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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
OK so it's still a bit early for everyone in the US, but I celebrated Thanksgiving this past Saturday.

Someone from the Yale Club of Japan was kind enough to plan, cook, and co-host a party that had a strong cohort of Yalies present. Here we are, along with the gracious host who opened her house for the event (she's in the center right, next to me). 
Dinner was DELICIOUS. All the traditional trappings of Thanksgiving:

butter corn, green beans, collard greens, ham, stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, sweet potatoes glazed in brown sugar and (not pictured) squash soup and cornbread. 
There was even pie, and everyone knows how much I LOVE pie. 

It was great to get together with everyone again, catch up on how we had been doing, and have some libations together--in advance of Yale's excellent win against Harvard! Boola boola!
That being said, Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without a little bit of self-reflection about the …
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JLPT Woes and PSAs

The above is a fairly excellent depiction of how I've been spending almost all of my time outside of work these past...50 days: studying for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). You can see I have my pens and paper all ready to go, as well as a fortifying cup of coffee. Now that I'm essentially publicly broadcasting the fact that I'm taking this test I basically have to pass now or else it'll be embarrassing to the extreme. The test itself is on December 3rd so I have about two and a half weeks yet to finish up and catch up on some sleep before the four hour (gulp) exam. The test is broken down into five sections--reading, kanji, grammar, vocab, and listening--and you have to pass each section individually to pass the test as a whole, which is BRUTAL.

Oh man, I have so much more respect for people who are part-time students now because once you get done with work and get home and make dinner/eat/clean up the LAST thing you want to do is open a book and try t…

Churches and Concerts

Happy Halloween, guys!

This year I decided to be a witchy little pumpkin: I cut out jack o'lantern face-shapes and stuck them to an orange dress I already owned and found cute (and cheap!) orange and black witch hat-headband to top off my ensemble. A bit of a step down from the full-body Pikachu I was last year, but it'll do.

Hard to believe it's already November. I've already been here almost 5 months! The days and nights are getting colder (I'm wearing fingerless gloves as I type this) and the sun sets by 5 pm on the regular.

But! Help is on the way: the vending machines across Japan have transitioned, for the most part, to their winter offerings. Hot canned coffee or sweetened tea or even just hot lemon juice and honey, like a liquefied coughdrop. There's even cans of corn soup or beef stew you can drink for a quick "meal." I love being able to get a hot drink whenever I need one from the nearest vending machine.

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Tokyo Ramen Show 2017

The other day I was browsing the internet for something to do today and the internet rewarded me with the knowledge that there was going to be a Tokyo Ramen Show where visitors could go and, you guessed it, eat ramen from all over Japan. Since my blog is aptly titled "Rice and Ramen" it had to be some sort of cosmic destiny. So of course I went.

The Ramen Show was held in the Komazawa Olympic Park, which was used for the 1964 Summer Olympics. It was a charming place, full of open spaces where people were lounging or picnicking with their kids (Tokyo had 16 days of rain in a row and today was a rare sunny day so it didn't surprise me that so many people were out and about) or playing sports.

The Ramen Show was set up in the park's main plaza:

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A few days ago I found myself in the Kiyosumi neighborhood, an area on the far East side of Tokyo, with my fearless companion Troy (his blog is HERE if anyone is interested). To some of you long-time readers the name "Troy" might sound somewhat familiar and that is because Troy and I met in Japan six years ago when we were both exchange students with AFS! I went to find a photo of us from then, just for the comparison, but after seeing what I looked like (have I ever mentioned that I gained approximately 15 pounds when I lived in Japan the first time? No? I wonder why...) I think I'll pass on that front. Have this picture of the view over the river in Kiyosumi instead:

Our Kiyosumi day basically consisted of walking around the quaint neighborhood and popping into interesting stores. The first was a local chocolate shop called Artichoke Chocolate. I had the most divine raspberry hot chocolate that, to my knowledge, contained no artichokes whatsoever.

It did have this ama…