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/books.jpg?w=257

Screentones for Manga Artists Outside of Japan

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Screentones for Manga Artists Outside of Japan

“Where do you get screen tones if you’re outside of Japan?” 

If you want to make manga the traditional way by cutting screentones and applying them directly to your drawings, you can find some online, but they’ll be a bit pricey. It’s better to go to a Japanese district if you’re near one and find a bookstore. Otherwise, you can go online and order them.

If you’re more of a digital artist, you can use a computer program to make the screentones. The most common programs are Manga Studio ($80) and Photoshop ($699). (If you go to an anime convention, you’ll always see a Manga Studio booth with discounted versions available. If you don’t have this program and you’re on a time crunch, just download the trial versions.) You can also download  free screentone packs from other artists like the Screentone Society on Deviant ArtAshura’s Screentone Depot, OrneryJen’s screentone page, Psychobob’s screentones (password: psychobob), Shounen Ai Go’s screentones (old), or Jason Tucker’s “Screentones” page. The only bad side to using purely digital screentones in manga is that sometimes the tone looks too digital, too clean. Some ways to get around that is to scan a few physical screentones and use them when the manga looks off after toning.

Here’s a video on how to do digital screentoning on Photoshop (new and old versions of Photoshop are applicable):

If you want the best of both worlds–the traditional way of making manga with the digital ease–you can print screentones on transparent paper and apply them to the physical manga (again, you can download some screentones from DeviantArt). You can also scan the physical screentone to your computer, define a block of it as a pattern in Photoshop, and use it (Edit>Fill>Pattern) after selecting the area you want toned.

If you’re skilled with a pen, you can also use carefully planned hatchbacking and pointillism, but it won’t look so professional (just more artsy).

Hope this helps with your manga dreams!

Also, please read former Prince of Tennis manga assistant Jamie Lynn Lano’s (http://www.jamieism.com) posts and theshazerin’s (http://theshazerin.deviantart.com/) post about manga supplies.

Need more inspiration? Check out these manga with Renta! that use many different screentones, but really pay attention to the softer tones!

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Check out Renta! manga for screentone inspiration!

Bonus

If you don’t know how to apply traditional screentones to your manga, here’s a tutorial from Manga University.

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If you’re looking for pens to ink your manga that will suit your budget, please read this post (Manga Pens for Manga Artists Outside Japan) comparing Japanese manga pens and their prices from online shops.

Calligraphy and Art (書道と美術)

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In black is the old way of writing. In red is what each kanji means.

In today’s class, everyone went to the calligraphy and art classrooms. There were many beautiful calligraphy and art pieces. Some of the art pieces were impressive, so I decided to take a picture of them. Later on, I’d like to try to make a bag calligraphy.

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日本語の日誌:

今日の授業に、みんなさんは書道教室と美術教室へ行きました。たくさんの美しな書道も芸術作品がありました。いくつかの芸術作品はとても印象的ですが、私はそれを写真することにしました。後で、鞄に書道を作りてみたいです。

If my Japanese is wrong, please correct me! I’m still learning!

 

 

White Day: The Women’s Valentine’s Day in Japan

ImageJust as the States borrowed the hamburger, Christmas trees, and burritos from other countries, Japan has the same tendency. With Valentine’s Day, it’s no exception. But Japan did more than adopt Valentine’s Day into its social holidays; it made White Day (March 14) a secondary Valentine’s Day where only men give chocolates to women. The custom is if a male receives a gift on Valentine’s Day (where only women give gifts to men), the male must return a gift with three times the value of their Valentine’s Day gift. 

Last year, most of female teachers at my schools complained about how the male teachers only bought them White Day gifts while they actually gathered together and made Valentine’s Day gifts. This year, the sports club teachers actually made a poor man’s tiramisu (an Italian dessert) consisting of vanilla pudding, graham crackers, and cocoa powder. No complaints from the female teachers. Everyone, including all of the male teachers who didn’t participate in the tiramisu-making, was impressed. On top of the tiramisu, I received a dainty tin can with chocolates from the English department and a small box of Belgium chocolate from the basketball coach. All of the gifts were delicious, so I’m really happy I didn’t take a day off!

 

スタジオジブリレイアウト展: Studio Ghibli’s Layout Exhibition

ImageToday, my husband and I went to the Studio Ghibli Layout Exhibition at the Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum. It was so interesting! Hayao Miyazaki made beautiful layouts.

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All of the works featured were from Studio Ghibli’s last fifty years. Works as early as Lupin the Third (1971) and Sherlock Hound (1984) stood among more modern works like Ponyo (2010) and Spirited Away (2001). Though exhibition showed many of Miyazaki’s works, other directors under Studio Ghibli also shared the spotlight. Studio Ghibli’s co-founder, Isao Takahata, showcased layouts from My Neighbors the Yamadas (ホーホケキョとなりの山田くん, 1999), Heidi Girl of the Alps (アルプスの少女ハイジ, 1974), and Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓, 1988).

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At the end of the exhibition, everyone could make a black-and-white drawing on a sticker and put it on a wall. There were hundreds of stickers on the wall! Image

The next Studio Ghibli animations set to come out this year are The Wind is Rising (風立ちぬ) and The Tale of Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語).

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My husband’s Blubber Island face and me hugging the kodama from Princess Mononoke

日本語の練習 Diary

今日、夫さんと沖縄県立美術館のスタジオジブリレイアウト展へ行きました。面白かったです!宮﨑 駿さんは美しレイアウトを作りました。私達はスタジオじブリのルーピンやシャーロックハウンドやポニョや千と千尋の神隠しのレイアウトを見えました。去年、スタジオジブリのアニメはかぐや姫の物語や風立ちぬがあります。

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Picture of the new anime coming out this year (from Gigazine).

Valentine’s Day in Japan

I always thought that the way manga and anime depicted Valentine’s Day–with girls making chocolate and confessing their hidden feelings to a boy–wasn’t a truedepiction of the day in Japan. I was wrong.

 

I learned about oppai choco, or boobs chocolate. How I got this beautiful, tit-shaped chocolate is amazing to me. One of the Yakuit-brand ladies came to my school to sell healthy Yakuit yogurts and drinks. Because it was Valentine’s Day, they gave all their customers a sa-bisu (“service”) chocolate–the boobs chocolate. The vice principal, the office workers, the teachers, we all received this edible nipple in return for buying healthy food.

Yaese Town Cherry Blossoms Festival 八重瀬町桜まつり

Image Hanami, or cherry blossoms viewing, is usually seen throughout Japan in March and April. This year, in Okinawa, the cherry blossoms have bloomed early–but their flowers aren’t as bright as the years before. It’s OK, though. Many festivals in honor of these beautiful, pink flowers have cropped up just as early as the cherry blossoms’ blooming. One festival that my husband and I went to was the Yaese Town Cherry Blossoms Festival. 

We arrived in the latter part of the event, but we didn’t miss out on the festivities. After walking up a long hill overlooking Yaese Town and climbing multitudes of stairs (and a kind grandmother commenting loudly, “Mada?” when we encountered another set of stairs), we finally reached the top of the small mountain. The smell of corn dogs, yakisoba (sauteed noodles), and french fries filled the air as music by a local J-rock group sounded from a big stage flanked with large sakura poles. 

One thing about festivals that I absolutely love is the festival food. Fatty, greasy, and cheap, festival food can range from traditional Japanese food (sobaramen, takoyaki) to Western food (tacos, hamburgers, chicken nuggets). This time, there were a few vendors selling cheap vegetables, homemade cookies, and chicken pies. 

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Aside from the food, the Yaese Town festival had a treat for everyone: a tug-of-war contest. The rope was as thick as my body! It took over twenty people to carry one side of the rope in traditional fashion around the festival grounds. After some (quiet) taunting from both sides, we grabbed the ropes and pulled. It was a hard fight, but the other side managed to pull us over the line. The second time was fruitful: we won in less than five minutes. 

We dusted ourselves off, carried the rope again, and then disappeared down the stairs to the cave. It was once used as a medical center for the Okinawans during World War II, and still stands as a historical reminder to all. Many of the elementary school students asked us as we exited the cave area, “Do your pictures have ghosts in them?”

I don’t know if this counts as a ghost; there’s a small circle to the right of my husband. Just so you know, there wasn’t a light inside the cave. We checked.Image

 

My Ninja Cat is Growing Up!

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Ninja at 5 months.

In a post I did three months ago, I put up pictures of my new cat, Ninja “Bear” Galvan. She was only two months old then (according to the vet), but now she’s almost six months. Every time my husband and I pick her up, we say, “重いです,” (or omoi desu) “Heavy.”

Since taking her off the streets of Naha, Ninja has changed in some of her habits but mostly in appearance.

The habits that have changed:

-She sleeps with her eyes closed now. She used to sleep with her eyes open, but we waved our hands over her face, and she didn’t spring to her feet. To me, that’s counter-intuitive.

-She doesn’t eat any kind of food anymore. She only eats Sheba, the most expensive brand of cat food in the cat food aisle. Maybe the black cat on the can swayed her to the Dark Side.

-She doesn’t meow during her baths. She just looks at us with a bored expression. (But she still falls asleep when we towel-dry her.)

-She paws, licks, or bites my face in the morning right before my alarm clock. It’s like she’s saying, “おきて!おきて!食べたい!” (Okite! Okite! Tabetai!) “Wake up! Wake up! I want to eat!” 

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Ninja enjoying her gaming chair.

-She prefers to sit in my husband’s blue gaming chair when he’s not in it–even if it’s only a few seconds after his butt has left the seat.

-She plays tag and fetch with me. 

From all of these things, Ninja has become our precious house cat with a growing stomach and a beautiful coat. I wonder if I’ll turn into one of the crazy Japanese pet owners who give their pets mud baths.

Time to Take a Bite Out of the Year of the Snake

Per New Year’s and weight gain, I made several resolutions to better my life. For 2013, I have a few, but I’m not just going to say what they are. Many people make that mistake. I want to avoid the talk and just get down to the core of the problem and how to realistically solve them.

Gotta get that fat outta here!!

#1: Lose weight.

Last year, I made this a goal, and in July, I could wear clothes that I hadn’t worn in two years because of my weight. By December, I regained most of the weight I lost five months ago. The most realistic approach to losing weight for me is not stressing out, getting enough sleep, eating more vegetables and fruits, and exercising.

My goal in losing weight this year is 25 pounds. Right now, I weigh 155 pounds–30 pounds over my high school weight–and I want to shed it. This fat represents the stress I’ve gone through since getting married, living in a foreign country without being fluent in the language, and becoming inactive in my local community. The fat needs to go.

My plan is to start with moderate cardiovascular exercises that I enjoy (basketball practice, dance, and jogs) and moderate strength-training regiments at home. I just have to watch my knees (two torn ACL injuries from ten years ago). Right now, my eating habits are OK, but they can be better. I’ll add more dairy products, fruits, and vegetables to my diet from now on.

How to write “learn” in kanji

#2: Learn Japanese.

I’ve come a long way since last year when I could vaguely understand what someone said in Japanese. Now, I’m on my way to becoming a more fluent listener. My goal this year is to become a more fluent speaker. It’s harder than it sounds because I have trouble with what I call the linkers, wa, ga, wo, and ni. I want to master them.

My plan is to study with a native speaker weekly and later take the lowest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Right now, I have a book for passing the JLPT and I have several workbooks for learning the most basic kanji . In the meantime, I’m working on remembering my Japanese speech for a contest.

Bank on the Pig.

#3: Save more money.

That’s all. Just save more money. This past year, I was able to pay off just about all of my credit cards. Now I want to pay off one of two big debts and continue my savings plan for when I return to the U.S. One thing that has kept me in check is a financial planning website called Mint.com, which gives me a pie chart of all of my expenditures and keeps track of my financial goals.

Let’s get to packin’!

#4: Travel more.

My husband and I decided that in 2014, we’ll return the U.S. Before then, I’d like to visit some other nearby countries on holiday breaks. Of course, this could dig into Resolution #3, but we can definitely make it work without having to spend an arm and a leg. Flying between China and Japan starts around $150 dollars. For a new experience in a different land, I’m willing to pay for it.

Once upon a time, there was a writer…

#5: Get to reading and writing!

In August last year, I self-published The Ends Don’t Tie with Bunny Rabbits. Ever since then, I’ve gone on to do a free book-reviewing website by the same name and started to read indie authors’ books. I still have several books on my list, but I’d like to read up to 50 books in 2013. I only read 26 books in 2012 and 24 books in 2011.

With writing, I’d like to start this year with a great Korean comic review for the Manga Bookshelf column. I also want to finish writing another book and get it published this year. It’s possible to do all this if I use my time wisely. No more Youtube time wasters.

Links

1. Scale: http://www.johnstonefitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Weighing-Scales-1.jpg

2. “Learn” kanji gif: http://nihongoichibandotcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/5b66.gif

3. Piggy bank: http://sj.sunne.ws/files/2011/09/Piggy-Bank1.jpg

4. Suitcase: http://henricodoctors.com/util/images/TravelMedicineSuitcase.jpg

5. Books: http://jadesescape.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/books.jpg?w=257

Snake Shoe of the Student Council President

He tapped me on the shoulder after class and pointed at his left loafer with a small smile. “It’s a snake,” the student council president at my Okinawan high school stated, the snake’s tongue slithering happily towards the concrete floor. Although I expected a joke or a chuckle to follow, the student council president ascended the stairs alongside me.

“Can I take a picture of it later?” I asked him, and the English teacher next to me asked him in Japanese. His smile widened, and he replied that it was OK.

Five minutes, I was taking this picture with my cell phone. Even his shoe snake smiled at me.

In my head, I thought, “You’d never see this kind of creativity and loafers on Western shoes.” Of course, there are spikes, but they’re a bit overdone. I’d take these shoes any day.