what it means to be foreign

This past week has required me to reflect a great deal on how foreigners, specifically English speakers, more specifically Americans, are perceived by other peoples. I’ve written before about the “gaijin smash”. What patterns of our culture have differed so much from others? What narratives have I been fed that have resulted in my “normal”... Continue Reading →


aisatsu addendum

Through a friend of a teacher I work with, last night I found myself in a three hour lecture and conversation group on green tea and Japanese manners. Without fully understanding what I was getting into, I was keen to attend when I first heard about it. It turned out to be much more than... Continue Reading →

the magic of responding properly

へんじ - henji - 返事 - reply or answer 返る/巣(カエル/返す)- to return (something), to go back 事 - a thing   Mr. Tanoue, a truly unique and incredible teacher that I work with, has an incredible system of classroom management. His students have formed groups – notice I didn’t say he made the groups. They... Continue Reading →

katazuke and konmari

Katazuke 片付け (かたずけ) 片- one-sided, leaf, sheet 付ー adhere, attach, refer to, append The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which inspired the title of the magic of greeting of course) became an instant sensation and has sold over – copies worldwide. There are innumerable pins on Pinterest and countless articles on blogs and in newspapers, not to mention... Continue Reading →

the magic of greeting

あいさつ - aisatsu - 挨拶 greeting, well-wishing, salutation, recognize 挨 - push open, greeting 拶 - be imminent, a message “...greetings make others feel happy, since it shows that you acknowledge them.”  (Japan Today) In the four minutes we had between classes in middle school, I don't recall ever really greeting anyone in any kind of conscious... Continue Reading →

Before you sign your life away….

...take a pause and make sure your jitsuin (実印, official personal seal - the kanji is "reality/truth" + "seal/stamp") is facing the right way. There are several different types of inkan or "seals" that bear one's name in Japan. They're used much like our signatures in the U.S. Because Japan is a cash-based society however,... Continue Reading →

Is that a nice T-shirt?

The other day in class, we were covering a page in the textbook where a teacher says to a student, "That's a nice T-shirt!", when a question arose. Was it actually a nice T-shirt? I didn't think it was anything special. It had some kanji written on it, which translated to something like "Health First!",... Continue Reading →

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