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The Gorgeous...Kappa?

Fall moves along. The leaves continue to turn vibrant shades of red and orange and yellow (in the case of ginkgo trees). I can't believe that it's already December and that I've been in Japan for six months--tying my previous high school record for the longest stay I've had in Japan. I've noticed a lot of improvements in my Japanese, I can now navigate the elaborate Tokyo train system(s) with impunity (though I'll be the first to admit that I did actually get on the wrong train last week and had to back track, much to my embarrassment), and recently discovered that I'm the size of a Japanese men's medium button-up shirt. Revelations, I tell you. (Though what I CAN'T tell you is if that revelation is a compliment to my physique or not...)

The above photo is from Ueno Park, tourist and museum mecca in Tokyo. I had 100 yen off a ticket to the much-touted Van Gogh and Japan exhibit at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and figured I would take advantage…
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Thanksgiving

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 …

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.

Backing up a little bit. The past f…